Love and Sacrifice Say the Same Thing.

STEPHANIE CALIS

 

What is beautiful draws our senses to the sacred. At a recent wedding I attended, a harp, organ, and choir lifted their melodies to the heights. The groomsmen wore tailcoats; the bridesmaids, embellished gowns the color of jade. Even these breathtaking details, however, were nothing compared to the radiance of the liturgy, or the couple themselves.

After a tear-filled procession and Liturgy of the Word, the celebrant’s homily illuminated an essential truth of our vocations, one embodied in a particularly tangible way through the call to marriage: love and sacrifice say the same thing, but only to the extent that we embrace them.

“You love,” he said, “as much as you sacrifice, and you sacrifice as much as you love.”

What does this mean?

As a wedding guest, I took these words as a prayer for the couple about to become one, that they might spend their lifetime willing one another’s good and fulfillment.

On a personal level, I heard them as a call, insistent and clear: along this path, my husband’s and my pilgrimage to the eternal wedding feast, our vows merit that we love with the entirety of our hearts, even when emotion runs dry and when we’d prefer not to make the effort. That we embrace the good times and bad, knowing that in making a gift of our actions, time, and entire selves to one another, we’re free from enslavement to self-serving desires.

I often consider the link between the words integration and integrity when it comes to relationships. That is, the times when the complementary parts of who I am--body and soul, reason and emotion, and more--are well-integrated and not in conflict with each other, are the times I find myself treating my husband with the greatest sense of integrity.

These are the times when my love for him and the sacrifices I’m willing to make for him--taking on extra chores when he’s busy, respecting our budget, putting our kids to bed on the nights he has to bring work home--speak a language of wholeness and good will.

When our hearts are integrated, love and sacrifice say the same thing: I give of myself to you, I place your present wants and needs before my own, I enter into your burdens and carry them alongside you.

In the times I turn to my own selfishness, preferring personal convenience or comfort above what’s best for my marriage and family, I see our relationships being chipped away at. I see them quite literally dis-integrate.

Thanks to grace and mercy, these breaks can be restored to something like their former wholeness, and only in eternity will they be brought to perfection.

Only in eternity. The words of this wedding homily, an occasion of such heavenly rejoicing, drew my attention down to earth and to the tension we live out in our vocations. We are earthly and imperfect, yet our call is focused on eternal life; on bringing our spouses and children (biological or spiritual) to the banquet by way of love.

And how to pour out that love? Through our acts of sacrifice. Saint John Paul II said, “There is no place for selfishness and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.”

By praying for your spouse, by serving and assisting him without keeping score, by keeping your shared goal of each other’s fulfillment and salvation at the forefront--even when it feels too hard--you become living icons of self-emptying love, bearing Christ to the world.


About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more

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5 Saint Thérèse Quotes to Help You Live the “Little Way” in Marriage

What could a cloistered Carmelite nun who lived in the 1800s and died at the young age of 24 teach anyone about marriage—especially marriage in the 21st century?

If you look at marriage through a purely secular lens, as a civilly-sanctioned union between two consenting parties who share great feelings of affection—and tax benefits—then not much.

But for Christians, marriage is so much more. And through the Catholic sacrament of matrimony, two individuals become a living sacrament.

There is a spiritual reality in the spousal union that knits souls together for life, “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

There is unique marital grace that God reserves for those living the sacrament, and there is a mission given to the spouses that transcends time: help each other become the saints you are called to be. Walk with each other to Heaven. Cultivate your family as a ‘domestic church’ that overflows with life, love, grace, and Christ.

But what does marriage have to do with a young Carmelite nun?

Her name was Thérèse Martin—a young, fifteen-year-old girl who petitioned the Holy Father to enter Carmel; her plea was granted. During her remainder of her life in the French convent, Thérèse adopted a philosophy and a spirituality that reflected her own “little soul.” It was a way of simplicity, sacrifice, and, ultimately, love.

In 1997, she was officially declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II. In her much-loved autobiography, Story of a Soul, she writes, “overcome by joy, I cried, 'Jesus, my love. At last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love!’” Saint Thérèse’s spirituality, her most enduring legacy, is affectionately known as the “Little Way:” a simple and direct path to Heaven. Although written by a young nun who never married, this spirituality is a beautiful rule of life for the married home. Through her own words, we learn the little way as a guide for our own vocations to love, through the vocation to marriage.

