Order of Celebrating Matrimony Without Mass, available at: ForYourMarriage.org


Order of Celebrating Matrimony Without Mass

Rite of Marriage

Order of Celebrating Matrimony Without Mass


“The engaged couple…should be given catechesis not only about the Church’s teaching on Marriage and the family but also about the Sacrament and its rites, prayers, and readings, so that they may be able to celebrate it thoughtfully and fruitfully.” – Order of Celebrating Matrimony, no. 17

There are several reasons why a Catholic wedding would take place without a Mass: when a Catholic marries a baptized non-Catholic Christian (although such couples can request permission from the bishop to hold their wedding within Mass); when a significant number of wedding guests are not Catholic; or when a priest is not available. Either a priest or a deacon can use the Order of Celebrating Matrimony without Mass. Interchurch couples (a Catholic and a baptized Christian) might wish to talk with the priest or deacon about the participation of clergy from the non-Catholic party’s church. If the couple wishes to hold their wedding at the non-Catholic’s church, they need to receive permission from the bishop to do so in order for the marriage to be valid.

Marriage without a Mass is a valid Catholic wedding. It is also still a sacrament because the bride and groom are both baptized. (For the ceremony used when a Catholic marries an unbaptized person, see The Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian.) The main difference is that there is no Liturgy of the Eucharist. Yet if two Catholics decide to use this form, and the ceremony is presided over by a deacon because a priest is not available for Mass, a Communion service may, under certain circumstances and in accord with the policy of the local diocese, be integrated into it.

The heart of the marriage ritual is found in two key moments: the Consent exchanged by the bride and groom, and the Nuptial Blessing given to the newly married couple. The consent is “the indispensable element that ‘makes the marriage’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1626). In this moment, the bride and groom are the ministers of the sacrament to each other; the celebrant receives their consent in the name of the Church (see USCCB, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, p. 33). The beautiful Nuptial Blessing includes an invocation of the Holy Spirit, whom the Catechism describes as the “seal” of the new spouses’ covenant and “the ever-available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity” (no. 1624).

In addition to the Consent and the Nuptial Blessing, the Order of Celebrating Matrimony contains two other important elements. Before exchanging vows, the bride and groom are asked a series of questions, called the Questions before the Consent, to determine that each approaches marriage freely, intends a lifelong union, and is open to children and to rearing them “according to the law of Christ and his Church.” Then, after the exchange of vows, there is a Blessing and Giving of Rings. The spouses will wear the blessed rings as a sign of their covenant with each other and with God.

The structure of the ceremony for a Catholic wedding without Mass is outlined below, with various options in parentheses. Engaged couples are encouraged to work together with the celebrant (and perhaps the parish staff) to make their choices certain texts of the wedding, such as the Scripture readings, the Prayers of the Faithful, and the musical selections. This will help make the wedding liturgy “a profound personal experience” of “full, active and responsible participation” by the bride and groom (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 213; St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, no. 67).

Catholics marrying non-Catholic Christians may want to read the article Ecumenical and Interfaith Marriages for guidance on other aspects of preparation for their marriage.

A general outline for a Catholic wedding without Mass in the Latin Rite follows. Because there are many options to choose from and various circumstances that can affect the planning of a wedding ceremony, it is very important to work with the priest or deacon in arranging the service. Certain details might differ from what is outlined below.

Also, the ceremony below is based on the new edition of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony, which may be used beginning on September 8, 2016 and which must be used as of December 30, 2016. There are minor differences in the older edition of the ritual.

The Introductory Rites

“The marriage liturgy is a unique event, which is both a family and a community celebration. The first signs of Jesus were performed at the wedding feast of Cana. The good wine, resulting from the Lord’s miracle that brought joy to the beginning of a new family, is the new wine of Christ’s covenant with the men and women of every age.” – Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 216

  1. Welcome of the bride and bridegroom by the minister and procession into the church (the welcome can take place at the door of the church or at the altar, depending on the style of procession chosen)
  2. Greeting of the couple and congregation by the minister
  3. Collect / Opening prayer (six versions to choose from)

 

The Liturgy of the Word

In the Liturgy of the Word “are expressed the importance of Christian Marriage in the history of salvation and the responsibilities and duties of Marriage to be attended to for the sanctification of the spouses and of their children.” – Order of Celebrating Matrimony, no. 35

Note: There may be two or three readings plus the Responsorial Psalm, and at least one of them must explicitly speak of marriage.

  1. Old Testament Scripture Reading (nine options; if it is the Easter season, a reading from the Book of Revelation should be chosen instead)
  2. Responsorial Psalm (seven options; many composers have set them to music)
  3. New Testament Scripture Reading (fourteen options)
  4. Gospel Acclamation
  5. Gospel (ten options)
  6. Homily based on the Scriptures, Church teaching on marriage, and the individual couple

 

The Celebration of Matrimony

“It needs to be stressed that these words [of consent] cannot be reduced to the present; the involve a totality that includes the future: ‘until death do us part.’” – Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 214

“The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1639

  1. Address to the couple by the minister
  2. The Questions before the Consent
  3. The Consent (two versions of the vows to choose from, and the couple can either say the words themselves or respond “I do” to the vows posed as a question by the minister)
  4. The Reception of the Consent by the minister
  5. The Blessing and Giving of Rings (three versions of the prayer to choose from)
  6. Optional: The Blessing and Giving of the Arras, a tradition important in Hispanic and Filipino families
  7. Optional: a hymn or canticle of praise may be sung
  8. The Universal Prayer / Prayers of the Faithful (two examples provided in the liturgical text; couples can also work with the minister to write their own)

 

If Holy Communion is not to be distributed (which is usually the case), the ceremony continues:

  1. The Lord’s Prayer
  2. Optional: The Blessing and Placing of the Lazo or the Veil, a tradition important in Hispanic and Filipino families
  3. The Nuptial Blessing (three versions to choose from)
  4. Blessing of the newly married couple and the congregation
  5. Dismissal
  6. Recessional (a hymn could be sung, or instrumental music could be played)

 

But if Holy Communion is to be distributed, the ceremony continues:

  1. Optional: The Blessing and Placing of the Lazo or the Veil, a tradition important in Hispanic and Filipino families
  2. The Nuptial Blessing (three versions to choose from)
  3. The Lord’s Prayer
  4. The Sign of Peace
  5. Distribution of Holy Communion (an appropriate Communion song should be sung)
  6. Solemn or Simple Blessing of the newly married couple and the congregation
  7. Dismissal
  8. Recessional (a hymn could be sung, or instrumental music could be played)

 

Note: after the ceremony, the witnesses (usually the best man and maid of honor) and priest or deacon sign the Marriage record in the vesting room or in the presence of the people, but not on the altar.

 

 



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Order of Celebrating Matrimony Without Mass, available at: ForYourMarriage.org
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