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Re: [orthodox-synod] What is a true marriage? - part 3

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  • VladMoss@aol.com
    Troitsky claims that the 38th, 40th and 42nd Canons of St. Basil the Great prove that “if the parties started to live together before marriage, their
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2003
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      Troitsky claims that the 38th, 40th and 42nd Canons of St. Basil the
      Great prove that “if the parties started to live together before marriage,
      their fornication ist urned into marriage of itself, without any rite,
      immediately the external obstacles are removed”.<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn1">[1]</A>However, a closer
      examination of the text of the canons proves only that a marriage has to be
      public and approved by parents or masters (in the case of slaves) in order to
      be valid. It says nothing about the presence or absence of a rite.

      Troitsky appears to be on sounder ground when he says that second
      marriages, except in the case when the spouse’s first marriage was terminated
      through the adultery of his spouse, did not involve the participation of the
      Church at the beginning, being, in St. Theodore the Studite’s words, “civil”.
      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn2">[2]</A>However, insofar as the twice-married couple continued to be members of
      theChurch and partake of the Eucharist, we cannot assert that the Church had
      no part to play even in those marriages; for, as we have seen above,
      admission of a couple to communion constitutes a seal on the marriage, its
      sanctification,and not simply a recognition that the couple are already
      married. Later, theChurch introduced a rite for second marriages, though
      without crowning and with a penance of two years without communion.<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn3">[3]</A>

      One way of looking at the matter is to see the civil marriage for
      Christians as not so much a marriage, as a betrothal, and the Christian rite
      (even if, at the beginning, that consisted in little more than the blessing
      of the bishop and participation in the Eucharist) as the marriage itself.

      This is the approach adopted by P.Kuzmenko: "In Christianity marriage
      has been blessed since apostolic times. Tertullian, the church writer of the
      third century, says: 'How can werepresent the happiness of Marriage, which is
      approved by the Church,sanctified by her prayers and blessed by God!'

      "In antiquity the rite of marriage was preceded by betrothal, which was
      a civil act and was performed in accordance with local customs and decrees,
      insofar - it goes without saying - as this was possiblefor Christians.
      Betrothal was performed triumphantly in the presence of many witnesses who
      ratified the marriage agreement. The latter was an official document defining
      the property and legal relations of the spouses. Betrothal was accompanied by
      a rite of the joining together of the hands of the bride and bridegroom.
      Moreover, the bridegroom gave the bride a ring of iron, silver or gold,
      depending on his wealth. Clement, bishop of Alexandria, says: 'The man must
      give the woman a golden ring, not for her external adornment, but so as to
      place a seal on the household, which from this time passes into her control
      and is entrusted to her care.'…

      "Towards the 10th and 11th centuries betrothal lost its civil
      significance, and this rite was performed in the church, accompanied by the
      corresponding prayers. But for a long time yet betrothal was performed
      separately from crowning and was united with the service of Mattins. Finally
      the rite of betrothal received its unique form towards the 17th century.

      "In antiquity the rite of marriage crowning itself was performed by a
      special prayer, by the bishop's blessing and by the laying on of hands in the
      church during the Liturgy. A witness to the fact that marriage crowning was
      introduced in antiquity into the rite of the Liturgy is the presence of a
      series of corresponding elements in both contemporary rites: the opening
      exclamation,'Blessed is the Kingdom...', the litany of peace, the reading of
      the Epistleand the Gospel, the extended litany, the exclamation: 'And
      vouchsafe us, O Master...', the singing of 'Our Father' and, finally the
      drinking from a common chalice. All these elements were evidently taken from
      the rite of the Liturgy and are similar to the Eucharist (the sacrament of
      Communion)."<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn4">[4]</A>

