By God’s grace, soon the time will come for your baby to be born. Amongst all the excitement, remember to call the Fr. Dimitry when you go into labor for prayers and when the baby is born. He can come and visit you in the hospital or at home to offer special prayers for the mother and child.
One of the beautiful traditions lost in antiquity is the naming of the child on the eighth day after birth. This practice was based on the Jewish rite that Jesus Himself experienced with His parents (as recorded in Luke 2:21). Recently, priests and parents have resurrected this prayer service. For convenience, it can be done with birthing prayers or at another time. Much care and thought should go into naming your child. Giving him/her the name of a saint is a noble tradition. This connects them to a spiritual patron who will pray for them and also provides a concrete example of the Christian life. Some families name children after grandparents. Some will not name their child until baptism. Others have the godparents name the child. Although these are also acceptable, there is no basis for these practices in the church canons. Please contact Fr. Dimitry to schedule your child’s naming at your home on the eighth day after birth.
On the fortieth day after birth, the mother and child are invited to the church temple for a prayer service to reunite the mother and unite the child to the faith community. This practice is also based on the ancient Jewish rite and experienced by Jesus and His mother, Mary (recorded in Luke 2:22-40). Some time ago it took nearly six weeks for a mother to recover from giving birth. Mother and child did not travel outside the home until both were strong enough and this time was also spent bonding with the newborn child. The first place they went was to the temple/church. This 10 minute service should be scheduled ahead of time on either a Sunday or weekday near the 40th day. Please contact Fr. Dimitry to schedule your churching service.
Whether or not parents are able to conceive children of their own, adoption is an acceptable and noble practice for Orthodox Christians. There is a service of adoption for parents and children which can be prayed privately or publicly depending the family’s wishes.
BAPTISM IN THE CASE OF EMERGENCY
If an unbaptized child is in grave danger of dying through illness or injury, and a priest is not present, the parents can perform an emergency baptism in the home or hospital.
All Orthodox Christians are members of the “Royal Priesthood” (I Peter 1:9) by virtue of their baptism and chrismation. As such, in cases of emergency, and when a priest is not available, they may be called upon to administer the Sacrament of Baptism. For example, if an infant is ill and may not live and no priest is available, any Orthodox Christian may perform an emergency baptism by simply saying the words, “The servant of God is baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Afterwards, if God-willing the child recovers, the Sacraments of Chrismation and Holy Communion are administered in the Church.
MISCARRIAGE OR STILLBIRTH
In the unfortunate event of miscarriage, much grief and emotion can result for parents especially the mother of the child. Fr. Demetri can be called to provide spiritual comfort and to read a special prayer for the parents and the deceased child. Great care should be taken, if possible, to inter the remains of the child. The mother is still encouraged to come to the temple for the 40 Day Churching so she may be prayerfully reunited with the community of faith.