Thoughts on the Orthodox Christian Baptism of Katherine Kirk


This is a day of great joy, not only for Daniel and Marisol, and David and Elizabeth, but also for our entire community. We have in our midst a newly chosen warrior of Christ, the newly illumined Child Catherine.

Baptism is the beginning. Baptism is the beginning of a new life, of an enriched life, of life the way God intended our life to be. It begins sometimes with a little bit of pain, a little bit of tears, a little bit of crying. I have noticed that infants generally cry during the chrismation. They don't have time to cry in the water. They cry a few tears, but those tears dry, and the water from the baptism dries, and the chrism is absorbed into the skin, but the Holy Spirit remains, and makes His abode in the child. The Holy Spirit will never leave, if we live as God intended us to live.

I admonish both you who are the parents, Daniel and Marisol, and also you who have taken on the weighty task of being the Godparents, David and Elizabeth: you must keep a careful watch over this child now. A child is pure, but can easily learn impurity. We adults know too well about evil in the world, and we would like to save our children from it as much as we can. We must do this through prayer, and dedication to their welfare and benefit. I tell you, it is absolutely necessary that Catherine, and all children, grow up in a spirit of piety. You are the principle people that God has called upon to pray for this spirit of piety to be inculcated in Catherine, and to live in this spirit, as an example to her.

Sponsors, you are required by God, and all the angels and Saints and our community have seen you make a commitment, to remember this child, Catherine, in your prayers. Of course, Daniel and Marisol remember their children before God, and care for them, and this is a requirement of them as well. I also tell you, our community, it is a requirement that we pray for one another. You sin if you do not pray for your family in the church.

Catherine needs many things to grow. What do children need? They need food, care, supervision, discipline. Sometime they need admonishment and even punishment. They also need the example of their parents. The food is the body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist, and also, all the things that happen in the life in the church, the prayers, the fasting, our God-inspired services and festal days, and everything else. Children have an innate sense of the holy. I have observed this now for about 18 years, and I tell you, children recognize what is holy, and they are easily attracted to it, but only when they are very young. They do not understand holiness in an intellectual way, but they react to what is holy, and love what is holy. We parents must present them all the time with holiness, and a holy purpose for their lives.

We must expose them to holiness in coming to the services regularly. It is an absolute necessity that they be brought to the church every week, and be taught to commune the Holy Mysteries with joy and reverence. They should also be brought to the church for the evening services and festal days, at least occasionally, so they do not develop a false view that "church is on Sundays". This is critically important, and will grow out of the way we think, and the way we live, and what our purpose in life is.

Every parent wants his child to be happy, to be blessed, to have a fulfilled life. Every parent, whether they are Christian or not, wants these things for their children. Our parent, our Father who is in heaven, also wishes what is best for us. He has presented us with all that is needful to obtain the best. We as natural parents, and as Godparents, must give our children also what is needful for them to grow. We must give them piety, love, steadfastness in the faith, purpose. The purpose of our life, and that of our children, is very simple. It is to save our souls, and to know Christ intimately. This is the destiny for all of us, if we choose it. God has chosen it for us, but we have to choose.

Now, for Catherine, we have made this beginning for her. She is a child, and according to the teaching of the church, children must be exposed to the grace of baptism as soon as possible. Now, it is the responsibility of Daniel and Marisol particularly, and also David and Elizabeth, as the "second tier" as it were, to raise Catherine in, as the scriptures say, "the fear and admonition of the Lord.” This is a terrible responsibility, but is also a great and wonderful privilege. You have the opportunity to see a child grow up to completion in Christ. This is what every parent should dream of. We should also "dream” this for ourselves.

I tell you, the same things that are necessary for Catherine are those things that we need. As you heard some of these prayers in the baptism, you should have thought and reflected on your own life. You should have asked yourself, "Am I doing the things that these prayers speak of?” The prayers speak of great and mighty things. The priest invokes the name of God in a mighty way. Do we live as children of a great and mighty God, of a king, and we as his slaves, or do we live outside of the understanding of Whom He is? We must have the fear of God in our hearts. This is not to be afraid that He is going to send us to Hell. That is not what the fear of God is. The fear of God is the knowledge of Who He is, and because of the knowledge of Whom He is, the great and ardent desire to become changed. May it be so that little Catherine will become truly changed. She has started in the right way. Now, her life is to be lived, and to glorify God, and to know Him. I rejoice for you, Daniel and Marisol, and David and Elizabeth, for a newly chosen warrior has been born. Now, I tell you, you have your work cut out for you. Pray for her. Pray for yourselves, and feed yourselves with a pious purpose and way of life, so that you can feed her. May it be that all of us, gathered together here this morning, will be in the Heavenly Kingdom, in the last day. Amen.

Sept 8, 1997
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Nativity of the All Holy Theotokos
Sunday before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross