My fiance and I are meeting tomorrow with a priest at the Catholic church where we hope to be married this December. This church is in our college town and we have attended there together for the past 4 years. He is Catholic and just registered with the parish. I am not Catholic but open to the idea of converting after we get married.
Any advice about what questions we should ask? What touchy subjects might come up that my fiance and I should discuss beforehand?
I would say the most important (at least to the priest) is that in order to be married in the church, your FI (since he's the Catholic one) has to promise to raise your children Catholic- and the priest will ask you if you're ok with that.
I'm Catholic- my FI was raised Presbyterian. When we first met with the priest, he was very adamant about asking my FI if he was ok with our kids being raised Catholic. Thankfully we had spoken about that at length and my FI was prepared and ok with it.
Also, it was awkward, but the priest asked my FI if he was impotent! Apparently if you know you can't 'perform the marraige act' they won't marry you. I found that ridiculous- some people are infertile, doesn't mean they can't adopt! But whatever.
Also, I was worried since we live together that it would cause a problem. I just put my parents address down to avoid that (I know- cue the lightening bolts- I lied to a priest).
You and your FI will probably have to do what we did and get a 'dispensation' to have a 'mixed marriage'. It just meant another form and another fee.
Also, you have to take a marriage preperation course (offered at most parishes). Ours was tedious and not very helpful, but we suffered through it. Other people I know (including my parents and sister) actually found their enjoyable and useful.
If you want to expedite the process I would suggest bringing your baptism certificates (and your FI the record of his sacraments- confession, communion, confirmation).
The priest may want to discuss if you're baptized, which will have an impact on the kind of ceremony you have. These websites might be helpful: http://www.foryourmarriage.org/interior_template.asp?id=20398742 and catholicbrides.com.
My fiance converted before we got married to avoid difficulties. Since you are thinking about converting after marriage, maybe you could think about it. However, I know they usually do it during easter, so I don't know if you will be able to do it before you get married.
I loved that my FI converted before we got married. It meant so much to me that he wanted to make sure that nothing would get in the way of us being married.
Also ask for a book (I have it at home, I forget the name) that gives you the readings that you could choose from, and the basic format of the wedding. He should be giving this to you.
Don't forget, some churches are stricter than others when it comes to decorating and traditions. Some things to ask about: Are you allowed a runner?, could you throw rice, birdseed, rose petals, etc. Decorations on pews. Also if you need an organist and/or singer they will be able to refer you to the church organist.
I'm sorry, I keep thinking of things!
Ask if they allow flash photography during the wedding. Also some priests don't like anything on the alter, but some will allow video cameras and such.
He will be asking you if you want a full service or just the wedding ceremony. He may also be asking about unity candles, if you will be giving flowers to the blessed mary. My priest does weddings with no alter servers, but you may want to ask your priest about them.
From what I remember about doing this... you don't really ask the questions -- he does!
It may depend on what archdiocese you are in, but I think most of them make you do this marriage questionaire thing. They will seperate you and your fiance and ask you the questions individually and then will bring you back together.
They will expect you both to say that you are "open to new life" and that you won't interfere with each other's ability to have children (whatever that means!) and that the children will be raised Catholic.
They will ask you about if you have been baptised/confirmed/etc. and in what kind of church. It doesn't really matter to them that much though since you aren't the Catholic one. But you will need to show your baptism/confirmation records if you do have them. Your fiance will definitely need his.
The weirdest thing that I remember them asking was about your mental/personal history. Like if you have ever been in therapy, diagnosed with any depression, etc. and if you have ever taken medication. They will also ask if you know if your fiance has. So make sure you both know how you will answer that if it happens to come up.
I just remember that really annoyed me because I feel that is more a medical history question and is nobody's business but your doctors.
Oh yeah, and do you live together? We did, and it wasn't a problem with the Priest, but some are much more strict about that than others. There is no official rule about it from the church, but some priests may refuse to marry you if you live together, while others really don't care.
Oh, I'm assuming that this is your first meeting with the priest, right?
Questions (like about photo stuff, ceremony details, etc.) in my experience they will deal with that only AFTER you do pre-cana and it is closer to the wedding.
If this is the first meeting between you and the priest, it's not likely that they will discuss logistics with you yet. Basically, you haven't even been approved to be married there yet until you get archdiocese approval and after your pre-cana is finished and they meet with your witnesses.
My church gave us a pamphlet with all the rules and such about decorations, photography, etc. Closer to the wedding (maybe a few months before) the priest will meet with you again to go over the ceremony details and logistics, like the music and readings.
Also, it's usually easier (and sometimes better) to talk to the church secretary or a deacon about the details and if they have a website a lot of it will be on there.
The book that we're using (and I think the one mentioned above) is http://www.amazon.com/Your-Catholic-Wedding-Complete-Planbook/dp/0824516753
Also, you might not do the questionnaire/affidavit that Mrs. Radish mentions until closer to the wedding. At least that was our experience.
