A Second Chance

Table Of Contents



Chapter I



Balian stood on the balcony in his home of Ibelin. Memories from his life-altering experience the year before flooded his mind. He had been the blacksmith of a small French village. He was also mourning the death of his wife, who had committed suicide. Their child had died (cause of death is unknown). She had committed suicide because she couldn’t bear the grief of losing her child. Now Balian was a knight & the Baron of Ibelin. He remembered his father, Godfrey, who he barely knew. He remembered killing the village priest in a rage when he mocked him. He remembered so many men died because he killed a priest. He remembered his father was shot by an arrow and later died from it. He remembered his father knighting him and passing his title and property onto him. 


Balian got up, tucking his deceased wife's cross under his shirt. He went inside. He was told to change into the simple white robe he was given. He complied. He was led down a hallway by the sergeant.  The sergeant peeked through a set of curtains before turning to glance at Balian. "Hurry," He urged and proceeded through the curtains with quick steps. Balian followed him. Several knights flanked Balian, following him with slower steps. The sergeant stopped in front of the next set of curtains. “I can go no further.” He said. He held the curtain open for him. Balian entered the room alone while the sergeant and the knights remained behind the curtains. His father sat on a chair in front of an altar laden with lit candles. The Knight Hospitaller who was loyal to his father stood on his father’s left side. There was another man on his father’s right side.  There were two knights, one behind the man on Godfrey's right and one behind the Knight Hospitaller. “Get on your knees.” The Knight Hospitaller said with a nod to the spot in front of Godfrey.  His demeanor was as grim as the sergeant's was. 

Balian complied, taking a step forward and kneeling on both knees before his father. The two men on either side of Godfrey helped him stand up.

"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath.” Godfrey said. Godfrey’s voice was hoarse. 

He took off his ring with trembling hands and offered it to his son, who took it without hesitation. With the last of his strength, Godfrey backhanded Balian hard across the face. Balian's head flew to the side from the force of the slap as the Hospitaller leaned away from Godfrey to avoid getting hit in the process. 

The beautiful and distinctive Sword of Ibelin was lying on a table beside the Knight Hospitaller, who picked it up and gave it to Godfrey.  Godfrey offered the sword to Balian. Balian took it and gazed at the weapon with a combination of uncertainty and awe. 

"Rise a knight and Baron of Ibelin," The Hospitaller affirmed.  Balian rose with the sword. Godfrey started to fall forward, but Balian caught him. Godfrey placed his hand on Balian's cheek. 

"Defend the King. And if the King is no more, protect the people." Godfrey told Balian in a whisper. The dying knight and noble withdrew his hand from Balian’s face and sat back down again. 

"It's time now, my lord, to confess to holy God, not your son. Are you sorry for all your sins?" The Hospitaller inquired as he put a hand around Godfrey's shoulder. 

"For all but one," Godfrey answered as he gazed at his son and heir. With a sigh, Godfrey of Ibelin let his head lean against the Hospitaller's stomach and fell asleep in the hope of the Resurrection.


He remembered traveling to Jerusalem. He remembered going to Ibelin. He remembered improving Ibelin. He remembered receiving orders to protect the peasants in danger at Kerak and charging against the Saracen cavalry. He remembered having to fight a battle to protect the people of Jerusalem from the Saracens. He surrendered the city to Saladin, the King of the Saracens in exchange for the safe evacuation of Christians. Thanks to King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, Jerusalem was back in Christian hands. Balian was a noble and knight to a Christian King of Jerusalem again. Balian looked down at the ring on his finger. His love, Sibylla, joined him on the balcony. Sibylla had been Princess and then Queen of Jerusalem and several other cities. She had renounced her claim. Balian could no longer ignore his love for her. “I love you, Sibylla.” Balian said. “I love you, Balian.” Sibylla said. Balian decided to give love a second chance. He decided to propose soon. He was happy here in Ibelin. 




Chapter II


Balian went to a jeweler in Jerusalem and purchased a gold ring. He returned to Ibelin. Later that night, he was having dinner with Sibylla. “Where did you go today, my love?” Sibylla asked. “I went to Jerusalem to buy something special.” replied the Baron. “What did you buy?” “It’s a surprise for later.” Balian answered. Days passed. One night after dinner, Balian and Sibylla were spending the night together. Balian got down on one knee and took Sibylla’s hands. “Sibylla, I love you with all my heart and soul. I can’t live without you. I know I refused the opportunity to marry you last year. I can’t do it again. Will you do me the honor of becoming Baroness of Ibelin?” Sibylla gasped. “Yes!” She squealed. Balian pulled out the ring and slipped it on her finger. 




Chapter III


A few months passed and the wedding day arrived. Balian and Sibylla were excited, nervous, and happy that the fateful day had finally come. Balian was in his room getting ready. He wore his Ibelin armor. A servant strapped the belt with his distinctive sword around his waist. There was a knock on the door. “Enter.” Balian said. Almaric, Balian’s loyal second in command, came in. “It’s time, my lord.” He said. Balian left the room and Almaric followed him. 


