Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Holding out the sign of Christ's presence to one another

Last Saturday, Henry and I were married. We were accompanied by a throng of good friends and family and ushered through the gates of matrimony by two priests, three deacons (including one of the Byzantine rite), three altar servers (coincidentally, all seminarians from our parish) and St Joseph, if he accepted our repeated invitations. Fr. Ed opened his remarks by assuring those present that the population of the altar should not be taken as an indication of the amount of clerical firepower needed to marry a couple of more mature years. We just happen to be fortunate in our friends.

It was wonderful -- everything we might have hoped. We had prayed for a long time for God to show his love to everyone present, and I believe he heard us. We were intent on taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on God and the Sacraments, so we made some changes to what is commonly done (all approved and well within the rubrics). We chose to enter quietly from the side of the church; the procession consisted of the normal clerical procession as found at Sunday Mass. We didn't have matched sets of attendants -- our three daughters served as bridesmaids and our marriage was witnessed by them, Henry's best man and my son who had served as one of the ushers. The music (beautiful, if I do say so myself) was sung by choir and congregation together with the exception of a choral setting of Mary's own exclamation when wedded to God: "Behold, the Lord has done great things for me and holy is his name."

I think, though, one of my favorite elements involved the Nuptial Blessing. Neither of us is fond of the approved translation which dilutes much of the nuance of the Latin and, to our horror, omits an explicit invocation of the Holy Spirit who I am counting on with all fervor to do everything that we're incapable of doing on our own. After significant thought (and negotiation with the diocese), we asked Fr. Ed to proclaim the blessing in Latin with Henry's translation printed in the program.

Here is an example of the difference:

Approved translation of Nuptial Blessing B:

Father, to reveal the plan of your love, you made the union of husband and wife an image of the covenant between you and your people. In the fulfilment of this sacrament, the marriage of Christian man and woman is a sign of the marriage between Christ and the Church.

Father, stretch out your hand, and bless N. and N. Lord, grant that as they begin to live this sacrament they may share with each other the gifts of your love and become one in heart and mind as witnesses to your presence in their marriage.

Henry's translation of the Latin text [Ordo celebrandi matrimonium]:

God, in order to reveal the plan of your love, in the mutual love of spouses you desired to foreshadow the covenant into which you yourself would deign to enter with your people. In the fullness of the meaning of the sacrament, the marital union of your faithful ones reveals as a mystery the nuptial union of Christ and the Church.

ver these your servants Henry and Rosalind extend, we pray, your right hand of favor, and pour into their heart the power of the Holy Spirit. Be present, Lord, that, as they enter into the common life of this sacrament, they may share the gift of your love between them, and, holding out the sign of your presence to one another, become one heart and one soul.

Somehow, "holding out the sign of [God's] presence to one another" speaks more powerfully to me than being "witnesses to your presence in [our] marriage."

Regardless. May it all be so.


TS said...

Sounds like a beautiful liturgy! Congratulations to you both. As the Byzantines sing, "God grant you many years!".

Therese Z said...

I was there and I know it was beautiful.

On a temporal level, the bride and groom looked FAB. The reception, on a muggy and hot Midwest afternoon, was good fellowship and lots of laughter.

On a spiritual level, it was so strongly a sacramental joining of two people before and through the Lord that you could feel the "sealing" of their covenant.

What a meaningful experience. I am grateful to be a sweaty but Spirit-filled part of it!

I will blog the readings they chose, with Roz' permission, because they were a nice cut above the "it's all about us and our wedding" flavor of other choices (this comes right from the celebrant, not my observation)!

Kate said...

We're sorry we missed it. It sounds lovely. Hope to see and talk with you when we visit in August/September!

Roz said...

TS, you may not have noticed, but God has already granted us many years. Thanks for your good wishes.

Anonymous said...

Late, as usual, but my best wishes to you both! Hurrah! Hurrah!

Christina Martin said...

Congratulations! It's a joy to see another married couple in the Catholic blogosphere. I pray much long lasting joy for you both.



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