to the administration of marriages, divorces, baptisms, funerals, memorials
and other sacraments and rites in the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church.
order for the union of men and women candidates for marriage to be perfect
and acceptable in the eyes of our Church, It is imperative that they receive
the Sacrament of Marriage of the Armenian Apostolic Church. In order for
the performance of the ecclesiastical Sacrament to be valid, the following
conditions must be met:
B. Permissible days
There must be no reason or grounds preventing
the candidates from getting married.
Civil (state) and ecclesiastical (Church)
licenses must be obtained in advance.
The Marriage Sacrament must be performed
by a consecrated cleric in the service of the Armenian Apostolic Church
and our Prelacy, according to the rites and canons of the Armenian Apostolic
Church. The performance of the marriage rite by an ex-communicated clergyman
is considered void by the Church. Visiting clergymen may participate after
obtaining the permission of the given Churchís pastor and with the knowledge
of the prelate.
The Marriage Sacrament in the Armenian
Church is performed in accordance with the rites and canons of the Armenian
The Armenian Church recognizes the validity
of marriages performed by the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic
and other churches having a hierarchical authority and recognized by our
Church, as well as other churches that are not heretical. In such cases,
the Armenian Church does not require the repetition of the Marriage Sacrament.
In the case of mixed marriages, the
non-Apostolic candidate should have been baptized in the name of the Holy
The Armenian Apostolic Church absolutely
refuses to perform the Marriage Sacrament between an Armenian Apostolic
and a non-Christian individual.
According to the teachings of the Armenian
Church, an important role is reserved for the godfather or the best man.
And, since the responsibility undertaken by him involves a close and lasting
relationship, as in the case of baptism, the best man must be someone who
is acceptable to the Armenian Apostolic Church: an adult who has been baptized
and confirmed, and who is a communicant of the Church.
Church has designated certain days of the year as permissible for marriage,
after taking into consideration Sundays, Saintsí Days and Fast Days. The
schedule of permissible days must be respected. Therefore, before setting
any date, the couple should obtain the approval of the local pastor to
Armenian Apostolic Church refuses to perform all marriages where one or
both of the parties were married in accordance to the canons of our Church,
and have subsequently obtained only a civil divorce, without advising the
proper authorities of the Church about their divorce.
It is possible to obtain an ecclesiastical
divorce after the civil decree has been issued. However, the parish priest
should exert every effort to reconcile the couple. Should the priest fail
to do so, then the petition for a divorce and all relevant and corresponding
documents are submitted to the Prelacy for an appropriate resolution.
any of the parties has been previously married and divorced (once or more),
he/she is required to present the decree of each divorce and the Prelacyís
ratification along with an affidavit certifying his/her singleness.
E. Mixed Marriages
is an undeniable fact that the more the number of common denominators between
individuals entering into the marriage bond, the greater are the probabilities
that they may enjoy a peaceful and harmonious life together. Certainly,
sharing the same faith and traditions can spare them from many serious
problems and strengthen their family ties.
If we consider the theology, teachings
and didactic concerns relate to the Marriage Sacrament of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, and realize that the Church represents a unity in terms
of its doctrine and mission, then we may understand that the Church cannot
put itself in a contradictory position, i.e., preach the faithfulness of
our beliefs on one hand, and preach the eternality of the same beliefs
on the other. Therefore, it should be clear to all, as to why the Armenian
Church does not, and cannot, encourage mixed marriages between an Armenian
Apostolic and a non-Christian to be absolutely impossible. This is not
a matter of prejudice and/or unfair discrimination, but rather, it reflects
the principles of remaining faithful to our faith.
If we confess that the utmost objective
of the Marriage Sacrament is to view the union of marriage as an integral
part of our faith in Christ, which is expressed by the participation of
the couple in the life of the Church, that is, the body of Christ, then
it becomes clear that the participation of an individual outside of our
faith, or religion in the Marriage Sacrament can ultimately be destructive
to the integrity of the Churchís doctrines as well as to the self-respect
and dignity of the non-Apostolic believer.
All the sacraments of our Church,
including marriage, originate with the Sacrament of Baptism. Therefore,
it is an absolute prerequisite for marriage that both candidates be Christian
believers, baptized and confirmed in the name of the Holy trinity, for
they are called upon to be the people of God and members of the Church.
