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THE VALUES OF The Christian Wedding

  In the words of William Lyon Phelps, "The highest happiness on earth is marriage." Marriage, a union between a man and a woman, is not a mere contract but an institution. God created them as man and woman, to live with each other for a life time in love and peace. Christians call it as a vocation - a sacrament - a grace of God.  a Holy Matrimony.


 In the Christian marriage, as in the local custom, the selection of the bride and groom are made and all other activities are carried out as prevail in our culture. Lots of preparations are made before solemnizing the marriage. The bride and the groom-to-be have to undergo a mandatory preparatory program, widely known as the "Pre-Cana"- referring to the famous wedding at Cana, where Jesus Christ performed His first miracle of turning water into wine. In this program, the basics of marriage as taught by the scriptures, the duty of the husband, the duty of the wife, their duties together as the parents etc., are discussed and widely understood by both the bride and groom-to-be. All doubts with regards to lead a Christian family life - commitment, love, patience, financial issues, practical problems, sex, family planning, bringing up children, etc. are mostly clarified. The natural methods of family planning are also taught so that the engaged couple do not resort to use of condoms and other abortion methods as prevented by the Church. The diocesan authorities will authenticate the future partner's understanding with regards to Christian marriage and each other. The groom and the bride-to-be are asked to take this program in a continuous stretch of three days or during the weekends. The couple-to-be is issued a certificate once they successfully complete this course.

Writing of the Banns

 The groom and the bride approach their respective parish priests and express their willingness to marry the other person. They produce the baptism certificate obtained recently from the Church where the person was baptized. This is compulsory to avoid child marriage and second marriage. Alongside, some paper work is to be done as a preparation for writing the Banns. The priest will ask the person to answer a standard questionnaire. The questions are about the bride or the groom, how they know each other, whether their parents have agreed to this wedding, whether they are single and eligible to be married, whether they will lead their children in a Christian way, etc. The persons should solemnly affirm, fill up and sign the questionnaire. Also they have to take an oath on the Bible that the statements are given in their full consent and knowledge. Once that is over, the priest will issue a letter of conformation to the other parish priest stating that the boy or girl is proposed to marry the person of their parish and to get the concern.

Announcement of the Banns to the community 

The next important step is announcing the Marriage Bann. This announcement of the proposed wedding is prepared and read in public on three consecutive Sundays to the public during the 'mass services. The public are advised to file any objections to the proposed marriage. It is the duty of the parishioners to report any impediments to the proposed marriage to the Parish priest. If there are no impediments to the proposed wedding, the Parish priest will issue the no objection certificate to perform the wedding

Finalizing the great day 

The wedding date is fixed according to the convenience of the engaged couple; but not during the seasons of Lent (the period of remembering the suffering and death of Jesus, the Saviour) and Advent (the time to prepare for the birth of Jesus - Christmas). Permission is given to conduct the wedding at any time from morning to evening.

The rehearsal 

The present day 'nitchyathartham is almost equal to the wedding rehearsal. This is the day that each one knows the other. The parents of both the couple and their relatives come in association with the counterparts so that on the great day there should not be any blinking. Each one is assigned their duty to perform the next day so that there will not be any confusion on the important ceremony.

The great Solemnity begins with the lighting of the candle 

Marriage ceremony is performed during the Mass. which is celebrated in remembrance of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the redeemer of the World. A candle was decorated and kept in an elite place in front of the altar. The engaged couple is invited to light the candle to signify their union before the Lord, that they are not two persons hereafter, but one. The word of God - The scripture readings are taken up from the Old Testament and the Gospel, and read.

The vow and the ring ceremony

 The priest asks the engaged couple their intentions of freedom of choice, faithfulness to each other and their acceptance, in front of the community. The priest then invites the couple to declare their consent to be married. The couple vow before the Minister of the Church, the witnesses to the marriage and the public their love and loyalty towards the other in happiness and in sorrow, in good health and in sickness. They take this solemn vow in front of the Divine presence of the Lord Almighty. Then the wedding rings are blessed. The custom is adapted from the European culture. The ring has no beginning and no end. Like wise the love of the couple for each other is eternal. With this in mind, the couple exchanges the rings.

Tying the knot' as per Tamil culture 

As per the prevailing Tamil culture, the Christians also have the practice of tying the thiru mangalyam. The mangalyam also blessed by the priest and the groom ties the wedding knot in the midst of the ringing of the Bells, the clapping of the entire crowd and the singing of the acclamation by the Church Choir, that God united men cannot separate. The mass is continued with the offerings and the consecration and the chanting of the Lord's Prayer. Holy Communion is adminis tered to the couple and the public to express their Christian unity. Then the priest invokes a special prayer for the newly wedded couple and blesses them.

Proof of marriage 

The marriage is entered in the register of marriage" maintained by the Church. The bride groom and the bride sign the register as token of their solemn vow which is authenticated by the priest - administer of the ceremony and witnessed by two important persons.

Wedding Cake and the Toast 

The cutting of the wedding cake is another important ceremony in the Christian marriage. In the presence of the parents of the couple and the entire gathering the couple cut the cake and exchanges the piece with each other amidst the thunderous clapping of the gathering. A toast also made by the master of the ceremony in honor of the newly wedded couple for their prosperity and happiness through the years to come. Cake and wine is served to all remembering the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of changing water into wine at the wedding of Cana. This is followed by the wedding banquet.

Grace is showered 

Christians believe that God's blessing and grace is showered in the wedding. The couple is prepared to lead a true Christian life by knowing the virtues of life living for the other. If the vow they exchanged resonates in their mind, there is no difference of opinion, quarrel, misunderstanding, separation that leads to divorce. The values of marriage and the expectations of the relatives, friends and their own dreams will definitely be fulfilled.