ASK FATHER: Marriage problem, bad confession experience train wreck

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Dear Fr. Z,

I came upon your blog after a very disappointing encounter at church today and in a way, I was looking for some kind of comfort. Please bear with me as I attempt to express both thoughts and feelings.

I have not gone to confession in a long time, so long that I don’t even remember the last time I went. I have lost my way and today’s homily and the celebration of the Feast of the Divine Mercy made me realize that it was time for me to go to confession.

After gathering my courage, I waited in line for over 2 hours in the heat of the noonday sun only to be refused confession by the priest. Frustration. Disappointment. Anger. So many emotions and questions as to why the priest could be so cold even after I said that I have lost my way and that I want to reunite myself with Christ.

After I told him of my intentions, he asked if I was married (yes), if it was at a church (no), if my husband was catholic (no, which is why we were married by a pastor and not in a Roman Catholic church). After hearing my responses he said I was in grave, mortal sin since I wasn’t married in a church and refused to hear my confession but instead offered to pray for me.

It is hard for me to believe that our God would turn someone in my predicament away. I have heard and read the gospels and Jesus never turned anyone away. Does this mean I can never receive the Sacrament of Penance and shouldn’t bother taking communion until I force the man I love to convert to my religion and get married in a Roman Catholic Church? It sounds so contrived!

If the answer is yes then it’s probably time for me to seek a different religion, one that will accept me and my husband with open arms and show me the loving grace and forgiveness of our Father.

My husband has been going to church with me since we married in 2009 and as I walked away in near tears explaining to him what happened, he commented “and you wonder why a lot of Roman Catholics are leaving the church” and I walked in silence, I couldn’t even defend my own religion.

Im hurting Father Z, I want to repair my relationship with God through confession but what am I to do? Should I try a different parish? I feel more lost than when I started.

Please help me Father Z, Im hurting and so desperately want to reunite myself with our God :'(

In John 6, Jesus presents His followers with a difficult teaching: we must eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood in order to be saved. “Many of his disciples, hearing this, said, ‘This saying is hard, and who can hear it?’”  They left Him.

I am sorry you had a bad experience, especially this past Sunday when the Church, according to the ordinary calendar, celebrated God’s mercy. It sounds as if the priest was less than helpful.  As I remind people in my Tips for making a good confession, priests also have bad days. On a day when they are hearing many confessions, after having said a couple Masses, priests can get tired.

That said, while Father’s tone was unhelpful, what he said essentially is true. Someone who is living in an objective state that cannot be reconciled with Catholic teaching cannot receive the sacrament of reconciliation until and unless their objective state changes. Essentially, Father was giving you the truth. What is more pastoral than that? He could have stated it much better, however.

It would not have been helpful to you in any way had Father given you absolution and said, “Go in peace.” You would still be in that objective state of sin.

As the disciples learned, sometimes Jesus’ and His Church’s teachings are hard. The solution isn’t to soften them. The solution is not to look for someone who twists Jesus’ teachings to suit our opinions. The solution is to change our lives to fit Christ’s and the Church’s guidance. That includes his tough words on the Eucharist, on marriage, on relationships, on suffering….

What Father probably should have, first, acknowledged that your return to the confessional was through a prompting of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work in your soul in ways that you might not be fully aware. It is good that you returned to confession. It took courage and strength to respond to what the Holy Spirit was asking, namely, to examine your life thoroughly and then lay out your sins before the priest and seek forgiveness. Father should have told you that, because of your marriage situation, you can’t receive absolution today, but that he’d be willing to meet with you later in the week (or, if he was a visiting priest, encouraged you to set up an appointment with the pastor) to look for a solution to your situation.

There may be a couple possible solutions, that would be best discussed face to face. Your husband would not need to convert to Catholicism in order to have your marriage celebrated in the Church, a dispensation or permission could be sought (and these are usually granted).

You are disappointed now. Do not be discouraged. The Holy Spirit who led you to the confessional in the first place does not give us discouragement. That’s what the Enemy prompts. God wants to right your relationship with the Church and with Himself. Anything that seems like an easy solution to a difficult situation probably won’t resolve anything.

Were you to, as you say, go elsewhere and find a different religion, knowing that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded, what would you have solved? You would only be compounding your problems and endangering your soul. Should we seek out a religion that fits our lives, or should we instead seek out the religion that is true and change our lives to fit the truth?

