Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Matrimonial Life as Sacramentem/Oath

This past weekend, I was invited to deliver the Homily for the wedding of two dear friends of mine, I wanted to share my remarks here; afterall, isn't that why one has a blog?

Wedding for Theresa and Eric
May 1, 2010
Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Genesis 2: Creation of Eve
1 Corinthians 12-13: Love
John 2: Wedding Feast of Cana

To begin, a few notes:
Communion is distributed along the Communion Rail, and on the tongue only. If you are able to receive Communion today, we ask you to remain in your seats and make a ‘spiritual communion.’

‘Sacrament’ = Oath, a Sacred Oath before God and Men. Derives from the Ancient Roman practices, as well as Jewish customs.

Not just a juridical act, but a Sacred Act, something which God does through the one who confects the Sacrament.

We see this ‘two-fold’ nature of Oaths (both Sacred and Juridical) throughout the Old Testament and into the New, when, for example, Moses initiates the Old Covenant on Sinai, in is instituted by a Sacred Oath in a liturgical assembly. When Ezra the priest re-consecrates Israel after the Babylonian exile, he does so by a Sacred Oath in a liturgical act. Into the New Testament, the One Great Sacrament (The Holy Eucharist) is instituted as both a Sacred and Juridical Act by the Great Oath of Christ at the Last Supper: Do this in Memory of Me.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharistic Banquet, we celebrate a renewal of the Sacred Oath between God and men confected by the self-offering of Christ upon the Cross.

All the other Sacraments are ordered to and channels from this Great Sacrament, including the Sacrament we celebrate here today: the Matrimonial Union between Theresa and Eric.

The Sacrament of Matrimony is that which elevates and enriches marriage, making it a living sign of the union between Christ and the Church. It is a permanent and exclusive bond between husband and wife, a bond which pours forth in life, not just in children, but for all who come into contact with this sacred and holy bond, sealed by Christ.

Eric and Theresa, to truly live out this vocation in the world, to truly become a living image of Christ’s love for his Church, a mutual exchange of self, you certainly will need help, for the Church expects great things not only from you, but from every married couple.

Luckily, we do not send you forth alone. You have your friends and family who are here to support you, this why the Church encourages a Bridal Party: you are not here just to make the picture look nice, you are here to encourage and pray for this newly married couple. You are here to support them in trial, to encourage them in blessings, and to help them wade through these first years of marriage. Take your responsibility seriously.

However, it is not just human support that we count on for a successful marriage.

To truly become a ‘mini Christ’ for one another, you certainly need the grace of Christ in abundance! The Gospel reading you have chosen for today’s ceremony, luckily, outlines for you how this grace is available to those who seek it out.

First, importantly, is to invite Christ to the wedding! He is the one who completes the bond between the two of you, and he must always remain at the center of your relationship. This is not always the case, even in Catholic weddings, where the couple is more enthralled with the outward trappings of the day rather than the inner, deeper spiritual reality. Eric and Theresa, I know this is not the case for the two of you, for you have taken your preparation for this day seriously and prayerfully.

Secondly, Our Blessed Mother, Jesus’ own Mother, provides us direction on how to follow her Son. In this very passage, we here her only two statements throughout the Gospel of John: ‘Son, they have no wine,’ and to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

As with all things, Mary provides us the perfect example of discipleship. First, she brings the needs of his children, her children, to her son. We must not be shy in presenting our prayers before them, she is our advocate in heaven, pleading before her son, and which son can ever neglect the pleadings of his mother?

Secondly, it is not enough to bring our needs before Him, we must also react, respond. Her instruction ‘Do whatever He tells you’ remains in force to us today. Christ continues to speak to us, through the Scriptures, through the Teaching office of the Church, through the promptings of the Spirit. To follow Christ with our whole heart and mind and soul is to know Him deeply, to love Him, and to desire Him before all else. Sticking close to Mary, especially in married life, will always serve you well.

But there is someone else to whom we turn, someone who is usually content to stick to the sidelines and not share the spotlight, but who claims honor on this day, one of two in the Church’s calendar that honors the foster father of Jesus: St. Joseph, today under the title: the Worker.

Theresa and Eric, he has a particular mark on you, after all you met through the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Worker in Walton, and your wedding date falls now on his feast date.

What can St. Joseph teach us? First, his great charism is one of humility. He humbly stays at the side of Mary, he raises the Christ child as his own, yet we hardly hear his voice coming to us through the Scriptures.

He is the protector and guardian of the Church, he provides us the example that true holiness in life is not found in the bold and dramatic, but in the day to day living out of our faith, in the quiet times of toiling at work, of protecting and providing for our family, of raising children to know, love and serve God; to help them ‘grow in wisdom, age and grace before God and men.’

Does this mean, Eric and Theresa, that every day will be bliss and sunshine? Absolutely not. However, staying close to Our Lord, Mary and St. Joseph will help you in your married life to cherish every day together, not just in this life, but in the life to come as well.

Three takeaways:
- Marriage: Sacred Vow before God and Men
- Mary points us closer to her Son so that we might ‘do whatever he tells us.
- St. Joseph, quiet model of faith.

No comments: