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His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH’s Homily
at the Vigil Before Greg and Athena Cleghorn’s Wedding
January 14, 2012

Dearly Beloved Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

The Grace of the Holy Spirit gets us together here in Santa Rosa to take part in the wedding rehearsal of Greg and Athena, to enjoy the blessing of their marriage and to pray for the beginning of their holy and happy family life.

Because we love Greg and Athena very much, permit me, on the occasion of their marriage, to share with you several words about the three temptations in marriage.

First of all as we all know, marriage is a sacrament, a blessing which God gives to the Church.  That is why the Church blesses it and considers the family a place where man goes to discover his goal.

We know three main passions which are set against man and which give birth to the rest of the passions.  They are: love of glory, in other words, egoism, love of pleasure, and love of money.

Egoism means me and no one else!  I believe this way.  I judge this way.  I want and like this way.  I want things to be just so.  The egoistical man can neither love the other nor humble himself.  Some more - the egoist cannot communicate.  He is not able to do this, because in order to communicate with the other person, you have to step out of yourself, you have to listen to each other.

The American proverb says:  If you want to understand someone you have to walk a mile in their shoes.  In other words, to understand a man, you have to come down to where he is, or, you must climb up, if he is higher.  You must understand the other person.  Man and woman are not the same.  Man has one biology, woman has another.  Age also plays a role.  The man who has grown up in one way is different from someone who grew up in another environment.  In order to communicate with the other, you have to understand him, to place your place in his place, to become one with him.

The proof here is Christ the Lord.  Christ could have saved us while in heaven.  He could have saved us sending us the gospel or in some other way.  For Christ there is nothing difficult.  However, He did not do it this way.

He became absolutely and perfectly man, similar to us so that He could save us in our weakness – so that we can unite with Him and show us the right way to communicate.

In order to communicate with his wife, the man must understand how his wife thinks – if he does not do this he will never succeed and always will think about his wife in his own way.  Similarly, the woman if she does not learn how her husband thinks, what he wants, what he expects from her, how he wants his wife to treat him, she will never be able to communicate with him.  Egoism is one of the most distractive elements for a marriage and we see this around us daily.  Egoism destroys every connection of man: with God, with himself, and with the people around him, but mostly with his spouse and his children.

After egoism, we face avarice.  When we hear this word, we think that it applies to love of money, but that is not all.  Why is avarice a sin?  We all have  money.  You have money, I have money, and the church has money.  It is not money that is the problem.  Someone has a lot and someone has a little.  Money is not a bad thing.  Avarice is bad.

The avaricious man has no hope in God.  He has hope in his money – this is the essence of his sin.

But it is not only money, it is also our knowledge – I place my trust in what I have learned, in my own strength, in my own power, I am something, I have a power, I have a position, I have an education, I am well-off financially.  It is a sin not to hope in God, but to hope instead in your power, your money, your possessions, your knowledge, your capability, even your beauty and so on because that steals your heart away from God, attaching it to these other things.  You have the faith that you are so beautiful or handsome that you have only to look at yourself, not others.

How does this interfere with marriage?  It interferes because everyone is closed in on himself.  You see today that in half of all couples, each one has his or her own wallet and every month, they sit down to work out finances.  I advise them to hire an accountant so they can settle disputes and not quarrel over who has spent more. ...

If they go to buy a house, they are afraid, “You should put half of the deed in my name.”  Just in case tomorrow, they get a divorce. They are afraid the other one will get the house.  As if this is the problem – who gets the house ... this mentality, my things, my time, my friends, my own schedule.  Namely, this “my” is that which attaches us to various things.

How is this overcome in marriage?  Through common possessions.  Everything he has at home is “ours”.

The apostle says that we have no authority even over our own bodies.  Even I do not belong to myself.  This is mentioned in a text of Saint John Chrysostom: “Why do you constantly talk about mine and yours when my body does not belong to me, but belongs to you and your body does not belong to you but belongs to me?  One belongs to another, there is no yours or mine.”

