RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL PROMISES

RENEWAL OF BAPTISMAL PROMISES

I renounce Satan. And all his works. And all his pomps?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and life everlasting.


Our human identity is intimately linked to the sacrament of Baptism. This may come as a surprise to some but the reality of our existence is intertwined to this first sacrament of initiation because it provides us with a rebirth as sons of God. In other words, through baptism we are incorporated into the life of Christ. This may sound like a Protestant understanding of baptism but the Church is quite clear and definitive in its teaching of this first sacrament of initiation (CCC 1213). Intimate to this understanding of rebirth is the freedom from sin and our incorporation into the Church sharing in Christ’s redemptive mission on the cross.

Baptized into Christ’s Death

When we hear the phrase “baptized into his death” the two-fold question is; “why his death and how?” St. Paul explains it this way: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:3-4) The meaning behind “baptized into his death” refers the shedding of the stain of original sin which is buried in the water used for Baptism. Christ was baptized to initiate his journey in freeing humanity from the bondages of sin and thus our baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit allows us to become partakers of Christ death. If we are baptized into Christ’s death, then we are also baptized into His life as witnessed by His resurrection (Easter).

Our Christian Initiation

St. Paul again reminds us that the baptized have “put on Christ” (Gal 3:27; CCC 1228) This means that baptism serves as a means to purify, justify and sanctify (1 Cor 6:11; CCC 1228). If we take a closer look at this three-fold understanding of baptism it describes the stages by which we as children of God grow and mature into a deeper relationship with Him. This process of conversion so to speak is what we would call “Christian Initiation” or how the Church currently defines this process as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

All of us baptized or unbaptized have an opportunity to journey toward and with Christ. This journey contains several essential elements e.g. proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel, entailing conversion, profession of faith, baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and admission to Eucharistic communion (CCC 1229).

Why Renew our Baptismal Promises?

So, it begs to question, if we are already baptized and have made a profession of faith either via our parents at infancy are as catechumens (unbaptized Christians) isn’t this sufficient?  As outlined in the stages of the Christian initiation process, our identity as baptized Catholics simply does not end at Baptism. Baptism alone does not completely satisfy the appetite of our being to seek Christ in a more intimate way. It opens the door to seek a genuine and edifying communion with Christ that can only be accomplished by taking the first step toward Christ in Baptism. Our post-baptismal journey requires us to continually seek and live out a more mature response to God’s love for us. The faith required for baptism is not a perfect and mature faith, but a beginning that is called to develop (CCC 1253).

The maturation the Catechism refers to is our willingness to grow in faith with Christ especially through sacramental life i.e. frequent reception of the sacrament of confession and our active participation in receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist at Mass. Reborn as sons of God, we the baptized must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God (CCC 1270). Thus, we renew our baptismal promises:     

·       to openly and directly reject the temptation of sin, the devil himself and his empty promises.

·       to publicly and openly profess our faith to Jesus Christ the Son of the living God who died for our sins and founded the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

·       to grow in sanctity to hear our Lord more clearly.

·       to be Christ-like to others.

·       to prepare for our final resting place with God.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus beautifully and succinctly summarizes the gift of renewing our baptismal promises in the following way: “Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift.”

THANKSGIVING FOR THE GIFT OF A CHILD, BAPTISM, REAFFIRMING BAPTISMAL VOWS AND CONFIRMATION POLICY

Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child, Baptism, Reaffirming Baptismal Vows and Confirmation Policy

Welcome. We are delighted that you would like to explore a service of initiation into the Church of England either for yourself or for your child. In this document we hope to answer some commonly asked questions and explain our policies and procedures for this Parish. If there is any further information you require please speak to a member of the clergy who will be very pleased to meet with you.

Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child
What is Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child?
Thanksgiving services are an opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you to God for the wonderful gift of your child. The priest will pray for your child, for any other children you may already have and especially for you as parents, in your responsibility of bringing up this child. You will be given a gospel as a permanent reminder of the Thanksgiving Service. This service can occur at any time and place, by agreement with the clergy. It is not a replacement for Baptism, and a Baptism can still take place later.

Why Thanksgiving rather than Baptism?
Increasing numbers of families choose a Thanksgiving Service, probably for two main reasons:
1. Sometimes parents in all in conscience cannot make the necessary Christian promises in Baptism whilst keeping their personal integrity. Yet they want to come to church to say thank you and to offer prayers. The service of Thanksgiving for the Gift of a Child can be arranged which may include supporting friends and a naming ceremony. This service does not require parents to commit to promises but it enables parents to celebrate the new birth and to give thanks.
2. Sometimes parents would prefer their child to experience Baptism when (s)he is older. Parents may still pray with their child, read them Bible stories and tell them about Jesus. But the child
will be able to choose for themselves and experience their Baptism as an older child or adult.

Baptism
What is Baptism?
Baptism (sometimes known outside the church as Christening) is a sacrament – an outward sign of something that has been going on within us. In Baptism we are declaring outwardly that we have found faith and are determined to continue on that journey. In Baptism we become full members of God’s church. Baptism is available for children, young people and adults. For people who are twelve or older, Baptism must be followed by Confirmation (see below).

What happens in the service?
• In the Baptism service we turn towards God and we turn away from all that hampers good relationships with people, with creation and with God.
• We are marked with the sign of the cross (the badge of Jesus Christ) and we profess our Christian belief.
• We give thanks for the gift of water and we remember that like God’s people of old who came through the sea to freedom in the Promised Land, so we go into and through the waters of
Baptism to a new life. This is symbolised by the sprinkling or pouring of water.
• Promises are made to follow Jesus Christ and to be a part of Christ’s church on earth.
• We are baptized in the name of God the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit reminding us that just as there is a relationship within God, so we are called to build relationships that
transform the world.
• We receive God’s gift of being adopted into his people (the church).
• We are given a lighted candle signifying that God journeys with us as we grow in faith and as we serve our neighbours near and far.

Who can be baptized in the churches of the Parish?
We are always delighted to carry out Baptisms for regular members of our congregation and for people who live within our parish boundaries. If you live outside the parish boundaries, then we
will direct you to your local parish church unless there is a reason why one of the churches is the place where you will find your spiritual home.

When do Baptisms happen?
Baptisms happen at the main Sunday morning service in each church. This is because Baptism is a celebration for the whole church, and the congregation will make solemn promises to uphold
you as parents and provide a spiritual home for your child. Because having a Baptism significantly changes the shape of the Sunday service for the whole congregation, we have specific dates when Baptisms will happen. We suggest that in the months before the service you as parents find the right church service for your family so that you will be able to uphold your promise to bring your child up in the faith.

What about Godparents?
All godparents must themselves have been baptized and it is recommended that godparents should also be confirmed. They can belong to any mainstream Christian church but they have to
be happy to support the child being brought us as a member of the Church of England. Godparents must be 16 or older.

What about Preparation?
There is a Baptism Preparation session at the Rectory that you will be invited to attend, and a Baptism date will not be confirmed until you have attended one of these. We will talk about the promises that you will make and the meaning of different parts of the service. We will also try to answer any more general questions you may have about Christianity, faith or the church.

How much does a Baptism cost?
Baptism itself is free, including a card showing the date of Baptism. If a copy of the Baptism register is also required this costs £11 (this is rarely needed). We also hope that as you join our community you will feel able to support us financially as well becoming more regular attenders.

Reaffirming Baptismal Vows
Christians who have been baptized some time ago sometimes wish to renew their Baptismal Promises e.g. at Easter or maybe as part of a return to a more intentional Christian way of life. The Church of England recognises Baptism in any Christian church that uses water and undertakes this commitment ‘in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. So if you have been baptized in another denomination, you do not have to be baptized again. In fact, it is
not possible to be baptized a second time but we can renew our commitments any time. Please ask the clergy if you wish to do this.

Confirmation
What is Confirmation?
Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey at which you affirm for yourself the faith into which you have been baptized and your intention to live a life of committed discipleship. This affirmation is confirmed through prayer and the laying on of hands by the confirming bishop. The Church also asks God to give you power through the Holy Spirit to enable you to live in the way of Jesus.

How is Confirmation given?
The bishop will speak to every candidate by name saying:
(name), God has called you by name and made you his own.
He then lays his hand of the head of each saying:
Confirm, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit.
The bishop will make the sign of the cross on your forehead with oil. This is a sign of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. It is like an invisible badge to show that Christians are united with Christ and must not be ashamed to stand up for their faith in him.

Is there a preferred age for Confirmation?
There is no right age for a person to be confirmed. Anyone may be confirmed who has been baptized, if they are old enough to answer responsibly for themselves. In this diocese, the bishop has set a minimum age for Confirmation of 12 but there can be some leniency in this.

Am I ready to be confirmed?
People mature in their faith in different ways and at different ages. It is important that you come to Confirmation with firm personal conviction that it is right for you at this point in your life. If you are unsure about being confirmed you may wish to participate in the confirmation course to explore your faith further as you think about it. It is normal for Communion to be received after Confirmation.

I was baptized as a child, why do I need to be confirmed?
If you were baptized as a child, in Confirmation you are confirming the promises your parents made on your behalf at your Baptism about your commitment to a journey of faith.

What if I wasn’t baptized as a child?
If you were not baptized as a child and want to make a commitment of faith, you can be baptized and confirmed in the same service by the Bishop.

What is the purpose of a Confirmation sponsor?
At Confirmation you will be asked if you would like a sponsor to stand with you as a symbol of their journeying with you in faith. Usually this is someone who has previously been confirmed. It may be one of the people who has prepared you for Confirmation or it may be a good friend, a relative or a Godparent.

What about Preparation?
You need to be prepared before Confirmation. Preparation will take the form of a course of instruction, usually with others and led by a priest. It will take place over a number of weeks and will help you explore your own faith and understand Christianity better.


To honor Our Lord’s baptism, we offer from Fr. Goffine an explanation on the baptismal rite and an instruction about the sacrament.

Image above: Close-up from the Baptism of Christ painting by Pietro Perugino (1446-1523).

Today (January 13th) is the II class feast of the Commemoration of the baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ which was administered by the St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

Below we provide an extract about the rite of the sacrament of baptism from Fr. Leonard Goffine’s Devout Instructions on the Epistles and Gospels for Sundays and Holy Days (English-edition—1896), followed by an instruction from his popular book, The Church’s Year, which we have been serializing on our site.


The rite of Baptism

Baptism is a sacrament in which by water and the word of God we are cleansed from all sin, and regenerated and sanctified in Christ to life everlasting.

What are the different ceremonies of Baptism?

