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  ORDER OF  THE HOLY MATRIMONY
  According to the Malankara Syrian Christian Rite
Part I  
BLESSING OF THE RINGS
(Betrothal Ceremony)

  The bridegroom stands before the celebrant facing the East The bride goes forward and stand on the right hand of the bridegroom. Behind the bride is the Kochamma who presents the bride perfect in every way for the position of wife and for the building up of the family.
 

Most Syrian Christian Churches are built facing East. The Holy of Holies is placed at the Eastern end. That end is adorned with stained glass windows and produces a glorious view as the sun rises in the morning when services commence. This probably has its origin from the Persian Mithrite religion. Christian Churches used many of the Mithrite temples as their chuches during the early centuary. But they did not change the architectural style nor the stained glass windows. The symbolism was too strong to do that. Son of God - Jesus is compared to the Rising Sun. During the Transfiguration Jesus' face shone like the sun. Paul met hin as a light greater than the light of the Sun. Jesus is going to come from the east based on the prophecy Jesus himself gave.
Mat 24:27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Hence we look towards the east in expectation of his coming as the Bride of Christ. The Bridegroom is going to come light a lightning - in a twinkling of an eye, at a time and place unexpected -to take His bride - the Church.

The Kochamma (which means small Mother) who presents the bride is usually the elder sister of the bride or a maternal aunt. She herself should be a married woman with a family (currently in Grahasthasrama ). She should be one who has been involved in preparing the bride from her young age to play the role of family maker. The imagery here is the presentation of the individual believers as the bride of Christ in which the Church plays her part in the preparation.

The congregation Stands.

 

Marriages are conducted not in the Holy of Holies, but in the miidst of the congregation within the Holies.

The Eastern marriage service emphasizes the marriage between man and woman as a reflection of the marriage of Christ and the Church.

 

Dearly beloved in Christ,

Christian marriage is instituted by God and therefore it is holy and sacramental. You have come in the presence of God to be united in Holy Matrimony. The Lord has guided you until now and so you ought to remember His ways and praise His Holy Name. You should confess your sins with your whole heart and mind before the Lord. If you truly repent, He will forgive your sins. This service will be more blessed and meaningful, if you take part in it with that experience of forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the true bridegroom and the Church is bride. He loved the Church and gave himself for her. We remember this ideal in the marriage service. Let us pray together for the grace of God, so that, through this married life you may experience the love of God as revealed at the Cross, and you may enter into a new fellowship with the Lord. May our Lord give you grace to lead an authentic Christian family life until the end.
   


KAUMA
Prayer of Adoration
 

All Christian services starts with this prayer of adoration to Trinity.


P. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost

Congregation. As it was in the beginning, is now and shall be forever. Amen

 P. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might, Heaven and Earth are full of thy glory, Hosanna in the highest.

C. Blessed is he who has come and is going to come again in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest.

P. Holy art thou , Oh God.

 C. Holy art thou Almighty Lord.

P . Holy art thou, Immortal Lord

C. Holy art thou that was crucified for us (+), have mercy upon us.

* This adoration is repeated Thrice.

At the sign + the sign of the cross is made.

The meaning of this sign is as follows.  

Three fingers are used to form a point indicating the unity of Trinitarian God.  
The fingers are first placed on the forehead indicating that God who is in heaven.  
It is then brought down to the belly, indicating that he came down to earth because of his love of mankind.  
Then it is placed on the Left shoulder indicating that he identified himself with the fallen mankind.  
Then it is placed on the Right shoulder indicating that he has taken the sinful men and have made them righteous by faith in Him. He brought those who were on the left to the right.  
Then it is placed at the center (heart) indicating that those who have believed him he held to his bosom. 

P. Lord, have mercy upon us.
C. Lord, have compassion and mercy upon us.
P. Accept our prayers and worship and have mercy upon us.
C. Glory be to thee, Oh God.
P. Glory be to thee Oh Creator
C. Glory be to thee oh King, Our Messiah, for you have compassion on your sinful servants.
 

P. Our Father,
C. Who is in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive our trespasses as we forgive our trespasses against us. Lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from the evil. For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever and ever. Amen.  
  

Initial Prayer

P. Lord God, make us worthy to enjoy incorruptible happiness with you. We pray:
that we may begin our happiness with you and attain the blessedness of you perfection ;
that our body and soul may rejoice in you;
that our sorrows may be removed because of your grace;
that we may be blessed in abundance by your blessing;
that our lives may be made abundant;
that our bridegrooms may be made perfect;
that our brides may be made perfect in every way.

