Reading the other thread about the nature of wedding rings as a sacramental, I remembered a relative who had several wedding rings, so he’d always have one in case the first was misplaced (which happened frequently). While only one was actually blessed at the wedding, all the rings were otherwise identical, and were worn indiscriminately.
Are there any consequences to the sacramental effects of a wedding ring, if it is interchanged with non-blessed rings? Does anything prohibit the blessing of multiple rings?
That’s a new one (for me at least). I’ve heard of people losing a wedding ring, and sometimes even finding the original many years later. I’ve never heard of someone intentionally having “spares.”
Without in any way belittling anyone’s wedding ring (and I know that if I didn’t put that in here, someone would misunderstand), the rings themselves are not an essential part of the Sacrament. It’s a nice cultural custom, it can have a lot of very good spiritual and emotional significance, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with actually “being” married.
Obviously, each spouse only receives one wedding ring at the marriage, so a replacement will always be just that, a replacement. A priest cannot “go back” and bless a new ring as a wedding ring, however a priest can most certainly bless a new ring which someone wears in place of the original.
Your friend can ask a priest to bless all his spare rings. Anyone in a similar situation can certainly ask a priest to bless a new ring. There’s nothing wrong, and everything right about doing so. But please don’t think that wearing a ring, or the absence of a wedding ring has any effect whatsoever on the sacrament of marriage itself.
I lost my ring after about 20 years of marriage and had to order a new one. I didn’t even think of having it blessed until a few years ago when Fr. was doing blessings after Mass. I went up and he looked at me with question marks in his eyes – “It’s OK, I lost my original one.” He happily blessed the new one.
This is slightly off topic but your friend frequently misplaces his wedding ring? Umm… Does he have a job where he needs to remove his rings and/or any other jewelry. I mean other than that, why is he taking it off so often?
Just out of curiosity, what is the etiquette when having something blessed? Should you set up a separate meeting or, if you’re meeting with a priest, can you just ask to have something blessed at the end of the meeting? (i.e. is there any preparation necessary on the part of the priest) Also, do you usually give a donation to the church for having something blessed?
I can’t say for certain in this case, but my dad took his off when he went to bed, so his finger wouldn’t swell up. I’ve seen people take off their rings to mow the lawn or do other things like that where the ring could get scratched, or to wash their faces without getting scratched. Now that I think about it, he may not have been losing them - maybe just forgetting to put them back on right away. I’ll ask him the next time I get the chance.
There’s really no “preparation” necessary for a priest to bless something. He needs to have some Holy Water handy, and he needs to have a book to do the blessing (the Roman Ritual or the Book of Blessings, perhaps even the marriage rite book in this particular case). He should be wearing a stole, although that’s not strictly necessary. It all depends upon the circumstances. I would imagine that for something as important as a wedding ring, the priest would want a little advance notice so that he can prepare–it’s not as if there’s a section in the ritual book which says “blessings of replacement wedding rings” If someone wants me to bless something like a medal or a new rosary, I don’t need any advance notice, just for example, because this happens all the time.
I’m a little confused here as to what it is you’re getting at. The ring is a symbol of the Sacrament of marriage. We can also say that the ring itself is a sacramental. But I’m at a loss to figure out what you mean by asking “what do we expect from [the ring]?” That question could be taken in so many different ways, and I’m afraid to offer an answer if I don’t understand the question.
I’ve always been a little hazy on the role of sacramentals. I suppose the flip side of my question would be, “What harm or loss would there be if the Sacrament of Matrimony took place, but rings were not blessed?” Presumably there is more than just ceremonial value to this blessing. If it were just a matter of fulfilling the rubrics of the marriage ceremony, and the rings were stolen or the best man hospitalized just before the ceremony, there would be no reason to have the rings blessed after the ceremony was over - but presumably there is reason to do so.
I’d also like to better understand why you suggested it could be a good idea to have replacement rings blessed, while bpbasilphx suggested that only one blessing was ever needed. Either or both of these positions may be defensible, but at the moment I’m prevented from seeing the merits of either one by my ignorance of the value, and the extent or limits of this blessing of a sacramental.
Once again let me say that I am still a bit confused, so please bear with me here.
The rings themselves are an optional part of the marriage ceremony. They aren’t like bread and wine at the Mass or olive oil at Unction, which are necessary for the Sacrament to occur. If a couple doesn’t have rings (let’s say they come from a culture where this isn’t done, or the best man forgets to bring them, just for example) they are no less married. It also was not even universal custom here in the US for the groom to have a ring. The Roman Ritual has 2 options for the blessing; one for a single ring, another for 2 rings. The rings are just a symbol of the marriage–and again, I do not in any way shape or form intend to belittle anyone’s wedding rings. They may (and I would add they should) have very deep emotional and spiritual value for those who wear them.
I’ll repeat that new rings can be blessed. We cannot repeat the marriage ceremony*, or any part of it, because that was an event in the past, and until someone invents a time machine, there’s no way to go back and repeat the ceremony in a way that a spouse will have what would be literally a new “wedding” ring. Whenever something of sentimental value is lost, and we obtain a replacement, even if it’s an exact duplicate, it will never be “that same one I received on that special day.” That’s the only way that one cannot get a “new wedding ring”; the simple fact that the new one will always be a replacement for the real ring which was lost. But at the same time, there is no reason at all why a replacement ring cannot be blessed. I could even envision some kind of “presentation” ceremony after the blessing where the wife puts the new ring on the husband’s finger, or something similar–but only if this is done in such a way as to not imply that the absence of the ring means that the couple is any less married.
