Volume 1 No. 21 September 1, 2011 If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
With this issue, we are starting a
special vigil for the Nativity of Virgin Mary, Mother of God, on
September 8. Between September 1 and September 8 we will have
special editions of Malankara World Journal with a special
supplement of the Journal on September 8.
In today's edition Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Mani Rajan Corepiscopos, a member of the Board of Malankara World, introduces St. Mary, Mother of God from the Orthodox point of view. We also have a history of the term Theotokos explained by a well known Marian expert, Late Fr. O'Carroll of Catholic Church.
We continue with Lesson 2 of the Book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. Today's lesson is titled, 'In Spirit and Truth' Or The True Worshippers. It is based on John 4:24: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." We also have 'Prayer Of The Mind' by Mother Angelica excerpted from her book, Living Prayers.
In the Family section, an article by Dr. Joe McKeever titled "Marriage will sustain your love" discusses the importance of the commitment to the success of marriage.
This Sunday's gospel reading is St. Matthew 17: 22-27. Jesus talks to the disciples about his upcoming passion, death and resurrection. "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up." Notice the way that Jesus refers to Himself. He calls Himself "the Son of Man." I always wondered why Jesus was referring himself as 'son of man' as opposed to 'son of God.' Researching this further, 'son of man' is a name that every Jewish person would have understood as greatly significant.
'The Son of Man' is an Old Testament name for the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ. It expresses His rule over mankind as the new 'Adam' - the Head of the human race. It's a name that has its origin in Daniel 7:13 where we read of Daniel's vision of the program of God for the redemption of mankind. That vision gives us a picture of the Messiah as He assumes His glorious reign over the kingdoms of the world.
The other portion of the Gospel gives us another illustration of Divine Love. When Jesus and disciples came to Capernaum, those who collected the temple tax came to Peter and asked him, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes"." All men between the ages of 20 and 50 were to support the upkeep of the temple through the two-drachma tax paid every year. It amounted to two days wages for the normal worker. The practice began with Moses as instituted in Exodus 30:11-16, and was to be given regardless of one's financial status. The rich and poor paid the same amount for ensuring that the temple and its ongoing work would be supported. Because Jesus was the Son of God, he did not have to pay temple tax at all. However, Jesus paid the tax 'so that he did not give offense to the tax collectors.' (Matthew 17:27a). For Jesus, everybody is God’s child. Jesus loved God and loved God’s people. He made the decision to pay temple tax out of love.
Jesus used this occasion as a teaching tool. Jesus commanded Peter to go out and catch a fish. When Peter opened the mouth of the fish he found a coin. Jesus wanted to use the coin to pay tax 'for Jesus and for Peter.' (Matthew 17: 27f). He paid the tax for Peter also. In that way, Jesus showed that we should share what we have with others if we want to proclaim that God is the King. Jesus shares his vision of the Kingdom of God, a community of love where everybody feels to be loved and respected. More analysis, commentary and sermons based on this week's Gospel Lesson can be found at:
This Sunday in Church
Third Sunday after Shunoyo (The Assumption of St. Mary)
Before Holy Qurbana
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.
Sermons for the Third Sunday After Shunoyo
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
Oh, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, may your name be a source of blessing. May you answer the prayers of those, close and others far away. May you heal the sick and beseech (your son) to give courage to the oppressed. May you expel the evil within those tormented. May the power of your intercessory prayers have mercy on us, hallelujah, and may your prayer support us.
Monday night prayer in Syriac
I would like to say, humbly, to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: turn towards Mary! Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sick and for life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.
Pope Benedict XVI
Virgin Mary is the Mother who intercedes for all: for souls thirsting for God and for those who are groping in the darkness of doubt and disbelief for those who are suffering in body or tried in spirit, for those who yield to the attraction of sin and for those who are struggling to escape its clutches. Her motherly concern overlooks no one.
Pope John Paul II
Throughout the Gospel traditions, Mary has always been identified as the 'mother of Jesus.' This definition of Mary's motherhood is without question and, on its most basic level, suggests a powerful relationship between Mary and Jesus, and His ministry.
