AM I just "blocked" from confirmation?


#1

I know to some familiar with the process that this might sound naïve, but I don’t know what to do. It seems like I can’t get from my deep desire to be fully Catholic to actually BEING Catholic.

I have been married twice before (many years ago) and am married now, and will now stay married for life. We saw our local priest and admin, got the forms, understood that the process would have a cost (I’ll leave the amount out) but it’s more that I can justify spending now for a process that has little if any chance of being completed (and would be a burden to my family) according to the requirements.

  1. My first marriage was as a 21 y.o. hippie many years ago, in a Unity Church that had nothing to do with any Sacraments, and
  2. The second was a Jewish wedding as a 25 y.o. and I wasn’t and am not Jewish. In neither case did I have any business marrying the person I married, being completely naïve about what it meant, and both ended in divorce.
  3. The third, current marriage was just J.O.P. civil ceremony.

Here’s the thing. There is NO chance either of those first two wives will correspond with the Church or me to talk or testify about the marriages, IF I could find a way to contact them, (I can’t) and there is no one alive who has any clue whether or not either of us were mature or knowledgeable about the sacramental nature of marriage at that time.

Given that I can’t justify the cost because of family needs, and can’t meet the requirements of the forms and norms, should I assume my desire alone is not enough? And if I die before I am ever allowed to take communion ( I can’t stand the thought) because of this administrative difficulty, and/or my ignorance, will God still consider me a Catholic? I was Trinitarian baptized in 1971, went through RCIA, and I don’t want to go through the rest of my life unconfirmed, and if at all, Catholic by declaration only, but it looks like I have little choice. This is a sad thing for me.

I spoke about this to the administrative person at the Church, and was told I should just turn in the application…but It’s not even possible to complete it, or wise to write the check. I don’t have addresses, names, even dates, really, or any idea how to reach anyone who knew either of us then, other than my mother and step dad, and they just showed up at the first one had some cake and champagne, and left, and everyone else who knew either of us is dead, or not possible to reach.

All I want is to be confirmed, go to confession, receive the Lord in the Eucharist, and be in communion with the Church. Am I making this harder than it need be? Should I just fill out the form, pay all that money no matter how hard it is for my family, and hope for the best?

I’m actually pretty intelligent, but I feel pretty stupid not understanding, and even for asking. My parish isn’t really good about having more than a 30 second conversation unless you “fit the normal mold”, and I just don’t. I’m asking out of my love for our Lord. Not because I’m stupid, though I feel like I am. I just don’t know how to move forward. So embarrassing…

Thanks.


#2

You should certainly contact the marriage tribunal. If you cannot afford the fee, it may be waived for you.

Don’t give up. Fill out the forms to the best of your ability, write a letter explaining all of the circumstances. You might even write your bishop.


#3

I’m a bit confused. I think I understand your past but I’m not sure what you’re looking for. Are you saying you just want to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, Reconciliation, and the Eucharist? What is the application you mention? Is it for marriage annulment?

If your goal is Salvation, you don’t have to be Catholic to be saved by God.


#4

Hmm… ok, so, your timeline was something like this…?

[list]*]Baptized as a (non-Catholic) Christian
*]Married to a ‘hippie’ in a form that was considered valid by your church
*]Married to a Jewish woman in a form that was considered valid by your Christian church
*]Married to your current wife (is she Catholic? Christian?) by a Justice of the Peace.[/list]

Is that about it?

Here’s the thing: strictly speaking, you don’t necessarily need either of your ex’s to participate in the nullity process. However, the tribunal must attempt to contact them, if possible, and then give enough time for them to respond. If they do not, then the tribunal may proceed without them.

Here’s the thing. There is NO chance either of those first two wives will correspond with the Church or me to talk or testify about the marriages, IF I could find a way to contact them, (I can’t) and there is no one alive who has any clue whether or not either of us were mature or knowledgeable about the sacramental nature of marriage at that time.

Yet, “mature or knowledgeable about the sacramental nature of marriage” isn’t the only ground on which a decree of nullity may be based. Your advocate will help you through the process, so that you might discern which grounds you might wish to use.

