Baptism and Chrismation

There is a simplistic social definition of a Christian as somebody who believes in Jesus Christ.  While it is true that Christians do believe in Jesus Christ, this alone is not what makes a Christian.

To be a Christian is to be "in Christ", to be united to the that divine-human Person who makes it possible for human beings to enter into the life of God.  This union begins with the sacrament of baptism.

In the waters of baptism, we drown - we die to our old self.  With faith and prayer of the Christian community, the priest immerses us three times in the sanctified water "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", and we rise from the water renewed, regenerated as a new creation: we are in Christ.  This is what we mean when we speak about being "born again".

Jesus answered and said to [Nicodemus], 'Truly, truly I tell you, unless a person is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God'.  Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can someone be born when he is old?  Can he enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time?'  Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly I tell you, unless anyone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God'.

- John 3: 3-5

Baptism is the means whereby we become part of Christ's Body, the Church, and is the point at which we truly become Christians.  We are Christened (literally Christ-ened).  We share in the death of Christ and we rise with Him in his Resurrection.  Our baptism is, in this sense, our own little Pascha/Easter.

Through this action we begin the life in Christ, sharing in his priesthood, as priests of creation offering ourselves and all of creation to God, for it to be sanctified by Him and given to us as a blessing for the benefit of our salvation.

Yet this is only the start of the journey, and immediately after our baptism, we are given grace to continue to grow in the life in Christ, finding our gifts and abilities for the building of the Kingdom through the receiving of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Chrismation.

The priest anoints us with the the Holy Chrism, the oil of gladness, the oil that is infused with the grace of God and by which we receive the indwelling within ourselves of the Holy Spirit, as if at our own little Pentecost.  St Basil the Great writes that the Holy Spirit fills and energises us and that, at Chrismation, the Spirit activates within each of us the unique gifts that we are to bring to the service of God and his people in his Church.

We then commence the life-long journey of our theosis - our ever-deepening growth and transformation into the life of God - on which we are fed and nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

'Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ. 

'In the unity of faith and baptism, therefore, our community is undivided.  There is a common dignity, as the apostle Peter says in these words: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart."

'For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood.'

- Pope St Leo the Great

If you are considering baptism for your child, please contact us.  If you are an adult and considering baptism for yourself, you may find these pages to be helpful.

Some points to bear in mind: