O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rite of Betrothal

Una Voce Portugal recently posted this on the Rite of Betrothal (in Portuguese, Ecce Homo translation, emphases & comments):

Currently the period of engagement is merely the time span that goes from the engagement until the marriage properly so called. The future marriage is taken for granted [Nooo... That presupposes that marriage is something you do and that you will accomplish. No. It is a vocation and an act of God, not an act of man and woman. It is something that God conforms you to, that His love for His Bride the Church might be reflected in your love for each other.], so the engagement is seen only as a period of preparation for "external" aspects of marriage. [No. Marriage is not merely something exterior and physical. While it has an external/physical aspect, it is even more so internal and spiritual. It is a vocation and a state in life like the priesthood or religious life.] But engagement is not only that, at least it shouldn't be for the Christian who loves God. [Indeed.] It is a period of preparation, yes, but not just of the exterior. It is above all a period of internal preparation. It is a period of serious reflection and prayer about one's vocation. [Marriage is not natural as much as it is supernatural. The couple's love reflects God's love and that union is used by God to create new life.] The Christian must ask whether the marriage is in fact his vocation, and if so, whether it is with the person to whom he just got engaged. [It is not to be taken lightly as it is not something you do as a couple, but rather something God does to the two of you.] It is a period in which the couple will deepen mutual understanding of each other. This may seem strange to modern man, because now the period of courtship involves mutual knowledge already; many times, couples date for many years before getting married, if they ever get married one day. [That greatly devalues marriage as it isn't something "special" anymore. They have already given their bodies away and made them common and used.]

The rite of betrothal ends up being more than a mere formalization of the intention to marry, as is the case in the secular world. The rite of betrothal is in a certain way an anticipation of marriage; one sees through signs the reality of what is to come. [I am reminded of the Offertory prayers at Mass which anticipate the Consecration. The priest offers up the bread and wine as he will shortly thereafter offer up the Body and Blood of the Lord.] The bride and groom communicate their intention to marry not only to one another but to God and the whole Church. [They are not alone. They have God helping them.] The bride and groom exchange promises, which in some way prefigure the vows they will exchange vows in matrimony, and the priest blesses the engagement ring (which becomes a sacramental) and the couple. Thereafter, the engagement is no longer just in the hands of the couple - it is in the hands of God, and is helped by the prayers of the Church. [The engagement started with God as He was the one who called them to the Married Vocation. Now they have accepted God's will and offered it back to Him that He might consummate it.]

The rite reflects above all on the dependence on God on the part of the couple. [Marriage is from God and done by God, so they cannot do anything of themselves.] The marriage is not taken for granted. Your preparation - especially the internal - is put in the hands of the Lord, asking His help so that you can get to the first day of your particular vocation which is marriage. [If your love is true, it came from God, so therefore you could never do anything without Him, as He is the source of everything.] Marriage is a mutual submission through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, and one must begin to prepare for this reality since the beginning. [If you go into it with the wrong idea, that marriage is a contract, the "next step" of human affection, or whatever, then you will have to restart from the beginning and learn that marriage is really a reflection of Christ's love for the Church between a man and a woman, the union of which exists that God might use it as an environment to beget children. This immediately rules homosexuality and contraception as intrinsically evil and sacrileges against the Sacrament of Matrimony, as they cannot result in pregnancy. It doesn't matter how unpopular or "offensive" the truth is, it's still true.] Who is not aware of this reality should not be married. [Amen!]

At a time when there is much confusion about marriage, which is despised or instead people try to equate homosexual unions with this, it makes sense to recover/(re-)introduce the rite of betrothal. This clear distinction between dating, courtship, and marriage, also helps to emphasize that each state [in life] has its requirements and limitations, and that not everything is permitted to all states. [!!!] We are called to bear witness to our faith - this is a visible and clear testimony. This remains as a suggestion for our readers.