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On today’s entry, Deacon Steve Greco is excited to welcome married couple Deacon Angelo and Cindy Giambrone to the program. They have been married for more than 37 years; hence, they bring a lot of life experience to the table. They will be sharing about the joys and the challenges of married family life on their new podcast launch called “Wedding Banns.” You’ll be able to hear it on Spirit Filled Radio ( and on podcast exclusively (

Listen in, and get some practical tips on how you can enhance your marriage!





Originally broadcast on 11/21/21


The Francis family from Irvine graces the cover of the June 24 issue of OC Catholic. Their story is both sweet and inspiring. It’s a love story on many levels. Love for each other, evidenced by their four beautiful children. Love for God, as explained in our cover story by wife and mother Elaina Francis. And a newfound love for the Catholic faith as Elaina returns, this time with her family, to the Church. 

In front of family and friends the couple had their marriage blessed last month at St. John Neumann in Irvine. On the same occasion they had all four children baptized. In a very special moment their oldest son Otis stood on the altar and read the first reading for the service. Perfectly. 

As I watched from my pew the exchange of vows, followed by the four baptisms, I couldn’t help but smile. The Francis children now have the foundation on which to grow in their faith–something that so many others their age are missing out on.  

Today’s young people, ages 3 to 18, have been called the “unchurched” generation. According to the Barna Group, a research organization that focuses on faith issues, today an unprecedented 35 percent of young people under age 18 claim to be agnostic, atheist or unaffiliated with any religion. This, in a day and age when depression, anxiety and suicide rates among this age group are on the rise. 

So why don’t the parents of this “unchurched” generation, many of whom express a sense of helplessness when it comes to protecting their children in today’s world, make the connection? 

As parents, we do everything we can to help our kids grow physically. We feed them well. We make sure that they get their vaccinations and have regular checkups. We nurture their intellect by reading to them, helping them with homework and even paying tutors to help them make the grade. But what about their souls? 

And that excuse, the one that goes something like: “I’m waiting until they grow up so they can decide what religion they want to practice,” I don’t subscribe to that. It’s like saying, “I’m waiting until they grow up so they can decide what vegetable they want to eat.” Just as their bodies need nourishment, so too, does their spirituality. 

The Francis family, whose journey has led them back to the Catholic Church, is an inspiring one. Elaina and her husband Kedric are an example of faith to their children. Their children will be able to draw on their own faith to better navigate this world and, hopefully, at the end of their own life journeys, earn their way into the next.  


Right about now, engaged couples are beginning the countdown that leads up to their spring and summer weddings. The church was reserved well in advance and the wedding date was announced with “save-the-date” cards months ago. Bridal gowns have already been carefully selected, and second and third fittings have been scheduled to assure a perfect fit. Reception sites were booked long ago. And plane tickets for the honeymoon have been purchased – all the makings of a perfect wedding. I know. My son is getting married.

Every couple wants their wedding day to be among the most memorable in their lives. And it should be (until, of course, the children come along). But so many of today’s young people are solely focused on the day itself – on the wedding, instead of the marriage. That’s why I’m so grateful for the workshops and retreats conducted by the Office of Pastoral Care for Families in All Stages. Under the leadership of Director Michael Donaldson, young couples planning to be married in the Catholic Church are required to complete a marriage preparation course. I think the course should be required of anyone who gets a marriage license, regardless of faith, to help better prepare them for what is ahead.

My son and his betrothed recently attended the weekend course at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach. He shared how valuable the course content was for he and his fiancé. For one weekend, the focus was on the marriage and not the wedding. Each couple had an opportunity to delve into topics that better prepare them for life together. From communication skills to family finance to love – long married couples shared their experiences, both positive and negative, with those about to be wed. And interestingly, while faith and the couple’s relationship with the Lord was a topic of importance, most of the coursework dealt with the practical aspects of marriage itself. The information was accessible, realistic and could be easily applied to one’s individual circumstances. A debt of gratitude is owed to the volunteer couples that shared their lives openly, in hopes of helping couples thrive in their married lives.

