Author Topic: Symbolism in Baptisms  (Read 663 times)

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Offline Poppy

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Symbolism in Baptisms
« on: January 14, 2014, 12:03:44 PM »
Why, at the end of a baptism service of a baby, does the baby get held up by the priest and moved up and down, sideways to sideways in the sign of the cross?

1) Do these symbolic actions come directly from Jesus himself?

2) If the fathers over the centuries have added them to the service, even for seeminly good reasons, why is this allowed? (as the services could be endlessly added to with meaningful rituals)

3) Even if the baby is screaming with objections, why is this long service completed? Wouldn't God be more pleased that the baby was not caused this shivering trauma?

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 12:06:17 PM »
Not every tradition has this custom.  Which do you have in mind?
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Offline Poppy

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 12:09:25 PM »
Not every tradition has this custom.  Which do you have in mind?

It was a Greek baby baptism.

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 12:20:17 PM »
The baby screaming is just him resisting the devil.  ;)
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 12:20:52 PM »
For number 3, what a baby wants is different from what it needs.  Also, this is hardly a traumatic event.  Getting shampoo in a baby's eyes is horrifying and they won't even remember that.
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Offline Ansgar

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 12:40:02 PM »
Picture removed by moderator for profane content  -PtA
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 01:31:32 AM by PeterTheAleut »
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Offline Poppy

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 12:44:06 PM »
The baby screaming is just him resisting the devil.  ;)

I'm glad you left a wink.

Baby screaming and involuntary sobbing is the only way it can communicate major distress. When something is total necessary to make it hurt, like a medical procedure to save a life, then fine, but this is not so necessary to cause the little thing so much prolonged upset - I saw the video (one hour) it was horrible, even the relis said they was upset by it and didn't want to go to another service like it. One reli said it was bordering on abuse as the baby wouldn't be comforted by the godparents who was holding it and the parents wasn't allowed to hold it during the service. How messed up is that!?

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 12:48:04 PM »
When my kids were infants, they screamed every time we gave them a bath.  They get used to it.  It is obviously very traumatizing for an infant to have all their clothes taken off and dunked into water. Of all the traumatic things that happen to an infant, getting dunked is pretty low.  It is right between a dirty diaper and wanting a bottle.  Getting pushed through a birth canal into the wide open world has got to be way more traumatic.
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 12:58:19 PM »
Young babies can't cope with unfamiliar surroundings and lots of people around. They'd bawl their little heads off if you threw a party for them. Older babies generally cry just a bit around the dunking (again, unfamiliar procedure) and are all happy chappies by the time they are dressed.

(My mum has photographic proof that I only cried when I was taken out of the font. Obviously, I treated the experience as a bath. ;D)

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Offline Poppy

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 01:18:46 PM »
When my kids were infants, they screamed every time we gave them a bath.  They get used to it.  It is obviously very traumatizing for an infant to have all their clothes taken off and dunked into water. Of all the traumatic things that happen to an infant, getting dunked is pretty low.  It is right between a dirty diaper and wanting a bottle.  Getting pushed through a birth canal into the wide open world has got to be way more traumatic.

Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.




And Arachne, I didn't get my info from yt but a actual persons baptism and then asked other Christian people about their experiences. I did my research.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 01:19:20 PM by Poppy »

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 01:24:02 PM »
And Arachne, I didn't get my info from yt but a actual persons baptism and then asked other Christian people about their experiences. I did my research.

One instance is not research.

Interesting how you ignored everything else I wrote. Was that trivial too?
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Offline Ansgar

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 01:28:17 PM »
Infants react in various ways. I have seen babies laugh when being baptized.

I have been to lutheran baptisms where the kid would cry throughout the entire service because he got his hair wet.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 01:33:05 PM by Ansgar »
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 01:33:03 PM »
When my kids were infants, they screamed every time we gave them a bath.  They get used to it.  It is obviously very traumatizing for an infant to have all their clothes taken off and dunked into water. Of all the traumatic things that happen to an infant, getting dunked is pretty low.  It is right between a dirty diaper and wanting a bottle.  Getting pushed through a birth canal into the wide open world has got to be way more traumatic.

Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.




And Arachne, I didn't get my info from yt but a actual persons baptism and then asked other Christian people about their experiences. I did my research.

Do you have children, Poppy?
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2014, 02:45:42 PM »
When my kids were infants, they screamed every time we gave them a bath.  They get used to it.  It is obviously very traumatizing for an infant to have all their clothes taken off and dunked into water. Of all the traumatic things that happen to an infant, getting dunked is pretty low.  It is right between a dirty diaper and wanting a bottle.  Getting pushed through a birth canal into the wide open world has got to be way more traumatic.

Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.




And Arachne, I didn't get my info from yt but a actual persons baptism and then asked other Christian people about their experiences. I did my research.
Believe it or not, when you have kids, sometimes they will cry for an hour. When my oldest daughter was an infant, she had colic and would cry from 5pm till 11pm every night nonstop.  There is nothing that drives you crazier than a baby that will just not stop crying. That being said, a baby crying from baptism is crying because it is unfamiliar, not because it is painful.  As a parent, you learn the differences between your child's cries and you know when you need to get involved and when they just need to cry it out.
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2014, 03:08:42 PM »

Baby screaming and involuntary sobbing is the only way it can communicate major distress. When something is total necessary to make it hurt, like a medical procedure to save a life, then fine, ...

There is a solid argument that baptism is just as necessary as a medical procedure for the infant. The first of many medical procedures for the benefit of their soul.

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2014, 08:34:59 PM »
Why would one keep a baby in water for an hour during baptism?

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2014, 09:49:55 PM »
Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.

I'm not Greek, and I don't have children of my own, so I can't speak to the specific customs you have in mind or to the experience of childrearing.  That said, I have attended and served my share of baptisms, held children in the font, etc., and the actual washing doesn't last more than a minute in a service that takes about an hour...most times, it takes no more than twenty to thirty seconds.  And it is just that: a washing or a quick dunk, it's not like the priest is holding the child under water for an hour shaking the devil out of him.  Some children cry after the baptism, some cry before it, some don't cry at all, and others cry all throughout the service.  It very much depends on the child. 

And I've never seen a priest continue a service over "the objections" of the child because, among other reasons, that would be a hindrance to his own performing of the rites.  They are usually very good about letting parents, godparents, relatives, whomever settle down the child, even if it takes time.  So I'm not sure that baptism is any more traumatising because of the length of the service.  No one will cancel the party afterwards because the baby is fussy (no one will think to suggest such a thing), so I'm not sure why the prayers by which we dedicate children to God and take them out of the grasp of Satan should be eliminated and the rite limited to the absolute bare minimum of the washing because of some crying.  I find such criticism particularly curious coming from adherents of religions like Judaism and Islam which routinely take sharp knives to the genitals of children.   
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2014, 10:01:25 PM »
Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.

I'm not Greek, and I don't have children of my own, so I can't speak to the specific customs you have in mind or to the experience of childrearing.  That said, I have attended and served my share of baptisms, held children in the font, etc., and the actual washing doesn't last more than a minute in a service that takes about an hour...most times, it takes no more than twenty to thirty seconds.  And it is just that: a washing or a quick dunk, it's not like the priest is holding the child under water for an hour shaking the devil out of him.  Some children cry after the baptism, some cry before it, some don't cry at all, and others cry all throughout the service.  It very much depends on the child.  

And I've never seen a priest continue a service over "the objections" of the child because, among other reasons, that would be a hindrance to his own performing of the rites.  They are usually very good about letting parents, godparents, relatives, whomever settle down the child, even if it takes time.  So I'm not sure that baptism is any more traumatising because of the length of the service.  No one will cancel the party afterwards because the baby is fussy (no one will think to suggest such a thing), so I'm not sure why the prayers by which we dedicate children to God and take them out of the grasp of Satan should be eliminated and the rite limited to the absolute bare minimum of the washing because of some crying.  I find such criticism particularly curious coming from adherents of religions like Judaism and Islam which routinely take sharp knives to the genitals of children.  

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Offline Poppy

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 05:07:56 PM »
Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.

I'm not Greek, and I don't have children of my own, so I can't speak to the specific customs you have in mind or to the experience of childrearing.  That said, I have attended and served my share of baptisms, held children in the font, etc., and the actual washing doesn't last more than a minute in a service that takes about an hour...most times, it takes no more than twenty to thirty seconds.  And it is just that: a washing or a quick dunk, it's not like the priest is holding the child under water for an hour shaking the devil out of him.  Some children cry after the baptism, some cry before it, some don't cry at all, and others cry all throughout the service.  It very much depends on the child. 

And I've never seen a priest continue a service over "the objections" of the child because, among other reasons, that would be a hindrance to his own performing of the rites.  They are usually very good about letting parents, godparents, relatives, whomever settle down the child, even if it takes time.  So I'm not sure that baptism is any more traumatising because of the length of the service.  No one will cancel the party afterwards because the baby is fussy (no one will think to suggest such a thing), so I'm not sure why the prayers by which we dedicate children to God and take them out of the grasp of Satan should be eliminated and the rite limited to the absolute bare minimum of the washing because of some crying.  I find such criticism particularly curious coming from adherents of religions like Judaism and Islam which routinely take sharp knives to the genitals of children.   

