Complicated past w/divorce, will I ever be able to become Catholic?


#1

After reading about how the church handles divorce I’m wondering if I will ever be able to become Catholic. Unfortunatley when I was young I choose unwisely and married twice to men who turned out to be abusive. Both times the men began to threaten me and do small thing, such as grab my arm in a rough way. I left both times when I became convinced that I was in danger. I’m currently married to my husband of 16 years with 3 children. To further complicate the matter he also was married twice before our marriage. He went to Catholic church when he was young, going only as far and first communion, then falling away. He is not interested in returning, I’m coming from a nondenominational background. I wish to raise my children in the Catholic faith. I’m afraid my background will keep me out of the church. Am I right?
Constance


#2

IF you are not a Catholic (all rights recieved, baptism, First HOly Communion, Confirmation etc.) your past may hinder you. But there is hope…if you get an annulment for your previous marraiges and your husband can do the same for his the church will have no issue with you entering RCIA …but with out the annulments it will be hard to enter the church.

Please anyone correct me if I have erred in anything I have said.


#3

[quote=Karin]IF you are not a Catholic (all rights recieved, baptism, First HOly Communion, Confirmation etc.) your past may hinder you. But there is hope…if you get an annulment for your previous marraiges and your husband can do the same for his the church will have no issue with you entering RCIA …but with out the annulments it will be hard to enter the church.

Please anyone correct me if I have erred in anything I have said.
[/quote]

I believe she only needs the annulments to be able validate her present marriage.

If she was not married in any church ceremony (civilly married only), then she probably does not need annulments.

If she was married in a church ceremony, then she cannot receive Holy Communion, which will hinder her reception into the church.

The best advice is to speak to a priest.

All of what she is going through is redeemable and she can come into Communion with the church. It will take some time and money.

Subrosa


#4

Actually I don’t think there is any reason why you could not begin attending RCIA classes even in your present circumstances. You probably won’t be able to go through all the rites and your circumstances will likely delay your reception into the Church until such time as you can receive a decree of nullity for your prior marriages. But that doesn’t mean you can’t attend Mass. You just would not be able to receive the sacraments.

You don’t say whether or not your husband’s previous marriages were in the Catholic Church. If not, and assuming he did not formally leave the Church prior to those marriages, then they would be invalid since a Catholic is oblidged to marry in the Church or get a dispensation to marry elsewhere. He would still need to get a ruling on his former marriages but the situation is less complicated than yours. If your husband knows that it will not so complicated he may be more motivated to get a ruling on his prior marriages.

It will probably also be possible for you to enroll your children in Catholic instruction classes. If any of them are at or above the age of reason they would also need to go through the RCIA process. But you would have to check with your local parish to find out what the specific rules are.


#5

:thumbsup: Take heart and congratulations on hearing God’s call!
You will have to seek annulments for your prior marriages and your husband’s prior marriages. If your husband, who was raised Catholic, married outside the Church, it will be simple because they are invalid due to defect of form. The biggest problem i foresee is if either of your husband’s prior marriages were in the Church, you will have to convince your husband to go through with the annulment process when he has no interest in whether or not the Church views his marriage as valid. Pray and explain how important it is to you and for the good of the children. If he will not change his mind, continue praying and seek conversion anyway. You will not be able to receive communion unless all four prior marriages are annulled, but when you start making steps towards God, He finds ways to send you blessings and help you along. My family will pray for your situation. No matter how hard things get, don’t lose hope. It is so awesome that you are doing this for your family. :thumbsup:


#6

Thank you all for your input and prayers. So, what are my limitations besides not taking communion? Are there ways I will be able to serve at church while working through this? I still want to live “Catholicly” does it offend God for me to pray the Rosery, obey the days of obligation, etc. Should I being doing some penence?
Constance


#7

[quote=Constance]Thank you all for your input and prayers. So, what are my limitations besides not taking communion? Are there ways I will be able to serve at church while working through this? I still want to live “Catholicly” does it offend God for me to pray the Rosery, obey the days of obligation, etc. Should I being doing some penence?
Constance
[/quote]

I am seeking annulments…had a conversion after remarrying also. I cannot receive any sacraments…go to Church for sure…obey the holy days…please do pray the rosary and ask especially for your husbands conversion…

I have great pain when I have to sit and watch others taking communion…and I really miss confession. I offer up the pain that I am feeling and the time that I am away from the Lord in his most Holy Sacrament as penance. If you get it underway it might only take a year…if your ex-husbands refuse to fill out the paperwork you can still go forward…

God Bless you and you may proceed to your Catholicness!


#8

God loves a humble heart and humble prayers. By all means pray the rosary, God blesses so many through that prayer!

