“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, the Priest of mystical and pure marriage, and the Ordainer of the law of the marriage of the body….”
My beloved spiritual son and daughter in Christ, N. & N.
These are the words thousands of men and women of our
Church hear as they enter the most sacred state of marriage. These are the words which describe God’s DESIGN and PURPOSE of marriage. His DESIGN is that your marriage is intended to be both holy and happy; His PURPOSE is revealed in the words, “And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the world” (Gen. 1:328)
The truth that marriage is one of the 7 holy sacraments of our Orthodox church is deeply impressed on the minds of all devout Orthodox Christians– those4 intending to marry as well as those already joined in marriage. In light of this, we dare not minimize St. Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians, where he characteristically compares marriage with the union between Christ and the Church: “This is a great mystery, “Paul said, “but I speak co0concerning Christ and the Church” (5:32). In Orthodox theology, Christ is the Bridegroom; the Church is His Bride. Having said this, Paul goes on to make the HUMAN CONNECTION: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church;” and “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” the concept here is clear: Neither the man nor the woman is SUBORDINATE; rather, there is an EQUALITY and an ORDER in marriage. Neither God nor the Church would have it otherwise!
If marriage today, as a sacred union between man and woman, is facing serious problems, the fault lies in their failure to recognize the EQUALITY and ORDER in marriage. If men and women insist on regarding marriage as something exclusively PHYSICAL, it is NOT surprising that they deny its sacramental GRACE and ignore its DUTIES. But, if they KNEW the teachings of Holy Scripture and the Church AND PRACTICED THEM, their marriage would be truly holy, happy and enduring.
As I look at you standing here before God, the Holy Mother, the Saints, your Bishop, your priest, your parents and your invited guests, I am convinced that you have come here DETERMINED to accept God’s blessings, God’s design and God’s purpose in your marriage. To ASSURE these results we have all come here not merely as WITNESSES, but as PARTICIPANTS. We are here to surround you with our love; to share in your happiness; and to strengthen you with our prayers. As we invoke God’s Grace upon you, our prayers for you WILL MATCH those of the Church: “That the Lord our God will bless this marriage as He blessed that in Cana of Galilee.”
Finally, we anxiously anticipate that very solemn moment when the crowns will touch your heads and declare you husband and wife. At that moment, from the four corners of this church, heaven and earth, angels and mortals will rejoice, praising God and saying,
“O Lord our God, crown them with glory and with honor.”