It’s impossible on this forum to know all the details of your situation (and it would be imprudent of you to give us all the details!), so you’ll have to trust the advice of the priest or advocate with whom you’re working. Nevertheless, your case doesn’t sound impossible, but neither can we say what kind of a chance you have…


#5

Noli, where were you baptized? Was it in a Catholic Church? (I know you mentioned RCIA, but some parishes use that program also for adult catechism classes). If you were baptized Catholic then you are currently Catholic and it should be relatively painless to rectify your marriage situation.

If you aren’t Catholic then you will need to get your marriage regularized before being admitted to the sacraments. It sounds like your reluctance stems mainly from your worry about a) the money and b) what you assume about your prospects for this being successful. Correct? If the money is truly a hardship, contact the Tribunal and ask if they can waive or reduce the fee or work out a payment plan. They aren’t making money off of annulments, but cost shouldn’t be a prohibitive factor. You also really don’t know what the odds are of a successful outcome. Your ex-wives do not need to participate in order to have a decree of nullity issued. Your mom and step dad might remember more than you think. You might remember more than you think as you start working on the questions. You might stumble across an old journal entry or something, or remember a friend or witness that could help corroborate your story. Your ex wives may have matured and be willing to write something, even if it’s just that you were young and stupid and weren’t taking it seriously. I think your parish’s advice is best: if you want to be Catholic, and you want to stay with your wife, the first order of business is to just fill out the application and see what happens.

Put it in God’s hands. I’ll pray for you tonight.

God bless.


#6

I’ve been saved in the sense of having accepted Jesus as my personal savior in the evangelical/charismatic sense for many years, and was baptized and having a personal relationship with Jesus (on and off) since then.

So yes, I’m seeking confirmation, reconciliation and the Eucharist. Trouble is, I and my family are “outsiders”. So yes, I guess it is all about the annulment of our previous marriages. The process was originally begun and intended that my wife and I could be confirmed and then married in the Church. We simply didn’t get it.

It only just occurred to me because of your question that I might not need to do any of that in order to simply become confirmed. Perhaps I’ve let that stand between me and becoming fully Catholic without any good reason? If so, what was I thinking? The rest is going to sound like a complaint if that’s true…and I guess it is. Or, I’m an idiot, and my wife is so shy. We liked the fall festival very much, but when it was over…we just went home.

I mentioned in another post that I’ve felt more than a little left out to hang on my own since the RCIA, and not able to have a meaningful conversation (of more than 30 seconds) with priests, sisters, brothers, or other lay people about my desire to complete the process and get confirmed, and bring my family with me into the Church.

We didn’t find sponsors, even one sponsor for both of us. There were none available at the first, or the second parish we tried, and none volunteered when my wife and I were in RCIA (she has since dropped out of the process, and can’t even go to mass any more because of her physical disability.) The sister who interviewed us seemed to understand, but she was ill, and has since died. There was no one else who knew us and our situation as well.

There is nothing wrong or off-putting about us, except that I might look a little intimidating. I’m a nice man though, if you get to know me. We are really pretty normal, even attractive as a family. My 11 yo daughter, first inspired by my passion for the faith, is now apathetic, and found the RE classes ridiculously lame and boring. (I went to see for myself, and I had to agree, since the Franciscan brother who was in charge left for a new assignment leaving someone who can’t hold a conversation for more than 30 seconds in charge.)

Maybe the problem is that we came in from the cold, from nowhere, really. We weren’t “brought in” to the parish by anything other than my personal conversion, and were/are not “known” in the parish, though we tried to connect with several people, several times. We have not known any Catholics before, or really since we started trying to “get into” the Church.

When we would talk to someone who would bother to do more than chat about nothing at all, we got asked to do one or another service or volunteer work, which we’d be happy to do, but our desire (then, and mine alone now) was to actually become fully Catholic. I don’t think anyone heard us, to be honest. I can’t figure out why not.

