Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What I Love About Catholicism: Marriage

Some of you may know that I am in the process of going through the annulment process on behalf of my husband's previous marriage. My husband had been married briefly in his twenties and was single for 12 years before marrying me. When we met, I was very far from the Catholic church. I had just ended my time at a major Christian ministry and was attending church services at my hometown non-denominational church. When my husband and I finally married, we did so at that same church. I didn't seek any connection with the Catholic church because as far as I was concerned at that point, I was never going back. It simply didn't matter.

Last year, after my mother passed away, I started to feel this niggling thought of returning to the Catholic church. I fought it for a few reasons. It wasn't until I started to investigate returning that I realized just because I wasn't married before didn't mean the Catholic church could quickly convalidate my marriage. My husband's first marriage needed to be annulled first before that could happen.

When I met with the parish priest who is our advocate, he confirmed that I could not receive the Eucharist until this was done. I thought it was a good way to help me absorb the Real Presence because at that point, I wasn't buying into transubstantiation. In fact, I am aware that many Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence but that communion is simply a symbolic act. I understand well their beliefs. However, I will say that over the past few months, the Lord has been speaking to me about His Presence during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I am understanding Him in a new way and am so very grateful.

This denial of the Eucharist to me is not "cruel" but instead emphasizes the importance the Roman Catholic Church places on marriage. The Catholic church takes marriage seriously because our Lord Jesus Christ took marriage seriously. We know from the Scripture that Jesus spoke against divorce. But yet how often do we see Christians getting married for the second, third, or even fourth time and hardly anyone bats an eye?

When I was involved in the non-denominational churches, I remember meeting some people who were re-married. I remember couples getting divorced and it didn't seem much was done to speak against it, at least from the pulpit. I didn't feel that stern rebuke from heaven, and all seemed well if the two people involved just couldn't get along and decided to part ways.

After visiting another parish (the one I usually attend today), I made an appointment to speak with the senior pastor. I explained to him my situation, just to make certain that I was to refrain from receiving the Eucharist. He confirmed this was true. Then he said something interesting. He leaned toward me and said, "Isn't the Catholic church wonderful to care enough to do this?"

I nodded vigorously. In fact, my beloved priest hit the proverbial nail square on the head. I said, "You know what, Father? I feel loved. Cared for. It's like a child who will constantly push the boundaries with her parents. She feels loved and cared for when they say no, when they set rules and tell her it's because they love her so much that they'll protect her. That's how I feel right now. Protected."

Not condemned, but rather awaiting a possible reprieve. I made a mistake and I pray God will untie the knots that bind me. But to me, the Catholic Church is alone in telling me I screwed up and now I need to rectify the situation. That's what I love about Catholicism. It will tell you the hard things no one else will tell you but quickly add that you are still very much loved and it is because you are loved so much that a chastening must occur.

I want to point out what the Episcopal Bishops are doing in California. They don't seem to be taking marriage seriously at all. In fact, it's downright sinful what they're doing. It doesn't seem to phase them that the purpose of marriage is to raise holy families. In fact, the Episcopal Bishops say they are fighting against Proposition 8 because they are "calling for compassion, love and equal protections" for homosexuals.

The interesting thing is homosexuals already have equal protections. In fact, I'd venture to say they have a preference in the courtroom. As for compassion and love, they also receive this, but "tough love" isn't something they seem to value. Tough love is telling someone they're going down the wrong path. This is what Catholicism is known for and at the same time, reviled for doing so. If it's one thing a sinful world cannot abide, it is pointing out their sin.

The Catholic Church isn't afraid of making waves because she knows her calling. We have a Higher Authority to answer to and it isn't the Supreme Court. No matter how light the world makes of marriage, we know otherwise.

I hope I will be able to receive the Blessed Sacrament soon. Meanwhile, I am so deeply grateful more than I ever thought I'd be for Catholicism and her strong committment to the Sacrament of Marriage. For it is a sacrament, holy, and ordained by God for those called to this vocation. Returning to the Catholic Church has reaped many benefits, and to me, this is one of the greatest - honoring God's plan for love between a man and a woman.

