Over a year ago, the morning of May 21st, 2016, I was in the library on the ground floor of my beautiful high school, getting ready for my wedding. The Mass would be held in the St. Francis de Sales Chapel at the very center of my alma mater, where I’d sat for school Masses so many times before. Even before then, I had come often as a little girl with my parents, who have worked there since before I was born.
In those final moments between the library bookshelves, just before my mom and sister helped button the back of my dress and my dad hugged me one last time, as I tucked the strand of hair back into place behind the pin it kept slipping out of, the priest who would celebrate our Mass came down to see me.
He pulled me aside to tell me one last thing--“the most important thing”--according to him, before I walked upstairs and the celebration started. His words were these:
“You have done so much to prepare for this moment. So much planning, so much preparation, so much prayer. Endless conversations have been had, decisions made, things accomplished. You don’t need to focus on any of that anymore. All you need to do now is simply receive. Just sit back and place yourself in the position to receive all the grace God wants to pour into your heart through this sacrament. Don’t focus on any other details at this point. Just open your heart and receive all the love that’s about to flood in.”
They were the words I needed to hear. He knew that. He had probably given similar advice to other brides on their wedding days, and as he hugged me and told me he’d see me upstairs, I let them sink in.
These words shaped the rest of my wedding day. They’ve shaped my life as a wife since. They have radically impacted my experience of this vocation, and thank goodness for that. I’m not sure if that sweet priest realized the weight of his words for me.
But because of Fr. Gregory’s little reminder that what God wanted for me on my wedding day was to receive his grace in a profound and tangible way through the gift of my husband, I could recognize and truly receive that gift. The gift of peace I felt poured onto me on my wedding day seemed to drape over everything. I felt how deeply bridal it was to position myself with my heart open to Christ and those around me--particularly the man who became my husband that day.
I’ve realized more and more since that humble receptivity is the very essence of this vocation. Living as a wife means the constant work of receiving your husband with love. Living as a mother extends this reality profoundly to your children. Living as a woman, in a most basic and beautiful way, asks us to make our hearts a home for all those we encounter.
And even further, the vocation of marriage asks that we be prepared to be received by our husbands in love, and to accept the love of Jesus through them. Trying to return, again and again, to a place of intentional openness is so woven into my experience of being a wife that I can see it as the bridge that connected engagement and marriage for me.
It’s true that many things change through the reception of this sacrament and the entering into this new stage of life, but what remains essential is the call for an open heart--even if its expression changes shape over time.
And so engaged, married, or single, these priestly words of wisdom shared with me that May morning can inspire your heart like they have mine. When we are open to the grace God wishes to give us each day, He will never cease to meet us and pour Himself into us to make us stronger and more capable of love. And that will always make us able to more wholly receive each day the gift it is meant to be.
About the Author: Corinne Gannotti studied Theology and Catechetics at Franciscan University of Steubenville and works now as a middle school religion teacher in Pennsylvania. She loves many things, not the least of which include theatre, her hilarious husband Sam, running, Dunkin Donuts, and St. Bernadette. She and her husband are anxiously awaiting the birth of their first baby. She is a consistent contributor to the Integrity blog.