How is the Orthodox wedding ceremony in the church – getting to know the stages of the sacrament
A wedding is an important event in the life of every Christian family. It is rare when couples get married on their wedding day (in order to “kill two birds with one stone” at once) – in most cases, couples nevertheless approach this issue deliberately, realizing the importance of this rite and experiencing a sincere and mutual desire to become a full-fledged, according to church canons, family …
How does this ceremony take place, and what do you need to know about it?
The content of the article:
- Preparation for the sacrament of the wedding
- The betrothal of the young at the wedding ceremony
- How is the wedding ceremony in the church?
- The task of witnesses, or sureties, at a wedding
How to prepare correctly for the sacrament of the wedding?
A wedding is not a wedding where they walk for 3 days, fall with their faces in a salad and beat them to each other according to tradition. A wedding is a sacrament through which a couple receives a blessing from the Lord in order to live together in grief and joy all their lives, to be faithful to each other “to the grave,” to give birth and raise children.
Without a wedding, a marriage is considered “defective” by the Church. And preparation for such an important event, of course, must be appropriate. And it’s not about organizational issues that are resolved in 1 day, but about spiritual preparation.
A couple who takes their wedding seriously will certainly take into account those requirements that some newlyweds forget about in pursuit of fashionable photos from the wedding. But spiritual preparation is an important part of a wedding, as the beginning of a new life for a couple – from a clean sheet (in every sense).
Preparation includes a 3-day fast, during which you need to prepare for the ritual prayerfully, as well as refrain from intimate relationships, animal food, bad thoughts, etc. In the morning before the wedding, the husband and wife confess and commune together.
Video: Wedding. Step-by-step instruction
Betrothal – how is the wedding ceremony in the Orthodox Church?
The betrothal is a kind of “introductory” part of the sacrament that precedes the wedding. It symbolizes the fulfillment of the church marriage in the face of the Lord and the consolidation of the mutual promises of a man and a woman.
- It is not for nothing that the betrothal is performed immediately after the Divine Liturgy. – the couple are shown the importance of the sacrament of marriage and the emotional awe with which they should marry.
- Betrothal in the temple symbolizes the husband’s acceptance of his wife from the Lord himself: the priest introduces the couple to the temple, and from that moment their life together, new and pure, begins in the face of God.
- The beginning of the ceremony is burning incense: The priest blesses the husband and wife 3 times in turn with the words “In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” In response to the blessing, everyone signs themselves with the sign of the cross (note – baptized), after which the priest hands them over already lit candles. This is a symbol of love, fiery and pure, which husband and wife should now nourish for each other. In addition, candles are a symbol of the chastity of men and women, as well as God’s grace.
- Cruciform incense symbolizes the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit next to the couple.
- Next, there is a prayer for the betrothed and for their salvation (soul), about the blessing for the birth of children, about the fulfillment of those requests of the couple to God that relate to their salvation, about the blessing of the couple for every good deed. After that, everyone present, including the husband and wife, should bow their heads before God in anticipation of a blessing while the priest reads a prayer.
- After prayer to Jesus Christ, betrothal follows: the priest puts on the ring to the groom, “betrothed the servant of God …” and 3 times overshadowing him crosswise. Then he puts on the ring to the bride, “betraying the servant of God …” and the autumn sign of the cross three times. It is important to note that the rings (which the groom should give!) Symbolize an eternal and indissoluble union at the wedding. The rings lie, until they are put on, on the right side of the holy throne, which symbolizes the power of consecration in the face of the Lord and his blessing.
- Now the bride and groom must exchange rings three times (note – in the word of the Most Holy Trinity): the groom puts on his ring to the bride as a symbol of his love and willingness to help his wife until the end of his days. The bride wears her ring to the groom as a symbol of her love and readiness to accept his help until the end of her days.
- Next – the priest’s prayer for the blessing and betrothal of the Lord of this couple, and sending them a Guardian Angel to guide them in their new and pure Christian life. The betrothal ceremony ends here.
Video: Russian wedding in the Orthodox Church. Wedding ceremony
The sacrament of the wedding – how is the ceremony going?
The second part of the sacrament of marriage begins with the exit of the bride and groom in the middle of the temple with candles in their hands, as with the spiritual light of the sacrament. In front of them is a priest with a censer, which symbolizes the importance of following the path of the commandments and ascending their good deeds like incense to the Lord.
