The Wedding Mystery

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True Love Is Christian Spiritual Love

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Love bears all things, it has faith for all things, it hopes in all things, it endures in all things. Love never falls in ruins.” (1 Corinthians 13 – Saint Paul the Apostle)

That is indeed true. What a great sacrament the Lord has given us, He Who is Love has endowed us with love. What beauty, what joy as Paul the Apostle says in the same epistle: “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Whoever has never known love? That feeling when your heart bursts with joy and happiness.

By God’s design, the man and the woman become one flesh, they are drawn to each other, they live together in harmony and their hearts are full of spiritual love, of true love, that is Christ lives within us.

By God’s perfect work, we are meant to be a couple, to live in love and docility.

Nothing simpler, we might say. Yes, if we knew how to give. We should give each other love the same way God has given us life. Our Savior said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Saint John Chrysostom said: “Giving to others seems a difficult thing but love makes it easy. Receiving from others seems enjoyable but love makes it infamous.”

The same saint says: “Anger gives a wild satisfaction but not to the man of love because he knows no anger. If his neighbor upsets him, he doesn’t get angry, instead he bursts into tears, prayer and beseeching… The peace and comfort felt by those who cry for the ones they love are not felt by those who laugh.”

Thusly we can see that when a beloved person makes a mistake, we bear with them, we indulge them, we put up with them and cry because we love them, that is what sacrifice means. Suffering for the other is the path to salvation. “Those who plant in tears shall harvest with shouts of joy.” (Psalm 125)

In order to see love, we must be obedient like the man born blind and have faith and hope in God because only this way our spiritual eyes will open through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The whole work of love must be blessed by the Lord, interceded by the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit that indwells our hearts when we are free of passions, when we observe the commandments by doing God’s will.

Father Arsenie Boca said: “Whom have you brought to Jesus?… You have nobody to bring to Jesus, maybe you intend to bring yourself because unless you bring yourself, you can’t bring someone else.”

The battle between our two natures takes place inside each one of us, the spirit of self-love on the one hand and the spirit of love and sacrifice for our neighbor on the other. Thusly, we must have the awareness of God’s presence, we must feel and live His presence in our lives for He is everywhere, we must turn our eyes to our Heavenly Father.

When both the man and the woman find Christ, when Christ has resurrected in the hearts of each of us, the Lord works in a mysterious way within each of us, He co-operates with us and everything is blessed by the One Who gives us everything: “Thine own of Thine own.”

Love is so beautiful, it follows us everywhere but we often ignore it. In the same manner, Jesus follows us everywhere but we ignore and neglect Him.

Saint John Chrysostom beautifully says: “Perhaps you will ask me: Doesn’t any kind of love even abstract bring joy? No, it doesn’t. It is only true love that brings pure and healthy joy. And true love is not worldly infamous love, which contains malice and vice, but Christian spiritual love, the one Saint Paul the Apostle requires of us, the one that looks after the neighbor’s interest. It was this kind of love that the apostle had when he said: Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is made to stumble and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians)

In this manner, through love we can assume our neighbor’s weaknesses and God will soothe our wounds and strengthen our weaknesses.

That is why we must pray to the Lord that our hearts are cleansed of passions and hatred and due to faith and sincerity the Lord will bestow his blessing upon the two, the man and the woman.

(George)

Translated by Claudia

A relationship must be built. Love at first sight is an exception

My 44691dears, I would like to talk a little about a subject which is quite interesting for young people: relationships and the way we build a friendship and a future family. This is the way it’s always been and this is the way it is nowadays, except that now the matter is maybe a little more serious: very many boys and very many girls are single. What is happening? Why do they keep being single when they could very well enter a relationship, or at least some of them could.

Mr. Virgiliu Gheorghe says that men nowadays have become effeminate and are no longer the strong responsible men they used to be and one of the causes is the industrialization and the increasing role of technology in our lives. While women, in their pursuit for a career, have become more masculine, taking on the responsibilities of men and becoming more aloof from family life and raising children. The situation is uncomfortable for both sides and neither feels fully fulfilled, on the contrary they go through major depression sometimes.

Men desire very feminine delicate girls who want to be protected and accept their love and protection. Unfortunately though, many girls have nurtured a self-sufficient attitude trying to prove that they are powerful and can manage on their own and that is why their strong dominating personality pushes men away.

Women desire very responsible men who are strong, aware and clearheaded. But unfortunately many guys struggle against bodily passions, they only work with the mouse and keyboard and don’t appear capable of bearing the brunt of a family. Their mind keeps wandering around and they find themselves at the age of 30 not knowing what to do with their lives.

This situation is understandable up to a point, both for girls and boys. Yet I think that out of 1000 single girls and 1000 single boys, at least a quarter of them can become friends and start to build something together.

I know, there is no accounting for taste! Girls wait for an elegant, romantic man, a problem solver, a loving man with a sense of humor who comes home early, etc. And boys wait for a beautiful passionate girl who makes a good housewife and is submissive, etc.

A dear friend of mine told me that she was waiting for the day when “she would fall in love so hard that the pillars of the sky would fall down on me”, paraphrasing Father Nicolae Tanase’s words.

I think that love at first sight and this crazy falling in love with someone is merely a great exception and by no means a rule. It is just a way for God to show us how we should get close to each other hadn’t we fallen into sin.

