July 22, 2018

Friends,

The sacrament of marriage has taken a huge hit in the Catholic Church over the past 25 years. I’m always thrilled when a couple contacts me and wants to have their marriage celebrated in the Catholic Church. For most of us, it was a given. The exception was the Catholic getting married “outside the Church.” Today, the exception is the couple who choose to be married in the Church.There may be many reasons, and we are all capable of asking young people why they are not even thinking about having the ceremony in the Church. From my point of view, the simple answer is that so many of them have been de-churched or unchurched for so long, that it is probably not even part of their conversation.

There was a time when even if a couple was not church-going, they would agree to a church wedding because their parents wanted them to do so. Now, I don’t see a lot of that taking place. Obviously, God is beyond organized religion and recognizes marriage between two loving people whether the ceremony takes place in a church or at another location. Unfortunately, the institutional Church doesn’t recognize the marriage as a sacrament if it is celebrated outside the church building between two Christians. I hear from some young couples that they feel like hypocrites by having a church wedding if they are not presently coming to Mass. Naturally, I hope they will decide to return to the Church and I encourage them to come to the Church for the wedding—hoping the experience itself will be an avenue for them to return. We truly need our young people—to celebrate the sacraments in our faith community and to enhance our parishes with their presence.

The “solution” to this “problem” will be accomplished locally, one couple at a time, through conversations and face-to-face encounters. That can happen any time a priest or someone in ministry has the opportunity to meet young people. We have to put ourselves in their presence. The institutional Church (those in authority) also has to do its part by realizing the public image of the Church can play a major role in why or why not a couple may feel comfortable and welcome at our churches.The absence of young people is devastating to the Catholic Church. They live in a different world and unfortunately, we probably never come up in their conversation. How sad for us, and I believe, for them.

Enjoy Life!

Fr. Coyne

 

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