Are beach weddings a sign of the future?

Between 2000 and 2012 matrimony in Catholic churches dropped by 40 percent

jax_beach_weddingThe following comes from a July 28 story on

Long-time GetReligion readers, do you remember that typology that a wise, older priest — a veteran of life inside the DC Beltway — gave me a few years ago that proposed that there are essentially four kinds of American Catholic voters?

It went something like this (amended a bit):

* Ex-Catholics. Solid for the Democrats. GOP has no chance (unless these ex-Catholics have converted, as many have, to conservative Protestant flocks)

* Cultural Catholics who may go to church a few times a year. This may be an undecided voter — check out that classic Atlantic Monthly tribes of American religion piece — depending on what is happening with the economy, foreign policy, etc. Leans to Democrats.

* Sunday-morning American Catholics. This voter is a regular in the pew and may even play some leadership role in the parish. This is the Catholic voter that is really up for grabs, the true swing voter that the candidates are after.

* The “sweats the details” Catholic who goes to confession. Is active in the full sacramental life of the parish and almost always backs the Vatican on matters of faith and practice. This is where the GOP has made its big gains in recent decades, but this is a very small slice of the American Catholic pie.

Now, I know that this will be hard, but try to strip the political content out of that typology (note, if you will, that I did not click the “politics” box in the categories list). Focus on the issues of religious discipline and practice of the ancient sacraments of an ancient church.

Think about the sacrament of marriage.

If journalists — on the Godbeat or otherwise — needed more evidence that there are multiple American Catholic churches at the moment, all they need to do is dig into the following piece from The Atlantic Monthly that focuses on a crucial piece of demographics and, thus, doctrine.

The headline is bland, from the point of view of most journalists:

The Spiritual Significance of a Traditional Church Wedding

But the opening of the piece gets down to business really quick:

It’s an iconic image: the white dress, the church bells, the priest, the traditional vows repeated by an earnest, fresh-faced couple. Many elements of the archetypical American wedding echo the formality and traditions of the country’s largest single religious tradition, Roman Catholicism. But Catholic weddings themselves are becoming rarer and rarer.

In 1970, there were roughly 426,000 Catholic weddings, accounting for 20 percent of all marriages in the United States that year. Beginning in 1970, however, Catholic marriages went into decades of steady decline, until the turn of the new century—when that decline started to become precipitous: Between 2000 and 2012, Church weddings dropped by 40 percent, according to new data from the Official Catholic Directory. Given other demographic trends in the denomination, this pattern is question-raising: As of 2012, there were an estimated 76.7 million Catholics in the United States, a number that has been growing for at least four decades.

So Catholic numbers up, sort of. But crucial Catholic numbers down, in terms of vocations to religious life (and priesthood), child-birth rates and marriages.

This article asks a logical question:

If there are so many American Catholics, why aren’t they getting married?

Read on.

… (E)ven though marriage has been a major reason why adults have joined the Church in the past, it’s becoming less so. Between 2000 and 2012, adult baptisms declined by nearly 50 percent, which, Gray said, probably has something to do with the declining rates of marriage.

So why are couples choosing to get married outside of the Church? For one thing, there might be a lack of awareness about the specific doctrinal importance the Church places on marriage. “More people are choosing to get married in country clubs and at the beach,” said Gray. “A lot of people are unaware of the importance of marriage and the place it has in Church sacramental life … Younger Catholics are probably not going to have a deep awareness about the sacrament of marriage, even if they self-identify as Catholic and [have] religious beliefs.”

So we are talking primarily about Catholics in camps one and two, right? We might even be talking about children of families in camp three. Why?

There is one big word missing from this piece. Right, I mean other than that nasty old word “sin.”

It is true that today’s average marrying age in America happens to coincide with a time of life when people have historically been less religiously active: the transition period between moving out of your parents’ house and starting a household of your own. Since that transition period between moving out and getting married is getting longer, it makes sense that young people are spending more time away from church. And in the past, a lot of people who stopped attending church during this time eventually went back. …

(I)t’s entirely possible that today’s young non-church-goers might return to the pews in a few years, just as their hippy parents did before them. But it’s also possible that beach weddings are an early sign of a generational shift among religious Americans, with more and more people finding meaning beyond the walls and words of a church….