From my life experience, from talks I had with my friends, from what I’ve seen and heard, I can tell you that I don’t know any couples who met through love at first sight and an extraordinary attraction from the very beginning.

In most cases and this was the instance with the relationship with my wife Iulia, everything was built gradually, little by little, on the basis of a slight physical attraction. No fireworks. No major twists in our relationship. No burning with desire for each other, but slowly, increasingly better and upon an increasingly solid foundation.

Relationships must be built, they don’t come as a ready-made gift. You will never meet the ideal spouse overnight, you will only discover him/her after months or even years together when you will have realized you share the same perspective on life and a certain complementarity between the two of you, namely the key elements a family can be built on. Father Viorel from Chisinau said a few days ago: ”Make the ideal wife out of your woman! Make the ideal husband out of your man. This is what I did and I am married to the ideal wife now.”

But don’t change him/her in your own image and likeness, but according to God’s will. Always show them the mirror of God’s commands and tell them what you expect from them. Don’t try to mold them to your needs (valid or not) but in such a way that they will respond to the Lord Christ’s calling to a new life.

I’ve always pointed out to my friends that it would be a good thing both for boys and girls if they lowered their level of expectation regarding the other and started to build a relationship together. The more that time goes by, the longer the list of prejudice and expectations becomes and you find yourself at the age of 30 with nobody around you who even comes close to your mental picture, your imaginary template.

My dears, let us be more realistic.

Girls, Prince Charming will never come, trust me! I know many girls of a certain age and I can confirm this. Do accept invitations to go out for a juice from boys who don’t meet 100% of the requirements of your dream prince and you will be surprised to discover beautiful people behind your prejudice which surrounds him like a curtain.

Guys, most of the very beautiful girls are already taken and they are not easily accessible, stop dreaming of them or you’ll stay single for the rest of your lives. In addition, this kind of girls usually suffer from self-love, narcissism and one can rarely find a beautiful woman who didn’t make an idol out of her beauty. Turn your attention to girls nearer to you. You will see that you will place spiritual beauty above physical beauty in family life. What good is a beautiful woman who poisons your soul? And how delightful it is to have a simpler girl by your side but who fills your soul with joy every day.

In general, single girls past 25 start to panic, those past 30 become depressed and those past 35 feel like the battle is lost. Do everything you can right now and stop driving away the men/boys that God sends into your lives directly or indirectly.

Guys don’t panic as easily but, although they seem to manage better than girls, they suffer a lot too. In time, if they don’t get married, they fall into dark passions in the attempt to drown the sorrow of their loneliness.

My dears, I see so many single girls under 35 around me and just as many single guys. We keep complaining that God doesn’t send us the right person in our lives, but when someone shows up, we analyze them to pieces and draw the dry conclusion : “She/He is not my type!” and we leave them. After years of such endeavors we cry out to God that He is unjust and doesn’t help us. But we are not perfect and thus cannot claim perfection from others.

If we were humble like the Lord Christ urges us to be, if we saw our own mistakes and selfishness, we would cease to see so many flaws in the other person. Because the ugliness of our soul would make us see how beautiful our neighbor is. If we pursued nothing else but marriage as the purpose of each relationship since we were young, things would be very different.

Try to step out of your comfort zone! Give a chance even to the one you think is not the right person. Always talk to God in your prayer about the boy or the girl who came into your life. God’s logic often contradicts worldly logic and it might just be possible for God to have a spouse planned for you who doesn’t seem right according to your standards at the time, but who will actually prove to be the best choice in time.

Give up your prejudices! Spend time together, give the other a chance! Ask God to soften your petrified heart and be able to love the one next to you.

Theoretically, any man could love any woman provided he is connected to the Godly “source” of love. So any man could marry any woman because we are all called to love one another in a perfect way. I don’t believe in “the other half” concept, I only believe in God Who changes people’s hearts.

Please, do reconsider! There will come a time when you won’t have the same chance you have today to meet people! Overcome all the prejudices you hold against your neighbor and you will see that by changing yourself, the others around you will change as well.

If you truly want to start a family, make a sacrifice for your woman! Show her you are willing to give up a lot for her sake! Conquer her with your willingness! Communicate with her. Be persistent!

Guys, please be persistent! Girls like that. Many of those who are persistent gain time and manage to get a few face-to-face meetings when you can show her your affection.

Girls, please let guys court you. Accept them more easily without resisting them so much.

Bear with each other! We all have flaws. We all need each other.

Find out if you share the same perspective on life, if you can go in the same direction and especially if you can bear with each other’s flaws.

Start a family! Modest, small but lasting. God will come and strengthen your relationship and make it grow and bear fruit.

Get married! Have babies and you will see that the babies, the fruit of your love, will fill those gaps, those shortcomings in your family. With each new baby your family becomes stronger and your relationship more solid.

Start a family through sacrifice, modesty and humility!

(Claudiu Balan)

Translated by Claudia

 

Family or career?

958236-lgI have reached an age where I see all of my friends working very hard, working overtime, spending lots of hours in front of the computer and complaining about being tired and needing a break.

Although they work very hard they still complain they still have things to get done, that they haven’t finished the work and have to start over again the next day. Because they work so hard they have little spare time and little time to spend with their family and friends.

There is an idea circulating among the youth that you should start a family after accumulating everything you need, after you are professionally fulfilled. That means having a well paid job, a house and a car and only afterwards you may start thinking about starting a family.

