JUNE 2014
St.Nicholas Parish
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Adelaide, South Australia
№ 3 (54)
St. Nicholas Parish
Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia,
Adelaide, South Australia
№ 3 (54)
JUNE 2014
Editorial council:
Father Vladimir Deduhin
Konstantin & Natalia Joukovski
Translation: Anatoly & Olga Towsty
41-42 Greenhill Rd., Wayville, SA, 5034
3 The Ordination.
Visit of Metropolitan Hilarion,
the First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad
7 Deacon Paul Tokarev
9 Pevcheskii Syezd in Canberra
11 School Concert and Charity
12 Meeting of the Parish Council
13 International Festival
14 In Memory of:
Nina Merzhanova
St. Nicholas
school at
About the
Sacrament of
Holy Baptism
Almost simultaneously, several long awaited
events happened in Adelaide. On the eve of Palm
Sunday, Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad arrived
in Adelaide. Because of his commitments, the
Hierarch had not visited Adelaide for several years.
First the Evening Service and then the Liturgy for
the celebration of the ‘Lord’s entry into Jerusalem’
were conducted at the St Nicholas Parish. During
the Liturgy several signifcant long awaited events
occurred. At the beginning of the Liturgy the
Hierarch elevated Daniel Hill and Teoharris
Papazoglow, to the status of Reader, and Paul
Tokarev was initially made Reader, then Subdeacon
and later during the Liturgy was made Deacon.
Tis Event was especially welcome because there
has not been a Deacon in Te St Nicholas parish
since 1995. Another signifcant event of this day
was the awarding of a kamilavka to Father Peter
Hill. We congratulate them all, and especially
Father Paul Tokarev for his elevation to Deacon.
We wish him strength, patience and zeal, much
needed in this challenging position.
Afer the Liturgy the Sisterhood of the St Nicholas
Church put on a lunch for the congregation, where
the Parishioners were able to interact with the
Hierarch and the other Priests.
The Ordination
During the celebration of the ‘Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem’, our St. Nicholas
Parish was visited by Metropolitan Hilarion, the First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad.
Meeting with Vladyka
Vesting of Vladyka
Deacon Pavel (Paul) is well known in our par-
ish. However I would like to give you some more
information about him. Father Paul was born in
1969 in Sydney to a family of immigrants from
China – Ludmilla Nikolaevna Tokareva and Alvi-
an Sergeevitch Tokarev. In the family were 3 sons:
Alexey, Pavel and Mikhail. It is noted that the par-
ents are active participants in the Russian social life
of Sydney. The mother of Ludmilla Nikolaevna –
Lidia Aleksandrovna Jastrebova (ie Father Paul’s
Grandmother) is one of the most well known wom-
en of the Russian émigrés. Lidia Aleksandrovna
was a writer, an artist and a photographer. Several
generations of Russians in Sydney had their wed-
ding and other photos taken in her studio.
Her sister Elena Aleksandrovna Jakubova, be-
ing a professional ballerina, ran the best known
ballet studio in Sydney. Both Elena and Lidia
wrote wonderful stories. Their prose was not only
known in Australia but also abroad.
It was into this creative and active family that
our Deacon Paul was born. After fnishing school,
Paul received training in the construction indus-
try. In 1994 at the Orthodox Youth Conference of
the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, held
in Normanville in South Australia, Paul met Ma-
rina Ivanovna Goncharova, the youngest daughter
of our parishioners Irina Mikhailovna and Ivan
Filipovich Goncharov. In November 1999, Paul
came to live in Adelaide and in February 2002 Paul
and Marina were married. Over the years they had
3 daughters: Emelia, Lidia and Daria - 3 young
beauties in our parish. The girls sing in the junior
church choir, dance in the dancing group “Kalinka”
and play the piano and have many other talents.
For many years Father Paul was a chorister in the
church choir. In recent years he has been teaching
at the church school, is the chairman of the parents
committee, member of the parish council, member
of the committee of the Russian Community Cen-
tre in Adelaide, member of the Russian Australi-
an Representative Council, and also conducts the
Children’s church choir. In addition, Father Paul
also runs his own successful business - he is the
head of a building company.
