A heavy heart

My continued response:

So on the one hand, I am concerned that at this time, far beyond the life of our relationship, I would do something to cause him to recall his own pain. And on the other hand, I am admittedly still a coward of him. Not ashamed of my want for God and The Church; but definitely not looking forward to the heat I’d likely take from him and the others. I don’t take the Word of God lightly; I believe that it is indeed a double-edged sword… and with it we can bring blessing. But wielding it in wrong ways can do damage. People can use it to tear others down. That is probably for a thread elsewhere, but that has been my experience. And I suppose it is precisely why I am so drawn to the Catholic church. Everyone in it is accountable for how they use the Word of God and the sacraments. Although any person or group can fall into sin, I feel that the best chances for spiritual success lies in the Catholic Church, her unified beliefs and practices.

As far as annulment being more disrespectful than divorce, of the two I think divorce is the offense. However in this case I actually believe that the marriage itself was the offense. I remember talking to him before the wedding and telling him that I answered his proposal too quickly and that I felt it would be a mistake to marry him. He told me, as a man of God, that for me to do so would be to go back on my word and that it would displease God. Obviously I was too pliable because I completely believed him. I didn’t want to displease God, no matter what it took. I still remember the fear I had and the determination with which I married the man.* I believe the greatest offense was actually the marriage itself*. Years later I realized that although God had at times used us to help others (because he is God and can use anyone and anything to His glory), God didn’t actually bring about that marriage. And I feel certain that a tribunal would conclude this also.

He isn’t Nazarene in that he hasn’t been raised in it. He wasn’t raised in any church. He voices that he belongs to God, and shares with me his agreement with the teachings of the Church in what is right, what is wrong, and particularly the Apostolic calling passed down from Peter, Popes and priests as holding the keys of the Kingdom and their duties of administration to the Church. That last part is a stretch for him. Other than those under papal authority, he sees no other man has having anything from God that is not also available to him. So he is unable to follow a particular minister outside the Catholic Church (unless we should find in another church, a man of peculiar devotion who is somehow able to inspire such a confidence in my husband, but then in that case, he knows that I shall never be able to take communion again in any church, unless I become able to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, in light of the revelation I have received).

I’d like to say something else here about being Nazarene:

Beautiful are my memories of the little church of which my grandmother was the last living charter member. The people in this church were simple people of compassion and action. My goodness, the testimony I hold is that of a church, this small group of people (many of which came directly from Pilgrim Holiness, and I remember their special dresses and convictions about buttoning up to the neck, long sleeves and never showing the heels or toes) who were so gently radical. Should I ever find another like it I would plant myself among them and never move, even without holy communion, I would dwell among them and do acts of spiritual communion in my heart. Why? Because this is where my deepest faith began. I only erred when I left it to “grow” into Charismatic teaching.

Going to the altar to pray was a regular practice for me. Grandma encouraged it. My childhood was troubled by issues surrounding me at home, and in her wisdom, she knew that my only hope would be to learn a life of devotion to God, and that included fervent prayer. This Kentuckian, she’d say, “Better to ride the altar rail to heaven, than to sit in the pew and go to hell.” The piano would softly play, “Just As I Am”; handkerchief in hand, tears flowing, I’d carry my burden to that altar. Yes, there was a place with no distractions, only God waiting for me. I’d quietly whisper my concerns and fears, and I’d ask for His guidance in areas of my developing life. Soon I’d hear the swooshing of the ladies’ dresses as they stepped up behind me. And they’d call out to God with me. And they never left my side until we’d “prayed through”, obtaining some assurance from God that our prayers had been heard.

This peculiar little church, their gospel seemed simple to the more sophisticated Christians. A frequent testimony would be heard: “I’ve been made new; I don’t drink, nor smoke, nor cuss.” Their outreaches were certainly through the denomination’s missionary focus, but locally, they were very active. Grandma was called to direct ministry. She’d go right up to someone’s door, knock on it, and testify of Jesus. “How rude,” someone might say. Indeed, the gospel can be. It is offensive to stir up someone’s peace of mind by telling them that going to Heaven means repentance for sin, turning from it, and following Jesus. Grandma wasn’t one to fuss over manners, she was called to win souls for Jesus, plain and simple.

So this is how they were. They took seriously God’s charge to give to the poor, to accept those “outside the gates”. Through the years I saw every kind of person sit in those pews. Strange people who somehow registered in the mind as strange, but who were never defined to me as anything in particular; no one was ever described as gay, or a harlet, or anything else. We felt strongly that God was fully capable of dealing with the sin in an individual’s life. Our business was NOT to describe or label it, it was to give love to them. It was to preach to them that all sin was to be repented of (and that was up to each individual to do, as only they knew their own sins). Meanwhile, where there were hungry, we fed; where their were children, we taught. The women were examples of Jesus’ holiness through feminine traits and the men were examples of Jesus’ holiness through masculine traits. And holiness was preached always.