Dr. John Roskoski
Hail Mary Theotókos, venerable treasure of the whole world, star
who never sets, crown of virginity, scepter of the orthodox law,
indestructible Mother and Virgin, for the sake of the one who is
called 'blessed' in the holy Gospels, the one who "comes in the
name of the Lord."
Hail Mary Theotókos, venerable treasure of the whole world, star who never sets, crown of virginity, scepter of the orthodox law, indestructible Mother and Virgin, for the sake of the one who is called 'blessed' in the holy Gospels, the one who "comes in the name of the Lord."
St. Cyril of Alexandria
by Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Mani Rajan Corepiscopo, Malankara World Board Member
Mary was born in B. C. 14 in the little Galilean village of Nazareth to a holy couple Joachim and Ann of the royal race of David. They were already far advanced in age and had almost ceased to hope that God would bless them with a child. Their long-felt desire was gratified by the birth of Mary, the chosen one of Adam's race.
Joachim was the second son of Eleazar of the tribe of Juda and the race of David. Ann (Deena) is of the tribe of Levi and the race of Aron. Joachim is also known as Yunochir or Heli (Abdul Ahad, 1948).
The gospels refer to Joseph to whom Mary was betrothed as the son of Jacob (Mathew 1:16) and the son of Heli. The genealogy of Joseph makes it evident that Joseph is the grandson of Matthan (Mathew 1:15-16; Luke 3:24). One explanation of the above reference to Joseph as the son of Jacob and Heli is that Joseph is the son of Jacob by birth and Joseph is the son-in-law of Heli (Heli's daughter Mary is betrothed to Joseph). This genealogical analysis is available in Abdul Ahad (1948). However, the Orthodox study Bible (1993) advances another possibility. There was a law (Deut. 25:5,6) that the brother of a man who died without a child should marry the wife of the deceased and raise up an heir for his brother. The most likely explanation is that Jacob and Heli were born of the same mother, but of different fathers. When Heli died after a childless marriage, his brother Jacob married the widow, who became the mother of Joseph. Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth. He had seven children. James, Joses, Judas and Simon are referred to as brothers of Jesus Christ (Mark 6:3).
Mary was given to the Jerusalem temple at the age of three in accordance with a vow. Until the age of thirteen Mary helped in the church by stitching the vestments and preparing the accoutrements. It was customary that children beyond the age of thirteen were not allowed to stay in the church. Thus, Mary was entrusted to the care of Joseph of Nazareth.
Mary appears in the New Testament first when the Angel Gabriel announces the message of the favour of God (Luke 1: 28). Then Mary is seen, when Jesus was dedicated in the Jerusalem temple for naming (Luke 2:21-22), when they went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-42), at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1), when a multitude was listening to Jesus (Mark 2:31), at the cross of Jesus (John 19:25) and when Mary together with disciples (Acts 1:14) was praying in the upper room (St. Mark, Jerusalem). The role and virtues of St. Mary, the Mother of God, can be gauged from these verses in the Bible.
All Christians accept St. Mary as a model to emulate. The early Church at Jerusalem had a close association with St. Mary. Protestant theologians content that Mary was a passive instrument in the salvific act of Jesus Christ. However, St. Mary was not timidly submissive for she had the free will to choose. This is evident from her response: "Let it be to me according to your word"ť (Luke 1:38). There is another argument that Mary became the Mother of God 'only by grace' (sola gratia). This would suggest that God unilaterally imposed the mission on her. It would again go against the basic theological teaching of free will. St. Paul suggests the need for meaningful response to the divine call as is evident in the following verses. "We beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted"ť (2 Cor 6:1). "Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation" (Phil. 2:12).
There is an important role for St. Mary in the redemption of mankind. However, the Catholic and Protestant Churches occupy the opposite poles on this matter. The Catholic Church goes to the extent qualifying St. Mary as corredemptrix (Macquarrie, 1991). This term projects St. Mary to have an equal status in the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. The Protestant Church considers Mary as a lady used for Jesus to take flesh from, which was possible for any woman (Genesis 3:15; Gal 4:4). The Syriac Orthodox Church qualifies St. Mary with different names, which are indicators of the theological teachings about her. Perpetual virgin (Yacoub III, 1985), Mother of God (Cayre, 1935), Mother of Church (Bernard, 1960), first among the saints and the second Eve are a few of the qualifications. The teachings of Patriarch Severios of Antioch and that of Philoxinos of Mabbug are relevant in understanding the concepts about St. Mary.