After Christ’s gave his “hard teaching” in John 6, many disciples left Him. He asked those who remained, “Will you also go away?” St. Peter responded, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Embrace the truth, even when the truth hurts. The hurt is momentary and, in the long run, good for you. If the priest you encountered in the confessional was not helpful, seek another one who will help you to rectify your marriage situation and lead you back to regular reception of the Sacraments.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Cri de Coeur, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to ASK FATHER: Marriage problem, bad confession experience train wreck

  1. PA mom says:

    Your husband does not need to convert. Mine did not.
    To ask your husband to cooperate in having your marriage blessed by the Church is, in a way, to offer him a new level of marriage. Being married in many Protestant denominations which accept divorce is accepting of divorce as an option for your own marriage. Offering to marry him in the Church is to offer him Holy Matrimony which is truly till death do you part.
    It can be very simple and quickly accomplished, and can result in a real Springtime within your marriage as you appreciate the effort he is willing to make for you and he appreciates the gravity of the vow your are willing to take.
    Do not despair, keep praying about it with your eyes on Jesus, who is personally calling you back. It is wonderful and amazing, isn’t it? Keep up hope!

  2. Sonshine135 says:

    “Should we seek out a religion that fits our lives, or should we instead seek out the religion that is true and change our lives to fit the truth?”

    Amen Father Z!!!!!!!!!

    To our discouraged reader: Please don’t be. There have been many times in my life when I struggled with church teaching. I take it that you really experienced a bit of embarrassment, or dare I say, humiliation. It happens. Humility and obedience to the church are some of the hardest things for us to master. The Enemy hates it when we take off ourselves and put on Christ. I even think he may have touched your spouse. How sad is it that he used your discouragement as an opportunity to chest thump against the church?

    I wish you peace and wisdom, and I will certainly pray for you and others who are in similar situations.

  3. IoannesPetrus says:

    Although it came across in a not-so-appropriate way, the prayers which that priest entrusted to our sister provide consolation all the same, and very strongly at that.

    It is in this light that I join my prayers to his, as well as to those of the saints – especially the newly-canonised John Paul II, the “Pope of Mercy” – for her welfare, both immediate and long-term.

    Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself. Amen.

  4. wrightfam says:

    Many years ago I encountered a similar problem. We were married at the courthouse and I had no idea that my marriage was invalid. I went to a priest at my parish to go to confession and he told me no. He worked with me and my husband and after a few weeks our marriage was blessed in the Church. My husband did not convert. Don’t leave the Church, that will not solve your problems.

  5. Bosco says:

    I shouldn’t be too harsh on the poor priest who heard this confession. What one hears and what is actually said can be two entirely different things depending on how the spiritual advice (and the manner in which it is given) is received by the penitent. Her retelling of the encounter suggests she did not hear everything precisely, i.e. the necessity of her husband’s conversion to Catholicism.

    Bless this lady for her desire for forgiveness! Truly moved by the Grace of God to do so. Nonetheless, I could not help but note that, admittedly having been away from the Church for some time, there did not seem to have been a deliberate and comprehensive examination of conscience by the penitent preceding this confession. Rather, it seems she was spontaneously moved to confess by the compassionate sentiments of Mercy Sunday.

    I wonder too that this penitent was put-off by waiting in line for over 2 hours in the heat of the noonday sun. It is worth remembering there are places with longer waits and worse heat than the noonday sun. Such suffering might have been offered up. Instead it sounds a bit like waiting outside in line for tickets to a ball game and upon reaching the window being told there were no tickets left for that day’s game.

    Your advice was spot on Father. Make an appointment with the priest and start sorting it out in a calm and methodical fashion. It may take a little time to regularize matters (I saw no mention of divorce and remarriage in her account) and there may be a period of time wherein continence must be practiced, but in the end God’s Mercy cannot be exhausted.