Becca -- in the archdiocese of Chicago, at least, you have to do the questionaire thing pretty early on. I'm pretty sure the majority of churches do it that way and I think most use the FOCCUS survey (which is the one we had to do).
It looks like you are in Virginia... if so, see here:
Radish - that bit about "interfering with each other's ability to have children" means that you won't use birth control. Part of the Catholic marriage vow includes a promise to "accept children as they come from God." That also means, for those of you who haven't caught on, that you won't use birth control. I was raised Catholic, and that is the primary reason FI and I won't consider a Catholic service - because we don't want our own children (his kids from his first marriage are teenagers, and he has sole custody). Plus he has had a vasectomy. We actually think this is none of the Church's business, but I can't see starting our life together on the basis of a set of vows that we don't intend to keep. We have a nice, Protestant minister who thinks it is perfectly reasonable that we want to spend the rest of our lives together without procreating, and that we believe we believe the children he has already managed to father deserve a father and a mother even if we don't give them more sisters and brothers.
Chocolatefreak - if one of you has been married before, be prepared to answer a bunch of questions about your divorce or annulment, and also for the potential that the Church will have to investigate that before they allow you to be married.
Other than that, the issue of raising the kids as Catholic should be the primary thing. They won't expect or pressure you to convert; my sister (Catholic) and her husband (Baptist) had a Catholic ceremony and there was never any question of him converting. As long as you are both Christians there seems to be no problem. FYI, my sister and BIL were living together before they were married as well. Although they may have lied to the priest too - I did stand there and listen to them swear to that "accept children as they come from God" bit when I knew she was on the pill, so clearly lying to the priest was not an issue for either of them.
Suzanno -- LOL! I figured that's what they meant, but it was just worded in such a funny way. I had to try not to laugh.
I was thinking -- hmmm... doesn that include just not wanting to have sex with your husband sometimes, 'cause I'm sure there are a lot of women who "interfere" with that!
Mrs. Radish - Thanks! I know it varies from archdiocese to archdiocese. I'm actually in WI (unless you're referring to the orginal poster; I'm not sure) and getting married on Long Island.
We haven't met with our FOCCUS couple yet (we do that with a couple, not the priest here in WI) to fill out that questionnaire. I was thinking about the sworn affidavit with the priest, where he asks about the sacraments, etc. which we just completed a couple of weeks ago.
Becca - oh right... yeah, I don't think they do that, or the witness affadavits, until after pre-cana and all that good stuff is done with.
I've never heard of anyone doing the questionaire with another couple instead of a priest. I wish they did it that way here! That would be way less stressful.
The first priest we met with was such a jerk when we did the questionaire that my husband was so mad about it that he stopped going to that church and started going to a new one.
Radish - That sounds awful! I know that I really appreciated that our priest here in WI took to time to talk with us about it, what it meant, the history of it, why we do it separately, even how it is an unconditional committment to each other. He's totally great and I know we're lucky. They made a serious effort in our parish to revamp all the marriage prep stuff here.
It is important that your priest or pastor is somebody you're comfortable with. Last week we had the discussion about faith, religeon, spirituality, and sex. An hour-long discussion. Seriously. It was actually quite nice, and we talked more about all those things (seriously and also laughing a lot) later on, which is part of the point of it, but I can see how it could have been quite uncomfortable if we didn't like our pastor so much. My sister does not have fond memories of the sex in marriage discussion with their priest.
Radish - by the way - according to our pastor "men and women are different... and while a physical relationship is an important part of marriage... it's not the end of the world if one of you is not in the mood." !!! So now we don't have to say "Oh, honey, I just (don't feel like it, have a headache, ate something awful for lunch, am exhausted)" We just say "Hey, it's not the end of the world." We're getting a lot of code phrases out of our pre-marital counseling.
Thanks for all of the suggestions! I'm really nervous and excited about our meeting. I really hope the priest we're meeting is one of the nicer ones!
Two more questions:
Do you think we'll be able to set a date for the ceremony at the first meeting, or do they typically make you wait until after you've completed other things? I'm already feeling stressed about planning a wedding in 7 months, and I'd like to get a reception venue ASAP.
Also, I've been on the pill for the past 6 months solely to regulate my cycle (it currently serves no other purpose!). I used to be extremely irregular and have awful cramps. I am a teacher and actually passed out in a 3rd grade classroom one time because they were so bad! That can't happen again! I have loved the effects of the pill (regular cycle, minor cramps), but am very concerned about fessing up to the priest about it. Does anyone know what the Catholic church thinks about using the pill primarily for medical purposes? Am I just out of luck? Should I even ask the priest, or should I just deny it from the beginning?
We took our FOCCUS questionerre in our pre-cana class. We learned alot about what marriage means in the church in that class. We never had to swear anything to our priest. In fact we just told him we were getting married, and he wrote us down. He completely forgot to do some of the paper work until about a month before the wedding. I get married in 10 days and I am still tracking down my first communion info!! Our pre-cana class was a class of about 50 people, but i know that there are a couple different ways it could be done.