This unofficial opinion makes many people sacrifice themselves by working, strive for job promotions, go from one company to another in pursuit of bigger salary, look up to 30 year old managers who own a car, a laptop and a phone and travel for work all around the world, but who don’t even have the time to stop at home.

Obviously those who reach fulfillment and have everything they want before the age of 30 are few and who can afterwards seek to start a family, while most of them remain at an average standard of living due to which they live more or less hand-to-mouth.

Waht do you do if you reach 30 and you have no house, no car, not even a great salary and yet you have worked pretty hard? Most of the friends your age have settled down, you too must do something. Who can you marry? The girls (or boys) you used to meet through various friends a few years ago have vanished, your group of friends is getting smaller, the chances to meet someone are becoming smaller. You ran after two hares and caught neither, you wanted to get rich first and get married then, but not only you didn’t get rich, but you also wasted the proper time for marriage.

There is a right time for everything in life, everything must be done at its own right time. To rejoice together with your friends and fall in love when you are young, to get married when you are still childlike. To start a family when you can adjust to them and they can adjust to you, when you have the strength to forgive them and they have the strength to understand you.

Get married young and rejoice together fighting for fulfillment. Search for happiness together, overcome obstacles together, taste everything life offers together. And even if you reach 30 without having too many possessions, still you will have each other, still you will (perhaps) have the little one. And what is the loss of not having lots of money if the two of you get along so well, what is the loss of not having fortunes if you have the little one, the most prized possession.

What is more valuable than love? What is more beautiful than a child?

(Claudiu Balan)

Translated by Claudia

Advice for Orthodox Spouses from the Archimandrite Efrem of Athos Mountain

Archim. Efrem: Orthodox spouses must be aware of the fact that both of them share with one another their sins and faults. Nevertheless, a family must be grounded on a Communion with Christ throughout the Sacred Mystery of Church- it’s very important! „What God united no man shall tear apart„. I don’t think any marriage can be created without God’s consent.

If God does not want the union of two young people, the marriage won’t take place:  either one of fiancée dies, or they split, or remain unmarried and so they never get to the holy matrimony. However, if they get there, it means that God has accepted it- the union is either on God’s will, or simply accepted. This is the reason why, knowing this, the spouses must tolerate each other and care for one another. In the evening they must talk about what happened during the day, offering explanations to avoid misunderstandings.

The husband must, by all means, prove his love to his wife in any practical way. The woman’s nature is so weak, that when she sees her husband showing any kind of amiability to another woman, her workmate, her girlfriend, envy lights up her soul. The reason is not a lustful tendency, but the love the wife has for her husband and the desire she has to have him completely. Furthermore, the woman can be jealous even on the love the husband displays towards his mother.

If you tell her: „Well, she’ s his mother, she gave birth to him, she raised him, been there for him all these years! ” she’ll answer: „Yes, he loves her more than he loves me
! ” All women answer likewise. That’ s why the husband, using tenderness, must find the button to tame the wife. Due to our lifestyle, us, the monks, do not have experience with women. But our role given by the holy Confession revealed to us many mysteries of women’s soul. Another thing which appeals to us is that, after having the first child, women want more the tender and caring side of their spouse rather than the sex related one. That’ s why the husband must be aware of this and be gentle to his wife.

The husband must never scold his wife in front of other people,  because, often, out of selfishness, husbands criticize their wives especially around relatives.

Or, when the wife calls her husband while at work, he must not blow up at her saying: ”Leave me alone, I don’t have time now”, talking to her roughly. He must answer: „Honey, I’m busy right now, but I’ll call you later”. The wife must always know her husband loves her and thinks about her every second, she must feel that in his heart she comes first. When she’ll understand and will be convinced that her husband loves her, she will willingly became the sweet ground of his feet, ready for any kind of sacrifice.

Seldom, a wife displays to her husband a childish behaviour. Many times she is capricious as a child. As her husband, you must „lower down to her level”, not despise her requests and try to satisfy them in order to keep the balance of the family. Within the family all the attention must go to the weakest limb, the woman.

If the woman does not feel her husband’s tenderness, the hole in her heart cannot be replaced neither by the love of her parents, nor of her own children. The Holy Matrimony is so important, that the lack of attention of the husband towards his wife cannot be filled not even by the love of her own children. You don’t have to keep anything apart from your wife, because it will come a time when she’ll find out about it. Tell and consult her in everything. It is not good to have your wife find out about your hidden business from relatives, co-workers or friends. Be aware that women’s nature is always suspicious, doubtful. She always doubts and asks herself: „Does my husband love me? ” and if she’ll find reasons to suspect, she’ll turn into a beast. That’s why you have to know that the only thing which can conquest her and unite the family is tenderness. The ideal husband never calls her wife by her name. After getting married, the real name of the wife has to be only „honey”. Only then the two will be really committed body and soul.

If your wife does something wrong to you, don’t reply her instantly, when you are dominated by rage, rather at night, in the bedroom, when you are alone, tell her gently: „You know, honey, today made me sad that thing you did”. And if you show her tenderness she’ll be sorry, cry and apologize.

If the husband goes somewhere and forgets to tell his wife, and she finds out from his co-workers, for instance, she will suffer such a spiritual wound that she will hardly recover from it. That’ s why, a great deal of attention is needed. If the wife feels her husband is by her side, she is capable of any kind of sacrifice. Women need a manly figure. You see, even in  convents, nuns cannot better themselves without a good confessor. Women always need male support.