We plead that we may enjoy all your goodness of life, the bliss of being with you, with all the saints, with all those whom you have delight and with all the saints who had been acceptable to you from the beginning of days. Lord God the Father , son and the Holy spirit, to you we give our adoration now and at all times.  


Chant

Let the Lord who is in heaven give us happiness
We give you praise for ever for giving us this joy
Oh, messiah, who is full of graciousness make us your servants who stand before you rejoice.
We pray that you bless these rings which we give in your name
The church is selected to be wife of messiah with the ring
We receive your holy body and your holy blood and become part of the bride
Father , and Son and Holy spirit , one in three is worthy of all worship.
Heavenly host and all who are on earth worship and celebrate you.

 

PRAYER

 

P: Lord God, You who have made peace on earth, on high and in the deep, reconciling heaven and earth, join together these our brother and sister in the bond of marriage. Oh Father, Son and Holy spirit, we entreat that you give these our children the unity that they may love each other and accept each other through out their life with joy.

  C: Amen  

EKBA

P: Solomon describes the relationship between the bride and the groom in parables.
Oh. you most beautiful, who is this your bridegroom that you may praise him? My beloved is greater than tens of thousands and his estate is Israel. He is whiter than the whiteness of the grape wines of Jacob, he is redder than the red oil, he is stronger than the strong cedars of Lebanon. This is because he is made in the image of God. I praise him because he is glorious.  

 

PROMION
(INTRODUCTION)

P: Let us pray to the Lord for his grace and mercy.

C: Merciful Lord, have mercy and help us.

P: Help us, O Lord, continually to offer you praise, adoration, worship, thanksgiving and glory.

P: O Lord Messiah, heavenly bridegroom, You have chosen the daughter of the Gentiles as Your Church and cleansed her from all defilement and transgression by Your Innocent and Holy Blood. You offered Yourself as the Bridegroom and betrothed for yourself to the earthly Church, having redeemed her from the bondage of all unclean spirits and set her free from all debts and sins. As we bless these rings for Your servants, {Names of the bridegroom and the bride), we acknowledge that You are worthy of praise and honor and worship, now and all the days of our life.

C: Amen.

Now the marriage between the bride and the groom are compared to the marriage of the Church to Jesus. As the elders are entrusted with the Church to keep the church holy and pure and bring her without blemish, likewise the church is entrusted with the couple

 

SEDRA
(SERIES OF PRAYERS)

P: O Lord God, who is glorious beyond all human understanding, ever abundant in blessings and high above all evil, source of all divine grace and river of all goodness, You are the holy and eternal oil with which we are anointed, free from all suffering and death. You have ordained that, with this ring, the joy of men and women should be perfected and the happiness of those who are betrothed should be completed. Lord God, bless these rings, which we your unworthy ministers joyfully bless. Lord, bless these rings and with them turn what is cursed into a blessing. O, Lord by Your divine blessing, bless these rings, even as you blessed the ring of Your Holy Church. May this bridegroom, our son (Name of the Groom) , and this bride, our daughter (Name of the Bride), be filled with your spirit and perfected in wisdom. Grant O, Lord, that by Your Grace their marriage may be free from all defilement and hateful things. Grant them abiding joy in this world and in the world to come. O Lord God, adorn them in every way through out their life in this transitory world. May they be joyously drawn closer to your heavenly angels and archangels rejoicing in you ceaselessly. Lord, by Your love free this congregation from sin, hatred, defilement and error. May they be blessed and standing in Your presence, glorify and praise You, the Father, Son and the Holy spirit, now and forever.

 

C: Amen.

P: The Heavenly Bridegroom, when He was betrothed to the Holy church, he called Simon and John and entrusted her to them. Simon was asked to be in charge of the household and John was to be the Preacher. And Jesus entrusted the Church to them that they should take care of the Church whom He had bought with His own precious blood

  P: Glory be to the Father .....

C: As it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever, Amen

P: Oh faithful Church do not be afraid, nor should you be disheartened, since you have not left me and accepted another, I have not left you and have not taken another. In the last days even when the heavens and the earth are destroyed, you should not be afraid. Behold your throne is established in the house of the Father, Son and of the Holy Spirit eternally.

C: Lord, bless us and help us.  

