Advice on how to plan and arrange a marriage between an agnostic/humanist and a Catholicgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
Pardon the lengthy lead-in. The question is at the bottom. The subject is indeed accurate.
I am an agnostic and, for all practical intents and purposes a practicing humanist. I do not necessarily believe in any supernatural entities nor do I take any such things into personal account in my daily affairs. I do not discard the possibility of a god and of the supernatural, but such possibilities really don't affect my daily life. I am basically a secularist.
My fiancee is essential American Catholic. She would like our eventual union to be recognized by the church and she would like, if possible, a catholic wedding, recognized by the catholic church.
I respect her beliefs and she respects mine. We recognize that they are personal and valid, and very personally important. Are there any elements of a catholic wedding that I, as a groom, would be required to speak, partake of, or commit to that would violate a secular world view? I cannot pray, for it professes something I do not know to be true. It is hypocrisy and lying for me to promise certain things that a religion might ask my to promise. My commitment to her is certain. I love her, but is it possible for a secularist to be married in a catholic ceremony without lying? Marriage is too important a personal and social bond for me to misrepresent myself in the ceremony. Can a catholic ceremony be both respected by, and respect, a practicing secularist?
-- Brandon Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 08, 2003
Before I forget to mention it ... It appears that your upper-case shift-key works fine, since you were able to use the word "I" ten times in your message. So I would ask that, in future (out of respect for your fiancee, if not for me), you capitalize the term, "Catholic Church." You wrote "catholic" five times.
Now to reply to your closing question, "Can a [C]atholic ceremony be both respected by, and respect, a practicing secularist?"
I'm sure that the Church did not "tailor" its ceremony to meet with the preferences of a secularist. The Church does not believe in "political correctness." If you are terribly concerned about this, I suggest that you visit your local rectory and ask to be shown the full text of the ceremony for a mixed marriage outside of Mass.
Now to reply to your original question, "... is it possible for a secularist to be married in a catholic ceremony without lying?"
Why, certainly. (If you did lie, no marriage would take place, in God's eyes.) You and your fiancess will be able to choose either of the following two forms of consent (commonly calle "vows"), which I doubt that you will find objectionable:
I, _____, take you, _____, to be my [husband / wife]. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
I, _____, take you, _____, for my lawful [wife / husband], to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Praying for you to awaken to the existence and love of God, only with whose help your marriage will endure,
PS: Brandon, you may want to consider changing your e-mail address. You may not be aware of the fact that the English word "bane" is defined in any of the following ways (which I don't wish upon your fiancee): Fatal injury or ruin ... A cause of harm, ruin, or death ... A source of persistent annoyance or exasperation ... A deadly poison.
-- J. F. Gecik (email@example.com), July 08, 2003.
Thanks so much for the advice. I am sorry about the capitalization. Within sentence structure it's simply force of habit. I was tired and lazy and was having trouble forcing capitalization out in other areas. It was not meant to offend.
I think perhaps my fiancee knows someone who might be willing to help us to tailor a ceremony a little so that it meets both our needs. At the very least I know now I can cherish her without removing her from the chuch. What other discussions come from the ceremony will have to be between us.
-- Brandon Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 08, 2003.
Hello, Brandon. You wrote:
"I think perhaps my fiancee knows someone who might be willing to help us to tailor a ceremony a little so that it meets both our needs."
I feel a duty to let you know that, with very minor exceptions, the text of a Catholic ceremony is fixed and is not subject to "tailoring." I reiterate my recommendation that you read through it in advance, so that what is stated does not come as a shock to you on your wedding day. For example, you cannot expect a Christian ceremony to avoid the mention of the Divine Trinity (Father, Son [Jesus Christ], and Holy Spirit).
I believe that there will be readings from the Bible and probably a homily by the priest or deacon, in which should be emphasized the indissolubility of your marriage, the faithfulness of the spouses, and the openness to children that you must have. If something I have just mentioned is shocking to you or contrary to your understanding of marriage, now is the time to say so to your fiancee and her pastor. It could be that you are not ready to enter into what the Church considers a valid marriage.
-- J. F. Gecik (email@example.com), July 08, 2003.
I am not worried about the presence of religious readings or some religious ceremony. When I mention tailoring the ceremony, I mean simply to ensure that there are elements important to both of us present. I want the wedding to be inviting to all we know, and I do not want my own wedding to be me standing uncomfortably amidst what is basically a mass. There will be readings and at least one prayer, and if we can find a Catholic priest to officiate he may tell us of those things that he is required to do in order to officiate. So long as we have room for non-religious personalizations as well, such as readings from other sources, original vows that we, ourselves have written for each other, and wedding attendants not divided strickly down gender lines we will both be happy.
I am not trying to arrange a wedding devoid of religion. Her religion is very dear to her and I have no intent to steer her away from it. I find it fascinating and she wouldn't be the wonderful woman she is without it. But I do want to make sure that the ceremony reflects both of us, and I want to make sure that all my family and friends, and hers as well, are comfortable and happy to attend and participate in the ceremony.
-- Brandon Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 09, 2003.
Most of your approach seems pretty reasonable to me. I'm glad that you don't seem to have any animosity toward the Church.
You wrote: "So long as we have room for non-religious personalizations as well, such as readings from other sources, original vows that we ourselves have written for each other, and wedding attendants not divided strictly down gender lines we will both be happy."
If your fiancee's pastor is a disobedient priest, unwilling to abide by the Church's liturgical law, then he will allow all the things you have mentioned. But if he is an obedient priest, the best he can do is this:
(1) He may be willing to quote an acceptable passage from a secular work (at your request) in the middle of his homily. Neither a clergyman nor a lay reader, however, can perform a non-scriptural reading in place of, or in addition to, the readings from the Bible -- because of the potential confusion. [Someone may conclude that the secular reading has as much value and reliability as the Word of God.]
(2) He will give you a choice between the two forms of vows that I quoted for you above. [Before I quoted them, I wrote: "You and your fiancess will be able to choose either of the following two forms of consent (commonly called 'vows'), which I doubt that you will find objectionable". Since I mentioned that you only have a choice between these two forms, I was pretty shocked to read that you have expected to be able to write your own vows.]
(3) He will give you reasonable freedom to select wedding attendants, because (to my knowledge) the Church does not have strict regulations concerning them.
God bless you (even if you're not sure that He exists)!
-- J. F. Gecik (email@example.com), July 10, 2003.
Thanks all for the information. I think it is most likely that my fiancee and I will seek not to have a Catholic ceremony. We will certainly speak with her priests and do our best to get their approval for a non-Catholic wedding. But I think my family and I would feel very alienated in a full Catholic ceremony and my fiancee has admitted that even she thinks the Catholic ceremonies are a bit inflexible. I think that, at the end of the day, she probably feels more catholic than Catholic (note the capitalizations, for they are important).
You have all been very informative and helpful and you have my thanks.
-- Brandon Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 11, 2003.