MARRIAGE & BAPTISM INFORMATION
The Mystery of MarriageNOTICE: Requests for duplicate Baptismal or Marriage certificates must be made in writing and either sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed directly to the Cathedral. No phone requests will be considered. Expect a wait of 3 - 6 weeks.
We do not provide baptismal certificates for the purpose of Marriages to performed outside the Orthodox Church.
FOR THOSE SEEKING MARRIAGE AT THE CATHEDRALThe Sacrament of Marriage is the beginning of a spiritual process that lasts a lifetime. The Cathedral church is not a "wedding chapel" to be "booked" for a one-time "event" and then abandoned except for "memories" in a Wedding photo album. It is wrong-minded and insulting to treat the Church in such a cavalier and frivolous manner. Those who are considering having their Marriage here must understand that up front. No dates will be discussed or reserved by phone or e-mail contacts. The intended couple must come to the Church for a Sunday Liturgy and speak with the Priest afterward before any discussion of Marriage can occur. They should be active and regular members of the Church, not just baptized into it as an infant. The couple must complete and file an application at least three months in advance of a propsed date for Marrage. As a rule, the Church only marries Orthodox Christian members who are regular communicants and who intend to live as an Orthodox Christian family. Certain exceptions (special dispensation) may be made for a “mixed marriage” (marriage to a non-Orthodox spouse who has received a form a Christian baptism), but the non-Orthodox spouse must agree that any children will be baptized and raised in the Orthodox Church, and also be open to converting to Orthodoxy in the future. Marriage of divorced persons also requires a special dispensation from the bishop. Special dispensation is obtained through the priest. Together the couple seeks to receive the saving grace of God in their lives. To be married in and by the Church without consciously intending to nurture that relationship in the Church is a mistake. To be married in the Church simply to please other family members, or because it is an ethnic custom, is dishonest to ourselves and to God. Before we can proceed with setting up a date for your marriage, there are certain steps that must be taken, and pre-marriage counseling must be scheduled. Before you can be married in the Church, the following preparation and pre-conditions must first be met by you: • Become a Pledging Member of the Cathedral by filling out a Pledge Card and making a payment toward the pledge.You may also make and fulfill your Pledge on our web site through our Subscription service.
• Speak to the priest to secure a date for the Marriage at least three months in advance, and fill out an Application for Marriage. There are many other things that must be discussed such as times and days when Marriages are permitted to be served in the Church. At least two counseling sessions with the priest are necessary before the marriage ceremony. Do not make any plans (invitations, hall rental, etc.) before clearing the date with the priest. The proper day for Marriages is Sunday. Marriages on Saturdays must begin no later than 2:00 p.m.
• Live chastely (no sex before marriage), and do not live together in the same place until after the Marriage service is performed.
• The Couple and Sponsors/Godparents must receive the Sacrament of Holy Confession and prepare to receive Holy Communion prior to the Marriage. Sponsors need to be Orthodox Christians in good standing. A male for the groom, a female for the bride. They do NOT need to be best man and maid of honor - so long as there's one of each in the wedding party, it will do. On the wedding certificate, the names of the Orthodox Christian spnosors will be inscribed.
• You will need to purchase/provide two candles.
• The standard donation for a Marriage is $600. A choir (quartet) may be hired to sing at the ceremony for a fee of $400.
• Fees to use space in the Cathedral halls for a reception begin at $1,500 and cannot accomodate more than 150 persons. No reception may be held here on Saturdays.
