Some traditions have emerged in our Church which I haven’t seen in the Orthodox world such us having Baptisms and weddings at monasteries. The monastery is not a place for weddings because the people that live there are people who don’t get married and it is not desirable for them to see weddings where they live. Our old canon laws also state that baptisms must happen at the Church of the parish and not at other Churches.

The importance of Baptizing at the parish Church is that the baptized child is received as a member in his parish. This is why baptisms used to be held during the Divine Liturgy and people didn’t send invitations for baptisms because the entire parish would gather and receive the child and make him a member in it. However, today, whether held at the monastery or the local Church or the cathedral, parents are inviting their relatives and friends although baptism is an act of the community and isn’t only related to the family.

We have done this experience and tried baptism during the Liturgy according to an order that already existed. We also tried the wedding during the Liturgy where the wedding prayers and the liturgy prayers intersect and connect with each other. You should get married in your community and not leave the Church of your parish.

Today, we notice that most people do not pray during weddings. Fashionable clothes are exposed in an obscene way and there is no more sanctity for the temple. People are occupied with other people and don’t seem occupied by the divine words. The sanctity of marriage is violated by obscenity.

People say that they want to get married or baptize their son at a monastery because this is a vow. Why did you take this vow? All of this comes from the spirit of individualism while our spirit must be communal. The Church in our archdiocese is the Church of your village. In this Church you are spiritually born and raised and in it the joy of your marriage must be fulfilled and in it is where it should be prayed over your corpse and next to it is where you should be buried.

Many vows are wrong because they have no basis in our canon law. One of these vows is to buy a drawing or a chandelier and impose it on those who are responsible of Church property. This drawing might not be an Orthodox icon and you would feel sad because we were obliged to refuse it. You must donate an amount of money to the Church and those who are responsible would buy what they are in need of.

I thank God because our believers started to understand this and we have applied it in the mount region where people were displaced (from their villages); there, when someone comes to help, he doesn’t impose his name to be written (on what he has donated). When a person gives, he would be giving God; he shouldn’t be seeking to carve his name on an icon or a tile. If you were charitable, the Lord will register your name in the book of life.

Another important thing is that people spend too much on their weddings while people are starving to death. In the midst of the hardship that we are passing through today, spending this much on banquets and receptions is obscene. The bride and groom must have the courage to spend small amounts of money. The bliss of the bride and groom starts with their love for the poor.

It hurts me that people who want to baptize or get married are exaggerating in spending starting from the invitation cards that have become more expensive than they should be. The wedding could go along with humbleness and modesty. Priests are hurt in occasions when people spend very little over them in comparison to what they spend over the “cocktail party”. Money is wasted over pleasures and worthless glory and not even a little is given to charity or to become closer to God.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “أقوال رعائية” –Raiati no36- 09.09.2001