How does God view my marriage?

I am a returned Catholic. I married some 15 years ago, and at the time I was not a practicing Catholic so I did not have a church wedding. At the time of marriage my husband had no religion at all. He is now a Catholic and we attend Sunday Mass. How does the Church view my marriage? How does God view my marriage?

I cannot presume to divine God’s thoughts, but I can give you some guidelines for determining whether the Church presumes your marriage to be valid.

If a Catholic formally separates from the Church (e.g., identifying as a non-Catholic, joining another church) he or she is no longer formally bound to observe the Catholic form of marriage and so the Church would presume a subsequent marriage to be valid, so long as there was no obvious impediment to marriage (e.g., previous marriage, close blood relationship). If the spouse was baptized the Church would presume the marriage to be sacramental.

On the other hand, if a Catholic were simply lapsed in his or her observance of the faith, he or she would still be bound to observe the Catholic form of marriage. To marry a non-Catholic in a non-Catholic ritual, he or she would need the appropriate dispensations (i.e., formal permissions) from his or her diocesan bishop. If such permissions were not sought and granted, the Church would consider the marriage to be legal (i.e., recognized by the state) but would not presume it to be valid or sacramental.

For guidance in determining your marital status, I urge you to consult your pastor. As your husband is now a practicing Catholic, it is possible that your marriage was regularized at the time of his entry into the Church. However, if your marriage status does still need to be regularized, your pastor can help you through the necessary steps for doing so. God bless.

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