However, I forgot about that former marriage thing. If you have been married before, even outside of the church, you need annulement. That costs approximalty $600 and will take around 6-10 months (in the Scranton dioceses)
And although the priest may not want to talk about the details yet, I kinda pushed my priest into it, because it could be very hard to plan some things if you don't know what is allowed and what is not.
I don't think they even allow for medical reasons because it impeds your abiltiy to have children, therefore you can't be married. But some priests may be more liberal than others. I wouldn't mention it.
Our priest allowed us to be penciled in even though FI's annulment was not through. And he's not supposed to do that. I think he will schedule that day, then tell you what kind of pre-cana you need.
They will hold the date for you and in the event that you don't finish all the necessary stuff, they will open it back up. So yeah, pretty much it will be scheduled but you will have to complete all of your marriage preperation before it is set in stone.
As far as the pill thing, it really depends on the priest. The first priest I went to said that taking the pill was like "giving yourself an abortion every day" but he was a nut.
We went to a different priest and he didn't even care or ask.
We did pre-cana with a group of about 50 couples and someone asked that question and the deacon said that if you are on the pill because of medical reasons and your doctor recommended it, then it is fine in the church's eyes.
Unless you have a fundamentalist, hardliner priest, I'm sur they wont' care. You could always just not mention it anyway. It's really your own personal medical thing.
radish, the reason it is like giving your self an abortion is because sometimes an egg is still releassed. However, on the medication a period will be forced so that the fertilized egg has no opportunity to attach. Therefore, in the church's eyes, you are having an abortion. I think some priests don't mention it because they don't want to have to discuss it and argue about it, but it is definalty part of the church's fundametal beliefs.
We didn't have to attend a Pre- Cana class, we just had three meetings with the priest, and the last one was mostly just the paperwork stuff
The first meeting he put us in the book for our date, and then we talked for like 90 minutes about what it means to be married and how you have to give and take, but you can't just give and you can't just take. You need to be able to lean on and support the other person.
The second one was about the big falls in a marriage, trust, communication and how everything that goes wrong boils down to those two items, money, sex, everything.
The third on which we did last weekend we talked about I don't really remember, but he had one of us at a time in the office asking us the questions, (the have you ever been in therapy? has FI ever? Do you use drugs/ alchohol or gambling? Has FI ever, Have you ever been married? Has FI ever? Then he asked my fiance while I was in the hallway. We didn't bring up living together. We didn't bring up birth control, he didn't really touch on any controversial subjects.
He then gave us a booklet with the readings for the ceremony. Because we're both Catholic we can have a full Catholic mass, because you guys aren't both Catholic, you can only have the nuptial ceremony (theres not a lot of difference, less music, no communion). He also gave us a handy list of dos and don'ts for the ceremony like we aren't allowed to do bubbles, rose petals or rice, that the aisle runner is a huge waste of money and can be dangerous, and we're better of skipping it, and don't bother doing much in the Church cause it's already really well decorated. He then told us that no later than one month before the ceremony we need to get our marriage license in our hot little hands so theres no problems, and if there is, we have time to figure it out.
Anyway, don't stress too much about it.
Thanks Candi, but I understand that priest's logic. However, I fundamentally disagree with it because of reasons like people taking the pill for medical reasons, and the church does accept that.
IMHO, taking BCP is not at all like having an abortion and there are plenty of Catholics (including priests) who don't feel that way about it either.
BTW - I wasn't even on the pill. This priest just accused me of it because we lived together so he assumed that I was lying to him when I said I wasn't.
We did our pre-cana in NYC, but we're getting married in the DC area. We STILL haven't met with a priest, 4 weeks out from the wedding (but we do have an appointment to do so in 2 weeks). All the pre-cana and paperwork was handled by lay people, and there weren't any hard questions except the ones on the form sent to the Diocese (i.e., open to children, not married before, freely consenting to marriage, raising kids Catholic, no history of mental illness) that we had to answer, individually, with a very sweet church secretary. We never did get the FOCCUS, but we did get some useful booklets about the ceremony, and workbooks about goals/pitfalls/etc. Good luck!
not sure about what questions to ask, our priest just asked us all the questions. round two we will ask more.
I HIGHLY recommend joining RCIA if you can. I just finished the process and it was amazing, not only for our relationship but for my spirtuality.
The pill does not cause abortions. From a medical standpoint that makes very little sense. It prevents ovulation and can thicken secretions (which is a side effect but also makes it a little harder for the swimmers to swim).
Many people get pregnant on the pill because they miss a few doses or have an odd system and ovulate anyway. The pill does not cause them to abort. The period you have on BCPs is not forced, it is simply withdrawal bleeding from the week you are not on hormones. If you do get pregnant, the pregnancy will be producing its own hormones and you will not have a period. Very early miscarriages are common, but it is not because the BCP is causing an abortion.
Also, I do not consider saying that we are "open to children" to be a lie because we do not plan on having any. If a pregnancy happens, even though we aren't planning on it, we will be open to the idea. We also are willing to take on children if they need us- I am Godmother to a few nieces and would adopt them in a heartbeat if they were in need.
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