ASK FATHER: Spouse unwilling to seek convalidation of marriage.

From a reader…



You recently had a post, ”
ASK FATHER: Godparents must be confirmed, married properly”

In this post you discuss the con-validation of a mixed marriage and a little but about the process.

I have an interesting situation that has been with me for a while:

Some background

I am a cradle Catholic that was raised in a home that didn’t practice the Faith. After Confirmation, I quit practicing and drifted further and further from the Faith. During that period, I met a wonderful women, we were married (in a Baptist Church).

Along comes April, 2005. I was sitting in my office and news came that Blessed John Paul II had died. I’m not sure what it was, the next thing I know, I attended the noon Mass at the Church a few blocks away. This was my first Mass in more then two decades.

I get get back to my office a scour the internet for directions on making a good Confession (I had previously availed myself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation only twice: before First Communion and before Confirmation)

The next day I head over to the local Church for the pre-Mass Confession. I get in the box and dump 20+ years of sin on poor father. He does something amazing. He thanks me, telling me I have made his day.

I began to immerse myself in the Faith, learning what it meant to be Catholic for the first time in my life. My wife is very supportive, we are actively raising our daughter as a Catholic (she loves the Latin Mass!) and I volunteer as a Catechist.

About fours years ago now, I stumbled on the issue of the validity of my marriage. For reasons all her own (and she has some good ones that have to do with me not the Church) she is not yet willing to seek validation for our union.  [There's the point.]

This caused me all kinds of Sacramental angst. How can I receive Communion? How can I seek Reconciliation? How can I become a Catechist? What about my daughter’s upbringing?

I have sought guidance from numerous Priests, both on the canon and the spiritual. The guidance has come back two-fold: 1. Because I had more or less abandoned the Faith when I was married, I didn’t need to do anything. It would be like recognizing the wedding of two Protestants before they converted; 2. My wife and I can “live as brother and sister, not husband and wife” so that I can continue to receive the Sacraments until the validation.

The first response came from a single, rather 1970s diocesan Priest, so I’m iffy on that interpretation. The second I have heard from multiple Priest, some who I trust implicitly on this issue.

For the last year and a half, my wife and I have been doing just that, living “as brother and sister”. It has not impacted how we are around our daughter, simply the level of physical intimacy.

I read your post yesterday and would love to get your take on the situation.

As with everything, I pray about!

The “1970’s priest” is wrong, but possibly not maliciously so.

He may have been thinking that you “formally defected” from the faith and therefore, were not held accountable to ecclesiastical law (which is what the requirement of canonical form for marriage is).

“Formal defection” was – was – a very difficult thing to determine. In 2009, the Church did away with that concept.  We have returned to the more traditional understanding “semel Catholicus, simper Catholicus – once a Catholic, always a Catholic”. Your Catholic baptism initiated you into a family. No matter what you do, you are always going to be family.

There are good Catholics and bad Catholics.  There are practicing Catholics and non-practicing Catholics.  There is no such thing as an “ex-Catholic.”

One thing that might be possible.  It would be worthwhile sitting down and talking with a good priest canonist or someone at your local marriage tribunal.  You might look into a sanatio in radice.  This is sometimes translated into English as a “radical sanction”, but a more literal translation of the Latin would be “a healing at the root.” It is also called a “retroactive validation” (can. 1161-1165). In this procedure, the bishop retroactively grants a dispensation which “heals” the wound of the invalidly contracted union.

This procedure is especially useful when one of the parties is not willing to exchange consent anew (but still wishes to remain in the union).

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OLDIE PASCHALCAzT 50: Easter Wednesday – You are like a new colony of bees

FROM 2011:

These 5 minute daily podcasts are intended to give you a small boost every day and a little insight into Easter and its Octave.

Today is Wednesday in the Octave of Easter. Happy Easter to all!

The Roman Station is St. Lawrence outside-the-walls. The custom of Roman Stations continues all through the Octave of Easter.

A hint at the thought: “All of you who stand fast in the Lord are a holy seed, a new colony of bees, the very flower of our ministry and fruit of our toil, my joy and my crown.” – St. Augustine of Hippo

Subscribe on iTunes. Be sure to “update“!

