January 5, 2010

Question to Readers

Has anyone ever heard of or participated in some kind of parish program, workshop or anything like that to try to get irregular marital situations addressed in a friendly and pastoral way?

I'm tired to feeling like a burden preparing Pharisee when I have to tell people that they are ineligible for sacramental sponsorship, etc., because of their irregular marriages.


Mark in Spokane said...

Unfortunately not, but there is a real need for it, given the state of American culture at this point.

GrandmaK said...

I'm sorry I don't. It sounds like this should be something addressed and perhaps implemented! CAthy

Hidden One said...

No, but if I do, I'll let you know.

Sarah said...

I've seen some of my peers talk about taking part in a Catholic marriage retreat... but I think that retreat was for couples already eligible to marry within the church. I'll see if I can catch up with them and ask.

I'll have to admit the most crumby thing to tell a person is 'no', I can sympathize because I spent a whole work day turning away students for spring semester due to a variety of ineligibilities. (by-the-by, the most frequent response given to me was, "Well, I didn't know that!")

I'll take a few shots in the dark with some advice.

If I had to take your role, I'd think about the way I explain to people why it isn't possible for to fulfill their requests.

People may not understand the response, "No ... because the catechism/church says so", or see the requirements as a superficial line drawn in the sand. It is important to really explain the reasons why these requirements must be met--in the best interest of their family, now and in the future.

I'd also ask the reason why it is so important for the couple to marry in the church.

For example, If the stories handed down from my parents are correct, my parents received a lot of pressure from their Catholic parents to marry in the Catholic church. But, they didn't want to live and raise their children according to the faith.

If I had a better idea as to why they want to be married in the church but fall short of the ideal situation; I'd have a better idea where to start working.

Maybe you can meet some of these couples half way. I heard a story about a Catholic wife and Methodist husband who wanted to become married, and of course it couldn't be done in a Catholic church. But they met with a priest to discuss other options, and settled upon receiving a blessing before being married elsewhere. The couple was truly happy with the blessing... and now the Methodist husband is a candidate in RCIA.

Just ask questions and see where that can lead you to. They may get turned away at that time... but months or years down the line, who knows!

timh said...

I'm not aware of any 'programs' except that our Diocese waived the fees; that's a start!

Bless said...

Father Charles, It will be a good idea to have one of this, but not in an open workshop. Maybe it can be on a one to one basis. Couples having some irregular marital situations will not be open to discuss them in a group settings. Never heard and been to one and there was a time in my life that I needed it, bit hesitant to approach a clergy and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I got out of my problem.

Evelyn said...

My parish deacon gave a two-part program on the annulment process, billed as "you don't need this, but we know you know someone who does." The clear premise was that this is an important issue and there are loads of misconceptions, so come find out what is correct. This wasn't part of any canned program.

Norah said...

Perhaps a note in the Sunday bulletin or a word before the final blessing asking that anyone who would wish to talk privately to the priest is welcome to do so. Then as well some catechesis from the pulpit about the Catholic requirements for marriage. We can no longer have confidence that catechesis in Catholic schools or in after school catechetics programmes are all that they should be.

Domini Sumus said...

My diocese used to offer annual informational workshops on the annulment process. They were always very well attended, but for some reason they stopped offering them.

They were advertized as informational sessions for those interested in filing themselves, looking for info for others, or just plain curious.

That is the only think I have seen though.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the marriage tribunal of the diocese would be happy to come in to do a workshop for people who have questions that need to be answered. Perhaps a general meeting followed by individual or face to face meetings for those who feel a need or desire for follow-up. Perhaps a cluster of parishes could sponsor such a workshop for greater outreach.


Brother Charles said...

Thanks,everyone, for your helpful insights and advice!

prl said...

Father - I am in an irregular marriage and what Bless states is insightful. It would be very helpful to know that there are priests willing and capable to assist & walk with a couple privately. I would never go to a small group discussion or sessions on such personal matters, particularly for the protection of my children. With some sadness, I will say it took me nearly 4-years to finally find a priest who not only had the time but took an interest and it has been a blessing.

Evelyn's suggestion on how to promote a general discussion/educational session is excellent for a number of reasons related to privacy issues.

Warren said...

As a person who has received an annulment, although I was civilly-divorced, I was not remarried, and so I was never in a state of impaired communion, the advice I have is to encourage such persons to apply to the marriage tribunal directly, without pause to participate in any parish level program.

I think, anything other than that is probably best accomplished one on one, and not in any kind of a group setting.

Sharing of those in similar states tends to occur, within the Cursillo movement especially, I have often observed.

I have observed many good effects in the life of persons in such a state of impaired communion, who desired again, to live in a state of union to Christ and the Church, only after encountering some group of passionate laity, such as the Cursillo movement, or some lay association or secular order.

No one who will live a chaste life is held back from the sacraments. If one's life, within an invalid marriage is unchaste, how can that be good for your heart, your mind, or your soul? I guess I'm a little vague, wondering what is the counsel a priest gives to such a person? If it were me, I would urge the person to live a life of continence and chastity proper to their state as not-really-married-to-the-person-publically-identified-as-their-wives.