Marriage is a sacred and holy sacrament and is the only one actually administered by the persons concerned to one another in the presence of the priest, God's representative, their families and with the community and with Jesus Christ as the invisible guest. The sacrament should be conducted with dignity, devotion and decorum. The guidelines given below are also applicable for anniversary celebrations like 25th, 50th or 60th.
The person getting married has to personally meet the priest at least three months in advance and this should be done before booking the hall or making any other arrangements.
The persons intending to get married have to undergo a Pre-Nuptial or Marriage Preparation Course which helps the couple to understand the new state of life they are going to enter and gives them an understanding of the various problems that may arise during their married life and how to deal with them.
At the time of filling the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form a fresh Baptism Certificate issued within six (6) months from the date of the intended marriage as well as the Marriage Preparation Course Certificate are to be attached.
In case a close relative or friend is a priest and one would like him to bless the nuptials or be the celebrant kindly inform the parish priest at the time of filling the Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form.
A dispensation has to be obtained from the Archbishop of Bombay if the other party to the marriage is not a Catholic. The dispensation is granted only if certain conditions are fulfilled. In the case of such a marriage the parish priest has to be contacted as early as possible.
If the marriage is taking place outside the Archdiocese of Bombay, the marriage procedure of the Archdiocese of Bombay has to be followed. The No Objection Certificate or NOC will be issued only when the proper marriage procedure has been completed.
As per the civil law of the Maharashtra State it is now absolutely necessary for those intending to get married to have a civil registered marriage in addition to the church certificate.
LITURGY AND RELIGIOUS CELEBRATION
Two or more couples can be married at the same time in the church. Marriage is a communitarian celebration and is generally celebrated during the parish masses. However, marriages can also take place outside the scheduled masses with the permission of the parish priest.
If the marriage is held on a Sunday during the parish mass the liturgy of the day takes precedence and the Readings are from the Missal. The Mass of the day is also followed for the Sundays in Advent, Lent, Eastertide and major feasts in the church.
The Readings are done by lectors appointed for the parish mass or by close relatives only if they are able to read clearly. The role of lector should not be given to children.
Similarly, if the nuptials take place during Advent, Lent, Eastertide and major feasts in the church, the hymns should reflect the liturgy of the day and not merely reflect the marriage theme. The role of the choir is to encourage the congregation to sing along with them.
The Rite of Marriage commences after the sermon. At this time the witnesses (preferably Catholics) should come forward. No proxies for witnesses are allowed. The rings should also be easily available and there should be no confusion. The Rite of Marriage cannot be changed or reformulated.
The Prayers of the Faithful (usually four) should be prepared with care, should be brief and follow a set pattern and should not be combined with the Offertory Procession. These prayers should include petitions for the Universal Church, the nation/world, the couple and other local needs.
An offertory procession is not encouraged. The bride and groom could present the bread and wine provided by the Church. The presentation of gifts is not encouraged.
Signing of the register is done in the sacristy or at a table provided in the church for this purpose and not at the altar. Please keep in mind that till the bridal party and families leave the church one is still in the presence of God. Therefore, do not use the church as a studio for snaps.
Please be in time for the nuptials. In case the bridal party is late, the scheduled mass of the day will start at the proper time. The party will have to wait outside or near the entrance of the church till after the reading of the gospel and then enter. If the entrance is after the reading of the gospel no photographs or video shoots will be allowed as with a traditional entrance procession.
As with all church services one should always be appropriately dressed especially the male and female members of the bridal party. Also, all those who play an active part in the liturgy should be respectfully and appropriately dressed. Please keep in mind at all times that the Church is the House of Prayer and one is in the presence of God.
The decorations should be such that they do not take away attention from the altar and /or cause any damage to church property (use ribbons or other such material instead of cello-tape). It would be well to consult with the parish priest when decorating the church. Confetti and crackers are not permitted within the church or its surroundings. During Lent there are no floral decorations, whilst in Advent the decorations are restrained.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO SHOOTING
Photography and video shooting will be allowed only at the following moments and from a designated place in the church:
The Nuptial Rite
Reception of Holy Communion
Signing of the Register
Mixed marriages are of two types
A "Mixed Religion Marriage" - This is a marriage between a baptized Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic viz. Christians of other denominations and churches like Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Pentecostal, Protestant, etc.
A "Disparity of Cult Marriage" is a marriage between a baptized Catholic and an unapprised person of another faith, viz. Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Parsi, etc.
Mixed marriages are a part of life in general today. When people of different faiths live and work alongside it is natural that such associations lead to strong friendships which result in marriage. Such mixed marriages are one of the major concerns of the Church today. In mixed marriages the couple does not share a common faith or religion and the joys and blessings resulting from praying together. Due to different cultural and religious backgrounds adjustment with one another is not always easy. A major area of concern is which faith do children of such marriages follow. In a mixed marriage the Catholic party has the duty to retain his/her faith as one person.
The children of mixed marriages are often the victims as their upbringing and the faith they will follow are the bone of contention very often. Whilst the non-Catholic partner in such marriages may agree to the promises made regarding the faith of the children more often than not they are not at ease with the situation and feel rebellious and dis-satisfied.
To safeguard against problems arising from marriages outside the Church, or mixed marriages, the church has framed laws for the protection of the Catholic partner. When entering into a mixed marriage between a Catholic and baptized non-Catholic the Catholic partner has to obtain the express permission of a competent ecclesiastical authority, i.e. the Bishop. In the case of a Disparity of Cult marriage the Catholic marrying a person of another faith, a dispensation from the impediment has to be obtained from the Bishop for the marriage to be valid.
CONDITIONS FOR GRANTING PERMISSION
Due to changes in society and working and living circumstances mixed marriages are an exception in the eyes of the Church. The Bishop can grant permission for such a marriage, but he is not bound to do so. Only when the following conditions have been observed is a dispensation granted by the Bishop.
The Catholic party must acknowledge the potential danger to his/her faith and declare his/her readiness to remove the said danger and not leave the Church.
The Catholic party must promise to do all in his/her power to ensure the baptism and education of the children in the marriage as Catholics.
The declarations and the promises by the Catholic party are to be made in writing and this statement is countersigned by the priest.
The Non-Catholic party is informed of the promises made by the Catholic party so that he/she are completely aware of the promises and obligations by the Catholic party.
There is no necessity of taking such a written statement or promise / undertaking from the Non-Catholic party.
The couple getting married in a mixed marriage must follow the normal marriage procedure as given in the guidelines given earlier. In addition the non-Catholic party has to submit a notarized affidavit currently on a 100/-stamp paper stating that he/she is getting married freely and voluntarily without any force or fear in the Roman Catholic rite of marriage in the Roman Catholic Church. This notarized affidavit has to be given to the priest.
In cases where the single status of the Catholic party is not clear then the Catholic party has to sign an "Oath of free" state in the presence of the priest and two witnesses.
A marriage between a Catholic and a non-Christian cannot be celebrated during mass. No special nuptial mass is allowed in the church in case of disparity of cult marriage. The couple is, however, welcome to join in any of the scheduled parish masses.
Similarly, in the case of a marriage between a Catholic and a Baptised non-Catholic the same cannot be celebrated during the mass without the permission of the Bishop.
A purely civil marriage before the religious church marriage is not prohibited but advisable as it will help in getting a passport, visa, etc. The current State Government rules say that all religious marriage ceremonies have to be endorsed with a civil marriage. A civil marriage takes place before the Civil Registrar of Marriages.