I have asked this is the Apologists forum, but I post it here as well to see if others have gone through something similar and how they handled it:
I have come back into my faith 2 years ago after a 10+ year absence and during that time of absence I was married.
My wife and I are both confirmed Catholics and at the time we were married I was agnostic and she was a non-practicing Catholic, we didn’t want a church ceremony as we were both non-practicing and were married outside of the church by a Justice of the Peace.
A year later I had a religious epiphany and went to confession and started going back to mass and communion. During the confession I mentioned to the priest that we were married not in a church and not by a priest. He also asked me to confess any mortal sins to which I replied, “what’s a mortal sin”? Though I went through 12 years of CCD I don’t really remember anything from it other than the ‘This is Our Faith’ books and watching the 10 Commandments during Easter, never mind learning what a mortal sin was.
At the time of confession I knew that not being married in the church was frowned upon but didn’t know it was a mortal sin without a dispensation (which I also never heard of either up until that point) at the time I was married. The priest didn’t mention that we had to get the marriage blessed in order for me to receive communion or mention that we were living in sin because of our marriage, as at the time my wife was still a non-practicing Catholic.
Thus after confession I started going to mass and receiving communion as much as I could (I work every other weekend and the priest stated that it OK for me to miss Mass due to my work in healthcare as it was a work of charity and that the drive to and from work and attending mass wouldn’t allow me sufficient rest in order to do my job effectively).
Throughout the 2 years since I have been more involved in my faith, going to confession, mass and communion when I could and pray almost daily (a significant improvement from my life earlier) and my wife started coming back into her faith as well especially when we started trying for a baby. She started praying daily and going to mass but has yet to go to confession or receive communion.
So… with the background mostly covered here’s my questions as upon further reading of catechisms and forum posts have me confused and worried:
- Did I (we) commit a mortal sin getting married outside of the church and not by a priest though we didn’t know it was a grave matter?
- Are we committing mortal sin by being married without dispensation though we did not know upon getting married that it was a grave matter?
- Have I committed mortal sins by receiving communion after confession due to my marital circumstances; was my communion valid?
- Is it a mortal sin for us to have sexual relations that would permit life to occur because our marriage is still not validated by the church?
- Is our marriage considered valid because at the time of marriage we were not practicing Catholicism at the time before, during, and shortly after getting married, i.e. would it be as if two non-Catholics were married?
- May I receive communion after confession if we do not have sexual relations as if we were living as friends?
- Are we committing mortal sin/s now because I now know that what we did was considered a mortal sin or because I confessed to what we had done is it forgiven or is it a reoccurring sin because we continue to live in a marriage that hasn’t been validated as of yet by the church?
- If my wife chooses not to go so far back into her faith as to go to confession or receive communion, (be faithful but not strictly Catholic due to her beliefs about a woman’s right to choose and her stance on gay rights) am I still committing mortal sin with our circumstances?
- At what point am I or am I not in mortal sin, when can I receive communion?
- Must our marriage be validated if my wife wants to be faithful but not strictly Catholic?
- Can a dispensation be received after the fact?
I am sure I can think of others but I am afraid they’ll just be rewordings of the previous ones already asked.
Can someone please help me untangle the mess and help me understand what is going on and how to fix it? I am hoping for real responses and not a bunch of links to the various topics I have brought up because I have read a bunch of those but feel there is circumstances here that require examination and explanation to help me understand.
Thank you so much.