The nature and purpose of marriage demand true piety and virtue in both parties in order that they may assist and sanctify each other. There can be no true unity of mind and heart if they differ in this most essential matter of religious belief.
The Church law says ‘‘The Church most strictly forbids mixed marriages everywhere.” (Canon 1060.) Thus she implicitly forbids courtship between Catholics and non-Catholics.
When the Church does permit mixed marriages by granting special dispensation, it is only with reluctance and under certain well-defined conditions.
The divine law forbidding these marriages when there is proximate danger to the faith of the Catholic party or their children cannot be dispensed by any human authority whatsoever.
Experience has proved the following facts about mixed marriages:
I. One of the great barriers to unity of mind and heart is difference in religion.
II. Mixed marriages have been and continue to be the cause of an alarming and ever-increasing number of fallen-away Catholics.
III. The majority of the children of mixed marriages are either not reared in the faith or early lose their faith.
IV. The modern non-Catholic’s attitude toward marriage is so different from the Catholic’s attitude that mixed marriage almost invariably leads to serious disagreement between the man and the woman, particularly about birth control, Catholic education, religious practices.
V. A non-Catholic can always end marriage in divorce, which is in complete opposition to Christ’s law. But marriage for the Catholic is a lifelong contract. Christ so ordained it, and the Catholic so regards it.
VI. If the Catholic in a mixed marriage is faithful to his religion, he is extremely lonely; he feels isolated from his partner, and he finds it almost impossible to explain the situation to the children.
VII. Marriage itself presents enough problems without adding the problems that are created by religious differences. Since the possible marriage with a non-Catholic, grand, noble and honorable though he or she be, presents so many strong dangers to the faith of the Catholic concerned, you must be careful to tell your confessor at once of the hazardous courtship.
This should be done in order to obtain advice. If you insist on marrying a non-Catholic, you should take the person to the priest, at least six weeks before the marriage that there may be ample time for the necessary instructions.
Though the non-Catholic does not intend to become a Catholic, he must at least know what his future partner believes, what promises must be made, the nature of marriage, its duties, responsibilities, and privileges.
Catholics should marry their own kind. Conversions before marriage are often more or less pretended and are seldom the fruit of sincere conviction. Those who embrace the Catholic religion merely to obtain a certain partner in matrimony usually are no credit to it.
There are exceptions, but experience shows that very few mixed marriages develop fortunately for both parties. Nine out of every ten Catholics who contract a mixed marriage do it to their own and their children’s serious detriment.
If you are prudent and eager for peace and happiness, you will resolutely prefer the single life to any kind of mixed marriage.
Love, courtship and marriage are part of a divine plan. The flame of love that burns in the bosom of sweethearts is kindled by no human hands, but by a spark from the love that is eternal and divine.
It is God’s perfect gift to man. If you have always loved, prized and guarded purity and innocence as your most precious personal possession, your wedding day will be a truly happy day.
If you have prepared for marriage by a courtship characterized from beginning to end by a high mutual esteem, ideal love and devotion, angelic purity and unfailing self-restraint, begotten by the fear as well as the love of the Lord and a tender, reverential regard for one another, then you will taste the sweetest happiness that God grants to man in this vale of tears when the priest binds you in the deathless union of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Then God will bless your union with that most wonderful of all His gifts, a little angel inhuman flesh. You will understand the fair romance and the sweet mystery of life when that baby binds your hearts still more closely together in a blessed trinity of love.
You are not only husband and wife, but mother and father. You will love each other with a love as strong as life itself.
In that sanctuary of the home, a tabernacle of holy love, you come as near to that celestial paradise as you ever can on earth.