William Converse De Witt.

Decently and in order; pastoral suggestions in matters official and personal online

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their own lives, and to declare by affirmation or
negation whether or not they accept their bap-
tismal obligations. 18

That a period of such critical importance careful
to a member of Christ and the child of God, necessary
should be made one of careful spiritual as well
as intellectual tuition and examination, is self-
evident. The mechanical grinding of the eccle-
siastical mill which is set agoing "for Con-
firmation" once a year, some six weeks before
the Bishop comes; just taking in whatever is
offered and saturating all that is offered with
fixed proportions of Apostolic Succession, fully
explained sacramental mysteries, damnation of
schism, ridicule of Rome, pet ritual precepts
for or against the grinding of the mill which
leaves out of consideration the personality of
the individual, the love of God for His child,
almost everything that the Word Made Flesh
positively and certainly revealed to man; the
grinding of the mill that never stirred a heart
to love-engendered penitence, that never aroused
an aspiration for that purity which is its own
reward; the grinding of the Confirmation mill
which turns out "the largest class," which "in-
cludes three lawyers, one physician, and the



The church
not a

and prepar-
ing candi-
dates for
a constant


mayor"; the grinding of the mill that has to
grind each year to keep the enrollment of com-
municants up to where it has been for a decade,
or to "show results" ; this grinding of the mill
is not attuned to the melody, "God so loved the

The minister of Christ, the steward of the
mysteries of God, must, indeed, order his work
methodically, but he must not forget that the
Church is not a machine. It is a Body, the
Body of Christ, indwelt by His Spirit. It is
mobile, flexible, personal. The minister who
believes that the Sacrament of the Holy Com-
munion is necessary to salvation in any
sense and that Confirmation is a fit and
orderly preparation therefor, will not confine
his efforts in the matter of influencing men and
women to be confirmed, to any period of the
year; but, nevertheless, as the time for the
Bishop's visitation approaches, he will lay out
courses of instruction covering at least twelve
weeks i.e., if the Bishop will give him the
opportunity. The size of the parish is not of
essential importance in the matter. The fewer
the persons addressed, the more direct and per-
sonal may be the instruction and appeal.
Such courses may be as follows:
1. A sermon setting forth the economy of
order in all God's work : the order in the King-
dom of Heaven : the order of law in the visible


Kingdom the Sacred Ministry, Holy Bap-
tism, Confirmation, Holy Communion, Church
Calendar, Liturgy, ceremonial, etc. Growth
means conformity with the Divine order. Con-
firmation a step. [Do not explain Confirma-
tion further at this time, but announce such ad-
dress later.]

2. A series of Evidential Lectures on Sun-
day evenings, following the articles of the

3. A series of lectures after the late Morn-
ing Service, on "The First Principles of the
Doctrine of Christ." All invited whether old
or young, confirmed or not.

4. Children's classes preferably boys
alone, and girls alone after school hours or on
Saturday, or both. These classes using a Man-
ual following the Church Catechism. 20

Self-examination daily should be urged,
and enquired after, a form having been sup-
plied each person, old and young. 20

A personal, half-hour conference with each
individual should be arranged during the period
of instruction, following upon a general notice
that your purpose is to assist each one at that
time in any difficulty, mental or spiritual, that
may be made known to you. In case of ret-
icence, be provided with subjects for your own
discussion if possible, based upon your knowl-
edge of the individual. Never suggest a sin



Dress of
women and


that is repulsive to the one concerned, nor one
that is unknown to such person. It is not your
business to burglarize a soul's secrets. Be sure
that each one knows that to God all hearts are
open. These conferences being required by
you, and not sought by the persons coming to
you, must not be made, unexpectedly, confes-
sionals. No priest can make an auricular con-
fession a condition to confirmation, without
logically making it a condition to salvation.