We’ve had some questions about doctrine and dogma during and after RCIA that went well beyond what was offered there, let alone trying to just understand the machinations of getting through the annulment process so we could be married in the Church, and getting confirmed. It appears I made the mistake of thinking the two were related as much as we thought. Our mistake…apparently that is not true? No one told us that.

It honestly doesn’t seem to matter to anyone but me anymore. Certainly my wife and daughter have lost interest, though I’ve tried to keep it alive in the family by any means I can. I’ve kept praying the Rosary, going to mass, sitting in the back of the Church, going to adorations, finding and getting to the Devine Mercy chaplet, and trying to pull my family along with me in any way I can, (they won’t go anymore, ever) but I’m just about to give up. I can’t seem to connect with any informed, helpful, knowledgeable Catholic person who cares enough about us as a family, or me as a person to actually talk long enough to help us through the process.

Maybe it would have been better to find a sponsor first. . God…I feel so stupid. Maybe it’s my goatee, or my shaved head, or that I’m a biker, and don’t look the part…


#7

So, baptized non Catholic in 1972, and have an affidavit that it was Trinitarian.

The first marriage was in a Unity church because we could afford the rent and the minister. It was a blur at best for anyone there. It lasted about a month.

The second was by a Rabbi, in a home, with the little tent, the crushing of a glass, the dancing and the drinking and the Hava Nagila, etc. and the up on a chair on people’s shoulders thing…I had no clue, and I wasn’t in any Church at the time. There were 3 kids.

Neither my wife nor I were ever Catholic…and still aren’t. She was baptized, I think in a Methodist Church. She was married to a Catholic, but he never told her he was a baptized Catholic until she asked him when we started the process. We have our daughter, and she’s baptized Catholic, but not R.E.'d, nor confirmed.

So, what you’re saying then is, I’m, we’re prohibited until our marriage is regularized, and so is my wife. Awesome. Love the legal administration part of this. Not…


#8

Gorgias, Nodito, 808. PaulfromIowa…thank you all. I wish I knew any of you. Frankly, if I can’t get anyone to listen, here, where I am, soon. I live in a non-Catholic vortex with no hope, and the only sweet, loving, interested Catholic I’ve met led a Divine Mercy chaplet at a Newman Center, and left shortly thereafter to go to another city. I am on my last gallon of gas here. It’s too much. Seriously. I just want to serve the Lord and be in communion with His Church. How complicated does that have to be?


#9

:thumbsup::thumbsup:


#10

This is for your own protection, that you don’t receive the sacraments unworthily, and eat and drink judgement upon yourself (after 1 Corinthians 11:29). Getting cross with other users will discourage them from giving you the advice that may be needed to help you figure this out.

I would recommend contacting the Saint Joseph’s Foundation (Additional information here). They may be able to help you fill out the application. They may also be able to help you get the fee waived or reduced, as Catholics have a right to the services of the church regardless of ability to pay (however, the tribunal members do deserve a just wage for their work, so please only ask for a waiver based on true need).


#11

Dude, it is NOT you. Don’t feel stupid. Something’s wrong at your parish. What can i say? We’re a Church full of sinners. Christ came to redeem us because we needed Him to.

Maybe you need to go straight to the Diocesan offices. Or, write to the Bishop and let him know you’re stuck and need help. You have a perfect right to do this. Our Church isn’t a hierarchy with the laity on the bottom and the pope on the top - it’s upside down from that. The priests serve us, the bishops serve them, the pope is the servant of all.

Now, I’m not on a marriage tribunal or anything, but I used to work at parish and heard my fair share of “declaration of nullity” (it’s not actually called an “annulment”, it’s a declaration of nullity - little known fact) stories. Also, I’ve looked into this extensively for my brother. A few things that might help you:

  1. In order for a marriage to be valid, there are several things that need to be in place, one of which is understanding what you were agreeing to, at least in theory. So for marriage number #1, that should be pretty straightforward, possibly #2 as well.

