Attached is a rather detailed listing of policies about weddings along with information about marriage preparation. In presenting these policies about weddings, I acknowledge that there seem to be many rules about the ceremony. It might help you to know that all of them are based on past experiences and are offered in the hope of making your wedding ceremony as beautiful, meaningful, and spiritual as possible. Before you proceed to ask me to witness your wedding, there is an important question I ask you to address:
Are you living together or planning to live together before the wedding? If the answer is "yes", please do not ask me to witness your marriage unless you are willing to separate and live apart until the wedding. Here's why: After twenty-five years of working with cohabitating couples and trying to help them build stable marriages, I find the situation has not gotten better, but worse. The most recent statistics available to me show that 50% of all couples entering marriage today will divorce, but 65% of cohabitating couples will divorce. Besides, there is a moral problem.
The presumption is that when two people with romantic interest in each other live together, they are living a sexual relationship. The constant teaching of Christianity in Scripture and Sacred Tradition is that sexual activity belongs only in marriage. Sex outside of marriage is a serious sin. People in the state of serious sin cannot receive the sacraments of the living (sacraments to be received in the state of grace, i.e. Holy Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders) without committing sacrilege (cf. I Cor. 11:27-28).
I realize there are couples who commit to a chaste relationship before marriage even as they live together. This, however, also causes a problem in the sin of scandal (an action likely to induce another to do wrong). Many people today have seen so many couples cohabitating before marriage that they have no idea that cohabitation before marriage is wrong. With a loving concern for you, your marriage and the sanctity of marriage, I urge you to address this question before celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony. With this understanding, if you are ready to proceed towards a wedding in Stella Maris Church, please telephone me (or the person you will ask to witness your wedding) for an appointment. May God bless you.
- Msgr. McInerny