The bridal procession was not what they expected it to be.
Two emotionally disheveled families filled either side of the church’s long center aisle. Bridesmaids and groomsmen had already stepped to the altar rail, and the groom himself stood at the sanctuary steps, facing the back of the church in anxious anticipation.
The wedding guests were also eager for the bride to make her appearance. They tuned their ears for the Bridal March. It was a hot summer day, and the afternoon light slowly drifted in through the high stained-glass windows. The room was murmuring with excited whispers: “How have you been?” “Have you met the groom?” “Have you seen her dress?” “When is she coming?”
When the music began, they were all taken by surprise.
Across the vaulted ceiling of the open church, a woman’s voice soared: clear and pure as crystal, giving voice to a chant of faithfulness and love, filling the space and the hearts of everyone gathered with ancient words: “May the God of Israel join you together…” Everyone rose and turned as the processional crucifix came down the aisle with the scent of swinging incense and the rustle of the priest’s golden robe.
The families, the wedding party, and the guests all edged closer to the aisle to see the bride. She was gently smiling, covered in a veil of lace, illuminated by the Church’s voice. The congregation’s thoughts were swept up in the hymn: “The wedding feast of the Lamb has begun, and his Bride is prepared to welcome him.”
She held and defied everyone’s gaze; to mother and father, sisters and brothers, family and friends, she was the same, yet different. The ritual veil of the liturgy revealed a new depth of who she was and of who she was becoming. As she made her way to the sanctuary, it seemed that they were all together entering a land foreign and familiar, catching traces of an unheard language, looking toward a newly approaching horizon.
As the cross entered the sanctuary, she lowered her eyes to meet her husband-to-be. Faithful and steadfast, he stood waiting to receive her. The two joined hands and turned to enter the sanctuary as the church cried out, “…the Lord bless you forever more.”
Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., Inside St. Casimir’s (used with permission).