Catholic Weddings

Spiritual dilemma

Hi ladies. I'm having a bit of a spiritual/religious dilemma and would love some insight. I am baptized Catholic and grew up as such. Went to church on Sundays, said my prayers before bed and eating, Sunday school, communion, confirmation, everything. My father is Protestant and my mother and her side of the family are Catholic. As I got older, my mother began to question herself about regarding herself as Catholic and started to explore other religions and spirituality. We did not attend church regularly anymore or say grace as often as we should have, but there was always an understanding that God was a presence in our lives.

I do believe in God, but admit that I am not a practicing Catholic any longer..and have not been for many years. My fiance is not baptized and does not affiliate himself with any certain religion. We are getting married by a non-denominational reverend in an outside ceremony. I'd like to think that God looks down on us that day and accepts us as married, however I know that in the eyes of the Catholic church, we are not married. To be honest, that hurts. I talked to my fiance tonight about doing a convalidation ceremony in a year or two and he wasn't exactly up for it. He feels like he should be able to believe and trust in God without having to define himself as Catholic or any other religion. I totally get where he is coming from, but I also have this uneasy feeling that I am committing a terrible sin when it is supposed to be one of the most special and beautiful days of my life. When we have children, I want to be able to guide them as they develop their spirituality and I want to be able to teach them about God. But part of me feels like a big scam.

My fiance and I have read all the books, talked to others, talked to each other about anything and everything when it comes to our future marriage, our future children, our morals and values, finances, everything. We are on the same page about all of these things and only VERY recently did I start to feel uneasy about the religious part. I feel silly and selfish for not being a practicing Catholic but still fearing being punished somehow because we are not marrying in a church.

I don't really know what I'm looking for here in regards to responses. I guess, the main thing with me is my future children. I think that growing up as a practicing Catholic really helped me understand and build a relationship with God, even if I don't talk to Him nearly as often as I should nowadays. What are your thoughts on this? Can I raise my children as Catholic, if we so choose, even if my husband is not Catholic and our marriage is not recognized by the church? Can I raise my children to trust in God if we choose not to baptize them at all? Am I going to Hell for committing this sin of getting married outside of the church?     
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Re: Spiritual dilemma

  • lisa89760lisa89760 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Yes you can raise your children Catholic.  It might take a litte more time/preperation to get your children baptised but that is up to you.

    And also, I don't think you're commiting a sin by not getting married in the Catholic church.  I think it's good you and your FI are talking about the religious part of it and you can always continue this discussion. =)
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  • caitriona87caitriona87 member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    You can raise your children Catholic if you are not married in the Church, but the question is--why? The marriage is the foundation of the family, and for me it seems to only make sense to have consistency between the two. The question may come up when you go to have your children baptized; at the very least the Church wants to make sure the children will be raised in the Faith, so if the parents are not practicing, that can be very difficult. Catholics are bound to follow the marriage laws of the Church, so while getting married outside the Church would not preclude you raising your children Catholic, it would indeed be a departure that would need to be mended (through confession & convalidation) before you yourself could fully participate (i.e. receiving the Eucharist.)

    It sounds like you have some praying/thinking/discussing with fiance to do about how you want to go about things with regard to your religious life in marriage. It could be your conscience speaking now; if so, don't silence it. Don't blow it off as NBD if there is the chance it will be something you regret later.

    I know many people drift away and come back when it's time to raise their children but I guess my honest question is just, if you anticipate that, why not come back now? Why not avail oneself of the graces of the sacraments?

    I also personally could never ever not have my children baptized...it sounds like, despite your questioning, you are glad to have had a solid grounding in the Faith. It doesn't mean they won't stray, but it DOES mean they will always have a home in the Church to return to.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    i agree with caitriona.

    if you really feel a pull it could be an important message.  also, if you think you might raise your kids catholic, it really makes sense to marry catholic.  also, it sounds like there might be an issue wtih your fiance and raising hte kids catholic.  that's something to seriously think about too.

    you could try for the convalidation later.  depending upon the circumstances it may or may not be granted. 

