Overcoming Catholic Requirements

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 12 replies, and was last updated by  Virginia May Reynolds 1507 days ago.

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June 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm #4707

Violet

I am Jewish and my fiance is Catholic.  Neither of us are what you would consider “practicing” but we both want to stay true to our heritage and backgrounds through our wedding.  His mother is very religious and has worked for a Catholic school as a 3rd grade teacher for 30 years or so and I know having her son be married by a Catholic priest is a high priority for her. 

The main issue right now is I am having deep concerns about the requirements the Catholic church is requesting us to do in order to be married by a Catholic priest.  I do not want to sit through the pre-cana eight hour course and I most certainly do not want to sit through the natural family planning course (NFP) which is a multiple day requirement.  I know how I feel about these issues and do not feel it necessary to be forced to sit through a class on an issue I do not agree with.  I feel my fiance is being insensitive for asking me to do this and he feels I am being insensitive as it’s only “a few hours for the rest of our lives together”.  Please give me some guidance as this is an issue that may tear us apart.  I fear I will resent him if he makes me do this and how is that the right way to start a marriage?

June 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm #4710

Sherry

From my personal experience, this is only the beginning of compromises you will be asked to make throughout your life with him.  Best of luck!

June 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm #4713

Andrea2

If you want to be married by a Catholic priest why shouldn’t you have to fulfill the requirements that every other couple married by a Catholic priest has to meet? Part of the meetings with the priest, retreats, etc. are to help you figure out where each partner stands and how you will function as a married couple and how you would raise any children.

June 10, 2010 at 2:17 am #4715

anonymous

In the grand scheme of things, one 8-hour pre-cana course and a couple days of NFP are a minuscule part of your lives together. I think it raises a big red flag that you are unwilling to compromise on this.

June 10, 2010 at 3:26 am #4716

Debbie B.

To “anonymous” above: I’m not sure “compromise” is a good word to use when it comes to belief. I don’t believe that it is a good start to a marriage to have either partner feel coerced into doing something that makes them uncomfortable.

More troubling to me is the idea of a Catholic wedding for a person who does not agree with major tenets of Catholicism. I am not Catholic, but I don’t think that the classes are simply “hoops to jump through” and are meant to educate the couple on important aspects of Catholic married life. It is not just “a few hours” if you truly reject the teachings—it is asking you to be hypocritical. I think that a Catholic wedding does imply that aspects of Catholicism will be observed in the marriage. Similarly, most rabbis who do intermarriages want assurances that there will be certain Jewish observances in the marriage. You may not think that the religious aspects of a wedding represent something more, but they do to the clergy and it is reasonable of them to want the couple to agree to certain things that such a religious marriage represents.

I don’t think it is quite honest or realistic to want to get married by a priest just to please the groom’s mother and then expect to not have to deal with other Catholic issues in the future. The wedding is just the beginning of your lives together. Even people who “aren’t religious” discover that aspects of their religious heritages are more important than they thought if they are asked to give them up.

Unless you plan to remain childless, you absolutely must discuss child raising issues now because those are actually much more important to most people than the wedding. I’m sure that the groom’s mother, and perhaps the groom, too, expects to baptize any future children and to raise them as Catholic. Similarly, perhaps you would expect to circumcise any male children.

June 12, 2010 at 1:32 am #4727

Joel

Hello – religion and politics are two things that split relationship. I have a background in both. But Let me tell you one thing. You guys have to agreed on your faith otherwise trust me this is not gona last. As a matter of fact the bible tells us not to be inequally yoke. I grew up catholic and i know how are the requirements. But let me tell you that this is not about religion. Its about having a personal relationship with the Lord. If you love her without Doubt and if this is not about ego, i said do it because like someone said this is just the begining. Marriage is something you work at on a daily basis. May be this is a test. But if you want to keep your faith and she does, you need to think about what religion you will follow what will the kids be etc….
Have a good Shabbat 

June 15, 2010 at 8:17 pm #4736

Greg

Dear Friends,
We all agree that a wedding is something holy. The fact that this discussion is even taking place shows us we view marriage as a spiritual union. I never really thought about it although I’m married for 8 years. I married Jewish. It is definitely worthwhile looking into the vast resources available as to what makes this a holy union. There is so much to learn that thankfully I’m still married and found true meaning in our relationship. So I suggest we do a bit of research. Great place to start is with aish.com there is an awesome feature called ask the rabbi. It’s really great

June 23, 2010 at 8:53 pm #4757

Violet

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and advice.  We went to see the priest last Saturday and I, at this time, agreed to go to the pre-cana but the main issue I am having is still with the NFP course.  I had found an online option that I thought maybe my fiance could do so I technically wouldn’t have to be involved but when I started researching, they send you a thermometer, spreadsheet and other supplies to record your findings and then you have to email them to the group who heads the class.  I told my fiance absolutely not; that I would not allow myself to be subjected to that in order to complete the church’s requirements to have the priest marry us and his response was that he could probably find something online and copy the results.  Is that the Christian thing to do?  I just do not understand the mentalilty of lying to accomplish a religious ceremony.  Doesn’t that completely negate the want to have a religious ceremony?  Does anyone else understand because I think it is ridiculous to even entertain the idea.  I am sure if I told his religious mother his plans of lying she would not agree with his choice.  Any thoughts?

June 24, 2010 at 4:17 am #4760

Debbie B.

