Archive for the ‘Wedding Homilies’ Category

United Hearts — The Kristopher and KayLee Schnitzler Wedding

July 4, 2011

Kristopher and KayLee, when you chose this day, July 2nd, to be your wedding day you were probably not aware that you were choosing an extra special date. We unite your hearts today in holy matrimony amidst Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yesterday was the Solemnity of His Sacred Heart and today is the Memorial of her Immaculate Heart. We celebrate these two feasts so closely on the calendar, one after the other, because no two human hearts are so intimately united in a perfect love. I present them to you as role models for your love

Mary and Jesus were mother and Son. They were never married in the way we think of marriage, so how can they be role models for your marriage? In Jesus and Mary, we see the perfect man with the perfect woman, we see the New Adam together with the New Eve, we see the King and Queen of Heaven and Earth. Jesus is the Bridegroom and Mary is the flawless image of the Church, which is His Bride. By seeing how Jesus loves her and how Mary loves Him we can learn much about how men and women are to serve and love each other.

How does Jesus love Mary? For one thing, he listens to her. He is receptive to her wants and needs. It was true at the wedding feast of Cana, He worked a miracle to provide wine at her request, and it is still true now in heaven, where she continues to ask for good things for us. A good husband must be receptive to his wife’s wants and needs. On the other hand, in what manner do you think Mary asks things of Jesus? Mary does not nag Jesus, asking Him in plaintive tones. She doesn’t sit next to Jesus in Heaven and sigh, “I see you still haven’t taken care of the garbage down there.” Instead, I imagine she says to Him, “It would make me very happy if you would do this for me.” A good wife must allow pleasing her to be her husband’s joy, not his burden.

A good husband must die to himself in many ways for his family, and a good wife must support him through his sacrifices. Look how Jesus goes to the cross and offers Himself for the good of Mary and her children. He suffers for her and lays down his life for her. And how does Mary support Him? She is right there, at the foot of the cross, faithful and consoling. God gave Eve to Adam as a partner, to support him in the garden. Mary continues to be a helpmate to Jesus in His work of harvesting the vineyard of this world. A good husband lays down his life for his wife and a good wife must support him through his sacrifices.

From the cross, Jesus make Mary the mother of all Christians. He desired Mary to be the mother of many children, and now, Mary’s motherhood is perhaps her greatest joy. A good husband and wife must be open to children. This is the will of God for you and He will bless you with joy for saying “Yes” to Him.

The worship of God and following His will was at the center of the relationship between Jesus and Mary. Every Sabbath they came to join the worship at the synagogue (the Church of their day) and every day they said prayers and remained close to God. So too, God must be at the center of every good marriage. You must come to Mass every Sunday and pray every day. Good husbands and wives share the same mission in life, to assist each other and their children in getting to Heaven.

From earth to Heaven, Jesus led Mary through life with love, and Mary faithfully followed Him. A good husband must have the integrity not to phone it in, but to lead, and a good wife must have the courage to follow that lead. Kristopher and KayLee, May the hearts of Jesus and Mary reign in your homes. May you model their virtues on earth. And may you draw each other, and your children, to share their heavenly joy forever.


Two Becoming One — The Ann and Larry Feltes Wedding

January 12, 2011

Has the institution of marriage now passed its time? More and more people are not getting married at all. Has the time for marriage passed? Is marriage good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot? No. Marriage is not old-fashioned, it is from the beginning. Marriage is not customary, it is foundational. Marriage, the sacrament of marriage, is needed today more than ever. The world looks around and wonders… “Can promises really be kept for life? Is self-less love really sustainable?” Yes. By the power of this sacrament, which Larry and Ann will henceforth be able to call upon whenever they have need.

What is the source of this sacrament’s power? Jesus, on the night before He gave His life for us, took bread and wine and said, ‘This is my body and blood, this is my very self. I give myself to you, lay myself down for you, and offer you a covenant. I love you, I want to bless you, and I want us to be one.’ Finally, He said, “Do this in memory of me.” This is what husbands and wives do in the sacrament of marriage.

