As you have read in recent weeks, Justin and Sara prayerfully chose some beautiful readings from Sacred Scripture, not least of which was the beginning of Chapter 12 from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. St. Paul was encouraging the early Christians to strive to live their Catholic faith to the full in the heart of an empire bent on destroying Christianity. It was in this context that St. Paul wrote: Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God.
Nowadays, there are definitely cultural expectations when it comes to the wedding and all that goes with it. Unfortunately, it appears that this age has made the Sacrament of Marriage into entertainment instead of a sacred act, with TV shows about everything from the “perfect” dress and the bride who wants everything her way to wedding “ceremonies” in the most extreme of environments. Ordinary couples often feel the pressure to compete with the “ideal couple” or the “ideal wedding” which, in reality, will never exist; these couples end up playing a comparison game with a mirage, only to end up depressed that the wedding was not “perfect.”
What truly impressed me about Justin and Sara’s wedding was their refusal to conform to the expectations of their peers. Even before the wedding day itself, these two obviously had their minds and hearts set on being renewed by the will of God rather than on the whims of this world. While some might scoff at the plans for the bachelor party, Justin was thoroughly excited: it involved having a few drinks – Justin barely finished one – and playing pool at a local sports bar the night before the wedding. When we walked into the sports bar, there were definitely some second looks from patrons who had apparently not seen a priest in the establishment in quite some time. To top it off, it all wrapped up about 11 o’clock; while some might call it a dud, it was clear Justin had a great time!
I also remember a comment Justin made to me and some of our friends from college that night: I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight. After a few confused looks from some of us, Justin explained that Sara would be staying at their new place the night before the wedding, and they were serious about their commitment to not living together before marriage.
There were also some remarkable things about the wedding day itself. Besides the simple fact of being married in the Church – and quite a beautiful one at that – and having seven priests(!) present at the wedding, Justin and Sara truly centered themselves on the love of Christ and His Church. Just prior to seeing his soon-to-be-wife for the first time, I remember seeing Justin in a moment of quiet meditation, just staring at the large crucifix hanging in the sanctuary. reminding himself one more time of what he was getting himself into.
They also had what is now their family crucifix placed on the altar during the Wedding Mass. Finally, they chose yellow roses not only for the women to carry, but also to be presented to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Yellow is the color of loyalty, and it was clear where their loyalties lie.
In the end, it was indeed the beautiful beginning of what promises to be a beautiful Sacrament for Justin and Sara. They have set their hearts and minds on the will of God, seeking to be transformed by His truth so that, on the last day, they might be invited into the wedding feast of the Lamb.