Appendix C - Placer Co. License Info
Information on the Sacramental Preparation of Marriage
California Marriage Licence Information
The Sacrament of Marriage is the expression of faith and love which witnesses Christ in lasting fidelity, mutual charity, and the openness to the blessings of a family. May you always find your relationship blest in God and God's people, so you will come to know what you now only sign: God's kingdom of eternal life, eternal love.
Congratulations! As Catholics, because of what marriage means to us, we are so blessed in your decision to approach our parish to celebrate your wedding. For in being married in our faith, you are, as a couple, literally and figuratively offering yourselves as a sign of Our Lord to us!
"I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life....."
In order to help you celebrate a wedding day that is the fulfillment of your hopes and dreams, and inspire you to live a life of faith and joy, this information packet is offered to guide and challenge you to consider the many things which are involved in celebrating the most important commitment of your life—one which has irrevocable consequences in your life, the lives of your children, and your Church.
A marriage preparation program has as its goal the formation, development, and enrichment, of the faith of the couple with the community (the People of God, the Body of Christ). Ideally, then, you should be active in the practice of your faith, and are marrying in the community where you pray, or, alternatively, you are willing to be challenged about practicing in the faith you want to witness and explore becoming a practicing Catholic. As well, if you are practicing your faith in another parish, you should approach the local parish for marriage preparation and discuss when and where the sacrament ought to be celebrated.
The formation process for this sacrament begins when you approach one of the parish priests or deacons, someone you choose who will share the worship experience of your wedding. This is why going to Mass is so critical—in living the faith, praying and being present to the community, there builds a relationship between you and the ordained minister you see Sunday after Sunday. In this way, there is a relationship, a meaningful connection, between who you are as faithful Catholics, your history of Catholic practice, the wedding day itself, and your future worship as a married couple.This sacramental preparation will be considerate of the individual needs of a couple, and yet faithful to the guidelines and expectations of the larger church community. For example, the Bishop of Sacramento has certain minimum catechetical requirements. These include participation in a Pre-Cana Conference, or an Evenings for the Engaged parochial program, or a weekend Engaged Encounter. There is a communication/stress assessment tool, and time to reflect sincerely on our faith. Furthermore, just as you took time in discernment of who you wanted to marry, there should be a similar investment in how, why, and where, you marry. This is why there is a minimum period of preparation (of at least six months) to afford ample time for an honest reflection on all of these issues, and to build a relationship between the couple and their minister.
These expectations aside, your formation is your obligation. As the engaged couple, you will, together with the priest or deacon, explore the meaning of faith, and how best to express (to witness) your decision to live a life-long commitment of love in the faith.
Practical Expectations and Information
"The day humankind can understand the power of love, to transform their lives, and become the people of God we were created to be, imagine the honor of being the sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ to a world that knows Him not.....
"Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire! Oh, then, for the second time in history, humankind will have discovered fire!!!!"
Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
"What times may we get married?"
The celebrations of the Sacrament of Marriage may be scheduled on any day but Sunday. Furthermore, if celebrated on Saturday, the times reserved for these celebrations are: 10am, Noon, 2pm, and 7pm. Please note all dates and times need to be confirmed with the parish office staff responsible for scheduling all parish facilities. In order to be respectful of other couples, who may want to reserve the same date and time as yours, please make a non-refundable deposit of $100 when you commit to a date and time, and submit at that time the completed information sheet which is attached to this packet (Appendix A).
Rehearsals may be scheduled sometime in the future. In consideration of the joy and obligation to be hospitable to your visiting family and friends, and still afford yourself the time to enjoy the whole experience of your wedding time, it is highly suggested rehearsals be scheduled two days before the date of the wedding (e.g., Thursday for a Saturday wedding). In this way, you may enjoy the warmth and joy of your family at the rehearsal dinner, and yet not be preoccupied with the many "to-do-items" before the wedding since you would still have a day to prepare for the wedding itself. This is why we invite to wait until the wedding is closer, so you may learn when those you will invite to the rehearsal plan to arrive into the area. Please note, as with the wedding, all rehearsals must be scheduled with the parish staff responsible for parish facilities.
