Pope Francis on the Marriage Celebration Question 3

Question 3: The style of the celebration of marriage Your Holiness, in these months we are making many preparations for our wedding. Can you give some advice to celebrate our marriage well?

Make sure that it is a real treat – because the wedding is a celebration – a Christian celebration, not a secular party! The Gospel of John indicates the deeper reason for the joy of that day: remember the miracle of the wedding at Cana? At a certain point the wine runs out, and the celebration seems ruined. Imagine ending the celebration drinking tea! No, this is not the way! Without wine there is no party! At Mary’s suggestion, that’s when Jesus is revealed for the first time and gives you a sign: he changes the water into wine and, in doing so, saves the wedding celebration. What happened in Cana two thousand years ago, happens in reality in every wedding party. What will make your wedding full and deeply true will be the presence of the Lord who reveals and gives his grace. It is his presence that offers the “good wine”. He is the secret of full joy that truly warms the heart. It is the presence of Jesus in that party. May it be a beautiful celebration, but with Jesus! Not with the spirit of the world, no! This is how it is, when the Lord is there.

At the same time, however, it is good that your marriage is sober and make clear what is really important. Some are more concerned about the outward signs: the banquet, the photographs, the clothes and the flowers … These things are important in a celebration, but only if they are able to point out the real reason of your joy: the Lord’s blessing on your love. Make sure that, like wine at Cana, the outward signs of your celebration reveal the presence of the Lord and remind you and everyone what is the source and the reason for your joy.

But there is something that you said and I want to take flying, because I will not let it pass. Marriage is also a work for every day, I could say craftwork, a goldsmith’s work, because the husband has a duty to make his wife more a woman and the wife has the task of making her husband more of a man. Grow in humanity, as man and as woman. And that is done between yourselves. This is called growing together. This does not come out of the air! The Lord blesses it, but it comes from your hands, by your attitudes, the way of living, the way you love one another. Grow together! Always act so that the other person will grow. Work for this. And so, maybe , I think that one day you will go through the streets of your country and people will say: “Just look at that woman, so beautiful, so strong! … it’s the husband she has, you know.” And to you too: “Look at him, what he is like! … it’s the wife he has, you know.”

This is it: get this: make us grow together, each of us. And the children will have this heritage to have had a father and a mother who have grown together, making of themselves – each of them – more a man and more a woman!

(Rita and Bob’s Comments)
Pope Francis has a way of putting things into a perspective that makes sense to us. I have been thinking about this passage, trying to get a handle on it for another project we are working on and was getting nowhere until I read these remarks. He tells us that a wedding is an event that deserves a celebration, a major celebration, too big and important for afternoon tea. A wedding calls for toasts – with wine, music and dancing that celebrates the couple and the presence of Jesus with them as they begin their life together. It also suggests something about Jesus. We tend to take Jesus very seriously, but his response to Mary’s request indicates that He wanted the celebration to go on. I suspect that Jesus was a lot more fun to be around than the gospels tell us. He wants this couple to be joyful and fun-loving in His presence throughout their marriage.

Francis also suggests what the work of a marriage relationship is about – growing together, husband and wife each becoming a better person because of their relationship with each other. The final chapter of our book is titled “The Power of Love”. In it each of us tells the story of how we came to be better people today than we were on our wedding day. The experience of loving and being loved by another has transformed each of us and brought out the best we can be. I also think his point about our love being visible to the others is true and explains why great marriages are so important to the world. Francis’ words say it well: “Just look at that woman, so beautiful, so strong! … it’s the husband she has, you know.” And to you too: “Look at him, what he is like! … it’s the wife he has, you know.” Our marriages really can change the world in which we live in the way we touch the lives of those around us.

Please offer us your comments and perhaps a bit you your story.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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