Wedding in Lent

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I’m contacting you about the singing of the Gloria at a wedding during the lenten season. Our wedding will be the first weekend of lent, so we were unsure.

Thanks for your assistance!


A: Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

As I understand it, your wedding is taking place on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 4:30 pm within a mass. That’s the First Sunday of Lent.

A wedding that takes place during mass on a Saturday evening or anytime on a Sunday in Lent happens within the context of the Lent mass. This is because the Sundays of Lent have a powerful importance in the Catholic community, and those liturgies are not supposed to change.

Because your wedding will take place during the time when we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent, the presidential prayers that the priest reads from the missal and the readings for the mass all come from the same source as every other mass that weekend: The First Sunday of Lent. The priest is supposed to wear a violet chasuble for your wedding mass. The Gloria is not sung because the mass is the mass of Lent. The wedding is going to happen during that mass.

If your wedding were to take place on Saturday morning, then other rules apply: You may have the prayers and readings from the wedding mass. And the Gloria would be sung.

Your liturgical consultant found an opinion that the Gloria is sung at every wedding mass, even during Advent and Lent, but that only applies to the days when the wedding mass with its prayers and readings are permitted. They are not permitted on a Saturday night in those seasons. Weddings are permitted, but within the mass of the season.

Now, having said all this, I’ll tell you this too: Most priests do not know these rules. So there will be plenty of wedding masses on the evening of February 29, 2020, all over the Catholic world, where the priest will do the wedding mass, probably with a Gloria, will wear white vestments, and allow the readings of a wedding mass to be proclaimed. He probably means well or may be unaware of the legislation. And your priest may feel the same way. But what I’ve explained is how the rules work in the liturgical calendar.

I’m fully aware that the readings are all focused on sin: Adam and Eve, Psalm 51, Paul to the Romans on sin and grace, and Jesus being tempted in the desert. it is a challenge for a preacher to use these as the foundation for a wedding homily. But he may preach on other texts, such as the nuptial blessing or the words of consent (the “vows”) that the couple exchange.

This is a long answer to your question, but I wanted you to have the context. The Gloria may be sung at weddings during Lent, unless the wedding takes place during a mass on Saturday evening or on Sunday. Then the Gloria is omitted, and the mass of Lent is observed. The couple exchange their consent and they always receive the nuptial blessing.

Again, congratulations to you both. And thanks for checking in to see how your wedding fits within the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church.