Catholic groom, nominally Presbyterian bride


#1

Hi all,

New guy here. See my hello post in the water cooler!

I am looking for advice regarding marriage between a catholic (me) and a presbyterian (my girlfriend). We have been together nearly 2 years, are very much in love, and have been discussing marriage in the near future. I am practising, but my g/f is not.

She has no problem with my Catholicism, but when discussing marriage - what kind of service we would have etc - I sometimes think she is under pressure through having to deal with her family and friends (mostly CoS) on one hand, and me on the other.

I think some issues are arising due to the fact that Catholicism and the CoS haven't enjoyed the most pleasant history together, although relations are now very cordial and warm. There is a long history of fierce anti-Catholicism in Scotland, and so many people still have a derogatory and innaccurate view of Catholics and their traditions.

Anyway, my wonderful g/f is quite happy to get married in a Catholic Church and for any children we have to be Catholic. The debates comes when talking about how to make everyone feel welcome at our ceremony (because I have a very small family, the irony is that the vast majority of attendees at this Catholic wedding will not be Catholic).

Some of the issues seem to be:

1) Wedding Ceremony vs Nuptial Mass.

I would like to take communion on my wedding day. However, presbyterians - due to difference in belief - would not be given communion in a Catholic Church. This is a problem.

While getting communion (or not) is based purely on belief, I think in some quarters there is the perception that Catholics deny other Christians commumion because "they are not good enough". Which is obviously ridiculous, but this impression harks back to the difficult history I mentioned above.

I explained that non-Catholics can still go up and receive a blessing, in place of communion, but my g/fs reaction seemed to indicate this is regarded as a patronising alternative to communion (whereas, I see it as an inclusive gesture).

Ultimately, I am willing to compromise on this one. I dont want anyone to feel excluded at the wedding. I have been thinking that a Wedding Ceremony would maybe be better, given it would be the minority of people taking communion anyway (as stated my family is very small).

(BTW - if we did have a wedding ceremony, what are the chances of tacking bits of the mass on - except communion - to make it a bit more "mass like"? Eg adding a sung Credo III / Gloria / Kyrie etc. Might that be possible, or not?)

One point is - I regard giving up communion on my wedding day to be quite a large compromise on my part. I do not know if my g/f appreciates this fully, and may think this is just another minor issue resolved.

2) Perceptions

I normally attend a sung mass, and so for me its normal to have a latin choir. I would want this at our wedding too - I find our tradtitional latin music to be beautiful, engaging and very moving. However, one of my g/fs friends had said she thought choirs were "ostentatious".

Traditionally, prebyterians have jokingly been portrayed as dour, humourless people. So, while I was shocked to hear the above, I do actually understand where its coming from - some of them probably do genuinely regard choirs as unnecessary and flashy.

So, how to deal with these differing perceptions? Anything in our ceremony will be included because its important to one or both of us - its not to show off, or impress anyone.

Should we just ignore this and do what makes us happy, and if anyone has a problem - well, its their problem?

3) Participation of both demoninations

Its important that both families are involved in the ceremony, and no-one is seen to dominate. To this end we will have people from both families doing readings, helping as ushers etc.

The idea of having a presbyterian minister participate has come up a few times. I do not have a problem with this on the face of it, but I do wonder how it would work in practice.

The CoS weddings I have been to, have been very quick (15- 20 mins) and very informal (like a conversation in the pub). The most recent one, the minister wore a kilt (a garment which I dislike and think is very innappropriate for a church) and was very familiar with the congregation, cracking jokes during the service etc.

I know some people prefer that type of environment - which is their preogative, of course - but, for me, it is a complete anathema. The minister seemed more like a stand up comic, than a clergyman, joking away throughout. For me, there was no sense of formality or respect, no sense that two people we committing their lives together, or that we were in the house of God.

(I realise this is back to perceptions again - others would likely have enjoyed the way that marriage was conducted. Equally, some people probably find Catholic formality to be dull or off putting).

And so, I wonder how a minister might fit in, up on the altar, casually dressed, with a priest and altar servers in traditonal garb. I think he* would be like a fish out water to be honest. (*The CoS has female clergy also - dunno how that would go down!).

Is this a silly thing to worry about? What are your experiences? I do understand that its important that my girlfriends family background and identity is reflected in the service, and so want to explore all options. I do not want anyone to feel overlooked or left out.

Well, I guess I will leave it there for now. Sorry for the massive post.

Id be very grateful for any thoughts or shared experiences.

Many thanks!


#2

I understand wanting to receive Communion on your wedding day but could you not simply attend Mass at some point before the wedding?

Because of situations like yours, the Church encourages the celebration of mixed-marriages within a Liturgy of the Word, rather than within Mass. This emphasizes what you have in common rather than what separates your families.

