A wedding question

I am a Catholic marrying a protestant and my question is this:

For the ceremony, I understand that it is common for the Mass to be excluded when one is not Catholic. However, it would mean a lot to me to have a full Mass ceremony and I know that they can sometimes be approved. If this is the case for me and my fiance’s wedding, would I include in the wedding program some wording which would indicate to our non-Catholic guests that they cannot receive the Eucharist? How would this be worded?

Of course, I’d first have to have some approval from my fiance. I’m not sure how to go about telling him how important this would be to me. Rejection I think would be crushing… it’d be a contrast of him saying he supports me in my faith and then not following through. In my mind its a reality for him to face that I am Catholic… practices and all. Our children are going to be raised Catholic (he has agreed to this) and they will receive the sacraments and I expect his family to be supportive… even when it comes time for their first communion… so I see the wedding as the breaking of the ice and showing both myself and everyone else that I am not ashamed to be Catholic.

I’m rambling because it late, but I want to get some thoughts on this and I can’t sleep so… there you go… I hope that wasn’t too confusing.

the ambivalence this issue is presenting for you is the best argument for celebrating your marriage (with the proper dispensation for marrying a non-Catholic of course) outside the context of Mass. If you can’t find a way to explain your reasons it shows you still have not fully confronted the issues of the difference in faith with your fiance, and don’t feel you have made your position clear. Your concern for his family and their feelings is also commendable.

You will have to find a way to explain to your fiance the importance of your faith to you, in fact that will be the most important issue in your marriage preparation, because you also have to make him understand your obligation to welcome children and raise them Catholic. I urge you to enlist the help of your pastor and sponsor couple in this.

Whether you have a Mass or not is up to you, your fiance, and your priest.

If you do have a Mass, you should consult with your priest on whether you put wording in your program or if the priest says something about it just prior to Communion.

DH and I are both Catholics, and we put wording in our program regarding non-Catholics approaching for Communion, because we do have friends and some family who are non-Catholic. Our deacon was supposed to announce it, but he forgot. So, I’m glad we had planned on both in the program and an announcement.

First, let me throw this out there: one thing to consider when deciding whether or not to have a nuptial Mass is how it will impact your guests. For many protestants, a nuptial Mass is the first, and potentially only, time they will be in a Catholic church. Making them go through the entire Liturgy of the Eucharist (with the entire “sit, stand, kneel” that seems to confuse protestants) and then giving Communion to only half of the guests may foster the idea that Catholicism is “very different” from protestantism and “not really Christian”. Then you run into the case where some guests may refuse to kneel, some go up for Communion no matter how many times you tell them not to do so (do you stop them at the alter and create a scene? Do you have ushers that “patrol” to catch them before they get in line? Do you have a secret signal to give the priest so that he just issues a blessing?), etc. All-in-all, a nuptial Mass with half the room not being Catholic tends to only lead to conflict and division among the Catholics and protestants in attendance. Meanwhile, a ceremony that primarily consists of singing and Bible readings is a much more friendly and inviting atmosphere for non-Catholics and may encourage many of the protestants in attendance to research more on the Catholic Church, and potentially to convert.

With that said, our church has a pamphlet that’s placed in the pews explaining the Catholic stance on Communion and why only Catholics receive Communion. Then, there’s a statement in the program asking those who are not Catholic to please refer to the pamphlet. The statement then invites everyone to come forward for a blessing (I know…) and to fold their arms if they are not receiving Communion. I really don’t think there’s a way to sufficiently explain the Catholic stance on Communion in a paragraph or two in a program, which is why we have the pamphlet.

Yep. And sometimes the priest will also give a polite, succinct verbal reminder as well.

I wonder how the non-Catholic spouse feels in a situation like this. “Yes we’re going to spend our lives together united in a special way but oh, by the way honey, you can’t receive communion at our wedding.”

