Celebrating anniversaries of invalid marriages

Should I celebrate my this wedding anniversary?

My mother is a non-practicing Catholic who was first marriage was invalid due to improper form. She divorced and was remarried (invalidly) and is celebrating over 20 years of marriage to the second husband very soon.

Since their marriage is invalid, should I refrain from congratulating them on their anniversary. The most polite thing I can think of is to “forget” that it is their anniversary and do nothing.

It sounds like your mother has been away from the Church for many years. Encouraging her to return is the most important thing. Whether you congratulate her on her current marriage is secondary to that.

Good topic. I too know many couples who have invalid marriages. Through the progession of time it seems like it’s simply human nature to get accustomed to such unions, although we should not accept such unions as moral. It is really a tough call how to react. I would refrain from giving such couple a gift on their anniversary. Moreover I wouldn’t attend a party given in their honor if the couple were friends of mine. If the couple happened to be family I would attend such a party so as not to cause a scene or create some family rift. But behind the scenes I would remind the couple how the Church looks upon their union.

This is only my opinion, but in the spirit of what Pope Francis teaches repeatedly that the church is a field hospital for sinners, what is to be gained by ignoring your mother’s anniversary? It sounds like she’s been away from the Church for so long that it’s a stretch to even call her Catholic anymore. I can speak to this better than some, as I, myself, fell away for 30 years. If it were my mother, I’d buy her a gift and at the same time, perhaps go to your parish priest and obtain whatever paperwork or pamphlets that he can provide you about the annulment process. I’d put all this info into a little card or envelope and give it to her along with the gift. On the card, I’d express my deep love for her and how thrilled you’d be to one day be able to attend Mass and receive the sacraments with her–your much loved mother–at your side. Love always has a deeper impact than sanctimonious behavior.

Also, I suspect that if there is one thing that may well be changed at the synod the pope and bishops are having this Fall, it might well be something to do with the annulment process–perhaps to make it less daunting and time consuming. Obviously, the Pope cannot change what Jesus said about marriage being permanent–but he could indeed and very well may simplify the annulment process. I don’t pretend to be able to interpret the Pope’s mind and thoughts, but there’s a lot of positive things he could do with the annulment process that would make it less daunting and allow many lapsed Catholics to return home to the Catholic Church. Just my thoughts—:shrug:

I would congratulate them on the time they spent together as companions and avoid the word marriage. Maybe you can find a card with this wording. They have cards for everything these days.

This way, it is not a personal affront, meaning you like her second husband as a person, but still do not see the marriage as a sacramental one.

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