 

“My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience.”

Saint Thérèse’s religious life revolved around constant prayer and sacrifice, especially little daily sacrifices like cleaning dishes or helping other sisters in need (especially those she found to be the most difficult). How strong marriages would be if each spouse filled every day with tiny sacrifices and deaths to self, each offered as a little prayer of love to Jesus!

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice,” she admonishes. “Here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right thing and doing it all for love.”

When you begin a burdensome chore, do it joyfully; offer up the urge to complain as a small sacrifice for your beloved and for Christ. Your joyful “yes” to making the bed each morning becomes a small fulfillment of the call to your vocation of married life. Each little labor becomes a prayer. After all, “when one loves,” Saint Thérèse says, “one does not calculate.”

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors' defects—not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.”

Is there anything about your spouse that drives you nuts? When you attend confession, do you feel like you could do their examination of conscience for them?

“How could he leave his clothes on the floor by the bed again? Haven’t I asked him ten times not to do that?” St. Thérèse’s little way notices faults of others through a different lens. The bad habits in your spouse, and in yourself, do not change easily or quickly; that’s the nature of a habit.

When your spouse does something that annoys you, again, refrain from acting shocked. Expect a healthy amount of imperfection or inconsistency from your spouse, and reflect, instead, on even his smallest virtues.

This minor shift in perspective curbs disappointment and hurt of failed expectations. Choose joy. Choose to notice the strengths of your spouse that made you fall in love with them in the first place. There may be profound suffering in marriage, but, as Thérèse says, “It's true, I suffer a great deal—but do I suffer well? That is the question.”

“I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord's living garden.”

Do you ever look at another wife and wish you could be as good as her? Her beauty, her talents, her home, and even her marriage seem better than yours.

Envy destroys souls and marriages. But confident humility and gratitude for the gifts and beauty in your life destroy envy. Saint Thérèse wisely notes the perfect beauty of every person’s unique soul and vocation in God’s “living garden.”

“If a little flower could speak,” she explains, “it seems to me that it would tell us quite simply all that God has done for it, without hiding any of its gifts. It would not, under the pretext of humility, say that it was not pretty, or that it had not a sweet scent...if it knew that such were not the case.”

Make a list of all the little things that bring you gratitude about your spouse and the life you share together. Present these things with love to the Lord and praise him for crafting you as the beautiful flower you are. “Holiness (and happiness) consists simply in doing God's will, and being just what God wants us to be,” Thérèse says.

Another woman may have been created as a rose, but your life as the simple daisy adds necessary color and beauty to God’s garden.  

“God would never inspire me with desires which cannot be realized; so in spite of my littleness, I can hope to be a saint.”

In one of the most courageous sentences she ever wrote, St. Thérèse confidently hopes in her own sanctity, despite being acutely aware of her weaknesses and faults. She knows that her vocation is love, so “without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” It is not always the grandeur of holy actions that make a saint, but the grandeur of love in every little action.

On your wedding day, you vowed to love your spouse “until death do us part.” Only then is your vocation complete, when you and your beloved enter eternal life as saints who helped each other through a lifetime of growing in sanctity.

In your own littleness, do not despair. Ask God for the theological virtue of hope to thrive in your marriage. Trust that your desire for sanctity in your vocation is never in vain.

In spite of your faults, in spite of the flaws of your spouse, in spite of the imperfections of your marriage, you can always, confidently, hope to become a saint. Walk the little way of simplicity, sacrifice, and love. Grow through the graces of marriage and the deep, abiding love of God—just like a little French nun who became a Doctor of the Church.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us!

Wedding Week Hospitality Tips

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Hospitality is a virtue, especially during wedding week.

The days leading up to the wedding can make a bride’s life hectic and navigating the craziness can pose challenges. Not only are you the guest of honor, but you also play the role of hostess, extending hospitality to all of your guests, especially those coming from out of town.

Here are some ideas to help your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and out of town wedding guests feel welcomed and loved:

Accommodations

Finding accommodations may be challenging for out-of-town guests and members of the wedding party, so they would probably appreciate help finding nice (and affordable) places to stay.

Block rooms at a local hotel or, if possible, offer your spare room as an option. You could also ask around; if you have family or friends that live nearby, they may be willing to house incoming guests.

Welcome bags

Consider leaving small gift bags or baskets for your guests to receive when they arrive at their hotel.