You could proably serve at church in many ways, but you would proably be hampered in serving in liturgical functions, like being an extrodinary minister of Holy Communion or a lector. You might could be part of the chior. You could most definlty serve in other aspects of behinds the scenes stuff, like food pantries, crisis pregnancies, etc.

Pennance for your sins is always a good thing, pennance for the sins of others is always a good thing. I would say be careful not to burn yourself out to quickly with it, but then again would Jesus say that?

By the way, trust me, from my own experience not recieving Christ in Holy Communion had become such a pennance itself. You won’t believe how loudly Jesus will be calling your name.


#9

If I sang in the choir, EVERYONE within earshot would be doing penance! In other words I have always taken great comfort in that bible verse that says to "make a joyful noise until the Lord."
Constance
Thanks for the other ideas!


#10

[quote=Constance]After reading about how the church handles divorce I’m wondering if I will ever be able to become Catholic. Unfortunatley when I was young I choose unwisely and married twice to men who turned out to be abusive. Both times the men began to threaten me and do small thing, such as grab my arm in a rough way. I left both times when I became convinced that I was in danger.
[/quote]

First of all, good for you for escaping those dangerous situations. Now you are being called to this faith, but you may have a cross to carry for Christ to get here. It’s a burden and an honor at the same time. Talk to a priest and explain your situation to him. We’re all well meaning in this forum, but you really should have and need the guidence of a priest.

As others have mentioned you’ll need to go through the annulment process. My wife has been through it, and while it is involved, it’s not overwhelming. She, too, came from an abusive situation, and the church was very sensitive to that. What the chruch will want to determine is if any of your prior marriages were sacramental. The same is true for your husband.

Now this process can take awhile to sort out and it will take some work. Give it time. Perservere. Pray. Go to mass eventhough you cannot physically receive the Eucharist, you can receive it spritually. There are graces to be gained even when you are not in a position to be in full communion.

You are in my prayers, tonight.


#11

as we have said many times, the Catholic Church considers any marriage valid until proven otherwise. Every marriage situation is unique, and all the facts about this marriage and all previous marriages of both parties must be given to the marriage tribunal of the diocese who will investigate, take testimony of witnesses and decide if previous marriages were valid, and if they were not, issue a decree of nullity. There are too many variables and it is absolutely pointless to speculate here. Visit the pastor of your closest Catholic parish, talk to him, find out how to proceed. He must refer you to the tribunal in any case, and must oversee your preparation to become Catholic.

The facts of your current situation are not an absolute barrier to becoming Catholic. The priest is also the only one who can give you pastoral counselling on how to conduct yourself within your current relationship, while waiting for the results of the tribunal, in order to be properly disposed to receive the sacraments. You get this in person from the priest, not from strangers on an internet forum. Go to your priest without delay, and we will help by our prayers. Welcome home.


#12

I want to second all those who counselled the OP to clarify the marriage situation by going to the priest, especially by those who consistently and prudently urge people with questions to do that. No one here or elsewhere should be speculating about a concrete situation, even though attempting to assist someone in good faith.

In this case, there were major unasked questions that would have been asked in the first thirty seconds of discussion by any knowledgeable priest or canon lawyer. (For example, since we didn’t look into the poster’s baptismal status, we don’t know if we should even be talking about a nullity investigation or the application of a pauline privilege. Another example, since we don’t know the dates of the husband’s marriages, we don’t know whether the old code or the new code would apply to possible marriages outside the Church.)

Another point only mentioned in passing is sufficiently technical that it normally takes a consultation among several canon lawyers when it comes up in a particular case.

Finally, one statement about the civil marriage of non Catholics was just flat out wrong.

I’m not mentioning any of that to be offensive, elitist or arrogant, or to pass myself off as superior to anyone. I really know people have the best of intentions and are generally knowledgeable. Most CAF posters understand how canon law is a servant or a tool for the salvation of souls. Some people are pretty expert in canon law.

But this thread does point out the limits of giving technical advice on a very specific and personal situation.

There are many questions that would have to be asked to clarify any* particular* situation. They would have to be asked by the people who are not only qualified to practice Church law but who are in the position to actually do something about it. The parish priest or someone he designates to do this needs to be the point of entry.

It’s one thing to talk in general about different types of processes, or to give encouragement to those with problems. It’s wonderful to see how the faith of posters spills over with encouragement, the promise of prayerful support, and understanding.

It’s another thing to give specific technical counsel — even with the best of intention. The risk is giving incorrect information, making the problem worse, and harming the person who is asking for help. None of us want to do that.


#13

I wanted to thank everyone who offered me advice, consolation, and prayers. I have met with someone from the locale parish I’m attending and feel I’m on my way to where God wants me. I have learned a lot from this forum, and more importantly felt a genuine kindness and concern from those involved.
God Bless you all!
Constance


#14

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