Honoring Mary on Your Wedding Day

Countless saints throughout the history of the Catholic Church have spoken on the importance and power of the Blessed Mother.

She is our greatest intercessor and the Mediatrix of all graces. She sets an example of humility and trust for all, especially those called to marriage and family life. 

Some couples might choose to honor Our Lady by choosing a Marian feast day (like today’s feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) for their wedding celebration but there are many other ways you can prayerfully include Our Blessed Mother in your wedding. 

During your ceremony

Many Catholic couples choose to honor Mary during their nuptial mass by placing flowers or lighting a candle. A groom may escort his bride, usually after communion, to a statue of Our Lady where the couple will pray for her intercession as they enter their vocation of marriage. 

You might also consider choosing a Marian hymn like “Ave Maria” or the “Salve Regina” for entrance procession or during the time of prayer by the statue of Mary. 

With the Wedding Party

You can invite your wedding party to join you in praying a rosary either the night before the wedding or the morning of. This is a great way for the whole party to enter into the prayerful spirit of the day. 

Praying the rosary in a group will not only strengthen the bride and groom as they prepare for this holy sacrament, but will also pour grace upon the whole party. 

You might also consider giving your bridesmaids and groomsmen rosaries or Marian-themed jewelry or cuff links as gifts before the ceremony. 

Related: The Spoken Bride vendor guide features many talented Catholic artists and craftsmen and can help you find the perfect Marian-themed jewelry or gift. 

With your Spouse

There are many ways you and your spouse can invoke the intercession of Our Lady on your wedding day (and in the days that follow). 

If you want to deepen your devotion to Mary, consider praying Marian Consecration in the days leading up to your wedding. You might even consider planning a trip to a Marian pilgrimage site for your honeymoon. 

Invite her into your home by creating a sacred space or placing an icon or sacred image in your bedroom. 

How Couples Can Embrace Gospel Poverty

CARISSA PLUTA

 
PHOTOGRAPHY:    AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

PHOTOGRAPHY: AN ENDLESS PURSUIT

This idea of Gospel poverty seems to go against logic for most married couples and families. Surely God doesn’t mean He wants us to actually sell what we have and give it to the poor. 

But He does. 

He might not be asking us to sell everything we own, but He is asking us to embrace simplicity, live in solidarity with the poor, and to give from our need, not simply our excess. 

So in the spirit of St. Francis, whose feast we celebrate today, here are some suggestions for how couples and families can embrace the spirit of Gospel poverty. 

Live simply

Living simply allows you to make more room in your life for your relationship with God and others.

You don’t have to sell your home for a smaller one in order to live simply. There are many small changes you can make to prioritize simplicity in your daily life. 

Put down your phone. Cook good food, share meals, or read a book. Get outside, plant a garden, or take a deep breath. Invest in people and hobbies and find something to thank God for every day. 

Do more of the things that make you human. 

Foster detachment from material possessions

At the heart of Gospel poverty is a spirit of detachment from material goods and viewing our temporal possessions as belonging to God, not to us. 

St. Basil the Great once said:  “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes…” 

When we fill our closets with unused clothes, shoes, household items, and other things, we are essentially withholding them from those who need them more than we do. 

Go through the things you own and donate them to local charities. Or literally sell what you can and give the money to the poor. 

Then before making future purchases, ask yourselves if you really need the item you are buying. Take some time to investigate your motive for wanting that particular item. Is it to gain attention or popularity? If so, pray about going without it. 

Be good stewards

Time and time again we see in Scripture the call to be good stewards of the spiritual and temporal gifts God has given us.  

Stewardship looks differently for each couple, and husbands and wives should take time to pray about and discuss what it means for their particular family during this season of their life.

One of the most common ways to practice good stewardship is through tithing. While the Catholic Church does not mandate a particular percentage, she does make clear that we should return the first-fruits of our labor to the one who ultimately gave them to us to whatever extent we can. 

Take time to talk to your spouse about your physical and spiritual gifts and how you can use them to serve the Church.


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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Dealing With Spiritual Desolation During Engagement + Married Life

DENAE PELLERIN

 

Desolation characterized most of my dating and engagement relationships with my husband. At one point in dating as we sat outside an Adoration chapel, I confessed, “I don’t think that I believe in God anymore.” 

He looked at me and said, “I will love you regardless and pray for you, because that must be so hard for you.” 

