From a reader…
My wife’s niece is getting married this coming October. I asked her what faith she is and she couldn’t even tell me. I asked her what her fiancé’s faith was and she said catholic. I told her to put off her wedding and sign up for R.C.I.A and become catholic so her and her fiancé can be married in the catholic church and receive the sacraments. I also told her I was more worried about her salvation than her wedding at this point in her life. She sobbed of course, but appreciated my honesty. The next thing you know is there is a bounty on my head by her family because I upset my wife’s niece; go figure! My wife’s niece is getting married by a non-catholic minister and I’m wondering if I should attend this invalid wedding? I’m a devout catholic and want to know from you if I should promote this type of wedding?
A number of questions emerge regarding attendance or avoidance of weddings. Each has one or two details that are different from the previous question. Each questioner is looking for advice, guidance, support.
It’s all very telling. Weddings are important, both to individuals and to society. A wedding is not just about Titus and Sempronia exchanging consent and living happily ever after. Weddings have an impact on extended families, friends, parishes, and communities. Because of their importance, they cause stress. Because of their importance, they should be done right.
Pay attention, prospective brides and grooms!
Your wedding is not “your” day. It’s a day that can bring two families together, build up faith, teach important lessons to younger friends and relatives (and maybe some older ones as well), and set the tone for a happy, healthy, Christ-centered life together.
Unfortunately, many couples getting married take their direction on marriage not from the Church, but from society, or soap operas, or celebrities, or Mitzi the Wedding Planner who has the connection to the hot air balloon guy and the manager of Pawtastic Formal Wear dealing in mini tuxes for Scamp, the groom’s Lhasa Apso/Best Man.
For many, faith takes a back seat where weddings are concerned, if it comes into the picture at all.
Indeed, speaking of picture, I think many weddings are for the photos (given that “consummation” and cohabitation are looooong distant in the rear-view mirror).
Faithful Catholics are left to make difficult decisions, knowing how important weddings are, and seeing how frivolously some people take them. The bottom line question is always: Should I attend, or should I stay home? “Should I stay or should I go?”
The answer is not always clear.
On the one hand, rigorists might say: Don’t attend anything other than a wedding between two Catholics in a Catholic church. Even then, be a bit skeptical because the couple may have been living together before marriage, might have a flutist playing a solo during the Offertory, and might serve box wine at the reception. That box wine could be a deal breaker for me, too.
On the other extreme, laxists might say: Go to every wedding of relatives and friends that you can! If third cousin Bobby is marrying his life partner Robby in a ceremony conducted by a Wiccan priestess at midnight in the old cemetery, Go! After all, it’s all about Luuuuuuvvvvv! And love is never wrong, right?
Prudence (there’s our old friend, the mother of virtues again) should be our guide in all these situations. Rather than direct an answer specifically to the question (which really can only be answered by the questioner), let’s look at the principles and see if we can take away some answers.
QUAERITUR: What is our goal in approaching these difficult wedding situations?
We want to stand up for the truth, proclaim the beauty of the Catholic position, remain firm in our own faith, and avoid causing scandal. We want the bride and the groom, if Catholic, to see their wedding as a means of their own sanctification. We want those who are lapsed from the faith to return to a regular practice of it, and those who are outside of the Church to enter Her loving embrace. We want to keep our families and friends close and supportive of each other. We want to avoid tensions and stress and rather enjoy the time of the wedding as a graced time of happiness and love. That’s a pretty tall order.
We need to honestly ask ourselves some questions:
What would it mean if I attended this wedding? What would people think (especially and primarily my children, my spouse, my close family, the bride and groom)? What would avoiding this wedding mean? What would people think/conclude? Will my actions (attending or avoiding) help to draw anyone closer to Jesus Christ? If the marriage situation is less-than ideal, is it something that can be later fixed (e.g., a baptized Catholic couple marrying outside the Church, but who later could have their marriage sanated, versus a same-sex couple who’s “marriage” can never be recognized as such)?
When I stand before the Judgment Seat will I be able to say with a clear conscience, “Yes Lord, I (attended/avoided) that wedding with a clear conscience because I was acting out of love both for you and for the couple getting married, in the hope that my actions might either bring them close to you, or at least not cause them to fall farther away from you.”
Comment moderation is ON.
