The War for the Perfect Wedding

Most priests would rather do ten baptisms than one wedding.  Or maybe two funerals.  Why?  Weddings are often overly focused on the incidentals (the reception hall, the reception food, the dress, the flowers, the color of the groomsmen’s tuxes) than the, um, sacrament.  At baptisms, on the other hand, people are relaxed and able to enter what really matters.  And at funerals believers are more focused on God, rather than what the corpse is wearing.  So I always wish that brides and grooms (and fathers of, and mothers of) were more attentive to the marriage rite than the "wedding event." 

At the same time, it’s important for priests and deacons to understand what a big day this is for the bride and groom and that, like it or not, they have their own desires for their wedding.  Plus they are often facing family and cultural pressures beyond their control. 

Those are rocky shoals for both the couple and the priest. 


That’s why I was so tickled to hear about Bustedhalo’s new webisode, called "The Princess, the Priest and the War for the Perfect Wedding."  In it, Dr. Christine Whelan, is an Iowa-based social historian, professor, journalist and author of "Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love, and Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" has an ongoing, and funny conversation with EricAndrews CSP is the pastor of Blessed John XXIII parish, which serves as the Catholic campus ministry for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville."  Both of them talk openly and honestly about their desires, fears and questions about planning the so-called "Perfect Wedding." 

Check it out.

James Martin, SJ

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8 years 7 months ago
My guess is that the Holy Office (now the CDF) or some other theologian created the term "natural order" because it could not very well contend that God was perfect and also contend that sin harmed God. You certainly cannot sell indulgences to build a church if there is no natural order absorbing the need for rewards and punishments for the faithful (and unfaithful). Of course, the concept may be more ancient than Christianity. The parable of the unforgiving servant reflects that to clear one's slate, what is necessary is not the earning of indulgences but the forgiveness of others. A Catholic supernatural view would be to take the Lord at his word and say that if you forgive others, all consequences are gone. Might there be some there? I think they reside in those who were actually offended or whose needs went unmet - any supernatural list of debits and credits is superstition and an excuse to sell indulgences. God does not keep track of these things because God has an interest in our behaviour but because God has an interest in those we hurt (which is bad) or fail to help (which is worse).
8 years 7 months ago
I understand that priorities are not the same. However, I think some clergy have valid concerns since they need to ensure that the Bride and Groom are taking it seriously and understand what they are getting into, for the sake of validity. One of the biggest problems in the Church is the sheer number of invalid marriages.
8 years 7 months ago
I am somewhat shocked that the news coming out of Iowa has not yet made it onto the America webpage. Someone on the editorial board advising caution, perhaps? Pity that. Now that more states are making gay marriage legal, it is incumbent upon the Church to celebrate them for the sake of the families. When a couple is married, they in essence leave their families and cling to eachother. Celebrating gay unions is a service, therefore, to those Catholic families with a gay child, sibling or parent. It also provides an opportunity to teach about monogamy within marriage and the preference the Church has for marriage over promiscuity. Before anyone chimes in that homosexuality violates the natural order, consider that the natural order is a sophistry created so that something other than God is damaged by sin (since God cannot be damaged). If sin effects only those involved, it is hard to cite violations of the moral order, or to call anyone "disordered" for being who God created them to be.
8 years 7 months ago
Micheal, this is an interesting statement,''consider that the natural order is a sophistry created so that something other than God is damaged by sin.'' Could you elaborate? Who created it, when and why? When does sin effect ''only those involved?'' Let me guess, the bedroom? respectfully
8 years 7 months ago
Something in a similar vein occurred to me as I was going to bed last night: "God made them that way" is not really a good argument for normalizing homosexuality. Do we celebrate and laud the fact that a child is born with a genetic disorder, or a physical impairment, or blindness or deafness? God made them that way, after all. No, instead we try to do all we can to help them live as normal a life as possible, fix the defect or treat the disorder, and failing all that, give them the opportunity some meaningful life. However, the fact remains that the kid with spina bifida will never be on the track team. Whatever pathology leads to homosexuality (it really doesn't matter how it happens), it really does not mean we must normalize the disorder. The Church is not full of sophists or people scrambling to use big philosophical words to mask the baselessness of dogmatic assertions. The Church is probably the most intellectually honest religion, maybe even human institution, in the world. We invented the university, refined the scientific method, founded western human rights theory, and much more including natural law theory.
8 years 7 months ago
Ah yes, the importance of the sanctity and sacramental aspect of marriage. Father Jim in right. I have been to so many weddings, as well as First Communions and Confirmations, where the sacrament was just an excuse for a big family party. How many young men and women walk out of church after Confirmation, never to be seen again until they want a Church wedding? I've heard endless stories of brides-to-be who argue with a parish priest because he has told her she can't walk down the aisle to "Here Comes the Bride." Many couples have their wedding and that's the end of their Church involvement, until kids come along and they want a "christening party." Yet, gays and lesbians who live in loving, long-term relationships can't even call their civil ceremony marriage. As for Father Eric Andrews, he is a wonderful priest. We grew up together. He worked for The Muppets before studying for the priesthood and has a great sense of humor and fun. God bless Eric in his ministry!
8 years 7 months ago
Homosexuality is only one area where the sophistry of the natural order is readily visible, however there are others. Theft is one example. Those involved are the thief and the person from whom something is stolen, as well as the community who now lives in fear of theft. Nothing happens to the universe at large on any plane of existence. As far as homosexuality and variation - many would argue that to have white skin below a certain latitude puts one at high risk of skin cancer. It is an adaptation to living in the far north that does not work so well in tropical or even temperate climates. Is being white and living in Georgia disordered or variation. Should we find some way to cure the condition (such as requiring interracial marriage)?
8 years 7 months ago
Oh, back to the original vein of the post, thinking stereotypically, think of the pagentry and drama of a really well done gay wedding. Most priests would rather do 20 baptisms I suspect.
8 years 7 months ago
I've been to many weddings... none ever reached the pomp of a priest ordination or bishop ordination!
8 years 7 months ago
Michael, while not obligated, you don't answer my quesitons (my apologies to those who want to talk about pagentry). Are you sure sophistry is the word you want to use? Sophistry suggests deception and again begs the question why and by who? Sidenote: You have a very natural view of sin but do you have a supernatural view? Sin always has a ripple affect; you may not see/touch/taste/hear it but it's there - hence concupiscence. respectfully
8 years 7 months ago
Ed, what are you suggesting? Respectfully


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