So, as much as you can, pray together at home. The prayer said together unites the family. If it’s possible, in the morning pray together and in the evening attend the Compline[1].

It is advised for spouses to confess to the same confessor and attend the Sacred Mystery of Eucharist during the same Holy Liturgy and go to the same Church. These elements bring the couple very close together.

Recently came to me,  in Vatopedi, a young man who said to me: „I met a girl and soon we will get married. ” „Do you get along well? ” I asked him. „Gheronda, we get along perfectly”, he replied. „Is she religious, does she go to Church, is she orthodox? „ Gheronda, let me tell you that this is the only subject we didn’t talk about. ” „ Son”, I told him, „this is the first thing you have to clear out. If you don’t have the same spiritual ground, the same faith, then your marriage is already bound not to last!” There can be no other way. The foundation of a marriage is the road towards faith. Otherwise, everything is in vain. At Vatopedi, there’s a monk who has been married, but wasn’t going to church neither him, nor his wife. However, he once visited us and, the Holy Spirit paid him a visit, which changed him and started confessing and going to church. His wife was against it. One day she told him: „I don’t want you to go to church! Stay away from me! ” They have been married for three years. Fortunately they didn’t have children, so he packed his bags and came to the monastery. So, I want to tell you that to have a good marriage, an united family, the preliminary condition is the spiritual life.

Question: During the conference you said the monks have a different level of submission compared to laymen; so how are we to discover the right path if we don’t listen to our confessor?

Archim. Efrem: Certainly, a layman won’t have the same level of obedience as a monk must have towards his abbot, but listen to your confessor as much as you can. It’s essential the following: if a layman wants to listen to his confessor as if it were an abbot, he can do it, especially if he wishes to. The confessor, on the other hand, mustn’t claim such submission from those who confess to him. So, if anyone asks us for advice, us, the confessors, give it joyfully, but is not correct for a confessor to consider a layman to sin if not asking for his advice. Only the monk sins if he doesn’t ask for his abbot advice.

Question: I want to ask you if a layman who gets troubled at work can participate to the Holy Eucharist during Feasts.

Archim. Efrem: You have to ask your confessor for advice. It depends on whether he absolves you, on your internal state of mind, your sins. All these must be taken into consideration by your confessor and he will give you the answer.

source: www.pemptousia.ro/2012/10/sfaturi-pentru-sotii-ortodocsi-marturie-athonita-in-romania/

 Translated by Ursu Oana


[1] Final church service (or Office) of the day in the Christian tradition of canonical hours.

Marriage is like a car trip

Rivers of words have been written on the beauty and mystery of marriage and rivers of prayers have been uttered in order to defend it, yet even more rivers of tears have flown as a consequence of people’s misunderstanding of marriage, and, therefore, we shall write on this subject as well, maybe we’ll find someone along the way with ears to hear and a heart to follow this advice.

Marriage resembles the journey of two lovers who go on a trip. Before hitting the road, the two prepare their luggage in advance, so as to take along all the necessary things. The car must have its gas tank full, and should be completely functional and clean. The two love birds rest well before starting off and are joyfully planning trip essentials.

We do the same when we start going down the laborious road of marriage. Future spouses prepare themselves the best they can, they eliminate vices, get “loaded” with enthusiasm, plan everything together, because they will become one after their departure, meaning that they will be riding in the same car.

Once the destination is agreed upon, the entire beauty of the trip will depend upon the relationship between the two spouses and upon their manner of relating to the landscapes crossing their path.

Once they are thus settled and ready to go, we notice that the car has only one wheel, and therefore one driver, so only one of the two spouses can drive, otherwise, if they both tried to drive simultaneously the car would surely hit a tree or bump into other traffic participants.

God has established in the same equal manner that in marriage the man should be the head of his family and guide its members according to God’s rules. Just as the driver obeys the rules of the well-established Highway Code when being on the road with the purpose of preventing accidents, so should the man guide his family according to Christ’s “rules” to prevent endangering and troubling its members.

It seems that neither the man nor the woman understand the way in which things work in this godly arrangement. It often happens that women nowadays want to lead the way, and be a driver even though they weren’t given a family driving license. From this point on, trouble prevails.

Men also have their share in this as they wrongly understood their task, bringing more trouble into the family. They believe that being the family driver is actually a privilege when in fact being the head for your wife and family is a responsibility. They don’t understand that they will have to fully account for the way in which they have been driving, in the same way they misunderstand the great responsibility of this task assigned by Christ. Just as the driver is responsible for the lives of his passengers, so is the man responsible for his wife’s and presumable children’s salvation.

This is a great matter, even tormenting I would say. All married men will have to account at their judgment for the way in which they have led their families towards salvation. The Judge can’t be bribed and we cannot question His judgment the same way we do in this life! If your head is on your shoulders, take heed!1

Now, after finding this out, we would be tempted to believe that women’s role is minimized by comparison to men’s role, which is not at all true, because God did not leave a woman (the co-pilot) to help the man (the pilot) for nothing.