• Make a sincere promise to live a Christian Orthodox life by making attendance of Liturgy on Sundays a regular part of your family life. This is an indispensable part of a successful marriage. No wedding is put on the cathedral calendar until the initial meeting has taken place. NOTE: The goal of the Orthodox Church is to give each married couple the best opportunity for a blessed and fulfilling marriage; hence, the Church can never condone couples living together as practically married prior to the marriage. Not only is there no question from a biblical standpoint that this is inappropriate, but statistics gathered by secular professionals clearly show that there is a 50% HIGHER divorce rate among couples who have lived together prior to their weddings than those who have not! The Church makes every attempt to give couples a spiritually healthy, appropriate start. Therefore, any couple wishing to be married and is cohabitating must do everything they can to separate physically until their wedding date; this decision is made in a loving spirit of concern for the health and stability of the future marriage. Be sure to consult the priest about every aspect of the Marriage (rings, dress, flowers, special music requests, etc.) The throwing of rice on the church porch is not permitted – flower petals or dried lavender are allowed and provide a better alternative. Women's clothing should be modest and in good taste, not have bared shoulders and backs, or at least a shawl or drape should be worn during the church service. Please call or e-mail me (email@example.com) with any questions. I hope to see you in church this Sunday and every Sunday thereafter as we move closer to your wedding day. The Liturgy begins at 9:30 a.m. God bless you. Please read the following information on Marriage before coming to discuss a date.
Some Directives and Guidelines Concerning MarriageThe Church's vision of marriage is as an icon of the Trinitarian life of God Himself. In such a union, human love and desire for companionship become a love pervaded and sanctified by Divine Grace. God unites in body and spirit, heart and mind. Love unites in such a way that two lives become one life in perfect harmony. Such love implies a relationship in marriage that is total in character. To live up to its high calling, the Christian family must be firmly established in the faith. See: On Marriage, Encyclical Letter, Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, 1976. 1. The priest must make sincere and determined efforts through preaching and teaching to make his parishioners aware that the Mystery of Marriage takes place within the context of the total life of the parish. 2. The rector must seek to know who among his parishioners intend to marry and must make himself available for guidance and advice. His responsibilities include instructing the couple on the Orthodox Christian teaching of marriage. This should take place well before wedding plans are made so that the couple may understand and follow the Church’s teaching and discipline on the Mystery of Marriage. 3. Counseling and teaching should include the following:
• Procreation of children is not in itself the sole purpose of marriage; nevertheless, marriage presupposes a desire to have children. The couple should pray for God to grant them the blessings of childbirth and wise nurturing of the family.
• "Let marriage be held in honor, and let the marriage bed be undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4). Sexual union is one of the blessings of marriage. The priest should remind the couple that they belong to each other. Couples may abstain from sexual union for a season by mutual consent, but should be made aware that refraining entirely from this act may result in unnecessary difficulties in their marriage. 4. The priest should make known to his faithful that before setting a date, renting a hall, or considering any activity related to the social aspect of the marriage day, a couple planning marriage must first seek the blessing, guidance, and advice of their parish priest. 5. The couple must respect the seasons, times, and days during which marriage may be blessed. The priest must also uphold the teaching of the Church in regard to these things. The most appropriate time for a wedding is Sunday, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. 6. Marriages may not to be celebrated on:
• evenings before Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year,
• Saturday evenings throughout the year,
• evenings of the twelve Great Feasts or patronal feast of the parish,
• during the course of all the fasts,
• the Great Forty Day Fast, Apostles' Fast, Dormition Fast, and Nativity Fast,
• from Sunday of Meatfare to the Sunday of Cheesefare,
• during the course of Bright Week,
• from the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec. 25) through the Feast of the Synaxis of St. John the Baptist (Jan. 7),
• on the evening and day of the Feast of St. John the Baptist (Aug. 29), and
• on the evening and day of the Elevation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14). 7. Because marriages are normally celebrated on Sunday after the Divine Liturgy, the request to hold the ceremony on a Saturday may require a written petition for consent to the diocesan hierarch by the rector of the church where the marriage is to be performed.
