Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon

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Chapter 21

Inside the Ecclesia, Matushka Ekaterina lit the gas lamps and then the candles. In the sacristy, the Archpriest, Father Makar donned his robes. He put on each piece with a prayer. Over his white robe, the sticharion, he put his head through the epitrachelion, his stole, and carefully straightened it. He placed laced cuffs, the epimanikia, over the sleeves of his sticharion and loosely tied them. They represented manacles, the chains that bound him into the service of God. He tied a cloth belt, the zone over the epitrachelion and sticharion. On his right side he suspended his nabedrennik with a strap that he drew over his left shoulder. A further diamond-shaped epigonation partially covered the nabedrennik and was also held in place by another strap over his left shoulder. He intentionally left off the omophorion, but still mouthed its prayer and kissed it. He bowed his head and placed over his neck the chain of his pectoral cross which was quite fine and his engolpion, a medallion with the icon of Christ in its center. Over everything, he donned a beautiful silver phelonion that was covered with gold stitching and decorations. It was large, conical, and sleeveless, with an open front so his hands were free. At the collar, he buttoned the high varkas that matched his phelonion and at the back rose as high as the top of his head. Father Makar completed everything with a crossless mitre on his head and a final prayer.

Properly accoutered for his role to administer a sacrament, he lit the incense and prepared the altar. All the while, Aksinya and Dobrushin waited in the Narthex.

The scent of the incense came first to Aksinya. She breathed it in. Her heart was full. She felt nothing but joy. Perhaps it was impossible for her to feel apprehension anymore. Still, the crucifix between her breasts did not burn, and she felt no pain in her body. She was excited and filled with desire, but that didn’t seem to bother her at all.

Finally, Matushka Ekaterina entered the narthex. She placed Aksinya on the left and Dobrushin on the right. Then she asked, “Dobrushin, do you have the rings?”

Dobrushin searched in the pockets of his vest and brought out a box. He placed this in Ekaterina’s outstretched hands. Aksinya watched wide-eyed. Ekaterina noticed. She opened the box for her, and Aksinya saw two simple bands, one silver and one gold. Aksinya sighed, she clasped more tightly to Dobrushin’s arm. Ekaterina took the box with the rings into the sanctuary and stepped to the altar, the Holy Table. Through the Holy Doors of the sanctuary, Aksinya saw Father Makar take the rings from the box and place them on the altar. He picked up the censer. From the Christ candle, Ekaterina lit two small candles then she led Father Makar back to the Holy Doors where Aksinya and Dobrushin waited.

Father Makar entered the narthex and came first to Dobrushin. He made the sign of the cross once on Dobrushin’s forehead, then on Aksinya’s forehead. He repeated the sign a second and then a third time on their foreheads. Ekaterina handed the lighted candles to Father Makar and he gave one to Dobrushin and one to Aksinya.

Father Makar turned and censed the sanctuary in the sign of the cross. He stepped through the doors and continued to cense in the shape of a cross at each step. Dobrushin stepped behind Father Makar and Aksinya still on his arm came with him. Behind them followed Ekaterina.

Father Makar continued onto the platform and to the altar. Dobrushin stopped just before the platform. After Father Makar censed the altar, he put the censer in its stand and returned to them. He turned to Aksinya, “Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, do you wish to marry this man, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin?”

“I do wish to marry him.”

“Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin, do you wish to marry this woman, Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna?”

“I do. Master, give the blessing.”

Father Makar’s brow rose in surprise that Dobrushin spoke the deacon’s part but he continued, “Blessed is our God, always, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

Ekaterina pronounced, “Amen.”

Father Makar stated, “In peace, let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina replied, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, and after each petition, Ekaterina replied “Lord, have mercy.” He started, “For the peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord. For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord. For Tikhon of Moscow 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, for the honored order of presbyters, for the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord. For the servant of God Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and the servant of God Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, who are now being betrothed to one another, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord. That they may be granted children for the continuation of the race and all their requests that are for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord. That there may sent down to them perfect and peaceful love and help, let us pray to the Lord. That they may be kept in concord and sure faith, let us pray to the Lord. That they may be blessed with concord and sure faith, let us pray to the Lord. That they may be preserved with a blameless manner and way of life, let us pray to the Lord. That the Lord, our God, may grant them honorable marriage and a bed without defilement, let us pray to the Lord. For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and constraint, let us pray to the Lord. Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by your grace. Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.”

Matushka Ekaterina replied, “To you, O Lord.”

Father Makar, “For to you belong all glory, honor and worship, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

Ekaterina, Dobrushin, and Aksinya answered, “Amen.”

Dobrushin bowed his head, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina replied, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, “Eternal God, who brought into unity what had been separated and establish an unbreakable bond of agreement; who blessed Isaac and Rebecca, and declared them to be the heirs of your promise; bless these servants of yours also, guiding them in every good work. Because you, O God, are merciful and love mankind, and to you we give glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

The others answered, “Amen.”

Father Makar, “Peace to all.”

Matushka Ekaterina, “And to your spirit.”

Dobrushin stated, “Bow your heads to the Lord.”

Matushka Ekaterina answered, “To you, O Lord.”

Father Makar prayed, “Lord, our God, who once betrothed yourself to the Church from the nations as a pure virgin, bless this betrothal, and unite and preserve these servants of yours in peace and concord. For to you belong all glory, honor and worship, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

They all replied, “Amen.”

Father Makar approached the altar. The rings sat beside a golden dish near the center of the Holy Table. The gold ring was on the left and the silver ring on the right. They touched one another. Also on the table were two crowns, one golden and one silver and a golden cup. Father Makar placed the rings on the dish and turned first to Dobrushin. He took the gold ring and with it made the sign of the cross three times on Dobrushin’s forehead, “The servant of God Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin betroths himself to the servant of God Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Father Makar took the silver ring and with it made the sign of the cross three times on Aksinya’s forehead, “The servant of God Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna betroths herself to the servant of God Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He then placed the rings on their right fingers.

With a smile, Matushka Ekaterina exchanged the rings between Aksinya and Dobrushin.

Dobrushin announced, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, “Lord our God, you journeyed with the servant of the Patriarch Abraham in Mesopotamia when he was sent to obtain a wife for his lord Isaac, and by means of drawing water you revealed that he should betroth Rebecca. Bless the betrothal of your servants Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna and make firm the word that they have spoken. Confirm them with the holy unity that comes from you. For it was you who in the beginning created male and female, and it is by you that woman is linked to man as a helper and for the continuation of the human race. Therefore, Lord our God, who sent truth out to your inheritance and your promise to your servants, our fathers, your elect in every generation, look on your servant Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and your servant Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, and make firm their betrothal in faith and concord and truth and love. For it is you, Lord, who declared that times a pledge is to be given and made firm in everything. By a ring authority was given to Joseph in . By a ring Daniel was glorified in the country of . By a ring the truth of Thamar was revealed. By a ring our heavenly Father showed compassion to the prodigal son. For he said, ‘Put a ring on his hand and bring out and slay the fatted calf, and let us eat and be joyful’. It was your right hand, Lord, that armed Moses at the , for through your true word the heavens were made firm and the earth set on its foundations. And the right hand of your servants will be blessed by your mighty word and by your upraised arm. Therefore, Master, with your heavenly blessing now bless also this putting-on of rings. And may an Angel of the Lord go before them all the days of their lives. For you are the One who blesses and sanctifies all things, and to you we give glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.

They said, “Amen.”

Father Makar announced, “The betrothal is complete. Now we can begin the crowning and marriage.” He continued, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.”

Matushka Ekaterina replied, “Glory to you, our God, glory to you.”

She continued the same reply following Father Makar’s petitions, “Who walk in his ways. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. You will eat the fruits of your labors. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. Blessed are you, and it will be well with you. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. You wife like a fruitful vine on the sides of your house. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. Your children like newly planted olive trees all around your table. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. See, this is how one who fears the Lord will be blessed. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. May the Lord bless you from , and may you see the good things of all the days of your life. Glory to you, our God, glory to you. And may you see your children’s children. Peace upon . Glory to you, our God, glory to you.”

Dobrushin stated, “Master, give the blessing.”

Father Makar faced toward the east and lifted up the Gospel book, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

They replied, “Amen.”

Father Makar stated, “In peace, let us pray to the Lord.”

Matushka Ekaterina called, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, and in response to each petition, Ekaterina replied, “Lord have mercy.”

“For the peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord. For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord. For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord. For Tikhon of Moscow 11th Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, for the honored order of presbyters, for the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord. For the servants of God Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, who are now being joined with one another in the communion of marriage, and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord. For this marriage to be blessed like that in Cana of Galilee let us pray to the Lord. For them to be granted chastity and the fruit of the womb as may be expedient for them, let us pray to the Lord. For them to be given the joy of seeing sons and daughters, let us pray to the Lord. For them to be granted the delight of the blessing of children and a life without accusation, let us pray to the Lord. For us and them to be given every request that is for salvation, let us pray to the Lord. For their and our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and constraint, let us pray to the Lord. Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by your grace. Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.”

Ekaterina, “To you, O Lord.”

