A heavy heart

Hello members,

Please only Catholics respond. And I pray you do, as I am in need of your help.

I really have some questions, and like many people I have come to form these questions from personal experience, which I must explain to some extent.

I was raised in the church of the Nazarene, due to the influence of my dear grandmother. My mother, who I lived with most of the time lived in sin for much of my growing years (until later), and never knew my father. The Church does recognize the baptism which I received in the Nazarene church, and so I know that I’ve received Jesus through confession and through baptism.

Fast-forward to my adult life, I was married to a charismatic (“Full Gospel”) minister and after 9 years and no children we did divorce. And I later remarried and remain in this marriage. We are currently not attending any church. Throughout my adult life I have been rather studious in Scriptures and have come to realize that so much of the doctrine I had received was “off” just enough that the very Word of God had actually fallen upon ground that was truly NOT ready for a truthful interpretation of the Gospel. As I’ve looked on further, I can see that I have missed the ultimate calling to be fully a part of God’s Holy Church in full communion…

I’ve attended the local Catholic Church many times. At one point I spoke at length with the priest, who was very kind, regarding options I may have to become Catholic. He explained the option of annulment of my first marriage, so that I may go through the learning processes and confirmation and be eligible to receive the sacraments of the Church. What I find is that my conscience will not allow me to seek annulment, as doing so would indeed greatly offend my first husband. It would basically call the marriage void and I cannot do this in a fully Christian spirit. I do not believe (and I hope you can confirm this) that my salvation and relationship with Jesus is void if I do not become fully reconciled to the Church; however, I know in my heart and soul that doing so would benefit me greatly. But while I would benefit myself greatly, as I have prayed and prayed over this, it is wrong for me to be benefited at the hurt of another Christian (my first husband).

So now that I have explained this situation, my greatest question is, of what parts of the Church, of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother may I partake? Can God still bless my life? Can He use me in His service as a wife and (now, through adoption) a mother?

My heart is so heavy. I am grieving the opportunity that I lost, forfeited. What possible revelations of TRUTH will I be permitted to receive? Oh how I wish I could start all over. I deeply call out to Jesus for His help, from my lips but so much more with words unspoken. I know I am nothing, that I deserve nothing. I feel that I am only partly God’s because of these things. So far I only find comfort in Romans Chapter 8. I don’t know how to actually establish a relationship with Mary, but I do feel honor for her gentleness and am greatly in need of her comfort and wisdom. And of God’s protection of my soul.

Thank you for reading.

The Catholic Church does recognize the Baptism of non-Catholic Christians. " The only baptisms that the Roman Catholic Church would not recognise are those from Churches that do not adhere to the Trinitarian doctrine of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This would include baptism by sectarian groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Unification Church and the Mormons." wiki.answers.com/Q/What_Baptism_does_the_Catholic_Church_not_recognize

The marriage between non-Catholic Christians is valid unless there is an impediment that means the marriage was invalid anyway. It is only when a Catholic marries outside the Church without dispensation that their marriage would be invalid.

It is wonderful that you go to Mass and pray, and certainly God will bless you in this.Regarding Communion, as you are not in full communion with the Church you can make spiritual acts of Communion while at Mass and at any time you wish.

By St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Ligouri
MY Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my soul. Since I cannot now receive Theesacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though Thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.

By Raphael Cardinal Merry del Val.
AT Thy feet, O my Jesus, I prostrate myself and I offer Thee repentance of my contrite heart, which is humbled in its nothingness and in Thy holy presence. I adore Thee in the Sacrament of Thy love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive Thee into the poor dwelling that my heart offers Thee. While waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion, I wish to possess Thee in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, since I, for my part, am coming to Thee! May Thy love embrace my whole being in life and in death. I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. Amen.

Love and prayers,

Hi Trishie,

Thank you kindly for offering those tender words. I actually did not know about spiritual Acts of Communion being allowed or what they even were. Oh how I look forward to partaking in this way; as in the Protestant churches, when I would partake it was under the idea that it was all symbolic. Now that His very reality and presence has been revealed to me, how much more I will derive from this, even without partaking fully.

So what are the boundaries for me concerning confession and absolution? Will my efforts at penance be received by God?

Oh thank you for teaching me about this option for (spiritual) acts of communion!

Hi seekingjesus405. I don’t know a lot about Nazarenes (I know you’re somewhat similar to Methodists, but I don’t know what the precise differences are). Do you have any teaching about “spiritual dryness”? I get the impression, from reading your post, that you might benefit from reading up on that.

There are actually other reasons that a marriage would be invalid besides a Catholic marrying outside the Church.

I hope you change your mind and I will pray for you.