I think your fiance sees dealing with the Church’s requirements as simply things to do such that the wedding will please his mother. I don’t think he attaches religious or moral significance to these activities, but you obviously do. I feel the same as you do: it feels dishonest. Perhaps it is silly of me, but I personally would have a harder time lying to a priest or rabbi than to some other lay person. Rabbis aren’t even “closer to God”, but since I feel that most clergy live their lives according to rather strict rules on behavior, it is not ethical to basically play by different rules when dealing with them. That said, there are different ways to see these things and the fact that you aren’t required to convert to Catholicism, but only have to take these courses, may mean that you just need to *know* the information, but there is an understanding that you will be allowed to make your own choices as a married couple. It kind of depends on how the material is presented, so only you can judge that.

Wow: thermometer huh? Oh, I guess I didn’t realize that “natural family planning” would be more sophisticated that simply recording cycles on a calendar. I was taught by my doctor to use a thermometer to chart my cycles when I was having trouble conceiving my first child. Maybe looking at it that way would help you not to feel so negatively about it: you might just end up using the information in the future to try to get pregnant rather than to avoid it. it’s not like they are going to make you send them charts *after* you get married like I had to show my gynecologist which even showed when we had sex! You know, Jewish women who are not very religious but are to be married by an Orthodox rabbi (say for secular Jewish couples in Israel) sometimes feel similarly negative about the instruction for sexual abstention and charting of cycles for for “family purity” mikveh use.

Does your fiance completely not understand your qualms about this? I think you must make him at least understand how you feel. Strong relationships must be built on understanding and trust. You don’t always have to agree on everything, but you must at least understand each other.

Violet, you’ll need to work this through with your fiance and also figure out how you yourself really do feel about things. Have you been direct in saying something like “I’m feeling dishonest in doing these courses and have come to think if this is what is required that maybe I do not want to be married in a Catholic wedding ceremony”? Otherwise, focus is merely on “passing” the courses. And you should spell out implications and possible outcomes directly even if it is somewhat painful to do that. Or if the above doesn’t reflect how you feel and you DO want to be married in a Catholic wedding ceremony (perhaps because it would be meaningful to your fiance), you can look at the classes with that perspective and see if you might find some way to see them differently so that you don’t feel so negatively about them (such as that they are “suggestions” for how to have a married life—not impositions).

However, if you do feel that you are “stretching” to make what you feel are “compromises” I think you should be sure that your fiance appreciates that and does not just take it for granted that since it didn’t seem like a big deal to him that it wasn’t for you either. I’m not suggesting in any way that you “keep score” (like I gave in on this, so now you have to give in on something else), but I think it is important for partners to appreciate when the other person does something for their sake. That way what starts as something that could come between you can end up being something that makes you feel closer to that person.

June 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm #4762

Debbie B.

Violet,

You should definitely read the article, “A Catholic Priest’s Perspective on Interfaith Marriage”:
http://www.interfaithfamily.com/life_cycle/weddings/A_Catholic_Priests_Perspective_on_Interfaith_Marriage.shtml
or http://tinyurl.com/29hp2hc

The information is very useful and since it is written by a Catholic priest probably more accurate than information you might get from lay people. And the the overall message is hopeful.

June 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm #4763

Violet

Debbie,

Thank you for the article.  I found #3 to be very interesting as that is the complete opposite of the experience we are having right now.  I am the one that is being required to adhere to certain requirements.  I do not believe I pointed out in my earlier posts but at this point in time, my fiance and I do not plan on having children.  I know that may change in the future, but considering how hard this process has been I don’t think it would be possible for us to come to a consensus regarding how to raise them.  We both knew from the beginning of our relationship that neither of us wanted kids so it’s not a decision based on religion, but perhaps will be solidified by it, if that makes sense.

July 13, 2010 at 12:46 am #4856

Virginia May Reynolds

Okay, I come from a Protestant background but happened to be Pagan! Most of you made great points, in my humble opinion.  Now, and I assert that I’m not going to attempt to tell you what do do, but what then?

I’m not a convert yet, by the way, but merely someone who has read a bit about my husband’s faith.

I mean when we celebrated my husbands’ parents dying (yes, I’m going to use that word) wow!  Their people were austere but so true!  I felt as if Dan had managed to grief at last! Yes, you could call it a party but no…  I grow up Protestant with Catholic relatives and yes, I celebrate what the dead gave us… I also understood what it meant for Daniel, my husband…  so why not?  I tried to cheer up the Israeli community whilst cheering up my own when he (my husband) was massively grieving … And why not join forces in spirituality?

July 13, 2010 at 2:57 am #4857

Virginia May Reynolds

All I was trying to say really is that yes, we well all compromise in some way but having read all the posts ‘properly’ now I would say that you owe it to yourself to be true to whatever you feel is important to you.  I mean Daniel and I had a Pagan ceremony in the forest followed by civil matrimony.  He wanted a Jewish wedding, I would have agreed but there were too many complications, say.  With the children, well, we came to a compromise; brought up as Jewish but of course children can change their minds when their older.  If you truly don’t want them, Violet, that’s fine but don’t deny yourself because of possible interfaith problems.  Most families and communities understand.  OK there will be some nasty comments made by someone but oh, well… there could possibly be arguments but no couple is without them… I’m not telling you what you should do by any means, I swear, but if religion is the only thing preventing you having them, well… it can be overcome.  We are worse in terms of being weird:  a Pagan and a Jew (sort of agnostic -  (him) I’m not) and we have a little boy.  We decided to bring him up in one faith, and we decided on Judaism, but then again, my parents are Protestants and he’s exposed to that as well as my celebrations of the circle of nature and so forth.  Would he be confused?  perhaps, or enlightened? maybe.  He has the freedom anyway when he’s grown up and I’m sure he’s glad even then about the fact that we conceived him.

If your concerns about parenthood are other please do disregard this.

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