The couple must be exhorted to attend the Divine Liturgy on the following Sunday so that the marriage can be sealed by the reception of the Holy Eucharist. If permission is given for a Saturday wedding, it shall be celebrated no later than a time of day established by the hierarch (2PM)so that the priest may serve the Vigil or Vesper service. 8. The ritual of the marriage ceremony is to be celebrated in an Orthodox Church building. Ceremonies in Halls, gardens, and other places are not not permitted. 9. The priest, as a pastor of souls, must also be available to counsel those already married, who are experiencing difficulties in their married status. 10. The priest is responsible for entering into the metrical book the required information. A. Mixed Marriages A mixed marriage is a marriage between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Orthodox Christian who is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who confesses the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Church tolerates this because of her pastoral concern and love for the faithful. Thus, a mixed marriage is not the norm, but is permitted in the hope that the non-Orthodox spouse will seek entrance into the Church. 1. A petition for a mixed marriage must be submitted to the diocesan hierarch for his blessing. 2. In a mixed marriage, the Orthodox partner should not consent to have children of the union baptized outside the Orthodox Church as a pre-marriage agreement. 3. Toleration of a mixed marriage does not extend to marriage between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Christian person, such as a Christian Scientist, Jehovah's Witness, Jew, Mormon, Moslem, Unitarian, etc. 4. Active participation of non-Orthodox clergy in this service, as in all the mysteries of the Orthodox Church, is not allowed. Conversely, Orthodox clergy may not participate in Non- Orthodox services and rites. B. Second Marriage and Marriage Between Divorced Persons 1. The Orthodox norm for those who marry is one marriage. A second marriage is tolerated under certain conditions. A third marriage may be extended under certain precise circumstances. 2. The Church does not grant divorces. However, it recognizes that because of human weaknesses and sin marriages sometimes disintegrate and are ended by a civil decree of divorce. 3. In her mercy and wisdom, the Church may grant permission to remarry through the diocesan hierarch. Petition is made to the hierarch through the parish priest. A clear hand-written statement of repentance from the divorced party, whether or not he/she is considered the culpable one in the divorce, and a clear statement that the reason he/she desires to enter a second marriage is that it is considered necessary for his/her salvation is to be addressed to the diocesan hierarch through the parish priest. (See: Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and Sanctity of Life, Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, Tenth All-American Council, 1992, page 5.) 4. Under no circumstances can there be a fourth marriage. 5. The Order of Service: • If one party of the marriage is being married for the first time (even if that person is not Orthodox), the order of the first marriage is used. • If both the partners are divorced and/or widowed, the order for the second marriage may be used. C. Marriage Outside of the Orthodox Church 1. Orthodox Christians who marry outside the Orthodox Church thereby exclude their marital life from the life of the Church, exclude themselves from participation in the Holy Eucharist, and therefore exclude themselves from full membership in the Church. 2. Such persons, after a period of penance, may be restored to Eucharistic fellowship by recommendation from the priest and on the approval of the hierarch. 3. Normally, such an act of restoration includes the confirmation of the marriage through a rite approved by the hierarch. 4. Converts to Holy Orthodoxy are not to be remarried when they embrace the Orthodox faith. Items necessary for the wedding day: 1. Rings for both the bride and the groom.
2. Two white candles.
3. Civil marriage license obtained within 60 day prior to the ceremony. Days when marriages are *not* permitted: 1. January 5 and 6
2. Great Lent and Holy Week
3. August 1 - 15
4. August 29
5. September 14
6. December 13 - 25
7. All Holy Feast Days of our Lord (Christmas, Epiphany, Pascha, etc.)
8. The eve of Christmas, Epiphany, or Pentecost. Prohibited Marriages: 1. Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
2. Brothers-in-law with sisters-in-law.
3. Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.
4. First cousins with each other.
5. Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of foster parents.
6. Godparents with Godchildren or Godparents with the parents of Godchildren. —The Right Reverend Archimandrite CHRISTOPHER (Calin), Dean
The Mystery of BaptismNOTICE: Requests for duplicate Baptismal or Marriage certificates must be made in writing and either sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed directly to the Cathedral. No phone requests will be considered. Expect a wait of 3 - 6 weeks.
We do not provide baptismal certificates for the purpose of Marriages to performed outside the Orthodox Church.
