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Catholic Weddings

Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?

My fiance and I both really like the idea of a unity sand ceremony, especially since we are from different states and would plan to use sand from our home states. Has anyone seen this done instead of a unity candle ceremony? I believe I went to one Catholic mass where I saw this done, but before I ask my priest I was wondering if it was a big "no-no"?
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Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?

  • edited December 2011
    Neither the unity candle nor unity sand are technically a part of the Catholic wedding ceremony, but some priests do allow it. So I guess it wouldn't be any LESS taboo than asking about a unity candle.
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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie
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    edited December 2011
    I wouldn't ask....at least the candle could be assigned some kind of Christian symbolism --- because candles are necessary around the altar during mass.

    The sand has had some pagan influences...
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?:
    I wouldn't ask....at least the candle could be assigned some kind of Christian symbolism --- because candles are necessary around the altar during mass. The sand has had some pagan influences...
    Posted by agapecarrie
    Really?  What are they?  This is the first time I've heard this and even if it has pagan roots, it can't be worse than the pagan Christmas trees that decorate so many churches at Christmas time.

    OP - ask.  It never hurts.
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  • clearheavensclearheavens
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    edited December 2011
    Ditto ppl, ask and you'll get an answer either way.  Just do some research beforehand so you know what you're asking for.  Here's what the USCCB (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) had to say about the Unity Candle Ceremony.  I don't know of an article about the Sand Ceremony:

    This popular practice raises several questions which call for reflection. The liturgical use of candles, other than for producing light itself, is most commonly related to seeing the lighted candle as a symbol of the light of Christ. This is epitomized in the Easter Vigil in the use of the paschal candle and in the lighting of the people’s candles at the beginning of the liturgy. As the paschal candle is lighted, the priest prays: “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.” The holding of lighted candles for the renewal of the baptismal promises harkens back to the rite of baptism when a lighted candle is given to a newly baptized adult or to the parents or godparents of an infant. As this is done, the minister says: “You have been enlightened by Christ. Walk always as children of the light. . .” This same symbolism is found in the rite for the dedication of a church when the deacon receives a lighted candle from the bishop so that he may light the candles at the altar, the bishop says: “Light of Christ, shine forth in the Church and bring all nations to the fullness of truth.” Similarly, in popular celebrations of Evening Prayer, the use of the lucenarium service (lighting of a large candle and prayer of thanksgiving) recalls the Light of Christ in the darkness of the night.

    Considering this liturgical usage of candles, what is the symbolism of lighting one larger candle from two smaller ones, which are then extinguished? If the larger candle does not represent Christ, what does it symbolize? The couple? If so, it seems to be at variance with liturgical tradition. And if the two smaller candles are meant to represent the individual baptized Christians entering this marriage, should not that symbolization be made explicit, such as, by the bride and the groom each carrying their candle in the entrance procession? And are those individual lives in some way “snuffed out” when the two who have become one in Christ extinguish their candles?

    If the larger candle represents Christ, should it not be burning from the very beginning of the liturgy? The light of Christ does not come from the couple, but rather is shared with the couple. If this symbolism is the intended one, the couples’ candles should be lighted from the “Christ candle” and stand next to it as a sign that the unity of the couple comes from Christ. For they are united with each other by being united in Christ.

    One of the greatest criticisms of the “unity candle” is that it is not integrated into the liturgy and has to be explained in some detail when it is used. Its use should flow out of the very rites of the liturgy and not appear as something added on but not directly connected to the actions and prayers of the liturgy.

    The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy invites liturgical commissions and interested individuals to reflect upon the use of the unity candle, both its positive and negative features, and to communicate their thoughts to the Committee.

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  • edited December 2011
    I've seen it done at a Catholic wedding. I don't have a personal opinion on it, but it wouldn't hurt to talk to your priest about it. FI and I aren't doing unity sand or a unity candle (at least he hasn't expressed a desire for either so far into our liturgy planning), but I can see how the sand really lends itself to the idea that marriage can't be undone, just like you can't "unmix" the sand.
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  • MissySue20MissySue20
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    edited December 2011
    Definitely ask your priest. Since neither of them are considered part of the Catholic wedding, we were not allowed to have them per our priest. It didn't bother me though, b/c the Catholic ceremony is beautiful enough as it is and besides it saved us a few extra bucks in supplies.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977
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    edited December 2011
    i think there is a big difference between pagan decor (christmas trees) and a pagan ritual/ceremony being performed.  you really cant compare the two IMO.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?:
    i think there is a big difference between pagan decor (christmas trees) and a pagan ritual/ceremony being performed.  you really cant compare the two IMO.
    Posted by Calypso1977
    Sorry.  I don't see any difference.  The ritual is identical to the unity candle.  You are only changing the medium.  I'm still curious what the pagan roots are.
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  • TBee99TBee99
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?:
    I've seen it done at a Catholic wedding. I don't have a personal opinion on it, but it wouldn't hurt to talk to your priest about it. FI and I aren't doing unity sand or a unity candle (at least he hasn't expressed a desire for either so far into our liturgy planning), but I can see how the sand really lends itself to the idea that marriage can't be undone, just like you can't "unmix" the sand.
    Posted by linzluvsgzuss
    Exactly, I love your last line! I'm going to ask I guess. He did mention a unity candle at our first meeting, so I'm hoping he'll be open to it.


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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie
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    edited December 2011
    I didn't say roots, I said influences...I didn't say it definitely came from pagans either, just that it might have influences from it, and something related in that way would be different than a candle, which is already used in Catholic liturgies.

    The "earth" focus is one way it may be related.

    If someone is having a mass, they already actually have the unity happen at the Eucharist.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?:
    I wouldn't ask....at least the candle could be assigned some kind of Christian symbolism --- because candles are necessary around the altar during mass. The sand has had some pagan influences...
    Posted by agapecarrie
    I don't mean to argue but I lurk here from time to time and it seems like anything that is not Pre-Vatican II is dismissed as "pagan."  And nowhere, did you say "might"; in fact, your wording sounds pretty definite.
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  • Riss91Riss91
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    edited December 2011
    It might not necessarily be Pagan, but if it didn't exist 100 years ago in the church, then where did it come from? Sometimes it's TV, sometimes it's other cultures. I believe there are sand ceremonies in Hawaiin and Native American cultures as well. I've also seen references to sand ceremonies in Pagan weddings.

    The point is that the Catholic ceremony does not include the practice and many priests will not allow it. I personally don't think anything needs to be added to "unify" the bride and groom, the ceremony as-is does that. If your priest was open to the unity candle, I don't think he would be put-off by asking you about the sand....but again, I don't see the need!


  • agapecarrieagapecarrie
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle?:
    In Response to Re: Unity Sand Ceremony Instead of Unity Candle? : I don't mean to argue but I lurk here from time to time and it seems like anything that is not Pre-Vatican II is dismissed as "pagan."  And nowhere, did you say "might"; in fact, your wording sounds pretty definite.
    Posted by GoodLuckBear14
    Vatican II has nothing to do with it. I'm very pro-vatican II. So glad it happened, and Blessed John 23rd is my hero.

  • edited December 2011
    I would just ask your priest next time you see him what the parish's stance on incorporating unity candles, unity sand ceremonies, and other typically non-Catholic wedding traditions/rituals are into the liturgy. There would definitely be no offense taken if it sounds like you are just trying to clarify what is and is not allowed at your wedding, and with the way things like this can vary from church to church I'm sure he will be pleased that you asked for any clarification before setting any plans in stone.
  • edited December 2011
    I would definitely say ask your priest. I think that it is a priests preference for what he wants in his church. I have noticed different rules for different priests
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