Sacramental Guidelines


Baptisms are scheduled through the priest. Anyone wishing to baptize their child must meet with Fr. Seraphim in advance. Choice of godparent must be discussed with father and approved in advance. Anyone wishing to serve as a godparent, who is not a member in canonical good standing at Assumption, must present a letter of good standing from the priest of the parish that they attend. Godparents must be active members of a parish and be active stewards of their parish. This is so, because being a godparent is not something to take lightly. The godparent is and must be an active role model for their godchild in the Orthodox Faith. As such, they must be actively living the Orthodox Faith.

Archdiocese Guidelines for Baptisms

A person who wishes to sponsor a candidate for Baptism or Chrismation must be an Orthodox Christian in good standing and a supporting member of an Orthodox parish.

A person may not serve as a godparent if the Church has not blessed his or her marriage or, if civilly divorced, he or she has not been granted an ecclesiastical divorce, or for any other reason he or she is not in communion with the Orthodox Church. 

Baptisms may not be performed

  • From Christmas Day through the Feast of Theophany (December 25-January 6);

  • During Holy Week; or

  • On any of the Great Feastdays of the Lord.

Metropolis of Denver Guidelines for Baptisms

VII. Baptism and/or Chrismation of Members of Other Parishes

1. If the candidate for Baptism and/or Chrismation is a member of another parish, he/she shall obtain a certificate or letter of membership from the Priest of that parish, and submit it to the priest performing the Mystery(s).

2. If the parent(s) bringing a child for Baptism and/or Chrismation is/are a member(s) of another parish, he/she/they shall obtain a certificate or letter of membership from the Priest of that parish, and submit it to the priest performing the Mystery(s).

VIII. Sponsor

  1. The Sponsor ("nonos"; "nono" - Godfather or "nona" - Godmother) shall be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church; the following persons can not be Sponsors: a. An Orthodox Christian who does not belong to a parish. b. An Orthodox Christian under twelve years of age. c. An Orthodox Christian who belongs to a parish not in Communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. d. A married Orthodox Christian who has not been married in the Orthodox Church. e. Any one who has been excommunicated or anathematized from the Orthodox Church. f. An Orthodox Deacon, Priest, or Metropolitan.
  2. Normally there is only one sponsor; two may be allowed. 
  3. The Sponsor ("nono" or "nona") should be sufficiently mature enough to understand the responsibilities he/she is undertaking; for this reason they should normally be over twelve years of age.
  4. The selection of a Baptismal Sponsor ("nono" or "nona") should take into account the fact that the spiritual relationship established is one of spiritual parent to a spiritual child, and in fact this relationship is considered closer and more intimate than that of biological parents with their children since the spirit is higher than the body.  Thus the subsequent marriage of godchildren is affected by the proscriptions against incest in the same way as these apply to blood relationships.
  5. So as to preclude any possible future marriage impediment, it is therefore customary for individuals only to be Sponsors of children of the same sex; e.g., for a woman to choose only to be the godmother of boys.  This is not necessary, of course, when there is a vast difference between the ages of the male spiritual children and the female spiritual children of the same godparent. 

The main requirement is that the parent(s) actively participate in the life of the parish. That means coming to church regularly (every, or at least most, Sundays and Holy Days), living an active Orthodox life at home, and being a contributing steward of the parish. If a parent never or very rarely comes to church, then they must start coming regularly and get into the habit of it now and not later. Fr. Seraphim will not set a date for a baptism unless the parent(s) are coming to church and showing by their actions a commitment to continue doing so after the baptism. Baptism is a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. It is a fount of regeneration. It makes one a living stone of the living temple of Christ’s Body. In baptism one puts off the “old man” and puts on the new man in Christ. To be a Christian is to live the Christian life. It makes little seense to become Orthodox and never really practice the faith. If one parent is not Orthodox, the non-Orthodox parent must consent in writing to the baptism (unless this was already done as part of the marriage paperwork). If someone under the age of 18 wishes to embrace the Orthodox Faith, they must receive the written consent of both parents/legal guardian(s).

