ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE
Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery,
Holy Mount Athos, Greece
When you see difficulties in your marriage, when you see that you’re making no progress in your spiritual life, don’t despair. But neither should you be content with whatever progress you may have already made. Lift up your heart to God. Imitate those who have given everything to God, and do what you can to be like them, even if all you can do is to desire in your heart to be like them. Leave the action to Christ. And when you advance in this way, you will truly sense what is the purpose of marriage. Otherwise, as a blind person wanders about, so too will you wander in life…
It is an adulteration of marriage for us to think that it is a road to happiness, as if it is a denial of the Cross. The joy of marriage is for husband and wife to put their shoulders to the wheel and together go forward on the uphill road of life. “You haven’t suffered? Then you haven’t loved,” says a certain poet. Only those who suffer can really love. And that’s why sadness is a necessary feature of marriage. “Marriage”, in the words of an ancient philosopher, “is a world made beautiful by hope, and strengthened by misfortune.” Just as steel is fashioned in a furnace, just so is a person proved in marriage, in the fire of difficulties…
marriage, then, is a journey through sorrows and joys. When the sorrows seem overwhelming, then you you should remember that God is with you. He will take up your cross. It was He Who placed the crown of marriage on your head. But when when we ask God about something, He doesn’t always supply the solution right away. He leads us forward very slowly. Sometimes He takes years. We have to experience pain, otherwise life would have no meaning. But be of good cheer, for Christ is suffering with you, and the Holy Spirit, “through your groanings is pleading on your behalf” (cf. Rom. 8:26)…
Marriage is a road: it starts out from the earth and ends in heaven. It is a joining together, a bond with Christ, Who assures us that He will lead us to heaven, to be with Him always. Marriage is a bridge leading us from earth to heaven. It is as if the sacrament is saying: Above and beyond love, above and beyond your husband, your wife, above the everyday events, remember that you are destined for heaven, that you have set out on a road which will take you there without fail. The bride and the bridegroom give their hands to one another, and the priest takes hold of them both, and leads them round the table dancing and singing. Marriage is a movement, a progression, a journey which will end in heaven, in eternity.
In marriage, it seems that two people come together. However, it’s not two but three. The man marries the woman, and the woman marries the man, but two together also marry Christ. So three take part in the mystery, and three remain together in life.
in the dance around the table, the couple are led by the priest, who is a type of Christ. This means that Christ has seized us, rescued us, redeemed us, and made us His. And this is the “great mystery” of marriage (cf. Gal. 3:13). (The Orthodox Word vol. 50, no. 3 )
ORTHODOX HEART SITES