In the end, the church died out. What this was to me, was a small gathering of Christians who were called together for the period of their lives, to give the way they did. And then, at last, all they had was given away. Some would say that if God’s blessing was upon it, it would still be going today. But this has been a lesson to me of how God can call people and purpose their lives however He sees fit. And I am thankful for it. Thankful to have been a part of it and to have witnessed this. For some, it reaches to future generations. For some, it is limited to the present. And to have been called to any condition is good because it comes from God.

The closest feeling to this I’ve ever seen, is in the Catholic Church. But I am sure my experiences are limited. Thanks be to God for what I lived in that Nazarene Church.

My heart goes out to you…and I salute your courage too.

Sounds to me like you have substantial grounds for annulment.

You might consider a letter to your former husband along these lines:

“I am writing to let you know that I have begun proceedings to have our former marriage annulled. I want you to know that I am heavy of heart about its failure, and always will be. Most of all, I want you to know that am not doing this out of any disrespect for you, as in fact, it is the opposite.
Please do not take it as an affront, but rather an act of contrition and forgiveness…and an opportunity to extend such forgiveness.
I assume you would agree that perhaps our marriage should not have happened. I hope that it will also allow you to go forward in life with your wife now as your true first spouse, and that this will bring closure, not pain…as I sincerely wish you both much joy in your marriage.”

Yes, this is exactly along the lines I’ve begun to consider. You’ve worded it in the way I’d want it to read. In fact, I am getting clearer “vision” of what God is doing in this crossroads for me. Thank you for seeing the small bits of courage I’ve possessed in some of my actions. Again I do admit to some level of cowardice. May God bless you for the kindness you’ve shown to me by taking the time to offer this help.

No problem…I wish you Godspeed.

As God continues to lead, I am getting a clearer idea of His direction in this hour of my life. Each and every word given to me by all of you (Catholics & Non-Catholics alike) plays a role in this guidance.

Though you do not require it, it pleases me to share with you (because of your contributions to) where God seems to be taking me with this issue:

  1. Yes, I miss the Nazarene church in which I cut my spiritual teeth. Though I’ve never found another one like it, but;

  2. For several years now I’ve learned more of Catholic insight, and much of it goes right back to the simple servanthood I’d learned from my Nazarene elders as a child (not the least of which, was their reverence concerning communion and dangers in doing so outside of holiness). However, now that I have received a revelation about the Eucharist, I cannot partake of communion under a Protestant minister and of course I cannot take it in the Catholic Church as of right now.

  3. Pursuing the path of annulment may be a rocky one for me, due to the nature of prior relationships, which consisted of teachings of Scripture with which the Church does not necessarily agree.
    —a. Grandma did speak of some issues in life, which concern other people, that require God’s preparation. That of our own heart, and that of others. She said that God knew how to “go before us, making the crooked places straight”. ***So I will need to pursue this with God, reflect upon Scriptures from whence this idea came, and then wait upon God.
    —b. The arguments I will likely hear will be against the Eucharist (not being literal but symbolic only, and the BIG one, Confession/Absolution. ***This would give me the opportunity to become ever more dependent upon God, growing in strength to stand my ground at last as a child of God.

  4. I have admitted to some cowardice on my part; I need God’s help to overcome the intimidation I feel of these men (former husband, his associates in ministry, etc). It’s true that I feel there is a possibility that they could hold more sway with a tribunal because of the authority with which they speak, their eloquent use of Scripture, and I do feel that it is completely possible that I would be refused the annulment, and then;

  5. Things I must consider in light of these things: What does one do when they totally believe in the Catholic way, and yet are refused? Are there resources to help one in this situation, to accept this state in life, other than pretend to be Protestant again? I pray for a special grace from my Heavenly Father, should this be the path I must take.

May God bless you all for being so giving of your prayers, time to respond and just generally to be willing to think this through with me.

I think your grandma was very wise…and crooked places may indeed be made straight.

Just one comment…I wonder about your comment regarding scripture that you think the Church doesn’t agree with. Per se, there isn’t any. The Catholic Church rejects nothing in Scripture. So I am wondering specifically what you’re referring to.
I will just say that most of the time, just understanding Church’s actual teaching clarifies what may be a misunderstanding. That’s been my experience anyway.

I believe it’s the case that although your former husband is notified, his cooperation is not necessary for you to be granted an annulment.

One small comment: in interpreting that, keep in mind that the Catholic Church does not claim that we are the only ones who have a valid Eucharist … In fact the church explicitly recognizes the validity of some non-Catholics’ Eucharist (the Orthodox, the PNCC, and the ACoE).