Those who are fundamentally opposed to the beliefs, doctrine and mission
of the church, should not choose ecclesiastical marriage as the means of
commencing their conjugal life.
When we look upon the issue in its
literal context, the only "mixed marriage", which can take place within
the Armenian Church is the one between an Armenian Apostolic and person
belonging to a non-Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Armenian Apostolic Church considers
Churches as Christian and orthodox if they specifically confess the Divinity
of the Holy Trinity, believe in the perfection and unity of the Divine
and human natures of Christ and use the formula, "In the Name of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit" during baptism.
As stated, the Armenian Church does
not encourage such mixed marriages; nevertheless, it does not refuse to
perform them either, since, in terms of its mission, it must care for the
spiritual well-being of the Christian believers. At the same time, it is
thought that the non-Armenian Apostolic Christian can share the ecclesiastical
Sacrament to a certain extent without being unfaithful to his/her church
This "deviation" from the accepted
ways, in ecclesiastical terms, is called "economy", i.e. to utilize the
Churchís mission with hope for the future.
It must be clear, however, that the
participation of a non-Armenian Apostolic in the rite of the Marriage Sacrament
of the Armenian Church does not result in automatic change in the confession
of faith of the individual; nor does it grant him/her the right to participate
in other sacraments of the Armenian Church.
Often, however, after acquaintance
and some deliberations, the Candidate may wish to accept the Armenian Apostolicism,
either prior to the exchange of the martial vows or subsequently. In such
cases, the wish of the candidate is naturally granted, once he/she has
received the necessary doctrinal instructions.
In any event, the Armenian Church
does not force, nor does it exert pressure on others to accept Armenian
Apostolicism. The candidates are accepted within the Church only when they
apply for it by their own free will.
There are three classifications
of mixed marriages in general, non-theological sense of the word:
The Armenian Apostolic Church blesses
the Sacrament of Marriage between an individual of these classifications
and an Armenian Apostolic after the following conditions have been met.
Individuals from non-Christian religious
or heretical sects;
Individuals from non-Apostolic Christian
Individuals from other Apostolic Christian
of non-Christian religious and/or heretical sects:
belonging to non-Apostolic Churches:
Marriage between an Armenian Apostolic
and a non-Christian is prohibited as long as the latter has not expressed
the desire to accept our Churchís confession of faith, baptism and mission
through its sacraments, by his/her own free will in an explicit manner.
The following are regarded as non-Christian
and heretical; Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Taoism, Paganism,
Zoroastrianism, Fetishism, Naturalism, and Atheism. Among the schismatic
faiths are Mormonism, Jehovahís Witness, Scientology, Christian Scientist,
Salvation Army, Quakers, etc.
First, these individuals should express
their desire to become a member of our Church, then receive serious instructions
in its catechism, accept its rites, get baptized, and, in this way, obtain
membership in the Armenian Church under the supervision of the Pastor.
In such cases, the candidates are required
to confirm, with a written promise, that they shall raise and instruct
their children in accordance to the doctrines and teachings of the Armenian
In such cases, the candidates are required
to give a written promise, that they will raise and bring up their children
according to the doctrines and teachings of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
By the term "non-Apostolic", we refer
to those Christian Churches, which were not founded by the apostles, and
by their doctrines they deviate from the teachings of the churches founded
on Apostolic traditions, particularly, in their perception and priesthood.
By non-Apostolic churches in general we understand the traditional Protestant
or Evangelical churches, such as Lutheran, Calvinist, Presbyterian, etc.
In this case as well, the marriage of
an Armenian Apostolic to a non-Apostolic individual is prohibited in the
Armenian Church and according to its rites, as long as the individual doesnít
express the desire to accept our Churchís confession of faith in an unsolicited
and explicit manner, acting on his/her own free will.
These individuals should also be instructed
in the catechism of the Armenian Church and accept its doctrine. If they
are baptized, they must be confirmed and take communion according to the
rite of the Armenian Church and, in this way, obtain membership in the
Armenian Church, under the supervision of the pastor.
belonging to other Apostolic Churches:
according to the Canon regarding incest:
By "Apostolic Church", we mean all those
churches which are considered to have originated through apostolic tradition
and which accept the Holy Trinity, the Nicene Creed, the Churchís seven
sacraments and the Churchís hierarchy.
Those classified as Apostolic Churches are: the Oriental Orthodox Churches,
the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church.
