Sacrament of Matrimony
Parish Guidelines for the Celebration of Marriages
The following guidelines are being used in order to ensure that the sanctity and reverence of the church is preserved and the Eucharistic celebration with the Rite of Marriage is conducted with devotion, dignity and decorum. Some of these guidelines are also applicable to the celebration of any anniversary of marriage (25th or 50th).
The person to marry has to personally come and meet any of the priests in the parish at least three months in advance.
If the marriage is to be celebrated at this church, the date and the time of the marriage should be fixed in consultation with a priest of this church. This should be done prior to the booking of the hall or making any other arrangements.
In the Archdiocese of Bombay as prescribed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the marriage procedure is initiated in the parish of the bride, irrespective of where the marriage is to be celebrated
It is obligatory to do the marriage preparation course.
A new Baptism Certificate i.e. dated within 6 months from the date of the intended marriage should be produced at the time of filling the Pre Nuptial Enquiry Form.
Marriage Preparation Course Certificate should be produced at the time of filling the Pre Nuptial Enquiry Form.
For a marriage with a person who is not a Christian, a dispensation from the Archbishop of Bombay is necessary.
The dispensation may be granted if certain conditions are fulfilled. For such a marriage it is necessary to contact one of the priests of the parish as early as possible
In case of marriage taking place in a native place or any other place outside the Archdiocese of Bombay, the marriage procedure according to the Archdiocese of Bombay has to be followed. The No Objection Certificate (NOC) will be issued only when proper marriage procedure has been completed.
An envelope marked “Our Contribution” should be handed to the priest as an offering to the church.
No exclusive marriages are permitted in our church. Two or more couples can get married at the same time
Marriage is a communitarian celebration and hence need to be celebrated during the parish masses. However for pastoral reasons, marriages in our church may take place outside the scheduled mass with the prior permission of the Parish Priest.
If the marriage is held on a Sunday during a scheduled mass, the liturgy of the day will take precedence. The lectors will also be appointed by the parish.
The scripture readings are in the Lectionary and the prayers for the celebrant are in the missal. For the readings at mass consult the priest concerned. It is not necessary to have a booklet with these readings and prayers. In any case, the readings at mass have to be done from the Lectionary. Those who can read effectively and are accustomed to read at mass should be entrusted with the readings and intentions. Persons should not be selected just because they are relatives or because they have to be honoured with a role.
The Rite of Marriage commences after the homily. The witnesses, only Catholics, should be selected earlier, have to come forward for the rite. The rings should be available. There should be no confusion at this stage. The rite of the Marriage cannot be changed or re-formulated.
The introduction, prayers of the faithful and hymns sung during the liturgical celebration should be approved by the priest concerned. The liturgy must be prepared at least two weeks before the date of the marriage with the help of the priest. An approved list of hymns is available with the choir leaders.Singing of a Nuptial Song after the rite of marriage and lighting of the candle is not liturgical and hence not allowed in our church.
An offertory procession is not recommended. However the bride and groom could present the bread and the wine that is provided by the church. It is not appropriate to ‘offer’ gifts, which are then taken back. There are no prayers/commentary to be said during the offertory procession.
The Church is a House of Prayer and Worship. Hence all should come to church dressed in an appropriate manner especially the bride and the bridesmaids.
All those who play an active part in the liturgy should be respectfully and appropriately dressed.
Our Church has a beautiful sanctuary in which due prominence has been given to the altar, the lectern and other essential objects. Hence no artificial flowers and leaves should be used. Prior permission must be taken for any floral decoration in the sanctuary.
It is permitted to decorate the first pews of the church with flowers, ribbons etc. Confetti and crackers are not permitted in the church premises.
5. Photography and Videography:
Video shooting, though discouraged in the church, is permitted only during the entrance procession, the rite of marriage, the sign of peace, the distribution of Holy Communion and the signing of the register. Video shooting charges must be paid in the parish office.
