from Plain Talks on Marriage, Rev. Fulgence G. Meyer, 1920’s

You are married. Have you been married according to the laws of the Church? If not, yours is not a lawful marriage, but merely a sinful relation with a person who is not your mate.

By elevating marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament, Christ gave the Church exclusive charge over the marriage of His followers. As little power as the state or other external agents have over the administration of Holy Communion, for instance, or Holy Orders, so little right have they over the Sacrament of Matrimony.

The Catholic who attempts marriage before a non-Catholic minister is by that very deed excommunicated, or expelled from the Church. From this excommunication the penitent can be absolved only by the bishop or by a priest delegated by the bishop.

In case you have not been legitimately married and your union is capable of adjustment, have it righted, the sooner the better.

Why unnecessarily prolong your estrangement from God, your remorse of conscience, and your great risk of losing eternal salvation? The process will not be so hard and disagreeable as you imagine. You will find your pastor and the bishop considerate, sympathetic and kind.

Do not hesitate or delay, therefore, to consult the peace of your mind and the welfare of your immortal soul.

“Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor., 6:2).

Whatever humiliation or mortification may be demanded of you in the procedure, you ought to endure cheerfully in atonement of the sin you committed by your sinful attempt of marriage, and as the price of a good conscience.

A Sacrament of the Living

You say, however, that you have been married in keeping with the requirement of the Church; you were married, perhaps, with considerable ceremony….

Were you in the state of grace when you married?

Matrimony is a sacrament of the living, and the recipient must not be conscious of an unforgiven mortal sin.

There are those who before marriage, in the period of courtship, sin flagrantly with each other by indulging in, or allowing improprieties, indecent liberties and shocking intimacies.

When they go to confession before marriage, they are ashamed or too proud to confess these mortal sins,

They willfully make an invalid confession, receive Holy Communion unworthily, and are married, validly, indeed, yet sacrilegiously.

No wonder that they do not receive the grace of the Sacrament, and that their married life is unhappy in consequence!

They started it altogether wrong, even with the curse of God. What are they to do to set matters right?

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

All they need to do is to make a good general confession covering the entire period from their last worthy confession to the present time.

This confession is not at all hard for those who have the will to get back to God. The priest will give you what help you need, supposing you are in this plight.

And do not believe you are the first one to tell this story to the priest. It is by no means new to him. He has heard it often before, and he will hear it again in the future.

Human nature is the same everywhere and at all times. So take heart and make a clean breast of it in the spirit of true and humble contrition.

Then, when you receive absolution, you will get not only the graces of holy penance, but also those of matrimony.

They have been and are only suspended, waiting for the hindrance of mortal sin to be removed from your soul.

No sooner the hindrance is gone, the suspension will cease, and the graces of marriage will flood, strengthen and rejoice your soul.


“Being humble means recognizing everything good and beautiful in my life (my qualities, the good I can do, and so on), as a gift from God. There is more to life than negative things; sometimes we are happy with ourselves, with what we experience and have been able to achieve, and this is justifiable, provided we recognize God as the ultimate source of all those good things.” – Fr. Jacques Philippe, The Way of Trust and Love Painting by John William Waterhouse 1908 (afflink)


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