  1. The preparatory ceremony.
  2. The Baptism proper.
  3. The concluding ceremonies.

The preparatory ceremonies at the church door during the first period of instruction, namely the period of hearing, are as follows:

  1. The candidate remains outside the church, since he can enter the Church only by Baptism.
  2. He is given a saint’s name so that he may have an advocate before God, and an example after whom to model his own life.
  3. He is asked if he desires Baptism, and through it eternal life.
  4. The priest breathes upon him three times, saying: “Depart from him, thou unclean spirit, and make way for the Holy Ghost, the Comforter”. (John 20:22)
  5. He makes the sign of the cross upon his forehead and breast as a sign that he belongs to the crucified Savior, Whose teachings he must cherish in his heart and openly proclaim.
  6. He places blessed salt in his mouth, with the words: “Receive the salt of wisdom; it will be a propitiation for thee unto eternal life.” Salt is a symbol of Christian wisdom) and protection from the foulness of sin.
  7. Through repeated exorcisms the power of Satan, who “has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14), is broken in the name of the Triune God.
  8. For the second time, the priest makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person to be baptized, saying: “Defile not, accursed spirit, this sign of the cross which we place upon his brow.”
  9. The priest—by the imposition of hands symbolizes the protection of God and by the stole placed upon the candidate as he is led into the church—is a sign of the Church’s power by virtue of which the priest receives him into its fold.

The ceremonies at the second period, namely, for the supplicants, are performed within the church. They are:

  1. Since Baptism is the sacrament of Faith, the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s Prayer are recited while entering the church.
  2. The priest, after the example of Jesus (Mark 7:33), touches the ears and nose of the person to be baptized with spittle, saying, “Ephpheta,” which means, “Be thou opened.” This signifies that man’s spiritual sense through the grace of Baptism is opened for the reception of instruction in heavenly truths.
  3. The person being baptized must renounce Satan with all his works and pomps; for without this renunciation no man can follow Christ. By the words Satan and his works we mean sin, and by his pomps the spirit and vanities of this world by which Satan dazzles the eyes of men and leads them into sin. (Matthew 4:8,9) Here follows the profession of faith, in the recital of the Apostles Creed.
  4. Next comes the anointing of the shoulders and breast with holy oil, since from now on the newly-baptized person must be a soldier of Christ in the battle against the world and the devil.

How is the actual Baptism performed?

The person baptizing pours water upon the head of the person to be baptized, at the same time saying these words:

I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

 

What ceremonies follow Baptism?

 

  1. Anointing the head with chrism, because the person baptized is now a Christian, one of God’s anointed.
  2. The presentation of a white cloth, and
  3. A lighted candle.
  4. Dismissal with a blessing.
  5. [By custom, the parents may also consecrate their child to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This touching ceremony is included in the Baptism booklet available from Angelus Press]

Of what are we admonished by the white cloth which we receive at Baptism?

That we should preserve our innocence, throughout our whole life, pure and unspotted. At its presentation, therefore, the priest says:

Take hence the white garment and bear it unstained before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ our Lord, that thou mayest reach everlasting life.”

 

What is the meaning of the lighted candle which the person just baptized must hold in his hand?

That the Christian by his virtuous life should be a guide to all the world:

So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

 

On presenting the candle the priest says:

Receive this burning light; keep thy Baptism without stain; obey the commandments of God, that when the Lord shall come to the nuptial feast thou mayest go forth to meet Him with all the saints of heaven, and mayest have life everlasting and live forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Why has the Church ordained the presence of sponsors?

 

  1. That they may make the vows and promises in the name of the child to be baptized.
  2. In the event of the death of the parents to see that it is brought up a Christian.

The sponsors, who should be good Catholics, are the spiritual parents of the child baptized. They become spiritually related both to child and parents, and cannot marry with either. In order that this relationship and consequent impediment to marriage might not extend too far, the Church has ordained that there shall be at most two sponsors, one of each sex.

Besides Baptism by water, there is also a Baptism of desire and a Baptism of blood, which may take the place of the Baptism of water when that cannot be obtained.

Baptism of desire is an earnest wish to obtain Baptism, joined to perfect contrition and love for God. In such a case those conditions are present that are necessary to a valid reception; for if the possibility do not exist God regards the good will, and takes the will for the deed.

Baptism of blood is a voluntary martyr’s death for the sake of Christ. The constancy which gives up life itself includes faith, charity, desire, and contrition.


The following instruction has been excerpted from the Fr. Goffine’s entry for the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

Instruction on the holy sacrament of baptism

 

Going, therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28:19)

 

Is baptism a sacrament?

Yes because in it the baptized person receives the grace of God by means of an external sign, instituted by Christ.

What is this external sign?

The immersion, or the pouring of water, accompanied by the words: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

What does the baptismal grace effect?

It removes original and actual sin; causing man to be spiritually born again, made a new creature, a child of God, and joint heir with Christ.

How many kinds of baptism are there?

There are three kinds: The baptism of desire, which consists in a heartfelt desire for the baptism of water, joined with a perfect love of God, or a perfect sorrow for sins committed, and with the purpose to obey all God’s commands; the baptism of blood, which is received by those who suffer martyrdom for the true faith, without having received the baptism of water; the baptism of water, which is the sacrament of Baptism.

What do the different ceremonies of this sacrament signify?

They are the external signs of the effects which baptism produces inwardly upon the soul, and should impress us with deep reverence for this sacrament.

Why is it customary to have a godfather or godmother?

That there may be a witness that the child has received baptism; that in case of the death of the parents, the sponsors may assume their place, and have the child instructed in the truths of religion. St. Augustine speaking of the duties of sponsors, very beautifully says:

They should use all care, often to admonish in true love their godchildren that they may strive to lead a pure life; they should warn them against all detraction, all improper songs, and keep them from pride, envy, anger, and revenge; they should watch over them that they may preserve the Catholic faith, attend the church services, listen to the word of God, and obey their parents and their pastors.”