At last, a sensible reply, thanks.

Red -  Ok, maybe this was a exception then.

Blue - It wasn't so much because the baby was crying and distressed so much, but it was that was the catalyst for further thought on why the rituals are there. No-one has addressed whether they directly come from Jesus himself or whether some church father has added them as time has gone on.

Really, I also gave a specific instance about the baby being held up and moved in the sign of the cross.
Seriously, someone here must be Greek and can answer that one action?

Thanks again for your good post.

Offline Ansgar

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2014, 05:42:05 PM »
Okay, I went and checked the offical GOARCH text for the baptismal service. I couldn't find anything about raising the child in the form of a cross, so my guess is that it is simply a nonobligatory tradition, though I could be wrong. I gues that it somehow symbolizes the child being blessed by Christ, but I'm not sure. 
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2014, 05:49:27 PM »
Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.

I'm not Greek, and I don't have children of my own, so I can't speak to the specific customs you have in mind or to the experience of childrearing.  That said, I have attended and served my share of baptisms, held children in the font, etc., and the actual washing doesn't last more than a minute in a service that takes about an hour...most times, it takes no more than twenty to thirty seconds.  And it is just that: a washing or a quick dunk, it's not like the priest is holding the child under water for an hour shaking the devil out of him.  Some children cry after the baptism, some cry before it, some don't cry at all, and others cry all throughout the service.  It very much depends on the child. 

And I've never seen a priest continue a service over "the objections" of the child because, among other reasons, that would be a hindrance to his own performing of the rites.  They are usually very good about letting parents, godparents, relatives, whomever settle down the child, even if it takes time.  So I'm not sure that baptism is any more traumatising because of the length of the service.  No one will cancel the party afterwards because the baby is fussy (no one will think to suggest such a thing), so I'm not sure why the prayers by which we dedicate children to God and take them out of the grasp of Satan should be eliminated and the rite limited to the absolute bare minimum of the washing because of some crying.  I find such criticism particularly curious coming from adherents of religions like Judaism and Islam which routinely take sharp knives to the genitals of children.   

At last, a sensible reply, thanks.

Red -  Ok, maybe this was a exception then.

Blue - It wasn't so much because the baby was crying and distressed so much, but it was that was the catalyst for further thought on why the rituals are there. No-one has addressed whether they directly come from Jesus himself or whether some church father has added them as time has gone on.

Really, I also gave a specific instance about the baby being held up and moved in the sign of the cross.
Seriously, someone here must be Greek and can answer that one action?

Thanks again for your good post.

Of course, Baptism comes from the same traditions Wudu' is based on in Islam. The difference in Christianity isn't ritual purity though, but purity of the spirit. Baptism washes away sins.
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2014, 05:50:41 PM »
No-one has addressed whether they directly come from Jesus himself or whether some church father has added them as time has gone on.

Poppy, I think you are being rhetorical. Of they don't come from Jesus directly. The liturgy has been reworked and altered many times over history with much protest. You have a NT I am sure somewhere. You have read a little bit about the early Church. Contrary to what some Orthodox like to say, neither St. Paul nor St. Peter would be  "at home" in DL they walked into today.

But this is neither here nor there for Christians, as they believe something called the Holy Spirit came to dwell within the community after Jesus Ascended. You know this. Through the working of the Holy Spirit many things have changed.

People who have similar dispositions as you and yet claim to be Orthodox might have problems with the above, but Orthodox Christians are not people of the book, they are a people of the Church first and foremost, to put it simply. And thus they are people of time and place, which is to say people of the Incarnation, which it to say Christ.

So yes, Christ did hand over to the Church this baptismal rite according to how one would properly understand something like development of doctrine and liturgy.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 05:52:54 PM by orthonorm »
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Offline orthonorm

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2014, 05:52:17 PM »
Okay, I went and checked the offical GOARCH text for the baptismal service. I couldn't find anything about raising the child in the form of a cross, so my guess is that it is simply a nonobligatory tradition, though I could be wrong. I gues that it somehow symbolizes the child being blessed by Christ, but I'm not sure. 

And baptisms are done within the context of the DL (and arguably should be) so a baptism could very well last a few hours.

Sure some people want their private moment or whatever. So, Poppy is not wrong about the time a Baptism takes per se.
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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2014, 11:33:12 PM »
...that was the catalyst for further thought on why the rituals are there. No-one has addressed whether they directly come from Jesus himself or whether some church father has added them as time has gone on.