The photographers and the video crew should be informed that they should move about in a respectful manner as befitting a place of worship. They should not stand in the sanctuary or on the steps leading to the sanctuary. The photographer should not convert the sanctuary into a studio by taking group photographs.
GUIDELINES FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE – Bishop Bosco Penha
The date and time of the nuptial mass is to be fixed in consultation with the Parish Priest before making other arrangements like hall bookings, caterers etc. Hence kindly meet your Parish Priest and discuss the matter with him well in advance. We do not book the Mass exclusively for one couple i.e. if another couple wants to have their nuptials at the same Mass, you should be willing to cooperate and make the necessary adjustments. In case you have a close relative/friend who is a priest and you would like him to be the celebrant or bless the nuptials, kindly request the priest doing your papers for permission and do so well in advance.
For the preparation and celebration of the liturgy, please note the following points:
- When you fill your pre-nuptial papers with the priest concerned, please discuss the liturgy with him. Keep in mind that on the Sundays of Advent, Lent, Eastertide and other major feasts, the liturgy of the day must be followed. On a Sunday in ordinary time if the nuptials take place during a scheduled Mass, the liturgy of the day must be followed, but one reading (preferably the second) may be taken from the selection offered for Nuptial Masses. On weekdays and on Ordinary Sundays at masses outside the regular parish schedule, the special nuptial readings and prayers may be used. A nuptial Mass on Saturday evening after 5.00 pm fulfills the Sunday obligations and the choice of texts should be determined accordingly
- Preparing a booklet for the service is not necessary. If you do choose to prepare one please ensure that it is simple and contains only the outline of the service and possibly the hymns and responses that need to be included. Please do not print the text of the readings, the prayers etc in the booklets as these should be proclaimed form the Lectionary / Missal and the congregation should listen to them and not follow the text from the booklet. Discuss the liturgy with the priest concerned before finalizing the content of the booklets.
- The Readings, Prayers of the Faithful etc should be done by trained lectors or people with proven capacity of effectively proclaiming God’s Word. Persons should not be selected merely because they are relatives or have to be ‘honoured’ with a role. Kindly avoid entrusting this responsibility to children
- Familiarize yourself with the structure of the rite, rehearse it with the priest and memorize the words of the vows, if possible. Remember, these words form the essence of the rite and may not be changed or paraphrased. Please ensure that the two witnesses are at hand and come forward to actually witness the rite. (No proxy allowed)
- The Prayer of the Faithful should be prepared with care. The intentions should be brief and follow a standard pattern. They should include petitions for the Universal Church, the nation/world, the couple and other local needs. The prayer of the Faithful should not be combined with the offertory procession
- At the preparation of the Gifts (formerly referred to as. the “Offertory”) the bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist may be brought forward. Other gifts that may be presented should be what is required for the needs of the church and the poor, but not token symbolic items that will be retrieved later. The presentation of gifts is not to be accompanied by a commentary or an explanation. A hymn may be sung as the gifts are brought up
- The role of the choir is to facilitate the congregation’s participation. Please avoid commercial or professional choirs that tend to “perform” on these occasions. A song leader is often much more effective in leading the congregation’s singing. If the nuptials take place during a scheduled Mass or during the Great Seasons (Advent, Lent, Christmastide or Eastertide) the hymns should be in keeping with the liturgy of the day and not merely reflect the marriage theme. The use of secular songs is totally prohibited at the Nuptial Mass. The musical instruments used are to accompany the singing and should therefore not be loud, rhythmic or overpowering
- Floral arrangements should be modest and not overdone. Flowers are not permitted during the Season of Lent. During Advent, floral arrangement should be restrained and kept to the bare minimum
- Only one photographer and one videographer will be permitted. The video shooting will have to be done from a fixed place, even for the entrance procession. Photography / Videography will be permitted at the following moments:
b. The Nuptial Rite.
c. The offertory,
d. Reception of Holy Communion
e. Signing the registers.
