Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm with the bride on this one....

At the Deacon's Bench blog the author writes about a bride who did not want to be married by a deacon so she asked a priest from another parish come to the church for the wedding. The deacon was a bit miffed that the bride didn't want him.  I wish she'd been more mannerly about it but  to be honest, I wouldn't want a deacon either.
Engaged couples have to jump through a lot of hoops. They are required to spend money on Pre-Cana or Engagement Encounter weekends. Depending on their diocese they may be forced to take a Natural Family Planning class. In the Arizona diocese couples must wait nine months before marrying. Since Catholics get divorced at the same rate as everybody else all this doesn't appear to be doing any good and I wonder how many couples just say nuts to all this and choose a civil arrangement instead. And don't forget, unless it's a multiple couple wedding with a reception put on by the parish (mostly a Latino option) or a wedding during a regular Mass (rarely done) the use of a church for a wedding is not free. I've heard of parishes that charge over $1000. If I were a young bride who'd been through all this I'd be pretty sad if I were told that I wasn't even getting a priest.  Deacons have their place but they are not an alter Christus. They are not intended to be a substitute for the priesthood. 

Yes, yes, yes, I know that the Church allows permanent deacons to preside at weddings, baptisms and funeral home services but most people look at the diaconate and  just see nice old men  who do all the scut work so that the priest has more time to devote to the sacraments. Other people are quite frank about their distaste for what they see is as laymen playing priest. Deacons who find these perceptions offensive should either shrug their shoulders and carry on or lobby for their pastor to launch a  teaching project telling  the folks in the pews what deacons have permission to do.

And finally, the guy who writes Deacon's Bench really doesn't seem to like weddings or group baptisms anyway. I get the impression that he'd be happier with an Amish style affair.

12 comments:

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

The solution for the bride is to have a nuptual Mass. I know in mixed marriages the Church encourages no Mass which I find strange. The non Catholic should support the upbringing of the children in the faith, so why not begin that support on the wedding day. When my pastor told our daughter they didn't recommend a Mass I told her, "Well I'm going to Mass that day to pray for you, so if you want me around the morning of the wedding you should have a nuptual Mass." She did and it was beautiful and a great way to start a marriage.

Old Bob said...

When I was an altar boy, about 1955-1960 or so, the nuptial Mass was the rule, not the exception.

Sharon said...

Sorry, D, I'm with the deacon on this one. The bride was selfish and rude.

Gina said...

Eh, I'd only be on the side of the bride if she understood what she was asking for. She didn't want a Mass, and she didn't seem to understand that a deacon was just as capable of witnessing as a priest (considering she hadn't even met the priest prior to the wedding, it's obvious she just wanted a warm body with a collar).

If she had understood the Sacrament and wanted a valid Mass, I'd totally be on her side - 100%. She didn't, however, and simply wanted to fulfill her own ideas behind what a marriage should be - not what the Church's idea of a marriage is. Therein lies the problem of most marriages anymore. It's about what WE want, not what God wants.

Hecla Ma said...

Sorry, having read the whole piece, I'm with the Deacon on this one, especially when reading that the bride apparently miscommunicated her need to another priest, who left his own parish where he had enough duties to see to, because he thought there were no other options open to this bride. He thought he was helping her out, and found out there was a deacon there, who could have served her. This sounds to me like a selfish and duplicitous bride. And frankly, reading that her mother was "insisting" that her precious daughter (and she ALONE!)receive Communion at this service-because-they-couldn't-be-bothered-with-a-mass tells me that this family would have insisted on a bishop if they could have. Also, and more importantly, let's remember that deacons are ordained men graced through the sacrament of Holy Orders. They're not just retired guys hanging around the sacristy helping out. Their ordination entitles them to a bit more respect and a little less eye-rolling. I don't think God rolls his eyes at a deacon and thinks "oh, no, I'm getting the seconds" and last I heard, none of us was better than God.

FrB said...

Might I ask you to prayerfully reconsider your thoughts on this matter and your understanding of the diaconate?

Whilst it's true that deacons are not configured to Christ the Good Shepherd in the same way that priests and bishops are, they have received sacramental ordination and are sacramentally conformed to Christ for the service of the Church.

The role of the cleric at a wedding is threefold - to preach in order that those attending understand the nature of the sacrament; to witness the union on behalf of the Church; and to bless the newly married couple.
The deacon - whether transitional or permanent - has the authority to preach by virtue of his sacramental ordination and the authorisation of the Church.
The deacon also has the authorisation of the Church to witness marriages. Being a priest or a deacon makes one no more or less capable of witnessing a marriage. This falls within the territory of what the Church can authorise someone to do under Church law. Indeed, in countries where there is a genuine shortage of clergy, lay catechists may be authorised to witness marriages. Church law has not always insisted on the presence of a cleric at weddings. However, for obvious practical and canonical reasons, the Church has decided that it is important that all Catholic weddings be officially witnessed on behalf of the Church.
The deacon can also bless the marriage. As a man in Holy Orders, he has the power to bless - albeit in a more limited way than the priest. However, the power to give the liturgical blessing is something that the Church can and does give to deacons and is not therefore an inferior sort of blessing.

It's important to remember that it is the couples themselves who are ministers of the sacraments. The priest is an alter Christus, certainly. However, in the sacrament of marriage, it is the groom and bride who are sacramentally the image of Christ and His Church. Consequently, whether the cleric witnessing the marriage is a priest, bishop or deacon should not be an issue, where a nuptial Mass is not celebrated.

The faithful are certainly entitled to receive catechesis about the nature of diaconal orders, the sacrament of holy orders and of marriage.

Dymphna said...

Yes, I know what deacons can do and are but most people don't. If you want the parishoners to be satisfied with a deacon then people ought to be told about their role and importance.

FrB said...

I'm puzzled by your comment that you wouldn't want a deacon either. If you understand the role that the cleric (be he bishop, priest or deacon) does at a wedding without a nuptial Mass and you understand the fact that a deacon is sacramentally ordained, then I'm finding it difficult to understand your reasons for not wanting a deacon.

Father Sorensen said...

Well I can understand her sentiment. Who wouldn't want the bishop instead of a priest or a priest instead of a deacon, or a deacon instead of a lay person? At most of my weddings, external appearances are important. (Not to say they are of utmost importance, though).

And even those who understand and are not fixated on exterior appearances, may still have a pious attachment to the priest (which isn't all bad).

But, then, I still think that the bride was rude.

Tom said...

Fr B did a good job of explaining the role of the deacon at a wedding. As a person in formation for the diaconate, I greatly appreciate his clarification. It's also worth noting that, in the sacrament of marriage, the man and woman are actually ministering the sacrament to each other... see the CCC No. 1623 http://bit.ly/nme3EN.

Andy said...

I agree with the Deacon. It's all about the wedding and not so much about the Holy Marriage these days. Sad truth.

priest's wife said...

I know it is not required, but a Mass is a beautiful way to start a marriage- hence the need for a priest- I agree with Mary Anne