A June Bride - What I Didn't Know

In 1991, I married my boyfriend of 6 years.  On June 8th, it will be our 22nd anniversary. That girl, in some ways, is so different from me today. The Sacramental events of that day played a large part in my transformation.

What I didn't know, very well, was my faith. And yet, we were married in a Cathedral Basilica...and today that means so much to us! We are strengthened by the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage. (Also see Catechism at bottom) Our faith...the beauty of such Churches that elevate one's hearts and minds to God are now of monumental importance to us, the architecture that upholds and supports us.  Today, it's a passion of mine to photograph the Mass, Sacraments, and Churches.
"basilica is an architectural term for a certain style of building, and, as is often the case in Catholicism, the basilica comes to us from the Romans. When the ancient Romans spoke of a basilica they were referring to a large, high-ceilinged hall with three long aisles. " source

The Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul is majestic and traditional looking. In its name there's St. Peter and its Baldachin reminds me of St. Peter's in Rome.  What I didn't know is how much I would grow to embrace traditional Catholicism, how Rome would take a place in my heart and define a path for me here. How like St. Peter and St. Paul, I would turn my life over to Him. Certainly the degree does not compare...O, to be as filled with faith and purpose as those two saints!

The canopy, or baldachin, over the altar is of Antique Italian marble. It stands thirty-eight feet high and is surmounted by a semi-circular bronze dome. The underside of the dome is a marble mosaic. Its central figure is a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The mosaic carries in Latin an inscription which translates: “In every place there is offered and sacrificed in My Name a clean oblation.” At the corners of the baldachin stand ten foot high white Italian marble Angels. Its decorative rosettes are of Botticino marble." source

Coming back to my faith, I always felt it was the Holy Spirit that  began that process. Reading the above description, of the dome we were married under, I see how He was truly above us on our wedding day, with us....Three to Get Married.  But, I also attribute so much of my transformation to earnest prayers I made to His "spouse," the Blessed Mother, as I knelt before a statue of Our Lady on our wedding day.  What I didn't know is how we would grow to love and honor her, how she would bring us closer to her Son. Totus Tuus.

We did not have the faith we have today. But, looking back, we see God's guiding hand in it all. There are moments in your life that stand still. Perhaps your guardian angel whispers to you, "This is it...take notice." I remember when I met my husband at a summer job working at a local radio station. It was his first job out of college and he was a producer of 3 talk shows.  I was just a college intern.  My boss introduced us and my future beloved hopped off a desk top he was casually seated on and came toward me to shake my hand....

"N O T I C E ....This is it." 

I didn't hear my guardian angel whisper it to me, but something happened. Time froze.  It's still so present to me, the image of that moment in my mind. We shook hands and smiled at each other. I remember thinking why does this feel important?  We dated for the years I still had left in college and then he decided to go back for an MBA and I went to NYC to work as an agent for a top modeling agency. What we DID know is that we'd get married someday. He told me so the first time he visited me in my feminist, 7 Sister's college after our summer together. When he graduated Grad school and was hired by the same company he still works for today we got engaged and I came home from NYC. 

As much as I loved the city, it was easy for me to leave it for our new life.  Part of me knew that it would be different, certainly more real than the world I was in. But what I didn't know was the MILES of experience I would cross to the down-to-earth jobs in HR and marketing, and then to the job of embracing motherhood and wanting to stay home with my precious child. Then, when another was born and his older brother already loved him so fiercely... I knew there was something Supernatural to all the love....and I thanked God. We wanted more children, and to raise them Catholic as we had promised before God and all our loved ones on our wedding day. What I didn't know was that our children would finally make me grateful in a real way.  

A way that points to God. 

(Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17)

Getting back to that photo from our wedding day, as we prayed to the Ave Maria being sung, I do remember that moment too...it also stands out.  So much of the wedding day is about the dress and the plans; I was very attached to that. To honor tradition, I did have a separate bouquet made to place before Mary during the nuptial Mass but...for some reason...I also snapped a white rose (my favorite) from my bouquet to add as an offering. I remember coming down from the altar area and around to the side where Mary's statue and votive candles were and before the marble railing, there on the burgundy leather kneeling pad...was dirt....

Dried mud

In my mind I hesitated for a moment....my beautiful, white dress! If I knelt I would ruin it. But those thoughts left me. On the wedding video there is no hesitation. I see myself kneel.  I see myself pray.  And I remember praying like I had never prayed before. Notice...this is it...  I asked this beautiful woman  - who I didn't really KNOW - to pray for me...for my marriage....

