Archive for Annulment
For those in the Archdiocese of Denver, there will be an annulment seminar this Thursday, March 3rd from 7 – 9pm at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Westminster.
Presented by the Tribunal Office of the Archdiocese of Denver.
Call 303-371-7923 for more info.
For those not in the Denver area, contact your diocesan Tribunal office and ask if seminars like this are held in your area. If not…request one!
I received an email recently that was written in a very respectful tone (thank you to the writer, who shall remain anonymous) but challenged my statements that divorce is only “strongly discouraged” by the Catholic church and is not a sin. The text referred to is at Divorced and Still Catholic.
Some good and very relevant questions were asked and comments made, so I thought it would be a good idea to quote the writer’s statements here and try to speak to them for all of us to see. Please feel free to add your comments and/or questions either in the comment box or via email. I would REALLY like to hear from you on this!
I don’t mean to be rude here, but you say in your blog that while divorce is strongly discouraged for Catholics and something to be avoided IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, when a Catholic goes through a divorce, they are still Catholic in good standing within the Church & still able to participate in the sacraments (i.e. receive Holy Communion). However, your answer conspicuously leaves out a basic moral teaching of the Catholic Church, one expressed quite unambiguously in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism says: Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death.
You make good points. First, I need to state (re-state) that I am not a theologian so I am not in a position to debate the moral teachings of the Catholic Church as they relate to what is allowed by the Catholic Church and what is or isn’t considered to be a grave sin by the Catholic Church. I’m sure that all practicing Catholics would agree with and accept what is stated in the catechism about divorce being a grave offense. Divorce is not a good thing. Catholics are not pro-divorce…I think this is especially true of Catholics who have gone through divorce. However, a Catholic who goes through a divorce, is not automatically in a state of grave sin. While it is possible for a Catholic who goes through divorce to be in a state of grave sin for behavior that may have contributed to the divorce or for choices that were made as a result of the divorce…the divorce itself is not a sin.
It furthermore says that Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. ( Part 3, Section two, Article 6, IV., 2384 & 2385.) Clearly, this is a little stronger view than just that divorce is strongly discouraged for Catholics and something to be avoided if at all possible.
This blog is written by and for divorced Catholic moms….we understand more than anyone else how divorce introduces disorder into a family. Generally speaking, we’re the ones who end up trying to hold what’s left of our families together and bringing up our children, and trying to lead our children to healing, after the hell of divorce rips apart our lives. We understand this to the very marrow of our bones. (I’m not discounting the fathers out there who are thrust into the position of holding the family together after the mother decides to leave the marriage…they also understand this.) I don’t know, though, what verbiage I should use other than “strongly discourage….and something to be avoided if at all possible” that would be more accurate. I’ll think on that…
As to the good standing of a Catholic who is culpable of divorcing their spouse (obviously not every divorced spouse is responsible), if someone is truly responsible for a grave offense against the natural law they are really not in good standing.
True. I did not want my marriage to end…if it had been completely up to me, I’d still be married and working to make our marriage better – for the rest of our lives. However, it takes two people to make a good marriage and only one to push through a divorce. I doubt that many who read this blog are the ones who pushed through their divorces. If they are, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t like what they read here and would search for a different message on a different blog. (Clarification: I’m speaking here of those who seek divorce for selfish reasons. There may be many readers here who felt they had to file for divorce in order to protect themselves and/or their children.)
You also encourage the pursuit of an annulment even if you feel that there’s no way you’d ever be granted one. I hope I’m not being unfair here, but that seems to be tantamount to saying that even if you don’t think your marriage is invalid, you can nevertheless try to get it declared as such. But to pursue an annulment just to be free of the marriage bond, and not if you have a real reason to doubt the validity of your marriage, is a questionable approach, from a moral perspective at least. However I realize the moral perspective is not the first thought of many Catholics today and apparently is not the perspective of many Catholic Marriage Tribunals as well.