- Please ensure that those participating in the service and especially those who are coming up to the sanctuary for the readings etc are decently attired
- Please be punctual. If your nuptials are to take place at a scheduled mass, we will begin the liturgy at the proper time even if the bridal couple has not arrived. If the celebration of the Eucharist has commenced, the couple will have to wait in the porch/near the entrance of the church until after the gospel proclamation is over. Latecomers to be admitted to the celebration without fanfare and photography / videography associated with the traditional entrance procession
- The signing of the register is not to be done at the altar, but on a table provided for this purpose in the church or in the sacristy. After mass remember that you are still in the House of God, do not treat the church as a studio.
The directives are for your benefit and are meant to preserve the sanctity and joy of the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage.
A mixed marriage, which is also known as a Mixed Religion marriage is in the strict sense one that is contracted between a Baptised Catholic and a Baptised Non-Catholic e.g. Christians of other denominations and churches like Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostals etc.
A Disparity of Cult marriage is one that is contracted between a Catholic and an Unbaptised person eg Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist etc. (people of other faiths)
In society where people of various faiths live and work side by side, it is only natural that such association could lead to strong and enduring friendships between members of the complementary sex belonging to different religions when these friendships blossom into love, young people find themselves running into difficulties that they had not foreseen. The church has always expressed pastoral concern about the marriages of Catholics with those who do not share the faith of the Church.
In mixed marriages the couple is unable to share their experience in an area of life, which is most far reaching and important. The essential happiness of marriage lies in shared companionship. The more completely a couple share their joys, values and experience, the happier they are. In the whole circumference of their marital life there is no segment which contains such precious values as that which comprises their spiritual aspirations, hopes and joys
There is also the problem of adjustment in mixed marriages which becomes especially difficult in disparity of cult marriages because of difference in religion and religious practices, in the upbringing, the eating habits and the social customs of the two partners in marriage
For these reasons the Church, conscious of her duty, discourages the contracting of mixed marriages since she is very keen that Catholics be able to attain perfect union of mind and full communion of life in matrimony. However since contracting marriage and begetting children is one of the most basic human rights, the church, by her laws, which clearly show her pastoral concern makes arrangements that on the one hand the Church Laws must be followed on the other hand the said right to contract marriage be respected.
The faithful are reminded that the Catholic party to a marriage has the duty of preserving his/her own faith, nor is it ever permitted to expose oneself to a proximate danger of losing it. Furthermore the Catholic partner in a Mixed Marriage is obliged not only to remain steadfast in the faith, but also as far as possible to see that the children be baptised and brought up in the same faith and receive all those aids to eternal salvation which the Catholic Church provides for the children under her care.
Finally one cannot lose sight of the fact that children are often the victims of such unions. The upbringing of children born of a mixed marriage is considered by many sociologists to be the most serious of all causes of friction. It is generally irritating to a parent to see his/her child brought up in a faith alien to his/her own. While the non-Catholic partner may outwardly conform to the promises made in this regards he/she often simmers underneath and looks with lack of enthusiasm and even with uneasiness at the associations formed by the child through religious contacts.
The Church has always been conscious of problems, which may arise when Catholics marry outside the Church. Such marriages were understood to be a threat to the faith of the Catholic party. Consequently the Church has striven to protect its members by making laws against these marriages.
According to the Canon Law without the express permission of the competent ecclesiastical authority, marriage is forbidden between a catholic and a baptised non-catholic. The catholic party has to obtain permission from the Bishop. In the case of a Disparity of cult marriage i.e. a Catholic marrying a person of other faith, a dispensation from the impediment has to be obtained for the marriage to be valid from the Bishop.
Conditions for Granting Permission:
Although they have become more common, mixed marriages remain an exception in the eyes of the law. The Bishop can grant the necessary permission for such a marriage, but he is not bound to do so. The bishop can give dispensation only when the following conditions are fulfilled
- The catholic party must acknowledge the potential danger to his or her faith and must declare his or her readiness to remove that danger.
