NIPAWIN, Sask. — The Fall Liturgy Workshop on marriage and funerals was held Oct. Oct. 22 at St. Eugene Parish in Nipawin attended by members from the surrounding area. Presenters for the event were liturgy director Rev. D. J. Vu Liturgy and liturgy co-ordinator Heidi Epp, from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince Albert.
The event opened with a prayer for the synod on the family which took place Oct. 4 - 25. Beginning with the topic of marriage, a number of areas were discussed, including the definition of marriage. It was emphasized that it is a sacrament celebrated by two baptized persons or a mixed marriage celebrated with a baptized Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic. It is a sacred contract when one party is a baptized Catholic and the other a non-baptized person. When two unbaptized persons marry or when there is a civil marriage, these are considered a holy contracts.
Time and location policies were discussed and it was noted that all priests and permanent deacons performing marriages in the Prince Albert diocese must be licensed by the Government of Saskatchewan.
Music should be liturgically appropriate, keeping in mind that because marriage is holy it should be celebrated with reverence, and couples should plan the liturgy. Couples wishing to write their own vows are reminded that these should include the elements required for valid marriage vows and the vows should stay close to the traditional by being simple and meaningful. Marriage is a community celebration, being an act of public worship. There are special circumstances where a private ceremony would take place, such as a hospital or penitentiary.
Consideration was given to the challenges of today and how to use these as opportunities for evangelization. Challenges today include those not practising, and many who do not look upon marriage as a lifelong commitment. Often their lifestyles overshadow the importance of the marriage contract. This is seen as an opportunity to welcome them and help them regulate the marriage with the church. When a couple wishes to use videos, TV screens or iPods during the celebration, one should be aware of copyright laws. Above all, emphasis should be put on the principle that “ a wedding lasts for one day, a marriage is forever.”
Following a brief refreshment break, the group turned to the topic of funerals. A funeral helps supports families and loved ones in accepting the reality of death. Listening to grief in families is key, emphasizing the need for a welcoming and understanding attitude.
Vigil prayers are a time for prayer and grieving. where. Here, too, the family needs to be consulted. The loved ones can be helped assisted in selecting the time of the service, the readings, intentions and music. Eulogies are accepted. They are a an opportunity to share something of the life of the deceased. They should be delivered with respect and kept within a reasonable time frame. If not delivered orally, they can be written on a funeral card.
The topic of cremation was discussed. Cremation has become an accepted practice. The distribution of the cremains should also be done with dignity and reverence. An urn is the centre of the funeral celebration, the same as a casket.
The presenters explained that funerals are another opportunity for evangelization, emphasizing that “life has not ended, but changed.”