The Syriac Orthodox Church does not accept the immaculate conception of St. Mary as declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854. In contrast, Mary was born with the original sin. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive"ť (1 Cor. 15:22). "Therefore, just as through one man's sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all man, because all sinned"ť (Rom 3:23; Rom. 5:12). 'All'ť refers to mankind and it will be reasonable to include St. Mary in the group. The concluding prayer of the holy Qurbono after the final blessing includes St. Mary for whom the sacrifice was made.
The New Testament is silent about the life of St. Mary after Pentacost. Some writers content that she lived with John, the disciple, as entrusted by Jesus Christ at the cross (John 19:25-27). A few suggest that she spent the rest of her life at Ephesus and died in A. D. 66? However, Abdul Ahad (1948) suggests that St. Mary lived only for five years after the ascension of Our Lord and died at Jerusalem at the age of fifty-one. The body of St. Mary was wrapped in linen cloths used for the burial of Jesus and buried in the Gethsemane. After that St. Mary was taken to paradise with her body in the company of angels and saints. The intercession of St. Mary is a basic tenet of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
There are seven feasts in the intercession of St. Mary.
1. January 15 - for seeds
2. March 25 - Annunciation to St. Mary
3. May 15 - for crops
4. June 15 - Dedication of the first church in honour of St. Mary
5. August 15 - Assumption of the Blessed Mary
6. September 8 - Birth of Virgin Mary
7. December 26 - Glorification of Virgin Mary.
by Fr. O'Carroll
Theotókos (a Greek word meaning God-bearer) is the ancient Eastern title for Mary, Mother of God, prominent especially in liturgical prayer in the Orient down to our time (1). It was formally sanctioned at the Council of Ephesus (2). It makes into one word the Lucan title "Mother of the Lord" (1:43) with 2:12, where Lord is taken in a transcendent sense; it is the counterpart of John’s "the Word was made flesh" (1:14). From the second century, Mary’s Son was called God by the Fathers; a Christian interpolation in a Jewish book of the Sibylline oracles reads "a young maiden will bear the Logos of the highest God." The precise origin in time of the word itself is difficult to establish. It is attested by a unique piece of evidence: the papyrus fragment in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, on which, in the vocative case, it is clearly discernible (3). If this papyrus can be dated in the third century, the title must have existed for some time, possibly a generation, before. A word of such significance would not be invented in a popular prayer.
Since Egypt was the homeland, Christian thinking, or verbal composition, may have been influenced by the existence of the title "Mother of god" for Isis in regard to Orus; the adaptation was possibly first made in Coptic. The differences between Mary and Isis were well clarified: she was "the handmaid of the Lord," the chaste virgin whose Son was true God and true man, whereas Isis was seen as a goddess, one who conceived her son in passion, entirely removed from the mysterious destiny of the Incarnation.
Texts from Hippolytus of Rome and Origen showing Theotokos are controverted, and at present the first certain literary use of the title is attributed to Alexander of Alexandria in 325 (4). Thereafter it is found widely, especially with St. Athanasius and the Alexandrians, in Palestine with Eusebius of Caeserea and Cyril of Jerusalem, with the three Cappadocians, with Eustathius of Antioch and the Council of Antioch in 341, Apollinarius of Laodicea, Diodorus of Tarsus, Severian of Gabala—even Arians like Asterius the Sophist used it.
Source: This article is excerpted from 'Theotokos: A Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary', Michael Glazier Inc., 1983.