To read the original posting, click here.




  1. Linda Maria says

    So many Catholic young people have not been taught their Faith and Morals, at all, since Vatican II! They are fed a babyish, degraded, dumbed-down, disrespectful, “hippie-style,” secularized “Catholic “pop” religion,” also allowed and encouraged by the Pope, at World Youth Day events! And so many of these kids have no concept at all– of sin and of virtue and holiness—- and of even basic “right” and “wrong,” or the importance of developing a proper moral conscience!! They also have not been taught good manners, mature social skills, nor respect for sacred and beautiful traditions of the Church, the Catholic home and family, or of society! All they know– is evil and rebellion, since the diabolic 1960’s!! A Wedding in the Church, is for ADULTS, who are good, practicing Catholics, ready for a SERIOUS Catholic Sacrament of Holy Matrimony!! It is NOT a silly, teen-age beach party, with your “shack-up” girlfriend, and everyone wearing flip-flops, ugly, cut-off jeans, and horrid t-shirts with violent, filthy, rock “music” or dope logos– plus, degrading tattoos and body piercings! How low can you go??

    • Linda Maria, I think I love you. You said it ALL and then some. God bless you for your clarity and ability to tell it how it is!

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says

        Linda Maria and Barbara,

        Also observe the almost complete abandonment of modesty at these beach party weddings!

        May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
        Viva Cristo Rey!
        Yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
        Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc

    • Linda Maria “said it all” so well. When was the last time you heard any clear teachings on the Faith…at Church, at RCIA, at schools, etc…????? And we wonder why marriage is in a downward spiral…And unfortunately, not just marriage!

  2. Life Lady says

    We parents may have done everything right to raise good children faithful to the Church, but once they reach adulthood they make their own decisions. I can speak for the argument that faithfully married Catholic couples will likely raise children who will follow their example and marry other people from like couples. I had the misfortune of coming from a divorced couple and the impact has stretched into the third generation. Marriage means so much more than what the dominant culture presents. The Church’s efforts to push back on that should be supported by couples in the pews, no matter where they sit. Couples on the edge of their seats, who sprint out of their places as soon as they have done their “annual” obligation must truly commit to the Church and to their marriages. Their children and future generations will benefit, and the Church (without question) will be strengthened with faithful couples raising faithful children.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says

      I can remember my mom and dad (dad was not yet a Catholic at that time), as we approached St. Rose of Lima, Maywood, CA, remarking about the parents who seemed to be just dropping their kids off and then going on.

      They said to each other and within our easy hearing “why do they even bother, if they just take their kids and don’t go with them, they will not continue when they are adults” How true they were!

      I thank God for my parents every time I can remember to do so.

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  3. Brian S. says

    It can’t help, that in my parish at least, the weekly bulletin insists that marriages must be arranged 6 months in advance. If the competing venues were as difficult to arrange as that, they would be poaching fewer wedding ceremonies.

    Weddings should be prioritized like funerals. They need to happen when they need to happen.

    • Brian S. I agree with you. I believe the “six month” rule was established because of the ever increasing amounts of failed marriages. This “one size fits all” mentality is of the world, not of God.

    • The 6 months is a very conservative timeline to allow premarital counseling for the couple. It is not just about the venue. This should be one of the most important days of your life and 6 mos is to long to plan? Give me a break!
      The bride will take that long considering her dress for heaven’s sake!
      I don’t know where you live, but in our area the “in places” to marry; the resorts, etc. have to be booked at least a year in advance.
      when invited to attend the invalid marriage of two (or one) Catholics on a beach or in a park, we simply decline; we do not celebrate excommunications!

  4. John Patrick says

    Many are converting to Protestant denominations because they feel the Catholic Church is not teaching based upon the Bible. There seems to be a constant buzz from Church leaders to accept the divorced to Holy Communion, to smile upon same-sex marriage. The early Church would never have gone along with such deviation from the Teachings of Christ.

