Sunday, 15 May 2016

Things to avoid in a Traditional Catholic wedding in the Philippines

The fairly recent clarification by Archbishop Sócrates Villegas that “couples cannot write their own Catholic wedding vows” has inspired us to look at some of the contemporary fads that beleaguer Filipino weddings and crosscheck whether they are compatible to the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Old Rite, according to the use of the Philippine Islands.

First off, should there be a bridal march in a Traditional Catholic wedding in the Philippines? The answer is: No. Why? Because the traditional wedding rite of the Philippines has no place for it. But suppose we get around this obstacle, and insist that we have the bridal procession, entourage and all, is there something that prevents us?

Indeed, there is. The First Plenary Council of the Philippines prohibited by word such marches.

Of course, some will say that it is the theatricality of some marches that the decree opposes, but this is now venturing into the realm of verbalism condemned by St Basil the Great in his work on the Holy Ghost. The decree clearly states that “in no way” should this practice be “tolerated,” if it is already existing, or “introduced,” if it is not yet practiced.

An interesting epilogue to this prohibition is the further clarification issued by the episcopal commission appointed to authentically interpret the decrees of the Plenary Council. Issued on 25 February 1957, we have the following.

Fray Excelso García integrated this proscription as a footnote to the 1960 Manuale Philippinense. We thus include this also in our Matrimoniale Philippinense.

More importantly, as mentioned above, because the rites prescribe this ceremony:
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.

Second, as evidenced in the decree above, the practice of throwing rice or coins in the ambit of the church is forbidden. The term in the ambit of the church refers to the interior of the church and its immediate exterior, including its grounds.

Tossing rice at newlyweds

The association of rice to weddings is purportedly on the grounds of prosperity, but it has heathen undertones. In pre-Hispanic animistic and anitistic Philippines, a man and a woman is married over a bowl of rice. However, as the decree does not cover the wedding feast afterwards, the assumption is that it is permissible to throw rice and coins at the wedding reception. But if we wish to obliterate superstition, we can also freely choose to omit it there.

Third, and finally, profane music is not to be played during weddings. This explains itself, but we shall still offer a few notes. Anything not classified as sacred music automatically falls in the category of profane music. Almost all music that contemporary artists produce, be they pop, R&B, soul, rock, among others, are profane music. Had they been conducive to elevating the minds of the faithful to a more intimate contemplation of the divine, Palestrina, Morales, Victoria, and De Prez would have had invented these genres eons ago to decorate the Sacred Liturgy. There is a logical fallacy somewhere in this assertion but our final verdict remains: The wedding reception is the best venue for these unbridled excursions to the more unrestrained realms of music.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

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