Becoming Orthodox

icon-cornerMany St. Nicholas parishioners came here knowing we wanted something, but not what it was. For some, it was just the next step in their Christian journey. Others were ambushed by the beauty of the Orthodox Liturgy.

We invite you to begin — or continue — your life in Christ. Here are some opportunities to learn more about and ultimately become part of the Orthodox Church at St. Nicholas.

Inquirers’ Class

Father George offers a weekly class for inquirers into Orthodoxy. The class usually begins in the fall and meets at 5 p.m. Saturdays, before vespers.

He covers Church history, liturgy, liturgical arts, and other topics of interest to the participants. He brings in occasional speakers on specialized subjects such as iconography and choir music.

The inquirers’ class is open to anyone — member of the parish or not — with questions about Orthodoxy. People who go on to enter the Church begin with the inquirers’ class, but there is no expectation or pressure for anyone to take the next step.

Catechumenate

At the beginning of Lent, the inquirers’ class becomes a class for catechumens, dealing with issues specific to those who are planning to join the Orthodox Church at Pascha.

Baptism and Chrismation

The Orthodox Church has three rites marking the entry of a new Christian into the church:

Baptism

Baptism is by immersion, to the extent practicable, in the baptismal font in the narthex of the church. We baptize infants in the taller, smaller, metal font and adults in the larger tile font.

Baptism re-enacts the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, and in baptism the believer participates in the death and resurrection of Christ. You can find more about the theology of baptism at the Orthodox Wiki site.

Most of our adult baptisms and chrismations happen at the Holy Saturday Liturgy, during the Paschal weekend, although occasionally they happen at other times. Newborn infants are usually baptized and chrismated a few weeks after their birth — 40 days is traditional, but we make allowances for the health of the child and mother and family travel arrangements.

See Baptism of Infants for a discussion of the Orthodox view of infant baptism.

Very few “private” baptisms happen in our parish, because we consider the entrance of a new Christian into the community to be an event that’s important to the whole community. Special circumstances may require a private baptism. Contact the priest if you have questions.

Chrismation

Chrismation is the process of anointing a new believer with holy oil. As the priest puts the holy oil on the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and so on, of the new member, he says, “Sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit,” and the congregation responds, “Amen!”

Chrismation represents the descent of the Holy Spirit on the new Christian and re-enacts the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church at Pentecost. Here is the Orthodox Wiki article on Chrismation for more of the theological understanding.

For the newly baptized of any age, Chrismation happens at the same time.

Eucharist

As members of the Body of Christ, we participate in the Eucharist. If “you are what you eat,” then receiving the Eucharist embodies us with Christ.

For that reason, every baptism and chrismation includes reception of the Eucharist.