Altar or Alter

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian


“Lav, pav, tzav” (OK, enough, pain) is our saying, perhaps somehow equivalent to “jamais deux sans trois” (there’s no two without three) in French.  I like ours better, since the third opens the door to action, in this case an article.

The issue is wedding locations, the actual ritual, not the reception and festivities that follow. It turns out that the Armenian Apostolic Church has rules that require that this rite can only be performed in a church, at an altar.

I assume this is because of some “blessedness” associated with such sites.

It’s now way past time to alter this rule.

A quarter century ago, a very close friend ended up choosing to have a Protestant Armenian minister marry him and his wife because the Armenian Apostolic Church refused to perform the ceremony at their chosen location.

Last week I encountered an article in which Catholicos Karekin II was being severely criticized for authorizing an out-of-church wedding because the person getting married was rich/connected and the author implied unsavory circumstances leading to this authorization.

Just this weekend, I learned of another couple who were denied being wedded by Armenian Apostolic Church because of the location they wanted the ceremony performed.  The response was a shrug and the observation that the church would thus be denied a fee.

Whatever the mumbo-jumbo “reasons” are for this policy, they are less important than the fact that people are being driven away from an Armenian institution in the Diaspora.  There has to be a better solution.

If sanctification of some sort is necessary for a “proper” wedding, then why not sprinkle holy water, burn incense, and chant to the priests’ hearts’ content until any given site is sufficiently “holy” and “blessed” to satisfy their mythological masters?  Hell, we’re talking about the institution that found a way to reinterpret, coopt, and subsume all kinds of pre-Christian religious rituals into its then-new-order – think fire at Diyaruntarach (Presentation of the Lord), water at Vartavar (pagan holiday)/Transfiguration, a pagan goddess’ name, Zadeeg, for the Resurrection, i.e. Easter, grapes for the Assumption of St. Mary, and on and on.  Now, all that is deemed sacrosanct, integral, and immutable, but the location of an altar may not be altered?

Spare me, please, any arguments about tradition, propriety, and Christianity.  This has nothing to do with anything except an implacable resistance to improvement, based on nothing other than human frailty manifested, in this case, as fear of change.

It’s time we all told the church to get with it or lose our (admittedly grudging) support.  Tell all the priests, monks, and bishops you know to put their heads together and come up with a solution, lest they find themselves jobless and bereft of the institution they profess to serve because that institution chose, though their inaction, to be blind to change.

Source: Asbarez
Link: Altar or Alter

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