 

Sponsors must therefore be true believers, and of unquestionable morality. No one, unless a Catholic can be chosen for a sponsor, because one who is not a Catholic would not instruct the child in the Catholic faith, or see that others do it; but would be more likely, as experience shows, to draw the child over to error.

What results from this sponsorship?

In baptism, as in confirmation, a spiritual affinity originates between, the sponsors, the one who baptizes or confirms, with the one baptized or confirmed, and with the parents, so that, by a decision of the Church a godfather or godmother cannot contract marriage with any of these parties, unless the impediment is removed by dispensation, that is, by a special permission received from a spiritual superior. But the sponsors have no spiritual relationship to each other.

Why has the Church instituted this spiritual relation?

From reverence for these holy sacraments, and that by this spiritual bond the sponsors may be more closely connected with their godchildren, and be incited earnestly to discharge their obligation.

Why must the person to be baptized wait at the entrance of the church?

To indicate that until he has thrown off the yoke of sin, and submitted to Christ, and His authority, he is unworthy to enter, because baptism is the door of God’s grace, to the kingdom of heaven, and the communion of saints.

Why does the person receive a saint’s name?

That by this name he may be enrolled, through baptism, into the number of Christians whom St. Paul calls saints; that he may have a patron and intercessor, and that the saint, whose name he bears, may be his model and example, by which he may regulate his own life.

Why does the priest breathe in the face of the one to be baptized?

In imitation of Christ who breathed on His apostles when He gave them the Holy Ghost. (John 20:22) St. Chrysostom says that in baptism supernatural life is given to the soul as God imparted natural life to Adam by breathing on him.

Why does the priest impose his hand so many times upon the head of the person to be baptized?

To show that he is now the property of God and is under His protection.

What do the many exorcisms signify?

That the evil spirit who previous to baptism holds the person in bondage is now commanded in the name of God to depart, that a dwelling place may be prepared for the Holy Ghost.

Why is the person so often signed with the sign of the cross?

To signify that through the power of Christ’s merits and of His death on the cross, baptism washes away original sin; that the person is to be henceforth a follower of Christ the Crucified, and as such must fight valiantly under the banner of the cross, against the enemies of his salvation, and must follow Christ on the way of the cross even unto death.

What does the salt signify which is put into the person’s mouth?

It is an emblem of Christian wisdom and of preservation from the corruption of sin.

Why are his ears and nose touched with spittle?

That as Christ put spittle on the eyes of the man born blind, thus restoring his sight, so by baptism, the spiritual blindness of the soul is removed, and his mind receives light to behold heavenly wisdom. Also, as St. Ambrose says, the candidate is thus instructed to open his ears to priestly, admonitions, and become a sweet odor of Christ.

Why does the priest ask: “Dost thou renounce the devil; and all his works, and all his pomps?

That the Christian may know that his vocation requires him to renounce and combat the devil, his works, suggestions and pomps. Thus St. Ambrose very beautifully addresses a person just baptized:

When the priest asked: “Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works,” what didst thou reply? “I renounce them.” “Dost thou renounce the world, its lusts and its pomps?” “I renounce them.” Think of these promises, and let them never depart from thy mind. Thou host given thy handwriting to the priest, who stands for Christ; when thou host given thy note to a man, thou art bound to him. Now thy word is not on earth but preserved in heaven; say not thou knowest nothing of this promise; this exculpates thee no better than the excuse of a soldier who in time of battle should say he knew not that by becoming a soldier he would have to fight.”

 

Why is the person anointed on the shoulder and breast with holy oil?

As Sts. Ambrose and Chrysostom explain this is done to strengthen him to fight bravely for Christ; as the combatants of old anointed themselves with oil before they entered the arena, so is he anointed, on the breast, that he may gain courage and force, bravely to combat the world, the flesh, and the devil, and on the shoulder, that he may be strong to bear constantly and untiringly, the yoke of Christ’s commands, and pursue the toilsome course of life in unwavering. fidelity to God and His holy law.

Why are, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed said at baptism?

That, when the child is a grown person an acknowledgment of faith may by this means be made in the face of the Church; when children are baptized, these prayers are said by the sponsors who are thus reminded to see that their godchildren are well instructed in these as in all other Christian truths.

Why does the priest expressly ask the person if he will be baptized?

Because as man, through Adam, of his own free will obeyed the devil, so now when he would be received among the number of Christ’s children, he must, to obtain salvation, of his own free will obey the precepts of God.

Why is water poured three times upon the person’s head?

This is done, as St. Gregory the Great writes, in token that man after this thrice-repeated ablution rises from the death of sin, as Christ, after His three days’ burial, rose from the dead. (Rom. 6:4,5) In early times the candidate for baptism was immersed three times in the water. For many ‘reasons this custom has been abolished.

Why is the person anointed on the top of the head with chrism?

This anointing is, so to speak, the crown of the young Christian. As in the Old Law the kings were anointed, (I Kings 10:1) as Jesus is the Anointed One, and as the Apostle St. Peter calls the Christians a chosen race, a kingly priesthood, a holy people, (I Peter 2:9) so the baptized by means of this unction is embodied in Christ, the Anointed One, and participates in His priesthood and kingly dignity.

What an exalted position is the Christian’s! He is the anointed one of the Lord, and in a spiritual sense a priest, because he constantly brings himself to the Lord God as a pleasing sacrifice in prayer, mortification, etc. He is king when he rules over his inclinations, submits them to reason, and reason to the Lord.

