Rite of Marriage: Introduction 12

Unity candle: in or out? The third subsection, “Preparation of Local Rituals” would seem to speak to it:

12. In addition to the faculty spoken of below in no. 17 for regions where the Roman Ritual for matrimony is used, particular rituals shall be prepared, suitable for the customs and needs of individual areas, according to the principle of art. 63b and 77 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. These are to be reviewed by the Apostolic See.

I don’t know that Rome has ever “reviewed” this ritual. What do you think its assessment would be? I probably don’t need to ask my readership, eh?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Liturgy, Rite of Marriage, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Rite of Marriage: Introduction 12

  1. Liam says:

    It belongs at the reception, not in liturgy. I would have less than zero compunction making that clear to budding ritualists…

  2. Randolph Nichols says:

    Although popular about ten years ago in the Boston archdiocese, I haven’t encountered a unity candle lighting in some time. I don’t think there was a decree forbidding the practice, but certainly most pastors now discourage it.

    Remind me again, what was it supposed to add to the marriage rite?

  3. Mike says:

    Comments like Liam’s remind me of why most people think liturgists are old poops. :-)

    FWIW, I haven’t been to a Catholic wedding in the last ten years that didn’t have a unity candle.

  4. Anne says:

    The candle is a redundant symbol of unity. The couple, marrying each other is the obvious symbol of union of both families. I agree with Liam….do it at the reception.

  5. Mike says:

    Since when is redundancy a bad thing?

  6. Liam says:

    Since Vatican II discourage the addition of redundant elements to the liturgy. Which is why progressive liturgists and more conservative liturgists share similar views on this point.

  7. Mike says:

    Sigh. Redundancy is a good teaching tool, and the unity candle is a nice visible symbol. Yet another reason I don’t respect the teaching ability of most bishops or liturgists.

  8. Liam says:

    Well, what’s more illuminating is that you don’t respect those who don’t agree with you.

  9. Anne says:

    The unity candle is NOT part of the marriage rite. How can it be a teaching tool? What does it teach?

  10. fraustinfleming says:

    I’ve been celebrating weddings as a priest for 34 years. The first “candle ceremony” I witnessed was at a wedding in a Congregational church. As the groom’s pastor I was invited to be part of the ceremony of his marriage to his Congregational bride. At the end of the ceremony, the UCC pastor lit a large white candle from one of the candles burning at the altar and asked the newly married couple to hold it together. He told them it was a gift from the church and invited them, on successive anniversaries of the day, to light the candle again and by its light remember the promises they made in marriage and the blessings that had been theirs in the year just past. They held the candle together as the minister and I prayed blessings over them.

    Around here, most folks wanting to use a “unity candle” want the mothers of the bride and groom to somehow be involved in the lighting as a “sign that two families are being joined together.” But you know what? That’s not what happens in marriage. A new family begins, but two previous ones are not now joined.

    I think any pressure for unity candles comes from the fact that we so often fail at finding ways for the exchange of promises and rings to be what they are meant to be and to be heard, seen and experienced by the assembly.

    I refuse to stand there and say, “I Mary, take you, John…” and then have Mary repeat after me. I print the promises in 36 point type and place them in an attractive binder
    which I hold in such fashion that the bride and groom can read from it. I make sure that they are miked so that they can be heard. The same with the exchange of rings and its accompanying texts.

    As is so often the case: if we do the rite right – we won’t need to add doo-dads to make up for a rite done wrong.

  11. DavAnnb says:

    fraustinfleming’s comment is a great example of how following the ritual makes up for any perceived lack. Very few couples ever seem to be given the option that he uses. I commend him for doing it that way, I hope other Priests will follow his good example. The ritual done correctly is beautiful.

    At my wedding we did not use the Unity Candle. We couldn’t understand why you would add a symbol of unity to Mass, when the Eucharist is the Church’s most powerful sign of unity. Of course, we still did the Thanksgiving to Mary, which I know is getting a bit controversial…

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