The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

‘Til death…

Anyone who has planned, witnessed, catered, photographed, presided over or rehearsed a modern wedding ceremony needs to read this on-target assessment of the modern American wedding.
This gives a good sense of why so many priests I know hate weddings. And wedding rehearsals. And all that goes with them.

Sacraments shouldn’t be like this. But they are — and First Communions and Baptisms are rapidly deteriorating, too.

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Joseph J Cleary II

posted November 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Great post Deacon Greg…and humor is a very effective education tool
Two points– first of all- I have to bookmark this “Rev. Know It All” He deserves a greater following. And what a great “nom de plum”!
Second- and this is being picky- Know It All’s math is off target in the second paragraph- even if his point is spot on.
The DJ is ‘only’ 7.5 times more expensive then the church, and photographer ( how did he forget the videographer ??) is a mere 10 times more expensive then the church fee.

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posted November 1, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Funny, but the only disagreement this bridezilla had with the priest was that I wanted to use Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 as our first reading, and he thought it inappropriate for a wedding. I guess the funnier thing is that I don’t even remember who won!
The hubby and I always tell couples on their wedding day (or better, at the rehearsal) “Just remember, being married is way better than getting married!”

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Mr Flapatap

posted November 1, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I had been toying with the idea of writing a similar essay for a long time. It’s a good thing I didn’t because it would have never been as good. When people complain about the number of marriages being declared null, it is not necessarily due to laxity in the Church but to examples like this one.

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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted November 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Wow. I have done a lot of funeral ministry in my time and about a year ago I was asked to fill in last minute for the woman who does wedding ministry. This meant being at the rehearsal and then there for the wedding the next day.
Oh. My. God.
Frankly – I am still not over it.
And I hate sounding so cynical.

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posted November 1, 2009 at 9:34 pm

The first time I got married the church floor had been pulled up the day before. Neither I nor my mother fainted, since we understood the sacrament to be just as valid when performed in a church sans floor covering. The parish staff was aghast. I still get a chuckle over the pictures of the bridal party in front of the altar, mucked up cement slab showing….
The second time (yes – I got to do this twice) we spent a few hours doing the “wedding planning stuff” (caterer for dinner, flowers, cake), hours upon hours doing the liturgy because I hand lettered the presider’s book, every word of the vows and the readings and the prayers in a hard bound book — just in case we ever forget. It was a great meditation and I highly recommend it.
No pomp and circumstance for the bride, the two of us processed down with the presiding priest as the rubrics call for. The priest professed to have enjoyed THIS wedding, have also presided at the funeral of my first husband, he was delighted to be part of this great joy.
I have to say having been widowed before I was 30, you just can’t muster a lot of angst over much of anything else. To those who think you can’t do a wedding on short notice, or without elaborate planning let me point out – I planned a wake and a funeral in two days. I’d rather do the wedding…

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Ruth Ann

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

This was priceless. From what I hear from others, this type of thing really is common nowadays. BTW my daughter was baptized many years ago at St. Lambert’s Parish in Skokie. Things were different then. Fr. Know-it-all was not there at that time.

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Linda Shookster

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:43 am

Love Rev. Know-it-All! I think he’s our pastor! That’s why I never got married, LOL!

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sue kruskopf

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:50 am

To Michelle–We’re trying to make planning your own funeral better with our site–which is free. Too many people don’t let their wishes be known, and we want to give families more time to grieve and take the guess work out for them. Hope you’ll check it out!

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Dominick Hankle

posted November 2, 2009 at 11:52 am

Deacon Greg and All,
Yes this is funny, but it is also sad. This is a reflection on how poor our catechesis has been regarding the sacrament of marriage and how little those approaching the sacrament think of it. When I was in formation to be ordained a Deacon, I had spent 4 to 5 years preparing and being taught what that might mean. Why don’t we take the vocation of marriage as serious as other vocations? Perhaps we should be spending more time praying, contemplating, and seriously learning how we will encounter Christ in this vocation. Maybe if parishes and diocese had young people really become formed in this sacrament (one that most Catholics will partake of)we could build better marriages and weddings up front and not worry about the marriage counseling after the reception. Great post, I love your BLOG.

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Your Name

posted November 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm

About a year or so ago I remember hearing a priest, (I think on Catholic Answers), say that “for the most part, most marriages could be annuled.” What he meant was on the point of this article, that most newly married couples don’t have a clue as to what the sacrament of marrige is. I wonder how many even realize that as a couple, as “one”, it’s each other’s ‘job’ to get the other to heaven?
Realizing that many people in weddings or at baptisms are not Catholic, I don’t understand why they aren’t “given instructions for silence”, told of the Real Presence, etc. It would only take a few minutes. We recently had a visiting young priest from Ireland who took the whole gang outside before a wedding rehersal or a baptism and give them “cathechisis 101.” It not only worked, I think people were really appreicative. Could you imagine that kind of ‘scene’ taking place in a Jewish Temple? It doesn’t and won’t because they “set the tone”, as well as proper dress code. Try finding anyone going to temple in shorts and a T shirt.
Speaking of clothes, what amazes me more than the lack of reverence inside the church are the clothes allowed at Catholic Weddings; none of which would be acceptable to enter into the Vatican to visit the art.

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posted November 2, 2009 at 4:38 pm

I did enjoy this column more than than most. The sad part is that it happens so often. Is it that our “to be marrieds” do not have better instruction when starting the marriage preparation program as to what is expected of couples and their families when planning a wedding? I think there are shortcomings long before the wedding plans start or the “move in” happens. The cost of weddings is a sad reflection on our culture. It is not going to be the happiest day of your life most probably. That happens in movies. Life has many happy moments as well as sad. It seems the longer people plan these weddings the more expensive and elaborate they become. I identify with the widow planning a funeral in a couple of days.

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