Published in Church and Life (1839) 15.8.2012 – 5.9.2012 No 13

As fewer and fewer young people keep up with their faith, Jesus Christ and his Church are further away from their daily thinking. We live in a very secular world where spirituality has more to do with singing birds than anything Jesus said or did. The old traditions of our ancestors turn out to be just that. Something our grandparents did, but something which has little significance in “my world”.

It was recently revealed that only 30% of those who should actually choose marriage within the Catholic Church. The rest, as we used to say, “just live in sin”, without any apparent need to walk down any church aisle to the altar of Christ.

There are, thank God, the 30% who realize that marriage is a commitment between a man and a woman before Christ, who believe that it is God’s plan that there should be a marriage, and that the presence of God within the marriage is the best way to do the will of God, raise Christian children, live in a family which is the foundation of our society.

It is not the 30% I’m talking about here. It is the minority of the others who have little faith and the commitment needed to live the traditional Christian way.

More often I, as the Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church inAustralia, am asked by couples to allow their priest to celebrate their wedding in the park, under a tree, in a marriage venue, or any other place which is not a church or chapel.

Let’s make it simple. The Church does Christian weddings! This means a wedding of a man and a woman before Jesus Christ. The priest is only the witness of this. Weddings in our church are always done before Christ’s altar where the Holy Eucharist is present. Life is hard enough; the commitment of marriage is a sign of unity with God which leads to holiness and blessings.

Marriage is an act of faith: a faith which is nurtured and grows. Our Eparch, for many years now, requires prenuptial courses which help couples to grow in their love of God and themselves and thus form a Christian family.

Church laws have always said that marriage must be preferred in a church or chapel, a place where the community usually gathers. I have not till now, and will not in the future, allow any of our priests to perform marriages outside a church.

Some couples are confused because some other churches do allow marriages outside of sacred places. That may be; but our church does not have that practice. I do not think that, when it comes to God, we should be pushing to the outer edges any further.

This post is also available in: Ukrainian