FOR THOSE SEEKING BAPTISM AT THE CATHEDRALParents and proposed godparents, please watch both of these brief Videos by Bishop Michael on Holy Baptism and Holy Chrismation.
Applicants for Baptism must come to the Church, speak to the Priest, and file an application for Baptism at least one month prior to the requested date. The Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Chrismation initiate a person into the life of the Orthodox Church. It is the first step of a spiritual process that lasts throughout one’s life. Regrettably, sometimes Holy Baptism is considered a right of passage or even a kind of “good luck” ritual or ethnic custom. This is a wrong understanding. Infants and young children are baptized on the basis of the faith of their sponsor and with the understanding that they will be raised as Orthodox Christians, in the Church, by Orthodox Christian parents. As a rule, the Church only baptizes the children of parent(s) who are confessing and communing members of the Church. Godparents must be Orthodox Christians in good standing, regularly attending the divine services on Sundays, and spiritually attentive to the condition of their souls. Godparents promise to assist the parents in nurturing the newly baptized child in a Godly home, encouraging them by example to seek out and receive the saving grace that flows from the Sacramental life of the Church. Before we can baptize your child in the Church parents must first make some preparations: • Speak to the priest to secure a date for the Baptism at least one month in advance, and fill out an application for Baptism.
• Become a Pledging Member of the Cathedral by filling out a Pledge Card and making a payment toward the pledge. You may also make and fulfill your Pledge on our web site through our Subscription service.
• Parents and Godparents should receive the Sacrament of Holy Confession and prepare to receive Holy Communion prior to the Baptism.
• Bring a complete change of clothes (Baptismal Outfit/Garment)for the child
• You, or the Godparents will need to provide one medium sized and two large white bath towels, and a candle and a neck cross for the child.
• The suggested donation for a Baptism is $300.
• Fees to use a Cathedral hall for a reception begin at $500. and receptions mauy not conflict with times of scheduled church services.
• Make a sincere promise to live a Christian Orthodox life by making attendance at Liturgy on Sundays a regular part of your family life. This is indispensable for parents who seek to baptize their child. Please read the following information about bapism and godparents, and have your proposed godparent also read it before setting up a date with me for the Baptism. If you have any further questions, please call or e-mail me (email@example.com). I hope to see you on Sunday in the church. The Liturgy begins at 9:30 a.m. God bless you. Congratulations on the birth of your child.
Some Directives and Guidelines Concerning BaptismBaptism and Chrismation must be understood and experienced as corporate acts of worship and praise. The must be communal actions of the Church as the mystical Body and Bride of Christ, common liturgical actions of the whole people of God, witnessed, celebrated and accomplished by all, together in one place, at one time. See: On the Spiritual Life in the Church, Encyclical Letter, Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America, 1988. 1. Baptism is normally performed in the temple. In the case of an adult baptism, the rite may take place outdoors at a suitable aquatic site. Preferably, each deanery should have at least one large baptismal font designed for the immersion of adult catechumens. 2. The candidate for baptism should bear the name of a recognized Orthodox saint. This matter should be discussed with the prospective parents long before the birth of the child. An adult convert to the Church should also bear the name of an Orthodox saint, especially if the name given at birth is unusual to the Orthodox tradition. 3. The Mystery of Holy Baptism is administered in full accordance with the Office of the Service. No exorcism or prayer is to be shortened or omitted. Baptism is properly performed by triple immersion; therefore, mere pouring is not normally permitted. It is necessary to have a font large enough for full immersion. 4. The final step in Christian Initiation is the partaking of the Holy Eucharistic Mysteries. In the instance of Baptism or Chrismation, it is desirable that the newly illumined receive Communion as soon as possible from the chalice, during the Divine Liturgy, and not from the reserved sacrament. 5. The sponsor of a candidate for Holy Baptism is a guarantor to the Church that the person will be reared and/or educated in the Orthodox faith; he/she must be a practicing member of the Orthodox Church. A person can guarantee only that which he/she possesses and practices; therefore, a non-Orthodox is unable to guarantee sponsorship because he/she has neither the faith nor the practice. The sponsor should be of the same gender as the candidate. 6. A worthy sponsor is already leading a full sacramental life, confessing sins through the Mystery of Penance and receiving Holy Communion. The priest is to instruct the parents and the sponsors of their respective obligations to the catechumen, and to exhort them to live a full sacramental life. The sponsor, as well as the parents, should be prepared to receive the Eucharist at the time together with the newly baptized person. 7. A person who has excommunicated himself/herself, or has been suspended from reception of the mysteries by a hierarch, for whatever reason, is ineligible to be a sponsor. 8. The child's parents or an adult catechumen may request that a non-Orthodox person witness the mystery. That person may be present and considered an honorary witness if there is no negative or scandalous deterrent. This person, however, is not the sponsor of the candidate or the Godparent. 9. The priest must enter the required data in the parish metrical book after carefully ascertaining all necessary information that includes checking all facts and spelling for accuracy and completeness. The Mystery of Chrismation 1. Chrismation is to take place immediately after the Mystery of Baptism according to the prescribed ritual. 2. The priest must ensure that the vessel containing the Holy Chrism is properly identified and stored in an appropriate place, usually in the tabernacle.
