Brand new Catholic: Questions about blessing an union


#1

I have a couple of questions for this community. If this is in the wrong place I apologize.

I recently converted to Catholicism this year. During a counseling session the education director said that my husband and I were not to have relations until the marriage was blessed. I have been married to this man ( a cradle catholic) for over ten years so of course this news seemed a little odd to me. You should of saw the look on my husband’s face when he heard that. I want to know if this is commonplace within the church because the director did not seem sure of what he was saying. I do not know if it was because of the looks on our faces or if he was unsure.

The director did ask us if we were going to have a small thing or a big thing, those were his words exactly. I have searched the web over and over and I cannot seem to find answers. Are we required to have an actual wedding? Am I required to wear a wedding dress? Also, what about our anniversary? Our civil union was conducted ten years ago during the winter. If we have a blessing this summer or this fall will our anniversary date change? I personally think it is tacky to have a full out wedding when we have been married for over ten years. I feel a little silly putting on a wedding dress after all these years. Please chime in if you can.


#2

My husband and I are in the process of converting and have looked into this. From what I understand if this is your first marriage to each other then it's assumed to be valid so I have no idea why they would ask you to abstain?? Now if one of you is waiting on annulment then it's a different issue.

It doesn't have to be a big deal, from what I have looked into. I'm certainly not going to wear a wedding dress or make it into an event with invitations.


#3

I am a fairly recent convert myself, but will take a crack at this...

The Church has authority expressly given to her by Christ. Some of that authority is expressed in canon law. Catholics must be married in the Church, witnessed by a priest or deacon under canon law. Your husband, as a Catholic, failed to do that so your wedding is canonically invalid.

What is necessary is convalidation. Through this your marriage will be recognized (made official in the eyes of God). I am sure your priest can explain it better and I hope that you schedule an appointment to speak with him. This can be quite simple and beautiful. You really should do this as soon as possible.

(My comments assume that this is the first attempt at marriage for each of you.)


#4

I am a fairly recent convert myself, but will take a crack at this...

The Church has authority expressly given to her by Christ. Some of that authority is expressed in canon law. Catholics must be married in the Church, witnessed by a priest or deacon under canon law. Your husband, as a Catholic, failed to do that so your wedding is canonically invalid.

What is necessary is convalidation. Through this your marriage will be recognized (made official in the eyes of God). I am sure your priest can explain it better and I hope that you schedule an appointment to speak with him. This can be quite simple and beautiful. You really should do this as soon as possible.

(My comments assume that this is the first attempt at marriage for each of you.)


#5

Welcome to Catholic Answers and welcome to the Church!

Since your husband was Catholic at the time you were married, he would have been required to obtain permission or a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic. If he didn't do this, and you were married "outside the Church" (i.e., in a civil ceremony or at your Church without permission from his pastor), then the Catholic Church understands the marriage to be invalid. This is probably why the education director advised you to abstain: if you're not validly married, you should not be having sex.

Convalidation is the process of making your current lawful marriage valid. It usually does not involve a full-blown wedding, but is generally a more simple ceremony with a couple of witnesses where you and your lawful husband will make the same wedding vows that all couples marrying make. You would not need to wear a fancy wedding gown or anything like that (unless you want to). You would certainly be free to celebrate this new date as your anniversary, which is probably would I would want to do if I were in your situation.

God bless!


#6

Sorry about my advice! Since neither my dh nor I are Catholic it is a different situation for us.


#7

Please do a search for "convalidation" to get some answers. I too am a cradle catholic but I now realize that I never really learned just what Catholicism really teaches and WHY it teaches what it does. There are requirements that your husband needed to follow in order to have a valid marriage in the eyes of the Catholic faith as a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic, and it does not sound like he is/was aware of them. At least it has only been 10 years. For me it has been 42 years since my civil marriage. I always planned to get it blessed but we never got around to it. And now my husband does not wish to practice his faith. I am planning to speak with my pastor and have learned that my husband's choice not to be a practicing Catholic does not prevent me from convalidating my marriage. Until that time I must not be intimate with him as I am not married in the eyes of the church. There is a lot to learn that I either did not learn, or chose to ignore when I was young and foolish. It is so rewarding to come home to my faith. I now have a much different attitude toward life and a sense of peace. Be gentle on yourself as you learn your new faith. Jesus knows your intentions. Peace.


#8

[quote="riseabove, post:1, topic:252468"]
I have a couple of questions for this community. If this is in the wrong place I apologize.

I recently converted to Catholicism this year. During a counseling session the education director said that my husband and I were not to have relations until the marriage was blessed. I have been married to this man ( a cradle catholic) for over ten years so of course this news seemed a little odd to me. .

[/quote]

I don't understand the director's words, so I am sure you don't either.
If this director is not the priest he or she has no business giving you this advice. You need to speak with the priest directly about your marriage situation. The advice to live "as brother and sister" concerns matter for confession, which is entirely confidential. The director can give you the general church teaching on marriage and explain how that affects you since you married a Catholic, but cannot give you pastoral advice that properly belongs to the priest.

There is also no way advice here can be helpful to your specific situation. Every marriage is unique so you need to visit the priest.

If you have already become a member of the Church the marriage issue should have been resolved first, before you received sacraments. None of that is your fault, however. The director should have immediately made an appointment for you with the priest. You can do this. Assuming neither of you has been married before there is no barrier to having your marriage convalidated.

welcome home

and btw your exchange of vows can be as simple and informal, or as grand an occassion, as you wish, that is probably what the director was getting at, but first things first, which is to see the priest and see what needs to be done (if anything).


closed #9

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