Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Orthodox celebrate Namedays, birthdays are secondary
When a child is Baptized into the Orthodox Church, he is linked to the Church’s spiritual powers, including the intercessory power of the Saint—as one united to Christ—after whom he is named. Throughout his life, the intercession, comfort, and protection of this Saint, as part of the Grace flowing from Christ, is available to him. It is for this reason, indeed, that we Orthodox celebrate Namedays, considering birthdays to be of secondary or minor importance.
When adults are Baptized into the Orthodox Church, they must take the name of an Orthodox Saint, if their previous name was not Orthodox. They must also use this name at all times. Otherwise, they will have broken the very bond of Baptism, which includes the establishment of a close and real relationship between the Christian and the Saint to whom he is spiritually joined in that Baptism. In the unthinkable, but all too frequent, case of modernists who Baptize or Chrismate converts and fail to give them Orthodox names, these converts should go to a sober, traditionalist Priest and ask that an Orthodox name be assigned, also asking that this be done in conjunction with a service of supplication to the Saint whose name they are taking. That name should subsequently be used at all times, without exception—among friends, at school, at work, etc. It can be added to a convert’s former name on a driver’s license and other forms of identification, since the law allows the addition of such a religious name, as long as it is not for the purpose of fraud or misrepresentation.
Needless to say, then, the idea of “Church names,” taken from the Latin practice of having confirmation names, is unacceptable to Orthodox and constitutes a perversion of the Church’s teaching. It involves a denial of spiritual consolation which is dangerous and which will have consequences for the believer that will be understood only fully at the Day of Judgment. Those who persist in ignoring Church tradition in this matter are simply playing with disbelief, blasphemy, and their souls.
—Orthodox Insights — Archbishop Chrysostomos, Bishop Avxentios, and Archimandrite Akakios