Our parishioners are grateful to Father Paul for
the free installation of the benches in front of the
church. The benches were purchased by the choir
and installed by his company. There is also appre-
ciation for his initiative and the enormous personal
contribution in the construction of the children’s
playground in the church yard. Any repairs at the
Russian House and the Russian School have al-
ways involved Father Paul. We wish Father Paul
health and strength in the challenging position of
Natalia Joukovskaya
Translated by A. & O. Towsty
Father Paul Tokarev
“The forest, mushrooms and samovar –
Russians relaxing ...”
The traditional meeting of friends of the St.
Nicholas Russian School occurred on the 25th April
(Anzac Day). For several years now on the initia-
tive of Paul Tokarev (now deacon Paul) teachers,
parents, children and friends of the school travel to
the forest to pick mushrooms.
This year, because of the lack of rain in the
driest state of the driest continent, there were no
mushrooms. However that did not spoil the fes-
tive Easter mood of the 50 people who came to the
forest near the town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide
Hills. It needs to be noted that not only were there
Russians at the event but also people of various
nationalities. The smell of the smoking samovar
and the coniferous forest gave everyone a chance
to relax.
The children played various games and then
searched for chocolate Easter eggs, hidden in the
grass by the adults. Later they ran relay races with
the eggs to see which team excelled in speed and
agility. The warm windless evening and the slow
approaching darkness ended a wonderful day.
Natalia Joukovskaya
Translated by A. & O. Towsty
I was fortunate early in May to have a break from
my usual routine and attend this year’s Syezd
(chorister’s congress) in Canberra. Although it was
only for the fnal rehearsals on Saturday and the
services Saturday evening and Sunday morning, I
still found the experience to be personally uplifting
and extremely worthwhile.
There were certainly many positive aspects to
the two days crammed full of beautiful singing in
a large choir, which is something members of most
small parish choirs rarely have the opportunity to
experience. This also allows for suitable repertoire
to be selected for a large choir of experienced sing-
ers to sing. The theme of this year’s Syezd was the
music of Pavel Grigorievich Chesnokov (1877 -
1944) and our interpretation of his Milost Mira at
the Hierarchical Liturgy with Metropolitan Hilari-
on was particularly memorable. It was also espe-
cially lovely to sing the joyful music of the paschal
period, something which has not happened in pre-
vious Syezds.
I very much enjoyed meeting up with like-mind-
ed church music friends and enthusiasts from vari-
ous parts of the country again, in particular, our for-
mer parish and church choir member, Sergei Shekh,
who now lives in Canberra. On a more profession-
al level, I gained a lot through observing the work
of our three main conductors: Georgy Leonidovich
Safonov, conductor of the Danilov Monastery Fes-
tal Choir in Moscow, Andrei Nikolaevich Laptev,
conductor of the Cabramatta parish church choir
and Nikolai Nikolaevich Kowal (Kovalenko), con-
ductor of the Melbourne parish church choir. Each
had their own style of rehearsing and conducting,
which was a challenge to respond to in such a short
period of time.
The hi-light for me was the post-Syezd concert,
given by the Australian Archdiocese Choir, formed
and conducted by Andrei Laptev. This was held at
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Canberra, as
a fund-raising and performance practice event for
the choir, who were travelling to Hajnowka, Po-
land for the annual Orthodox Choral Completion
held there, the frst time a choir has ever partici-
pated from Australia! Attending the concert by this
superb choir was already a privilege, however, I
was also honoured to have been invited to sing with
them only the day before! Not all of their group
travelling overseas were able to attend the concert
and Andrei asked me to help sing with the alto sec-
tion to balance the choir. With only one rehearsal
and by the grace of God, I successfully participated
in, what was for me, an unforgettable and sublime
experience. I cannot put into words the sheer beau-
ty and power of the gems of music selected for the
concert by Andrei, coming from the vast repertoire
of our rich and varied church music heritage. Al-
though not participating in the trip to Poland, I still
feel truly blessed to have joined this special group
of choristers, led by their gifted conductor, in what
was the performance of a lifetime! I was thrilled to
Pevcheskii Syezd, Canberra 2014
learn when checking the results on the Internet that
our Australian Archdiocese Choir were awarded
frst prize in the parish choir section of the inter-
national competition. It made my experience with
them all the more signifcant!
