By Paul Oakes, Catholic Stand, November 23, AD2017
Saturday, November 4 began as a fairly typical, crisp fall morning in Pennsylvania. The leaves on the trees were changing into a brilliant array of orange, yellow, brown, and red. But it was a special day for me. It was my wedding day.
The morning started with my mother and me picking up 50 shiny, helium-filled balloons. Getting them all into my jeep was a real challenge. And driving a Jeep full of balloons to the banquet hall where, later that day, the wedding reception would take place was interesting, to say the least. There was a casualty – only 49 balloons made it the banquet hall.
Later around noon, my groomsmen and I were getting ready at Immaculate Heart of Mary, the church where I would be getting married. As I was unzipping the garment bag, something didn’t seem right with the tux. The color of the vest gave it away. It was my dad’s tux, not mine. A frantic phone call and a mad dash later, I was finally able to change into my tux. But my bowtie kept hanging askew.
I imagine every wedding runs into a glitch or two. None of these little hiccups mattered though once the Wedding Mass began. My heart literally leapt as my groomsmen and I stood there watching Marjorie, my bride, come down the aisle. Out of nowhere a thought occurred to me from my acting days. I remembered reading a phrase hanging on the wall of a theatre that said: “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”
I’m sure most married couples can recall what it was like on their wedding day. In my case it was a high octane day, filled with anxiety, nervousness, bewilderment, and excitement. Underneath it all, however, was a calm and sober-minded sense of peace.
The Sacrament of Matrimony
Marriage is a beautiful thing. When a man and woman enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony, they are forming a new life together. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1605 states:
“Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” The woman, “flesh of his flesh,” his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a “helpmate”; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The Lord Himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning.”
Sadly, the culture today has a very different view of what constitutes a marriage. But as we read throughout Sacred Scripture, God’s definition has always been the same. As CCC 1603 states:
“. . . The vocation of marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”
Wanting to reflect the Catholic understanding of marriage during our Wedding Mass, and because a portion of our wedding attendants weren’t Catholic, or even churchgoers for that matter, Marjorie and I wanted to make each of the readings reflected the beauty and true meaning of marriage, as seen through the eyes of the Catholic Church. Therefore, for our second reading, we chose Ephesians 5: 21 – 33:
“Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.”
Learning to become servants
As I write this, Marjorie and I have been married now for about two weeks. I wish I could say everything has gone smoothly since then. But it takes time to adjust to living as a married couple. Often, I reflect back on the motto from our Engaged Encounter weekend: “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.”
Marjorie and I are learning to become servants to one another in new ways; both when things are going well and when things are frustrating. But having large amounts of humility and patience, as well as a strong prayer life, has helped immensely. The beauty of a Catholic marriage is that both husband and wife share their faith and trust in God. That, in turn, allows us to live and love charitably with each other. Tying the knot God’s way is hardly easy, especially in today’s society. But, by holding fast to our belief in Him, we have no doubt that ours will be a wonderful, Godly, Catholic marriage.
Paul is happily married. Both he and his wife, Marjorie, reside on the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. They’re eager first-time owners of a house. He is the Youth Ministry Leader for Fusion at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Abbottstown, PA, as well as an activities director at a nearby retirement community. Ever the creative type, Paul is an avid writer, actor, filmmaker, artist, and musician. He’s also extremely passionate about his Catholic faith.