Monday, April 8, 2013

Rite Resources: Choosing Your Wedding Readings

Natalie Franke Photography

It sounds so laughable, but I can so clearly remember telling people, "I don't know how to get married in the Church!" when they'd ask me how my plans were going, especially for the Mass.  It was like, I'd had engaged friends who'd talked about Pre-Cana and NFP classes and meetings with their priest here and there, but all of it was still just veiled in mystery to me.  I'd thought that when it was my turn, all of those abstract things would become more concrete, but I often felt like they didn't and I was just guessing.  My personal theory is that everyone gets through it because, odds are, it's the only time she'll get married, but wouldn't it be nice if there were some compendium out there to just tell us how to plan things?

Luckily, I discovered that at least one aspect, choosing our Mass readings, didn't have to be too hard, aside from the actual decision part.  For Your Marriage has an incredibly helpful way of breaking down the parts of the Mass and listing selections for each part.  As readings go, nuptial Masses follow the same order as any Sunday Mass Liturgy of the Word: the first reading from the Old Testament and the second from the New, accompanied by a Psalm and followed by a Gospel reading.  There's a series of suggested, approved readings for each, but how to choose?  Maybe you've been planning this aspect of your wedding for years, or maybe one or two have always spoken to you more than others, but if not, read over the choices together and see what speaks to your hearts.  I've had a longtime devotion to St. Raphael and his role in Sarah and Tobias' love story, so I knew I wanted the prayer from their wedding night to be our first reading, but since I didn't have particularly strong feelings about the others, it was important to Andrew and I that we chose them together.  We eventually settled on Ephesians 5 (you know, "wives, be submissive to your husbands") for our second reading, admittedly out of a somewhat defiant desire for people to see this reading for the beautiful reflection on Christ's love that it is, and the Wedding at Cana for our Gospel, which we chose because we both have strong devotions to Mary.

I used to not know this, but after a whirlwind year and a half of seeing most of my close friends get married, with amazingly beautiful, holy liturgies, I learned that if you prefer and if your priest approves, you can actually choose alternate readings from the ones suggested by the USCCB.  Last summer, my friends Clint and Becca used Genesis 24:48-51 and 58-67, where Isaac takes Rebecca to be his wife.  I thought it was so beautiful to use a reading with Becca's own name; it made the reality of their sacrament that much stronger.  I cried.  

Then, a few months later, my friends Jonathan and Siobhan chose John's account of Jesus' passion for their Gospel reading!  During the homily, the priest made the point that although the long, bloody Crucifixion isn't necessarily the prettiest image, Jesus' laying down of His life for His bride, the Church, is the ultimate vision of married love.  I sobbed again, of course.  It was the most amazing wedding homily I’d ever heard.  So if there's another passage that's particularly meaningful to you as a couple, and so long as your intentions are pure (as opposed to completely customizing your Mass to make it more original, which I doubt is your goal), it seems worth asking!

Please enlighten my nosy, romantic self: do you have your readings picked out yet?  Are there any that have a special meaning for you?  Spill!

P.S.  Chatting it up on Facebook today about how to avoid family wedding drama...toss in your two cents and help out a newly engaged reader!

8 comments:

  1. We picked the same 2nd reading and a reading from Song of Songs for the 1st reading. Discussing our readings was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning people commented after that they were glad to her some "new" parts of scripture for a wedding. Great post!

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    1. Yeah, I guess people do tend to hear the same ones at a lot of weddings; it's nice knowing other options are out there and sharing them!

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  2. We chose the Beatitudes for our Gospel reading. I wasn't sure at first, but my husband really felt strongly about that passage. And I am so glad we did - the homily it inspired was an amazing start to our marriage journey!

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  3. What an interesting idea to pick the crucifixion scene of Jesus...what powerful imagery for marriage!! We chose the wedding at Cana for our Gospel reading

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  4. We're definitely choosing Ephesians 5! The rest we will have to pray and discuss. =)

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    1. I'd love to know what you end up choosing!

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