Why is it that practicing Catholics have to take on the responsibility for keeping a family together, when the lapsed Catholic has already broken family bonds of religion and is demanding acceptance of living in a sinful situation? Most of the Catholics I have met who live outside the Church has other issues as well, such as using contraceptives and not intending to have children. Are we under any obligation to witness, implying agreement, to those marriages?
One of my friends discovered that her Lutheran sister getting married in the local Lutheran church was using Native America bits as part of the ceremony. I do not see how a practicing Catholic can sit through such travesties of Christian marriages, as if they agreed with such.
I draw the line well before Franzia. Standards, people.
In all seriousness, I think it is important to recognize that these weddings are going to happen whether we show up at them or not. I think Fr. Z hits the nail on the head when he asks us to consider the long-term effects of our actions rather than just the immediate message that would be sent by either attending or not attending.
Personally, I think if your cannot go and be joyful it is likely best not to go at all.
My wife’s niece is getting married this coming October. I asked her what faith she is and she couldn’t even tell me. I asked her what her fiancé’s faith was and she said catholic. I told her to….
I am not at all sure what legitimate authority the uncle is attempting to exercise here (“I told her to….”). It seems prudence may limit a response to indicating whether or not he will attend, and why. If such an exchange presents an opportunity for respectful discourse about the truth and meaning of marriage, and the opportunities for faith and grace that this sacrament can provide to properly disposed souls, then so be it. If not…conversation ends and prayer begins.
Two of the spiritual works of mercy–“Instruct the ignorant. Admonish the Sinner.” These are not options.
Is it a given that the couple is contracting an invalid marriage? It’s possible that the Catholic is getting a dispensation from form.
As for telling her to go to RCIA and become Catholic, I think the uncle has greatly overstepped his boundaries. Becoming Catholic to please someone and converting are two different things.
I’ll confess that I’ve been in the uncle’s position twice and far from being a niece or nephew by marriage first it was our only daughter (marrying a nominal Anglican) and later the older of our two sons marrying another Catholic. I let them know that I wasn’t in any way happy about their decision to marry outside the Church. But in the end I thought that refusing to go to either of those weddings would have only alienated them and would have just driven them further away from the Church than they were.
It’s been 9 years now and I’ve come to realize that our daughter is unlikely to ever return to the Church. She’s refused to have either of her sons baptized, saying she can’t lie and say that she’d be raising them Catholic.
I’m still hoping that son and daughter-in-law will opt to get their marriage validated and that if they have children they will have them baptized.
It is not surprising that people are so full of questions, when five-ninths of the Supreme Court of the United States does not even know what the word “marriage” means, and from where the meaning comes.
I join in thinking that the words “put off the wedding” are not words which will achieve the ultimate goal of helping the couple, especially the niece, grow in love and desire for the Church and Our Lord.
The wedding not happening is probably one of her worst nightmares. Upsetting her future husband, especially if her does not want to get married in the Church, is also at the bottom of her list.
To inspire her with a summary, a taster, of the beauty of Catholic teaching on marriage is probably the best that could come about. The information that RCIA exists and that she could investigate it, that it is a great faith to raise children and grow in love together in, for life… Now when it is a person who is a closer relation, then there is more opportunity.
We wait too long to talk about this stuff. Making efforts to change weddings already planned is desperation and likely futile. People need to be talking with their young children about having weddings in the Church. Bringing them to see weddings in the Church, even if there are t any in the family. Talking about qualities in a good spouse, with mention of how helpful it is to share in religious background, understanding and goals. Before a child starts dating these need to be gently grown into the picture. The secular world is working on them already, this is just keeping up.
Also in the mix:
Often, people in certain quarters seem to equate attending a wedding with support for / condoning that marriage. I find that quite odd. Marriage seems to get a lot of people in arms really quickly, so let’s use an anaology: funerals.
Attending a funeral is likewise not the same as approving the life of the deceased: you go out of respect, which can equally be for the good character traits the deceased had, or the office he or she held, or of their close family. Only the first one says something about the deceased, the others may apply to Don Vito Corleone, Barack Obama, and multitudes in between. And all those reasons are still in play even if one expects the funeral to contain goofy elements (not uncommon, I’ve been told… and yes, that was irony). Basically the only valid excuse not to attend a funeral one would consider oneself otherwise duty-bound to attend is that the goofiness would be so bad that keeping a straight face would be impossible.