Photography:    Jordan Dumba Photography   , from the author’s wedding

Photography: Jordan Dumba Photography, from the author’s wedding

Faithful for so many years, I was sitting in the midst of the answer of my prayers for a Christ-like man to become my spouse, yet I could not experience the presence of God in a way I once knew. 

My husband’s response to my struggles brought forward an image of a tender Jesus, patiently waiting for me--not a dictator waiting for me to conform. How broken my image of God had become; where I feared him and lived in compliance. 

As we approached our wedding day, I began feeling anxious about whether or not this sacrament would give me the “high” I longed for--that connection I once had felt with the Lord. I began to fear: would it mean something is wrong if that didn’t happen? What do I have to do to make sure I “feel” something? Is my lack of faith a sign that this vocation is not for me?

Faithful trust pulled me forward, helping me believe that even without the spiritual high, God would be present and our wedding day could bring glory to him. 

I also began reflecting on the gift of desolation, which allowed my mind to discern my vocation without the clouding of emotions and “signs” that could lead me to confusion. My past prayer journals showed me how my soon-to-be-husband was exactly what I had always longed for, and I had an immense sense of peace at the thought of marrying him. 

I vowed to put intentional effort into everything about our wedding, as though I had complete trust and faith in God. As I began contemplating the intricacies of our nuptial Mass, I was drawn towards readings and songs that kept me grounded in the truths of the Catholic faith I could believe in this moment, the hope I held for our future, my past experiences and journey to a place of faith, and requests for assistance from God and the saints. 

One of the reasons I chose the parish we were married in was for the stained glass image of the Annunciation right above the altar. For years I had been attending the parish; often during Mass, I would gaze upon the image of Mary kneeling before the angel. At one time, I had a great devotion to Mary and her words “Let it done to me according to thy will” were the words that came to me in moments of great risk and faith.

In this time of desolation and uncertainty, I found comfort and affiliation in the image of me kneeling with my husband, and Mary, before the angel. 

On our wedding day we approached the altar to Sara Groves’ “He’s Always Been Faithful to Me,” a song that proclaims a truth my heart cannot always make. 

Our Gospel reading was the Beatitudes. As the line “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” was proclaimed, it pierced my heart. As a social worker and pro-life advocate, so much of my desolation had come from experiencing immense brokenness and not seeing God’s power within it. 

That desolation had brought me to a place of hopelessness and struggles with sin. Yet here on this day, I heard the voice of the Lord telling me he saw me. 

He saw my merciful heart for others and in response, his mercy would extend, overwhelm, and overlook all the brokenness I had been feeling and experiencing. I was-- and had always been-- enough for him, despite my struggles with lack of belief. 

It did not overtake my body like so many experiences of the Holy Spirit had before;, it was not a fire lit in my soul. The experience was so intimate, and what I realize now is that it was an acknowledgement to the constant burning, which had been there even when I could no longer see.


 About the Author: Denae Pellerin discovered the truth of Christ at an evangelical summer camp as a youth and later made her way to the Catholic Church because of her public Catholic education. Denae loves Catholic Social Teaching, Marian Devotions, and Women-Centered Pro-Life Actions.

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The Divine Depth of Love

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Earlier this summer, I went to confession with a priest who asked me to spend a few minutes thinking about things about my husband that I am grateful for. 

Easy, I thought as I left the confessional. But as I sat down in the pew with my pen and journal in hand, I found it wasn’t actually as easy as I thought.

I love my husband. He’s an amazing man and I am thankful for him, but putting into words why I am grateful for him felt like trying to hold the whole ocean in my hands. 

If you had asked me right after Ben and I met what his best qualities were, I’d have been able to tell you in a heartbeat. He’s handsome, funny, smart, and kind. 

But now, after almost seven years of friendship, five years of being in a relationship, and three years of marriage, these words feel inadequate.

Trying to quantify and define the parts of him I loved felt limiting. I don’t love Ben because he’s handsome or funny or gentle, but because he’s Ben. 

The more time you spend with a person the harder it is to see all of the things that make them who they are. 

The more you learn about them and see who they really are, the harder it becomes to pinpoint all the little qualities that make them lovable. 

You simply love them because they are.

Marriage has opened to me a depth of love that I hadn’t known possible and in doing so made known to me a depth of God I had yet to understand.

A God who loves wholly and without conditions. 

God doesn’t love us because we are capable or holy. He doesn’t love us because of our looks or our sense of humor.

