By Hubert Arnoldi, UPF GermanyOn the afternoon of May 21, 2017 we gathered at our Stuttgart UPF Interfaith Center on the occasion of the UN International Day of Families to listen to a talk on “The significance of the family in the religions” and to conduct an interreligious World Peace Blessing ceremony.UPF representative in Stuttgart, Hubert Arnoldi, emceed the event and first read some excerpts on the UN International Day of Families 2017. Then he explained how receiving the World Peace Marriage Blessing could help to unfold original love. The Family Federation for World Peace, founded in 1996, emphasizes the value of marriage and family for the individual as well as for society. For this reason, it conducts marriage blessing ceremonies all over the world for already married couples who renew their marriage vows and for unwed couples who give their vows to each other.In founding the world-wide Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja Han Moon, who are also founders of UPF, highlighted the central value of marriage and family for people of all faiths. They teach that true love can best be realized in a family where God’s love resides. The relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters should all be imbued with fulfilling and lasting love.The blessing ceremony is simple. Couples meet in a certain place, give their vows and ex-change rings. A special prayer is said to bless the couples and ask for their protection. The couples express their willingness to follow God’s will and invest themselves in a life of true love, fidelity and stability in their marriage thus making a contribution for a peaceful world. Prior to the blessing vows, couples partake in a Holy Wine (or Nectar) Ceremony signifying internal purification.After the blessing, a short restoration ceremony (Korean: Tan Gam) is conducted which signifies the liberation from burdening resentments and painful feelings between husband and wife. To prepare themselves for a new and pure beginning of their married life, the couples go through a period – normally 40 days – of sexual abstinence during which they pray together. The completion of the blessing process is a private 3-day ceremony between husband and wife.The Blessing is open to all people of all beliefs. It opens up a new dimension of heavenly blessing and has proven to be an enormous help for participants in strengthening their religious life. The Blessing also serves as a means to overcome barriers which prevent us from fulfill our spiritual ideals and it can foster better understanding of people of other faiths.Good families stem from good marriages. Good marriages are based on good men and women. Unless we ourselves become people who embody goodness we won’t be able to realize goodness in our marriages and families.After the talk, following the tradition of the World Peace Blessings, 10 representative of the religious communities which were present – Sikh, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Scientology, Christian Science and Family Federation – offered a blessing prayer for all the participants in the room, so that each could receive the blessing, but also share and bestow it. Then the blessing vows were said and the Holy Wine (Nectar) administered. To conclude the ceremony, Hubert and Yoshiko Arnoldi offered a special blessing prayer.The atmosphere was very high and the musical piece “Blessing” by Celtic Woman marked the end of the blessing ceremony. Three couples from the Sikh religion, Sufi Islam and Scientology received the blessing of renewing their marriage. Mr. Subhraag Sing of the Sikh religion was awarded with the Peace Ambassador certificate.After the traditional “family photo” with all participants, we had coffee and cake and heart-felt sharing lasted for hours. Cordial thanks to all participants and helpers!
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