Sacraments make present the realities they signify. The sacrament of marriage is not merely like the love shared between Christ and His Church, the sacrament really makes this mystery present. In your marriage, you can draw upon the love of Christ for His bride and upon the love of the saints for the Bridegroom. Stay close to the Eucharist, continue to pray together every day (as you do now,) and you will embody this mystery clearly for all to see.

On this day, it is natural for us to think of Jim and Mary; and it is right that we do so, for no one puts bushel baskets over shinning lamps. Mary and Jim are irreplaceable, and we would not try to replace them. Today, Ann and Larry enter this sacrament so that they may continue to enjoy and be blessed by the great goods contained in marriage. There may be challenges in melding two families together, but God’s grace will level any bumps on the path, and help the two become one. Every year, Ann writes a Christmas letter to her grandchildren. This Christmas she told them that this year would be special because they would be getting “a bonus grandpa.” Today I feel that I am receiving a “bonus aunt.”

When I asked Ann what she liked about Larry she said, “He’s a good man.” Later, when I asked Larry what he liked about Ann he said (and I paraphrase,) “In summary, in preponderance of all the evidence, and in conclusion… she’s a good woman.” Larry and Ann, because your marriage will be built on this powerful sacrament, with a shared mission (focused on God, family and the work of love,) I trust that people will see your good marriage, and glorify our heavenly Father, for many happy years to come.

The Great Marriage — The Nick and Laurel White Wedding

October 9, 2010

In the Gospel we just heard Jesus say that “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female,” and “for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Jesus is quoting here from Genesis, but something about these words has always struck me as a little strange. Why did Jesus and Genesis mention that ‘a man shall leave his father and mother to be joined to his wife?”

We tend to think of the bride as leaving her family to join her husband. Traditionally, as we saw today, her father walks her down the aisle to give her away, and the bride changes her name to match her husband’s. Perhaps it was put this way (“a man shall leave his father and mother”) because for the man must go out in pursuit of his bride. If a woman in a relationship found out that her man was leaving it to her to pursue him she would be very disappointed.

There is, I think, another important reason for the choice of these words: these words speak of Christ. Jesus left His eternal Father’s house in Heaven to become a man, and then He departed His perfect mother’s house to begin His ministry, all in pursuit of winning a bride, His bride the Church. Jesus is the man who left His father and His mother to be joined to his wife.

From the beginning of creation, God had made us male and female. So when the Lord sought to be perfectly united with us, Christ became a human being. Jesus became one flesh with our humanity, so that we could become one with His divinity. He came as a man because a man, like God, pursues his beloved. He comes to us as a man in love, not out of lust, not to dominate us or for His own selfish pleasure, but for a noble purpose. Jesus comes to propose to us and to enter into a marriage between Heaven and Earth, between God and man, between Himself and His bride, the Church.

Nick and Laurel, the sacrament you are about to enter, the sacrament of marriage, connects you to this union between Christ and the Church. Don’t try to rely on you own resources alone, but connect to the power of your sacrament. Nick, ask Jesus to let you share the love He has for His bride. Then, empowered by this love, you will lay down your life for your bride, and cherish her and bless her as long as you both shall live. Laurel, ask Mary and the saints, to let you share the love they have for the Bridegroom. Then, empowered by this love, you will rejoice in your husband, and honor him and follow him as long as you both shall live. Remember, this sacrament you are about to enter is not merely a symbol the of love between Christ and His bride. It makes that love truly present in you.

For an Extraordinary Marriage — Wedding of Andrew and Laura Foreki

March 3, 2010

I would like to begin this homily today by sharing with you the extraordinary story of how this boy, Andrew, met this girl, Laura. Picture Andrew, walking one morning across the University of Wisconsin campus in the deep cold of winter. He is on his way to Chadborn Hall where a prayer group is meeting for their twice-weekly 7:30 rosary. 

He walks into the room where the group is meeting and casts his eyes, for the very first time, upon a drowsy-eyed coed named Laura. And can you guess what Andrew said to himself when his eyes saw Laura for the very first time? That’s right. He said to himself, “Oh, I don’t know who that is.” This reaction, of course, is to be expected, since Andrew and Laura didn’t know each other prior to being introduced a few moments later.

