Seven Great Myths of Marriage

Deacon Greg’s Seven Great Myths about the Sacrament of Matrimony:

Hopefully, debunking these myths may help you or someone you know to better understand some of the Church’s guidelines about sacramental marriage.

Myth number one: a Catholic cannot marry a non-Catholic. Simply not true. Never has been true in 2000 years. While we would hope that a Catholic would marry another Catholic so their marriage bond would be strengthened by their common faith, marriage with a non Catholic is allowed with the stipulation that the Catholic person continues to live as a faithful Catholic and commits to raising their children in the faith.

Myth number two: we can’t get married in the church because one or both of us has not been confirmed. Wrong. While we strongly encourage couples preparing for marriage to receive their confirmation and be fully initiated in the church during the marriage preparation period, lack of this sacrament is not a show stopper. This misunderstanding can often lead to a situation where the couple enters into a legal arrangement, a so called civil marriage, because one or both lacks confirmation. Two wrongs don’t make a right. When this happens, the couple is not really married. They are simply living together. A Baptized person cannot marry unless he or she does so with the Sacrament of Matrimony. So in such a case, the couple must first marry in the church and get back into good grace before they can receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Myth number three: preparations for marriage in the church take too long. We want to get married now! The preparation period is in fact nine months to one year. Realistically this is reasonable when we think about the seriousness of marriage and the life long commitment involved. During this period, we are not preparing for the wedding. We are preparing the couple for the rest of their lives together.

Most couples today realize that whenever we do something very important and special in our lives it deserves our best effort at preparation. Many marriages have failed later because of a lack of proper preparation and discernment. Exceptions can be made in special circumstances but God’s Church believes that adequate preparation for marriage is essential to ensure that the couple has all the tools to begin and maintain their life together.

Myth number four: church weddings are too expensive. So we’ll just get married civilly and then have a big church wedding later when we can afford it. Right? Wrong! First of all, sacramental wedding ceremonies are not necessarily expensive. But we tend to make them expensive. God doesn’t care how many bridesmaids you have or about flower arrangements, wedding cakes, limousines, and wedding receptions. What God and the church community care about is whether the couple wants to have Jesus Christ as a part of the marriage, whether they are willing to exchange their vows in a sacrament before a priest or deacon and two witnesses, whether they are ready to witness to God’s love in the world. A simple and beautiful chapel wedding here at Saint Rose is cheap by any comparison. Check it out. Also, keep in mind that civil arrangements for marriage or Las Vegas “quickies” are not valid for Catholic people. Remember that treasure, the kingdom of heaven. The Sacrament of Marriage is part of that kingdom and is in fact a way to find the pearl of great price. Our church community cares about the spiritual welfare of couples who want to get married. There is a right way and a wrong way. We all need to choose the right way, God’s way.

Myth number five: if I am divorced and I was married in the Church, I cannot receive Holy Communion. Wrong.   As long as you have not re-married, you are entitled and encouraged to receive the Eucharist.

It is only if you divorce and remarry without reconciling you prior church marriage, that you would be considered not in full communion with the Church.

Myth number six: the Church never permits divorce. Not true. While we hope that every sacramental marriage would last until death, we know that sometimes divorce is the only viable alternative to solve an untenable situation. This is particularly true in cases where legal remedies are necessary to prevent spousal abuse and injury or to eliminate other serious problems.

Myth number seven: annulments are hard to get, cost a lot of money, and shouldn’t be allowed anyway since they are like Catholic divorces. This is definitely not true. Under Canon Law, Catholics are encouraged to petition for an annulment of their church marriage if they believe that there was a serious flaw in their original marital commitment so as to render their marriage invalid. This is sometimes hard to determine. This is why the church is so painstaking in reviewing each case carefully and prayerfully. But we know that some marriages were not in fact valid and in such cases this can be proven by the facts. And the granting of an annulment does not affect the legitimacy of any children from the marriage. The donation to pursue an annulment is nominal and processing a petition normally takes about one year. I urge anyone who is in an irregular marriage scenario to call and make an appointment with a priest or deacon to discuss your situation. Things can be worked out. Your spiritual welfare is the number one priority of our church community. If you are genuinely interested in seeking a solution, remember that nothing is impossible with God. For God loves us and wants us to reach the kingdom of heaven if we in turn love him and serve him in this world. This is his purpose and plan for us. God has marked us out for salvation. This is the reality of our Baptism.

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