There is an appropriate symbolism in hav-
ing the girls and women dress in white, or in
white veils, at their Confirmation. The latter
are usually preferable, as allowing little dis-
tinction, and largely avoiding the obstacle of
expense. It is well for the parish to supply
them for the occasion. Warning should be
given in advance that all display of jewelry,
lace, or other ornaments will be in very bad

Assuming that preparatory instructions for
the receiving of the Holy Communion have been
given, appoint the time for the first reception
of that Sacrament as soon as practicable. On
this occasion do not break up family associa-
tions for the sake of having the "class" all at
one time before the Altar.

If the time has not been sufficient, let the
instruction for the first Communion follow soon
after Confirmation. In any case, after that in-


struction, terminate the course by the most
heart-felt appeal you can make, that everyone
may keep in close touch with God, both pri-
vately and through His Church ; and emphasize
the duty of frequent self-examination, whether
in anticipation of immediately receiving the
Holy Communion or not.

It is very much better, if possible, to hand
each person confirmed a manual of preparation
for the Holy Communion, with a written cer-
tificate of Confirmation on the fly-leaf, than one
of the card certificates, which are of no use.
At any rate, see that each confirmant has a de-
votional manual.

After Confirmation has been administered,
hand the Bishop a list of the names and ad-
dresses of the persons confirmed. This is can-
onically required. 48

Watch the attendance upon the Holy Com-
munion of every member of your class every
Sunday for a year, and act promptly upon cases
requiring attention. Try and enlist every mem-
ber of the class in some good work. Talk to
them about the meaning of our Lord's parable
of the "swept and garnished house." It is not
a theory there presented, but an incontrovertible
truth. Eemember that in the Spanish war more
soldiers died in camp than were killed in battle.
Inactivity is fatal.





IT WOULD SEEM as though the Church's
efforts to stem the tide of divorce which is
sweeping over America, and which threatens the
foundations of all society, are beginning in
medias res. Two ancient regulations are within
her power to reestablish, which are at least
capable of being made largely instrumental in
preventing hasty marriages.

The first of these is the Espousals, which
were once held so sacred as to be made publicly
in the church, and which custom, indeed, has
precedents wherever on earth marriage is
rightly regarded. 21 When this custom was
overthrown in the East by an edict of Leo Phil-
osophus, it was upon the ground that deferred
marriages frequently resulted in broken engage-
ments. If the practice could be restored to the
Church, so that "engagements" could decently
and reverently be made, instead of secretly, or
merely by announcement in the society column
of newspapers, a distinct force would be es-
tablished by way of sanctifying marriage; and
opportunity would be given the priest to give


such counsel as he might find within his power
and duty.

And what is now permissory in the publish-
ing of the Banns of Matrimony, might readily
be made obligatory. This remedy is right at
hand, and why it is not laid hold upon by our
General Convention as a potent instrument in
her warfare against divorce is not apparent.
If, as the English law commands, a publication
of Banns for three successive Sundays were re-
quired, or even on one Sunday, clandestine
marriages and all ill-advised unions would be
effectively attacked.

But as matters now stand, the least a priest
can do is to make himself thoroughly familiar
with civil and canon law upon the subject of
marriage, and conform exactly to the spirit and
letter of such enactments.

The Church does not forbid the solemniza- Marrying
tion of marriage at any season ; but it is evident i^nt
that it is ordinarily inappropriate during Lent
or upon any day of fasting or abstinence.

It will save a conscientious priest much
anxiety when a particular case comes before
him involving the very questionable right of
the "innocent party," if he is able to point to
the fact that he is conscientiously and publicly Refusal to
committed to refusal to marry any person who Svorced
has been divorced, for any cause whatever.

And while there appears to be no require-






ready for

in case of

ment either in English or American canon law
for so doing, bearing in mind St. Paul's words,
2 Cor. 6 : 14, one may well decline to solemnize
the marriage of a communicant of the Church
and an unbeliever or an unbaptized person.

