. . .who knows of any reasons why this man and woman should not be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”
The minister was taking a breath to go on with the vows never dreaming that anyone would actually say anything at this dramatic moment. But just then the back doors of the church burst open slamming against the walls and sunlight streamed into the old cathedral blinding the eyes of all who turned around to see what the noise was. “Stop!” a young muscular man shouted. It was obvious he had been tied up for the remains of ropes still dangled from him, his hair mussed and his clothes dirty and torn.
A great murmur went up. This was not just any man, under the dirt and black eye, it was a duplicate copy of the groom. “Melisa! It’s me! Brook! Don’t marry him! That is my evil twin! I denounce this wedding. It is ME that she wants to marry.”
Okay, except for daytime television (and even that is fading away) that probably never happened. Probably. But why don’t Catholics have that dramatic moment when the priest would say, “If there is anybody here who knows of any reason . . .?” Well, the fact is that we do, it just takes a different form.
It is our ancient custom to “publicize” an upcoming marriage in order to determine if there are any impediments to the marriage. In the early years of the Church it was announced after the second reading at Mass. Nowadays we publish the “banns.” For three weeks leading up to the marriage, usually in the parish bulletin, they will list the names of the intended couple with I, II, III printed after their names. Those in the community seeing these names and knowing of any reason why this couple should not be married are duty bound to speak to the pastor and let the situation be known lest the couple be in an invalid marriage.