  2. Cost should NEVER keep someone out of the Church. You just keep asking till you find someone who understands this (go to the Diocese, they know the “rules” there). I have never heard of anyone being turned away from regularizing their marriage because of inability to pay annulment costs. Now, keep in mind from the administrative standpoint - there are a LOT of people out there who are very ready to rip the Church off. I used to pack up food from our food pantry and take it out to the people asking for it, only to load it into a car that was a LOT nicer than what I was driving, haha! I used to give breaks to families who said they couldn’t pay $50 a year for their kids’ Confirmation classes and then find out their kid had a fancy shmancy cellphone and an iPod. Think about it: people pay more per month for cable than they give to the parish, and then they’re upset whenever the Church charges them for anything. So sometimes administrators get a little suspicious after a while. So state your case clearly and convincingly and you’ll probably find some sliding scale deal or something to help you out.

  3. To be fair, your ex-wives, if they can be contacted, will be given the chance to weigh in on this, since the marriages had to do with them. But if they can’t be reached or don’t care to be involved, the process can go on without them.

  4. It probably feels like a lot of stupid hoops to jump through, right? But here’s the thing: God made marriage to be permanent. If you were married to one woman and with another, you’d be committing adultery, and therefore, not in a state to receive the Eucharist. The Church has to give those previous marriages the benefit of the doubt because we take marriage VERY seriously. If the Church didn’t take marriage this seriously, would you really want to belong to it? We can’t just say “marriage is a sacrament, a symbol of God’s unending faithfulness to His people, it’s permanent…unless things, you know, don’t work out”. It is the civil authorities who just let people make vows to each other without understanding what in the world they’re doing who did you a disservice.

  5. Your kids from marriage #2 might be upset, might think a declaration of nullity of your marriage to their mom means they’re “illegitimate” (I’ve run into this before). Not the case, that’s a civil, legal issue, not a Church issue. The Church doesn’t give civil marriages - you still have to go to the County clerk to get a marriage license. Just to prove this, look at how we Baptize babies regardless of the state of their parents’ union. Parents’ marital status has nothing whatsoever to do with the kids. We’re all “legitimate” to the Church.

You ask “how complicated does it have to be?”
Oh, do I hear you, because this is a very demanding religion. It truly is a “religion” in the sense that “religio” means something that “binds” all aspects of your life together (think “ligament”, “ligature”). Sometimes you think, “for real? I gotta do what?” But with all these “difficult sayings” (what people said about Jesus’ claim that we have to EAT Him, of all the crazy things) you realize that they are based on eternal truths and you wouldn’t WANT to belong to a Church that didn’t take them as seriously as the Catholic Church does, inconvenient as they may be in our messy lives. It’s not about “this is true. Unless of course, you don’t want it to be because it’ll put you out. In which case, let’s just sweep it under the rug.” The Catholic Church is the only faith I know of that doesn’t water things down because people object to the “difficult sayings”. Yeah this stuff is hard. But then I think of people like St. Thomas More. Or Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. Or St. Gianna Molla. Or all the martyrs. Or people like Miriam Ibrahim, who recently was given the death sentence in Sudan for being a Christian (her brother ratted her out with claims of apostasy) and thrown in jail while pregnant with her second child. She gave birth in prison, refusing to renounce her faith. She was told she could wean the child and then she’d be killed, unless she renounced her faith, in which case she’d be free to go. She refused. Eventually, she was freed due to international pressure (mainly the Italian gov’t and the Vatican) and she met the pope last week.

My point is - you are bearing a cross and it sucks. That’s the nature of crosses, that’s why Jesus, knowing what was going to happen to Him, asked God for a way out and was so anxious that he experienced hematidrosis (sweating blood due to stress) in the Agony in the Garden. But there was no way out. So He went through with it because THAT’s how much He loves us.

Don’t give up. Don’t walk away because it’s hard. You’ve found the pearl of great price. Go for it.


#12

I appreciate that, and you should know…this is the only place or time other than in talking to my wife about my (our) frustration, that it has EVER been apparent, even in attitude. I accept that people don’t have time, or attention to spare. I get it. I have a life of my own. Nevertheless, I really appreciate you for that information. I just need to keep trying to find the help I need. Thank you. God bless.


