On February 16, 2010, a Korean who comes from a Born Again Christian family married a Filipina who grew up in a Catholic family. That wedding was their second; their first was a simple civil wedding held in the city hall, with other couples who also exchanged “I do’s” on February 3.
Their second wedding “had to be” in a Catholic church, as it was one of the Filipina family’s requests, but the problem was that the Korean isn’t Catholic, and the Catholic church won’t allow a baptized Catholic to have a Catholic wedding ceremony in a Catholic church with a non-Catholic Christian. (Got it?)
To make the long (and redundant) story short, the Korean, my husband, agreed to undergo all of the sacraments (before marriage) necessary to convert to Catholicism: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Communion and Confession. Now you might think it was that easy, but it wasn’t an easy decision to make. First, most of his family members are devout Born Again Christians. His parents hold Bible Studies in their home every month. Some of his uncles and cousins are pastors. He himself ALMOST became a pastor! (I can’t imagine my husband being a pastor!) If his parents had found out that he converted to another religion, he would have been doomed! Second, the requirements were sooooo tedious. The sacraments were all right. I am a baptized Catholic, so I know the importance of those sacraments, and I, as well as my husband, DO respect them… but the interview and the seminar? Ugh! (God, forgive me for what I’m about to say.) It wasn’t only my husband who detested the interview and seminar… I didn’t like them, too. We couldn’t understand why we had to be asked if we’ve already made love and HOW we did it! (I’m not making this up.)
Wasn’t it supposed to be an interview and seminar about Catholic faith or about what a Catholic couple should do to keep their marriage “sacred”, that for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, til death do them part? Why did I have to be asked if I was a virgin, and when I told them the truth, they wouldn’t believe it, because “most of the women” they have asked admitted that they have engaged in premarital sex. Oh yeah, I got it… it’s against Catholic norms to commit fornication. I’m proud to say my husband and I haven’t done that before we exchanged vows, but what if we did, for example? Would they have disapproved of our church wedding which was already scheduled? Of course, they wouldn’t, because all of the couples whom they have interviewed and met in their seminars, virgin or not, sexually active or not, ended up getting married in Catholic church. So what’s the point of asking VERY personal questions that even our parents would dare not ask?
The entire interview and seminar were a total discomfort, being interrogated and taught about sex as if we were adolescents in a sex education class! I noticed my husband squirming with embarrassment in his chair. He was 33 that time, and he probably knew more about sex than the couple interviewing and giving us the seminar. I was praying for a break. The couple’s describing to us what they do in bed that has kept their marriage happy all these years was just toooooo much to bear. They are in their 50’s, for Pete’s sake! Who cares how many times they used to do “it” when they were in their honeymoon stage? Who wants to know what they think about using love-making gadgets, and whether or not it’s a sin to use them?
Finally, Heaven heard my plea! The couple noticed that my husband was starting to doze off, so they gave us 15 minutes of freedom. (I think my husband made the “dozing off” obvious on purpose.) My husband went out to smoke, but I stayed in the seminar room, because I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. The couple asked me if he was all right. Thank God for honesty, I told them he wasn’t, and it would be nicer if they refrain from lecturing us about sex, because Koreans don’t like being asked very personal questions, especially discussing their personal lives with strangers. Good thing they ended the “sex talk”; made me recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed, and told me to teach my husband those, too, since he has now embraced Catholic faith; then they discussed the difference between a better half and a bitter half; instead of torturing us the whole day, they let us out after we ordered lunch from Jollibee and paid for the food.
I have always dreamt of having a Catholic church wedding since I was a young lady, but let me tell you this… if you are a baptized Catholic hoping to marry a non-Catholic inside a Catholic church, there is another way besides asking or allowing your spouse to covert to Catholicism.
As stated in a column from the Catholic Exchange, Can Non-Catholics Receive the Catholic Sacrament of Matrimony?
..the Church does not as a rule permit marriages between Catholics and the unbaptized. But the diocesan bishop may, if he sees fit, grant a dispensation to permit such a wedding to be celebrated in the Catholic Church. The Church’s main concern will always be for the faith of the Catholic party to the marriage; but if there is no obvious, well-founded fear that the Catholic will be prevented from practicing his faith, or will leave the Church through indifference, the bishop will ordinarily allow it to take place.
Before my husband’s (Catholic) baptism, we met with a priest and asked him for advice. He told us that we could send the bishop a letter to ask permission to have a valid non-sacramental marriage in a Catholic church, without having my husband convert to Catholicism, but that would take time.
My husband’s uncle, a pastor, suggested that we have a Christian wedding outside the Catholic church, but my family didn’t want that… and so my husband did everything he could to give me the kind of wedding my family and I wanted… even when he had to attend that dreadful interview and seminar with me.
- Travails of Marriage (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- Our Love Story (A Scrapbook) (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- Our First Church Wedding Anniversary (chrissantosra.wordpress.com)
- 40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #12 Catholic Marriage (deaconcast.com)
- Catholic, or catholic? Religious History of My Ancestors (claudettemoran.wordpress.com)
- “Do I Need an Annulment?” and other common questions about divorce and remarriage (patrickmadrid.com)