  6. I hear many stories like this one in my work as a canonist, and I am always very sorry to hear about the pain that people go through when they approach a priest for reconciliation and things don’t go as they had hoped, but I would like to encourage PA mom and parish priests out there to *please* consider using words which describe these situations more correctly: “having your marriage blessed by the Church” is misleading on many accounts and is an expression which should not be used. Nor is it a matter of “a new level of marriage.” The situation that this poor woman is in (not being eligible for receiving sacramental absolution at this time) is precisely because she is NOT married in the eyes of the Church. She is “merely civilly married” (and/or in this case, “married by a [non-Catholic] pastor”) — which for Catholics is not a marriage at all. So there is no marriage there for the Church to “bless.” It is not as if she and her husband entered into a kind of Marriage Lite and now just need an upgrade. It is important for her and for her (non)husband to acknowledge that they are not married, and that at the time of regularizing their situation — most likely by means of convalidation — they will have to express NEW matrimonial consent (in addition to receiving a dispensation for either a mixed marriage since the man is not Catholic or even one for disparity of cult if the man is not baptized). There has to be a recognition that they are not married at this time, but merely living together. This is not to deny the importance or commitment of their relationship or that they may even have had children together and have been good parents, but simply that there needs to be an understanding of what the Sacrament of Matrimony is, and that the Catholic woman failed to opt for it years ago. *Disclaimer*: I do not know all the particulars of this situation, but the couple should have been able to obtain an appropriate dispensation to marry in the Catholic Church even if the man was not Catholic — unless there was another issue, like a previous marriage, that was not able to be resolved.
    Magdalen Ross, J.C.L.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Lady,

    Catholics are, ordinarily, supposed to follow the protocols and teachings of the Church. If one is going to marry a non-Catholic Christian, one is supposed to get a dispensation allowing that. Normally, this is not difficult to obtain (ask a priest and he will take it to the bishop). Because you did not get a dispensation when you got married, the marriage could not be recognized by the Church, which is the source of the sin – you were married outside of the Church (the dispensation is the church’s way of allowing your marriage to be recognized as inside the Church). You can get a dispensation, as others have mentioned and then, sacramental confession.

    Once you get your marriage regularized, you will receive tremendous graces from the sacraments which will help you to love your husband and God even better. You have so much to look forward to.

    In any case, my sister, you have stumbled into a group of people who really do care for you and look forward to your return to the Church and hanging out, here (of course :) ). More than that, we will be praying for you. Do let us know how things turn out.

    The Chicken

  8. mamajen says:

    Beautiful answer, Father.

    I can sympathize with this woman. It is difficult to feel rejected after working up the courage to do something like return to confession after so long. And no doubt the long wait in line was nerve-wracking. I know I can feel very defensive when I don’t get the expected response from someone. Perhaps the priest could have been gentler, but thank God he gave her the correct information instead of just telling her what she wanted to hear.

    She could have given up right then and there, but instead sought out further advice. That is wonderful. Thank you for the reminder that the Holy Spirit works in us and helps us to do good things that are difficult.

  9. Ray says:

    Think I saw a movie once or read a story about a similar situation. It had to do with a phone call from Roma to Argentina and the story line was similar to this “question”. I do like your ending better, Father Z.

  10. HeatherPA says:

    Excellent answer and guidance, Fr. Z. I so wish this would be preached as clearly and charitably from the pulpit. Thank you.

  11. AvantiBev says:

    My sympathy to the woman who had this bad experience. There is one priest at my parish to whom I will not return for Confession based upon personal experiences with his manner both inside and outside the Confessional but don’t let that keep you from pursuing an appointment to speak with another priest. Ask for advice among your married Catholic friends if there is a priest whom they admire and have found helpful in counseling.

    On another note, where was all this priestly resolve about not condoning irregular living arrangements when the sex revolt was getting off the ground 45+ years ago? I remember working with a Catholic engaged couple who shocked all their friends, catholic and non, by NOT living together first. Shack ups /hook ups / starter marriages/ weddings priests concelebrated with shamans; at 58, I have seen it all and NOW that the horse has been stolen we’re locking the barn door?!

  12. Boniface says:

    I think the writer mentioned the 2 hours in the hot sun to show her sincerity, which is clearly genuine. Perhaps the priest, tired after all that time (and perhaps having encountered others in similar situations – who knows? – who may have reacted badly to softer expressions of his message about the Church’s expectations for us) misunderstood her. Certainly he should have explained that there is a way out for her. To this woman, please remain certain that indeed the Holy Spirit has stirred in you this holy desire to be reunited with Christ and His Catholic Church , and that the Lord’s Divine Mercy is unfathomable in its depth and breadth, as is God’s love and desire for your salvation. Please excuse this priest – a fellow traveler in this trying world, though a priest nonetheless – for any lack of gentleness, and get moving with he process that Fr Z recommended. God bless you and keep you, sister! Ask Jesus to change your life – to continue to draw you to himself and to the Church he founded, that provides us with the graces we need to survive the assaults of this worls and be saved. Pray often: “Jesus, I trust in you!” Behind the priest in every sacrament, no matter how weak or tired or less than gentle he might be, is Christ himself, acting through the ordination of his human representative.