#13

Tijeras. Beautiful. You are the sort of person I hoped to find in the Church and couldn’t. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with my parish, maybe there is. It doesn’t matter. My old life doesn’t matter. He matters.

You said EXACTLY what I needed to hear, right in this moment. Praise God for you taking the time to say all that, and I promise you, I won’t quit. This Church, this life is what I’ve been looking for all my life, and you’re absolutely right. I listened to Scott Hahn’s 4 Cups talk tonight, and once more, only more deeply and fully realized what had been the reason for my search, what has been aching in my heart for all these years. All my questions and doubt have receded into nothing in light of that one thing.

And you’re right. I probably wouldn’t want it if it was easy or simple… What did Groucho Marx say? “Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”. It IS my cross to bear.

God bless you, and thank you SO much. This is more important to me than anything else I’ve ever known, or done, and you have been sent by the Holy Spirit to make all the difference for one old biker, and maybe his little family.

Be blessed.


#14

Where have these 30-second conversations taken place?

Have you called the parish office and made an appointment to sit down with the pastor and discuss the situation? Or have you tried to catch someone after Mass when 50 other people are also trying to say hello or ask a question?

I would start by calling the parish and making an appointment to meet with the priest. You don’t need to give details. Simply say it’s about a pastoral matter. Then you know you’ll have some uninterrupted time to ask questions and get guidance.

You might make a list of your top couple of questions and issues. One certainly has to do with your previous marriages. It sounds like another has to do with finding a way to get involved in the parish so you’ll know some people there. (And while many things might require you to be a fully initiated Catholic, there are many activities, ranging from hospitality to social justice, where you could get involved now.) You also need to take care of your daughter’s faith formation. When you had her baptized you promised to bring her up in the Catholic faith. You need to step up and take that promise seriously.

That should be enough to get you started. It’s going to take a commitment on your part to follow through, but it’s all possible.


#15

Tijeras has written a great post and I hope that the OP agrees.

OP, you are giving off some hostile vibes, and I think that the people in your parish are picking up on this and giving you the space that they think you want.

Most Christians do not want to be guilty of being “pushy.” So they tend to back off if someone seems hesitant.

I agree with Tijeras, and I would like to add that being a Christian is never easy. If you think this process is hard, what would you do if you were condemned to be executed just for being a Christian? That’s what happened to a woman overseas recently, while she was pregnant, too! Thankfully she was released, but what a price to pay for loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps it would encourage you to read about the saints who have faced persecution, torture, and death just for sticking with Jesus and His Church.

As for the financial cost–be careful. If you truly do not have the money because you must pay for food and other basic necessities of life, I’m certain that the Church will waive your fee or greatly reduce it. But if you simply don’t want to give up cable TV, or a Harley, or whatever…well, don’t expect sympathy. The people who are doing the work of investigating your marriages must be paid a living wage, and the money for that wage comes from the tithes and offerings of the laypeople in the pews. I’m not trying to be snotty here, but only wish to caution you to be honest with yourself and others. Yes, it would be a financial hardship for me to pay many thousands to the Church right now–but if I gave up several of my recreational pursuits, including lots of dining out, I could certainly do it. It would mean a change of lifestyle for me and my husband, and IMO, that’s reasonable for the Church to ask for the privilege of entering the Church of Jesus Christ.

I hope this post is helpful to you.


#16

This is a great place to start. And if you have trouble with that (for some reason) then contact the Tribunal office for the diocese where you reside and set up an appointment with them. Get the ball rolling. The process goes more smoothly when you have an ex who is cooperating with the process, but it can still move forward even without them.

I think someone else said this, but I will reiterate that cost should never be a barrier for seeking an annulment. If you have financial needs, make that known to them and they will work with you. No one is ever turned away for inability to pay.

It may seem insurmountable, but you can get this sorted out one way or the other.