(1) Cf. V. Schweitzer, "Alter des Titels Theotokos," Der Katholik, 28 (1903), 97-113; Cl. Diltenschneider, C.SS.R., Le sens chrétien et la maternité divine de Marie au IVe et Ve sičcles (Bruges, Beyaert, 1929); G. Jouassard, Maria, I, 85-86, 122-36; A. Grillmeier, S.J., Christ in Christian Tradition (London, 1965), 73-74, 244; G. Giamberardini, O.F.M., Il culto mariano in Egitto nei primi sei secoli: Origine-Sviluppo-Cause (Cairo, 1967), ch. 6, art 4; id., "II ‘Sub tuum praesidium’ e il titolo ‘Theotokos’ nella tradizione egiziana," MM 31 (1969), (6. L’Origine del titolo ‘Theotokos’) 350-58; id., "Nomi e titoli mariani," EphMar 23 (1973), (5. Madre di Dio) 214-17; R. Laurentin, Traité, V, 170-71; R.H. Fuller, "New Testament roots to the Theotokos," MSt 29 (1978), 46-68.
(2) See O’Carroll’s entry on St. Cyril of Alexandria.
(3) See O’Carroll’s entry on the Sub Tuum Praesidium.
(4) PG 18, 568 C.
Lesson 2: 'In Spirit and Truth' Or The True Worshippers
|[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]|
The Son has come to open the way for this worship in spirit and in truth, and teach it us.
These words of Jesus to the woman of Samaria are His first recorded teaching on the subject of prayer. They give us some wonderful first glimpses into the world of prayer. The Father seeks worshippers: our worship satisfies His loving heart and is a joy to Him. He seeks true worshippers, but finds many not such as He would have them. True worship is that which is in spirit and truth. The Son has come to open the way for this worship in spirit and in truth, and teach it us. And so one of our first lessons in the school of prayer must be to understand what it is to pray in spirit and in truth, and to know how we can attain to it.
Jesus says, 'The hour is coming, and now is;' it is only in and through Him that the worship of God will be in spirit and truth.
To the woman of Samaria our Lord spoke of a threefold worship. There is first, the ignorant worship of the Samaritans: 'Ye worship that which ye know not.' The second, the intelligent worship of the Jew, having the true knowledge of God: 'We worship that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews.' And then the new, the spiritual worship which He Himself has come to introduce: 'The hour is coming, and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.' From the connection it is evident that the words 'in spirit and truth' do not mean, as if often thought, earnestly, from the heart, in sincerity.
The Samaritans had the five books of Moses and some knowledge of God; there was doubtless more than one among them who honestly and earnestly sought God in prayer. The Jews had the true full revelation of God in His word, as thus far given; there were among them godly men, who called upon God with their whole heart. And yet not 'in spirit and truth,' in the full meaning of the words. Jesus says, 'The hour is coming, and now is;' it is only in and through Him that the worship of God will be in spirit and truth.
The man who would truly worship God, would find and know and possess and enjoy God, must be in harmony with Him, must have the capacity for receiving Him.
Among Christians one still finds the three classes of worshippers. Some who in their ignorance hardly know what they ask: they pray earnestly, and yet receive but little. Others there are, who have more correct knowledge, who try to pray with all their mind and heart, and often pray most earnestly, and yet do not attain to the full blessedness of worship in spirit and truth. It is into this third class we must ask our Lord Jesus to take us; we must be taught of Him how to worship in spirit and truth. This alone is spiritual worship; this makes us worshippers such as the Father seeks. In prayer everything will depend on our understanding well and practicing the worship in spirit and truth.
'God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and truth.' The first thought suggested here by the Master is that there must be harmony between God and His worshippers; such as God is, must His worship be. This is according to a principle which prevails throughout the universe: we look for correspondence between an object and the organ to which it reveals or yields itself. The eye has an inner fitness for the light, the ear for sound. The man who would truly worship God, would find and know and possess and enjoy God, must be in harmony with Him, must have the capacity for receiving Him. Because God is Spirit, we must worship in spirit. As God is, so His worshipper.
...so His worship would henceforth no longer be confined by place or form, but spiritual as God Himself is spiritual.
And what does this mean? The woman had asked our Lord whether Samaria or Jerusalem was the true place of worship. He answers that henceforth worship is no longer to be limited to a certain place: 'Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.' As God is Spirit, not bound by space or time, but in His infinite perfection always and everywhere the same, so His worship would henceforth no longer be confined by place or form, but spiritual as God Himself is spiritual. A lesson of deep importance.
