We had friends who were getting married in Romania! In Romania, they actually have two ceremonies. One ceremony, they have at the court house, and the other ceremony they have at the church building. I went to both ceremonies that day and the reception, but it was at the church building when the Orthodox priest couldn’t stop yelling at me. The wedding began wonderfully.
In a Romanian Orthodox wedding, the bride and the groom both wear crowns a if they are royalty for the day. They don’t have a best man and a maid or matron of honor like we do in America. They have their godparents stand up with them in front of the priest. This couple also asked my daughter to stand up there, but I can’t remember exactly what they considered her role to be.
At Orthodox church buildings, there are very few seats. At most churches, when you go in, the whole auditorium is full of pews or chairs for the people to sit down, but not so in a Romanian Orthodox building. The auditorium is usually a big vacant hall with beautiful pictures all over the walls and a beautiful golden altar at the front. There may be some seats off to the side of the altar, but not many. Friends of mine who went there told me that for a Sunday to Sunday basis, they had to buy their seats like you buy a seat at the theater. We were all in the building, and there were few enough of us that there were enough seats off to the side of the altar, so we were sitting there.However, the priest hadn’t shown up yet. We were waiting on him.
During the ceremony, the priest fed the bride and groom honey and bread.
Finally, a door at the back of the altar opened, and the priest joined us. As he entered, everyone got up out of respect, but no one sat down again. He began his wedding sermon with everyone standing up, and no one sat down again. He just kept preaching. After that, he got honey and bread and gave it to the bride and groom as part of the ceremony. Still, no one was sitting down. After that, he got a long ribbon. He gave the bride and a groom a portion of the ribbon to hold so that they were connected by the ribbon and kept part of it himself. He led them up onto the altar with the ribbon. He walked in circles around the altar with the bride and the groom trailing behind him, around and around they went. As they went, they were kissing the Bible and other thing along the way on the altar. I didn’t count how many times they went around. After they did this, the priest began talking again.
Well, no one was sitting down through any of it. I had had problems with my back and legs and recently had lost a limp, but still wasn’t very strong. My back and legs were screaming at me they hurt so bad from standing there all that time. I had to give up and sit down. I figured everyone else would remain standing. However, when I sat down, everyone else decided to sit down too. It infuriated the Orthodox priest!! He began screaming at the crowd that they had no respect! Everyone stood back up, and he continued talking until the end of the wedding. He wanted everyone standing up all the way through.
I felt bad because I had gotten the priest mad and gotten everyone yelled at. I decided I needed to go to the priest after the ceremony and apologize and explain. However, he didn’t give me a chance. He was at the altar, and I approached the altar. There was a carpet on the altar than also came out in front of the altar. As I got close to him, I stepped on the edge of the carpet. When he saw me he began screaming again. He said I was a woman, and I had profaned the altar by stepping on the carpet!! I didn’t know. I knew that the woman wasn’t allowed to go in the doors back behind the altar, but I didn’t know I wasn’t even allowed to approach the altar. He just kept screaming at me!! I couldn’t get a word in edgewise to apologize for being the reason that everyone sat down or to apologize for stepping on the carpet. He just kept screaming, and as he screamed, he headed for the door where he had come out of at the beginning at the back of the altar and went through the door screaming. I was stunned that the could be so rude as not to even talk to me or listen to anything I had to say. He was supposed to be a priest.
The Bible (the book of Hebrews in the New Testament) says that Jesus is the great high priest, and it also says we need no other priest. We can approach God by going through Jesus.
I am not Orthodox, but I know what the function of a priest is. They are supposed to be a mediator between God and man, but this priest couldn’t mediate anything because he was so full of pride and anger. God is accepting, and if I had had to get to God through him, I would have been in trouble. I am so glad that the book of Hebrews says that Jesus is the great high priest, and he is the mediator between God and man because Jesus accepts us when we go to him. He doesn’t scream at us and not take the time or patience to talk to us. With attitudes like this priest had, it makes me sorry for the Orthodox people who think they have to go through priests like him to get to God. They pay for seats they can’t sit in. They pay him to say prayers for them too. Priest are supposed to represent God to the people, but an attitude of pride, arrogance, and anger doesn’t represent God. God is a loving and accepting God who wants us to go to him. He performed the wedding ceremony, and my friends were happy, and I was happy for them, but the priest befuddled me.