As stated above, the greater the common
bonds existing between the two candidates for marriage, the higher the
probability for a more solid marriage. However, when an Armenian Apostolic
and a non-Armenian Apostolic decide to get married, the Armenian Church
will grant their wish, after examining and satisfying the following conditions:
Verify and confirm that the non-Armenian
Apostolic candidate has been baptized and confirmed by his/her church and/or
administer whatever is necessary and proper.
Acquaint him/her with the doctrine and
history of the Armenian Church.
Enroll him/her as a member of the Church,
upon his/her request.
Receive assurance that, after the wedding
the children will be brought up and educated in accordance to the teachings
of the Armenian Church.
Parents with their own children, grandchildren
or great grandchildren
Brothers and sisters with each other.
Uncles and aunts with nieces and nephews
Foster parents with foster children
Foster children with the children of
Godfathers with goddaughters
Godfathers with the mothers of their
Godchildren with the children of their
Godmothers with their godsons
Godmothers with the father of godsons
Brothers-in-law with sisters-in-law
Baptisms may be performed at any
time, in accordance to the following rules:
In exceptional cases, the godfather
may be a member of the Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox or Eastern Orthodox
Churches. A member of the Protestant Church may become a godfather only
in the event that he receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, if he is already
baptized. A non-Christian is not acceptable as a godfather under any circumstance.
In the case of the Baptism or Confirmation
of a child, the consent of the subjectís parents or legal guardians is
The godfather of the child to be baptized
must be an adult, baptized and confirmed member
or the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Sacrament of Baptism should be performed
in the Holy Font of the Armenian Church. Only under special circumstances
is it permissible to perform it at home, as when the child is very sick
or the parents live far from the Church.
Preferably, the first name of the baptized,
otherwise the middle name, should be distinctly Armenian. In this respect,
the Pastor should have discussed this matter with the parents in advance
and given the necessary explanation, along with a list of Armenian names.
In the case of the baptism of illegitimate
children the explanation "Child of the Church" shall be recorded instead
of the fatherís name.
is recommended that our faithful respect the memory of their loved ones
and seek the fatherly mercy of God through prayer, charity and religious
For the benefit of those who wish
to have a memorial service performed for their departed loved one, or relative,
they should take into consideration that it is necessary for them to be
present in church from the start of the Divine Liturgy and participate
in the prayers, because although the memorial service will be performed
at the end of the liturgy, the celebrant priest remembers all our departed
ones in his silent liturgical prayers as well.
Burial of the
Memorial services are performed at the
end of the Divine Liturgy.
According to the canons of the Armenian
Church, it is forbidden to perform memorial services on Feast Days: Nativity
or Epiphany, Easter Sunday, transfiguration of Jesus Christ, Ascension
and Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Special Remembrance Days for conducting
memorial services follows on the next days of these five major feasts.
Memorial services coinciding with feast days should be moved to the preceding
or following Sunday.
According to the canons of the Armenian
Church it is not permitted to perform memorial services during the Holy
Week as well as on Christmas Eve and Easter Eve Liturgies.
It is possible to perform Requiem Mass
on Sundays during Lent if there is such a request, usually after the Sunrise
Service which follows the Divine Liturgy.
Funeral services are permissible
on all days of the year but avoid performing funerals on Sundays.
During the performance of the Wake Service
(Dan Gark) when the casket is still open, it is appropriate to place a
wafer in the hands of the deceased. Although there is no special rule concerning
whether the deceasedís face should be kept uncovered or covered, prior
to the service, for the sake of solemnity and in order to prevent unnecessary
or after inappropriate displays of behavior taking place inside the Church,
it is advisable to keep the casket closed in the Church. If it has been
customary to keep the deceasedís face open, it is proper for that custom
to be gradually lifted and the magnificence of the rites of our Holy Church
kept undisturbed during the funeral service.
Endeavor to explain to the relatives
of the deceased, that after the performance of the Wake Service (Dan Gark),
performed at the funeral home, they honor the departed one with the Church
Service followed by a graveside service at the cemetery.
It is specifically forbidden to have
the deceasedís casket open during the funeral service at the Church.
Pastors and parish councils are requested
to use all available means to convince the faithful that, according to
the canons and traditions of the Armenian Church, as well as the tenets
of the Christian religion, they should not cremate the body of their beloved