The Catholic Faith Video Series: Your Tough Questions Answered [Video #5]

Question: My daughter’s boyfriend is Christian, he is not catholic, can they still marry in the Catholic Church?
Please watch video below for answer:
If you prefer to read, below is Fr. Mark’s Answer:

This question clearly came from a parent who is concerned about their child.  Parents are concerned about the happiness and future life of their children.  In this question we see two of those desires parents have for their children.  First, they want them to be in a healthy and happy marriage.  Secondly,  they hope that they will maintain their faith and relationship with God.

For the Catholic Church, we speak of marriage as a covenant.  This is rooted in the Scriptural concept of covenant, referring to the relationship of God with the people of God.  The best definition of covenant I have ever heard is very short and simple.  Covenant is the “promise to remain.”  The unconditional love of God ultimately revealed in the self-giving love of God shown by Jesus on the Cross.  In marriage, two people are committing to enter into a covenant.  In fact, St. Paul uses marriage as a symbol for the covenant relationship between Jesus and the Church.  The Church as the bride of Christ.  For this reason, two Christians who enter into marriage, enter into a Sacrament in which they are to reflect the unity of Christ and the Church.

But, marriage is a natural reality, rooted in creation itself.  Every marriage is a human and good reality.  So, a Catholic is able to enter into marriage with someone who is not baptized and obviously with someone who is a baptized Christian but not Catholic.

In the case of a Catholic marrying someone who is not baptized, when they meet with the parish to prepare for the wedding ceremony, a dispensation will be arranged for them to be validly married in the church.  The church sees this marriage as having a natural goodness and they make that same commitment in their vows, “I promise to be faithful to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honour you all the days of my life.”

When a Catholic is marrying a baptized Christian from another church, then the parish will arrange for permission and this marriage is considered to be sacramental.  When it is desired and possible, the minister of the other spouse’s church may participate in the marriage ceremony.  A Catholic may also obtain a special dispensation to have the marriage ceremony celebrated in the church of their spouse if that is required.  In fact, I have assisted with weddings in a few cases in other Christian churches for the sake of one of my parishioners.

When a Catholic is marrying someone who is not Catholic, we will normally open up discussion to be sure that they have thought about the implications.  It is important of course that the couple honestly discuss future plans around practicing their faith and about how they plan to raise any future children.  The Catholic partner is asked to do all in their power to have their children baptized and raised in the faith.  This, of course, requires the agreement of both partners.  So, it is important that this issue be addressed openly before they marry.

So, back to the original question, yes, any Catholic is encouraged and invited to celebrate their marriage within the church.  As a parish we welcome each Catholic planning to enter into marriage.  We will welcome them and assist them in entering into marriage in a good and healthy way.  Our goal, like the goal of parents, is that they will make a good and lasting commitment and that this marriage will be nurtured by their faith.  During the wedding celebration, the priest or deacon will offer a special Nuptial Blessing over the couple.  One optional Nuptial Blessing concludes with these words, “… and after a happy old age, together with the circle of friends that surrounds them, may they come to the Kingdom of Heaven.”  This is what parents surely desire for their children and it is ultimately the desire of the church for the couple as well.

Thank you for listening in to this Question and Answer series.  If you have follow up questions to this answer or have other questions send them in to us.

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Distinguished Life Member


13th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: June 28, 2020

“I am a distinguished life member!”

Seven years ago, I heard myself say these words when I received this status for an engineering community that I am involved with.

Those who know my background, know that I have a degree in ceramic engineering and a specialty in something called refractories.  Refractories are bricks and concretes that are used at extreme temperatures over 1600 degrees Celsius in the harsh processes of steel plants, cement plants, incinerators, glass factories, etc.

It is a very unique speciality and the community that researches, installs, uses and talks about this is definitely a group of “geeks” from all over the world!  They meet at least every two years around the world to discuss the latest and greatest, and when you get old enough, and enough grey hair, you get considered to be designated as a distinguished life member (DLM).

The DLM status has no money awarded, but instead recognition from your peers and an invitation to join every future meeting of “refractory nerds” at no cost!

Needless to say, I was thrilled with this status and the expectation to share my wisdom and knowledge with the future generations.

Attaining this status or designation came to me as a key message of today’s readings.

St. Paul tells the Romans, as well as us, what it means to be designated the status of “Christian” at the time of their baptism.

Paul says that Christians have died to their old self and the world and have risen with Christ and belong to the new world.  Therefore, they must then behave accordingly and “walk in newness of life!”

Baptism, he says, is the new starting point, both when Christ started his ministry after his own baptism in the Jordan and for us as our starting point on our journey of faith.   We join the Body of Christ, the people of God – our future is different.

We have died to our sinful nature and that Christ’s death and resurrection enable us to conquer the fear of our own death, and therefore live as happy, faithful, joyous Christians both now and eternally, knowing our status as Christian children of God.

This status as Christian, does not mean a life of leisure, of everything going perfect, or of ease and comfort.

We hear from Christ himself when he tells his disciples that they will have to take up their cross and may even have family members not agree with the path they have chosen.

The Christian journey is not easy always he says to us and is a matter of priorities.  If we put Christ and God first in our lives, we may be ridiculed, but this is the cross we take up and walk with on the journey of faith.

We move from self-centred and me-first, to selfless, forgiving, and loving.   We take time to pray, reflect, worship and actively help in our community.  Of course, this will allow for less time and focus on minor worldly matters that aren’t important, like what clothes, or shoes, or cars we buy, but it is the path that we freely choose.

The purpose of our life is to use our gifts to serve others to bring the kingdom of God to the here and now.  If we lose our life of using our gifts to serve ourselves only (self-focus), then we can find our lives in doing God’s work, and in making our societies a better place.

The Christians who champion and/or protest for social justice, fair trade, peace, anti-racism, anti-bullying; the ones who push for reform in education, housing, and the growing wealth gap between rich and poor; these are taking up the cross, the ones who may be ridiculed for their just causes.  These are the people that Jesus says are not afraid to lose their life for the sake of the gospel.

We also see a great example in the first reading today.  We see a wealthy woman take care of Elisha the prophet, who she sees in need of shelter and food.  And when he asks her if she wants anything in return for her kindness, she says no, and that she is happy to live the simple life she has.

The woman could have asked for anything, but in her status as a child of God and faithful woman, she humbly states that she is happy with what she has.

We are called with our status of Children of God to get involved with the needs of the people God puts into our lives, to love our neighbour as ourselves.

We are to find our lives as God’s ambassadors, as God’s hands, when we put our gifts at his disposal.

We are Christians, we are baptized to a faith that helps those most in need, that puts an emphasis on love, on forgiveness, on peace, on joy and tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to be what God wants us to be – Distinguished Life Members!

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