Am I Still Catholic? (long)


#1

I was married to a Catholic many years ago. I was practising, he was not. He was still a good man, but had an unhappy cradle Catholic childhood and so was very sour on the church. For other sad reasons, our marriage crumbled, despite marriage counselling; I am the one who pulled the plug.

This brought me great sadness and I felt like a terrible failure. After a number of years of staying away, I went back to church to confess all to the parish priest. I knew I could no longer receive communion, for reasons I will sadly note shortly. He gave me absolution with penance, and I was able, thankfully, to participate in communion again with a reasonably clear conscience (still feel like a failure, though).

I do not want to seek an annulment, as I considered the marriage to be a valid one at the time we celebrated that sacrament, and still do, though the union became untenable afterwards. My spouse did not take his faith seriously at all; perhaps that is grounds to consider the marriage not sacramental.

But wait. There’s more. Another far more grim reason to consider the marriage invalid from the outset, and one that marks me as a hypocrite of the worst kind.

Before we were married, I got pregnant. And I had an abortion.

When I decided that I would become a murderer, with my spouse’s approval (or total indifference, really), part of me died along with the child. The circumstances surrounding this act, and the effects it has to this day, are for another time and place. I did not confess this at the time, so I was under a latae sententiae excommunication at the time we were wed- in a state of mortal sin. I suppose he was, too, for having gone along with it. The confessions we made before the wedding were imperfect. I was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of my sin that I felt I could rely on God’s forgiveness only, and could not bear confessing it to a priest. I was a coward.

I have since confessed the crime of taking an innocent life (at the same time that I explained the divorce business to the priest), and have received absolution, though it does little to repair the harm done, and far too late to erase the mess I have caused matrimonially.

The circumstances of my meeting with the priest, my motivations, and the fact that he absolved me, seem like a “good conscience” solution, or what is known as “internal forum”. I am unclear on whether a priest has to have special dispensation to distribute this particular kind of mercy. Is it a formal undertaking, or can it occur within the scope of a normal, if lengthy and traumatic, confession? I guess I should have asked, but I didn’t know that such things existed, was not expecting absolution in the first place, and was quite overwhelmed by the act of forgiveness.

In any case, I do not know if I still have to get an annulment. I do not particularly want one, or think I deserve one. If I had decided to remain celibate and alone for the rest of my life, which perhaps would have been appropriate punishment, I could still take communion- which is all I really want. But, in my usual fashion, I have managed to complicate things even more.

Two years ago, I met a kind, loving, gentle, very Christian man. I considered myself unmarriageable, but he persisted, despite my sorry past. We wed recently, in a civil ceremony. An extremely upright character, he remained a virgin, after a great deal of effort from both of us, until our wedding night.

He is not a Catholic.

Now, I definitely know I’m not allowed to take communion, which pains me immensely. But on what grounds? In a state of mortal sin because I’ve had relations with a man, legally my husband, but unrecognised because our union is not a Catholic sacramental one? In a state of mortal sin because I have not had my first marriage officially annulled, and therefore I am an adulteress? Both??

He is not going to convert to Catholicism, nor am I going to leave my church, despite the mess I have made of my relationship to it. Our bond actually developed after prolonged theological discourse, during which he tried desperately to get me to come over to his denomination, and failed. The respect we found for each other despite our differences is the mainstay of our marriage. We have both become better Christians, and stronger in our faith, and have learned an immense amount, because of the mirrors we hold up to one another; they dismantle the smug complacency and hypocrisy that unchallenged people can become prey to. I know Pope Benedict has warned us of the dangers of relativism, but I think the damage caused by divisiveness and dogmatic elitism is far worse.

