Sunday, November 8, 2015

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH'S EXTRAORDINARY FORM NUPTIAL LITURGY AND MASS--A FEW THOUGHTS

Yesterday we had the Solemn Sung EF Nuptial Liturgy and Mass for Matthew LaHood and Kaitlyn Kiesler. Photos to trickle in but high drama before procession! A minute before, I realized, despite the fact there was a deacon (priest) subdeacon (deacon) and five altar servers, that the candles on the altars had not been lit!!!!! Leave it to the one who has the most to do, most to remember and the most stress to be the one to notice the others didn't light the candles!!!!

(These photos, while an EF Nuptial Mass here (High, not Solemn High), is not yesterday's as I don't have any yet. The Mass, though, was professionally videoed with two cameras and the videographer promised to get me the digital version of it to post on my blog!)


  I have some thoughts about the EF's Nuptial Liturgy and Mass.  I divide the two because the "Rite" or Liturgy of Marriage take place as a prelude to the actual EF Nuptial Mass. This means that the couple is already married as the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar take place following the Rite of Marriage. I like this. For the first time, as a sacramentally married couple, together they hear the Word of God as well as participate in the Holy Sacrifice and receive Holy Communion.

Thus for the Rite of Marriage, the priest wears a cope rather than the chasuble.  After the Rite of Marriage, the priest changes into the chasuble to begin the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.

I now find it odd that the Ordinary Form sandwiches the Rite of Marriage between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Thus the couple is not married for the first half of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word! They hear a homily as an engaged couple, not a sacramentally married couple. Their first full Mass as a married couple will take place after the honeymoon! How odd and sad is that!

As well, the EF Nuptial Liturgy and Mass  actually is or has noble simplicity compared to the OF with all its options, choices and ranges of solemnity! The EF only has one set or readings and Propers. All the bride needs to do is to work with the Music Director for the Mass setting she wants sung and the other accompanying music. There is only one Nuptial Blessing and one Solemn Blessing. 

Holy Water is prescribed three times during the EF Mass.  The first is during the preludal Rite of Marriage after the vows are spoken. Then the rings are sprinkled. Then during the Nuptial Mass itself the couple is sprinkled again at the end of Mass, prior to the Final Blessing (although I forgot this sprinkling yesterday as the server with the Holy Water was outside of my range of vision). In the OF Nuptial Mass, the only sprinkling with Holy Water is at the blessing of the rings unless the Rite of Sprinkling Holy Water is used at the Introductory Rite which is rarely done in an OF Nuptial Mass.

There were about 75 people at this wedding. Of those only about 25 were Catholic. The bride became Catholic at the last Easter Vigil. She said she fell in love with the EF Mass the first time she attended and was blown away by the Nuptial Mass. She was radiant afterward. But her entire family and all her personal friends are not Catholic. The groom's immediate family frequently attends the EF Mass in Atlanta. However, technically they are Eastern Rite (Maronite). In fact the groom's middle name is Maron!

Thus, as everyone who reads my blog knows, I truly wish there would be an option for the vernacular in the EF Nuptial Mass Mass for the Collect, Preface, Nuptial Blessing, Post Communion Prayer and final exhortation prior to the Final blessing.

In fact the 1962 Ritual for the Marriage Rite prelude allows a great deal of English to include the promises and vows of the couple. This only makes sense!

Below is the beautiful Exhortation before Marriage which takes place prior to the promises and vows. It could be used as the homily in an OF Nuptial Mass. In fact I highly recommend it:
Exhortation Before Marriage
Beloved of Christ. You are about to enter upon a union which is most sacred and most serious. It is most sacred, because established by God Himself. By it, He gave to man a share in the greatest work of creation, the work of the continuation of the human race.
And in this way He sanctified human love and enabled man and woman to help each other live as children of God, by sharing a common life under His fatherly care.
Because God Himself is thus its author, marriage is of its very nature a holy institution, requiring of those who enter into it a complete and unreserved giving of self. But Christ our Lord added to the holiness of marriage an even deeper meaning and a higher beauty.
He referred to the love of marriage to describe His own love for His Church, that is, for the people of God whom He redeemed by His own blood. And so He gave to Christians a new vision of what married life ought to be, a life of self-sacrificing love like His own. It is for this reason that His apostle, St. Paul, clearly states that marriage is now and for all time to be considered a great mystery, intimately bound up with the supernatural union of Christ and the Church, which union is also to be its pattern. This union, then, is most serious, because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate, that it will profoundly influence your whole future. That future, with its hopes and disappointments, its successes and its failures, its pleasures and its pains, its joys and its sorrows, is hidden from your eyes. You know that these elements are mingled in every life, and are to be expected in your own. And so not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death.
Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are, nevertheless, so willing and ready to pronounce them. And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life upon the great principle of self-sacrifice. And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of that deeper and wider life which you are to have in common. Henceforth you will belong entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections. And whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual life, always make them generously.
Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete. God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son, and the Son so loved us that He gave Himself for our salvation. “Greater love than this no man has, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. May, then, this love with which you join your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you can expect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears. The rest is in the hands of God. Nor will God be wanting to your needs; He will pledge you the life-long support of His graces in the holy sacrament which you are now going to receive.
And this is the blessing prior to the Final Blessing (priest at Epistle side facing the bride and groom, after which the Bride and Groom are once again sprinkled with Holy Water):

May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob be with you and may He fulfill in you His blessing; so that you may see your children's children to the third and fourth generation and afterwards possess everlasting and boundless life. Through the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns, God, forever and ever.  Amen. 

This would have been marvelous in English as well and all would have understood.

3 comments:

John Nolan said...

The custom of inserting sacraments and sacramentals into the Mass between the Gospel and the Offertory is a Bugnini innovation. He tried it out in 1955 with the foot-washing on Maundy Thursday and got away with it; with the Novus Ordo it went viral. On Ash Wednesday in the older Rite the ashes are imposed before Mass, accompanied by the terrible warning of the Responsory Emendemus in melius: 'Let us amend for the better in those things in which we have sinned through ignorance; lest suddenly overtaken by the day of death, we seek space for repentance and cannot find it.' The Introit of the Mass which follows, Misereris omnium, is more consoling: 'Thou hast mercy upon all, O Lord, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made, overlooking the sins of men for the sake of repentance, and sparing them ...' In the new Rite this order is of course reversed - bad psychology as well as bad liturgy.

In England the marriage vows had to be made in English in order to be legal, and the final blessing of the bride and groom was also in English. I served at Nuptial Masses as a boy; despite the tip from the best man (ten shillings was usual) I preferred funerals - weddings I thought were soppy.

Matthew LaHood said...

Father, the mass was truly amazing. The chant was just gorgeous. I don't have the words to thank you enough or explain how much this meant to us! Our families were completely astonished by the beauty and reverence of the mass. And the birettas looked great! We will email you the video and good pictures of the mass. We are truly grateful, thank you so much Father, please extend that to the Fr. Knight, Deacon Don, the altar servers, choir and organist! God bless you all!

George said...


Matthew Lahood

I was there and it was as you said. It was a very moving experience for me.