I remember attending such a marriage preparation course with my husband before we were married in Holy Spirit Parish. The marriage prep topics were similar, and I still remember a bit of what was shared. Oh, I remember the other things, too: the excitement of waking up on the morning of my wedding, walking down the aisle on my father’s arm, entering the ballroom for our reception on my new husband’s arm to a roomful of guests. Sweet memories of that single day, but nothing in comparison to the life we have shared for nearly 37 years. All the while, feeling supported and nurtured by our faith community.


There is something old and also something new in the Order of Christian Matrimony, the latest updated version of the wedding ritual in the Catholic Church.

“The new ritual gives us an expanded theological reflection in the introduction to the ritual text that will allow priests and those in ministry to offer couples additional insights and avenues to enrich the celebration of matrimony and marriages,” says Lesa Truxaw, director for the Diocese’s Office for Worship. All parishes in the United States must begin implementing the changes by December 30, 2016.

The first major change is the title of the ritual itself – the Order of Christian Matrimony. It used to be referred to as the Rite of Marriage.

“The distinction is that the ritual itself is called the Rite of Matrimony. That’s for the celebration itself. Marriage is what happens from that day on,” explains Father Troy Schneider, who works with Truxaw to offer workshops to those in the diocese involved in the marriage preparation ministry and educate them on the changes to the ritual.

The new ritual also includes an expanded Praenotanda, or opening rites. The old version had 18 paragraphs. The new ritual has 44 paragraphs that give a deeper explanation of the theology of marriage.

“It describes the dignity and importance of the sacrament of matrimony,” says Father Schneider. “In addition to that, the regular readings that are offered for the rite of matrimony have also been expanded.”

The new ritual also gives music a bigger role in the celebration of matrimony.

“There is a lot more influence in music being involved,” says Fr. Schneider. “They’ve included areas for music in the community to sing together besides just the introduction, communion and the dismissal. Now there are other places for music.”

Another major change is the cultural adaptations in the English version of the rite. This includes the blessing or giving of the arras, or coins, and the blessing of the lazo, or veil. Although this has already been in practice for several years in the Spanish version of the rite for use in the United States, it is now officially offered as an option for couples in the English version.

“This would help for those celebrations where they might be two cultures coming together or for the younger people who aren’t as comfortable in Spanish and want to be able to celebrate the ritual in English but find the culture a rich expression of what they wish their marriage to be like,” explains Truxaw.

The exchange of coins represents that the couple now shares everything and the veil placed upon the bride and the groom symbolizes their union.

The most significant change is the emphasis on pastoral care in preparation for marriage and the sacrament of matrimony.

“It puts a lot of emphasis on the people preparing — priests, deacons or lay ministers — who are preparing the couple,” says Father Schneider. “For example, it speaks of the necessity of proper marriage preparation for the bride and groom, speaking on the dignity of marriage, the need for prayer together, the need for explaining that they are entering into a covenant, versus a contract. The emphasis that marriage is a covenant that lasts your whole life.”

The Diocese requires couples to first contact their parish six months to one year prior to their wedding date. Once approved, the priest or deacon will meet with them several times before their wedding date. The couple is also required to attend one of the marriage preparation programs offered by their parish.

Michael Donaldson, director of the Diocese’s Office of Pastoral Care for Families in All Stages, which oversees all of the marriage preparation programs, formed a committee to help him take marriage preparation a step further.

“We want to be more intentional at an earlier stage in life. We are trying to see how we can revitalize our marriage ministries and really realize that we are waiting too late for marriage prep,” he says. “The new marriage preparation, the marriage preparation that we should be doing is building up our current marriages because our wives and our husbands, our mothers and fathers really are the first teachers of what a true and healthy marriage looks like to children. So if children can learn those virtues within a healthy family, then that will carry on, and then we can be more intentional with our religious education and faith formation programs and we hope that by the time they actually get to the marriage preparation class, they would have already developed those virtues so that what we would be doing is just solidifying what they’ve already been informed in.”

There are several marriage preparation programs to choose from. The programs cover topics such as healthy sexual intimacy, communication, understanding marriage as a covenant, to name a few.

