Like I mentioned earlier, my baby, Penny Lane, became a child of God last Saturday. She was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, just like myself (and all my family), Lucy, and Kyle (who was Chrismated), too! She participated in the traditional Orthodox Sacrament of Baptism and was named in the Church, Penelope. Penny is truly blessed to have my sister, Olivia, as her godmother. Thanks, Olivia!! Penny Lane loves you!
Several of you asked, on THIS post, why she was being baptized under the name Penelope and not her legal name, Penny Lane. Well, let me explain a little bit about the Sacrament of Baptism in the Orthodox Church... The Bapitism service has remained roughly unchanged for the last 1500 years, so much of the service is just like the services performed in the early years of Christianity. The Sacrament is rich in symbolism and every set of the process reflects the journey from evil into the light of the Lord. Baptism is a covenant, an agreement between God and man. God promises to be our Father and we promise to be His children. Baptizing infants, before they are aware of what will take place, is an expression of God's great love for us. It shows us that God loves us and accepts us before we can even know Him or love Him. It shows us that we are wanted and loved by God from the moment of our birth. (site)
The baptism begins with a symoblic Exorcism. The priest calls upon the sponsor to renounce Satan and all his works from the child. The renouncing of Satan is done facing the west, it is where the sun sets, the place where the ancient Greeks believed to be the location of Hades, the gates of Hell. Then the priest faces east, where the sun rises. He asks the godparents to accept for the child "Christ, who is the light of the world". Renouncing Satan and accepting Christ expresses our faith from the master of darkness to the master of light. The priest makes the sign of the cross over the child, this is repeated often during the service. The cross is the sign of victory, this puts the devil into flight. In the ancient times, slaves were branded to show which master they belonged to. The sign of the cross brands us as member of Christ's flock. (site)
The child is then given his/her Baptismal name, in Penny's case, Penelope. We are named for a Saint that is recognized in the Orthodox Church. From the moment the child is received into the Church, emphasis is placed on individuality, with his name he is distinguished from every other child. This is an expression of dignity in the eyes of God. It is the Church's expression of acceptance of him as an individual in his own right, a new beginning of life through baptism. (site) Hence the name Penelope after St. Penelope (later known as Irene the Great Martyr) the parton saint of happy marriage :) Her feast day is celebrated on May 5th. And because some of you asked, Lucy was baptized for Saint Lukia, the parton saint of the blind :)
The child is next baptized in the baptismal font and emersed in Holy Water three times. We believe that Christ died for our sins. The full immersion in water symbolizes death. Through baptism we share mysteriously in Christ's death. The baptized infant rises out of the water as a new person, cleansed of every sin and promising the surrender of his life to Christ, his Savior. The triple immersion symbolizes the three days our Lord spent in His tomb as well as the Holy Trinity. The child is baptized naked, as it comes from the womb of his mother, so he emerges from the womb of God - the baptismal font. The removal of the child's clothing signifies the old slough of sin which will be cast off entirely through baptism. (site)
Next, the child is anointed with blessed oil, chrismated (or confirmed) and receives Holy Communion. Olive oil is blessed by the priest and applied to the child's hands, feet ears and mouth, in order to dedicate them to the service of Christ. The godparent(s) then anoint the entire body of the child with the oil. This originated with ancient Greek wrestlers who anointed their body with olive oil in order to make it difficult for the opponents to maintain a grip on them. In baptism the child anointed with olive oil expresses a prayer that with Christ's help he may be able to elude the grip of sin. Sacrament of Confirmation is administered immediately following the baptism. It is considered the fulfillment of baptism. Human nature purified by baptism is made ready to receive the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for Confirmation is "chrisma", which means anointing. Thus by this Sacrament we are made Christians "Chrismation" is the ordination of laity and becomes an ambassador for Christ in this world. Immediately following the "newly enlightened" receives the precious Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. (site)
The priest then cuts three locks of the child's hair. This is an expression of gratitude for receiving God's blessings in baptism and confirmation. Having nothing to give in return, the gift of his hair (a symbol of strength like Samson) is a promise to serve God with all his strength. (site)
The baptism concludes with a procession around the baptism font by the priest, child and godparent(s) This is believed to be a reflection of the celebration of angels dancing and expressing their joy that a new soul has been registered in the Book of Souls.
We are so proud of Penny and could not be more pleased that she has begun her journey in God's love. Kisses Penny Lane, we love you!