BAPTISM IN THE CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
AUTHOR: Bishop Brian J. Kennedy, O.S.B.
BAPTISM WITHOUT THE EUCHARIST IS FUTILE AND WITHOUT EFFECT
THE CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES INSISTS ON INITIATION INTO THE CHURCH THROUGH BAPTISM, CHRISMATION (CONFIRMATION) AND THE FIRST
EUCHARIST AT THE SAME TIME
Dom Lambert Beauduin (1873-1960) was a Roman Catholic Benedictine in Belgium. He was universally recognized as a brilliant Liturgist, Theologian and Pastor. Let him speak for himself and let his words of wisdom introduce this article.
Baptism destines us for the great Mysteries; it is oriented entirely toward them; it calls for them and postulates them; it is directed, oriented toward the Eucharist, like a magnet toward the pole. The Eucharist is in Baptism like the fruit is in the flower. The Words of the Master, Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you have no life in you, (John 6:53) makes us see the intimacy and the depths of these relations. If this inseparable and vital union is lacking, Baptism is futile and inefficacious; it is a useless means that misses its goal, a temple without a sanctuary and without an altar. The baptized one who remains a stranger to the Eucharist is a son without filial piety and without love: an aborted saint. (BAPTISM AND THE EUCHARIST 1946)
NOTE: He says Baptism without the Eucharist is WITHOUT EFFECT, IS FUTILE AND INEFFICACIOUS.
When we study the Scriptures, when we start quoting the Scriptures it is seldom accurate to isolate a given verse from the whole of Scripture. Those who quote the necessity of Baptism and neglect the absolute necessity of reception of the Eucharist do so to their own peril.
Rightly such can be called Protestants as they are protesting against the very Word of God they claim to serve. They protest against the life giving Holy Spirit who has taught the church through the centuries giving direction as to the development of the Liturgy and method of administration of the Sacred Mysteries. The directives of Scripture must be understood in the light of the life of the church that comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
In prophecy and parable Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God as a banquet “I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). God has invited the whole human family to join in a great heavenly banquet. We respond to this invitation through the Sacraments of Initiation.
Let’s say a friend invites you to dinner. You would take off your work clothes, wash up, take a shower and then you would dry off and put on clean clothes before setting out for dinner.
This sequence of events is perhaps the simplest way to understand the Sacraments of Initiation. God has invited each of us to dine with Christ at the Eucharistic banquet. When we come to this table for the first time, we first put off the “old self” (see Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22 and Colossians 3:9) and wash away the defect of Sin. This is the sacramental bath of Baptism. Second, we dry off. In the first and second centuries, however, Romans would rub their bodies with oil after bathing to moisturize the skin and to dry off. In our sacramental system the bath of Baptism is followed by the oil of Confirmation. Lastly, clothed with the Holy Spirit, we venture forth to the Eucharistic table.
We do not find much written specifically about Confirmation in the early church, because when the early Christian authors wrote about Baptism they implied both the water bath and the anointing with oil, what we would call Baptism and Confirmation.
Baptism and Confirmation are also intimately related in another way. When we take a bath, we get clean by washing off the dirt. We can speak of “getting clean” and we can speak of “washing off dirt” but, actually, removing “dirtiness” and receiving “cleanliness” go together. They are two ways of looking at one action. In a similar way, early Church writers described Baptism with the “washing off” metaphors and spoke of Confirmation with the “getting clean” metaphors. Baptism washes away all sin and Confirmation gives us the grace and presence of the Holy Spirit. Taking away sin and being filled with grace are but two ways of speaking of the same action, something like “washing off” and “getting clean.” The two actions go together even if we call them by different names: Baptism and Confirmation.
This analogy of “washing up, drying off, going to eat” works especially well for “Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist” when they are celebrated in that sequence all at the same time as they were in the early Church, and as they are today in the Celtic Orthodox Church and in the larger Orthodox Church East and West.
