How do I know if my marriage is valid?

Hi,

I am really new to all of this, and I hope this is in the right place. If not, please let me know where a better place would be to ask my question.

I am a brand new Catechumen. Although my mother’s family is Catholic, I was never baptized, and I was raised in a secular home, with not much religion except an occasional trip to Mass with my grandmother or my Catholic friend.

I know I will probably have to take this to my priest, but I wanted to have a better idea if my marriage is valid or if we will need to do something about it.

There are lots of spin off questions about this, assuming that our vows must somehow be done again in the church. They are related to when this must be done relative to my hopeful baptism at Easter and to our wedding anniversary in February.

Our original wedding service was conducted in a hall. We found a minister through our local city hall. We had a fairly traditional service, with Bible readings, some prayers, etc. On my marriage licence, where the minister filled in his information, it has a space for “Your Denomination (clergy only)” and he wrote O.R.C.C. I have NO idea what that means - I thought he said he was Anglican.

I have a video recording of the service somewhere and I have a printout our minister made of the words of the service.

Also, if it makes a difference, my husband was baptized Lutheran, but has never practiced any religion. (Although he is attending Mass with me and the children every Sunday now!)

I want to know what I should be looking for to bring to my priest to ask him about this. I am still feeling a little like I don’t want to bother him. He must be so busy, and I don’t want to waste his time!

Thanks for your help,

Merry

You can always ask your priest -- I'm sure he would want to help you.

Assuming this is the first marriage for both you and your husband, it is most likely valid.

One of the things you may hear is that a marriage is only valid if it is witnessed by a priest or deacon. That's true for Catholics -- they are required to be married according to the Catholic form of marriage. It is not true for non-Catholics. Since you're not baptized and your husband was baptized as a Lutheran, you were not required to be married according to the Catholic form.

If either of you has been married before, talk with your priest right away.

So long as this was the first marriage for both you and your husband you have a valid natural marriage. Once you become baptized your marriage will be a sacramental marriage (a sacramental marriage is between two baptized persons). I may be wrong on this (I am still learning) but I think that if you are in a valid marriage and neither you or your spouse was catholic at the time you married, you do not have to have a convalidation in the catholic church. Usually convalidation is done for people that are currently in invalid marriages to make them valid (such as after a decree of nullity is granted on previous marriages).

Check out this website for additional asnwers:
paulturner.org/patoral_life.htm

Neither of us was ever married before.

Just to confirm, there is nothing special that needs to be said or done at the service to make it official? As long as our marriage is recognized by the civil government and it is a first marriage between two non-Catholics, it counts as a valid marriage? Would that be true even if it was preformed by a judge or was an entirely non-religious ceremony?

That would mean that we don't have to do anything, and as soon as I am baptized Catholic, it will become a sacramental marriage, right?

It also says if you WANT to, you can do a renewal of vows. Our 9th anniversary will be this February... maybe we can do a renewal for our 10th anniversary in 2011, when I am a Catholic!

I will still bring this to my priest, of course. He is giving a lecture about Advent tonight, which I will attend with my RCIA class. Maybe I can ask him when a good time to ask him about it would be!

Merry

[quote="Merry, post:4, topic:178125"]
Neither of us was ever married before.

Just to confirm, there is nothing special that needs to be said or done at the service to make it official? As long as our marriage is recognized by the civil government and it is a first marriage between two non-Catholics, it counts as a valid marriage? Would that be true even if it was preformed by a judge or was an entirely non-religious ceremony?

[/quote]

Yes, your marriage is 100% valid right now. It is a natural marriage.

[quote="Merry, post:4, topic:178125"]
That would mean that we don't have to do anything, and as soon as I am baptized Catholic, it will become a sacramental marriage, right??

[/quote]

Yes. It becomes a Sacrament the moment you are baptized.

[quote="Merry, post:4, topic:178125"]
It also says if you WANT to, you can do a renewal of vows. Our 9th anniversary will be this February... maybe we can do a renewal for our 10th anniversary in 2011, when I am a Catholic!

[/quote]

If you want to renew your vows, you can.

1ke is right, of course.

My guess is O.R.C.C. stands for Old Roman Catholic Church. There are lots of splinter "catholic" groups out there claiming to hold to the "old truths" of the "real church".

Congratulations on finding the *real *real one. Welcome home to you and your family!
Gem

I have a follow up question or two:

  1. If my husband was NOT already baptized, our marriage would not become sacramental as soon as I am baptized. Is that correct? Or does his baptismal state not matter? Will the church want proof of his baptism?

  2. If my parents had bowed to pressure and had me baptized in the Catholic church as an infant, then there would be a problem with my marriage, right? Because then I would be technically already a Catholic, and I married outside of the church. Is that right?

Thanks for all the help. I will still bring this to my priest when I can, but it may have to wait until the new year.

[quote="Merry, post:7, topic:178125"]
I have a follow up question or two:

  1. If my husband was NOT already baptized, our marriage would not become sacramental as soon as I am baptized. Is that correct? Or does his baptismal state not matter? Right, it can only be sacramental if both are baptized.

Will the church want proof of his baptism?
Since your husband is not converting and there is no need for a convalidation I don't think anyone will require to see proof of his baptism. At this point the Church's focus is on validity. Your marriage appears to be valid so I doubt that anyone will ask anything more.

  1. If my parents had bowed to pressure and had me baptized in the Catholic church as an infant, then there would be a problem with my marriage, right? Right Because then I would be technically already a Catholic, and I married outside of the church. Is that right? Right

Thanks for all the help. I will still bring this to my priest when I can, but it may have to wait until the new year.

[/quote]

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