Before we married, I confided in a fellow parishioner that this would probably be my last communion. When I told her that my intended would not convert, she looked pityingly at me and said “MrsLeviathan, you shouldn’t do this. You deserve only the very best”. That a person should judge another as hopelessly sub-par simply on the basis of what church they attended, without even knowing them, sickened me. Because this is exactly what I suffered from his family and church’s side of the fence initially, what I decried as unjust and judgemental and superficial and unchristian, hit me like a blow to the face when I heard it coming from my own church. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it still hurt a lot.

Am I still a Catholic at all? What do I need to do to be worthy to share supper at Christ’s table? There is no part of my heart that He doesn’t see. Would He really turn me away? He is the bread, but the church is the altar upon which it is served, and I am not welcome. The healing that one finds in the eucharist far surpasses that which can be found anywhere else, for me. Sitting in the pews while others participate, feeling like a leper for things past, things already confessed, and things that I am unable to consider wrong in the present, is making me feel bitter and hopeless, as well as criminal.


#2

Dear girl, just because you believed it was a valid sacrament is no proof that your marriage was valid. I’m sure most people do. I have two sisters who believe it was so at the time, but they received annulments due to psychological conditions of upbringing. You are to some extent imprisoning yourself by making this judement which is only really proper for the Church to make.

Yes, it was wrong to kill your baby but God is more forgiving of you that you are…and consider that little child. Do you imagine that your little child can bear to see her mother so unhappy. The child is only loving, has never known sin or blame. Have you named your baby and asked forgiveness…for your own sake. Don’t let this innocent soul feel helpless in being unable to bring you any comfort?

You are still Catholic and always will be.
You know what, every day I go to Mass and every day I ask St Michael to carry my Communion to each person who needs Jesus to each person who is unhappy, to the souls in Purgatory…and now you will be very much in my thoughts when I ask ‘him’ to do that. You are my sister and if I were there I would do all I could to encourage you.

I will be thinking about you and praying for you as I prepare dinner for my husband and me which I should do now, it’s evening in Australia…but I checked CAF to see if anyone needed my love, and there you are!
God bless you. I hope to hear from you again…Trishie


#3

Mrs Leviathan,

I could have written a similar post to yours a couple of years ago. Seriously. Yes, you are Catholic, just as I am. You are not alone.

I went to confession and poured everything out much as you have done in your post. I was given absolution and struggled to accept it. However, I realised that by continuing to believe that you are condemned you are refusing God’s forgiveness. How can you think that you can decide that you are not forgiven when Christ, in the person of the priest who gave you absolution, told you otherwise? Reread the words of prayer of absolution:

God, the Father of Mercies,
through the death and resurrection of His Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

Christ has forgiven you and this is His gift to you.

As for communion, it is heartbeaking, but you are amongst many thousands in the same position. Obedience to the Church teachings is one way in which we can show our love for Christ. That can be comfort when unable to take communion. One priest told me that we are all have crosses to bear, each according to our strength.

I suggest that you talk to a priest just as you have talked to us.

God Bless


#4

this parishioner, whom you must have trusted to tell her this, gave you an expression of deepest love and concern, which you interpreted as judgement and condemnation. This shows how deeply you have been wounded and how much you need and deserve God’s mercy, and how sad that you separated yourself from its source, the sacraments.

The very fact of the circumstances surrounding the abortion are an indication that not all was in place for a valid marriage. It is definitely worth pursuing an annulment because there is no reason you should labor under this burden if there is a remedy. No, if you are then free to marry again is it necessary for your husband to convert, that requirement can be dispensed if you ask.

It sounds as if part of your burden consists of misinformation, and a conversation with a good priest can correct that. Tell him everything as you have stated it here, in fact print this out and take it because you gave a good exposition of your story. Let him guide you from there, and make sure to ask all your questions, especially the painful and bitter ones.

Yes the priest who absolved you when you confessed this had the authority to lift the penalty of excommunication and did so. Priests have been given that faculty so they can extend that healing to you. You are entitle to Christ’s Divine Mercy, as we all are, even those who have sunken far deeper than you into sin, and have received the joy of being raised up in these sacraments.