  13. Boniface says:

    PS few things are as deeply disappointing as going for confession and being turned away, as has happened to me many times (because the line was long and the priest had to begin mass)! Long lines for confession are a beautiful sight, though.

  14. StJude says:

    My mother didnt convert when she married my dad. She had to take classes and agree to raise her children Catholic.

    The Holy Spirit will work in this situation. When I was in RCIA there was a man, married to a Catholic.. went to mass with his family but wouldnt convert. He was in construction and landed a job remodeling a Catholic Church… he said in our class that he knew as he was working on that church that he was being worked on himself. He said in a loud voice one day at the job site..”Ok, I hear You!”
    There was a huge applause when he was baptized.

  15. Uncle Miltie 615 says:

    To the young woman: My wife and I were also married in 2009, October. I know what these first almost 5 years of marriage has held for us, and I know what a blessing it is to have my beloved next to me in Mass. I think it’s wonderful that your husband is there with you. Please, I implore you; do not let this drive you away from the Church. Please, read carefully what Fr. Z has written, and read it with the most optimistic, hopeful and open of hearts.
    I am heartbroken with you at this whole situation, but it is not irresolvable. Seek the resolution. The Holy Spirit led you to that confessional, and then it led your to Fr. Z. Now let it lead you forward with the next steps.

    Know that you have my prayers and the prayers of so many others.

  16. Uncle Miltie 615 says:

    This fills my heart with compassion and sorrow. I cannot help but feel that I take for granted the sacraments when I hear stories like this.

    I know I’m projecting my experience, but I feel certain that the catechesis (or lack thereof) of the past 40 years has lead to this. This woman clearly would have been married in the Church if she had been better catechized. She regularly attends; her husband is willing to attend with her (A YOUNG MAN IN CHURCH!!); these people are open to the faith, if someone would just teach them.

  17. Geoffrey says:

    “Should we seek out a religion that fits our lives, or should we instead seek out the religion that is true and change our lives to fit the truth?”

    Amen! Beautiful words.

  18. JuliB says:

    I can understand the hurt. I was brought up a lapsed Catholic (no one really believed or went to Mass) and jumped into atheism for 25 years. I returned home to God and Church about 7 years ago. I have an invalid marriage in my past (and it turns out the parish LOST my paperwork for an annulment- at least it’s only the shorter application) and my SO divorced over a decade ago.

    While I shouldn’t have gotten involved with someone who is divorced before he received an annulment, I was still new to the faith when we got involved. After a half hearted attempt several years ago on his behalf to work through the application, he has finally started it again with a real sense of commitment.

    With that said, I’ve had to consider what will happen if his annulment doesn’t get recognized. Most people think I will just get a civil marriage. In fact my SO assumed that we would.

    But to whom shall we go?? I believe that the Church is the one true Church. So after very little deep thought, I have accepted that if his annulment doesn’t get recognized, then we shall not marry. I haven’t thought any further ahead than that.

    Life is hard, but it’s short while eternity is long. I am happy that you have rec’d news here that may comfort you. But please immerse yourself more in the faith and the Church. God never leaves us alone, but He does allow us to face touch decisions. I will pray that you continue to respond to the Holy Spirit and receive such benefit from the Church as I and many others have.

  19. danhorse says:

    To the dear reader who wrote the comment: How exciting, Christ called you back and opportunity is knocking! What will you do with it?

    The Holy Spirit even brought you to this great priest, Fr. Z, for his thoughts! Christ is there, helping you!

    I had almost an identical situation happen to me many years ago. I thought the priest would congratulate me for coming back to the Sacrament (and to the Church!) after 25 years away and imagine my surprise when he said he could not hear my Confession. He told me what I needed to do to become right with the Church and Our Lord. Of course, I cried, I felt sorry for myself at the time but then it hit me, this man is helping me and he is not denying me salvation but rather he’s helping me to attain it.

    I thank God for that priest because if he had not told it to me like it truly is and had not denied me Confession and with it the ability to receive Holy Communion, I may not have followed through. It is wonderful being a fully participating member of the Catholic Church! Don’t be discouraged! Go for it! I’ll be praying for you!

