Thursday, October 23, 2014


I have written this before but now even Archbishop Charles Chaput is saying it, so I must be clairvoyant as I always knew I was.

He is suggesting that the day may come when the bishops will have to declare that no member of the clergy can act as an agent of the state for marriages.

What does this mean? It means that when a Catholic wants to solemnize their marriage in the Church they must (as always) procure a marriage license. But one step further must take place, they must have their legal or state marriage before the Judge Probate (Justice of the Peace) for the legal or state recognition of the marriage.

Once this takes place then the Church would solemnize the marriage with a Nuptial Liturgy. The priest would simply put the state's marriage license in the pre-nuptial file to indicate the legal or state aspects have been fulfilled prior to the Church's solemnization of the marriage.

The Church teaches that a member of the clergy cannot solemnize a marriage without it also being recognized by the state. Therefore the first step would be the state recognition of the marriage and then the Church's nuptial liturgy.

I believe this is already the norm in many European countries and quite common.


Paul said...

At least the state does not demand a "Eucharist license" or a "Baptismal license"...

I suppose this proposed separation of church and state is intended to protect The Church and facilities from having to perform/host immoral "marriages" and avoiding lawsuits as a result of refusal of such. But, in the long run, I think this is the state's method of attempting to devalue marriage and shift the union away from being Holy to being legal.

What the rest of the world does is their free-will choice.

Marriage for prosperity, comrades!

Supertradmum said...

Civil marriage did not exist until governments wanted to persecute and control the Church after the Enlightenment. Civil marriage laws took power away from the Church and put it in the hands of the state.

This whole idea of separation of Church and State is NOT Catholic teaching, but came out of Protestant and again, secular teaching.

Sadly, we are now all slaves to unnecessary state laws concerning property and children and so forth. America is actually worse than some EU states.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity---why (in the accompanying picture) does the altar boy hold the back of the priest's chasuble at the consecration? Never seen that before. (From someone too young to remember a Latin Mass).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

As with many "baptized" practical reasons for so much we do during the liturgy, meaning a spiritual meaning was given to a practical consideration, I think the raising of the chasuble, especially more ornate Roman style ones was to help the priest elevate the consecrated Host or Precious Blood high without the chasuble pulling or working against his arm actions.

Then a more spiritual reason was assigned to add more solemnity and reverence to this portion of the Mass.

As with so much in the Ordinary Form, it is no longer prescribed but it isn't forbidden and many customs from the EF Mass can be included in the OF (which are not prescribed) such as the use of the pall on the chalice, chalice veils and the like.

Anonymous said...

Serious inquiry: Can you describe just how lifting the hem of the chasuble adds "more solemnity and reverence to this portion of the Mass."?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

beauty and reverence is in the eye of the beholder and those who designate such things, so only you can answer that for yourself (as with any forms of reverence in the Mass, which you may or may not like) as well as ask those who instituted these things, so study your Church history books on liturgy. I don't have time to do it for you. :)

Anonymous said...

So, in other words, you have no idea what you're talking about but choose to prattle on as if you did, making thing up along the way.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks for repenting from your hypocritical questions and wasting my time and yours. Shame!

Anonymous said...

I didn't post a hypocritical question. I really want to know how, in the mind of the Church, hem-lifting adds solemnity and reverence.

If you don't know, it's perfectly OK for you to say so.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In the kindness of my heart I gave you a perfect explanation, but you want more and didn't like it, so go look it up yourself! Pure and simple, no?

Bernard Fischer said...

I read that beyond the practical reason for lifting the chasuble, the spiritual significance is that the chasuble represents the charity of Christ that covers us all like the chasuble covers the priest. Not the Consecration the priest elevates the Host, indicating the presence of Jesus and the server "elevates" the chasuble indicating the charity that flows from Jesus.

JusadBellum said...

Raising this or holding that.... I think the real reason is to give the altar boys some job to do so as to focus their attention and keep them engaged throughout the Mass.

Same reason the laity in the pews have prescribed parts to say, and positions to hold (stand, sit, kneel, greet neighbor, etc.).

It's all about involvement and attention as much as symbolism that evokes a theological lesson or historical pedigree that unites us with the past generations we are in union with...

The more parts your liturgy creates for young people, the better (since by getting them involved you necessarily get their families involved too).

One glaring difference between the EF and NO Masses is the amount of work and jobs altar servers are required to do for Latin vs. vernacular masses.

You are always busy saying something, doing something, helping the pastor with something...and thus paying attention.

I think for boys this is an excellent thing.

Anonymous said...

No, you did not give an explanation of how the lifting of the hem of the chasuble adds solemnity and reverence to the Mass.

As you are so certain of this assertion, I would think you could give some legitimate explanation of why this is the case.

Or, if there is no legitimate explanation, you might say, "go look it up yourself."

Marc said...

This custom probably started as a pius custom having to do with two things, one practical and one spiritual. First, vestments can be heavy so practically assistance was needed during the elevation. Second, touching the garment's hem harkens back to the story of the woman in the crowd seeking to touch Christ's hem in order to be healed.

In the Divine Liturgy, at the Great Entrance, those able to do so might bow and touch the hem of the priest's vestments as he carries the Gifts through the congregation.

I don't know if the two customs are related. But it is not unusual for what started as a practical custom (i.e., lifting the chasuble) to take on a mystagogical or spiritual meaning over time (i.e., relating this to the sorry of the woman with the flow of blood).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Keep in mind, that an annulment in the Catholic Church cannot even begin until there is a state recognized civil divorce!

Anonymous said...

A collection of "reasons" gleaned from the World Wide Web:

...a sign of reverence for the kingship of Christ just like one would lift the train of a king in procession.

...And Moses’ hands were heavy: so they took a stone, and put under him, and he sat on it: and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands on both sides. And it came to pass that his hands were not weary until sunset.

...I used to imagine that Father was metaphorically flying up to Heaven at the moment of Elevation, and the altar boy was there to help give him a lift-off, and granted the favour of being ‘on board’ by being allowed to touch the hem of the celebrant’s ‘cloak’ really do like to touch Christ’s vestment

...a nod to the ancient Jewish times, when the high priest entered the holy of holies on Yom Kippur with a scarlet rope attached to him, so he could be pulled out by the acolytes in case his sins were not properly atoned for and he was stricken down by the Lord.

...I always figured it was so that a longer chasuble would not touch the floor when the priest genuflected

...beautiful allusion to Matthew 9:20, i.e., the story of the woman who was cured when she touched the hem of Christ’s garment

...lifting of the chasuble symbolized the pouring out of graces on the congregation at the consecration

Anonymous said...

yada yada yada....

Anonymous said...

Too bad the sacramental marriage can't come before the civil one, because it seems to me, if the couple is only civilly married, and then consummate the marriage before the sacramental ceremony, they are committing fornication, or do I have the rules wrong on that?
On a practical level, I cannot imagine brides and grooms having to add a second, civil ceremony to the already overwhelming "to do's" around weddings these days.
But in concept, I think it's a great idea, and gets the Church out of being an agent of the state, and therefore regulated by them.

tom041652 said...

Canon Law 1130-1133 allows Secret Sacramental Marriages for grave reasons. The Catholic Church should not be Agents for the State in this Holy Sacrament. My understanding is that these Secret marriages are taking place to avoid loss of pensions and SS Benefits among seniors.