Did you know that the Nuptial Mass will be modified pretty soon? In honor of wedding season and all you lovebirds out there, let’s take a look at what’s going to change.
The first change is one that has caused a lot of controversy. The Vatican, citing the New Evangelization and the importance of using pop culture to connect with today’s youth, has mandated that every wedding ceremony must begin with the monologue from The Princess Bride:
But seriously, there are a few upcoming tweaks which will help confuse your Protestant cousins even more.
Back in 1969, the Church made widespread changes to the rites and prayers at weddings, which were used until 1991. At that time, a second edition of the rites was approved, but an updated English translation has never been released — until now. This is the matrimonial equivalent of the “New Translation” that came into effect in 2011, the one that introduced “And with your spirit” and “It is right and just” into the English Mass.
One example will take place after the completion of the Nuptial Blessing, when the priest says “Let us bless the Lord,” and the assembly responds, “Thanks be to God.”
After the exchange of rings, there is the option for the congregation to sing “a hymn or canticle of praise.” Fr. Dan Merz writes:
It may be hoped that this addition will help to discourage the use of the so-called “unity candle,” which often takes place at this time. It might also help in overcoming that practice if the couple were further engaged in some manner, for example, in making a visit to the image of the Blessed Virgin or that of the Holy Family at this point. The reference to a “canticle of praise” hints at the genre of music that is intended here, but there are no examples provided. Among the psalmody provided in the ritual, only Psalm 128 is marked as “explicitly” speaking of marriage. If this psalm were not used during the Liturgy of the Word, it could fittingly be sung at this point.
What’s in a name?
This is a small thing, but the rite’s name will change from the Rite of Marriage to the Order of Celebrating Matrimony. Amid the recent battles and semantic wrangling over the nature and meaning of “marriage,” it is thought that the word “matrimony” will have a more sacred connotation.
How can I keep from singing?
The new rubrics call for an “Entrance Chant” to begin the sacred liturgy. The word chant, in this case, could mean a literal Gregorian chant, but can also just refer to a regular processional hymn like at any other Mass. My understanding is that the priest, ministers, and perhaps the groom will process down the aisle during the entrance hymn, and then the bride will be escorted by her father in the traditional manner.
Penitential Rite out, Gloria in
It is typically the case that a solemn liturgical procession is followed by the Penitential Rite (“I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters…”). With the new rubrics, the Penitential Rite has been cut and the Gloria has been added. This effectively elevates the Nuptial Mass to the status of a feast.
Ethnic and cultural customs
In Hispanic and Filipino cultures, it is traditional to wrap a lazo around the newlyweds, signifying their becoming one. (This is what I’ve read, anyway. I’ve never been to a Hispanic or Filipino wedding.) A designated spot for this custom and others like it already existed in the Spanish translation of the rite, but not in the English version.
Rejected: Litany of the Saints
The conference of bishops asked the Holy See for permission to include a Litany of Saints after the homily, emphasizing especially the names of married saints. This custom is used in Italy. The Vatican rejected this proposal, noting that it has never been a part of the marriage rite in the U.S. and therefore is an innovation outside of tradition. To me, this is the most fascinating part of this whole process. Even though the Curia acknowledged the good intentions behind this proposal from the American bishops, it shows very clearly how sensitive the Church is about remaining faithful to tradition.