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Chrismation

Immediately after Baptism, an Orthodox Child is ‘chrismated’ or ‘confirmed’. The Priest takes a special ointment, the Chrism (in Greek, myron), and with this he anoints various parts of the Child’s body, marking them with the sign of the Cross: first the forehead, then the eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears, the breast, the hands, and the feet. As he marks each he says, “The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”. The Child, who has been incorporated into Christ at Baptism, now receives in Chrismation the gift of the Spirit, thereby becoming a laikos (layperson), a full member of the people (laos) of God. Chrismation is an extension of Pentecost: the same Spirit who descended on the Apostles visibly in tongues of fire now descends on the newly baptised invisibly, but with no less reality or power.

Through Chrismation every member of the Church becomes a prophet, and receives a share in the royal priesthood of Christ; all Christians alike, because they are Chrismated, are called to act as conscious witnesses to the Truth.

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” –  1 John ii, 20

Chrismation is also used as a sacrament of reconciliation. If an Orthodox apostatises to Islam and then returns to the Church, when accepted back he or she is Chrismated. Similarly if Roman Catholics become Orthodox, the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece usually receives them by Chrismation; but the Russian Church commonly receives them after a profession of faith, without Chris-mating them. Anglicans and Protestants are always received by Chrismation. Sometimes converts are received by Baptism.

As soon as possible after Chrismation an Orthodox Child is brought to communion. A Child’s earliest memories of the Church will centre on the act of receiving the Holy Gifts of Christ’s Body and Blood. Communion is not something to which infants come at the age of six or seven or in adolescence, but something from which they have never been excluded.

Bibliography: Kallistos,. 1993. The Orthodox Church. 1st ed. London, England: Penguin Books.