Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Sacrament of Matrimony according to the Use of the Philippine Islands

That the Latin Rite is expressed differently—and, oftentimes, in a uniquely beautiful manner—from one region to another—from Rome to Milan, from Paris to Lyon, from Toledo to Braga—is already an oversubscribed observation, but actually witnessing the proper character and excellence of form of these rites, either as the minister or as the receiver of the solemn act, is already beyond the realm of our ordinary descriptive vocabulary. There is a palpable sense of expectation in witnessing both black and red (or black italicised), atrophied by decades (or in some cases, centuries) of ill-advised and ill-imposed desuetude, prudently come to life for the very purpose they were written and established for the rites formed and developed through the centuries: the worship of the Most Holy Trinity.

One would notice that, next to the order of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the second most variegated (in the sense of variant or usage) Sacrament, in terms of the particular acts associated in its celebration, is that of Matrimony. The ordinary ministers of this Sacrament, the Catechism teaches, are the nuptial couple themselves, who present themselves before the Church to pledge their vocation “in the peace and in the presence of the Church” (Spanish canonical dictum: en la paz y la faz de la Iglesia). We speak of the Sacrament in these terms in the wake of the celebration of Matrimony according to the venerable use of the Philippine Islands, the provenance of which, naturally and ultimately, is the very ancient Rite of Toledo, alternately referred to as the Mozarabic Rite.

The rite of marriage in the Philippines did not come directly through the Mozarabic Rite, but through the ‘absorption’ of certain practices observed in the authentic Mozarabic Rite into the Roman Rite used in the Spanish Realms. The normative Rituale Romanum, therefore, used in places within the Spanish dominions, contained a different set of rubrics for the celebration of Matrimony. Sometimes, both the Roman Rite of Matrimony and the Mozarabic Use were published, and sometimes only one, the Mozarabic Use, appeared.

The authoritative source of the Mozarabic Use is the Manuale Toletanum, and the variants of the Rituale in which it appears were also labelled with Manual. We have, for example, the ritual of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, which is called the Manual de párrocos del Arzobispado de Guatemala, shortened as Manual de párrocos. In the case of the Philippines, the book of rites is the Manual para uso de los párrocos y demás que desempeñan el sagrado ministerio en Filipinas, also shortened as Manual de párrocos, and colloquially (at least, in the present time) called the Manual de Manila. The differences between the Roman Rite and the Mozarabic Use are the following:

Although both the Manual de Manila and the Manual de Guatemala are based on the Manuale Toletanum, they differ in their reckoning of the delimitation of the celebration of the Sacrament and the bestowal of nuptial blessing.

The 1879 Manual de Manila treats the acts from the admonition until after the transmission of the arrhae as belonging to the celebration of the Sacrament, and those from the introduction of the couple into the church until the end of the Mass as belonging to the bestowal of nuptial blessing.

The 1866 Manual de Guatemala, however, construes the part where the arrhae and the rings are blessed until after the arrhae are transmitted as belonging to the bestowal of the nuptial blessing. This arrangement resembles that in the 1795 Rituale Romanum of Madrid containing an appendix with the Manuale Toletanum.

Interestingly, in both Guatemala and Spain, the terms velación (veiling) and velarse (to be veiled) are used to refer to the conferment of nuptial blessing, and the Votive Mass for Husband and Wife is called misa de velaciones, terms which are not prevalent, if used at all, in the Philippines.

Both the Manual de Manila and the Manual de Guatemala are so ordered so as to accommodate circumstances where the celebration of the Sacrament and the conferment of the nuptial blessing are made on two separate days, for the reason that the Missa pro sponso et sponsa be impeded on the day of the Sacrament. The practice of separating the two parts has long disappeared in the Philippines. Also, both the manuals contain a part which is entirely absent in the Rituale Romanum: that concerning Matrimonies by proxy, a very elaborate and delicate arrangement. Finally, in the Manual de Manila, an entire section is dedicated to the subject of Matrimony involving those natives that are yet to be converted to the Faith, the necessary precautions and verifications that must be carried out before the Sacrament can be validly celebrated.