Next, there must be a suitable choice in godparent(s). A godparent really should not be a (close) blood relative. The spiritual relationship created at baptism is more real than any blood relationship. Also, if two people have the same godparent, they cannot marry. It is an impediment to marriage, because they're spiritually related as siblings. The godparent must also be active in the life of the parish, just the same as the requirement for parents. They must actively live the Orthodox Faith, be regular church goers, and be contributing stewards. The choice of godparent is subject to approval by the parish priest.

The godparent customarily supplies a baptismal candle, a small bottle of olive oil, a bar of dove or ivory soap, a white bath towel, a white hand towel, a white sheet, a set of white clothes, and a cross of an Orthodox style. The role of a godparent is to ensure that the child is brought up in the faith and is to be a living example to the child. Thus, a godparent should be active in the child's life and a source of love and support alongside the parents.

In some areas of church discipline, the bishops and the holy canons of the Church give the priest the ability to exercise economia (leniency) or akrivia (strictness) so that he as a spiritual father may meet the individual soul on their own level and raise them up. The spiritual father has some flexibility to work with people and to apply the canons in a way that is for the salvation of the individual soul— whether he discerns that the individual circumstance requires leniency or strictness.


Marriages should be scheduled at least 6 months in advance and no date can be set before meeting with Fr. Seraphim. Couples wishing to be married must meet with the priest a minimum of 3 times. Premarital counselling is an investment in the future of the marriage. Father Seraphim uses a number of tools to help in this regard, one of which is "Prepare & Enrich." Fr. Seraphim is a certified facilitator in the Prepare & Enrich program. This tool was developed to help couples break through the "rosy-colored glasses," and to see eachother as they really are (faults, annoying habits, sources of friction, etc). There is a small cost invovled, but can be waived in case of need. Couples should not be living together before marriage (it is objectively sinful); but if they are, will be asked to abstain from physical intimacy and to live apart for at least 2 weeks prior to the wedding (the longer apart the better). Aside from the sinful nature of such an arrangement, modern studies show that cohabitation before marriage significantly increases risk of divorce. However, living separately for a time leading up to the wedding reduces that risk. This is not to be "mean," or "burdensome;" to the contrary, Father Seraphim wants to set couples up for lasting success. 

Archdiocese Guidelines for Marriages

For the union of a man and woman to be recognized as sacramentally valid by the Orthodox Church, the following conditions must be met:

  • The Sacrament of Matrimony must be celebrated by an Orthodox Priest of a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction, according to the liturgical tradition of the Orthodox Church, in a canonical Orthodox Church, and with the authorization of the Archbishop or Metropolitan.

  • Before requesting permission from the Archbishop or his Metropolitan to perform the marriage, a Priest must verify that:

    • Neither of the parties in question are already married to other persons, either in this country or elsewhere;

    • The parties in question are not related to each other to a degree that would constitute an impediment;

    • If either or both parties are widowed, they have presented the death certificate(s) of the deceased spouse(s);

    • If either or both of the parties have been previously married in the Orthodox Church, they have obtained ecclesiastical as well as civil divorce(s);

    • The party or parties who are members of a parish other than the one in which the marriage is to be performed have provided a certificate declaring them to be members in good standing with that parish for the current year; and

    • A civil marriage license has been obtained from civil authorities.

  • No person may marry more than three times in the Church, with permission for a third marriage granted only with extreme oikonomia.

  • In cases involving the marriage of Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, the latter must have been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot bless the marriage of an Orthodox Christian to a non-Christian. [Father Seraphim can provide a list of baptisms that are generally accepted and those which are absolutely not accepted. In some cases, the baptism may require some investigation to ascertain validity].

  • The Sponsor (koumbaros or koumbara) must provide a current certificate of membership proving him or her to be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church. A person who does not belong to a parish, or who belongs to a parish under the jurisdiction of a bishop who is not in communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, or who, if married, has not had his or her marriage blessed by the Orthodox Church, or, if divorced, has not received an ecclesiastical divorce, cannot be a sponsor. Non-Orthodox persons may be members of the wedding party, but may not exchange the rings or crowns (that is, they may not act as the sacramental sponsor).