Balian waited at the altar in the chapel in Ibelin. His friend, the Knight Hospitaller, stood on his left. The Hospitaller had agreed to marry him and Sibylla. Almaric stood on his lord’s right side. The pews of the chapel were filled with as many of the inhabitants of Ibelin as the chapel had room for. The groom didn’t want to make the rest of his people occupy standing room in the chapel. The former Princess and Queen of Jerusalem agreed with her soon-to-be husband. So the rest of Ibelin’s inhabitants waited outside. 



Tiberias entered with Sibylla, who wore a beautiful white dress and veil. She held a bouquet of flowers in her hand. Tiberias walked Sibylla down the aisle. When they reached Balian, Tiberias placed Sibylla's hand in Balian's hand. The Hospitaller began the Wedding Mass by leading all faithful Christians present in the Sign of the Cross. Since the life-changing events the previous year, the groom had begun to regain his faith in God. 



Then, the Hospitaller said, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


Every Christian present responded, “And with your spirit." 


The Hospitaller addressed everyone present. “Welcome, all of you. We are gathered here today for one of the happiest occasions in all human life, to celebrate before God the marriage of a man and woman who love each other. Marriage is a most honorable estate, created and instituted by God, signifying unto us the mystical union, which also exists between Christ and the Church; so too may this marriage be adorned by true and abiding love.” 


He paused and then spoke again. “Who is it that brings this woman to this man?” 


Tiberias, who was still standing beside the bride, spoke up. “I do, in the place of her dearly departed brother.”


“Very well.” The Hospitaller responded. 


Sibylla handed her bouquet to Tiberias, who went to take his seat in the front pew. Everyone sat down while Balian and Sibylla kneeled on the two kneelers in front of them for the Liturgy of the Word.* The Hospitaller read the first reading, which was from the Old Testament. He concluded the reading by proclaiming, “The word of the Lord.” 


All Christians present replied, “Thanks be to God.” 


Then, the Hospitaller led the Christians in reciting the responsorial psalm. After, he read the second reading, which was from the New Testament. He concluded the reading by once again proclaiming, “The word of the Lord.”


All Christians once again responded, “Thanks to be God.”


“Alleluia. Alleluia.” The Hospitaller acclaimed.


Everyone stood up and the Christians repeated, “Alleluia. Alleluia.” 


The Hospitaller read the Gospel and concluded by proclaiming, “The Gospel of the Lord.”


The Christians present responded, “Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ,” and then took their seats. The Hospitaller gave a Homily* on the readings. In his Homily, he offered spiritual insight on life, love, union, and God’s graces related to the bride and groom. 


After that, it was time for the Celebration of Matrimony. Balian and Sibylla stood up. The Hospitaller addressed the couple. “Dearly beloved, you have come together into the house of the Church so that in the presence of the Church’s minister and the community, your intention to enter into Marriage may be strengthened by the Lord with a sacred seal. Your love may be enriched with his blessing, so that you may have the strength to be faithful to each other forever and assume all the responsibilities of married life. And so, in the presence of the Church, I ask you to state your intentions.”


“Sibylla and Balian, have you come here to enter into Marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?”


"I have." Balian and Sibylla answered in unison.


“Are you prepared, as you follow the path of Marriage, to love and to honor each other for as long as you both shall live?” 


"I am." The couple answered in unison.


“Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”


"I am." The couple answered together.


“Since it is your intention to enter the covenant of Holy Matrimony, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God and his Church.”

The bride and groom joined right hands. 


"Lord Balian of Ibelin, do you take Sibylla to be your lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”


"I do." Balian answered.


"Sibylla of Jerusalem, do you take Balian to be your lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”


"I do." Sibylla answered. The Hospitaller told Balian to repeat after him. 


“I, Balian, take you, Sibylla..."


“I, Balian, take you, Sibylla..." Balian repeated. 


"to be my lawful wife,"

"to be my lawful wife,"


"to have and to hold, from this day forward,"


"to have and to hold, from this day forward,"


"for better, for worse,"

"for better, for worse,"


"for richer, for poorer,"

"for richer, for poorer,"

"In sickness and in health,"

"In sickness and in health,"

"Until death do us part.”


With that, the Hospitaller finished guiding Balian in saying his vow. The Baron repeated that final phrase of his vow. 


"Until death do us part.”


The Hospitaler told Sibylla to repeat after him and began to guide her in saying her vow. 


"I, Sibylla, take you, Balian,"


"I, Sibylla, take you, Balian," She repeated.


"To be my lawful husband,"


"To be my lawful husband,"

"To have and to hold, from this day forward,"


"To have and to hold, from this day forward,"


"For better, for worse,"


"For better, for worse,"


"For richer, for poorer,"


"For richer, for poorer,"


"In sickness and in health,"


"In sickness and in health,"


"Until death do us part.”