In the West receiving “Communion” at their Baptism was the norm until Rome broke away from the rest of the larger church catholic, and the aberrant praxis was the norm by the 12th century. The priests in the Celtic churches give infants Holy Communion by dipping his little finger into the consecrated wine and placing it on the tongue of the infant. This still works out the best in trying to give the Eucharist to a child or infant.
To deny a child the Eucharist at Baptism is the ultimate form of child abuse as the child is all dressed up expecting a banquet and then finds he is to be excluded because of age discrimination. The child is all dressed up and finds he has no place to go.
WITNESS OF THE EARLY CHURCH – THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
Theophilus of Antioch
"Are you unwilling to be anointed with the oil of God? It is on this account that we are called Christians: because we are anointed with the oil of God" (To Autolycus 1:12 [A.D. 181]).
"After coming from the place of washing we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction, from the ancient discipline by which [those] in the priesthood . . . were accustomed to be anointed with a horn of oil, ever since Aaron was anointed by Moses. . . . So also with us, the unction runs on the body and profits us spiritually, in the same way that baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged in water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from sins. After this, the hand is imposed for a blessing, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit" (Baptism 7:1-2, 8:1 [A.D. 203]).
"No soul whatever is able to obtain salvation unless it has believed while it was in the flesh. Indeed, the flesh is the hinge of salvation. . . . The flesh, then, is washed [baptism] so that the soul may be made clean. The flesh is anointed so that the soul may be dedicated to holiness. The flesh is signed so that the soul may be fortified. The flesh is shaded by the imposition of hands [confirmation] so that the soul may be illuminated by the Spirit. The flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ [the Eucharist] so that the soul too may feed on God. They cannot, then, be separated in their reward, when they are united in their works" (The Resurrection of the Dead 8:2-3 [A.D. 210]).
"The bishop, imposing his hand on them, shall make an invocation, saying, O Lord God, who made them worthy of the remission of sins through the Holy Spirit's washing unto rebirth, send into them your grace so that they may serve you according to your will, for there is glory to you, to the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, both now and through the ages of ages. Amen. Then, pouring the consecrated oil into his hand and imposing it on the head of the baptized, he shall say, I anoint you with holy oil in the Lord, the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Signing them on the forehead, he shall kiss them and say, The Lord be with you. He that has been signed shall say, And with your spirit. Thus shall he do to each" (The Apostolic Tradition 21-22 [A.D. 215]).
Cyprian of Carthage
"It is necessary for him that has been baptized also to be anointed, so that by his having received chrism, that is, the anointing, he can be the anointed of God and have in him the grace of Christ" (Letters 7:2 [A.D. 253]).
"Some say in regard to those who were baptized in Samaria that when the apostles Peter and John came there only hands were imposed on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit, and that they were not re-baptized. But we see, dearest brother, that this situation in no way pertains to the present case. Those in Samaria who had believed had believed in the true faith, and it was by the deacon Philip, whom those same apostles had sent there, that they had been baptized inside - in the Church. . . . Since, then, they had already received a legitimate and ecclesiastical baptism, it was not necessary to baptize them again. Rather, that only which was lacking was done by Peter and John. The prayer having been made over them and hands having been imposed upon them, the Holy Spirit was invoked and was poured out upon them. This is even now the practice among us, so that those who are baptized in the Church then are brought to the prelates of the Church; through our prayer and the imposition of hands, they receive the Holy Spirit and are perfected with the seal of the Lord" (ibid., 73:9).
"[A]re not hands, in the name of the same Christ, laid upon the baptized persons among them, for the reception of the Holy Spirit?" (ibid., 74:5).
"[O]ne is not born by the imposition of hands when he receives the Holy Ghost, but in baptism, that so, being already born, he may receive the Holy Spirit, even as it happened in the first man Adam. For first God formed him, and then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. For the Spirit cannot be received, unless he who receives first has an existence. But . . . the birth of Christians is in baptism" (ibid., 74:7).