It is worth repeating that the principal differences between the Mozarabic Use and the Roman Rite are the use of the arrhae, and the use of the veil and the cord in former. Technically, the arrhae purely belong to the celebration of the Sacrament, while the veil and the cord belong to the nuptial blessing pronounced upon the woman. These are related to the ancient Roman matrimonial practices of subarrhatio and velatio. The preservation of the use of the arrhae in the Mozarabic Rite is very remarkable.

One would, in fact, observe the use of subarrhatio in the verb form, evoking spiritual union, in the third antiphon for the first vespers of the Spanish saint and mystic Saint Therese of Avila: 
Clavo déxterae tuae subarrhásti me, Dómine : et tamquam sponsam decorásti me coróna. (With the nail of Thy right hand Thou hast espoused me, O Lord; and as Thy wife Thou hast crowned me with a diadem.) 
This antiphon is proper to the dioceses of Spain and appears only in the Supplementum pro Hispaniae Dioecesibus of the Liber usualis.

As for the velatio, the old Roman red colour of the veil survived in the two outermost red regions of the veil in the Mozarabic Rite, a particular character that survives in other places in Spain, but was entirely excluded in the Manual de Manila. An old Spanish catechesis on the colour of the veil, found in the 1791 El porqué de todas las ceremonias de la Iglesia y sus misterios by D. Antonio Lobera y Abio, explains that white represents chastity with which the couple is expected to conduct their married life, and red symbolises the blood of the generation that shall come out of the union (hence, by extension, red also symbolises prosperity in offspring).

In the subsequent paragraphs is explained how the rite unfolded, with some cursory commentaries.

Confection of the Sacrament of Matrimony
Admonition to the nuptial couple, summons for impediment, and scrutiny of the nuptial couple
The priest explains, in the vernacular, to the nuptial couple the fruits and effects of the Sacrament, the principal ends of Matrimony, the decorous responsibilities of the couple, and the proper administration of the household, all of which will be assessed on the Day of Judgment. The text used in the Manual de Manila is taken from the Roman Catechism; whereas in the Manuale Toletanum, the Roman admonition is an alternative text to the admonition of Saint Augustine.

The Priest exhorts everyone gathered to divulge whatever circumstance existing that may invalidate the Sacrament, after which he posits the triple interrogations to the bride (to verify three conditions: (a) her willingness to take the bridegroom as her husband; (b) her willingness to be his wife; and (c) her acceptance of the man as her spouse), and then to the Groom.

Union of the right hands
The priest inseparably binds the nuptial couple into one, invoking the Triune Godhead, the Communion of Saints, and Holy Mother Church. The formula here used is, as the Manual de Manila explains, the received formula in the archdiocese.

The Roman formula is
Ego conjúngo vos in matrimónium, in nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.
whereas the Mozarabic formula is
Et ego ex parte Dei omnipoténtis, et Apostolórum Petri, et Pauli, et sanctae Matris Ecclésiae, vos matrimónio conjúngo, et istud Sacraméntum inter vos firmo, in nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.
which, as the Manual de Manila commands, is said in the vernacular.

Blessing of the arrhae and the rings
The priest blesses the articles of Matrimony: (a) the arrhae, symbols of temporal wealth and prosperity in offspring; (b) the rings, symbols of marital love and fidelity.

The arrhae are thirteen coins representing in number Christ and His twelve Apostles, in form the earthly treasures that the husband commits to the wife, and in symbol abundance in offspring.

We can read further into these symbols, in that the only true marital treasure that exists is faith in Christ and allegiance to His Holy Church, symbolised by the twelve Apostles, who were the first Bishops, who preached the Faith and edified the Church, and such faith should move the couple into fulfilling the primary end of Matrimony, which is prosperity in children.

Bestowal of the rings
Note well that the rings are not exchanged but rather bestowed, first to the husband, and then, through the husband, to the wife. The priest places one ring on the fourth digit of the right hand of the husband, then hands the other ring to the husband, who in the same manner places it on the fourth digit of the right hand of his wife.

