Wednesday, 15th November, 2000 - In which it all comes unstuck and the world crashes down on me. Almost.
Just when all seems certain, your world comes crashing down around you. That’s what it seemed like to me today. Cathy had her interview at the Tribunal this morning. I offered to come in with her and to bring Maddy as well as Mia. While Cathy (with Mia) was in the Tribunal office, Maddy and I went first to the Cathedral, then to the Liturgy Office book shop in the Cardinal Knox Centre, and finally to the Fitzroy Gardens opposite the Cathedral to play. It was a beautiful sunny spring day, and we had packed a picnic lunch to have later. I expected Cathy to take only about 1/2 an hour, but it was an hour and a quarter before she met us. I asked how it went, and she said, “Well, its an annulment, not a disolution” --“What! Why? Your first husband wasn't baptised!” -- “Yes, he was, as a Mormon” -- “But that doesn’t count” -- “Yes it does.”
It seems, as I discovered later today from Fr John Fleming, that Mormons use the correct Trinitarian formula when baptising people in water, and that means that it Rome considers it a valid Christian baptism, whatever the Mormons believe. Amazing. But this news had the effect of pulling the rug out from under my feet. This was precisely what Cathy didn’t want and what I was hoping to avoid for her sake.
Apparently, when the interviewer looked at her list, she saw that “Mormon” was on it. She then double-checked with the Vicar General before announcing that if Cathy wanted to keep going in this direction she would need to have an annulment. Cathy was naturally upset, but took the offered opportunity to change the interview into an initial interview for an annulment.
We didn’t talk much about this during our picnic lunch. I was glad it was such a beautiful day, and that we had a little leisure just to assimilate this new situation. Maddy enjoyed chasing the seagulls and walking through “the jungle” in the gardens. We went to the playground, and finished off our time there with chocolate ice-creams before returning home.
On the way home, Cathy was wondering out loud about witnesses for her application. I didn’t want to push her into a committment to go ahead. At one stage, I said “Well that’s it then. Perhaps I should just accept that it is God’s will that I don’t go ahead with this”, but Cathy replied: “But what will you do then?” which is exactly the question I have been asking myself for the rest of the day.
When I got home, I tried ringing Fr Denis Stanley, but he is in Canberra until tonight. Fr Anthony Fisher is overseas, so I tried ringing Fr John Fleming. John was out, but rang me later when I was down at the office. I was glad to talk to him. He did the research to discover that the reason Mormon baptism was recognised is because the formula is right. It was an education for both of us.
He gave me one very good bit of advice. He said “Trust Cathy”. Yes. This is exactly what I have to do. She has been supportive of me so far--she will, in her own time and in her own pace, decide and do what is best for us. I need to trust her in this--to lay off the pressure, to assure her of my love. Who knows? the process of annulment may even be beneficial for her.
But I do find myself wondering again and again: What if it doesn’t work? What if one or the other of us cannot get an annulment? What if I cannot become a Roman Catholic--then what? I am convinced my other two options--put on blinkers or try to change the LCA--would both be fruitless. But I cannot be professed as a Roman Catholic if my marriage is not regularised.
One thought that occured to me is that I could try to find some other means of employment and at least live and worship as if I were a Catholic, even if I could not be received into it. But that is last resort stuff. I need to trust God and trust Cathy. How apt the song was that the boys sang for me at our wedding supper:
Trust and Obey,I hate that song--probably because I am a lousy at either trusting or obeying--but now I have to do both. That and a huge dose of patience.
for there’s no other way,
to be happy with Cathy/Jesus
but to trust and obey.