BTW, I find odd your contention that the kilt is inappropriate for church.

And someone is bound to tell you that, even though many parishes do it, going up for a blessing at communion time is not supposed to happen.


#3

I will comment on #1. You absolutely should not have Eucharist at your wedding. You probably should opt for a wedding ceremony instead of a nuptial mass. The reason for this is that you want your wedding to be unifying instead of disunifying. In this case since your gf is not Catholic she cannot receive so the first act as husband and wife will be an act of a non-unifying nature as you will be in communion with the Church and she will not. She is absolutely right on this.

As for the others they are all issues that will be worked out with your priest during pre-Cana however I would say the choir does not make the mass - you should learn to compromise a bit to make her and her guests a bit more comfortable as well.


#4

Hello and welcome to the forums! I'm a Catholic man who married my Lutheran wife about a year and half ago, so I've been through some of the issues you are sorting out.

While it is possible for a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian to have a nuptial Mass, the "prefered" format is the wedding liturgy without the Mass. The reason is that the communion issues can highlight divisions on a day that should foster unity. We had a wedding liturgy without a Mass and felt it was very appropriate

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]

(BTW - if we did have a wedding ceremony, what are the chances of tacking bits of the mass on - except communion - to make it a bit more "mass like"? Eg adding a sung Credo III / Gloria / Kyrie etc. Might that be possible, or not?)

[/quote]

You could talk to your priest about this, but if you choose a wedding liturgy without a Mass, I think the format is pretty well set.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]

One point is - I regard giving up communion on my wedding day to be quite a large compromise on my part. I do not know if my g/f appreciates this fully, and may think this is just another minor issue resolved.

[/quote]

You might consider attending Mass together earlier in the day and receiving Communion at that time.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]

Should we just ignore this and do what makes us happy, and if anyone has a problem - well, its their problem?

[/quote]

In terms of music, etc. I think you and your fiance just need to chose (in consultation with the priest, music director, etc.) what you think is appropriate and beautiful. Not every guest will like every choice you make, but hey, it's not their wedding ceremony,

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]

The idea of having a presbyterian minister participate has come up a few times. I do not have a problem with this on the face of it, but I do wonder how it would work in practice.

[/quote]

I believe this is possible to one degree or another. Talk to your priest about the specifics. My wife really didn't need/want to have a Lutheran pastor participate in our ceremony (she and her family had not been very invoved in a church for years) so we didn't get into this issue too much. But the priest did bring up a couple of times that if we wanted to include someone from her church, that was possible.

Good luck and best wishes to both of you!


#5

First, realize that this sort of compromise is something you will both live with for the rest of your lives. You will experience conflicts from time to time that will require accommodation.

Having said that, sit down with your girlfriend and express to her what is important to you and do the same for her. Decide with the help of a priest and minister how you will celebrate your wedding day.

Forget about Uncle Joe and Aunt Sally. You are going to drive yourself crazy trying to please everyone. They know that she is marrying a Catholic and your relatives know that you are marrying a Presbyterian. Let it go and just do your thing (both of you).

Believe me, everyone will come around. And if they don’t, so what…

God bless you both. Best wishes for ha happy and prosporous life together…


#6

the first step is an appointment with your priest and with the deacon or whoever is overseeing your marriage prep. Most of these issues will be addressed during that prep. Most priest will not, or at least will strenuously advise against, a nuptial Mass, or even a communion service. if one party is not Catholic, even more so if half the guests are not Catholic. Just at the time when unity should be the focus, the rite emphasizes that sad disunity among Christians. Not auspicious.


#7

Be careful what you do.
If you do something different than what is normally permitted by the Catholic Church, you will only be civilly married - but not in the eyes of the Church, without special permission from your Diocese Bishop.

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P41.HTM
Canon Code regardng mixed marriages.
An "ORDINARY" is your Diocese Bishop.

You and your finiance should meet with a Catholic Priest to get your questions answered,
and to find out if you will need any special permissions from your Bishop.
Pre-Cana classes now required probably take about 6 months.


#8

[quote="cargau, post:5, topic:235868"]
First, realize that this sort of compromise is something you will both live with for the rest of your lives. You will experience conflicts from time to time that will require accommodation.

Having said that, sit down with your girlfriend and express to her what is important to you and do the same for her. Decide with the help of a priest and minister how you will celebrate your wedding day.

Forget about Uncle Joe and Aunt Sally. You are going to drive yourself crazy trying to please everyone. They know that she is marrying a Catholic and your relatives know that you are marrying a Presbyterian. Let it go and just do your thing (both of you).

Believe me, everyone will come around. And if they don't, so what...

God bless you both. Best wishes for ha happy and prosporous life together...

