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3 Questions on marriage and what the Catholic Church requires


Mercy McNab | Aleteia

Katrina Fernandez - published on 01/25/18

Our sacraments are unique and meaningful, which is why sometimes they seem like "a lot of work."

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Hi, Katrina,

I married my non-Catholic husband in the Catholic Church. He received a dispensation with the help of our church’s priest who married us. We have raised our girls as Catholics and we attend Mass every Sunday, except if someone has a cold, etc. I am learning more about our faith and now I am wondering if it is okay for me to receive communion? My husband only attends Mass with us on certain days. He knows he cannot receive communion, so that is not an issue.

Thank you.



Dear Inquiring,

I think it’s wonderful that you desire to continue to grow in faith and raise your children in the Church. You’re also blessed to have a supportive husband who attends Mass with you, even if it’s only infrequently right now. Your caution in the matter also illustrates a deeper affection for the Eucharist and a desire to protect it.  

Your question is a common one and one that could probably be cleared up quite quickly with a call to your parish priest. Call him today and make an appointment where you can cover over the specifics of your situation.  

I am not a canon lawyer and in your short email don’t have enough information to properly give your question the answer it deserves. If you were married in the Church and received a dispensation from your priest it sounds like there shouldn’t be anything impeding you from reception of the Eucharist, but you always want to make 100 percent sure first.  

Dear Katrina,

When the pope married that couple on the plane the other day I got to thinking about some of my siblings who have never been married in the Church. What do they need to do to receive the sacrament of Matrimony?




Dear Curious,

I think it’s a wonderful witness to the sacrament of Marriage any time a couple strongly desires to have their civil union blessed by a priest. There are any number of reasons why married couples elected to not get married in a Church, from a earthquake or natural disaster disrupting plans (as the case of the flight attendants) to the couple’s not being Catholic at the time of the nuptials and converting later.  

In order for your siblings to have their marriage convalidated, the technical term, they need to make an appointment with their priest to discuss the details of their specific situation. From the there the priest may advise a tribunal process, especially if there were marriages prior. Before your meeting it would be helpful to your siblings to have their marriage certificate/license and any Church documents like baptismal records on hand.  

Depending on each sibling’s situation the priest should be able to guide each through the process. Regardless of why couples marry outside the Church and later seek a Church wedding, the benefits of convalidation are enormous: peace of heart, oneness with the Church, reception of the sacrament of Matrimony and God’s special blessing upon the marriage. It can also be a joyous time of celebration and some couples even opt for an intimate celebration after the ceremony.  

Dear Katrina,

After seeing the articles about the pope blessing the marriage of the two flight attendants it really makes me wonder if we don’t make the sacraments too difficult to obtain.  I’ve had numerous friends delay baptisms because of the hoops they had to jump through and my own marriage was a civil one because the parish wanted us to wait 6 months. I know preparation is important but I think bringing people into the Church is more important that an imposed timeline. Maybe I’m way off, but what do you think?   

Too Many Hoops


Dear Hoops,  

I realize that it can seem that way. When you are anxious to wed I imagine it’s frustrating to be told to wait six months or that a baptism has to be delayed for some unforeseen reason. But we have to trust that theses “hoops” as you call them are meant to ensure that we fully understand the gravity of each situation. This intentional slowing down forces us to carefully consider the sacrament we are about to undertake.  

My own son’s baptism was delayed for several months because of the irregularity of my marriage and the fact that I wasn’t a full member of the Church. At the time I was going through RCIA. I had to understand that the delay wasn’t meant as a punishment but as the necessary precautions in place to demonstrate that I had 100 percent fully committed to raising my son a Roman Catholic.  

The sacraments and our belief in them are one of the things that makes us uniquely Catholic and for that reason we should hold them dear.   

I agree with you that it is important to bring people to the Church but we have a huge responsibility to make sure we bring people to the Church fully informed. Decisions, vows, and promises made without full knowledge and consent make them all the more harder to fulfill. The hoops are put in place to guide us and help us avoid confusion and possible pain later on.

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