“Marriage is a feast – a Christian feast, not a worldly feast…some are more preoccupied with the exterior signs, with the banquet, the photographs, the clothes and the flowers…These are very important things in a feast, but only if they are able to show the true motive of your joy: the blessing of the Lord on your love.” – Pope Francis, St. Peter’s Square, 14 February 2014
My fiancé and I are now back in the full swing of wedding preparations. The past two and a half months have been some of the craziest, busiest, and most challenging times in my 25 years of living. Life just has been in a constant flux, more than it usually is, at least. Since Jon proposed, there have been consecutive weekends of out-of-town travel, Jon’s move to Fort Washington, two weddings in two months (and everything it includes in between), my brother’s kidney transplant and recovery thereafter, babysitting coverage, and job applications and interviews for us both. It is definitely a time of transition in many aspects of our lives, and I know it’ll remain that way this coming year as we approach marriage. I welcome this season of transition with an open and ready heart.
Two months ago at our first Pre-Cana meeting (marriage preparation), Fr. Jack made a point at the very beginning that continues to echo in my mind frequently, and probably will remain that way throughout our entire engagement. Nothing about the theology of marriage and the like, but rather, a simple fact on one’s preparation in responding to his or her Vocation in life. A couple seeking the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Catholic Church have a minimum of six months to prepare for receiving it. A seminarian (in the Arlington Diocese, for example; the years may vary from diocese to diocese) seeking to become a diocesan priest takes six years (of formation). Six months. Six years. I don’t know why I find this deeply interesting. This is something I’ve subconsciously known, as friends have received either sacraments recently. I didn’t think anything deeper so now this simple fact prompts me to recognize daily just how heavy this is, and I mean heavy in the “colossal” sense, not “oppressive.” Marriage is a big deal, and I can’t emphasize that enough. But I can’t tell you how blessed I feel that God has called me to this and hope to be as prepared as God plans for us to be within the amount of time before the big day.
In our culture today, brides (and grooms, I think? haha) can become so lost in wedding planning. I find it especially challenging for me personally because with a background in design, I’m so particular about how things should look or be done. I’m vision-oriented and pay very close attention to details. And I can be overly organized. I can confess that. However, I am continually praying, having confessed my habits/way of thinking, that I may have the ability to resist getting knee-deep with the not nearly as important facets of wedding planning such as table settings and floral arrangements. There are tons of bridal magazines out there, a lot of which are probably in my house (in my defense they were gifts and hand-me-downs!!) with all these ideas and advice on how to plan for the wedding of your dreams. Like my ready-made wedding binder from Barnes and Noble, for example. There are tabs of just about every aspect to planning a wedding. Each tabbed section has a summary and advice on just about everything you can think of, and then some. Talk about over-organization. ;)
That’s the wedding planning side of things, sans the sacramental aspect.
Just so it’s clear, I’m not saying there’s a problem for being so organized and caught in the details of wedding planning. These are important things, of course, even reiterated by our Holy Father. What I am trying to say is if there is a lack of balance, or stability, between the two aspects, then that’s when you’ll have to be real with yourself and be mindful of what and who truly matter in the midst of this and the blessings that are bestowed from our Father in Heaven. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the vision I had in mind isn’t Pinterest-worthy. What matters is the union of the bride and groom, rooted in Christ’s sacrificial, unconditional, and life-giving love. Everything else after that is just a bonus. And it goes without saying that marriage is difficult and challenges will persist even after the wedding day. Of course. And this is why I think marriage preparation is vital, practically and spiritually speaking. Jon and I cannot wait to partake in this feast, and we cannot wait to live our life together, continuing to learn and grow as husband and wife.
I can read and research all I can on pulling off a classic and affordable wedding reception. In the same way, I hope to be doing the same spiritually as Jon and I inch closer and closer to becoming one flesh. This is what we have been doing/strive to do while engaged, and will hopefully do in the near future:
- Pray daily the engagement prayer written by Fr. Jack
- Constantly ask for the intercession of Our Lady and St. Joseph
- Attend Mass when possible based on our schedules
- Frequent the Sacrament of Confession as needed (We’ve been told his several times by married and engaged friends. Rightly so!)
- Weekly Holy Hour
- Read the books on our engagement reading list (some include: Love and Responsibility, Three to Get Married, Familiaris Consortio, Good News about Sex & Marriage) – open to other suggestions!
- Spend time with married friends
- Commit to a monthly service project (apart from our ministry with youth)
Ok, married friends and readers, are we too ambitious? We would love feedback and suggestions from what you might have experienced while betrothed. Our goal in the near future is to have our wedding website up with a blog section so we can update and further write about our Journey to Cana. :)
Lastly, we are so grateful for such wonderful married role models. This prayer book was given to us from dear friends of ours and we are so appreciative of yet another reminder of the importance praying together. We are also always in need of prayers!