While you are in the process of coming back to the sacraments, the source of your joy and consolation, and I think Fr. Serpa would suggest this, spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and open your heart to Him, and unite your sufferings with his, the source of true healing.

Finally, a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat is a great healing process for women injured in this way and I recommend it strongly.

You do deserve the best and Christ is waiting with His Whole Church to give it to you, his dear child.


#5

MrsLeviathan,

First, let me say I am sorry for your loss and for your suffering.

To answer one of your questions - you are still a Catholic, even if you are currently unable to receive communion. As others have already noted - there are many other Catholics in the same situation you are - unable to receive communion because of the current state of their lives.

You asked about how you could receive communion again, and the answer is quite simple: get an annulment. Until you do - as long as things remain as they are now - you are living in what is considered by the Church as an adulterous relationship. Yes - the civil authorities recognize the marriage as legitimate; however, Catholics treat marriage as a sacrament, and only the Church can determine whether your first marriage was valid or not. Until they decree your first marriage was not a sacramental marriage, it is considered valid, and you are still considered sacramentally married to your first husband, regardless of what the state says. Talk to your parish priest about starting the annulment process. Without an annulment - the only other choice you have is to divorce your current husband, which I don’t think you want to do.

That said - as others have noted, you can get a dispensation to allow you to marry a non-Catholic. While I understand your reaction to the parishioner who made the comment they made - are you sure it was made in malice? Yes - I know in some cases it could easily be that way, but not always. I don’t know the reaction of your husband’s family - they may have expressed legitimate concerns, and they may have expressed anti-Catholic bigotry. But what I do know is this: if there are children involved - a mixed-faith marriage is going to complicate matters with regards to how they are raised - in what faith, and why and all that stuff. Of course - I say that not knowing your age. For all I know, children may not be an issue.

I don’t envy you the pain you are obviously still suffering over that abortion, but if the priest has granted you absolution for it - you should believe you have been forgiven. Spend all the time in prayer you need - before the Blessed Sacrament or in some other suitably quiet place with which you are comfortable, and just pour your heart out to God and do it as often as you need to in order to work through your grief. If you are open to it, you will eventually receive the grace of healing. When I had the option available to me - my frequent place of consolation was to hide out in the dark shadows of the sanctuary of the local Catholic Church when nobody else was around and just soak up the silence and solitude of the place. Often the only noise in the place was the bubbling of the baptismal font just inside the door and occasionally the muted sounds of the traffic outside. Now, however, to experience that luxury, I have to drive three hours - lol.

Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers and I hope that you will soon begin to bask in the full healing power of God’s grace.


#6

My response is going to sound harsh, though it is not meant that way, I just don’t have time at present to be anything but blunt. You’ll be in my prayers.

You have to live with your current husband as you would with your brother under pain of mortal sin. In the eyes of the Church, and therefore God, you’re still married.

There is no part of my heart that He doesn’t see. Would He really turn me away?

Would He turn you away when you, essentially, turned away from Him when you married another man? Would He turn you away when you:

  1. received no annulment…
  2. married a non Catholic outside the Church He established to act in His place on earth…
  3. married this man knowing that you would not be able to receive Him in the Holy Eucharist? (premeditated and deliberate mortal sin is always worse than “just” committing a mortal sin)

In a state of mortal sin because I have not had my first marriage officially annulled, and therefore I am an adulteress? Both??

Well, both.:frowning: I’m sorry.

He is the bread, but the church is the altar upon which it is served, and I am not welcome. The healing that one finds in the eucharist far surpasses that which can be found anywhere else, for me. Sitting in the pews while others participate, feeling like a leper for things past, things already confessed, and things that I am unable to consider wrong in the present, is making me feel bitter and hopeless, as well as criminal.

