Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Young People: Don't Just Concentrate on Your Wedding Day and Forget the Life-Long Commitment You Are About to Enter Into

Short-term preparations for marriage tend to be concentrated on invitations, clothes, the party and any number of other details that tend to drain not only the budget but energy and joy as well. The spouses come to the wedding ceremony exhausted and harried, rather than focused and ready for the great step that they are about to take. The same kind of preoccupation with a big celebration also affects certain de facto unions; because of the expenses involved...Here let me say a word to fiancés. Have the courage to be different. Don’t let yourselves get swallowed up by a society of consumption and empty appearances (Amoris Laetitia, n. 212).

Those who are prepared to read Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia carefully will be pleasantly surprised to discover some of the useful and pragmatic ideas that the Holy Father often comes up with. They are not only innovative and daring, but also very much in line with traditional Church values.

If you are about my age, you may find yourself inundated with wedding invitations involving the younger generation of family members and friends. Some of these weddings can be extremely lavish. But what bothers me the most is not so much the cost involved but the time required of me. Sometimes it may take a whole day to join some of these celebrations (morning Mass, hanging around after Mass just to pass the time because the locations of the venues are such that the guests really can't go anywhere, then evening banquet). It gets worse when for some reason the organizers decide to let the banquet process drag out for as long as possible so that the guests really can't leave until well after 11:30 p.m. All the while throughout the duration of a very long evening, you are forced to listen to so-called "professional MCs" whom the married couple has paid an astronomical amount to hire. As far as I am concerned, the manner they speak and conduct themselves is as annoying as some of the radio DJs that I've always shunned.

Instead of using all the resources and energy to deal with the peripheral issues, young couples preparing to get married are challenged by the Holy Father to opt "for a more modest and simple celebration in which love takes precedence over everything else" (n. 212). They "should be encouraged to make the liturgical celebration a profound personal experience and to appreciate the meaning of each of its signs". Quoting St. John Paul II, the Holy Father's exhortation is for all marrying couples to be aware that "[t]he body, created with a God-given meaning, 'becomes the language of the ministers of the sacrament, aware that in the conjugal pact there is expressed and realized the mystery that has its origin in God himself'" (n. 213). The Holy Father hits the nail right on the head when he points out that “many [young people] concentrate on their wedding day and forget the life-long commitment they are about to enter into” (n. 215).

Young people, don't get me wrong, I'm honored to receive your wedding invitation. But invite me, or any guest for that matter, only if you want my presence on the day you enter the life-long commitment to live out in your bodies the sacred mystery of the one-flesh union of Christ and the Church. If your invitation is serious and meaningful, you need to show me that before getting married you've invested the time needed to understand this "great mystery" that made St. Paul awestruck (Ephesians 5:32), the meaning of the liturgy that you invite me to participate in and, most of all, the significance of the marriage vow that you invite me to hear when you utter it so affectionately and determinedly to your future spouse. Professional MCs, lavish meals, and top-notch banquet halls? Well, they are....peripherals.

Remember, marriage is not just "a single moment that then becomes a part of the past and its memories". Rather, married couples use their bodies to speak an “uninterrupted continuity of liturgical language”. The liturgy of matrimony in a way doesn't end when the wedding ceremony is finsihed because “conjugal life becomes in a certain sense liturgical” (n.215). This liturgical language is not a "careless whisper" (George Michael). It is a language of love from time immemorial: a language that Adam spoke on his first encounter with Eve - "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman' (Genesis 2:23); a language that turned into a full-blown lovers' concerto in the Song of Songs; a language that was brought to its consummating outro on the Cross, the marriage bed of Christ and the Church, where the New Adam uttered in his very last breath the final words of love: "It is finished!" (John 19:30).


  1. Very well said about some weddings, Edmond. You have spoken my mind.


  2. Your daughter had forwarded this to me. What a great post - thanks for the wise insight!