All too soon, the Syezd and concert was fn-
ished and the time had come to say our farewells
to each other and to return to our respective par-
ishes, carrying with us the knowledge gained and
the warmth of the experiences shared. I would like
to sincerely thank Georgy Ivanovich Bergholcs for
taking over my conducting responsibilities with
our parish choir during my absence and all the
choristers for supporting him.
We congratulate our parish school teacher Larisa Yurievna Vlasenko with the birth
of her grandson Cyrill. We wish the new born baby health and his young family
wisdom and patence!
Sergey Shekh and Natasha Stanco
Just recently, I learned of another Pevcheskii
Syezd being held later this year in Santa Rosa,
California. The program looks very interesting and
who knows, maybe the next time readers of the
Vestnik hear from me, it may be regarding another
Syezd report, this time from America?
Natasha Stanco,
Conductor St. Nicholas parish choir
School Concert and Charity Lunch
The traditional charity lunch (in support of the church school) and a small concert (in which the school
students participated) were held during the Feast of the Holy Trinity, on the 8th June in the parish hall. The
teachers of the school put in a great deal of work into the concert but especially we would like to acknowl-
edge Natalia Victorovna Moskvichova who compered the concert, as well as Natalia Vasilievna Stanco
who is the school’s music teacher. During the concert the children entertained the audience with Russian
traditions associated with the feast of the Holy Trinity. They sang songs which the audience sang along
with, especially everyone’s favourite song “Smile”. They recited poetry and even put on a small costumed
play about a porcupine who gave his mother fowers for Mother’s day.
There was also an exhibition of children’s drawings. After the concert, by a vote of the audience, priz-
es were awarded to the winners and to all the participants of the exhibition. The main winners were Olga
Terentyeva, Lidia Papodopolos, Victoria Viktorova.
Many thanks to the sisterhood for the preparation of the lunch, and all the ladies who prepared the
A regular meeting of the Parish Council was
held on 1st June. It was opened with a prayer. As
a result of the departure of the former Secretary, a
new Secretary was elected - K. Joukovski.
The Previous Minutes were read. During the
reading the following protocols were noted:-
1. I.V. Burlow has not yet contacted the Unley
council – will do so in the near future.
2. The Council thanked Fr. Paul for organ-
izing the exchange of chairs at Offce Works and
their assembly.
3. The car park lines need to be renewed. Fa-
ther Paul will enquire as to the availability of high
quality professional grade paint.
4. It was noted that the number of cars parked
during weekdays has not changed and there were
no violations.
5. The push bars on the doors have not yet
been installed – Father Paul will investigate.
6. With regard to updating the stikhars -
Margarita Dejneko will buy the material (Father
Vladimir will give her a cheque for its cost).
7. A Pay-Pal account has not been set up. Sta-
rosta will do so in the near future.
The previous minutes were accepted.
The meeting heard the report of the treasurer
T.G.Burlow for Jan, Feb, March and April 2014.
The report was accepted. The treasurer also report-
ed that as from the 1st July the cost of monitoring
the alarm system will increase slightly.
Father Vladimir asked V. I. Mihailova to order
a new stamp with our details (A.B.N. etc).
The issue of the battle with the rats and cock-
roaches was raised. It was decided to let V. I.
Burlow contact a pest control company. Father
Vladimir brought to the attention of the Senior Sis-
ter the necessity of using the available plastic con-
tainers for the storage of four.
Father Vladimir said that the neighbours were
intending to replace the old fence and were asking
for a feasible contribution. The overall cost of the
fence is in the order of $4000.00. It was decided to
offer $1000.00.