Now Andrew’s first impression is not what makes this an extraordinary story. Did you notice what was the extra-ordinary part? Here it is: Here we have two college students, getting up, out of warm beds, on a cold day, to pray a rosary, at 7:30 in the morning! Now, you have to understand, in College Student Time, this is like getting up at 4:30 AM. Your typical college student doesn’t get up any earlier than he has to, but these two got up… to pray. For this and a thousand other reasons, I think you will all agree with me, that we have here two extra-ordinary people, from whom we good reason to expect an extraordinary marriage.

Do you two want to ensure you share an extraordinary marriage together? Then there are three things that I, as an ordained servant of Jesus Christ, believe that you should do.

First, like Tobit and his wife Sarah in our first reading, you should pray together. Of course you must pray individually. And of course you must pray with your children once they come. But you also need to pray together. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated.  Just hold each others’ hands a few moments before you part for work, or stand, or kneel, at your bedside, like Tobit and Sarah did, and speak aloud from your hearts to God. Ask blessings for each other, and give thanks for all the blessing you have received, and close you prayer by saying, “Amen, amen.”

Some couples find this kind of prayer too intimidating, or too personal, to be attempted; for our prayers express our most intimate selves, our fears, our hopes, our pains, our joys, our deepest longings. If you pray honestly in this way, nothing will be hidden between you. Today you will vow to give yourselves completely to each other. Do you want to be truly and totally one? Then pray together. Through marriage you will share of one flesh, if but pray together and you will also share of one spirit. Pray together and you will share an extraordinary marriage as one flesh with one soul. So please, pray together.

The second thing you should do for an extraordinary marriage is to come to Mass. Come to Mass every Sunday and every holy day of obligation. Come, and be moved by the beauty of architecture and songs. Come, and be strengthened by the experience of Christian fellowship. Come, and be inspired by the eloquence of Gospel preaching.

No doubt some people hear this and think to themselves, “That sounds great… But our church is ugly and the songs are dumb and hard to sing. And our community is little more than a gathering of strangers. And our priest always gives the same boring homilies.” Which all boils down to saying, I just don’t get anything out of going to Mass. Then hear this, even if everything else is lacking at Mass, Jesus Christ is always here for us, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. At Mass, the one sacrifice of Calvary and the Last Supper are made truly present to us for us to receive their power.

At Mass Jesus Christ shows us the perfect spousal love that He calls each of us to imitate. Jesus never called himself “the bachelor.” No, He joyfully called himself “the bridegroom” and eagerly seeks to unite himself to His bride. On the cross, naked without shame, He consummates this union with her, giving himself freely, fully, fruitfully, and forever… freely, fully, fruitfully, and forever. Do you want your union with each other to be free, fully, fruitful, and forever? Then come to Mass to learn the pattern of how Christ loves us and draw from the power He offers us through communion with Him. His is the pattern and the power for an extraordinary marriage. So please, come to Mass.

The third and final thing you should do for an extraordinary marriage is to be salt and light in the world. What does this mean? Being salt and light means that your Christianity should show. As Jesus says, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Your good deeds should stand out in the world. As St. Paul says in the second reading, “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” If the world never judges you to be radical in any aspect of your Christian life, then you’re not doing it right. Then you’re not yet living as salt and light–you’re not yet living like the saints. For example, everyone loves their friends, but who loves their enemies and prayers for them? Most people pray, but who spends a long time to be with God every day. Many people can give when times are prosperous, but who gives generously when times are tight? Such things as this are what it means to be the light and the salt of the world. Light is different than the darkness, and salt makes the ordinary flavorful.

Clearly, you two are salt and light already, for who goes on weekend retreats to know God better? Or who drives to Washington D.C. to march for life? Or who goes down to Louisiana to volunteer for Hurricane relief? Or who get up at 7:30 in the morning to pray the Rosary? So, please keep on being salt and light, and your marriage will be extraordinary.

Years from now, I don’t expect that you will remember much from this homily, but I hope you remember these three things: Pray together, come to Mass, and be salt and light and you will have an extraordinary marriage.

[Preached as a deacon for my sister’s wedding,  November 22, 2008]