Saturday, 6 August 2016

Matrimony according to the Use of the Philippine Islands

On Saturday, 6 August 2016, feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Jesús Félix Valenzuela and Junvi Estrada contracted matrimony according to the Use of the Philippine Islands, in the peace and in the presence of Holy Mother Church at the Co-Cathedral of the Epiphany of the Lord of the Archdiocese of Lingayén-Dagupan in Lingayén, Pangasinán, before Rev. Fr. Michell Joe Zerrudo of the Diocese of Cubao, chaplain and spiritual director of the Societas Ecclesia Dei Sancti Ioseph – Una Voce Philippines. Assisting were members of the Latin Mass Community of Dagupan.

Rite of Matrimony

In accordance with the ancient practice of the Church, as prescribed by the 1961 Manuale Philippinense (the last edition prior to Vatican II), the couple contracted Matrimony at one of the doors of the co-cathedral, in the presence of their witnesses, sponsors, families and friends.

The rite began with an admonition in the vernacular. The priest then exhorted everyone present to divulge any impediment in their knowledge that might invalidate the Sacrament. At the scrutiny, the priest posited three questions first to the bride and then to the bridegroom. After confirming the mutual consent of the couple, the priest—invoking the Holy Trinity, the Communion of Saints, and Holy Mother Church—having joined the right hands of the bride and bridegroom, bound them inseparably duo in carne una.

From this point onward, Jesús Félix and Junvi are husband and wife in the eyes of the Church. The rite then proceeded first to the blessing of the thirteen arrhae and then to the blessing of the two rings. These are two of the elements in the Use of the Philippine Islands that show its strong Mozarabic character. The Roman Rite uses no arrhae and only one ring.

Having blessed the rings, the priest retrieved one ring, blessed it, and imposed it upon the fourth digit of the husband’s right hand. The priest then retrieved the other one, blessed it, handed it to the husband, who then imposed it upon the fourth digit of his wife’s right hand. We learn from the collect of the blessing of the rings that they are signs of fidelity and chastity. Husband and wife did not exchange the rings; rather they received the rings from the priest. One witnesses here anew the history of creation: God created and breathed life into Adam; God formed Eve from Adam’s side and breathed life into her. The bestowal of the rings recalls the words of the admonition: “Thou, husband, have compassion upon thy wife, just as upon a more delicate vessel; we shall give thee a companion, not a slave. On this account, indeed, Adam did thusly call Eve his companion, who was formed out from his side.”

The priest then entrusted the arrhae to the husband, who then entrusted it to his wife, who then finally returned it to the priest. We learn from the two collects for the blessing of the arrhae that they symbolise the material wealth of the household and, most importantly, the multitude of children springing from the union, who, in the words of the admonition, shall become heirs, “not so much of the [couple’s] possessions, but of [their] faith, religion, and virtues.”

In number, thirteen recalls the Lord Jesus Christ, and His twelve Apostles. The arrhae instruct us 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.

The latent significance of the transmission of the arrhae, which mirrors the order by which the rings were bestowed, moves us to contemplate upon the duties of a Christian household to the Church. Just as a Christian home receives its wealth from God through the gift of constant labour to the husband, who renders the fruits of his occupation to his wife to administer; so with its own wealth does a Christian home support Holy Mother Church in Her good works.

The rite then concluded with a final blessing to the husband and the wife, preceded by a pericope of psalm 67 and versicles.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass then followed.

Nuptial Blessing

From the entrance of the church, the priest offered one end of his stole to the husband and the wife, whom, holding his stole, he led inside and into the sanctuary, reciting with the servers the entirety of psalm 127. Inside the sanctuary, the priest blessed them before celebrating Mass.

Towards the end of the Epistle, the husband and the wife received burning candles which they held while the priest chanted the Gospel. After the priest prayed the Offertory in silence, he turned to them to receive the candles. Having thus received the candles, the priest offered them a crucifix, and which they kissed while the priest gave them a blessing.

After the priest had recited the Sanctus, the servers covered the husband’s shoulders and the wife’s head with a veil of white and red, and, upon their shoulders, placed the white cord or yoke. Together, they symbolise the bond of matrimony. The placement of the veil especially recalls the words of the admonition: “Thou, wife, thou shalt be yielding to thy husband in all things… Wherefore, in all things that do not contradict piety, endeavour ye to please one another: let the wife be compliant, be yielding; let the man, often for the sake of domestic peace, somewhat relax his authority to govern.”

Interestingly, on the strength of the decree of the First Plenary Council of the Philippines, the 1961 Manuale Philippinense restored the two colours of the veil, red and white, which, while expressly mentioned in the first edition, were reduced to only white in the intermediate editions. The red part of the veil calls to mind the blood of the generations that will spring from this union, while the white part of the veil calls to mind chastity and fidelity to be observed in producing those subsequent generations.

The yoke calls to mind submission to the will of God in their duty to establishing a Christian home. It forms a chain around their neck, just as a yoke joins beasts together as they till the fields, in order to remind the husband and the wife that they must work together to fulfil their duties, especially the principal end of matrimony, which is prosperity in children.

After the Pater noster and before the Líbera nos, the priest retreated to the Epistle side of the altar, turned towards the husband and the wife, and pronounced upon them the nuptial blessing, reading the first collect and then singing the second.

After the Agnus Dei, a server offered the paxbrede to the husband and the wife. Later, after the priest had consumed the Body and the Blood of the Lord, he gave Holy Communion to the husband and the wife.

At the end of the Mass, the priest pronounced a final blessing to the husband and the wife, followed by a final admonition in the vernacular. After the Last Gospel, the priest then handed over the wife to her husband, bidding the husband to “love her as Christ loveth His Church.”

He then bade them in peace.

Fecunda, Domine, præsentes nuptias
Prole dignissima, qui tibi serviant,
Et tuo nomini gratias referant,
Benedicti et maneant. Amen.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

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