There is a popular song by a man named Matt Stell that opens with these words:
Never been the kind to ask for help.
If a mountain needs moving, I move it myself.
I’m far from a preacher,
But I’m a believer.
And every single day I prayed for you.
I didn’t know your name,
I couldn’t see your face,
But I prayed for you.
It’s hard to fathom, didn’t know you from Adam,
But I prayed for you.
It is a song about a young man praying for his future wife long before he ever meets her.
There are many ways to pray, aren’t there? The Bible, as you know, tells us to pray without ceasing. That might sound hard to do, but, actually, it is not hard to do at all.
Like the message in that song, when our hearts are full of hope, every word we speak, every sacrifice we make, becomes a prayer to God.
My homily for Chris and Rachel—and for all of us—today revolves around prayer.
Some folks, when they hear the word prayer, think that prayer is mainly about asking for favors. But there is a much deeper kind of prayer.
There is the kind of prayer of remembering, for instance.
And the prayer of gratitude.
And, sometimes, we join them together.
Here is an example:
You step through the door of the house where you live at the close of the day and you become aware of all your blessings—and all the memories of your blessings—crammed into the rooms of that house where you live.
What a wonderful prayer that is!
Most of you here know that the house where Chris and Rachel will be living is the house on Chris’ homeplace. That house is very old and is steeped in generations of memories. Memories of love and faith and prayer. What a wonderful home it will be for them.
We all need a place to call home, don’t we?
After all, home is where the heart is. Home is also the table where we eat our meals. Home is the bed where we sleep. Home is a living room with pictures on the walls and knick-knacks on the shelves that remind us of all the people we know and love.
In addition to church, home is a perfect place to pray. For us Catholics, no prayer makes this more apparent than the rosary.
I happen to have one in my pocket.
Here it is.
Some people describe the rosary as “the Gospel on a chain.” That’s because it takes us from the beginning of the Gospel all the way to the end.
It helps to think of the four sets of “mysteries” as four sets of “memories:” the joyful memories, the luminous memories, the sorrowful memories and the glorious memories.
In this sense, the rosary is, indeed, like stepping through the door of the house on homeplace.
An old house. A special house.
The house of Mary, our Mother. Where every room is filled with memories of her Son.
In the living room, for instance, you might notice a picture of her visit to Elizabeth, a trip that Our Lady took when she was very young.
In the dining room, there is a wine glass from the wedding at Cana.
On the mantle, in a crystal box, a pebble extracted from the knee of her Son when he fell, climbing Calvary, with the weight of the Cross on his back.
And there, in her kitchen, Mary, herself, is waiting to join us for a cup of coffee, excited share some memories with us; like the day that three kings—yes, three kings—visited her and Joseph inside that old barn just outside of Bethlehem.
The Bible tells us that Mary pondered these events and held them close to her heart.
Rachel and Chris pray the rosary often. They often pray it together.
You may not have noticed at the beginning of Mass today, but among the flowers in Rachel’s bouquet is a rosary.
That rosary is telling us that the home of Chris and Rachel, is going to have the same kind of furniture and will be decorated in the same way as the house of Mother Mary.
How can this be? Let me show you!
Take the section of the rosary called the Luminous Mysteries.
They begin with the Baptism of the Lord, that day on which the Son of God came up out of the water of the Jordan Riverand heard a voice from Heaven, saying:
“You are my Son, whom I love. In you I am well-pleased!”
Now, ask yourself this:
How often have Chris and Rachel heard an echo of those same words in the words of their parents?
How often have they heard something like:
“Rachel, you belong to us! And we love you so much!”
“Chris, you are becoming a good man. You do us proud!”
Words of encouragement that echoed within the rooms of the houses here they were raised; words of guidance and direction that swept across the fields of their farms on which they grew up?
Such is the power of the faith has brought has brought them to this day, their wedding day, which will be become a luminous memory of their own which corresponds to the Second Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, the miracle at the Wedding of Cana.
Here, today, Christ Himself consecrates their love with endless grace, sanctifying grace that overflows their hearts and like an abundance of wine in jars filled to the brim!
It is as though Chris and Rachel are seated at banquet table in a village called Cana, and how fortunate we are to be invited as well!
Yet, this is but the beginning. Still more luminous mysteries lie ahead!
For instance, the Third Luminous Mystery, the Call to (ever deeper) Conversion in their day-to-day life as husband and wife; and, along with it, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God to the children they hope to raise, to the neighbors among whom they will live, and the community they will support with the fruit of their labor and, most of all, through the witness of a strong marriage and virtuous lives.
Yes, that rosary resting amid the flowers of Rachel’s bouquet, reminds her and Chris that step by step, bead by bead, year by year, the Holy Spirit will lead them on the road to Heaven.
Along that road, of course, there will be mountains to climb. The name of one those mountains will be Mt. Tabor, the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Fourth Luminous Mystery, where, alongside Saints Peter, James and John, Rachel and Chris will stand in awe at the Son of God illuminating, with His glory, their otherwise common and ordinary life.
Finally, the Fifth Luminous Mystery, the Holy Eucharist, will usher Chris and Rachel to a seat at the banquet of the Mass, where, Sunday after Sunday, they will be nourished by the Word of God and the Bread of Angels; There, at Mass inside the Church of the Holy Family in Frenchtown, they will recognize, that mystical connection between the table in their own home and the table of the Holy Family in Nazareth. They will come to know that their house, like the house of Mary, our Mother, will be luminous, that is to say, filled with light, all kinds of light!
The light of charity…
shining from the light on the front porch, welcoming their friends…and anyone who comes to them in need, the light of peace, radiating from the night-light in the hallway, calming the fears of their children in the middle of the night, the light of joy in the soft glow of candles on birthdays cakes and at holidays and all the holy days and special days when they look around at the house in which they live and savor the Mystery of God woven deep…deep into the mystery of their love.
Chris and Rachel, keep praying the rosary, and we will keep praying for you!
Praying that God Himself will keep the two of you, together—forever—in the palm of His hand.