    when is your wedding date?  perhaps postponing for now until you sort things out is a wise decision.
  • doctabroccolidoctabroccoli member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_spiritual-dilemma?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:801ed8c7-2e5a-4eda-adbb-f8d4ba1c3ceaPost:aee7afdb-3ea6-4bd8-bfb3-f68bc0fb6e00">Re: Spiritual dilemma</a>:
    [QUOTE]i agree with caitriona. if you really feel a pull it could be an important message.  also, if you think you might raise your kids catholic, it really makes sense to marry catholic.  also, it sounds like there might be an issue wtih your fiance and raising hte kids catholic.  that's something to seriously think about too. you could try for the convalidation later.  depending upon the circumstances it may or may not be granted.  when is your wedding date?  perhaps postponing for now until you sort things out is a wise decision.
    Posted by Calypso1977[/QUOTE]

    Her ticker says 3 days.  I don't think you can convince her to postpone :).

    And, OP, there is no law that says you must get married in the Catholic Church to baptize your children and raise them Catholic.  But if you are feeling the call, perhaps start attending Church again on Sundays.  I, personally, would not marry in the Catholic Church if I wasn't 100% sure it's where I wanted to be, so it sounds like your planned secular wedding is right for you at this time.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    ah - i have signatures turned off so i never see tickers.

    her reasons of feeling conflicted, etc. i think would allow for convalidation later.  its a much more legitimate reason that the ones who just want to marry outside, etc. and they knowingly do it for the wrong reasons.

    OP, i hope things work out.  i agree with docta - maybe start going to church again and see where it guides you.  but if you genuinely feel in the pit of your stomach that this might be an issue later for you adn your FI and your kids, id think long and hard.  good luck!!  keep us posted.
  • mica178mica178 member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Wow, you're getting married in 3 days!  Congratulations!

    As the PPs mentioned, yes, you can have your children baptized and raised in the Catholic church, even if your husband is not Catholic and if you were not married in the church.  However, if your kids ask questions about your decisions or why you aren't taking communion, you'll have to explain to them why you made your choices.  As PPs recommended, I'd look into convalidation.
  • edited December 2011
    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!!

    I agree with the others that a first step might be to start going to church again. At the very least, I would recommend starting to talk to God again/more frequently. Also, take time to sit and listen and discern what God is telling you. If you find that you do want to raise your children Catholic or return to Church, a priest can guide you with the next steps for you and your family, and what he is willing to do.
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  • ESquared423ESquared423 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thank you for all of your replies! Yes, we are getting married on Saturday! There's no postponing at this point haha..nor do I want to! Because my fiance is not Catholic we opted not to get married in a church. I also felt like because I was not practicing that it just wouldn't feel right for me to get married in the church. One thing I know for sure is that I have faith in God, absolutely, and so does my fiance, but I question my being Catholic and abiding by all of the 'rules' of the church, much like my mother started to do. And my fiance does not have a desire to be baptized Catholic, but he is not opposed at all to attending church with me..which I may start doing like some of you suggested to sort of get my mind and heart on the same page about all of this.

    Like a PP said, I also can't imagine not baptizing my children. I realize this may be an obstacle in the future as far as the church goes and we will have to face some questions, but I hope we can work through it. I just feel like a child's spiritual growth is as important as their physical, mental, and emotional growth.

    Next weekend we are attending a 4-day marriage retreat hosted by the chaplain (my fiance is in the Army) so I hope that will really get the ball rolling on more discussion about this between my fiance (well, he'll be my husband by then!) and with other couples. Thanks again everyone!
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  • Jasmine&RajahJasmine&Rajah member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2011
    ESquared,

    Whatever you are questioning about Catholicism, I hope that you'll take the time to research it - and ASK all the hard questions that come to mind.  The "rules" of the Church exist for a reason, and they are ALL for the good of our immortal souls.  And if one believes that the Bible is the Divinely inspired Word of God . . . well, it's a short walk from there to the Real Presence in the Eucharist, apostolic succession, and the Truth of the Church.  :-)

    I love the site ScriptureCatholic.com - perhaps you can take a look at it sometime, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church if you haven't looked at it in a while.  And even though you would not be able to accept Communion, you can definitely attend Mass and try to prayerfully discern what the Lord is calling you to.

    Please keep us updated.  :-)

    I pray that you have a joyful wedding day.
  • clearheavensclearheavens member
    First Anniversary Name Dropper 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    My heart really felt for you when you described your story.  I could feel that it was me a long time ago when I was also debating and feeling similarly about the Church.