There is nothing we can say, do, or have to earn more of His love and affection. 

He loves us because we are.


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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Scripture and Science Reveal a Masculine Genius

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem defines a feminine genius as four innate qualities of the dignity and nature of woman: receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. Though self-reflection is a powerful tool for growing in intimacy with God, self, and others, reflecting on the origin of man may also yield a stronger union between the masculine and feminine in a spousal relationship. 

Saint John Paul II did not write an apostolic letter defining a masculine genius; however, Scripture and science help us understand what it means to be a man and identifies qualities which are undeniably masculine. 

Recognizing the innate qualities of man may help us see, know and love our spouses as they live with courage according to God’s call for their lives. 

Creation in the Garden of Eden 

On the sixth day of the creation story, God created man and told him: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” Eventually we hear, “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” This story depicts the vocation of man, as a man. 

Man is expected to live in harmony with God and his creation while having dominion over the Earth. After the fall to sin and throughout human history, this original good can be twisted into an ego-driven dominion and self-seeking control. Yet we must recall man in his origin: created as good, in the image of God, with an inborn yearning for holy authority. 

Man is also told to cultivate and care for creation. Man is equipped with the responsibility of managing and protecting all of God’s creation. After woman joins him in the garden, Adam maintains his role as leader and protector in their relationship and their environment, their home. 

Adam falls to the temptation of sin and the same will be true for the men in our lives. Our responsibility, as women, is to see and love the essence of their goodness in an effort to inspire him towards sanctification. 

Man’s Body Tells a Story 

The physical, anatomical structure of man’s body in relation to his responsibility to “be fertile and multiply” reveals even more about the masculine genius. 

In regards to physical intimacy and procreation, man’s body is created to initiate and offer a gift of himself. Where woman is created ready to receive, man is created ready to give. 

This physical reality is not only relevant to the physical intimacy, however. Man is designed to initiate and to be the head of the household—the domestic church of the family. 

Man’s means for physical union is outside of his body. From the beginning and throughout time, he is naturally more attuned to external reality than internal emotions. In a group of men and women, how often do men congregate and discuss work, sports or hobbies—the external world—while women come together and discuss matters related to personal relationships and the heart? 

Men and women are invited to experience perfect complementarity in their union of external and internal, head and heart, realistic and emotional. 

Several secular-looking traditions may have deeper roots in this spiritual reality. Consider how “old-fashioned” it is for a man to ask for a woman’s number, to pay for dinner on a date, to go one one knee and propose marriage. These gender norms are not meant to stifle women in an inferior way; rather, these practices echo the desires of the hearts of men and women in the most appropriate and empowering way. 

Marriage between man and woman mirrors the union between Christ and the Church. In these spousal unions, we recognize the parallel call for man, Christ, to become a total self-offering and for woman, the Church, to be wholly receptive to the gift. 

Science and the Brain 

Brain development and scientific fact supports the reasoning behind the masculine genius. Dr. Greg Bottaro, founder and director of the CatholicPsych Institute, writes, “There is less connectivity between the right and left hemispheres in the male brain. This allows for greater compartmentalization. At the same time, there is actually more connection between the front and back of each hemisphere in the male brain… Men are better at spatial organization and abstract thinking… These qualities dispose a man to make decisions and solve problems that are related to the external environment.” 

The scientific evidence related to brain development, hormones, physical development, procreation and child-bearing radically support the traits of the masculine genius discussed above. 

In his origin, man is very good. By original sin, man falls from his goodness and into temptation. We, women, have a beautiful opportunity in our call to see the heart of a man, love him for who God created him to be, and empower him to fulfill his vocation as man on the journey toward sanctification. 

For additional reading about the feminine genius, previous posts on Spoken Bride highlight what it means to be a woman in the context of Bridesmaid’s Dresses, Friendship, Last Names and more.


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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Creative Ways to Pray for your Spouse

CARISSA PLUTA

 

When it comes to praying for my husband, I’ve always had great intentions.

PHOTOGRAPHY:    VISUAL GRACE

PHOTOGRAPHY: VISUAL GRACE

I imagine myself getting to the adoration chapel for an hour or so and praying perfectly for my husband’s needs.

But in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, intercessory prayer often falls to the bottom of the list, unless of course, it’s a more urgent intention, in which a decade of the rosary might suffice. 

I don’t want to wait until an emergency or crisis arrives to pray for my husband, but carving out time during the day requires me to get more creative with how I do it.