V. Mihailov proposed to offer the new deacon
Fr. Paul Tokarev payment for his work. Fr. Paul
refused payment. Due to Fr. Paul’s refusal it was
decided not to assign payment.
The question of attracting more students to our
church school was discussed. It was decided to put
more detailed information about the school on the
church website.
The meeting was closed at 12.30 p.m. with a
Konstantin Joukovski
Translated by A. & O. Towsty
Meeting of the Parish Council
Sayings of parishioners:
- Happiness cannot be measured or weighed.
- But I do this every day at work
- How is that
- I work as a Midwife!!!
- Mummy, did you ever have a dream in life
- Yes I did
- And now?
- And now she is sitting beside me and asking
International Festival
In Poland, in Bialystok, the XXXIII International
Festival of church music was held.
The history of this famous festival goes way
back to 1982. Throughout the years, there were over
700 choirs from 35 different countries participating
in the competition. This year, for the frst time, the
Australian Archdiocese Choir (participants from
Sydney, Brisbane, and Canberra) was able to at-
tend the festival. The choir is conducted by Andrei
Laptev (Pokrovsky Cathedral, Cabramatta). The
competition consisted of fve pieces of Orthodox
Church music.
The Australian choir took frst place in the pa-
rishioners choir’s category. In the festival choirs
from Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania,
Slovakia, Latvia, Moldavia also attended.
Congratulations to all participants from the
Syndey choir for taking the frst place.
During the festival, the Australian choir with
the collectives of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were
invited to join the concert of Church music in War-
saw, Poland.
Upon completion of the festival program, on
28th of May the choir returned to Australia. The
participants of the choir were: Vera Lapteva, Ekat-
erina Frolova, Nastasya Pule, Nina Semenova, An-
astasia Triantaphillidis, Maria Matys, Marina Pule,
Larisa Kotrlyarova, Timothy Laptev, Lev Yanovit-
ski, Nikolai Gudkov, Nikolai Morozov, Evstraty
Papageorgiu, Pavel Zhuledev, Nektary Kotlyarov,
Andrei Laptev.
Congratulations to the conductror of the choir
as well as the participants of the Orthodox Austral-
ian choir with the deserved victory in the interna-
tional competition.
Vladimir Kouzmin
Translated by Peter Joukovski
Nina Aleksandrovna Merzhanova

(12.05.1920 - 07.05.2014)
Nina Aleksandrovna was born on May 12, 1920
in a village near the Tersk stud farm in the Stav-
ropol region to the family of stud farm director
Alexander Alekseyevich Novikov (1888-1964)
and his wife Evgenia Aleksandrovna. Towards
the end of Nina’s schooling the family moved to
Kislovodsk - a famous spa resort. Nina had out-
standing talents and graduated from school with
honors. Since childhood she wrote poetry which
was favorably noticed by Kornei Chukovski. She
effortlessly entered the A.M. Gorky Moscow Liter-
ary Institute. Unfortunately Nina had to stop stud-
ying at the Literary Institute because there were no
boarding facilities at that time, and she transferred
to the Textile Institute. During her studies Nina
met and married George Urumyanets (from Kis-
lovodsk) who was studying in Leningrad. In June
1941 the pregnant Nina moved to Kislovodsk to be
with her parents and George stayed in Leningrad.
During this separation the war began. Nina bore
a son named Alexander and found herself under
German occupation. George died of starvation in
the blockaded city of Leningrad. More precisely he
was pronounced missing. Like many victims of the
blockade, any trace of him was simply lost.
