Winning the Duel to the Death, Nuptial Mass for Jon Elordi and Megan McArdle, July 17, 2021
Fr. Roger J. Landry Church of St. Mary, Mother of God, Washington DC Nuptial Mass for Jon Elordi and Mairead McArdle Extraordinary Form July 17, 2021 Eph 5:22-33, Mt 19:3-6 To listen to an audio recording of the homily, please click below: https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/catholicpreaching/7.17.21_Homily_Elordi_McArdle_1.mp3 The following text guided the homily: When I asked Jon and Mairead, early in marriage preparation, how they understood the meaning of marriage, Mairead gave a beautiful description that illustrates both her deep knowledge of the faith and her journalistic skill to make profound realities intelligible with an economy of words. “Marriage,” she said, “means a lifelong, exclusive commitment, a permanent sacramental bond that makes a husband and wife one flesh. It comes with the responsibility to be open to children and care for all aspects of their well-being. It also means constant forgiveness.” When I asked Jon the same question, he surprised me by quoting G.K. Chesterton’s novel Manalive, which was an introduction not only to Jon’s faith but also to his experience in standup and improv comedy. “Marriage,” said, “is a duel to the death than no man of honor should decline.” Today we are all so happy to be present at the beginning of that happy duel, as Jon and Mairead make a commitment not to fight each other but become tag-team partners in the good fight of faith, as they seek to run the race, keep the faith and help each other earn the imperishable crown of righteousness that awaits all those who long for God (2 Tim 4:7-8). As Jon went on to say after borrowing from Chesterton, “Marriage, in essence, is a team sport to glorify God, a partnership to help spouses reach heaven and to raise children so that they may too get to heaven.” Today we are all here, together with the great cloud of witnesses of angels and the saints (Heb 12:1), to cheer you on to eternal victory and to help you however we can, beginning with our prayers. The holy duel of faithful, fruitful and indissoluble love that begins today has a long prehistory, one that goes back beyond Jon’s proposal to Mairead last December 20 inside the Church of the Holy Trinity in Poughkeepsie, New York. It goes back well before they met via CatholicMatch.com and began dating in July 2019. It goes back even further than when their parents, José and Mary, Thomas and Heidi, got the joy-filled news to expect them 30 and 28 years ago and brought them to the waters of baptism. The prehistory to their wedding extends back to even before God said “Let there be light.” And to understand the significance and beauty of this day, we need to see where it fits into God’s plan for them and for the world. When Jesus, in the Gospel we just heard, was asked about the nature of marriage, he took it back to the “beginning,” when God made them “made them male and female.” In the Book of Genesis, when God created Adam, Adam had God all to himself in the garden. All of creation had been made for him to govern. He was perfectly in right relationship with God. Even though he seemed to have everything one could ask for, something — more specifically, someone — was missing. And after God had said in the first six phases of creation, “It was good,” “It was good,” “It was good,” “It was good,” “It was good,” “It was good,” and with the creation of the human person, “It was very good,” God finally thundered, “It is not good…for man to be alone.” So he created Eve, a fitting partner, symbolically out of his side, to show that they stand side-by-side, equal, before him. When Adam saw her, he exclaimed, “Finally this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!,” a Hebrew idiom saying that they shared strengths and weaknesses. As Jesus reiterates in today’s Gospel, this is the reason why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh in love. The upshot of the Creation account is that God, who is love, has created the human person in his image and likeness … in love and for love. Since no one can love in a vacuum, God could not be solitary, there needed to be a Lover and a Beloved, and in God the eternal love between them was so strong as to take on personality. In creating the human person, therefore, God created not just a “him, male and female” but a “them,” a communion between man and woman, whose love for each other could be so strong as to “make love,” to generate new life, as a fruit of their loving communion of persons. From the first marriage of Adam and Eve, to your marriage today, Jon and Mairead, matrimony was created by God to be a sacrament of love, to help you to grow to be more and more like God and at the same time more fully human. Today you have not only received a Sacrament. Today you have become a Sacrament, a visible sign, as St. John Paul II used to say, pointing to the invisible reality of the Trinitiarian loving communion of persons. You have been called, chosen and commissioned by God to be not just a living reminder of the fruitful, faithful, indissoluble love of God and to reflect efficaciously in your own marriage Christ’s love for his bride the Church, but to preach that Gospel of human love in the divine plan, in words and in body language, for as long as you both shall live. St. Paul, in today’s epistle taken from his Letter to the Ephesians, gives you challenging advice about how to put the truth of Christian marriage into practice. He says to young couples of every age, “Be subordinate” or subject, or submissive, “to one another out of reverence for Christ.” He urges you to see the image of Christ in each other, to revere the other, and to serve the other with love. He tells husbands, “Love your wives even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her to make her holy.” Christ calls you, Jon, to love Mairead in this way, and he will give you the strength you need to do it, to love her by laying down your life for her in ways big and small, ordinary and extraordinary, to being willing even to be crucified to save her life in this world and forever. St. Paul tells wives, “Be subordinate to [your] husbands as to the Lord.” In other words, Mairead, he urges you to love Jon with a fervor similar to that with which you love Christ, and by