And just now... reading this over...another realization!. Angel, are you whispering to me? What I didn't know...even till now... was that the dirt means something. So does the stain.

And how she would bless us! The gentle woman has led us in her motherly way to greater devotion, greater faith and a desire to know, love and serve her Son. To an openness to life, to books and people, to experiences, to priests who love her too. She lifted us from that moment....in the dirt....and brought us to today. 

Only Immaculate Mary can present a spotless gift to her Son. She takes our prayers and makes them beautiful before bringing them to Jesus. She interceded for us both. For my husband, her beads are always in his fingers ...at adoration of Jesus...in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, his daily priority. And we love her ...grow to know her more each day...and we love our Catholic faith, strive to know it. 

It gives real meaning to our lives. THIS   WE   KNOW.   Yes....Totus Tuus

Giving thanks to Our Lord & Our Lady, for this day and all the days...
In sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, 
in good times and in bad, 
till death do us part.

CCC - The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony
1641 "By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God."147 This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children."148
1642 Christ is the source of this grace. "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony."149 Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,"150 and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:
How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? . . . How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.151
Prayer asking for Mary's Intercession

Holy Virgin Mary, there is no one like thee born in the world among women,

Daughter and Handmaid of the Most High King, the Heavenly Father,

Mother of Our Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ,

Spouse of the Holy Spirit:

Pray for us with St. Michael the Archangel
and all the powers of Heaven and all the Saints
before thy Most Holy and Beloved Son, the Lord and Master.

Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, ... 


Laura said...

What a beautiful story, Allison,and what a beautiful bride you were. Oh how blessed we are to have been guided by Mary from our former selves to the women we are today. If God had not intervened 20 years ago, I don't know where we would be today. God bless you and your marriage.

Laura O in AK said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story and the transformation in your faith. That's a lovely church and the photos are fantastic.

Billie Jo said...

What a beautiful love story, Allison...both of you and your husband, and you and your faith.

Happy Anniversary to a fellow June 1991 bride! My husband and I will celebrate 22 blessed years together June 29th.

Have a wonderful day!

Barb said...

Is it just me or is the statue of Mary glowing in that picture? I see light radiating out from it....
Beautiful story!

Kim said...

beautiful bride and beautiful story. I have a june anniversary too :)

Nancy Shuman said...

I was already wrapped up in the beauty of this when I read of the introduction to your future husband. Then I think I literally gave a little gasp at "N O T I C E ....This is it." ..."something happened. Time froze. It's still so present to me, the image of that moment in my mind..." The very same thing happened to me when I met my husband. No words in my mind, but you have described the sense perfectly. I've told others about this kind of "reverse deja vu," this sense I could never put into words. But I have met no one else, ever, with a similar experience. Until now.

Have a BLESSED anniversary!

Mom2Seven said...

I agree... a beautiful bride AND a beautiful story! +JMJ+

Anabelle Hazard said...

So beautiful! I'm going to add this love story to my collection of catholic love stories. Our Lady is our glue and incidentally our anniversary is a day before yours on a different year.

Christine said...

God is good.

Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing AND you are the most beautiful bride evah.

me..I had no tan, faded because we had a sept. wedding, my hair was too blond and in my white dress I looked all bleached out.

I personally think dark hair, brown eyes make the prettiest brides.

I have also been transformed in so many good ways..prayers answered.

Allison said...

Thanks, friends! Today is the day and I am so grateful for this man and our life.

Grateful also for your kind words and friendship. Happy Anniversary (early) Billie Joe and Kim. Ladies, God bless your marriages. I will offer a special prayer for all of you today.

Barb - the photo is a transfer from the wedding video and in the video the statue is almost blurred out from light, indistinguishable features. Don't know why...but the filter for bringing it from video to still brightened the statue.

Nancy - I read your incredible piece about the ocean and I am further convinced we are soul sisters. Ha ha.

Anabelle, thank you so much for adding our love story as #23 on your list. What an amazing compilation!

Christine, as you are one of the prettiest woman alive I can only imagine that your wedding photo is a stunning AS YOU STILL ARE today!

Love to all,

Patty said...

Oh, how God is so good all the time, isn't He?? What a beautiful and lovely post, Allison! The Basilica is just gorgeous and the truth in your words...so many young couples should read it and take note! God bless you and your beloved on your anniversary and always!

Christina said...

Happy Anniversary, Allison and Steve. This is such a beautiful post. So glad that God led us to park next to you at St. Patrick's these many years ago. You've touched our lives in so many ways! God bless you!

RAnn said...

Happy Anniversary. Beautiful dress.

Valarie said...

This is cool!

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