At this point I’d say you know what you have to do. Choosing to remain ignorant in a matter of faith and morals because you do not like the consequences is another serious sin added, and I doubt you want to take that path. The reasons you listed don’t sound like valid reasons for an annullment, to me anyway, but if you want to live in a state of grace with God you have to apply for the annullment and live with your husband as though he were your brother until the annulment is granted and your marriage blessed by the Church.


#7

Thankyou Trishie. I woke up this morning feeling rather panicked that I wrote all I did; it has clearly been weighing heavily on my mind. Your words were of great comfort. I do now feel that I can approach a priest with this matter.
God bless- MrsLeviathan


#8

As for communion, it is heartbeaking, but you are amongst many thousands in the same position. Obedience to the Church teachings is one way in which we can show our love for Christ. That can be comfort when unable to take communion. One priest told me that we are all have crosses to bear, each according to our strength.

Dear Fran- that priest was right… it’s just funny that making rods for our own backs and then moaning about it seems to be a hobby for some of us!

One of the things I often discuss with my husband is how God seldom needs to actually punish us. Sin leads immediately to unhappiness, and opens the way to more sin. We punish ourselves. Looking back at my story, you can see the snowball effect in action. I cannot for the life of me understand what it is about me that got me into this position in the first place. It seems that one must be super-vigilant to weed out the first seeds of sin, or your entire garden is consumed with brambles before you know it.

My favourite scriptures are Paul’s letters to the Romans- he explains the phenomenon of human silliness well. He’s a marvellous psychologist as well as theologian. He also expresses great joy concerning the miracle of forgiveness. Those passages are of great comfort to me, as are your words. Thankyou for your kindness. I had better get my act together, stop feeling sorry for myself, and sit down for a long meeting with my priest.


#9

Thankyou PuzzleAnnie-

strange to say, but up until now I was one of the parishioners who did the “graveyard shift”, venerating the Blessed Sacrament. Sitting in the church alone in the small hours with only Christ for company was a great honour and blessing.

I am currently feeling that I am not worthy to do this. Back when I was younger, I was so pious that my priest jokingly accused me of Jansenism. I think he may have been right. The odd thing is, my husband is more prone to this form of hopeless (and arrogant) thinking than I am; I am very quick to point out the extension of grace and forgiveness to him, which he will not allow for himself; rejecting forgiveness is an attempt to make one’s self more powerful than God. But then I turn around and do the very same thing.

There’s nowt so queer as folk.

I also suppose that the acceptance of forgiveness is an exercise in humility. The person who persists in feeling rotten and lost is actually guilty of a haughtiness and pride, with the outward appearance of piety and humility. Rejecting a gift is rejecting the giver. I’d best get with the program and stop being so proud of my unhappiness.

Thankyou for your kind thoughts.


#10

I suppose I really hate the idea of going through an annulment because it would mean contacting my ex-husband again. Although he had great scorn for the church, he would love to throw my hypocrisy back in my face: I contributed to the destruction of my marriage, a church sacrament (or not, as the case may be) but here I am seeking an official ecclesiastical answer to the problem. Also, I will yet again have to go through the pain of detailing the abortion as grounds to prove that the marriage was not sacramental, because of our state of mortal sin.

I suppose I am, yet again, being a coward. I guess I should look on the upcoming trauma as a final gesture of penance for what I have done. Maybe then I will have some sort of closure, and be able to forgive myself even as Christ forgives me.


#11

Hello latinmasslover,

I appreciate your candour and “tough love”. You are right in saying that I know what I have to do. But beyond that I think we have little in common. You seem to be a very inflexible and dogmatic person- so inflexible, in fact, that my words would be of little interest to you. I believe that there needs to be many people like you in the church, or it would all go to hell in a handbasket. However, I think it also needs people like me.

My marriage to this new person was obviously not a decision taken lightly. And it is not a case of deliberately committing a mortal sin and “not liking” the consequences. I will not and cannot consider it a sin of any kind. In fact, it was my love of Christ the man, not Christ the Catholic, that caused me to decide that rejecting my husband’s offer of marriage would be a huge sin in itself.