The choir greets the couple by singing Psalm 127.
- Next, the couple stands on a white towel spread in front of the analogue: both in the face of God and the Church confirm their free expression of will, as well as the absence in their past (approx. – on each side!) of promises of marriage with another person. The priest asks these traditional questions to the bride and groom, taking turns.
- Confirmation of a voluntary and unbreakable desire to marry reinforces natural marriage.who is now considered a prisoner. Only after this does the sacrament of the wedding begin.
- The rite of the wedding begins with the proclamation of communion with the couple in the Kingdom of God and three lengthy prayers – to Jesus Christ and to the Triune God. After that, the priest marks (in turn) the groom and the bride with a crown crosswise, “crowning the servant of God …”, and then “crowning the servant of God …”. The groom must kiss the image of the Savior on his crown, the bride – the image of the Mother of God, which adorns her crown.
- Now the most important moment of the wedding comes for the bride and groom in crowns, when with the words “Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor!” the priest, as a link between people and God, blesses the couple three times, reciting a prayer three times.
- Church Blessing of Marriage symbolizes the eternity of the new Christian union, its indissolubility.
- After the reading of the Epistle to the Ephesians of St. apostle paul, and then the Gospel of John about the blessing and sanctification of the marriage union. Then the priest says a petition for those who are married and a prayer for peace in a new family, honesty in marriage, integrity of cohabitation and life together according to the commandments until old age.
- After “And grant us, Vladyka …” everyone reads the prayer “Our Father” (it should be learned in advance, if before the preparation for the wedding they did not know by heart). This prayer in the mouth of a married couple symbolizes the determination to fulfill the will of the Lord on earth through their family, to be loyal and obedient to the Lord. As a sign of which, the husband and wife bow their heads under the crowns.
- They bring the “chalice of communication” with Cahors, and the priest blesses her and gives her as a sign of joy, offering to drink wine three times, first to the head of the new family, and then to his wife. They drink wine in 3 tiny sips as a sign of inseparable being from now on.
- Now the priest must join the right hands of those who are married, cover them with a stole (note – a long ribbon around the priest’s neck) and put your palm on top, as a symbol of the husband’s receipt of his wife from the Church itself, which in Christ united these two forever.
- A couple is traditionally circled three times around the lectern: on the first circle they sing “Isaiah, rejoice …”, on the second – the troparion of the “Holy Martyr”, and on the third, Christ is glorified. This walk symbolizes the eternal procession that from this day begins for the couple – hand in hand, with a common cross (the burdens of life) for two.
- The crowns are removed from the spousesand the priest greets the new Christian family with solemn words. Then he reads two petition prayers, during which the husband and wife bow their heads, and after the end they capture pure mutual love with a chaste kiss.
- Now, according to tradition, the married spouses are led to the royal doors: here the head of the family must kiss the icon of the Savior, and his wife – the image of the Mother of God, after which they change places and again apply to the Images (only the other way around). Here they kiss the cross, which the priest brings, and receive 2 icons from the minister of the Church, which can now be kept as a family heirloom and the main amulets of the family, and passed on to future generations.
After the wedding, candles are kept in the icon case, at home. And after the death of the last spouse, these candles (according to the old Russian custom) are placed in his coffin, both.
The task of the witnesses at the wedding ceremony in the church – what do the guarantors do?
Witnesses must be believers and baptized – a friend of the groom and a girlfriend of the bride, who, after the wedding, will become the spiritual mentors of this couple and her prayer guardians.
The task of the witnesses:
- To hold crowns over the heads of those who are married.
- Serve them wedding rings.
- Lay a towel in front of the lectern.
However, if the witnesses do not know their duties, this is not a problem. The priest will tell the guarantors about them, preferably in advance, so that there are no “overlaps” during the wedding.
It is important to remember that a church marriage cannot be dissolved – the Church does not give divorce. An exception is the death of a spouse or his loss of reason.
And finally, a few words about the wedding meal
A wedding, as mentioned above, is not a wedding. And the Church warns against the possible obscene and indecent behavior of all those present at the wedding after the sacrament.
Decent Christians dine modestly after the wedding, and do not dance in restaurants. Moreover, at a modest marriage feast there should not be any indecency and intemperance.
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