"Is there any paperwork?"
There are at least three different required documents which will be collected during the period of preparation: baptismal certificates for all baptized persons (most especially for the Catholic party); the statement of intentions and freedom to marry for each party; and a similar affirmation for each party from their parents, or siblings, or long-term friends. The purpose is to document the intentions of the couple to celebrate a faithful/sacramental marriage, with the freedom to do so; and assert that the witness of faith and love of the couple is affirmed by the community—best expressed by the people who have the most intimate history of the couple. These documents for the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage are to be collected by the priest/deacon who is preparing you for marriage. These Documents should be received in the parish no later than two (2) months prior to the celebration of marriage. (See Appendix B.)
"May we have a visiting or retired priest or deacon marry us?"
Visiting clergy are always welcome. At the time of your reservation of a date and time for your wedding, please have a letter of introduction from the visiting clergy which would indicate his confirmation of his intent to celebrate the sacrament with you. This letter would identify the name, address, and telephone number of the priest or deacon, and enumerate the preparation process he will share with you. If he intends only to celebrate the wedding, and wants our parish to provide the marriage preparation, this letter ought to affirm this as well—in which case, you need to approach one of our parish priests or deacons to conduct such preparation. Lastly, these ministers must contact the priests of our parish at least two (2) months before the planned ceremony to assure the necessary preparation and paperwork have been completed, and to receive the appropriate delegation to celebrate this sacrament in our parish.
"Is there any ‘cost' or ‘fee' to celebrate a wedding?"
You have taught me, O Lord, from my youth, and I shall proclaim Your wondrous works all the days of my life...
No other question is asked more frequently, and yet it is so difficult to answer. Firstly, your sacrament of marriage is a gift to the community, because it is assumed you are members of the parish, who support the ministry and needs of the community (which is to say you are engaged in stewardship, making contributions of your time, your talents, and your treasure, all so our Church will be all that She can be). Thus, it is our honor and joy to share the "wealth" of our family, such as the church building itself, and the expenses to maintain it (such as, its maintenance and repair; heating or cooling; lights and utility costs; insurance; etc., etc.). And since your wedding is a sacrament, we would never want to "charge" for the prayer (that is, make you pay for the wedding), as if our parish church was a wedding chapel, a building "used" for a wedding.
All of this being said, you are challenged to consider all of the expenses you will incur in this celebration (such as, the invitation expenses, rehearsal dinner, photography, music at the reception, the reception catering and hall rentals, thank-you correspondence, etc., etc.). Many parishes ask couples for a donation of a specific amount (a "suggested" amount of $500, $750, $1,000, etc.) precisely because of the large expenses couples incur. These suggested amounts are an effort to have the couple prioritize the needs and mission of their parish in their determination of their wedding budgets. On the other hand, some parishes identify no amount; and sadly, these parishes often have received nothing, or such small donations that the expenses of the wedding itself are not covered by their gift.
For our parish, SS. Joseph and Teresa of Avila, we are trusting on the graciousness and generosity of our parishioners. We invite you to make a donation that is in proportion to all of the other expenses of the wedding (10%, 5%, etc.), and in doing so, you are expressing your thanksgiving for the investment of time and consideration given to the preparation of your marriage, and it ought to be a sign of your generosity in assisting the parish to serve all of God's People.
Whatever is your gift, please know that this donation is for the parish, and not for the minister who assists in your wedding. It is one of the primary sources of income for our parish, so we hope and pray you will be generous — and not just on your wedding day, but as part of your overall regular stewardship, etc. Furthermore, it is suggested that you make your donation at the time of rehearsal, avoiding the busy activity of your wedding day.
"May I have flowers, candles, runners, etc.? What are the ‘Rules?'"
