Baptism-Chrismation Service

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The Baptism-Chrismation service is an act of reception of an infant or non-Christian into full membership of the Orthodox Church. The term chrismation is used because of the chrism (perfumed holy oil, usually containing myrrh (μύρον), and consecrated by a bishop) with which the recipient of the sacrament is anointed, while the priest speaks the words sealing the initiate with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit of the Holy Spirit.

Liturgical form

  • In the Orthodox Church, the priest seals the newly-baptized with chrism, making the sign of the cross on the forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, breast, back, hands and feet using the following words each time:
"The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit" (in Greek: Σφραγὶς δωρεᾶς Πνεύματος Ἁγίου).

Sacramental theology

In the Orthodox Church, this sacramental rite is performed by a presbyter (priest), and is usually conferred immediately after baptism; therefore, it is usually received by infants. After receiving this sacrament, the recipient is eligible to receive the Eucharist. In addition, Chrismation may be used to admit those converts who have already been baptized according to a Trinitarian formula. In the Eastern tradition, chrismation shows the unity of the church through the bishop in the continuation of the Apostolic faith, because the chrism used is presented to the priest by the bishop and (together with the antimension) is the symbol of the priest's permission from the bishop to perform the sacraments. Although priests in the Orthodox churches are universally granted this faculty, it is thus still considered ultimately proper to the bishop and associated with his Apostolic office specifically, and not merely the priestly. Furthermore, because some of last year's chrism is mixed with the next year's, there is a tradition that the chrism is believed to contain a remnant of, or at least a connection to, the same chrism which was consecrated by the Apostles in the first century, and thus is a symbol of Apostolic succession.

Chrismation is considered to bind the recipients more perfectly to the Church, and to enrich them with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Some theologians propose that chrismation conveys the "Baptism of the Holy Spirit," the particular gifts (or charismata) of which may be latent or become manifest over time according to God's will.

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