  20. kelleyb says:

    I will pray for this woman, her husband and the priest. I am in awe of the courage it took to go to Confession, and THEN to seek help from Father Z. I agree that the Holy Spirit is leading her. I pray she does not abandon her quest.

  21. Arele says:

    Wow, that was the best response I have ever seen to this dilemma (which is not that dire, and actually very full of hope!)

    This helps me clarify some other things in my discernment as well. There is such a difference between judgment and discernment, and being compassionate while still holding souls to the path that will truly save them and bring them into unity with Christ is tricky. I know they key is having the right heart, and I have been praying for help with this in my own life.

    Fr Z, you hit a bullseye on this one.

    I really hope and pray that this woman finds her way through this seeming obstacle. My daughters are both married to non-Catholics who attend mass with them every week. If her husband already attends mass with her, it should be a relatively easy next step.

    God always finds a way.

    Thank you for publishing your response, Fr. Z. I think it will help many!

  22. Andkaras says:

    Dear Reader, do not fret. what seems now like an insurmountable problem may soon show itself to be a very edifying experience in the future. Be assured that our Lord is very gracious and will remain close to you throughout what may at times seem an arduous process. I have been through it myself.I am not sorry for it either, because being reunited to Christ in His church is the singular joy of my life.I too have sat in the pew burning with desire to receive Holy Communion yet unable. First, admittedly the confessional is not place for you or the priest to have to sort through it all. But your appearance there, has been noted by God and is credited to you in a mysterious way.It took a great deal of humility to go ,Yes? Most parishes nowadays are well equipped to help you through this process (cheerfully ).don’t get discouraged. Think of it as chemo for the soul. Did you ever see a baseball bracket? The loser early on has to win more games than the winners to stay in the bracket to make it to the final game .It’s a bit like that. We “Bad Catholics “Have given our brothers a lot of headaches and paperwork to do, not to mention all of the ministry involved,so let’s be extra patient with them. The end in these matters is so very satisfying it is worth more than the effort. And now that you have voiced your distress on this blog , can you even count how many are already praying for you? You would be truly amazed. –In Christ , Your loving brothers and sisters!

  23. Bea says:

    Great Quote:
    “Were you to, as you say, go elsewhere and find a different religion, knowing that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded, what would you have solved? You would only be compounding your problems and endangering your soul. Should we seek out a religion that fits our lives, or should we instead seek out the religion that is true and change our lives to fit the truth?”

    Father Z.
    You were so patient with your explanation. Love that quote of yours above.
    Where else, can we go, indeed!
    God (Our Lord, Jesus Christ) established One Church and One Church, only.

    My sister married in the Catholic Church to a non-Catholic (at the time) The priest suggested that he not become Catholic just to marry my sister but only if he believed it was the One True Church. It was a mixed marriage at first and he later became Catholic after taking courses to learn about it. He became Catholic for the right reasons.

    Dear reader:
    Be patient with the priest. If you were in line for 2 hours, then he, too, was in the confessional for 2 hours (at least, not counting the time he spent there before you even got in line) listening to everybody else’s sins and problems.
    Marriage is a Sacrament, a beautiful Sacrament and it is wonderful to see you prompted to return to the Sacrament of Penance and receiving Our Lord, in His actual presence in the Eucharist. What a glorious day that will be for you and for heaven. But one of the requisites of penance is to resolve not to continue in whatever sin we have fallen into, that is why, of course, he wanted you to be in a Sacramental Marriage as a Catholic, before you could receive absolution.
    In his fatigue, perhaps, he did not explain it with enough patience. Pray for him as he is praying for you. I, too, will pray for you. There is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than for many Just, who are not in need of God’s Mercy.
    May God Bless you.

  24. jfr1900 says:

    Yes, the priest’s pastoral approach was lacking in this case. Father Z’s clarifications are helpful. Call up your pastor or parochial vicar (or, if nervous, just to get started, any good priest that you trust), and ask about the possibility of getting your civil marriage convalidated in the Church. It’s entirely possible (although not definite until further information is known) that you can be back to the sacraments in a reasonable amount of time.

    It’s a wonderful sign that your husband has been attending Mass with you. Presumably, he’d be willing to go with you to visit a priest outside of confession. This will be an important step toward a convalidation. Also, it may help to counterbalance for your husband the unfortunate experience with the first priest, leading your husband to think that all priests are meanies.

