Salt + Light Media Home
Salt + Light Media Home

Betrothed Love

Hayley Barnes

Monday, March 6, 2023

Hayley and Linus during their engagement.
A lovely, if often overlooked, element in preparation for the sacrament of marriage as a Catholic is the Rite of Betrothal offered by the Church. My fiancé and I were thrilled by the opportunity to participate in this rite in the midst of our engagement and wedding planning.
If you are unfamiliar, the Rite of Betrothal is a mutual promise, vocally expressed between a man and woman, pledging future marriage to one another in the Church. After stating your intent to marry, the priest will present the missal, open to the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, this page will typically have an image of the Crucifix printed on it, and the page is kissed first by the man and then by the woman. For us, this simple act served as a powerful reminder of the sacrifice that love requires of us, and the critical role Christ’s Crucifixion will play in our vocational life. This is then followed by a few readings and a blessing. Often, a Mass is celebrated for the couple after the rite has concluded. Although a betrothal is not a sacrament, it offers graces to a couple during this time of engagement, and it points back to the gravity of the sacrament that they are preparing for. 
I had done some reading on the meaning and elements involved in a betrothal before we had made the choice to have our own, and thought I knew what to expect. However, one of the most striking moments came as a surprise to me. It happened not during the rite itself, but during the private Mass we had celebrated for us following the ceremony.
Our Betrothal took place on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11), and at our Mass, the Gospel was the story of the Annunciation. In his homily, our priest reflected on the way in which this Gospel lays out two very special cases of betrothed love.
The first betrothal is that between St. Joseph and Our Lady at the time of Our Lord’s Conception. The gospel account leading up to the Nativity of Our Lord shows the deep, sacrificial love that St. Joseph and Our Lady had for each other, and it was evident prior to their marriage. My fiancé and I have been looking to the Holy Family in preparation for our own vocational life. They are a truly perfect example for us as we live out this period in anticipation of our wedding day and the beginning of our own family.
But there is another, more incredible betrothal that takes place at the Annunciation. The fiat, that resounding yes, given by Our Lady to the Archangel Gabriel, is a betrothal on behalf of the world to Our Lord Jesus Christ. 
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica comments that the fiat “shows that there is a certain spiritual wedlock between the Son of God and human nature. Wherefore in the Annunciation the Virgin's consent was sought in the place of the whole of human nature.” (ST III q. 30 a. 1 co.)
Scripture is clear that the sacrament of matrimony is modelled for us in Christ’s relationship with the whole human race, “more wonderfully redeemed” in his Mystical Body. St. Paul speaks on this saying: “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)
During our engagement, many wise mentors have encouraged us to turn to Christ and His love for the Church. I am so grateful for this chance to experience betrothed love, and to have participated in this rite on a feast that points to two profoundly beautiful examples of betrothal. What a joy it is to prepare to enter into a sacrament that will sanctify us and teach us to love as Christ loved the world.

Related Articles:


Receive our newsletters
Stay Connected
Receive our newsletters
Stay Connected
Copyright © 2023 Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
Registered Charity # 88523 6000 RR0001