We ask you to treat the parish property as your property—as part of our family. Thus, the use of anything which may damage, deface, disfigure pews, pulpit/lectern, or any part or fixture of the church, is profoundly disrespectful (such as using tacks, staples, tape, etc.). In addition, flower arches and strewing of flower petals will discolor and damage our carpets, and constitute a hazard for our guests.
Floral decorations ought not obstruct any aisle or pews, for this constitutes a hazard in case of fire or other emergency. Our liability insurance and local fire ordinances prohibit such impediments.
The flowers may be placed in the Church consistent with the liturgical principles of our worship. Please discuss these with the minister who will celebrate your wedding.
Due to the possibility of people tripping on them, and since our aisles are carpeted, please do not employ the use of a runner.
A unity candle, which signs your unity of life, love and faith, may be used. (We recommend you purchase a large candle which will last for scores of years, so it may be placed on your family dinner table on the occasions of significant family events—e.g., your wedding anniversary, birth of your children, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, death of your parents, etc., reminding you, and all, of your faith on your wedding day.) However, consistent with the aforementioned liturgical principles, the unity candle ought not be placed on the altar. It ought to be placed on a table which itself may be near the altar.
For reasons which we hope and pray are obvious, please—no throwing of rice, confetti, bird seed, etc. Consider a release of birds and balloons if you and your minister elect to celebrate the conclusion of your prayer with such signs.
"What about photography? There must be guidelines..."
You are reminded that the wedding is a time of sacred worship and warrants the respect of all participants. The use of photography, while an important aspect of our celebrations, must not detract from the reverence and meaning of your prayer. Please observe these guidelines in the use of photography.
Photography may be taken up to one (1) hour prior to the wedding, so you may be immediately available to your guests after your sacrament.
During the celebration, photographers are asked not to come into the altar area, and please do not use a flash.
Consider the use of video cameras, without the use of artificial light.
Thirty (30) minutes are allotted after the celebration for pictures.
"May we have any kind of music, played on any instrument?"
In our faith, music is a ministry. Accordingly, at any sacrament, we ask that "live" music be used in the celebration—employing the gifts of musicians, cantors, and choirs. In fact, the more involved the music in your prayer, the more you create a wonderful experience which will highlight and accent the celebration. Available, upon your request, are a variety of highly recommended instrumentalists and vocalists, all of which are sure to add a unique musical appeal to your wedding celebration. The music ministers of our parish serve you, and are compensated by the parish (which is another reason for you to be as generous as possible in gifting your parish when making an offering). Others whom you invite to participate in your wedding are to be compensated by you at rates you negotiate with them.
Please call us if you have any questions! We are here to serve you!
Parish Office: 530-885-2956
Contracted and Non-contracted Assistants at Wedding
Please be aware that some photographers conduct themselves in a manner that is inconsistent with our focus of the wedding as a prayer. This may be manifested by the intrusive way photos are taken during the sacrament, which is particularly presumptive when one considers that virtually every photograph taken may be done at a time prior or subsequent to the prayer. As has been our proposal throughout these wedding protocols, we are inviting, and requiring, that all people involved in your wedding be respectful of the sacred nature of your prayer, the grace of this time as you enter a new mode of living. With respect to when the photography itself should be done, it is the height of inconsideration for your post-celebration photography to be prolonged. Most sadly, after the experience of a beautiful and loving celebration, the congregation is often treated to twenty, thirty, or even forty-five minutes of waiting time (or longer!), all so the wedding party and family may take pictures—pictures which virtually all of the guests know could have been taken before the wedding itself. Please consider the benefit and graciousness of taking photos before the wedding, so that as much as possible, when the sacrament is concluded, you may process from the place of prayer to the place of social acceptance and thanks, and from there, ultimately process to your own place of intimacy as you rejoice in the unity you have created!
The use of flowers always enhances the beauty and grace of a wedding. In fact, it is one of the first things appreciated as one comes into the church. While the flowers add so much to the experience of the wedding, florists truly are often focused on their needs and not the concerns of the church. For example, it has been the sad experience of parishes that florists, as well as friends and family helping, use staples, glue, and other items which damage wood, all as a means to display the flowers. Please ensure that the florist is respectful of the worship space, which is truly for you as part of our parish.
