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Weddings Without Mass

by Paul Turner

Having a Catholic wedding doesn't have to mean having a Catholic Mass. You can celebrate a Catholic marriage in your parish church with a service that does not include a full Mass. Sometimes that is a better option. A wedding without Mass includes the procession, the opening prayer, the Scripture readings, the homily, the couple's exchange of consent, the rings, and the blessings. It does not include the preparation of the bread and wine, the eucharistic prayer, and the communion rite.

When the bride and groom come from two different faiths, or when many of those attending the wedding will be unfamiliar with the Roman Catholic Mass, the service without Mass may make a better fit. Marriage celebrates unity. If the celebration includes Eucharist, a partner who belongs to another faith will not share the great symbol of unity at the climax of Mass, communion. Neither will non-Catholic guests who came to join in the prayer. In fact, all through the service many will wonder when to sit or stand, what responses to make, or how to sing the acclamations. That much discomfort often silences the Catholics who are present, inhibiting their capable, full, and conscious participation in the Eucharist. A wedding without Mass spotlights the wedding itself and lets the whole assembly participate more equally. People can hear the Scriptures, witness the consent, and join in the prayers and blessings together even if they come from different denominations. The service still takes a while Catholic weddings are notoriously longer than most others so all will feel like they've worshipped, not just watched.

Celebrating a marriage without a full Mass may also help your parish priest. If the wedding does not include Mass, either a priest or a deacon may preside for it. Although your priest wants to help families with funerals and weddings as they occur, they can add more stress for him and the parish when they fall on an already full weekend. Many priests find the wedding without Mass enables them to reserve the energy they need for the regular Masses that weekend.

For additional bulletin insert resources, try Index of Bulletin Inserts

If you are interested in weddings, take a look at Paul Turner's book: The Catholic Wedding Answer Book.

What do YOU Think?
Send an e-mail to ML Editor or post an entry on the ML Current Issue Discussion Board. (All submissions become the property of RPI and may be edited for length.)

Copyright © 2000, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.  For permission e-mail
Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.

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