Oh, sure I see what you mean here. I agree with what you say, that the Catholic Church holds true to Scripture, so to explain… If I were to say that both Catholic and Charismatic teachings use the language of Scripture, that would be true. However, the way that language is interpreted in different ways within both groups. So although both groups proclaim total agreement with all Scripture, that very same Scripture means one thing in one group, and something very different in the other group. And some of the teachings I received in the Charismatic (actually that’s not the right word, they more so called themselves “Full Gospel”. Similar to Pentecostals but not in the “Jesus-only” sense. They definitely believe in the trinity).

So, having been indoctrinated in a Charismatic/Full Gospel (FG) way for years of my adult life, I know that some Scriptures have been interpreted differently among them than the Catholics do. In this former doctrine, it would agree that Jesus was born of a virgin. Because she was a virgin when the Christ child was conceived. However, it would part with Catholic teaching in that she remained a virgin. Furthermore, it interprets the Catholic teaching of Mary’s ongoing motherhood of the church (and so forth) as her existence being uplifted to being a part of the Godhead. Of course now I know that isn’t the case in Catholic teaching, but they (the Charismatics I knew) do not know this. In fact they have dismissed the notion of any significance of Mary whatsoever beyond her vessel being used to bring the Holy Child into this world. This has huge implications for women in relationship with Jesus, with His family.

And so on…many, many differences of interpretation of the very same Scriptures, and both groups hold fast to their own interpretation of it. The FG holds tightly to certain ideas about women (and I’m not talking about women holding certain positions within the church) that differ greatly with those held in the Catholic doctrine. Woman within marriage, is to defer completely in all spiritual matters to her husband’s guidance, is how they interpret the role of a woman in marriage. She really doesn’t give anything to it, other than submission. But under Catholic teaching, a woman is an active participant in the joy of God - not by the husband’s standards, but as one having direct relationship with God and being a valued contributor to the well-being of family. Finally, when I at last departed from the marriage and the group, it was proclaimed by them that I would be under the curse because they saw my leaving him and their teachings, as leaving God Himself.

So I mean that my former husband and/or his FG associates could eloquently quote/use Scripture in a very persuasive way to a tribunal. And that the tribunal could be fooled by their cunning use of Scripture… Now I realize that I may sound like I have little faith in the tribunal to properly discern the truth. But it is more a matter of being intimidated by these FG men by what I have seen and experienced by them in the past.

As I read these other responses I must say that yes indeed, I do need to deepen trust in God with this. With my very life. I like the little bitty-ness of my existence before Him. And I must trust in His guidance over His own tribunal. Oh how I am fretting and worrying over an outcome that is not in my hands. This is unwise for me to do! And useless too. In the end I do trust that I will be found as one of God’s own, not through my own faithfulness, but because of His mercy. I must find my validation, small that I may be, in Jesus.

I apologize for the length of my posts. This is years talking. Years of fearing that what they said was true. And then finding enough spiritual backbone to say within, I know whom is my judge. I know from whence my salvation has come. And it has brought me here, with all this bottled-up expression.:blush:

It sounds like it’s not you who questions the varied interpretation of scripture, so much as you fear your former spouse would use it in some way to undermine your request for annulment by arguing to a Catholic tribunal.

I think the tribunal would deal with this just fine…it’s not like he gets to come speak to them.
He can ignore or refuse the notification, neither would matter.
They won’t be fooled.

About the only thing I can see that he could offer that might give a tribunal pause would be that he still considers you his wife and has remained faithful to you all this time.
Seems to me he can’t claim that, since he has remarried.

Do you have friends or relatives who will attest for you?

Sounds like you are emerging from a long ordeal .
So I also feel compelled to ask…are you fearful for your physical safety?

As to your last question, may God bless you for having concern over a stranger. At this point I do not fear for my safety any longer.

Yes, the exact nature of my fear is that he would indeed use Scripture to undermine my request for annulment, and thereby exercising continued control over my very relationship with God and His Church. Perhaps God’s healing of my soul would be extended to and through the wisdom of the tribunal in this matter.

I have several friends and in-laws who can attest for me.

I am glad you have support and that you are not fearing for your safety. “No longer” implies that you once did…my heart goes out to you and I am glad you are free now.

Oh…and this man cannot control your relationship with God. No man owns our soul and spirit unless we allow them to. Be gentle with yourself tho…it takes awhile to realize you are…free.You’re doing great, and I admire your courage.Take care.

Because of what you have written above a Tribunal would most likely find the marriage was not freely entered into, that you were coerced and that marriage was not and is not sacramental.

It does not matter if your ex wants an anullment or not. You don’t need his agreement. His non-cooperation may make the annulment process longer but in the end the Tribunal will determine whether or not the marriage was a sacrament.

God bless you and keep you.

Keep praying to our Mother, the Virgen Mary, for strength, courage and hope

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