Receiving Sacraments from an unconventional Priest


#1

I started attending my local parish and RCIA in the fall of 2011. I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then Confirmation and Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil in 2012. I have attended Sunday Mass and kept Holy Days from the beginning, and happily find myself doing so out of my own desire and benefit rather than that of obligation. I enjoy my church and Pastor, and love the friends I've made there. I also became engaged to a wonderful "Cradle Catholic" this past spring, and we look forward to growing old together. He has obligations that prevent his attending church with me on Sundays, but about once a month we go together to his church for Saturday Mass. [He does not feel the obligation to attend every week, and I maintain that is between him and God.] I even still attend my own church the Sunday following our Saturdays, I love it that much!

I have told him that I want to attend marriage prep classes, and he has agreed to do so through my church. We're both in our mid 40's, and neither have the desire nor inclination to have a big wedding ceremony. Our families are spread throughout the US, and to try to plan even a reception that included the most remote of possible attendees would cause more stress for me than it would joy, in the long run. My fiance expressed some time ago that he'd be happiest getting married on a boat, just the two of us with witnesses, and I liked the idea, as long as God would be there as represented by a Priest. [At the time, I didn't know the Catholic church doesn't really allow for the Sacrament of Marriage outside of the church.] After RCIA, a married couple that had also received Sacraments went on to have their marriage Blessed by our Pastor in a private ceremony at my church. It was then that I asked him about my now fiance's idea. He said that was a Destination Wedding, and that I could do that, and then have him hear the vows and Bless our union as he had done for my friends [their having been married prior to conversion].

I've been reading the forums here for some time now, and really appreciate the ability to learn about the Catholic faith in this way. In doing so, it has become quite clear to me that my Pastor is rather uncustomary when it comes to following the rules of the church. By example, he has expressed that an average sinner really only needs to reconcile once or twice in their lifetime, that most sins are forgiven during the Penitential Rite at Mass. While I appreciate the ease of reconciling with this confessor [his usual lack of assigning penance aside], I often seek Reconciliation elsewhere so that I'm not left feeling like I've wasted his time. I also feel that without penance, I'm at risk of not fulfilling my part of the Sacrament. I have read many questions and answers here regarding Sacraments, most recently that of Marriage and a Destination Wedding. Many of you have great advice regarding the Church and her teachings, and most suggest that individuals ask their priest so they are sure to receive a Sacrament in the right way.

So what do I do? Is it ok to get married by the captain of a boat and have it blessed later, simply because my Pastor is willing to do so? Or am I at risk of not receiving the Sacrament properly, in the same way that causes me to seek Reconciliation elsewhere? I am so involved at my parish, I don't want to consider changing churches, but how else does one cope with an unconventional, albeit charismatic, Pastor with his own not-so-in-line-with-the-Church ideas?

Thank you in advance for your kind thoughts and prayers!


#2

There are two elements in a wedding, the legal and the sacramental. Most couples do both at the same time at church. It’s also okay (and some would argue that the church remove itself from the civil aspect because the sacrament of marriage has become so dumbed down - also, in removing itself from the civil aspect, the church eliminates its obligation to follow state-mandated laws - i.e. “same sex marriage”.) to be married civilly and come back to the church at a later date for the sacramental phase of the wedding. This intentionality actually elevates the sacrament, not diminishes.


#3

The sacrament of confession as we know it today, is traced to the 1200’s. In the early years of Catholicism confession was only allowed once or twice in a persons lifetime and only for serious public sins like apostasy, adultery, murder, etc. The Church has changed this over the years - which is her right. It puzzles me why a priest would try to revert, on his own authority, to the earlier forms of the sacrament.

I was told, when I converted, that the penance is not strictly needed for the sacrament of Confession to be valid. That you needed three things - to be contrite, to confess fully and not hide anything, and to be “willing” to do penance and amend your life. So if you are willing to do any penance that the priest might give you, then the sacrament is valid - even if the priest doesn’t give a penance.

It is hard for me to understand why anyone would want to marry anywhere else except in a Church with a priest presiding. It is the sacrament of marriage that is the important thing. Getting married on a boat first and then going to the Church to bless things just seems to me to be putting the most important thing - the sacrament - last.

And you don’t have to have a big, heavily planned wedding just because you marry in the Church. It only needs the two of you, the priest, and two witnesses. You don’t have to invite anyone else, you don’t have to buy a special dress, or plan a party or anything else, if you don’t want to. But please put the sacrament first and marry in the Church.


#4

Marry according to Church law.

No. It isn’t.

You wouldn’t be receiving the sacrament at all when you get married on the boat-- you would be in an invalid marriage. If you become sexually intimate with your “husband” then you are also committing other grave sins.

Your pastor can certainly convalidate your invalid marriage when you return, but that in itself is problematic since you set out knowingly entering an invalid marriage-- seems rather like presumption to me.

By just doing what is right-- marry in a small ceremony at your local Catholic parish. One need not have an elaborate wedding just because it is local. A priest or deacon and two witnesses is all you need.