Days When Marriage Is Not Permitted

Marriages are not performed on fast days or during fasting seasons or on the feasts of the Church as indicated:

  • September 14 (Exaltation of the Holy Cross);

  • December 13-25 (Nativity);

  • January 5 and 6 (Theophany);

  • Great Lent and Holy Week, Pascha (Easter);

  • Pentecost;

  • August 1-15 (Dormition Fast and Feast); and

  • August 29 (Beheading of St. John the Baptist).

Any exceptions are made only with the permission of the respective hierarch.

Inter-Christian Marriages

It is a fact that, the more a couple has in common, the more likely they are to live together in peace and concord. Shared faith and traditions spare couples and their children, as well as their extended families, many serious problems, and help to strengthen the bonds between them. Even so, the Orthodox Church will bless marriages between Orthodox and non-Orthodox partners, provided that:

  • The non-Orthodox partner is a Christian who has been baptized, in water, in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and

  • The couple should be willing to baptize their children in the Orthodox Church and raise and nurture them in accordance with the Orthodox Faith.

A baptized Orthodox Christian whose wedding has not been blessed by the Orthodox Church is no longer in good standing with the Church, and may not receive the Sacraments of the Church, including Holy Communion, or become a Sponsor of an Orthodox Marriage, Baptism or Chrismation.

A non-Orthodox Christian who marries an Orthodox Christian does not thereby become a member of the Orthodox Church, and may not receive the Sacraments, including Holy Communion, or be buried by the Church, serve on the Parish Council, or vote in parish assemblies or elections. To participate in the Church's life, one must be received into the Church by the Sacrament of Baptism or, in the case of persons baptized with water in the Holy Trinity, following a period of instruction, by Chrismation. If a non-Orthodox spouse wishes to embrace the Orthodox Faith of their own volition, that is wonderful; but, we don't force them or preassure them. It must be done for the right reasons.

Inter-Religious Marriages

Canonical and theological reasons preclude the Orthodox Church from performing the Sacrament of Marriage for couples where one partner is Orthodox and the other partner is a non-Christian. As such, Orthodox Christians choosing to enter such marriages fall out of good standing with their Church and are unable to actively participate in the life of the Church. While this stance may seem confusing and rigid, it is guided by the Orthodox Church's love and concern for its member's religious and spiritual well-being.

Prohibited Marriages

The following types of relationships constitute impediments to marriage (ie: marriage is forbidden):

  • Parents with their own children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, or godchildren of the same godparents.

  • Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

  • Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews.

  • First cousins with each other.

  • Foster parents with foster children or foster children with the children of foster parents.

  • Godparents with godchildren or godparents with the parents of their godchildren.

Metropolis of Denver Guidelines

IX. Marriage with Members of Other Parishes

1. If the groom and/or the bride is a member of another parish, he and/or she shall obtain a signed Certificate of Eligibility to Marry from the Priest of that parish, and submit it to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.

2. If the groom and/or the bride came into the Denver Metropolis after the age of 16, he and/or she shall obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to Marry from the Priest of their previous parish, and shall submit it to the Priest filing the Affidavit for License to Marry.

XII. Sponsors (Koumbaro and/or Koumbara) 

1. The Sponsor (koumbaro or koumbara) shall be an Orthodox Christian in good standing with the Church.

2. The following persons cannot be a Sponsor:

a. An Orthodox Christian who does not belong to a parish.

b. An Orthodox Christian who belongs to a parish not in Communion with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; should this situation arise, the Priest shall contact the Metropolis Office for clarification regarding the canonical status of the other parish.

c. A married Orthodox Christian who has not been married in the Orthodox Church.

d. Any one who has been excommunicated or anathematized from the Orthodox Church. e. An Orthodox Deacon, Priest, or Bishop.

