Sunday, May 18, 2008

Wedding Season

Wedding Season is here. I have a wedding next weekend and I met with two couples this weekend. I am tired of the "traditional" wedding repertoire, but my attempts to persuade couples away from these tired selections is in vain. They all seem to want the soap opera wedding. I am often tempted to ask them if they also want what comes after. Yes, the soap opera or fairy tale wedding is lavish and some may consider it beautiful (I don't), but how many couples ask for the soap opera marriage?

Most of the couples who come through my office hold the delusion that love will get them through anything. They are so much in love that nothing could possibly ever rock them. As great as that feeling is, it's not reality.

We don't know what happened after Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or Snow White married the prince, but we do know that their courtship left much to be desired. They fell madly in lust and decided to marry. They know nothing about each other, but they marry anyway. Then Prince Charming carries his bride off into the sunset on his white steed. We never find out what happens next, but I have my suspicions that it isn't happily ever after.

Couples getting married today do much of the same. The Church requires that couples participate in marriage prep classes and in my diocese they also must take the FOCCUS. Prospective brides and grooms tend to view this as an unfair hoop they must jump through to satisfy the Church. They never consider that this may help prevent future problems. The FOCCUS results are often frightening. Many couples have never discussed the simplest matters of faith, children, and finances.

I don't understand how a couple can marry without knowing anything about the other party. I have even met brides who didn't know what their fiances did for work! Still, they claim to be in love. They aren't! Then are in lust, infatuation, excitement, anything you want to call it.

Many couples walk into marriage blindly and their plan their wedding Masses the same way.

Couples: Reconsider the "traditional" wedding that you want and ask yourself if it really sends the message you want to say. Consider walking into the church together. The bride and groom are equal partners in marriage, but are unequal during the wedding. The tradition where the groom stands near the altar while the bride walks down the aisle with her father goes back to the days when a woman was considered the property of her father or husband. It is literally a delivery and transfer of property. Of course, that isn't how brides think of it. They see themselves as the princess. The center of attention. They are going to meet their prince at the altar.

When both the bride and groom walk in the procession together or with their parents, they demonstrate that they are equal partners. It's not all about the bride and she isn't becoming the property of the groom. They are entering to marriage as equals and are exercising their roles as the ministers of the Sacrament. Yes, a bride and groom marry each other with the priest there to solemnize and bless the bond.

Of course, that sort of wedding makes "Here Comes the Bride" sound a little ridiculous. The processional hymn which was played at my Nuptial Mass was also used as a processional at the Papal Mass in Washington DC. You can hear it here at 4:50. The hymn is "Go Up to the Altar of God" by Fr. James Chepponis. It was played at my wedding on organ, trumpet and tympani and it truly said how we intended to begin and live our marriage together.

Don't want into marriage blindly and don't allow your Nuptial Mass to be planned blindly according to traditions of questionable quality.

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