Thank you to one and all. I'm afraid I was a little vague when I first posted this. In response to Christine, I'd like to add a little more background context...
I was a cradle Catholic. I walked away from the church in my mid 20s thinking the church was legalistic, dry, stale, and lifeless. After several years, I met a good Southern Baptist and started going to church with her. We eventually got married in the Baptist chuch. After 15 years of trying to make it work, we realized we weren't doing anyone any favors staying together, esp the kids. There was nothing scandulous. We just didn't see eye to eye and butted heads on everything. Even though neither of us believed divorce should be an option, we did what we felt we needed to do.
After our divorce, I came back to my Catholic roots. My priest assured me an annulment would be easy because we weren't married in the Catholic church. It would be a simple lack of form annulment. My thought was that my vow was to God 'til death do us part. Again, my priest assured me, what's loosed on earth is loosed in heaven.
I turned in my "lack of form" paperwork, and recieved an annulment decree within 5 days. When I read the decree, it was all about legalism. Because we were not married in the Catholic church, it was never valid, therefore annulment decreed. Faith and vows were irrelevant.
So, I'm left feeling cold and numb. Apparently, vows and faith outside of the Holy Roman Catholic church mean nothing. I've learned alot about the good points and short-comings of the protestant faiths in those 15 years, but my perception of the Catholic faith being legalistic, dry, stale, and lifeless is back. I look at priests and see "white washed tombs". If my vows to God mean nothing, Catholic or otherwise, what kind of Christian am?
So hence, I feel like a guilty criminal set free on a technicality. I have my annulment, but I can't accept it. My conscience won't allow it. My faith in God is strong. My faith in the Holy Roman Catholic Church: not so much.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. May God's kingdom come, May His will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven.
Gary.. Every denomination has it's 'rules and teachings'.. In some, women aren't allowed to cut their hair or wear pants.. In others they don't believe in infant Baptism.. Our Catholic faith is no different. There are teachings in place for us to follow as a part of our faith tradition.. Please don't look at it as being a bad Christian. You followed a path that seemed right to you at the time.. Getting the annulment is what is correct now for the Catholic faith..
I appreciate the level of honesty in your writings. I wish more men would weigh in on this subject. I am very new to Catholic Match, so perhaps this subject has been discussed alot...and I am just now seeing it. I have been putting off my own annulment for some of the same reasons you described, but mostly because I fear my ex-spouse will be very hurt by it. And yet, I know I will experience great freedom if officially annulled. I like what Lauren had to say, and Matthew Kelly is a wonderful author. As for myself, I try to keep things "in the day" and try not to make "absolute" decisions for myself, especially regarding the future. Based on your last post, you have your priorities right!
You state your conscience won't allow it. We are still responsible for our actions or lack of regardless of the criteria of the Catholic Church (whether we receive an annulment or not).
Your marriage was not santified by the Catholic Church...you didn't get married in the Catholic Church so this is expected from their standpoint and obviously from their criteria.
In your eyes and in the eyes of the Baptist Church you were married...the annulment hasn't changed that.
A person does not have to obtain an annulment once they are divorced, only if they want to marry in the Catholic Church. Therefore, if one has no intentions of getting married in the Catholic Church, the application of an annulment does not have to be sought.
The Catholic Church's purpose is not to belittle what you had, but to try and provide you with what you asked for...freedom to marry in their church.
I will keep you in my prayers for healing and also that you do not put blame on the Catholic Church for whatever your reasons are.
Y'know how you feel when you hear about some killer getting aquitted because some slick lawyer pulled a technicality out of his hat?
My priest say's this is a joyous occasion.
I still feel like I'm guilty but free on a technicality.
Thank you Donna.
I know in what I wrote, I sound somewhat bitter towards the Catholic church. And you are right, it is not my place to blame the Catholic church.
I walked away from my Catholic faith once before because I thougth the church was all wrong. I won't make that mistake again. There are a lot of things don't understand, and the more I read and study, the more I realize how much I don't know, will never know, and how much I need to grow in faith.
Hence, my prayer to be able to discern the will of God and be humble and obedient to it.
Thank you for your prayers.
God bless you.
I think I know exactly how you are feeling. You made a vow in the name of God in a church. Then you lived in a marriage, had children from that marriage. How can you invalidate the reality of that marriage by a piece of paper that says you just happened to do so in the wrong church. I couldnt let myself off that hook either. The marriage was real. By remarrying years later, did I commit a sin? Yes as far as I'm concerned (although not the Church) I did. Not the first time the Church and my conscience diverged. So I faced it as a sin. Confessed it as a sin, although the priest had trouble absolving me (long story how he finally did to the satisfaction of his conscience). I did penance then and later for the sin. Then I forgave myself and eventually married again - a good, healthy productive marriage in which 12 "unadoptable" children were parented. I know that that God doesnt forgive one sin because you repented with other good acts. But God does forgive sins just because he loves us and I pray that he has forgiven me that one. I also think that God doesnt want us to stay in relationships that hurt ourselves and others, which you seem to have accepted. So the question is whether you can or should enter another relationship. You will have to explore your relationship with God to see if you can feel his forgiveness for your broken vow. I did feel it and I hope you will also.