Impending marriage and a crisis of faith


#1

Please help me… Sorry if this is stilted, I’ve been crying and want to make sure I get all the pertinent details down.

My fiance and I have been together for 3 years and living together for 2. We have a child together. We relocated in December 2011, leaving the parish I was so in love with and converted at. I have had the worst time finding a parish in San Antonio that I like. I cannot find a priest that I can understand :blush: and none of the churches ever feel as alive as my old parish…

We attended an orientation in March 2012 (I was pregnant at this time) to begin the year-long process required by the diocese before the sacrament of marriage. At the orientation, the priest there told us that the only way we would be allowed to marry in the church is if we moved into separate households and then confessed to living together before marriage. With a son on the way, that just wasn’t reasonable. Nor, planning to be a stay at home mom, was it financially feasible. Can you tell me your thoughts on what the priest told us? I know many, many couples that lived together long before getting married in the church so his insistence on this point confused me.

We scrapped the idea of getting married in the church… But it broke my heart to be turned away and so, here we are, a year later, still just engaged. Now I feel even WORSE because I feel like we are living in sin, setting such an awful example for our son. I feel that in the eyes of God, we are already married - is this blasphemous? But I just need the dumb paper saying so.

We have recently made a plan to go to the courthouse to get married. We don’t have the financial resources to have a big wedding, can’t get married in our own church anyway, and I’m living in so much pain not being married. I feel like such a failure doing this.

I never wanted a big wedding anyway. All I REALLY wanted was for my priest to be there, but I can’t have that unless I find a way to support two households on one income. Is there such a thing as a tiny Catholic wedding? My ideal would be a tiny chapel with my God and me and my groom and my priest, a few family members and friends (seriously, a few). No $3000 dress, no $1000 flower order, no band, no bridesmaids, etc etc. I just don’t want it or need it. But it seems like even if I was ABLE to get married in the church, there’s no real getting around these things.

If I go through with this plan to go to the courthouse and sign this piece of paper, can we later have our marriage blessed by a priest? As things stand… this is the first time in my life that I feel like the church has taken something away from me or hurt me. I feel rejected and not good enough. I work so hard everyday to keep the resentment I feel toward my new parish separate from my relationship with God but later on down the road, some sort of ceremony blessing the marriage or whatever it may be would probably be very healing for me.

I think that’s everything. Sorry to be so long-winded. Please be gentle. :frowning:


#2

OK, first let’s dispel the myth that you have to have a big, expensive wedding in order to be married in the Church. This is not true. You can be married before a priest and two witnesses. Nothing else is required.

Regarding the cohabitation and child situation, I am really not sure why you would think this is no big deal. You know premarital sex, cohabiting, etc, are grave matter against the sixth commandment.

Yes, of course, couples are encouraged to separate from their cohabiting situation before marrying. Your situation with now having a child might change that-- you should talk to your priest and tell him it is not financially possible nor reasonable to confuse your child this way. Ask if you can live in conitnence (no sexual relations) but in the same home for the sake of your child until you can marry in the Church.

You seem really confused about this. Your reaction is that this is the Church’s fault and they are being big meanies. But, you put yourself in this situation. I would encourage you to consider trying to meet the Church half-way by acknowledging what you did wrong and trying to come up with a solution that keeps your child’s best interests in mind while also taking seriously Christ’s call to obey the commandments.


#3

I recommend you call the Catholic Answers Apologist line --this sort of matter can often best be addressed in a more live conversation.


#4

Also, I really suggest sitting down with your pastor. Because getting married in the courthouse and then trying to get the marriage covalidated will likely bring the same issues up. Most couples who cohabit and marry civilly must still complete all the same premarital preparation as any engaged couple, maybe even more.


#5

I don’t know where you got the idea that a Catholic wedding has to be expensive. All you need to get married in the Catholic Church is the priest, you and your groom and two witnesses. No fuss, no muss. There is absolutely no need for flowers, expensive dress, etc. In fact, you don’t even need wedding bands unless you want them.

You’re miserable now because you know you’re doing something wrong by living as man and wife when you’re not married. Going the civil marriage route will probably not make you feel any better.

My best advice is go see your priest again and make it about getting right with God. Everything else should fall into place.


#6

This is something I wanted to talk to my priest about but he has not been responsive to my requests for an appointment to get this and all of my other concerns and confusions out of the way. The way this process was discussed in the orientation we attended did not make this sound possible, but maybe it only sounded that way because they were discussing the norm.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to make it sound like I think my huge sins here are no big deal or like it’s the Church’s fault that I’m even in this situation. My resentment comes from this feeling that I want to make it right and I can’t. At the time of speaking to this priest, we told him that we had been abstinent and planned to stay so until we could be married but he insisted we needed to have separate apartments or my fiance could move in with a relative and I stay in our current apartment. We were willing to do that for the next 3 months but unwilling to live apart once the baby arrived and he said that wasn’t good enough and we could not have a sacramental marriage unless we lived apart for a year.

Also on that note, he specifically said a sacramental marriage but I was under the impression that any marriage between two baptized people was sacramental as we bestow the sacrament upon each other, not the priest?


#7

[quote="Phemie, post:5, topic:320291"]
I don't know where you got the idea that a Catholic wedding has to be expensive. All you need to get married in the Catholic Church is the priest, you and your groom and two witnesses. No fuss, no muss. There is absolutely no need for flowers, expensive dress, etc. In fact, you don't even need wedding bands unless you want them.

You're miserable now because you know you're doing something wrong by living as man and wife when you're not married. Going the civil marriage route will probably not make you feel any better.

