Thursday, May 17, 2007

WITH THIS ($5,000) RING (AND THE ASSISTANCE OF 43 PAID PROFESSIONSALS) I THEE WED

How about some lighter fare today?

Wedding season is hitting again. Take cover.

Bring up weddings to priests in private and they will all moan and roll their eyes. But truth be told, if you have a couple that you actually know, they are into the faith, and they actually get what is going on, weddings can be great experiences even for priests. But like a rotten apple, it only takes one a year to make you twice shy about all weddings.

When I was a kid, I used to be the organist at my parish. I was not all that good. I was actually a trumpeter who had a couple of months of piano lessons, but as with most of the unusual jobs that I have had, someone was desperate for a warm body to fill the postion. Though it never bothered me to play in front of even a few hundred people, it terrified me to play for weddings. Sitting down at the consol I would begin to sweat and shake as if I had the plague. Things only became worse when videographers started becoming regular fixtures at weddings. Did you know that the average engagement lasts sixteen months? During that sixteen months the bride will typically spend her time starving herself, exercising and in general half killing herself to become the most perfect image of herself she can be and no little less effort goes into the wedding day. So with videographers recording every moment of the special day, every little mistake I made was captured for posterity; a forever reminder that I ruined what was supposed to be the bride’s one perfect day. Talk about pressure.

On the way back from hospital visits yesterday NPR aired a program about weddings. Apparently the average wedding in the United States today costs about $28,000.00. That is more than what I paid for my last two cars combined. It also takes the efforts of approximately 43 professionals not include the stress therapists. (It is also interesting to note that many of the professionals do not get along well with each other and they run with scissors.)

I would like to say that priests are much more sensible when it comes to such things, but they are not. * ahem * I was not. After ordination there was dinner and dance at the Slovenian Center Ballroom. The next day after the first mass there was a sit down dinner at the parish followed by benediction. Then, after the Serra dinner, there was a trip to Slovenia where there was yet another mass and banquet. It was all ludicrously out of hand. I became much happier when I decided that it was more about other people than myself and stopped worrying about everything, let others do as they will, and concentrated on just enjoying the whole thing.

The 1963 book entitled American Catholic Etiquette by Kay Toy Fenner recommends this for a priest’s reception:

“(It) is a reception in the family home on the afternoon of the day of the First Mass. This might merely be a large family style dinner, served either at the table or buffet style, to which relatives are invited, or a reception which may include a larger number of people.

“The atmosphere of such a gathering is friendly and informal. The entrance door may be left open or ajar, and guests may let themselves in without ringing to announce their arrival. . . . The priest’s mother and the young priest (I was 33, a bad year for Jesus) stand near the entrance to the living rooms. They greet the arriving guests and the priest may give them his blessing at that time if he wishes.”

I love the menu suggestions:

Fresh fruit cup
Chicken Eugenie Asparagus, butter sauce
Strawberry mousse

Jellied consommé
Rock game hen Wild rice
Endive Salad
Meringues glaces

I had:

Noodle soup
Chicken and sausage
Coleslaw
Strudel

Miss Manner’s Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior begins describing a wedding in this fashion: “Q. When is the correct time for a bride to get prenuptial jitters, who should be present, where should each person stand, what should they wear, and does this even require a separate present? This is the only ingredient Miss Manners can imagine that has not yet been codified into the marathon of wedding events recommended by florists, photographers, social consultants, and other such well-wishers.”

A wedding seems like a series of possible accidents waiting to happen” – This American Life

Some of my favorite weddings have been intimate exchange of vows in the chapel with a small gathering of people or a larger, more extravagant wedding, but one in which the ceremony was truly an extension of the spirituality of the bride and groom. Instead of the religious aspect just being a “God prop” or a necessary evil to appease and add atmosphere, it is the point of the day, the cause of all the celebrating.

Of course the same could be said of First Holy Communions and Confirmations too, more being a cause of parties and of collecting envelopes rather than a holy moment marked by family and friends with a celebration afterwards.

It all comes down to this: Is the Eucharist the focus, the source and summit of our lives for it is then that our celebrations, no matter what form they take, acquire a life and meaning and true joy.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

ROFL!

