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  1. Wedding Rituals
  3. Clark Viehweg (Author of Hokee Wolf)
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Commentary There are some fantastically incredible stories in the Scriptures.

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This one ought to be toward the top. Though fiction, the book of Tobit portrays the ordinary life of an Israelite family. It offers stories of life, death, food, family, and God. A main theme is the nature of human suffering. Some suffering comes from demonic forces. Sarah suffers from having lost seven husbands before consummating her marriage to any of them 3: Such does not happen.

This passage does not fit the conventional storyline for marriage most couples imagine. Yet it has a unique inner beauty and inspiration. The passage contains heartfelt prayers: The couple overcame major obstacles. Passages from this text appear in the final blessing for marriage. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance. They began with these words: Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever.

You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age. Commentary From their marriage bed, Tobiah rises and tells his bride to get up to join him in prayer to God. What follows is a tender prayer that any married couple would hope to speak.

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He blesses the God of his ancestors and praises the God of creation who fashioned Adam and Eve. Just as Eve was a perfect complement to Adam, Tobiah sees Sarah as an equally fitting partner. He tells God that he has taken his wife not for sexual pleasure but for true virtue. He begs God for mercy upon them both and that they may reach old age together. This text reveals that marriage is not just to temper sexual desires, but that real spiritual strength is found in the sacrament.

It has a noble purpose — which is to help, support, and mutually uphold one another into old age. This reading encourages couples to foster a shared prayer life, and reveals the blessings that flow from it. When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.

  • Old Testament Readings.
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  • Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates. Commentary The book of Proverbs is a collection of mostly two-line sayings from sages who studied God, creation, and human nature. These insights of wisdom tend to focus on covenant and redemption.

    This passage appears at the end of the book and is unusually longer than the shorter sayings that preceded it. Many couples will find this passage distasteful as it addresses the wife with only a brief mention of the husband. It emphasizes the importance of a grounding faith in the Lord which will be stronger than fleeting beauty or passing charm. Fearing the Lord means awe, obedience, and right relationship with God as the foundation for living wisely. The good husband trusts his wife because she trusts in the Lord. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.

    Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices.

    Wedding Rituals

    He says to me: Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away. Commentary Readers are often shocked to find this little-known book tucked into the pages of the Old Testament. It is a love poem describing two young lovers discovering the beauty of their created bodies, and their desire to share it in love and mutual fidelity.

    Parts of the book express erotic love. The gift of sexuality is affirmed and portrayed without apology. There is radical equality with both lovers desiring to share in it with equal intensity. Love is seen as a communion of souls. This passage seems operatic. Blessed the husband of a good wife, twice-lengthened are his days; A worthy wife brings joy to her husband, peaceful and full is his life.

    A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the Lord; Be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face. A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones; A gift from the Lord is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth. Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste soul. A holy and decent woman adds grace upon grace; indeed, no price is worthy of her temperate soul.

    Like the passage from Proverbs OT option 6 , this one emphasizes the role of the wife. He can expect to live twice as long with a good wife, for she brings joy and peace to him. These were traditional blessings, and they are more important than wealth. While it is a compliment to the wife to be compared to the rising of the sun — that which gives life, hope, and promise — the passage has a noticeable tinge of inequality to it.

    It appears that the woman is to spend her life pleasing her husband and feeding him. At its best, it shows how people can be a blessing from God. The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers: But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord. Commentary Most couples will not immediately see the hidden beauty and the strength this passage has in its depth of illuminating the marital covenant.


    The marriage vows bind the couple into a covenant. This passage describe the ideal vision of what that covenant can look like. Jeremiah was a prophet who could see and hear things from God that others could not. He is on his prophetic tower evaluating the past and future. In the past, God had made a covenant with the people, promising to be their God if they would be faithful to him in return.

    The covenant was broken. The people failed in fidelity. God is pledging complete, unconditional love. God has forgiven them for their infidelity, and this law of loving forgiveness is written on their hearts. This image of unconditional love as the foundation for a covenant is a mirror for what married couples strive to do and aspire to be for each another. Sacramental marriage reveals to the world this incredible love that God has for us.