Now back to marriage. While it may seem to be about ‘love’ front, back and centre, we all know that is merely the sauce we put on the event in our collective derangement. It’s also about other elements.
For starters, people who marry generally formalize an existing situation – in more senses than one, these days. In the olden days of arranged marriages or where the spouses barely knew each other, they formalized promises to create a situation that would likely not properly form for months if not years (the marriage might be consummated soon enough, but the promise to stick to each other, to truely form a bond, that takes time). Either way, the key was and is the formalization.
So attending a wedding is – among other things – also about the institution, an institution we generally regard as a great good. So any marriage that conforms to natural law, would have a reason to attend based on that. Now – rightly, in my mind – there are some features possible that would make a marriage invalid in terms of canon law, such as a Catholic messing around too much with the form. Now one has to weigh the importance of the institution of marriage in general against the importance of the institution for those persons. They may not be validly married in the eyes of the Church, but they will obviously disagree, and if their union breaks, that is mostly likely a big negative. Some support could be conceivable, and that might include attending the cermony.
Now the argument above is in a sense akin to the point about the character of the deceased: maybe the boxes can be checked, maybe not. Rarely are the defects such that one would stay away completely (assuming it’s one man and one woman…). But now for the others:
Maybe the marriage itself is like a thorn in your flesh. Maybe you had an eye on the bride in years past. Maybe the marriage is no marriage at all. Yet you could still consider yourself bound to attend. Out of respect for the others present (cue the worried mother of the bride who worries sick that if some siblings don’t attend, the family row will be cemented for a generation), out of respect for or deference to the position of one of the spouses (suppose a major donor of the good cause you’re raising funds for gets married. You don’t like anything about the marriage one bit, but the donations would do objective good…) or even for your own advancement. Or as a peace offering to the spouses, signalling that you don’t want to break an important relation.
Some of these reasons are better than others, but all of them could potentially outweigh in a legitimate way the benefits of not attending, also depending on the degree of goofiness one could expect, and if one judges one’s protest to have any potential for good at all.
But the general theme of all those points is that attendance doesn’t necessarily mean approval, nether of the ceremony nor the relation. It simply means that your disapproval, if any, is outweighed by other factors, of which there can be many. We all know of people attending weddings or funerals of which we know that they probably would have preferred to skip the occasion for whatever reason. Yet we are generally glad that they did, as the alternative often makes things worse. Not every situation is a place to make a stand, not every hill one to die on. And other people’s marriages tend to be worse places than most.
It would be a good thing if we recaptured that realization. “What other people think of my action” is a kind of argument that we can do without: the assumption that even if one is there merely for decorum’s sake, that is a decent thing to do, should return. Because sometimes it’s better to preserve some decorum that invite the umpteenth installment of the culture wars – even if one is right on the merits.
Two of the spiritual works of mercy–“Instruct the ignorant. Admonish the Sinner.” These are not options.
They’re not black and white either. These are two spiritual works of mercy require a significant amount of prudence, which, unfortunately many “devout” Catholics lack, and end up doing more harm than good.
I suspect that even John the Baptist picked his battles.
Phil_NL – Attending any type of Christian marriage is essentially acting in the office of Christian witness to that marriage. Granted, there are usually tons more than two witnesses present; but potentially every person in attendance is a witness that the marriage took place validly.
“If you know any reason why this marriage should not take place….” was asking the witnesses to stop the wedding if they knew of any impediment to that Christian wedding. Attending and remaining silent was swearing that the wedding was entirely valid and licit, as far as you personally knew.
So yes, attending a wedding in the Christian or English/American common law tradition is saying that you do approve of the legality of the wedding, under both religious and civil law. That’s why people attend. That’s why couples ask people to attend. They are their oathsworn witnesses if you need them later on, to prove that you got married and that everything was okay. Obviously it’s better to have close family and friends, since presumably you’ll be able to get hold of them later.
Now, obviously a Jewish or Hindu or Wiccan wedding has entirely different theoretical duties for attendees. But most of us are not being asked to those weddings.
APX, I truly doubt that devout Catholics have done more harm in speaking or attempting to teach someone who has fallen away the Truth. The real damage are those who never speak, always compromise–the very reason why ssm passed.
