The Sacrament of Marriage

When a couple marry in the Catholic Church, the ceremony speaks of love, permanent commitment, fidelity, openness to children, and perseverance in good times and bad. In fact marriage is more than a relationship; it is a union, a communion, between husband and wife. Their life together is now very different from their lives as two separate individuals. Once married, they do not lose their individual identity, but their individual identity is enriched by sharing life with the other partner.

Who can Marry?

Can a divorced non-Catholic person marry in the Catholic Church? The non-catholic would have to have an annulment or dissolution of their marriage. If they married a Catholic in a civil ceremony, the annulment process will be straight forward. Whatever the situation, the couple would be advised to speak with either their Parish priest, or the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, as it can be complicated, involving laws of the church etc.

Can 1st Cousins marry in the church?

The law of the Catholic Church determined that marriage between first cousins is invalid.

Can I marry a non-Catholic (Other Religion) in the church?

Provided that both persons are free to marry, it is permissible to marry in the Catholic Church. All that is expected that both parties will undertake what is possible to bring children up as Catholics. The priest who is going to do the wedding will range the necessary paperwork for permissions etc.

Can a Catholic marry a non-Baptised (No Religion) in the Catholic Church?

Provided that both persons are free to marry, it is possible for a Catholic to marry a non- Baptised (No Religion) person in the Catholic Church. The priest who is going to do the wedding will range the necessary paperwork for permissions etc.

Place of Marriage

The church is the most fitting place. The celebration of Marriage in a Catholic Church is a reminder that this is a celebration of a sacrament, that your life as husband and wife is blessed and sustained throughout the marriage by the presence and love of God.

Can I have my wedding in a Garden?

The practice in most of Australia is that Catholic weddings take place in the church and not secular surroundings, the reason is to minimise the devaluation of the religious dimension of marriage. In some circumstances, (eg, to meet the sensitivities of non-Christians) the Bishop may give permission for the wedding to take place in suitable settings.

Celebration of Marriage

The Rite of Marriage compromises of four parts:
1. The Introduction and Welcome – The couple declares their intention to marry and the assembly pray an opening prayer
2. Liturgy of the Word – Consists of readings from scripture, and a homily by the Priest
3. Liturgy of Marriage – Includes the exchange and reception of consent, the nuptial blessing, the blessing and exchange of rings, prayers of the faithful, and the Lord’s Prayer
4. Concluding Rite – The official documents are signed. This is followed by the final blessing.

What is the difference between a Marriage with a Nuptial Mass and a normal service?

With a Nuptial Mass you celebrate Mass and receive the Eucharist. If both the bride and groom are Catholic and most of the guests are Catholic, a nuptial Mass would be customary. If a person is not a Catholic, and a large number of the guests are not Catholics, then the couple may choose to have a normal service.

Marriage Breakdown or Divorce?

There are two different processes for the declaration of nullity of a marriage. The simpler process is used when a marriage is invalid because the marriage took place contrary to the laws of the church. For example, a Catholic may have married in a civil ceremony or in another church without permission. A Catholic may have married a non-Christian without a dispensation. In both cases the marriage would be considered invalid.

The second process is more detailed and lengthy. It is used when at the time of the marriage there were issues that affected the consent of either or both spouses. If the spouses did not consent to marriage, as the church understands it, then it is possible that the marriage could be judged to be invalid.

The Parish Office requires a firm 6 months notice for Marriage. You will also have to undergo Some Preparation before the Marriage takes place.
“Myths about Catholic Marriage and Divorce” by Fr Hugh Thomas CSSR.

Some Catholics believe false stories about the Church’s rules on Marriage. A woman came up to me at a wedding and asked if she could receive Holy Communion. She explained that she was a divorcee and had stayed away from the church for many years because she thought she was excommunicated. Of course I told her she could confess her sins and receive. Then I gave her the following information:

There are myths about divorced Catholics who have not remarried. The first is that they are excommunicated automatically and should no longer consider themselves Catholics. ABSOLUTELY FALSE. So to are the following FALSE myths about divorced Catholics who have not remarried:

  • They may not serve as sponsors at Baptism or Confirmation
  • They may not receive the Eucharist or the Sacrament of Penance.
  • They are not allowed Christian burial in the Catholic Church.

It is difficult to believe in this day and age that anyone would still believe these things, but they do, and suffer needlessly as a result. The church is against divorce because it hurts so many men, women and children. The church is not against victims of divorce. In fact, the Church tries to minister to them in every way possible. We know that sometimes it becomes moral duty to terminate a sick or abusive marriage, but we try to do everything possible to save marriage as long as there is any hope at all. Everyone knows that self-preservation and concern for well-being of the children can at times force good people to take drastic measures. We always pray for their future happiness and peace of mind whenever a divorce becomes necessary. Life is a long-distance race, and everyone needs God’s help to make it through. What about divorced Catholics who have remarried outside of the Church? Here are some FALSE myths about divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment:

  • They are automatically excommunicated
  • They may not attend Mass and are not welcome at Parish activities.
  • They should no longer consider themselves Catholic.
  • They may not have their children baptised in the Catholic Church.
  • They are not allowed Christian burial.

No one is excommunicated for marrying outside the Catholic church. There was a time when the penalty of excommunication did exist for this, but the law was changed retroactively a long time ago. Therefore, no one is excommunicated merely on the basis of his or her marital status. A person’s state of soul before God is another matter. The legal presumption of the validity of your first marriage will stand until it is overthrown by an ecclesiastical annulment.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to talk to a Priest. He will no doubt steer you in the right direction and urge you to trust in God’s mercy. And remember, just because someone is divorced, doesn’t mean that he or she is an outcast.

Please call the Parish Office on 9581 2061, or email if you have any questions.

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