    • Again the need to catechise: the Bible came to us through the RCC, there will be no change in the ability for any Catholic to validly approach to receive Holy Communion unless they are free from mortal sin. Don’t listen to the buzz, it is not going to change.and same sex marriage will perpetually be against the Doctrines of the RCC; unchangeable. If people truly believe otherwise they are not Catholic anyway. The RCC will always remain true to the teachings of Christ.

  5. Anonymous says

    Nice essay and thoughts, very provocative. .

    The largest growing demographic in the US are single people age 18-99. It’s now the majority of US households. Sadly, our Catholic Church has given young single Catholics—and quite a few older ones—plenty of reasons not to marry in a Church ceremony. Today’s younger (and a growing number of older) Cathiolics have taken a hard look at the birth control teaching few Catholics obey, a divorce and remarriage policy that is hypocritical, a sex abuse scandal that exposed the Church as a consummate lawbreaker, financial stewardship that rivals any Wall Street scandal, and a public image of priests and bishops as “men behaving badly”. Getting married on the beach—-or not getting married at all—is a trend that will continue to grow in direct proportion to our Church’s decline, its harshness and stubborn refusal to listen to the laity’s concerns facing a bureaucratic structure that is out of touch, insensitive, turf oriented, weak, ineffective, and uninterested in the average Catholic in the pews..

    Watch those Church wedding numbers continue to tumble……very sad but very understandable in today’s dysfunctional Catholic Church..

    • Anonymous, I am of the opinion that I am single because the man God intended for me to marry was contracepted out of existence.

      • This belief explains a lot about you Tracey.

      • Tracy, it does not work like that. But I will pray for you if you want that life.
        It can be one of those “be careful what you ask for” things.
        Really, husbands aren’t that difficult to find, but if you got standards, it gets a little harder. If God only makes one man for one woman, some people are taking a lot more than their share.

      • Tracey, ask St. Anne’s intercession to find the right man if marriage is God’s will for you. I know a young woman who did that, is married now and has three lovely children.

    • So true. And it’s a beautiful thing to have one’s wedding witnessed and blessed by mother ocean.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      Very good post anon, but you left out one point: Young Catholics today see the Church battling against couples who WANT to get married – whether on a beach or in a Church – yet who the Church scorns in every way possible, telling them that their relationships mock marriage, that they cannot possibly be committed, that they only want to enter into marriage in order to abuse children.

      Young Catholics – in large percentages – see that the Church teaches one thing and practices another. The Church Catholic teaches love, commitment, mutuality, self-giving. Yet when it sees examples of these values within its midst, the institutional Church and certain obsessed individuals shuns them, fires them from their jobs, calls them every kind of nasty names (fascists, heretics, catholic church haters, schismatics, etc etc.). Young Catholics deeply understand the hypocrisy of the Church’s views on marriage, and so it disinclines them to participate in it. This saddens me very much.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says

      In other words anonymous coward, the Church of Christ must bend its teachings to please man not God! We who love the Church know where that always leads, damnation!

      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

    • You miss the point in a flaming fashion!
      When the Church stays true to the teachings of Christ, who left the keys with the Pontiff of the RCC, more are attracted to her and members become more faithful.
      The youth that are coming to the faith today are far more traditional than the last generation and they are hungry for it and embrace it. They are the next generation of Catholics who will teach their children the beauty of the
      Faith. What they lack in numbers, they gain in devotion. They set an example of faith that will save souls, just as Pope Francis encourages.
      The RCC will not change it’s teaching on contraception, abortion, same sex marriage, or divorce because it is based on the teachings of Christ. We don’t change because of the decadence of society or because of polls! We double down on the truths of the faith and uphold those truths for the salvation of souls! We set an example; we live the faith! The gate is narrow.
      The Church’s teachings on marriage (divorce/ re-marriage) are not “hypocritical”; they exhibit the fundamental respect the Church has for the sacrament. If a marriage is entered into validly; no man can dissolve it (not even the Pope). However, the kind of marriages discussed here, in which a RC marries on a beach outside of the rites of the Church, are not valid marriages. So we are really just discussing different ways to shack up, avoid having a sacramental marriage and disrespecting the sacrament and themselves.
      The rest of your bigoted remarks only show your lack of understanding for the sacramental life as opposed to the secular self-centered life.