We plant seeds by speaking the truth in kindness and real love. Too many people want a sentimental love, not real, tough love, and guess what, they become unable to see the truth after a while. If your child is going to put his hand in the fire, do you not stop him? We are talking about people losing their immortal souls for want of one person willing to teach Catholic teaching.
Those who do not speak fall themselves into fear, or a lack of trust in God’s mercy, which needs to be shared, not ignored.
What we all need are clear teachings on matrimony, the sacrament which underpins all society, and protects a real wife and children.
Honestly, if there were more open and forthright Catholics, we would have the pagan world we have today.
sorry the NOT is missing–we would not have the pagan world we have today… a world devoid of God and created by laxity and fear.
Of my seven children, all raised Catholic, only 3 have been married in the church. With 3 others who were married as “protestants”, we threw our faith under the bus, as they say and attended. When the last one elected to marry in an evangelical service we drew the line politely and gently as we could, explaining why we could no longer do this. all of the kids were baptised as Catholics.
Its a tough decision to make. But from now on no more weddings with Catholics in protestant services. protestant to protestant is not a problem if we just attend but not participate. at least thats what my FSSP priest has explained to me.
While the role of witnesses in the common law tradition is stronger than in areas which do not have them, let’s not kid ourselves: for starters, that function ceased long ago. There’s paperwork to that effect, both from the civil law and the canonical law perspective. Those who are not explicitly asked to sign as witnesses aren’t needed as such.
Secondly, even if you do witness it in the sense that you might be called to give evidence, the evidence in question is that a ceremony took place. Not that it was lawful in any sense, and certainly not that you approved of the proceedings. To put it bluntly, many witnesses of murder don’t approve of the proceedings either. Or of executions, for that matter.
Thirdly, if asked for impediments, one has to see that in the light of the proceedings. In a civil ceremony, or a protestant one, that one of the spouses is a divorcee is not an impediment. In a Catholic wedding it is. If the wedding is plain invalid to begin with, there is no impediment, as there’s no wedding in the eyes of the Church!
So do we really need to stand up and say in response to this question: “Well, dear sirs, if this was a proper Catholic wedding Mass, I’d have a long list of impediments, but given the fact your lutheran proceedings with one Catholic are defective to the point of being invalid, I only make my point here so I won’t be regarded as giving my approval to this non-union. By the way, my heartfelt congratulations to bride and groom!”
So, I maintain: attendance does not equate to approval. Only to the fact that your disapproval is outweighed by other factors. Sometimes there will be none of those and you better stay away, oftentimes there will be many.
What Phil_NL said.
As for telling her to go to RCIA and become Catholic, I think the uncle has greatly overstepped his boundaries.
If it were only about the invalidity – “you know, he’s Catholic, and for Catholics, a marriage that is not a Catholic marriage is not a marriage at all” – this would still be in theory conceivable (even though in practice, as well, problematic). But “convert to Catholicism so that you can marry and receive the Sacraments?
Catholics can get a dispensation to marry non-Catholics. And as for the Sacraments: though I don’t deny that the desire will to receive the Sacraments are in practice quite important for Catholics and would-be Catholics (Peter Seewald, or Martin Mosebach, one of the two, once said: “there was a time in my life when I did not believe in God; but I never ceased to believe in the Real Presence”), still in conversion, you should have a belief behind it that what the Church teaches is true, right?
(Though I admit that in the traditional form, this faith would be demanded from, not so much presented to, the Church: “What do you want from the Church?” – “Faith!” – “And what good is Faith for you?” “For eternal life!”)
In fact, we should confine the old adage “who is silent is taken as consenting” into a box and put a sign on it: “only to be opened and used with much caution”.
In the original, it carried an important restriction in any case: viz., “where speaking out is a duty”.
I asked her what her fiancé’s faith was and she said catholic. I told her to…
Sorry, but I think the questioner went about this in the wrong order, and while I may not agree with it, I understand the vilification. After determining that the fiancé is Catholic (presumably non-practicing, from the context), the next step should have been to determine whether he could, in good conscience, go to the wedding. If so, then shut up or, at most, urge them to get a dispensation from form so that the wedding is valid. If not, then lovingly and in a spirit of fraternal correction, explain why he could not go to the wedding and let them know that if these issues were addressed, he would be more than delighted to come, but in the meantime he would be praying for them.