And what about the Catholic. Well, I love you my dear one, and will spend the rest of my life with you, but I can’t receive Holy Communion on the most important day of my life because you are not Catholic.

It cuts both ways in a mixed marriage.

~Liza

**Congratulations ! may God’s sweetest blessings be with you both as you enter into the Holy Sacrament of a Christian Catholic marriage . . . ** Your desire to partake of the **Holy Eucharist during your wedding is a good thing . . . in and of itself . . . and very healthy spiritually . . . however . . . and this is a rather important . . . “however” . . . as you enter even more deeply into understanding the true nature of love . . . through Christian marriage . . . which is also the entering more deeply into the True Nature of our **Wonderful God **. . . you will become more and more aware of the reality that . . . truly loving God . . . and out of that . . . **Holy Love **. . . learning and practicing the loving of others as yourself . . . God may often call you to . . . **“deny” ** . . . yourself out of the love of God . . . for the sake . . . and out of the love of others . . .

As we walk along in the . . . Holy Pathways of our Lord . . . we all are called . . . *often *. . . to practice the **holy discipline **of . . . “denial of self” . . . out of the very real need . . . to practice truly loving our neighbor . . . and in this practice of holy self-denial . . . you will find . . . hidden treasures of blessings . . . as a child of the **Kingdom of God **. . . that our Lord will . . . POUR . . . out upon and through your soul . . . which are so . . . truly wonderful . . . that it can become beyond words to express the . . . ***holy wonder ***. . . of receiving these gracious blessings so abundantly available to the soul . . . when that soul dwells close to the . . . ***Sacred Heart :heart: of ***Jesus . . .

Remember . . . the purpose of life here on this earth is that we come to . . . know God . . . love God . . . and serve God . . . by denying yourself in this particular matter . . . for . . . ***Jesus Holy Name’s Sake *** . . . in the lives of others . . . you can enter into a true moment of . . . "holy service" . . . **to your Lord and your Saviour **. . . for the love of God and others . . . that will never come by again . . . *and God will abundantly bless you for it . . . *

Jesus taught in the portion of **Sacred :bible1: Scripture **below that His true . . . “meat” . . . was to do the **Holy Will of His Father **in Heaven . . .

:bible1: John 4:31-34

"In the meantime the disciples prayed Him, saying: Rabbi, eat. But He said to them: I have meat to eat, which you know not. The disciples therefore said one to another: Hath any man brought him to eat? Jesus saith to them: My meat is to do the Will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work."

Taking this teaching of . . . “meat” . . . which is taught in the above Sacred Scripture by Jesus to mean . . . ** “My meat is to do the Will** of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work.” . . . combine this teaching with the teaching in the below portion of Scripture . . .

:bible1: Romans 14:15-17

“For if, because of thy meat, thy brother be grieved, thou walkest not now according to charity. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then our good be evil spoken of. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

It is always at least a little bit . . . painful . . . to be deliberately . . . “excluded” . . . from something good . . . no matter how mature and thoughtful . . . and loving of God . . . the excluded individual may be . . . and God can use this to bring individuals closer to Himself . . . in Love at appropriate times . . . In regard to your partaking of the holiness of our Lord’s . . . ***Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity . . . in the Holy Eucharist ***. . . at the wedding . . . since it is not a holy requirement of our wonderful Holy Roman Catholic Church . . . you can tread gently . . . in all love . . . and in all holiness during the ceremony . . . and not partake . . . and there may be . . . another . . . answer/provision available re communion . . . I don’t know what time your ceremony is scheduled for . . . but we have early daily morning Mass at several of our Catholic churches here in town . . . perhaps you can personally celebrate and pray the Holiness of the Mass with full communion . . . *wherein you can partake of the **Holy Eucharist ***. . . in a very early morning daily Mass held at a parish church somewhere in your town . . . ? . . . what a lovely and loving way to personally start out your holy wedding day preparations . . . in full communion with our . . . *Wonderful Lord *. . .