      • Your Fellow Catholic says

        What did Christ have to say about same sex marriage? Sorry I seem to have missed that one. Oh and what did he have to say about contraception? Missed that one too.

        On the other hand, he said an awful lot about loving your neighbor, feeding the hungry, and bringing peace to the world. Yet little of the discussion on any Catholic website like CCD revolves around how to do a better job at these things! If Catholics actually stuck to what Christ actually said, rather than what some people pretend he said, we’d have people lining up to get into Mass every Sunday.

        • Ann Malley says

          So are you Sola Scriptura, YFC?

        • YFC, your August 2, 2014 at 11:47 am question only has relevance for a Protestant.

          The following is some (non-peer reviewed and non-FDA approved) food for thought. THOSE WITH A COLLEGE INDOCTRINATION CONSUME AT YOUR OWN RISK. All others enjoy!

          How Protestantism leads to Atheism:

          • Your Fellow Catholic says

            Newsflash: Catholics revere Scripture too, not just protestants. Why ever do you think that ignoring the life and teachings of Christ and substituting your own teachings has anything to do with Catholicism. You can’t ignore what Christ actually taught and do so by calling it Protestant.

          • Ann Malley says

            Catholics are called to believe in the Scripture and Sacred Tradition. That is not a negation of Scripture. Why would even think such a thing, YFC?

        • YFC, he also said nothing about incest, what you along with the rest of Left loves to imply that if Jesus did not mentioned it, its OK…

          • Your Fellow Catholic says

            No, Cansisus, but it does tell me he was more concerned with healing people and feeding the poor than he was with incest. He was more disturbed with those who claimed salvation via the law rather than having a relationship with the one who gave the law even while violating the law. He was more interested in breaking bread than breaking down each other.

          • Ann Malley says

            Feeding the poor is also code word for feeding those who are starving for the Truth. That’s likely why Our Lord told us we would always have the poor – that is those suffering temporal wants – with us. That is not an excuse to not help starving people, YFC, but just a reminder that spiritual food is necessary for eternal salvation. Otherwise we run the risk of making Christ out to be a social worker instead of our Savior.

          • At the hour of your judgment by Him the Law will matter, as time for His mercy is over and the time for His Justice begins.. You are typical of leftist YFC, you want to “feel” good in your sins, while saying look I feed the poor, in that case just leave the Church entirely, good works without Faith and Obedience means nothing

          • BTW YFC I think the violation His natural law matters to Him greatly

          • Your Fellow Catholic says

            Funny how y’all rush to deny the Truth of the Gospels. Jesus asked the little children to come, and you all send them away at the border.

          • Ann Malley says

            Funny how many of those who supposedly love the little children would use them like so many pawns in an ongoing political struggle despite the risks they expose the children to with this little charade.

            As for Truth of the Gospels, nobody said take the little children away from their parents and send them to a foreign country. Just sayin’. And hey, are you saying that Our Lord is not in Central America?

            There you go again YFC with the religious jingoism of the Holy United States as if no other country rates. How unchristian!

          • Catherine says

            YFC, What you are really asking is to “Make the little children suffer by removing them from their own mom and dad in order to suffer even MORE violence in the United States. ”

            Better for innocent little José to be sent back to his own home with his mother and father than to be scandalized by being adopted by two daddies or two mommies.

            “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. ” – Pope Benedict XVI

          • Anonymous says
          • Your Fellow Catholic says

            Catherine, responding to your post aug 5 at 4 PM:

            Please do not put words in my mouth. There is NOTHING about this story that has anything to do with gay parents, or the absurd accusation that gay parents do violence to their children. There is NOTHING in my posts on this subject that could lead you to misunderstand my intentions. Your response is nothing but a lie intended to turn every story and comment into your obsession with homosexuality. I think the Pope said something about being obesses with these issues. This is exactly the kind of thing he was talking about. You have an obsession that causes you to lie openly. What makes you think that you can lie so much and somehow it’s OK?

          • Anonymous says

            Catherine, that was really low.

          • Yeah sure, YFC. Like homosexuals have nothing to do with what happened to the altar boys. I guess that was all Bush’s fault too.

        • YFC seems to have missed a lot of things that are in the Bible. YFC seems to have missed things from the very first book.