The Germans transported Nina to work in Ger-
many. She left her infant son Alex with her parents
in Kislovodsk. The diffculties of life for people
deported to Germany have been experienced frst-
hand by many of our parishioners. Life was dif-
fcult, but Nina Alexandrovna was fortunate. She
was sent to work on a farm of a compassionate
German woman who, having lost her three sons to
the war, was not embittered against Russians, but
remained a humane person. When prisoners of war
were being driven past her farm, the German lady
together with Nina collected boiled eggs, potatoes,
bread and apples and handed them to passing pris-
oners. Nina being a very beautiful young woman
was noticed by many Russian soldiers. One day
as she was giving out the food a soldier asked her
name and where she was from. This conversation
was very brief, on the run and very dangerous as
German guards were close by. Nina had only time
to say “My name is Nina Novikova from Kislo-
vodsk”. With the passage of many years this inci-
dent was forgotten.
In Germany Nina met and fell in love with
a man of the same age as herself, Valentin Mer-
zhanov from Bryansk. In 1949 the young couple
came to Australia. It was here that their children
were born: 1953 - Larissa and in 1955 - Victor. Life
was improving. They bought a house and were
raising their children. But of course Nina’s heart
ached for her eldest son Alexander. After Stalin’s
death in 1953, and after the famous revealing 20th
Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet
Union in 1956, it seemed that life was getting bet-
ter in the USSR. The Merzhanov family, as well as
other families returned to their homeland (USSR).
This was in 1958. After their long separation from
their relatives they arrived in Kislovodsk. By this
time Nina’s son Alex was already 17 years old. He
had been raised by his grandparents and Nina’s
younger sister - Lucy. Nina, having returned to
her homeland, graduated from Pyatigorsk Institute
of Foreign Languages and for many years taught
English at school №2 in Kislovodsk.
In the 70’s her husband, Valentin Dmitrievich
died. In 1980, at the age of 60 years she retired,
although the retirement age was 55 years. As she
told me herself, it was hard to leave her beloved
job and her cherished students.
The diffculties of life in the Soviet Union are
known to many, but after having lived in bright and
easy going Australia, life for Larissa and Victor
was twice as hard. Having been born in a suppos-
edly hostile capitalist country, life was especially
diffcult both at school and in college.

Of course in the life of the family there were also
happier moments. One of these was the meeting
between Nina and the soldier to whom she had giv-
en food and her name in Germany. This soldier had
spent many years looking for her, wanting to marry
her. Years went by and he was fnally convinced
by his brother and friends to get on with life and
stop looking for the girl of his dreams. He eventu-
ally married and named his daughter Nina in honor
of the woman who had saved his life. Already in
his 60’s, Peter Georgievich (that was the soldier’s
name) found Nina’s sister Lucy who had kept her
maiden name and remained Novikova. So, twenty
years after the war Nina and Peter fnally met. The
two families became friends and their children vis-
ited each other’s homes. Peter Georgievich often
said that if it was not for the food that Nina and the
compassionate German farmer had given them, it
is possible that he would not have survived. The
food gave him strength to survive starvation. The
dream of meeting Nina gave him strength to en-
dure the suffering and wait for victory.
In 1980 Larissa came to Australia with the help
her parents’ long time friends, the Mikhailovs.
In February of 1981 she married Vasily Ivano-
vich Mikhailov. In 1982 they had a daughter, Ana-
stasia, and in 1983 another daughter Juliana. In the
early 80s, Victor (Larissa’s brother) married a girl
called Svetlana, and they had two children, Ana-
stasia and Valentin. In February 1987, Victor was
tragically killed in unclear circumstances. In April
1989, Nina Alexandrovna returned to Australia, to
daughter Larissa in Adelaide where she lived for
the last 25 years.
Nina Alexandrovna greatly assisted our family
with useful advice and real help during our move
to Australia. We were travelling with two small
children and our questions as to what to bring with
us and what not to bring due to luggage weight
restrictions were solved through discussions with
Nina Alexandrovna. The help we received from
her son-in-law, Vasily and daughter Larissa was
invaluable. They met us and greeted us with heart-
warming friendliness, as if we were family. Only
people like us, i.e. migrants with young children,
exhausted by a long sleepless journey and stand-
ing on the threshold of a new life in a strange and
unfamiliar country, can understand how important
this assistance was. In fact, the important attributes
of the Merzhanov and Mihailov families are: re-
sponsiveness and the readiness to help regardless
of time and effort. As it is important at the critical
moment to offer a starving man a potato, so it is as
important at that critical moment to offer help and
an inclusive welcome.