7 comments:

Angela M. said...

It's like you are writing the story of my life! The 18 months I had to wait to receive again were tough but precious. I learned so much in that time. I learned devotions I had never practiced like the Rosary and I became a regular at Adoration. I read and read and read good orthodox Catholic literature until the words practiclly wore off the pages!It was a very intense time. It was a real time of preparation. I'll have to post Fr. Z's "Ten Points for Hope" that he wrote at that time.

When I started reading a bit about Theology of the Body the whole marriage/Eucharist/Trinity concept began to make sense.

I love being in a church that gives such clear guidelines.

Angela M. said...

http://michaelgabrielraphael.blogspot.com
/2008/09/by-fr-z-from-2004.html

Rachel Gray said...

What a wonderful post! "Isn't the Catholic church wonderful to care enough to do this?" Amen. Sounds like a wonderful pastor, too.

JoannaB said...

Hi to Angela whose Blog I am reading now and Blessings to MR. The Eucharist is such a wonderful sacrament that we have - even to sit in front of it in Adoration is a blessings. And when we cannot receive then we receive spiritually from Our Lord. Praying for an anulment for you so that you may be able to participate soon even though you are receiving blessings now in preparation.

Janny said...

What a great post!

I did, however, have to pause at this sentence:

"In fact, I am aware that many Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence but that communion is simply a symbolic act."

Honey, if they don't believe in the Real Presence, they aren't real Catholics. :-) I mean this as kindly as possible...but if there are Catholics out there who are going to Mass and thinking anything up there is "just symbolic," they need a good dip in the Catechism! No wonder so many people say they "don't get anything out of" Mass--when they don't know what's actually going on AT Mass, it's hard to get the value out of it that's there waiting for them.

That being said, I've never before read such a beautiful defense of the Catholic position re: Communion and annulments and the like. I must say, I'm amazed, because even as a Catholic I feel bad for those who are prevented from receiving Communion because of these "marriage rules." You've put a whole new spin on it and made it a blessing. Nothing short of amazing. I stand humbled!

:-)
Janny

Angela M. said...

Janny, hope you'll pop over to my blog and read "The 10 Points for Hope" for those who cannot receive.

merdy said...

Quote A: “Last year, after my mother passed away, I started to feel this niggling thought of returning to the Catholic church. I fought it for a few reasons. It wasn't until I started to investigate returning that I realized just because I wasn't married before didn't mean the Catholic church could quickly convalidate my marriage. My husband's first marriage needed to be annulled first before that could happen.”

Summary A:

1) Mary Rose’s Mother’s death spawned internal questioning of the true status of Mary Rose’s civil marriage to consort.

2) Possibility of “Convalidation” raised to “normalize” Mary Rose’s situation.

3) Key to Convalidation rests in truth of consort’s first Marriage.

4) Annulment process viewed as “key” to unlocking “truth” of consort’s first Marriage, the details of-which are entirely unknown to Mary Rose.

5) Is first Wife of consort interested in seeking the “truth” of her first putative-Marriage? Does she care-enough to appeal the Sentence giving relevant truth to affirm the validity of her Marriage, even if the Tribunal finds a “null” first-instance Sentence based upon the limited information available from the consort-husband who is now interested in Convalidating his second cohabitation?

6) Does the consort’s first Wife know that if she appeals the first-Instance Sentence within 15 days to the Roman Rota, there is a 90%+ chance of any first-Instance (null) Sentence being reversed (declared valid)?

7) Does Mary Rose KNOW 6)? DOES MARY ROSE REALLY-TRULY DESIRE TO KNOW THE TRUTH ENOUGH TO ENSURE THAT THE consort’s first Wife appeals to the Roman Rota (assuming the consort will get his standard, run-of-the-mill, easy-annulment-at-First-Instance of his (first) USA Marriage)?

Quote B: “In fact, I am aware that many Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence but that communion is simply a symbolic act. I understand well their beliefs. However, I will say that over the past few months, the Lord has been speaking to me about His Presence during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I am understanding Him in a new way and am so very grateful.”