        • Anonymous says

          YFC, you do not have to limit yourself to just what Jesus said in the Gospels. Jesus is alive and He is with us. If you are sincere about wanting to know His Will, He will make it known to you. I don’t know if your parish has a time of Eucharistic Exposition but even if it does not, I hope it has access for people to worship Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. But even that is not necessary, a prayer for understanding will always be answered.

  6. A priest friend is convinced that most couples spend more time preparing for the wedding than they do the marriage. It has become an excuse for a big, expensive party and lots of selfies. For that we get a 50%+ divorce rate. Weddings are never planned around a date when the church is available, but booked a year in advance when the reception hall is available. Too many don’t include a Mass.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      So I actually think this may be a comment that every one of us can get behind. The idea of the six month wait has a couple of purposes, but one of them is the proper formation of those entering into the Sacrament. As I am understanding Pre-Cana, there are very serious and important conversations about the meaning of marriage, of self sacrifice in marriage, of monetary considerations during marriage, of a lifetime commitment, of marriage as a Sacrament, the role of child rearing in marriage, etc etc. I suspect (though i don’t have data) that those that go through pre-Cana had more success rates in marriage than those who approach it but then reject it. What do you all think about this? (Please refrain from ad-hominem attacks against me or fellow commentators).

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says

        Here is one where I can agree with YFC.

        If you are preparing for a lifetime commitment, what is six months?

        May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
        Viva Cristo Rey!
        Yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

      • YFC, I think the Church tries. 60% of couples who approach the Church about marrying are cohabitating. I agree with Bob One that there is way too much focus on having an expensive party and getting gifts. Oh and the dress. Sometimes the man feels like the “insert-a-groom.” When I got married, I felt like if our relationship could survive preparing for the wedding, it could survive anything. But I was naive. It is really just the beginning of a long series of hurdles. Life happens to everybody and sometimes the person you select to go through life with makes it worse, not better. But you took a vow. However, in today’s world, people feel like it is OK to leave that person behind if they find an upgrade. Marriages need a lot of help. People need a lot of help. The Church is trying.

  7. Recently, at a Deanery meeting, some Priests were discussing the possibility of performing weddings “outside” of the Church structure….on beaches, etc. NO No NO. If a couple wants to be married IN the Church…..then GET INTO the Church. You can have your beach wedding party later. The Sacrament of Marriage is serious……it’s until death.

  8. Kenneth M. Fisher says

    Our Lady has said in at least one of Her apparitions “more sins against the flesh are committed at places of summer resort than at any others” What do you think She meant by that?

    May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
    Viva Cristo Rey!
    Yours in Their Hearts,
    Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
    Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc

  9. My wife and I have faithfully raised four children in the Church. All attended Catholic schools and colleges. To date, not a single one of our children has been married in the Catholic Church. Our youngest daughter, a graduate of Ave Maria University, recently informed us that she and her boyfriend are going to co-habitate. When I shared my concerns, she replied that the Church teachings regarding marriage and human sexuality are not credible in light of the priest sex abuse scandal. It is very sad that the younger generation is missing out on the joy and excitement of dating, engagement and marriage. God Bless Us All!

    • Bob, You and your wife faithfully fullfilled your parental obligations……God Bless You Both. The pull of our distorted evil culture has it’s claws in all of our children. We must give them to God and pray, pray, pray. Have Hope and Trust in Him……He will bring His chosen children home……By the grace of God, I was brought home before it was too late. Have Faith!

      • Catherine says


        SandraD’s words are the most loving and wise counsel.

        Taken from the Diary of Sister Faustina.

        “It is the fulfillment of God’s will that is a concrete measure of trust towards God. The Lord Jesus said to Sister Faustina, The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is my desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts (Diary 1578). “

  10. Six months can be an awfully long time to two young people, and the notion that everyone spends 6 months picking out wedding dresses is simply ridiculous.

    But the idea that 6 months of “counseling’ is required before marriage embraces the worst of our medicalized society. Catholics have been getting married for a couple of thousand years now, when did this nirvana of six months of intensive-care psycho-babble become necessary?