May the sensitive soul of Nina Aleksandrovna
Merzhanova have Eternal Rest in the Kingdom of
Natalia Joukovskaya
Translated by A. & O. Towsty
Merzhanovs’ family: Valentn Dmitrievich, Victor, Larisa, Nina Alexandrovna, 1956
Why Infant Baptism?
Holy Baptism is the frst of seven Sacraments
in the Orthodox Christian Church. Together with
the Sacrament of Holy Chrism it joins the candi-
date to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.
Baptising infants is an expression of God’s great
love for us. It shows that God loves us and accepts
us before we can ever know and love Him. It shows
that we are wanted and loved by God from the very
moment of our birth. Nothing shows the nature of
God’s grace more than infant baptism. The Ortho-
dox Church does not belittle personal faith in an
adult who seeks baptism, but instead insists that
the whole emphasis of baptism is not what the
baby does or the parents or the godparents, but on
what God does. The fact that we are Christians is
not due to any act on our part; it is due to the act
of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. Of course
Baptism demands a personal response on the part
of the baptised child when it reaches the age of rea-
son. The child must accept what God did for him
or her in Baptism. Baptism is not a divine pass that
will get us into Heaven automatically. It must be
followed by a personal awareness or awakening
to the many gifts of God’s love bestowed upon us
through this great sacrament.
The Institution of the Sacrament of
It was the Lord Jesus who instituted Baptism.
“He who believes and is baptised will be saved”
(Mark 16:16). “Go therefore and make disciples
of all nations, baptising them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...”
(Matthew 28:19).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born
of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the king-
dom of God” (John 3:5). The great model of our
baptism, then, is the baptism of Jesus in the River
The Purpose of Holy Baptism
To remove the consequences of the ‘original
sin’. To wash away all other sins committed before
the time of Baptism if the person is beyond the age
of infancy. To unite the person to “The Body of
Christ” (that is, the Church), and to open the door
of salvation and eternal life to him or her.

Explanation of the Ceremony
The many gestures involved in the perfor-
mance of the Sacrament of Baptism in the Ortho-
dox Church are not mere forms devoid of meaning.
Christianity is life. Each action in the Sacrament
of Baptism expresses what Christ is actually doing
for us through this Sacrament.
As with all of the Sacraments there is a visible
part, the actions taken by the Priest; and an invisi-
ble part, the sanctifying Grace that comes from the
Holy Spirit that flls the body and soul of the per-
son receiving the Sacrament.
The Sponsor or Godparent
The use of sponsors in Baptism dates back to
the days when Christians were persecuted by the
Roman Emperor Nero. Parents were often mas-
sacred during these persecutions. Thus sponsors
were provided to instruct the children in the Chris-
tian faith in the event the parents were martyred.
The godparent promises to see to it that the child is
raised and educated in the Orthodox Christian faith.
For this reason, it is important that godparents be
chosen not for social reasons, but because they are
persons who love God and His Church. Sponsors
must be Orthodox Christians in good standing with
the Church, otherwise they will not be able to bring
up the child in a faith that is not theirs.
The Exorcism
The frst act of the Baptismal service begins
in the narthex (entrance) of the church. This is to
show that the one being received is not yet a mem-
ber of the Church. The purpose of Baptism is to
bring him into the Church. To enter into the temple
of God is to be with Christ, to become a member
of His body. The Priest then calls upon the sponsor
to renounce the devil and all his works on behalf
of the child: “Do you renounce Satan, and all his
angels, and all his works, and all his services. and
all his pride?”