Find a nice quiet destination for your honeymoon.

Best wishes!


#5

Thank you all for your responses. I will take each into consideration as the days unfold. I suspect having a ceremony at church will cause derision with my family in any case, since some may not understand why they haven’t been invited. I will certainly spend much time in prayer before I’m ready to move ahead with this.


#6

It's also okay to be married civilly and come back to the church at a later date for the sacramental phase of the wedding.

No, actually, it isn't.


#7

It’s my understanding that according to the Cathecism, you are required to confess at least once a year! If anything, with the epidemic of sin in the world, we should be confessing more, not less! I think this priest is leading you in the wrong direction!

I used to think all kinds of things about marriage. Now, I believe, above all else, it’s a SACRAMENT and needs to be treated as such. It is the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony!

It’s kind of hard to give it the seriousness it needs in certain environments. Let’s face it.

Like, a couple might want to go, get married, and jump off a bungee. Is that calling attention to God, the seriousness of the marriage or the bungee?

God is really supposed to take center stage, not be pushed into the background!

Even if it were acceptable, it’s not a good way to start off a marriage, cutting corners. You only get once chance at this. Start right!

Also, I wouldn’t go to that priest for advice, any more, since what he’s been telling you is NOT consistent with the Church’s policies. I am a lay person and can even see that!
I would consider leaving that church, because if he’s cutting corners on confession and the wedding, chances are he’s also lax in a lot of other of his actions.


#8

Listen, I also went to a VERY liberal church in NYS. We also LOVED our pastor. However, there was no holy water in our church…no kneelers. We voted to take out the creed out of the mass! We had liturgical dance. We had only secular music, came to mass, most everybody in shorts, including the folk group.

At the time, I loved the informality of it all. However, now, I see it was ALL inappropriate!
We’d applaud for music well done, on and on and on.

The priest once did his homily on how priests should be able to marry and that we should have intercommunion with other faiths (that we weren’t).

The priest almost never dressed in his collar, and I never, ever, remember seeing the sister in a habit. In fact, it was actually the sister who did liturgical dance!

The priest would change the gospel around just to spice things up. The “Prodigal Son” would get changed to the “Prodigal Daughter”.

We had a guy in our folk group who had a pink triangle (gay and proud of it), openly, on his guitar strap. He ran for office and finally got it. Nobody ever said…“Hey, do you realize where you are?!”

Once, we had some pro-lifers come, hoping to find support at our church and didn’t!

When I think about it, it was really like the priest was more like some kind of Protestant. We rarely ever went to confession. I don’t even think there was a regular time for it. I think it was by appointment, only. He didn’t seem to think it was very important, and neither did we!

The priests asked us please to not call him “Father”, just to call him by his first name.

It reaches a point, though, that this probably wasn’t even a valid Catholic Church!
It’s something else! I don’t know what!


#9

Oh yeah…in that church, the priest would pray to “Father AND Mother God”!


#10

I tried to see if you could do both at once - get married by a priest while at sea. Unfortunately, priests are prohibited from celebrating Catholic weddings on unconsecrated ground (e.g., a cruise ship). So that won’t work.

However, there may be a possible compromise if you plan a cruise, and hold the wedding in the city you depart from, right before you leave on the cruise. You could then have a priest bless the wedding while at sea (but not actually perform a marriage).

There was some other interesting info on a Catholic travel guide webpage here:
thecatholictravelguide.com/Weddingsonacruise.html

Hope this helps!


#11

Thank you 1ke for clarifying. Peter12rb, thank you for looking into that for me.

ClearWater, Wow! That sounds like an interesting church… more like those I kept finding while looking for my home, which I thankfully eventually found in the Catholic Church. I don’t care for informality, and really appreciate that even when I’m attending a different church while on vacation or an occasional regional “Church Field Trip” with a friend, I know what to expect from the Mass. Believe me, if broad changes such as those you wrote about start occurring, there will be a steady stream of parishioners heading for another local parish. Thankfully, I’m sure our Pastor knows this, and won’t take the chance of losing all the Envelopes. I agree that I should seek counsel elsewhere, and will explore other options in my area.

I appreciate each and every one of the replies I have received. I’ve been struggling with this for a few months now, and after all the contributions here, I am leaning more toward celebrating the Sacrament as was intended, and celebrating on the water after. For now, I made sure my fiance knows I’m having a hard time justifying getting married anywhere but in the Catholic Church, and he didn’t balk… I think that’s a good sign! :thumbsup:


#12

[quote="ClearWater, post:9, topic:340545"]
Oh yeah....in that church, the priest would pray to "Father AND Mother God"!

[/quote]

Are you positive that this was a parish that was in communion with the Vatican? I daresay it sounds not a legitimate Catholic Church.


#13

I was wondering that myself. Perhaps United American Catholic or another schism?