“Some of that theology is really important because it helps set the tone for their journey together,” explains Donaldson.



Historically, the shape of a ring has always been a symbol of eternity. However, the customs of the wedding ring evolved significantly over time.

The origin of the wedding ring dates back thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, where evidence was found on relics that showed braided rings of hemp being used as bonds between married couples. The practice later spread to Europe where the ring was typically made of iron and only worn by the bride, symbolizing that she was now the groom’s possession. Eventually, silver and gold replaced iron because of how it easily rusted. By the 16th century, gimmel or gimmal rings became popular in Europe as betrothal rings. When couples became engaged, each person would wear an interlocking gimmel band. On their wedding day, the rings were joined as one band and would be worn by the bride.

Although women wearing the wedding band can be traced back several centuries, the practice of men wearing a wedding ring is somewhat recent. It wasn’t until World War II that married soldiers who were away from their wives for long periods of time, began wearing wedding rings as reminders of the love waiting for them at home and as a symbol of hope during a dark period.

In the Catholic Church, the wedding ring is one of the blessed symbols in the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony.

“In a lot of traditions, the rings were a very big symbol because they wanted to show a material manifestation of that bond,” says Father Troy Schneider, parochial vicar of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange. “With Catholics it’s always been about consent. That’s a priority. It’s when they say, ‘Yes, I want to marry you and I’m doing this freely.’ Or ‘Yes, I want to have children with you and I’m doing this freely and I will love and honor you for the rest of your life.’ Those words being spoken and lived out by the couple in the Catholic tradition surpasses the rings. The ring is a reminder to them of their consent, of their vows. So in the Catholic tradition, it’s not a sign of possessing each other. It’s about the vows that were exchanged and a reminder of those vows are the rings which manifest that.”

The ring is just one of the powerful and meaningful symbols in a wedding ceremony.

“The language of ritual and liturgy is always the language of sign and symbol,” explains Monsignor Arthur Holquin, pastor-emeritus of Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano. “Signs and symbols play a biblically important role in helping to understand the meaning of important moments. For example, in the sacrament of baptism, there is water. In the Eucharist, bread and wine. And in the anointing of the sick, oil. The ring, which is a traditional element of the wedding ritual, is not the primary symbol of marriage. The primary symbol is the bodily presence of the husband and wife who give and receive the sacrament to each other.”

So, where does the ring fit in?

“Well as in many sacraments, these moments are enriched by the symbols that help to bring out the significance of the primary symbol and one of those secondary symbols is the ring,” explains Monsignor Holquin.

What isn’t important is the size of the stone or whether silver or gold. Rather, the vows exchanged and the commitment made with each other hold a much deeper meaning.

“I often say to a couple on the day of their marriage, that as the rings are blessed, the words of the blessing indicate the meaning. The blessing says that these rings are a sign of your love and fidelity and that people in love make signs of love and the wedding ring is a sign of your commitment,” Holquin says. “Every time you look upon that ring or others look upon it, they will know that you belong in love and fidelity to another and that it is a perpetual reminder to you of that biblical covenant and that loving bond that you have forged with one another in Christ.”


Wedding ring trends


Late 1920s: White gold made its introduction into wedding ring fashion.

1930s: Art Deco influenced rings became the trend.

1940s: Yellow and rose gold bands were commonly used.

1945: The “War Bride Ring” was the only option for soldiers to choose from during the rationing of precious metals during the war.

1950s–60s: White gold and platinum rings became popular in the postwar era.

1960s–70s: Emerald-cut, pear, marquise and heart-shaped diamonds were in trend and platinum remained popular.

1970s–80s: Fancy shaped diamonds continued to be popular and the gold setting became trendy.

1990s–2000s: A radiant cut diamond set with triangular side stones becomes fashionable.

2000s–10s: The princess cut diamond gains popularity.

2010s–present: Platinum bands with a “halo” mounting and fancy colored diamonds are the new trend.


Sources: ‘100 Years of Engagement Rings’, ‘Engagement Ring Trends Throughout the Decades’