      Concerning this rite of crowning, which became the most characteristic
      element of the rite of marriage, s opposed to betrothal, Fr. John Meyendorff
      writes: "Since the fourth century a specific solemnization of the sacrament
      is mentioned by Eastern Christian writers: a rite of 'crowning', performed
      during the Eucharistic Liturgy. According to St. John Chrysostom, the crowns
      symbolized victory over 'passions'... From a letter of St. Theodore the
      Studite (+826) we learn that crowing was accompanied by a brief prayer read
      'before the whole people' at theSunday Liturgy, by the bishop or the priest.
      The text of the prayer, given by St. Theodore, is the following: 'Thyself, O
      Master, send down Thy hand from Thy holy dwelling place and unite these Thy
      servant and Thy handmaid. And give tot hose whom Thou unitest harmony of
      minds; crown them into one flesh; make their marriage honourable; keep their
      bed undefiled; deign to make their common life blameless' (Letters I, 22, P.G.
      99, col. 973). The liturgical books of the same period (such as the famous
      Codex Barberini) contain several short prayers similar to that quoted by St.
      Theodore. These prayers are all meant to be read during the Liturgy."<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn5">[5]</A>

      From about the beginning of the tenth century, the rite of crowning
      begins to be separated from the Liturgy. Ther eason for this was that,
      according to Leo VI’s 89th novella of theyear 893, it became compulsory to be
      married in Church by crowning<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn6">[6]</A>,which created the problem of how Christians
      who for one reason or another were not considered worthy of receiving
      Communion were to be married. If marriage continued to be an integral part of
      the Liturgy and was sealed by Communion,s uch people could not be married and
      therefore might well fall into the sin of fornication. In order to avoid
      this, the Church separated marriage from the Liturgy, but introduced the
      common cup of wine into the rite as a reminder of the former link with the
      Liturgy, when the newly-weds would receive Communion. “From the 12th century,
      we have two cups, the eucharistic and the‘common’, from which those who were
      unworthy to commune drank.”<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn7">[7]</A>

      In the 15th century St. Symeon of Thessalonica sums up the teaching of
      the Church on the nature of a true marriage: "And immediately (the priest)
      takes the holy chalice with the Presanctified Gifts and exclaims: 'The
      Presanctified Holy things for the Holy'.And all respond: 'One is Holy, One is
      Lord', because the Lord alone is the sanctification, the peace and the union
      of His servants who are being married. The priest then gives Communion to the
      bridal pair, if they are worthy. Indeed,they must be ready to receive
      Communion, so that their crowning be a worthy one and their marriage valid.
      For Holy Communion is the perfection of every sacrament and the seal of every
      mystery. And the Church is right in preparingt he Divine Gifts for the
      redemption and blessing of the bridal pair; for Christ Himself, Who gave us
      these Gifts and Who is the Gifts, came to the marriage (in Cana of Galilee)
      to bring to it peaceful union and control. So that those who get married must
      be worthy of Holy Communion; they must be united before God in a church,
      which is the House of God, because they are children of God, in a church
      where God is sacramentally present in the Gifts, where He is being offered to
      us, and where He is seen in the midst of us.

      "After that the priest also givesthem to drink from the common cup, and
      the hymn 'I will take the cup of salvation' is sung because of the Most Holy
      Gifts and as a sign of the joy which comes from divine union, and because the
      joy of the bridal pair comes from the peace and concord which they have

      "But to those who are not worthy of communion - for example, those who
      are being married for a second time, and others - the Divine Gifts are not
      given, but only the common cup, as a partial sanctification, as a sign of
      good fellowship and unity with God's blessing".<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn8">[8]</A>

      It follows that the idea that there can be Christian marriage outside
      the Church is mistaken. It is true that there can be marriage outsidet he
      Church – that is, a sexual union that is not counted as fornication. Even
      there, certain criteria must be met: the free consent of the spouses,c
      onformity to the laws of the State, public recognition by parents or
      guardians. But for a Christian more is required: the seal of the Church,
      which is conferred by, at a minimum, the blessing of the priest and communion
      as couple in the Body and Blood of Christ.

