O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Glory to Christ Jesus! Glory For Ever!

"Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: Emptied himself: exinanivit, made himself as of no account. And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:6-11)

The Nymphios decked in glory
This is how the Divine Bridegroom loves His Bride. He does not seek any pleasure, happiness, or good times for himself, but instead emptied Himself, sacrificed and immolated Himself, offering Himself up to the Father for the good of His Bride the Church. Receiving Him, God joins the Nymphios to His Eccelsial Bride and He gives His entire self to Her, even His very body, which she receives in the Eucharist. For this reason, in the Latin tradition, altars are supposed to have canopies over them, imitating a four post marriage bed, as the altar is the marriage bed of the Church. Christ and the Church each desire nothing for themselves, but rather each completely sacrifices himself up to God for the sake of the other. They give themselves entirely to each other through the Heavenly Father and because of this mutual sacrifice for each other, God greatly exalts them, giving them supreme glory, honor, and victory over their every adversary. Because of His sacrifice, Christ is given all honor, and if His Bride offers Herself to Him in all submission, eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood, she shall join Him in the same heavenly glory.

An Eastern Wedding Crown. This one (with
its icon of the Theotokos) is for the bride.
The bridegroom's crown has an icon of Christ.

This is the reality of marriage. This is how bridegroom and bride are to love each other. A wedding is a liturgy of the Church where a man and a woman sacrifice themselves completely to God for the sake of each other, and having received them, God joins them together. They give themselves to completely to each other through God. Because of their self-sacrifice for each other, God crowns them each with glory. Victory and honor is achieved only through sacrifice. In the Eastern Churches, the bridegroom and bride each receive crowns. Wreaths (ancient symbols of victory and fertility) may be used in place of crowns. Because the have sacrificed themselves completely to God for the sake of each other, God crowns them with glory. They are, as the rite says, crowned for each other. In the West, the Latin tradition is different. We use rings in place of crowns, with the two being bound into one. Now, in North America, rings are symbols of victory and honor and are given to sports teams when they win a championship and to students when they complete a degree, so rings actually do fit into this theology of being crowned with glory by God because of the complete sacrifice of yourself for the sake of your beloved.