Twenty-five years ago today, a new life began. It grew from the love of a brand-new marriage. Nine months later, on September 29, 1988, a son was born. My firstborn. The baby who made me Mama, who made us family.
Today, that boy--now grown to a man--will take a wife. In many ways, he's grown up here in this space and in the pages of books and newspapers. We've stumbled along together, he and I, learning as we go, and sharing those lessons with all of you.
I'm at a loss for words. I have been all month.
I tend to take a while to process big things and this is a very big thing. We head to church this morning to meet both the same priest who baptized Michael and our dear pastor, who will concelebrate the marriage. My heart is full--very, very full. I'm eager to encircle Kristin, to call her daughter-in-love, and to fully celebrate this new beginning. But as I said, I'm at a loss for words. So, I beg your prayers for us this weekend and for Michael and Kristin as they begin their new life together. And I leave you with Mike's words from last night, when he welcomed family and friends after the rehearsal.
I thought a fair-amount about what I might be able to share this evening….something that would capture what Elizabeth and I are feeling this weekend. Coupled with that, I also considered the amount of time I would be allowed to speak before my sons would begin shouting me down. I think I have about 30-seconds left.
Mark and Terumi, distinguished grandparents, family and friends, thank you for accepting our invitation tonight and for sharing this evening with us. Elizabeth and I are very grateful.
In spite of what anyone might tell you (and by anyone I suppose I mean our current culture), this life is about relationships.
What we share and what others are willing to share with us.
What we do for others and what we allow others to do for us.
About half of this room is filled with people who have supported Elizabeth and me for at least 30 years and in many cases, closer to 50. They were there to help us through school, help us through cancer, to help us change the diapers of nine children and help to drive to so many soccer games and ballet rehearsals that it would be impossible to count.
I know the other half of the room is filled with those who have supported Mark and Terumi in a similar fashion. And while I may not know the specifics of their actions, I do know something about life…..and this outward demonstration, their attendance here tonight, is life.
As I look around this room tonight, each and every person can claim a special relationship with Kristin and Michael. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers, and many friends. As you both consider the weekend ahead, I hope you will take time to reflect on the love and the support which surrounds you tonight, which will surround you tomorrow and which will surround you for years to come.
Kristin and Michael, as you have learned, marriage in the Catholic Church is a grace-filled sacrament. As the early 20th century Belgian Priest and theologian, Jacques Leclercq wrote:
The sacrament of marriage is the imprint of God on the souls of the married couple, not merely in order to deify their life in general, but in order to deify their union . . . The sacrament of marriage is thus not merely a religious act sanctifying a human one, it is a seed sown in the soul and bearing fruit through the whole of married life, giving life to all its acts and sentiments . . . it is a predisposition to holiness placed in their souls by God on the day of their wedding.
As you celebrate the powerful and grace-filled sacrament of marriage and enjoy the events of this weekend, I pray that you will find time to reflect upon the many blessings God has bestowed upon you. Particularly the blessings of your family and your friends who have gathered with you tonight.
May God grant you many years and may He bless your marriage forever. We love you both.
video credit: Mary Beth Foss, with help from Kristin's sister, Cherise.