    Husbands and wives enter into this sacrament with the same commitment to love as God has shown his people. Couples with a deep committed faith in God, those who have reconciled from difficult infidelities, and those committed to forgiveness and unconditional love will want to seriously consider this eloquent passage. Other Nuptial Mass Readings: About the author These commentaries were prepared by Rev.

    Clark Viehweg (Author of Hokee Wolf)

    Henson, a priest of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Henson holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. Every marriage has challenges. The good news is there are many dedicated staff willing to work with you and your spouse Sharing it can lessen its power. For Your Marriage is here to support you! Marriage Unique for a Reason. USCCB assumes no responsibility for these websites, their content, or their sponsoring organizations.

    Male and female he created them Genesis 1: May he grant you mercy and peace Tobit 7: Male and female he created them. A reading from the Book of Genesis 1: The two of them become one body. A reading from the Book of Genesis 2: In his love for Rebekah, Isaac found solace after the death of his mother. A reading from the Book of Genesis May the Lord of heaven prosper you both. A reading from the Book of Tobit 7: Allow us to live together to a happy old age. A reading from the Book of Tobit 8: The woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

    A reading from the Book of Proverbs Stern as death is love. A reading from the Song of Songs 2: It keeps people so engrossed in the ceremony! After the couple say their vows, the minister turns to the guests and asks them if they will also take vows to love and support the new couple. You can make these as solemn or as humorous as you wish. At the conclusion, the minister prompts everyone to respond verbally with "We Do!

    Originally a form of secret marriage in Scotland during the times of rebellion when local clergy were barred from practicing, the tradition of Handfasting has come into its own as a beautifully symbolic way of two people coming together to bind their lives and hearts. The cloth was traditionally two strands of tartan, representing the two clans of the families.

    Today it can be any type of cloth that holds some value to the couple. At times like a wedding it is natural for thoughts to turn to family and the generations of ancestors who have come before.

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    Not infrequently, a couple may have lost a beloved family member or close friend in the year before a wedding. I usually recommend a brief moment at the start of the ceremony to remember the departed friend. To add a visual element, candles may be lit as the names of the ancestors are read, or flowers can be placed in a vase to honor them. I created this ritual for the many couples I work with who want to honor Nature in their ceremony. The minister introduces the image of the garden, where every flower might be a different color and shape, but all add to the glorious beauty of the garden — then compares that to the human family where each person is completely different and therefore beautiful and necessary for the whole.

    At a small wedding every guest might participate. At a larger wedding selected family or members of the wedding party might be enlisted. The minister invites the first person to add their flower to the vase and say a few words. When everyone has added their flower, the minister holds up the last flower and asks everyone to take hands and offer a silent blessing while she offers a spoken blessing for the new spirit of love coming into existence because of this marriage.

    The flower is then added to the bouquet. This is a ritual I designed for a couple who had met on Match. Bride and Groom sit, facing each other. Behind each of them stands sits a musician. These musical phrases approximately 30 seconds long appear to be separate melodies; the finale reveals that they are actually fit together in beautiful counterpoint — a marvelous musical metaphor for marriage! Or spice it up by using a contemporary love song!

    The quaiche from the Celtic word cuach, meaning cup is a shallow, carved bowl or cup used to share a drink of honey-mead or wine or water between two lovers or friends. Sometimes the cup has two handles and the two individuals stand facing each other and take turns drinking while both hold one of the handles. A Scottish king once gifted a Scandinavian Queen with such a cup in honor of her engagement, and it became fashionable for lovers to announce or celebrate their nuptials with a drink from the loving cup. Sometimes, when lovers meet for the first time, there is a shared sense of destiny; a sense that one is remembering, rather than meeting this new person.

    In the East it is the tradition of The Red Thread. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break. Making this image visual can add a delightful dimension to this ritual! The minister winds one end of a red ribbon around the hand of each partner, as they stand apart from each other. They slowly walk towards each other winding the thread around their hand until they are brought face-to-face. Alternatively, the minister can be the spokesperson for them and tell the story of their meeting with the highlights of their earlier lives.

