The Pastor’s Corner
Ah, the merry, merry month of May! Although we’re halfway through the season, Spring has finally sprung, weather-wise. The sun shines warm and bright, everything is in bloom, and the church grounds are alive with the songs of birds and the arrival of new life. Several fawns have been spotted, and the pair of Canada geese that make their home near our pond each spring have hatched their chicks. (Unfortunately they’re apparently not the best of parents. I’ve never seen any of their chicks grow to adulthood, and as of this writing they’ve already lost one!)
May is also a popular month for the celebration of marriage, and how appropriate that is! Just as new life emerges each Spring, so marriage celebrates the beginning of a new life for those who pledge to each other eternal love, honor and faithfulness. This bond is so powerful that when celebrated as an act of faith it symbolizes the union of God with His people, and carries on the act of creation (or procreation) begun when at God’s command life came to be. It is for this very reason that marriage is one of the 7 Sacraments of our faith.
Marriage is only sacramental, however, when validly contracted and celebrated before a priest or deacon and at least 2 witnesses. Others types of celebration may be romantic and beautiful, but they are not sacramental. Every baptized Catholic contemplating marriage, or the parents of those who may be, need to keep this in mind! Baptized and Confirmed Catholics are committed to following the Catholic form of marriage in order for their marriage to be recognized as valid in the Church. To be married outside of the Church and thus to be in an invalid marriage renders Catholics unable to receive Holy Communion and to serve as a Godparent at Baptism or Sponsor at Confirmation.
In many circumstances Catholics can receive a dispensation from their proper Bishop to be married outside of the Church, but they’re not always granted. The couple still needs to meet with a priest or deacon to be properly instructed in Catholic teaching regarding marriage and to file the necessary paperwork to receive the dispensation. Catholics should always contact a priest or deacon to discuss their plans to avoid any unnecessary hardship later on, such as when after being asked to be a Godparent the required certificate of eligibility from their proper parish is denied.
Catholics who are in an invalid marriage can have their marriage convalidated by renewing their vows before a priest or deacon and 2 witnesses. Regardless of their religion, if either partner or both had any previous marriage, however, an annulment may be necessary before a convalidation can take place. Again, Catholics in any of these circumstances should discuss them with a priest or deacon.
This is also why it’s important that when couples marry they register with their local parish as soon as possible. Former registrations become null once the marriage takes place; and to be unregistered will also create problems later on regarding eligibility to serve as a Godparent or Sponsor.
If you have any questions regarding Catholic marriage, be sure to discuss them with me. I am only too happy to help!
LET’S GO SIXERS AND PHILLIES!!
In His Love,