Sacred transformation: another wedding story

Sacred transformation: another wedding story August 21, 2011

You might consider this the flip side of the story I posted yesterday, courtesy Fr. Dwight Longenecker.  He approached a wedding ceremony the same way I approach baptisms, by first reminding those present of what is really about to occur and underscoring the solemnity of the occasion.

The results, I think, speak for themselves:

As I conducted the rehearsal I explained about the Catholic view of marriage and discussed God’s love and our human loves and what the different elements of the ceremony actually meant. Then, the next day, as the wedding began I welcomed everyone and explained that we call this ceremony the “solemnization of marriage” and that, while it is a joyful event, it is also a solemn religious ritual. I explained that God is present here and I invited them to join in with the prayers and treat the ceremony as solemnly as possible so that it would be as beautiful and meaningful as possible for the bride and groom.

The marriage went on, and I noticed that everyone actually responded. People who had been casual and slouchy were standing erect and tall and silent. They had put their cameras away. They knelt reverently and listened carefully to the readings and homily. They were caught up in the ceremony–and this was especially noticeable amongst the non-Catholics.

Then when it came to the blessing of the rings the ten year old boy stepped forward with the rings pinned to a pillow and he was weeping freely. I looked across and saw that one of the beefy groomsmen was also wiping away a tear. The matron of honor was weeping and so was another bridesmaid. Now I know people always cry at weddings, but this was quite extraordinary and I sensed that what was making them weep was a real and tangible presence of God–and that their awareness of his presence was empowered by the fact that they took my words about the solemnity of the ritual seriously.

Amen.  Read the rest. And then share it with a priest or deacon you know.

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2 responses to “Sacred transformation: another wedding story”

  1. As a newlywed of about two months, I can definately understand the sentiments here.

    My husband and I are both practicing Catholics, with family and friends with varying degrees of commitment to the faith. We were actually quite interested to see how some of our friends and collegues would respond to our wedding Mass. Although they know we are Catholic, we hoped our wedding Mass would show just how important our faith is in our lives.

    Our wedding liturgy was very simple – we had a Mass, but didn’t do any “extras” – no “special” decorations in the church (like pew bows), no unity candle, and no other frills. The only thing we did that wasn’t specifically written in the rite was we had our family crucifix on the altar during our nuptial Mass which now hangs in our home.

    Our main celebrant talked in his homily about how important marriage is and what Justin and I were being called to do as husband and wife. Father also mentioned how marriage is being diminished by those living together before marriage, getting divorced, etc. I knew this homily had called out numerous guests (or their children) present at our nupital Mass.

    The rest of the day, we kept getting compliments about how beautiful our wedding “ceremony” was – even from the non-Catholics and not practicing Catholics. As Justin and I later discussed, people really appreciate hearing the radical truth. Several months later, we continue to hear how beautiful our wedding was – including from a 70 year old priest who has probably seen just about everything. We pray our wedding, and our marriage, may be a sign of Christ’s love for his Church present in this world.

    For more about our marriage and marriage preparations, visit our blog “Learning to Say I Do” on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website

  2. Coming from a Hispanic culture, am amazed at the expense of weddings here in America. When my wife and I tied the note 26 years ago, we didn’t spend much! The Church was free, the priest that married us didn’t ask for a dime, we did not put any extra decorations in the Church, and a friend played the organ. I rented my tuxedo, my mom paid for the wedding dress ($ 500.00 in a Mexican shop), I paid for the rings (basic gold wedding bands) and our relatives paid for the food, the hall (a fancy house used for that purpose) and the music (a disco outfit with recorded music). Yet it was all beautiful and seeing my wife walk up the aisle, with her father on her side and seeing her face overcome by emotion (and my wife is not an emotional person), well that was priceless. Apologies for the personal anecdote.

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