    These offerings are gathered up at the start of the ceremony in a beautiful dish or bowl, which may then have candles or flowers placed on it, or the ring box may be set on it, or the printed marriage vows placed in the bowl, etc. As an idea of how this is framed, the minister may explain to the guests: In India, one of the ancient elements of the marriage rite was the circling of the bride and groom together around the sacred fire. In fact, this custom is also known in the Middle East and may go back millennia to times when the Indo-Aryan culture was still centered in the Caucasians.

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    • I wrote a simple poem based on the seven chakras — each step reflecting the guardian principle of that chakra - making it applicable especially for Hindu or Buddhist-based ceremonies. The couple stands seven paces apart, facing each other, and as I read they take one step towards the other until they are face to face and can take hands in preparation for saying their vows.

      Many marriages are taking place between partners who have children from previous marriages. To honor the aspect of a new marriage that includes a blended family, I came up with this highly visual, fun and meaningful ritual to add to the ceremony. Each member of the new family selects an object — something from the home — that represents what they are most looking forward to in being part of this new family.

      For instance, a deck of cards which represents the fun of families playing together; a map which represents the adventures of family vacations; a silver platter representing the many festive holiday dinners that will bond the new family… you get the idea! These objects are added to a box or basket and the child ren get to carry them out at the recessional. Twelve small tokens — flowers, stones, coins, ornaments, etc - each representing some virtue that the couple wants to add to their marriage, are gathered together and then distributed to selected family and friends prior to the start of the ceremony.

      Rebecca names one of the virtues, one for each token: Alternatively, each person may read a short passage which names the virtue they are contributing to the couple.

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      Even more special, the bride and groom may prepare a short statement for each of the twelve virtues and then explain why they have selected each of the twelve relatives or friends to stand for that virtue. Or — if this feels like too much work — I would be happy to suggest twelve virtues that have been held in high regard in any of the great traditions: Many traditional Catholics will include this ritual in their wedding ceremony, but its symbolism is so wide that many other meanings can be attached to it.

      It is frequently used in humanist and nature weddings as a celebration of the fire element and its important symbolic meaning in human life and love. For an evening wedding where the light of the candle is a focal point, the effect can be very dramatic. The couple takes the two tapers and as minister speaks, they light the unity candle together and replace the tapers in their holders. Alternately, the mothers can come forward and light tapers, from which their offspring light their own tapers and then proceed to light Unity Candle. A twist on the theme that I created uses the idea of love —represented by the Unity Candle - as the starting point for the ritual.

      Upon entering everyone is given a small taper with a safety cone around it. During the ceremony I speak about marriage and light the candle and explain that LOVE is a place from which to draw strength and inspiration. The couple each light a taper from the Unity Candle and then turn to light the candles held by the wedding party. Then they walk to the front row of guests usually where the immediate family is sitting to light their tapers. The bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle and light the tapers of the guests seated on the aisle who then turn and light their neighbors candles.

      This can be very moving at night when the space is dark. Many churches have similar ceremonies at Easter or Christmas and so will allow you to have lighted candles during your wedding. If you want to try this ritual at an outdoor wedding I suggest the option of floating candles in a deep, transparent bowl, so that the flame is less easily extinguished by the breeze. Another traditional ritual with versions from Judaism as well as from medieval Christianity and new Wiccan traditions is the sharing of wine.

      In the Christian version the sharing of wine echoes the celebration of the mass and the sharing of wine between Christ and his disciples. The Jewish version celebrates the bounty of the earth and praises the Maker for providing the fruit of the vine. The Pagan version celebrates the role of Nature as the giver of all gifts.

      The couple pours wine from the two carafes into a single glass or goblet and share the wine as minister reads a poem or blessing. The wine and cup can be brought up by parents or friends or members of the wedding party. A cairn is simply a pile or small tower of stones like the ones found along pilgrimage routes to sacred places.