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Author Topic: Receiving a saint's name upon Chrismation  (Read 5440 times) Average Rating: 0
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Arystarcus
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« on: October 01, 2004, 04:37:39 PM »

Greetings all!

I have a question that I hope some of you may be able to give some help on and I don't believe I have seen it asked on the board before. My question is about the practice of receiving a saint's name when a convert is received into the Holy Orthodox Faith by Christmation. My priest told me that some people choose to do this when they are Chrismated and that I may do if I desire to, or that I may keep my given name (Aaron) if I would like to.

I think that I would like to take a saint's name upon my Christmation, but I am having a hard time deciding - because I honestly do not know how one should go about in choosing a name and I was hoping some of my fellow board members that were received into the faith might be able to tell me what process they went through when they chose a name. How did you decide upon your saint's name and what factors did you take into consideration during the process of selecting your name? If you may know of any other useful information that I may need or have neglected to ask please post and let me know!

I look forward to reading your replies!  Smiley

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2004, 05:28:11 PM »


There's a good article on this topic here:

http://www.saintandrew.net/fr_josiah/homilies/ChristianNamesandPatronSaints.htm

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« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2004, 05:42:43 PM »

A couple very un-profound questions about this, prompted more by curiosity than anything else.  Firstly, when did the practice of taking Christian names start?  There must have been a period of time when people were keeping their own names, because there would have been no names to take at the beginning.  Secondly, won't this make things more and more confusing as time passes, because there will be more and more saints with the same name?  Stupid questions, I know, but humour me.
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« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2004, 06:45:32 PM »

Aaron is a Christian name so please don't take another name.  Some modern-day Orthodox imitate the Latin custom of taking a confirmation name.  But to become Orthodox and take a name, this is the name you are supposed to use on a regular basis, because it is the name you took at the beginning of your new life.  So instead of taking a new name and not using it regularly, I would suggest you keep your already Christian name.

Anastasios
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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2004, 06:47:50 AM »

My priest encouraged us to take new names upon chrismation.  It was something that I very much wanted to do in order to make a very distinct break with my past and as a celebration of the new life that I was entering into.

I chose St. Columba of Iona(aka Columcille) as my patron.  I have always been proud of my Scots/Irish ancestry and as I began to ponder a patron I began to read bios of Irish and Scottish saints.  Reading the life of St. Columba, I admired his faith and practice, his holiness, his accomplishments and in time, I felt that he was the saint that I would choose as my patron.   Part of the process was to choose a saint that I want to emulate in some way as I live my faith.

This decision actually was made while still an Anglo-Catholic.

On our first visit to the Orthodox parish of which I am now a communicant, halfway through the Divine Liturgy, I look up and  on the wall of the temple, at my left shoulder, is an icon of St. Columba.  Talk about chill bumps.  I felt very much that his intercessions had been instumental in my jouney to Orthodoxy. If there had been any doubts of him being my patron before that day, there were no doubts after that experience.

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« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2004, 07:23:50 AM »

FWIW, I agree with Anastasios on this issue.
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« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2004, 09:24:52 AM »

I definitely see Anastasios' point as well; I originally was going to "take" the name of the Prophet David (my first name -- though not the one by which I am called -- is David, and my birthday is two days after Christmas, very close to the first Sunday after Nativity, when Prophet David is commemorated) so as to make things easier on myself.  Plus, as a young man, I could relate to the whole "temptation of the eyes" struggle and subsequent penchant for repentance and songwriting/poetry he was known for.

3 days before my chrismation, however, the priest who chrismated me asked me about whether I had a name picked (he forgets easily).  It was an emotional conversation about my sins, upcoming confession, etc., so he suggested I take the name Peter (hence Pedro here!), due to, among other things, my tendency to want to talk a lot (500+ posts since May is proof of that, I think!) my impulsiveness, and my zeal.  I had forgotten that St. Peter the Apostle had always been one of the people with whom I most identified as a Protestant!  Seemed like more of a fit to me.

