Choosing the Readings
Wow! I feel like life has gotten a little crazy in the last month. First, we had a bit of wedding drama. For those of you who didn’t read our previous post, the reception site we had booked last July closed in early February, and we were left scrambling to find an alternate venue. We were finally able to find an available reception hall (Yay!) when the couple ahead of us on a waiting list didn’t take the venue.
I also recently began my new job as an English instructor at the University of Chile. As first time teachers know, lesson planning for a new course is incredibly time consuming. Between my job and working on my Master’s thesis, I’ve been pulling some late nights (and probably will for the rest of the semester). Juan just finished his professional internship and is also back at school and getting into the swing of what looks like will be a tough semester.
Yet, in all this activity is the Lenten call to stillness, spiritual growth, conversion, and reflection. It has been difficult to really enter into the spirit of Lent with all the new activities in our lives and the busyness that goes along with them. While I’ve stuck to my Lenten sacrifice, the book I was planning on finishing, St. Francis de Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life” (which is amazing, by the way), has been sitting by my bedside largely untouched since January. However, Juan and I are both big believers that if something is important to you, you make time for it. So these next couple of weeks we’ll be setting aside more time for faith with our wedding novena day coming up, Mass at the cathedral for the Annunciation, and the pro-life activities we’re going to be participating in around Santiago.
Even amidst all the craziness, one thing that we have done this Lent as a couple is choosing our wedding readings. If you haven’t planned your wedding Mass yet, let me tell you that this is one of the best parts of planning your big day. I was actually quite surprised when I saw how many options there are for prayers, readings, psalms, petitions, and blessings. It’s fantastic because it gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own unique vocation within the larger vocation to marriage, and how God has been speaking to you as a couple, and then have that reflected in your wedding readings and prayers.
Juan and I first began thinking about our own wedding readings while on a marriage prep retreat in the little town of Marathon, WI back in July 2014. We had to do our diocesan-required retreat at that time because we knew we were going to be out of the country until close to our wedding day. The retreat weekend was at a beautiful monastery turned retreat center surrounded by a forest with a stream running through the property. At the end of the first day, we decided to read through the wedding readings together in the booklet our parish had given us, and as we prayed through the readings we decided on some of our favorites.
We hadn’t specifically looked at the readings again until recently, when we decided we should choose them soon to help us coordinate the music. It’s interesting: I think that if we came together to choose the readings on four separate occasions, we might choose four different sets of readings. God’s Word has a way of speaking to us differently at different times in our lives. As we looked at the readings before Mass a week ago, we decided on the first reading fairly quickly, the reading from Tobit, in which Tobias and his wife Sarah begin their marriage with a prayer for God’s blessing. Juan felt especially strong about having this reading, as the part describing God’s plan for marriage in creation and the prayer to live together to a happy old age are very meaningful to him. For the Gospel, we chose without much difficulty the reading where Jesus quotes Genesis on God’s plan for marriage. The second reading was more difficult. We had thought before that we would use either Ephesians (Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church) or Corinthians (Love is patient, love is kind). Although these are both beautiful readings, and both very rich in marital theology, we weren’t really sure about either. I mentioned that I had also liked the reading from Philippians (2:4-9), although I couldn’t remember it well. As we read through the text silently, I thought to myself that this was the one. Juan echoed my own thoughts when he finished reading and said, “This is it.”
The reading from Philippians, while perhaps less used than the others we were considering, is also very beautiful. It begins with the exhortation to “rejoice in the Lord always,” and continues on to say that we should “have no anxiety at all” but rather gratefully trust in the Lord. Finally, it concludes with an instruction to focus on all those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, and gracious as we go about living our lives of faith. Simple, yet profound and at times very challenging advice. It’s like a little practical manual on living a happy and holy married life, or any vocation for that matter.
Rediscovering and then choosing this little reading for our wedding has been a real gift for me during this busy time in our lives. It is a reminder to us to put first things first and “have no anxiety at all,” and a call from God to trust Him always.
So if you haven’t chosen your readings yet, I hope you enjoy this wonderful opportunity to discover what God wants to say to you and through you as you begin your married life. Have fun discovering what readings are most meaningful to you and your fiancé/e and why. It’s sure to be one of the most insightful wedding preparations you do together.