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« on: October 03, 2002, 03:36:06 PM »


Recently had a discussion regarding the opening and closing of the Roayal Doors during the Divine Liturgy.  I've noticed that it is still done in most Slavic Churches but doesn't seem to be practiced in the churches in the middle east.
Does anyone know WHY the Royal Doors are closed at certain parts of the Liturgy?

Also,  I'm in the OCA.  Recently there was a wedding in our parish  where the bride was the daughter of an Antiochian priest.  Naturally she was married by her father.

In all the previous weddings I attended in OCA parishes (including my own) the priest would greet the couple at the back of the church near the entrance to the Nave where he would perform the Betrothal ceremony.  Then he would lead the couple to the Tretrapod (table in front of the Royal Doors) where the actual marriage ceremony would take place.

However, in this instance the priest walked down the center aisle and met the bride (his daughter)  and led her to the tetrapod where her groom was waiting and performed both ceremonies (Betrothal & Marriage) in the nave in front of the Royal Doors.  Is this the standard practice amongst Greek and middle eastern churches?  
Are the Royal Doors to be open when  either the 'betrothal' or marriage ceremony takes place?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions but I was a little taken back when, after I had told all the photographers that the first part of the ceremony would take place in the back of the church and then they all had to scramble up front when it didn't happen.  Would like to avoid that happening again.

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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2002, 10:23:41 PM »

Hi, Bob
I am glad to see the site up again.

The Greeks do not open and close doors along with the Antiochians.  In the Greek Tradition both the betrothal and the Crowning occur at the Tetrapodion.
I have also seen the Betrothal Service done separately from the Crowning.  
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2002, 08:37:07 AM »

I'm a subdeacon at Holy Trinity Antiochian Orthodox Mission in Little Rock, Arkansas, US.  Our weddings begin at the entrance of the church - not at the tertapod before the iconostas.  I'm not aware, however,  if this is normal practice in the Antiochian tradition.  Our priest, Father Timothy, is a St. Vladimir's graduate - which may have something to do with it.
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2002, 06:58:44 PM »

The Betrothal ceremony in our OCA parish usually begins in the Narthex prior to the actual wedding service.  Then the Bride and Groom proceed up to the Tetrapod for the balance of the wedding service. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2002, 07:38:46 PM »

The doors were open during the Betrothal service (OCA) while we stood in what passed for the Narthex.  We were both led by our Priest to the Tetrapod for the service of Crowning.
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2002, 12:48:45 AM »

The Russian practice is to serve the betrothal in the narthex and then process to the central icon for the crowning.  The Royal Doors are opened, since the Gospel is to be read.  It does not make sense to me that the groom should be waiting for the bride (as in the Anglican Church)- they stand together throughout the whole service.

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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2011, 09:05:27 PM »

The only time I've seen the Royal Doors closed at my (Antiochian) parish was when services weren't going on. Our chapel doesn't even have Royal Doors.

Is this abnormal?
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2011, 09:20:42 PM »

The only time I've seen the Royal Doors closed at my (Antiochian) parish was when services weren't going on. Our chapel doesn't even have Royal Doors.

Is this abnormal?

Abnormal is probably the wrong word. It is not universally the case across all traditions. At my home parish, the Royal Doors are opened and closed at various points during the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2011, 11:12:58 AM »

A newly ordained Priest from Podlachia was sent to the Lemko Parish. After the first DL he is approached by the parish council president: - Father, why are you wagging the doors all the time?
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2011, 04:22:00 AM »

There must be some ancient or older practice in conducting the Betrothal in or near the Narthex.  I've seen Greek priests start the Betrothal on the floor of the Nave, in front of the Solea, but at the conclusion of the Betrothal, he brought the couple up the one step of the Solea to be before the Tetropod for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.  But, yes, GOAA priests in my experience conduct the entire sacrament with the couple standing on the Solea.
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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2011, 10:29:27 AM »

In other countries people get/or got betrothed before the wedding sometimes 6mo. to a year before.  And the betrothal service would take place say at the bride to be's parent's home.  And yes, they would wear the rings even though they aren't married.  And the betrothal is a seperate service from the wedding, not thought to be b/c most people have seen the betrothal done in the back of the church and then the procession up to the tetrapod for the wedding. 
The betrothal starts with "in the name of the Father...
Son..."
The wedding starts with "Blessed is our God always now and ever and unto the ages of ages."
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« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2011, 12:13:34 AM »


The betrothal starts with "in the name of the Father...
Son..."
The wedding starts with "Blessed is our God always now and ever and unto the ages of ages."

