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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Readers Share | Receiving a Rose from Saint Therese of Lisieux

 

Today is the feast of Saint Therese of Lisieux: a Caramelite nun, a Doctor of the Church, and a saintly friend to many. Upon her death bed, Therese said, "After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints. My mission is to make God loved..."

With awe and gratitude for the promises of her Little Way, we celebrate the ways Therese has showered Spoken Bride brides, couples, and women with roses--both tangible and through spiritual grace. 

If you are curious about praying a novena to Saint Therese, today would be a great day to begin offering your heart to Jesus through her Little Way.

Spoken Bride readers share their testimonies of receiving a rose, an answered prayer, from the Little Flower: 

A Rose for Discernment 

Hapjimmy4 | The first I prayed leading up to a retreat my then boyfriend and I went on to discern if we should be married. I asked Therese for red roses if I should marry him. When we arrived we each had separate cabins. He opened the door to his and there stood a statue of St. Therese hold a huge bouquet of red roses. I almost screamed I was so excited. It was so hard restraining myself because my husband needed to learn we were to be married on his own. I shared the story with him after we were engaged. 

Teresa_likes_chocolate | Right before I started dating my fiancé I did a novena to her for clarity and discernment. I found a rose on the ground literally seconds after deciding that. We are engaged now.

Avaacatherine | She revealed my vocation to marriage through red roses.

Thesongwriterstephanie | I wanted more confirmation on the relationship I was in at the time, who is now my husband. I prayed the Novena and requested for a rose that had two colors, a white rose with red lining. I happen to finish the Novena at the start of a women's retreat with corazonpuronyc, and the Rose on my bed was exactly the one I requested--and the only one in the room of 10 that was exactly how I requested. Everyone else had red roses or yellow roses. 

Kataducci | I was in a relationship and was unsure whether to stay with the man or break up. I asked for a single rose if I was supposed to be single and multiple roses if we were supposed to stay together. My nana passed away within those nine days and the ninth day was her funeral. My mom, not knowing about the novena I was praying, handed me a single rose from her casket. She listens and provides!

Youngcaballerolife | Yes, when discerning if I was to date my now husband/ if he was to be my future spouse 

Magin5 | I was praying for guidance during a relationship. I was asking for a red rose if staying in the relationship was a good idea or a white rose if it should end. I started praying a novena to St. Thérèse and on the first day my boyfriend had sent me a picture of a book with a white rose on it. During the middle of the novena he started a conversation about the future and the relationship came to an end as we both felt this was best. On the last day of the novena I went to a wedding and our centerpiece was one single pink rose. I took this as St. Thérèse telling me that a pink rose (a mix of both) meant she was watching out for me and to trust God and He would give me peace.

Rach__marie | I prayed for pink roses when my now fiance began pursuing me to affirm our discernment. The first time we went to adoration together, on the last day of the novena, the adoration chapel had a huge bouquet of pink roses in front of Our Lord! 

Floratherese | asked for colorful roses while discerning my relationship with my husband. I saw them during winter. 

Adventureblood | I received a bouquet of roses on the last day of the novena from my boyfriend (now husband). He didn’t even know I was praying the novena! 

Chelseasliwaphotography | I asked St. Therese for a yellow rose to let me know I was with the right man. A few months later he bought me yellow roses (without having known my prayer). We broke up later on because he wasn’t Catholic and I was fearful of the issues we would have. The day after we broke up, he went to RCIA. Nine months later he entered the Church. Three months after that he asked me to marry him in a church in Mexico City and we noticed after I said yes that a single yellow rose was sitting high on the altar behind where he proposed. 

Jetsettingsrta | I prayed for my vocation. Red for married, white for religious life, and yellow for me to wait. I found 400 yellow roses on the last day. 