Besides this he is king by the claims which, through baptism, he possesses to the kingdom of Heaven. Through the chrism he becomes the blessed temple of the Holy Ghost, the sacred vessel which in time, through communion, will contain the precious body and blood of Christ. How does he desecrate this temple when, by grievous sin, he tramples this exalted dignity under his feet and. stains the temple of the Holy Ghost, his soul!

What does the white robe signify?

The holy Fathers teach that this represents the glory to which by baptism we are born again; the purity and beauty with which the soul, having been washed from sin in the sacrament of baptism, is adorned, and the innocence which the baptized should preserve through his whole life.

Why is a lighted candle placed in his hand?

It is an emblem of the Christian doctrine which preserves the baptized from the darkness of error, ignorance, and sin, illumines his understanding, and leads him safely in the way of virtue; it represents the flame of love for God and our neighbor which the baptized should henceforth continually carry, like the five prudent virgins, (Matt. 25:13) on the path to meet the Lord, that when his life is ended he may be admitted to the eternal wedding feast; it signifies also the light of good example which he should keep ever burning.

Who is the minister of this sacrament?

The ordinary minister is the priest of the Church; but in case of necessity any layman or woman, even the father or mother can baptize. Parents, however, should not baptize their own child unless no other Catholic can be procured. The reason why lay persons are permitted to baptize is so that no one may be deprived of salvation.

What must be observed particularly in private baptism?

The person who baptizes must be careful to use only natural water, which must be poured on the child’s head saying at the same time the words: I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; having at the same time the intention of baptizing as the Church does, in the manner required by Christ.

Instruction on the renewal of baptismal vows

All the graces and dignities which we receive in baptism, God secures to us for the future, only on condition that we keep our baptismal vows. Every Christian in baptism makes a bond with God through the meditation of Christ who has sealed it with His blood. This bond consists, on man’s part, in the promise to renounce forever the devil, all his works and all his pomps, that is, constantly to suppress the threefold lust of the eyes, the flesh and the pride of life, by which the devil leads us to sin, and to believe all that God has revealed, and all that His holy Church proposes to our belief, and diligently and properly to make use of all the means of salvation. On the part of God this bond consists in cleansing us from all sin, in bestowing the gifts of the Holy Ghost, in adopting us as His children, and. in the assurance to the inheritance of heaven.

This bond will never be broken by God who is infinitely true and faithful, but it is often violated by weak and fickle man. In compliance with the desire of the Church we should often reflect upon it, and from time to time renew it in the sight of God. This should be done particularly before receiving the holy sacrament of confirmation, before first Communion, on the vigils of Easter and Pentecost, at the blessing of baptismal water, on the anniversaries of our baptism and confirmation, before making any solemn vow, before entering into matrimony and when in danger of death.

This renewal of baptismal vows can be made in the following manner: Placing ourselves in the presence of God, we kneel down, fold our hands, and say with fervent devotion:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

 

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was born and suffered for us.

 

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

 

I renounce the devil; all his works and all his pomps.

 

Christ Jesus! With Thee I am united, to Thee alone I cling, Thee only will I follow, for Thee I desire to live and die. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

 

Get the book, The Church’s Year>










This is our Faith, this is the Faith of the Church, we are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Dear brethren, through the Paschal Mystery
we have been buried with Christ in Baptism,
that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism,
which we once renounced Satan and his works
and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.
And so I ask you:

V. Do you renounce Satan?
R. I do.

V. And all his works?
R. I do.

V. And all his empty show?
R. I do.

OR:

V. Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
R. I do.

V. Do you renounce the lure of evil,
so that sin may have no mastery over you?
R. I do.

V. Do you renounce Satan,
the author and prince of sin?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do.

V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
R. I do.

V. And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit
and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins,
keep us by his grace,
in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for eternal life.
R. Amen.

All are sprinkled with holy water.

PRAYER TO THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN MARY

QUEEN OF THE ANGELS

Three times:
August Queen of Heaven! Sovereign Mistress of the angels! Who from the beginning have received from God the power and mission to crush the head of Satan, we humbly beseech you to send your holy Legions, that, under your command and by your power, they may pursue the evil spirits, encounter them on every side, resist their bold attacks and drive them hence into the abyss of eternal woe. Amen.

Litany to the Holy Angels

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, Queen of Angels pray for us.

Holy Mother of God pray for us.

Holy Virgin of Virgins pray for us. Saint Michael, who was ever the defender of the people of God, pray for us.

St. Michael, who did drive from Heaven Lucifer and his rebel crew, pray for us.

St. Michael, who did cast down to Hell the accuser of our brethren, pray for us.

Saint Gabriel, who did expound to Daniel the heavenly vision, pray for us.

St. Gabriel, who did foretell to Zachary the birth and ministry of John the Baptist, pray for us.

St. Gabriel, who did announce to Blessed Mary the Incarnation of the Divine Word, pray for us.

Saint Raphael, who did lead Tobias safely through his journey to his home again, pray for us.

St. Raphael, who did deliver Sara from the devil, pray for us.

St. Raphael, who did restore his sight to Tobias the elder, pray for us.

All ye holy Angels, who stand around the high and lofty throne of God, pray for us. Who cry to Him continually:

Holy, Holy, Holy, pray for us.

Who dispel the darkness of our minds and give us light, pray for us.

Who are the messengers of heavenly things to men, pray for us.

Who have been appointed by God to be our guardians, pray for us.

Who always behold the Face of our Father Who is in Heaven, pray for us.

Who rejoice over one sinner doing penance, pray for us.

Who struck the Sodomites with blindness, pray for us.