#17

Thanks for the frank advice and commentary. I didn’t intend hostility, but I suppose I was disappointed that it was so difficult to make new acquaintances, let alone friends there. We honestly gave up after a while, and I come and go like a ghost at this point, an occasional hello and a handshake or two. My fault. I can be gregarious, but I’m often not. I think I quit trying since my wife and daughter aren’t coming, and I’d have to explain that. Mea culpa.

No, we didn’t try having conversations in the line outside as Mass was ending. That would be pretty unrealistic. We made attempts as a family at coffee afterward in a large coffee room with many tables of people who clearly know each other, and got no invitations to sit, so we’d pick our own often, if not always empty table. Occasionally there was a hello, across the table, and little more. To tell you the truth, it was a little weird. I almost dare not say it, but there is a kind of language/cultural barrier that may have something to do with all of that(?) Hate to even think that, really, but it’s there. The nicest people were the busiest, and they had a lot to do, or were engaged in conversations elsewhere.

Our only meeting with the Pastor was short and to the point. The little bit of follow up was the same, and not satisfactory.Not a lot of time for questions and discussions, and the admin we spoke to afterward knew little. He seems very popular and important. I’ll leave it at that.

RCIA was limited for the most part to talking with other new people in the class, and for the most part centered on the learning that day, or in my wife’s case, social talk, where do you live, how many kids, etc… They certainly didn’t know much about the process or the faith. RCIA facilitators seemed to have very full plates, and after an hour and a half in class were ready to take off, you know? So we kept our questions short and to the point and let them move on. We loved the brother who was running RE, but he left within weeks of our first Mass, and wasn’t replaced, sadly. It was left to lay people, and they lost our daughter’s attention, to be kind.

The two or three most talkative people we ever met were also the most focused on their goals. I don’t think they would today, remember our names. Like sales people. It felt more like being a target for reaching a number of requests for help per day, than being asked to be a part of something. Did that add to my/our feeling a bit “hostile”…now that you mention it, probably, yes.

So, if it wasn’t evident in my last post, I will be doing all I can to move this forward, and short of tying her to the hood of the truck, my daughter will be coming along when I can get her there. I DO take my responsibility as a husband and father seriously. As for the money, We can pay it, maybe a little time would be nice to make it easier. I’m just not a gambler, but I guess there’s nothing to it but to place the bet and throw the dice. Maybe we’ll get “lucky.”

Sorry if I come off poorly. It’s typeface, and I tend not to use “smilies” so there’s not any visual input to go with what I type. :o


#18

I got the ‘frustration’ vibe, and I can understand it. I don’t have any additional advice to offer (so much above is great advice, and I love that you are taking it to heart). I applaud and admire your dedication to the Lord and Coming Home. Sometimes I wonder if I hadn’t been born Catholic, and had to face so many obstacles to become Catholic, if I could have persevered. God bless you!


#19

I honestly think that getting to know people isn’t going to work at coffee and donuts after Mass. Most people won’t approach a stranger to introduce themselves. We should, but it seems rare to me that it happens. People hang out with people they already know.

I think a better way to build relationships is to be involved in some kind of project together. If you’re making sandwiches to feed the homeless, there’s time to chat while you’re making the sandwiches. If you’re assembling booths for the parish festival, you can talk in between asking for a hammer or offering to help hold something in place.


#20

I won’t be able to say all that the other people said. I’m a teenager, and though I was born in the Church I don’t know nearly enough to advise you. But I know it must be harsh, having to wait so long for the Church and your whole family giving up and no one apparently caring whether you become part of the Body with them or not. Scott and Kimberley Hahn (Catholic converts and apologists) wrote about the same problems in their book “Rome Sweet Home”. I’ll pray for you and your family - I think I’ll finally be pushing myself to pray a Rosary every day, and part of it will be for you and your family. Shamefully, I may not remember you in particular for very long; I tend to be like those 30-second-conversation people, who try to help you off the top of their heads but don’t want to have to change the direction of their thought process, or look you full in the face. But I’ll pray to God for you His son.


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