Thus (to add to the thread's answer), we're also supposed to try to think of a saint to emulate who not only lived out the virtues we seek to gain, but also (if possible) came from a place similar to where we currently are spiritually.
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« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2004, 10:35:24 AM »

I would encourage you to read the lives of the Saints and find a saint whom you are particularly attracted to to be your heavenly intercessor.  You don't have to change your name from Aaron if you don't want to. But I think having a special patron saint is an important part of bonding into Orthodoxy.  You need a name day to celebrate. You need an icon of your patron saint in your icon corner. You need a special friend in heaven whose name you share and whose life you strive to imitate.  This is a very important part of the Communion of Saints.  If you begin to read about the lives of the Saints, some saint will eventually jump out at you whom you can relate to and share similar struggles with.
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« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2004, 10:50:34 AM »

Of course, one might keep the name that they were given at birth, but have to choose a the specific saint with that name. I mean, if you happen to be named Peter or John, you have quite a number of saints that might be(come) your patron. Smiley Also, even if one wants to keep roughly the same name, I wonder about the propriety (in the eyes of some) regarding having a patron saint with some variation of their name; e.g., someone named Justin taking St. Justus or St. Justinian?

I don't think the names will get redundant, since we add titles, geographical locations, etc. to the names of saints. I mean, how many "Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco's" or "Saint Justin Popoviches" will there ever be? Probably only one. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2004, 07:44:53 PM »

Thank you everyone for your insight, much appreciated!

Now it's time for some more questions.  Cheesy

Quote
Aaron is a Christian name so please don't take another name.  Some modern-day Orthodox imitate the Latin custom of taking a confirmation name.

I wasn't aware that it was a Latin custom, I just assumed it was acceptable because my priest made that option available, if I chose to do so.

Quote
But to become Orthodox and take a name, this is the name you are supposed to use on a regular basis, because it is the name you took at the beginning of your new life.  So instead of taking a new name and not using it regularly, I would suggest you keep your already Christian name.

Anastasios,

when you say "it is the name you took at the beginning of your new life", do you mean the beginning of your new life as in when I was born, or do you mean when I baptized? I ask, because if it is the latter, I was not baptized as an infant, I was baptized with a triple-immersion "independant baptist" style, when I was 12. I was under the impression that by being chrismated into the Holy Orthodox faith, it completed the action of my baptism and it infused it with the grace it lacked - because the baptism was done outside of the Church.

Quote
It was something that I very much wanted to do in order to make a very distinct break with my past and as a celebration of the new life that I was entering into.

Quote
Part of the process was to choose a saint that I want to emulate in some way as I live my faith.

Quote
we're also supposed to try to think of a saint to emulate who not only lived out the virtues we seek to gain, but also (if possible) came from a place similar to where we currently are spiritually.

Columcille & Pedro,

those are some of the same reasons that had been going around in my head as well.

Quote
I would encourage you to read the lives of the Saints and find a saint whom you are particularly attracted to to be your heavenly intercessor.  You don't have to change your name from Aaron if you don't want to. But I think having a special patron saint is an important part of bonding into Orthodoxy.  You need a name day to celebrate. You need an icon of your patron saint in your icon corner. You need a special friend in heaven whose name you share and whose life you strive to imitate.  This is a very important part of the Communion of Saints.  If you begin to read about the lives of the Saints, some saint will eventually jump out at you whom you can relate to and share similar struggles with.

Tikhon,

I really need to get reading because the time drawth nigh - about a month and a half from now. I do have a couple names/saints in mind - if I do end up choosing to take that route - but I would like to do some more research so that I know that I am making the right decision.

I've also thought that taking a name would be a good way to grow into my faith, as well as to participate in a in those traditions that you mentioned above - name's day celebrations, an icon of my patronal saint, as well as someone to look up to and to give me hope. It would be completely new to me as such things were not part of the protestant tradition I was raised in.

I can honestly say that I was 100% gung-ho for being Chrismated with a saint's name, but now I am a little confused about what I should do. I thought that by doing so I would be doing something honorable and participating in a tradition that someone who was born into the Orthodox faith is able to do.

Do any of you have any more thoughts or comments about this that you would like to share?

I truly appreciate everyone's insight into this and for giving me your opinions - I eagerly await your replies!  Smiley

In Christ,
Aaron
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« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2004, 08:06:47 PM »

Aaron,

Your analysis of the chrismation is correct: what I was saying is that at chrismation you are beginning your new life in Christ.  So the name you take then should be the name you are going to use day in and day out. That being the case, since Aaron is already a Christian name, I would suggest you keep it and use it day in and day out Smiley

As for my comment of Latin customs, what I mean is that sure it is an Orthodox custom to take a new name at baptism (or by extension chrismation) but it would be a Latin custom  to take a name at chrismation (confirmation) and not use it as your regular name.

Anastasios
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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2004, 10:03:44 PM »

Neither my first or middle name is a Christian name.  If my mother had gotten to name me Elizabeth Anne like she wanted to, I would gladly have chosen St. Elizabeth the New Martyr or St. Anna.  