Some day you will be called from your
study to meet a young man, or young woman,
or both, who, with more or less embarrassment,
will inform you that your services are desired
at that hour, or at a time in the future, to solem-
nize a marriage in which one or both will be
involved as principals.

It is important that you should have at
hand a blank form containing all the questions^
and places for answers, that may be desirable
in any case. Questions so asked will be readily
answered without offense, which would cause
embarrassment if asked conversationally. And
no matter how well you may think you know
a person, you will, in the course of years, find
yourself surprised more than once by replies
to questions you would not have asked if you
had not followed the form in hand. 44

It is also right, where one has reason to
question the discretion of either party, for the
priest to ask them, together or apart from one
another, such question as, "Are you sure you
have income sufficient to support a wife ?" "Do
you realize what a great confidence you are ask-
ing of her how dependent she will be upon



you?" "Will her marrying you cause any es-
trangement between her and her parents ?" "Is
this an elopement?" You will have occasional
opportunity to advise a delay, and perhaps you
may find it to be your duty, not only to refuse to
marry a couple, but to persuade one or both that
they ought not to be married, even though they
may have legal and canonical right. Of course
you are perfectly free to refuse any service to
those who are not your parishioners; and it is
rather a good rule not to solemnize marriage
between persons who are neither known to you
nor commended by witnesses whom you do
know. In a large city, it is not an infrequent
experience that couples come to a priest to be
married after evident alcoholic stimulation.
No self-respecting priest will marry a couple
when either of the contracting parties is in
such a condition.

If the priest is certified that all is well, he
will if it be practicable recommend that the
marriage be solemnized in the church or chapel,
stating (and such should be the case where
necessary) that it may be so arranged as to
involve no extra cost. In my experience many
have been very happy to know that such a
privilege is open to them ; and many have been
drawn permanently to the Church by such asso-
ciation. I have sometimes spread a five-dollar
bill over several dollars more of expense, in

should not



in the



of the

to be

order to bring a church or chapel wedding
within reach of a rear-flat family, a former
Sunday school boy or girl, an old chorister, or
some other groom or bride who, I thought,
would appreciate it. The priest or his wife
does not always need the fee when so much good
can be done with it. This is putting the matter
very bluntly, but not too much so; for it is
painfully true that the financial consideration
is often too prominent in the priest's thought.

If the bride and groom are communicants
of the Church or either of them it should
be suggested as a matter of course that they
receive the Holy Communion on the morning
of the wedding day ; or if this be impracticable,
at the latest previous opportunity. The English
custom, fixed by law, that all marriages shall
be solemnized in the forenoon, between 8 and
12 o'clock, is based upon the propriety of a cele-
bration of the Holy Communion following im-
mediately after the marriage. The wedding
breakfast is then served at the home.

The priest will do well to request that the
license if one be required by the state law
shall be delivered to him at some time before
that set for the wedding ; for it' not infrequently
happens that the license is forgotten at the
critical time, making it necessary either to
delay the marriage or subject the priest to a
fine for violation of the civil statute. Then,


too, cases have been known in which the appoint-
ment for a marriage has been kept by the priest

Let us suppose that a public marriage of
prominent persons has been arranged for. Un- marriages
less the parties are people of unusually good
taste, they will have arranged for a great show
in the way of the inevitable "procession." No
one knows how many bridesmaids and flower-
girls, besides best man, maid or matron of
honor, or both, ring bearer, pillow bearer, and
ushers, can be jammed into a tittering, silly
bunch at a "wedding rehearsal" in a church.
In most cases these young people have each an
idea how the ceremonies should proceed, and
no two ideas will be alike. The priest should
have cautioned the bride and groom in advance Reverence

D required at

that if a rehearsal be held in the church, it
must be characterized by a fitting reverence for
the place, and will be conducted by himself The priest

