Explain the Changes in an Expression of a Religious Tradition - Marriage

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Religious Studies 2.2 AS 90821

Explain the changes in an expression of a religious tradition

Task one: Describe the marriage service in the Catholic Church 100 years ago and explain why the marriage service was performed this way. What were the restrictions on the couple?

The Catholic Church’s marriage service was significantly different 100 years ago mainly due to how society was then. For example:- The priest would organise the entire wedding, there were no prayers of the faithful and the priest chose and read all the readings. The whole ceremony was in Latin. Family and friends were not included in the planning of the wedding. There was no pre-marriage course available. Marriage was seen to be a way to secure finances and continue the husband’s family name. Women were seen as property and had no money or land under their own name. When the couple married everything got transferred into the husband’s possession.

There were clear defined roles in the marriage, men worked outside the home and women looked after the children, cooked and cleaned. Men had absolute power and made the decisions. They got married to create a secure environment for raising children, provide a stable social and family life, and provide a system of rules. Marriage was usually an arrangement between families and the couple would have varying degrees of involvement in the decision.

You can say the lack of input and involvement from the couple, to do with the ceremony itself, was a restriction. They didn’t have any choice in how it went or what was said. The following quote from Paul to the Ephesians (5: 21-24) summarises exactly how the church saw marriage in that era. “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is head of the Church, the body of which he is the saviour. Just as the Church is subject to Christ so also wives ought to be to their husbands.”

Task 2: Describe the changes that occurred and why they occurred.

The marriage service now has changed in many ways because of the churches’ thinking and the way society views it. Aspects of the vows have changed. Women used to have to vow that they would ‘obey’ their husband. This is no longer necessary because after Vatican II the church “recognised the purpose of marriage in the modern world was not only the procreation of children but also the companionship and intimacy of husband and wife.” (p 17 Commitment and Ministry) Women were not seen as possessions anymore but as equal partners.

There is now a pre-marriage course available to challenge the couple to examine and explore together the feelings, values and ideas that will shape their lives after marriage. This is because the Church recognises that when couples get caught up in the planning and actual wedding day, they may forget to prepare for life after the wedding day which can sometimes cause problems. Preparation for marriage is more than ever necessary because of the many changes within modern society. Couples can better prepare themselves by realising that marriage is for life despite the culture of our day and place God in the centre of the marriage.

Before Vatican II all mass’ and marriage ceremonies were in Latin, which is the language of the Church. Now mass’ and marriages are in English so people can more easily understand the teachings of the Church and God. The priest also organised and read out every part of the mass and marriage service. This changed so the wife and husband could be more involved, making the mass more memorable, meaningful and personalised to the family and friends who attend.

Task 3: Describe what has been the effect of these changes.

Society’s view on the status of women started to change years before Vatican II. Women had started to realise that they deserved a say in things and didn’t have to stay at home. Women and men are now seen as equal and are made by God for each other physically,...
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