Traditions & Sacrament Information
Teachings and Traditions:
THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE PROGRAM in the Greek Orthodox Church
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SUGGESTED COVER AND Front Matter
NAMES BRIDE & GROOM
Matron of Honor
Flower Girl Ring Bearer Stephana Bearer
Parents of the Bride
PARENTS of the Groom
Grandparents of the Bride
Grandmother of the Groom
Godparents of the Bride
Godparents of the Groom
WITH DEEP GRATITUDE …..
We are forever grateful to our parents and grandparents who, with their prayers, love and support gave us “a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.” (1 Timothy 6:19)
We also would like to acknowledge and thank everyone who came from near and far to share in our JOY.
IT MEANS SO MUCH TO US!
Our new address:
THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE
In the eyes of the Church, marriage is the sacramental union between a man and a woman. When we say that marriage is a sacrament, we use that word to convey the depths of the covenantal bond the bride and groom are about to enter into. As Christians, the sacrament of marriage is the oath of loyalty unto death the bride and groom make to each other and – as a couple – their oath of loyalty unto death to our Lord Jesus Christ, “the King of kings and Lord of lords.” Christian marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s presence and love in this fallen and broken world. This blessed union is not expressed through vows, but through a shared and committed relationship with the Risen Christ. Therefore, the couple, the clergy, and the laity pray that this Christian marriage be sanctified and preserved by God in the image of Christ's perfect union to the Church.
In the Orthodox Church, the Sacrament of Marriage consists of two independent and self-contained services that have been linked and celebrated together since the tenth century. The ceremony reflects the two-stage process of marriage: the Betrothal and the Crowning ceremonies.
The service of betrothal is comprised of three main components: petitions, prayers and the exchange of rings. The service is initiated by the priest(s) chanting the litany that includes petitions for the bridal couple. Two short prayers are then read that associate marriage with the saving work of Christ, who restores the unity between God and man. At the conclusion of these prayers, the celebrant blesses two rings, then taking the groom's ring touches his forehead, saying, "The Servant of God Demetrios is betrothed to the Handmaiden of God Dianna [as he touches her forehead] in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." The priest then betroths the bride to the groom in a like manner. While the celebrant is reading a final prayer, the Koumbara (sponsor) interchanges the couple's rings three times as an expression and witness of the two lives being entwined into one.
Rings are an ancient symbol of the couple’s commitment to one another and their desire to enter into the covenant relationship of marriage. As the Prayer of Betrothal indicates, in the Scriptures, rings were given as signs of commitment, authority and forgiveness. The exchange of rings signifies that in married life the weaknesses of one partner will be compensated for by the strengths of the other. Through the rings, as illustrated throughout the Old and New Testaments, God Himself pledges His blessing, support, and promise to grant them a new integrated and wholesome life.
The Service of the Crowning
The Service of Crowning is the wedding proper. It begins with the chanting of Psalm 128 and comprised of five major elements: 1) the prayers; 2) the crowning; 3) the Scripture readings; 4) the Lord's Prayer and the common cup and; 5) the Dance of Isaiah.
After the petitions of the Litany are chanted by the clergy to the response, "Kyrie Eleision" or "Lord have mercy", three prayers are read. The many biblical personalities and episodes alluded to in the prayers affirm the truth that God remains faithful to His people in spite of all unexpected changes in life as well as human sins, as long as the couple has faith in God. The prayers ask God to place this bride and this groom into the company of these holy couples and to "bless them . . . preserve them . . . and remember them." In the third prayer, the right hands of the bride and groom are joined as the priest reads: "Join together this your servant Demetrios, and your handmaiden Dianna . . . in oneness of mind."
The celebrant takes the crowns, blesses them over the Gospel, signs the couple three times with the Liturgical formula: "the Servant of God Demetrios is crowned to the Handmaiden of God Dianna in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" and then crowns them chanting "Lord our God, crown them with glory and honor." The koumbaro then exchanges the crowns three times.
The crowns that are placed on their heads remind the couple of the condition that makes their marriage a Christian marriage. They are attached to each other by a white ribbon symbolizing the marital unity being entered into by the bride and groom. They are the “crowns of righteousness” spoken of by the apostle Paul in his Second Letter to Timothy, given on the Day of Judgment to those who are faithful to Christ. The bride and groom are crowned as king and queen of their own household, which they must rule responsibly, with love and wisdom. The crowns also symbolize martyrdom and sacrifice. Throughout marriage, husband and wife must be willing to sacrifice themselves for one another in imitation of Christ sacrificing Himself for us.
The Scripture Readings
The writings of both Saint Paul to the Ephesians 5:20-33 and Saint John the Evangelist 2:1-12 are the two most revealing sections of the New Testament relative to the Sacrament of marriage. The first reading relates marriage to the Mystery of Christ and the Church, while the second details the presence of Jesus at the marriage in Cana of Galilee. These readings reveal that the couple’s relationship should be predicated on sacrifice and love as marriage has been sanctified by Christ.
The Lord's Prayer & the Common Cup
Together with the Scripture readings, the reciting of the Lord's Prayer and the partaking of a common cup remind us that the marriage service was conceived as a Eucharistic liturgy. The communion hymn, "From the cup of salvation will I partake; and upon the Name of the Lord will I call." Further emphasize the services' Eucharistic origins. The red wine that is now shared instead of the Eucharist, symbolizes the cup of life that the husband and wife will drink: bitterness with sweetness, disappointment with happiness, and tribulation with joy.
The Dance of Isaiah
In this procession the priest, holding the Gospel, leads the bride and groom around the table three times. The couple is accompanied by their Koumbari (sponsors) who will walk with them throughout the joys and sorrows of life. This liturgical action is significant as it initiates their steps together as husband and wife, always following the teachings of Christ. This present ritual is abbreviated from an older and more elaborate practice of the priest leading the couple to their home.
The hymns chanted also express the meaning and the inherent beauty of this procession. The troparia summarize the entire Biblical content of the Christian marriage; that is, to be a witness to the coming of the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by the birth of the Son of God from a Virgin. The hymnography inspires the couple to walk in the way of righteousness and to keep Christ at the center of their relationship throughout their lives.
Following the Dance of Isaiah the crowns are removed by the priest who prays: "Receive their crowns in Your Kingdom unsoiled and undefiled and preserve them without offense to the ages of ages." The Sacrament of Matrimony then concludes with this final prayer for the newly married couple:
May the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the All-Holy, Consubstantial, and Life-creating Trinity, the One Godhead and Kingdom; bless you and grant you long life, well-favored children, progress in life and in faith; enrich you with all the good things of the earth, and make you worthy to enjoy the promised blessings; through the intercessions of the holy Theotokos and of all the Saints. Amen.
3) The Scripture Readings
The writings of both Saint Paul to the Ephesians 5:20-33 and Saint John the Evangelist 2:1-12 are the two most revealing sections of the New Testament relative to the Sacrament of marriage. The first reading relates marriage to the Mystery of Christ and the Church, while the second details the presence of Jesus at the marriage in Cana of Galilee. These readings reveal that the couples relationship should be predicated on sacrifice and love as marriage has been sanctified by Christ.
EPISTLE: Saint Paul to the Ephesians 5:20-33
Brethren, give thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be also subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one." This is a great mystery, and I take it to mean Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
GOSPEL: Saint John the Evangelist 2:1-12
At that time there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
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