Diocesan Programs for all couples preparing for Marriage
||Sacramento Catholic Engaged Encounter offers weekend retreats for Catholics preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage http://www.sacee.org
Diocese of Sacramento Pre-Cana
Catholic Faith Formation
Sacramento, CA 95818
Pre-Cana Conferences are held on 10 Sundays a year from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM at the Pastoral Center in Sacramento.
Celebrating Your Non Catholic Marriage in the Church
You are invited to contact the parish office, and ask to speak with the priest or deacon of your choice.
The information below is offered for your reflection...
“ Getting Married in the Church” ---- “Having our marriage blessed” ---- “Convalidation or Re-Validation” ---- “Blessing the Marriage”
From the Office of Family Life, Archdiocese of Chicago
There are many phrases to describe the gift of a married couple in celebrating their marriage as a “sacrament.” Most often, couples and families call it “getting their marriage blessed.”
Most commonly, a couple has entered into a civil union, or a non-Catholic religious celebration of marriage, and they now wish to exchange consent in the Church. The Catholic Church does not recognize their prior exchange of consent as a sacrament, for a variety of reasons, but of course, the Church appreciates and values the commitment they have made to each other, and the moral responsibilities which flow from that commitment.
With this view in mind, the Church see the couple as exchanging consent as a sacrament for the first time, and therefore all of the expectations for entering the Sacrament of Marriage must be fulfilled. The couple must exchange their consent anew (with the new understanding of what the Church appreciates and believes about the sacrament of their marriage), and therefore, the celebration is not simply a renewal of the consent previously given. The couple must have the proper knowledge, intention, and capacity to celebrate the sacrament, which is not established just because they have been living a married life.
For those raised in the Catholic Church, there may be an understanding that their “real” marriage is the one that takes place in the Church. For non-Catholics (whose churches require no particular form for marriage), the requirement for a new act of consent may not be obvious. In either case, the pastoral minister (priest, deacon or minister) should explain this in detail.
If the other party does not see a need to give their consent again, and is adamant that their former consent was good enough, there are pastoral responses to these situations. (Please discuss them with your pastoral minister.)
Just like with any marriage, the couple must have the proper capacity, knowledge, and intention for entering into marriage. They also must be giving their consent freely. The fact that they have been living together for a period of time does not necessarily mean that they understand what Christian marriage is or that they are freely choosing it. Once their marriage takes place in the Church, they will have a new relationship with the Christian community, for which new responsibilities are assumed. This is what is explored in depth in their relationship, precisely because the couple are bound to each other in a different way. This is why the preparation process for this sacrament is most serious.
Some areas the couple may explore:
• What were the events leading up to their marriage outside the Church?
• What contributed to their decision not to marry in the Church, but to marry elsewhere?
• How would they describe their marriage up to this point? Have there been any major arguments or break-ups? Were there any instances of infidelity? Were there any instances of physical abuse or substance abuse?
• If they have children, how would they describe themselves and how would they describe each other as parents?
• If they already have children, are they being raised in the Catholic faith?
• If they already have children, you will also need to explore issues regarding an intention against having more children. When couples convalidate their marriage, they must have the same intention as any other couple entering into marriage; that is, to enter into a faithful, fruitful, abiding relationship.
• Explore the issues of permanence, since this will be a commitment to a permanent relationship. Their marriage outside the Church was not necessarily a commitment to a permanent relationship, since the state gives both parties the right to end the marriage at any time, and they may have had that in mind when they married.
• What made them decide to enter into marriage in the Church? Were there any external factors present in their decision, such as parental pressure, the birth of a child, problems in the relationship that they believe “God’s blessing” will cure, etc.?