Father Makar, “For to you belong all glory, honor and worship, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

They replied, “Amen.”

Dobrushin announced, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, “God most pure, Author of all creation, through your love for mankind you transformed the rib of our forefather Adam into a woman and blessed them saying, ‘Increase and multiply and have dominion over the earth’, and declared them both to be one through wedlock, ‘for because of this a man will abandon his father and mother and be attached to his own wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ and ‘those whom God has joined together, let no human separate’. You blessed your servant Abraham and opened Sara’s womb, making him the father of many nations. You gave Isaac to Rebecca and blessed her offspring. You joined Jacob with Rachel and from him revealed the Twelve Patriarchs. You yoked together Joseph and Aseneth and gave them as the fruit of their union Ephraim and Manassee. You accepted Zachary and Elisabeth and declared their offspring to be the Forerunner. You made the Ever-Virgin spring from the root of Jesse according to the flesh, and from her you became incarnate and were born for the salvation of the human race. Through your ineffable gift and great goodness you were present in Cana of Galilee and blessed the marriage there, to show that lawful wedlock and the begetting of children that comes from it is your will. All-holy Master, accept the entreaty of us, your suppliants, and, as you were present there, be present here also with your invisible protection. Bless this marriage and grant to these servants of yours, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for each other in the bond of peace, long-lived offspring, grace in their children and an unfading crown of glory. Grant that they may see their children’s children. Preserve their marriage bed unassailed. Give them of the dew of heaven from on high and of the richness of the earth. Fill their houses with wheat, wine and oil and every good thing, so that they may also share them with those in need. Grant also to those here with them all their requests that are for salvation. Because you are a God of mercy and compassion and love for humankind, and to you we give glory, together with your Father who has no beginning, and your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Dobrushin, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

“Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, sacred Celebrant of the mystical and most pure marriage, Lawgiver of bodily marriage, Guardian of incorruption, loving Steward of our livelihood. In the beginning, Master, you fashioned man and established him as king of creation, and said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone on the earth. Let us make him a helper like himself.’ And taking one of his ribs you fashioned a woman. When Adam saw her he said, ‘Now this is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. She will be called ‘woman’ because she was taken from her man. For this reason a man will leave behind his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’. And ‘Those whom God has joined together, let no human separate’. Now, Master, Lord our God, send down your heavenly grace also on these servants of yours, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, and grant that this handmaid of yours may be subject in all things to her husband and that this servant of yours may be the head of his wife, so that they may live in accordance with your will. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Abraham and Sara. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Isaac and Rebecca. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Jacob and all the Patriarchs. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Joseph and Aseneth. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Moses and Sepphora. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Joachim and Anna. Bless them, Lord our God, as you blessed Zachary and Elisabeth. Preserve them, Lord our God, as you preserved Noë in the Ark. Preserve them, Lord our God, as you preserved Jonas in the belly of the whale. Preserve them, Lord our God, as you preserved the three holy Youths from the fire, by sending down on them dew from heaven. And let the joy come upon them that the blessed Helen had when she found the precious Cross. Remember them, Lord our God, as you remembered Enoch, Sem and Elias. Remember them, Lord our God, as you remembered the holy Forty Martyrs, sending down on them crowns from heaven. Remember also, Lord our God, the parents who have brought them up, for the prayers of parents make firm the foundations of households. Remember, Lord our God, your servants, who have come together to share this joy. Remember, Lord our God, your servant Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and your servant Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, and bless them. Give them the fruit of the womb, fair offspring, concord of soul and body. Exalt them like the cedars of Lebanon, like a well-cultured vine. Grant then rich harvest, so that, having all sufficiency for themselves, they may overflow into every good work that is also well-pleasing to you, and that they may see their children’s children like newly planted olive trees all around their table. And, having been well pleasing to you, may they shine like beacons in heaven, in you our Lord, to whom belong all glory might, honor and worship, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Dobrushin called, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina replied, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed again, “Holy God, who fashioned man from dust, and from his rib built up a woman and yoked her to him as a helper like himself, for it was not pleasing to your greatness for man to be alone on earth, do you, Master, now send forth your hand from your holy dwelling, and link…” He put Dobrushin’s right hand in Aksinya’s. She held it tightly while Father Makar continued to pray, “…your servant Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and your servant Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, because it is by you that a wife is linked to her husband. Yoke them together in likeness of mind. Crown them into one flesh. Grant them fruit of the womb, enjoyment of fair offspring. For yours is the might, and yours the kingdom, the power and the glory, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Father Makar took the two crowns from the altar. He lifted the silver one over Dobrushin’s head, “The servant of God, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin, takes as his crown the servant of God, Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He lowered the crown on Dobrushin’s head while stating this three times. Then he made the sign of the cross three times on each of them.

