A Bridal ‘Shower of Graces’

From a parishioner at St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring:

Bridal showers have been a tradition since the 16th century. Originally, the purpose was to raise a dowry for the bride’s family to give to the groom. It then became a way for female family members and friends to show their love and support for the bride-to-be by “showering” them, in particular, with material gifts that the bride may need as she starts her married life.

Recently, a young woman in the Diocese of Allentown (who would like to remain anonymous) became engaged to be married, and when she was asked about what type of bridal shower she would like, she responded, “Honestly, I’d rather go on a silent retreat!”

She explained that God had given her everything she needed – a reversion to her Catholic faith after several years of wandering and the clear understanding that her vocation was to be marriage, as God had introduced her to a wonderful man who was also striving to live his Catholic faith. She stated that they really wanted to focus on preparing for marriage spiritually during the months leading up to the wedding rather than materially.

The Bridal “Shower of Graces” Retreat was held at the McGlinn Conference and Spirituality Center, which is associated with the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters, Reading. It consisted of a continental breakfast, followed by a presentation by Sister Jean on the life of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, three particular saints who have inspired the future bride and groom.

This was followed by a time of reflection, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Holy Mass in the chapel, a luncheon, and a couple of fun, Catholic bridal shower games. In lieu of gifts, guests were asked to consider a donation to one of three organizations close to the bride’s heart: Lifeline of Berks County, Opportunity House, or The Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Fairfield.

The event was a huge success. One guest shared, “It was the most beautiful shower I have ever attended.” Another said, “I’ve never heard of anything like this.” The maid of honor commented, “It was such a beautiful, amazing day. I am just in awe.” Many of the guests expressed, “This needs to be the start of something.”

Father Thomas Bortz, who heard many confessions and offered the Mass, said, “This truly was a shower of graces. It was a special day we will always remember.”

Sister Shaun Kathleen and Sister Jean, who helped organize the day, both exclaimed, “It was an absolute delight.” In addition, an average of $1,000 was raised for each of the three organizations.

It is clear that not only will the bride and groom be abundantly blessed, but also those who participated in the preparations, those who attended, those who will receive the donations, and many more in the future. One guest expressed her feelings at the conclusion of the shower, “My heart is so full.”

May God “shower” the bride and groom with every grace and fill their hearts with the fire of His love, so that they can love each other as He has loved us; and if it is God’s will, may this truly be “the start of something” for future brides-to-be. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.