Participation in the life of the Most Holy Trinity becomes a reality for us through the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist. In other words, we partake of God’s life by being united to Christ, receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit, and sharing the Body and Blood of Christ in the community called Church. As a person after birth begins to breathe and then receives nourishment in order to live, so the newly baptized, born to new life in the baptismal font, begins to breathe by the Holy Spirit and receives the nourishment of Holy Communion in order to grow in Christ. Through the prayers and sacred actions of the liturgical rite of each of these Mysteries, the Church leads the faithful (the Greek Fathers speak of mystagogy—leading into the mystery) into an understanding of the Mystery and perceiving it as a single, unified action of God’s grace. This is why in the tradition of the Eastern Church, these three Holy Mysteries are celebrated together. (Christ – Our Pascha, 408)

Through Baptism, Chrismation, and the Eucharist, called the Mysteries of Christian Initiation, a person becomes a member of the Body of Christ and is enabled to participate in Christ’s priesthood, kingship, and prophetic mission. (Christ – Our Pascha, 407)

Baptism is for us the beginning of the fullness of life for which we were created: “John preached a baptism of repentance and the whole of Judea went out to him. The Lord proclaims a baptism of the adoption of sons. Among those who place their hope in [the Lord], who will not obey? The baptism of John was preliminary, that of Jesus a crowning accomplishment. The baptism of John was a break with sin; that of Jesus was union with God. In Baptism, God not only saves us from sin, but also grants us the inestimable treasures of new life.” (Christ – Our Pascha, 410)

Baptism is the first Mystery that a person needs to receive in order to enter the Church, the ark of salvation. It is the means by which one becomes a member of the Church, the Body of Christ. “Whence is it that we are Christians? Through our faith would be the universal answer. And in what way are we saved? Plainly because we were regenerated through the grace given in our baptism.”311 Baptism unlocks the access to the other Holy Mysteries and sacred rites in the Church through which the Lord sanctifies, vivifies, and leads his Church as a whole and each believer in particular. This is why the baptized already become “heirs of the kingdom” and receive the “blessedness of the saints.” (Christ – Our Pascha, 414)

The Church baptizes both adults and children in order to lead them into the new life of Christ. The Church baptizes children, bearers of the image of God, so that they can receive the grace of divine likeness. Together with the gift of life, the most precious gift that parents can give is to bring their child to the Mystery of Baptism. When children are baptized, the Church community, represented by the Godparents, expresses faith in Christ on their behalf. Together with the father and mother they accept responsibility before God and the Church for the Christian upbringing of the child. The child is to grow within the Church community in faith, as well as with a Christian lifestyle and in knowledge of God. To become a Godparent, whether of children or adults, it is necessary to be a believer, so that the person’s faith and way of life become models for the future Godchild. The spiritual relationship between Godparents and Godchildren endures throughout their lives. The Baptism of a child cannot be considered a violation of its rights or freedom, because just as parents or guardians feed a child and teach it for its own good, so also believing parents, in bringing their child to the Mystery of Baptism, open them to life in God. (Christ – Our Pascha, 418)

The Rite of Baptism begins with the Making of a Catechumen—the preparation of the person for Baptism. In an introductory prayer the priest lays his hand on the catechumen. The Church thus takes the catechumen under her care so that he or she may be “found worthy to flee to [God’s] holy name and find shelter under [his] wings.” Then, through prayers and exorcisms, the Church safeguards the catechumen from the influence of Satan. Subsequently the catechumen, either personally or through the Godparents, renounces Satan and his works and joins to Christ the Saviour. As a sign of this joining to Christ, the catechumen passes from the narthex of the church (symbol of the world) to the centre of the nave (symbol of Christ’s Church). (Christ – Our Pascha, 419)

Immediately before the immersion (or the pouring) the priest anoints the catechumen with holy oil. This anointing is a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit received in Baptism. It is given to the catechumen as a “weapon of justice” against “all the action of the devil” and for the “restoration of body and soul.” The priest anoints the forehead, the breast, the shoulders, the ears, and the hands and feet. He anoints the forehead so that “the mind might be opened to understand and receive the mysteries of faith.” He anoints the breast so that the baptized “would love the Lord with all his/her heart.” The shoulders are anointed so that he/she “would accept Christ’s yoke.” The ears are anointed “for the reception of the voice of the divine Gospel.” Finally, the baptizand’s hands and feet are anointed so that he/she would “raise his/her hands towards the holy place and always act justly,” and “walk in the ways of Christ’s commandments.” The anointing of the body indicates that in Baptism the entire nature of the person is renewed, along with all its senses. (Christ – Our Pascha, 420)

Baptism is performed with water, which is a symbol of life but also of death (“the waters of the flood,” see Gn 6-9). The passing through the waters of the Red Sea symbolizes salvation (see Ex 14), while the washing with water is a symbol of healing (e.g., the curing of Naaman of leprosy; see 2 Kgs 5:10-14). Immersing the person three times into the water, or pouring water three times over the forehead, the priest declares: “The servant of God, (name), is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Baptism is the death of the “old person” and the birth of the “new person,” united with the three Divine Persons—the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (see Mt 28:19). This occurs through union with Christ’s Death and Resurrection (see Rom 6). As a sign of the new birth, the baptized person is given a Christian name, by which the Church introduces the neophyte into a spiritual relationship with their heavenly patron. (Christ – Our Pascha, 421)

In baptism we are immersed in Christ’s Death in order to achieve our own resurrection arising out of his Resurrection. And so, our death in Christ is the passing over from death to life, the beginning of “life for God.” (We Walk with Christ: Youth Catechism, p. 106)

The newborn in Christ is given a white garment, the baptismal robe (kryzhmo). It is the garment of righteousness and symbolizes the “putting on” of the Risen Christ: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). To put on Christ means that the newly baptized became new persons: clothed in the raiment of light, they proclaim before others that Christ lives and acts in them. Handing the newly baptized a candle, the priest says: “Take this burning candle and throughout your life strive to be illumined with the brightness of faith and good works, so that when the Lord comes you may go out in radiance to meet him with all the saints.” As Christ is “the light that shines in the darkness” (see Jn 1:5), so also the one who was illumined by Christ in Baptism is called to be a “light of the world” (Mt 5:14). (Christ – Our Pascha, 422)

The Mystery of Baptism is usually celebrated by a priest. He is the spiritual father of the parish community to which the newly baptized is united (and thus the appropriate presider). However, if there is danger of death, any Christian may baptize. In that case, Baptism is performed by a triple pouring of water over the person with the words: “The servant of God, (name), is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Frequently, a person who receives Baptism while in danger of death does so without the full liturgical rite. Consequently, if the person lives and recovers, he or she is brought to a priest, who completes the rite and also performs Chrismation. The Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation are received only once in a lifetime because, having been born in Christ through the Holy Spirit, we remain children of the Father forever. (Christ – Our Pascha, 423)