The Nuptial Blessing
The Nuptial Blessing is a beautiful moment in the Catholic wedding ceremony. It takes place after the bride and groom have exchanged their consent and so have become husband and wife. In this blessing, the celebrant (priest or deacon) prays for the married couple and asks that God give them special graces, including fidelity, the blessing of children, and a long life together. The prayer is filled with Scriptural allusions, going all the way back to the book of Genesis and its description of the way God created the universe and brought together the first man and woman to be “one flesh”.
In the wedding liturgy, the Nuptial Blessing takes place after the couple has exchanged consent and given each other rings. If the wedding takes place within Mass, the blessing comes after the Our Father is said or sung. The Nuptial Blessing is also part of the ceremony when the wedding takes place without Mass and in the marriage of a Catholic and non-Christian (although there is the option in the latter ceremony to replace it with a shorter prayer).
The words of the Nuptial Blessing are worth meditating on, not only for engaged couples preparing for their wedding but also for married couples at any stage. There are three versions of the prayer to choose from in the Order of Celebrating Matrimony; the first is reproduced here.
The Nuptial Blessing
O God, who by your mighty power
created all things out of nothing,
and, when you had set in place
the beginnings of the universe,
formed man and woman in your own image,
making the woman an inseparable helpmate to the man,
that they might be no longer two, but one flesh,
and taught that what you were pleased to make one
must never be divided;
O God, who consecrated the bond of Marriage
by so great a mystery
that in the wedding covenant you foreshadowed
the Sacrament of Christ and his Church;
O God, by whom woman is joined to man
and the companionship they had in the beginning
is endowed with the one blessing
not forfeited by original sin
nor washed away by the flood.
Look now with favor on these your servants,
joined together in Marriage,
who ask to be strengthened by your blessing.
Send down on them the grace of the Holy Spirit
and pour your love into their hearts,
that they may remain faithful in the Marriage covenant.
May the grace of love and peace
abide in your daughter [name],
and let her always follow the example of those holy women
whose praises are sung in the Scriptures.
May her husband entrust his heart to her,
so that, acknowledging her as his equal
and his joint heir to the life of grace,
he may show her due honor
and cherish her always
with the love that Christ has for his Church.
And now, Lord, we implore you:
may these your servants
hold fast to the faith and keep your commandments;
made one in the flesh,
may they be blameless in all they do;
and with the strength that comes from the Gospel,
may they bear true witness to Christ before all;
(may they be blessed with children,
and prove themselves virtuous parents,
who live to see their children’s children.)
And grant that,
reaching at last together the fullness of years
for which they hope,
they may come to the life of the blessed
in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through Christ our Lord.
Note: the words in parentheses may be omitted if it seems that circumstances suggest it, for example, if the bride and bridegroom are advanced in years.
Excerpts from the English translation of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony © 2013, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). Used with permission. All rights reserved.