They do? In my experience, the crowning always begins with "Blessed is the Kingdom..." just like at the Divine Liturgy. This is because Holy Matrimony used to always be performed during the Divine Liturgy for that day (the common cup the couple drinks from was originally the Eucharistic chalice). The same is true with baptisms that used to be always performed as part of the Liturgy. Now, even when they are not (which has become the normal practice) the service begins with "Blessed is the Kingdom..."
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2011, 12:22:13 AM »

I'll have to watch my wedding video and get back to you. 
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2011, 12:31:29 AM »

I stand corrected, the bethrothal does start with Blessed is our God...
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2011, 10:23:48 AM »

This is because Holy Matrimony used to always be performed during the Divine Liturgy for that day (the common cup the couple drinks from was originally the Eucharistic chalice). The same is true with baptisms that used to be always performed as part of the Liturgy. Now, even when they are not (which has become the normal practice) the service begins with "Blessed is the Kingdom..."

This is bad scholarship and very debatable. In particular your statement about the common cup being the Eucharistic chalice is just flat out wrong. When you look at historical liturgical practice, the common cup exist even before Christianity and Eucharistic celebration.

As for Blessed is the Kingdom, it has more to do with services that call upon direct action of God then it does to connection to Eucharist celebration alone.
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2011, 10:53:05 AM »

This is because Holy Matrimony used to always be performed during the Divine Liturgy for that day (the common cup the couple drinks from was originally the Eucharistic chalice). The same is true with baptisms that used to be always performed as part of the Liturgy. Now, even when they are not (which has become the normal practice) the service begins with "Blessed is the Kingdom..."

This is bad scholarship and very debatable. In particular your statement about the common cup being the Eucharistic chalice is just flat out wrong. When you look at historical liturgical practice, the common cup exist even before Christianity and Eucharistic celebration.

As for Blessed is the Kingdom, it has more to do with services that call upon direct action of God then it does to connection to Eucharist celebration alone.

Except that it's not "flat out wrong" as you have claimed, and holy matrimony was often encapsulated in the Divine Liturgy, as was baptism and chrismation. Further, I did not claim that the very origins of the "common cup" practice were Eucharistic or even Christian, though the evolution I mentioned is still arguably present.

Matrimony was a late-comer as far as having a full sacramental rite is concerned. Until about the 9th century marriage was a civil issue. A couple would be wed in a civil ceremony, then crowned and communed together at the Divine Liturgy. A century or so later, we see the development of a separate church rite for marriage, apart from the Liturgy, and the use of the common cup. If you want to debate that the common cup is not meant to symbolicly replace the Eucharist, that's fine...I can see that point of view, but the original "common cup" which was shared by an Orthodox couple after their crowning up until the time a separate rite developed was indeed the Eucharstic chalice.

My primary source for this information is Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective by Fr. John Meyendorff.

As for the use of "Blessed is the Kingdom", I can see your argument. Still, the phrase itself as the opening benediction, to my knowledge, only occurs at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, the Baptism/Chrismation service and the Crowning, the first being the celebration of the Eucharist itself, and the other two having been traditionally celebrated within the Liturgy. Obviously, the Rite of Ordination also begins this way, but Holy Orders are also still exclusively done within the Liturgy, so mentioning it is a bit redundant, but the fact remains.
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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2011, 11:28:25 AM »

This is because Holy Matrimony used to always be performed during the Divine Liturgy for that day (the common cup the couple drinks from was originally the Eucharistic chalice). The same is true with baptisms that used to be always performed as part of the Liturgy. Now, even when they are not (which has become the normal practice) the service begins with "Blessed is the Kingdom..."

This is bad scholarship and very debatable. In particular your statement about the common cup being the Eucharistic chalice is just flat out wrong. When you look at historical liturgical practice, the common cup exist even before Christianity and Eucharistic celebration.

As for Blessed is the Kingdom, it has more to do with services that call upon direct action of God then it does to connection to Eucharist celebration alone.

Except that it's not "flat out wrong" as you have claimed, and holy matrimony was often encapsulated in the Divine Liturgy, as was baptism and chrismation. Further, I did not claim that the very origins of the "common cup" practice were Eucharistic or even Christian, though the evolution I mentioned is still arguably present.

Matrimony was a late-comer as far as having a full sacramental rite is concerned. Until about the 9th century marriage was a civil issue. A couple would be wed in a civil ceremony, then crowned and communed together at the Divine Liturgy. A century or so later, we see the development of a separate church rite for marriage, apart from the Liturgy, and the use of the common cup. If you want to debate that the common cup is not meant to symbolicly replace the Eucharist, that's fine...I can see that point of view, but the original "common cup" which was shared by an Orthodox couple after their crowning up until the time a separate rite developed was indeed the Eucharstic chalice.