Each person must be taken on their own merits, not at face value. I am not ignorant of morals- I am critical of doctrine at times, and, whether you like it or not, free to question it. When I sin, I know when I am doing it. My abortion was a sin. My being married the first time under false pretenses was a sin. With full concupiscence, I went ahead anyway, and the result is my pain today.

Like the Samaritan, my new husband is a far better, kinder and truer person, a better Christian, than a lot of Catholics I know, never mind that he is* persona non grata *as far as Catholic doctrine is concerned, as am I now by association. This is because of who he is, not by dint of his belonging to any particular church. He, too, has had to deeply question the tenets of his own faith, and run the risk of offending his church, in order to simply be a decent human being. To reject a person, no matter how good, on the grounds that he’s of the wrong faith is simply immoral, and profoundly unchristlike, and I simply cannot see how it could be justified.

I am not going to say that “rules are made to be broken”, because I want it all my own way. I am not going to say that the catechism of the Catholic church is a “serving suggestion only”. But I do believe that unquestioning enslavement to doctrine without the exercise of personal judgement or moral evaluation is a form of idolatry, an excuse for laziness, a denial of agency, and a source of far greater inhumanity than taking the risk of erring on a personal level. If we all thought as you did, only Jews would have become Christian. Show me one place in the New Testament where I am told not to marry a non-Catholic. Later, it says not for wives or husbands to “put away” their spouses even if they are “unbelievers” (which my husband is NOT), as we can’t assume that the faith of the one doesn’t save the other.

My acceptance of my new husband was turning to Christ, not away from Him. Canon law is canon law… it just seems in so many cases, to not correspond with Christ’s ministry on earth.

It is thoughts like these that prompted me to ask whether I am still a Catholic or not. “Universal”, remember? Not “exclusive”.

I wish you well.


#12

Hi Mrs. Leviathan,

Sorry about your sad story.

I agree that you should pursue an annulment, you might have grounds to do that, but unless you try, you won’t really know.

Maybe you won’t have to actually speak to your ex husband, maybe he could be contacted through 3rd parties. Divorcing people sometimes just communicate through their lawyers.

Prayers that you can resolve everything in the best way possible.


#13

Actually, this is not the case at all. The tribunal will contact him on your behalf; you don’t have to do it yourself. All you have to do is provide them with his last known address and contact information. (I recommend checking out this book for more detailed information.)

Although he had great scorn for the church, he would love to throw my hypocrisy back in my face: I contributed to the destruction of my marriage, a church sacrament (or not, as the case may be) but here I am seeking an official ecclesiastical answer to the problem.

No, you’re asking for the opinion of the Church as to if you had a valid marriage or not. The fact that your marriage self-destructed as it did seems to indicate that there may be reason to believe it was not valid.

Also, I will yet again have to go through the pain of detailing the abortion as grounds to prove that the marriage was not sacramental, because of our state of mortal sin.

Have you ever been on a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat? If not, I’d advise looking into it; it sounds like you could benefit from the healing.

I suppose I am, yet again, being a coward. I guess I should look on the upcoming trauma as a final gesture of penance for what I have done. Maybe then I will have some sort of closure, and be able to forgive myself even as Christ forgives me.

That’s a good perspective to have, I think. Just be prepared for the possibility that the tribunal may find your previous marriage to be valid. However, based on what you said, I would be surprised if that was the case.

Prayers for you on your journey.


#14

Mrs. Leviathan,

Please be aware that what I am about to say is also out of worry for your immortal soul. I also would like to say that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Also that we should all acknowledge that we are not worthy to receive Christ (Communion) but only through his mercy we are healed.

It was an unfair assertion of you to accuse another board member (Latinmasslover) of not caring for your words after the person took the time to post and to pray for you. The church needs many things among them is sheep to follow the Shepard’s who are obedient so that they do not lead other astray from the Shepard. Would you say to an outside observers that you would want them following your actions?