You see that common ownership was distinctive of the early Christian Church, because people placed their hope in God and not in their possessions.

In marriage, you do not have your own things, space, or time, nor do you own yourself, nor do you belong to yourself, rather you belong to the other person.

What can we say about the love of pleasure?  The family man cannot be lustful because lust destroys marriage.  Why?  Because he looks upon the other as an object, not as a person.  Yes there is a blessing for some knowledge.  This knowledge of the other has God’s blessing and the blessing of the Church through the Sacrament of Marriage.  Lust, however, cannot be the purpose of marriage because such a union is destined for failure.  If a man does not learn to overcome lust, to respect the other and look upon her as a person, an image of God, a vessel of God, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, then he humiliates his spouse, he will think of her as useless and the marital union will perish.

Fortunately, our tradition show wonderful things.  We, the Church members of our Diocese, see how our BOYA young people enter pure and blamelessly into holy marriage.  They love and keep purity before marriage.  I believe Fr. Archpriest Philip Tolbert, as spiritual father of BOYA, is proud.  Also, Fr. Michael, Fr. David, Fr. Stephen, Fr. Protodeacon James, Fr. Deacon Samuel, His Grace, our new Vicar Bishop Daniil, and I are so pleased of such God’s blessing to have such good young people in our midst.

Therefore, we all, and especially the parents, think that our beloved Greg and Athena make a good beginning of their mutual family life.  We also pray that until a ripe old age they love one another in the right sense.  Also, we hope that they will continue to respect each other and one will never force or abuse the other from a point spiritually or bodily.  Because he who forces bodily, abuses also spiritually the other, who is ruined and shuts the other out.

May God’s love support and be always with Greg and Athena in their lives.

May their relations and actions take on a sacred nature for many blessed years.


His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH’s Homily
at the Wedding of Greg and Athena Cleghorn
January 15, 2012

My dear friends in the Lord, Gregory and Eugenia,

We all are so pleased to be here and to take part in your Holy Matrimony.

We thank God, having you both in our midst as our dear children.

We love you very, very much and enjoy your growing before our eyes.

Therefore, whether your life is going well for you, we want and pray you to become better.  We want and pray you to be more effective in your life.  We want and pray you both to know God better.  We want and pray you to be better spouses and parents, better lovers, better encouragers, better community leaders, better employers, better bosses and managers.  Because we know God put something deep down inside you that evokes a desire to be more like Him.  In your inner being, we hear a voice saying that you were born for better than this; you are meant to live at a higher level than you are currently.  So, don’t be satisfied with less.  You can be better.

The question is, “How?  What must you do to become better you?”

We all pray for you:
    -To live at your full potential;
    -To develop a greater vision for your future;
    -To experience more of God’s blessings and favor.

But, even if you are living your best life now, it is important that you do not become stagnant.  God always wants to increase you, to do more in and through you.  He always wants to take you deeper into self-discovery and then wants to raise you to higher level of living.  He didn’t create you to be average.  He doesn’t want you to settle for “good enough.”  He wants you to keep pressing forward into the next level.

Therefore, we are happy to be here at this moment hoping to help you look inside yourself and discover the priceless seeds of greatness that God has placed within you.

We are here to encourage you to unlock those seeds of greatness, allowing them to burst forth in an abundant life.

Also, we pray – first, you understand God wants you to become all He created you to be;  second, it is imperative that you realize that God will do His part, but you must do your part as well.  Keep pressing forward;  be positive toward yourselves;  develop better relationships;  form better habits;  develop your inner life;  stay passionate about life.                    
Practicing all this could be a potentially life-changing process!

And while we can’t guarantee that you will become rich and famous, we can assure you that if you follow this plan, you will live a more fulfilled life.

Also, the more you learn to trust God, the better you will be in your life.

May God bless you and grant you many years of mutual love.
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