Who led Lot out of the midst of the ungodly, pray for us.


Who ascended and descended on the ladder of Jacob, pray for us.

Who delivered the Divine Law to Moses on Mount Sinai, pray for us.

Who brought good tidings when Christ was born, pray for us.


Who comforted Him in His agony, pray for us.


Who sat in white garments at His sepulcher, pray for us.

Who appeared to the disciples as He went up into Heaven, pray for us.

Who shall go before Him bearing the standard of the Cross when He comes to judgment, pray for us.


Who shall gather together the elect at the End of the World, pray for us.

Who shall separate the wicked from among the just, pray for us.


Who offer to God the prayers of those who pray, pray for us.


Who assist us at the hour of death, pray for us.


Who carried Lazarus into Abraham’s bosom, pray for us.


Who conduct to Heaven the souls of the just, pray for us.


Who perform signs and wonders by the power of God, pray for us.


Who are sent to minister for those who shall receive the inheritance of salvation, pray for us.

Who are set over kingdoms and provinces, pray for us.


Who have often put to flight armies of enemies, pray for us.


Who have often delivered God’s servants from prison and other perils of this life, pray for us.


Who have often consoled the holy martyrs in their torments, pray for us.

Who are wont to cherish with peculiar care the prelates and princes of the Church, pray for us.


All ye holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us.


From all dangers, deliver us, O Lord.

From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Lord.


From all heresy and schism, deliver us, O Lord.


From plague, famine and ware, deliver us, O Lord.


From sudden and unlooked-for death, deliver us, O Lord.


From everlasting death, deliver us, O Lord. Through Thy holy Angels, we beseech Thee, hear us.


That Thou would spare us, we beseech Thee, hear us.


That Thou would pardon us, we beseech Thee, hear us.


That Thou would govern and preserve Thy Holy Church, we beseech Thee, hear us.


That Thou would protect our Apostolic Prelate and all ecclesiastical orders, we beseech Thee, hear us. That Thou would grant peace and security to kings and all Christian princes,
we beseech Thee, hear us.


That Thou would give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
we beseech Thee, hear us.


That Thou would grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
we beseech Thee, hear us.


Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.


Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.



Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.



Our Father,
Hail Mary,

Glory Be Bless the Lord, all ye Angels: Ye who are mighty in strength, who fulfill His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His words. He hath given His Angels charge concerning thee, To keep thee in all thy ways.



Let us pray:


O God, Who dost arrange the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order, mercifully grant that our life may be protected on earth by those who always do Thee service in Heaven, through Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost are one God now and forever.
Amen.



O God, Who in Thine unspeakable Providence dost send Thine Angels to keep guard over us, grant unto Thy suppliants that we may be continually defended by their protection and may rejoice eternally in their society, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen

CHAPLET OF THE HOLY ANGELS

Dear friends, Let each of us now take the time to pray in our hearts an act of contrition.

God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

First Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of Seraphim, may it please God to make us worthy to receive into our hearts the fire of his perfect charity. Amen.
1 Our Father and 3 Hail Marys and so on after each salutation

Second Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of Cherubim, may God in his good pleasure, grant us grace to abandon the ways of sin, and follow the path of Christian perfection. Amen.

Third Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the sacred Choir of Thrones, may it please God to infuse into our hearts the spirit of true and sincere humility. Amen.

Fourth Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of the Dominations, may it please God to grant us grace to tame our senses, and to correct our depraved passions. Amen.

Fifth Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of the Powers, may God vouchsafe to keep our souls from the wiles and temptations of the devil. Amen.

Sixth Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the admirable heavenly Choir of the Virtues, may it please God to keep us from falling into temptation, and may He deliver us from evil. Amen.

Seventh Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of Principalities, may it please God to fill our souls with the spirit of true and sincere obedience. Amen.

Eighth Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of Archangels, may it please God to grant us the gift of perseverance in the faith, and in all good works, that we may be thereby enabled to attain the glory of paradise. Amen.

Ninth Salutation : By the intercession of St. Michael and the heavenly Choir of all the Angels, may God vouchsafe to grant us their guardianship through this mortal life, and after death a happy entrance into the everlasting glory of heaven. Amen.

In honour of St. Michael:
Our Father…
In honour of St. Gabriel:
Our Father…
In honour if of St. Raphael:
Our Father…
In honour of our own Guardian Angels:
Our Father… give us this day…

Michael, glorious prince, chief and champion of the heavenly Host, guardian of the souls of men,
conqueror of the rebel angels, steward of the palace of God under Jesus Christ, our worthy leader, endowed with superhuman excellence and virtues: vouchsafe to free us all from every ill, who with full confidence have recourse to thee; and by thy incomparable protection enable us to make progress every day in the faithful service of our God.

Pray for us, most blessed Michael, Prince of the Church of Jesus Christ.
That we may be made worthy of His promises.

Let us pray.
ALMIGHTY and Eternal God, who in thine own marvelous goodness and pity didst, for the common salvation of man, choose the glorious Archangel Michael to be the prince of the Church: make us worthy, we pray Thee, to be delivered by his beneficent protection from all our ene-mies, that, at the hour of our death, none of them may approach to harm us; rather do Thou vouchsafe unto us that by the same Archangel Michael, we may be introduced into the presence of thy most high and divine majesty. Through the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray,
GOD of Heaven, God of earth, God of Angels, God of Archangels, God of Patriarchs, God of Prophets, God of Apostles, God of Martyrs, God of Confessors, God of Virgins, God who has power to give life after death and rest after work, because there is no other God than Thee and there can be no other, for Thou art the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, of whose reign there shall be no end, we humbly prostrate ourselves before Thy glorious Majesty and we beseech Thee to deliver us by Thy power from all the tyranny of the infernal spirits, from their snares, their lies and their furious wickedness; deign, O Lord, to grant us Thy powerful protection and to keep us safe and sound. We beseech Thee through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

And at the end I will give a blessing to all who joined in prayer, and I wish to bless all your loved ones.