Responsibilities of the GodparentAs the Godparent is the sponsor at baptism, it should be realized that only someone who is a member in good standing of the Orthodox church, in full sacramental communion, and knows at least the main tenets of the Christian faith and its ethics, as well as the meaning of the mystery of baptism and of the vows which are given in the name of the baptized which are to be conveyed and explained to the latter when he has reached maturity. If the Sponsor is married, the marriage must also have been blessed by an Orthodox priest. The sponsor at baptism cannot be: • a child, i.e. a boy younger than 15, or a girl less than 13;
• someone ignorant of the Orthodox faith;
• someone who has not confessed and received absolution for their sins from a priest in the Sacrment of Holy Confession;
• a non-Orthodox Christian. Parents may not be sponsors of their own children, since sponsorship creates a spiritual relationship considered by the Church to be "the union according to the flesh."
Dear Prospective Godparent,Before you are approved to serve as godparent for a Baptism here, please ask yourself this:
Do I believe in the Nicene Creed, as framed by the holy Ecumenical and Apostolic Councils of Nicea and Constantinople? That is a simple question. One asked publicly of every godparent at a baptism (not a wedding) and of any person coming to the Orthodox Church from other faiths, which make up about 30% of our parish. It is the same for you who may have been baptized as a child, as for those who made a conscious decision to join themselves to the Orthodox Church.
Do I believe in and worship One God the Creator, revealed to us in a Trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or in many demigods, or pantheism, or false prophets, self-appointed gurus, or heretical evangelists, or do I worship nature and created things?
Do I believe in the Incarnation of Christ as a unique one time occurrence by which humanity and divinity were wed in His person, and by which humanity became children of God by adoption?
Do I believe that the completion of human creation, begun before time by God the holy Trinity was fully consummated and completed when Christ, the God/Man, stretched out His hands upon the cross and endured physical death, so that death is now a path to life?
Do I believe that Christ rose from the dead by His own power as God in the flesh, and ascended bodily to heaven with his human and divine nature intact, and reigns eternally with the Father and the Spirit as the God/Man? That our humanity is co-enthroned with Christ, the Son and Word of God Incarnate, in the divine Trinity forever as our destiny and the fulfillment of our personhood?
Do I believe that in the Divine Liturgy of the Church, under the mystical forms of bread and wine we partake of the very body and blood of the incarnate God, unto remission of sins and life eternal? That by eating and drinking It we enter into the mystery of the hoy Trinity and become by Grace what God is by nature? If so, do I avail myself and my children of these awesome Mysteries with awe and reverence and frequency as directed by the Church, within which they are effected and offered?
Do I set other beliefs, customs or superstitions, whether ancient or modern, above these life-giving teachings, or in place of them?
