Enjoy this video from YouTube of Father Dan Singing this past Sunday.
Homily for World Marriage Sunday
February 12, 2012
By Father J. Daniel Atkins, Holy Family Catholic Church, New Albany, Indiana
Around the turn of the last century, in a small town in Ireland a parish priest put out an ad in the local paper for a well-rounded handyman who could take care of things around the church and help out with the daily chores. The next morning a well-dressed young man came to the door. The priest ushered the young man in and straightway commenced to ask him:
“Can you start a fire and have breakfast ready by 7:00 a.m.?” The young man said that he thought he could. “Can you polish the silver, wash the dishes, keep the house picked up, and the mow the lawn?” the priest continued. “Well, I suppose I could,” the young man replied looking perplexed.
“And then there’s the garbage to take out and the walks to be kept swept..” At this the young man interrupted. “Meaning no disrespect to ya, Father, I came here to make arrangements for my wedding. But if it’s going to be that much work, I think I’ll just forget the whole thing.”
This Sunday is World Marriage Sunday. Begun in 1983, this day salutes the beauty of the faithfulness, sacrifice, and joy in daily, married life witnessed by so many wives and husbands all over the world. First, let me acknowledge and congratulate all our couples who have embraced marriage as their vocational call to holiness. (Ask married couples to stand). As we express in our blessing prayer for those who celebrate anniversaries each month, men and women who promise themselves to each other in marriage reflect in a special way Christ’s love for his bride, the church — a sacrificial life-giving love that is faithful, fruitful and forever! We owe them our thanks and support.
Second, I thought this might be a good opportunity to let you know what we are doing in our parish to prepare people for the vocation of Marriage and celebrate their weddings. As you know, the Church insists that two conditions be present when any of the sacraments are celebrated. First, that those who have asked for the sacrament understand and intend what the Church means by the sacrament. Our Catholic Church has a very definite understanding of what marriage is. Our parish tries to make sure that couples are of the same mind as the Church in taking up the vocation of marriage. Second, the Church requires that the couple be properly disposed. Do they have the heart of the Church? Do they share the same values as Jesus had with regard to marriage? The window of a six-month preparation period before entering marriage is not for delay but for discernment, reflection and education in the areas I just mentioned.
Our preparation for those desiring to celebrate the sacrament of matrimony begins with an information session. Kathy Wilt, our pastoral associate, and I meet with couples to explain the steps in our formation process. After this, I am responsible for meeting with the couple to explain our understanding of marriage as a sacrament and what must be present in the couple’s mind and heart at the time of the wedding in order to validly celebrate the sacrament. Kathy’s responsibilities include matching the engaged couple with a sponsor couple and assisting with the details of the wedding. Jeannine also assists with the selection of appropriate music.
Our sponsor couples provide an invaluable ministry. With the help of a tool called a pre-marital inventory, they are able to have an extended conversation with our engaged couples about the day-to-day joys and challenges of married life. Our sponsor couples bring the benefit of 10, 20, or 30 years of working out child-rearing, finances, sexual intimacy and other issues from their own marriages. Usually this conversation takes place in the sponsor couples’ homes. At the end of these sessions the sponsor couple gives feedback to me or the priest who will be the Church’s official witness on the wedding day.
From time to time there are special situations that need to be addressed such as living together before marriage, non-practice of the Catholic Faith, tensions over an interfaith or interdenominational wedding. These can delay the celebration of the sacrament. Any and all of these things require charity and patience as well as firmness about the teachings of Christ and the Church.
It may seem strange to be talking about marriage on a day when the readings are about lepers and leprosy. But think about it: Christ’s healing was more than just the manifestation of a physical cure. It was a sign of Jesus’ love, a love that calls all of us to a communion with him that will one day be fully achieved in the Kingdom. That healing love of Jesus shows itself in a unique and real way in the married union of a man and a woman. The day in and day out fidelity of Christian spouses to each other reflects the quiet, progressive healing of two souls at the very deepest, most intimate level. We could say that the sacrament of marriage is medicine for the disintegrating forces at work in the world today. May our married sisters and brother continue their healing work.