On the Rite of Churching

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Baptism in and of itself is already churching in the most profound and full sense of this word, for it makes a man a member of the Body of Christ, a child of God (I Corinthians 12:13). Therefore, that which we now call "churching" is the post-baptismal rite of bringing an infant into the church.

The rite of churching is performed thus. The priest, having taken the child into his arms in the narthex of the church, makes the sign of the cross with it before the entrance into the church and exclaims: "The servant of God (name) is churched in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. The newly baptized one enters into the church, and through it into New Life, into the Kingdom of God.

Carrying him into the church, the priest pronounces: "He entereth into Thy house, to worship toward Thy holy temple." Entering into the church, the newly baptized one is immersed in the spiritual element of ceaseless joy, peace and love. Having stopped in the middle of the church, the priest exclaims: "The servant of God (name) is churched. In the midst of the church shall he hymn Thee."`

Having drawn near to the Holy of Holies, the altar, the priest, holding the infant with its face toward it, again pronounces: "The servant of God (name) is churched."

Further, an infant of the male gender is carried into the altar through the deacon's door (as a sign that he may become a minister of the altar) and is carried around the holy table by way of the high place. The child is offered to God and worships Him. At this point, the priest pronounces the hymn of Simeon the God-receiver, "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart".

It is possible to correlate this concluding rite, adapted to the circumstances of the baptism of an infant, with the "baptismal procession" in the ancient Church, during which the newly baptized processed with lighted candles from the baptistry into the church to participate jointly with the whole community in the mystery of the Eucharist.

The rite concludes by placing the child on the floor before the Royal Gates as a sign that the infant is offered as a gift to the Lord.

In some churches, churching is performed immediately after baptism; but we do this during the Liturgy, so that all who are praying in church might take part in the familial joy.

Parish Life, May, 1997

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