Summary B:

1) Mary Rose acknowledges that C.I.N.O.s are plentiful. (Catholics-in-name-only)

2) Mary Rose acknowledges her belief that C.I.N.O.s are legitimate members of the Catholic Faith, despite their heretical, professed beliefs.

3) Mary Rose hints that she herself is inclined to identify herself among the ranks of C.I.N.O.s, though she acknowledges that she is feeling “inspired” toward orthodox beliefs (privately).

4) Mary Rose acknowledges that through private revelation, she is gaining personal instruction from God toward acceptance of orthodox beliefs, tending toward “actual” acceptance of what she recognizes as the “official” teaching of the Catholic Church.

5) Mary Rose doesn’t seem to lend significance to the schizophrenic duality of her posture as a C.I.N.O. herself vs. her desired official recognition of her cohabitation to-be-Convalidated as (possibly) a “legitimate, Sacramental Marriage.”

6) Her unwillingness to separate from her consort, until the status of their relationship is clarified and qualified by the Catholic Church (are they using chemical contraception? Does she care if she conceives an illegitimate child based upon later “proof” of the validity of her consort’s first Marriage?) lends itself toward her true identity in-league with the C.I.N.O. community. She seems to be “just-as-comfortable” being a “posture-Catholic” vs. an orthodox-obedient-believing Catholic, just-so-long-as-nothing-challenges-her-current-cohabitation!

Quote C: “This denial of the Eucharist to me is not "cruel" but instead emphasizes the importance the Roman Catholic Church places on marriage. The Catholic church takes marriage seriously because our Lord Jesus Christ took marriage seriously. We know from the Scripture that Jesus spoke against divorce. But yet how often do we see Christians getting married for the second, third, or even fourth time and hardly anyone bats an eye?”

Summary C:
1) Mary Rose comes within a hair’s-breadth of using the word “adultery”; but doesn’t! (Using it would possibly taint her current cohabitation-lifestyle with her “putatively-Married-consort”!)

2) Mary Rose comes within a hair’s-breadth of using the word “bigamy”; but doesn’t! (Using it would possibly taint her current cohabitation-lifestyle with her “putatively-Married-consort”!)

Quote D: “Not condemned, but rather awaiting a possible reprieve. I made a mistake and I pray God will untie the knots that bind me. But to me, the Catholic Church is alone in telling me I screwed up and now I need to rectify the situation. That's what I love about Catholicism. It will tell you the hard things no one else will tell you but quickly add that you are still very much loved and it is because you are loved so much that a chastening must occur.”

Summary D:

1) Mary Rose avoids self-condemnation AND Church condemnation of her CURRENT BEHAVIOR, BOTH AVOIDING THE USE OF THE WORD “adultery”! (Using it would definitely taint her current cohabitation-lifestyle with her “putatively-Married-consort” (Can. 1061)

2) Mary Rose avoids self-condemnation AND Church condemnation of her CURRENT BEHAVIOR, BOTH AVOIDING THE USE OF THE WORD “bigamy”! (Using it would definitely taint her current cohabitation-lifestyle with her “putatively-Married-consort” (Can. 1061)

3) The Catholic Church is standing-by silently condoning adultery and bigamy by not informing the Mary Rose and her consort that they need to immediately separate until the status of the consort’s first Marriage is defined, which, meanwhile, is valid-until-proven-otherwise!

4) The Mary Rose and her consort should not even be dating! Even less: They should not be cohabitating; and: They should not have obtained a civil marriage!

Quote E: “…I am so deeply grateful more than I ever thought I'd be for Catholicism and her strong committment to the Sacrament of Marriage. For it is a sacrament, holy, and ordained by God for those called to this vocation.”

Summary E:

1) http://www.olrl.org/prophecy/akita.shtml Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in June 1988, approved the Akita events as "reliable and worthy of belief". In fact the Philippine ambassador to the Vatican, in 1998 spoke to Cardinal Ratzinger about Akita and the Cardinal: "personally confirmed to me that these two messages of Fatima and Akita are essentially the same". Hence in Akita we are dealing with a Church approved intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary as sure in this respect as Lourdes, La Salette, or Fatima.

