Who knew? It seems that my last post has generated some controversy in the Wayward Catholic family. I have to admit I was surprised that any one from my family read it, not that it would have any bearing on what I write.
There is some mis-understanding as to exactly what an annulment means. Perhaps I should start by what it doesn’t mean.
- It does not mean the marriage was never legal as far as civil law goes. It only means it isn’t valid canonically (church law) because for some reason it doesn’t meet the criteria needed by the church.
- It does not mean that my children are illegitimate in any way, shape or form. They are still legal and still mine, although now I am not so sure at least one of them would prefer not to be.
Here is a definition of what the word annulment means from For Your Marriage:
“Annulment” is an unfortunate word that is sometimes used to refer to a Catholic “declaration of nullity.” Actually, nothing is made null through the process. Rather, a Church tribunal (a Catholic Church court) declares that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union.
Another thing I should make clear is there is no guarantee the annulment will be granted. I have only begun the first step of this process. There is still a long way to go. It could take some time before this happens, if it even does.
Why an annulment?
Why is it so important to me to get an annulment, especially after so many years? About five or six years ago now I had an awakening of sorts after falling off the back of a truck. Until that time I had never given much thought about death or what happens after we die. I suppose I could say I had some general ideas but never gave it much thought. When there was a piece of construction equipment heading for me, thinking this could be it, I guess I can say it woke me up. This incident triggered my investigating what I call “The Whole God Thing”. One of the biggest pieces of this was whether or not one needed to be long to an organized religion or denomination. Even though I had been raised as a Catholic, I didn’t know a whole lot about my religion. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be a Catholic any longer.
In the interest of time I will say that I decided I did want to be a Catholic and I wanted to be the best one I could be. Part of being the best Catholic I can be means partaking in the Holy Mass. Catholics, at least this one, feel that the most important part of the Mass is receiving Holy Communion or the Eucharist. We believe the host or communion wafer, is the body of Jesus Christ, and the wine is his blood. By receiving these we are placing Jesus into our hearts and souls. We become one with Christ.
In order for me to be able to receive the Eucharist, I first need to go to confession. This is another one of those crazy Catholic things where we have to go to a priest and tell him our sins. He then absolves us of them and we can go to communion. I say it is a crazy custom but it really isn’t when you look into it. Again in the interest of time, and also because I am not an expert of the way Catholics do things, I’ll just say I think it is an important part of the process. (You can check out more here)Here is the rub, if I go to confession and confess my sins, while I have not had my marriage annulled, , this is a mortal sin because I am living in an adulterous situation (living with a woman who is not my spouse in the eyes of the church).
“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” – Matthew 19:4 – 6
But again, why is it so important for me to be able to take communion? “The “Catechism of the Catholic Church ” can explain it better than I can:
1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:53
Whether I will get to Heaven or not has certainly not been determined but I want to up my chances whenever possible. This is the next step in the process. After all I have a whole lot of sinning to make up for.