You can fill the bag with items that may be helpful throughout the weekend such as water bottles, snacks, mints, pain relievers, and directions to the ceremony and reception. Or you might want to throw in some fancier items like a small bottle of champagne, chocolates, or local delicacies.

If you are on a strict budget, consider leaving a little welcome note or brochures about local restaurants and attractions in the rooms of your guests instead.

Provide for your Wedding Party

Chances are members of the wedding party have probably spent a fair amount of money to help make your wedding day even more special. Anticipating and filling their needs is a wonderful way to show them that you appreciate them.

Offer them a ride from the airport, and help them find a place to stay. You can host a dinner after they arrive into town or provide a nice breakfast the morning of the wedding. You can also have some snacks and drinks available wherever they are getting ready.

Having their basic needs met will help them more fully enjoy their weekend celebrating you and your soon to be spouse.

After the Ceremony

With the already packed wedding day itinerary, many couples understandably opt not to have a receiving line after the ceremony. But if your schedule allows it or if you are looking for a way to make sure you have a moment with all your guests a receiving line is a great option.

When planning the reception, keep your guests in mind. The party is for them, to celebrate you.

Make sure the food, music, and beverages can be enjoyed both by you and your new spouse, as well as the majority of your guests. That doesn’t mean you have to take every song request or have a full bar, but that you give everyone a chance to truly celebrate the great sacrament that just occurred.

Morning-after Brunch

Hosting a brunch the morning after the wedding is a special way to wrap up your wedding weekend especially if you aren’t taking a honeymoon right away.

The morning-after brunch provides a more intimate space in which you can catch up with some of your loved ones. It’s generally less hectic than the wedding reception and with the stress of the wedding day behind you, you can really enter into the joy shared by your friends and family.


About the Author: Carissa Pluta is Spoken Bride’s Editor at Large. She is the author of the blog The Myth Retold. Read more

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Signature Items: What They Are and How They Can Help Preserve Your Wedding Memories

What are your personal signatures? Maybe there’s a singular outfit or lip color that makes you feel your best, a spiritual book or prayer friends associate with you because you’ve recommended it so many times, a go-to drink order, a candle whose scent always fills your living space.

As individual as the way you write your name, signature items are the ones that make you feel most like you.

The external things you choose over and over and, in doing so, express your internal self. Every person desires to be known, and each woman’s personal style and spirituality can become a way of sharing and making visible who she is.

Photography:    Petite Fleur Studios

If you’ve worried your wedding day might pass in too much of a blur to remember, pray for a sense of presence, and consider choosing items that can help you concretely revisit the start of your vocation. Sensory and emotional experiences are tied to closely to our memories, and can help cement life’s milestones in your mind. In the seasons of your wedding-day countdown and first months as a married couple, consider choosing a handful of new signatures--as a bride and as a couple--that, in years to come, will help define your life together: items that, when you use them, will bring the sweet days of new marriage flooding back.

Here, four suggestions for incorporating signature items into your wedding day and newlywed life:

A wedding-day fragrance

The sense of smell can powerfully evoke memory and emotion. Choosing a new-to-you perfume to wear for the first time on your wedding day and honeymoon, then setting it aside for a brief period, is a resonant way to lock in and later revisit this sacred time.

A new saint or devotion

Shared prayer deepens your relationship like practically nothing else. As your wedding approaches, commit to adopting a patron for your marriage, compose your own wedding novena, write your own personal marriage prayer or family mission, or consider Marian consecration. Repeat this devotion annually around your anniversary, and you’ll find yourself amazed by the fruits and changes each year of marriage brings--even difficult years.

A honeymoon playlist

Like scent, music holds a strong pull on our memories. Before your honeymoon, put together a playlist or choose albums with your beloved that are new to you or haven’t been in heavy rotation, and listen en route to and at your destination. Listen more as you settle into your shared life, knowing the songs you’ve selected will be able to transport you back. Not going on a honeymoon right away? This practice still works if you’re headed right into your new routine or planning a staycation!

Recipes

Are there particular meals that strongly evoke your childhood or a past experience? Food, and the rituals tied to it, is a foundation of a shared table and shared life. Put a few cookbooks on your wedding registry, or purchase them for yourself, and enjoy the process of discovering dishes you love; ones that will have a spot in your home as time passes and, God willing, as your family grows.

