Monday, July 18, 2011

A Fine Line

One of my cousins got married this past weekend.  In Chicago.

My Grandma had 10 kids, 42 grandchildren, and I am having her 62nd great grandchild.
Large family.

My parents made it their thing to not go to any weddings where the couple lives together before the wedding.
Over the years, this has caused lots of anger between my dad and his sisters and probably the nieces and nephews too.  So, all the aunts and uncles went to the wedding this past weekend, except my parents.
I only mention this so you know my background, how I was raised, it is in no way to point fingers at them or judge them for being judgemental.

(not that they would go anyway, because they are SSPX-ers and would not go to a Roman Catholic Church wedding or Baptism or First Holy Communion--they joined about 5 years ago)

I'm sure my aunts find it ironic that my youngest brother lives with his girlfriend and has been for a long time now.

My grandma with Mary Hannah and Colette on her 89th birthday

At my grandma's birthday party, I was talking with one of my aunt and uncles and my uncle was upset at my parents and they feel we should just support and love these kids, not "judge" them. He went on to say that Christians of any religion, always think sex is the ultimate worst sin there is. 

I think what he was trying to say was that sin is sin.  Who are we to judge which sin we are going to pick and "judge" people for, especially kids these days who live together before marriage.  

If the couple is Catholic, and they choose to not marry in the Catholic Church, we, as Catholics are not supposed to go support their "wedding" that is not recognized by the Church.  We can go to the celebration and share in their joy.  

There's a fine line there and it's hard to do.  And any priest will tell you to go, if it would cause too much division and pain in the family.

I think when the couple lives together before marriage, maybe the sin is different because it's laid out there, like the scarlet letter.  They are kind of flaunting their sin, because, well, they don't believe it's sin. 
(which is the devil's biggest accomplishment, making people think sin is not sin)

I figure, if the couple is Catholic, and they get married in the Catholic Church, the night before the wedding, they might have a change of heart and they might be given that chance to go to Confession.  How would we know that?  We don't.  

Therefore, I've come to the conclusion, that it is judging because, God gives grace right up to that last moment.

Getting married is a big decision and we don't know if the couple has decided to take it a little more serious and try to get all the graces they can possibly get by feeling that sorrow for the things they've done wrong and make it right by going to Confession, and start fresh and new on their wedding day.

I think this is one of those gray areas of life and tough things.
No one invites kids anymore to weddings, at least not any of my cousins, so we rarely go to weddings.  
But it sure gets me thinking and praying.

Sin is sin and we ought to call it sin.  But how do we also love?  Do we have to call it anything?  Can we just love and worry about ourselves?  Or should we call it what it is and tell the sinner?  

I don't know about you, but I don't want anyone telling me what my sins are, except God, through prayer and self examination.

Thank God for the Sacrament of Confession, where we can start fresh and new as often as we need to.

What do you think?


  1. Great post! I always think "What did the saints think about all the sin when they were alive?" When I read about the saints, they tend to focus on their devotions and prayer for sinners. To convert. a way they did think about them and want them to not go to hell.

    I remember when Brian and I were engaged and I would sleep over at his once every two weeks...way down in another myself. His roommate at the time was going to be in our wedding but told us that he could not because we were causing scandel (sp). So he wasnt in our wedding. At the time, I didnt think we were doing anything wrong. Now I understand. We were not doing anything...but others saw my car there at his home....overnight. gasp...crazy especially considering people live together and do not give it a second thought.

    I do not like the no kids at weddings either. It is about families.

    gotta go! hope to write more later.

  2. What an excellent, thought provoking post.

    I especially like the idea that we shouldn't judge but leave it up to God. I think that is so important.

  3. We did not go to my husband's only brother's wedding. He was raised in the Catholic Church and the wedding was outdoors, not Catholic. We were advised by two different priests not to go to the wedding. We did go to the party afterward. It was one of the hardest things to do...skip the wedding. In good conscience we had to do it. It is not a sacramental marriage. If they were living together, but had the wedding in a church, we would have gone as we are so closely related, and they may have would have been sacramental then. So hard. It's too bad situations like this keep coming up!

  4. Tough subject Jamie but I happen to know that if a couple lives together, before they get married in a Catholic Church, they will have to make a confession before receiving the Sacrament of Marriage. And the confession is done by the priest who will marry them so he is certain that the couple has repented and received absolution.

    I know this because I was one of those sinners and we had to confess to our priest. At that time, I was deceiving myself that it was ok because we'd gotten engaged and we only lived together for a few months before the wedding. I know I was wrong.

    I'm outting myself here and feeling vulnerable but it's the truth. Our priest was not about to marry us because we were living together without us both making the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And I wasn't about to lie to our priest when we were discussing our wedding plans and he asked us directly about our living arrangements.

