My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Wedding season began in June and lasts through the summer months. Although Church weddings have declined over the past number of years for many reasons, we do see a bit of an increase during this time. Unfortunately, many continue to see a Church wedding as an expensive adventure that may not enhance the quality of the marriage relationship. Weddings continue to be, however, a family event when friends and relatives come together to witness the beginning of a new family. The pomp and circumstance are not as necessary as the community involvement in the preparation and witnessing of the wedding.
At the end of the summer, I, myself, will witness the marriage of my youngest niece, the daughter of my sister, the last of my five nieces and nephews to be married. She is a medical doctor in the last year of her studies in psychiatry. The preparations for this wedding also include me as the uncle who is to perform the ceremony. It is hard to believe all of the details that a wedding entails. However, details are the true staff of life.
Recently, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, issued a Post-Synodal Exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”). I serialized and condensed the document in The Tablet to make it easier and accessible for all. When I attended my family’s celebration of Father’s Day last month, I brought a copy of this book and gave one to my brother and sister, and each of my nieces and nephews. I believe that this document is easy to read and truly essential to understanding the sacrament of marriage. The difficulties we experience in our modern world in making lasting commitments are referenced in the advice from our Holy Father himself as to the important elements in our life that constitute a valid marriage.
At times, the advice of the Holy Father is rather simple. He tells us there are three important words that need to be used in every marriage: please, thank you, and I am sorry. These are words that are sometimes forgotten and sometimes can be the cause of the downfall of an otherwise stable relationship. However, if these words are regularly used, the possibility of a happy marriage is assured.
When we receive an invitation to a wedding, instinctively we wonder if we should attend. Almost everyone likes to attend a wedding, although sometimes it is impossible because of the distance or some other reason. There is a certain attraction in receiving such invitations, which today have become more creative and in some cases even extravagant. The response to the invitation demands commitment by those who attend, that they will come not just with some monetary or other gift, but rather with their love and support of the couple to be married.
No marriage occurs in isolation. It is family and friends who support the couple in their wedding and in the marriage that follows. Attendance at the marriage ceremony itself is truly important, although some might attend only the reception to follow. Witnesses to the marriage are not just the best man and the maid of honor, but it is all who attend who pledge their support and love for the couple.
Summer weddings truly are part of the season. They are also a challenge for the couple and for those who attend. Every marriage certainly is a step in putting out into the deep for those who contract it, since they do not know what lies before them. As Catholics who understand the importance of the sacrament of marriage, let us pray for and support those who are being married at this time. Personally, I look forward performing the marriage of my niece and nephew-in-law-to-be and to being with my family to witness such a joyful occasion.