Council of Carthage VII
"[I]n the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with his divine voice, saying, Except a man be born again of water AND THE SPIRIT, he cannot enter the kingdom of God [John 3:5]. This is the Spirit that from the beginning was borne over the waters; for neither can the Spirit operate without the water, nor the water without the Spirit. Certain people therefore interpret [this passage] for themselves wrongly, when they say that by imposition of the hand they receive the Holy Ghost, and are thus received, when it is manifest that they ought to be born again [initiated] in the catholic Church by both sacraments" (Seventh Carthage [A.D. 256]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
"After you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, there was given chrism, the antitype of that with which Christ was anointed, and this is the Holy Spirit. But beware of supposing that this is ordinary ointment. For just as the bread of the Eucharist after the invocation of the Holy Spirit is simple bread no longer, but the body of Christ, so also this ointment is no longer plain ointment, nor, so to speak, common, after the invocation. Further, it is the gracious gift of Christ, and it is made fit for the imparting of his Godhead by the coming of the Holy Spirit. This ointment is symbolically applied to your forehead and to your other senses; while your body is anointed with the visible ointment, your soul is sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit. Just as Christ, after his baptism, and the coming upon him of the Holy Spirit, went forth and defeated the adversary, so also with you after holy baptism and the mystical chrism, having put on the panoply of the Holy Spirit, you are to withstand the power of the adversary and defeat him, saying, I am able to do all things in Christ, who strengthens me" (Catechetical Lectures, 21:1, 3-4 [A.D. 350]).
Council of Laodicea
"[T]hose who have been illuminated are, after baptism, to be anointed with celestial chrism and thus become partakers in the kingdom of Christ" (Canon 48 [A.D. 360]).
Ignatius (Ep. ad Smyr., viii): “It is not lawful to baptize or celebrate the agape without the bishop.” St. Jerome (Contra Lucif., ix) witnesses to the same usage in his days: “Without chrism and the command of the bishop, neither priest nor deacon has the right of conferring baptism.”
Deacons are only extraordinary ministers of solemn baptism, as by their office they are assistants to the priestly order. St. Isidore of Seville (De Eccl, Off., ii, 25) says: “It is plain that baptism is to be conferred by priests only, and it is not lawful even for deacons to administer it without permission of the bishop or priest.” That deacons were, however, ministers of this sacrament by delegation is evident from the quotations adduced. In the service of ordination of a deacon, the bishop says to the candidate: “It behooves a deacon to minister at the altar, to baptize and to preach.” Philip the deacon is mentioned in the Bible (Acts 8) as conferring baptism, presumably by delegation of the Apostles.
In Acts Chapter 8 we learn that the Samaritans were baptized in water by Philip the Evangelist (a Deacon) but not in the Holy Spirit (Confirmation) and they would not have received the Eucharist either so therefore it was necessary for the Apostles to visit them and make perfect that which they had received in an imperfect way. Ananias, Bishop of Damascus, in Acts 9 baptizes Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul). Chrismation and reception of the Eucharist was given to Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul) by Ananias who had been Consecrated Bishop by Barnabas and Peter.
Some say that Ananias was a lay person, but this is just not the case.
The word Christian means “one who shares in the anointing” of the anointed one (Christ means anointed one). It is in Confirmation and through the reception of the Eucharist that the soul becomes Christian / a sharer in the anointing of the Christ. Only a Priest or Bishop can anoint with Holy Oils and baptize in the Holy Spirit and administer the life saving body and blood of Christ.
Only a Priest or Bishop can baptize.
St. Cyprian to Jubaianus his brother, greeting. You have written to me, dearest brother, wishing that the impression of my mind should be signified to you, as to what I think concerning the baptism of heretics; who, placed without, and established outside the Church, arrogate to themselves a matter neither within their right nor their power. This baptism we cannot consider as valid or legitimate, since it is manifestly unlawful among them . . . we established this same matter once more by our judgment, deciding that there is one baptism which is appointed in the church catholic; and that by this those are not re-baptized, but baptized by us, who at any time come from the adulterous and unhallowed water to be washed and sanctified by the truth of the saving water. (Epistle 72:1)
St.. Firmilian, the bishop of Caesarea, was of the same mind as St. Cyprian on the matter:
Moreover, all other heretics, if they have separated themselves from the Church of God, can have nothing of power or of grace, since all power and grace are established in the Church where the elders preside, who possess the power both of baptizing, and of imposition of hands, and of ordaining. For as a heretic may not lawfully ordain nor lay on hands, so neither may he baptize, nor do any thing holily or spiritually, since he is an alien from spiritual and deifying sanctity. (Epistle 74:7)
This proves again what I have always said and reflects the teaching of the undivided church catholic that Chrismation (Confirmation) and the Eucharist
MUST be part of the baptism if it is to have effect.