Sacrifice something for him

As Catholics, we believe that our sacrifices and suffering have meaning and can be redemptive. 

In Salvifici Doloris, it says: “...Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.”

Intentionally making a sacrifice, especially on behalf of another, can bring forth many graces in that person’s life. 

You might consider picking a day where you will offer something up specifically for your spouse. You can start small--maybe by giving up dessert, social media, or breakfast. 

Pray for him as you do chores

My husband and I split up the daily duties and responsibilities in our house, and I’ve found that I can use the time I spend doing them for prayer. You can choose a traditional form of prayer to do during this time, or offer up this valuable gift of your time and energy for your partner. 

Not only can you offer up your daily work for your spouse, but you can get even more creative by praying for specific things relating to the chores. 

For instance, sometimes when I fold laundry, I can pray for the bodily health and needs of my husband. Or when I am cleaning up after dinner, I can pray for his spiritual nourishment. 

You make a gift of yourself to your spouse and to God when you do your duties joyfully, and combining work and prayer can produce so much fruit in your life, your husband’s life, and in your marriage.

Create a spiritual bouquet

A spiritual bouquet is a collection of prayers and offerings from an individual or group for someone else. 

Not only does a spiritual bouquet make a thoughtful gift for your spouse, but it also offers you an intentional way to pray and offer sacrifices for his’ intentions. 

You can do this alone or you can invite friends and other loved ones to contribute. Make a note of how and when you pray for him during the week and then gift him with the note so he has a visual representation of the prayers you offered for him. 


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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God's Ways are Not our Ways | Encouragement to Endure

STEPHANIE FRIES

 

For years, I have been aware of the verse from Isaiah which says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” 

In the context of natural disasters or global humanitarian crises, I find hopeful comfort in these words: God’s ways are not our ways. I may not understand what is happening in our world, or why, but I am called to trust that we are in God’s providential hand under his divine timing. And when he calls me to serve, I strive to be prepared to say “yes.” 

Despite my understanding on a social level, discerning, pursuing and fulfilling a vocation to marriage has been a provocation for me to encounter this truth in a personal and intimate way. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:   FIAT PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTOGRAPHY: FIAT PHOTOGRAPHY

Becoming indefinitely united to another and living into a sacramental reality is a catalyst for conversion. The word ‘conversion,’ in its Latin roots, means ‘to turn.’ Through marriage, our hearts and minds receive countless invitations to turn towards humility, selflessness, charity, patience, and faith. 

A vivid image of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz comes to mind. For years, he sat rusted and immobile. All of a sudden, oil is released into his joints; though he creaks and aches while breaking through the stiff rust, he finds freedom in turning his joints and discovering his new potential.

Similarly, parts of my heart laid dormant for years. The sacrament of marriage is the oil which seeps into the deep crevices of intimacy, breaks into the rust of fear and self-doubt, and brings new freedom to our desires to love and be loved. 

Though living in the freedom of my heart’s potential is eventually a joyful revelation, I sometimes focus more on the painful, creaking, aching process rather than the hope of mercy. 

In our human nature, we don’t like pain. We would prefer to avoid it, if possible. But God’s ways are not our ways. Often, through grace, he invites us into our stiffness in order to create a new mobility of love. 

My heart desires freedom, desires to say “yes,” desires to receive love and mercy, desires to be seen. Yet my head knows the process may be painful and proposes barriers against turning toward Jesus in order to avoid the hurt. Will I trust the Lord, will I receive his mercy, will I endure the crosses of my vocation? The choice is ours. 

So often, life does not go according to plan; new circumstances present unforeseen challenges. God’s ways are not are ways, yet we are called to keep our eyes on him as we continue following his lead. 

The exchange of wedding vows requires active participation from three: bride, groom, and God. Therefore in the months and years following the wedding day, fulfilling the vows “in good times and in bad” is a continued participation of three: bride, groom, and God.

In the moments when we don’t understand his plan and can’t anticipate the journey of our lives, we can trust the validity of our vows—God is ever-present within our marriage and family lives. We can affirm our hearts’ desires and calm our heads’ worries because we are seen, known, loved and led by God. The mercy and grace he offers through the marital embrace will include the invitation to enter into pain, so we may turn toward love.

His ways are not our ways, yet his ways are perfect and pure. Trust the moment, enter into the painful process, and maintain a steadfast hope in the promises of the Sacrament.


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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