• What do they think will be different about their relationship after their Church marriage?^ top
Getting Married when it's not the first time
Annulment of Marriage in the Diocese of Sacramento
THE TRIBUNAL DIOCESE OF SACRAMENTO INTRODUCTION
What the Catholic Church Assumes Marriage to Be
While the Church does not offer an exhaustive definition of marriage, it does provide us with a clear description of this unique and most critical of relationships. This description is drawn from the Second Vatical Council as reflected in the Code of Canon Law:
“ The matrimonial covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children...”
Thus, a marriage is firstly a covenant, brought into being by the consent of both parties. This consent, once given by the spouses, creates the covenant with God, and is presumed, by the Church in law and in Her practice, to exist in every marriage until the contrary can be established before a church tribunal. This presumption is grounded in our understanding of how God communicates the Truth to us — from our Tradition and the Scripture.
DIVORCED – What Do You Think It Means?
Having separated, and then having concluded a legal process, the marriage in our society is presumed to have ended (died). For many, this “frees” them to consider forming a relationship with another which may be expressed maritally in the future. The Catholic Church is unable to participate in confirming this decision precisely because, to do so, would be to contradict the promises and prayers which were made in the prior marriage. We ask the divorced person to begin a spiritual and faithful reflection on the meaning of the prior marriage, with what intent and capacity was that marriage entered into, with the knowledge, and hopefully the experience, the Church is always present and supportive of such a reflection.
When someone forms a moral certainty that his or her prior marriage was not a covenant “joined by God,” which ought to be the fruit of prayer and a comprehensive reflection process, it is our hope this person will petition the Church for an annulment. This petition asks the Church “court” to evaluate if there is objective evidence to support the internal conviction formed, in other words, the Church is asked to confirm publically this conscience choice. This is done through an investigation of the “canonical” validity of a particular marriage (Catholic or non-Catholic). This is why we use the term “ court,” where the subject at issue is the sacramentality of the marriage, considering whether or not there is information available to invalidate the divine obligations of the marriage entered into. To do so, the analysis follows certain rules and procedures, which ensures that all marriages enjoy the presumption of being holy, and permanent, unto the death of one of the spouses. This analysis of the conscience of the Christian may only begin after a civil divorce has been obtained, thus confirming the termination of the marriage relationship, and that “all matters of this earth” regarding the marriage have been resolved (i.e., custody of children, disposition of property, etc.).
Sounds Harsh, But It Affirms Our Teaching From God The Tribunal of the Diocese of Sacramento is the office designated to investigate marriages that fall within its competence, i.e. the marriage was contracted in the diocese, or where one of the spouses legally resides.
An “annulment” is a declaration by the competent ecclesiastical Tribunal that a particular marriage was canonically invalid from its beginning (not a sacrament). Or, in other words, that there were conditions, intentions, and capacities, which make the presumption of the covenant in marriage as not true. This declaration does not deny that an interpersonal relationship existed, that a legal marriage was contracted, nor does it imply that the marriage was entered into with ill will or through moral fault. The same may be said for the divorce of marriage. Likewise, an annulment has no civil effects and does not render any children born of the relationship illegitimate. It is simply, and yet profoundly, a declaration that the marriage was not a sacrament, which is an action of the Church (affirming by its law and practice) the conscience of one of the marital parties that he or she believes he or she is free to celebrate the sacrament of marriage.
INITIAL INTERVIEW AND PRELIMINARY PHASES–The Petitioner
Those who wish to initiate a petition for an annulment should call upon their local parish, or the Tribunal, to ask for a set of directions. At that time you will be told what documents must be procured and what statements prepared. When you have collected all the required papers, an appointment will be arranged to help you identify some possible grounds for the annulment and to explain the rest of the procedure.
