"O holy martyrs, who fought the good fight and have received your crowns, entreat the Lord, that He will have mercy on our souls.” (Hymn of the Byzantine Rite of Crowning, or Holy Matrimony)

This hymn is sung during a triple procession, around a table in the center of the church, at the “Crowning” or Marriage-Rite of my church. It is also sung at the Rite of Ordination (to ecclesiastical orders). It is sung in anticipation of the “martyrdom” or “witness” of self-offering and self-sacrifice inherent to the life of ministers of my church – including married people, who are called to minister to each other and to others in their “domestic church.”

Why am I reflecting on this today? Because one of my relatives, a banker, wrote me an email last night, in which he mentioned that he’s currently on “the night-shift” at his bank, because his bank “has to do some trades during Asian hours.” So – he now works nights, a married man and father of three, coming home “for a nap” during the day, and then working through the night. “It’s been tough,” he says humbly, “but it should only last two weeks.”

Let me take note today of the “unsung heroes” and martyrs of my church, the married ones. How many of these men and women labor today, sitting in front of computer-screens or elsewhere, to support their families, often at unfulfilling jobs in various businesses or odd enterprises, just to support others – their families. May they all be blessed on their cross-carrying journey, however little it is recognized, because they will, indeed, “receive their crowns.”

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