Marriages vs. Weddings
April 20, 2015
The years are gone when here at St. Joseph's we would happily celebrate 15-20 weddings in our church! To be honest, in the past three years: we had three weddings in 2012, four in 2013, and three in 2014. A wedding in the church sadly is becoming more and more rare!
As you well know, our Catholic Church does have rules and regulations as does every earthly organization. A Catholic Sacramental Marriage must have the blessing of a Catholic priest. Plus much time and preparation are expected as the young couple prepare for the greatest decision they will make in their lives. As priests, we have a moral obligation to prepare our couples as well as possible, which may mean a number of interviews, also a Pre-Marriage course involving married couples, a lawyer, a psychologist, a financier, a counsellor and the spiritual leader of the community. Yes, the Church does take the Sacrament of Marriage very seriously.
I truly question the much-promoted concept of destination weddings, be it at Las Vegas, or Mexico or the Caribbean, or at some “romantic” beach or “golf course” and yes, the use of a Justice of the Peace or “clergyman” from the Yellow pages for the 15 minute secular “religious” ceremony. Yes, the marriage will be government legal, but it definitely is not a Catholic sacramental marriage, which means the couple is choosing to leave the Catholic Church to be married by others. How then can these couples practice their faith in a non-sacramental marriage?
Yes, it bothers me when, as a priest, I am not asked to bless their marriage, but they want me to bless their reception food? Which is more important? And then they are insulted because I can not come! I sincerely invite them to come to me and I will happily prepare them for a Catholic blessing in church - which means I can then welcome them, share Communion with them and then joyfully celebrate the Baptism of their children.
And yes, over my 47 years as a priest, I have happily celebrated marriages in church of Catholics and non-Catholics. Never have I asked someone to become Catholic to have their marriage celebrated. They must only promise to respect their spouse who wishes to practice her/his Catholic faith and God bless them both! I will be there for them!