    This was a bad, unfortunate experience. But don’t let it be the end of the story. Christ wants you to be a good, happy, practicing Catholic–and so, obviously, does the Church. Christ wants to extend forgiveness to you in the sacrament of penance. Now, you just need to arrange things so that your celebration of the sacrament can be a true and fruitful one. This bad experience on Sunday may just be a small trial so that the eventual (we hope! we pray!) reception of the sacraments will be all that more fruitful and sweet. A little more work on your part, but be assured that the Church does want to work with you so that all will be right in the end. God bless!

  25. Mojoron says:

    With all of this lady’s internal love of Christ, in order to become what she once gave up, takes a lot of faith in God’s Church. Rules are tough. When my wife and I were going through the annulment process, that took three years; she a Lutheran and divorced and me an almost-cradle Catholic and divorced, the process was time consuming and often aggravating. But rules are rules. Going to Mass each Sunday for three years and being unable to partake of the Eucharist, of which I understood, but my wife did not, because of her rudimentary knowledge of church teaching.

    The statement of the woman’s husband indicating that “no wonder” why Catholics are leaving the church, hit the hardest for me, because that is what most non-Catholics believe: a strident, rule-specific, monstrosity of a religion. That is why most people gravitate to the “other” religions, because they are easy, forgiving and progressive. Those progressivism’s are often in direct opposition to what God taught us and the Church continues to teach to its sheep.

    Thank you Father Z for your canonical insights.

  26. Michael says:

    Why did my post get rejected and everyone else’s approved?

  27. Pingback: Two Patron Saints of Christian Unity - BigPulpit.com

  28. My sympathies to the Reader who posed the question. I am impressed that you followed the holy inspiration to confess, and when confused and hurt still stuck with it to write Father Z.
    Great explanation Fr Z! And such great comments here too – the comments by Magdalen Ross and The Masked Chicken are especially helpful.

    For you and your Significant Other, I pray that all will go well. For yourself, [if you can stand any more advice LOL] a novena to Our Lady of Good Success may help. I have found rapid and sure help from Our Lady under this title [like even before my novena is done] as Mary wants to be sought in these days under that title. Our Lady of Good Success is especially sympathetic to the unusual trials of this era. http://www.ourladyofgoodsuccess.com/frames-3-4-2005/novena.html

    I have some experience too in this situation and thank God I chose not to marry when his annulment was not granted. Not only did I live through it, one of the roughest times of my life, but my life is much happier. Also had I ‘married’ him – he and my friends thought I should just proceed with a false marriage – I see now how my life would have been unmitigated misery. Its always best to follow God’s laws no matter how seemingly silly or against everything we want. Eternity just isn’t worth it – nor is a lifetime of the loss of the Sacraments.

    Many Catholics approach the Sacraments with no idea that they aren’t really married in the eyes of the Church. Some were not taught, some have terrible examples from family members, parents and clergy – while some unfortunately think they have a ‘right’ to ‘take’ Communion in the state of mortal sin.

    In case some lurkers here don’t understand, a clarification is owed:
    A baptized Catholic must be married sacramentally in the Church by a Catholic priest with faculties. If a Catholic does not marry this way, the couple is living in sin. Because of our Catholic baptism, we have an indelible mark of the Faith that never goes away, by which we must live.
    ‘Getting’ a Sacrament under these circumstances has little or no effect, and if the person is knowledgeable, the effect is very very bad, worse than if not taking the Sacrament at all.

  29. Michael: Blog moderation is turned for some posts. It has been my experience, that certain words in comments – even when innocently used – trigger a ‘wait’ to display after the moderator’s check. Some comments just don’t make it for whatever reason, particularly in threads of sensitive subjects.

  30. LarryW2LJ says:

    I echo what mamajen said, “Beautiful answer, Father”.

    This post – this answer – this is what being pastoral boils down to. Answering politely, in a caring manner and thoroughly, while not mitigating one ounce of the Truth.

    Bravo, Father! and I pray (literally) that your reader finds her way back. And who knows? The Holy Spirit IS at work here – may He gently nudge her husband towards “coming home”, too.

  31. incredulous says:

    Father Z, what you have said is so graceful and beautiful. I pray for the lady’s strengthening and her well being.

  32. Gail F says:

    I think that is a beautiful letter. It can be very difficult for people who have lived their lives one way and come to believe that the Church is true to realize that they have, in fact, done things that can’t be fixed quickly.