The Holy Mysteries - Holy Baptism. What you’ve all been preparing for since the day you were made catechumens - dying to your old life and being born again into the Church, cleansed of your sins and illuminated in and having put on Christ, clothed in Him. As you hear (and hopefully are learning to say) the Nicene Creed/ Symbol of Faith each week, “we believe in one baptism for the remission of sins,” and this is it. The word itself comes from the Greek word baptizo - “to plunge (or be submerged) into water,” and that’s basically what we’ll do with you. Specifically, you will be submerged three times, one each “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” There are some instances in which triple immersion is not possible, like instances of physical limitations, where baptism by affusion (pouring) is permitted, but this is rare and always requires the bishop’s permission. Baptism by aspersion (sprinkling) is never permitted under any circumstances.
In the Orthodox Church we believe that Holy Baptism is much more than a mere symbol, but truly remits your sins to allow you to start a new life, mystically unified to Christ’s burial, death, and Resurrection. Our practice is not to spread out the Holy Mysteries unnecessarily, but to bring you into the fullness of the Church right away - which is why we immediately Chrismate you (more on this next week) following your Baptism, and then lead you up to the Chalice first during the Divine Liturgy that almost always follows. As a part of your Baptism there is sung Galatians 3:27 - “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ (Alleluia)”
Depending on your prior denomination, especially if you were in certain protestant sects, our practice of infant baptism may seem odd to you, but the practice of NOT baptizing infants is only about as old as the Anabaptist movement, circa 1520s. We instead teach that infants are both fully capable and fully deserving of being in the Body of Christ and further, of participating fully in the Holy Mysteries that are available to them. While adults are baptized following a catechumenate of not less than a year, infants are baptized without a waiting/ learning period (though families of catechumens including infants are usually baptized all at once), usually with their godparents giving a confession of faith on their behalf. We baptize people of all ages with the same purpose and with the same results - for the remission of sins, and for a new life in Christ.