My Dear Parishioners:
The month of February brings with it the thoughts of a short month, short days, and long nights. It is fitting that we have Valentine’s Day in the middle of the month to sort of ‘dot’ the month with a bright spot. Actually, my parent’s wedding anniversary is on Valentine’s Day! It is a day recognized in the ‘civil world’ and promoted relentlessly by florists, candy and card companies, etc. However, all of the focus lacks the ‘spiritual aspect’ of the day.
Remember several times during my Sunday homily, I reviewed the seven Sacraments by dividing them into three categories, 1. Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, & Eucharist), 2. Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation or Confession & Anointing of the Sick), and 3. Sacraments of Vocation (Holy Orders & Holy Matrimony).
Marriage was around a long time before Jesus. His parents were married, and at least some of the apostles were married. For example, in all three of the Synoptic Gospels we hear of Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38). In the early Church, Christians got married like anyone else in the cultures where they lived. Gradually, Christians began to see that the loving union of husband and wife spoke to them not only about family values but also about God’s values.
Historically speaking, it was not until the 12th century that marriage took its place among the other ritual actions, which we now name the seven sacraments. Throughout the Middle Ages there was no singular wedding rite for Christians. The Catholic wedding ceremony that you might witness today dates in large part from about the 16th century. The rite has basically the same “shape” as all the other sacraments: gathering, storytelling, the sacramental action and commissioning.
It is fascinating to me that in our country (and around much of the world) the focus seems to be on the wedding and not the marriage. We are ‘entertained’ by watching reality shows like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” and “The Bachelor & Bachelorette”. We tune into shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Wife Swap”.
The ‘wedding industry’ has grown into a billion (yes billion) dollar business. Yet all the attention is placed on the day itself. Consider the following statistics I have pulled off the internet:
2014 Average Wedding Budget Breakdown
Overall Wedding: $27,021 Videographer: $1,436 Catering (per head): $61
Ceremony Site: $1,393 Wedding Gown: $1,099 Transportation: $667
Reception Venue: $12,124 Florist/Décor: $1988 Favors: $222
Reception Band: $3,081 Invitations: $351 Rehearsal Dinner: $1,127
Reception DJ: $900 Wedding Cake: $540 Engagement Ring: $5,392
Photographer: $2,320 Musicians: $503
WOW! How much money goes toward truly preparing the couple for a life together?
You notice, I hope, that many times on Sunday we pray for all married couples during the Prayers of the Faithful. I want our parish to be supportive of those preparing for marriage and want their day to be recognized as important and beautiful. However, what are we doing for couples after they are married? That is where the real work begins!
Valentine’s Day focuses so much on the ‘consumer’ buying flowers, cards, chocolates, or even cruises or trips to romantic places, and at some level, all of this can be a good and positive thing. This February 14th, however, I invite you to reflect more deeply on our understanding of what a marriage is and how God calls us to this sacrament like he does all sacraments.
In the Sacrament of Matrimony, each spouse is commissioned to go forth and work toward the salvation of the other. To assist the other in recognizing Christ in our world at home, work, school, around the dinner table.
Each morning as part of my personal prayer, I remember to pray for each of you. I pray for families, couples, single, young, and aged. Together, let us offer ourselves for the good of our Church and parish.
Prayer for a Husband and Wife
O God, we want to live our life together with you and always to continue it with you. Help us never to hurt and never to grieve each other. Help us to share all our works, all our hopes, all our dreams, all our successes, all our failures, all our joys and all our sorrows. Help us to have no secrets from each other so that we may be truly one. Keep us always true to each other, and grant that all the years ahead may draw us ever closer to each other. Grant that nothing may ever come between us and nothing may ever make us ever drift apart. And as we live with each other, help us to live with you, so that our love may grow perfect in your love, for you are the God whose name is love. This we ask for your love’s sake. Amen