Understanding the sacraments: ‘Order of Matrimony’ confirmed

Rome blesses English translation of second edition that outlines marriage rite

By Father Randy Stice

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) has approved the English translation of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony, Second Edition (OCM).

The first edition was issued in Latin in 1969 following the Second Vatican Council, and this was the basis for our current English text. A revised Latin edition was issued in 1990 “and is now finally appearing in an English translation” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).

The basic structure of the rite is the same, but there are “a number of interesting changes” (USCCB).

The introduction has been expanded and now includes a more detailed theological commentary on marriage as well as pastoral instructions in preparing a couple for marriage, “material that should prove useful in catechesis and formation” (USCCB). Also new is the addition of a verse and response — “Let us bless the Lord/Thanks be to God” — following the exchange of consent.

The rite permits flexibility in the choice of an acclamation: “Another acclamation may be sung or said” (OCM, nos. 65, 99). This response to the couple’s consent “now more easily allows the gathered congregation to give expression to their joy at the joining of a couple in Marriage” (USCCB).

There also is an addition to The Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian. The Lord’s Prayer will now be said between the Prayer of the Faithful and the Nuptial Blessing.

The OCM also includes three new appendices. The first gives sample versions of the Prayer of the Faithful. The second appendix is a rite for Blessing an Engaged Couple and a third appendix is a rite for Blessing a Married Couple with Mass on the Anniversary of Marriage.

The Holy See accepted three adaptations requested by the American bishops. The first is an alternate form of consent based on the Sarum Rite, the pre-Reformation form of the Roman rite celebrated at Salisbury Cathedral in England, with the added phrase, “to love and to cherish.”

The CDWDS also accepted two cultural adaptations from Spanish-speaking communities.

The first is the blessing and giving of arras (coins) between the bride and bridegroom. They symbolize “the good gifts [the couple] will share” throughout their life together (OCM, nos. 67B, 101B). The second is the blessing and imposition of either the lazo (a wedding cord or lasso) or veil, which may be done before the Nuptial Blessing.

It is “a symbol of the indissoluble union that [the couple] have established” (OCM, nos. 71B, 103B).

The congregation did not accept two proposed adaptations. The first was the option of moving the Nuptial Blessing during Mass from after the Lord’s Prayer to after the Universal Prayer. Instead, the congregation encouraged catechesis emphasizing the “significance of the Nuptial Blessing and the appropriateness of its being placed at such a climactic moment of the Mass, particularly by pointing out the rich connections between the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony” (CDWDS).

The request for the option to include the Litany of the Saints after the homily also was not accepted.

The CDWDS felt that the inclusion of the Litany “must be seen as out of harmony with the structure of the marriage celebration through the centuries” (CDWDS).

The OCM, 2nd edition, is currently undergoing a final review “to resolve any issues that are commonly addressed with new liturgical translations” (USCCB).

After this review is completed, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the USCCB, will establish the implementation date.

Several liturgical publishers will produce ritual editions of the Order of Celebrating Matrimony, Second Edition.

The USCCB concluded its introduction of the approved English translation of this second edition with admirable understatement: “The appearance of an English translation of the Ordo celebrandi matrimonium, editio typica altera [the Latin title] has been anticipated for a long time, so it will be with some satisfaction that the new text will soon be published.”

Father Stice is pastor of St. Mary Church in Athens and directs the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy. He can be reached at frrandy@dioknox.org.

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