It is important for you to understand that the word of the parties alone is not adequate to prove that the marriage is null. While the word of either or both parties is vital in an effort to respect the conscience of the Christian, an annulment is a public recognition of that conscience. Accordingly, the judgment of the petitioning party must be supported by evidence. For this reason, the petitioner will be asked to provide the names and addresses of witnesses (family members, friends) who will be willing to provide testimony as to what they know regarding the intentions, wills, and conduct of the two parties in the marriage. The Church holds that certain conditions must be present at the time one contracts marriage; in other words, for the marriage to be considered canonically (by law) and ecclesiastically valid (in other words, for a sacrament to have been celebrated). In these preliminary steps, the Church is trying to identify any condition that may not have been present; and if not, what is the strength of the evidence to support the presumption that this marriage was not of God.
If grounds for the annulment are based in any way on psychological factors, the petitioner may be required to have one interview with a psychologist or psychiatrist. The purpose is to examine what effects such underlying psychological factors may have had on the parties at the time of the wedding.
Asking the Church to Consider the Question From the above information, it can be determined whether or not there appears to be a basis for a FORMAL HEARING. When there seems to be some basis for an annulment, a PETITION will be drawn up in your name to be submitted to this Tribunal. The presentation of your petition is not a guarantee of an affirmative decision by the Tribunal. The outcome will depend on what develops during the FORMAL HEARING.
THE FORMAL HEARING
An Objective, Impersonal, Deliberation The Tribunal is composed of: a Judge or Judges, a Defender of the Bond, a Notary (who records or transcribes testimony), an Advocate (for your former spouse). At a prescribed date and time, you may be asked to appear and give formal sworn testimony. Your witnesses will have also been asked to submit in writing their statements, or invited to appear and testify. Every witness, as well as the parties, will be contacted by the Judge. Throughout this process CONFIDENTIALITY is protected.
While the process is done to learn in a public forum whether the internal conviction of one of the parties can be affirmed, the formal hearing is not public. There is no confrontation of the parties or witnesses as in American law. The process is meant to verify the conditions that existed at the time the marriage was contracted through a deliberative exchange of views and insights.
Does the Church Know What You Know? When all the available testimony has been gathered, the Judge(s), after studying the testimony and the briefs of the Advocate, and of the Defender of the Bond, will reach a decision. If a negative decision is reached, which means that the gathered evidence does not support a moral certainty what the conscience of the petitioner believes, the parties will be informed of their right to appeal. If an affirmative decision is reached, which means the Church holds “with a moral certainty” that there was no bond “created by God,” the parties are also so informed. Church law requires that each case be reviewed by another Tribunal, to ensure that the laws of the Church were followed (ensuring that no undue, inappropriate, influence effected the decision). The decision is therefore referred to the Inter-Diocesan Tribunal (in the case of the Diocese of Sacramento, the decision is reviewed by the Archdiocese of San Francisco) before a final decision is given.
LENGTH OF TIME
Why So Long? The amount of time it takes to process a case depends upon many factors:
The cooperation in writing the preliminary statement and the cooperation of the witnesses in submitting their statements.
The cooperation of the former spouse, the respondent.
The required court procedures needed to adjudicate the case, including the appearances of parties and witnesses.
The number of cases pending on the Tribunal calendar.
The provision of the Church's law that requires all formal cases to be reviewed by a forum of three judges after an affirmative decision has been reached. It is impossible to give an exact time, but past experience indicates that an entire procedure lasts between eighteen months and two years depending upon the nature of the case. Many cases because of the abovementioned factors, cannot be resolved even in this time. Under no circumstance should a Church wedding be planned until a favorable decision is rendered.
Why Does It Cost At All? More than half of the cost incurred in processing an annulment is supplied by the Diocese of Sacramento. Those seeking an annulment are asked to pay a portion of these expenses. The actual amount always depends on the type of case. At this time, a fee of $450 is requested for a FORMAL HEARING, a portion ($100) is received when a PETITION is submitted and the balance is paid in a manner determined by the Tribunal and the petitioner.
Inability on the part of the Petitioner to pay the entire fee, or even a portion of the fee, has absolutely no bearing on the final decision. If the petitioner cannot pay, a letter from the priest, deacon, or pastoral minister will normally suffice to have the Tribunal to reduce or cancel the amount of costs. A person is never turned away from this Tribunal because of lack of money.