How much our Christianity suffers from this, that it is confined to certain times and places. A man, who seeks to pray earnestly in the church or in the closet, spends the greater part of the week or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with that in which he prayed. His worship was the work of a fixed place or hour, not of his whole being. God is a Spirit: He is the Everlasting and Unchangeable One; what He is, He is always and in truth. Our worship must even so be in spirit and truth: His worship must be the spirit of our life; our life must be worship in spirit as God is Spirit.
The second thought that comes to us is that the worship in the spirit must come from God Himself.
'God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.' The second thought that comes to us is that the worship in the spirit must come from God Himself. God is Spirit: He alone has Spirit to give. It was for this He sent His Son, to fit us for such spiritual worship, by giving us the Holy Spirit. It is of His own work that Jesus speaks when He says twice, 'The hour cometh,' and then adds, 'and is now.'
He came to baptize with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit could not stream forth till He was glorified (John 1:33; 7:37,38; 16:7). It was when He had made an end of sin, and entering into the Holiest of all with His blood, had there on our behalf received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33), that He could send Him down to us as the Spirit of the Father. It was when Christ had redeemed us, and we in Him had received the position of children, that the Father sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry, 'Abba, Father.' The worship in spirit is the worship of the Father in the Spirit of Christ , the Spirit of Sonship.
by Mother M. Angelica
The first Christians soon learned that there were many ways of expressing themselves to God. There were times they spoke to God about His Beauty—or their needs—and that was conversational Prayer.
They spoke to Him silently in their thoughts and as they did they realized He answered them—by thought.
Many times they were afraid as they were hunted like animals—and that very fear reached up to God for help. It was at times like these they felt a surge of courage revive their spirits, and the words of Jesus would run through their minds. They wondered why they had been so afraid and realized God had spoken to them and His Word was proven by power.
There were other times they had to fight the enemy within and they realized they needed mental discipline to control the spiritual faculties that caused such havoc in their souls.
They would quiet their minds by using their memories to recall some incident in the life of Jesus. This effort calmed that faculty of any resentment that might be deposited there. To insure their thought of Jesus taking hold, they would use their imagination to picture the scene and suddenly it was as if they were really there. They would feel the sentiments of His Heart in that situation and begin to apply them to themselves.
The first Christians' Prayer of Imitation gave them the necessary drive to bring about in their mind and will the desire to be like Jesus in everything. In order to prepare their hearts for this transformation, they read and reread everything that related to Jesus and His Personality.
In order to perfect their own personalities and bring out those qualities that were buried by sin, weakness and imperfections, the Christians had to keep their eyes, mind and heart on the Divine Model. They had seen other imperfect men like Peter, Paul, James and John develop within themselves qualities of soul that astounded the world. They seemed to be born again, full of joy, in control of themselves and unhampered by the cares of the world. They realized the foundation of their actions was their thoughts and so they began to fill their minds with a mental concept of Jesus that wove itself into every situation and brought to their minds a pattern and parallel between themselves and Him.
Because they loved Him, this effort was never forced or strained. It was the natural consequence of a deep love—a love that made the parties involved—one.
When they heard or read of Jesus "feeling sorry" for a crowd of people, they were not satisfied with thinking about the scene to contemplate His compassion, they entered into His Spirit and began to "feel as He felt.
Had He not put His Spirit into them when they were baptized? Were they not called upon to follow Him as faithful disciples? Well then, they would cooperate with that Spirit and act accordingly. His compassion for sinners would be theirs and they would develop the Gifts given to them by using every situation to grow into His image.
Their minds had to "think like Jesus." Their hearts had to "feel" like Jesus. Their voices had to spread the Good News about Jesus.
When they were tempted to anger or to cursing, they would immediately think of Jesus as He stood before His enemies in calm serenity. Their contemplation looked beyond the "thinking" stage. Their imagination pictured Jesus in perfect self-control, and their hearts responded by doing the same as He did.
by Marco Tosatti
A consolidated axiom, or so it seems, is that the more a person becomes educated, the more likely it is that he will question his religious beliefs, stop going to church, or even come to completely abandon his faith. But perhaps it is not quite so. At least according to what some United States scholars say.
