Quaeritur: My son and fiancee are Catholics, [according to me but very likely not according to them nor their friends], and [are] considering having a non-priest [a deacon, perhaps? No?] perform the ceremony in the Outer Banks, NC. We have two family members saying that as Catholics, they can’t attend the wedding because it is outside of the church. Is there some rule that is keeping them from attending the wedding?
Respondio: There is indeed a very elegant rule for avoiding sin when one finds oneself without previously accepted social commitments of that order of magnitude. Follow the five simple steps Deaconette now outlines:
- Using the card provided for the purpose, indicate the attendance of yourself and your &guest, along with the preferences of your party for chicken, salmon or a kid’s meal.
- Insert the card into the postage-affixed envelope provided for the purpose, and insert the concretion into the workings of the United States Postal Service by any convenient method.
- Visit Crate & Barrel and purchase the set of six Stacking Playa El Chapo Margarita Stems for which the bride(s) and/or groom(s) have previously indicated their partiality.
- Show up to the ceremony and/or reception, clambake, luau, hoe-down, etc. Greet the bride(s) and/or groom(s) and offer your sincere wishes for their happiness ever after. Eat the chicken, salmon or kid’s meal which you previously selected. Avoid over-indulgence in potent potables and unresolved family conflicts.
- (Optional) Do the Electric Slide, Achey-Breaky, Funky Chicken, or Macarena with your &guest.
Your Deaconette is sadly aware that there are those Catholics who, by long experience of mispronounced Latin and long acquaintance with clergymen who contribute nothing and certainly not happiness to the world, have finely honed their religion into a dull and edgeless cudgel with which to whack those who are less observant of the sanctimoniousness of sacramental marriage. Let us consider the hypocritical hypotheticals posed by the 4P:
Does a Catholic, who attends a wedding he knows to be invalid, show support for something that is patently wrong? Does his presence give the couple and their guests the impression that, “Hey, this apparently is not a big deal!”?
No. He (or she, and it often is she) gives the couple and the guests the impression that that every family has a cross to bear, even a family with an Om to bear. In some cases he or she inspire a return to Christianity by their attendance, albeit that of the anabaptist Amish sort.
Or would it, as it does in some cases, mean that the couple, who know that what they are doing is wrong, conclude that Aunt Betty still loves them and maybe is even leaving the door open for them to come to their senses and return to the practice of their faith once their marriage situation is resolved?
We must stipulate that the couple knows what they are doing is wrong according to Aunt Betty, and from there we may conclude that the couple understands that inasmuch as Aunt Betty never loved anything but the dessert display at the Our Lady of the Snows Cafeteria, an extra slice of wedding cake will sufficiently answer the res of her argument contra the couple’s alleged wrongdoing.
We must return to the other question: Why is this couple not following the laws of the Church, which their Catholic baptism obliges them to follow?
Because like most young people of their generation, they likely have observed that the Church has a highly flexible approach to following its own laws, particularly those regarding the insertion of Tab A into Slot B (or, ahem, Slot A).
Were they poorly catechized? Do they not care about their faith and hence, about their eternal destiny?
Possibly they were, and possibly they do not care. Or possibly, they consider getting married by their car mechanic on a deck overlooking Kitty Hawk to be at least as holy as getting married by Abe Vigoda on a rock overlooking a volcanic crater, which in turn they consider to be quite a bit more holy than getting married by a judgmental snob in upholstery fabric in a sanctuary in Madison overlooking the usual requisite for joy in such proceedings.
You do not have a right to cause hurt and grief on a day others look forward to with happiness because of what you think you might know about the Good Lord whose mercy endureth forever. Say that again. Now remember: It endureth long past the form and matter of one day’s celebration of love, however wrong or objectively disordered that love may seem to you.
Through the intercession of St. Ambrose St. John, who certainly must have had the patience of a Saint even greater than St. John Henry Newman to slog through The Idea of a University without mentioning in the marginalia the utter lack of a basketball program therein, may you blessed with a kids, salmon, or chicken meal, funky or otherwise. Amen.