The rings symbolise the couple’s vow for marital chastity, their sacramental assent to the exhortation and admonition delivered by the priest that they must not cleave to flesh outside the bonds of matrimony. And with this marital chastity, they are to strive for marital fidelity for the prosperity of their offspring, and for the defence of celestial virtue. The man receives his ring directly from the priest, while the woman receives hers from her husband, indicating that the marital bond is not to be understood as a closed ‘you-give-me-I-give-you’ loop but rather as a solemn binding that proceeds from Christ.

Transmission of the arrhae
The priest releases the arrhae into the cupped palms of the husband, who then releases them to the cupped palms of his wife, who finally releases them into the platter held by the priest. The passage of the arrhae from the husband to the wife is an act analogous to the plighting of troth in the Roman Rite.

There is a beautiful lesson we can get from the transmission of the arrhae. The solemn act of their transmission from the priest to the hands of the husband symbolises the Providence of God, that the Lord endows Man with earthly treasures; whereas the release of the arrhae from the hands of the husband into those of his wife symbolises the lifelong pledge of the man to provide for his family, and that of the woman to manage and maintain the earthly treasures entrusted to them by God through the sweat of her husband’s brow. Finally, the release of the coins to the platter symbolises the pledge of the couple to support the Church and Her pastors, and their recognition that their earthly treasures emanate from God.

Final prayer
The priest says a final prayer. The formula from the Rituale Romanum is:
Look, O Lord, we beseech Thee, upon these Thy servants, and graciously assist Thine own institutions, whereby Thou hast ordained the propagation of mankind, that they who are joined together by Thine authority may be preserved by Thy help. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
whereas the formula from the Manuale Toletanum is:
O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, bless these spouses, and plant the seed of life in their minds; that whatever they shall realise to be thanksgiving to Thy majesty, may they fulfil in deed. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Bestowal of the nuptial blessing
Procession with the nuptial couple
The priest, with the servers, in procession exits the sacristy, and, upon reaching the portals of the church, does one of the following: (a) he holds the right hands of the husband and of the wife; or (b) he extends one end of his stole, which the husband and the wife hold.

The priest then recites Psalm 127 while leading the nuptial couple into the sanctuary.

In the sanctuary, the priest, turned towards the couple, recites the appropriate prayer.

Distribution and kindling of the candles
Candles are lit during the Gospel and the Sanctus.

Imposition of the veil and cord
The priest reverences the midst of the altar, retreats to the Epistle side, and faces the nuptial couple. The servers take the white silk veil and the cord, impose the veil upon the head of the wife and the shoulders of the husband, and then place the cord in the figure of 8 upon the husband and the wife.

The veil and the cord together symbolise the bond of matrimony, with the veil indicating the authority of the husband [shoulders veiled] on his wife [head veiled], and the cord the common yoke of matrimonial fidelity and chastity upon them. In Latin, the veil is called velamen, related to the word velum, which refers to a curtain such as the curtain that veiled the Holy of Holies. The veil has always been associated with contemplation and prayerfulness, two exercises that a couple must fulfil in order to bring to perfection their chosen vocation. The veil, hence, is a challenge to the husband to initiate this atmosphere of prayer in the family as an environment of exercising his paternal responsibilities.

Likewise in Latin, the cord is called jugale, which comes from the word jugum, which refers to the yoke that is placed on the shoulders of oxen when they are made to plough the fields. The yoke is the Christian symbol for submission to the will of God, a virtue that is here actuated. And here, both the husband and wife are called to submit to the will of God, which, in the bonds of matrimony, refers to the fulfilment of the primary ends of the sacrament, foremost of which is the prosperity in children, the participation and perpetuation of the solemn action of God on the sixth day of the history of Creation, the accessing of the wonderful miracle of procreation.

The priest then recites the proper prayers.