    I ditto ppl, I think the worries aren't necessary bad in and of itself.  It may be an invitation from God.  First and foremost, realize how much God wants a relationship with you.  Pray regularly, even when you feel distracted or when it's inconvenient.  Don't quit.  That relationship comes first and foremost.  It's your foundation.

    Then as Jasmine&Raj said, keep an open mind when you study the teachings of the Church.  Don't be afraid to pose questions in an earnest quest for truth.  Any truth has to stand up to reality.  That's how we discover what Truth is.  In the end, faith is a gift from God, and I think He lead you to it if you are sincere as you keep asking "perhaps" questions and finding answers to them.

    As far as the raising kids part.  It's not unheard of for parents who aren't married in the Church to have their kids baptized, but they should eventually get their marriage convalidated.  It will make sense to the kids.  The family is officially called the domestic church, you can read more about what this means by studying Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II.  The whole picture comes together.

    As for your "going to Hell" question, unless it's about a canonized saint, there is never a yes or no answer.  We Catholics have incredible hope that everyone does go to heaven but we leave the mystery entirely up to God.  I can say, as cliche as I sound, God infinitely loves you.  And I can feel that your post and your worries were an act of love for God.  You are in the right direction.

    I recommend these readings:


    Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. Don't worry, this truly is good news, you'll like it: http://www.amazon.com/Good-News-About-Sex-Marriage/dp/1569552142

    Did Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons by Matthew Pinto. It's targeted for teenagers but the majority of Catholics stopped their religious education or spiritual experiences after middle school: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/096592288X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0890512833&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1ZTYTMCC7TKQVCJRTYQW
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  • ESquared423ESquared423 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Jasmine&Rajah and clearheavens -- Thank you both so much for your replies and for some suggested readings..I will definitely look into them! My worries have been eased a bit from everyones reponses and from talking more with my fiance. I will keep praying and keep seeking out the answers to all of my questions one way or another.

    I just got very freaked out the other night when I read on one website "the Catholic who marries outside of the church is committing a grave moral sin and shall not be regarded as married. They will no longer receive communion and risk their soul to Hell"..that sentence just made me feel completely horrible about something so beautiful like our marriage. I started to just feel angry towards God and the church for saying that, I still do a little bit..I'll work through it.

    Ok, enough rambling! Thanks again everyone.
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  • doctabroccolidoctabroccoli member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_spiritual-dilemma?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:801ed8c7-2e5a-4eda-adbb-f8d4ba1c3ceaPost:b44faa1d-9df6-40ea-9124-9ad8853f7ba1">Re: Spiritual dilemma</a>:
    [QUOTE]Jasmine&Rajah and clearheavens -- Thank you both so much for your replies and for some suggested readings..I will definitely look into them! My worries have been eased a bit from everyones reponses and from talking more with my fiance. I will keep praying and keep seeking out the answers to all of my questions one way or another. I just got very freaked out the other night when I read on one website "the Catholic who marries outside of the church is committing a grave moral sin and shall not be regarded as married. They will no longer receive communion and risk their soul to Hell"..that sentence just made me feel completely horrible about something so beautiful like our marriage. I started to just feel angry towards God and the church for saying that, I still do a little bit..I'll work through it. Ok, enough rambling! Thanks again everyone.
    Posted by ESquared423[/QUOTE]

    That website sounds a little over the top, lol.  Have fun this weekend!!!!!!!
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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_spiritual-dilemma?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:801ed8c7-2e5a-4eda-adbb-f8d4ba1c3ceaPost:b44faa1d-9df6-40ea-9124-9ad8853f7ba1">Re: Spiritual dilemma</a>:
    [QUOTE]Jasmine&Rajah and clearheavens -- Thank you both so much for your replies and for some suggested readings..I will definitely look into them! My worries have been eased a bit from everyones reponses and from talking more with my fiance. I will keep praying and keep seeking out the answers to all of my questions one way or another. I just got very freaked out the other night when I read on one website "the Catholic who marries outside of the church is committing a grave moral sin and shall not be regarded as married. They will no longer receive communion and risk their soul to Hell"..that sentence just made me feel completely horrible about something so beautiful like our marriage. I started to just feel angry towards God and the church for saying that, I still do a little bit..I'll work through it. Ok, enough rambling! Thanks again everyone.
    Posted by ESquared423[/QUOTE]

    Dear Esquared,

    The responses given so far are good, and I hope you keep searching. What it comes down to though is what is the truth? If the Catholic church is the truth, and by your research you come to learn that, then it makes sense to be Catholic.

