This is it ladies and gentlemen, this is the post in which we get Mar-ried!
So like I’ve mentioned before, marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic Church.
So what’s a sacrament?
Basically, it’s an outward sign that confers God’s grace on us through Christ. Most Christian churches only recognize two sacraments – baptism and communion. Catholics recognize 7: baptism, reconciliation, communion, confirmation, holy orders, marriage, and anointing of the sick.
According to the Catechism 1661:
The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life
It’s not that marriage is necessary to enter heaven, but a way in which we love God through loving another. It is agreeing to love someone unconditionally, the way Christ loves us. And in doing so, we are blessed.
So how do we go about this?
First, the priest/deacon asks a series of questions to establish our intentions, along the lines of:
Will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?
Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
to which we responded, “we will.”
Then we joined hands.
With tears of joy in my eyes, I turned to John, and began to say those sacred words that would join us in marriage.
I Jackie, take you John, to be my husband.
Then I took a deep breath in, ready to continue. I wanted to speak clearly and not blubber my words out.
Instead, I got choked up.
A nice, long, awkward pause while I tried to gather myself, causing half the congregation to think I was having second thoughts. It was bad. People admitted that afterwards. Oh well, still counts, awkward or not.
I promise to be true to you, in good times, and in bad. In sickness, and in health. I will love you, and honor you, all the days of my life.
Then he repeated those same words to me. Much more gracefully, I might add.
I love these vows. I have them memorized. I think John does too (though we didn’t attempt that on our wedding day!) For one, I love that we didn’t say:
I don’t think its an either/or. Some days will be good, some will be bad. We will have good times and bad times, but doesn’t mean “hey – it’s a 50/50 shot for how it will go from here!” (Not knocking anyone who says these vows! Its just my interpretation – your interpretation might be very meaningful to you, and that’s what counts!) For another, we promised to be true to each other in sickness and in health. We didn’t realize how quickly that vow would be tested. And because of that, we have already seen what its like to go through good and bad times. And we know we’ve promised to be true.
They are simple vows, and the same that our parents said to each other, and our grandparents said to each other. Generations have spoke these words. I love partaking in that ritual and the generations of promises that have held my family together.
You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. What God has joined, men must not divide.
Next, the rings.
The best man, John’s brother, handed the deacon the rings. He gave me my husband’s (husband’s? Not sure when you are actually “married.” I think we’re like half married at this point) ring, and his mine, and instructed me to place my hand on top of his. While holding the ring. I was really confused and very scared I would drop it so I just put my clenched fist in John’s open palm. They both looked at me funny and the deacon said, “okay I guess that works too.”
I was pretty awkward through this whole thing.
A side note about our rings? We ordered them back in early spring. Want to know what the problem is with that? It was still cold in Montana. And when it’s cold in Montana and you are on a budget and you live in the basement, it’s not all that uncommon for it to be about 57 degrees in your room. Which makes your fingers shrink. And in that basement, of course, is where I tried on my ring. And determined it was too big. And asked my husband to exchange it for a smaller size.
Which he did. Over the summer. When we were apart, he in Montana and I in Virginia. So when did I try on the ring for the second time? The Monday before the wedding. Surprise, surprise – it was too small. Like, couldn’t even get it over the knuckle to fake it for the wedding and return it later. So we had to order a new one.
Anyone else overnight their wedding ring? No? Just me?
Well alright then.
The deacon said a prayer over the rings, and we told each other to
take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
You know what comes next.
Remember how I choked back those tears? They were making their way out my nose. So what romantic thoughts were floating around in my head as I married my husband?
“My nose is running. Oh no, my nose is running. I can’t wipe it in front of everyone. I have a handkerchief on my bouquet. That won’t work. Crap. I have to kiss him.”
He kissed me anyway. He said he didn’t notice. He just told me that it was gross.
Married! People clapped. It was surreal.