Monday, November 18, 2013

The Time I Wasn't Absolved in Confession

I married a Baptist twenty-one years ago.  I felt that he was more Catholic than my first Catholic husband.  He was kind, thoughtful, loved family and children.  I had a Catholic annulment from my first marriage but my fiancé, Tom, was divorced too, so we were married by a minister who was a friend of the family.

During our first twelve years of marriage, we both attended Catholic mass as a family and our two children went to Catholic schools.  I went to confession about every month.  During one confession to a priest that was in his eighties, he began asking me questions. 

"Do you have a good marriage?"

"Yes," I replied.

 "Have you been married before?"

 " Yes, but I have a Catholic annulment". 

 "Does your husband have a Catholic annulment?".  I felt my heart drop. 

 "No, he's not Catholic," I replied.

"Your husband has to have a Catholic annulment, even if he isn't Catholic, for you to receive the sacraments".  " I'm so sorry but I can't absolve you of your sins".

 I had the deer in the headlights face.  I just remember saying something lame like "okay". 

"Have I shaken your faith?" he asked.

 "No, I'm fine."
Of course, I wasn't fine.  I cried for days.  My husband immediately said he would get a Catholic annulment and what did he have to do.  We made an appointment with a priest who told us the process.  My husband would receive a packet in the mail with questionnaires that would delve into his marriage to see if there was a reason to annul the marriage. He would need two people close to him at the time, to also fill out information about the marriage.    Tom asked his parents.  I was worried that my in-laws who were Baptist and Presbyterian, would not understand the gravity of the situation, but I was wrong.  They couldn't wait to fill out the paperwork and questions about my husband's first wife and marriage.  They answered all the questions with speedy zeal.  I don't remember ever seeing them so happy. 

A packet would also be sent to his ex-wife with a questionnaire she could fill out, but it isn't a requirement that ex-spouses send it in.  Some choose not to.   The questionnaires then would be mailed to Archdiocese of Cincinnati Tribunal for a decision. It also cost $350.  It took about five months for my husband to receive a Catholic annulment.   We had our marriage blessed in the Catholic church on February 1st.  I mention the date because three years later my husband became Catholic on February 1st. The annulment process and one-on-one time with a priest immersed my husband in the beauty of the Catholic faith setting him on his own journey, which lead him to conversion.   
I don't know why I didn't look into the rules of the Catholic Church twenty-one years ago.  I did what my older sister did, when she divorced and remarried.  I just thought those were the rules, but I never asked a priest about it.  Some people get mad at the priest (in the confessional) when I tell this story, but he was doing his job and I am so thankful for it.  At the time, I thought it was a test of faith.  Later, I knew God was doing something else. 

God wasn't testing my faith, He knew what was going to hit our marriage in a few years, so he set up events that would protect us.  Because our marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church and my husband became Catholic we could both receive the sacraments.   Which strengthened our marriage.  I'm not sure if we would be married today had we not listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I think about all the "what ifs".  What if my confession was absolved, what if my husband didn't want to get an annulment, what if I became angry leaving the Catholic Church?

Tom and I have had many ups and downs over the years, and I am sure more are coming.  What I know now is that with trust in God, holy obedience and the sacraments of the church, we can conquer anything.





  1. Neat story. I'd like to invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share posts with each other. This week's host post is at

  2. This is such a beautiful story! I'm so in awe of the way God works through all things.

    Would you be interested in contributing to the Saints Series on my blog? If so, please contact me via my blog. I would love to hear from you and it would be a joy to feature your story! God bless!

    ~Sarah Therese

  3. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. My Protestant husband had his marriage annulled before we were married. He thought it was an odd requirement from an arcane religion but did it for me. 10 years later he became Catholic and it was also his annullment that started him on the journey.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Patty. What awesome husbands we have! Our stories are also a testament for love.