The Eucharist and Ecumenical Weddings

In helping engaged couples plan their wedding liturgies, the intersection of the Eucharist with a non-Catholic groom or bride is always a troubling point. I say this not because it becomes a bone of contention between couple and Church–that’s a rarity in my experience. The trouble is being confronted with the fruits of Christian disunity. Many Catholics, even those marginally tied to the Church, often approach the sacrament of Marriage with a desire to celebrate the Eucharist as part of their ritual. This is a good thing.

Many “ecumenical” couples share a deep faith in Christ, yet that often intensifies the situation in which Catholics cannot share the Eucharist with other believers.

Over the years, I’ve worked with priests who have had either an open practice, a closed one (discouraging the celebration of Mass outright) or a more creative one. One of the ideas of the latter category:

When belief is strong and the Catholic spouse-to-be and family are deeply devoted, I would suggest a Mass of Thanksgiving before or after the wedding for the couple and Catholic family. In one parish, the pastor suggested this for the Saturday morning of the wedding. It worked well, I thought, to include the parish daily Mass community, the bride’s Catholic family, and the groom’s family, too. It is possible to include a blessing for an engaged couple. In fact, I think this would be a good general suggestion for any time during the engagement period. Why should the celebration of marital love be limited to just one Mass?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to The Eucharist and Ecumenical Weddings

  1. JC says:

    1. Then there’s just teh point that mixed marriages are generally imprudent, as Mel Gibson’s much touted marriage ought to exemplify. If having a wedding Mass is this much of an issue, then what about raising the children Catholic?

    Why marry someone that doesn’t share one’s core beliefs?

    2. The “personal wedding Mass” is a fairly modern thing (at least outside the aristocracy). There was some kerfluffle a few years ago when some bishop called for stricter limits on priests in his diocese saying too many masses per day, and one of the things me mentioned was weddings. Shortly after reading that discussion online, my wife and I attended a Spanish mass where there were like 4 different couples married at the same time. Really, a Catholic wedding should not be a “special event.” It should be a parish event, like any other sacrament.

    3. When Catholics opt for apostasy, as my brother did, and get illicitly married outside the Church, the Catholic relatives tend to be shocked at how short the wedding service is, feeling it’s a waste of their time and money. Conversely, when my sister married a non-Catholic *in* the Church, his side of the family were complaining about how long the wedding service was too long.

    One of my wife’s friends married a non-baptized non-Catholic, so they had to have just the wedding, anyway, without the Mass. The wedding was longer than my brother’s “wedding” but shorter than my sister’s. The priest gave a great homily. Nice thing about that option is that a deacon can perform such a wedding.

    And, of course, in the end, the Catholic sacrament of matrimony only requires the Church’s observation and consent, so it is perfectly acceptable–with permission (which my brother did not feel it necessary to get)–to have the marriage witnessed by a non-Catholic.

    But, again, getting into a mixed marriage at all is quite a can of worms.

  2. Todd says:

    JC, I’m afraid your argument may hold little water on this site or with recent popes. The issue has been blogged about previously:

    As for Mel Gibson, he had his own issues, including not being a Roman Catholic in union with Rome.

  3. Jim McK says:

    The idea that a mixed marriage is “imprudent” is hilarious. What marriage is not? I suppose there may be someone who carefully assesses members of the opposite sex, gets their financial, medical and educational records, etc. But the vast majority of marriages are adventures of discovery, learning about the unknown and creating a new world together. They are more like the massively imprudent task of giving birth to a child.

    CCC 1621 describes a marriage between two Catholics as “the offering of their own lives” and calls for “uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice.” The same rationale should apply to marriages between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians; it is scandalous that Christian disunity is any kind of impediment. Every priest and every bishop should be profoundly apologetic to couples in mixed marriages, and work hard to help them and to learn from them.

  4. FrMichael says:

    “Every priest and every bishop should be profoundly apologetic to couples in mixed marriages, and work hard to help them and to learn from them.”

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… bored by the false imputation of scandal by clerics.


  5. Jim McK says:

    My apologies FrMichael. I did not realize the proper form for commenting:

    “mixed marriages are generally imprudent”

    zzzzzzz. bored by the false suggestion that love and marriage are secondary to theological politics.

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  7. Matt says:

    I am trying to get married in the Roman Catholic Church, but was previous married by an Ecumenical Catholic priest. However, that wedding was not of catholic tradition. Because of this, should I expect any problems in trying to attain a defect of form with regard to my previous marriage? Any help and clarification on this matter will be invaluable and greatly appreciated. As I am deployed, contact by email is best. Thanks!


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