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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ready for Eternity

Advent is the perfect time to wonder whether or not you're going to make it into heaven. I'm not surprised about these two questions from readers:

I'm a bit confused by the inclusion of my friend Rahm's photo here as an example in the paragraph on Hell. (And it's Rahm, not Rohm). Is the point that he's missing a finger? Or that he's Jewish? How does the latter figure into his fate in the personal or general judgement? Is that why he's in the paragraph on Hell? Please explain. I doubt he'll see this but in case he does, I'd like to be able to explain it. Many thanks!!! Love the site!

I was referring to his finger only and what would happen to it if he went to Hell, or Heaven, for that matter. He would also be reunited with his finger in Heaven, so that his finger can experience Heavenly bliss. Where your buddy ends up is entirely up to him.

I have also mentioned more than once that in the Catholic church we never, ever say that anyone is definitely in Hell. Not even Hitler. At the last moment, the person could have had a huge epiphany and thought, "What was I thinking!!!!" and been forgiven and gone to a pretty long stint in Purgatory.

I am not comparing your friend with Hitler. I'm just stating a worse case scenario. We imagine Hitler is indeed in Hell, but we will never say for a fact that he is there because we simply don't know.

One of the nuns I had as a teacher in grade school solemnly told us that Pontius Pilate was in Purgatory until the end of time. I always believed that Pontius Pilate was in Purgatory until the end of time. I used to tell people that Pontius Pilate was in Purgatory until the end of time, until one day it suddenly hit me that it was another one of those things that nuns say in classrooms that has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

Pontius Pilate may have made it to heaven by now, or still be in Purgatory, or be in Hell with Hitler, if Hitler is even there. No one knows.

As for what Mr. Emanuel's chances are of missing out on heaven because he is Jewish, the Catholic Church does state that Jesus mentioned that one can only get to Heaven through Him and since the Catholic Church is the one True Church founded by Jesus while was He was alive on earth, the Catholic Church is obviously the way to go. But, as I mentioned, in the end it's between the person and God and it's just none of our beeswax, except for us to all pray for the salvation of all. Even Hitler.

I've said that before, that we should all hope that somehow Hitler saw the light and made it to heaven. Boy, does that make people mad. It shouldn't. We should hope for salvation for everyone. Eternity is a lot longer than you think. Even if you kept Hitler in Hell for a million years for each person he so much as made a little uncomfortable, let alone killed, that would just be a speck on the eternity clock. Even two million years per person. Even twenty million years per person that he so much as blinked at, a drop in the bucket of eternity. Even if you went up to government bail out figures, per person, a sliver of eternity.

If Hitler ends up in Hell for all eternity, it will have been his own choice. That doesn't mean I shouldn't feel bad because we lost one. I always feel bad when we lose one.

My hope is that your friend gets the rest of his finger back in Heaven for a blissful finger reunion.

Sister, who is the patron saint of women who are abused by their husbands? Another question (I emailed this to an "ask a priest" website and didn't get a response) I was married in the church (definitely a valid marriage, I could not have gotten it anulled) then we stupidly divorced and I got remarried to a man who ended up being a nightmare. My first husband later passed away from cancer, but I did not want to "remarry" my current husband in the church because the marriage is so abusive. Finally, only because I confessed all his physical abuse to our marriage counselor and she told me I was endangering all 5 of my children by letting him live here and I could lose the kids for that, I got the courage to at least separate from him. Is it WRONG to end this marriage, since we were not married in the church and because of all this abuse and fear we were living with? If we are no longer living together, would I be able to start receiving sacraments again, like go to confession and communion?

This is an easy breezy one to answer, ironically, since it was no picnic for you.

St. Rita is the patron saint of rotten marriages. St. Rita had a lousy husband who was so rotten that the Mafia, or something like the Mafia, bumped him off.

You are not married in the eyes of the Church to the second husband. Your other marriage is all over with because your spouse has passed away. You are an unmarried woman. You'll have to get a civil divorce for the sake of the state, but that's it. You'll have to go to confession because you were actually ....this is going to sound harsh given all that's happened....living in sin, since you were living with a man to whome you were not married. But the sacraments will get you right out of that mess in one fell swoop. One good confession and it's all over with.

