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Sealed with a Blessing…Byzantine Style

Jane and I opted not to have an engagement party, after all there was not a whole lot of time until the wedding date and now there are less than 150 days to go! However I was keen to have an engagement blessing of some sort. I had been to engagement parties where the priest comes along and in a simple ceremony blesses both the ring and the couple. In the Middle Eastern region the idea of an engagement blessing seems to be bigger than it is in the West and an added Eastern tradition is that the man would also have an engagement ring. Even though I don’t have ring we did arrange to have the blessing at my Melkite parish last Sunday evening after the Divine Liturgy (i.e. Mass). We didn’t want to turn the event into an engagement party in itself so we only invited our immediate family and a few very close friends for the Liturgy and then to join us afterwards for dinner.

For Jane’s family and all of our friends the evening was a more novel event as it was of course a Byzantine Liturgy. The Sunday night Liturgy is in English, which is just as well as I don’t speak Arabic. The Liturgy was beautiful as always with its ongoing chant, incense and processions, with the iconastasis (icon screen) reminding us that we worship amidst all the saints and the angels. A touching homily was preached by our archdeacon who is actually a full born ‘Australian’ but who came over to the Melkite Church many years ago. While the Divine Liturgy was taking place Jane’s engagement ring sat on the altar which was a lovely blessing in itself, that the offering of my love to her was placed on the altar at which the ultimate showing of love takes place. Read the rest of this entry

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