Friday Thought with Fr Chris Ferguson
Generally, I don’t believe in making a drama out of wedding practices.
What I try to do, is encourage active participation.
Amid all the wedding excitement, this is not easy. You can picture the scene, as the bride and groom, gather along with their bridal party, including assorted hangers on, usually mothers afraid to miss a bar.
My first task is like parting the Red Sea, asking the bride and bridesmaids to march to the back of the church, and encourage the groom and groomsmen to stop taking selfies.Meanwhile at the back of the church I need to endure an unenviable task, as the bride tries to sort out the order of her bridesmaids. To interfere at this stage is like the proverbial fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread. Once the reluctant bridesmaids are lined up, the only advice I offer, is to neither walk too fast or too slow. Ultimately, it’s not a funeral, despite what the groom might think.
Next I rush back up to the front of the church as quickly as my short legs will carry me. Conscious I’m entering a realm of the unknown, especially as I have never been brave enough to marry a Derry woman,
I reluctantly offer the groom only a little advice.
The big question in the groom’s mind, apart from the latest football scores, is a serious issue, is the groom allowed to look back or not. I reassure the groom its superstition nonsense not look back, but if he wants to tempt fate, it’s up to him.
At the end of the day, the groom is better sticking to what he has been told to do, by his bride. If it’s to look ahead, look ahead, look back, it’s better to look back;
and if it’s to cry, he’s better thinking of something sad and unhappy, usually the cost of the wedding. After the ground rules have been established, the wedding practice normally runs without a hitch.
Until finally, I sympathise with the couple, by explaining, I don’t expect them to remember anything from the practice.
They’re not to worry, trust me, I’ll keep them right.
The worst thing which will happen to the couple, on the day after next, is that they’ll end up married. In the long history of the sacred scriptures, marriage has often been invoked as an image of God’s covenant with his people. As we approach the end of the Church year, our minds are inevitably drawn to the last things. In certain moments of life, often as a response to events which have shattered our security, and our sense of our place in the world, we wonder, what it’s all about?
The ultimate question, arises, is this it? Or is there something more? Many believe that through the progression of science and technology, we will soon be able to explain the full mystery of our human nature. Yet, other scientists will challenge this thesis, that all of life can be explained by material causes. What can’t be reduced to the mechanics of our brains and the interaction of the body with its physical environment, is the reality of consciousness, of intentionality and creativity.
Whist we can better understand what areas of the brain, produce, control and influence certain, responses and emotions, the deeper mystery of our imaginations and intuition lies beyond. Our conscious and imaginative creativity can never be reduced to the physical impulses of our brains or the mechanics of our bodies. As such, the religious impulses, the deeper questions of meaning, life and existence, can’t be dismissed as meaningless and empty. We need to ask, are we open to an eternal future, to the something more which causes restlessness in our hearts. If we can’t perceive the divine in the world around us, in the relationships which shape our lives, then we can’t expect to be suddenly open to God’s saving presence, at some decisive moment in the future. Eternity begins here and now, the kingdom of God,
God’s saving presence is a reality all around us. As sisters and brothers and Christ, we have been entrusted with the task of making the values of the Kingdom, a reality here and now, through our merry, compassion and love.