There must've been decades of laughter crammed into your ordination day's menu as well. (About the 33, au contraire.. it was His best day ever, too.) You've left me thinking that just as we read you, we are reading much of those who raised, formed, loved you -- your mom and dad, all your family and friends and teachers..i.e., "If you've seen Me, Philip, you've seen the Father.."

As my husband and I, newly man and wife, walked out of the church that morning soon to go to the reception, I looked back at the man in the alb and chasuble - one of the people who had made this the happiest day of my life - and I thought, "You come, too!" but he'd already declined. How I thanked God for him. He'd been deeply reluctant to begin my dispensation for annulment more than a year and a half before that day, and I'd have let him get away with that because by then, I knew that priests are my superiors, shepherds, true fathers in the faith, and I'd have listened.. but we all prayed, and God gave the answer we all had hoped for. Or perhaps God arranged the whole thing, and our prayers were icing on the cake.

There's so much we (I) don't know about the priesthood. I was so honored to think our late vocation (50s) friend/classics instructor turned Trappist mon/turned newly ordained priest was going to offer his First Mass in our parish -- and then I found out how many First Masses could be offered, lol. I was still honored, but the pressure was off -- scratch the

Noodle soup
Chicken and sausage
Coleslaw
Strudel

we had some New England ethnic dinners instead -- floundah, baked stuffed haddock, baked beans, etc., and imported (NY style!) cheesecake.

May God bless you. I don't know what took you so long, but I'm deeply glad you said "yes" to the whole kit and caboodle.

Rob said...

-Apparently the average wedding in the United States today costs about $28,000.00.

Of course, the truth is that marriage is virtually free. In Honduras, I was 24 and my wife 21 (and a day), when we married before a civil official. It cost a few lempiras (about 18 to the dollar). In the States, once I realized that sacramental marriage was a necessity, we got married in front of a Catholic deacon at our parish. I gave the Church $100.

We have four kids. I think we did it right.

Fr. V said...

How did you manage it Rob? The limo service alone would cost more than that and I think that limo service is in canon law. It may make your marriage illicit but I'm sure lack of limo service does not invalidate. I live with a canon lawyer, I'll make sure over dinner tonight.

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr. V, I am beginning to think you are my "long lost brother". LOL!

I also played trumpet...but that was after I had a few months of organ lessons and then became an accomplished flautist. :-) (I was toying with getting a degree in music).


I used to want a big wedding, and as you described, all about the pomp and circumstance, and sadly, in those daydreaming days I didn't want a Mass because "Mass is boring". I'm so ashamed now.

If I ever get married, (big if, at that), I want a small wedding, the smaller the better, but I refuse to get married without a Mass...I want to be married in Heaven on earth in the presence of all the Saints and Angels at the very foot of the cross. You know what I mean.

I really wish more people understood the meaning of the Mass...if they did, their weddings would be more less stressful and they would focus on what's really important.

Now...remind me of my above words IF I do ever get married...

Rob said...

-It may make your marriage illicit but I'm sure lack of limo service does not invalidate.-


No, we had "an implicit desire to have a limo service". My canon lawyer assures me this suffices under the new regulations.

Adoro te Devote said...

Father, can I just point out one thing in the last picture you posted...in that movie, that guy died...

If you can put the word bubble in front of the hero instead, it would be a good thing...

:-)

Fr. V said...

Adoro! You fool! You fell for one of the classic blunders. The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia. But only slightly less well know is this: Never go in with a Sicilian when death is on the line!

Rob - My guy confirms!

Adoro te Devote said...

ROFL!

Now I KNOW you're my long lost brother!...uh...Father... LOL!

"My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my Father. Prepare to die."

:-)

Other great lines..

Inigo: Who are you?

Roberts: No one of consequence.

Inigo: I MUST know.

Roberts: Get used to disappointment.

and:

Inigo: "You seem to be a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

Roberts: "You seem to be a decent follow. I hate to die."

and, because I'm a romantic:

"As...you....wish....!"


:-)

Carolina Cannonball said...

I'd just be happy to go to a wedding now-a-days where the bride didn't look like a street walker wearing some backless, lowcut, prom dress number. And the brides maid... oy vey!

$28,000. wow. Are ice scupltures in Canon Law too? LOL

Fr. V said...