 

A Rose for Pregnancy 

Mrsthomas97 | I was married at 40. We had an ectopic pregnancy. My mother was a special friend of St. Therese and she began to pray that we would have children. We got a call from my mother-in-law overseas and said a young woman asked if my husband and I would adopt her baby. My mother started a Novena as soon as she heard about the baby. There was no assurance the mother would go through with it. The birth mother flew to our home and gave birth. Our daughter was born on October 1, St. Therese’s feast day. Three weeks later, the reliquary of St. Therese visited our parish and I took our daughter there and of course, there were roses everywhere. Seven weeks after our daughter was born, we were pregnant with twins

Hapjimmy4 | The second was if my husband and I should keep trying for a baby after some months of not being able to conceive--again asked for red roses. The last day of the novena a women named Therese, wearing a red shirt, and holding a red rose pen came to my bible study. Two weeks later our daughter “Anne Casey Therese” was conceived. Thank you, St. Therese!

Rach__marie | I prayed a novena leading up to my sister’s delivery for her and her child’s safety. She didnt share names prior to the birth, but her daughter’s middle name ended up being Rose! 

Katethibs | I prayed for clarity and peace with our miscarriage and got a white rose! 

 

A Spiritual Rose 

Meaghan.osborne | I have a few times! However, most of the times I have prayed her novena I haven’t received physical roses, but spiritual confirmation/an answered prayer during the Novena or shortly after. She always comes through!

Gingerjulesg | I visited her home in Lisieux. When we got out of the car I immediately smelled the strong scent of roses. My friend didn’t smell them and the closest rose bush was 75 feet away and only had a faintly sweet scent. I’m convinced the experience was a gift from the LIttle Flower herself! 

 

A Rose for Family

Kelly_marie_taylor | I prayed a novena to St. Thérèse in the midst of our struggles to blend our family of 6. Dating and marriage after trauma and divorce is a complicated journey, and so my request during the novena became to find unity in Christ for the seemingly broken pieces of our family. While traveling out of state, we attended Mass for the The Assumption, and the priest gathered a single rose from the altar display before he processed out of the church, handed it to our tiniest child, and said, "We do receive gifts from Heaven. Put this on your family's altar." We love you, St. Thérèse! And we love Our Lord, who unifies and strengthens unceasingly!

Jaramillomaggie | I didn’t even pray the whole novena (I intended to make it an official nine-day novena). One day I simply asked Saint Therese as I drove past the cemetery, “Can you send me a sign that my grandparents are in heaven?” When I got to the local adoration chapel there was in front of the altar a HUGE bouquet of my favorite colored roses!!! It’s like a coral color. I’ll take that as a big fat answer to my prayers. 

Jacquelinewh321 | I was asking for a rose as a sign of God's love that he loved me and for my family, because I was not feeling confident as my uncle was very sick. Since I started praying, I felt a growing sense of peace and love in my heart. When I'm with God and with my family, I felt a renewed sense of connection and understanding. It was confirmed with a snapchat of a rose, then a single rose, and then a whole bouquet on the day my novena ended.

Savannahrhea | I prayed a novena to St. Thérèse in the middle of winter when my family’s house wouldn’t sell. It had been on the market on and off for almost 4 years. We were all in a really bad place spiritually and mentally from where we were living. After the novena was over, my mom found a rose had sprouted out of the the cold, hard ground. We were amazed and our house sold that spring.

Mbdevenney | I have many stories of St. Therese's intercession! She never fails to remind me that she is near and helping! My most recent favorite was from last summer. My father had suddenly passed away and I have an association with yellow roses connected to my father. My family had gone to his favorite vacation spot 2 months after his death. I prayed to St. Therese to find my dad and send me yellow roses when she found him. I specifically asked to send them on the beach. Our second to last day, a bouquet of roses washed up on shore right in front of me with the yellow roses on top. I was in complete shock. 

Mmburckel | When my sister had mono and was super sick. I prayed and a neighbor gave us a rose bush! 

 

A Rose for a Personal Prayer 

Schimmoelleralyssa | I finished praying a novena to St. Thérèse while on mission with the sisters of charity in Haiti, and I received a rose and a St. Thérèse prayer card together from another man volunteering with them!

Sb_ratcliffe | St. Therese is an amazing intercessor. I’ve always requested 3 red roses. I sent prayers regarding my spouse, my university choice, small decisions, big decisions. One Christmas I decided to ask for snow in Georgia - a white Christmas. Does anyone from Georgia remember December 25, 2010? The first white Christmas in ATL since 1881! I honestly haven’t asked for anything since because it was so big, I barely believe it still! 

Sammierosecarel | I prayed for yellow roses if I was meant to move to Flagstaff for a youth minister job and white roses if I was supposed to stay in Scottsdale. She sent me yellow roses and to this day, one of my teens say I saved her life by being her youth minister in Flagstaff!

Daniellereneephotos | I prayed for a shower of roses, and I was sent roses on my surprise birthday cake, a rosary, and a bouquet of roses at the feet of my church’s statue of Mary. Incredible prayer and very humbling!

Mary_leslie_maharg_ | I haven’t done a novena to her, but I know that every single time my sister in law has done one, she has always received a rose. A few years ago, on the last day of the novena, she was praying outside of our local abortion clinic by herself on an afternoon it was closed. She wasn’t holding a sign or anything, just kneeling and silently praying. A woman pulled her car over, got out, and handed her a rose. She said the rose was to say thank you for being out there praying--she had an abortion scheduled in that building a couple years ago, but saw someone outside praying and because of that she didn’t even go inside. And then she pointed to her little boy in the back seat and said it’s because of people like her that he is alive today, and thanked her again. 

Oliviadjak | I saw red roses for 175 days after I prayed a novena to her; never heard of that happening.

Catholic_graces | I asked for her to send me roses if my dad was in heaven. One evening I was making tacos for dinner and I had a very strong smell of roses. Not trusting myself I asked my husband if he smelled something and he said yes roses. Some time later I asked her to send me roses if my husband's mom was in heaven. She sent me a visual picture of a black rose that was tipped with a beautiful blue and sparkled like diamonds. I asked my priest about this and he said that she was probably still in purgatory. Just a couple of months ago I asked her to send me roses when my mom gets to heaven and just a few days later my daughter and I were driving in my car and we both smelled the scent of roses for a good 4 minutes. She has been good to me through God's blessings.

Racejgale | I prayed for my board exam that was on her feast day. When I get home my sister had a bouquet of red roses...I passed.

Ashleyokwuosa | I was at a crossroads in my life and I needed help making a decision. So my friend told me about Saint Théresè’s novena and I prayed it. It was the best decision I ever made and it was the first time I had ever prayed a novena. I felt so blessed to have her intercede on my behalf and guide me through a difficult time in my life.

Mrseliadams07 | My husband and I have received quite a few roses from our little saint! When we were dating, we prayed her novena leading up to her feast day for our relationship and she left us a beautiful pink rose at a bar that we went to! Most recently we prayed for a job decision for my husband and asked for a specific colored rose, and when we went out to dinner that night the only open table was a table outside with a rose on it the color we asked for! She’s too good to us.

Ksulauren129 | When I was at a wedding in St. Paul in June 2016, I asked for her intercession at the cathedral. They have a small chapel for her. I specifically asked for her help for a new job and my vocation. The next day, I found her novena prayer card at a random church...asked her for yellow roses or white tulips for both intentions before my next birthday. In December of that year, I started a new job. I spotted a bouquet of roses in a church kitchen after my first week. There was also a cute boy I noticed at work. The second weekend after starting that job I saw another bouquet of yellow roses. Well, I’m marrying the cute boy in three weeks!

Denaeelenora | My fiance and I prayed this novena when we were discerning whether to have a full Mass or not at our wedding. My family is not Catholic, so I was hesitant to have the Eucharist, since it may create an obvious divide. We asked for yellow flowers if we were to have a full Mass, lilies for whatever we want because God will bless it either way, or red flowers if just the liturgy. On the 5th day we went for a walk around the reception hall and we came across a patch of yellow lilies! We felt so loved and free, it confirmed for us that we wanted a full Mass and that it would be blessed and okay for my family’s experience. 

Allygirl122 | we prayed for providence from St. Therese for a rug for our daughter’s room. The floor gets extremely cold in the winter. Someone donated a huge rug that fits perfectly in her room and it had roses all over it.

Maryhinze | I prayed for a red or white rose and received a bouquet of pink roses!

 

For more bridal stories involving Saint Therese’s intercession, check out this Engagement Feature and this Wedding Story.

Does your engagement or wedding story involve the intercession of a saint? Consider submitting your story to be featured on Spoken Bride.

Creative October Feast Day Celebrations for Couples

The feasts and rhythms of the liturgical year are a great gift to our faith, building in natural occasions for prayer and community. The forthcoming month of October, in particular, celebrates many Spoken Bride favorites whose lives and spiritualities resonate with the vocation to marriage.

Here, a selection of October feast days, suggestions for entering into them, and some favorite fall date ideas from the team.

October 1, Feast of Saint Therése of Lisieux

Pray: Read a passage from Therése’s autobiography, Story of a Soul, or from Fr. Jacques Phillipe’s The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therése of Lisieux. Remembering Therése’s “Little Way,” offer the tasks and inconveniences of the day for the glory of God.

Celebrate: Therése promised to she would spend her eternity showering down roses upon the earth from heaven, and is particularly associated with the flower. Bring home a bouquet of roses for your table.

October 2, Feast of the Guardian Angels

Pray: Give thanks not only to your guardian angel, but to your beloved’s, asking that he or she be protected, fulfilled, and led closer to the Father on this day and always.

Celebrate: Make an angel hair pasta dish or angel food cake! If you and your beloved don’t have a strong education in or devotion to the angels, seek out media that can spark your knowledge. Formed, available through most parishes, offers a variety of quality video and book resources.

October 4, Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

Pray: Franciscan orders take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Discuss and identify ways to live out these virtues in your relationship.

Celebrate: Francis was a lover of God’s creation. Go on a hike or walk together.

October 5, Feast of Saint Faustina

Pray: Read a selection from Faustina’s Diary and pray or sing the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Celebrate: In thanksgiving for Christ’s gift of endless mercy, plan a date night that begins with going to confession. Saint Faustina frequently described water imagery in her conversations with Jesus, calling his mercy “an ocean,” with our sin but a single, insignificant drop in comparison to his vast love and forgiveness. If you live near an ocean or lake, consider spending an afternoon or evening there.

October 7, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Pray: Say a decade or more of the Rosary with your beloved. If you’re unfamiliar, research the origins of this feast day, on which Our Lady came to the aid of Christian soldiers in battle.

Celebrate: Pick out new rosaries as gifts for each other.

October 15, Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila)

Pray: Teresa, a great mystic and doctor of the Church, is famously depicted in a state of divine rapture in Bernini’s sculpture The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Meditate on the sculpture and on the nature of earthly and divine desire--this piece provides a welcome starting point.

Celebrate: Make or go out for a Spanish meal, in honor of Teresa’s heritage.

October 22, Feast of Saint John Paul II

Pray: One of the most prolific popes in recent history, John Paul’s writings illuminate the human heart. Choose a selection from his writings, including his World Youth Day addresses, Letter to Women, Letter to Artists, or the Theology of the Body Audiences, to read and discuss together.

Celebrate: John Paul was a man of many hobbies who strove to be fully alive. Spend time together engaged in one of his favorite pursuits, like theatre, hiking, or skiing.

Fall date suggestions from the Spoken Bride team:

Pumpkin picking and carving, and baking pies. - Carissa Pluta, Editor at Large

Wineries, foliage tours, or hiking. - Jiza Zito, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Apple picking, volunteering at a food shelter, or a cooking class to anticipate Thanksgiving. - Andi Compton, Business Director

Brunch and consignment shopping. - Stephanie Fries, Associate Editor

We love hearing your stories and traditions. Share your favorite liturgical living traditions and seasonal date ideas in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Laurel Creative, seen in Jamaila + Andy | Nature-Inspired Wedding

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 Mystery of Crowning | The Byzantine Catholic Marriage Ritual

KIKI HAYDEN

 

Laurel-like leaves and baby’s breath wreathed Michael’s hair. The leaves were difficult to weave into the crown, but my maid of honor and I managed--with some help from my sisters and a lot of flower tape.

Turning to me, Father held out another almost identical crown, and I leaned forward to kiss it. The crown smelled fresh and green amidst the thick, rich incense in the church. As Father placed the crown on my head, I was married to Michael in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

My husband grew up Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic, and we were married in the Byzantine rite, whose liturgical traditions came from Constantinople. The Byzantine Catholic marriage sacrament, called the Mystery of Crowning, emphasizes God’s sovereignty over marriage, his call to martyrdom, and a glimpse of Heavenly community. Learning about another Catholic rite’s marriage traditions can provide new understandings of God’s beautiful plan for marriage.

On our wedding  day, we exchanged no rings and said no vows. Instead, our wedding began with a crowning ceremony, continued with readings, a dance around the Gospel book, and finally culminated when we took the Eucharist together. 

A Note about Rings, Vows, and Chalices

In the Byzantine tradition, the priest places rings on the couple’s fingers at the betrothal ceremony. Eastern Catholic Churches take betrothal very seriously; an annulment may be required to dissolve it. Because of this, couples have the option to celebrate their betrothal on the same day as their wedding or, if their priest allows, during their season of engagement. Once betrothed, Byzantine Catholics continue to wear their rings just like Roman Catholics wear wedding rings.  The ring symbolizes the commitment to the couple’s vocation together.

Vows were traditionally not a part of Byzantine Catholic marriages. However, in the spirit of blending cultures, some Byzantine couples in America choose to include vows in their ceremony. The vows are not sacramental but carry emotional significance.

Most Byzantine couples share the Common Cup, a chalice of unconsecrated wine that symbolizes their common life together. Traditionally, Byzantine Catholic weddings do not include the Liturgy of the Eucharist. However, if both spouses are Catholic, the couple may choose to replace the Common Cup with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, or to include both in their ceremony.  

God’s Sovereignty over Marriage

“This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.” 

God calls us to our vocations; we assent to participate in His plan. After assenting to be married, the couple remains silent throughout the wedding. The sacramental moment of a Byzantine marriage is when the priest places crowns upon the couples’ heads. 

“The sacrament is not administered by the couple to each other,” as in the Roman Catholic tradition; “in the Byzantine tradition, the priest gives the sacrament of marriage to the couple like baptism, like the Eucharist,” explains Father Michael O’Loughlin in “The Heart of Marriage,” a podcast episode from Catholic Stuff You Should Know

Marriage Crowns: The Call to Martyrdom

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 

Marriage crowns remind the new spouses that they are now the leaders of a tiny church: their family. Just like the Church, the couple is led by the Holy Spirit to do the will of the Father and to draw closer to the Son. The marriage crown says, “here is the beginning of a small kingdom which can be something like the true Kingdom,” wrote Fr. Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World.

Marriage crowns are crowns of martyrdom, signs of glory and triumph when man and woman lay down their lives as an act of love for the other. “A martyr gives everything, even their very life for the kingdom of God and for Christ. So the couple is now crowned with martyrdom… they have now died to themselves to live for the other,” said Fr. O’Loughlin. 

By accepting the crowns of martyrdom, the couple has already surrendered their lives to each other and to God. They are led to the front of the church for the Dance of Isaiah, a victory dance for their sacrifice. 

The Dance of Isaiah: A foundation on Christ and a glimpse of Heavenly Community 

“Love never ends… For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.” 

