Yesterday I wrote about some of the history of the Byzantine Church and some differences between Eastern rite and Roman Rite Catholics. Before I move on to other aspects of the church I would like to go back to two things I mentioned yesterday.
Secondly, I also mentioned yesterday that we received communion under both species of bread and wine.That is me receiving communion and the priest giving me communion happens to be my brother. He has since left the priesthood, married, and has two children.
While I am still on the topic of weddings, there is one more thing I will say about a Byzantine wedding. It is customary that during the liurgy a crown in placed on the heads of both the bride and groom. Crowns can be metal and ornate, or they can be floral. Kathy and I decided to have our florist make crowns for us. This way we would not have to give them back to the church.Ok, we are crowned, but what does it mean? It is a commitment to share in the life of the Holy Trinity. The crowns are a sign of God’s blessing on the couple. The couple is crowned in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before the crowns are removed, three hymns are sung revealing the call of marriage.
Crowns of royalty: In marriage, the husband and wife become king and queen of a new unite of society, a new family, a little church.
Crowns of martyrdom: The word martyr really means witness; and so man and wife should give witness of god’s undying love for them as they journey through life growing and suffering, rejoicing and loving.
Crowns of the Kingdom: Marriage is a living relationship, one that grows continually and only finds its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.
A Byzantine wedding is not a short affair. I can last up to two hours. If you ask Kathy, who is Irish, it is because we can’t do things right the first time and we have to repeat everything three times. Every time we bless ourselves we do it three times…once for the Father, once for the Son, and once for the Holy Spirit. Many blessings are also said for the same reason thus leading to the lengthy service.
Since I mentioned the sign of the Cross let me just finish today’s post with a little bit of history on that. When we enter the church, instead of genuflecting before entering a pew, we bow and bless ourselves three times, as I mentioned before. In making the sign of the Cross, we hold the thumb, index finger, and middle finger together as an act of faith in the Holy Trinity.The remaining tow fingers symbolize the two natures of Christ. We also make the Sign of the Cross from right shoulder to left instead of left to right as in Latin Rites. This signifies the fact that Christ sits on the right hand of the Father and the Holy Spirit on the left.
I may have gotten a bit windy today with some of these explanations, but it’s hard to explain some things in a few words. Maybe tomorrow I’ll talk about some of the Byzantine traditions.