Do you not know that your body is a temple of the
Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?
You are not your own — 1 Corinthians 6:9
What is chrismation?
Chrismation is the second stage of the rite of initiation into the Church, and immediately follows baptism. Just as baptism is our personal participation in the events of Easter — the death and resurrection of Christ — chrismation is our personal participation in Pentecost — the coming of the Holy Spirit.
As soon as the newly baptised comes out of the font, they are anointed with chrism on their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, feet, back and chest, thus receiving the ‘Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit’. Just as a church building is consecrated by the Bishop anointing its walls with holy chrism, thereby setting it apart exclusively as a place of worship, so the newly baptised is consecrated as a temple of the Holy Spirit by chrismation.
Reception back into the Church by chrismation
While the baptism of the Church is one and unrepeatable, the sacrament of chrismation can be repeated in certain circumstances, specifically when someone who was formerly an Orthodox Christian re-joins the Church after having formally renounced their faith and left for another religion or denomination. The person will in this case have to renounce their former error and re-affirm their Orthodox faith before being re-consecrated, as it were, and returned to full membership of the Church.
Reception of converts by chrismation
The ordinary mode of reception of converts into the Church is by baptism. However, the Church allows for the reception of converts from certain Christian denominations by chrismation alone as an act of oikonomía (pastoral exception), provided the baptism they received in their former denomination had the same outward form as the one baptism of the Church — namely:
- It must have been performed ‘In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’, as per Matthew 28:19;
- The denomination in question must have a mainstream orthodox understanding of the Holy Trinity;
- It must have involved a threefold application of water.
Where this is the case, the convert’s reception into the Church by confession of faith, chrismation and Holy Communion is seen as completing whatever was lacking in the former baptism, filling with grace what previously existed only in outward form.
How can I be received into the Church?
If you are interested in joining the Orthodox Church, please get in touch with us by telephoning the church office or sending us an e-mail. Reception into the Church must be preceded by a period of catechesis (religious instruction), the content and duration of which will depend on your prior knowledge and personal circumstances.