May the blessing of Almighty God, the Father (+) and the Son and the Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain with you forever.

THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD AS A CALL TO RENEW OUR BAPTISMAL VOWS





Archpriest Oleg Stenyayev

What event reminds us of the Baptism of Christ? Why does the Nicea-Constantinople Creed mention only one sacrament—that of Baptism? Why is the feast of Baptism also called the Theophany? And how should fulfil our baptismal promises?



    

This is what we read in the Lamentations: It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness (Lam. 3:22-23). That is, by pouring out His blessings on those who pray in the morning, the Almighty in some sense creates the world afresh and fully renews it!

The Bible knows two worlds—those of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

During the creation of the first world …darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2).

A symbol of water

“In my opinion, the authority belonging to the liquid element [that is, water—Fr. O. S.] requires examination. As a matter of fact, it is amply attested, and indeed from the beginning. For it is one of those elements which, before the world was created at all, rested with God in a form as yet crude. In the beginning, Scripture says, God made heaven and earth. But the earth was invisible and in disorder, and there was darkness over the deep, and the spirit of the Lord moved over the waters. (Gen. 1:1-2).

It is your duty, O man, to hold in reverence, in the first place, the age of the waters, because their substance is ancient, in the second place their worth, as the home of the Divine spirit [that is, the grace of God in action—Fr. O. S.], more pleasing assuredly than the other elements at that time. For darkness was as yet entirely shapeless, being without the ornament of the stars, and the deep was forbidding, the earth was unready and the sky was unformed; water alone, the ever perfect matter, joyous, simple, unmixed in its very essence, provided a worthy vehicle for God. Again, later, the arrangement of the world took form for God, the waters somehow exercising a regulative function1.”

Likewise, during the creation of the second world, we see the Son of God standing amid the streams of the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit hovering over His head and blessing the waters of the new world (cf. 3:16-17). And in this case the waters by their mobility indicate possible good changes from God, for His mercy has not run out.

“But it will be enough at the outset to seize upon those features in which the essential character of Baptism is recognized. Its first aspect is that by which even in those days the very attitude gave an early indication of the manner of Baptism, namely that the spirit of God, which from the beginning moved upon the waters, would rest over the waters of Baptism2.”

“For it is the habit of vipers and asps and even basilisks to haunt dry and waterless spots. But we little fish, like our Fish [the first letters of the five words, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior,” in Greek, spell the common noun meaning “a fish”] Jesus Christ, are born in water, and it is only by remaining in water that we are safe3.”


The Baptism of Christ was an epoch-making event, when the Son of God called on us to fulfil all righteousness (Mt. 3:15), according to the will of Jesus Christ (cf. Mt. 28:19), through the work of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt. 3:16), before the overshadowing glory of God the Father (cf. Mt. 3:17). It is a custom among Russian people to immerse themselves into the water on this feast, as if experiencing the miracle of their Baptism over and over again4. At the same time, we don’t forget that Baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Pet. 3:21).

Photo by Alexander Bendyukov. Sib.fm

    

“Moreover, Peter himself, showing and vindicating the unity [of the Church—Fr. O. S.], has commanded and warned us that we cannot be saved, except by the one only Baptism of one Church. <…> For as, in that Baptism of the world in which its ancient iniquity was purged away, he who was not in the Ark of Noah could not be saved by water, so neither can he appear to be saved by Baptism who has not been Baptized in the Church which is established in the unity of the Lord according to the sacrament of the one ark5.”

Thus, every time we are celebrating the Baptism of the Lord at church, we remember the baptismal vows that we made (or our godparents made on behalf of us) in front of our baptismal font. The essence of these vows is that we “renounce satan, and all his works, and all his angels, and all his service, and all his pride”6 and then unite ourselves to Christ7.

The crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites, led by the Holy Prophet and God-Seer Moses during their Exodus from Egypt, signified the deliverance from the power of devil, sin, and fear of death. This was completed by the entry into the Promised Land through crossing the Jordan River under the command of Joshua. In both cases we see the dividing line between the Egyptians and the people of God, between Egypt and the Holy Land, between the baptized and the unbaptized.

And the last dividing line of this kind will be the exodus from the last “Babylon” and “Egypt” in the times of the antichrist. Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues (Rev. 18:2-4).



Oh
The Jordan River

    

Thus, the separation from the forces of evil is the renunciation of “satan, and all his works, and all his angels, and all his services, and all his pride”; and the aim of this separation is unity with Christ.

Laying particular emphasis on the role of the Church sacraments, Christians from ancient times linked them to different stages of the human life—and we find the confirmation to this in the texts of the New Testament.

The sacrament of Baptism corresponds to the human birth. Jesus answered: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God (Jn. 3:5).

Therefore, the sacrament of Chrismation which is performed right after Baptism, signifies the spiritual being’s growth towards salvation. But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2 Thess. 2:13).

But since a being born of the spirit needs food and drink in order to grow, the sacrament of the Eucharist (Holy Communion) gives us all that we need for this purpose as well. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed (Jn. 6:55).

The sacrament of Holy Matrimony is intended to regulate the movements of the flesh in a human being who is spiritually born and to help fulfil the commandment to bear children (a functional purpose). But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor. 7:9); Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen. 1:28).