Noli me tangere

And from the much-missed Vincenzo long ago…

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When the massive planet-killer asteroid strikes, the seas will boil, ejecta will block the sun, planetary temperatures will drop and everyone who didn’t die in the initial fiery inferno or the bone crushing flesh ripping tsunamis, will freeze and starve and then freeze some more until they die in the lonely agony of stiff, frigid hunger and horror.

Or not.

That why this story is pretty interesting. From The Telegraph:

Astronauts plan $250 million asteroid telescope ‘to stop disaster’
Apollo astronauts warn only “blind luck” has prevented worse disasters as they push for $250 million telescope to spot asteroids on collision course with Earth

As members of an elite band of cosmic explorers, they are among the few to have gone beyond the final frontier and looked down on the Earth from space.
Now, inspired by the unique perspective they gained of their home planet – and armed with startling new data about the scale of the threat it faces from asteroid strikes – a group of former Nasa astronauts are on an extraordinary mission to save the world.
Fourteen months after an asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on a scale equivalent to 30 Hiroshima bombs, the B612 Foundation, a non-profit group founded by Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and space shuttle astronaut Ed Lu, are warning that only “blind luck” has so far saved it from worse.
“It’s a giant game of chance we’re playing. It’s cosmic roulette,” said Dr Lu, whose group is working towards building and launching Sentinel, a $250 million telescope that would spot space rocks on a collision course with the earth, giving several years or even decades worth of notice to deflect a disaster.
“There’s a saying in Vegas that ‘The house never loses’. It’s true; you can’t just keep playing a game of chance and expect to keep winning,” added Dr Lu, the group’s chief executive officer.


We are literally in a shooting gallery,” said Mr Schweickart. “That’s the message we want people to understand. It’s happening, it’s ongoing, and the big ones will come. It’s just a matter of when.”


Two things.

Flaming planetary death is better with a good mug of coffee.

No… three things.

First, since death is imminent, please use my donation button, the wavy flag. Thanks.

Next, drink all the Mystic Monk Coffee you can now. When that asteroid hits, friends, you are going to have other worries. So stock up.  I hear theK-cups are great.

Finally, examine your consciences and…


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The Feeder Feed: Old Chasuble Edition

I’m enjoying some time at The Cloisters with a friend.

In honor of a priest who has disparaged my posts about birds, I add this edition.

Behold a priests chasuble from Venice of the late 15th to early 16th century.




A detail from the shoulder gives a sense of how sumptuous it must have originally been.


The very best prepared the most holy of all earthly actions. We need a return to this attitude.

Meanwhile, a fine chalice from 13th c Germany.


Also, the gardens are being prepared. The esplanierd pear is blooming!



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The key to increasing vocations

It seems to me that if we want to see an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we have to start praying more specifically about what we really want and about what we are willing to give.

For example, can we please stop lumping all vocations together?  Marriage is sliding down the hill towards the edge of the cliff, but lets not lump prayers for more and healthy true marriages together with vocations to the priesthood.  Pray for good marriages.  Prayer for priests.  Pray for religious.   Avoid generic “vocation” prayers.

Next, people must start praying that their own homes be the source of those vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  Don’t pray in a vague way that, somehow, men out there somewhere will respond to their call.

Parents and grandparents have to start praying, “God, take my son to be your good and holy priest”, “Lord, take my daughters to be your brides in the convent.”

This isn’t something that should concern someone else.  It has to concern us at home.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend here in Gotham about the numbers of men and women responding to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. She mentioned a fascinating story of which I was unaware. HERE

“The little village of Lu, northern Italy, with only a few thousand inhabitants, is in a rural area 90 kilometres east of Turin. It would still be unknown to this day if, in the year 1881, the family others of Lu had not made a decision that had “serious consequences”. The deepest desire of many of these mothers was for one of their sons to become a priest or for a daughter to place her life completely in God’s service.

Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandro Canora, they gathered every Tuesday for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, all the mothers prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.

Through the trusting prayer of these mothers and the openness of the other parents, an atmosphere of deep joy and Christian piety developed in the families, making it much easier for the children to recognize their vocations.”