You have been very brave. You had a mess and you stood up to it and straightened it all out. May I suggest another patron saint for you? St. John the Baptist, a great patron saint for wiping the slate clean. That patron saint of a fresh start.

And the patron saint of headaches. I'm sure you've had many.


Moominmama said...

Sister, thank you for making this blog. Now that I've found it, I keep following a trail of other blogs from other readers. Then they tell me about still more blogs! Recently, I found a good one by Shannon, on making cakes, and a Catholic mom who writes book reviews. Speaking of books, the one you recommended sounds good. I try to buy a good book for all my children's godparents each year. This may be the ticket.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant - thanks for the additional explanation about Rahm!!

Claudia's thoughts said...

When I was in grade school the nuns always told us not to wear patten leather shoes, well, you probably heard the rest. I dont think they intentially lied, it was just to keep us aware of the occasion of sin.....kept me out of trouble for a long time.

TheIntrepidPie said...

Just a question: Is it still a sin to live with someone you're not married to even if you're just roommates? Male and female roommates not in a relationship together? Like that bunch on "Three's Company"? What if you are in a relationship and you do live with that person, but do not engage in marital relations? Does this all come down to that "you-have-an-opportunity-to-sin-whether-you-choose-to-take-it-or-not" thing?

Kristie said...

Sister, thank you so much. You're right about the headaches, and a patron saint for this new start is just what I need. Tonight I went to confession for the first time in 5 years tonight and got to receive communion!!! I can't believe what a weight has been lifted and I feel like I will be ready to take on the challenges that I know are waiting for me, as I go through this divorce!!! It is a good way to start Advent.

Emmarinda said...

Kristie, I am so happy to hear about your going to confession and communion. I had a similar situation, and so I know how you felt getting back into a state of grace and into fellowship with Holy Mother Church! I will ask for the Blessed Mother's intercession for you and your children as you continue on in your new journey.

Thanks, Sister MM, you truly did God's work here!

Anonymous said...

and I got remarried to a man who ended up being a nightmare.

You are not married in the eyes of the Church to the second husband.

Um, what? She's not? You say this based on what, exactly?

The church recognizes all marriages as valid, even those performed by a JP.

And if she decides to get a civil divorce and remarry she'll need to get this marriage nulled or she will be unable to take communion.

I know this very well as I am going through almost the exact same circumstance right now.

Monica said...


Anonymous said...

Dear 'second' anonymous,

She could not have actually been married when she 'remarried' because her first husband was still alive. As her first (and true) husband was still alive, she actually only attempted marriage to the abuser. She could not have actually maried him even if the 'wedding' had taken place in a Catholic church with the Pope himself presiding! If anyone is already validly married and their valid spouse is still alive, they can only attempt marriage; They do not contract this sacrament in fact.

As far as the church recognizing the marriages performed by justices of the peace as sacraments, that would not be the case with a catholic, but only with those members of ecclesial communities who do not have a specifice requirement to be married by a minister. If a Catholic want to be validly and sacramentlally married to a non-catholic, it still must be done in a Catholic church. At least the local bishop must dispense with that requirement if there is a legitimate reason to, for instance, have a catholic wedding in a protestant church building, on the beach or some other such place.

Maggie said...

Hi Sister,
I love your blog! It's nice to have answers just a few clicks away :-)
Here's my question:
The Church venerates the Holy Innocents as martyrs for our faith. Of course, none of these children were bapitzed by water, but rather by blood. Is is acceptable for us to give similar veneration to the souls of aborted children, who are martyrs of a different sort? Can we ask for their intercession as we do for other saints in heaven? There are so many millions of abortion victims; what a prayer army that could be!
Thank you.

Ann said...

Kristie: I know your sitch, I've been in it! Two wonderful ... well, not saints, but blesseds, for you: Annamaria Taigi and Elizabeth Canori-Mora. Check them out!

