January 7, 2016
Memorial of Saint Raymond Penyafort
RE: Personal Vows During Wedding Liturgies
My brother priests:
In recent months, some couples preparing for their weddings have asked if they could prepare their personal vows and read them within the wedding liturgy.
In order to respond to this query, let us be reminded about some basic principles in liturgy.
1. The liturgies of the Church, being public prayer, belong to the Church. Every liturgical action is an action of Christ the Priest with His Body which is the Church. The liturgy is a sacred action surpassing all others.
2. Private devotions and personal spiritual expressions should not be mixed with the liturgies of the Church. Mixing personal pious devotions with the liturgy could confuse, remove or diminish the focus of the action of Christ Himself in the liturgical action. The liturgy is not ours to change at whim.
3. The regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the Holy See and in limited cases, to bishops’ conferences. Hence, no other person, not even a priest may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22)
Based on these norms, the idea of pronouncing personal vows inserted within the wedding liturgy must not be allowed.
The officiating priests who will be asked about the propriety of inserting personal vows in the wedding liturgy can advise the couples to read their vows at the wedding reception but certainly not in the church. It would be a good occasion too to instruct the couples that the wedding vows prescribed in the wedding liturgy are rich and meaningful if only they understood the full depth and source of the liturgy of marriage. Let us not compromise the sacred character of the wedding rites on the altar of romanticism.
I trust that this directive will be observed with utmost obedience. Please be assured of my pastoral concern.
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
(Central Pangasinan, Philippines)