In the Sacrament of Marriage, or the Mystery of Holy Matrimony, a man and a woman are called together to live as one through mutual self-giving and selfless love. In the Mystery of Holy Matrimony, the couple is crowned with the divine grace and strength to grow together in love and holiness, and live the New Life of Christ more abundantly.
The holy mystery (sacrament) of marriage is one of the seven mysteries of divine grace, instituted by Christ. Christian marriage constitutes a vocation, a special call by God. Through the holy mystery, a baptized man and woman receive a “special gift of God” (1 Cor 7:7) and enter a perpetual union devoted to the service of a new life in Christ.
Marriage exists from the dawn of creation. Adam felt lonely, since there was “no suitable partner” for him (Gen 2:18). Therefore, God created a woman. When he sees the woman Adam recognizes a suitable partner equal to himself, and he exclaimed: “This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh! … That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body” (Gen 2:23-24).
God gives Adam and Eve the command to “be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Humanity receives a vocation to cooperate with God in the propagation of the human race.
Jesus Christ sanctified and elevated Christian marriage to the dignity of a holy mystery (sacrament) by his presence at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. This is why the Byzantine Church reads the Gospel of the wedding feast at Cana during the marriage ceremony. (Jn 2:1-11) Marriage sanctifies and supports Christian family life.
Marriage traditions in the East
Through the ceremony of crowning the church officially recognizes the spouses’ union. The crowning comes from the Old Testament (Is 61:10). It symbolizes the “glory and honor” of Christian marriage as well as the “crowns of martyrdom,” giving their lives to God and to each other.
The crowns remind the spouses that in their marital union they must help each other to attain the “unfading crown of glory” in heaven (1 Pt 5:4). That is why the priest prays “O God, our God, … accept their crowns into your kingdom, keeping them pure, blameless and above all reproach.”
The church follows various traditions regarding crowns: some use gold crowns, some prefer wreaths of greens.
I’m thinking of marriage, what should I do?
Be sure to stay close to the holy mysteries (sacraments). Pray every day. Popular media and contemporary culture make Christian marriage increasingly difficult. Share your thoughts and feeling with your parish priest. Today more than ever, marriage means a profound commitment and a radical witness.
Please contact our pastor to talk about marriage preparation and setting a date at least 6 months before the wedding.