Four building blocks of a rock-solid marriage: A homily for the wedding of Ewa & Garrett Schopp

12096185_10156143561070483_4935741686158020847_nIt is my distinct pleasure to welcome you all here on this special day. It is a day most of us saw coming from a long time ago. I feel graced to have known Eva for many years. I have to confess—and no offense, Garrett—but when I first met Garrett, I thought, “He doesn’t deserve her.” You still don’t. And Ewa, I suppose it’s also true that you don’t deserve Garrett. Our God is so good that he gives us so much more than we could ever deserve; he gives more than what we could ever dream to ask for. His generosity—we can see it in his gracious, gracious will for us. The first reading puts it this way: God gives us grace upon grace. Now, before I start telling embarrassing stories of how Ewa and Garret came to this day, I want to focus on THE ONE who brought these two together in the first place, the same one who will keep them together: Jesus Christ.

In our Gospel today, Jesus tells us that we must build our houses on solid rock. That might be a tall order for Ewa and Garrett, considering they decided to live on a beach in Hawaii for the rest of their lives. But we know what Jesus is talking about. We have to build our houses, our lives upon Him. Today, Garrett and Ewa, the walls of a new house are thrown up for you by our God. In this new marriage, in this new house, you will transform one another and sanctify one another. You will complete one another. The first reading talks about how the wife “puts flesh on [her husband’s] bones.” I love that imagery, and not just because it is Halloween season. I like that imagery because it insists that right now, neither of you is complete. You’re like skeletons. But in a few moments, by the power of God, you will become one flesh, one house. Today, Jesus in the Gospel tells you: Build your new house on rock. Build your marriage on him and it will never fall apart.

I want to suggest four things that are central to this solid rock foundation. In a wonderful way, they happen to be four things that have been very important for your journey together to this day. They all start with F: Faith, Family, Fiesta, and Food.

Faith. We all know that faith in and relationship with the Trinue God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is the most important thing in our lives. A wise old man I visit in the nursing home has a favorite phrase. He says, “Thank God we have God in our lives.” It’s true. Without God, our lives are apt to fall apart. There’s a beautiful line of poetry that says, “Love moves the sun and the other stars.” It’s the last line of Dante Alighieri’s Paradisio. It came to mind partly because your first date was stargazing. What Dante is saying is that it is God who holds all things together, that animates everything—even the movement of the stars. I’m sure you’ve heard that ancient Christian hymn in Colossians: “Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The Lord will hold together your love, your marriage, your family. Have faith in him always.

The second part of that rock foundation is family. Pope Francis was just here in the US the other week. He said that family is the most beautiful thing in the world, “the best thing God did.” He so loves the family that he came into the world into a family. Today, Ewa and Garrett, today you start a new family, or at least a new branch. This is an exciting thing. You know, the pope called the family a factory—a factory that produces love (the same love we read about in the second reading—that thing that believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, etc.), a factory that produces hope. If the family produces those things, the bigger the better! I feel like I might as well say it: have a big family. Garrett has already named two of them (on the second date): Patangarang and Superfly. God help them!! Maybe after those two you can name them normal names.

The third part of the rock solid foundation is fiesta. We Christians, we know there is a lot to celebrate in this life. We are not gloom and doom people; we are the resurrection people and Alleluia is our song, as JPII so wonderfully said. God has given us so much. The angels in heaven constantly praise God, and we join with them at every Mass when we sing their very words, words recounted for us in scripture: HOLY, HOLY LORD GOD OF HOSTS. God has given us so much, we must celebrate it. Celebrate one another often. Celebrate your accomplishments, your love, your children, your anniversaries, your birthdays, your half birthdays, your friends, your dog, your everything. Celebrate it all and thank God for it. I’m pretty sure Ewa and Garrett won’t have a problem in this area. Garrett recounted for me how, even though they had had mutual friends telling them they were perfect for each other, they never actually met until a soccer game their freshman year in high school. Ewa came up to Garrett and, without introducing herself or anything, asked him to host a party. He, of course, said yes. They forgot to exchange numbers, so Garrett looked her up on Myspace and gave her his number. The first text I got from her was “So about the party…” She has always been very direct when she wants something. I hope you say those words to each other often: “So about the party…”

The last part of the solid rock foundation Jesus commands you to have is food. It may seem strange to mention food, but I don’t think so. Especially after last night’s Polish feast! Now not every meal is so fancy. The first dinner Garrett made for her was spaghetti. Classy. But he forgot to add salt to it, but Ewa was too shy to tell him it needed some so she forced it down. Always force it down. Eat together. Cook for one another, and don’t forget the salt. I guess I say all this because food is extremely important in Scripture and in our tradition. Think about the importance of the Passover meals, the importance of the Last Supper, the duplication of the loaves and fishes, the wedding feast at Cana. The sharing of meals is a sacred thing; it has a unique power to draw people together. Eat well and remember to leave a space for the Lord at your every table.

OK—that it for your solid rock foundation: faith, family, fiesta, and food. Keep all that in your marriage and you’ll be alright. More than alright.

I want for you two to recall your first date. Garrett—if you can’t remember, you went stargazing. Neither of your probably remembers what the stars looked like since you were so preoccupied and enthralled by one another. But the stars were there. The stars, the universe—this marriage was written in the plan for the world since its start. Your marriage has been written in the skies for a long, long time. Today it happens. But I want you to promise us something. I want you to promise us that you will lie beneath the sky many times in your lives. I want you to promise that when there are bumpy patches along the way of your marriage, that you will look up to the sky and see in the stars a loving God who loved you enough to give you each other even though you don’t deserve one another, a God who loves you enough that he promises to hold your marriage together forever if you let him, a God who promises to shower grace upon grace in your lives and in your family.