Of blushing brides … and guests
Ah June…a spectacular month with gorgeous blooms, lightning bugs, balmy weather, graduations, Father’s Day cookouts, and of course weddings. The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) on June 15. How might these things be connected? God ordered them in His perfect plan – the earth’s creation, humanity in His image, Christ as head of the Church, parents to care for children, through the institution of marriage. True marriage is ordained by God, who said so Himself (Gen 2:24), not by governments, civil laws, or group-think.
Christ worked His first public miracle at a wedding, an unexpected favor to the couple at the prompting – rather, intercession – of His mother. He supplied much-needed fine wine in abundance for the occasion. In essence, He blessed them in their need through His Presence. As the modern-day Body of Christ, we should ponder the deeper meaning. The bride and groom at Cana invited Jesus and His mother to their marriage (John 2:2), something many Catholics don’t do anymore, which sows unnecessary problems for them, their families and invited guests. Not to mention their future children, if they have them.
A recent statistic reveals only 25 percent of self-identified Catholics marry sacramentally in the Church. Not surprisingly, the divorce rate among Catholics – over 50 percent – is indistinguishable from society at-large.
On a typical spring day retrieving the mail, we find shower and wedding invitations for upcoming summer nuptials. Then we read further to see a Catholic opting for the beach, mountain vista, or boat-cruise. No priest, church, or godly tethering … no shoes, either. Come and enjoy, book a waterfront room for the weekend. Suddenly the onus is on us to respond appropriately, knowing hard feelings and accusation are a certainty. Nasty calls and texts rain in, even with just a simple ‘regret’ having been sent back.
“But they don’t practice the Catholic faith,” the families say, “so they’re not bound by Church law.” Oh, but they are. What we mention next can really widen the chasm. Baptized Catholics, even if non-practicing or marrying a non-Catholic, are bound to marry sacramentally for it to be valid by the Church and by God. Otherwise, the “wedding” is, well, not a marriage. And invited Catholics shouldn’t celebrate a non-sacramental union by a baptized Catholic(s) which in fact isn’t real. Our priests tell us this and cite longstanding teaching on it.
During this 100th anniversary of the messages of Our Lady of Fatima, we can recall what 10-year-old Jacinta, one of the three child-visionaries, said of a message given to her: “… Many marriages are not good; they do not please Our Lord and are not of God.”
Fortunately, these unions can be blessed by the Church, even after a non-Catholic ceremony or passage of many years. All it takes is for the couple to invite Christ – He’ll accept the invitation at once. Along with Legatus, my husband Joe and I also celebrate our 30th anniversary, and can attest to the inimitable power of God in our lives. We couldn’t have endured without Him.
CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s Editor.