Of course, we often go through phases of loving certain products, songs, prayers, and meals that later become associated with certain seasons outside the wedding realm, sometimes without realizing it. Making an effort to intentionally choose some of these items as you prepare for your vocation, to express the inner with the outer, speaks to the human heart’s eagerness to be known--to share of itself, to give--and to building a life entirely unique to you and your spouse.

Wedding Planning | Making Traditions Meaningful

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Like the Catholic Liturgy, wedding celebrations around the world are rich with tradition and history. Rituals become a source of nostalgia for guests who reflect on their own wedding day, they unite couples who participate in the traditions throughout time around the world. Furthermore, they enhance how the bride and groom bring unique personalization and meaningful symbolism to their ceremony and celebration.

Incorporating specific religious, cultural, or secular traditions into your wedding day is not about going through the motions for the sake of a good photograph or to appease a relative. Traditions are valuable opportunities to experience and share the sacramental nature of a wedding, involve beloved family and friends, or enter more deeply into your nuptials.

A brief selection of decisions and traditions are listed below as a catalyst to think creatively about ways to expand wedding standards in order to cultivate and share the deepest realities of your special day.

PHOTOGRAPHY:   VISUAL GRACE

PHOTOGRAPHY: VISUAL GRACE

Wedding Flowers

Besides choosing flowers in season or highlighting your color scheme, a symbolic approach to selecting flowers for your bouquet is to base the floral selection on religious symbolism. Historically, many flowers were named for Our Lady and Jesus. If you or your fiance have a special devotion to the Holy Family or a saint, you may consider honoring your devotion through your wedding flowers or a “Marian bouquet.”

Rehearsal Dinner

When many guests travel from out-of-town for a wedding, it is difficult for the bride, groom, and their families to spend adequate time with these guests. The rehearsal dinner serves an important purpose in honoring the family and friends who will serve at your wedding. But why stop there? If you are hoping to spend quality time with additional guests, expand the traditional rehearsal dinner to a meet-and-greet; invite others to join the celebration after the dinner, so guests can meet and mingle prior to the wedding day.

First Look

The First Look is a tradition with many benefits. First, it is an opportunity to shake some nerves before the ceremony. Second, as a time for prayer before meeting at the altar. Finally, it’s a perfect chance for the wedding photographer to capture special moments on camera. If the first look doesn’t feel like a good fit, brainstorm options to fit within your comfort zone. Perhaps you meet for a coffee date before everyone gets dressed, allowing time for laughs and prayers. Plan to hold hands back-to-back, as a “first touch” for a prayer and photograph before the ceremony. Determine your intention in this meeting, then consider ways to meet those goals.

Honoring Mary

In the Catholic Mass, there is generally an opportunity for the bride and groom to move to a statue of Mary to offer a prayer or a token of love. Even if you and your fiance have not had a strong devotion to Mary prior to your wedding, this is a beautiful opportunity to bring honor our spiritual mother; if you are at a loss for words to Our Lady, she will still shower you with grace on your special day. However, if you desire to make this tradition more meaningful, incorporate preparation for this tradition into your wedding planning process. For example, pray the rosary together as part of your spiritual preparation for marriage. Or work together to write a prayer to Mary and say the prayer when you visit her during your ceremony. You could also include the original prayer in your wedding program as a way to invite wedding guests to pray alongside and with you during that moment.

Significant Devotions, New Traditions

There are not many standard traditions to honor the saints in a wedding ceremony. If you and your fiance have a special devotion to one or several saints, talk to your priest about including a personalized Litany of Saints during the ceremony. When my husband and I offered the idea to our priest, he had never seen it done in a wedding, but we worked together with the music director to choose the right melody and timing--and it was a perfect addition.  

Eliminate Meaningless Norms

For me and my husband, a tradition that didn’t offer significant meaning, value, joy, or intention was the garter toss. We tried brainstorming ideas to parallel the women’s opportunity with the bouquet toss, but nothing came as a good fit. Rather than feeling obligated to partake in a wedding tradition that made us both uncomfortable, we decided to eliminate it from our reception—and no one asked any questions. If you and your fiancé find yourself at a crossroads between wedding norms and personal values, choose your values with courage and fearlessness. Your wedding day is a holy reflection of your innermost love and desire.

These topics are only the tip of the wedding-tradition-iceberg. We hope you will share your experiences with our community on Instagram or Facebook. We would love to hear: what traditions are you planning to incorporate throughout your wedding weekend? In what ways have you infused deeper meaning or symbolism into the religious, cultural, or secular traditions? How do you communicate the value and significance of a tradition with your wedding guests?


