Solemnisation of Marriages
by Father Seán
New regulations from the State have come into force since last Monday November 5th. The changes involved have been well publicised, and there is no need to elaborate on them here. The fact is that throughout the history of this state, ministers of religion have fulfilled the role of solemnisers of marriages on behalf of the state in return for state recognition of the civil validity of the religious ceremony. The position remains basically the same except that the State plays a stronger role in overseeing the civil celebration of the marriage. What this points up for us as Catholics, and indeed for all who celebrate marriage in a religious setting, is that the spiritual content of a marriage is of paramount importance. We must get back to the spiritual and religious meaning of a marriage celebrated as a Sacrament.
Firstly, preparation is vitally important. Couples must have a clear understanding of the meaning of Sacrament and the special value of God's blessing on one of the most solemn moments of their lives. Secondly we all need to reflect on the need to participate properly in the religious celebration of marriage. It is a time when we celebrate with joy the grace-giving presence of Christ in marriage, and ask God to truly bless the couple, just as he blessed the couple in Cana of Gallilee.
Nowadays, many people, for their own reasons, skip the Church ceremony completely, and are to be seen only in the hotel afterwards. We might say that they do not know what they are missing.
Secondly, we should be prepared to eliminate the element of performance from wedding celebration, and simplify the Church event. In this case simple truly is best, as it helps us to focus fully on the richness of the occasion when God blesses the love of two people. Elaboration can lead to distraction, and distraction leads to confusion as to what we are about.
Lastly, many couples opt to be married outside the State, and often for good reasons. In some case it is even for the good reason of wishing to escape the hype and over elaboration that makes weddings unenjoyable. It is important that couple will first talk to their parish clergy to ensure that the arrangements in another country do allow them to properly celebrate a sacramental marriage. In most cases there is no problem, but
occasionally there may be. The best way to avoid disappointment and stress is to check in the first place that everything is in order for a marriage abroad. From there on you have nothing but help and support.