It Takes Three to Be Married

The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on August 12 during the wedding Mass for Dr. and Mrs. Michael Tempelhof at St. Hugo of the Hills Stone Chapel, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Suzanne and Michael, sisters and brothers all in the Lord, for the disciples of Jesus, it takes three to be married. Yes, three persons are united whenever Christian marriage is celebrated and lived. So it is on this day as we gather together in the Lord's House, in this magnificent Chapel of St. Hugo, the first church of St. Hugo's Parish, to witness this marriage.

Obviously, two of the three persons are both of you, Suzanne and Michael. You are unique individuals, each with his or her human dignity. Since you first met at Syracuse University, you have come to learn much about each other. You have become close friends, indeed, the "closest of friends." Now you are committing yourselves to a permanent, lifelong, faithful relationship in the covenant of marriage. You are truly beginning to fulfill in a tangible way what the Lord God said at the beginning of creation, heard in our first reading from the Book of Genesis: "God created man in his image; in the divine image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply; "God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good." Centuries later, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ referred to these words, stating: "From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

In this lifelong journey which you are beginning today, treasure one another as persons. No other human being and no thing should ever be more treasured. Yes, today you begin to live the covenant of marriage by your free and personal consent. This covenant, this lifelong, faithful relationship, is deeply inter-personal and truly interdependent.

This covenant partnership is uniquely rooted in and lived out by love. This love is far more than a feeling or even an intense emotion. This love is a commitment, a conscious and free decision to be for one another, to stand by one another in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, all the days of your lives till death do you part. This love will enable you to treasure one another and to live in permanent fidelity. This love is so beautifully described in today's second reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. This love, rooted in Christ, reveals itself in many ways: being patient, kind, not jealous, nor pompous, not inflated, not rude, not seeking its own interests, not quick-tempered, not brooding over injuries, not rejoicing in wrong-doing. Rather, this love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. This love never fails.

Living this love would not be possible on our own, but living this love is more than possible when it is rooted in Christ. He is the third person in this marriage. He transforms the best of your human love into the kind of love needed for living the marriage covenant, just as He once changed water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana.

Suzanne and Michael, make Jesus a constant companion and partner in your married lives through prayer each day &#0151 indeed, daily prayer together, through your participation in the Eucharist at least each Sunday and through your involvement in the Church within the parish. If Jesus remains your partner and daily companion, your love for each other will be strengthened and deepened, enabling you to journey together with meaning and purpose in lifelong fidelity.

Yes, if the three of you remain united in love, the two of you with the Lord Jesus, I can hold out the promise that 10, 15, 25 or even 50 years from now, you can look at each other and with a smile, say, "While it has not been perfect, it surely has been life-giving for us to journey together."

Suzanne and Michael, I entrust you both to the Lord and to His Holy Mother. After Communion, you will bring flowers to place before her statue, a tangible sign of your love for God's Mother, who is also your mother. Her advice at the Cana wedding is timeless: "Do whatever He tells you." And the Lord Jesus tells you to love one another as husband and wife for the rest of your lives. This commitment of love we shall now witness, as you exchange your marriage vows before the Lord and all of us, as you celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Bishop Paul S. Loverde


Bp. Paul S. Loverde is the bishop of the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia.

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