HAVE FAITH – ORTHODOXY
Marriage: The Great Sacrament
Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery,
Holy Mount Athos, Greece
On (June 25 / July 8), the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Saints Peter and Febronius, and the nation celebrates an official “Day of “Family, Love, and Faithfulness.” To honor the day, we have posted a classic homily on this theme by Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra, Mount Athos from the website, Orthodox Christian Information Center. Fr. Aimilianos gives excellent advice not only to young people thinking about marriage, but also to married couples, who are carrying their saving cross in life, travelling together as one body to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Nobody would dispute that the most important day in a person’s life, after his birth and baptism, is that of his marriage. It is no surprise, then, that the aim of contemporary worldly and institutional upheavals is precisely to crush the most honorable and sacred mystery of marriage. For many people, marriage is an opportunity for pleasures and amusements. Life, however, is a serious affair. It is a spiritual struggle, a progression toward a goal—heaven. The most crucial juncture, and the most important means, of this progression is marriage. It is not permissible for anyone to avoid the bonds of marriage, whether he concludes a mystical marriage by devoting himself to God, or whether he concludes a sacramental one with a spouse.
Today we will concern ourselves primarily with sacramental marriage. We will consider how marriage can contribute to our spiritual life, in order to continue the theme of our previous talk. We know that marriage is an institution established by God. It is “honorable” (Heb 13.4). It is a “great mystery” (Eph 5.32). An unmarried person passes through life and leaves it; but a married person lives and experiences life to the full.
One wonders what people today think about the sacred institution of marriage, this “great mystery”, blessed by our Church. They marry, and it’s as if two checking accounts or two business interests were being merged. Two people are united without ideals, two zeros, you could say. Because people without ideals, without quests, are nothing more than zeros. “I married in order to live my life”, you hear people say, “and not to be shut inside four walls”. “I married to enjoy my life”, they say, and then they hand over their children—if they have children—to some strange woman so they can run off to the theater, the movies, or to some other worldly gathering. And so their houses become hotels to which they return in the evening, or, rather, after midnight, after they’ve had their fun and need to rest. Such people are empty inside, and so in their homes they feel a real void. They find no gratification there, and thus they rush and slide from here to there, in order to find their happiness.
They marry without knowledge, without a sense of responsibility, or simply because they wish to get married, or because they think they must in order to be good members of society. But what is the result? We see it every day. The shipwrecks of marriage are familiar to all of us. A worldly marriage, as it is Continue reading “Marriage: The Great Sacrament – Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery, Holy Mount Athos, Greece”