My primary source for this information is Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective by Fr. John Meyendorff.

As for the use of "Blessed is the Kingdom", I can see your argument. Still, the phrase itself as the opening benediction, to my knowledge, only occurs at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, the Baptism/Chrismation service and the Crowning, the first being the celebration of the Eucharist itself, and the other two having been traditionally celebrated within the Liturgy. Obviously, the Rite of Ordination also begins this way, but Holy Orders are also still exclusively done within the Liturgy, so mentioning it is a bit redundant, but the fact remains.

The last wedding we had at our Church (Rocor) was folded into the DL due to some practical considerations. That is not normally our practice but it is perfectly legit. I have also seen a Baptism at an OCA Church in Delaware folded into the DL..
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2011, 12:24:29 PM »


My primary source for this information is Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective by Fr. John Meyendorff.


Not a good source for historical accuracy, great for theological significance. There is a lot that Fr. John imagined without credible research. It is a good book to read just not use when making an academic point.
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« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2011, 02:06:49 PM »

The last wedding we had at our Church (Rocor) was folded into the DL due to some practical considerations. That is not normally our practice but it is perfectly legit. I have also seen a Baptism at an OCA Church in Delaware folded into the DL..

Neat. I've heard of these happening before, but I've never seen it done myself. Like you said, it's not the normal practice (anywhere that I know of, at least) anymore, but it's my understanding that it used to be a fairly universal practice. I'm under the impression that folding these into the Mass is still a common Latin practice, and I believe some Eastern Catholics do the same with the Divine Liturgy. I'd be interested to hear what the OO practice is today. Perhaps I should start a thread on the issue in the "Liturgy" forum...


Not a good source for historical accuracy, great for theological significance. There is a lot that Fr. John imagined without credible research. It is a good book to read just not use when making an academic point.

Forgive me, I didn't know your knowledge was greater than The V. Rev. Fr. John Meyendorff of Blessed Memory, Dean Emeritus and Church History and Patristics Professor of St. Vladimir's Seminary, lecturer of Byzantine theology at Harvard and Fordham Universities, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. To beat it all, you can apparently refute him with no actual arguments or sources, but instead a few dismissive sentences that swiftly explain my vast ignorance.

And, I do apologize if all of that sounds rather brusque, but it's quite frustrating to me when I try to have a discussion with someone and bring what I know to the table and receive nothing but a verbal wave of the hand, as if I should go play and not bother the grown-ups. I'm more than willing to admit I don't know what I'm talking about and learn something, as I'm pretty new to this whole Orthodoxy thing...so if you do have something to share, please do so, and don't brush me off out of hand as if I'm unable to even hold intelligent discourse on the matter. I would very much appreciate that.
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« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2011, 02:58:09 PM »

Benjamin the Red, my only suggestion would be maybe to start out by asking and using what you know to see if that answer can be added to or what  you thought wasn't the full picture.
Example:
In his book...... Fr. John S. says that in latter days the grapes were blessed outside of the nave on a thursday in the spring when the apple trees were in blossom.. but today we do it on such and such a day.  Is this the whole tradition, or where can I learn more about the subject, can anyone give me more knowledge, is Fr. John S. wrong about the apple blossoms.
That way maybe you won't feel slighted.  It's easy for everyone to get callous on the internet.
I'm not completely sure how they did weddings centuries ago, probably they did it differently in every country and time and place, etc...
I do know how a wedding is today and to me that is fine, I don't feel the need to attempt to recreate a specific moment in history that I deem better than the church today.  While it is great to know how the past was, we live in the now and the church is a living breathing being, it is Christ, we are the church and to say it was better at some point in the past is to say Christ isn't perfect.
I'm not saying anyone here is attempting to do that, it is just my opinion and I do like to learn ancient practices to better understand the practice now, but I seek not to change anything, unlike some of the pre-eminent American theologians have been attempting to do... exactly what Rome did
when they changed all their rites in the 1960's...the reasoning, "that's how they did it in the early church"   Roll Eyes
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« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2011, 10:38:23 AM »

Forgive me, I didn't know your knowledge was greater than The V. Rev. Fr. John Meyendorff of Blessed Memory, Dean Emeritus and Church History and Patristics Professor of St. Vladimir's Seminary, lecturer of Byzantine theology at Harvard and Fordham Universities, Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. To beat it all, you can apparently refute him with no actual arguments or sources, but instead a few dismissive sentences that swiftly explain my vast ignorance.

