The Nuptial Liturgy/The Wedding Day – Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.



Excerpt from the wonderful book Christ in the Home

The Nuptial LiturgyVirginia's Formal Wedding pics 100

ORDINARILY there is very little recollection manifested at a 
wedding ceremony. It is just as if the congregation had no 
idea of the sanctity of the place or the grandeur of the event.

Yet, all is holy.

The priest begins "In the Name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Ghost," and prays that God may bless the two 
about to be married so that all may redound to the glory of 
His Name.

Then follows the exchange of consent accompanied by the 
rite of joining hands.

"The Lord be with you," says the priest before blessing the 
ring. . .

And later, "Be unto them, O Lord, a tower of strength." Can 
anything less than this Almighty protection suffice for the 
work of sanctification in their life together?

The Gradual of the Nuptial Mass invokes the blessing of 
fecundity upon the marriage. "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful 
vine on the sides of thy house. Thy children as olive plants 
about thy table."

Marriage is not a union founded on chance or pure caprice; 
reason must control the glow of passion, and the union 
effected by marriage must be of such a nature that death 
alone can break it. 

The Gospel of Saint Matthew gives us Our 
Savior's own words on this subject. In answer to the question, 
"Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause," 
Christ answered very definitely, No, and quoted the Scripture 
text, "They shall be two in one flesh." Then He made it more 
emphatic by adding, "What therefore God hath joined 
together, let no man put asunder."

At the Pater Noster of the Nuptial Mass, the priest does 
something he never does in any other Mass. He interrupts the 
Sacrifice, permits the Body and Blood of Christ to lie upon the 
altar, and turning, calls down a new benediction of God upon 
the bride and the groom. 

He recalls how the Most High God 
has watched over the sacred institution of marriage from the 
beginning of the world, to keep it intact in spite of the frailty 
of humanity. The rest of the prayer besides referring to the 
examples of faithful wives of the Old Testament--Rachel, 
Rebecca, Sarah--implores rich graces for the bride.

"O God, by whom woman is joined to man, and that fellowship 
Thou didst ordain from the beginning is endowed with a 
    blessing which alone was not taken away either by the 
    punishment for the first sin or by the sentence of the 
    flood; look in Thy mercy upon this Thy handmaid;
True and chaste let her wed in Christ . . .
Let the father of sin work none of his evil deeds within her... 
Let her be true to one wedlock and preserve inviolable 
Let her fortify her weakness by strong discipline;
Let her be grave in demeanor and honored for her modesty. 
Let her be well taught in heavenly love;
Let her be fruitful in offspring."

The priest continues the Mass and receives Holy Communion. 
The bride and groom should also receive the Body and Blood 
of Christ during this Nuptial Mass. The rubrics of the missal 
call for it expressly. The ideal then is to communicate not at 
an earlier Mass but during the Nuptial Mass itself, which 
nothing, not even the early hour of the day, can prevent from 
being solemn.

Before the Last Blessing, the priest speaks once more to the 
newly married couple as if he could not tire of blessing them 
before their great departure:

"May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of 
Jacob be with you, and may He fulfill His blessing in you: 
that you may see your children's children even to the third 
and fourth generation, and afterwards may you have life 
everlasting, by the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ: who with 
the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth forever."

WHAT a marvel of grandeur and of poetry is the nuptial 
liturgy! The Church, full of solicitude for the two daring 
young souls ready to launch out on the voyage of life, is 
eager to prepare them as seriously and as solidly as possible, 
to put before them essential principles, and to petition God to 
take this holy couple under His especial care, and conduct it 
to the great eternal family after their life of reciprocal love 
and confiding generosity.

Is it any wonder that such a noble and meaningful ceremony 
should bring to mind the First Mass of a newly-ordained 

Unfortunately, the worldly trappings that often accompany 
the marriage celebration detract considerably from the 
sacred atmosphere of the event. Particularly true is this of the 
banquet which is generally a part of the celebration.

The Church has nothing against wholesome joys, particularly 
family feasts to commemorate an outstanding occasion in 
life; but she certainly does not approve of the carousings for 
which wedding banquets are so frequently the excuse, or the 
tone of certain parties held in connection with weddings. 
Could anyone imagine an ordination to the priesthood 
celebrated in such a fashion?

After the Nuptial Mass, the world takes over, there are the 
congratulations, the general stir to get into the line of march 
in order to see and be seen; there is not a minute for prayer, 
for recollection, for thanksgiving. The world, even during the 
Mass as well as after it, assumes control of the couple and 
their family. 

Events following the marriage ceremony do 
nothing to correct these concessions to the world. Does it not 
seem reasonable that when the fundamental interests of the 
family are impeded by the worldly spirit, the family should 
do everything in its power to escape from it?

There are those who understand this: Sodalists, the Jocists, 
members of Catholic Action groups or similar organizations, 
even previous to the war, wanted to break away from these 
pagan practices. Andrew Harpe - T's Wedding 073

It is not a matter of seeing in the holy place 
only the Church vestibule or the Church lobby. No, no, the 
church is the house of God. Let everything there be holy and 
all that is done there be done holily, the founding of the 
family more than anything else!

Those groups who recognize the sanctity of the marriage 
ceremony have set the example of communicating at their 
Nuptial Mass; they have suppressed boisterous and giddy 

In the same spirit they decided to delay their 
departure for their honeymoon and postpone the distractions 
it entails; so beneficial is it to remain in prolonged 
recollection during their first days together. They remember 
to make their union of souls predominate. Therefore, together 
they restrain themselves and by mutual accord embrace 

Saint Paulinus, a renowned lawyer of Bordeaux, who 
renounced a worldly life when he was at the height of 
success, and with his wife retired into the city of Nola in 
Campania, wrote these significant lines:

    Concordes animae casto sociantur amore; 
    Virgo puer Christi, virgo puella Dei.

which mean: "Let these souls who are one heart and soul be 
united in a chaste love; he, a virgin, a son of God; she, a 
virgin, a daughter of God."

Why not secure for these two splendid baptized souls, these 
two virgin souls, whom marriage has united forever, a 
departure worthy of them?
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