This page explains many of the things you will see during a Catholic wedding. It also details why certain things are done the way they are. The couple would like for all those attending the wedding to participate to the level they feel comfortable with.
This page is intended for both non-Catholic and Catholic's alike. To paraphrase from the Ceder Meal which Tony participated in when he was a youth at Saint John Vianey Catholic Church. "Let us all be wise children here. Therefore, even if all of us were wise, and well versed in the Catholic faith, it would still be our duty to explain it."
Holy Water: Top
When you walk in the door's you will see a baptismal font. It looks like a four pillar fountain. The water contained in this font, is holy water. You may see other guests or the bride and groom dip their fingers into the water and then make the Sign of the Cross. This is a reminder of our baptism in Christ. It can be traced back to Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan River.
Statues & Saints: Top
What is up with all the statues and pictures of Saints? The Ten Commandments say "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other god's before me." What's up with that? The idea of a saint is someone who is likely to have made it to heaven after their death and has lived a devote life worthy of admiration. When Catholics pray, for example the Hail Mary, the prayer is not asking Mary or another saint to make something happen. It's more along the lines of a prayer chain. Catholics are asking those in Heaven (the saints), who are close to God, to pray along with us, as they are closer to God, for what we are seeking Gods help with. After all very few people raise objections when asking their friends and family to pray for them in a time of need.
Kneeling, Bowing, or Genuflecting: Top
As you are seated you may notice that others around you are kneeling, bowing, or genuflecting prior to sitting in a pew. Kneeling and genuflecting is to show respect to Christ’s physical presence in the Eucharist which is stored in tabernacle of the church. The bow is a display of respect for what the altar represents, it is not worship of that object. This can be traced back to Saint Paul to the Philippians 2.9-10 "Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend , of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth."
How Can I Keep From Singing? Top
Whats with all of the singing? “He who sings prays twice,” St. Augustine said. The Church calls music a
“necessary” part of the liturgy because it helps the assembly pray
together more vibrantly (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1156; cf Sacrosanctum Concilium 112). If it is done well, this special form of prayer unites the whole assembly together in one voice and becomes a window onto divine beauty.
Those signs people make with their thumbs: Top
After the first two readings, the congregation stands up, the priest picks up the book that was placed on the alter, and takes it over to the lectern. Then you see people making the Sign of the Cross with their thumbs on their head, lips, and heart. What’s up with that? That is to signify God’s word always on our mind, lips, and heart.
Catholic Calisthenics: Top
So why are all the Catholics up and down kneeling, sitting, and standing? It relates back to the kneeling, bowing, and genuflecting thing. We stand and participate in the Mass, we sit and hear the Word of God, and we kneel in God’s presence in the Eucharist. That still doesn't answer the up and down part. What is happening is that at certain times we are called to participate and others we are called to experience God’s presence and these moments of participation and experiencing can happen back to back.
So what should someone do who can’t kneel or feels uncomfortable kneeling? Feel free to sit. It’s not going to freak any of the Catholics out, they’re used to it and it’s not disrespectful.
Let us pray with confidence?: Top
Every time I've been to a Catholic Mass they never say the Lord’s Prayer all the way through they always pause for the priest to say something before finishing with “the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.” Why is that? The simple answer is they are two separate prayers, the Our Father and a doxology (or a prayer of praise). The Our Father comes straight out of the Bible, Matt. 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, however the doxology is not actually in the texts of the bible but can be traced back to the early church. Where it was said immediately following the Our Father. Hence it is common to merge this doxology with the Our Father, into what people commonly call the Lord’s Prayer. So the Catholic’s are just splitting it up into the two prayers.
Holding hands during the Our Father: Top
No you don’t have to hold hands during the Our Father. It’s classified as an ornate gesture and has no prescribed precedence in the Catholic Church. Most people who hold hands in a Catholic church during the Our Father are families or small groups of people. Please do what makes you feel comfortable.
My Peace I Give: Top
After the Our Father there is a sign of peace, what am I supposed to do? The generally accepted practice is to shake hands with the people around you and say “peace be with you” some people shorten this to “peace.” It is also acceptable especially during the cold and flu season to forgo shaking hands and bow to those around you as a sign of peace. In any case you do not have to offer peace to those around you. After all the peace that is offered is the ever lasting peace God gave us.
The Holy Eucharist: Top
On November 14, 1996, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the following guidelines on the reception of communion. These guidelines replace the guidelines approved by the Administrative Committee of the NCCB in November 1986. The guidelines, which are to be included in missalettes and other participation aids published in the United States, seek to remind all those who may attend Catholic liturgies of the present discipline of the Church with regard to the sharing of eucharistic communion.
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
For our fellow Christians
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (Jn 17:21).
Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).
For those not receiving Holy Communion
All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.
We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.
Further information: Top