To discuss in detail the development of the rites of Christian initiation would be difficult to do in a forum post, but I'll try to sum it up. 

Baptism, as a ritual washing away of sins and a dedication to a new way of life, begins, as we know it as Christians, with the ministry of John the Baptist.  Jesus himself is baptised by John, does some baptising himself, and commands that believers be baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Beyond that, he doesn't say much. 

The technique of the washing is adapted from Jesus' own baptism, which reflects earlier practices.  If at all possible, we immerse fully three times, but forms of washing, pouring water over the head, etc., have been accepted as (at least sometimes) valid, even becoming normative in some traditions.  In conjunction with the baptism, there was a laying on of hands and prayer for the reception of the Holy Spirit, which is now done in the form of post-baptismal anointing with chrism, a specially consecrated oil.  These, in turn, prepare the person to receive the Eucharist, and it is the Eucharist which completes and fulfills this process. 

There was a traditional period of preparation before baptism which involved hearing/reading the Scriptures, learning the faith of the Church, the basics of a life of prayer, etc., which we know as "catechumenate".  It had a varying length in different places.  The passage of certain stages would be marked by certain rites: prayers would be said over the person to exorcise them, to pray for their purification and that they might learn the faith properly and live accordingly, they would be asked to reject Satan and confess their faith in Christ, they would be taught the Creed of the Church in order to confess it publicly, etc. 

What you experience nowadays as the service of baptism in a church is really all of these "individual moments" in the initiation process (which in the early Church would've been done over a period of weeks or months) done in succession, one after the other, in the space of an hour or so.  If you separated them and did them in the proper order at the proper intervals, it might take a few minutes for each "moment", but you'd have to do it over the course of several months.  Our custom for well over a thousand years now has been to do them all in one shot.

The basic order of the service is the same in all the extant liturgical traditions, but since these developed in different parts of the world, there are some customs that are not universal.  For instance:         

Quote
Really, I also gave a specific instance about the baby being held up and moved in the sign of the cross.
Seriously, someone here must be Greek and can answer that one action?

I'll defer to Greeks, but I think what you're describing may have to do with a separate "moment" which has been attached to the rite of baptism: this "moment" is called "churching".  This developed as a way to progressively introduce newborn children into the community of the Church and to reintegrate recently delivered mothers back into the community after their absence and recovery.  Prayers are said for the child and the mother at certain milestones: immediately after birth, eight days after birth, and the churching itself, which is supposed to occur forty days after birth (there is some variation on this).  Some traditions include a rite in which the priest takes the child and presents him/her before the altar, carries him/her in, etc.  It's a blessing, a form of dedication, an imitation of Christ's own entrance into the Temple in Jerusalem at forty days old.  Traditionally baptism would be some time after this, but as people began to baptise babies before the forty days were up, it became customary to add these rites to the baptismal rite in some way. 
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Offline Poppy

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2014, 04:08:44 AM »
Okay, I went and checked the offical GOARCH text for the baptismal service. I couldn't find anything about raising the child in the form of a cross, so my guess is that it is simply a nonobligatory tradition, though I could be wrong. I gues that it somehow symbolizes the child being blessed by Christ, but I'm not sure. 

Thanks, I rli appreciate you finding out for me.

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2014, 04:20:04 AM »
Please don't trivialise it. It's not the same as giving your kids a bath. You don't let them scream and sob for a whole hour when giving them a baby bath. It's much shorter and they are in and out as quick as you can if they are distressed by it. This service went on for an hour and no one made it shorter to help the baby out.

Going through the birth canal, as you so delicately put it, is a necessary event for actual physical life, it's unavoidable, like a life-saving procedure. If baptism has to happen and the baby is so young and upset by it, they can be put in and out of the water as quick as possible, I'm'm not arguing against that main part of it, just the surrounding rituals that seem unnecessary long that keep some kids crying for too long, like a whole hour.

I'm not Greek, and I don't have children of my own, so I can't speak to the specific customs you have in mind or to the experience of childrearing.  That said, I have attended and served my share of baptisms, held children in the font, etc., and the actual washing doesn't last more than a minute in a service that takes about an hour...most times, it takes no more than twenty to thirty seconds.  And it is just that: a washing or a quick dunk, it's not like the priest is holding the child under water for an hour shaking the devil out of him.  Some children cry after the baptism, some cry before it, some don't cry at all, and others cry all throughout the service.  It very much depends on the child. 

