Homily from the Wedding Ceremony of Kaitlyn Olson and Peter Pellizzari – St. Anne Catholic Church, Oswego, IL – July 21, 2017
Sgs. 2:8-10, 14,16a; 8:6-7a; 1 Cor. 12:31-13:8a; Jn. 15:12-16
Kaitlyn and Pete,
I echo the sentiments of joy and congratulations spoken by all of those
who’ve come here this afternoon to witness two friends,
two friends who are deeply and forever in love, become one.
I am grateful to Kaitlyn for taking my advice
and not shortening the first reading today, from the Song of Songs.
She thought it was maybe a little too “erotic.”
The Song of Songs is an incredibly underrated book in the Old Testament of the Bible,
and is also one of the most misunderstood.
Kaitlyn, as usual, is right, you know…it is a little bit erotic.
It’s the most beautiful piece of Hebrew love poetry ever written.
Its five poems, spread over eight chapters, tell of two lovers on a quest to find each other.
The bride waiting and searching for her beloved,
whom she sees, each time, coming closer and closer to her from great distances.
“Hark! My lover, here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
Come to me! Run to me; come to be with me,
to live with me, to become one with me.
My beloved one, come!
A commentary on this reading writes,
“The bride, who has first heard from very far away
the footsteps of the beloved on the heights of the mountains,
understands suddenly that he is inexplicably here.
For [them], there is no such thing as distance.” (Arminjon, The Cantata of Love, 171)
Pete and Kaitlyn,
yours has been a relationship marked, in many ways, by distance.
Your relationship only began because Kait, expecting to remain at a distance,
somewhat begrudgingly gave you a chance;
I believe she accepted your invitation with something along the lines of,
“what the hell, why not?”
And your relationship grew.
When Pete graduated, once again there was distance.
He went back to work near his hometown and Kaitlyn stayed in Champaign.
But still your love grew stronger.
Pete writes, “By the end of college, I had found myself deeply in love with this girl. And then came the year we spent apart. The twelve months were full of uncertainty, longing, sadness, and frustration, yet punctuated with glimmering days of joy, adventure, happiness, and calm, each day one closer to when we’d finally be able to see each other every day. Those months were hard, and it really tested our relationship. But Kait’s constant patience, love, and trust in me made me fall in love with her again—and over and over again.”
Finally, Kaitlyn graduated and the hope of being together
was finally realized, except this time it meant distance – a great distance, actually – from friends, family, and the lives you two had known.
Kaitlyn wrote about the decision to move together to Boston, to start a new life:
“He found out he got into Harvard in the spring. We were really excited, but also scared. I was so proud of him; to this day I don’t think I can put into words the respect and awe I have for this man. We were unsure what was going to happen. I remember only thinking about it for a short time – I knew what I would do. I told him I would happily move out to Boston to be with him, hands down. He tells me this is the moment he knew he would marry me. I had already known.”
That may have been the moment that Pete knew he would marry Kaitlyn, but now the moment when Pete will marry Kaitlyn has finally arrived.
The Christian understanding of what is about to happen has its foundation in the book of Genesis:
“The Lord God said:
It is not good for man to be alone.
I will make a helper suited to him.
So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals
and all the birds of the air,
and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them;
whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.
The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air,
and all the wild animals;
but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.
So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,
and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.
When he brought her to the man, the man said:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of man this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one body.” (Gen. 2:19-24)
From the very beginning, God could see that it was not good for man to be alone. He does the natural thing
an all-powerful, creative God would do:
creates a friend for the man.
But they don’t remain “just friends”;
God does something shocking: he creates man and woman to be so one,
so intimately united, as if, they had been formed from the very same flesh.
No, they do not remain simply acquaintances, partners in a garden.
They are one.
They leave everything they’d known behind in favor of their oneness.
Marriage is the sacrament of oneness.
Today, Kaitlyn and Peter, you are being welded together
by the grace of this sacrament.
The grace, the burning life of God
that has lived in you since baptism,
that has strengthened you since confirmation,
is being reinforced once again and your hearts are, in the realest way,
being fused together here and now
in the presence of all those you love
so that the two might be one;
that man and woman would leave father and mother,
and become one flesh.
This is, of course, one way of realizing
the very prayer of Jesus, “that they might be one.”
God is a trinity; God is a community;
God is three persons so intimately bound into one divine Godhead.
Your union is a mirror of the very union God himself.
Of course, the union of persons is only simple and without strain for God.
Human relationships, as we know,
are fraught with complication and sometimes painfulness.
But difficulty is necessary for knowing the full value of love,
and loving another person in truth, in vulnerability, in total-gift of self
is always worth the risk.
Peter and Kaitlyn: love is always worth the risk.
A very good friend of mine wrote me a letter about 6 months after her wedding, reflecting on the beginning of married life. She writes:
“The first few months of marriage have been both glorious and trying. And the glory and the challenge almost always appear in the same object. It is so beautiful to be so one with another – to plan, to love, to relax, to play, to pray as one and always together. Yet, it is that very working towards ‘oneness’ that is so frustrating. Two wills. Two intellects. We submit, and we conflict. We give, and we take. There are moments where we are so completely of one heart and mind that I feel like we are invisible against darkness, and those moments form a remembered foundation. But then there can be times where we just don’t understand where the other is coming from, and then it can be hurtful and divisive.”
There will be difficulties, indeed, but these will only bring you closer to each other if you let them. Remember the love you are professing to each other today, and be committed to it.
“Love is patient, love is kind.
it is not jealous, is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
When you are tempted toward impatience or rudeness with one another, remind yourself: “this is not love.”
When you are tempted to seek your own interest, or if you begin to feel jealous or like you might lose your temper, remind yourself: “this is not love.”
Rather, in those moments of difficulty, of strife, of worry, of concern, of pain, of division, say to yourself and to each other: “Bear this. Believe in Him. Never lose hope. Together, endure.”
Together, always together. Let that become the mantra of your new oneness borne today as the fruit of the sacrament which you will minister to each other.
From today until the hour of death, you two belong to one another.
Finally, today, is the day on which all distance is eradicated
and the only thing that lives now is
“My lover belongs to me and I to him,” says the Song of Songs.
Kaitlyn and Peter, may you set the other as a seal upon your heart;
“For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether-world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.”
Brothers and sisters, we see before us today two hearts. Two hearts whose fire is burning for the other. In a few moments, those two hearts will be fused together and they will leave this House of Prayer as one heart, and one mind, and one body; one flesh. How remarkable.
Kaitlyn and Peter, congratulations.
May God bring to fruitful completion what today is so wondrously begun in you.