The car pilot always consults his co-pilot and they work as a team only. Every action of the pilot affects the co-pilot and vice-versa. The co-pilot holds the road map indicating the way they need to follow and guides the pilot on the right track every time guidance is needed. Thus, the wife sees that her husband doesn’t deviate from the road of salvation. And she pays attention to something else as well: that the pilot doesn’t forfeit traffic rules, endangering their lives and the car in which they are travelling and with which they have to reach their destination.

In a similar manner, the husband teams up with his wife during marriage. The wife makes sure that her husband obeys Christ’s commandments and doesn’t break them. She’s got this right and this obligation. Warnings must be delivered timely, kindly and firmly at the same time, the same way a driver must be warned in time to be allowed to take evasive maneuvers without making dangerous jolts. And the more the co-pilot is attentive and dedicated to her role, the more will the pilot drive better and safer. The better and more united they are playing, the more beautiful and safer will their journey be.

The same thing happens in marriage as well. The more the woman is dedicated to her role of wife and mother, the more will the man be a better family pilot, meaning a better husband and father. And the better they will live together, the purer, deeper and fruitful will their love be.

Another thing to bear in mind is that every time the driver breaks a traffic rule, he endangers his life as much as that of his passengers. The same happens in a family where the foolish man doesn’t abide by Christ’s commandments. He endangers his wife’s and children’s salvation. And God forbid an accident should happen, because even though all the passengers in the car are suffering, the driver is the one who will serve his sentence according to the responsibility granted to him. However, let’s mind our trip a little bit further…

Even though our travelers will encounter unpredictable obstacles on their way towards the final destination, and might even deviate from their road a little, they will enjoy many beautiful views as well, and together they will see things they would not have seen being by themselves, and they will share together all these joys meant to bring them closer. Even though the landscapes are meant to perfect their love even more through good times, and the purpose of the potholes and impossible roads is to unite them even more through worse times, yet, if there isn’t a good collaboration between the spouses, they will learn nothing from neither, turning into selfish people, and giving up others in favor of themselves.

This is why, in some families, no matter how many beautiful things God would set on spouses’ way, all the beauty of the trip is lost in fighting and hatred. Practice confirms these things because there are so many drivers who are upset with the traffic all the time, even though they were full of enthusiasm when they started driving, just as so many husbands are upset with their lives even if they were full of beautiful hopes and dreams when they started their marriage.

Curiously enough, the number of divorces multiplies with the growing number of traffic accidents. Could there be a connection between these two? We shall see.

Which are the most common causes of fatal accidents? Speed of course, failing to grant priority, driving under the influence of alcohol and drivers’ acute tiredness.

Let’s see how things are in the family plan. Divorces, meaning the fatal accidents of spouses’ love for each other, often happen because of spouses’ speed and superficiality with which they want to go through life. Another cause could be their failure to love parents, brothers, neighbours and all participants in the traffic of life, love being a priority according to Christ’s “rules.”

Other causes would be: guiding the family under the influence of passions, and last but not least fatigue … spiritual fatigue due to spouses’ chase after vanities of the world. This is how spouses lose spiritual watchfulness and land into…divorces.

However, there are drivers who happily arrive to the final destination along with their families. They are those who have followed the commandments of Christ and who have taken Him as their Deliverer in all troubles. The joy of both spouses is then increasing, according to their behaviour along the way: with patience, kindness, affection, self-sacrifice and all other branches of love. One more thing should be added here, that although the Highway Code is yet to be perfect, Christ’s laws are flawless.

The Highway Code guiding us is a simple set of laws, while Christ’s laws can be fulfilled only with Christ and near Christ, meaning we should always find a reliable help in His person. God is always by our side, in any of our trips, we only have to want to consult with him.

Marriage is similar to a car trip to the gates of Heaven. Blessed are those who have understood this! That said… have a nice trip!

A Christian marriage role model: Virgil and Petruta Maxim

Beloved young girls and boys who are planning to get married, God has prepared for each and every generation Christian family models, models of holiness that should be taken as landmarks by us, the many, and we should follow them regardless of the times we are living in. Ranging from Abraham and Sara to heavenly fathers Joachim and Anne, the thread of models to be followed continues without interruption, and will be continuing until the end of time, as the generation that will not give saints to the world will be the last. Thus, holy models are not scarce, what we lack are people willing to follow them.

Therefore, because it seems to us that models from the past were able to live according to Christianity because of the fact that they weren’t struggling with so many temptations as there are nowadays, we will bring forth a Christian marriage model from a time close to ours, yet unimaginably more difficult to live in: The model of Virgil și Petruța Maxim, husband and wife.

At first glance, the marriage of the blessed Virgil and Petruța Maxim looks like a funny countryside tale. Yet, if we search deeper into this short tale, acknowledging its connection to the live before wedding and the one after the wedding of the two main character, we will realize that the funny side of the story encompasses the most profound teachings of the sacrament of matrimony.

After going out of prison, the “student” Virgil Maxim had initially opted for the monastic life, yet as his parents were sick and as there was no one else to look after them, he did not receive the blessing from his spiritual father to enter in a monastery, and so he had to settle for the alternative of a Christian marriage.

Yet, how could he find a proper girl for marriage, as he was a mature, 43 years old man with a ruined social life? What could have been the demands of a man whose profession was that of a “student” on going out of prison? What faithful and obedient girl could Virgil Maxim have found in times when almost all the girls aged 17 or 18 years old were getting married?