    What you read there, is really what the church says, but remember, the church is the messenger.  A Catholic is bound by correct form and matter for their sacraments...(just like Baptism needs water and the correct words spoken, or the Eucharist  needs bread, wine and the correct words) when one chooses to disobey this, their marriage is not valid- it didn't have the correct form. Don't be mad at the church for saying this, as this is each person's choice to disregard it, and by disregarding it, they are placing themselves outside of the church, and can no longer receive communion.  A Catholic can marry a non-Catholic within the form of the Church. The government doesn't have the power to sever a marriage, just like they don't have the power to make one. If you are following the laws of your state regarding marriage (getting a license, the officient has the legal authority to marry you) why is it a stretch to understand that the Catholic church has its own laws regarding marriage?
  • doctabroccolidoctabroccoli member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_spiritual-dilemma?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:801ed8c7-2e5a-4eda-adbb-f8d4ba1c3ceaPost:03a84ff1-412e-4215-bf1f-f5336443be27">Re: Spiritual dilemma</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Spiritual dilemma : Dear Esquared, The responses given so far are good, and I hope you keep searching. What it comes down to though is what is the truth? If the Catholic church is the truth, and by your research you come to learn that, then it makes sense to be Catholic. What you read there, is really what the church says, but remember, the church is the messenger.  A Catholic is bound by correct form and matter for their sacraments...(just like Baptism needs water and the correct words spoken, or the Eucharist  needs bread, wine and the correct words) when one chooses to disobey this, their marriage is not valid- it didn't have the correct form. Don't be mad at the church for saying this, as this is each person's choice to disregard it, and by disregarding it, they are placing themselves outside of the church, and can no longer receive communion.  A Catholic can marry a non-Catholic within the form of the Church. The government doesn't have the power to sever a marriage, just like they don't have the power to make one. If you are following the laws of your state regarding marriage (getting a license, the officient has the legal authority to marry you) why is it a stretch to understand that the Catholic church has its own laws regarding marriage?
    Posted by agapecarrie[/QUOTE]

    I read it as her being more shocked about the being "damned to hell part" rather than the part of the Church not recognizing her marriage.......
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    "the Catholic who marries outside of the church is committing a grave moral sin and shall not be regarded as married. They will no longer receive communion and risk their soul to Hell"..

    well, this is partially true, but somewhat harsh.

    it is a sin according to the catholic church, they wont consider you married, and you technically cannot receive sacraments since in theory, every time you have sex with yoru husband it would be considered fornication in the eyes of the catholic church.

    but i still think its a worse sin to marry in the catholic church if you are unsure/dont believe/etc.  god also is well aware of yoru struggle, your thought process, etc.  that will surely be taken into consideration.
  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I think the key word here is "risk".

    No one can tell the state of someone's soul, and the church won't either, but will discuss things in hypotheticals and truth. The church doesn't say a person is going to hell, they say it is a risk.

    There are some sins that are serious. This isn't just a trite term, but it is an adjective to desribe how big the consequences, harm, and outcome of the action is. One dies outside of the state of grace, unrepentant, risks their soul. (because this is a full out refusal of God--- God honors a person's free will and choices to choose against Him) A person has to be in full knowledge of this, as well as know the consequences, and be freely choosing the act. Also, no one can make that determination about those circumstances except themselves and God.

    I don't think its harsh to state what the church teaches, (in fact, its harsh not to) and we all definitely take the risks of our soul every time we sin, no matter what it is. Some of those are more serious than others, and are bigger risks than others.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    well, i think it can be somewhat harsh to someone who doesnt have a full understanding of the faith.  its quite obvious to someone like you or me, agape.

    also, i find that in many catholic churches today the word "hell" is rarely used (same wiht purgatory) and the general feel is that everyone goes to heaven, and i even know several "liberal" catholics who dont even appear to believe in Hell.  so i think this statemetn woudl appear harsh or scary to someoen who may have regularly attended a parish that refuses to acknowledge that hell is a real possibility.
  • MuddyInsigniaMuddyInsignia member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!