Father Makar took the gold crown and held it over Aksinya’s head, “The servant of God, Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, takes as her crown the servant of God, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He said this three times as he slowly lowered the crown to her head. He made the sign of the cross three times on each of them again.

He chanted three times, “Lord our God, crown them with honor and glory.”

Dobrushin spoke, “Let us attend.”

Father Makar read from the Psalms, “May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from ! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O Lord, save the king! May he answer us when we call. You have placed upon their head crowns of precious stones. They have asked you for life, and you have given them length of days.”

Dobrushin, “Wisdom.”

Father Makar stated, “The Reading is from the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.”

Dobrushin, “Let us attend.”

Father Makar read, “Brethren, give thanks at all times for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, making yourselves subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is head of the wife, as Christ too is head of the Church, and he is the Savior of the body. But as the Church is subject to Christ, so wives must be also to their own husbands in everything. Husbands love your own wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify her, having purified her with the washing of water with a word, that he might present the Church to himself glorious, without spot or wrinkle or anything similar, but that she might be holy and unblemished. Thus husbands must love their own wives like their own bodies. One who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one hates their own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as the Lord does the Church, because we are members of his body, from his flesh and from his bones. ‘For this reason a man will abandon his father and mother and be attached to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, I mean concerning Christ and the Church. However let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife respect her husband.”

Dobrushin, “Peace to you.”

Father Makar, “And to your spirit. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, flee like a bird to your mountain, for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. Guard us and keep us, O Lord, from this generation and for ever.”

Dobrushin, “Wisdom. Stand upright. Let us listen to the holy Gospel.”

Father Makar, “Peace to all.”

Matushka Ekaterina, “And to your spirit.”

Father Makar, “The is from the holy Gospel according to John.”

Ekaterina, “Glory to you, Lord, glory to you.”

Dobrushin, “Let us attend.”

Father Makar read, “At that time, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the marriage. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no wine’. Jesus said to her. ‘Woman, why do you trouble me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever he tells you, do it.’ Now there were six stone water jars standing there for the Jewish ritual of purification, holding twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward of the feast. They took it. When the chief steward tasted the water that had become wine and did not know where it had come from — but the servants who had drawn the water knew — he summoned the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone puts out the good wine first, and when people are drunk, then he puts out the worse. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ This was the beginning of the signs that Jesus did in Cana of Galilee and he manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him.”

Matushka Ekaterina, “Glory to you, Lord, glory to you.”

Father Makar, “Let us all say, with all our soul and with all our mind, let us say.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar, “Lord almighty, the God of our fathers, we pray you, hear and have mercy.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar, “Have mercy on us, O God, according to your great mercy, we pray you, hear and have mercy.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar, “Again we pray for mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, visitation, pardon and forgiveness of sins for the servants of God, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, and for the people here present, who await your great and rich mercy.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, “For you, O God, are merciful, and love mankind, and to you we give glory, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Dobrushin, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed again, “Lord, our God, who in your saving dispensation were pleased in Cana of Galilee to declare marriage honorable by your presence, now too preserve in peace and concord your servants, Dobrushin Sergeevich Lopuhin and Princess Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov the Countess of Golitsyna, whom you have been well-pleased to be joined to each another. Declare their marriage honorable; keep their marriage bed undefiled; be well pleased for their life together to be without spot; and grant that they may reach a ripe old age, carrying out your commandments with a pure heart. For you are our God, a God who has and who saves, and to you we give glory, together with your Father who has no beginning, and your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Father Makar prayed, “Help us, save us, have mercy on us and keep us, O God, by your grace.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Ekaterina replied after each petition, “Grant this, O Lord.”

Father Makar, “That the whole day may be perfect, holy, peaceful and sinless, let us ask of the Lord. An angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us ask of the Lord. Pardon and forgiveness of our sins and offences, let us ask of the Lord. Things good and profitable for our souls, and peace for the world, let us ask of the Lord. That we may live out the rest of our days in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord. A Christian end to our life, painless, unashamed and peaceful, and a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ, let us ask. Having asked for the unity of the faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ, our God.”

Ekaterina, “To you, O Lord.”

Father Makar, “And count us worthy, Master, with boldness and without condemnation to dare to call upon you, the God of heaven, as Father, and to say:”

They all replied, “Our Father in heaven, may your name be hallowed, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Father Makar continued, “For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Father Makar, “Peace to all.”

Ekaterina, “And to your spirit.”

Dobrushin, “Let us bow our heads to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “To you, O Lord.”

Father Makar lifted the cup from the altar. He held it high.