My best advice is go see your priest again and make it about getting right with God. Everything else should fall into place.

[/quote]

You are absolutely right.


#8

You need to go talk to your pastor about this. Getting married at the courthouse won't improve the situation.


#9

Here’s a suggestion. If the pastor at your parish isn’t responsive to you, try another parish. You’re situation with the child isn’t conducive for you and your partner to move apart, but you can live together as sister and brother until you are married (no sex) to avoid mortal sin. If your pastor won’t even make time to speak with you, find another priest that will. Don’t give up on marrying properly in the church because of the priest.


#10

Almost – For a marriage to be Sacramental, two baptized persons confer the Sacrament upon each other in front of a witness. If one of those gettig married is Catholic that witness must be a priest or deacon unless you have a dispensation to get married in another manner. Without an appropriate witness, the marriage is not only non-Sacramental, it’s invalid.

Go back and talk to your priest. There are a couple of things going on. The Church frowns on people getting married when there is a pregnancy involved. I know this sounds backwards but the Church wants your marriage to last forever and she wants to make sure that you aren’t getting married soley due to a sence of obligation.

A couple should not enter into the Sacrament if they are not in a state of grace. To continue to live as a pseudo married couple all the way up until your wedding day makes that impossible. The priest gave you the standard solution - live apart. But talk to him. Maybe just moving into separate bedrooms would be enough distance and keep you both closely involved in your child’s day-to-day life. Alternatively, maybe you could go stay with a relative for a while prior to the wedding. Maybe the priest would consider a shorter period of time than he originally proposed.

Most importantly, go talk to him (or to another priest). You said you were “turned away” but nothing you have written so far indicates that that happened. It sounds like instead of trying to work something out, you just walked away.


#11

[quote="ElizaMJ, post:6, topic:320291"]
Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like I think my huge sins here are no big deal or like it's the Church's fault that I'm even in this situation. My resentment comes from this feeling that I want to make it right and I can't. At the time of speaking to this priest, we told him that we had been abstinent and planned to stay so until we could be married but he insisted we needed to have separate apartments or my fiance could move in with a relative and I stay in our current apartment. We were willing to do that for the next 3 months but unwilling to live apart once the baby arrived and he said that wasn't good enough and we could not have a sacramental marriage unless we lived apart for a year.

[/quote]

If this is what he said, I think that he is being overly strict. Talk to another pastor.

Also on that note, he specifically said a sacramental marriage but I was under the impression that any marriage between two baptized people was sacramental as we bestow the sacrament upon each other, not the priest?

No, that is not correct. Catholics need to marry within the Church's law. Having a civil marriage ceremony will not solve anything. Marry and raise your children in the Church.

Good luck! You have made mistakes, as have we all, but they can be overcome.


#12

Go before the Blessed Sacrament alone and talk to God and then Listen with your heart not your ears. Do whatever he tells you! Sound Familiar? God Bless!


#13

Yes…I’m normally not one to encourage parish-hopping until you get an answer you like, but in this case you have a legitimate, serious reason not to keep two separate households. If you truly feel like your pastor is unwilling to discuss it with you and come to a reasonable solution, you have every right to seek a ‘second opinion’ … but I would only recommend doing so if you have exhausted every effort to work with your pastor. And do bear in mind that priests are usually very busy this time of year! It might be easier to get an appointment after Easter.

It sounds to me like you are trying to do the right thing – get back in ‘good standing’ with the church, get married, and provide a stable home for your child. You got yourself into a bit of a mess with your past actions, and now you’re trying to reconcile and repair it all. You’re on the right path.

I know it’s frustrating, but persevere! Most likely, your pastor wants to help you get everything sorted out in the best way possible just like you do. Hopefully, after having a serious one-on-one discussion with you (and/or your fiance), everybody can come to a good, workable way for you to be married in the church without any unnecessary upheaval for your child.

God bless!


#14

[quote="Corki, post:10, topic:320291"]
Almost -- For a marriage to be Sacramental, two baptized persons confer the Sacrament upon each other in front of a witness. If one of those gettig married is Catholic that witness must be a priest or deacon unless you have a dispensation to get married in another manner. Without an appropriate witness, the marriage is not only non-Sacramental, it's invalid.

Go back and talk to your priest. There are a couple of things going on. The Church frowns on people getting married when there is a pregnancy involved. I know this sounds backwards but the Church wants your marriage to last forever and she wants to make sure that you aren't getting married soley due to a sence of obligation.

A couple should not enter into the Sacrament if they are not in a state of grace. To continue to live as a pseudo married couple all the way up until your wedding day makes that impossible. The priest gave you the standard solution - live apart. But talk to him. Maybe just moving into separate bedrooms would be enough distance and keep you both closely involved in your child's day-to-day life. Alternatively, maybe you could go stay with a relative for a while prior to the wedding. Maybe the priest would consider a shorter period of time than he originally proposed.

Most importantly, go talk to him (or to another priest). You said you were "turned away" but nothing you have written so far indicates that that happened. It sounds like instead of trying to work something out, you just walked away.

[/quote]

Thank you for the clarification.

You're right. I was flabbergasted by what the priest told us and how insistent he was that our circumstances didn't matter, we had to maintain two households until the wedding ceremony, though I guess I shouldn't have been shocked. I know right from wrong. Afterward, we called the parish two or three times and left messages for the priest saying we wanted to meet with him and when we never got a call back, we just gave up. We should have looked for a new parish, as the previous poster said. :(


#15

Thank you. :crying: A very good point about Holy Week! I think I’ll wait to call him.


#16

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