The last four weeks I have written about the Sacrament of Marriage, and would like to conclude today with reflections on the marriage rite itself. Getting married is probably the most important decision a person can make. It is most appropriate, then, that this event be celebrated with joy and gusto. Typically there are two main parts to this celebration: the marriage rite itself and then the reception that follows. For the valid celebration of the Sacrament, the Church requires that there be present for the marriage rite: the couple who are getting married, two witnesses, and the priest (or deacon). Frequently a couple will have additional groomsmen and bridesmaids, but only the two adult witnesses are required. Since marriage is a Sacrament, and most often takes place within the celebration of the Mass, it is necessary to take great care in the selection of music. Only music which conforms to the sacred character of the Sacrament may be used. Most parishes assist couples in the selection of appropriate wedding music. If a couple wants to include some popular songs in the day’s celebration those can be played at the reception. Both still and video photography are common ways of recording weddings. In order to preserve the sacred character of the church, and the dignity of the Sacrament of Marriage, only an unobtrusive, stationary video and non-flash still photography are allowed during the ceremony. In churches where it is allowed, pictures before or following the wedding should be done in a way which is respectful and quiet. At SSPP, I recommend that pictures be taken before the wedding outside (weather permitting) or in the Holy Family Cenacle. After the wedding I limit picture-taking in the church to 30 minutes. Of course, the Holy Family Cenacle (and outside) can be used for pictures after the wedding as well, for as long as is needed. Our church provides a most beautiful place for the celebration of the Sacraments. Couples, with their family and friends, can truly celebrate with joy the Sacrament of Marriage, and the beginning of their life together in Christ.
Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent, is right around the corner. I invite our parishioners to bring their blessed palms (from Palm Sunday last year or even before) to the church and place them in the box provided in the Holy Family Cenacle. These palms will be burned following the 10am Mass on February 27, and the ashes used on Ash Wednesday (March 2).
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller