You Have Captured My Heart: A Wedding Homily
Wedding of Amy Donnelly and Justin Gilbert
Friday, October 27, 2017
Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (“Old Cathedral”)
St. Louis, Missouri
Justin and Amy, it is a privilege to have helped prepare you for your new life together. Friends and co-workers asked me if it was difficult to help prepare your own daughter and future son-in-law for their marriage. I told them it was easy; if I just got the two of you talking and stayed out of the way, things would work out just fine. And they did. You two have a great relationship and are wonderful listeners and sharers. It is a special honor, as your father, to officiate this Sacrament of Matrimony.
Justin, I am overwhelmed by your love and compassion, by your kindness and caring. Amy deserves a soul mate that is both tender and strong. She has chosen well.
Amy, I couldn’t be more proud of you; of the woman you have become, and the wife (and hopefully mother!) I know you will be. Justin, you have also chosen well.
As we prepared for today, I invited you to select readings that reflect who you are now (as individuals and as a couple), and who you aspire to be as husband and wife. So, what do we learn about you from the readings you selected?
From the First Reading (Tobit 8:4b-8) it is clear that you understand the “noble purpose” of a marriage, and the importance of growing in relationship with God as the center of your new life as husband and wife. I am certain that if you follow the example of Tobiah and his wife – if you pray and worship God in your lives – you will certainly “live together to a happy old age” as companions on the journey.
From the Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a) we hear St. Paul paint this beautiful picture of what it means to love:
- To be patient and kind, to be other-focused;
- To be willing to bear the difficult times, while rejoicing in the good times; and
- To never fail in your loving commitment to each other, and your loving relationship with God.
As we heard: If you don’t have love (for each other and for God), you gain nothing in life. So, grow in love!
Finally, in the Gospel reading you chose (John 15:12-16), we learn to base our love for each other on the model that Christ taught us. So, you need to be willing to:
- Put the needs of your spouse and your marriage ahead of your own (“to be willing to lay down your life for another”);
- Trust that God has a plan for you and your marriage. By knowing and following God, and by living God’s plan for you your marriage will bear great fruit;
- Rely on God’s love and mercy; and
- Pray to God (with great confidence!), knowing that he will continue to bless your marriage.
So, what does this look like in practical terms? How can we best model Christ in our married lives? I think we can do it with song.
I have been playing with lyrics for a song. It’s not a “wedding song” per se, but a song about a wedding, and about what the bride and groom experience during their special day (just as each of you are experiencing today).
The song begins with the groom, standing nervously at the foot of the altar, awaiting the arrival of his bride. The groom looks up and is overwhelmed by what he sees. He sings:
Who is this woman, this beauty so fair, who glides down the aisle, as if walking on air? With tears in her eyes, and a smile on her face, my heart skips a beat for this vision of grace.
The bride at least has her father’s arm to hold onto as she walks down the aisle. As she begins her walk, she looks up and sees her future husband eagerly waiting and sings:
There, see that man standing so proud and tall. I’ve searched all my life for the best one of all. Papa, I’m nervous, but I love him so. Hold on to me, Daddy, but then let me go.
And, finally, as the bride and groom join hands at the altar, they rejoice in song together:
You have captured my heart. You have settled my soul. I will love you for as long as I breathe. With you beside me, and God as our center, I’m certain this love we both know will overflow!
And, that is what your family and friends, gathered here today, wish and pray for both of you; that this love you celebrate for each other today will continue to grow – to overflow in a Christ-centered marriage.
We talked about this many times as you prepared for this day: A marriage is not just about the wedding day. (It’s a good start; let’s have some fun!) A marriage is more than a day. It’s about growing in relationship – relationship with each other, and relationship with God.
Very shortly you will state your intentions to love and honor each other for the rest of your lives. We pray that Christ, as the center of your married life, will bring you great peace, and abundant joy.
Deacon Dan Donnelly