Conclusion of the Mass, ablation of the cord and the veil, and allocution to the nuptial couple
After the Dismissal, the priest turns towards the nuptial couple and says the appropriate prayer.

Afterwards, the servers approach the nuptial couple and remove the cord, and then the veil.

The priest thereafter proclaims a final admonition to the nuptial couple.

Handover of the wife to the husband
After the Last Gospel, the priest hands over the wife to the husband by saying appropriate the vernacular:
Compañera os doy, y no sierva; amadla como Cristo ama a su Iglesia.

The ceremonies here described are in accordance with the third edition of the Manual de Manila as it was promulgated by D. Pedro Payo of Manila, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Philippine Islands. These ceremonies, most especially, the arrhae, the two rings, the veil, and the cord, for centuries the norm throughout the Islands, persisted through the American era and until the present time. (It is sad that the practice of leading the nuptial couple into the sanctuary has died out already, and is no longer observed.)

So unique and singular, and so cherished amongst the Filipino faithful, is the Order of Matrimony according to the Philippine Use that during the First Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1953 [A&D PCP-I, art. 5, no. 464], the Filipino bishops were moved to mandate its use and preservation throughout the archipelago, and to decree that any Matrimony contracted in the Islands not in accordance with this rite is both illicit and invalid. All the acts and decrees of this Council were recognised and approved by Rome.
Matrimonia inter catholicos celebrentur servato ritu ex Manuali Toletano desumpto, longo saeculorum decursu in his regionibus usitatu, atque aptissimis caeremoniis ad significandam indissolubilem sponsorum unionem referto. 
Interestingly, this preclusion categorically forbids the use of other matrimonial rites within the Philippines, where the Manuale Toletanum is for centuries the authority of the custom, a possibility which was previously clarified by the Sacred Congregation of Rites in response to a series of dubia posted by D. Maximiliano Crespo Rivera, Archbishop of Popayán, through a rescript issued on 6 November 1925 [AAS 18 (1926), 22]. The dubia state:
V. Ex canone 1100 Codicis juris canonici, extra casum necessitatis, in Matrimonii celebratione servandi sunt ritus in libris ritualibus ab Ecclesia probatis praescripti aut laudabilibus consuetudinibus receptis. Hinc quaeritur : 1. An in his regionibus Manuale Toletanum, quod passim in celebrando Matrimonio atque in administratione Ssmi Viatici et Extremae Unctionis adhibetur, sit praeceptivum ? 2. Et, in casu affirmativo, an Ordinarii locorum ejus usui semel pro semper renuntiare valeant, ut ejus loco Rituale Romanum dehinc ab omnibus adhibeatur ?
and the responsum states:
Ad V. Expedire ut adhibeatur Rituale Romanum, juxta Decreta n. 3654, Carthaginien., 16 februarii 1886, et n. 3792 ad IX, Strigonien., 30 augusti 1892.

[Note: The dubium from Esztergom that this rescript refers to is actually dubium X. Below is the text of the dubium
Dubium X. Rituale Romanum licetne ubique adhiberi et in quibuscumque functionibus, etiamsi proprium Rituale dioecesanum, in nonnullis tantum a Romano discrepans habetur ?
and the responsum which applies for both dubia IX and X.
Ad IX et X. Affirmative.]

It is true that there is a danger of construing Matrimony as centred on the husband and wife, and this insensitive reckoning has already spawned the legal contractualisation and dissolubility of the otherwise permanent and steadfast bond. Paraphrasing the words of Fr. Zerrudo, the celebrant of the Nuptial Mass, in his sermon:
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the centre of each and every Matrimony, and not the husband and wife. What use do we have of having the man and the wife vow to be together till death part them if they put their love and affection before the love of Christ? Marriage is for life because the love of Christ is infinite and eternal.
And so, the blessing duly given, the priest hands over the wife to the husband, saying the words of Saint Paul:
Companion I thee give, and not a handmaiden, love her thou as Christ loveth His Church.

Photo courtesy of M.J.M.A.
With permission from the contracting parties.

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