John Lilburne's journal about the Roman Catholic Church's ceremony for the blessing of engaged couples.



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1212 L Mon 28 Jan 2002

Yesterday I was told about some people who were planning to have a betrothal ceremony, to celebrate their engagement. I think they were planning to have it in an Eastern Rite Catholic Church, thinking that the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church does not have one.

But the Roman Rite does have an "Order for the Blessing of an Engaged Couple". I checked this today in The Book of Blessings, (Liturgical Press, Minnesota,1989, page 59) and the Latin original: De Benedictionibus (Libreria Editirice Vaticana, Vatican, 1993, page 79, n. 195).

The introduction to the ceremony says that betrothal is a special occasion for families which should be celebrated together with prayer and a special rite. It seems to prefer that one of the parents lead to the ceremony. If a priest or deacon is present they should preside, provided it is clear to all that the blessing is not a marriage itself. The blessing is never to be combined with the Mass.

The blessing consists of:

Introductory Rites,

A reading (John 15:9-12, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, Hosea 2:21-26, or Philippians 2:1-5)

Optionally, Psalm 145

Optionally, a brief explanation of the biblical text


Prayer of Blessing

Concluding Rite

Preferably, a song.

I think more should be done to promote the fact that this ceremony exists. It does not seem to be mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism.

Fortunately the book "Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers" includes it. Also the1996 document "Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage" by the Pontifical Council for the Family makes mention of it, in n. 17:

In this regard, the blessing of the engaged which is foreseen in the Book of Blessings (Nos. 195-214) is significant, in which the signs of this initial commitment are mentioned: the ring, the exchange of gifts and other customs (Nos. 209-210).

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 28 January 2002.