The exorcisms announce the forthcoming Bap-
tism as an act of victory. The renouncing of Satan
is done facing west because the west is where the
sun disappears, and was regarded by the ancient
Greeks as the place of the gates of Hades. Then the
priest faces east whence the light of the sun rises
and asks the godparent to accept for the child Him
who is the Light of the World:
“Do you unite yourself to Christ!” The renun-
ciation of Satan and the union with Christ express
our faith that the newly-baptised child has been
transferred from one master to another, from Satan
to Christ, from death to life.
The Sign of the Cross
The priest then makes the sign of the cross on
the child’s body. This is repeated often during the
service. Essentially the cross is the sign of victo-
ry which puts the devil to fight. In the old days
slaves were branded, as are animals today, to show
to what master they belonged. Today the sign of
the cross brands us as belonging to Christ.
The Creed
The godparent is then asked to confess faith in
Christ in behalf of the infant and reads the confes-
sion of faith contained in the Nicene Creed. The
Creed was a symbol or sign of recognition among
the early Christians; it was like a password that dis-
tinguished the true members of God’s family. By
reading the Creed the godparent confesses the true
faith that will be passed on to the infant in time.
The Naming
From the moment the child is received into
the Church emphasis is placed on his individual-
ity. He is given his own particular name by which
he shall be distinguished from every other child of
God. This new name expresses also the new life in
Christ received through Holy Baptism. In addition
to our own individual name each person receives
the name “Christian” at Baptism. From that mo-
ment on we bear the name of Christ.
The Candles
However dark may be the night that surrounds
us, Baptism remains the sacrament of entrance into
light. It opens the eyes of the soul to see Christ, the
light; of the world (John 1:19) It makes us sons of
light (1 Thess. 5:5). In the early Church the bap-
tismal candle was always kept by the one baptised
and brought to Church for major events in the per-
son’s life.
Even as the fnal hour of life approached it was
lighted again as the soul went forth to meet its
Judge. It was a constant reminder for the Christian
to live and die by the light of Christ. Thus the can-
dle becomes a symbol of the perseverance of the
baptised soul until Christ’s return.
The Baptismal Font
The baptismal font in the language of the Church
Fathers is the Divine Womb whence we receive the
second birth as chil-
dren of God. Baptism
is truly a birth. “But to
all who received him,
who believed in his
name, he gave power
to become children of
God; who were born,
not of blood, nor of the
will of the fesh, nor of
the will of man, but of
God” (John 1:12-13).
When a person is
Baptised, they descend
into the baptismal font. As the water closes over
the head, it is like being buried in a grave. When
the newly baptised emerges from the water, it is
like rising from the grave. Baptism represents our
old, sinful nature dying and then being resurrected
again by Christ in a new and cleansed form. As St.
Paul says: “Do you not know that all of us who
have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised
into his death. We were buried therefore with him
by baptism into 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 Water
The water is used for cleansing. In Baptism
it expresses the fact that through this sacrament
Christ cleanses us of all sins. The Priest blesses
the Baptismal waters in the Font by calling on the
Holy Trinity:
“Do You Yourself, O loving King, be present
now also through the descent of Your Holy Spirit
and hallow this water”.
Then he makes the sign of the Cross three times
over the water saying:
“Let all adverse powers be crushed beneath the
signing of Your most precious Cross”.
The Naked Infant
The infant is baptised in its naked state to de-
note that just as we came out of our mother’s womb
naked so we emerge naked out of the womb of God
- the baptismal Font. The removal of all clothes
also signifes the putting off of the ‘old man’ which
will be cast off entirely through Baptism.
The Anointing with Oil
Olive oil is blessed by the Priest and then ap-
plied by him to the child’s forehead, breast, back,
hands, feet, ears, mouth, in order to dedicate them
to the service of Christ. The godparent then cov-
ers the entire body of the infant with olive oil in
order to express our prayer that with Christ’s help
the infant may be able to elude the grip of sin and
the evil one.
Immersion into the Baptismal Font
In obedience to Christ’s words, the Priest Bap-
tises the child with the words, “The servant of
God (name) is baptised in the name of the Father.
Amen. And of the Son, Amen. And of the Holy
Spirit, Amen”.
