If a priest and a deacon are both present at a nuptial liturgy, can the deacon receive the vows, or is that proper to the priest?
You’ll have to ask the priest for permission. The priest at our wedding allowed it, but we had a collection of circumstances: the deacon is my uncle, and he was much more fluent in Spanish than the priest. FYI, the deacon can also be allowed to read the Gospel AND preach the sermon. All with the priest’s permission, of course
It’s not a matter of being ‘allowed’ to read the Gospel since the Gospel is properly read by the deacon, not the priest. The intentions of the Prayers of the Faithful are also his to announce.
ROME, APRIL 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Although this question has not been publicly addressed by the Holy See, I am aware of a 2007 official private reply on precisely this matter issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
In its reply, the congregation suggests the following canonical principles. First of all, the Code of Canon Law entrusts the pastor with the pre-eminent responsibility for the spiritual life of the parish and, by virtue of his office, the faculty to assist at marriages in his parish (canons 528.2, 530.4, 1108.1). Deacons, on the other hand, assist at marriages (provided that both parties are Latin rite) only by virtue of a delegation granted by the bishop or pastor.
Passing from the canonical argument to the liturgical, the Vatican congregation states that a change of presider in the course of the same celebration is not admissible. Hence, neither a deacon (whether permanent or transitional) nor a priest other than the principal celebrant can preside over a wedding liturgy.
The letter says that it is not correct to deprive the couple of a Nuptial Mass solely for the purpose of allowing a particular deacon to preside over the wedding.
The document then explains why apparent exceptions do not detract from the rule of no change in presiding celebrant. These apparent exceptions – such as a non-concelebrating bishop who presides over some moments of the Mass, or the newly ordained bishop who becomes the principal celebrant – arise from the nature of the bishop’s ministry.
The letter thus concludes that the priest who celebrates the Mass must be the one to preach, receive the vows and impart the nuptial blessing. At the discretion of the pastor, the deacon may preach the homily.
Admittedly, this letter is official but, as a private missive, has no force of law. It does, however, reflect the congregation’s thinking and is based on sound canonical and liturgical reasoning.
It does not address all possible issues and human circumstances, for example, when adult children of permanent deacons desire to be married by their father. In such exceptional cases, perhaps it would be possible to have the deacon preside the rite of a wedding outside of Mass followed immediately by a Mass of thanksgiving with the pastor.
FYI the deacon is SUPPOSED to read the Gospel at Mass. It is the normal duty of the deacon. Deacons read the Gospel at all papal Masses.
This document is referring to a Nuptial Mass. If there is NO MASS then the deacon can be the presider.
Yes, I know. I just assumed that the OP was referring to a Mass. Rereading, the OP just says “liturgy”.
Yes, certainly it’s possible. Whether or not it is appropriate in your circumstance will be something to discuss with the priest and deacon involved.
Here’s our story:
When my husband and I got married, we married in my home church. We had a long distance relationship, so I lived in one state and he in another. So, my deacon did the marriage prep and received the vows. A retired priest who is a friend of my husband’s family presided at the Mass.
We decided to have the deacon do our vows so that there wouldn’t be any issue regarding the visiting out-of-state priest signing the marriage license. We didn’t want any complications on the civil side of things. So, my deacon did the vows, signed the marriage license, and filed it with the clerk’s office after the wedding. The retired priest did the Mass.
It would probably have been a different story if we had a priest from my parish doing the wedding, but as it was a large parish the deacons handle the majority of weddings.
Can you provide a link to these letters you mention? I have searched and i can’t find it.
Never mind, I found it…thanks anyway!
Thank you, to you two and everyone who answered. There is no actual wedding prompting my question, myself neither groom nor deacon, and I was intending to ask about a Nuptial Mass.
An interesting sidebar on this issue: Pope Paul VI wanted to read the Gospel at a Papal Mass. The Master of Ceremonies told him that was the job of the Deacon. To which the Pope replied, “But, I’m a Deacon, too.” In any event, he did not read the Gospel, though obviously he could have forced the issue.
If the Pope, who can change the rules, takes the rules seriously, we should, too.
In our parish a couple asked the pastor if the deacon could witness the vows and preach. The pastor was happy to give his consent and celebrated the Mass.