A new study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln challenges this belief, as old as the world, and states, based on scientific evidence, that education has a positive effect on the behavior of Americans who normally go to church. A positive effect on their devotional practices, the emphasis placed on religion in their daily lives and their support for religious leaders.
The study, which will be published in the next issue of 'The Review of Religious Research' analyzed a sample at the national level. There were a thousand respondents in a survey by General Social Survey. The analysis has determined that education really influences the activities and religious beliefs of Americans. But its effects are much more complex than the so-called conventional wisdom might suggest.
"Education influences the strategies of action, and these strategies of action are relevant for some religious beliefs and activities, but not for others," said Philip Schwandel, associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and author of the study. "The effects of education on religion are not simply a question of increase or decrease. The effects vary in many ways, and are based on how each one defines religion."
For example, the study reveals that a higher level of education in the U.S. undermines the belief that their particular religion is "the only true faith," and that the Bible is the literal word of God. But at the same time, education is positively associated with the belief that there is life after death. And while the more educated Americans are less prone to believe in God in a definitive way, this is because some of them believe in a higher power, not because they are not inclined to believe in anything at all.
Academic research has also found that the abandonment of their Church, or dropping the religious problem entirely is not widespread or popular behavior for Americans with a high level of education. In fact a high or very high education is often associated with traditional, "main stream" Protestant denominations, rather than the Evangelical churches.
This study is unique, says the author, because it examines the impact of education on religion in the various and different ways in which Americans are religious. It addresses different beliefs, and extremely varied models of participation, as well as the nature of their affiliations and their relationships with specific denominations and the Church.
Here are some of the interesting elements from the research:
"The results suggest that Americans who have a high level of education are not opposed to religion or to religious leaders expressing political positions," said Schwadel. "But they are opposed to what can be perceived as a force to bring religion into secular society." He added: "It is clear that although the world view of highly educated people is different from the worldview of those who do not have a high level of education, religion plays an important role in the lives of highly educated Americans. And religion is important for Americans at every level of education."
by Dr. Joe McKeever
As a pastor since 1962, I've performed a lot of weddings. Some were romantic, some were hastily put together and some were expensive undertakings that Martha Stewart could have learned from.
My pastor buddy Don Davidson of Alexandria, Virginia, admits to loving weddings. I'm afraid I'm in the category of most of my preacher colleagues in "enjoying some of them and tolerating the rest." They require a lot of meetings--premarital counseling sessions, plannings, rehearsals, and the wedding itself.
Most times I find myself agreeing with the groom that we ought to just walk into the sanctuary and turn on the lights and get this thing done.
In a novel I was reading this morning early, the writer had this line: "The wedding went off without a hitch." I understood what he was saying, but the whimsical side of me said out loud, "So--did they get married or not?"
Years ago I came across a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I have used in most weddings since. In a ceremony for his niece, he said to the couple:
Love will not sustain your marriage. But marriage will sustain your love.
In saying "marriage will sustain your love," he was referring to the commitment of marriage. Marriage is about commitment. Not about emotions, feelings, and such.
Just inside the front door in my house is a lovely rock cabinet containing most of my collection through the years. We have rocks from the Holy Land, arrowheads found on the Alabama farm when I was a teenager, and fossils from everywhere. Here and there are a few rocks I've purchased in rock shops. One in particular I have often used in marriage counseling.
From the outside, this fist-sized rust-colored rock looks like a thousand others. The difference is that someone has split it open. Inside is where the miracle lies.
On both sides of the rock is the outline of a fossil, some kind of plant that existed umpteen millions of years ago. It's wonderful just to hold it and ponder its origin.
I show this to the young couple who are planning to be married as something of a metaphor for their lives together.
"At first, you two are like two separate rocks that may not resemble at all. You touch at a few places, but not many. Eventually, as you lock yourself into marriage, you experience a great deal of friction--some of it delightful and some painful. What the friction does is wear away the rough edges.
"If you stay with it, and both of you will work at it, in time you end up with a marriage that looks like this rock: you are one from the outside (meaning that everyone thinks of the two of you as a unity), but on the inside you share a beautiful secret design which is known only to the other."
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