Weddings are such a joyous and festive occasion. Back in Jesus’ time the wedding celebrations would last a whole week. What a glorious time for the community to embrace and endorse the newly married union by rejoicing with them for many days. That’s why it was such a tragedy when the wedding couple at Cana ran out of wine prematurely; it would have been such an embarrassment during their lengthy festivities (John 2:1-10).
We were blessed to celebrate our oldest child getting married to his lovely college sweetheart this summer. We, too, spent almost a whole week at her hometown preparing and rejoicing with the whole family in the days surrounding the actual ceremony. It gave us a wonderful opportunity to get to know her extended family and reconnect with their college friends. We told and heard stories of the wedding couple’s adventures to date. We all shared in their rehearsal and wedding-day bliss as they were married in the same church where the bride’s parents and grandparents were married years before.
This week-long celebration filled us all with joy just by experiencing their happiness. However, the most important part of a wedding is not the many days of eating and drinking but the actual marriage ceremony itself. The hour-long service was beautiful and so meaningful. We so appreciate the special sacramental parts of our Catholic weddings that add to the essence of the ritual. From the reading of the Word, the consecration and partaking of the Eucharist, the visitation to the Statue of Mary while hearing the “Ave Maria,” the singing of the Our Father, the Sign of Peace with the bridal party and family, the exchange of vows and rings followed by their first kiss. All of these parts of the Catholic ceremony make the event so special in the presence of God in His House. Just like the early Christians would gather to retell Jesus’ words, then share the Eucharist (Acts 2:42), we continue these two important parts in every Mass and every Catholic major event like marriage.
Two weeks after his wedding we attended a Christian wedding. It was also beautiful and joyful, but it was over in a mere twenty minutes and just didn’t feel near as meaningful or special. I know non-Catholics think our marriage ceremonies are too long, but that’s because they don’t understand. Weddings performed in God’s church, blessed by God’s earthly representative (the priest) with the partaking of Jesus’ Body and Blood, create such a deeply spiritual start for the newlyweds. It makes a Catholic wedding feel extra blessed.
Copyright 2019 Colleen Mallette