You do not like the assertions that one board member make and judge them. Your next assertion is that the church needs you? Then you felt it necessary to state that your husband is closer to God than Catholics you know? I would like to see your copy of the book of life to see if my name might be in it as well sense you seem to be able to know the state of so many peoples souls.

Sense you do know the state of many people souls may I suggest that your own worry you stated in your post is a self acknowledgment of the danger your soul is in?

The Bible states that the heart of the law not just the letter of the law must be observed. This is a principle that men of justice not just Christian men observe. You yourself are not blind to the fact you terminated you marriage with your first husband and you stated that you still viewed it as VALID! What would you have us say to you? It was your assertion not ours!

Your harsh words for people who subscribe to dogma and doctrine could be placed correctly if we were doing so out of a spirit of self righteousness! But in your tone I find their “to be straining out a gnat or a small insect, but swallowing a camel”. You condemn us were you look for mercy? Your post contains attacks on the Church and on its followers. I will be the first to acknowledge that we are sinners in the church but your condemnation is unfounded!

Modesty and humility are important aspects of holiness especially when one differs with dogma. Are you closed off to the possibility that you are wrong in your second marriage with your husband? You boasted of your knowledge of the bible. Do you want me to show you where Christ CONDEMNS divorce? You showed no mercy to your first husband and in YOUR judgment you saw him as not holy. Your words not ours about you!

One is never worthy to sit at Christs table yet we are all invited. No man is holy enough for Christ it is only when we submit ourselves to his holiness and ask mercy that we may receive him.
Where is your submission? All I read in your reply to Latinmasslover is condemnation and justification. Your post seems to be a boast of self importance and evangelization of your personal holy understanding, am I wrong to interpret it that way?

Do you seek to have us justify something without doctrine on an internet forum where we only have a limited understanding of your heart? Would you have us jeopardize our souls by remaining silent to things that go against what our Shepard’s have instructed us? Perhaps even hope that we would comfort you when the source of your torture is your own guilty conscience?

Surrender your life to Christ first and do the things that would be Saintly. Go to church in humility for the annulment, Go to your first husband in humility for the annulment, Go to your common law husband in humility about the annulment.

Also I would like to present a prayer that comforts and challenges me you can read it here

We all struggle with demons, I wish you strength so you may overcome them so that one day you may be able to help others possible even myself.

Know also that I am a sinner who knows when he sins. That my prayers may only be a whisper to God, and my understanding is limited to my mortal mind. Please know that these statements are out of my love for you, your first husband and your common law husband. May all of you be holier than I.

God Bless


#15

Dear Mrs,
I’d just like to mention that your husband is definitely not “persona non grata” as far as Catholic doctrine.(nor are you, by association or anything else.) He is a person who Christ loves enough to die for, immeasurably beloved by Christ, who is on the road to heaven.
We are all imperfect, all trapped in our misconceptions and preconceptions. I think we will all find a lot of humor in our previous lives when we look back on them from heaven.
I married a Catholic by accident, sort of, not knowing that if I had been a Catholic our marriage would have been impossible. But here we are, with 2 children. God isn’t predictable, and He knows what He’s doing.
Please apply for an annulment, and continue working out your salvation with fear and trembling as you are doing. Read Scott Hahn’s book, Rome to Home. You can’t say your husband will never become a Catholic. You never know.


#16

Dear Nmoerbeek,
thankyou for taking time out for me. I very much appreciate your thoroughness and thoughtfulness. Yes, I do owe Latinmasslover an apology for my defensiveness and terseness. But you yourself are making many assumptions about my motivations for posting this at all.