…Akita is absolutely consistent with prophecies of Scripture.

…Now we come to the Sixth Commandment, which violation causes more souls to go to Hell than any of the other Ten Commandments. The Sixth Commandment is transgressed in some of the following ways: fornication, homosexuality or sodomy (Rom. 1:27) (2nd Peter 2:6) (St. Jude 1:7), and the separation of spouses ("divorce") which many times leads to adultery especially if either of the two spouses remarry (Mark 10:11, 12) (Matt. 19:6) (1 Cor. 7:10,11). We see the Sixth Commandment horribly violated by immodest dress. Modesty and purity have practically vanished from our society (1 Tim.2:9-10).

Quote F: http://www.ladyofallnations.org/akita.htm (This quote is significant because it ties the relationship between the Mary Rose’s thirst for Truth, her “suspicion” that Truth itself is physically present in the Holy Eucharist, and that in some mysterious way, the “Truth” of her current marital status is tied to her worthy-reception of the Holy Eucharist!)

“The truth is that Christ is God and Man and that as the Lady of All Nations put it: ‘No other Church is constituted like ours!’ We are Catholics and as Catholics the simple, undeniable truth is that we have the Word Incarnate, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Truly Present in the Most Holy Eucharist. And isn't that what makes the devil so upset? We have the True Presence among us, the Greatest Gift and Source of Strength – ‘the Bread of Life!’ In this day and age, truth is mistakenly regarded as a perspective, a viewpoint or a reality only according to one's perception. This convoluted modern terminology is the jargon of the liar. But in the world of the faithful, there is only the pure expression of simple yet profound truth. Sr. Sasagawa lives the simple faith of a true believer and because of this she can profess the truth without hesitation and with great love, unlike so many Catholics today who make compromises with the world and in so doing not only negate their faith but quickly give up the Son of Man in the Most Holy Eucharist.”

Summary F:
1) (To her credit) Mary Rose seems to “get it” that “Love is a Person” – Jesus Christ Himself! Made manifest in the veil of the Sacred Host of the Holy Eucharist!

2) The Love Mary Rose experiences for her consort, who is still putatively-married to his first Wife, causes her to also desire intimacy with Love Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist!

3) Mary Rose, unlike many Catholics, “get’s it” and accepts that somehow her ability to validly experience intimacy with her consort is tied to her ability to validly encounter the Source of her Love through Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist!

4) Mary Rose, unfortunately, understands far-less about the nuances of the revised and traditional annulment customs of the American Catholic Church than she does about the teachings regarding the Holy Eucharist! [The Popes and the Roman Rota have frequently chastized the American Tribunals for their lax granting-of-annulments!]

Quote G: http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/AKITA.HTM "October 13, 1973 ...The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres ...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.

Summary G:
1) Mary Rose innocently trusts the “face value” of what she is being told; can she be blamed? Is she being told the Truth when no one has bothered to tell her she must immediately cease cohabitating with her consort who is putatively-married to his first wife?

2) Mary Rose has many more hard questions she needs to ask herself to guard against following “wolves in sheep's clothing” against the teachings of the full orthodoxy of the Roman Catholic Church.

Unfortunately, I have illustrated enough falsehoods in Mary Rose’s current “journey” to prove that her eternal soul is not being guarded by those in whom she has placed her trust.

Prayer: St. Mary, Patroness of Cana and Guardian of all who seek happiness in Holy Matrimony: Intercede for Mary Rose, her consort, his First Wife, and any children born of their unions that they may find Truth and leaders who will help them discern the Truth! St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church: Intercede for all families and Spouses to follow the Teachings of Your Son and His Church!
Dear Jesus! Born amidst a stable to humble parents who sought to serve Your Father and You: Guard all who seek You in Love by leading them in Truth to You and to knowledge of Your Laws and the Ways of Love!