Anonymous said...

Happy Immaculate Conception Holy Day everyone! Just back from a really nice Holy Day Mass.

Here's a link to the FAQ for the Metropolitan Tribunal, Houston Galveston.

17. I was married more than once. Do I have to petition for each previous marriage?

YES. A petition for nullity must be submitted for each and every failed marriage of any kind [religious, convalidation, civil court (justice of the peace, etc.), common law, etc.] provided the previous spouse(s) is still living and that marriage(s) has not been declared null by the Catholic Church. Each and every previous marriage must be reviewed, either through a petition or the submittal of a death certificate of a previous spouse(s). This is required, whether one is a Catholic or non-Catholic (baptized or non-baptized). Without an affirmative decision(s) for nullity and/or a death certificate(s), one cannot marry in the Catholic Church. Your Case Sponsor will assist you with each petition.

This statement: "You are not married in the eyes of the Church to the second husband." is simply false.

This statement: "As far as the church recognizing the marriages performed by justices of the peace as sacraments, that would not be the case with a catholic..." is also false.

I'm really not trying to be a smartypants or a jerk. But what is being said here about the Church's position on these marriages is utterly false. Yes, since her first husband is dead, if she left her second husband (and I pray that she does get out of an apparently abusive relationship) she would indeed be able to go to confession and receive communion.

She would not, however, be free to remarry, because contrary to what is being said here she most definitely IS married in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

Sister, your last couple of columns have given me much to think about in regards to damnation and forgiveness. Do I have to forgive someone who does not ask for forgiveness? I was abused and molested by my father as a child. He has never sought my forgiveness. Am I damned for not forgiving him?

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

OK, Kristie's 2d marriage perhaps ought to be annulled, and certainly if she's going to get married again. But it should be a very simple case for the tribunal, requiring only:

Kristie's baptismal certificate;

her marriage license for her first marriage;

her marriage license for her second marriage (highlight the date);

and the death certificate for her first husband (again, highlight the date).

On the basis of those documents, and the sequence of events, the marriage tribunal should annul her second marriage without delay or investigation.

In addition to praying for Kristie, we should also pray for her soon-to-be ex-husband. He surely needs a lot of prayers.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to reset my expectations about what you guys know about all this. I simply assumed it was common knowledge how this works. Obviously it is not. It is certainly common knowledge at my church and in my RCIA class.

There is no such thing as a null petition that is "simple" or acted upon "without delay". Nor is even the most obvious defect going to speed anything along. EVERYONE's petition is special - to them.

The null process is long, expensive to the petitioner and arduous. The average length of time for the Houston Tribunal to complete processing a petition is about 1 year. The petition (here, I assume it is similar if not identical elsewhere) contains 20 parts. Each part contains subsections, each subsection contains questions, some as many as 16, and each question may have sub-questions (listed a-etc). Every part of the petition must be completed. Additionally, witnesses must be provided and they must fill out questionnaires and return them to the Tribunal before the Tribunal will even begin to process the petition, and the former spouse will also be contacted and offered the opportunity to respond - even if he's an abusive so-and-so and you had to flee for fear of your life.

My petition runs 33 pages, typed, single spaced. And FWIW, the marriage I am petitioning has an obvious defect recognized by the church and - brace yourselves - Kristie's does not, at least not with what she's told us. The simple fact of her having been married in the church, then civilly divorced, then remarried outside the church, is not a *defect* recognized by the church that nullifies the marriage. Nor is the fact of her husband being abusive necessarily a defect in the original marriage.

Not that I don't think she would succeed in a petition, I'm rather sure she would.

Once the petition has been granted (assuming a defect is found and a favorable ruling is made), the petition then goes to an appeal Tribunal where it must be argued again and that Tribunal must agree that the marriage is null. I'm told this part of the process usually takes a few months.

I know people that have waited 2 years to get a null petition granted. Canon Law says petitions should be processed in the range of 18 months. I can't even be baptized into the church until my petition receives a favorable ruling and they've had my petition since last May.