At each invocation the Priest immerses and
then raises the infant up again. After the Baptism
the Priest places the child in a new linen sheet held
by the Godparent.
The Sacrament of Chrismation
In the Orthodox Church the Sacrament of
Chrismation (known sometimes as Confrmation)
is administered immediately following Baptism as
in the early Church. It is considered the fulflment
of Baptism. The Priest anoints the newly baptised
infant with the Holy Chrism saying: “the seal of
the gift of the Holy Spirit, Amen”.
The whole man is now made the temple of God
and the whole body is consecrated to the service
of God. According to Orthodox belief every bap-
tised lay person is consecrated by this Sacrament;
he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit to become a
deputy or an ambassador for Christ in this world.
New Clothes
Following the Sacrament of Chrismation the
Priest then invests the newly Baptised child in a
new robe or garment, saying:“Clothed is the serv-
ant of God (name) with the garment of righteous-
ness, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Spirit, Amen”.
The new clothes signify the entirely new life
that we receive after we are “buried with Jesus in
His death” (Romans 6:4). Traditionally, the new
white garment expresses the purity of the soul that
has been washed from sin. It recalls also the shin-
ing robe in which Christ appeared at the Transfg-
uration. There is now a likeness between the one
baptised and the transfgured Lord. St. Paul calls it
a putting on of Christ: “For as many of you as have
been baptised in Christ, have put on Christ” (Gala-
tians 3:26-27). “Therefore, if any one is in Christ,
he is a newcreation; the old has passed away, be-
hold the new has come” (2 Corinth 5:17).
A Religious Walk
Then the Priest makes, together with the God-
parent and the child, a circumambulation around
the Font, three times; and for each of the three
rounds the chanters sing: “As many of you as have
been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ. Alle-
luia” (Galatians 3:27).
This refects the belief that at this moment the
angels in heaven are expressing their joy that a new
soul is registered in the Book of Life. Tradition
states that at this moment God assigns a guardian
angel to stay with the newly-baptised person until
the end of their earthly life.
Following the reading from St Paul’s Epis-
tle to the (Romans 6:3-11) and the Reading from
the Holy Gospel (Matt. 28:16-20) the Priest says
to the child, “You are baptised; you are illuminat-
ed; you are anointed with the Holy Myrrh; you are
hallowed; you are washed clean, in the Name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The Cutting of Hair (Tonsure)
The Priest cuts four locks of hair from the child’s
head in the form of a Cross. This is an expression
of gratitude from the child, who having received
an abundance of blessings through the Sacraments
of Baptism and Chrismation and having nothing to
give to God in return, offers part of its hair, as a
frst-offering to God. In the Old Testament, hair is
seen as a symbol of strength. The child, therefore,
promises to serve God with all its strength.
The Holy Eucharist
Immediately following Baptism and Chrisma-
tion the neophyte becomes a full member of the
Orthodox Church. As such, the child is now en-
titled to receive the precious Body and Blood of
Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion (or
Holy Eucharist). The new life in Christ, given in
Baptism, is renewed again and again in the Eucha-
rist. As nature provides milk for the nourishment
of the infant after birth, so God provides Holy
Communion for the infant immediately following
Baptism in order to provide nourishment for the
spiritual life the neophyte has received through
Summarising what God does for us in Baptism
we may say that frst it tells us who we are. We are
God’s children. We are loved by Him from the very
moment of birth when He takes us into His arms
and bestows upon us the kiss of His love through
Baptism, Chrismation and the Eucharist. He makes
us heirs of His riches. Thus, our existence is not like
that of worms that exist for a short time until some-
one steps on them and crushes them into oblivion.
We are not “nobodies” for whom no one cares. We
are “somebodies” for whom the Supreme King of
the universe cares enough to call us His own sons
and daughters! And at the end of our brief pilgrim-
age through this world, He will address each one
of us personally, by our Baptism name, and say,
“Come, my son or daughter (name), inherit the
kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
the world”. This we know for certain because we
have been baptised in His name.