Changes to marriage rite begin this fall

Couples getting married and guests attending Catholic weddings will soon see and hear something new.

That’s because a new rite, the Order of Celebrating Matrimony, will be implemented in the United States Dec. 30, its English translation approved by the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It replaces the 1969 Rite of Marriage and its 1970 English translation. A Latin edition of the new order was published in 1991, but its English translation was delayed until completion and publication of the English translation of the new Roman Missal in 2011.

Revisions include wording changes throughout the rite, elimination of the penitential rite and options for entrance processions and certain cultural traditions.

They are not major changes, said Deacon Michael Conzett, permanent diaconate liaison with the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation. "A lot of the changes are just in the language."

Some of the wording changes involve the questions addressed to the couple before the consent, and the consent itself, he said. For example, the words, "I promise to be true to you," become, "I promise to be faithful to you."

"After the vows, there are praise and glory acclamations where the congregation can acclaim what they’ve just witnessed, praising God for this union," he said.

The book containing the new rite also includes an expanded introduction explaining the importance and dignity of the sacrament, and the duties of clergy involved in marriage preparation for the engaged couple and ongoing catechesis of the entire community, Deacon Conzett said.

Some priests and deacons might begin using the new rite immediately, since it was approved for optional use beginning Sept. 8, but many will wait until the end of December, said Valerie Conzett, director of the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation.

The center and the archdiocese’s Office of Divine Worship will offer workshops as requested by clergy as they adjust to the changes, she said.

Her office also is revising its engaged couple guide to reflect the changes, to be published in January.

"We will take this opportunity to enhance the entire guide, and we will make a lot of additions that will support this change to the rite, which invites us all to live more deeply the sacrament of matrimony," she said.

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