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Marriage of Chris and Sarah
Church of the Nativity
July 6, 2019
Prayer and Scripture: Rock-Solid Foundation for Marriage
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato
Couples Selecting Their Readings
It is my practice when preparing couples for marriage to have the two of them choose the readings.
Generally it goes something like this: before we meet next time set aside three evenings to have dinner at home together.
For the first evening read all the selections offered for the Old Testament reading and decide which is your first choice and why. Then decide which one will be used for the wedding and why. The second evening choose an epistle and the third the Gospel, all using the same method.
I invite them to do this because in the process they have to look at what in scripture resonates in their own lives as future husband and wife.
At our next meeting they sharing regarding which readings they’ve chosen gives me lots of ideas for the homily.
I must admit the quality and the amount of fruit that such a process produces really depends on how well they link scripture to their experiences. Most times it’s a mediocre harvest, if you will.
However, with Chris and Sarah the harvest was plentiful! Think of acres and acres of green corn stalks or waving wheat. Think of an orange groves with hundreds of trees laden with luscious fruit.
Book of Tobit
In their both choosing the reading from the Book of Tobit, Chris and Sarah give themselves away. Prayer is and will continue to be the rock on which their marriage will build.
Tobias and Sarah — ahem, can her name only be a coincidence! — rise on their wedding night to bless God and praise his holy name. They are grateful for the heavens and all in nature, for Adam and Eve who began it all, and end by asking God to allow them live to a happy old age.
Gratitude gratitude, gratitude. Their prayer is filled with it.
And what gratitude was called forth from Chris and Sarah in choosing this reading? They told me: grateful for them finding each other, grateful for the journey of faith they’ve been on together, for relief in stressful times, support in moments of health crises, a sense of comfort with being who they are as individuals and not having to change, and grateful for each having different skills with a certain complementarity.
Notice: gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Their prayer, as Tobias and Sarah’s, is filled with it.
When you pray and your prayer begins with what you’re grateful to God for, two things begin to happen. First, if you’re willing to never repeat the things you’re grateful for, you begin to look for more and more and begin to notice smaller and smaller things.
Second, you begin to experience gratitude in the moment, rather than just in the recollection. A real sense of joy right now, right now, right now begins to grow.
Romans 12: “Rejoice, Endure, Persevere”
The reading from Romans was Sarah’s first choice and her choosing it reveals something very personal about her values.
The verse that jumps out for her is, “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer,” and is a phrase that remains emblazoned on an erase board that continues to hang on her fridge.
That verse has gotten her through some tough times before meeting Chris. Her trust in God was tested and into her life walked Chris. That was no mere coincidence. Trusting in God gets results.
John 15 “I call you friends”
The reading from the Gospel of John was Chris’ first choice and particularly the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I love you.”What do they call forth in Chris’ life? His experience as an Eagle Scout and the Order of the Arrow.
When he read those words of Jesus they resonated with his life and values. It was a kind of “Aha!” As with Sarah, sacred scripture lighted up Chris’ very human experiences and resulted in a deepened faith and trust in Jesus.
For Chris it created a deeper level of commitment that had its focus in Jesus as an example of sacrificial love.
That sacrificial love gets played out in a hundred and one ways from taking out the trash and changing the wiper blades on Sarah’s car to committing himself to love Sarah all their days.
My challenge to you on your wedding day is to commit to doing what you already do so well:
Ø Pray every day and begin by jotting 3 things you’re grateful for in a little spiral-bound pad, and never repeating an item.
Ø Keep the phrase “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer,” on your fridge and we all might do the same — a phrase that lifts the weight, is a shaft of light in darkness, or serves like a refreshing glass of ice water on a sweltering day.
Ø Finally, along with Chris selection of “Love one another as I love you,” we might all select a scripture verse that connects with our own life and values, and takes you deeper into a relationship with Jesus. Memorize it and recall it often as an affirmation of your deeper self.
Chris and Sarah, even before you have exchange your vows, the simple act of selecting three readings has taught us much about rock-solid marriages. Thank you and God bless you.
May your both continue to be models of married love into a happy old age.