Again we are not in disagreement – completely. I think you misunderstood my intent, which means I should state it more clearly – so thank you for pointing that out. The reason I encourage all divorced Catholics to go through the annulment process is because the process is healing. It’s a rigorous process that is not easy emotionally to get through. The questions that are necessary to answer bring a person face-to-face with the relationship both before and after the wedding…and even direct the person to delve into their childhood relationships within their families. It’s truly an all encompassing process that forces you to look deep into the relationships in your life and to face your own role in them….and your own role in the destruction of your marriage. Going through a civil divorce is hell…to then choose to go through the annulment process takes a strong person who wants to understand what happened…which will help them to accept what happened, will help them to forgive their spouses AND will help them to forgive themselves. These things are hugely important.
And if the tribunal, through this process of delving into the lives of the people in the marriage, as well as the influence on them from family members…along with input from close friends and family members of the couple (those who knew them at the time of the wedding) find that the marriage was not valid….it’s good that this person will then have the opportunity to marry again within the Church. (If they ever choose to marry again.)
I thank the writer of the message that prompted this post. His/her questions and comments were very important and I’m glad I was made to think about them…and was given the opportunity to share them with you here.
Again…I’m just a Catholic mom who has experienced the hell of divorce and the misconceptions of being a divorced Catholic and who wants to reach out to others going through this painful experience. I’m not a theologian and not in a position to state absolutes about the teachings of the Catholic church or to debate them. If I ever make statements about the Church that are wrong, I appreciate having this brought to my attention. I do not ever want to mislead anyone where our faith is concerned. On the contrary…I want to show that we are indeed still members of the Catholic Church, which is the source of strength, wisdom and love that we so need in our lives.
May God bless and bring you peace.
P.S. Just so you know….I ran this post past a priest who works in a tribunal and was told that nothing I said goes against Church teachings.
You might wonder why I have the words, “Yes, We’re Still Catholic” as part of the title of this blog. That’s because there’s a common misconception that once a Catholic divorces, they are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic church. Not true!!!
While divorce is strongly discouraged for Catholics and something to be avoided IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, when a Catholic goes through a divorce, they are still a Catholic in good standing within the church – still able to participate in the sacraments (i.e. receive Holy Communion).
Now, here is what a divorced Catholic cannot do:
- Remarry in the church UNLESS their previous marriage has been declared invalid by the Tribunal of their diocese. (By the way, this does NOT mean your children become illegitimate or that the marriage is viewed as never having taken place.)
The hours until Christmas are being tracked by my youngest. :0) Gotta love it.
Our tradition is to open gifts from family and friends on Christmas Eve (this is how I was brought up) and then wake up to find gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.
I’m not sure yet which Christmas mass we’ll be going to. I love the idea of midnight mass on Christmas Eve (which is actually going to be held at midnight this year! Yes, in years past, the “midnight” mass has been held at 10:30….go figure.) However, actually staying awake until then is not an easy thing for me. (I’m not a night owl this time of year.) We DID go to the “midnight” mass at least once in the recent past and we all enjoyed it immensely. The choir was amazing and, if I remember correctly, the lights were dimmed, which I just love.
Whatever YOUR tradtions are, I hope that you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!
Try to relax, simplify and focus on simply enjoying the company of those you love. The decorations and food don’t have to be “perfect”…that’s not what’s most important. Make memories of BEING together.
If this is the year when your children spend Christmas day with your ex-spouse, chances are that it’ll be a difficult day for you. I do hope, if that’s the case, that you’ll be spending the day with friends and extended family or, perhaps. making new friends/family by helping out at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Then, celebrate Christmas with your children either before or after the actual day!
If you have some great suggestions for how to spend a Christmas day away from your children, please share it with all of us by leaving a comment. That would be a lovely gift.
May God bless you and those you love!!
Tomorrow, my second oldest graduates from college! That just amazes me. I swear it seems like yesterday…well, okay….a couple years ago :0)….that I graduated from college. How could it possibly have been 27 years ago?! And how could I have two children at that point in their lives! (My oldest graduated last year.)
Funny how memories can remain so fresh.
