The Common Cup and Interreligious Marriage
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As said in my article the introduction to the mysteries, the Service of Matrimony was originally taking place during the Divine Liturgy, with communion not only being partaken by the couple, but by the whole congregation as well. This is the ultimate root of the “Common Cup” as it is known today. The Cup, which can be a goblet or wine glass (talk to your priest before purchasing), unfortunately has lost much of its luster over the centuries.
I don’t want you to be scandalized, but the truth is there was a time when an Orthodox Person could not marry anyone of another faith. We still see this in the Church’s allowance of marriages between Trinitarian Christians (those baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), but everyone else, even those who call themselves Christians; we cannot enter into marriage with them. There are still Orthodox practices throughout the world that are still as strict as saying only marriages between Orthodox Christians.
When a person does get married to someone outside of the Orthodox Church, at least in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, these are the basic requirements:  the wedding needs to take place in an Orthodox Church;  between an Orthodox Christian and another who is at the least, baptized in name of the Trinity and in water; and  the couple is to agree to try to raise their children in the Orthodox Church. I am not the ultimate authority on this, so if you have any questions please check with your Priests.
Anyway, back to the Common Cup. After marriages were separated from the Divine Liturgy and when interreligious marriages began to arise, the Church in its infinite wisdom, created a separate Cup, similar to Communion, but merely a cup of the same blessed wine, not the fullness of the Holy and Life-Giving Communion. At first, this cup was only for interreligious marriages, but as time progressed, the Common Cup became common for everyone, even in a marriage between two baptized Orthodox Christians. Surprisingly, the text of the service has maintained the Communion Hymn which says, “I will drink from the cup of salvation; I will call upon the name of the Lord.”
Though it is not Communion, it is fitting that it is wine. The Gospel of the Service is the story of Christ and His mother, the Theotokos’ participation at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. This is the first miracle (or Sign, as the Gospel of John puts it) of Christ’s ministry in the Gospel of John. The Theotokos, knowing that the wine had run out and knowing the holiness of her Son, asks Jesus to turn the water into wine, which he does. Not only does He transform water into wine, but He also makes it the best wine of the evening. This is important for us to remember, that in Christ the wine is not only transformed and made better, but our marriages, through Christ are to be transformed and made better.
Categorized in: Greek Wedding Traditions
This post was written by Greek Boston