[/quote]

Exactly! Forget the relatives, they'll get over it. If they don't, pray for them.

Your girlfriend also NEEDS to understand your feelings towards your faith and to be willing to compromise as well. The wedding is just ONE day. The marriage is supposed to last a lifetime. All too often, people put SO much emphasis on the wedding and completely forget that it is just one day.

Best of luck to you!


#9

However, one of my g/fs friends had said she thought choirs were "ostentatious".

Traditionally, prebyterians have jokingly been portrayed as dour, humourless people. So, while I was shocked to hear the above, I do actually understand where its coming from - some of them probably do genuinely regard choirs as unnecessary and flashy.

So, how to deal with these differing perceptions? Anything in our ceremony will be included because its important to one or both of us - its not to show off, or impress anyone.

Should we just ignore this and do what makes us happy, and if anyone has a problem - well, its their problem?

Absolutely ignore her, it's your wedding - not the bridesmaid's wedding day.

Ignore her armchair quarterbacking, backseat driving comments.


#10

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
I explained that non-Catholics can still go up and receive a blessing, in place of communion, but my g/fs reaction seemed to indicate this is regarded as a patronising alternative to communion (whereas, I see it as an inclusive gesture).

[/quote]

This is not allowed. It is a violation of the Mass rubrics.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
Ultimately, I am willing to compromise on this one. I dont want anyone to feel excluded at the wedding. I have been thinking that a Wedding Ceremony would maybe be better, given it would be the minority of people taking communion anyway (as stated my family is very small).

[/quote]

In mixed marriage situations, the Church strongly encourages the Marriage Rite outside of Mass. I think this is the most prudent choice for your situation.

quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"

[/quote]

One does not just "tack on" bits of the Mass. One follows the rubrics established by the Church. I suggest you obtain this book to assist you in the liturgical choices for the Marriage Rite outside the Mass. This will help you with what is required, what is optional, and what the choices are. Your priest can also assist with this.

amazon.com/Together-Life-Special-Marriage-Outside/dp/087793617X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302631123&sr=1-1

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
One point is - I regard giving up communion on my wedding day to be quite a large compromise on my part. I do not know if my g/f appreciates this fully, and may think this is just another minor issue resolved.

[/quote]

I suggest you resolve your issues with this. Sounds like you are sort of keeping score on this. If you cannot go into this without reservation or feelings like you are "giving up" things... then you are in for a long, difficult future in a mixed marriage.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
I normally attend a sung mass, and so for me its normal to have a latin choir. I would want this at our wedding too - I find our tradtitional latin music to be beautiful, engaging and very moving. However, one of my g/fs friends had said she thought choirs were "ostentatious".

[/quote]

So, why do friend's opinions matter?

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
So, how to deal with these differing perceptions? Anything in our ceremony will be included because its important to one or both of us - its not to show off, or impress anyone.

[/quote]

You do what you want to do, and you ignore other people's opinions.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
Should we just ignore this and do what makes us happy, and if anyone has a problem - well, its their problem?

[/quote]

Of course.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
Its important that both families are involved in the ceremony, and no-one is seen to dominate. To this end we will have people from both families doing readings, helping as ushers etc.

The idea of having a presbyterian minister participate has come up a few times. I do not have a problem with this on the face of it, but I do wonder how it would work in practice.

[/quote]

A Presbyterian minister could participate in the same way as any other lay person. He could do readings or petitions. He cannot receive the vows or act in any capacity durin the exchange of vows/consent or any any liturgical manner reserved to the priest/deacon.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
And so, I wonder how a minister might fit in, up on the altar, casually dressed, with a priest and altar servers in traditonal garb. I think he* would be like a fish out water to be honest. (*The CoS has female clergy also - dunno how that would go down!).

[/quote]

The Presbyterian minister would not be on the altar with the priest. The minister would be in the congregation. He/she could participate as a lay person -- doing a reading, the petitions, etc.

The Presbyterian minister could also lead a prayer, give a blessing, say a few words, or lead the mealtime grace at the reception.

If they do not have sense enough to dress appropriately for a wedding, that isn't really your problem. But you can give guidelines for dress. And, BTW, a kilt can be formal attire in Scotland, as I'm sure you know. Your personal distate for them doesn't necessarily make the inappropriate.

[quote="GWright, post:1, topic:235868"]
Is this a silly thing to worry about? What are your experiences? I do understand that its important that my girlfriends family background and identity is reflected in the service, and so want to explore all options. I do not want anyone to feel overlooked or left out.

[/quote]

I think you are overly worried about what other people think.


#11

Thanks everyone.

I really appreciate the time you have taken to share your thoughts and experiences.

I will go back and answer and specific Qs from each of your posts.

