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Barbara wrote:

Hi, guys —

My daughter will be getting married next September. Her fiancé is a member of an Assemblies of God church. She has moved 2 1/2 hours away from home to be closer to him, and has begun attending regular Bible study classes and services with him.

He has now convinced her that she should leave the Catholic Church. He is, I believe, speaking through his mother's experience who was removed from the Church by her parents when she was 16. His family went from the Catholic faith to a "Holiness" church.

This change in her has happened only over the course of the last 12 months. I believe he has brainwashed her. She has convinced him to marry in the Catholic church that she spent most of her childhood attending, however, at this point she will only attend a Catholic church when she is home visiting.

  • Is this right?
  • It would break her heart not to marry in the Church, but if she doesn't intend on remaining a Catholic, can she still get married in the Church?

It breaks my heart to see her go from a thriving Catholic who has participated in several ministries to being convinced that she no longer believes in any of it.

  • What are we to do as parents?

Barbara

  { What should parents do if a daughters fiancé wants her to leave the Church and marry elsewhere? }

Mary Ann replied:

Barbara —

It would be good if you could get your daughter to meet with and ask questions of a good Catholic priest. If she wants to marry in the Church, she has to meet with the pastor of her Catholic parish anyway, and soon.  You can prime the priest with knowledge of the situation and you could get some good books by former Assembly members-turned-Catholic.

If she wants to marry in the Catholic Church, she needs to be in the Catholic Church. She appears to have left it, and wants to use the ceremony for style or sentiment, not to express faith.
The sacraments are encounters of faith. To have the grace of marriage, and to be able to receive Holy Communion at the wedding, she will need to confess her turning away from faith. We are morally bound to:

  • study our faith
  • follow an informed conscience
  • fight temptations against faith and
  • avoid things that threaten our faith.
  • Why would it break her heart not to marry in the Church?

If she is already leaving the Church, she is not marrying in it, and the pastor must be informed of her plans. He will probably refuse to officiate. If she no longer believes any of it there is a chance that she doesn't accept what the Church teaches on marriage. That it is:

  • permanent
  • exclusive and
  • open to life in every act of marital intercourse

and her marriage would be invalid.

Mom, you need to try to frame the basic issues for your daughter. Don't facilitate what she is doing, because in the long run, it is not good for her, even if in the short run it brings peace or "happiness." You may be right that she is brainwashed. If so, you can meet unreality with reality, lies with truth, and pray a lot. Without knowing your daughter's age, it is hard to say more.

Mary Ann

Barbara replied:

Thank you.

She is 22, and her fiancé is 26. She:

  • participates in the Catholic Mass every time she is home for a visit
  • has been a part of Music Ministry since she was in sixth grade
  • was an altar server
  • helped with Vacation Bible study programs,  and
  • attended NCYC and TEC weekends.

I don't understand how she can now say that we, as parents, didn't take the time to educate her.

Up until now, her faith in the Catholic Church was strong.  I think, for her, she is not completely able to give it up, and that's why she wants to get married in our parish.

  • Do you suggest that I get in touch with our priest before they begin counseling?
  • Should I discuss this with her first?

My husband and I have planned a round table discussion with them as a couple to lay everything out on the table.

  • Do you think that would be in our best interest?

I still feel as though there's a smidgen of hope for her, but don't want to push her too far away.

Please help.

Barbara

Mary Ann replied:

Barbara,

She has had a lot of Catholic experience, but probably not much Catholic education.

Poor education was the norm in most parishes as she grew up, and most Catholics don't know their faith as well as their parents and grandparents. Even if she did have a good Catholic education through her teens, she needs adult education for adult challenges. In her particular situation,
she would need a really good understanding of the history of other denominations and strong faith to withstand the confused manipulations of Scripture by other Protestant sects.

If she has not left the faith, then, no, don't tell the priest, but tell her that she needs to be honest with the priest. You and your husband should speak to her alone before you speak to both of them, because her fiancé's presence will cause serious problems of communication. Let her know what's at stake. Talk to your pastor first, if need be, for guidance. Provide her with resources like this:

Just be clear:

"Daughter dear, why are you leaving the Faith of your childhood, of your Fathers, of the whole Christian world from 33AD until Martin Luther?

if you think what he is telling you about Catholicism is accurate, you are wrong.
He doesn't know Christian history.

You have an obligation to learn about your faith, and witness to him. There are answers to everything he tells you.

Why should you give up your faith, unexamined, your beliefs and traditions, because a man who doesn't understand them wants you to give them up?

If you follow him, you go back on your Confirmation promises and gifts,
you foreswear your baptismal commitment, you leave behind Christ in the Eucharist and the other sacraments.

If you truly think the Assembly of God denomination is true, please read its history, and study it carefully, and read what they say about the Catholic Church, and study the answers to it.

Your soul is at stake. Your marriage is at stake. A mixed marriage between a Catholic and an Assembly of God member is very difficult. The question of children will cause much discord.

Love is not enough. Love and truth go together."

If she can't take your being clear about the issues, then she is not operating out of conviction. Get some pamphlets, get some books, get some CD's and DVD's. Prep yourself and be ready for him.

Maybe you can convert him!

Mary Ann

Mary Ann followed up:

Barbara —

I forgot to mention. She may attend Mass, of course, but she may not receive Communion.
She must confess not attending Mass on Sunday, [and/or] confess her abandonment of faith (apostasy).

She has joined with a non-Catholic group in worship and in belief, a group that is very
anti-Catholic. She can't be both, and needs to choose. Part of helping her to choose is pointing
out that she may not receive Communion. If she insists, you should tell the pastor, so that a sacrilege is not committed. It seems harsh, but receiving Holy Communion without believing is very, very harmful to us, as Scripture says. (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)

Mary Ann

After e-mail dialogues between the AskACatholic.com team,
Mary Ann followed up:

Barbara —

My colleagues pointed out that I was wrong to use the word apostasy — which technically refers to a Christian becoming a non-Christian. Your daughter, rather, is toying with heresy. She may be sincere, or she may be going along out of love, or she may not care one way or the other.

The fact that she goes back and forth seems to indicate that she thinks it makes no difference,
or that there is no difference except for some arcane beliefs and some differences in worship.

  • Does she know about the sacraments and what they are?
  • Does she know any Church history?
  • Does she know that now Protestant Churches will split off into new churches over one Bible verse (according to a convert minister on the Journey Home).

The main question is authority, that is, what is the source.

  • What is the source of their teaching and their practice?
  • Is it from Christ?

Perhaps these issues mean little to your daughter, but you don't need to minimize them for her sake, or to keep peace. This is a very teachable moment for her. It may be that she has found the power of the Holy Spirit in the Assembly of God, but, if so, why would she casually come back to the Catholic Church?

In other words, it doesn't seem that she is having a serious intellectual and spiritual conversion and awakening, but rather is doing this for the relationship. The more she focuses on their Bible study and worship, the more she will be drawn in. She should devote at least that same amount of time to Catholic study, which she has not done as an adult.

That is something you can challenge her on.

Mary Ann

Barbara replied:

Mary Ann,

Thank you so much!

Barbara

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