      When the Bolsheviks introduced civil marriage with divorce-on-demand
      into Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church resisted this innovation fiercely,
      insisting that civil marriage was not enough for a Christian. The leader of
      the Russian Church at the time was New Hieromartyr Tikhon. Before he became
      Patriarch, when he was still Archbishop in America, he wrote: "In order to be
      acceptable in the eyes of God, marriage must be entered into 'only in the
      Lord' (I Corinthians 7.39), the blessing of the Church must be invoked upon
      it, through which it will become a sacrament, in which the married couple
      will be given grace that will make their bond holy and high, unto the
      likeness of the bond between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5.23-32), which
      will help them in the fulfilment of their mutual duties. Sometimes, as in
      this country, for instance, Church marriage is deemed unnecessary. But if
      without the help of God we can accomplish no perfect and true good (John
      15.5), if all our satisfaction is from God (II Corinthians 3.5), if God
      produces in us good desires and acts (Philippians 2.14), then how is it that
      the grace of God is unnecessary for husband and wife in order to fulfil their
      lofty duties honourably? No, a true Orthodox Christian could not be satisfied
      with civil marriage alone, without the Church marriage. Such a marriage will
      remain without the supreme Christian sanction, as the grace of God is
      attracted only towards that marriage which was blessed by the Church, this
      treasury of grace.As to civil marriage, it places no creative religious and
      moral principles, no spiritual power of God's grace, at the basis of
      matrimony and for its safety, but merely legal liabilities, which are not
      sufficient for moral perfection."<A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftn9">[9]</A>

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref1">[1]</A> Troitsky, op. cit., p. 183.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref2">[2]</A> Troitsky, op. cit., p. 184.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref3">[3]</A> Does thispenance indicate that the second marriage is sinful? No; for the
      Apostle Paulcounselled younger widows to marry, and he would hardly have
      counselled them tocommit a sin. Also, St. Xenia of St. Petersburg (January
      24) once counselled ajust-widowed man to marry again. And even some of the
      saints, such as Theodoreof Yaroslavl (September 19), appear to have entered
      into blessed secondmarriages. However, the text of the service does point to
      a certain lack oftemperance in the spouses that makes this second marriage
      necessary for them;and for this penitence is fitting.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref4">[4]</A> Kuzmenko, op.cit., pp. 113-114. This was the situation in the Eastern
      Church. In theWest in ancient times, writes D.S. Bailey, "the nuptials
      of the faithfulcontinued to take place with the formalities customary at the
      time. Thetraditional ceremonies were not modified, save for the omission
      ofnon-essentials which were either unedifying in themselves or redolent of
      pagansuperstition, and the substitution of the Eucharist and the benediction
      for thesacrifice and other accompanying religious observances. Hence the
      Church Orderscontain no Christian marriage rite, nor is there any reference
      to one in theliterature of the period, while the ancient sacramentaries
      merely give theprayers of the nuptial Mass and the blessing." (The
      Man-Woman Relationin Christian Thought, London: Longmans, 1957, pp. 74-75).

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref5">[5]</A> Meyendorff, op.cit., pp. 27-29.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref6">[6]</A> Leointroduced this law because he himself wanted to marry a second time –
      but withcrowning, which is forbidden for second marriages by the Church. So
      he madecrowning compulsory by law for all kinds of marriages.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref7">[7]</A> Kogkoulis et al., op. cit., p. 48.The authors continue:“The common cup
      reminds [them] of the joy of the marriage in Cana and ingeneral constitutes a
      symbolical act, so that the newly-weds should know thatthey are beginning
      their life with the prayer of the Church that they shouldlive inseparably and
      should together share in all the good things and all thejoys and sorrows
      which they will meet”.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref8">[8]</A> St. Symeon of Thessalonica, Against the Heresies and onthe Divine Temple,
      282,P.G. 155:512-3.

      <A HREF="file://C:\My%20Documents\Marriage\%23_ftnref9">[9]</A> HieromartyrTikhon, "An Address of the Right Reverend Tikhon",
      Orthodox Life,vol. 37, no. 4, July-August, 1987,.


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