Sophia Institute Press has republished a book originally published in 1957. Some people would think old school Catholicism was all about hell, fire, and brimstone, but this sweet, endearing preaching volume proves otherwise. Bridegroom and Bride: Time Honored Wisdom on the Perfecting Power of Marriage by Msgr. Ronald Knox inspired me to make ten ideas from the book that I personally loved.
1. “I thee wed”
This is the order from the Latin. It’s great that we kept this order in the English as its beautiful that the bridegroom is that crazy over the bride. They are “so closely united that not even a verb may come between them.” The bridegroom is so crazy in love that he isn’t using “coherent English, he can only stammer it out, as it comes to him, the language of a lover.”
2. Beautiful anniversary
I’m a country boy at heart so this quote speaks deeply to me. “May the anniversary of this your wedding day bring back to you, always, the memory of a quiet village church, and the thought of that village bride whose name, all through the dark times of history, has been loved and honored in East Hendred.” The humble, simple but most important day in their lives can’t help but be cherished.
3. Soul and body
“The soul is un-aging, the body is subject to laws of growth and decay.” If you love the other in their totality, you will be crazy in love even in old age because of loving their soul. “But lovers who love with body and soul need fear for no such limitations of their romance.” Looks fade, but true love will eternally grow.
4. All the small things
Back to the simple, humble wedding mentioned in #2 above. There is beauty in the ordinary. “Little secrets, jokes that are only jokes between you two, memories you share, hopes and ambitions which affect you equally. All that will help to build up your partnership. But behind all that, learn to depend on the grace you have received today.”
This isn’t the kind of sacrifice one makes for the sick, the needy, the hungry. This is giving one’s self where they’re both the best versions of themselves and give that to each other. “Your love for one another, a sacrifice-not in the sense that it means, for either of you, a loss of freedom, an abridgement of your personalities; but in the sense that it is the best thing in life you have to offer, and because it is the best, the most worthy of consecration.”
“You two, in the mutual understanding which you enjoy, find that perfect mirror which assures you, not only that you are loved, but that you are lovable.”Or in other words, you are loved and liked with great affection.
7. More than a willing choice
God’s plan is always bigger than our plans. Perhaps we might have our own plans, but God works for our good. That we can be grateful for. “The mysterious bond that unites you is a two-way attraction, and it is something apart from your will; you could not escape from it even if, for some incredible reason, you wanted to. It costs you no effort, on either side, to love.”
8. Just the “heart”
Context matters! Before the Middle Ages, the heart meant something entirely different from how we use it today. “In the Bible, “heart” nearly always means the intellect; when you want a pupil to pay attention, you say, ‘my son, give me thy heart’; and when Our Blessed Lady is puzzled by the mystery of her divine motherhood, it is in her heart that she ponders over it.
Later on, the use of the word “heart” changed to mean “the seat of the emotions…a symbol to lovers…the contrast we make nowadays between head and heart, ascribing our thoughts to the one and our feelings to the other, is more modern still.”
9. St. Francis of Assisi and spouses
It’s commonly known that St. Francis had the stigmata. This was not Jesus making His mark on St. Francis that he belongs to Him as “the shepherd brands his sheep.” Rather, it is like “the bride in the Song of Solomon, ‘He is mine, and I am his.'”
So too with the spouses. It’s not a power trip kind of possession. It’s a christian self donation. It’s “not, ‘this person belongs to me’, but, ‘I belong to this person.'” There’s a distinction.
10. Unique, different, and special
Being different is not a bad thing! Neither is being special. “Every soul is a unique creation, this wedding is different from every other wedding in God’s eyes.”
Like a good shepherd, God needs His sheep by name. “A flock of sheep, so indistinguishable to us, but to the shepherd each one is different. And to Him, today’s bridegroom and bride are not simply bridegroom and bridge, but Francis and Therese.” I encourage everyone to get a copy of Bridegroom and Bride: Time Honored Wisdom on the Perfecting Power of Marriage as soon as possible.