Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Liturgy of the Eucharist

We just exchanged vows and rings and have signed all the paperwork. If you are having a Catholic wedding outside of Mass, the ceremony ends about here. But, if you're going all out and having a Nuptial Mass, you proceed with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, or as it's more commonly known, Communion.

This portion of the ceremony begins with the Presentation of the Gifts.
Since it has to be Catholics that present the gifts, we had a limited pool to select from. We asked M's mom and his aunt C to do this duty. As you can see, they were escorted by the alter girls. (I didn't pick the alter servers, so it was coincidence that 3 girls volunteered, but I thought it was pretty cool.)

While the gifts were being presented and the alter prepared, we sang the hymn, All People That on Earth Do Dwell. This isn't one that we do a lot at Mass, but I had to use it. The music is the same music used for what is commonly called the Mennonite anthem, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow. In fact, the last verse of the Catholic hymn are the same words as the Mennonite version.

Here's what it sounds like:

And this is the closest I could find to the song we used.

(Many YouTube versions were British which has different wording...weird!)

So, why a Mennonite song at a Catholic wedding? I was raised Mennonite. My grandparents were faithful Mennonites and this song was my grandpa's favorite. It was a subtle way to include my family's faith into my wedding and honor my grandparents. Since only my family members knew of the connection, it felt like a secret way include them.

After the alter is prepared and gifts presented, the Liturgy continues with a lot of prayer. Starting with...

Lord, accept the gifts we offer you on this happy day. In your fatherly love, watch over and protect Jennifer and Matthew, whom you have united in marriage. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The prayers continue, but I won't go into detail. They are pretty standard for any Catholic Mass and I didn't include the wording in our program because it's really up to the priest to decide which prayer to use. I think this part of the Mass is what most non-Catholics think of when they think of us standing and kneeling and standing again and so on.

It's at this point in the Mass that the bread becomes the flesh of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ.

This portion of our Nuptial Mass was pretty much just like our usual Sunday Mass, but I did make one request. At this time, there are four choices for the Memorial Acclamation. When I first began attending Catholic Masses, our parish used the same one nearly every Sunday and I liked it. But when our new priest came, we started using the others. I requested that we do the one I liked at our wedding.

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

When the Eucharistic Prayer was over, we all prayed the Lord's Prayer. It was then time to receive the Nuptial Blessing.

Let us pray to the Lord for Matthew and Jennifer
who come to God’s altar at the beginning of their married life
so that they may always be united in love for each other
as now they share in the body and blood of Christ.

Holy Father, you created humanity in your own image
and made man and woman to be joined as husband and wife
in union of body and heart and so fulfill their mission in this world.

To reveal the plan of your love,
you made the union of husband and wife
an image of the covenant between you and your people.
In the fulfillment of this sacrament,
the marriage of Christian man and woman
is a sign of the marriage between Christ and the Church.
Father, stretch out your hand, and bless Matthew and Jennifer.

Lord, grant they as they begin to live this sacrament
they may share with each other the gifts of your love
and become one in heart and mind
as witnesses to your presence in their marriage.
Help them to create a home together
and give them children to be formed by the gospel
and to have a place in your family.

Give your blessings to Jennifer, your daughter,
so that she may be a good wife and mother,
caring for the home,
faithful in love for her husband,
generous and kind.

Give your blessings to Matthew, your son,
so that he may be a faithful husband and a good father,
caring for the home,
generous and kind.

Father, grant that as they come together to your table on earth,
so they may one day have the joy of sharing your feast in heaven.

We ask this Christ our Lord.

After this, it was the Sign of Peace where we typically turn to our neighbors and offer a handshake and say "Peace be with you." But during a Nuptial Mass, this is the first opportunity the bride and groom have to kiss! Couple often exchange a kiss as their Sign of Peace and M and I are no exception. Our priest took a moment to explain to our guests this tradition and made sure nobody missed our first kiss as husband and wife.

We then exchanged hug and handshakes with our mothers and our bridal party.

It was then time to receive communion for the first time as husband and wife.

We sang I Am the Bread of Life, a song typically sung during communion at our church.

I love this picture because it shows M's oldest brother going up to receive communion. He hadn't been to church in a long time and he actually went to confession after our rehearsal and then took communion at our wedding. I was touched that he did that. I asked the non-Catholics in our wedding party to go up and receive the blessing so that our guests would feel comfortable doing the same if they wished.

We're almost done! Just a few more minutes and the Mass will be over!

All photos by Amanda Fales Photography.

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