your loving receptivity, to inspire him in his vocation to lay down his life for you not as a burden but with joy. I rejoice that the two of you are already acting on these challenging but life-giving Biblical imperatives. Love, you told me Mairead, “is a choice. It might be pleasant or excruciating, depending on the circumstance, but it is always a choice to care for the other person because you deeply desire their good.” You told me that one of the things you most appreciate about Jon is that he has clearly made that choice for you. “Jon took the time,” you said, “to understand me and continues to love me even knowing my flaws and weaknesses. Even when he’s not in the best of moods, his soft heard eventually gives him away every time. His decision to take me with him to Michigan when the pandemic began was a big sign to me of how strongly he feels about me. He makes meals for me when I’m sick or upset. He has stayed next to me when I have needed him even when I said he didn’t have to. He has inspired me to care better about my physical health, to stop smoking, to eat healthier, to get more sleep, to go to the doctor and dentist more frequently and to deepen my prayer life. He makes me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed. He is a good man whom I respect deeply. I am so impressed with the way he lives his life, and he has brought so much warmth, safety, and happiness.” Lest anyone think that Jon alone is competing in this duel, he himself said about his new wife, “I love her kindness. She has a big heart that amazes me. She cares. It’s striking when you have someone loving and caring that much about you. She’s motivating me to get in better shape. Her wonder and love blow my mind. We have amazing weird chemistry. We have jokes upon jokes. She’s an amazing woman. She’s my kind of weird. She’s also motivated me to learn more about my faith. I want her to get to heaven so badly that I want to do everything in my power to get her there. Learning and living the faith with her is the only way I see how to do that.” This duel to the death is, in fact, not two-way but three-way. Like Jacob wrestled with God at Penuel in the Book of Genesis (32), so your holy combat is also together with God and cannot be won without God. That’s why I’m so happy to see not only that each of you has a deep love for God but a great appreciation of how he is calling you to love him together. You go to Mass together each Sunday. You pray the Rosary together. You pray the Stations of the Cross together. You support each other in your commitment to chastity and living a moral life. You talk about and study the faith together. Even your proposal shows how you have made God the foundation of this good fight. I always ask couples how the proposal happened because it reveals a lot, particularly about the groom, but also a great deal about the dynamics of their relationship. Jon, your proposal not only shows your mutual faith but also your inimitable humor. For those who don’t know, the Year of St. Joseph began last December 8. One of the special plenary indulgences associated with the Year is for married and engaged couples who pray the Rosary together. So Jon, without telling the conditions for the indulgence, simply told Mairead that there was an indulgence for praying the Rosary together and asked if she would like to go to Holy Trinity Church to pray the Rosary and seek to obtain the special graces. She happily said yes. When they got to the Church to pray, before the statue of Saint Joseph, Jon said, “Let me double-check the requirements.” As he pulled them up, he then showed them to her, apologized, and said, “I made a mistake,” that the indulgence applied only to engaged and married couples. He paused. And then, with comedic timing, said, “Good thing I have this ring” and dropped to his knees. Their first act as an engaged couple was to pray the Rosary, in the Year of St. Joseph, as Mary and Joseph both prayed for them that they might indeed become a holy family. The greatest witnesses of all time to the duel to the death that is marriage is the Holy Family of Nazareth, who show us that this duel is meant to endure into eternity. There’s great meaning and fittingness to the fact that immediately after you have exchanged your vows, you and all of us are now celebrating this Nuptial Mass. The early Christians used to illustrate the reality between marriage and the Mass in their architecture, covering the altars with a baldachin or canopy just like ancient beds were covered, to communicate that the altar is the marriage bed of the union between Christ the Bridegroom and his Bride, the Church. Catholics believe that it’s here on this altar that we, the Bride of Christ, in the supreme act of love, receive within ourselves, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, the divine Bridegroom, becoming one-flesh with him and being made capable of bearing fruit with him in acts of love. This is the means by which Christ will regularly renew you, Mairead and Jon, in the indissoluble one flesh union he has formed of you today. This is the way by which you will receive within Christ’s love for you and become more capable of sharing that love with each other. This is the nourishment you will receive to finish the team sport you inaugurate today. Around this marriage bed of Christ’s union with the Church and with you, inspired by your faith, your family, your friends, and all the angels and saints join me in praying that the Lord who has begun this good work in you and brought you here to this altar will nourish your sacred vocation and bring it to completion. We ask the Lord never to stop blessing you with his holy, spousal love and, through the way that you share that love with each other, never to stop blessing us all. Praised be Jesus Christ! The readings for today’s Mass were: A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians Brothers and Sisters: Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband. The continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew Some Pharisees approached [Jesus], and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” The post Winning the Duel to the Death, Nuptial Mass for Jon Elordi and Megan McArdle, July 17, 2021 appeared first on Catholic Preaching.
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