That can’t be helped. As you said, you can’t know my heart, and nor is it appropriate for me to dissect it or thrust it upon people on an internet forum and hope for a finely tuned response. I actually didn’t. Unwilling or unable to yet see a priest, unable to discuss this with family or friends, I merely wanted to sound out my faith community as to their opinions. In hindsight I also obviously wanted to simply share a burden (of my own making); perhaps I was dumping inappropriately; I am sorry. I did not expect a great deal of mercy- some advice, a lot of disapproval, some head-kicking. It’s all useful.

The title of my post is important. No, I do not want to lead anybody astray. I have actually heard tell that is is bad to persist in going to Mass and not taking communion- it can give the appearance of scandal, and that’s something I don’t want to do. I do not want to stay away from church, either, so it’s something I have to think about.

I do not like the assertions that other board members make and judge them? They’re not too keen on my assertions, either, and pretty quick to point it out, but as this is a Catholic message board and I am at serious odds with the church, it comes as no surprise. I may have made a mistake- I am sorry- but I didn’t know where else to go. I did not attack anyone. I voiced my dissidence, perhaps undiplomatically. This dissidence is what led me to ask whether or not I was still Catholic. The title of the post was not “Please Feel Sorry For Me”. It may well have been “I’m Rather Confused, And A Bit Of A Crab”, but I decided to cut to the chase.

Yes, the church needs all people. People like you, like me, and like Latinmasslover. I said that. I meant it. Whether the church wants all people is another matter.

Judgement and condemnation are tricky things. We are told to avoid them for good reason. However, we must exercise them sometimes lest we become apathetic. In your reply, ironically but unavoidably, you do it all over the place, in reference to me doing it… we could keep judging each other in ever-decreasing circles until the cows came home. Just because you follow it by asserting how “humble” and “submissive” you are doesn’t make it any less of a judgement.

“A lot of Catholics I know”. This is not a sweeping statement. I am referring to specific personal real experience and observation. Yes, I do know- they may well be the saintliest of the saintly in their hearts, and how much God loves them is God’s business, but their public conduct and the way they treat others leaves something to be desired, all while feeling secure in their righteousness because they are following The Rules. I was contrasting this with the observed behaviour of another specific non-Catholic individual, whom I felt was being unfairly judged for superficial reasons. I did **not **say that he was “closer to God”. You have deliberately misquoted me. How on earth would I have any way of knowing that?? I said that his behaviour was Christlike- consciously resembling, or trying to resemble, the example that Christ set. He is not the “sounding brass” or “tinkling cymbal” of mindlessly recited doctrine that many seem to think is a fair trade for a lack of true charity. I never claimed knowledge of the state of anybody’s soul. I gave examples of behaviour, both in reference to my situation for technical reasons, and to illustrate why I have quandaries.

As for the things I have done wrong, I am not sure that rubbing my nose in it can have any further effect. Therefore can’t hurt, either, I s’pose. I have communicated my sorrow and regret, and the knowledge of my profound imperfection and hypocrisy, to the best of my ability. Our concepts of what constitutes a gnat and what constitutes a camel seem to be completely opposite, which is interesting and even slightly funny. Until I am led to a better understanding of the exact differences between the species, it’s probably best I stay away, from here and probably from church, because I do not want to hurt others in the way that I clearly already have.

Thankyou, everyone, for your time, thoughts, advice, kindness and prayers. You have done much good and have helped greatly. I am truly sorry for any offense I have caused. Farewell, and God Bless.


#17

none of us is worthy of this or any of the graces God grants us. If the church only allowed the worthy in the doors, the church would be empty. You are not worthy, I am not worthy, your priest is not worthy, your fellow parishioners are not worthy, the pope is not worthy. Jesus alone is worthy and it is in his grace that our worthiness lies. We have only to ask for that grace and we will have it and his worthiness in abundance. But when we ask, we have to really ask, and to accept all the grace, and all that it entails, not pick and choose as if selecting from a box of chocolates.

You are so very right when you say God seldom needs to punish us, we do quite well in that department on our own.


#18

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