It seems like only yesterday. But it’s been 23-years since Mary and I stood in St. Patrick’s Church on Capitol Hill in Seattle and were joined together in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Or as Mary’s and my favorite singer Bono of the musical group U2 refers to marriage as, “stuck together with God’s glue.”
There were times when we wondered if our marriage could be counted as official in the eyes of the Church. You see our priest was a Jesuit. But that wasn’t the issue. Father Louis Sauvain taught marriage preparatory courses at Seattle University for nearly 30 years. So he was more than qualified. Father Sauvain put us through the religious rigors in the months leading up to our wedding. When we asked him to be the celebrant at our nuptials, he eagerly agreed.
What concerned us (after the fact and maybe during the fact) was the speed with which he performed the Nuptial Mass. He flew through the Mass. I have never heard a priest deliver the Mass in such rapid-fire fashion. The whole affair was over in 25-minutes, Eucharist and all. For the non-Catholics in attendance, it was “the best Catholic wedding” they’d ever attended. But many of the Catholics were quite distressed by the service. Several said they couldn’t understand a word Father said during the prayers or the Gospel or the homily. You can only imagine what two Catholic kids fretted over in the years since. Are we officially married in the eyes of God?
All humorous stories aside, Father Sauvain helped us to understand the importance of the sacrament we were entering and how we needed to put Christ into our ceremony. This was no problem since we both felt called together by God. Father Sauvain reminded us that the wedding is not a private ceremony, but a public, communal worship service. We picked St. Patrick’s Church at the recommendation of Father Sauvain. While we toyed with having the service outside of the Church (even outside), Father helped us to understand that the Church is a place sanctified for such a communal worship service and the perfect place for the sacrament of marriage. The service offered us an opportunity, a sacred opportunity, to join family and friends in dedicating our marriage to God. After all, God is the author of all love. And God was in the house that day. Despite the rapid-fire celebration, being in the Church also allowed our Catholic family and friends to fully participate in the Liturgy and most importantly the Eucharist, “the sum and summit of public prayer.” Our family and friends joined us in this public prayer celebrating us coming together in this life and for all eternity.
As I look back on the experience, I remember being scared to death. I thought I was ready to get married, but nerves and self-doubt riddled the day. But when Father Sauvain pronounced us, “Husband and Wife,” and I kissed my bride, the nerves vanished and joy and peace enveloped me. Even when the champagne at the wedding party led my bride to be giddy and overly talkative with the passenger sitting next to us on the plane ride to our honeymoon destination, I didn’t feel embarrassment, but a warmth of love that exists to this day each time I fall in love all over again with my beautiful wife.
God stuck us together with His glue in March of 1986 at a public prayer called our wedding.