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Archbishop Tagle urges removal of frivolities from weddings, other rites

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

In the words of His Eminence, drop all those ka-ek-ekan (roughly translated frivolities).

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle on Saturday urged the faithful to avoid practices that embellish or depart from sacred Catholic rites, like having dogs as wedding ring bearers or wedding planners telling priests what to do and where to stand.

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Tagle noted that some Filipino Catholics had been treating the sacraments as if they were merely venues for “social gatherings or cultural traditions,” thus losing the deeper spiritual meaning of these events and rituals.

“This is one great challenge for us during this year of faith because our liturgy and sacraments, sad to say, sometimes are no longer considered as celebrations of faith,” Tagle said during the Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly held at Paco Catholic School auditorium in Manila.

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Stand-up comedy

“Sometimes, the faith is the last thing we focus on in the sacraments. The sacraments sometimes become mere social events or just cultural traditions with the faith being the last thing we consider,” he added.

But far from delivering a stern sermon, Tagle spiced up his message with bits of stand-up comedy, drawing laughter from the SRO crowd.

Church dress code

“Once, I received a letter from someone who was getting married and who was asking permission if they could have their dog as their ring bearer,” the prelate recalled. “The dog had been with them for a long time, but what had the dog got to do with our faith? What has become of marriage?

Tagle said he once had to remind a bride about the dress code inside the church, but the bride retorted: “Why does the Church still interfere with that? You are not the one who’s going to pay for my gown.”

“But what you are wearing should speak of your faith. The symbols that you use should speak of your faith,” Tagle explained to his audience.

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He also noted that it had become a trend in weddings for church doors to be closed before the bride walks down the aisle.

“The groom and the escorts had entered but when the bride is about to go in, the doors are closed. There are many weddings like that today. Why close the door? You’ll spend the rest of your married life closing doors,” Tagle said in jest.

“That is no longer faith. That’s a gimmick. Paborloloy, ka-ek-ekan na lang yan (Nothing but embellishments and frivolities). Imagine, closing the door on your bride? Hay naku!” he added.

Best punch line

But Tagle reserved his best punch line for the most modern feature of marital rites: the wedding planner.

“There was this wedding I attended that was already 45 minutes late,” Tagle recalled. “I approached the groom and asked:  ‘Why haven’t you started. Is the bride already here?’ Yes.  ‘Are the godparents already here?’ Yes.  ‘So why haven’t you started?’”

Finally, the wedding planner told him the reason for the delay: The butterflies had not yet arrived. “What butterflies?!” Tagle recalled asking the planner.

The answer he got was simple: “Because as the bride walks down the aisle, we will let fly those butterflies.”

“What had those butterflies got to do with our faith? The union is just starting, and you already have all these flying away and separations. Do you know their meaning?” he then said.

Who’s the boss?

This prompted the wedding planner to remind him who was really running the show. “ ‘I am the coordinator. You will start when I say so,’” Tagle recalled the planner as telling him pointblank.

“So, I stood up and said  ‘I am the official witness of the Church here and I am now starting this wedding.’ But the choir wasn’t ready so I started (singing)  ‘Tan-tan-tanan. Tan-tan-tanan,’” he added in jest, mimicking the opening notes of the Richard Wagner wedding staple.

“March! Run!” he said. “Probably when the (couple) watch the video of their wedding, they’ll again see what I did.”

Tagle also recalled seeing funerals where the supposedly grieving family installed too many lights. “(It looked like) a Christmas party instead because there were so many Christmas lights.”

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TAGS: Catholic Church, Church, faith, Luis Antonio Tagle, Religion, Rituals, Weddings
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