Dobrushin, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar blessed the cup, “O God, who made all things by your strength, who made the inhabited world firm and adorned the crown of all that had been made by you, bless too with your spiritual blessing this common Cup, which you grant to those who have been joined in the communion of marriage. For blessed is your name and glorified your kingdom, of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Father Makar held the cup for Dobrushin to drink then Aksinya. He offered them the cup three times while stating, “I will take the cup of salvation and I will call on the name of the Lord.”

Then he grasped Dobrushin and Aksinya by the hands and led them around the altar three times.

Ekaterina followed behind and chanted, “The Virgin has conceived and given birth to a Son, Emmanuel, who is both God and man. Orient is his name, whom we magnify as we call the Virgin blessed. Holy Martyrs, who fought the good fight and were crowned, intercede with the Lord to have mercy on our souls. Glory to you, Christ God, boast of Apostles, joy of Martyrs whose preaching was the consubstantial Trinity.

When they stood at the front of the altar again, Father Makar raised Dobrushin’s crown, “Bridegroom, be magnified like Abraham, blessed like Isaac and multiplied like Jacob, as you go your way in peace and carry out in righteousness the commandments of God.” He set the crown back on Dobrushin’s head.

Father Makar moved to Aksinya. He raised her crown, “And you, Bride, be magnified like Sara, and rejoice like Rebecca and be multiplied like Rachel, rejoicing in your own husband, keeping the limits of the law, for so God has been well-pleased.” He lowered the crown back onto her head.

Dobrushin, “Let us pray to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “Lord, have mercy.”

Father Makar prayed, “God, our God, who were present in Cana of Galilee, and blessed the marriage there, bless these servants of yours also, who by your providence have been joined in the communion of marriage. Bless their goings out and their comings in. Fill their life with good things. Take up their crowns…” he took the crowns from their heads and placed them on the altar, “…in your Kingdom, unspotted and unblemished, and keep them without offence to the ages of ages.”

“Amen.”

Father Makar, “Peace to all.”

Ekaterina, “And to your spirit.”

Dobrushin, “Bow your heads to the Lord.”

Ekaterina, “To you, O Lord.”

Father Makar prayed, “May Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the all-holy, consubstantial Trinity, origin of life, the one Godhead and Kingship, bless you and grant you long life, fair offspring, progress in life and faith, and fill you with every good thing on earth, and count you worthy of the promised good things of the enjoyment of heaven, at the prayers of the Mother of God and of all the Saints.”

“Amen.”

Father Makar stated a loud voice, “Glory to you, Christ God, our hope, glory to you. Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

“Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Holy Father, give the blessing. May he who by his presence at Cana declared marriage honorable, Christ our true God, through the prayers of his all-pure Mother, of the holy, glorious and all-praised Apostles, of the holy Sovereigns crowned by God and Equals of the Apostles, Constantine and Helen, of the holy great Martyr Prokopios and all the Saints, have mercy on us and save us, for he is good and loves mankind. Through the prayers of our holy fathers Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us.

“Amen.”

Aksinya held tightly to Dobrushin’s arm. She would not let go. Ekaterina embraced her, “You are now married.”

Father Makar smiled for just a moment, then frowned, “Yes, you are married. I wish every peace I can offer you. I do pray for you. Especially, you Dobrushin to come to your senses.”

Ekaterina stuck her tongue out at him, “Makeruska, you married them. They have no senses to come to anymore. Bless you, I say. Bless you.” She glanced at Father Makar, “And no, they will not stay for tea or to talk. They have better things to do.” She grinned at Aksinya, who blushed.

“I’ll hire a carriage,” Dobrushin stated. Aksinya let go of his arm by stages. Father Makar announced, “I’ll help him.”

Aksinya and Ekaterina were left together in the Ecclesia. Ekaterina put her hands on her hips, “Do you plan to try it tonight?”

“Yes, we must. There is no other choice…how did you know?”

“Dobrushin told me what he had in mind. He asked my advice.”

Aksinya turned her eyes away, “What did you tell him?”

Ekaterina embraced Aksinya, “I told him you were worth it.”

“Worth the loss of his work, the loss of his friend, and potentially the loss of his life? Am I worth all that?”

“And more, sweet Princess Aksinya.”

“I have been a Princess of darkness, the Queen of the Night. I intend to be a princess of light.”

Father Makar called from the Holy Doors, “The carriage is here.”

Ekaterina kissed Aksinya’s cheeks, “You are worth this and much much more, never forget that Princess.”

Aksinya kissed Ekaterina’s cheeks in return, “Yes. I shall never forget, but I’m not certain I believe it.”

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