About the Author: Stephanie Fries is Spoken Bride’s Associate Editor. Stephanie’s perfect day would include a slow morning and quality time with her husband, Geoff, a strong cup of coffee, and a homemade meal (…with dessert). Read more

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My Daughter's Storybook Wedding--and How it Helped me Grieve

LIZ GORRELL

 

I am a bride, a mother, and a grandmother. In anticipating my eldest daughter’s child (my 6th grandchild), I am eager to share the story of our mother-daughter relationship amidst the planning of her wedding day last year. Celebrating her storybook wedding, and reflecting on that season of life, was a precious spiritual gift to me. I pray that sharing this story will be a gift to a young bride-to-be, new bride, and her mother.

In the midst of planning my daughter’s wedding, I was grieving the death of my mother. The process of mourning my loss filled my soul with emotion and clouded my ability to express myself. It wasn’t until after the wedding when I was finally able to sit and reflect upon my mother’s death, my daughter’s beautiful wedding, and the prayers my mother would have offered--for my daughter, her new husband, and their life together. Ultimately, the moment of pause helped me recognize how her wedding was my “good grief,” a gracious gift in the midst of sadness.

A mother is an integral part of a young woman’s life when she is getting married. Regardless if the two are on good terms or not--whether the relationship is filled with intimate stories and laughter over a girls’ night or strained from wounds and incompatible temperaments--the mother-daughter relationship is emphasized during a transition to marriage.

I believe every mother longs to be close to her little girl as she moves from her parents’ protection to the loving shelter of a kind man. And I believe each young woman yearns for her mother’s support as she enters her new vocation.

I go back in my mind to a year ago when my daughter, Kate, and I were in the middle of reception detail planning and dress fittings. There was so much to decide upon, and of course, I was so excited to bring all my crafty talents to the table and make her storybook wedding a reality. At the same time, the shadow of grief from my mother’s death followed me as I hadn’t adequately processed the transition in my own mother-daughter relationship.

Kate and I often argued about wedding etiquette. More than once I heard, “Mom, people don’t do that anymore!” Eventually I responded, “Well, if I’m paying for it, I want it to be done well and be a classy event.”

The tension and anger were followed by apologies and compromises. The “Please, Mom, understand I want my wedding to be what I envision, not your vision,” was almost always answered with, “I understand, honey, but please don’t steal my joy in giving you something beautiful.” Despite our challenging conversations, we were able to come together to create a lovely and memorable day.

“Stealing joy” was an echo of my mother’s words from years prior--when I had denied her opinion and financial support in my own wedding preparations and newlywed life. I was the youngest of fourteen children, her eleventh daughter, and I shudder at the memory of my reaction to her efforts to help me.

The dual-perspective as both a daughter and a mother allows me to identify these offerings of help as a sincere gift. I wish I had been more gracious and hadn’t “stolen her joy.” Simultaneously, I can empathize with my daughter’s longing for independence and freedom in some of our conflicts of opinion.

I recognize the perspective as a young bride, unable to realize how much emotion a mother experiences as her daughter prepares for marriage. A mother’s emotional investment stretches beyond monetary costs, aesthetic details, and various other niceties. In her daughter’s wedding, a mother comes to terms with the reality that her young girl is becoming a woman, making decisions of her own, and preparing to leave home in order to cling to another. Such a transition is difficult.

When a woman first finds out she is having a baby girl, she holds close to her heart all the expectations of what kind of mother she will be to her little girl. She hopes to be a good example in femininity, holiness and motherhood, and to cultivate a true friendship that goes beyond being a mother and daughter. Every mother has expectations for her daughter, in what kind of woman she will become; as I look with love upon my daughter, I can honestly say she has always exceeded mine.

As a homeschooling family, I had been a long-term support to my daughter--and she to me. Yet, witnessing her maturation and growing independence through the college years was difficult. Though she became the lovely independent young woman and friend I had hoped for, there is an experience of grieving, of “losing” my little girl. Such a bittersweet transition is not easy.

My daughter’s wedding was truly a storybook wedding. I was touched by her and her fiance’s desire for the wedding to be a deeply sacred event. The afternoon of the Nuptial Mass was indeed a true expression of Faith which included she and her guy meeting our pastor to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation minutes before they would line up with their bridal party in the back of the cathedral.

With the classic sacred music, stunning musicians, and reverence of the whole Mass, many tears of joy were shed that afternoon, however, surprisingly, I didn’t cry. In total peace, I looked upon my little girl all grown up, as she stood arm in arm with her new husband presenting, with love, her bouquet and entrusting their marriage to our Blessed Mother Mary. My own mother lived her life devoted to our Blessed Mother, so I imagine she was probably smiling down from heaven.

The fairy tale continued at a most exquisite reception venue with simple elegance planned into the details. The details were very personal from the place setting favors to the gorgeous dessert table spread of homemade pies and cheesecakes compliments of her sister-in-law, Abby and myself. My humble effort at making the wedding cake was a labor of love and satisfaction even if it was a bit crooked! From the Father-Daughter dance to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, and the Mother-Son dance to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong,

all the joy was bit by bit healing my grief.

Everyone celebrated loudly, danced the night away and gathered under the stars sending off the happy couple under a shower of sparklers.

In the grieving of my little girl’s growing up and the grieving of my mother’s death, I lost my familiar positions in relation to the women who know me best. But in my loss, I gained a new level of intimacy with both my daughter and my mother, I gained a new perspective and compassion for how the mother-daughter relationship changes over time, and I gained the love of God to guide me, gently, through a major life transition with peace and joy.

I often think of my daughter and my mother, Edith, as my two closest friends. When I think of the virtues my holy mother possessed--strong love of God, His Blessed Mother and the Saints, humility and patience--I see those same virtues in my daughter; so my mother lives on.

My advice to the young ladies planning a wedding is to seek a better understanding of the gift you are to your mother, and that regardless of the state of your relationship with your mother at this time, know you are a gift from God to her. Your love and joy may help her grieve a loss, heal a wound, and grow in holiness.

To the mothers out there, I pray for grace for you to enter into a better friendship with your girl as she prepares for her vocation of wife and motherhood. Give her your time and love, but most importantly your prayers so she may glorify God with her new life--a life you helped to provide, and nourished the best you could.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liz Gorrell is a wife, mother to five living children and three little saints in heaven, and grandmother to 5 sweet kiddos. A Midwest transplant to Austin, Texas, she loves gardening, creating mosaic patio stones with Catholic themes, all-things decorating, wedding and party planning, baking, and celebrating big her Catholic Faith. Liz has spent the better part of the last 20 years homeschooling her last four children, creating a domestic Church by way of her love of sacred art, liturgical celebrations and cultivating an environment of goodness, truth and beauty. She enjoys helping young mothers and other homeschooling mothers through her ministry, Heart of the Home. She has a devotion to the Blessed Mother, and strives to emulate Mary and the Saints in living a simple life. Her goal is to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant,.. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

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Planning a Bridal Shower? A Catholic Perspective on Lingerie and Lingerie Shower Tips

ANNE MARIE WILLIAMS & BRIDGET HEFFERNAN

 

In the summer of 2018, Anne Marie received an invitation to a lingerie shower, co-hosted by her friend Bridget. She had some initial misgivings: she’d been to several similar showers in the past and distinctly remembered the discomfort.

At past parties I’d attended, it felt like we were all there to gawk and catcall, expecting the bride to be “naughty" wearing the gifts she opened. I felt like we were invading her and her husband's bedroom--what was supposed to be their sacred space. Furthermore, taste in lingerie is a pretty personal preference. .

In the end, however, I accepted this particular invitation because I trusted the women organizing it. Bridget and her co-host been my good friends for several years and were Theology of the Body enthusiasts. I didn't know what this party would look like, but I trusted it wouldn't be gross or weird.

The shower was beautiful and tasteful, from the decor and treats to games and the opening of gifts. At one point towards the end, the married women present were invited to share advice from their own marriages. Some of their words reflected tremendous vulnerability, and I truly had a sense of the sacredness of marriage.

Because there can be misgivings or hesitation with this topic among Catholic brides, I asked Bridget to share her perspective and planning tips.

Lingerie showers have a reputation for being more trashy than classy. As super classy ladies yourselves, why was it important to you to throw a lingerie shower specifically?

When planning this bridal shower, we wanted to celebrate the gift of intimacy in marriage--both in Katie, the bride, receiving the gift of William, her husband-to-be, and by giving herself to him.