"Until death do us part." Sibylla concluded. 


“May the Lord in his kindness strengthen the consent you have declared before the Church and graciously bring to fulfillment his blessings within you. What God has joined, let no one put asunder. May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God who joined together our first parents in paradise, strength and bless in Christ the consent you have declared before the Church, so that what God joins together, no one may put asunder.” After a brief pause, the Hospitaller spoke again. “Let us bless the Lord.”


All Christians in attendance replied, "Thanks to be God."


Almaric presented the rings to the Hospitaller, who blessed them with the following prayer: "Bless, O Lord, these rings 

which we bless in your name,

so that those who wear them

may remain entirely faithful to each other,

abide in peace and in your will,

and live always in mutual charity.

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen."


The Hospitaller then sprinkled the rings with holy water and gave the first ring to Balian.


Balian placed the ring on Sibylla's left ring finger and professed, "Sibylla, receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”


The Hospitaller gave the other ring to Sibylla. She placed the ring on Balian's left ring finger and professed, "Balian, receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”


Balian and Sybilla kneeled on the kneelers once again. The Hospitaller recited a solemn blessing over the newlyweds and their guests.


Then, the Wedding Mass proceeded with the Hospitaller offering petitions/prayer intentions to God the Father on behalf of all Christians present. With each petition that the Hospitaller offered, all Christians present responded, “Lord, hear our prayer.” 


After the Prayers of the Faithful,* the Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.* Balian and Sibylla received Holy Communion.* Then, Tiberias, Almaric, and Christian members of the congregation received Holy Communion. 


The Hospitaller recited a prayer after everyone had received Communion. Then, he led the Christians in the Sign of the Cross once more. Then, he dismissed everyone, declaring, “The Mass is ended. Go in peace to serve and glorify the Lord with your lives.” 


All Christians replied, “Thanks be to God.”


“By the power vested in me by holy God, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” The Hospitaller announced. Balian grasped the edge of Sibylla's veil and pulled it back over her face. They kissed passionately, to the applause of Tiberias, Almaric, the Hospitaller, and the inhabitants of Ibelin. Sibylla tucked her hand through the crook of Balian's elbow and rested her hand on his forearm. Tiberias handed Sibylla her bouquet. The newlywed couple went down the aisle. The rest of the inhabitants of Ibelin, who had formed a large crowd, applauded and cheered as their lord and his new bride emerged from the chapel. The new Baron and Baroness of Ibelin kissed once more. At this, the crowd cheered louder. 


They were thrilled. A few days later, the noble couple were still happy and elated. They were in love and married. The new Baroness loved her new life. She loved it more than her life as Princess and Queen. She had a brave, sensible, and selfless husband. She felt so alive. Balian felt so alive, too. He was happy in Ibelin with his new wife by his side forever. Balian and Sibylla lived happily ever after.


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*Liturgy of the Word: The first of the two main rites of the Mass in Catholicism. It consists three Scripture readings: the first from the Old Testament, the second from the New Testament (one that is not from one of the four Gospels), and the third from one of the four Gospels. Also includes the responsorial psalm, the Gospel Acclamation, the Homily, the public profession of faith, and the Prayers of the Faithful. The public profession of faith is done by the Christian faithful in the congregation reciting the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed. 

*Homily: the Catholic term for a sermon given after the Scripture readings. While the inspiration of a Homily draws upon the Scripture readings themselves, a Homily is more of an educational sermon with spiritual insights for the people, rather than spiritual directions/instructions. 

*Prayers of the Faithful: A series of intercessory prayers led by the priest, bishop, a deacon, or a lay member of the congregation. These short prayers (usually one or two succinct sentences long) are requests offered to God for the salvation of the world, those in positions of authority, the church, and the parish/local faith community. At a Catholic Wedding Mass, requests for the bride and groom's health, happiness, prosperity, fidelity, and love are included. At the end, the faithful are invited to silently offer their personal requests to God. The Prayers of the Faithful ends the Liturgy of the Word. 


*Liturgy of the Eucharist: the second of the two main rites of the Mass and the central act of worship in Catholicism. It consists of the bread and wine being brought to the altar, the priest presenting the bread and wine at the altar, the consecration (in which the substance of the bread and wine, but not the appearance, gets transformed in the Body and Blood of Christ, the faithful reciting the Lord's Prayer, the exchange of the Sign of Peace and the distribution of the sacred elements (the Body and Blood of Christ) to the faithful.  

*Holy Communion: The faithful eating the bread and wine (for Catholics, the Body and Blood of Christ) as a community in commemoration of the Last Supper, and Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection. 

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Because Balian was still in the process of regaining his faith in God at the time of the wedding and because the Rite of the Celebration of Matrimony was a bit time-consuming, I left the public profession of faith (AKA the recitation of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed) out. In other words, the Hospitaller skipped that part.