“Did the Lord not say, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14)? In other words, many are called, but only a few respond to that call. No one expected that God would hear the prayers of these mothers in such an astounding way. From the tiny village of Lu came 323 vocations!: 152 priests (diocesan and religious), and 171 nuns belonging to 41 different congregations. As many as three or four vocations came from some of these families.


Read the rest here.

Some time ago I wrote about a prayer for vocations recited at my home parish in my native place. HERE I am convinced that that prayer was a major factor in the large number of vocations to the priesthood that came from that parish, especially during the tenure of its late pastor, Msgr. Richard Schuler.

A key to the effectiveness prayer is not only its entrusting of the petition to Mary, Queen of the Clergy, but also the petition that God choose His workers “from our homes“.

Vocations are where we live.  They are ours in a larger sense and we must own them.

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, Women Religious | Tagged , , | 46 Comments

OLDIE PASCHALCAzT 49: Easter Tuesday – Finding the bones of St. Paul

I am not making PASCHALCAzTs for 2014, but here is a podcast from 2011:


These 5 minute daily podcasts are intended to give you a small boost every day and a little insight into Easter and its Octave.

Today is Tuesday in the Octave of Easter. Happy Easter to all!

The Roman Station is St. Paul’s outside-the-walls on the Via Ostiense. The custom of Roman Stations continues all through the Octave of Easter.

A hint at the thought: “Let not him who has “put his hand to the plough” forsake his work, but rather attend to that which he sows than look back to that which he has left behind.” – St. Leo the Great

Subscribe on iTunes. Be sure to “update“!

Harrowing of Hell

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OLDIE PASCHALCAzT 48: Easter Monday – Octaves explained

This year I am not continuing with PASCHALCAzTs during the Octave of 2014, but one year I did!

Here is one from 2011.


These 5 minute daily podcasts are intended to give you a small boost every day and a little insight into Easter and its Octave.

Today is Monday in the Octave of Easter. Happy Easter to all!  The Roman Station is St. Peter’s in the Vatican.   The custom of Roman Stations continues all through the Octave of Easter

A hint at the thought: Theologically speaking, an octave anticipates the eternal bliss of heaven in which we will consider God in His glory.

Subscribe on iTunes. Be sure to “update“!

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PASCHALCAzT, PODCAzT | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

ASK FATHER: Godparents must be confirmed, married properly

From a reader…


I have been asked to be my nieces godmother but I have to make my confirmation. The lady at the church [?] told me I can not do so until I have my marriage convalidated by the church. I have talked to several people and they find that odd. My husband (who is Methodist) is going to be the godfather is weary about it finds it extremely odd as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

I’m not sure who the “lady at the church” is – and sometimes these nameless and titleless people can have some odd ideas –  but here, the lady at the church seems to be right on point.

If one is Catholic, one is bound to have one’s marriage celebrated in the Church.  This is not just a matter of canon law, though that it important.  This is a matter of following the Church’s teachings on marriage.  We must also attend to the traditional Precepts or Commandments of the Church.

To be a confirmation sponsor, one must be a baptized and a confirmed Catholic in good standing. That only makes sense. How can one be a source of encouragement and guidance to the Catholic life for neophytes if one is not fully living a Catholic life oneself?

Getting your marriage convalidated (which is not just getting the marriage “blessed”, for you’ll be instructed and asked to place a new act of consent as you are entering into something new) will allow you to return to the reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and Holy Communion.

I presume that you’ve been informed that if your marriage is not recognized by the Church, you are not able to receive the sacraments.

If one wanted to be a godparent, one would similarly want to receive the sacrament of Confirmation and have one’s marriage celebrated in the Church as well.

Do not fall into the trap of seeing any of this as a “burden” or a “hoop” to jump through.    This all makes perfectly good sense.

Another quick point: your husband, who is not Catholic, will technically not be a godparent, but a “Christian witness” to the baptism. Only those who are fully initiated Catholics can serve as godparents.  A godparent is there to serve as a guide for the child in the Catholic life. Only those who are living the Catholic life can provide that service.

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Your Easter Sunday sermon notes

I am sure that you have good points to share from the sermon you heard for the Easter Vigil and for Easter Sunday Mass.

Let’s bring out those good points and share them around.

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WDTPRS Easter Sunday: “Be what you see and receive what you are.”