It’s easy to understand that he couldn’t have found anything worthy, had it not been for God’s deep care for all those who declare their faith in Him. And behold God’s providence, visible when the time is right: a simple countryside girl, faithful, quiet, pure-heartedand wise, still waiting for a man at the age of 35, still not having lost her virginity. A girl who had kept her purity without complaining about the hormonal activity, about family pressures or time passing by. A girl who carried on as a virgin with dignity because until Virgil Maxim appeared, she didn’t find any man worthy to be her suitor, and she had only met men who had material agendas, petty figures, full of vices and wicked with passions; many like men nowadays, that is.

Even though Petruța’s demands were nothing out of the ordinary, but of the basic sort, one of her aunts would still tell her decidedly: “Darling, you can even shape him with the lathe and he will still not come out as you want!” Meaning: “girl, you’re asking too much from life, can’t you see there are no such men!? You’ll die an old maid. Just pick one and be done with it!” Yet the girl could in no way be convinced by her relatives’ persistent advice, pieces of advice which could have forced her into a failed marriage as it often happens today. And the girl endured it with patience in her 35 years of age.

What is really surprising and unexpectedly beautiful in her holy expectancy, emerges from the gift with which the young girl’s patience is rewarded, and which is far beyond her expectations. Not only was Petruța gifted with a husband who would correspond to all her demands, this man was also more beautifully shaped than her aunt could imagine; a man spiritualized by the lathe of the toughest suffering and tortures of the 20th century.

What a great reward God gives to Petruța for being unrelenting in matters of sin and compromises for a convenience marriage! He did not only prepare a non-drinking, non-smoker and non-violent man for her, but He also put aside for her a true avva of the communist prisons, a wise, kind, immensely patient man, who was hard-working and full of gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Which of the girls nowadays wouldn’t keep her virtues intact for such a man? not until turning 20, or 30, but 35 years old, with the firm resolution of keeping away from corruption and compromise even if she would not find a true man. This is how God looks after us, so that the one we cannot find, would appear in our lives when our souls are ready.

Even though Petruța was a simple countryside girl, the wisdom acquired through virtue helped her promptly reject the ill advising of the world, just as she had done until then:

Upon reading the Apostle, at the last verse “And women shall fear their men” one of her aunts, sitting behind her, whispered in her ear:

“Step on his foot! (habit according to which the man would be dominated by the woman)

Is this what you did, for that now Uncle John doesn’t stay at home? the bride observed.”

This is how this short episode taken from the marriage ceremony teaches us an important lesson: how to spiritually understand St. Apostle Paul’s words, uttered during the sacrament of matrimony. Lots of young people, especially girls nowadays are horrified by these words: “And women shall fear their men” Rivers of ink have flown so as to make people understand the sort of fear we are talking about, and rivers will flow still, yet it won’t be enough as long as young people step over the threshold of the church with a bankrupt theological culture similar to the Christian life they have lived until then. The Apostle Paul is not to blame for many brides’ and grooms’ failures in their spiritual understanding of the Holy Scripture.

This is how we learn, without any theological explanation, what happens to women who do not fear their men as the Holy Scripture teaches us: “Is this what you did, for that now Uncle John doesn’t stay at home?” Which is another way of saying: “Your man runs away from you because he feels unfulfilled seeing that you want to be in his shoes. Can’t you see that you, as a woman, would feel unfulfilled as well if the man played your part?”

In other words, when a woman doesn’t understand her role as a wife and as a mother, things turn out to be catastrophic for the entire family, just as catastrophic as the situations caused by a man who misses his vocation as a Christian husband and father. So, without theorizing the definition of fear, we can notice that if we don’t understand the roles required by the sacrament of matrimony, we will fail in our family life. And there are people who fail time and time again and still can’t understand why they have such a difficult family life: because their lives are parallel to the commandments of the God .

This was all the partying of the wedded pair: “We had a peaceful wedding, at home.” In other words, the happy pair’s devotion should give us much food for thought. It is not the home wedding that stands for their devotion, but the peacefulness of it; devoid of the noisiness of sin: no white doves, a symbol of purity, when in fact the couple had lived in adultery; no musicians, no oratorical staged performances or other pompous surprises of a “successful” wedding that crumbles with age.

And here’s another lesson: the deeply spiritualized groom gives to his bride a cross he had carved in prison, a sign of unified sacrifice reflecting what the sacrament of marriage represents: a permanent unified sanctification, in joy, and especially in sorrow; the cross of life carried on the wings of love between a man and a woman.

While young grooms and brides today only think of an easy life, with travels through foreign countries, with all things necessary in the household, and brilliant careers, we get slapped hard by this example of spiritual Christian marriage: “You might have to suffer, being by my side. We will have to carry the cross of life together. Do not be deceived by the fact that I am a teacher now, because tomorrow I might have to dig out cesspools.”

And because God loved the groom who confessed his faith in exchange of his youth and life, the groom receives the proper response from the wife that God had put aside for him and who measures up to his merits as a man:

“Even if I’ll have to look after cows, I will be with you and I will not leave you! We will get along together as one gets along with one’s soul.”

That is, no airs, no crying, no sniveling because of a difficult life, but commitment, shared sacrifice for life, no matter how hard it would be. Petruța Maxim followed God’s beloved man throughout all the tests that have strayed over them: Security baffles, disease, poverty, and many more. All of these things made them feel even more united, helping them perfect their love towards one another and their love towards God. And because Petruța Maxim followed Virgil Maxim, the witness, she is a happy witness just like all mothers and wives of witnesses in communist prisons.