These are question asked of *any convert* coming to the Church before they are blessed and PERMITTED to receive baptism, chrismation, communion or any of the mysteries. Obviously they apply equally to you and any person presenting themselves publicly as a godparent.
If you can answer in the affirmative to these basic, minimalist questions with sincerity and peace in your souls before God, then we can proceed. It will be your conscience that will judge you or acquit you. You will be expected to come to church in advance of the Baptism to participate in the Sacrament of holy Confession. The decision of who may serve as a godparent at a baptism is within the competence of the Parish Priest, and not parents or family members. The responsibilities of the Godparent only begin at baptism; the role really expands and hopefully blossoms as the Godparent and Godchild develop a close and loving relationship. As with any relationship, this spiritual one needs to be fostered and cared for in order for it to develop. The best way for this relationship to grow is through prayer. Pray for your Godchild and his or her parents, and the parents should encourage their child to pray for the Godparents. By doing this you are encouraging a relationship and giving it the spiritual basis on which to mature. Here are some practical ideas:
- Celebrate the anniversary of the baptism with a card or a telephone call. Along with learning about the child’s patron saint, learn about the saint whose feast day is celebrated on the date of his or her baptism and share the story of that saint’s life with your Godchild.
- Model your faith through your actions. Understand the sacraments as well as the teachings of the church so that you will be able to answer questions that your Godchild may have.
- Encourage the faith life through the types of gifts that you give your Godchild. Some examples of gifts are a Bible, prayer book, books on the lives of saints, prayer rope, etc. By doing this you are giving tools to help your Godchild grow in the faith, and are helping him/her to start a personal library of Orthodox teachings.
- If you live in close proximity to your Godchild make yourself available to spend time with him or her. Find out when school activities and sports events are scheduled and try to go to a few. Plan a special time, whether for lunch or a trip to the zoo, to be with your Godchild. These times together will only help to make your relationship closer.
- If you live far away, call, write, or e-mail your Godchild. Send a letter at the beginning of a church season (Advent, Lent, etc.) to let him or her know that you will be praying for him. If possible, plan visits to see your Godchild.
- From the moment of Baptism, your Godchild deserves a very special place in your prayers, for on the day of judgment you will be asked about your Godchild’s soul.*
- A faithful Godparent will be a friend in Christ and maintain close contact with his Godchild. The focus at all times is to progress the child in the knowledge and practice of the Orthodox Faith. He should at all times model a Christ-like example. The relationship between the Godparent and the baptized is so important and so close that the Church forbids marriage between the Godparent and Godchild.
- Pray through the ups and downs of life with your Godchild. Find out what’s troubling or challenging your Godchild, what he or she is excited about or eagerly anticipating, then do your best to talk about God in that context. Encourage your Godchild to pray, pray together, and let your godchild know that you are praying for him or her every day.
- Make a big deal of your godchild’s name day. Celebrate with a special visit and dinner if you’re nearby, and give a “spiritually oriented” gift to celebrate, like an age-appropriate book of his patron saint’s life, a new icon, etc.
- Emphasize the spiritual aspects of holidays. Make it a tradition to read the stories of the Nativity and Pascha morning with your godchild, and help his or her parents downplay the material and commercial aspects (Santa, the Easter Bunny, loads of loot in pretty wrapping). Play up the feasts of the Church instead – by bringing candles to be blessed at the Feast of the Presentation and flowers at the Dormition of the Theotokos and sharing them with your godchild, or by baking a birthday cake for the nativities of the Theotokos, Jesus, and St John the Baptist.
- Invite your godchild to go with you to Great Vespers, Matins, or weekday services for the feasts if you live close by. Encourage your whole “god-family” to come to Church for services other than the Sunday/resurrectional Divine Liturgy, if they don’t do so regularly.
- Ask what your godchild is learning in Church school. Discuss the lesson of the week, and offer to help with Church school homework, prepare for oratorical competition or catechism bowl, etc. Buy your godchild’s first Bible, and update it regularly as his or her reading level increases. Encourage him or her to study the gospel!
