Marriage validation


#1

My wife and I are planning to have our marriage validated in the Catholic Church. She is from the Methodist tradition and I’m Catholic and were married outside the Catholic Church. We met with the priest and he mentioned that according to the Church we are living in sin until our marriage is validated. I think this offended my wife because she stated that we have always been married in the eyes of God. I also feel that she doesn’t understand the point of the validation. Can anyone offer some advice and/or explanation that I can convey to my wife?

Thanks in advance


#2

My understanding is until you both get your marriage validated you have to live as brother and sister (meaning no intimate relations) because in the eyes of the Church your marriage isn’t valid. To be just living with one another and having sex is a sin. Even though legally you are married to one another in the eyes of the Church you aren’t.

I’m sure someone will come along to give a much better reply, one that is surely based on the catechism, etc.


#3

Hi,

Sorry, I guess I am not the one to give you advice to help your wife understand; however, I do understand how your wife feels.

I too, was in that situation. My husband is Catholic and I am not. We were married outside of the church. When it came time to validate the marriage. I refused. I was very upset that the Church claimed we had been fornicating for the last two years. I could go into all the details of why I felt this way, but it is probably not relevant.

Understand that your wife made no promise to hold to your Church’s sacraments. For her, she was married in the eyes of God, so to have someone tell her otherwise, probably makes her feel betrayed and somewhat belittled. It is very hard for someone outside of the Catholic church to understand the sacramental reasons for this marriage to be blessed/validated. (this includes the graces received from it) I am still trying to figure it all out.

That being said, my husband ended up getting a sanatio en radice. (healing from the root, I believe) It is basically a retro-active dispensation declaring that we were validly/sacramentally married from the get-go. We filled out some paperwork and two friends each fill out the same thing (basically verifying we were both baptised and had never been married before) and waited for the approval. Now, according the the Church, we were always married from day 1. This takes about a month. (in contrast to the one day procedure of the blessing) But it was very important to me and my loving husband agreed to live as brother and sister until it was complete. Anyway, if this is that upsetting to your wife. the sanatio en radice may be something to consider.

Just wanted to throw that out there as another option.

RyanL’s Wife


#4

RyanL’s Wife,

Thank you for the very thoughtful response. Thanks for expressing your feelings. I think they are very similar to my wife’s. This helps me better understand her position. I think at the time priest told us that we were living in sin according to the Church she became emotional (however, concealed it very well) and was unable to fully express to me her frustration. It was a tense moment.

In response to your other points I have never heard of sanatio en radice…guess I should have investigated this situation further. I may have requested this route. However, at this point it really doesn’t matter because my wife has been gracious enough to move forward with our validation. But I would like to respond to your question of grace in marriage and offer my explanation because I think too that my wife is having difficulty understanding how and what grace is in marriage. And I will attempt this explanation on a very practical level. I’m in no way a theologian or an expert by any means, so here it goes.

Imagine a young college man and woman. Both living the typical American college life: going out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights partying and every once a while “hooking up”, missing church on Sundays, etc. Basically, living a somewhat immoral lifestyle (i.e. not following the Lord’s commandments). Eventually boy and girl fall in love. Boy ask girl to marry. Girl says yes. A couple of days before the marriage the groom’s friends throw a bachelor party and bridesmaid’s throws a bachlelorette party. One last somewhat immoral night out before the big wedding for each of them.

Once the couple are married the lifestyle that they once lived as singles has changed…and more times than others, for the better. They both stop the “single lifestyle” and are living a more moral lifestyle through marriage. It is precisely through grace imparted to each spouse from God via the Holy Spirit that each spouse is living a more moral lifestyle (i.e. following the Lord’s commandments).

And this get us back to the larger question: how are we saved? I think both Catholics and Protestants can both agree that we are saved by grace. But why are we saved by grace? Because grace helps us to follow the Lord’s commandments. I think it was Jesus that said we must follow the Lords commandments to be saved. And again, grace helps us obey those commandments. Of course this all presupposes faith.

Thus, what Jesus did was build his Church on the Rock (Peter) to offer grace in a now normative way through the sacraments. Marriage is one of those. Its not to say that you cannot achieve enough grace outside the Church to obey the Lord’s commandment, its just that God has provided us a normal way though the sacraments of the Church to achieve grace.

I hope this helps on the subject of grace in marriage.

Also, I would like to suggest and I’m not 100% sure, that when a Catholic marries outside the Church the marriage is invalid; however when two non-Catholics marry outside the Church the marriage is valid. It is my understanding that in the former case the marriage is invalid because the Catholic denied the Catholic faith by marrying outside the Church. Please correct me if I’m wrong.


#5

I would approach the priest again alone, and tell him your dilemma. I think he would tell you your wife has not sinned, because she is not bound by Church laws on marriage, but you sinned, because you are bound, and you continue to sin as long as you engage in relations. Ask his help in explaining further to your wife, and have a simple private ceremony as soon as possible in order to resolve the situation.


#6

[quote=alms]My wife and I are planning to have our marriage validated in the Catholic Church. She is from the Methodist tradition and I’m Catholic and were married outside the Catholic Church. We met with the priest and he mentioned that according to the Church we are living in sin until our marriage is validated. I think this offended my wife because she stated that we have always been married in the eyes of God. I also feel that she doesn’t understand the point of the validation. Can anyone offer some advice and/or explanation that I can convey to my wife?

Thanks in advance
[/quote]

I’ve always had a problem with this. I believe if you are married in a Christian ceremony, then God has in fact blessed it, and the Church ought to give at least some conditional recognition of it. Being Catholic, you naturally want the Church to validate your marriage, so you can participate in the sacraments. However, to come out and say that you are living in sin and not actually married is going to far IMO. However, that’s just me and I realize this opinion is unpopular on this forum.


#7

[quote=mikew262]I’ve always had a problem with this. I believe if you are married in a Christian ceremony, then God has in fact blessed it, and the Church ought to give at least some conditional recognition of it. Being Catholic, you naturally want the Church to validate your marriage, so you can participate in the sacraments. However, to come out and say that you are living in sin and not actually married is going to far IMO. However, that’s just me and I realize this opinion is unpopular on this forum.
[/quote]

I’m with you on this! According to this reasoning, my own parents were living in sin for 32 years! They were married by a Justice of the Peace in 1936. My father was a divorced Methodist and my mother was Catholic. My mother stayed away from the sacraments until the day after my father died in 1968.

They were unable to have their marriage blessed in the church because of my father’s divorce. They even went through the process of appealing to Rome on this–this was back in the late 1930’s. (My father’s first marriage was a shot-gun wedding that didn’t work out. He was only 18 at the time. Sounds rather contemporary, doesn’t it!) The answer back from Rome was no. They could have lived as brother and sister, but was NOT an option for them. (And neither I nor my sibs would have been born.)

One of the most interesting things about all of this: when my maternal grandparents learned of the marriage, my very Catholic grandfather was about to disown my Mom because she strayed away from her religious upbringing. His parish priest urged him NOT to do that. And, my grandfather listened to the priest.

Oh well! Just one anecdote in the life of the Church… :ehh:


#8

[quote=puzzleannie]I would approach the priest again alone, and tell him your dilemma. I think he would tell you your wife has not sinned, because she is not bound by Church laws on marriage, but you sinned, because you are bound, and you continue to sin as long as you engage in relations.
[/quote]

I agree. But I’m not going to worry about it too much because I’ve gone to confession and we are going to have our marriage blessed in a few days.

[quote=puzzleannie]Ask his help in explaining further to your wife, and have a simple private ceremony as soon as possible in order to resolve the situation.
[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#9

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