I have been away from the Church since the late 70’s, and have considered myself a Christian all this time, but not any particular denomination. A number of things have happened to me this year, which are not important to go into here, but amount to (as one person said to me) God thumping me on the noggin and telling me that I need to get right with Him, that there is not as much time ahead of me as there is behind me and I need to make some changes.
All this has caused me to examine my life and beliefs. I have started reading my Bible, am working through Pastor Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life,” and listening to Christian talk radio, reading forums, etc. I have not figured out what church I am being steered to yet, but am open to most Christian faiths. Christ as Redeemer is the foremost thing, but the Devil is in the details (Sorry, couldn’t resist). Of course, because of familiarity if nothing else, I have to consider returning to the Catholic Church. While it sounds like I’m looking in most other places first, I am also looking there. I am reading Father Champlin’s “Catholic Perspective on The Purpose Driven Life,” will be getting a Catechism (which I can never recall being exposed to in Catholic grammer school), and am here.
Sorry for the long winded intro, but I thought where I am now might be illuminating. Now to my question:
I was married in the Catholic Church back in the 70’s, and divorced a few years later. There were no children, there was infidelity on both of our parts, although the divorce was not on those grounds. Not too long after that I remarried, to the wonderful woman I have been with for over 30 years now. We have two wonderful daughters, now adults and on the verge of finishing college and starting their own lives. My wife is not a Catholic, and does not presently attend any church.
Now I understand that the Church does not recognize this marriage, and that I can not partake of the Sacraments while essentially “living in sin.” While I am not sure that I am being led back to the Catholic Church, I am planning on going to Christmas Mass but not receiving Communion.
I think I have a fair idea of what steps I would normally have to take in this situation, but the possible “game changer” is that my 1st wife passed away about 2-1/2 years ago. In a few sites I have seen references to “if the first spouse is alive.” Does this change things? I think that the Church would still NOT recognize my present marriage, if for no other reason than we have not been married in the Church. Is that correct?
More importantly, does this mean that I am free to marry in the Church (presuming I return and follow the “rules” that anyone wanting to be married in the church must)? I assume I cannot partake in Communion until the Church considers this marriage valid, but would my first wife having died cleared the hurdle of my being considered still married to her in the eyes of the Church?
Thank you to anyone who manged to make it this far, and I patiently await your assistance.