Simplicity is the key to wedding success… – The Irish Catholic

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Church weddings are more than double in Ireland, where 50.2% are still religious ceremonies. And Accord, the Catholic marriage advisory service reports that churches are booked out for forthcoming post-pandemic nuptials. Impressive to learn, too, that in 2021, Accord’s sacramental marriage preparation course attracted nearly 13,000 people.

Simplicity is the key to wedding success… – The Irish Catholic

Simplicity is the key to wedding success… People hold a banner with a picture of French priest Fr Jacques Hamel, which reads, “Where there is hatred, let me sow love,” after his murder. Photo: CNS

How nice to see – now that restrictions are lifting –  couples returning to their wedding plans, which so many put on hold during the course of the pandemic.

And although church weddings have fallen in Ireland, they haven’t fallen at all as much as in neighbouring nations. Fewer than a quarter of weddings in England and Wales are now religious ceremonies – just 22% – being the lowest percentage ever recorded. British church weddings fell by nearly half over the past 20 years.

Church weddings are more than double in Ireland, where 50.2% are still religious ceremonies. And Accord, the Catholic marriage advisory service reports that churches are booked out for forthcoming post-pandemic nuptials. Impressive to learn, too, that in 2021, Accord’s sacramental marriage preparation course attracted nearly 13,000 people.

Well done – preparation pays!

But here’s another useful piece of intelligence about wedding lore: according to the Marriage Foundation in Britain, a cheaper wedding is often a better guarantee of a successful conjugal life than a very lavish one. The Foundation’s research disclosed that one in ten weddings which cost over £20,000 (€23,900) were heading for divorce after three years, whereas those done on modest budgets were more likely to last.

Sir Paul Coleridge, a retired High Court judge who started the Marriage Foundation to help support marriage – after witnessing so many distressed broken families in court – encourages people to consider having less expensive weddings. The huge wedding often “places a strain on finances before the wedding starts” and possibly puts the emphasis on the party rather than on the substance of marital understanding.

Back in the day, it was quite acceptable for a bride to be married in a simple, but well-tailored costume, and many a happy union started in such simplicity.

Obviously, we can’t generalise, and there are some lovely big wedding parties where families have provided a fabulous day for all.

On marriage preparation, my mother had just two pieces of advice for daughters embarking on matrimony. One: “never let the sun go down on your anger” – a Biblical counsel. And two: “Never give a man bad news on an empty stomach.” Both very sound!

Humility and peace.

More than five years after he was murdered while saying Mass, the French priest Fr Jacques Hamel is being advanced as a candidate for sainthood. His parish at St Etienne-du-Rouvray, in the Rouen diocese, has become a place of pilgrimage for those who regard Fr Hamel as a martyr.

The 85-year-old died on the altar, knifed by two members of a fanatical Islamic group, on July 26, 2016. The assassins were themselves then shot by French police, but a trial is under way in France to establish accomplices.

Yet Fr Hamel’s sister has approached the family of one of the Islamicists to open up a dialogue of peace and reconciliation.

Jacques Hamel has become a national figure in France, and a spiritual biography Prier quinze jours avec Jacques Hamel (A fortnight’s prayer with Jacques Hamel) by Paul Vigoureux has just been published. He is described as a very humble priest, who lived quietly and reflectively.

A dossier of 11,496 pages, with 2000 letters received after his death, and interviews with 56 witnesses, has been submitted to Rome for Jacques Hamel’s cause.

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Asked to name her current favourite reading, the Cork-born actress Fiona Shaw selected Fintan O’Toole’s We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland since 1958. Ms Shaw, born in 1958, wrote: “It has been a traumatising pleasure, like therapy, to revisit the decades of my early life when we as children berated our parents about the Church and its hypocrisy and the State and its shabby leadership…The book explains the synaptic jump of the corrupt religion to the corruption of the state, and the obedient population who could not see what was in front of their faces.”

I find this assessment disproportionate and snobbishly patronising. All states, and all religions, have human failings. Injustices occur, errors are made, and power can be arrogant. But that is not the whole picture. Ireland was not a corrupt country – it remained a functioning parliamentary democracy with an admirable civil service. Catholic Ireland produced many sincere and unhypocritical individuals, from Mother Mary Martin, foundress of the Medical Missionaries, to Fr Michael Sweetman, devoted to the Dublin homeless; from the economist who led Ireland into modern times, Ken Whitaker, guided by his Catholic conscience, to Seán MacBride, who launched Amnesty International and the human rights movement.

Neither were the people stupid, as Ms Shaw implies.

Thespians are sometimes criticised for being superficial. Fiona Shaw’s shallow words feed into that particular prejudice.

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Peadar Laighléis’ letter last week brilliantly explained the religion and history of Ukraine. Although I never knew ‘Uniate’ was disparaging – it’s found in many books.

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