Marriage as Christian Vocation

“Accordingly, Orthodox Christianity views marriage as essentially a Christian vocation, a union in and with Christ. The ultimate end of that vocation is the same as that of monasticism: theosis or eternal participation in the life of God. Like monasticism, Christian marriage requires a continual askesis: a spiritual struggle, grounded in ongoing repentance. In Yannaras’s words, ‘True virginity and true marriage are reached by a common road: the self-denial of the cross, and ascetic self-offering.’ This Way of the Cross is symbolized in the Orthodox marriage ceremony by the nuptial crowns, which are crowns of victory but also crowns of martyrdom, of saving witness one to the other and to the world. ‘O Holy Martyrs,’ the Church sings during the nuptial procession, ‘who have fought the good fight and have received your crowns, entreat ye the Lord that he will have mercy on our souls!’  […]

Ultimately its purpose is to lead beyond the experience of the flesh and to center wholly on God. Erotic love has as it telos, its end and fulfillment, the love of genuine eros. This is a love no less passionate, yet no less self-denying and self-transcending, than human conjugal love at its most pure and most perfect. It is a love that responds to God’s prior love (cf. 1 Jn 4:10). It is the deepest movement of the soul, impossible for us to produce or sustain. Rather, it is initiated and maintained by the passionate love of God, acting within the human soul or totality of the human person. ‘God is love,’ the apostle declares.” (John Breck, The Sacred Gift of Life, pp 69, 74)

Sts. Joachim & Anna
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