It's Wedding Bell Time
When a couple begins to talk together about a date for their wedding celebration there are many things to consider and discuss. It is hoped that they have set the date far enough in advance (usually a year) so that the preparations can take place in a calm manner. Their ceremony will last under an hour, their marriage will last a lifetime. During the time of preparation and discernment, the couple are offered ways to deepen their commitment. The time of engagement is indeed a special gift and meant to add joy and blessing, not stress and anxiety.
Fr. Paul Turner has written a book to help the presider as well as the couple prepare for the ceremony in a way that will prepare them for their life-long marriage. Preparing the Wedding Homily: A Guide for Preachers and Couples contains workbook pages for the couple and includes a worksheet for homily preparation by the presider. It is designed for collaboration between the couple and the presider to develop understanding and meaning for the ceremony and for their life together.
Some parishes provide a written policy to every couple getting married so that they can understand the details of the preparation that is necessary. The policy should answer the questions that are asked with any wedding. Every couple, for example, is required to enter into a pre-marriage process to help the couple come to grips with the communication skills essential for a sound relationship. Specific policies may vary with each diocese.
If there are questions to answer regarding church norms surrounding weddings,
a great little resource book to have at hand is The Catholic Wedding
Answer Book: ML Answers the 101 Most-Asked Questions, also by Fr.
Paul Turner. This presents the answers to questions about weddings that parish
staff members want to have at their fingertips. Anyone who deals with couples
preparing for a wedding will find this a God-send. No need to look up the rules
in the church documents. The research has already been done and is presented in
an easily understood manner.
Many parishes select a date when they bless all the married couples of the parish. The Book of Blessings contains specific blessingsMinistry Resource Update for June 2011 that can be used during liturgy or as part of a Liturgy of the Word service. Frequently the date selected is in February for World Marriage Day, which happens to be near Valentine’s Day. Many Dioceses invite married couples, especially those with notable anniversaries to come to the cathedral for a special Mass and blessing.
The married couples of the parish provide a beautiful example of this wonderful commitment to faithful love for those who are preparing for this sacrament. All the parishioners can be invited to pray that those long time married couples as well as the young newlyweds always have the grace to live out their vows.
Please send me suggestions from your parish practices, and I’ll include them in next month’s Ministry Resource Update.
Please feel free to forward this update to anyone you think would find it helpful. You can send any comments or recommendations you would like to make on this topic to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Caroline M. Thomas
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