    No doubt group sharing meetings are involved. Just thinking about it makes me want to go to the beach…

    • Ann Malley says

      Six months waiting is likely the result of those ‘faithful’ wanting to get married that actually don’t attend Church regularly, don’t have a basis for understanding what ‘marriage’ is, and have no real belief in the moral law.

      • Well, weddings are opportunities for catechesis, aren’t they Ann? At least they are when a priest conducts them in a church. The Church has always relied upon its forms and rituals to educate us, a fact you recognize will enough when the Latin Mass is discussed. If young people come to the Church with a poor understanding of marriage, then their proper desire (for a Church wedding) needs to be welcomed while their educational needs are addressed with the urgency they deserve.

        The current policies surrender these motivated young people – right when they are at their most receptive -to the same god-awful parish education departments, to be treated to the mind-numbingly boring group encounters and “personal explorations experiences”, you normally deplore.

        • Ann Malley says

          Yes, a wedding is an opportunity for catechesis, but not the ideal opportunity as people setting out to get married should, realistically, be mature enough to understand these issues and have them well in hand. The why being because they will bring children into the world who will be in immediate need of guidance in these matters.

          I’m in full accord with your perspective that catching those souls who are ill prepared for marriage at this time. And by all means, educate them. But educate them as to what Catholic moral law and doctrine is. That said, 6 months isn’t really long enough to make up for an education that has been wanting up until that point. That’s why I think the pre-cana process has degraded to mind-numbing personal exploration experiences and other such nonsense. Because hitting fully formed adults with the truth square in the face will often send them packing and away from the Church. Not all, for grace comes into play and can effect the most wondrous and fruitful conversions.

          So it’s a doubled edged thing. Fully grown adults, not formed in the faith. They want to get married. Now what? If we hit them with truth, they’ll think we’re mean so we need to downgrade the lessons to Barney puppet sessions because there is no other means to sneak up and get their attention. As for the truth, we hope some of it will stick.

          So gosh YES, rites and rituals educate us.

          • Ill-formed adults are nothing new to the Church. I suggest that if the priest spends an hour with the kids – note that he’s got something THEY want – kids that want a Church wedding in the first place will do their best to agree, and the Truth itself has its own appeal, especially from a skillful priest.

            There is simply no hope of substituting any 6-month crash course for the 20-odd years of formation that the young people we are concerned about have missed. In this case, the Church is an emergency room for souls. It has to do what it can and time is of the essence. We’re not an exclusive club, we welcome everybody of all levels of understanding. That’s how we got in!

          • Anonymous says

            It is the parent’s duty to educate their children.

          • Ann Malley says

            No, we’re not an exclusive club, Brian S. But there are some majorly serious club rules and regs. Proper disposition for that which is a Sacrament is necessary, not something to be waived on – let’s hope.

            That’s why proper ongoing, SOLID formation for Catholics in the pews, in my view, should take priority. Even over all of the social justice issues. (But you’re absolutely right in that 6 months is no substitute for a lifetime’s formation which is why it degrades to the point of are-you-serious?)

            The idea of a field hospital, for all its appeal, is not realistic when looking at the reality of Sacramental marriage that is binding for life. The foundation for the raising of holy, well formed children. If it is hastily entered into on a whim, then the rates of ‘Catholic divorce’ will only increase and make a mockery out of the Sacramental reality that is being flouted by the very ministers who should be upholding and teaching it’s dignity.

            Catholic marriage based on some bourgeois idea and not a solid Faith is no solid marriage. And while the Church is not unfamiliar with ill-formed adults, the Church in this modern age is facing, right along with every other facet of society, a pandemic of Peter Pan Syndrome. Folks don’t want to grow up and are encouraged NOT TO GROW UP.

            So no, I don’t think the Church should just ‘marry’ folks. Not at all.

          • I’m not recommending that the Church should “just marry folks”. The priest needs to get the necessary agreements from the couple, like I said, and these are the same promises that he gets at baptism and in confession. He would have to judge their sincerity here, just as there. Imagine if there were a 6-month wait for confessions…

            Meanwhile, where does this notion that long planning periods create non-whimsical marriages come from? You said yourself that folks spend 6 months just picking out wedding dresses. I’m sick of long engagements. Folks should get married while they are still excited about it, not after they have checked off all the other boxes of their lives. Marriage should trump all your other plans, and is an important part of growing up.

