The Rite of Betrothal
When a Christian man and woman intend to pledge themselves to marriage, it is praiseworthy and in accord with ancient ecclesiastical custom to have the engagement solemnized and blessed by the Church. May it suffice to state here that no action is admissible to compel the celebration of marriage.
It is fitting that the ceremony take place before the altar of God and that it be followed by the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, together with the reception of Holy Communion. The Priest (vested in surplice and stole) awaits the couple at the Communion Rail. At hand are the holy water and the altar Missal. As the man and woman come forward with the two witnesses they have chosen, the following antiphon and psalm are read:
ANTIPHON: To the Lord I will tender my promise, in the presence of all his people.
Unless the house be of the Lord’s building, in vain do the builders labor. Unless the Lord be the guard of the city, ’tis in vain the guard keep his sentry.
It is futile that you rise before day-break, to be astir in the midst of darkness.
Ye that eat the bread of hard labor; for he deals bountifully to his beloved while they are sleeping.
Behold, offspring result from God’s giving, a fruitful womb the regard of his blessing.
Like arrows in the hand of the warrior, are children begotten of a youthful father.
Happy the man who has filled therewith his quiver; they shall uphold him in contending at the gate with his rival.
Glory be to the Father and to his Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever, through endless ages. Amen.
ANTIPHON: To the Lord I will tender my promise: in the presence of all his people.
Beloved of Christ: It is in the dispensation of Divine Providence that you are called to the holy vocation of marriage. For this reason you present yourselves today before Christ and his Church, before his sacred minister and the devout people of God, to ratify in solemn manner, the engagement bespoken between you. At the same time you entreat the blessing of the Church upon your proposal, as well as the earnest supplications of the faithful here present, since you fully realize that what has been inspired and guided by the will of your heavenly Father requires equally his grace to be brought to a happy fulfillment.
We are confident that you have given serious and prayerful deliberation to your pledge of wedlock; moreover, that you have sought counsel from the superiors whom God has placed over you. In the time that intervenes, you will prepare for the sacrament of matrimony by a period of virtuous courtship, so that when the happy and blessed day arrives for you to give yourselves irrevocably to each other, you will have laid a sound spiritual foundation for long years of godly prosperity on earth and eventually blessed together in the life to come. May the union you propose one day to consummate as man and wife be found worthy to be in all truth a sacramental image and reality of the union of Christ and his beloved Bride, the Church. This grant, Thou Who livest and reignest God, forever and evermore. Amen.
(The Priest now bids the couple to join their right hands, they then repeat after him the following):
In the name of our Lord, I (name), promise that I will one day take you, (name of lady), as my wife, according to the ordinances of God and holy Church. I will love you, even as myself. I will keep faith and loyalty to you, and so in your necessities aid and comfort you; which things and all that a man ought to do unto his espoused I promise to do unto you and to keep by the faith that is in me.
In the name of our Lord, I (name), in the form and manner wherein you have promised yourself unto me, do declare and affirm that I will one day bind and oblige myself unto you, and will take you (name of man), as my husband. And all that you have pledged unto me a promise to do and keep unto you, by the faith that is in me.
(The Priest then takes the two ends of his stole and in the form of a cross places them over the clasped hands of the couple. Holding the stole in place with his left hand, he says):
I BEAR WITNESS OF YOUR SOLEMN PROPOSAL and I declare you betrothed. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(Priest sprinkles the couple with holy water in the form of a cross.)
BLESSING OF THE ENGAGEMENT RING
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with Thy spirit.
Let us pray. O God Almighty, Creator and preserver of the human race, and the Giver of everlasting salvation, deign to allow the Holy Spirit, the Consoler tocome with His blessing unpon this ring. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, The Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for endless ages. Amen.
(The ring is sprinkled with holy water. The man takes the ring and places it first on the index finger of the lady’s left hand saying):
MAN: IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER…
(Then on the middle finger):
MAN: AND OF THE SON…
(Finally placing and leaving it on the ring finger, he concludes):
MAN: AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
(The Priest opens the Missal and presents the page imprinted with the Crucifixion to be kissed first by the man and then by the woman):
(Priest reads the following passages):
TOBIAS 7:3 – Tobias said: I will not eat nor drink here this day, unless Thou first grant me my petition, and promise to give me Sara thy daughter. . . The angel said to Raguel: Be not afraid to give her to this man, for to him who feareth God is thy daughter due to be his wife. . . And Raguel taking the right hand of his daughter, he gave it into the right hand of Tobias, saying: The God of Abraham, and the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob be with you, and may He join you together, and fulfill his blessing in you. And taking paper they made a writing of the marriage. And afterwards they made merry, blessing God. . . Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sara, arise, and let us pray to God today, and tomorrow, and the next day; because for these three nights we are joined to God; and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. For we are the children of saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God. So they both arose, and prayed earnestly both together that health might be given them.
R. THANKS BE TO GOD.
JOHN 15: 4-12
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itslf, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you, the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done unto you. In this is my Father glorified; that you bring forth very much fruit, and become my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and do abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
R. PRAISE BE TO THEE, O CHRIST.
(Lastly, the Priest extends his hands over the heads of the couple and says):
May God bless your bodies and your souls. May he shed his blessing upon you as he blessed Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. May the hand of the Lord be upon you, may he send his holy Angel to guard you all the days of your life. Amen.
Go in peace.