    I'm certainly not proud of it but I mention it as a testimony to what a couple who lives together will have to do to get married in a Catholic Church.

  5. Noreen, how very brave of you to admit it, but please know I'm not judging you, we've all done things we are not proud of.

    I do also know that it depends on the priest, hate to say that, but it's true. My cousin's priest (in Chicago) told him and his fiance, now wife, that nowadays it's ok, because everyone is doing it.

    Nice, huh?

    His mom told him it was not ok and that the priest was wrong. Thank goodness she knew what to tell him.

    You were very blessed to have a priest like that, we need to pray for those priests to be more brave like him.

    When my husband's brother got married in the Catholic Church, they were living together, he'd offered for him to live with him, and they refused, we also reminded them of Confession, and they directly refused in front of us, the night before, at the rehearsal.

    so, it doesn't always happen the way it did for you. Which is sad.
    It would sure be nice if it did.

    But, I truly believe that these young people, getting married in the Church, have the Sacrament anyway, the grace is there, although maybe not as much grace, since the state of the soul is in mortal sin, not sure how all that works, but I think that the grace from the Sacrament of Matrimony helps them in their future so much more than they can even imagine and it might be the saving grace that brings them to the realization of it all on their own. Which hopefully would lead to complete conversion.

    Thank you again for your honesty.

  6. You are right in that we cannot/should not judge. Afterall, a couple doesn't have to be living together to be 'sleeping' with each other before marriage.... and how would we know that?

    One of my cousin's daughter's already has a child and is living with the father of the child until their marriage in October (her dad made her wait to get married until after her sister's wedding in June). In hindsight, we all 'wish' the baby would have come after their marriage, but their current living situation is best for the child ... isn't it?? I do not want to judge that situation. You want to be happy for them because they have this beautiful child, but you also want them to realize their sin and hope they have gone (or go) to confession.

    I wonder ... if/when your brother gets married if your relatives will attend?? Are they so hurt that they will stay away, or will they be more forgiving??

    Aren't family dynamics SOOOO very interesting and challenging to navigate?? Prayer and more prayer is the only recourse.

    BTW, we've never attended 'no kids' weddings. We've been invited to a few, but find them offensive! That may be strong wording, but the whole point of marriage is to be open to children; why not start with their attendance at the wedding?

  7. Great post and difficult subject,especially within our own families! You got some nice long comments here:) I'm one of those that gets just as frustrated with those that judge as those that are being judged for whatever sin or matter. Judgement seems to be a rampant viper weed among faithful people. But it's funny because it's like one sinner against another! LOL They are both wrong. I'm no perfect Christian but I believe love and good example is the best default. I'm not saying that we should be silent on this subject (or others) but our actions (for better or worse) speak louder than words.

  8. These situations always present a predicament to couples who are a witness to life and the sanctity of marriage. Grace is certainly available and it's too bad most people don't take it. From what I have seen, marriages either start off with Sacramental marriage in mind or they don't. To attend or not? I guess it depends on how damaging you believe the sin is. We Catholics do believe in degrees of sin and the many conditions that define it.

    Would you attend a celebration of an abortion? Would you attend a gay "wedding"? Would you attend a party celebrating fornication and contraception?

    Unfortunately this is what modern cohabiting couples ask their family and friends to do.

    And we do. Joe and I did in May - when his sister married. We prayed for them every night for months before their wedding and used the opportunity to teach them what God intends for marriage to be.

    Unfortunately most families lack a strong patriarchal leadership to unite their families and take a loving but firm stand. If whole blocks of families were more united in faith maybe this wouldn't be the accepted sin it is today and those who choose not to attend would not be seen as isolated religious zealots. Or maybe they still would!

    Noreen's comment edifies me and gives me hope!

  9. I know most good priests will say one should not attend the wedding of a Catholic not receiving the Sacrament of Marriage, but I have not heard that if the couple is living together one should not attend. Sheesh that would eliminate a lot of weddings!

    I don't know what I would do if one of my children married outside the church, besides die a little inside. Could I turn my back? I guess it depends on the individual circumstance, but it seems a parent can do more harm by shunning than by accepting the circumstance while trying to teach. I could see a child cutting off a relationship with a parent over something like that and I don't know if I would have the courage to do it. One hopes the Holy Spirit would guide and comfort if the situation came about. Our children (collectively) do a lot of things that they feel pressure to do, even though they know they are not right.

  10. This post deserves more of my time to answer than I currently have. But, I did want to chime in to tell Noreen what a wonderful light she is for bravely sharing her story.

    We can lead more to the truths of our Church and our groom Jesus by doing what has been posted here. Love, let us not judge but pray daily for our brothers and sisters. We are all sinners and I know I fall often enough to be so very thankful for the sacrament of confession.

    God bless you ladies :-)


Thank you so much for stopping and commenting!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...