And I've never seen a priest continue a service over "the objections" of the child because, among other reasons, that would be a hindrance to his own performing of the rites.  They are usually very good about letting parents, godparents, relatives, whomever settle down the child, even if it takes time.  So I'm not sure that baptism is any more traumatising because of the length of the service.  No one will cancel the party afterwards because the baby is fussy (no one will think to suggest such a thing), so I'm not sure why the prayers by which we dedicate children to God and take them out of the grasp of Satan should be eliminated and the rite limited to the absolute bare minimum of the washing because of some crying.  I find such criticism particularly curious coming from adherents of religions like Judaism and Islam which routinely take sharp knives to the genitals of children.   

At last, a sensible reply, thanks.

Red -  Ok, maybe this was a exception then.

Blue - It wasn't so much because the baby was crying and distressed so much, but it was that was the catalyst for further thought on why the rituals are there. No-one has addressed whether they directly come from Jesus himself or whether some church father has added them as time has gone on.

Really, I also gave a specific instance about the baby being held up and moved in the sign of the cross.
Seriously, someone here must be Greek and can answer that one action?

Thanks again for your good post.

Of course, Baptism comes from the same traditions Wudu' is based on in Islam. The difference in Christianity isn't ritual purity though, but purity of the spirit. Baptism washes away sins.

I get that.

In Islam, all praise to Allah, I can easily get verification from text as to why a certain action is performed. Either it is in the unchanged Qur'an or it is something the Prophet (saw) did. That's what I am trying to figure out here.

Really, this isn't about criticism of The Church, it's about finding out how solid is the truth which it is built on. If people come along century after century and change traditions or make new ones, then of course I would question that.

Offline Poppy

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Re: Symbolism in Baptisms
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2014, 04:25:24 AM »
...that was the catalyst for further thought on why the rituals are there. No-one has addressed whether they directly come from Jesus himself or whether some church father has added them as time has gone on.

To discuss in detail the development of the rites of Christian initiation would be difficult to do in a forum post, but I'll try to sum it up. 

Baptism, as a ritual washing away of sins and a dedication to a new way of life, begins, as we know it as Christians, with the ministry of John the Baptist.  Jesus himself is baptised by John, does some baptising himself, and commands that believers be baptised in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Beyond that, he doesn't say much. 

The technique of the washing is adapted from Jesus' own baptism, which reflects earlier practices.  If at all possible, we immerse fully three times, but forms of washing, pouring water over the head, etc., have been accepted as (at least sometimes) valid, even becoming normative in some traditions.  In conjunction with the baptism, there was a laying on of hands and prayer for the reception of the Holy Spirit, which is now done in the form of post-baptismal anointing with chrism, a specially consecrated oil.  These, in turn, prepare the person to receive the Eucharist, and it is the Eucharist which completes and fulfills this process. 

There was a traditional period of preparation before baptism which involved hearing/reading the Scriptures, learning the faith of the Church, the basics of a life of prayer, etc., which we know as "catechumenate".  It had a varying length in different places.  The passage of certain stages would be marked by certain rites: prayers would be said over the person to exorcise them, to pray for their purification and that they might learn the faith properly and live accordingly, they would be asked to reject Satan and confess their faith in Christ, they would be taught the Creed of the Church in order to confess it publicly, etc. 

What you experience nowadays as the service of baptism in a church is really all of these "individual moments" in the initiation process (which in the early Church would've been done over a period of weeks or months) done in succession, one after the other, in the space of an hour or so.  If you separated them and did them in the proper order at the proper intervals, it might take a few minutes for each "moment", but you'd have to do it over the course of several months.  Our custom for well over a thousand years now has been to do them all in one shot.

The basic order of the service is the same in all the extant liturgical traditions, but since these developed in different parts of the world, there are some customs that are not universal.  For instance:         

Quote
Really, I also gave a specific instance about the baby being held up and moved in the sign of the cross.
Seriously, someone here must be Greek and can answer that one action?

I'll defer to Greeks, but I think what you're describing may have to do with a separate "moment" which has been attached to the rite of baptism: this "moment" is called "churching".  This developed as a way to progressively introduce newborn children into the community of the Church and to reintegrate recently delivered mothers back into the community after their absence and recovery.  Prayers are said for the child and the mother at certain milestones: immediately after birth, eight days after birth, and the churching itself, which is supposed to occur forty days after birth (there is some variation on this).  Some traditions include a rite in which the priest takes the child and presents him/her before the altar, carries him/her in, etc.  It's a blessing, a form of dedication, an imitation of Christ's own entrance into the Temple in Jerusalem at forty days old.  Traditionally baptism would be some time after this, but as people began to baptise babies before the forty days were up, it became customary to add these rites to the baptismal rite in some way. 

Thank you!

That's enough for me to go look up the individual moments and look closer at each one.
You really stuffed a whole entire lot into that post, in a rli quick read, thanks again.