Saturday, August 04, 2007

Wedding homily

This weekend I have two weddings, a rare event.

The reason is that one couple had to move its wedding earlier, due to likely deployment of one of them to overseas military duty. That justifies making an exception about an evening wedding, and second in one day (hard on music director), which we don't otherwise do.

Here's a copy of one of the wedding homilies for this weekend, thought some might enjoy it, or have helpful comments:

We are all familiar with the beautiful reading
from St. Paul about love…*
We may think it’s about human love, but not exactly…

____, you may think that first reading
was referring to you as the “young stag”;
____, you may think it was calling you the dove…
But not exactly…

As the Gospel makes clear: the love we are talking about
is more than human—it is divine, God’s own love.

The Lover who crosses mountains,
in pursuit of his beloved, is Jesus Christ—
for it says, his “love is stern as death”;
the “blazing fire” of his love is the Holy Spirit.

So while everything tempts us to see this day,
And this ceremony, as all about this bride, this couple…
Again: not exactly.

This couple comes here, as baptized Catholics;
They come here—to God’s house, to the altar of Christ.
They come, not so much for a new, legal arrangement;
but for a new spiritual reality.

This is part of what we mean when we say
Christ raised marriage to be a sacrament.

Baptism is a sacrament:
in baptism, we are changed forever,
born again for eternity as members of Christ.

The Eucharist is a sacrament:
We receive Jesus that we may become Jesus,
As much transformed in ourselves,
as the bread and wine truly and fully become
our Lord and God, Jesus Christ.

And Christ made marriage a sacrament:
a couple presents themselves to each other and to Christ,
that their sharing of life and love may bear witness
to the world of how “stern” and unquenchable
is the marriage Christ has made with the human race.

I am very confident that at many times,
____ and ____’s hearts leapt like the stag,
or went seeking one another, just like that first reading.

Ah, but—there will be other times…!

That’s when we need this love to be more than human.
And that is when it matters that this marriage
was not brought to a courthouse, but to God’s house.

That’s when we are glad it isn’t “all about us”—
But all about Jesus Christ.

I usually tell the couple, as they prepare:
After you will bring yourselves to the altar,
To be transformed, to be made truly one,
Family or friends will bring bread and wine to the altar,
to be transformed into the true Body and Blood of Jesus.

You’ll be able to sit quietly and observe that.

In that bread and wine, see yourselves!
See Christ place you—now made one—on the altar.
Your task as a couple and a family is very similar
to what the bread and wine are expected to do:
to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit,
and the action of Jesus Christ,
so that they become Christ:
to nourish, to transform, and bring salvation, to others!

One difference: the bread and wine don’t get a choice.
But you do.
As Catholics receiving the sacrament of marriage—
becoming, in fact, a sacrament—
this is what your vows, in a moment, are all about.


* The readings were: Song of Songs 2:8ff; 1 Corinthians 12; and John 15.

11 comments:

Mephibosheth said...

Beautiful, Father! BTW, you missed the couple's names about halfway down.

Michael E. Lawrence said...

Finally! A priest that realizes that two weddings in one day is an inhuman schedule, especially with evening Mass!

T.O. said...

Two weddings in one day? That's not too bad, actually! When I worked at a local parish, we had up to 5 in a weekend (1 Friday evening, 4 Saturday). On one rare occasion we had 7 -- 2 Friday, 5 Saturday. That was the time when the priest decided it was too much and "never again will we have 7!" :)

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

I'm with T.O. WIth a praish of 300-500 families, you can't have just one wedding a weekend. Usually during the summer months, the average is 3, I repeat that is the a average. Late morning, early afternoon, mid afternoon. The church though has two organists. 1 cantors and sings for the Saturday evening mass, 8:00 Sunday Italian, and 9:15 Sunday English Mass, and he Plays and leads the Italian choir at the 10:30 mass.

The other, handles most, not all of the weddings, and plays and leads the English Choir for the 12:noon.

The Second Organist also plays and leads the Choir at A UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA Service and sometimes has weddings there as well. They seem to want more weddings.
It is weddings where the organists make their money, not the masses so much.

Puff the Magic Dragon said...

Ooh, I should add Early and Mid morning are funerals.

JRH said...

Don't forget that Fr. Fox is the pastor of TWO parishes (appox 700 families each)... that's TWO Saturday evening masses and FOUR on Sunday morning... Add funerals and weddings on top of that, and you can see how his (and the music minister who works for BOTH parishes - every mass - also) schedule is quite taxing.

Father Martin Fox said...

Puff:

In my two parishes, we have about 1,300 households, and we don't have even one wedding a weekend, between both. It has a lot to do with the demographics of the parish. Ours, unfortunately, don't have that many people in their 20s and 30s.

JRH:

I don't do both Saturday Vigil Masses, that would be insane. I have help from two other priests, so I'm blessed. But many people don't realize there's so much more going on besides the Mass schedule.

For example, two weddings means two rehearsals. Second, we don't have evening weddings, so a second wedding would have to be in the morning. No one here would want a morning wedding -- evidenced by the fact they can have one now, if they like, but no one asks.

Also, the wedding takes about 3-4 hours when start from when the bride and her ladies must get into the bride's room to begin dressing, so they are ready before the pictures start, about an hour-to-90 minutes prior to the liturgy, then the liturgy (which more often then not starts late), then the pictures afterward, which can take awhile.

Plus, like it or not, the priest will want to be available, if for no other reason than he stops people from doing goofy things, like putting plants on the altar (because it's pretty, and the photographer has no idea what an altar is) and making a mess of things.

Of course, some parishes have "wedding coordinators," but that's not exactly easy to do.

Father Martin Fox said...

JRH -- haha, I just figured out who you are! Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Erica posted this homily on her blog and I just read it this morning. We are approaching our 40th anniversary and I just want to say that this homily absolutely inspired and encouraged me! Thanks, Fr. Fox- Mary Schmiesing
(We need to be reminded of the sacrametality of Holy Matrimony)

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