. " determines

wholly without advice. He should also have the

< j i i .1 . ceremonial

conierred with them concerning the ceremonial
best adapted to the conditions involved, and
should have arrived at a definite understanding
in the matter; for there is no authorized cere-
monial governing the entrance of the bridal
company. It is very foolish to have a "large
wedding" in a small church, and nothing is
gained by an offense against simplicity. The
groom and bride, a best man, a maid of honor,

als '




of ushers

two bridesmaids, and the father of the bride
(or his representative) are all that a simple,
dignified ceremony requires. Any and all
others are a nuisance. Of course, if it must be,
a "flower girl" can be taught to toddle in front,
and four or fourteen bridesmaids can be trained
on behind.

There are several pleasing ways of forming
a wedding procession; e.g. :

1. Ushers, Bride, Maid of Honor, Brides-

2. Ushers, Maid of Honor, Bride, Brides-

3. Ushers, Bridesmaids, Maid of Honor,
Bride and Father, Ushers.

4. Ushers, Bride and Father, Maid of
Honor, Bridesmaids.

5. Ushers, Bride and Father, Maid of
Honor and Best Man.

Frequently the bride wishes to go to the
Altar with her father. This is in itself de-
sirable, but it leaves the bride's mother in an
awkward position. Should she desire to be
with the bride, in procession and chancel, it is
best that couples should be formed, Groom and
Bride, Best Man and Maid of Honor, Father
and Mother.

The ushers ought, of course, to be either
those accustomed to seat people in the church,


or under the direction of such officers. They
are not a part of the bridal company, except by
courtesy. Their part is to show the congrega-
tion the proper sittings, to see that the bridal
party is escorted to the point from which the
procession is formed, and to make clear the
aisle. They precede and, if the number is
sufficient, follow the bridal party to the chancel.
They, in like form, escort the bridal party from
the chancel to the carriages, seeing to it that
they are not crowded upon by the congregation.
The practice usually followed, of the ushers
seizing upon the bridesmaids, when returning
from the chancel is ceremonially ridiculous.
As for their entering the chancel, the only pur-
pose they can serve in so doing is to prevent
the congregation from witnessing the marriage.

In the usual ceremonial the positions can
best be deciphered from the following diagram.
Note that the rubric means that the bride shall
stand at the groom's left hand.

The second position of the bridal party in Espousals
the diagram assumes that the address to the
congregation and the espousals will be said at
the chancel gate. Under present conditions
there is not much significance in this arrange-
ment, and the rubrics do not refer to it; but
it is all that remains of the ancient custom be-
fore referred to, of making the espousals here
at a time preceding the marriage by days or





-M- + + +











o -o-


o o-
o o-




The advantage of this position is that it gives the Bride a "body-
guard," and requires no reversal at the chancel.

Returning, the Ushers are followed by the Groom and Bride, Maid-
of-Honor and Best-Man, and Brides-Maids.

Ushers 3 and 4 should follow Bridal party to the Chancel-rail, and
return at once to guard the door. After the ceremonial they are in place
for service at the door.



even months. It is quite the rule, particularly
at private weddings, to pass to the Altar with-
out stopping at the chancel gate except for the
groom to take the bride from the father's arm
if she be so accompanied.

When the organist is given notice that the
bridal procession is formed, a few chords of the
wedding march will start the groom, best man,
and the priest to their respective first positions.
(The priest will do well to use one of the
inexpensive booklets containing the marriage
office and the certificate, printed in good type,
and bound in white.) 22

If there be a choir, it will enter singing a
nuptial hymn, or sing it after arriving in the
chancel. The bridal party may follow imme-
diately, or wait until the hymn is concluded
and enter with a wedding march.

Having arrived at the chancel gate, or
Altar rail, as the case may be, the right hand
glove if not both gloves of both bride and
groom should be removed. (It is distinctly bad
form for the marriage vows to be made while
joining gloved hands.) If the bride carries a
bouquet or Prayer Book, the maid of honor will
take such impedimenta at this time.