The annulment does not mean you were never married. It simply means it was not a Sacramental Marriage.

It would never discount or minimize your first marriage

The above is very truel There is a lot of misconception about this so you might ask that
priest to explain it further.

Oh yes, I remember Grandma and the other members of our church discussing this and I do intend to read up on it since you mentioned this. Indeed something altogether new is happening within my soul and it has been completely prompted by the Holy Spirit…never in all my days have I experienced this mixture of pain and joy over chasing after God. As a younger Christian there would be these “spiritual mountaintop” experiences (as we would call them). But over the years as I look back I see that those experiences may have been insufficient; for in them I was only identifying with the Risen Christ…yet was I changed by those periods in my life? I say not too much. However now I have been brought to (ushered it? invited to?) identify with His suffering, His longing. And it is profoundly changing something inside of me. There’s that business book that came out a decade ago, “Who Moved My Cheese” …well now that’s a small and silly comparison to this, but WOW! It’s as though God’s call to me has deepened but, yeah, I’m scurrying around here on earth’s floor searching for my Master. I rejoice in this ache in my soul.

How strange that I am in an online forum expressing this to strangers but I cannot think of one person I know today who is Protestant, that would “get” what I’m talking about here. Grandma would though :slight_smile:

I’ll be contacting the priest over something Paul wrote, and that is what is stopping me from pursuing annulment…something about not offending others by following the laws…I may have misinterpreted this.

As you and your first husband were not Catholics, I would highly doubt you both had the understanding of marriage as the Church understands it. As such I would definitely speak with your priest again about annulment, and what it actually means.

As to offending your first husband, try to be kind with your words, and explain it to him after you fully understand it. But at the end of the day, we can’t let a few temporary hurt feelings keep us from fully communion with God.

SeekingJesus–Although you asked for only Catholic responses, I assume you mean that in regards to your concerns about an annulment? I hope you don’t mind if I say that I definitely “get” what you’re saying about maturing into identifying with Christ’s suffering and longing. I’m from a Wesleyan Methodist-based church very similar to the Church of the Nazarene, and I was discipled with this depth of full devotion, in joy or in suffering, early on in my life as a Christian. I would think indeed that your grandmother would know what you mean. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s well-known words, “When Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

I’m impressed with the thoughtfulness with which you’re approaching your concerns.

While I can’t know this for sure you are repentant of your sins? Your soul is not lost this I am sure of. Pray the rosary this is a start to getting close to Mary and ask saints to intercede for you. You may not be formally Catholic but you have the faith of one and you are baptized. I personal am under Joan or Arc and my Parton is Padre Pio who had the stigmata

Hi SeekingJesus,

Have you asked your ex-husband if he would be offended by an annulment? When I came back to the Catholic faith after more than 30 years, my former-Mormon ex-wife was surprisingly supportive of my efforts to obtain an annulment of our marriage so that I could marry my Catholic girlfriend (now my wife of 24 years).

It couldn’t hurt to ask. You may be pleasantly surprised.


Nazarenes are a more conservative and more fundamental form of the Methodist church. They still have a big emphasis on Holiness which has been abandoned by the United Methodists. My grandmother was Nazarene for a time and took me to her church. But I was not really raised Nazarene.

Something else to consider, though is Jesus’ words “love God above all”

Another very important piece of advice: don’t get too caught up in the internet. Be sure to also speak to people in real life – be they catholic, protestant, or catholic and protestant (e.g. Anglicans).

First, let me say May God bless you.

Without knowing the details of your first marriage, I would just ask you why do you feel that an annulment would be more hurtful or somehow disrespectful of your former spouse than divorce itself?

Believe me, I am asking in all sincerity and kindness. You don’t have to answer…it’s just a question for your to consider as you discern.

Hi Peter,

Thank you for that advice. In particular, where I live is a very, very small community. The nearest larger city is a good driving distance… And so the temptation to find answers via the Internet is certainly there. I do feel the greatest need to seek further guidance from the local priest. He cares for us in this town and the chapel in the next small town also. I suppose courage is a factor here as well, for me. Before when I had spent time with the priest and some other members, my mother died unexpectedly. Though not exactly related to this issue, I grieved so heavily over her passing. I dropped out of everything I could because it was so profound I just couldn’t seem to move forward in anything for a long time. Now it is gathering courage to return and resume that conversation. And with that, to discuss possibilities either way.

For instance, my husband is fully supportive of me in seeking this; however, it is not something that drives him from his soul. He is definitely not the type to meditate a lot on the things of God. To him, he made his decision a long time ago to serve God; and this man, he’s a doer. For him there’s no particular prayer to be said; there are concrete things that can be done to help people, practical things. And his life is devoted to this. To him, caring for his family, faithfully working his job and serving those in need, those are the actions God has called him to.