[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . God’s Sweetest Blessings to you both+
. . . Holy Mother of God+
. . . guide, bless and direct+
. … thank you Holy Mother+
. . . thank you Blessed Lord Jesus+
[/RIGHT]

Right.

I think the OP makes a very important distinction here, too: the full mass is, in a way, an affirmation of her faith, that she is unashamed of being Catholic, that she embraces it entirely. It sends an important message to the groom’s extended family and friends, too: her faith is important. It is always going to be.

I have been so, so disappointed, in “real life” and on these forums, how willing Catholics have become to altering the way they practice their faith to “fit in” with protestant culture. We’re different, yes, and we always will be. I mean, sure, we should be ecumenical…but to a point. I really appreciate this bride wanting to preserve that special tradition Catholics have.

This was my first thought, as well.

And that’s just it - it is not a “special tradition” - the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our Faith here on earth.

About half our guests where not Catholic at our wedding - both my husband and I are. I could never imagine not being able to share the most important aspect of my life and being with my husband - receiving Christ in the Eucharist. And on our wedding day no less. It would truly break my heart. We attend Mass together, and receive Holy Communion side by side at the altar rail - I pray for those who do not have this or will never have this in their marriages. It is a level of intimacy that can’t be explained. So very sad. :frowning:

~Liza

I was just figuring how to explain it for the non-Catholic party. :slight_smile:

But now it occurs to me, how do you explain the incredible importance, when someone doesn’t see eye-to-eye on this issue ? :confused:

I don’t know. I can’t imagine. I wish this bride-to-be well; she has a much tougher road to hoe than I do.

Perhaps you can attend an early morning Mass on the day of your wedding, instead of having a Mass at your wedding. You will be able to receive the Eucharist and pray for your future with your new spouse. You can have him attend with you if you want, as I am sure he is already aware of the rules for non-Catholics receiving communion.

I am also married to a protestant and we did not have a Mass at our wedding,

Perhaps this section from Sacramentum Caritatis, the Apostolic Exhortations written by Pope Benedict XVI in response to the synod, might help you:

The distribution and reception of the Eucharist

  1. Another moment of the celebration needing to be mentioned is the distribution and reception of Holy Communion. I ask everyone, especially ordained ministers and those who, after adequate preparation and in cases of genuine need, are authorized to exercise the ministry of distributing the Eucharist, to make every effort to ensure that this simple act preserves its importance as a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus in the sacrament. For the rules governing correct practice in this regard, I would refer to those documents recently issued on the subject. (151) All Christian communities are to observe the current norms faithfully, seeing in them an expression of the faith and love with which we all must regard this sublime sacrament. Furthermore, the precious time of thanksgiving after communion should not be neglected: besides the singing of an appropriate hymn, it can also be most helpful to remain recollected in silence. (152)

**In this regard, I would like to call attention to a pastoral problem frequently encountered nowadays. I am referring to the fact that on certain occasions – for example, wedding Masses, funerals and the like – in addition to practicing Catholics there may be others present who have long since ceased to attend Mass or are living in a situation which does not permit them to receive the sacraments. At other times members of other Christian confessions and even other religions may be present. Similar situations can occur in churches that are frequently visited, especially in tourist areas. In these cases, there is a need to find a brief and clear way to remind those present of the meaning of sacramental communion and the conditions required for its reception. *Wherever circumstances make it impossible to ensure that the meaning of the Eucharist is duly appreciated, the appropriateness of replacing the celebration of the Mass with a celebration of the word of God should be considered. ***(153)

This recommendation, made by no less than the Holy Father, himself, should be considered. I realize that such a liturgical celebration would pain the OP (and that is a sad reality); however, others have indicated that the OP could go to Mass on the morning of her wedding and ask Jesus for the strength to carry out her new vocation as a wife and mother.

