This is not meant to be an attack on non-Catholics. What Father is pointing out is the differences between religions and the conflict that entails. Also, quite often there are unfounded prejudices on both sides…
Part One is Here.
Dangers to your faith.
You want to make a happy marriage, of course, but you should be more interested in saving your soul and giving your children the best chance of saving theirs. On this all-important point, statistics on mixed marriages set us back on our heels.
According to research by the Bishops’ Committee on Mixed Marriages and others, three out of every five Catholics in a mixed marriage turn away from their religion in some significant way. They may fail to attend Mass regularly, neglect to perform their duty of confessing and receiving the Holy Eucharist once a year, neglect other religious duties, or even give up their religion entirely.
Children born to mixed marriages also have less than an even chance of growing up as good Catholics. Some are never baptized. Others grow up holding that it doesn’t matter what they believe, and the odds are slim that they will be practicing Catholics as adults.
So when you marry outside the faith, you not only play Russian roulette with your own soul, you force your children to play the same deadly game.
Most Catholics have heard all about the spiritual and emotional dangers of marrying a non-Catholic. Why do some enter a mixed marriage anyway? They’re like the soldiers asked to volunteer for a dangerous mission.
The commanding officer lined up his platoon and said: “I need ten volunteers to wipe out a machine gun emplacement. I figure nine of you will get killed, but one will come back alive.” Ten men quickly stepped forward. The officer took each aside, and asked, “Knowing the odds, why did you volunteer?” Each one answered the same way. Each figured he’d be the one to return alive.
It’s a common human impulse to feel that we bear a charmed life and that rules applying to other people somehow won’t affect us. It’s common, but not a sound way to act.
In most unhappy mixed marriages, the husband and wife surely knew what difficulties they would face. Like the soldiers who volunteered, they figured that they could beat the odds.
I like the way an old priest handled the situation when a parishioner said he intended to marry a non-Catholic girl. The priest went down the list of arguments proving that mixed marriages are likely to end in misery for all concerned.
The young man shrugged and said he knew of cases where interfaith marriages worked out well. He even cited one which produced priests and nuns. The priest listened patiently, then asked the man if he would drive his car down Main Street at noon at eighty miles an hour.
The young man laughed at the crazy thought. “Of course not, Father,” he replied, “I’d get killed.”
It was the priest’s turn to smile. “Not necessarily,” he said. “I know a man who did it, and he’s still alive.”
Maybe you could bullet your way down the main street of mixed marriage and live to tell about it. But are you foolish enough to try?
Signed promises may prove meaningless. Before you can marry a non-Catholic in the Church, he (or she) must sign a solemn promise not to interfere with your practice of your religion and must agree to educate all your children as Catholics. He must sign away rights and privileges which are highly important.
For example, although his own religion may tell him that he can practice artificial birth control and get a divorce, he must accept Catholic teachings on these matters.
He must accept the fact that you tell your sins to the priest, pray to the Blessed Virgin and the saints, accept the authority of the Pope on questions of faith and morals, send your children to Catholic schools, and faithfully observe dozens of other practices which he may think are “superstitious,” or, at best, trying.
What happens? It’s no secret that many non-Catholics take the attitude that if it makes the Catholic partner happy, they’ll sign the promises, but they don’t really intend to keep them.
Researchers have found, in fact, that the promises aren’t kept in about thirty percent of all mixed marriages. And the sad part is that the Catholic partner can’t do anything about it. You can’t sue in a law court or do anything else to force your partner to keep his word. Those promises are good only as long as he keeps them so.
Do mixed marriages make converts?
Sometimes Catholics seeking to marry a non-Catholic argue that they’re sure they can convert their mate. Cold facts and figures prove that the Catholic who marries with this hope has only about one chance in five of making a conversion.
If you keep in mind the statistics showing that forty-five percent of Catholics in mixed marriages are seriously harmed in their own religious practices, you can conclude that the person who hopes to convert a non-Catholic actually takes a risk of losing his faith.
Practical aids to avoid a mixed marriage.
When they begin dating, few if any Catholics intend to marry outside the faith. Probably all would prefer to meet and marry a Catholic. But it often happens that they begin to date a non-Catholic, and are romantically involved before they know it.
Once “love” steps in, reason often flies out the window. “Love is blind,” the poets say, with good reason. Logical objections are swept aside in a great surge of romantic ardor. It’s pretty late to talk about the dangers of mixed marriages after a man and woman think they’re in love.
The way to avoid a mixed marriage is at the beginning. Don’t date non-Catholics and you’ll never marry one. It’s as simple as that. Of course, that’s only half the story. The other half is that you should try to meet attractive Catholics of the opposite sex.
True, in some places this may take a bit of doing. But it can be done. If you attend a Catholic high school or college, take part in dances and other social activities where you will get a chance to meet other Catholic boys and girls.
If you attend a non-Catholic school, join the Newman Club there. These organizations of Catholic students can be found in most institutions.
Take a part in church activities. Join the young peoples’ club, sports teams, the choir, and other groups where you can get to know members of the other sex.
A large percentage of husbands and wives were introduced to their future mates by mutual friends. This fact stresses the importance of making friends with Catholics of your own sex. Try to develop a pleasant, appealing personality and cultivate friendships of this kind. Your chances of meeting an attractive Catholic of the other sex will be increased greatly.
Be sure of this one thing: Mother Church is only interested in your happiness, here and hereafter. And when a loving mother with lots of experience says to you “marry your own kind,” she usually knows what she is talking about.
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