CHRISTINA DEHAN JALOWAY
Most of the elements of Catholic wedding liturgies are pretty set in stone, as they should be: the liturgy is not a human creation but a divine gift, and the structure and unity of the Mass reminds us of this truth. What many couples don’t realize is that, as long as you keep within certain guidelines, you and your fiancé are permitted to write your own prayers of the faithful for your nuptial Mass. Kristian and I ended up with 21 petitions (What can I say? I love intercessory prayer!), but I don’t think anyone at our wedding minded. In fact, a few guests asked me to share our prayers of the faithful with them after the wedding, so that they could use them during personal prayer.
If you’re not familiar with the process of writing intercessory prayers, or the idea intimidates you, be not afraid! It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and below you’ll find lots of tips and even examples that you can copy and paste directly from this post to include in your own prayers of the faithful.
Before we get into specifics, there are two things to keep in mind when writing liturgical petitions:
Petitions should not be mini-homilies. Keep them short and sweet, and keep the tone prayerful vs. preachy.
Follow the Church’s preferred petition order: pray for the Church first, then the world, the burdened, the local community, the dead, and your personal intentions.
Let’s break each of those down:
Prayer(s) for the Church.
Every act of liturgical Catholic prayer (including the liturgy of the hours) is the prayer of the entire Church. Thus, it makes sense that we always include the Body of Christ in our general intercessions. The minimalist way to go is to pray a broad and general prayer for the Church, which is fine, but if you want to be a bit more specific, consider including some or all of the following:
For the Holy Father, Pope Francis [add your specific intention for the Holy Father here]...
For Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI [add your specific intention for Benedict XVI here]...
For all bishops, priests, and deacons, especially those present at this Mass [you can name them here]...
For all religious and consecrated men and women, especially [insert name of religious men and women among your friends and family]...
For all lay Christians, that through prayer, the grace of the Sacraments, and acts of charity, we might become more credible witnesses to our friends and family who do not know Christ.
For the healing of the divisions among Christians--that we may all be of one heart and mind as Jesus prayed we would be.
For all persecuted Christians, that they would be strengthened and encouraged by our prayers and advocacy.
Prayer(s) for the world.
As Catholics, we are called to love all of God’s creation, including people with whom we disagree, those we consider our enemies, the poor, the disenfranchised, our government leaders, and so on. For example:
For an end to attacks on human dignity throughout the world, especially human trafficking, abortion, pornography, economic injustice, war, and religious persecution.
For our government leaders...
Prayer(s) for the burdened. This one is pretty self-explanatory, and provides us with the opportunity to honor those who are suffering from sickness or other burdens among our families and friends.
For all of the sick, especially those in our families, that they would experience the healing power of Christ. In particular, we pray for [insert names of family and friends who are sick here].
Prayer(s) for the local community.
This is your opportunity to pray for your guests. Kristian and I focused on vocations, specifically the vocation to marriage.
For all married couples, especially those who are carrying heavy crosses, that they would receive the strength and hope that they need to be visible signs of Christ’s love in the world.
For all couples who struggle with infertility, that they would know of Christ and his Mother’s closeness to them in their suffering.
For all couples who are divorced or separated, that they would receive the grace of healing and forgiveness.
For all of those single men and women who are waiting for the fulfillment of their vocation, that they would receive the grace to live this time well, with the hope that comes from knowing that their lives are in God’s hands. [Note: My friend Anamaria included a petition like this in her wedding Mass, and I was so touched that she remembered her single friends that I made a mental note of it in case I ever got married.]
Prayer(s) for the dead.
This is a wonderful opportunity to honor those in your families who aren’t able to attend your wedding in the flesh. Many couples opt to name all of their loved ones who have died in recent years. Example:
For the salvation of all of our beloved dead, especially [include names of deceased loved ones here]. May all of those who mourn their loss be comforted by the hope of the Resurrection.
This is where you have a lot of freedom to pray for whatever is most dear to your hearts as a couple, such as your family’s role in bringing you to this sacrament, your friends, former mentors, and of course, your own marriage. Here’s what we did:
In thanksgiving for Christina and Kristian’s parents, who gave them the gifts of life, love, and faith in Christ and his Church.
In thanksgiving for Christina and Kristian’s siblings, nieces and nephews, and extended families, whose love, prayers, and support throughout the years have been instrumental in bringing them to the altar of marriage.
For the intentions of the Dehan, Lyons, Jaloway, and Ruhnke families.
For all of Christina and Kristian’s former students, that they would become the men and women God created them to be.
For Christina and Kristian, that they would never tire of loving one another as Christ has loved us.
We hope this guide is helpful for those of you who want to write your own prayers of the faithful, but aren’t sure where to start; please feel free to share it with all of the Catholic brides-to-be that you know. For those of you who are already married, did you write your own intentions or use the pre-written ones provided by your priest/deacon? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!