3. Non-Orthodox persons may, however, be members of the "wedding party".

a. A distinction can be made between the Orthodox Sponsor and the "best man" who by social custom stands next to the groom.

XXIII. Musical Guidelines for the Celebration of the Mystery of Marriage

1. The music used at the Marriage celebration is usually taken from the tradition of the Orthodox Church, regardless of origin (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, etc.).

2. If the Marriage is between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian partners, the non-Orthodox partner may desire to include music from their own religious heritage; this may be allowed at the discretion of the Metropolitan under the following guidelines:

a. The music or hymn shall be sung or played before or after the Marriage Service (i.e., before "Blessed is the Kingdom ..." and after "Through the prayers of our holy fathers ..."); it shall not be played or sung during the Marriage Service.

b. The music or hymn shall be in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion.

c. The music or hymn shall be those traditionally accepted, and not of an extreme or avantgarde nature such as "Christian rock" music or from Broadway musicals.

d. Any words in a hymn must reflect the basic Orthodox understanding of marriage; e.g., "two are united into one," the couple have "an abiding faith in God," etc. e. Hymns such as those taken from the liturgical life of a non-Orthodox Church, such as "Ave Maria" or "Amazing Grace" have been acceptable, but require previous permission from the Metropolitan.

(1) The Ave Maria, which is particularly popular among Roman Catholic marriage partners has been very desirable; the Latin words sung are: "Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu en mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tuis, Jesus;" i.e., "Hail Mary. full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus."  Note that these words, however, refer exclusively to the Theotokos and have nothing to do with the bride.

f. "Cocktail songs" or Broadway show tunes are not permitted; if appropriate, these may instead be sung at the reception.

g. Musical instruments are not allowed.  In the absence of an organ, however, classical string instruments may be allowed but only at the discretion of the Metropolitan, with his prior permission, and under the following guidelines:

(1) The musical instrument should be appropriate to the music or hymn; e.g., a guitar would not normally be used to play the "Ave Maria."

(2) The musical instrument should be suited to the Orthodox liturgical setting; for example, strings, flutes, and harps have been generally acceptable; guitars, mandolins, and bouzoukis are not.  Such instruments have been allowed in places where the church organ was not in service or did not exist and when the players were invited relatives and friends of the bridal couple.

5. The chanter should offer the liturgical responses throughout the service; the choir may participate if requested.  Exceptions may be made only at the discretion of the Metropolitan.

6. The playing of any music, or the singing of any hymns, not expressly part of the traditional Orthodox Marriage Service is forbidden during the Marriage Service (i.e., between "Blessed is the Kingdom ..." and "Through the prayers of our holy fathers ...").

a. The Lord's Prayer may be sung during the Marriage Service, at the discretion of the Priest; it is preferable, however, for it to be sung before or after the Service.  Within the Service the Lord's Prayer should be said by all.

Holy Communion

How do I prepare for Holy Communion?

In the prayer book there is an “Order of Preparation for Holy Communion.” It is very long and includes psalms, canons, hymns, and a series of beautiful prayers. If you don’t have an Orthodox prayer book, get one, read it, and try using it daily. There are many different ones, but they all contain basically the same prayers (with some exceptions). The main difference is in the translation (from either Greek or Church Slavonic) and style. We have several to choose from in the bookstore. For those who might receive Holy Communion once or twice a year, that person should pray the entire sequence before every Communion and should also go to Confession each time before receiving. For the one who receives Holy Communion frequently, it is enough to read the eight prayers at the end of the sequence the night before, and then read them again in church immediately before approaching the Chalice. When you see the priest standing at the altar and the choir repeating many times the hymn “Praise the Lord from the Heavens, praise Him in the highest. Alleluia,” he is praying those same eight prayers before he partakes of the Body and Blood of Christ. There is also a series of prayers for after Holy Communion that are read in church at the end of the Liturgy. If you can't stay to hear them in church, then you should pray them at home afterwards. That same one should also go to Confession about once per quarter, or more or less frequently based on the individual soul and the discretion of the confessor.

