Skip to main content


Liturgy: How Brides Should Dress

6/11/2004 - 7:00 AM PST

Advertisment

And More on Decorating the Sanctuary

ROME, JUNE 11, 2004 (Zenit) - Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: How should brides dress for a wedding Mass? What would not be appropriate? -- J.Z., Chicago

A: This is a tangled question. The Church has historically granted wide berth to local traditions in weddings and funerals so customs vary from place to place.

There are few universal norms regarding brides and, although white is the traditional color for weddings in the English- speaking world, it is not obligatory, and there is ample room in multiethnic societies for other traditions, such as Asian or East European.

Many dioceses and even parishes do have guidelines in order to respect Christian values such as modesty and a respect for the spirit of Christian poverty.

These guidelines are especially important today, when what is fashionable is inspired by media stars who are not exactly paradigms of Christian virtue.

With regard to dress, these guidelines should emphasize the specifically religious nature of a Christian wedding and positively present modesty within this context. And while they should generally avoid being a list of prohibitions, they do well to provide clear parameters of what is expected.

The guidelines may also deal with other aspects, since weddings are very special occasions and should be treated as such. At the same time excessive opulence should be avoided especially if motivated more from vanity than a desire to emphasize the importance of the sacrament.

I remember a few years ago an Italian bishop publicly scolded a couple for their extravagance when the bride arrived in an open convertible, followed by a pickup holding her train. It seems that the hapless couple were trying to enter the record books for the longest bridal veil when they caught the prelate's eye as he left the chancery.

This is just a singular example of what can happen when the social aspects of marriage predominate over the mystery of man and woman united sacramentally in the bond of Christ.

* * *

Follow-up: Decorating the Sanctuary

Many readers asked for clarifications regarding the May 25 column on decorating the sanctuary. A member of the military asked if a crucifix may be placed upon the altar during the celebration of Mass.

No. 308 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal clearly permits this option, which is often necessary in situations where Mass is celebrated outside of a permanent chapel.

Such a crucifix would usually be placed at the front of the altar in a central position directly in front of the celebrant with the corpus facing toward the altar. In such a case the crucifix should not be so large as to obscure the faithful's view of the sacred action, nor so small as to be practically invisible. There are many thin metal crosses that can perfectly fulfill this task.

Related to what should be on the altar, a reader referred to a custom in one parish: "During Sunday Mass, at the preparation of the gifts, a given family comes up to cover the altar. First, they put down an altar cloth, always the color of the day or feast. Then, they put down a corporal. Then they set down several purificators which will be used at Communion time.

"After Communion, the same family comes forward again. They fold and remove the corporal and any purificators which might still be there, fold up the altar cloth, bow, and take all these items out of sight. The closing prayer, announcements, and blessing, are all said with the altar-table bare, as if stripped as on Good Friday and Holy Saturday."

Perhaps this is a rather radical interpretation of GIRM, No. 306: "Only what is required for the celebration of the Mass may be placed on the mensa of the altar." But this practice certainly does not correspond to liturgical norms.

GIRM No. 117, treating of the articles to be prepared before Mass, states: "The altar is to be covered with at least one white cloth. In addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation ..."

No. 118 continues: "On the credence table: the chalice, a corporal, a purificator, and, if appropriate, the pall; the paten and, if needed, ciboria; bread for the Communion of the priest who presides, the deacon, the ministers, and the people; cruets containing the wine and the water, unless all of these are presented by the faithful in procession at the Offertory; the vessel of water to be blessed, if the asperges occurs; the Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful; and whatever is needed for the washing of ...

1 | 2  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Corinthians 4:7-15
But we hold this treasure in pots of earthenware, so that the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
[Song of Ascents] When Yahweh brought back Zion's captives we ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:20-28
Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her sons to make a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

July 25 Saint of the Day

St. James the Greater
July 25: For James there was no indication that this was the day that his ... Read More