A nuptial Mass vs. a ceremony doesn’t make any more of a statement. First of all, the non-Catholics almost certainly don’t know there are two “options”, so her choice will have no bearing on them. Second, the fact that she is requiring the wedding to be in a Catholic church in front of a Catholic priest conveys enough about her “seriousness”.

I have been so, so disappointed, in “real life” and on these forums, how willing Catholics have become to altering the way they practice their faith to “fit in” with protestant culture. We’re different, yes, and we always will be. I mean, sure, we should be ecumenical…but to a point. I really appreciate this bride wanting to preserve that special tradition Catholics have.

No one is asking her to change her beliefs or bend to anything - the canon law is very clear that either a nuptial Mass or just a ceremony is just as acceptable and just as valid. You’re not “more Catholic” or “more married” if you have a nuptial Mass. If you want to make the point that a nuptial Mass is a “better” option, maybe we should chastise her for not having her Mass entirely in Latin? That’s the “more Catholic” thing, right?

But what does that accomplish? There are people that literally hate Catholics. They think we’re not Christians, that we’re not monotheistic and worship Mary, and that the Church has secret assassins that live in the Vatican and root out and kill anyone who compromises Catholic ideology. I’m not making this up - there are protestants that believe all of those things.

Why do they believe that? Because some Catholics purposefully try to push away non-Catholic Christians. They try as hard as possible to be different than non-Catholic Christians in order to implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) make the point that we are “better than them”. And what good does that do? It drives a bigger wedge between Catholics and protestants and hurts the ultimate goal of one unified Church.

Perhaps you can attend an early morning Mass on the day of your wedding, instead of having a Mass at your wedding. You will be able to receive the Eucharist and pray for your future with your new spouse. You can have him attend with you if you want, as I am sure he is already aware of the rules for non-Catholics receiving communion.

That’s what I decided on. It created the problem of confessing twice, though: once the day before the wedding to be properly disposed to receive Communion in the morning, then once later in the day to satisfy the attending priest before the Sacrament.

But now it occurs to me, how do you explain the incredible importance, when someone doesn’t see eye-to-eye on this issue ?

And the problem is that no matter how you explain it, people will probably misunderstand. If you say something like “Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the Real Presence”, you have to worry about Lutherans or Anglicans that say “oh yeah, so do I” then walk up there.

If you’re not worried about printing cost, you could have a few page section (or appendix) in your program that explains the Catholic view of the Eucharist and why only Catholics can receive. I bet many non-Catholics would read it during Communion. I went to a Hindu wedding where half of the guests were non-Hindu and they did something like that for each portion of the wedding. I read it when everyone else went up to “bless” the bride and groom. I actually learned a lot.

I would ask first: did you read the bride-to-be’s post fully before commenting on my post? :shrug: She said, and I quote, “it would mean a lot to me” to have a mass.

Good gracious sakes alive.

Which is fine. I was responding to your comments:

It sends an important message to the groom’s extended family and friends, too: her faith is important. It is always going to be.

which I rebutted in the first paragraph by stating that because of a lack of understanding of Catholicism, it doesn’t send a message and

I have been so, so disappointed, in “real life” and on these forums, how willing Catholics have become to altering the way they practice their faith to “fit in” with protestant culture

which I rebutted in the second paragraph by explaining that having a ceremony in place of a nuptial Mass is not “altering” how someone practices his or her faith - it’s allowed by canon law and preferred in her situation by most clergy (including the Holy Father according to another poster).

She said, and I quote, “it would mean a lot to me” to have a mass.

Which I understand, but remember that in a Catholic wedding, it’s not just about the bride. She needs to consider what’s best for her, what’s best for the Church, and what’s best for everyone else at the wedding.

What’s best for her: obviously a nuptial Mass

What’s best for the Church: if there is a high potential for desecration of the Eucharist by non-Catholics receiving, then it’s probably not to have a Mass

What’s best for the guests: if there having a full Mass will create deeper division between some of the guests and the Catholic Church then the best thing for them is to not have a Mass.