#14

[quote="Talegi, post:1, topic:340545"]
I started attending my local parish and RCIA in the fall of 2011. I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then Confirmation and Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil in 2012. I have attended Sunday Mass and kept Holy Days from the beginning, and happily find myself doing so out of my own desire and benefit rather than that of obligation. I enjoy my church and Pastor, and love the friends I've made there. I also became engaged to a wonderful "Cradle Catholic" this past spring, and we look forward to growing old together. He has obligations that prevent his attending church with me on Sundays, but about once a month we go together to his church for Saturday Mass. [He does not feel the obligation to attend every week, and I maintain that is between him and God.] I even still attend my own church the Sunday following our Saturdays, I love it that much!

I have told him that I want to attend marriage prep classes, and he has agreed to do so through my church. We're both in our mid 40's, and neither have the desire nor inclination to have a big wedding ceremony. Our families are spread throughout the US, and to try to plan even a reception that included the most remote of possible attendees would cause more stress for me than it would joy, in the long run. My fiance expressed some time ago that he'd be happiest getting married on a boat, just the two of us with witnesses, and I liked the idea, as long as God would be there as represented by a Priest. [At the time, I didn't know the Catholic church doesn't really allow for the Sacrament of Marriage outside of the church.] After RCIA, a married couple that had also received Sacraments went on to have their marriage Blessed by our Pastor in a private ceremony at my church. It was then that I asked him about my now fiance's idea. He said that was a Destination Wedding, and that I could do that, and then have him hear the vows and Bless our union as he had done for my friends [their having been married prior to conversion].

I've been reading the forums here for some time now, and really appreciate the ability to learn about the Catholic faith in this way. In doing so, it has become quite clear to me that my Pastor is rather uncustomary when it comes to following the rules of the church. By example, he has expressed that an average sinner really only needs to reconcile once or twice in their lifetime, that most sins are forgiven during the Penitential Rite at Mass. While I appreciate the ease of reconciling with this confessor [his usual lack of assigning penance aside], I often seek Reconciliation elsewhere so that I'm not left feeling like I've wasted his time. I also feel that without penance, I'm at risk of not fulfilling my part of the Sacrament. I have read many questions and answers here regarding Sacraments, most recently that of Marriage and a Destination Wedding. Many of you have great advice regarding the Church and her teachings, and most suggest that individuals ask their priest so they are sure to receive a Sacrament in the right way.

So what do I do? Is it ok to get married by the captain of a boat and have it blessed later, simply because my Pastor is willing to do so? Or am I at risk of not receiving the Sacrament properly, in the same way that causes me to seek Reconciliation elsewhere? I am so involved at my parish, I don't want to consider changing churches, but how else does one cope with an unconventional, albeit charismatic, Pastor with his own not-so-in-line-with-the-Church ideas?

Thank you in advance for your kind thoughts and prayers!

[/quote]

It depends on your and your fiance. If the two of you are very adamant about having your "destination wedding," then there's really not much your pastor can do to stop you. You would be married civilly and need a convalidation (what your pastor calls a "blessing") to receive the sacrament of marriage. This option will require some paperwork with the Canonical Services department of your local arch/diocese. These types of cases actually don't take that long, which is probably why your pastor is open to you and your fiance doing this.

The easier option, of course, would be to get married in the Church. You would get both the civil marriage and the sacrament of marriage in the same ceremony. All you need is yourself, your fiance, your pastor, and 2 witnesses. A Mass is not even required. A small and private ceremony is possible. Don't let the idea of a big church wedding scare you out of this option. :)


#15

Thank you, Janeway. I think a simple church ceremony without the Mass is of great interest to me. I’m beginning to understand that we can all do pretty much what we want, if we choose to exercise our own will rather than that of God. After all, if I seek it, I will receive forgiveness. But then I yearn for God to be pleased with me, having abided His will to begin with, and that’s when I realize how much I’ve grown.


#16

[quote="Talegi, post:13, topic:340545"]
I was wondering that myself. Perhaps United American Catholic or another schism?

[/quote]

NO! This was a Newman Center, affiliated with a College!


#17

I still disagree that this church was in communion with the Vatican. You didn’t say it was at a Newman center; you said a church in NYS, which is why we question it. What was the name of the parish/university?


#18

I think I understand. It was a Newman Center Catholic Campus Ministry in NYS. I have done some reading to try to learn more about them, but haven't found anything that clearly states whether or not they are a faith group of the Roman Catholic Church. Would love to understand more, if anyone is so informed and inclined.


#19

Is “NYS” New York State? Without knowing the actual location, it’s impossible to say. I will say that Roman Catholics are not allowed to use terms such as Mother and Father God, or to refer to God as anything but Him. I’m pretty good at google sometimes, if you want to send me the information about the actual campus location, here or privately via PM (Private message: click on my name, click send private message). :slight_smile:

+JMJ+


#20

I woul be careful with the concept of sinning because later you can seek forgiveness. First there is the sin of presumption and then I am not sure how truly contrite can a person be immediately after a well premeditated sin.

I like to see your attitude of wanting God to be pleased with you, that is usually the best way to stay out of trouble


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