The Friday Thought - Get me to the church on time!

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I celebrated two weddings on Thursday, the first for friends and the second for my cousin. It’s not ideal for your health or your blood pressure to have two ceremonies on the one day.

I had warned the first bride to be on time because I only had a short interval to drive from St Eugene’s Cathedral to St Aegus Church in Burt.

Well, she took me at my word because she was standing in the front porch of the Cathedral as I ran up the hill through the rain. It was ten minutes to One O’clock and for the second time in my life a bride had arrived at the church before me.

Needless to say I rushed past her making my apologies as people with concerned faces checked watches. There was as much a look of relief on the groom’s face to see the priest turn up never mind the bride. It was certainly a collector’s item to have begun a wedding on time.

The second wedding was in Burt Chapel; my cousin was marrying his Canadian girlfriend. When they asked me to officiate at their wedding I was delighted and then I found out the wedding was going to be in Ireland.

The bride-to-be wanted a traditional Irish wedding and a traditional Irish wedding she got, for it rained most of the day. The couple met six years ago while working on a cruise ship, so we had our own version of love boat. Thankfully we had a great day and it turned out to be a great family occasion and celebration.

My father is one of fourteen children so it was the first time in a number of years that we had a full complement of his brothers and sisters. I had aunts who travelled from England and the United States and an uncle from Naas in County Kildare.

The international feel to the occasion was enhanced by the presence of over twenty Canadians. This made the wedding practice very interesting if not entertaining during the week.

A lot was lost in translation; basically they hadn’t a clue what I was saying. So I was duly warned before the ceremony I had to talk very slowly; by the time the wedding was over I felt like Fr Paddy.

I thought I had done a reasonable job until I spoke to a German guest who was living in Toronto; he said he had enjoyed the occasion even if he didn’t understand everything.

All in all, a great day and night was enjoyed. The only downside was the bad judgement on my part to take to the dance floor. After one ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ completion and I thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

‘Not shy’

The great thing about family is they’re not shy about telling you the truth; I was duly informed I had ‘all the grace of a robot’.

Yet these are the occasions which memories are made of, when you’re surrounded by the most important people in your life. When you share what you have in common, a blood bond, a shared inheritance and heritage.

Beyond the physical we celebrate the collective experiences and memories which enhance and strengthen the bonds which hold us together and unite as family and friends. These give us life and help to shape and form who we are both collectively and individually.

Our journey through life would be impossible without our encounters with relatives, neighbours, friends and associates of all kinds and creeds.

On a weekend when we celebrated the opening of the Peace Bridge, designed to create a another bond between both banks of the Foyle, to symbolise the desire for unity between our two communities it’s also important to reflect on what Jesus has gifted us as a means to unite and strengthen us.

He gives us no less than himself; we receive life through the grace of his life offered on the cross and made sacramentally present in the Eucharist.

Unless we are united in Christ then our communion with one another will never be truly holy. If we honestly believe Christ to be ‘the Way, the Truth and Life’ then we have to be transformed and changed into his likeness.

‘Walk with Him’

We can only walk with Him if we allow Him to enter our hearts, only then can we love and live as He wants us too.

We can only become Christ-like if we allow ourselves to meet Christ in the sacraments He offers us for our pilgrimage through life. As the American priest John Kavanaugh, SJ states: “The body and blood of Christ, is the marr:iage of God and us.

“This union is re-enacted in our Eucharist, whereby God in Christ is made one with our very flesh, the living sign that God is with and for us now and always …

And so our body is Jesus Christ. Our source of unity is not Europe or America, not liberal or conservative, not male or female, not Catholic or Protestant. It is Christ.”