What should she do? I don’t know, that depends on many factors. People in here are just trying to explain how her decision will impact people other than herself.

REALLY easy - if the couple decides to have a Mass then the priest explains it FULLY and not in some wishy-washy ambiguous way, that non-Catholics may not receive. And none of that silly going up for a blessing nonsense - it’s just confusing.

If the couple decides not to have a Mass, then no issue at all.

Honestly - if they can’t figure this out, have not talked about such issues yet, and they are nearly walking down the aisle, then this couple has some very serious problems waiting for them after the wedding. This Catholic bride needs to have some very open, honest, and deep conversations about how they are going to live their differing faiths together. This is NOT a discussion to be having after the wedding as an after thought.

And as far as a Mass turning people away from the Faith, I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. That’s just silliness. If someone gets that bent out of shape by attending a religous ceremony they are not familiar with then they have far bigger issues to work out.

~Liza

I know it isn’t the norm nowdays at a wedding Mass, but wouldn’t it be possible to not have a general distribution of Communion? When I was married in the early 1970’s, only my husband and I received Communion. The majority of the guests were Catholic but there were also guests from many other religions. When one of my brothers married a non-Catholic, they had a Mass but neither received Communion. The priest just made an announcement at the beginning of Mass and that was it. It was quite common for this to be done. The OP could ask her pastor if he would allow this and it might solve one of her problems. Just a thought!

I said it was important to me but I didn’t say why…

Other than importance of the Eucharist itself and all that I understand about it and Love… Our wedding will be on a Sunday. I don’t know how much time we will have before the wedding (with a lot preparation being done by ourselves and my family) to be able to go to the morning Mass. The reception site is about 30 minutes away from the Church and we’ll have things to prepare there such as the floral arrangements and center pieces, etc. I just don’t know how the time will work out for that. Otherwise, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Also, I’ll be going through RCIA this year and will be confirmed after the wedding. This is a big deal for me because it presents the opportunity for my fiance to go to the classes with me and as such, provides an opportunity for me to explain why a full Mass is important to me.

As for half of the guests not being Catholic and being put off by a full Mass… what are they (the immediate family of my fiance) going to do when they’re invited to each of our childrens first communions? (I have a problem with thinking too far ahead, but I figure I do that for a reason) But, just think of it… the grace that is poured out for the sacrament of marriage and then even more with Our Blessed Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist! Even as those who are not Catholic won’t be receiving the Eucharist… it may well be the only time they are in presence of it! Even if they don’t believe it is Our Lord, he is still there right in front of them! Perhaps I’m deluded but what a wonderful thing! It may not call any of them to convert to Catholicism, but what did Jesus say in reference to the children? Let them come to him, do not hinder them? I’d feel as if I was keeping something from them about my faith… I’d feel like I was lying to them… I’d feel like I’d be denying my religion, my God… the thought of that haunts me. Its difficult weighing the pros and cons… In addition to his family being protestant we both have a couple of family members who are Atheist and a couple who consider themselves Agnostic. So even though they don’t concern me a great deal I wouldn’t want to do anything to turn them away… I personally view a full Mass wedding as being an invitation to see Catholicism at its fullest. (of course I wouldn’t mind putting in a few more pages in the wedding program to explain the Eucharist… we’ll be making the programs ourselves so it wouldn’t add any wild cost)

As far as explaining this to my fiance… he has a lot of stress already and I don’t want to pressure him with anything. In anything concerning religion I know that I need to be gentle with him (a lot of bad experiences have damaged his view of religion). When we talk about our religious beliefs we are open with each other and though gentle, we don’t mince words about it… all in all, we’ve had some very good discussions. He has been to a Mass and he liked it for the most part… the standing, sitting, and kneeling bothered his injured knee.

I’m still listening to responses… I just thought I’d add some more thoughts… again I hope I’m not too all over the place with it, as I’m trying to hurry. Sorry for that.

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