Holy Baptism - Timkat #
Holy Baptism is the First of the Seven Sacraments – Mysteries of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Baptism is the door by which the believer enters the Body of Christ, i.e. “The Church,” and becomes a partaker in the other Sacraments – Mysteries of grace.
The Sacrament – Mystery of Holy Baptism is performed by the infant, child, teen or adult being immersed in water three times in The Name of the Holy Trinity – The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Sacrament - Mystery of Baptism by being baptized by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan, when the Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove, anointed Him, then assured it after the resurrection when He said to His Disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in The Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (St. Matthew: 28:19), “He who is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned” (St. Mark 16:16).
Holy Baptism is a redemptive Sacrament - Mystery, necessary for salvation and entry to eternal life according to what the Lord Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of Water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (St. John 3).
Holy Baptism is one of the four redemptive Sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation – Confirmation (Myron), Confession-Penance and Holy Communion – Qurban, of the Holy Body and Precious Life-giving Blood of the Lord. Through Holy Baptism, the believer is reborn - a spiritual birth - from the Water and the Spirit; his first birth being from his parents.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church also teaches that a person receives the Sacrament – Mystery of Holy Baptism only once: “The reason that it is not to be repeated is that Holy Baptism is the rebirth, as man is born bodily only once, so he cannot be spiritually born more than once.” Holy Baptism is the partaking of Christ’s death and resurrection, Christ died and arose only once (Romans 6:4, Colossians 2:12). Saint Paul says “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). For this and other reasons, a Christian who rejects the Christian faith and then returns to the Church is not baptized again. The Sacraments – Mysteries of Confession - Penance and Holy Communion – Qurban are sufficient for one who returns to the Church after leaving it.
Baptism of children over the age of seven, teens and adults occurs only after the Catechumen receives proper instruction in the faith and teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church. For all infants who cannot answer, their Parents, Godfather and or Godmother must answer. After they have replied, the child receives Holy Baptism.
The tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is that all male children are to receive Holy Baptism on the 40th day after their birth; female children on the 80th day after their birth. The reason for this practice is that the Church teaches that the first man, Adam, was brought to Paradise (the Garden of Eden) forty days after creation from the place where he was created, and Eve was brought eighty days after creation. Thus the entrance to Paradise was a sign of righteousness of Adam and Eve or it was a sign of their admission as son and daughter. The second reason is based on Leviticus 12:1-7, which says “if a woman has born a male child, she shall be unclean for forty days, but if she bears a maid child, she shall be unclean for eighty days. And, when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son or a daughter, she shall bring gifts for a sin offering unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation and unto the Priest who shall offer it before the Lord.” Thirdly, the Lord Jesus was brought to the Temple of Jerusalem when the days of His Holy Mother, St. Mary, purification, according to the Mosaic Law were accomplished. For these reasons the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Baptizes children after such a formula.
Every one to receive Holy Baptism is asked to renounce Satan and all his works; then the Bishop or Priest baptizes them. According to the Rite of Holy Baptism, children are the first to receive Baptism, then all males followed by all females.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church also recognizes “Baptism by Blood,” which is received in Martyrdom. Those who shed their lives for the sake of Christ Jesus, before receiving the Holy Waters of Baptism are considered to have been Baptized Christians.
During the Rite of Baptism the person who is to be Baptized is given a name other than the family name. The choice is given first to the parents to choose a name for their child, providing that it is a suitable Christian name. For instance, if the Sacrament – Mystery of Holy Baptism takes place around Easter - Fasika, an appropriate “Baptismal Name” for a male child would be Wolde Tensaye (the Son of the Resurrection) and for a female, Wolete Tensaye (the Daughter of the Resurrection). The Bishop or Priest then Baptizes the candidate, pronouncing this new name. “I Baptize you in The Name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit; your name is Wolde Tensaye or Wolete Tensaye.” The Baptismal Name plays a great role in the life of the person; before and after death. In ceremonies involving particular persons such as the ordination of Deacons or Priests, Matrimonial services, memorial services, and so on, the Baptismal Name is used instead of the family name.
The Mateb - Neck Cord #
The Mateb – Neck Cord is given to the person during the Rite of Holy Baptism. The Bishop or Priest must bless it before he ties it around the neck of the person or persons receiving Holy Baptism. The Mateb – Neck Cord, which is worn by all Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Christians, is the badge of faith. It is traditional been made of three intertwined silken cords of Green, Yellow and Red, carrying a Cross to signify the Crucifixion of Christ Jesus. The Mateb – Neck Cord originated in the era of the Byzantine – Roman Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). Patriarch Dioscorus, the defender of the Orthodox Tewahedo Faith was in prisoner. Abba Yacob Alberedaea kept defending and teaching the Orthodox Tewahedo doctrine of Christ after the manner of the Patriarchs, Cyril and the imprisoned Dioscorus. In order to distinguish the faithful believers in the ancient Apostolic faith of the Orthodox Tewahedo Churches, Abba Yacob tied Mateb – Neck Cords around the Tewahedo faithful necks. It was from his action that not only the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, but all the other Sister Tewahedo Churches were called “Jacobites” by those opposed to the Faith of the Apostolic Fathers.