Translation Louise Thunin
Two friends who have shared their lives for many years invite me to their marriage ceremony at the town hall, and I gladly accept. A few weeks before the ceremony, one of them says to me : « Would you agree to say a blessing that day ? » I’m a bit shaken at first, then agree, thinking with pride that I belong to a Church which has recently opened its arms to all those who love one another.
On this special day there are many guests and the atmosphere is relaxed in front of the presiding official. A dinner is to be held in a restaurant in honor of what the newlyweds call « a surprise »… Everyone is there on time. I’ve got a Bible ready, since our tradition is to give one at every important occasion on our path of faith. I have donned my ministerial robe. The DJ puts on Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah. The atmosphere is meditative.
There are words of welcome, a Bible reading followed immediately by a delcaration of love expressed by the newlyweds in front of the group, standing. A prayer is taken from the words of a hymn : You who love those who love, for You are love, in our lives, as in a poem, make love sing. Yes, these words are said with a will to « consecrate », that is, to bless. Since it is right and good to remember always to bless one another, I place my hands on the shoulders of the newlyweds, asking the witnesses as well to place their hands on the men’s shoulders and on mine. I suggest that all the guests place one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. Everyone agrees to participate in this benevolent chain. A fragile breath is present in this place that has suddenly become a house of God for all.
We may remember The Diary of a Country Priest, by Georges Bernanos. The priest is weary. His bishop has visited him and is about to leave. At that point, the priest humbly asks the bishop to bless him. And the bishop refuses in a way, by expressing this surprising reversal, « No, it’s you who are suffering, it’s up to you to bless me ! » This sentence, which mocks traditional mores in order to reach the essence of what makes us human, has always touched me. Yes, more than ever, we need to learn to bless one another, with conviction, always. We need to learn to grow, by grace, as we applaud the joy of loving.
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