- Help your godchild serve God. Choose a service project to work at regularly together, such as working at a hot-meal program or visiting parishioners in the hospital. Help him or her discover new ways to use God-given talents to help others – the artistic might design posters or programs for retreats, the musical might record Church music for shut-ins, etc. Encourage your godsons to serve in the altar, too, and “cheer them on” each week.
- Encourage both boys and girls to attend seminary, and explore the monastic lifestyle, if they show interest. Mention the priesthood as a “career choice” to your godsons, and help them learn more about what our Orthodox clergy do – and how important their calling to guide others in the Faith is to all of us!
- Make your godchild “one of the family.” Include your godchild, and his or her parents and siblings, in your own family’s “social” events: reunions, picnics, camping trips, and zoo and museum outings.
- Spend time together. Keep in touch by phone, e-mail, or postcard if your godchildren are out of state or across the globe. Prayer and love in Christ know no distance!
Working together: Godparent and ParentIt is important for the Godparent to work with your godchild’s parents. Talk with your godchild’s parents often about his or her life, spiritual and otherwise, and ask how you can help. Parents can often use another perspective – and another willing hand – as they guide their children to adulthood. Parents choose Godparents who will reinforce them, people to whom our children can turn when the parents are not cool enough to listen to them, and when they need to hear difficult truths from someone who loves them. Parents may be unsure whether they are too strict or too lenient; Godparents are a good sounding board for discussing this when it pertains to the Godchild. Parents may wish to make the Godparents the child’s emergency contact person after the parents so the secular world relies appropriately on the Godparent when crisis hits.< p/> Parents should light candles and pray for their children’s Godparents every time they enter a church, say their family and personal prayers. Likewise the Godparents should pray not only for their Godchild but the Godchild’s parents as well.
The Responsibility of the GodchildGodparent and Godchild should develop a close and loving relationship. As with any relationship, this spiritual one needs to be fostered and cared for in order for it to develop. The best way for this relationship to grow is through prayer. Pray for your Godparent and his/her family. By doing this you are encouraging a relationship and giving it the spiritual basis on which to mature. When greeting one’s Godparent, you should feel the love and familiarity that you have with your own parents. It is NOT inappropriate to hug or kiss your godparents, as you would your own parents. A Godchild should light candles and pray for their Godparents every time they enter a church, say their family prayers, and say their personal prayers. The Godchild should observe the Godparents names day. Celebrate it with a special visit and dinner if you’re nearby, and give a “spiritually oriented” gift to celebrate, like a spiritual book of the Godparent’s patron saint’s life, a new icon, etc. Keep in touch by phone, e-mail, or postcard if your Godparent lives out of state or across the globe. Prayer and love in Christ know no distance! There will come a time in which your Godparents have aged and are less able to be fully present with you due to illness or perhaps a nursing home placement. Remember to continue to pray for them and visit or write them often to maintain your relationship. Ask for their advice even though you have grown up. Finally there will come a day in which your Godparents will repose in the Lord. Maintain your image of your Godparents in your mind to help brings peace and memories of love and wisdom. Pray for your Godparents and offer memorial services in their memory, do works and offer alms in their name. And pray for them as they will continue to do for you in heaven.
What If Godparents Don’t Work Out?Although great care and many prayers are put forth by the parents in choosing the Godparent for their child, sometimes after the baptism the relationship does not grow. It’s sad to have your child want to disown their “missing-in-action” godparent, but it can happen. If after repeated efforts the godparent does not respond and since it is so important for our children to have the influence of a “godparent,” ask yourself, “Who among my closest Orthodox friends could relate to my child and serve as a spiritual mentor?” Discuss the situation with your spiritual father/parish priest. Ask God to guide your efforts. Ask that person to consider the task and to pray about it. If that person agrees, let your child know that this individual is there for him/her. If the person does not consent, keep on praying and asking. Have faith that God will provide for your child’s spiritual needs. —The Right Reverend Archimandrite CHRISTOPHER (Calin), Dean