Prayer and Confession aren’t the only pieces of the pie. No food or drink should be consumed from at least midnight on Saturday until after Holy Communion on Sunday morning. Medication, of course, should be taken as prescribed and may be taken with a little food if required for the medication and the age/health of the individual. Even if you don’t receive Holy Communion, it is still a pious practice to fast for Antidoron. We pray best when the stomach is empty.

Another integral piece is fasting according to the calendar as best as you are able (as age and health permit). This means abstaining from meat (and dairy, wine, and oil) on all Wednesdays (the betrayal of Judas) and Fridays (the Lord’s Crucifixion) and other days as they come up, keeping the four fasting seasons of Advent, Great Lent, the Apostles’ Fast in June, and Panagia’s Fast the first 14 days of August. We should fast not only with our stomachs, but also with our eyes, our ears, our tongues, and our touch. This is what is meant by “mortifying the senses.” Strictly control and guard what they are allowed to do and of what they are allowed to partake.

Further, one should live a life of always being prepared to receive Holy Communion. One Communion is the beginning of preparation for the next. On Saturday evenings, we should recollect ourselves and focus on keeping our minds on Christ in anticipation of receiving His Life-giving Body and Blood. We should abstain from wild parties and drunkenness; we should guard our eyes and ears from inappropriate media; we should light the thimiato and cense the entire house before beginning our prayers; and, very importantly, we should be at peace with anyone who has offended us.


Confession is available anytime by appointment. It is especially available on Mondays during Lent before or after Great Compline.

Fr. Seraphim has many different guides and lists available to help you prepare for confession. The main point is an examination of conscience according to the 10 Commandments or the Beatitudes and an opening of the heart to Christ. Confession is about honestly admitting our sins, faults, passions, omissions, and commissions. It is not about extolling your virtues. Confession is like going to the doctor. When we're ill, we go to the doctor to explain our simptoms and the doctor applies a remedy for the ailment. Sin is a spiritual sickness. When we are bitten by the serpent, we must run to the Physician of our Souls and Bodies...that is, Christ. We open our hearts to Him and reveal what lurks there. In turn, Christ pours His Light and His healing grace into it. He heals the serpent's bite. In the early days of the Church, confession was public and so was the penance. One confessed before the entire community and was given a public penance (such as by having to stand outside the church, or in the narthex during services apart from the body of the faithful). In our day, as a mercy and economia, confessions and penances are typically private. The penitent comes and stands before the icon of Christ on the iconostasion and the priest stands at the side to witness and to provide counsel and absolution. Confession brings about a healing in the soul and the complete obliteration of the sin that was confessed. Repentance is necessary to make the "metanoia," the change or turn, from committing the same sin again. This is the spiritual struggle. We can stumble and fall a million times over, but we can still get back up again with the help of Christ and try with renewed effort. Never become discouraged. Holiness and sanctification come through our daily struggles and battles with the passions.  


Holy Unction

The Oil of Unction is consecrated once a year on Wednesday during Holy Week and is kept in the Holy Altar at all times. It is for the healing of soul and body. Holy Unction may be received anywhere and at anytime by an Orthodox Christian in good standing. As with any other Holy Mystery, one should prepare as best as one is able for it.

Funerals and Memorials

Archdiocese Guidelines for Funerals and Memorial Services

Funeral services are permitted on any day of the year, except for Sundays and Holy Friday, unless permission is granted from the Archbishop or Metropolitan.

Memorial services may not be chanted:

  • From the Saturday of Lazarus through the Sunday of Thomas;

  • On any Feastday of the Lord; or

  • On any Feastday of the Theotokos.

IV. Burial Traditions and Customs

1. According to Orthodox tradition, following the example of the early Christians as evidenced by the catacombs and tombs of the saints – and indeed following the events associated with the burial of our Lord – the dead shall be buried in the ground or in a suitable tomb.

2. It is a pious custom that the dead be buried with their heads to the West and their feet toward the East; this is in accordance with belief that the dead will rise up on the Day of Judgment, the Second Glorious Coming of our Lord, facing the East.