As it was, I was having a hard time choosing between St. Photini and St. Katherine, when St. Katherine seemed to choose me.  I read a lot of the lives of the women martyrs and narrowed it down to those two.  If I'd known about St. Mary of Egypt then, I would have chosen from among those three.  

Aaron, if your priest wants you to choose another name, I would read the lives of as many saints as you can and make a list of the saints that you really identify with.  Definitely pray about what name you should choose and maybe talk to your priest about it.  Maybe he could help you with this also.
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« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2004, 10:06:20 PM »

And Aaron, if there are other saints that you really identify with, keep icons of them in your prayer corner and pray for their intercession also.  I have an icon of St. Photini (the woman at the well) in my prayer corner also, and I ask for her intercession at times.  One of these days, I want to buy an icon of St. Mary of Egypt as well.
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2004, 08:27:33 PM »

Well, I was chrismated with a pagan name, I suppose by accident.  I'm not sure if our priest understood that my name was not a variation of a Christian name.  

My middle name is Christian and I've always considered that saint to be my patron saint.  I suppose that's fudging.


Oh well.
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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2004, 07:18:28 AM »

I can honestly say that I was 100% gung-ho for being Chrismated with a saint's name, but now I am a little confused about what I should do. I thought that by doing so I would be doing something honorable and participating in a tradition that someone who was born into the Orthodox faith is able to do.

Mmm...to go back a little to what anastasios was saying, there's some merit in a convert staying with his/her given name  (or, if one takes a new one, taking a "neutral" name like Peter), as we converts tend to REALLY focus on "how different this is!" if our name is now something exotic like Siloan or Seraphim or Onuphreous (sp?).

I'm not being clear, I don't think...it's good to know the differences b/t us and Protestantism...hence all of our conversions...but we shouldn't do something in a certain way just because we're "able to"[/i].  Being different for difference's sake, when it is entirely possible to maintain an Orthodox practice without changing what previously was, is something converts get sucked into easily, when, IMO, they'd do better to focus on the Lord and the new relationship w/Him they have to get used to.  There's enough change involved in that; adding an unnecessary name change just adds to the "culture shock."
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« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2004, 07:53:10 AM »

Quote
...it's good to know the differences b/t us and Protestantism...hence all of our conversions...but we shouldn't do something in a certain way just because we're "able to".  Being different for difference's sake, when it is entirely possible to maintain an Orthodox practice without changing what previously was, is something converts get sucked into easily, when, IMO, they'd do better to focus on the Lord and the new relationship w/Him they have to get used to.  There's enough change involved in that; adding an unnecessary name change just adds to the "culture shock."

I agree with you Pedro.  However, in my personal journey,  I was weary of feeding on crumbs.  As I read Church history and about Orthodoxy, I was realizing that I had only been given bits and pieces of the truth, not the 'whole enchilada' that Orthodoxy possesses.

I confess that for many inquirers there is much 'culture shock' to work through.  My being an Anglo-Catholic helped in making many of these adjustments before becoming a chatecumen.  When the time came to be chrismated, I wanted to feast on that 'whole enchilada' which included taking a new name.  

Of course each person needs to work through this with their priest.  I couldn't imagine my coming into the Church without taking a new name.

Humbly,

Columba
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« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2004, 07:21:11 PM »

I would encourage you to read the lives of the Saints and find a saint whom you are particularly attracted to to be your heavenly intercessor.  You don't have to change your name from Aaron if you don't want to. But I think having a special patron saint is an important part of bonding into Orthodoxy.  You need a name day to celebrate. You need an icon of your patron saint in your icon corner. You need a special friend in heaven whose name you share and whose life you strive to imitate.  This is a very important part of the Communion of Saints.  If you begin to read about the lives of the Saints, some saint will eventually jump out at you whom you can relate to and share similar struggles with.

I want to thank Tikhon for his post, which put in writing the thoughts that were going through my head while reading this thread.  I, too, have a non-Christian first name.  My middle name is Joseph, but I have long had an attachment to St. John Damascene, both for his defense of the holy icons and the fact that he lived a truly Orthodox life in the midst of a non-Orthodox society.  So I chose him as my patron and John became my "second name."  My priest usually refers to me by both names, as do some of my friends, but most still use only my first name.  But for at least one baba in my parish I am always "John."  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2004, 07:38:43 PM »

I kept my name when I converted...actually what Pedro mentioned played a part in that...I didn't want to take some really foreign-sounding name just for the sake of having a foreign-sounding name.  Anyway, as was, I already had somewhat of a connection with St. Irene of Thessaloniki (who's name had been Penelope), so I just went with that.
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