The importance of the church wedding

The importance of the church wedding

In last week’s Catholic Star Herald there appeared advertisements related to weddings that may have caused some confusion for Catholics. These ads either touted or implied the availability of beach weddings at various locales, which are in opposition to the Catholic teaching regarding the spiritual importance of the wedding ceremony.

While outdoor wedding ceremonies are common in American society, Catholic weddings still take place in a church. A wedding is a social and family event, but it is also a church event. And the location — just as the wedding rings or the vows or the readings — has meaning.

Marriage is a sacrament. As a sacrament, it is a sign not only of the love of the couple for each other, but of the love of God for the couple and the love of God for his people.

While a couple may feel the presence of God by a waterfall or in a forest, those places are not reflective of the community’s life of faith.

The Diocese of Camden offers this explanation on its website: “With rare exceptions, all of the sacred events in the life of Catholic people (Mass, baptisms, funerals, weddings, ordinations, confessions, confirmations, etc.) are celebrated in a Church — at the sacred place that is the center of our life as a faith community, the place where Jesus Himself is really present in the Eucharist in the tabernacle. The church is also the place where past and future generations (our ancestors and descendants) have and will worship — so when we gather there we act in solidarity with all of God’s people past, present and future. That is also why weddings are supposed to be celebrated at the home parish of either the bride or groom (by custom, it is usually the bride’s parish) — so that your own part of the universal Christian community can come (at least symbolically) to be witness to and supporters of your Sacrament, in their own special holy place.”

“Make [your wedding] a real celebration — because marriage is a celebration — a Christian celebration, not a worldly feast!” Pope Francis said to engaged couples in Rome in 2014. “Some are more concerned with the exterior details, with the banquet, the photographs, the clothes, the flowers…These are important for a celebration, but only if they point to the real reason for your joy: the Lord’s blessing on your love.”

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