OCM 55-56: Liturgy of the Word at Mass

What does the Church say about the readings at a wedding? Here’s the red print:

55. The Liturgy of the Word is celebrated in the usual manner. There may be three readings, of which the first reading should be from the Old Testament, but, during Easter time, from the Book of Revelation (OCM 144-187). At least one reading that explicitly speaks of marriage must always be chosen.

56. When the Ritual Mass is not said, one of the readings may be taken from those provided in the Lectionary for that Mass, except on a day listed in nos. 1-4 of the Table of Liturgical Days.

Readings that particularly express the importance and dignity of Marriage in the mystery of salvation are provided here. 


There may be three readings, which means another number is possible.

In keeping with the observance of the Easter season, the Church steers the liturgy away from an Old Testament reading. Most places continue with the same offerings in practice. Perhaps the energy expended steering 70s couples away from Kahlil Gibran keeps clergy and other ministers on a straight and narrow.

If there is a dictate in the liturgy, “At least one reading that explicitly speaks of marriage,” spells it out. Most of the Scriptures speak of love and covenant. By-the-book choices would include the passages from Genesis and Tobit, and Jesus’ teachings on marriage and divorce. In my experience most clergy aren’t attuned to this directive, worded more strongly than the three-reading and Old Testament/Revelation counsel.

If one is getting married at a liturgy that is not a Wedding Mass, one of the readings may be taken from the Wedding Lectionary. My wife and I were offered the second reading when we celebrated at an Ordinary Time Sunday Mass. That is usually the most logical choice. But it’s curious that, by the book, even a Gospel reading might be substituted.

Days in which a wedding reading cannot be substituted are the Paschal Triduum, Sundays and major feasts in the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, Solemnities of the Lord, Mary, or saints, or observances of patrons appropriate to the nation or city, parish, or the parish’s dedication anniversary. Also, the founder of a religious order connected to the community.

Your thoughts or experiences with this?

The text cited in red is from the English translation of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony © 2013, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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