Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"You may kiss the Cross."

I have never yet announced at a wedding: "You may now kiss the bride." But I wouldn't mind inviting them to kiss the cross, except that it is not part of the Rite and I am lothe to introduce innovations into the marriage rite. However, there are some long-standing customs in various places, and the Episcopal Conferences may adapt the Marriage Liturgy according to local circumstances.

There is a Croatian custom observed in Herzegovina whereby the bride and groom do not kiss one another but the kiss the Cross, the source of love. As you can read at Renew America:

(The people of Herzegovina) have indissolubly linked marriage with the Cross of Christ. They have founded marriage, which brings forth human life, on the Cross, which brings forth divine life.

The Croatian marriage tradition is so beautiful that it is beginning to take hold in Europe and America!

When a young couple is preparing for marriage, they are not told that they have found the ideal partner. No! What does the priest say?

"You have found your cross. And it is a cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished."

If the fiancés were told this in France (or America!), they would be struck dumb! But in Herzegovina, the Cross represents the greatest love and the crucifix is the treasure of the home.

When the bride and groom set off for the church, they bring a crucifix with them. The priest blesses the crucifix, which takes on a central role during the exchange of vows. The bride places her right hand on the crucifix and the groom places his hand over hers. Thus the two hands are bound together on the cross. The priest covers their hands with his stole as they proclaim their vows to be faithful, according to the rites of the Church.... the bride and groom do not then kiss each other, they rather kiss the cross. They know that they are kissing the source of love. Anyone close enough to see their two hands joined over the cross understands clearly that if the husband abandons his wife or if the wife abandons her husband, they let go of the cross. And if they abandon the cross, they have nothing left. They have lost everything for they have abandoned Jesus. They have lost Jesus.

Read it all at LoveOffering.com. (Medjugorje-phobes beware.)

3 comments:

  1. The rite of marriage in the Irish language includes a blessing at the end of Mass where the priest blesses the couple with a traditional St Brigid's Cross & presents the cross to the bride for the couple's new home.

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  2. How interesting, Father. Is it not included in the English rite applicable to Ireland?

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  3. I remember Fr Jozo Zovko explaining this lovely wedding custom to us when we were visiting Herzegovina.

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