To Annul or Not to Annul?

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A few weeks after my divorce was final, I began searching online for help and direction. I searched the Catholic websites in hopes of finding more than just practical advice. I needed truth and not pages of, “You go girl!” or “Yay, time for a fresh new start! (insert smiley face)!”  My hope was to find Catholic sites that understood my pain and the shame of feeling like a failure along with spiritual guidance to help me process this in the light of Church teaching. Unfortunately, this is not what I found. To be a bit crass, what I found could be summed up this way:

“So, divorce is terrible, but it happens. Christ still loves you (insert prayer) and here’s a link to all the information you will ever need on annulment, especially if you have a new ‘special’ friend.  Annulment will heal you.”

Whoa, what…? Annulment? I just got divorced! I had scarcely begun processing this awful divorce, and in fact, I was still praying desperately for even a glimmer of hope that this was temporary. That soon, he would come to his senses and begin reconciliation. I was ages away from accepting as fact that my children were going to grow up in a single-parent home. Yet instead of encouragement to stay the faithful course, I was barraged with the doctrine of nullity. How about empathy and advice for someone who doesn’t want to immediately presume that fourteen years ago, the most important and beautiful day of her life…was all a lie?

It appears as though, the Catholic media is hell-bent on all divorces ending in annulment. Perhaps they have forgotten that divorce and annulment are not the same. The virtues of fidelity, prudence, temperance and chastity need to be the focus during this confusing and frail time.  So, what do we, as faithful Catholics, really need to know about annulment?

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