Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Along a Path to the Kingdom"

I recently had the privilege and joy to validate a marriage in the Catholic Church between two people who were civilly joined for over 14 years.  The groom, a cradle Catholic and his bride, a Jewish woman, made the decision together to have their marriage blessed by the Church.  

Why they did not seek a dispensation to marry in the Church all those years ago no longer matters.  What is important is that he is now eligible to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church.  He attends mass regularly and she is often with him.  They are very nice people and a lovely couple together.  Our community is much richer for their presence.

The journey that led them to stand before the altar in a Catholic Chapel began with one of those common incidents we see so often in the Church.  Someone asked him to be the godfather to their child.  A simple enough request.  Our groom was told he needed a letter from his home parish in order to be the godfather.  When he attempted to get the letter certifying that he met the qualifications to fulfill this honorable duty he came up against Church Law. 

At first he was told that the church where he regularly attended mass was not his home parish, so they could not write a letter for him!?!?!?  Now, I think there may have been something lost in the translation in this statement, but it appears that their parish’s secretary wields enormous powers over who can and who cannot be a member of their community.  But this story is not about parish secretary horror stories and poor understanding of what constitutes parish membership.

For our groom this should be a no-brainer!  After all, he was born into a Catholic family, had received all his sacraments as a student while attending the parish school, so easy-peasy!  Just call up the parish where his mother still attends daily mass and speak to the deacon.  Now you know this is where it went off the rails for him.  Those darn deacons!  
Now this was an easy fix.  After a few meetings with the deacon and the completion of a few forms seeking a dispensation from the Bishop the couple were able to have their marriage blessed in the Church.  What made this an easy fix was a husband who wanted to reacquaint himself with the practice of his faith, a wife who was willing and eager for their marriage to take place in a Catholic Church, before a priest or deacon and two witnesses (Mom also attended to make sure it all went well) and no other impediments that needed to be overcome, such as a previous marriage by either of them.
This went well and had a happy ending or rather a happy new beginning for our groom, his wife, his Mom and their entire family.  He stood up as godfather for one of the newest members of our faith community and by his witness to his faith should fulfill the duties of that honorable role very well.

The recently ended Synod of Bishops on Family Life has much buzz around it concerning its outcome, but  it is too soon to know for certain what the results of these discussions will be.  So many people are hopeful that the teachings of Jesus Christ in His Church are made understandable and applied with love and mercy, so more of God’s children can come to know Him better.  He calls each of us by name and invites us to share in His Kingdom for His way is far above our understanding, but it is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Deacon Don

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