Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Wedding Anniversary

Fifteen years ago today, Eileen and I got married. I won't say that it "feels like yesterday" because, well, it doesn't. So much has happened since that day. So many things I could never have imagined.

That our lives would be filled with children was something for which we hoped, but that they would be these children was something beyond any imagining. Each has come bringing his or her own unique face and character and possibilities, which continue to unfold before our eyes.

I knew marriage would not be easy and that it would require sacrifice. Eileen and I had our faith, a good relationship, and many married friends in our community for examples and support. We did not imagine the kinds of trials we would have to face. We never realized how much we would grow by facing difficult circumstances together.

We were a little older than many couples, and both had a facility for making friendships, which meant that our wedding was going to be big. Between friends and family, we probably invited close to 700 people, of which about 300 came. But I was teaching at Christendom College, so we were able to rent the large Commons and get catering from the kitchen staff for a huge discount. That's what made the big fat Janaro wedding possible. That, and the church.

Our parish at that time was still the old St. John's in Front Royal, which only seats something like 150 people (a new church was built several years later). Thank God, there was the large, beautiful church of the Sacred Heart in Winchester, where there was plenty of room both in the pews and in the sanctuary. This latter detail turned out to be more important for our wedding than for most others.

We had invited about two dozen priests and one bishop (most of them friends, colleagues, or former teachers of mine). And we extended to them the invitation to "concelebrate" along with our friend Fr. Michael Carvill, F.S.C.B., who was to witness the vows. It was a great delight to have nine priests around the altar at our Wedding Mass (the bishop, an Italian who is now Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, obviously could not make it but he promised to say Mass for us that day).

The Mass, moreover, was in Latin (according to what is today known as the "ordinary form"), with chants and hymns provided by our friends' choir. I remember how we labored in those days of primitive word processing software to make a detailed and useful wedding program (double columned in places, for Latin text and English translation). It was worth all the effort. It was a remarkable, sacred, and joyful wedding ceremony.

I should have realized then what an extraordinary lady I was marrying. In the midst of all these dizzying preparations for all these people, Eileen was making her own wedding dress. It is the dress she is wearing in the picture, which one day--God willing--will be worn by those of our daughters whom God calls to marriage, and become a family heirloom.

After the wedding came the reception and time with family and friends who had come from all around the country. In many ways this day was a symbol of our whole life together, blessed by God, lived in the Church, in the company of family and friends. At its center was the Sacrament, which has carried us through so much. And many of the companions who shared our joy that day continue to be close to us now, and continue to support and assist us on our journey.

Happy Anniversary dear Eileen! Thank God for you! God bless you and our family, and make of us gifts of love and service to one another and to the world in which we live.