June 20, 2014

Marriages meet God in ‘best and most beautiful celebration of all’

By John Shaughnessy

A wedding on a beach, in a park or on a mountaintop sometimes seems like the perfect choice to a Catholic couple preparing to get married.

When he is approached by couples seeking these venues for their weddings, Father Patrick Beidelman knows that a couple who wants to hold their wedding in a place other than a church needs to obtain permission from the archbishop—and that such permission is usually only given for serious reasons.

At the same time, he often starts his conversation with the couple by asking them some questions:

What brought you to make that choice?

And did God get a chance to chime in?

“If God didn’t get the chance to chime in, the process of discernment was flawed,” says Father Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocese’s Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship.

“A lot of times, what influenced them is something that has been with them for a long time—a dream that was informed by a movie or what they’ve seen on TV that gave them a sense of what would be the best and most beautiful celebration that they could attain.

“And they often come with good motives. They’re not coming in a way that is against God or against the Church. In fact, many folks will acknowledge, ‘I feel God in nature. It reminds me of the beauty of God’s creation.’

“What often though is at the heart of it is a lack of development and maturity in their relationship with Jesus. And there is certainly very often a disconnect from their faith family. They’ve been either a little isolated or have not yet taken the steps to an adult commitment in the faith.”

Father Beidelman says that commitment “would recognize the centrality of being with your faith family in the context of the celebration of Mass week after week, and how we celebrate our most important events—the events that mark the transitions in our lives, our growth with God and our understanding of God’s activity in our lives.

“We mark those most important events at the central place, the highest place, the most important place where we meet God in the context of our life here on Earth—which is in the context of the celebration of the Mass.

“That’s the best and most beautiful celebration of all.” †

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