Back on Ash Wednesday I took the next big step in my journey back to God and to being a better Catholic. The first thing I did was to go to the Ash Wednesday service, something I had not done since I was kid. I had an ulterior motive other than just getting ashes however. I figured I would have a good chance of cornering the priest at the end of Mass.
Why did I want to corner the priest? Well, I learned some time ago as I was researching my Catholic faith, that I was not legally (under church law) allowed to receive communion because I was divorced and remarried. Since my first marriage was in the Catholic Church I would need to go through the process of having my old marriage annulled. I’ll admit that this is one of those laws I don’t fully agree with, but I do understand it. According to scripture when you are validly married in a Catholic church you are married until death do you part. This is a life long commitment and getting a divorce is a sin. Also if you are living with someone who is not legally (again under church law) your spouse, you are committing adultery. We all know adultery is one of the big ten.
This is something I have wanted to do for a long time now, since I found out I wasn’t able to participate in receiving the Eucharist. So I cornered the Pastor after the service ask him about the process. I felt that if I didn’t corner him, I would once again chicken out, finding some excuse not to talk to him. If I stood there for awhile then I wouldn’t be able to leave. Why would I want to make excuses to not talk to the priest? Because I am was deathly afraid of priests. You see I was brought up in a time when we were taught that a priest was like God. Not just a conduit to God, or a messenger of God, but he WAS God. Because he was God, he knew everything we were thinking and if he wanted to with just a nod of his head he could send us straight to Hell, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. He wasn’t a real person, he was well, God.
All this was before the clergy scandal so that had nothing to do with the fear it was just what I was taught. Although I can understand why many of the victims would have kept silent if they believed as I did. If one of these priests put the fear of God into one of their victims If they had been told if the said anything about what was happening they would go to hell. I can understand the reluctance to speak. I also have to wonder how many of the parents of these victims would not have believed the stories as well. Yes, of course it was wrong for the Bishops and Cardinals to cover it up and I believe on Judgement Day this will all be taken care of.
Back to my visit with the priest. How can one be afraid of a person who introduces himself as the priest who looks like Howdy Doody (although I admit I don’t see the resemblance)? After the service I asked him if I could talk to him a minute, told him what it was about and he said let’s go somewhere quiet. He didn’t tell me it was going to be the confessional booth. Was this some kind of a sign? Oh well. Actually we had a great talk for almost an hour and he told me what I needed to do to get the process rolling. I am not quite sure if he realized what he was saying when he said it’s better to write too much than not enough. This resulted in a ten page discourse.
I still have a way to go before this process is complete and there is no guarantee I will be given the annulment. If not I will come up with plan B. I will keep you updated on the process.
If you would like more information on the annulment process in the Catholic Church, here is a book that helps to explain it: Annulments & the Catholic Church: Straight Answers to Tough Questions