    I am a non-catholic (Episcopalian) marrying a Catholic. We are actually marrying physically in my church, but with both priests witnessing the ceremony.

    This isn't discussed much here, but the Catholic church recognizes all baptisms. Meaning if you were baptized by a Methodist minister, it is the same weight as being baptized in the RC church. So, granted you want to baptize your children, you do not NEED to do so in the Catholic church. The church will still recognize their baptism. (My protestant baptism as infant is just as valid (as we are going through RC marriage prep) as my FI's RC baptism).

    Above all the Catholic Church teaches God's forgiveness. If you ever want to come back into the church, you can ask for (and get) forgiveness.

    But I think your spiritual struggle right now, is that you don't "know" if your choices are really wrong, right? You don't necessarily believe that getting married outside the Catholic church is a sin... I recommend continued discernment because it is something that you need to decide. You know the Catholic church won't recognize your marriage until is receives a convalidation. You know the Catholic Church says it is a sin not to attend mass on days of holy obligation, etc.  But you need to decide what "you" believe.

    Trust me, I am there myself as I am discerning whether to begin RCIA. I don't think anyone can get there by blindly following what someone else tells them, I think your faith is something that you receive based on your own decisions and beliefs.
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  • edited December 2011
    ESquared- Congrats!!!  I'm sure your wedding will be beautiful and if at some point, later on, you and your husband decide to do a convalidation ceremony then that will be beautiful as well.  Even if you don't, as pp said, you can baptize and raise your children Catholic if you decide to come back to the church.  

    The thing I would be most concerned about though is your FIs acceptance of this.  As the father, he also has a right to decide what the child grow up being taught to believe in.  If he's fine with the children being raised Catholic then it's not an issue.  But be aware that some people go into a mixed faith marriage thinking that the children will automatically be raised by their religion and then have issues when the spouse disagrees.  Getting it all out in the open (even if it's only possibilities) is best.

    Congrats again and enjoy your wedding and honeymoon!!!  :)
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  • ESquared423ESquared423 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    Thanks girls! I can't believe it's 2 days away! Ahhh!
     
    My fiance is not baptized anything, at all. He does not believe in organized religion, but does believe there is a God. He has no desire to be baptized (which really does not bother me) but we have discussed possibly baptizing our future children and he said he would be open to it with more discussion about what it means to be Catholic and what that entails. Sometimes I wonder if I want to baptize my children because that's just what has been done for years and years in my family, or if it's because I really want to. We don't plan on starting our own little family for another 3 or 4 years, so we have time to think and discuss.

    I agree with a PP about feeling like it would be more of a sin to get married in the church when my heart is just not there. That's exactly why I didn't want to get married in the church, in addition to the counseling my fiance and I would be required to go through to be able to marry in the church..he was not comfortable with that at all.

    And, yes, I definitely understand that Catholic church has their laws, it's not a stretch for me to realize that. I just don't like the harsh terms of it all. It's hard for me to accept.
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  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_spiritual-dilemma?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:801ed8c7-2e5a-4eda-adbb-f8d4ba1c3ceaPost:f3fe49ed-13f5-4166-b761-82de1d43a7a0">Re: Spiritual dilemma</a>:
    [QUOTE]And, yes, I definitely understand that Catholic church has their laws, it's not a stretch for me to realize that. I just don't like the harsh terms of it all. It's hard for me to accept.
    Posted by ESquared423[/QUOTE]

    As previous posters have said, the "rules" of the Catholic faith are logical outcomes of the teachings of the faith, which many people have not studied/been taught. For many people, including many of the ladies here, when they open their hearts to the truth of the faith and begin learning the whys behind the rules, they find that the rules no longer feel like restrictions on their lives, but present freedoms in their lives instead.

    PPs have given you some great resources for beginning to explore those whys. I still suggest opening your heart and your dialogue with God (not just you talking to him, but finding time to sit quietly and listen -- and I know how hard that can be!) and letting him guide your heart instead of all the other stuff the world puts out there for us.

    And again, congratulations on your wedding tomorrow!
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