WEEKLY BULLETIN / NEWSLETTER
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Paul Turner - “We’d like to get
our marriage blessed.”
A couple who were married
outside the Catholic church but who want the church’s approval
of their marriage may do so later in a ceremony the popularly
call a blessing. Technically, we call it a “convalidation.” We
use this ritual when we all come to an agreement that the
Catholics choose to be married
outside the church for various reasons. Sometimes one partner is
formerly married, and the annulment has not yet been granted for
the divorce. Sometimes the couple was unable to time to marriage
preparation, and their pastor could not accommodate them.
Sometimes they are not very active in the church and choose a
marriage ceremony that better fits their relationship – high on
romance, low on religion. The Catholic who chooses marriage
outside the church withdraws from receiving Communion.
Later, though, the couple may
have second thoughts. They grow to recognize their dependence on
God and the church community. They miss the Eucharist. They want
to share the sacraments with their children. So they contact the
Generally, the parish will
invite the couple to some preparation – family, pastoral, and
spiritual formation. If previous marriages are involved,
annulments are pursued. And then the marriage can be “blessed.”
The ceremony may be as
elaborate or simple as the couple wishes. They may even walk
down the aisle with attendants but most want a simple affair.
We need two witnesses, like a
best man and maid/matron of honor. As long as they understand
what is happening, the witnesses may be of any age, gender, or
faith. We also need a deacon or a priest. In places of the
Catholic world where ordained ministers are scarce, another
designated minister may serve as the church’s official witness.
Convalidation may include Mass, but it need not. We offer
prayers, Scripture readings, the exchange of consent, the
blessing of rings, prayers of the faithful, and blessings for
the couple. It can be simple, yet solemn.
Ministers of communion can tell
you this story: They offer the cup to the next person in line,
“The blood of Christ.” The communicant answers, “Amen.” But
instead of taking the cup, the communicant dips the host in the
cup, pops it in the mouth, and slips back to the pew.
Intinction, right? Wrong. Our church does not invite the
faithful to this method of receiving Communion.
We offer several methods for
receiving Communion. We may take the body of Christ on the
tongue or in the hand. We may accept the blood of Christ from
the cup. In some parts of the Catholic world the blood of Christ
is administered through a silver tube or spoon.
We also have intinction: “The
celebrant (or Communion minister) dips a particle into the
chalice and, showing it, says: “The body and blood of Christ.”
The communicants respond: ”Amen,” receive Communion from the
priest, and return to their places.”
The bishops of the United
States have clarified this for us: “If Communion is given by
intinction the communicant may never dip the Eucharistic bread
into the chalice.”
Ever since Jesus appointed the
disciples to distribute the great multiplication of loaves, we
have designated certain ministers to offer holy food to the
faithful. This simple distinction helps us all approach the
Communion table with reverence – like beggars, not thieves. We
do not “take” Communion so much as we “receive” it.
Even with intinction, we do not
stretch forth our own hands to dip the hosts into the wine, like
chip-and-dip football appetizers. If intinction if offered, the
minister completes the action before placing Communion directly
in the mouth of the faithful.
Shortly after Vatican II,
intinction enjoyed some popularity. However, when we got
permission to take the Body of Christ in the hand, intinction
became less attractive. The minister couldn’t place a damp host
in the hands of the faithful.
two separate actions of eating and drinking helped us connect
the Eucharist with the Last Supper and with the way we eat at
home. These actions deepen the sense of mystery that our
all-powerful God comes to us in the ordinary forms of bread and