July 16, 2012

Catholic Marriage Series: Guest Post - On Catholic Marriage

I love this guest post on Catholic marriage from Liz, whose two year wedding anniversary is tomorrow!!! :) I hope you all enjoy it too! 

When the hubby and I decided to get married there was no doubt in our minds it would be a Catholic Nuptial Mass. We met while on retreat with the Catholic university we were attending. We had been raised in the Catholic Church attending Catholic schools.   Being Catholic was always a part of our lives growing up, and continues to be so into adulthood.

As a young girl, when I dreamed about my wedding day, it always took place in a church. We decided we would be married in my parish’s chapel. We attended Pre-Cana classes led by family friends. Before our marriage even started, we were supported and encouraged by our Catholic community.   

How did we decide we would have a Mass rather than a ceremony? Well, it was quite easy. When you go to a friend’s home and they offer you food or drink, generally, you cannot turn it down without being rude. It was kind of the same thing with our marriage. We were getting married in a church. The body and blood of Jesus Christ is offered to us as practicing Roman Catholics. How can you turn it down? It is the greatest gift we could have received as a married couple on our wedding day. To share that gift with our families and friends is something we were called to do.

What was the hardest part about planning a Catholic wedding?
While talking with several friends about planning a Catholic wedding, they indicated that they would never get married in a Catholic church because you “can’t express yourself because everything is so prescribed.”  Well, that absolutely isn’t the case. The hardest part for us was choosing the readings and Gospel because we had so many that we thought would be appropriate for our wedding. We literally waited until the last possible second to make a decision. We met with the priest for the last time on July 4th just 13 days before our wedding.

How do you “personalize” a Catholic wedding?
In addition to selecting the readings and music for our Catholic wedding, we wrote our own Prayer of the Faithful and incorporated a Unity Candle to create a personal touch within our Liturgy.  We selected the priest and altar server for the Mass.   We also included a Devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.   My Catholic girls high school is run by the Sisters of Mercy, and there was a strong emphasis placed on devotion to the Virgin Mary.   Moreover, the hubby wanted to incorporate this Devotion into our Wedding Mass, along with the “Ave Maria” sung in Latin.  It was a personal expression of our faith and our upbringings, and allowed our guests to share in our devotion to the Mother of God.   We did not have to include these elements, but it definitely allowed us to express ourselves personally without deviating entirely from a traditional Catholic Nuptial Mass. 

What about the people who weren’t Catholic?
I work in a Lutheran school. Many of my close friends and co-workers were Lutheran and therefore could not receive Communion at our wedding.  In anticipation of this, we put a program together with the guidelines for receiving Communion in the Roman Catholic Church. However, I feel it was probably not necessary because our friends know that we believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  As practicing Lutherans from the LCMS, they understand that there are liturgical rules for a reason.  Our non-Catholic friends also recognized how important the Mass was to us, so they were very respectful of our traditions, as we would be of theirs.   Some friends commented that they had never been to a Catholic Mass and appreciated the beauty of the parts of the Mass. I felt it was important to share one of the most sacred moments in our lives with all of our friends in the environment that has the most meaning to us as a couple.   It was a way of expressing our faith and sharing it with a larger community.  

If We Could Do It Again, Would We?
Absolutely.  A Catholic Nuptial Mass is a beautiful way to express your love for one another publically before God, friends, and family.  On a recent Sunday, we attended Mass and were seated in front of an older woman.   She was sitting by herself, but was wearing a wedding ring.   After Mass ended, she spoke to us and congratulated us on our 7-week old son.   She was very enthusiastic, not only about our baby, but also about us as parents.   We both feel that being Catholic is not just something we do because of culture and tradition, but something we do because of choice.  If we, as young adult Catholics, do not attend Mass, receive the Sacraments and teach our children to do the same, what will become of the Catholic Church as we know it?  Too often, we have encountered friends of other religious backgrounds whose congregations are undergoing times of transition.   Many young people are no longer involved in religious life, and as a result, attendance at Mass/service/Temple, etc. has dropped off.  Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, people like us are now the future of the Catholic Church.   Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is yet another way to live our Catholic faith and to ensure that it survives for the next generation.     

Liz is a New York native, married to a wonderful man. He is a Maryland native who moved to New York in 2005 to further their relationship. They were married in July 2010. Their second wedding anniversary is July 17th. Their son was born in May 2012.  She blogs about their life together at Tales From Astoria.


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