Friday, 3 May 2013

Now it's wedding season....

I have just been reading Father Alexander Lucie-Smith's blog post in the Catholic Herlad.  In it he says how Pope Francis talks abuot his concern that couples are using church weddings as a means to show off, rather than for religious motives. He goes onto say that, whereas Pope Francis doesn't know how to handle this, he (Father Alexander) spends his time trying to encourage couples to marry as living
together has become such an acceptable option.
I must say, because of the wonders this sacrament can bring about, I'm in agreement with Father Alexander .

My big fat nominal wedding.

As I have previously mentioned in other blog postings, I was always a believer in God; yet I wouldn't describe myself as having faith.  I would argue for the existence of God in a pub with someone, for example, if they claimed their unbelief because of suffering or another reason.  However I didn't attend Mass except on Christmas Eve when I was normally tipsy, I only really prayed when I was in trouble and was one of those people who thought that I could commune with God more outside in nature rather than a stuffy old building but never actually did. (As a sidebar why when we say that are we always imagining a sunny day, never it raining etc?).

When my husband and I prepared for our wedding I started to look at secular venues in the first instance.  Gradually I moved from these to CofE Churches and eventually turned back to a Catholic Church.  I would like to say that this was a result of thoughtful spiritual progress but, although I believe it was an act of the Holy Spirt as a result of the blessings of infant baptism, it was mainly a decision based upon the aesthetic.

Born again in the Holy Spirit.

Just a little less than a year after my husband and I got married I had a conversion experience over a period of time and on Palm Sunday I felt a sense of the numinous.  After this I went to Church not just on Sundays, but on weekdays and Saturdays as well.  My friends and I used to got to Saturday morning mass and afterwards we would say a rosary together whilst we waited to confess.  

On one occasion a wedding party started to arrive.  My friend and I noticed a young teenage girl who was wearing a skirt far too short for any, let alone this, occasion.  My friend was older than me and was shocked, but compassionate towards the girl.  I, having lived the wrong kind of life for many years without knowing it in this post  sixties generation, felt not just compassion and shock, but complete empathy with her.  

We both thought how sad it was that she did not have an awareness of just how inappropriate her attire was as she stood before the blessed sacrament. 

God is humble and will do anything to bring us home.  And we all have a part to play in this redemption.

I was struck suddenly with a reflection of myself and God's grace.  

Not long ago I had had my wedding in the very same Church.  I had not had a nuptial mass. The reasoning I gave was that my husband is an atheist/agnostic and most people there didn't believe, therefore the mass would be too long.  The reality was that the thought of having a mass for myself was too much of a burden; how boring! (I am blushing now).

Nevertheless, just prior to my wedding the mass had been celebrated by the faithful and the blessed sacrament was present in that room as a result.  Sitting there and looking at that young girl I suddenly had a sense of the wonder of this; all these people that were unknown to me and me to them had celebrated Jesus and in so doing had given me a wonderful gift.

I believe our marriage has been blessed by God; the ceremony (like the eucharist and baptism) are not just signs and symbols.  They are a reality that, if we choose to say 'thy will be done', can break in and transform not just our lives and relationships but other people's as well.

Leaving with the presence of God.

Poor Toby!
All the preparations for this day had been meticulous and intricate; yet I had missed the meaning of the marriage itself.  I had ignored my husband to be's distress in relation to the cost and threw paddy's when my extravagance was questioned.  My dress alone cost nearly £2000.00 that we could not afford. When people now comment on my dress in the photographs around the house I agree it's beautiful, but I wish I'd spent the money more wisely. Toby often jokes that our wedding outfits should have had 'Sponsored by Visa' on the back.

However, when I left the Church a married woman the thing that I was most struck about was the sacrifice the guests had made to attend our day.  I remember standing in the reception line enthusing over what the female guests were wearing. I was a little ashamed; I had spent the time preparing begrudging some people a seat at my table because of the cost.  Yet here they were in expensive attire bought for our day, staying in hotel rooms paid for to remain close by, with gifts and having travelled long distances to get there just to celebrate with us. It was very humbling and I have no doubt that this was the Holy Spirit beginning to work

This sacrament has meaning.

What was more surprising was that, following the mad expense and the bridezilla moments, Toby continually played with his wedding ring the following the day.  He had married for me, having always said that he was in it for life and the 'piece of paper' didn't make any difference.  As we drove back to our hotel he said to me how he suddenly had realised the importance of it all.  Throughout the honeymoon he played with his wedding ring, a ring he had previously considered not wearing after the ceremony, thinking about our commitment.

It has now become my favourite question to ask grooms; do you feel different? So many of them answer yes in spite of any misgivings before hand.

We often talk of the Church as a bride for the groom Christ.  When we are faithful to him we transform not just our lives, but those around us.  

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I welcome your posts whether you agree with me or not. Can I ask that people are respectful to each other; no-one has the right not to be offended, but I think that we can talk to each other without swearing or using personal insults.
If you want to use the whole "sky fairy" thing when you're talking to people with faith that too is your perogitive. Just know that for me and many others when you do you've lost the argument.