Wedding advice from a pastoral musician
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (Catholic San Francisco) - Undoubtedly, if you are engaged, you have already received more advice than you ever asked for! In the spirit of piling on (but in a loving way), here are five suggestions from one pastoral musician that might help your wedding be that beautiful sacramental celebration that both you and the Church dream of:
1. After meeting with the priest or deacon who will counsel you as you prepare for marriage, make your next consultation with your parish music director. Many of the pastoral musicians at your church, and certainly your parish’s music director, will have experience preparing music for weddings. They will listen to your ideas, and they will have suggestions of their own. They will probably be very honest with you about what will or will not be permitted at the parish where you will be married. Plan to coordinate music choices and the possible participation of any non-parish musicians with your parish music director.
When listing your preferences for music for your wedding, think of songs of faith that might go well with the Christian significance of marriage. Within the wedding liturgy, we always seek to keep the expressions of love within the context of the mystery of Jesus Christ loving his Church. Often popular romantic songs will fall short of this ideal even though they may be beautiful and express sentiments of love. As a general rule, couples are encouraged to choose religious songs for the wedding liturgy and popular songs for the wedding reception.
2. Be models for your wedding party and family in respecting the sacredness of the church where you will be married. You may have chosen to have a church wedding for any number of good reasons: the sacramental nature of your upcoming marriage; you want to celebrate surrounded by your parish community; you want your marriage to be blessed by God. Parishioners and ministers will be grateful when you and your guests treat the sacred space respectfully, especially during your wedding rehearsal.
3. Help wedding guests be participants, not merely spectators. The nature of a liturgical wedding includes active participation of the community. With the help of your parish musician, choose acclamations and songs familiar to your guests. If you expect to have a significant number who will not be familiar with the Catholic Mass, take extra steps to see that prayers and responses are included in your wedding program booklet. The more you orient your wedding to be a communal event, the more the joy on your wedding day will be magnified.
4. In the midst of all of the details of your wedding, remember to prepare yourselves spiritually. This spiritual preparation could happen in many different ways, but here are examples:
— Spend some quiet time in prayer and meditation to help you be centered and mindful on your wedding day. Focus on the love Christ and your spouse have for you and on the love you have for them, your family and friends. Especially on that important day of your wedding, live in and celebrate that love.
— Spend time with your future spouse reflecting on the Scripture readings, your vows and other prayer texts that will be proclaimed during your wedding Mass.
— Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before your wedding. The spiritual liberation one gains from examination, confession, penance and absolution often adds to the freedom and joy in making one’s marriage vows.
— Prepare a “thanksgiving list” and/or a “petition list” as you enter into marriage. Doing a bit of reflection about the people, choices and events that brought you to the threshold of marriage would certainly be worthwhile. Share these thoughts with your future spouse.
Besides the ever-present advice and suggestions that always seem to be a given for a couple preparing for marriage, there is another thing beyond a doubt: the love of Jesus Christ for you.
This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of Catholic San Francisco (www.catholic-sf.org),official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Calif.
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