And, I do apologize if all of that sounds rather brusque, but it's quite frustrating to me when I try to have a discussion with someone and bring what I know to the table and receive nothing but a verbal wave of the hand, as if I should go play and not bother the grown-ups. I'm more than willing to admit I don't know what I'm talking about and learn something, as I'm pretty new to this whole Orthodoxy thing...so if you do have something to share, please do so, and don't brush me off out of hand as if I'm unable to even hold intelligent discourse on the matter. I would very much appreciate that.

Sorry about the verbal wave of the hand. As is the nature of these discussion and it becomes necessary to refute something often times the source material is not handy and takes some time to dig and research.

First off, Fr. John is not a Liturgical Theologian, and historical liturgy is not his field of expertise. His son Paul (who is a Liturgical Theologian) is critical of his father on these points. Not much has ever really been studied academically about the historical practice of the Orthodox marriage ceremony so there is a lack of resources available to the general public. Another person who tries to advance the theories of Fr. John Meyendorff on marriage and the Eucharist is Bishop John Zizoulias.

Now if you wish to hear other sources I suggest you try and find writings on marriage from either Gregory Roeber or Philip Mamalakis. Their academic stuff is not available on the internet as far as a quick search would allow. Also if you want to stay in the Meyendorff tradition stick with Paul Meyendorff.

You may also be interested in reading The History of Human Marriage, Volume 2 By Edward Westermarck. Take a look at pages 449-456 as it talks about all the different uses of food and drink as part of marriage ceremonies.

Ok, now here are my own thoughts based on what I have observed and studied for over 20 years now.

The Eucharist is still the central part of the Marriage ceremony if the couple participates fully in how a wedding should be approached. We have gotten into the bad habit of performing weddings on other days then Sundays and this removes an element of fasting and preparation for the day. I hear priest remind the bridal party that they should not party before the wedding and show up sober for the wedding. This reminder is needed because many of those who are approaching marriage do not do it with a love of Christ first and foremost in their hearts.

So, if one is to approach marriage in the traditional way then the services begins and ends with Eucharist celebration. To have a marriage on a Sunday it means that the day begins with the Liturgy and the couple should participate in that liturgy for it is the last time as a single person. The couple is married, several days of honeymoon and, then they should return to the church to commune together as man and wife and, have their crowns removed. That is how the Eucharist should work in the context of the marriage ceremony.

We have gotten away from this concept of a week long celebration were the couple wears their crowns all week. Marriage is not just an hour long service and it is done and you go on with the rest of your life. No, there is a build up of celebration and that celebration continues even unto the bedroom. The first time the couple lays together is a liturgical moment of beauty and necessary to make the marriage legal.

The sad reality is we marry outside the faith and therefore the Eucharist is not central and the marriage is ultimately not a holy event. 
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« Reply #21 on: December 03, 2011, 04:16:01 PM »

This may be a distraction from the thread at hand, but I am not sure it deserves its own thread:
 
I have only been in one church that even had Royal Doors, and those were the saloon-style kind. My experiences span multiple OCA and Antiochian and one Greek parishes. All were in the deep-south United States.

One of the Antiochian parishes did not have the doors but did have the curtain.

Is this terribly common, or a regional thing?
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« Reply #22 on: December 03, 2011, 04:51:50 PM »

This may be a distraction from the thread at hand, but I am not sure it deserves its own thread:
 
I have only been in one church that even had Royal Doors, and those were the saloon-style kind. My experiences span multiple OCA and Antiochian and one Greek parishes. All were in the deep-south United States.

One of the Antiochian parishes did not have the doors but did have the curtain.

Is this terribly common, or a regional thing?

That's one on me. The only times I was in a church without Royal Doors were in fairly new churches that had yet to install a permanent icon screen. Perhaps that is the case with where you have been?
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« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2011, 04:59:59 PM »

This may be a distraction from the thread at hand, but I am not sure it deserves its own thread:
 
I have only been in one church that even had Royal Doors, and those were the saloon-style kind. My experiences span multiple OCA and Antiochian and one Greek parishes. All were in the deep-south United States.

One of the Antiochian parishes did not have the doors but did have the curtain.

Is this terribly common, or a regional thing?

That's one on me. The only times I was in a church without Royal Doors were in fairly new churches that had yet to install a permanent icon screen. Perhaps that is the case with where you have been?
Most of those parishes had been around for a while, though generally speaking they are still considered missions. In one instance (my home parish) the doors had not been installed on the iconostasis but they are hesitating to invest any more in the current building (which is nothing but a money pit) because there is a chance the church will moving to a much nicer facility in the coming year.

I just did a glance on the Internet, and I was mistake about the Greek church. It did have doors. They were open for the entire liturgy, and thus I never noticed them.
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« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2011, 10:57:56 PM »

If a parish doesn't have royal doors, maybe donate them?
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