Below, you'll find an excellent description of baptism by Saint Ambrose as
It relates to water and the Holy Spirit:
"You were told before not to believe only what you saw. This was to prevent
you from saying: Is this the great mystery that eye has not seen nor ear
heard nor man’s heart conceived? I see the water I used to see every day;
does this water in which I have often bathed without being sanctified really
have the power to sanctify me? Learn from this that water does not sanctify
without the Holy Spirit.
You have read that the three witnesses in baptism – the water, the blood
and the Spirit – are one. This means that if you take away one of these the
sacrament is not conferred. What is water without the cross of Christ?
Only an ordinary element without sacramental effect. Again, without water
there is no sacrament of rebirth: Unless a man is born again of water and
the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The catechumen believes
in the cross of the Lord with which he too is signed, but unless he is
baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit he
cannot receive the forgiveness of sins or the gift of spiritual grace.
The Syrian Naaman bathed seven times under the old law, but you were
baptized in the name of the Trinity. You proclaimed your faith in the
Father – recall what you did – and the Son and the Spirit. Mark the sequence
of events. In proclaiming this faith you died to the world, you died to the
world, you rose again to God, and, as though buried to sin, you were reborn
to eternal life. Believe, then, that the water is not without effect.
The paralytic at the pool was waiting for someone. Who was this if not the
Lord Jesus, born of a virgin? At his coming it is not a question of a shadow
healing an individual, but Truth himself healing the universe. He is the one
whose coming was expected, the one of whom God the Father spoke when he said
to John the Baptist: He on whom you see the Spirit coming down from heaven
and resting, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit. He is the one
witnessed to by John: I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven as a dove and
resting on him. Why did the Spirit come down as a dove if not to let you see
and understand that the dove sent out by holy Noah from the ark was a figure
of this dove? In this way you were to recognize a type of this sacrament.
Is there any room left for doubt? The Father speaks clearly in the Gospel:
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; the Son too, above whom
the Holy Spirit showed himself in the form of a dove; and also the Holy
Spirit, who came down as a dove. David too speaks clearly: The voice of the
Lord is above the waters; the God of glory has thundered; the Lord is above
the many waters. Again, Scripture bears witness for you that fire came down
from heaven in answer to Gideon’s prayers, and that when Elijah prayed, God
sent fire which consumed the sacrifice.
Do not consider the merits of individuals but the office of the priests. If
you do not look at merits, consider the merits of Peter and also of Paul in
the same way you consider the merits of Elijah; they have handed on to us
this sacrament which they received from the Lord Jesus. Visible fire was
sent upon them to give them faith; in us who believe an invisible fire is at
work. That visible fire was a sign, our invisible fire is for our
instruction. Believe then that the Lord Jesus is present when he is invoked
by the prayers of the priests. He said: Where two or three are gathered,
there I am also. How much more does he give his loving presence where the
Church is, where the sacraments are!
You went down into the water. Remember what you said: I believe in the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Not: I believe in a greater, a
lesser and a least. You are committed by this spoken understanding of yours
to believe the same of the Son as of the Father, and the same of the Holy
Spirit as of the Son, with this one exception: you proclaim that you must
believe in the cross of the Lord Jesus alone."
Ex Tractátu sancti Ambrósii epíscopi De mystériis (Nn. 19-21. 24. 26-28: SCh
DO WE ACCEPT ALL BAPTISMS?