Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Whoa, whoa, whoa ... let's not say something we'll be sorry for about marrying nonCatholics -- Now Updated Thrice!

My basic premise, which I advert to in this audio segment is that, more often than not, mixed marriages (i.e., when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic) are a recipe for serious problems down the road in that marriage. My advice to Catholic parents is, teach your children well the importance of finding a devoutly Catholic spouse. Eventually, if you haven't taught them this maxim and they, as a result, do not act on it, you will very likely see problems springing up in your extended family due to your sons and daughters being, in a certain sense, unequally yoked with non-Catholics. Word to the wise.
Patrick, Patrick, Patrick ... whatever happened to "be not afraid?"

To living your faith fully and trusting to God's plan?

I'm shaking my head in sorrow over such a fine man falling prey to this thinking.

Let me just reiterate something I've said many a time.
(And seriously, check out the comments on that post.)

If my husband had only dated Catholics I might still be a single agnostic wondering "what's it all about" as I wandered looking for my soul mate. It took marriage to this good man and God's use of our children to bring me to knowledge of Him and then of His Bride, the Church.

For all any single Catholic knows, God's been waiting for you to open your eyes to the fact that your true love is just waiting for conversion in addition to meeting their soul mate.

Also, Jesus did not tell us to stay in our own little group, only marrying people who were just like us. As in the parable of the yeast (now you've done it ... I'm actually driven to quoting scripture):
He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened." (Matthew 13:33)
As anyone who bakes knows, this means he's telling us to mix in, mingle, and get out there. Not to conform. But to be the change that we wish to see in the world. Wanna see people converted? What better way than to marry the love of your life, let your example of living your Catholic faith open their eyes, and then raising a batch of Catholic kids?

Mmmm, nothing's better.

So know and love your faith and then ... get out there ready to fulfill your marriage vocation by marrying the person that God created just for you ... and be not afraid of their faith.

Someone brought up the idea of who my kids should date, not how my experience turned out.

As it happens, Hannah is dating a dating a young man who has thoroughly examined his Jewish heritage. I must say that as someone who understands his faith well, this young man understands the essence of Catholic thinking about relationship and God much better than many practicing Catholics I know. Well, except for the whole true core ... Jesus Christ. However, these things often come with time and conversation, which he and Hannah have frequently about their respective faiths and how they live it in everyday life. Each has a better understanding of how the other's relationship with God works in terms of their faith.

I would rather judge someone from the value of their soul, of their character, of the person they are and have potential to be than to put it off on checking off a box about their religion.

Also, no matter what happens down the road, I trust my children to make the right choices. I can't live their lives for them. They are not God's grandchildren, they are his children. We can try to give them guidance and protect them. However, as young adults their walk at this time of their life is going to be more with His guidance than Tom's and mine. I am content for it to be so in this aspect of life as well as those that are more secular.

Jason, who I like and admire, brings up a partial quote from the Catechism about mixed marriages. I would like to include the entire section that addresses this topic. (Ok, see? Now I'm having to quote the Catechism. Yep. All the big guns ...)
Mixed marriages and disparity of cult

1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a nonbaptized person) requires even greater circumspection.

1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.

1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority.135 In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage.136 This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church.137

1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple's obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them.

1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband."138 It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith.139 Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.
What I absolutely love about this is the wisdom of cautioning what may cause problems within a marriage due to spouses professing different faiths. However, notice that last bit ... let me help ya out; here it is again:
In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband."138 It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith.139 Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.
Uh huh.

What I've been saying.

Albeit the Catechism, as one would expect, says it much more elegantly.

Reread it and think of St. Monica, married to an unbeliever, daughter-in-law to an unbeliever, mother to a son who fell away from the Church. Yes she suffered. Such is the fate of Christians who are really living their vocations, one way or another. It is how we become saints. Let us look at her legacy. Great things, great gifts to us who follow, and all because she trusted God and worked as if it were up to her alone as she followed Augustine from place to place.

I'll say it again, step out in faith and hope with God and "be not afraid."

Brad wrote to give me the link to his story about dating a Mormon ... which I think is interesting because it typifies both the benefits and detriments to such a relationship. Again, what I think this shows more than anything is that nothing is set in stone and nothing is black and white, especially when one takes the positive and negative overall. Thanks Brad!

My husband has been listening and reading with bemusement all the comments for and against.

He says for him the definitive argument against Catholic exclusivity is the fact that Catholics have the same divorce rate, the same problem rate as every other faith system. Period.

Don't try the trump that these are not "faithful Catholics" either because we both remember vividly an article that specifically examined really faithful, well prepared Catholics married to others who were equally faithful and well prepared. And who had the same divorce rate as everyone else. (I just wish we had an equally vivid recollection of where we saw it ... maybe Crisis magazine?)

At any rate, his point is that if all these arguments were true then those numbers would be much, much lower.

I pointed out that we began by talking about dating nonCatholics. He responded that marriage was put on the table by everyone and, therefore, divorce comes into play because that is the logical measure of a marriage.

In his view, every other argument is a straw man.

There is no golden bullet. It comes down to the people themselves and not being afraid of every little thing. (I am quoting Tom here.)

I completely missed until now the discussion over this at Faith and Family Live, where Lisa Hendey (who I have met and is just as charming and wonderful in person as she seems on her blog, yes indeed!) was also discussing this. I was interested to read the comments (57 of them ... this is indeed a hot issue) from both sides. A gentle and mostly agreeable crowd ... do go check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Ok, so you are saying that a Catholic might bring a non-Catholic to the one true faith through dating and marriage. Fair enough. That's certainly possible, and wonderful when it happens. But, it seems like this is something that needs discussing and deciding BEFORE making a lifelong commitment to each other. If the person is not interested in listening to reason coming from your lips, then you are going to have problems with them. If you can't both get on the same page about religion, will you be able to get on the same page about having kids, where they should go to school, whether spanking is ok, etc?