So he has offered to “do whatever the Church requires” him to do so that I may be able to fully become a part of it. He said that he will attend mass with me most of the time (as he did before). But the involvement he personally seeks is in opportunities the local parish might offer to serve those in need (see above paragraph, LOL!) He is not indifferent to the doctrine so much as these are decisions he has already made and he isn’t one to go back and rethink the decisions already made and that still seem right to him. Actually I think that is wonderful and I respect it.

Didn’t mean to get into all of that, but I do have to say my husband’s way is so gentle and so simple, and consistent.

Thanks, and I do receive your advice. I will seek out further counsel, in person, with other persons and of course, continue in prayer.


Btw, is your husband Nazarene too?

Hi MacQ,

This is a core question that I am examining. I sense your sincerity and the kindness behind it…I don’t mind offering the answers that are most obvious to me. And I do well examining my own inner processes by writing, so if you don’t mind, I will share this here.

  1. He and I, having never had children, definitely went our separate ways. We do not have any contact whatsoever. Parting from one another was very painful for us, particularly because of the ministry we shared. I loved the ministry, loving and caring for people we felt God sent to us. Nine years of this. And his continued refusal of giving me a child, for favor of that ministry. The marriage itself was very limited in that we only seemed to relate in the factors of ministry. Not as two people who shared love and respect in our own personhood. Then when a minister and his wife divorce, there is always “talk”. Was I ever truly a Christian? Was God’s anointing upon me ever real? How could I again ever experience God’s anointing without this man, from whom God’s anointing had spilled over to me because I was his wife? It was very painful for both of us. I was silent to these questions, not wishing to further the conversation at all. Still, I struggle with the idea of dredging up his memory of the pain. And not totally for his sake, I find as I pray that it is very much for my own sake;

  2. Although he is remarried and his ministry has gone on, I feel best protected from his wrath, his use of Scripture to pound me into submission even now. Submission to the ideas I’d once accepted. I doubt my own strength to withstand it. He is very against Catholic teaching. Very against anything other than the ways in which he was taught and teaches. Completely disrespects all of it.

His ministry as well as the ministry under which he grew up all his life, are not a part of any other organization. They are totally independent. There is no upward accountability. And these pastors’ accountability to their congregations is like this: they deliberately seek board members who will vote in favor of the pastor’s wishes. They are “yes” men. Because these pastors see their accountability to God as being directly to him, and all the congregation as being directly under the pastor. It is the line of authority as they see it. Same with the wives. I couldn’t count the times I’ve been told that doing as my husband commands is being in submission to God; and to do otherwise removes me from right-standing with the Heavenly Father. Furthermore, serving God means financial prosperity, physical health and miracles on demand. (Think of the popular teachings of Duplantis, Kenneth Hagin, Oral/Richard Roberts, etc.), but even closer than these teachings are the more close relationships involved in his spiritual roots:

Actually, my first husband’s original spiritual leader had been close friends with Jim Jones. Yes, THE Jim Jones, who later took his ministry to Jonestown, Guyana . . . and then the kool-aid suicides . . . This group of men were very sure of their calling to be in spiritual leadership. Looking back I must say that the errors were great. And in many ways each displayed a sense of spiritual authority over their respective congregations. They didn’t have to end in suicide to be wrong, it’s just that one man’s leadership did end that way. But many, many abuses took place that never hit the news, that were rarely ever seen as abuse because it came from spiritual leaders (and therefore it was okay). One particular time, an event led to serious harm to a faithful, aged woman, and we wives were warned against opening our mouths to her family of this origin. (In fact, she eventually died and one other wife and myself felt strongly that it was because of the event, and it wasn’t long after that, that I left). And if you questioned their practices in any way, you were labeled as having the spirit of Jezebel. A terrible punishment. Also, we knew as minister’s wives that “we suffer privately, only sharing with others your victorious testimony”. This, because we didn’t ever want any embarasment for our husbands by causing people to question the effectiveness of their doctrines . . .

For instance, of my current season, in which I seek after God and identify more with His suffering than at any time in my life before, my first husband would say that this experience stems from some sin in my life. Not that I would share this information with him, I’m just saying that he would likely be very verbal and hurtful. I’m saying that his ideologies are of a reward/punishment nature; to be a good Christian means that you are perpetually happy and victorious…and if you experience any other feelings, ones that don’t feel good, then it is because you are being sinful, and therefore, outside of right-standing with God… and because of this you are not receiving the promises of God that are all-positive and happy and comfy…(in my own words).

Continued in next response…

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