Wedding venue. Yes, a priest and a rabbi walk into a wedding venue.....not to compete, nor to compare, but to celebrate the love and unity of a bride and groom.
I had the honor of celebrating the marriage of an interfaith couple. The bride was Jewish and the groom was Catholic. The setting was at the St. Regis in Dana Point overlooking a beautiful golf course and the Pacific Ocean.
As a priest with Good Shepherd Church, we are allowed by our Bishop to celebrate a wedding ceremony not only at the venue of the couple's choosing, but we can also co-officiate with clergy of other denominations.
This unique celebration places the focus on the commonality between Judaism and Catholocism; and the various symbolic rituals of each faith add a wonderful richness to the experience of everyone present. Symbols of fire (Unity Candle), wine sharing, and even the Benediction all have elements found in both religious expressions.
Many people are unaware of the common elements of these two faiths. As Catholics, we KNOW that our roots are founded in Judaism, as Jesus was a Jew desiring reform in order to focus on love over the law. While we know this and accept it, many times we do not have the opportunity to EXPERIENCE it.
As a priest, I was able to have that experience myself and watch not only the bride and groom find unity in their love and faith expression, but also to sense their wedding guests find a common ground of love brought to them by a very special couple. The witness or sign of marital love can truly unite two people, two families and beyond that unite a group of over one hundred guests.
If this can happen in Dana Point, California, it can happen world wide. Religion was never meant to disconnect and discriminate but we have seen wars fought throughout the centuries fueled by relgious differences. All present at this wedding celebration were fueled by the love present.....and we left that experience connected and called to reach out to our brothers and sisters of all walks of life, and of all expressions of faith.
Thank you ,Tom and Lauren, for your loving example and for sharing your day with Rabbi Stan and myself.