After the crowning and the readings, the priest leads the couple three times around the Gospel book, which rests on a table near the front of the church. The priest holds a small cross in front of them.. Christ is their beacon as they take their first few steps as a married couple. The Gospel is at the center of this dance. They walk in three circles: a circle has no end. This is because the marriage sacrament “is not taken ‘until death parts,’ but until death unites us completely,” wrote Fr. Schmemann.

Married love is an icon of Christ’s love for us as well as a foreshadowing of the redeemed love we will share in Heaven: unending, selfless, and always encouraging each other to grow closer to the Trinity.

Meanwhile, the congregation sings four troparia (hymns). They lyrics include praise for the couple receiving their crowns: “O Holy martyrs, you have suffered courageously and received your reward; pray to the Lord our God to have mercy on our souls.” 

During this dance, the couple is surrounded by the singing of their family and friends, as well as the heavenly community present whenever the sacraments are celebrated. Painted icons around the church serve as reminders that the angels and saints are present. In this moment, the cloud of witnesses is fully present, able to be seen and heard.

A Sacramental Sign

In a shadowbox on the wall in our home, our marriage crowns remind us that God chose Michael for me and me for Michael. We are called to be martyrs for Christ and for each other. Although our love is imperfect, through our marriage, the Lord gives us a taste of heavenly community—unconditional, supported by our community, and always oriented toward the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kiki Hayden is a freelance writer and bilingual Speech Therapist living in Texas. She is a Byzantine Catholic. To read about how God has changed her life through speech therapy, visit her website.

Five Ways Catholic Couples Can Practice Hospitality this Fall

CARISSA PLUTA

 

Married couples can offer many unique gifts to their family, friends, and community that are specific to their particular calling, especially the gift of hospitality. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:   ABBEY REZ PHOTOGRAPHY

By creating a home, married couples create a space in which they can invite others in, a space to allow others to receive a taste of the beauty and communion of our heavenly home. 

Couples can practice hospitality in a variety of ways, but if you are looking for some ideas on how to do this in this new Fall season, give one of these a try!

Host a game night

What better way to spend a cozy autumn evening than with a fun game night! 

Game nights are a laid-back and enjoyable way to host old friends or new ones you want to get to know better. You and your spouse might even consider making it a weekly event. 

You can try out a game you’ve never played before, or bust out a well loved party game. You could even ask your board game savvy invitees to bring their favorite game to share with the group. 

Invite local college students for a home-cooked meal

By now, college students may find that they’ve exhausted the dining options on campus and are itching for a home-cooked meal. 

If you know a student or meet them at Sunday or daily mass, take the time to get to know them and then invite them over to share a meal with your family. 

Students will appreciate delicious food, and will also enjoy experiencing life with a family (especially if you have young kids!) 

Pie Tasting

Take this classic Fall treat and make a night out of it. Buy a variety of pies from the grocery store or from your local farmer’s market, and invite your neighbors over for a tasting.

If you wanted to add another layer to this idea, invite your family, friends, or neighbors to partake in a pie baking contest and then vote on a winner. It’s a fun (and delicious) activity everyone can enjoy.

Invite other couples to pray a rosary

The Church has declared October as the month of the Holy Rosary, so there is no better time to light some candles and pray a decade (or five!)

Invite your friends or other couples from your parish over for dinner (or drinks and dessert) and a rosary. You could simply pray it or you could provide some scripture to meditate on in between each decade. 

This idea can help build a community among other Catholic couples and can allow you to build friendships on a strong foundation.

Host an All Hallows Eve party

The night before All Saints Day (October 31st) has long been known as All Hallows Eve. So you and your husband might consider celebrating the communion of saints on Halloween night. 

Invite guests to dress up as their favorite saints or bring a potluck dish that relates to their favorite saint (perhaps Pope Cakes for St. John Paul II or a rose cake for the Little Flower?) You can have a contest for best dressed or prizes for correctly guessing someone else’s chosen saint. 

Get creative in planning this event and encourage your guests to experience the joy the Church (both on Earth and in Heaven) have to offer.


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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