The stage we are at is: we “know” we are getting married, have looked at some rings and will most likely become engaged over summer - so perhaps this is a little early to consider this, but some of the topics mentioned have cropped up already!

Anyway - thanks again!


#12

[quote="Phemie, post:2, topic:235868"]
I understand wanting to receive Communion on your wedding day but could you not simply attend Mass at some point before the wedding?

[/quote]

Hi Phemie!

Yeh you make a good point - that is certainly an option and one which would be better than potentially alienating some guests who could not take communion during the wedding.

[quote="Phemie, post:2, topic:235868"]

Because of situations like yours, the Church encourages the celebration of mixed-marriages within a Liturgy of the Word, rather than within Mass. This emphasizes what you have in common rather than what separates your families.

[/quote]

Yes great point, highlighting what we have in common and having an inclusive day is the way to go.

[quote="Phemie, post:2, topic:235868"]

BTW, I find odd your contention that the kilt is inappropriate for church.

[/quote]

I think its just personal taste really. The thing with kilts is that some people tend to not wear anything under them and it not unknown for flashes to occur, by design or accident! That was where my "inappropriate" comment came from, maybe it was the wrong word to use. I don't find it an exceptionally dignified garment, especially if there is nothing underneath - but each to their own.

Given you mention it, maybe you could give me some advice: I have never intended to wear a kilt to get married. In my experience, most men (in Scotland) probably wear one if they are the groom, but most do not bother if they are a guest (unless they own one, and do not need to hire it).

Trouble is, I think my other half (and indeed her mother) would like me to wear one. Most of the men in their family/guests will probably wear one, and most of the men in my family/guests will probably not. Do you think I should wear one "for" my other half, or wear what I would personally prefer? (I would never dream of suggesting what she might wear, but am not bothered she has a preference for me).

[quote="Phemie, post:2, topic:235868"]

And someone is bound to tell you that, even though many parishes do it, going up for a blessing at communion time is not supposed to happen.

[/quote]

Thanks for the info - I didn't know that. I saw that in our parish once, and thought it was a standard thing!


#13

Yeh I think you are dead right joanofarc - that’s the way to go.

I think pre-canna is a good idea - I think my other half views it as outdated and bureaucratic. I guess we should just go with an open mind to learn and resolve any issues as you say.

Thanks!


#14

You’re the guy. Let her plan the wedding. Just show up sober, that’s your job.


#15

[quote="1ke, post:10, topic:235868"]

If they do not have sense enough to dress appropriately for a wedding, that isn't really your problem. But you can give guidelines for dress.

[/quote]

I am not familiar with CoS, but PCUSA ministers wear formal robes that follow a similar color code to the RCC priests - probably not appropriate outside of their own church. You could also ask that he wear his clerical collar.


#16

Hi Thomas - thanks for your input.

Agreed!

I thought that might be the case. Dont get me wrong, I admire our traditions and do not think sacraments should be a DIY / pick n’ mix affair - guess I am just sad to miss certain parts of the mass. But as you and others have said it does not make or break the day and ensuring everyone is comfortable and happy is the main thing.

Aye that is a good option.

Yeh, Id like to choose something everyone would recognise, if possible. A christian hymn is a christian hymn, at the end of the day and we have many in common.

Its good to know that clergy are open to the idea. If my other half likes the idea, then we will investigate. As she is non-practising, it may be more for her parents sake, than her own - but that is OK, as I would want her family to feel their identity is a part of the ceremony and not simply being absorbed.

Many thanks!


#17

Thanks a lot cargau!

Her family have always been exceptionally welcoming and friendly towards me, such that slight religious difference is a non-issue - I have always appreciated this and want to repay the warm sentiment.

I think what you say is right and that things will probably pan out a lot smoother than I dared think!


#18

[quote="puzzleannie, post:6, topic:235868"]
the first step is an appointment with your priest and with the deacon or whoever is overseeing your marriage prep. Most of these issues will be addressed during that prep. Most priest will not, or at least will strenuously advise against, a nuptial Mass, or even a communion service. if one party is not Catholic, even more so if half the guests are not Catholic. Just at the time when unity should be the focus, the rite emphasizes that sad disunity among Christians. Not auspicious.

[/quote]

Hiya puzzleannie,

Agree - as the others said too - I will ensure I make unity the focus. I will ensure we consider both the ceremony and roles in this regard - probably I was concentrating too much on the roles before.

Thanks!


#19

I think it is very nice that you are planning the Church part so early and not so hefty on the drinking and reception - that is a step in the right direction compared to many other couples.


#20

Hi Anne 2,

Know of any good sites / info about pre-canna?
Most pages I have seen tend to gloss over the topic - I guess they don’t want to give everything away beforehand, but any idea where I might find more in-depth info?

Thanks.


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