[Instruction of the ignorant and admonishment of the sinner] are two spiritual works of mercy require a significant amount of prudence, which, unfortunately many “devout” Catholics lack, and end up doing more harm than good.
I’d add that staying-away has little to do with “instructing the ignorant”, in any case. One might (though I wouldn’t think this in practice is the question; but then there are people with more strict consciences than mine) think of “not cooperating in sin oneself”. Or perhaps of “admonishing the sinner” – though setting pathetic actions instead of just saying the thing will probably be counterproductive.
Instructing the ignorant, in any case, means seeing that someone does not know something and therefore telling him. (It typically begins with: “Sorry, don’t take offense, but what you just said is nonsense. You know, the way it actually is is like that:”, etc. – [Being half-serious.])
I agree with SuperTradMum! Why are we so always concerned about offending people, even family, when it comes to stand up to defending the truth of Jesus Christ and his Church. We are called to proclaim the truth for the salvation of souls, and this should especially be the case for our own family. Our heart will not be converted unless we are convicted of our sin and have contrition along with repentance. Our avoidance of any uncomfortable confrontation at all expense is cowardly. I am not saying we have to pound people over the head constantly, however, we have to face sin directly, especially mortal sin. We are doing no favors to an individual in mortal sin by keeping silent. A quote from the encyclical SAPIENTIAE CHRISTIANAE of Pope Leo XIII “To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind.” Now, the enemy is not the person, but the sin, which again goes against the truth of Jesus Christ.
As Fr. Z recasts the issue – “What is our goal in approaching these difficult wedding situations?”
To begin – in the United States a least, attendees at a wedding ceremony are not official witnesses in the legal sense (only two are required and they usually are the maid of honor and the best man). The larger question is – Does our attendance imply assent to non-Catholic beliefs concerning marriage and thus undemine the Sacrament of Martimony?
The Chuch teaches that the Sacrament of Martimony, validly intended and performed, is an indissoluble lifetime commitment. Protestants do not believe that marriage is a Sacrament and freely allow divorce. Matters get somewhat tricky because of the rebuttable presumption of validity given to non- Catholic weddings in the annulment process. The Church does this in an abundance of caution in the event that evidence exists that the intent of the non-Catholic couple actually accorded with the intent required for the Sacrament (in actual practice probably a rare occurrance). If the questioner believes his attendance in fact supports the Protestant position and undermines the Sacrament, then it is probably to his soul’s advantage that he not attend. (Other more important issues requiring non-attendance certainly come into play if the ceremony to be conducted is pagan or, God forbid, Satanist.)
I’m with PHIL_NL and Imrahil. One has to use prudence in these situations and as Father stated, ask ourselves if our actions will our actions draw anyone closer to Christ.
My family is Catholic, however I’m the only one who seriously practices. Growing up it was understood between my sister and I that we would stand as each other’s maid or matron of honor. When I got married last year she was my maid of honor. This year is her turn to get married and she asked me to be her matron of honor. There’s a problem though: she’s marrying a non-Catholic and they decided to get married in a Protestant church.
I advised her to get a dispensation and to her credit she went to the local priest to discuss that. But she decided not to get it and when she told me why the heartbreaking truth came out: she intends to leave the Church. I in turn discussed the situation with my pastor and I went back and told her I could not be her matron of honor. The good news is we are still on good terms.
While there’s no way I could stand as my sister’s matron of honor, my pastor left whether or not to attend the wedding to my discretion. After considering my family culture, my relationship with my sister, and her feelings towards the Church, I decided I will attend. She is not angry with the Church at all; her issues are intellectual in nature. My fear is if I don’t attend she could become angry and that would make it very hard for her to consider returning to the Church in the future. My not standing as matron of honor is a strong enough message to her and my family that I don’t approve of her decision to leave the Church. My mother called and we talked for an hour about it and she still doesn’t really get why I won’t do this for my sister (although she accepts it). Boycotting the wedding will drive people away from the Church in this case so I will attend and make the best of it. Meanwhile I pray everyday that the Holy Spirit will soften her and her fiance’s heart and they will come back to Holy Mother Church. I ask you to do the same.
Different situations will call for different actions. I prayed and sought counsel and made the best decision I could for my particular set of circumstances. The letter writer should’ve used more prudence in his actions although it’s not too late for that. Remember that for better or for worse you are the face of Christ *and* the face of the Church to your family and friends outside of it. Everything you say and do can and will be used to justify their joining or staying out of it.
