Rites of initiation

If the eucharistic liturgy shows clear Greek and Latin influence, the baptismal rite witnesses to the early Syrian influence, with a stress on the pneumatic imagery of John 3, and an absence of verbal exorcisms. The present rite includes prayers after the eighth day for making a catechumen, and for mother and child after forty days. The rite begins with prayers and psalms, a renunciation of Satan and a Trinitarian confession. The Creed is recited together with Psalm 118. There is a blessing of the oil, and blessing of the water, and this includes pouring the blessed oil into the water. The prayer of blessing the oil associates it with the Holy Spirit and with priests, kings and prophets (cf. The Didascalia from North Syria). Scholars speculate that there was once a pre-baptismal anointing at this point, as in the Syrian tradition, but that it was later transferred to after the rite.

The emphasis on the baptism in water concerns enlightenment, redemption and adoption and being co-heirs, rather than the image of death and resurrection; as in the Syrian rites, the font is a womb rather than a tomb. Baptism is by triple immersion.

After the baptism comes the Lord's Prayer, a prayer, and the anointing. There is also a vesting prayer, which mentions the 'garment of salvation'. The candidate is then taken to the bema (sanctuary) and the rubric directs that communion is given. A rubric also mentions the crown, or white hood, which is to be worn for eight days.

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