There are days when I wonder why I keep a diary. I have no problem in writing down the course of events over the next few weeks. But I always seem to forget to look at my diary after I have written down where and when I should be on a particular day.
Last week I was due to be in St Mary’s Church in Creggan for a wedding practice at six o’clock in the evening. Experience has taught me never to rush to practices because the bride to be is usually late for the practice, never mind the actual wedding. I called into my aunt’s house in Eastway Gardens which is within one minute’s walking distance of the church. At two minutes passed six my phone rings as the groom calls in a panic in case I had forgotten about the wedding practice. I told him it was only after six and I was in my aunt’s house down the street. The groom then goes on to explain how he had a dream in which the priest didn’t appear for the wedding practice.
Wedding practices are always interesting experiences because this is the occasion when for most brides and grooms reality begins to sink in. Being in the surrounds of the church and listening to the words of the ceremony as they’re being directed to stand here and move there, is the moment when all their hopes and dreams come to light.
I always try to make the practice as relaxed as possible. At the end I give the party concerned two pieces of advice. Firstly, not to worry about remembering anything from the practice as I will keep them right on the day. Secondly, I tell the couple to relax and enjoy the ceremony because the worst thing which can happen to them is they’ll end up marrying each other!
Although after the week I’ve had I shouldn’t be in a rush to hand out advice. I’ve always warned people about my memory or my lack of. Usually I insist on people having to phone for a few days to remind me of upcoming events. However after my latest mishap I feel I have a memory of a goldfish.
Two weeks ago I was asked to celebrate a couple’s fortieth wedding anniversary. I was delighted to be asked and it would be a good opportunity to catch up with their family and friends.
Saturday night always has its fixed routine with Vigil Masses in the parish and the hospital so I agreed to call with them around 9pm on this particular Saturday evening.
During the course of the day I got caught up in the run of weddings, christenings and evening Masses and when someone invited me to their house for something to eat I thought nothing of it, I was delighted at the invitation. At 9.45pm as I sat watching the Olympics my phone rang and when I saw the name on the screen I knew where I should have been. In a blind panic I jumped into the car and thankfully I began the anniversary Mass by 10pm -although it was remarked how forty years ago the couple got married on the day of Operation Motorman and the priest was still able to begin the wedding on time.
In the sacraments we realise how the presence of Jesus Christ can continue to touch and transform our lives. In the Eucharist we see how the ordinary everyday elements of bread and wine are transformed into the very life and presence of God. In all the most important and significant moments, we bless our lives by celebrating and recognising how God remains with us on our journey. In both our joys and sorrows the celebration of the Lord’s Supper reminds all Christians of the sacrifice at the heart of our faith. As Christ offers his life for all God’s people we are asked to be strengthened and transformed by the gift we receive.
Every time we offer the bread and wine we offer our own lives as well, with all our trials and tribulations, with our achievements and successes. We come not only to celebrate God’s love for all people, we gather to be strengthened as we enter the sacrifice which the Son of God offers us, namely, his body and blood. We must follow Christ’s example by offering our lives for one another.
To quote Ron Rolheiser once again, the ‘Bread and wine represent the goodness of this earth, the joy of human achievements, celebration, and all that is contained in that original blessing when, after the first creation, God looked at the earth and pronounced it good. But that’s half of it. The Eucharist also holds up, in sacrifice, all that is being crushed, broken, and baked by violence. The wine, fittingly, is also blood. At the Eucharist, we hold up both, the world’s health and its achievements along with its depressions and failures, and ask God to be with us in both.’… What we see in the Eucharist, the goodness and joy of life and the pains of that same life, is the same tension that we need to hold up within our lives. By enjoying life without ignoring God, the truth, and the poor, whilst recognising and standing where the Cross of Christ is forever being erected, namely, where the excluded, the poor, the sick, the unattractive, the lonely, the hungry, the crushed, and the bleeding find their place.’