What Couples Should Know
There are a variety of reasons for why couples do not get married in the Church.
In some cases, one of the spouses is not Catholic, or one of the spouses has been previously married and has not received a Decree of Invalidity (an Annulment). In other cases, a Catholic spouse may not be active in the Church, or a couple may not feel that they are able to embrace the Church’s understanding of sacramental marriage.
An important factor is that many younger couples get married at a time in their lives when they are re-examining their faith and their relationship to the Church they were raised in. These times are a kind of “spiritual adolescence,” which often includes a certain amount of “distancing,” rejection, or scepticism about the value or the validity of the faith passed on by parents.
Like biological adolescence, this development is necessary in order for individuals to become spiritually mature adults who can embrace for themselves the faith once shared with them by their families. However, there is always a danger that individuals will get “stuck” in this transition phase and stop growing in their personal and spiritual lives or their relationship to the Catholic faith community.
In the not too distant past, the importance of being married in the Church and practicing one’s faith often provided certain tangible social benefits. Couples got married in the Church because that is what they were expected to do, and it was what pretty much everyone did.
Today, the benefits of being married in the Church and practicing one’s faith are more personal and spiritual, and somewhat less tangible. Getting married in the Church is not something everyone does, so every couple has to decide whether being married in the Church and participating regularly in the faith community is important -- whether it will make a difference in their lives and in their marriage. More than ever before, getting married in the Church requires a conscious, deliberate decision.
Catholics believe that our faith and our participation in the Church do make a difference.
You may be at a point in your life when you are ready to renew your commitment to the Catholic faith and your active participation in the Church. If that is the case, we invite you to take the first step by having your marriage recognized and blessed by the Church. We believe that it will make a real difference in your life, your marriage, and the lives of your children.
Your Participation in the Church
Catholics who were not married in the Church are considered members of the Church living in an irregular marriage. They are not excommunicated and are free to participate in some but not all aspects of the Catholic faith community.
For example, if you were not married in the Church you may:
What Catholics Believe About Marriage
Catholics believe that a marriage between two baptized persons is one of seven sacraments established by Christ as a source of God’s love and grace.
In their Pastoral Letter Marriage--Love and Life in the Divine Plan, the U.S. bishops said marriage is a natural institution created by God, “a permanent, faithful, fruitful partnership between one man and one woman, established by their mutual consent.” This relationship has two inseparable purposes: the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. In marriage, the bishops wrote, “a man and woman become one flesh. They love each other as they love themselves and cherish each other’s bodies as their own.”
Through the grace of the sacrament, the bishops explained, a married couple share in Christ’s relationship to his followers in the Church: “When the baptized spouses exchange their promises of loving and permanent fidelity their marriage covenant becomes a participation in the unbreakable covenant between Christ and the Church.” In fact, the bishops wrote, “their marriage does more than symbolize Christ’s love, it makes that love present in the world.” That is why for Catholics a sacramental marriage must be faithful, permanent and fruitful -- fundamental characteristics of God’s relationship with humankind.
According to Pope Francis, the Church continues to propose these truths about marriage “not as an ideal for a few,...but as a reality that, with the grace of Christ, can be lived by all....” At the same time, the Pope has said, the Church must remember that married couples who “by free choice or unhappy circumstances live in a state of error deserve “the merciful love of Christ and therefore of the Church herself.”
How We Can Help...
The Catholic community in Waterloo is eager to encourage and assist couples who wish to have their marriage recognized and blessed by the Church. We offer a variety of opportunities depending upon your personal needs.
What to Do Next
To find out more about having your marriage blessed, contact the parish office or:
Director of Adult Faith Formation
320 Mulberry Street, Waterloo IA 50703
Phone: 319-233-0498 • Email: email@example.com
Last Update 02.04.16