The Catholic Defender: Thirteen Days of Blaze
While serving in Iraq for a fifteen month deployment, I had my leave placed between June 1 to July 1 to be able to fly home for a two week leave. You are given two weeks for leave, but you have approximately two weeks transporting from your Forward Operating Bass (FOB) or Joint Security Station (JSS) to Baghdad. From Baghdad to take a Chinook to Kuwait where you have your equipment and security items secured before you take a flight back to the States.
Once you report back to the United States or the place of your leave, your time clock begins. You have 14 days of leave, once those days click off, you must report to fly back to Kuwait and from there you have to wait for a helicopter to take you back to Baghdad then another helicopter to your FOB or JSS. This is a schedule that your Command works out for all their Soldiers.
I arrived at Fort Hood Texas where I began my leave and so my wife and I went 13 days on a planned trip covering Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, and then finally back to Texas. Along the way we visited family and we would spend some quick quality time as we were on the run.
While traveling to Missouri, the Lord worked within a three day period bringing my Wife and I so much closer Sacramentally. As we drove from Kentucky to Missouri we were notified by the Diocese of Springfield Missouri that my Annulment was approved. That was a huge blessing for us. We were married at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bolivar Missouri. My Brother Randy was my best man and my Aunt Marie was my Wife's Maid of Honor. Dr. Gregory Thomson honored us with coming to the marriage. From there, we did not slow down.
That upcoming Sunday, my Wife received the Sacramental Grand Slam! She was Baptized, was Confirmed, and received her First Holy Communion at Sacred Heart (Mission) Catholic Church. Think about the miracle of these three days! I was in a 15 month deployment. My leave was arbitrary, chosen by me Command as opportunity happens. Unfortunately, not everybody took their leaves when they wanted it. With time so short and demanding and so many troops, every month each Command had to deal with the losses.
Then during the 13 days of Blaze, the Annulment approval happened at the one time when it mattered for this trip. It would have been difficult if we had already passed through Missouri. And we would have missed this opportunity should I have redeployed back to Iraq. We would have had to wait until my Unit returns back from Iraq.
Isaiah 40:31 states, "They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint."
Those three days with the 13 days of Blaze would totally bring us both into the practice of our faith. Anyone who has had to deal with an Annulment knows how difficult that can be. The Catholic Church was given the authority and the Chrism of the Holy Spirit to handle tough situations. As a faithful Catholic, we must be obedient in faith to the ruling of the Church.
Matthew 5:23-25 states, "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison."
Until the civil matter is resolved you have to leave your gift at the Altar until a remarriage can be recognized in accordance to Canon Law. Going through a divorce and remarriage is not an easy thing to go through. As a Catholic, we do not believe in divorce. Jesus gave this directive to His Apostles:
Matthew 19:9-10 states, "I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” [His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”
The clause Jesus makes "unless the marriage is unlawful" is what is important in this evaluation. Does either party in a divorce have the ability to term their marriage as "unlawful"? Protestants have changed this clause to fit their purpose so they can get remarried claiming their spouse committed adultery. That is not exactly what the Lord says here. In the old Testament when the Israelite were allowed to return to their homeland, if marriages were "unlawful", they were annulled. Marriage to a close relative would be unlawful, marriage with a non-Jew would be unlawful unless they converted.
No, Jesus does not leave this question up to the couple wanting a divorce. There has to be evidence the marriage was not valid. That takes an authority greater than the couple. The Catholic Church is that authority.
The key to this question comes from Matthew 18:15-20:
"If your brother* sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.* If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. l Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Going through an Annulment process, it really does have a feel of a court with a prosecutor and a Defender. This process can take years. Especially when it would seem that a marriage had all the I's dotted and the T's crossed, annulments can be difficult. People are questioned on both sides to get at what was the couple's mental, spiritual status before the marriage. If there were some deception, this will be problematic to the marriage. Being married by a Justice of the Peace is not in accordance to Canon Law, being married outside the Church is not valid to Canon Law.
I reported back to my Unit in Iraq with a clear fresh breath of fresh air. The Lord's perfect timing made a huge difference in my life and my Wife is His greatest gift in this life. The family that prays together, stays together.
Lyrics to Perfect Timing by Sweet Comfort Band
When I needed a shoulder to cry on You dried all my tears When I wanted someone to rely on That's when you came near And when it comes to loving me You're the best of all You're always in the right place at the right time To catch me when I fall You've got perfect timing You're not a minute too soon Not a moment too late You've got perfect timing I can see when you move I can feel when you wait You hold tomorrow in the palm of your hand Everything runs by your master plan You've got perfect timing When I had to have someone to count on You were second to none When I needed a friend that would hold on You were the only one And when it comes to loving me You're the best of all You're always in the right place at the right time To catch me when I fall