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Mary wrote:

Hi, guys —

My fiancé and I went to our church to talk to the priest about marriage arrangements. He told us that because we have been living together for four years he would marry us in a convalidated ceremony but he wasn't going to let us use the traditional marriage symbols (like a traditional Mexican wedding, arras, lasso, etc.)

  • Can he do this?

Although we have been living together, we aren't even married by court. We know that we have been living in sin but we are trying to fix this situation.

  • Can you please advice me on what to do?

Thank you,


  { Can this priest ban these traditional symbols and what should we do to make our marriage right? }

John replied:

Hi, Mary —

I have spoken to a priest whom I trust in these matters.

This priest has no right to deny you a regular marriage ceremony. In addition, convalidation can only happen when the couple has gone through some formal ceremony, be it civil or in another ecclesial setting.

That said, the priest may or may not have the right to refuse to participate in particular ethnic traditions which are not part of the marriage ceremony for the universal Church.

It is important to understand that you will be entering into a sacrament. For the graces to be effective you need to be in a state of grace. Therefore, you need to repent of your current situation in order to be in a state of grace.

It's great that you want make things right, but that requires a sacramental Confession. You need to live celibately as well (even if under the same roof) until you get married. Otherwise, you are continuing in the same sin.

This is the course of action you need to follow, if you really want to fix this situation and make your marriage right.


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