I met my husband (ex-husband) in college. He was a sophomore and I was a junior. We lived on the same floor of the dorm. Yep…it was a very progressive college. I had no idea the dorms were coed until the day I moved in. I don’t know how my parents and I managed to miss that little detail…
Anyway, I think a couple months went by before he and I met. I still vividly remember the first time I saw him. I was sitting on my bed and the door to the room was open.Strangely enough, my roommate and I were having a conversation about the type of men we wanted to marry. Then he walked by and I was taken by his looks and the way he was dressed and how he was walking with purpose (he was on his way to class and probably didn’t have a second to spare). He was handsome and he wore dark brown corduroy pants with a matching vest and a brown plaid, long sleeved shirt. And he carried an umbrella! He looked rather professorial and I liked that.
We started dating a few months later and were an ‘item’ for the next couple of years. We had some rough spots in our courtship (which originated with me, truth be told) but after 5 years of dating, we married. We had originally planned to marry the year before we actually did but just 2 months before the wedding, we called it off. It simply didn’t feel ‘right’ to either of us…but we never really discussed it. So strange to not have talked about it. (and to not have acknowledged the huge red flags waving)
We continued to see each other…I dated another man briefly but was drawn back to him. We had been dating so long and we got along well and were very comfortable with each other. So we got married the next year.
I know, I know….those are not the best reasons for two people to get married. We were young and idealistic (“everything will turn out well”). Mostly, though, I believe that each of us was afraid of being alone and of starting over again in new relationships. It seemed easier in our minds to simply marry each other…
I can look back now over our years together and see clearly the part I played in the downfall of our marriage and how everything fell apart and why. Through our separation and divorce, though, I was too angry and hurt to see things clearly or to take on any blame. Time and going through the annulment process (and being honest with myself) helped to open my eyes. This is just one reason why I encourage divorced Catholics to go through the process – when they’re ready to.
So, my second oldest is starting a new phase of her life tomorrow. I’m almost envious and almost wish I could return to that time of limitless possibilities stretched out before me. But then again…I’m glad all that is behind me. I’m enjoying THIS phase of my life and the results of all the growth I’ve done over the years and all the experiences I’ve had. There was good and there was bad but each went into making me who I am today. I”m definitely older, wiser and more confident. I have regrets – most definitely – but I”m happy.
I wish a wonderful, exciting, interesting, happy, fulfilling life to my daughter. I pray that she is wiser at her age than her mother and father were. And I pray that she never experiences a failed marriage. (Actually, she’s already experienced a failed marriage, as have all my children. So, I pray that they never experience the failure of another marriage – their own.)
Whatever comes her way, though, and whatever results from decisions she and those she loves makes – I know everything WILL turn out well…
May God bless you and those you love with the very best of Christmases and may He help you to make the new year an amazing one!
I have a very special story to share with you that a friend recently shared with me. I hope you find it as inspiring and motivating as I did.
My husband left me in 1993, and it wasn’t until 1995 that I initiated the annulment process. During those first years of divorce, I dated and had one relationship which I regret, not only because I was betraying my vows and offending God, but also because it was not a healthy relationship and it only made my pain of divorce worse.
In 1997, I received a declaration of nullity and had also undergone a major rejuvenation of my faith and dedication to Christ. I felt I was finally in the right place to begin dating and seeking a new spouse. But I became terribly disappointed with dating. The only Catholic men I was meeting were young men who had never been married, or guys who were close to my age (late 30’s) who were either divorced, not Catholic, or Catholic “but not really.” I began to lose hope in finding anyone who would be right to marry. Then, I began to doubt that getting married again was part of God’s plan for me.
During my first marriage, I had suffered 3 miscarriages, one at about 20 weeks along. The doctors detected the problem and I had major surgery to fix it, but was told afterwards that although I could now carry children, the surgery had rendered me sterile and my chances of conceiving were less than 1%. This happened just shortly before my husband left. So I began to wonder if God had never intended for me to be married in the first place…?
Divorced, no chance of having children… was God trying to tell me something? That’s when a thought occurred to me. Maybe I was supposed to be a nun this whole time!