Since as a result of the Fall all organisms are prone to illness, the sacrament of Holy Unction is a healing sacrament. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord (Jam. 5:14).

Likewise, the sacrament of confession heals sick human souls. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained (Jn. 20:21-23).

The sacrament of Ordination (Holy Orders), like the Holy Matrimony, is an instrumental one. Its purpose is functional—to give spiritual instructions to the people of God (an educational ministry) and make them participants of the grace of the Church sacraments (a saving and sanctifying ministry). Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (1 Tim. 4:14); Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Tim. 4:16).

Thus, the repeated8 and non-repeated9 sacraments give people all that they need for salvation. Yet there is only one gateway to the sacraments of the Church—and it is Baptism. That is why it is the only sacrament mentioned in the Nicea-Constantinople Creed: “I acknowledge one Baptism…”

After our physical death sacramental life will be impossible, so we believe that the state of our souls won’t change in eternity. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness [that is, in the nether regions—Fr. O. S.], and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts [that took place during our time on earth—Fr. O. S.]: and then shall every man have praise of God (1 Cor. 4:5).

It is crystal clear that Christ Himself didn’t need any rites or sacraments. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness (Mt. 3:13-15). The call to fulfil all righteousness is meant to teach us not to neglect the sacramental life of the Church.

“While the Lord approves His servant’s faithful obedience, He shows the sacrament of His Divine economy by saying, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. By this He demonstrates that the real truth is that the Lord and Teacher Himself should fulfil the whole sacrament of our salvation in Himself. Therefore, the Lord wished to be baptized not for Himself but for us in order to fulfil all righteousness. It is just that anyone who teaches others something should first do it himself. So, since the Lord came as the Teacher of the human race, He willed to show by His example what should be done so that the disciples could follow their teacher and the servants could follow their master10.”

The Baptism of the Lord. A fresco of Visoki Decani Monastery in Kosovo, Serbia. C. 1350

This event, the Baptism of the Lord, is also called the Theophany because the man John the Baptist was the first to contemplate the mystery of the Triune God so clearly. It is a mystery that man would have never found by logic, a mystery to which the following famous words of the early theologian Tertullian can be applied: “I believe because it is absurd” (“Credo quia absurdum”). That is, it is something that is incomprehensible, illogical, irrational and not deducible rationally.

The Forerunner saw the Son of God, standing amid the streams of the Jordan, in a particular way; saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove in a particular way; heard a voice from heaven (of God the Father) in a particular way. St. John the Baptist was the first man to be found worthy of being illuminated by the Trinitarian light of the Triune God so clearly.

This is how Blessed Jerome of Stridon described the Baptism of the Lord: “The mystery of the Holy Trinity is revealed in the Baptism: the Lord is baptized; the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove; and the voice of the Father bearing testimony to the Son is heard. And the heaven is opened not through the movement of the visible elements but for the spiritual vision; Ezekiel spoke about it at the beginning of his book as well, that it was opened. And the dove landed on Jesus’s head…11”

Thus, the Forerunner of the Lord was the first to contemplate the mystery of the Trinity—the mystery that makes us Christians.

The Holy Trinity is mentioned quite many times in the texts of both the Old and New Testaments12.

Divine love, of which Apostle John said that God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), is not self-love. Otherwise God would be the source of egoism.

On the contrary, denying that God is alone in His love, the Church has always insisted that God Himself is love—the love of the Three Persons. God the Father loves God the Son, God the Son loves God the Father, and both the Father and the Son dwell in the love of the Holy Spirit. All three Persons of the Holy Trinity dwell in love (the Trinity is the essential love). Isn’t it this love to which we are called in the Gospel: That they may be one, even as we are one (Jn. 17:22)? Blessed Augustine wrote: “If love, with which the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, inexpressibly reveals their unity, wouldn’t it be most appropriate to call the Holy Spirit, Who is common to both, love itself?”13 As St. Gregory the Theologian taught: “The Holy Spirit Himself is love14.” And, at the same time, Blessed Augustine insisted: “Inasmuch as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are called Wisdom, and not three Wisdoms but one, I don’t understand why the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit cannot be called Love, and moreover one Love all together?”15

It is obvious that love in God can be discerned in relation to the very essence of God and to the Person (ὑπόστᾰσις) alike. In relation to the Person it (the word “Love”) is the proper Name of the Holy Spirit just as the “Word” (λόγος) is the proper Name of the Son as a Person.

It is through the Holy Spirit that we participate in this Divine love, as Apostles Paul and Peter put it: Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Rom. 5:5); According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Pet. 1:3-4).

Persevering in not recognizing any other movement in God, the Church has insisted that in the act of Divine love the Son of God is eternally begotten from God the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from Him.

St. John, the Baptizer of the Savior, was the seer of that mystery of the Theophany on the day of the Baptism of the Lord.

And all of us, who need to renew our baptismal promises, grow in the grace of God and love for Him, contemplating with our spiritual eyes this mystery of the Theophany in the Baptism of the Lord. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:8). That is, growing in love for God and our neighbors, turning away from diabolical pride and egoism, we can keep our baptismal promises to the fullest extent possible. To unite with Christ means to become like the love to which the Son of God bore witness by saying, I and My Father are one (Jn. 10:30); and further, That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me (Jn. 17:21).

We begin each prayer rule and each Church sacrament with the words: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, addressing all three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

This is the call for unity of Divine love!…

Archpriest Oleg Stenyayev
Translated by Dmitry Lapa



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