Is the Unity Candle illegal?

Dearest Father,

I am planning my wedding and have come across a very disturbing problem. My fiancÚ and I are getting married in a Catholic Church that many of his family members have been married in (he is Catholic, I am Christian). The priest of the church (not the one who will marry us) has told us in a letter that "The so-called 'Unity Candle' is not permitted - it is inappropriate for liturgical use and is more properly used at the wedding reception". I am confused - I have been to MANY Catholic weddings, in Catholic churches that have allowed the Unity Candle - in fact my fiancÚ's brother got married in this same church by the same priest who now has this rule and THEY had a unity candle. When my fiancÚ called to talk to the priest about this situation he said it was "Law". Then later confessed that he just didn't like the mess. We have offered to put something down on the floor to avoid this, but he still says no. I am very upset - I have already received my candle as a gift and this is something that is important to both of us. And to be honest I have NEVER seen a Unity Candle lighted at a reception. Is the Unity Candle illegal or "Law"? I have done my research and I haven't found any such law. If you can be of any help I would REALLY appreciate it. Our wedding is in April. Please understand that though I am not Catholic I am a person who respects my elders as well as other religions rules - but we have been treated very poorly by this priest, things of which I won't go into now - and this just seems to be one more of his (personal) rules.

A server of Christ,



Dear Brandi,

I am sorry you are being treated in a way which seems so arbitrary. Your wedding is the most important event of you and your fiance's life and you want it to be right. Unfortunately some things are out of our control.

The use of the Unity Candle started about twenty years ago. To me it's a lovely little ceremony and most of the weddings at Holy Family use it, as I think is still the case in most parishes. However, I have heard people much wiser than me say exactly what the priest wrote in the letter - that the Unity Candle is more appropriate at a wedding reception.

The Catholic Church has a wedding ritual which is universal with only slight adaptations (for example in Latin America the "arras" - coins - and lazo are used). Someone getting married in the Catholic Church has the right to insist on what is in the official marriage ritual, but anything apart from that (for example, announcing "I now present Mr. & Mrs...." or "you can kiss the bride") have to worked out between the couple and the celebrant.

Brandi, please say the Serenity Prayer* every day before your wedding:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

And of course keep saying it after you get married. God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom

*full text:

GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living ONE DAY AT A TIME; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen

Reinhold Neibuhr-1926

Response of Congregation for Worship

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