One of the sacraments of Armenian faith is Baptism.
The Baptism service begins at the
- Door of the Church, proceeds to the
- Baptismal Font and concludes at the
- Holy Altar.
Door of the church
At the door of the church, the order of the service conducted by the priest is: Penitential Psalms, Blessing of Narod, Renunciation of Satan, and Confessions of Faith.
At the door of the church, the child is presented to the church as an offering and gift to God. The priest prepares a special cord called Narod, which is made up of two colored cords braided into one. The colors of the Narod are red and white, which symbolize sacrifice and purity, and also recall the blood and water which poured out the side of Christ.
With the placing of the Narod and Cross on the neck of the child, we see the action of Christ taking over the person. As the child is brought into the church the hymn Zoghormootiun ko uztoorn patz mez Der (The gate of thy mercy open unto us O Lord) is sung. Next the Godfather takes the child in his arms and he and all present shall turn facing the west (the doors of the church) and shall say together with the priest the Renunciation of Satan three times (the west is the symbol of darkness and the “side of Satan”). Following the renunciation (hrajaroom), the Godfather, the child, and all present “turn to the light of the knowledge of God.” At this point the sponsor on behalf of the child professes the child’s unity to Christ, by reciting the Baptismal Creed. The conclusion of the rite at the door of the church ends with the reading of the Holy Gospel declaring the “Commission of the Apostles” followed by the recitation of the Nicene Creed.
The procession continues toward the Baptismal Font with the singing of Arekagn Artarootiun (The sun of Righteousness). Now the sacrament of immersion into the water and cleansing of sins takes place. First the priest offers a prayer over the blessed and sanctified Holy Oil (Muron) which will be used to anoint the child in holiness of spiritual wisdom, for courage to struggle and triumph over the Adversary, for strength to keep the commandments of God. The water is poured into the font, and the prayer of blessing and consecration over the water is done by the priest. With the completion of the blessing of the water, it is now anointed with the pouring of Holy Muron. The actual pouring of the Muron into the water is from a dove-shaped vessel (see ALMA for more information). The priest sings the hymn Arakeloh Aghavno (the Dove that was sent), while pouring the Muron. At the Baptismal Font the Godfather (in Armenian G’NKAHAYR) is asked by the priest what the child requests and he answers: Faith (Havadk), Hope (Hooys), Love (Ser), and Baptism (Mgrdootiun), to be baptized and justified, to be cleansed from sins, to be freed from demons and to serve God.
At this point, the Godfather gives the child to the priest, who will immerse the child three times into the water invoking the Holy Trinity – The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. With the exclamation – You that have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ, Alleluia, the rite at the baptismal font comes to a close.
The newly baptized child is now ready to receive the Holy Spirit. With the singing of the hymn Aghpiur Genatz, the priest pours Holy Muron into the palm of his hand and he seals therewith the child’s forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, hands, heart, back, and feet beseeching the Holy Spirit to seal the Faith willingly accepted by the newly-baptized and to protect the child’s sight, thoughts, words, deeds, and service from the influences of evil in the world.
The baptism concludes with the child being attired in a white garment. It symbolizes the spiritual purity and righteousness for which each Christian must strive in his or her life. The child is presented at the Holy Altar in gesture of Adoration, showing complete submission and obedience to Christ. At the exclamation “With fear and faith draw near”, the child is given Holy Communion, which binds us all to God and to each other, and the ceremony is completed.
In the Armenian Church the sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation, and Holy Communion are administered at one time.