I think the most important lesson we have to learn from these happy witnesses, is this one: a Christian marriage is a “Hymn to the carried cross” and so should be all marriages of practicing Christians: hymns of praise dedicated to God.

Convenience marriages

The need to love and to be loved is in fact the need of a person for another. Yet, what happens if that person marries you for the material things you have to offer only?

Today I suggest we address an issue preoccupying young people, men and women alike. We often see couples who’ve got all the material comfort before getting married. It’s not a bad thing at all, but “where from?” one may wonder, considering the times we are living in. There must surely be an explanation: parents’ financial support.

I’m not saying that parents shouldn’t help their children, but to me it doesn’t seem fair that a young person with both arms and legs should wait upon their support all their lives. When not receiving a really consistent help from our parents, many of us turn, out of commodity towards a “marriage with advantages.”

I have seen this sort of cases around me, with young ladies giving up a long term love story only too easily, and who got married to guys who were “recommended” to them by their parents, or just guys they met themselves, upon frequenting all sorts of places where money made the rules. A guy has a girlfriend, they fall in love, and all of the sudden she disappears and marries someone else within a week. Lies have spread up to this level.

Perhaps in nowadays society love is no longer the sole reason that could bind two souls together in the holy sacrament of matrimony. For the most pragmatic of us, possessing a house and a car is enough to ensure happiness. God, how they are deluding themselves! Marriage is everything but a child’s game, and if there is no real love between the spouses, that union will not even take place or it won’t last and they will end up living their lives through lies. Do you want that for yourself? If you do, you can’t imagine how terrible it is. Solitude in company awaits…

We should each have our life principles, which are the effect of our education or our own ideas concerning our expectations in life. I have chosen a marriage with no financial implications, grounding my choice on the idea: neither of us has anything, let’s work together to gain it. And believe me, satisfaction measures up to it. With a peaceful heart upon looking back we say that everything we own, we have worked for it together. I know you cannot have it all at once. Yet, with patience and plenty of work, one manages to have almost everything. The most important thing is to have one another. It’s not a shame to pay rent till you manage to buy a place, or to travel by bus because you don’t have a car. All of this can be bought in time, this is why I don’t believe that losing your soul and your opportunity for happiness and redemption by accepting the compromise of a convenience marriage are necessary.

We should be the ones to choose the people with whom we are to share the good and the bad, not our mother or father. What’s worse is that money decides it for us. Because this way, without knowing or realizing it, we are selling our soul to the devil, who loves money. And we end up not knowing who we are, desperately trying to fill in the gap with objects that can be bought with money. Because we chose money…

Another problem I’m noticing is that we avoid work. Especially those of us who have the power to do so. We graduate from college and dream about fabulous salaries. If we don’t receive amounts as high as our cleverness, we don’t bother to work for less than that. And then, out of complacency, we look for a girlfriend or boyfriend with money. As if the money was yours! To me it’s embarrassing to ask for money from someone else in order to cover my  expenses. For some people, this might not be such big a deal. But I’m wondering how they are feeling…I think it would be way simpler to use your own wallet to pay the restaurant bill. You’ll feel satisfied with your work, and your conscience will be at peace. Plus, it’s a nice gesture.

The Holy Bible talks about the fact of being one body. How do you think such a unity could be possible if there is no love between the spouses? Comfort and travelling abroad are consoling for a while, yet there are plenty of times when you’re left alone with stuff and you realize the person in front of you is a stranger. Or, you’re sick and there is no one to offer you a glass of water, because she / he doesn’t care about you and the only thing left is to call your mother, or direct reproaches towards those who told you that she / he’s “the best catch ever.” Nobody cares anyway, because you’re living with him/her under the same roof.

I don’t want to seem mean or offend anyone. Far from me the thought! The only thing I want is for you to see with your mind’s eyes the reality we live in. Let us not burden our conscience with this sin. Don’t delude yourselves, because joy resides within the smallest of things…

(Gabriela Tudor)

The “modern couple” and the Sacrament of Matrimony

He and she as a modern couple

He and She are living in the apartment above mine. A strange pair, many would say. Victims of the society in which we are living, others would say.

He is a guy arround 30 years. She is a fairly young girl, but I won’t dare approximate her age, because we, women, rarely show it. They are both working. They have been living together for at least 3 years. For a long time I thought they were married. Sometimes they are leaving together really early. On other occasions they leave separately, or he doesn’t leave at all. They come back home really late, they are both managers. Nonetheless, what strikes me about them is their attitude towards one another: they are either fighting, or talking about work. I have never seen them smiling warmly to each other, or saying nice things to one another. I haven’t seen them sharing a quick good-bye kiss.

Sometimes they go out in the evening. Her hair is carefully arranged, his suits are impeccable. On the way from the stairs to the car they usually talk on the phone. Not with each other, of course.

I saw them in the pizzeria across the street today. They were sitting at a more secluded table. There was no way for me to avoid hearing her explain to him how she met a colleague at work…I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how long will it be until her relationship with that colleague of hers will end up just like Her relationship with Him.

He and she in the Sacrament of Matrimony

Marriage is a God-blessed covenant between two people who love one another spiritually, but most importantly, they love Christ and want Him to be close to them always. Marriage is a religious sacrament, a spiritual connection, one body, and a beautiful friendship. This sacrament has Christ in its middle and the Mother of God is its Guardian and Holy Protector.