          • Ann Malley says

            I never said folks spend 6 months picking out wedding dresses, Brian S. I got married in a blue silk dress I had in my closet.

            That said, baptism and confession do not involve the bringing into the world of children or an unbreakable bond in the way that marriage does. If one falls away from the Church, one can repent and carry on. When one sins one can go to confession. When one fails in their sacramental marriage, one cannot just up and get married again to someone else.

            There’s no comparison to the preparation for confession to the preparation of a lifelong marriage commitment. That’s why I don’t understand defending the notion that the Church should mozey on along with the constructs of modern society on one hand, but then expect folks to somehow glean out of the blue, what devotion, Faith, and commitment mean. It sends the wrong message.

            And no, I do not think that a 6 month waiting period creates non-whimsical marriages. Heck no. What I said was that, in my view, the 6 month waiting period is the Band Aid attempt to squeeze in 20+ years of formation that in most cases isn’t there prior to marriage. It’s a last ditch effort to teach what should have been taught all along. But guess what, 6 months does not a solid formation make. If it did, there would be far fewer seeking annulment.

          • Ann Malley says

            to Brian S. cont:

            That’s why it is important, again in my view, for the Church to teach by way of ritual and expectation that the discipline of ritual – even so far as having a care to how one dresses in Church – is important. Not because one will go to Hell for wearing a low cut top in Church or eating meat on Friday. But rather because it reinforces that ‘little things’ matter in the long run. And they most assuredly matter when trying to maintain a marriage in a world that screams – divorce.

            IOW: You can’t make a SEAL out of a lazy, fat boy who has no desire to get off the couch. He might have all the potential in the world. But he’s been conditioned and trained to seek the couch and the contentment of an overstuffed belly. So while he might get the idea that being a SEAL is what he wants, he’ll ring the darned bell sure as shootin’ when the ‘idea’ wears off and reality sets in. THAT’s what I’m saying, Brian S. And that’s why the bells peeling in the Church are not wedding bells, but rather the bells of those quitting for lack of proper formation.

        • I remain struck at how unwelcoming the weekly repetition of the 6 month requirement is. Contrast that to how any profit-making venue would phrase it – something along the lines of “dates are filling up, get your reservation in early!”

          I don’t doubt that our priest does his best to satisfy the needs of any couple who asks, but with that notice they may not ask, which would be regrettable.

          We aren’t disagreeing on much here, Ann, but we do have different ideas about the relative understanding and piety levels of young people across time.

          • Ann Malley says

            The young people across time may have similar piety levels, Brian S, that of being weak in the Faith. But the relative piety of communities as a whole were better 50 years ago than they are today as more folks had to suck-it-up and get on with their marriage instead of opting for divorce that is so widely acceptable.

            So is it better to not marry people in a binding matter who are unprepared? Or maintain the integrity of the Sacrament by not marrying people in a binding fashion until they understand what they are doing?

          • That is the question, and it is part of the the larger question which is how is the Church to operate in a post-Christian era that is in many ways more challenging than its pre-Christian era.

            I dont’ recommend a retreat to the Catacombs, although that may be part of a strategy. In this case however, we are talking about young people who do go to church and do pick up the weekly bulleiton.

          • Anonymous says

            The last two Catholic couples that I know of who married in the Church were very aware that there marriage was a reflection of God and the Church.
            They are not weak in faith at all.
            God is giving the young a very clear choice-the world or Me.
            How you live is how you die.
            If you live in the Lord, you will die in the Lord.

  11. Here in Nevada I doubt “beach weddings” will catch on.

  12. Our God has created such a beautiful setting like a beach sight, over-looking the vast Pacific Ocean, and I’m sure that this setting could work for a wedding. Minor details like the dress code could be worked out. I’d like to think that if Jesus, alive and well in 2014, received an invitation to attend a wedding at a Southern California Beach, I think Jesus would look forward to attending the ceremony.

  13. A couple can get married in a Catholic church in a beach area on the Mainland or Hawaii, THEN go to the beach close by for some wedding pictures. There are plenty of such places. You get a twofor.

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