“She is not angry with the Church at all; her issues are intellectual in nature.”
Actually, since the Catholic Church is the only rational Church (although, people in the Church do not always act rationally!), I would assert that her issues may seem intellectual, but they are based on a misunderstanding of Catholicism. This is where the Spiritual Works of Mercy, Instructing the Ignorant and Counseling the Doubtful, come into play. I can’t tell, but from the fact that your sister is marrying in a Protestant church, it seems plausible that she has accepted some form of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fides. These are issues that are tough to deal with once a person is embedded in a Protestant social structure, because there is so much reinforcement, but it can be done, if you know how to develop clear arguments as to why these positions are untenable. If you want some advice on how to explain why these positions are illogical, let me know.
Everyone including my brother remembers the wedding that I did not attend. I faced a similar situation and told him that I would not and could not attend. Everyone also remembers the 3 month divorce and the abuse I received from family up until then for not supporting my brother.
There is very little to lose by sticking with your principles.
“My fear is if I don’t attend she could become angry and that would make it very hard for her to consider returning to the Church in the future.”
Your sister has already told you point blank that she cares so little for the Church that she plans to leave. I would take her words to you at face value. It would be more, not less likely that she returns if, and only if you stand up for your principles. She is counting on this ‘accommodation’, which really works out for her in having someone closer to the church but still having you as a witness. I would not go – state my reasoning and go from there.
Sorry to hear that, Ben Kenobi. Did they apologise to you after the divorce or did they just stop criticising you?
Ben Kenobi, you do not understand my family culture. We are Hispanic. It is a HUGE DEAL that I’m not standing as my sister’s matron of honor. I’m not even a bridesmaid. I’m going as an ordinary guest to my SISTER’S wedding, as if I were some distant relation or an acquaintance. Not going to her wedding would excommunicate me from the family indefinitely. Given that most of my family has left the Church and many of them support the abomination that is so-called “same-sex marriage”, I forsee in the future having to stand my ground against my family over graver issues. Essentially, I’m choosing the hill I’ll die on. It’s not gonna be this one.
The Masked Chicken, thank you for the offer and you’re right that she misunderstands the Catholic faith. However saying that she accepts Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide would give her more credit in thinking about these things than she’s ever shown in the past. I’m afraid her reasons are more banal than that. She hasn’t said as much but I strongly suspect that her disagreements with the Church are over the so-called pelvic issues, mainly contraception and homosexuality. She’s been thoroughly indoctrinated into the secular worldview and short of constant prayer on her behalf I don’t know how else to reach her.
“She’s been thoroughly indoctrinated into the secular worldview and short of constant prayer on her behalf I don’t know how else to reach her.”
Well, you could ask her who gave her the right to decide moral matters that only God has the right to decide? You could ask her if she thought that gravity were a good idea. If not, why doesn’t she float away? The idea is to get her to understand that there are Natural Laws, like gravity, and you ignore them at your peril. No doubt, she would argue that if God didn’t want people to make the Pill, then He wouldn’t have given humans brains, but, then, you can fight back with, “Well, if God didn’t want bank robberies, he wouldn’t have given humans brains…” I am so starting a sister fight. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should (to quote Jurassic Park). The reason The Pill is wrong is for the same reasons that robbing a bank is wrong – you are stealing something that someone else owns. God owns a woman’s fertility, not the woman. The Pill prevents the access to fertility that should exist. In addition, it would be really revealing to her to actually research the history of thought on The Pill. It is froth with really bad thinking and rationalizations.
Janet Smith has a nice book – Why Humanae Vitae Was Correct, which I highly recommend. She, also, has a Humanae Vitae Reader.
It is one thing to instruct, quite another to lecture and condemn in a tone of self-righteousness. I agree with APX that there are far too many Catholics who believe themselves in a position to pass judgement and so approach these matters with an attitude of overbearing confrontation. As has already been suggested there is a difference between a loving concerned approach and that of aggression which would never entice the niece to explore our faith.
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A friend of mine had to ask a local priest his opinion of this just the other day. The extended family is made up of all fallen away Catholics and this was the son of one, not raised in the faith. The “wedding” was only a civil ceremony.
A great quote from this good priest— “You cannot bless what is not holy.” If one goes, he said, one is a witness. Period.