3. Only the body of a Bishop, Priest, Deacon, or monastic may remain in the church overnight; this may sometimes be referred to as "laying in state."
a. The Trisagion Service for a layman is normally celebrated the evening before the funeral at the funeral home; it may also be held the previous evening as well at the "first wake."
b. If circumstances dictate that the last Trisagion Service be held at the church, it should take place one hour before the actual Funeral Service.

4. On the morning of the funeral, two practices may be followed:
a. The Priest may celebrate a Trisagion Service at the funeral home with the family, then proceed to the church with the deceased and the family. The Funeral Service will then take place upon arrival at the church.
b. The deceased may be brought to the church early on the same day, and the Priest may celebrate the Trisagion Service. Family and friends may then be afforded an opportunity to pay their respects for a period of time before the Funeral Service begins.

Note: These services must be in accordance with the guidelines established by the Holy Archdiocese.


1. Mindful of the fact that the human body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, cremation is not permitted. In addition the body of the deceased must not be violated in any way but must be allowed to return to its natural elements in a normal way.
a. The Priest shall not conduct a funeral service if the body is cremated prior to, or will be cremated after, the funeral.
b. In the event that the family is insistent upon cremation, the following guidelines shall
(1) No funeral service in the Church (Temple), nor in any other location, is permitted.
(2) With prior permission from the Metropolitan, the Trisagion Service for the dead may be recited at the funeral home or other appropriate location before the cremation takes place.
(3) The next of kin shall be instructed to bury the cremated remains in the ground to preserve the spirit of Christian burial.
(4) A Trisagion Service may be celebrated for the forty-day Memorial at the church.

1. Willfully committing suicide indicates loss of patience, faith, and hope in God; it is an unforgivable sin because it is basically a person's rejection of the life given to him by the Holy Spirit.
a. The Priest shall not celebrate a funeral service if the person committed suicide.
(1) The Trisagion Service for the dead may be recited, at the funeral home.
b. If a physician certifies in writing that the person had lost his/her sanity, the Metropolitan
may authorize a funeral after this certificate has been received at the Metropolis Office.

Autopsies and Medical Research
1. Whenever medical necessity requires an autopsy of the deceased, the Priest should verify wherever possible that due respect be accorded to the body, and that the body is not mutilated or vital parts missing.
2. A body shall not be given strictly for medical research or experimentation.
b. In the event that a body is given over for medical research or experimentation, the following guidelines shall apply:
(1) No funeral service is permitted.
(2) The Trisagion Service for the dead may be recited on the fortieth day.

Memorial Services and the Trisagion for the Dead
1. The Trisagion for the Dead is customarily served on the following occasions:
a. At the departure of the soul from the body.
b. The evening of the "wake" before the funeral.
c. On the morning prior to the funeral.
d. On the eighth day after death.
e. On the fortieth day after death; a Memorial Service (Mnymosynon) should, however, be served instead. (Boiled wheat – kolyva – always accompanies a Memorial Service).
f. On the first-year anniversary of death; a Memorial Service (Mnymosynon) should, however, be served instead. (Boiled wheat – kolyva – always accompanies a Memorial Service).
g. On the third-year anniversary of death.
h. On all subsequent Saturdays of All Souls.

2. The Memorial Service (Mnymosynon) is normally served on the four Saturdays of all Souls (Psychosabbata); i.e.:
a. The Saturday before Meatfare Sunday
b. The Saturday before Cheesefare Sunday
c. The Saturday before the First Sunday of Lent (which has evolved into a Psychosabbaton, although it is the day celebrating of the Feast of Saint Theodore of Tyre and the miracle of the wheat ).
d. The Saturday before Pentecost.
3. Although Saturdays throughout the year are normally designated for the commemoration of the departed souls, a Memorial Service (Mnymosynon) or a Trisagion for the Dead may be served whenever appropriate according to the judgment of the priest, in response to the expectations of the faithful.