Yes, the rings are a sacramental. They are physical objects which symbolize the Sacrament which is a gift from God–both in the universal sense and from the perspective of each couple. Because they are a sacramental, they can and should be blessed.
One more time, I’m still a little confused. I hesitate to say this, and hope I’m wrong, but it seems to me at this point that you might be thinking that if the rings are removed or lost somehow the couple isn’t married anymore.
*Yes, there can be a renewal of vows, but here again, that would be a renewal and not a new marriage ceremony.
My wife and I ordered fancy wedding rings from a store, but had not received them one week before we were to be married, so we bought two others so we’d have a ring for the wedding. Three days before the wedding, the fancy ones arrived, so we used them for the wedding, and had the others blessed by a priest after Mass one Sunday.
For years we used the fancy ones on special occasions and the plain ones when we were at work or gardening. I’m wearing the fancy one now, can’t remember the last time we switched. (The fancy ones have white gold in a leaf pattern on yellow gold. The plain ones are a sort of Greek key.)
I see that my haziness was not lost on you, and now you can’t see through my fog any better than I can.:ouch:
Let me try and clarify again. I’m well aware that weddings can take place sans rings. I’m well aware that marriages persist after rings are lost or stolen. I’m well aware that having rings that are not blessed does not affect the validity of the marriage. Why then have the rings blessed? Simply because there’s a spot for it in the ritual? Surely there is a better reason; what is it?
Once I grasp that, then I’ll try to dissect it, as I like to do - I think I was trying to do that pre-emptively, and that obfuscated my basic question.
Thanks. I was getting a bit worried there because I was beginning to think that for some reason you were under the impression that a couple would be unmarried if they stopped wearing (or didn’t have) rings. What a relief!
OK. So the question is “why have wedding rings”? Because they are a nice human custom which goes back to very ancient times (even the pre-Christian Romans had them). They are just part of our human culture. Not everything has to be purely Christian in origin. Like many other customs, the Christians took the practice and baptised it. We have the rings because they symbolize the marriage, because a circle symbolizes eternity, etc. etc. We’ve taken a secular, and in many ways a pagan custom, and made it a part of the marriage rite. Just as the words of the marriage rite, the rings are a symbol, a visible sign of the love and fidelity which the couple shares with each other. It is also a statement of that love and fidelity to everyone else who looks on the ring–not just something to say “I’m not eligible, so don’t offer to buy me a drink” but something which says “I’ve make a lifelong commitment to my wife/husband.”
We don’t do it because there’s a spot in the ritual. It’s the other way around: we make a Christian ritual out of something people are already doing. Since the couple is going to exchange rings anyway, we might as well make it into a sacramental and thereby give it some true spiritual significance.
Not so much why have wedding rings - it is a nice custom and so forth - but why have wedding rings blessed?
[quote=FrDavid96]Since the couple is going to exchange rings anyway, we might as well make it into a sacramental and thereby give it some true spiritual significance.
And exactly that significance is what I’m after - what benefit is obtained by a couple who has their rings blessed, that they might lack were it not so? Or what detriment is there when a couple does not have their rings blessed, whether through conscious decision or circumstance?
Maybe Father David can weigh in on this. I have three wedding rings that I wear, and none of them is my original ring. My original ring was a diamond band that wore out after twenty years so we had the little diamonds from the band and my engagement diamond reset into a new ring. Later my husband gave me a beautiful large gold band that I wear when I don’t want to wear the diamond ring. I also have a thin gold band that I wear when I am swimming or doing hard, dirty work. To me, wearing a wedding ring is a public statement that I am married. My original ring was blessed at our wedding, and my diamond ring was bless when we renewed our vows on our thirtieth anniversary at Cana in Israel, the third ring has never been blessed, but since I know that rings aren’t necessary for marriage (my father never wore one), I have never put them in the same category of sacramentals as rosary beads, for example. Is this understanding correct so this practice is all right? By the way, my husband only has one ring which he has worn every day for over thirty-three years.
Tha’ts what I keep trying to say. We have the rings blessed because they are an important symbol of Christian marriage. That fact alone is enough to have them blessed.
I can expand on that idea, but I’m sure I couldn’t say anything else that you don’t already know.
The “benefit” to the couple is that they have blessed rings rather than non-blessed rings. They don’t necessarily lose anything by a lack of blessing–they only gain by the blessing. The benefit is that as human beings, we are a sacramental people–that’s how God made us. We take ordinary things of the earth, gifts from God, in this case gold ore, reshape it by using our God-given intellects and talents, and make that into something holy by ultimately having it blessed, and presented to us in a religious ceremony.
I have the same dilemma. My wedding band was blessed, but not my wedding set of an engagement ring and entertwained band. For professional computer work, my hands were often unjamming elaborate printers/plotters, pulling/inserting IC cards. I went to the band idea when engaged and found myself putting my engagement ring in my pocket, or forgetting it in the drawer of my desk overnight.
Many years later, I wear the wedding set most of the time, but realized that the band was blessed. This discussion informed me that the band is a sacramental. I googled ‘sacramental’ and see that I really want to wear the band. I wish I understood the blessing and would have had both bands blessed (can you do that?). I’ll be wearing all three.
As to why people don’t wear their bands, my husband works as a supervisor in a electrical utility. For safety, many jobs warn against rings and necklaces. Often they can get caught up in mechical stuff.