Why Justice of the Peace first?
I was baptized in an Episcopalian church, but only went to church very rarely, for Easter, if we happened not to be doing anything else. My fiance, who was raised as a Catholic, had gone through a divorce and had not gone to Mass since his marriage.
We talked about it, and found that we both wanted to find a home in a church and raise our children in the Christian faith, but we felt that getting married in a church at that point would be somehow false and hypocritical. My husband’s preference for having that church be a Catholic one, made it clear that all of these complications were not going to be cleared up any time soon. So, we asked a federal judge who was a friend of the family to marry us in a hotel ballroom. We asked him to make some remarks to the effect that we view marriage as sacred under the eyes of God, which he did.
Why decide to exchange the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church?
When our first child was born we had her baptized in an Episcopal church because it seemed far easier than entering the Catholic Church. We then began to go to services there regularly, and had our next two children baptized there. By the time our fourth was born, I felt such a strong attraction to Catholicism (which had been ignited when I was in college), that I began receiving instruction from a Catholic priest, and stopped going to the Episcopal church. While all of this was happening both of my parents decided to convert to Catholicism (this probably actually delayed my conversion!). When my oldest child told me she wanted to become a Catholic, it was the nudge I needed to sign up for RCIA myself. Once my husband received his declaration of nullity, I was confirmed as a Catholic. The priest at our parish said that we would now need to have our marriage convalidated which we did at the same time as our youngest’s baptism and First Communion. It was a wonderful day!
What changes did it bring to your marriage and family?
Having our marriage recognized by the Catholic Church, brought so many blessings. We began going to Mass together every Sunday as a family. We have always been a loving, affectionate family, but now we were oriented in such a way that our love for each other felt like it served a higher purpose, that it was part of God’s plan. When we say grace before meals, it doesn’t feel rote — it always feels like a fresh prayer of gratitude for all the many gifts we share as a family. And I see it in my kids, and in my husband — there is a consciousness of God’s presence in our lives.
I think it has been wonderful for our marriage too. Looking back on the time before our faith became part of our daily lives, I think we were a little lost, and a little selfish. I know that going to Mass regularly and having a Christian worldview has changed the way we treat each other. We are much more conscious of looking for the need in the other. That we are in this together forever is a given.
We both make sacrifices for one another, but not in a miserly way. It’s like giving a gift. We want the best for each other.