Many couples marrying these days opt to write their own wedding vows as a way of expressing their love for one another in a more personal and unique way.
The practice, however, has earned the ire of Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Church with Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, saying that the idea of making personal vows inserted within the wedding liturgy must not be allowed.
In a post on his Facebook account, Villegas, the archbishop of the Lingayen-Dagupan diocese, reminded the faithful about some basic principles in liturgy.
“The liturgies of the Church, being public prayer, belong to the Church. Every liturgical action is an action of Christ the Priest with His Body which is the Church. The liturgy is a sacred action surpassing all others,” he said.
Villegas explained that the recitation of private devotions and personal spiritual expressions should not be mixed with the liturgies of the Church because this would only confuse, remove or diminish the focus of the action of Christ himself in the liturgical action.
“The liturgy is not ours to change at whim,” he stressed.
“The regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the Holy See and in limited cases, to bishops conferences. Hence, no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority,” he said.
Villegas advised officiating priests to suggest that the couples read their vows at the wedding reception instead.
“Certainly not in church,” he said, adding that the wedding liturgy is rich and meaningful if this is “understood in full depth.”
“Let us not compromise the sacred character of the wedding rites on the altar of romanticism,” he said.
One couple that had exchanged personal vows in their Catholic wedding ceremony was actress and rock band artist Saab Magalona, daughter of rapper Francis Magalona, and her bandmate Jim Bacarro.
During their wedding at St. Ignatius Chapel in Baguio City in January 2015, they read the following vows to each other before the priest:
Jim: “Most people spend so much time looking for the… typical, perfect girl. But the truth is, there’s no perfect girl—only a perfect friend, a best friend—that’s you. Since I was a little boy, I envisioned the world in slow motion sequences, protected by masked vigilantes and alliances that would save the world. But today is my greatest fantasy—one that would go beyond my imagination—because it’s you, my precious.”
Saab: “You’re a rare breed of Pokemon and I caught you right when you evolved… You are the man my dad would have wanted for his baby girl. There’s no doubt in my heart that he’s happy giving me away to you today. I think my dream about you was some sort of sign. I would have been afraid to act on it alone. Whatever force that was that nudged you towards me the very next day I’m ever so grateful for it.
“Every day I am thankful that we fell in love at the right time. Three years ago, I danced with you once upon a dream. Now, I dance with you every night. Today, I’m marrying my dream. Tonight I’ll finally get to dance with my husband. I love you so much.”
This is a stark contrast to a traditional exchange of wedding vows in which the priest asks the bride and the groom the following questions, to which the couple shall answer in the affirmative:
Did you come here of your own free will to bind yourself forever in the love and service of your husband?
Did you come here of your own free will to bind yourself forever in the love and service of your wife?
Are you both ready to raise as good Christians the children whom God will give you?
This is followed by the “exchange of consent” in which the couple declare their intentions, giving of self to the other as husband or wife, before God and the Church.
The blessing of the arrhae, or wedding coins, and rings come next.