Why did you get married during a Mass? Very simply, because what was being celebrated on the altar, the mystery of Jesus' life-giving sacrifice is what you are called to live everyday in your domestic church, your home.
We greet the priest as he enters the Church while singing a joyful entrance hymn. We celebrate Jesus humbly entering into our world, giving up his power and wisdom to become a little child, who is totally dependent on human parents. You also enter into each other's world everyday, not triumphantly but humbly, in a non-threatening way, to say: "I love you and want to walk with you today." Spouses cannot enter each other's world, if they want to impress, use, put down or manipulate the other. But if they come in love and humility, they will be welcomed.
We then come to the penitential rite of the Mass. I say: "I confess to you my brothers and sisters.". But the first person I should seek forgiveness from is not some stranger who happens to sit near me in the pew, but my own spouse. I do not say "sorry but you asked for it when you were rude." Being defensive is not being sorry at all. I ask pardon without any excuses or justification. "Forgive me for." I also need to give forgiveness, for in the measure that I forgive, I am forgiven. There is no score-keeping of past injuries. I must not allow the sun to go down on my anger. Forgiveness leads to reconciliation.
At a silver jubilee celebration, a couple whom I had instructed before marriage, to be reconciled every night before they slept, held me responsible for their seven children!! Reconciliation can indeed be life-giving in more ways than we dream of.
We now come to the Word of God. The Spirit of God is the breath of God who makes the word of God intelligible to our minds and hearts. A couple should pray to the Holy Spirit to help them be open to the Word of God, so that it may bear fruit in their relationship. Listen and share the life-giving Word with each other for a few minutes everyday. Then your words to each other will also be life-giving and not death-dealing. You will express affection, kindness, appreciation, concern, forgiveness, trust etc. You will not berate, find fault, nag, complain, accuse, condemn or gossip.
You are invited to join your sacrifices to the sacrifice of Jesus. We are not speaking of not taking sugar in your tea. It is the sacrifice you make to give up your pride, self-righteousness or anger.
Do not try to win or prove you are right or to insist on your own way. Your sacrifice is offered on the altar of your cooking range and office desk. It could be your marriage bed when you decide to be fully involved in loving your spouse instead of just submitting passively.
Now, we come to praise and thank God for Eucharist means thanksgiving. A couple who is ever grateful to God for all his many blessings, gifts and graces, will not take any of them for granted. So count your blessings again and again everyday. How blessed you are indeed to have faith in Jesus, to have the Holy Spirit as your helper, advocate and companion, to have Abba to hold you in his arms tenderly, to have Mary and the saints praying for you. Thank God for your spouse and children and home and job. Thank him for the cross through which he prunes you to bear more fruit. Sing your praise and thanks with hymns and canticles and fill your hearts and home with the joy of the Lord.
The Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine, work of human hands into the body and blood of Christ, at the epiclesis. Let us ask him to transform us into the body of Christ in this domestic Church we live in. He gives us the gift of peace to share with one another. Be practical in the ways you share this peace in word and action or it can be an empty gesture, like a puppet show.
Your dining table at which you gather to break bread is your family liturgy. Hold hands around the table and thank God for his blessings. Invite the less fortunate to share your meal. He truly multiplies loaves and fishes when we share his love with others who are lonely or sad. Mine was a family of eight children. We had an open house and many joined us at meals and shared what we had. If too many came at the last moment, my eldest sister would say "FGS" which meant "Family go slow." Let the guests eat first. We were blessed a hundred fold. Today she is a Sister and I am a priest and truly the seeds of vocation are sown at home when we learn to share with love. Our eyes will be opened to recognise Jesus in the breaking of bread and in the least of his brethren who are our guests.
Recognise Jesus in the domestic helpers who lovingly prepare our food. Treat them with love, respect, consideration and kindness.
Finally we are sent forth to share Jesus with others. In the home, family members often take each other for granted. When someone dies, we express our regret that we did not say thanks. Now is the time to make our domestic church into a happy and loving home, where there is sharing, caring and bearing one another's burdens.
"The family that prays together, stays together", we were told, by Fr Patrick Peyton. Praying together is more than mumbling prayers together. We gather together in his presence and in his name. We share his love and kindness with each other. In such an atmosphere, we will be conscious that he has a message for us and listen to him with our hearts. His word will become flesh and dwell within us. We will be Christ- bearers to each other everyday, as we celebrate our daily, domestic Eucharist.