Today's service of Baptism includes two Sacraments: the Baptism proper and the Chrismation (anointing with holy Chrism/Oil--not to be confused with the anointing at All-Night Vigil which uses only blessed oil)--and the rites of exorcism, small blessing of water, and Churching. Baptisms are done, as a rule, after the Divine Liturgy. Since Baptism is by immersion, the Baptism of an adult or other person too large for our font must be arranged well in advance. In the case of infants, both sponsors and parents should meet with the Priest who will perform the Baptism at some time before the Baptism to insure that the sponsors fulfill what is required of them. Every infant must have a minimum of one Orthodox sponsor, who is also of the same sex as the infant.
Today's service of Marriage (Crowning) includes two rites: betrothal and crowning. The date and time of a church wedding must without question be arranged well in advance of the event. Marriages are not performed during any of the multi-day Fasts: the Great Fast before Pascha, the Dormition Fast, the Nativity Fast, and the Apostles Fast, nor on any Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday throughout the year, nor in Cheesefare Week (the week before the beginning of the Great Fast), during Bright Week (the week after the day of Pascha), in Christmas-tide (Nativity of Christ through Theophany, December 25 through January 6), on the eve of the Feasts of the Elevation of the Cross and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.
Confession and Communion
These sacraments may be arranged with a Priest in the case of any serious illness and also in the event of impending or expected decease.
The clergy hear Confessions before and after all services; however, some times are "customary." One of these is preferred: after the evening service, whether Vespers or the All-Night Vigil, on the day before a Divine Liturgy. An exception is made for the elderly, the infirm, and those in circumstances where they cannot pray at the evening service without hardship: the Priests hear these Confessions in the half-hour period before each Divine Liturgy, but no one is admitted to the queue after ten minutes ahead of the scheduled time of any given Liturgy. Orthodox visitors too may approach before Liturgy, either for Confession or to announce their intention to commune, based on preparation in their home parish. Confession is also welcomed by appointment.
Partaking of Holy Communion
While no one at all is considered worthy of Holy Communion, including the clergy, the Orthodox Church does not admit anyone to Communion who is unprepared. An indispensable element of preparation for Holy Communion is considered to be Penance, or Holy Confession. Another indispensable element is total fasting, preferably from the preceding evening, but at least from the midnight before Holy Communion. Orthodox visitors are encouraged to consult the Priest before Divine Liturgy by getting in the Confession line, especially if they are averse to being questioned upon approaching the Chalice.
These are short, sung prayer services to our Lord, His Mother, or Saints, on the occasion of beginning some important venture, of thanksgiving for a favorable event and on other occasions. Blessing of houses, apartments, and other dwelling/buildings may be arranged with one of the Priests.
Most may be served at any time, unless otherwise specified, however, all should be arranged as much in advance as possible.
The Church's bidding of farewell on the occasion of a Christian's departure for the other world is normally accomplished about the third day after falling asleep. The casket with the body of the departed is brought to the Church in the late afternoon before the day of the funeral for a memorial service (Panikhida) that evening. The normal time for funerals is 10:00am, however, if a Divine Liturgy has been scheduled for that day, then the funeral takes place after it. Cremation or suicide rules out a funeral in Church.
These memorial services are frequently celebrated after Divine Liturgy or before All-Night Vigil. They may be celebrated beside the place of burial. They are celebrated on the eve of Funerals, in Church with the body. They are combined with Memorial Liturgies on certain days ("Ancestral" days), such as most of the Saturdays of the Great Fast, Pentecost Saturday, etc. Panikhidas are not permitted during Holy, or Passion Week, nor Bright Week. Panikhidas after Divine Liturgy must be requested at the Candlestand before the dismissal of Divine Liturgy, and preferably much earlier than that.
Cameras & Camcorders, etc
The use of flashes and spotlights or other artificial lighting with cameras, video camcorders, movie cameras, etc. is not allowed, since such is a definite distraction to the Faithful praying in our Church. The use of high-speed film for available light photography and any filming that does not involve moving about the Church or into the view of parishioners is allowed.
Prosphora & Memorial Booklets/Lists
When the Priest takes out particles in commemorating a living or departed member of the Faithful, he says, "For the health & salvation of the Servant of God (Christian name) or "For the repose, blessed memory, and forgiveness of sins of the Servant of God (Christian name). Family names are never ever used. And only human persons are commemorated: no institutions, such as schools, animal shelters, etc. It would be a mockery to place particles representing institutions into the Chalice after Holy Communion and pray that their sins would be washed away in Christ's precious Blood, since He did not die for any institutions.