Now the church takes the responsibility of maintaining the sanctity of the new family

 P. Oh. true Bridegroom, to whom all the chaste and clean souls have been betrothed we stand before your greatness as weak beings. These your children who are betrothed may be able to produce sweet and acceptable perfume which are their good works through our intercession. We pray that You will strengthen them to have true love, reconciliation, peace and unity so that they may not be separated Strengthen them so that they may live in holiness in spirit and in body. We praise You and glorify Your mighty name.

  C: Amen  

The Priest takes the rings and blesses with the seal and sign of the cross.  

The betrothal ring is a plain unbroken circle which has no end indicating the infinity and boundlessness of love. The covenant cannot be broken.

P: Eternal praise to Our God, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, who graciously and abundantly blesses these rings.

Bridegroom and C: Amen

  P: These rings are blessed in the name of the Father (+) and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit(+) for the fulfillment of joy of the Children of the Holy Church.

(The blessing is chanted also in Syriac producing a mystic effect indicating the mystery of marriage)  

Bride and C: Amen  

Then the priest puts the rings on the fourth finger of the right hand of the bridegroom and says:

P: May our Lord and Jesus Christ graciously stretch out his right hand to you (Name of the Groom). With this ring which is the token of your betrothal to (Name of the Bride) , may you obtain from Our Lord Jesus Christ grace, mercy and blessing. May blessings and goodness from the hands of Christ remain with you and protect your life.

C: Amen

Then the priest puts the ring on the fourth finger of the bride and says:

P: May our Lord Jesus Christ graciously stretch out his right hand to you (Full Name of the Bride) With this ring which is the token of your betrothal to (Full Name of the Groom) , may you obtain from our Lord Jesus Christ, grace, mercy and blessings. May blessings and goodness from the hand of Christ remain with you and protect your life.

 C: Amen.

P: May the Lord God, who through His Messiah fulfilled the joy of the Holy Church, perfect with truth and goodness, these our children (Names of the Bride and the Groom), who have come together to be married. May they receive heavenly blessings along with these rings. Clothe them with humility, perfect their marriage with the rings of righteousness, as the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca was confirmed through gold ornaments. Cause the bridegroom (Name of Groom) to rejoice in his salvation and adorn the bride (Name of Bride) with treasures that do not grow old and perish. May God enable (names of the Bride and the Groom) always to maintain good conscience, and with gentleness more fragrant than roses. Confer your goodness and benefits on all those who have come for this marriage feast. Perfect the bride (Name of the Bride) and bridegroom (Name of the Groom) with your victorious Cross. Shower your blessings upon us all, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever.

C: Amen

The betrothal rings are placed on the fingers of bride and of the groom by the Priest on behalf of the Church. It is the community of saints, the Worshipping Church - the Mother Church that give the ring as a symbol of sanctification or separation of the couple for the fulfillment of God's plan on earth.

 P: I am the church and bride of the Most High,

The Holy church says. I am blessed because he has betrothed me. I worship and adore him. All creation rejoices, for in my poverty I was made rich on the day he betrothed me.

He prepares for me a bridal chamber in the heavens so that I may enjoy with all the saints - the hosts of my loved ones. I entered in it and sat down. I will praise him.

He has taken me from the temples of the idolaters. he has shown me the mysteries that were hidden. He has promised that He will be with me to the end of the ages.

The prince took me into his Father's household and showed me all the glories thereof. Therefore I will bless him.

Woe to the enemy who cheated me. I was desecrated by idolatry. Thanks be to Jesus who has redeemed me.

He has made me wear the sword of the spirit through the washing of water , through baptism. He has given me the ring of his Holy Body and the blood.

My bridegroom is like the blazing sun. The bride is like the brightness of the day. The feast following is like the fragrance of the sweet smelling tree.  

BENEDICTION

 P: You believers, who have come to share this testimony justified by God, may the Lord reward your labors thirty, sixty and a hundred fold. Let His blessings be always with you. May the Cross (+) of our Lord remain with you day and night and ever protect you from the evil one and his hosts

C: Amen

====Here ends the Betrothal Ceremony.====

There is a break between the Betrothal and the Wedding Ceremony representing the period of the Church Age, from the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ to Glory and His Return in Glory to take his Bride Church to be with him to eternity. It is during this time the ministry of the Word of God and Songs of Praise and Adorations are sung. The Church age is the period when the Word is proclaimed and the Church prepared in full for the ultimate occasion of the union with her bridegroom - Jesus. 

 


It is written

Jn 14:1-3 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1 Cor 15:51-57 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thess 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Rev 19:5-9 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: "Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!" Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God."

Eph 5:31 - 32 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.