Homilies for Weddings
Since my preaching stirs the souls of the faithful, more than one person says I should record them and present them for a wider audience. Now I must go out and buy a recorder I guess since I put this heading here.
Introduction: I perform weddings like no other I have ever seen. I make the couple and their entourage stand up the stairs in a half moon shape with the wedding couple standing at the top in front of the altar. That way they are always visible to the entire congregation and we are not just looking at their butts. I perform most of the ceremony down in the congregation with the people. The photographers love it, the couple likes it and more importantly the people like it. I am not the center of attraction. This is the one sacrament that the couple gives to each other and I and their family and friends merely witness it for the Church and the world. When I first mention it to couples they usually don’t like the idea, but once they try it, they are usually thrilled. Only once did one woman object so much she found another priest. “there’s no accounting for some people’s taste!”
In the wedding ceremony itself I use Father Don Skerry’s, Format for Vows on the Crucifix. I usually paraphrase his writing, but it all comes out about the same. Published in Medjugore magazine in the winter of 1994-95. The couple hold a home crucifix in their hands from the beginning of the ceremony until the end of their vows.
If they insist on the “unity candle” thing(which I try to discourage because it is so 70-ish), then we do that right after the blessing of the rings. It’s only useful purpose, in my opinion, is to give the couple a time to relax, take roses to their mothers and grandmothers and have a nice song sung. Symbolically it stinks.
Homily: Welcome to this public celebration of __________&_________. Together we watch these two people commit their lives to each other. I place the crucifix of our Lord in their hands as a constant reminder to them that they are not just marrying each other, but there is a third person in their marriage–Jesus Christ. Placed in a prominent place in their new home, our Lord’s presence will ever be with them to remind them that their love for one another will never die as long as they keep the Lord in their lives. To Him will they bring their joys, their sorrows, their hopes and disappointments. Together with Him will they come together as a new family in prayer and by example. They are the models of Jesus Christ and the Church. In their home will they be the best examples of Christian love for one another. And now I will turn my attention from you and face them because I have something to say(what a surprise!) I keep it short!
The Holy Fathers from the Vatican Council II said there are three priorities to a successful marriage:
(1) That you are to love one another above and beyond anyone else in this world. You are to put mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and even your own children second to that love that he have for one another. You are to be ever faithful to one another and never forget this special time for love. Vincent Genovisi wrote in his book, In Pursuit of Love, when two people come together to make love they are not coming together just to enjoy this very special gift from God. You each have two natures about you:a physical one and a spiritual one. When you join that physical nature in love you also join that spiritual nature. When it says in Genesis and Mathew that the two of you shall be one, those authors knew exactly what God was talking about. Over the years have you ever noticed how your mom and dad started looking like one another? It is no accident! In their love making they have shared the most intimate part of who they are both physically and spiritually. In 50 years you will look the same if you always remember that your love comes first for each other.
(2) As a result of that ultimate love that you have for one another, the Lord may bless you with children. They are to be the joy of your lives, but they are not to replace that love you have for one another. They will bring you joy, happiness and hurt along the way. But by your example of Christian love will you come to the joys of heaven. Your children will always be your children, no matter what! Even when they get old and have children of their own, they really never leave home. They are always to feel safe in your home! They are always to be loved unconditionally, and that does not translate into permissiveness, but disciplined with good boundary lines so that they truly know they are loved. Parents who allow their children to run wild are parents who do not love their children. Children need those boundary lines because they just do not understand what true, unconditional love is all about and the only way they can understand how much we love them is how much time we invest in nurturing them, disciplining them, and loving them at all times.
(3) And last of all, you are to raise those children as good practicing Catholics by your example. You are to pray with them. You are to help them come to an understanding of the Lord and His ways. You are to be the model by which they come to know how much they are loved by you so they can understand how much they are loved by God. This is a heavy burden to carry, yet not impossible with God in your lives. Be good parents! Then when you get old, and you will, your children will bless you as you have blessed them.
Now if you are really ready to take on this responsibility–let’s begin.