One week later, I’m still inspired by a wedding I attended last Friday.
Their engagement was supposed to last six months, but some serious obstacles set them back. After six years as a couple, Jim and Dianita shared their first kiss ever(!!) last Friday.
You can imagine why I absolutely sobbed for joy seeing a radiant Dianita walk down the aisle toward her bridegroom. In the place of her departed father, the bride’s spiritual father walked her down the aisle – our parochial vicar Fr. Will Combs, BBD:
I wish I had a photo of the tremendous processional that preceded the bride. Besides the many priests, deacons and altar servers, picture this:
- Little children dressed up as saints
- …escorted by (genuine) nuns…
- family members carrying the groom’s framed baptismal garment
- the groom, carrying a crucifix
- family members carrying the bride’s framed, baptismal gown
- …and her First Holy Communion dress.
The procession told their story — that life is a journey toward Heaven, the Eternal Marriage Banquet of the Lamb. Jim and Dianita were witnessing visually to a spiritual reality. As soon as I realized the story they were telling, I wept. How beautiful it was!
Have you ever heard the Scriptures proclaimed in Hebrew? Jim and Dianita experienced a powerful Holy Land pilgrimage several years ago, and so infused elements of that journey into their nuptial Mass. The first reading from the Book of Tobit was proclaimed in Hebrew. The Responsorial was Song of Songs 8:6…
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
For Love is strong as Death,
longing is fierce as Sheol.
Its arrows are arrows of fire,
flames of the divine.
The second reading was St. Paul’s famous advice to husbands and wives. I so appreciated the Gospel reading: Jesus teaching his apostles that the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven is the one who serves. (More on this shortly.)
As my husband and I did in our wedding, Jim and Dianita exchanged vows while holding a crucifix. I imagine they’ll also pray with it daily as a reminder of their vows. (I cannot recommend this enough!) This couple, however, did something I’ve never seen at a wedding before: a symbolic exchange of white boxes, representing their virginity.
After the exchange of rings, the liturgical musicians led a Litany of the Saints — similar to what you would hear at an Ordination. (My husband and I had wanted to do this, but it didn’t work out. I so appreciated this opportunity to finally experience it during a wedding.)
Last Saturday on the Catholic Weekend podcast, I spoke a bit about the reception which was held at Morgan’s Wonderland — the first theme park in the world designed especially with special-needs persons in mind. Dan and I had plenty of fun ourselves! I hope to go back and enjoy the entire park; there was lots to see and do.
One of the most inspiring things about Jim and Dianita’s reception was their undeniable effort to include and teach the children present:
- I absolutely loved seeing ‘Three Wise Men’ lead the children around the reception hall, following the “star” (flashlight) to find the Bride and Groom.
- Children had their own special place to sit together in the hall — cared for by those darling nuns — and spent time playing in the theme park while grown-ups talked and toasted.
- After the wedding party’s special dance, Jim and Dianita invited the children to dance with the wedding party.
- While the adults visited with one another, instead of blaring dance music, children were entertained via large screens on either side of the reception hall, showing a delightful animated movie The Very First Noel.
If I enumerated all the many ways that Jim and Dianita incorporated their faith into this reception, you’d be reading for another hour. I’m talking about a Holy Family cake topper, Middle-Eastern food (a la wedding at Cana), dancing the Hava Nagila, having a priest serenade their mothers…
But the best I’ve saved for last.
Just like most other weddings, the lovely bride stood on a chair and launched her bouquet high above and behind her head for “all the single ladies” to catch. After this, I usually grip my chair and reach for alcohol to lessen the impending trauma I’m likely to gain from the hyper-sexualized, garter-fetching ceremony. But instead, Jim took the mic and called “all the single men and boys” to gather around him as he stood in front of his bride. Then, he said something like this:
So today we heard at Mass that men are meant to be the head of their household and marriage, as Jesus is the head of the Church. A lot of times, we men stop right there and we misuse our God-given authority. But in the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples that having authority means that we’re called to serve, and he showed them this by doing something special. At the Last Supper, before he gave himself up for his Bride, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles to give them an example to follow. And so, tonight I’m going to wash Dianita’s feet.
So, dear reader, despite the Doomsday predictions you’ve heard about marriage, or the mounting statistics about pre-marital sex, or that so-called ‘exodus’ of young adults from Catholicism, I’d like you to meet my friends Jim and Dianita. And you’ll be happy to hear that I’ve got more friends like ‘em.
This wedding reminded me that sacramental marriage is a gorgeous wellspring of the finest riches. It is a sweet reminder of Heaven’s decadent banquet. These newlyweds reminded me that I’m called to be a witness for Christ as a married person. Marriage is a God-given, precious gift and a powerful force for good.
For more inspiration from this couple, visit their website, OurSacredHeartFamily.com. Please say a prayer for them, as they spend their first year together on a long pilgrimage discerning God’s will for their new life together.