If the priest observes an inclination on the
part of the people to sit down, it is well, in a
perfectly perfunctory tone, as though it were
his ordinary duty, to say, "The congregation

groom and

office book



Bride and






Charges to
people and


the bride

will remain standing throughout the service."
But this may be avoided by instructing the
bridal families in advance. He will then de-
liver the charge to the people, and having some-
what lowered his voice, the charge to the groom
and bride. After a moment's pause, he will
proceed to the questions. Frequently one or
both parties (possibly with a legal intuition to
avoid a multiple question) will make answer
before the time. Treat such a reply as though
it were expected, and go on with the rest.

To meet the objection against the promise
of the woman to obey the man, the priest will
have explained previously, that there must be
a head of the family, or discord; e.g., if the
husband has a business opportunity for their
mutual advantage which involves moving, the
wife will be expected to go with him. Such is
the meaning of the word. So explained it is
almost never refused. If it should be, and the
bride is willing to risk a "scene," just repeat
the objectionable words as often as necessary.
It is not for the bride to revise the Church's
office ; nor has the minister that privilege. 39

The question then being asked, "Who giveth
this woman to be married to this man?" the
bride and groom face each other, and the
father standing back and between them
takes the bride's right hand, places it in the
minister's, and the minister places it in the


right hand of the groom. The groom and bride,
throughout the movement of the hands, should couple
partly face one another, so that the witnesses
may see the joining of hands and placing of
the ring. Observe that when the man takes the
woman's hand, her hand should lie in his, and
vice versa. The minister should not tax the
memories of the contracting parties at this

point, but give them the words of their mutual bridal
obligation in short phrases. However, if there
is evidence of a breaking down through nervous
tension, one must use one's judgment about
going slower or faster. A calm but firm tone
on the part of the minister usually restores
equilibrium. Very commonly the words "till
death us do part" are transposed to "till death
do us part," while the word "troth" is often
unrecognizable. Where extreme nervousness is
evident, break up the clause, "and thereto I
plight thee my troth."

It is usually necessary to say "Release
hands," and then to the bride, "Take the
groom's hand." And then, after the bride's
part, "Release hands" ; and, turning to the best-
man, say, "Give the ring to the groom" ; and
say to the groom, "Place the ring on the book."
The minister then may say, touching the ring
thrice, "In the Name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and hand the
ring to the groom, directing him to place it



Two rings






upon the fourth finger of the woman's left hand.
The groom should hold the ring above the large
knuckle until the words "In the Name," etc.,
when he will put it in place.

Sometimes the bride wishes to give the
groom a ring at this time. Such an incident
may be given place, as it is an ancient custom,
but, of course, should receive no further cere-
monial attention than the blessing of the ring
by the minister, and the placing of the ring on
the groom's finger by the bride.

The two prayers following are to be said
by the priest, facing the bridal couple, all
standing. At their conclusion the minister will
take the right hands of the bride and groom,
and uniting them, will say to the wedded couple
as a charge to them: "Those whom God hath
joined together, let no man put asunder."

Then conies the pronouncement to the con-
gregation, following which the bride and groom
kneel for the benediction. This having been
pronounced, the couple rising, the maid of
honor throws back the bride's veil, and the wed-
ding kiss may be exchanged reverently. 23 The
maid of honor gives the bride her bouquet,
Prayer Book, etc.

Keeping his face towards the bride, the
groom will take quickly one or two steps diagon-
ally backward as she advances, so as to offer her
his left arm in returning. The best man and


maid of honor similarly return together, then
the bridesmaids (probably with ushers at-
tached) ; and the family of the bride and groom
follow before the congregation is allowed to


WE FIND at the beginning of the office for
the Visitation of the Sick a rubric requiring

1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryWilliam Converse De WittDecently and in order; pastoral suggestions in matters official and personal → online text (page 8 of 18)