Monday, December 27, 2010

Marriage and the Mass

"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God."

 – Revelation 19:7-9

The Last Communion of St. Jerome by Botticelli

There has been a lot of focus on the institution of marriage lately. What is marriage? From a legal perspective it is one thing, but from a Catholic perspective it is something else completely.

Marriage is a sign.

Anyone who has been to a Catholic wedding knows that it is quite different from a Protestant wedding. A Catholic wedding is a Mass.

Every wedding is a Mass.

The Mass is centered around the act of Holy Communion with God. Receiving the Blessed Eucharist is a sign.

That's not to say the act of Communion is symbolic for Catholics. No, it is a real physical acceptance of the body and the blood of Christ.

Usually we talk about the physical world and the spiritual world as if they were completely separate and unrelated. But these two Kingdoms are actually closely joined.

The two Kingdoms come together in the act of Communion, when the physical reality perfectly reflects the spiritual reality.

As we open our mouths to accept the Eucharist, we also open the temple doors of our bodies to accept Christ in our soul.

This sign is given to us by Jesus.

It is a sign of the joining together of our body and soul with that of Jesus.

Is this not a union? Is this not a marriage?

Then every Mass is a wedding. It is a wedding between you and Christ. At the same time it is a wedding between you and the Church, which is the body of Christ.

Every wedding is a Mass; every Mass is a wedding.

We promise to be faithful and loyal to our spouse, Jesus Christ. We promise to respect Him and follow His commands. And we promise to love Him and cherish Him for the rest of our lives. And we look forward to the day when we will be joined with Him in the holiest of unions in Heaven.

This is not a decision to enter into lightly. When you accept Communion, you are saying "I do".

When you recite the Creed, you are saying "I do". I do believe in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; I do accept.

And every week, we renew our vows. I do. I do. I do.... For the rest of our lives. Amen.

5 comments:

  1. Hi, that was such a beautiful analogy,makes one think therefore that even one is not within the marriage sacrament one still participates in a marriage at being single with communion. It actually is a cause of joy when one contemplates the union of the physical and the spiritual as part of what makes life wonderful. Thank you for pointing out how dynamic such activities are more than it is given emphasis ordinarily. Imagine if one takes the Eucharist at daily mass then one renews the vows daily but as it is with the weekly requirement, it's like living out your wedding anniversary as frequently as one can. A good thought to always have in mass from now on especially at the start of the new year.

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  2. Hi Lisa. I was at Mass on Sunday which was in celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family and the combination of the readings and the homily evoked this revelation within me. I had the feeling that I was re-discovering something that must have been clear to the early Christians as they were celebrating the Mass.

    For those in the Consecrated life, this union with Christ becomes explicit. For the laity, there is the Sacrament of First Communion which is celebrated in the Catholic Church by young girls dressing in a white bride's dress while the young boys are dressed like grooms.
    (See the video of Give Her Life.)

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  3. Hi Lisa. I just found these passages in Revelation.

    Revelation 19:7-9
    Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

    And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God."

    ---

    Revelation 21:1-4
    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

    And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."

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  4. UPDATE: I added the citation from Revelation 19:7-9 which I mentioned in my last comment.

    Even though I wrote this article before I became aware of this passage, it fits perfectly with the message that I am imparting. Even the picture of St. Jerome clothed in white while receiving his last Communion, reflects the Bride "clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" described in this passage.

    The Bride can be seen alternately (or even simultaneously) as the Church and the communicant (the person receiving Holy Communion).

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  5. Just a note on how I found this passage from Revelation. I was listening to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, because I realized that the words were similar to that of the poem I had composed "For unto us is born". This was not at all surprising because the words come directly from Luke.

    I found a webpage that said the title "Lord of Lords" in the Hallelujah Chorus refers to Revelation 19:16 – "On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords."

    When I read through the rest of Revelation 19, I discovered the references to the Bride and the marriage supper. And I immediately associated that with what I had written about the Mass being the celebration of a wedding.

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