Debre Guenet Abune Teklehaimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church
When we were infants, our mothers carried us in joyful celebration and went with us to Church to be baptized.
The priest carries us as the child on his left arm and look to the west, which symbolizes the darkness of Satan, and to repeat the following words: " I renounce you Satan, and all your impure works, all your evil soldiers, all your evil devils, all your power, all your evil worship, all your evil misguiding and evil plans, all your army, all your authority, and all your hypocrisy. I renounce you, I renounce you, I renounce you."
This was a declaration made on our behalf that we reject Satan, his ways and methods. Then the priest transfers the child onto his right arm and to face the east, the symbol of the sun of righteousness, and to repeat the words: "I confess You, Christ my God and all your faithful laws, all you loving ministry, and all your life-giving works.
I believe in one God, God the Father, who controls everything, and in His only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and in the life-giving Holy Spirit, in His glorious resurrection, and in the one and only Holy Evangelical and Apostolic Church. I believe, I believe, I believe."
This was a declaration of the acceptance of Christ as Savior and Redeemer! This took place when we were infants and the Church appointed for each of us a "godfather or godmother", that is a person who would bring us up in the faith, teaching us while we were children the bases of the Christian faith and of the life of the Holy Church.
What is required of us now that we have grown up and matured is that we repeat, with complete awareness and sincere faith, those very words many times. (I urge you to look at them again now in order to perceive the meanings inherent in them) and to ask yourself when you say:
I renounce Satan...
Is this truly my stand?
Is there a sin that is hidden in the depths of my heart?
Do I act in accordance with the thinking of Satan in different situations?
What is my attitude to life?
Is it pleasing to God and does it build me up?
What are my relations with others like? Are they truly loving?
Do I present a pleasing image of the children of Christ, or am I a stumbling block to others?
I Believe in Christ....
Has Christ begun to own my life?
Does Christ now occupy my heart and thoughts?
Have I entered into a real fellowship with Him night and day, and do I pray regularly
Do I always read His personal message to me in the Bible?
Do I partake of His Holy Body and Blood so that I am united to Him and abide in Him?
Dear Reader, Baptism is a free gift; in it we die with Christ to rise with Him in a new life. It is a holy anointing that makes of us a new kind of human being, through the Spirit of God which lives within us.
We go into the baptismal font as children of Adam and we emerge as children of Christ by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:4).
Baptism is a new birth that is renewed daily through the tears of repentance! Would that you would sit quietly with the Lord and wash your sins away with your tears. Would that you would enter into a new and eternal covenant of love, into the side of Christ which was pierced for you.
"For what advantage is to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Lk. 9: 25).
Will you start?
The HOLY CHRYSM
When we were infants, after we emerged from the baptismal font, the priest anointed us with the "Holy Chrysm" (kidus meron) the second sacrament which is given to man immediately after baptism. It is a sacrament that is directly linked to baptism but independent of it. Both sacraments must be given together, first baptism and then the Chrysm. Why? Baptism is a "renewal" through the Holy Spirit whereas the Chrysm is an "establishing' in the Holy Spirit.
Baptism has made me a son of Christ and the Chrysm confirms me in that the Holy Spirit dwells. You surely know, dear reader, that the bishop "consecrates" a church after it is built with prayers and praise and anoints its walls, its altar, its vessels, and its icons with the holy Chrysm. It thus becomes a temple upon which the Spirit of God descends.
The same thing happens to you. You are "consecrated" by the Chrysm which makes you a temple for the Holy Spirit; 36 signs of the cross are made on you with the oil of the Chrysm.
Why 36 Signs of the Cross? Very simply, the Lord consecrates your whole being for Him. These signs are made as follows:
1. A sign of the cross on the head. Lord consecrate my thoughts" 2. Seven signs of the cross on the two nostrils, the mouth, the ears, and the eyes ... "Lord, consecrate my senses"
3. Two signs of the cross on the chest ... "Lord, consecrate my heart"
4. Two signs of the cross on the back and spine ... "Lord, consecrate my will"
5. Six signs of the cross on both arms (on all three joints) "Lord, consecrate my actions"
6. Six signs of the cross on both legs (on all three joints)... "Lord, consecrate my way"
Do you perceive, dear reader, that the Lord's aim is to consecrate your whole being so that you become a holy temple and a pure church?!
Do you perceive, dear reader, that the oil of the Chrysm has made all your members belong to Christ?! So it has become painful for any of us to "take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot" (1 Cor. 6: 15)
The Effects of the Holy Chrysm:
1. The holy Chrysm enlightens our minds. "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things" (I Jn. 2: 20)
2. It grants us a strong will for sanctity: "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God." (1 Cor. 1: 21)
3. It puts on us the seal of the Holy Spirit: "who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a deposit." (1 Cor. 1: 22); the seal is the emblem of ownership and consecration.
Dear Reader, We have received all this in our infancy, and there is no doubt that all this works in our hearts through the Spirit of God which dwells within us and through the holy teachings which we listen to at home and in church.
Will you renew with me the covenant of the Chrysm? Will you pray with me and say:
Lord, sanctify my thoughts!
Lord, sanctify my senses!
Lord, sanctify my heart!
Lord, sanctify my will!
Lord, sanctify my deeds!
Lord, sanctify my way!
Repeat this prayer anew several times, meditating on the meaning of its words.
Then close your prayer thus: "O comforting, the Spirit of truth who is present everywhere and who fills everything, storehouse of all that is good, giver of life, please come and fill us; purify us of all defilement, O Righteous One, and save our souls."
My Lord Jesus Christ, You have anointed me with Your Holy Spirit, this fiery Spirit that led the prophet Elijah...
This gentle spirit which lived within the Virgin...
The Spirit of holiness that sanctifies the being of man...
The Spirit of gifts who grants the ministers words and strength....
But, O Lord, forgive me I do not respect the Spirit within me for lack of faithfulness, for lack of the uprightness of my intentions, and for the weakness of my requests and prayers. For You give the Spirit to those who ask You.
O Holy Spirit of God, fill my whole being so that I may belong to God and to God only!
Do not pray this for yourself only, but for all your loved ones.
May the Lord be with you.
We owe these series of inspiring articles to Ethiopian Orthodox Church Sunday School in Trondehim, Norway.