Adoro - More lines:

You mean you'll put down your rock and I'll put down my sword and we will kill each other like gentlemen.

(To Andre the Giant) I don't envy you the headache you'll have when you awaken. Sleep well and dream of large women.

If you rush a miracle worker, maybe you get a roteen miracle.

C.C. - Actually that comes under one of those strange rubrics, "The punch is chilled in this or similar fashion" so that you can get away with almost anything as long as you only use frozen glacier water.

Anonymous said...

omg, CC, are you my mother-in-law?

;-)

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr. V: ~
Humperdink: To the death!

Westley: No! To the pain!

Humperdink: I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase?

Westley: I'll explain, and I'll use small words so that you'll be sure to understand. You-wart-hog-faced-buffoon!

Humperdink: That may be the first time in my life a man has dared insult me.

Westley: It won't be the last. To the pain means the first thing you lose will be your your feet below the ankles, then your hands at your wrists. Next, your nose.

Humperdink: Then my tongue, I suppose? I killed you too quickly the last time, a mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.

Westley: I wasn't finished! The next thing you lose will be your left eyefollowed by your right!

Humperdink: And then my ears...I understand! Let's get on with it!

Westley: Wrong! Your ears you keep, and I'll tell you why; so that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness is yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman that cries out, 'dear god what is that thing!' will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in
freakish misery forever.

Humperdink: I think your bluffing.

Westley: It's possible, pig. I might be bluffing. It's conceivable you miserable vomitous mass, I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. Then again, perhaps I have the strength to stand after all.

Drop... your... sword.



:-)


I must confess...I found the script online...AND I watched the movie this afternoon while I grilled my dinner...

http://www.keele.ac.uk/socs/ks02/next/princess/script.html#Scene_5

Fr. V said...

LOL! EXCELLENT!

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr V.

I think it's also important for you to know that you've become a character in my new St. Blog's Parish soap opera...

(I won't post the link...you happen by often enough, so you'll see it...)


And to stay on the script:
Inigo: (having been stabbed, now standing up laboriously, grunting...) My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my Father. Prepare to die.

Humperdink: Are you still trying to win? You have an overdeveloped sense of vengeance. That’s going to get you into trouble someday.

Inigo: (stronger now, still holding his side...) My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my Father. Prepare to die.

Humperdink: STOP SAYING THAT!

Fr. V said...

If we ever meet up, we will have to do the poison wine scene - not even say hi - just go right into it.

By ANY chance do you know Fire Sign Theater's "Nick Danger; Third Eye"?

"What's all this brouhaha?"

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr. V. ~ Right on!

Um...I don't really have to build up an immunity to iocaine powder, do I?

And do I get to be the dread Pirate Roberts? :-)

Unfortunately, no, I don't know that production.

What else ya got? :-)

Eric B said...

Adoro,
Count Rugen is the one that Inigo talks with in your last quote, the 6 fingered man. But anyways, a classic movie for the whole family (not sure about little ones under 4 though :)

True Love!!!

Adoro te Devote said...

eric ~

Oops! I knew that!....That's what I get for not paying attention to what I'm doing.

Too bad I can't go back and edit my comment...thanks for pointing out the error.

I'm not sure kids in general would "get" much of the humor in this movie, but they'd be no less entertained. I am still amazed when I watch old Tom and Jerry reruns and the like and catch the more adult (clean) humor there. I loved those cartoons as a kid, but they also have much to offer an adult!

Adoro te Devote said...

Fr. V. , forgot to ask...you don't happen to know the script for "Annie Get Your Gun" do you? (Irving Berlin music).

I was almost Annie when I was 16, played her for 2 weeks and then showed the blocking we did to the real Annie.

"Charmed!"

Annie: "'Chanted!"

"Enchanted!"

Annie: "Charmed!

Another dignitary..."Delighted"

Annie pulls back. "Oh, no! You gotta be 'charmed or 'Chanted!"


or

"Is that gun loaded?"

Annie: Yes, sir, it is...but I can empty it RIGHT quick!

Fr. V said...

I was in Annie! I was a bald and bearded Indian. Hmmm.

Don't remember any of the dialogue though. It was a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.