- The catholic party must promise to do all in his or her power to ensure the baptism and education of the children as Catholics.
- The declaration and the promises by the catholic party are to be made in writing. The priest to sign a statement to that effect.
- The Non-Catholic party is informed of the promises made by the catholic party. So that the other party is truly aware of the promises and obligations of the catholic party.
- There is no necessity of written promises or undertakings required of the Non-Catholic party.
- The couple getting married in a mixed marriage has to follow the normal marriage procedure as mentioned above in the guidelines.
- However the Non-Catholic party has to submit a notarized affidavit presently on a Rs100- stamp paper stating that she / he is getting married freely without force or fear according to the Roman Catholic Rite in the Roman Catholic Church. The affidavit format will be given by the priest.
- In certain cases when the single status of the Catholic party is not clear then the Catholic party has to sign an “Oath of free” state in the presence of a priest and two witnesses.
Double Religious Ceremony:
Double religious ceremony means that a Catholic gets married according to religious rites of the other person before or after getting married in the Church. For example a catholic marrying a Hindu girl or a boy gets married according to the Vedic rite i.e. taking seven rounds (pheras) around the fire.
The Church law clearly states that it is forbidden to have either before or after the canonical celebration (church marriage) another religious celebration of the same marriage for the purpose of giving or renewing matrimonial consent.
Firstly since the consent to marriage is given once it cannot be revoked in order to be given again.
Secondly there are legal implications if a Catholic marries as per the Vedic rite. According to the Hindu Marriage Act only two Hindus can get married according to the Vedic rite. So if a Catholic gets married in the temple / hall taking seven rounds around the fire,she/he automatically professes to be a Hindu and has renounced the Catholic faith. In such cases the person is prohibited from receiving Holy Communion or any other Sacraments in the church. If such a person would like to continue to be a Catholic then she/he will have to make an affidavit stating that she/he would like to practice Catholicism, make a confession and recite the profession of faith in the presence of a priest in the church.
A purely civil ceremony before the canonical form of marriage is not prohibited. It isadvisable that the parties get civilly married before the church marriage for reasons of obtaining passport/visa etc. A civil marriage is a marriage that takes place before the Civil Registrar of Marriages.
Question: Is it permissible to celebrate a marriage between a Catholic and a Non-Christian during Mass?
No, a marriage between a Catholic and a Non-Christian cannot be celebrated during mass.
Even a marriage between a Catholic and a Baptised Non -Catholic cannot be celebrated during Mass without the due permission of the Bishop.
No special nuptial mass is allowed in our church in case of disparity of cult marriage. However the couple is welcome to join any of the scheduled parish mass.
POINTS TO BE KEPT IN MIND FOR INTER-FAITH MARRIAGE – Bishop Bosco Penha
(Marriages of Disparity of Cult)
Such a marriage is non-sacramental, but nonetheless a valid marriage. The proper procedures should be followed with regard to paperwork and permissions.
Kindly note that there is no mention of the celebration of Mass for this rite, either before or after the nuptials. Instead we have a complete service, with the greeting, Liturgy of the Word, Nuptial Rite, Intercessions, Nuptial blessing and concluding Rite. The priest is to be vested in a surplice and stole for the celebration (not a chasuble)
Since the family of the Catholic partner often wants a Mass celebrated in conjunction with a marriage of this type, the following points should be noted:
The Rite as described in the Ritual for these marriages should be followed as spelt out there. The Eucharist if it is to follow should use the texts of the Mass of the day or of Thanksgiving or various needs, but not the texts of the Nuptial Mass.
This should also be kept in mind by the choir for the choice of the hymns. This mass should not have the Prayer of the Faithful or Nuptial Blessing (as these are already included in the nuptial rite). The different roles may be done only by the Catholics. The Non-Catholic party should be clearly instructed about the nature of the celebration.
No other items edible or inedible should be distributed to the congregation before, during or after the distribution of Holy Communion.
The Nuptials of two Catholics cannot be solemnized at this mass.