…She is praying for him, and feels protected, loved, and beautiful near him. She knows that the Mother of God brought them together…she prayed a lot, now she’s happy. A beautiful friendship connects them, they know each other’s soul quite well and they look each other in the eye sincerely when they are talking. He is tender, helps her every time with the household, with college projects…He is busy as well, but that doesn’t prevent him from helping his beloved wife.

He thanks the Good Lord in the morning for a new sunny day and thinks about bringing her a small present. They always cook together…She surprises him from time to time, with a chocolate cake, it’s not perfect, but it’s got lots of love. Christ smiles to them…

He admires her, looks at her delicately with innocent eyes, looks at the mother of his children, kisses her little hands…She sees a strong man when looking at him, always irons his shirt when he’s going to work, loves his parents…she feels elegant, childlike, feminine by his side…They think at one another during the day, and put a prayer towards the Mother of God in their thought to always love each other and have children with beautiful souls…

Together, they are gladly helping others, they have friends, they go out, go to the movies, go for a walk in the park. Together they go to the Church, confess their sins and ask for one another’s forgiveness when they make mistakes. They visit monasteries, take pictures, smile to each other, help people who need support, enjoy the sun, the flowers, the entire nature. They are tolerant and don’t get mad with each other.

Together they take care of one another and of their family through prayer, they become godparents for other young people, gladly take part in little angels’ baptisms, they enjoy dancing, being of any help.

Together with Christ they become One…the Mother of God protects them because They have listened to Her in turn. On Sundays, He invites her to take a stroll with him, or they go to the theatre, or stay at home and watch a movie. He talks to her about God, she listens with quiet eyes. On her birthday He buys her a dress and she is as happy as a child. She kisses him tenderly and gives him a sweet embrace…

He finds her to be feminine and sensitive, strong, confident…When they sleep, he protects her, and takes her in his arms every time she needs it. She is good towards Him, supports him unconditionally, she’s patient and listens to him whenever he’s upset. She becomes the shoulder on which he relies when he’s unwell. This is why he protects her and thanks the Good Lord for His gift. They both know that their love is grounded on a beautiful friendship, on respect and on God’s love.

And, one morning…holding a white flower…She whispers to him that their love has taken a material form, and they are going to be good parents and teach God’s love to their child all the way. She becomes a mother, he becomes a father…

…and the Mother of God blesses them with lots of love!

(Oana)

Spiritual advice before getting married

Someone entered our site searching for „Spiritual advice before getting married”. We will try to give some tips from our family experience.

  • Firstly, you can’t have a happy marriage without God. Christ, the Lord, is the One who reconciles the man and the woman everyday in understanding, and helps them in their weaknesses. No matter how great is love between spouses, problems will still arise because we all sin and the devil worms himself to confuse things. So, all that you build up together, build up in God and with His help.

  • The base on wich you will bild up your family life, as a mystery of God, is the Christian marriage with all that involves a marriage.

  • Pray one for another every night to God, saying: „Help me, Lord, to love and make me understand Andrew and make him love me too. Help us to understand each other and not to quarrel. Redeem us, Lord, and help us to love all people.” Pray with simple words, just pray for each other. When you see he’s wrong, tell him, but don’t insist. Go, pray for him and you’ll feel immediately how he changes.

  • Go together to the Liturgy, confess your sins as often as you have the possibility to the father confessor (it is very important to have the same father confessor), receive the Eucharist and pray together.

  • Keep your intimacy without others see the problems and weaknesses that are normal for every couple. As the proverb says: „Wash your dirty linen at home” without parents even know it, because they are subjective and they will complicate things more than to solve them.

  • Be wise and respectful; when you see your spouse angry or enraged, don’t stand in her/his way, let her/him to settle and then talk together. When there are arguments, use a joke or change the subject to avoid contradictions.

  • Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Strive hard to forgive and to make it up before the end of the day, before bedtime. All difficulties can be overcome with patience and gentleness.

  • Do not try to change the one besides you, change yourself first. For example, I tried to make my wife to pray more, although I told her for many times, she did as she wanted. The solution is to start praying more and then she will see me and will change herself. In the same time, I pray to God to give her the good thought. Only God can change one’s heart.

  • Do together as many things as you can.

  • One of the biggest mistakes in a marriage is to gossip about spouse’s relatives, especially about parents. Slander leads to big quarrels, and in the future you’ll suffer the consequences. Certainly, there will appear tense situations about relatives, because of different lifestyle and temperaments. Accept and respect your wife’s relatives in the same way that you want your relatives to be respected and accepted. The best way is not to slander her/his parents, but to forgive. If you will avoid this, you will have a happy marriage.

  • Do not put your parents above your husband because: „For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

  • Be aware that there will appear cold and boring moments, but God and Mother of God can bring peace and love again, just ask for it.

  • Do not speak evil of your husband (wife) in discussions with others, because it’s like talking bad about you, and doing so you will feel the effect of evil that you wear in your heart first time your eyes will meet your beloved.

  • Do not abstain to have children because they will make you love more one another.

  • Your love should reflect to everyone.

Tips can go on forever but all can be concluded with our Saviour’s words: “As you would that people should do to you, do ye also unto them!”

(Claudiu)