When you prepare a special gift for someone, you adorn it with beautiful wrapping. That is exactly how we look at lingerie.

The purpose of lingerie, used appropriately, is not to objectify the body, but precisely to emphasize the gift of the body.

I would also add that, beyond the style, the woman's behavior and attitude when wearing lingerie can emphasize one or the other: gift or object. As with so many other things in life, if she has the right perspective towards her own body (and assuming she is marrying a good man), her husband will respond to that.

How did you determine the atmosphere and mood for the shower?

We used a lot of greenery and simple white decorations. A trip to Hobby Lobby resulted in garlands of greenery, some of which we separated from the stem and arranged around the room. In the end, the shower had a garden feel with a feminine flair.

For other Catholic women planning pre-wedding events, can you share the order of events for the day?

First, introductions. Once all of the guests arrived, we sat in a circle and went around the room introducing ourselves and how we knew the bride.

Second, food. We prayed and invited everyone to get food from the other room. We served an assortment of hors d’oeuvres and beverages, including bacon-wrapped, maple-soaked water chestnuts, tomato, basil, and mozzarella skewers, blackberry and basil-infused water, coffee, juice (with the option to add Moscato!), and Blueberry, Lemon, Poppy seed muffins.

Third, sharing stories. While we ate, we went around the room and told the group a fun or funny story about the bride. Before long, the room was filled with laughter. Laughter always bonds!

Fourth, a game called Mixed Up Wisdom. Each guest was given a 3x5 card; on the front, she wrote a common marital problem, and on the back, she a corresponding wise solution (for example: what to do for dinner tonight?). Once everyone was done, we stacked the cards and passed them around. Each person would read the top card’s problem and the bottom card's solution, then put the top card on the bottom and move the stack to the left for the next woman to read. The mixed up combination of problems and solutions was quite hilarious.

Fifth, real wisdom.

We opened the discussion for all the married women in the room to offer real advice or kernels of wisdom they’d learned about creating a happy, healthy, thriving marriage. It was so beautiful to see and hear what they had to share.

Sixth, a simple Mad Libs game we printed from online. We had two teams with different scenarios, which we read aloud at the end. Everyone was rolling with laughter by the time we were through.

Finally, we were ready for the opening of gifts. At this point, I said a few words about the dignity of women and about the beauty and importance of approaching marriage with that understanding of the gift of self.

In view of that, joined one another in giving to Katie, both with beautiful intimate clothing and with our support and prayers. It was beautiful. As she opened the gifts, she and each woman in the room had a sense of joyful reverence for what Katie was anticipating.

After she finished gifts, we all prayed over Katie, that she and William would share a joy-filled, holy marriage, giving witness to the call to give of themselves to each other--as Christ gave of himself to us.

What would you say to someone who might object that a bride's intimate attire--and the marital act it's meant for--is private, not for the theme of a party?

Great question! It goes back to the point of the lingerie. If the point is simply to make a woman  look like a sex object, then I think it has no place in a bridal shower--or frankly, in the bedroom, either.

But if the point is what it ought to be--namely, to adorn--then there is something very beautiful about other women gathering around the bride-to-be and helping her prepare to adorn herself as gift for her future husband.

What feedback did you receive?

We were blown away with how many women said afterwards how beautiful the shower was and how much it meant to them to witness such a reverent and holy, yet joyful approach to preparing a bride for marital intimacy.


About the Authors: Anne Marie Williams is a stay-at-home mom to Isaac and Eva Marie and is a part-time Intensive Care Unit nurse from central Illinois. She met her husband on CatholicMatch and they were married in April 2015. She's a firm believer that beautiful, strong marriages change the world. Anne Marie and her husband serve on the PreCana marriage prep retreat team for their diocese. She and Bridget met in 2013 and have been friends ever since.

 

As a single working professional, Bridget Heffernan enjoys working as a Lean Six Sigma Process Re-Engineering Consultant. However, Bridget's real passion is discovering, seeing, and talking about the beauty of God's handiwork, especially as regards the worth of the human person. As a team member for the monthly diocesan PreCana Retreats, she channels this passion by giving talks on the complementarity of masculinity and femininity, dignity and identity, and the power of sexuality & why sex is worth waiting for. Growing up in the middle of four brothers, she used to be a tomboy. As her understanding of the natural complementarity of masculinity and femininity grew, as well as her appreciation for the strength of the Blessed Mother, her love for authentic femininity grew, as well.

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