personal matters, we suggest contacting a good priest to discuss the particulars of the
situation. Please do keep in mind that if the first union was a valid
sacramental marriage, the man & woman are married for life and, as Our Lord makes
clear, a subsequent union with another person while the other party is still
alive (regardless of any 'divorce') is adultery (which, of course, is a grave
matter and would preclude one from worthily receiving Holy Communion). As Christ said...
"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the
one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."
"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of
divorce.' But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is
unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman
"The Pharisees approached and asked, 'Is it lawful for a husband to divorce
his wife?' They were testing him. He said to them in reply, 'What did Moses
command you?' They replied, 'Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.' But Jesus told them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made
them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
(and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are
no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human
being must separate.' In the house the disciples again questioned him about
this. [Jesus] said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries
another, she commits adultery.'" (emphasis added)
Also keep in mind that
Holy Scripture says the following about (non-repentant) adulterers...
1 Cor. 6:9-10:
"Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do
not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor
boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor
drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Despite what some
may think or want to believe – and regardless of any 'divorce' – no one on
earth has the power to end a valid sacramental marriage as long as both
that is ratum et consummatum can be dissolved by no human power and by no
cause, except death." (1983 Code of Canon Law, Can. 1141)
Even if a married
couple was allowed to live separately for some good reason, they would still
be married (despite any 'divorce') and would still have various obligations
with respect to each other.
Should a person get
'divorced' / 'remarried' / 'divorced', a good confession (perhaps even a good
general confession) would 'certainly' be required before it could ever be
possible for that person to properly receive Holy Communion. And of course,
to have a good confession & receive absolution, sincere repentance would be
necessary. Once again, keep in mind that if the original union was a valid
sacramental marriage and the other party is still living, the 'divorced' /
'remarried' / 'divorced' person is actually still married to the other party
(from the first union) and still has obligations towards that party that must
be met. There may also be issues concerning harm to children, scandal, bad example, etc. that
need to be addressed.
In any case, a
good priest would need to go over the particulars and determine if/when the
penitent could worthily receive Holy Communion. This determination itself is a very
important matter. Please keep in mind that Scripture says the following
regarding receiving Holy Communion unworthily...
11:27-30: "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord
unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person
should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who
eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on
himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable
number are dying." (emphasis added)
The priest should
also be able to provide a path in which a willing penitent could eventually
return to the sacraments. Also, in the meantime, please keep in mind that
someone who is 'divorced' is not excused from the obligation to
attend Mass (one can attend Mass without receiving Holy Communion).
In summary, we would
encourage a person in this situation to seek advice and assistance from a good
priest as soon as possible.
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