The men and women who consecrate themselves to Christ alone and live their days in total service to Him are people I admire immensely. However, I have never felt called to be a nun or consecrated woman. This tiny doubt, though, began a long period of arguing with God. I didn’t want to let go of my dream of being a wife and mother, but every time I thought of that dream, the image of a nun tapped me on the shoulder. I still dated during this time and, yet, only became more miserable.
One day, I was in my car stopped at a red traffic light. A family was crossing the cross-walk in front of me; a mom pushing a stroller and a dad with their child on his shoulders. I thought it was a beautiful sight. But, of course, the thoughts of being a nun came crashing through and I immediately pushed them away for the billionth time – with anger and frustration.
Suddenly, everything became very quiet; outside, but especially inside. It was like Jesus telling the stormy seas to calm. Then, my heart heard a very gentle, unmistakable voice which said, “Why won’t you give me this part of your life?” I knew it was Christ speaking to me and I could not deny Him. I knew He wanted me to loosen the vice grip I had on my dream of marriage and motherhood and let Him take care of my life. The encounter I had with Christ at that moment brought me to tears and changed me.
The next morning I went to mass before work. I am a visual person and so, during the consecration, I imagined my wedding dress thrown over the altar and lifted up with the paten, just so I could drive the point home to myself that I was going to let God handle my life from now on. The only mistake I was making here, was that I thought this meant I was going to be a nun. So I committed myself to going down that path even though I didn’t want to. I went on a retreat with a community of consecrated ladies in Rhode Island and I had an appointment set up with the Carmelite convent in New Haven, CT. to meet with the Mother Superior.
HOWEVER, two weeks after that special mass offering, the man who is now my incredible husband, Jim, walked into my place of employment. When I was introduced to him as a new co-worker, I didn’t think anything of it, but he said he knew almost right away that he would marry me. Jim had been in the seminary studying for the priesthood for 10 years previous to this. When he and his spiritual director came to the conclusion that he was not meant to be a priest, he experienced his own type of divorce.
He was in for a long haul if he wanted to date me, because I was convinced at that point that I was supposed to be a nun or consecrated woman! In the 7 months we worked together, we went from me not liking him very much at all :), to the two of us becoming comfortable as co-workers, then to striking up a friendship and, finally, to me realizing that he was the one God had picked for me! And knowing he was THE one became as clear to me as that earlier message that I had to give God control of my dream.
None of this “giving up control to God” is easy for anyone. It takes a “supernatural attitude” that the world seems to tell us is nonsense. I know Jim is the one God meant for me and that God brought us together. The day we married was like night and day in comparison to my first marriage. When we took our vows, I had NO reservations, NO doubts. I was filled with joy.
I was obviously mistaken in thinking that God was asking me to become a nun. He simply wanted me to trust Him with that very important part of my life – my dreams for myself and my future. I had prayed for years that God would bring me a man who would not make fun of me for practicing my faith and that I alone would be good enough for him (no other women involved). When I finally gave my hopes and dreams to God, He gave me so much more than I ever could have asked for…
We now have 3 beautiful children, ages 4, 5 and 7, despite the conclusion of the doctors that I would never be able to conceive. Jim is a great father and wonderful husband who loves me and me alone. I could not have picked anyone better, which is why I’m so glad I let God pick him for me.
My point is to simply say:
- Trust God.
- Give Him the relationship(s) that have ended.
- Give Him your sorrow and loneliness.
- Grant Him access to your dream for happiness in the future and give Him full control.
He will not disappoint you!!
That story from a woman of great faith who has experienced the hell of divorce and came through a painful learning process to finally experience the amazing results of giving up her free will to God – is SO helpful. (sorry for the extra long sentence)
By the way, that’s Lisa Duffy’s story – one of the authors of Divorced. Catholic. Now What? - a book I HIGHLY recommend.
If you have a similar story or know of someone who does, please share it with us! If it’s not your own story, of course please ask permission first. I’ll be thrilled to put it in a future post.
Until next time…May God bless you and those you love.