At the Hudson River
On behalf of both of our families I would like to thank you all for being with us today as we celebrate the marriage of our children.
Millie (Milagros) is blessed with a large and devoted family of Hispanic heritage and my son, Christopher, my wife, Kathleen and I are now privileged to join this fine family through today's marriage. My own family of Anglo-Saxon and Protestant heritage is unfortunately very small. I have very close relatives and can just about count them on one hand. Kathleen's Irish contribution to Christopher's heritage is a bit more prolific. But she too has a small family. Yet we are both grateful for what we have.
Since I was unable to have a direct role in today's liturgy I hope you will allow me these few moments to share some of my feelings about why we are here today. For well over 40 years I have either presided at or served as a minister of music at hundreds of wedding so I hope I can contribute a few words of wisdom.
I have always been blessed in life with wonderful friends who, for me, are embraced as my own family. True love is always rooted in friendship. So it is that today we see how the friendship Christopher and Milagros has blossomed over the years into the sacramental union of marriage. A successful marriage must be cemented in friendship. Whereas external beauty, comeliness and physical attraction are graces that are all too ephemeral, often fading with time and the passing years, it is always the deeper love of friendship that survives.
So in moments like these, my friends, amid the festivities and merriment, we should all contemplate and re-evaluate in our hearts our own relationships and re-commit ourselves to our own special loves.
As Shakespeare wrote in a favorite passage of mine:
thou hast, and their adoption tried.
Grapple to thy soul with hoops of steel."
With Mom and Dad
I am grateful to have two friends with me today with whom I lived and studied for six years nearly 50 years ago at the University of Louvain in Belgium. During the Renaissance and Reformation of the 16th century one of the illustrious teachers at this great university was Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. He was a great Christian humanist and reformer, a friend of Sir Thomas More. Erasmus was both an advisor and critic of popes and princes.
The son of a priest himself, he was ordained in 1492 (an easy year to remember). I would like to quote to you a few of his thoughts on marriage as we prepare for a toast to our bride and groom.
Erasmus reminds us that the church did not invent marriage. It was instituted by the Founder of the Universe, God himself. It was sanctioned further by Christ our Lord at the Marriage Feast of Cana where he worked his first miracle. Marriage, Erasmus believes, should be honored above all other sacraments because it was the first to be instituted - and by God himself. The other sacraments were established on earth, this one in paradise; the others, as a remedy for fallen nature; this one, for nature unspoiled.
Marriage is from nature, therefore, and what is of nature is pure and holy. "What is more sweet," he writes, "than to be with her with whom you are united in body and soul, who talks with you in secret affection, to whom you have committed all your faith and fortune. What in all nature is lovelier?"
"If you suffer adversity," he continues, "you have one who will console you and try to make your troubles their own. If you are at home, you have respite from the tedium of solitude. If you are away, you long for a kiss. Absent, you desire; returning, you rejoice. By marriage your loved ones are increased. You acquire another father and mother. Nothing should be more safe, felicitous, tranquil, pleasant and loveable than marriage."
With these rapturous and prophetic words of a wise Renaissance man written 500 years ago I would ask you now all to rise and join me in a toast to our blessed couple:
and Milagros, may you always be united in faith and love in your holy partnership
until death. May your devotion to God and each other be so great that neither
poverty nor sickness nor age nor any misfortune ever separate your joyous
companionship. Whether your lot in life be meager or abundant
may you store up the true treasures in life: love and friendship. God grant
you many years!