Can I have my baby baptized? How can I join your Church?
Entry into the Orthodox Church is primarily by baptism and chrismation. Infants may be baptized generally after a period of 40 days from birth. At least one parent must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and a member of the local parish where the baptism will be performed. In cases where both parents are not Orthodox, then the express permission of the non-Orthodox parent must be obtained. At least one God-parent (baptismal sponsor) of the same gender as the child is needed. The prospective God-parent/sponsor must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and preferably a member of the local parish. In the case of an infant baptism it may be required for the God-parent(s) and parents to attend a brief series of catechism classes pursuant to their promise before God to actively raise the child in the Orthodox faith. All arrangements for baptisms must be made in person with the priest – no arrangements will be made by phone, email or other similar communication.
In the case of adults who wish to join the Orthodox Church, it is advisable first to regularly attend the services and other activities of the Church for a period of at least 6 months. During this preliminary period, a series of catechism classes (approximately 8 weeks) may be begun. This catechetical training must be completed prior to baptism. Once the training is finished a firm date for the baptism may be set. During this entire time, it is expected that the inquirer/catechumen will participate as fully as possible in the life of the Church.
Can I receive Holy Communion in your Church?
It is the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia that every time a person wishes to receive the Holy Mysteries, they must prepare by making a confession at least the day before. Confessions are heard without appointment during the Saturday evening all night Vigil services or following the scheduled weekday services. Appointments can be made for confession at other times by contacting the priest. In addition to making a confession, preparation for receiving the Holy Mysteries includes reading the canon of preparation and the preparatory prayers. It is also traditional to read the canons to the Savior, the Mother of God and the Guardian Angel, an akathist (usually to the Savior or the Mother of God) during the week prior to receiving. For those who do not regularly commune it is advisable to keep a strict Lenten fast for three days before receiving. In any case a complete fast (neither eating nor drinking) is begun at midnight before receiving the Mysteries later in the day. (Therefore this fast will begin at Midnight Saturday/Sunday in order to receive the Mysteries at the Sunday morning Divine Liturgy). It is expected that a person who wishes to receive the Mysteries on Sunday will attend the services on Saturday evening as a part of their preparation. Those who are visiting from another Orthodox parish, coming from out of town or for whom attendance is not possible should contact the priest ahead of time for a blessing to approach the Chalice.
When can I make my confession?
Confession (the sacrament of repentance) is generally available without appointment during the Saturday evening all-night Vigil services or following the scheduled weekday services. Appointments can be made for confession at other times by contacting the priest. Confessions are not generally taken Sunday morning before Liturgy. If you are visiting from another Orthodox Church or not a member of the parish, it is good (but not necessary) to have the blessing of your regular confessor in order to confess to a different priest.
Can I get married in your Church?
Marriage in the Orthodox Church is considered one of the major sacraments and is therefore only open to be given to members of the Orthodox Church in good standing. While second and even third marriages are permitted, they are not encouraged. In contracting a second or third marriage, written documentation of both the civil and Church dissolution of the previous marriage(s) must be provided. In any case, either a wedding license or a legal certificate of an existing civil marriage is required prior to the wedding. All arrangements for weddings must be made in person with the priest at least 3 months in advance to permit for a period of mandatory premarital counseling.
In the Russian Church, the Sacrament of marriage is not celebrated throughout the Lenten period, beginning with Meatfare Saturday, throughout Cheesefare week, Great Lent itself, and including Bright Week. Marriage is also not celebrated during fasting periods — Apostles fast, including the feast of SS Peter & Paul (July 12), Dormition Fast (August 14 to 27), Advent and the Nativity feast (November 27 to January 20). Apart from these periods, the Sacrament of Marriage is not celebrated on the eve of the twelve great feasts, including the patronal feast of the temple, on the days and eves of the Fast of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner (September 11), Elevation of the Cross (September 27), and on the eves of the weekly Wednesday and Friday fasts.
What about other services or sacraments?
Arrangements for the sacrament of anointing for the sick as well as other prayers for special needs (moliebens, akathists, pannykhidas, etc.) can be made by contacting the priest.
What does it cost to have a special service?
There is no charge for any sacrament or service of the Church, however, it is customary (and polite) to give some offering to the serving clergy in gratitude for the extra time and effort that they invest in performing the extra services. Examples of offerings are:
- Baptism and Chrismation: $100-$300
- Weddings: $200-$500
- Moliebens and Pannykhidas: $25-$100
- House blessings/sick visits: $50-$150
These examples should not be construed as a “price list” or as determining or limiting your contribution in any way. Give according to how God has blessed you.