If we were forewarned about anything in the seminary, it was those Saturdays when the parish has both a funeral and a wedding. Seemingly every semester, one of our professors would admonish us that these situations were coming. Then, as the stock plot went, the priest would emphasize the need for us to be prepared to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
Fair enough. No dispute. But…
It occurred to me today that there really isn’t so great a difference between the two celebrations. It’s often said that laughter and tears aren’t far apart. The same, I think, is true of weddings and funerals. Fundamentally, both weddings and funerals are celebrations of the Paschal Mystery. Does not the Paschal Mystery, itself, involve the Passion, Death, & Resurrection of the Lord? Mysteriously, life and death are not opposites. They are more like two faces of a single coin.
I had my first such Saturday within weeks of ordination. It admittedly makes for a strange day, but not a day that should place the priest in conflict. The Gospel is the same, whether we weep or rejoice. Our whole human experience is really participation in the Paschal Mystery—and that means both life and death.
In Holy Matrimony, two become one. In Christian death, we hope for the same.