Need some help on a possible situation that may be coming towards my family soon – I would sincerely appreciate any information (general advice even) concerning this issue.
My younger sister is a cradle Catholic (like me,) but not really practicing – you know the type… Mass on special Holidays only, stuff like that. She recently made the decision to move in with her boyfriend (a homeowner, and a non-Catholic – who has apparently thought about “becoming” Catholic) while she’s continuing her education and working part-time. Shortly after moving in together, he proposed to her… so now they’re engaged and starting to plan a wedding.
Her fiancé is a really nice guy, I get along with and respect him. He is also divorced and shares custody of a child from that previous marriage with his ex wife. I don’t know what the circumstances for the previous marriage were (“form”ally speaking.) But, I know that they got pregnant and he “thought marriage was the right thing to do.” But, it didn’t work out, so they got divorced – now they get along very well (my sister’s fiancé and his ex wife.)
Obviously, the fact that they are living together presents a problem. Another problem is that he’s been married before. Adding to that… they already have a date set for when they want to have their wedding - September 3rd of this year (not too far away) and are making plans for that date.
That doesn’t give a lot of time for a possible annulment to be granted, to work something out with their “living arrangements,” and to have a proper and sacramental wedding.
I would love to know how I can talk to her about these issues without alienating her (from me and more importantly from the Church.) But, I fear that confronting her with these issues may make her angry at the Church on behalf of her fiancé. I’ve seen it before… and since she isn’t too “grounded” in her faith, I could see her leaving the Church out of anger or frustration – however misdirected that might be. Any advice on how to approach that would be appreciated.
Also (and I suppose this is a more selfish part…) but, what would I be ethically bound to do as a practicing Catholic if she decides NOT to have her wedding in the Church? If I am asked to be a part of the wedding (best man, groomsman, or something) does the Church teach that I must decline the invitation? If I cannot participate formally, am I obligated not to attend because the ceremony will reflect an outright protest against the Church? I hope that’s not the case… it would certainly hurt a lot of people’s feelings – and not just my sister and her fiancé’s.
I want to do what’s right, but I don’t want this to be “all about big brother” if you know what I mean. I don’t want her to do the right thing, just because “big brother” won’t come to the wedding otherwise – I would much prefer her to go about this the “rite” way and for the right reasons.
To re-cap… I would appreciate advice about how to communicate with her (gently) about some of the decisions she’s making right now. And I would like to know what (officially) is my duty as a Catholic as far as participating in her wedding ceremony goes… should she not have a sacramental and valid wedding in the Church.
Thank you for your time and consideration – any direction is appreciated! God bless!