We observed the Sacred Triduum: the priesthood was celebrated, the Eucharistic Christ was reposed and the altar stripped, the Passion was sung and the Cross was kissed.  Our liturgical death was complete.  Then in the evening, in some places even at midnight, the Easter Vigil began.  Flowers, instrumental music, white and gold vestments returned after a long drought of ornamentation.  The Exsultet rang out next to the Christ-like Paschal candle, burning brightly in the shadows.  Baptismal water was blessed.  At last we again sang Alleluia.  Catechumens were received or baptized, some also being confirmed.  They received Christ for the first time in the Eucharist.

On Easter day we now hear the Sequence Victimae paschali laudes about Christ the “Victor King” and His duel with Death.  Holy Church and her children are renewed in the promise of the resurrection.  Since Christ has risen, we too may rise.

Here is the Collect for Mass “during the day” which has its roots in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary:

Deus, qui hodierna die, per Unigenitum tuum, aeternitatis nobis aditum, devicta morte, reserasti, da nobis, quaesumus, ut, qui resurrectionis dominicae sollemnia colimus, per innovationem tui Spiritus in lumine vitae resurgamus.

I like the repeated “re-“ sounds in reserasti… resurrectionis… resurgamus as well as “-er-“ sound: hodierna… per… aeternitatis… reserasti.  Read it aloud. In the second part listen to the assonance on the vowel i, pronounced like the English double e as is “see”.

Latin colo, means “cultivate” as in “to cultivate, take care of a field”, and also “to regard one with care, i.e. to honor, revere, reverence, worship.”  It is used in both agricultural and religious contexts.  Latin cultus, means “worship”.


O God, who today, once death was conquered, unbarred for us the gateway of eternity through Your Only-begotten, grant to us, we beg, that we who are reverently observing the solemn annual rites of the Lord’s resurrection, may through the renewing of Your Spirit rise again in the light of life.


O God, who on this day, through your Only Begotten Son, have conquered death and unlocked for us the path to eternity, grant, we pray, that we who keep the solemnity of the Lord’s Resurrection may, through the renewal brought by your Spirit, rise up in the light of life.

At Easter we Christians renew our profession of faith as one transformed people.  In the waters of baptism, we passed through death to new life.

In ancient times, catechumens had a long period of preparation before their admittance to the sacred mysteries of the Mass.  They were permitted to attend the reading of Scripture and the sermon but they were sent out before the Eucharistic part.  At the Easter Vigil the catechumens stood before the congregation and recited their profession of faith.  The doors were then opened to them.  Anointed, baptized, clad in white linen robes, they were permitted to stand within the sanctuary and to participate in the Eucharist for the first time.

The newly baptized were called infantes, the “new born children” of the Church. With them, St Augustine of Hippo (d 430) used agricultural imagery when comparing the sacred area the basilica’s sanctuary to a threshing floor where grain and chaff are separated.

Augustine taught the white-robed infantes that not only are bread and wine transformed, people are too.  Bread is made from many kernels of wheat, wine is from many grapes.  Grain and grapes are changed by us and wine and bread are changed by God.  In turn, the transformed bread and wine are given back to transform us.  Augustine was especially concerned that they see themselves as a transformed people deeply, intimately connected to the Eucharist: “Estote quod videtis, et accipite quod estis… Be what you see and receive what you are” (s. 272,1).  He compared the new Christians to wheat, grown, harvested, ground, formed, baked through the agency of others, prepared for the Eucharist.  God plants new Christians to be wheat sprigs (spicas) not thorns (spinas). The newly baptized were now new tender shoots in the fields of God, “irrigated by the fountain of Wisdom, drenched with the light of justice.”

Can we recapture something of the joy and zeal of converts in our participation in Holy Mass?

A Church-wide liturgical catechesis could help.  So will Holy Mass celebrated in such a way that we can sink into it, grow from it, rest in it, be nourished by the mysteries our Church sacramentally re-presents in it for us.  Mass is not just play-acting or simple remembering: it is about Life itself.   Everything we do and say during Mass has meaning, sometimes plain, often veiled.

The Octave of Easter extends our opportunity to pray and worship within the mystery of Our Lord’s resurrection.

May you and yours have a blessed and grace-filled Eastertide.

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