Saturday, 24th February 2001: In which I talk to Fr Anthony about my annulment application, and begin reading the Catechism
Things are preceding slowly at the moment. I have had no “bites”--not even “nibbles”--from the job market, but I am remaining hopeful. Not getting a job before May is now my biggest worry. Not much of a worry, though... I had an interview with Library Locums [an agency for placing librarians on temp contracts] on Wednesday, and I remain hopeful of something coming up in that department sooner or later. In the mean time, I continue applying for jobs. There was nothing in this morning’s paper however, and nothing new on the internet either.
I saw Fr Anthony yesterday. It was good to see him again. He is concerned that nothing much seems to be happening with Cathy’s application for annulment, and we discussed things we could do to make it easier for Cathy. Two suggestions: first, we will have Anthony around to dinner soon so that he can meet Cathy; second, I will try to make it possible for Cathy to take [baby] Mia and herself off somewhere for two or three days so that she can make a start on her application. I have brought both of these suggestions to Cathy, and she was quite agreeable to both.
I said to Anthony that I really wasn’t worried about Cathy’s application being in straight away. Before long I will know the outcome of my own application, and then, if it is negative there will be no point in Cathy applying. Anthony agreed. Second, I said that if I get a positive answer then the delay in Cathy’s annulment will not be a great concern to me, since I have valued the time that God has given me to fully consider what I am doing. Anthony was not so agreeable on this point. He said, with some emphasis, “I want to give you the Eucharist”. This was very gratifying, as it seems that there is no doubt about my convictions at least from his (their) side. Peter [Holmes], on the other hand, has been told that they want him to test his decision a little more.
I raised again my supreme annoyance at the generosity of the Holy See in recognising Mormon baptism [this was still a disputed issue at this point in 2001]. I even asked (half joking) if there was a chance I might get an audience with the Holy Father when he comes out (if he comes out) later in the year, and make a personal appeal to him. Anthony said that he needs to cure me from this Lutheran “voluntarism” (a new term for me) that makes us think that the saying of something can make it so, and that the Pope has the power to make something so which is, in reality, not so. Fair enough, of course. I knew that.
I also said that I have no doubt that Cathy’s annulment will be granted if mine is. Anthony, on the bare evidence he has, agreed.
We talked a little about “grave” and “venial” sin--a distinction that I have not been used to making, and the reasons for this distinction. Anthony compared our relationship to God like a marriage relationship, where there are some offences that fundamentally threaten the relationship, while there are others that, while making the relationship rocky and difficult, do not fundamentally do so. This made sense.
We discussed also whether or not my remarriage was a grave sin. Anthony said that on the evidence he has, he would not consider it so, since at the time of marrying, neither Cathy nor I had any notion that we were not free to marry, nor did we think that what we were actually doing was contracting a bigamous marriage in contradiction of God’s law.
However, the discussion made me very aware that there are grave sins that I have committed that do need confession and absolution (I don’t think Anthony believed this, and I didn’t go into details with him since he is not my confessor--nor probably ever will be), and so towards the end, I asked him if there was any possibility of my being admitted to the sacrament of confession even though I have not been confirmed nor admitted to communion. He said that it may be possible--in the same way that a new convert usually will receive the sacrament of reconciliation before receiving communion, and he will check this out with his canonist friends.
Anthony has encouraged me to hope to attain to a life of holiness, and I will sincerely try to do this.
I have realised that a certain “schizophrenia” has characterised my Lutheran/Catholic life. While this has begun to be resolved, there is another schizophrenia -- that of hardened sinner and sanctified saint -- which is even more urgent to be overcome.
I have now received a copy of the Catechism, and am working my way through it. This has been made more difficult by the fact that I have one of the early translations that needs all the corrections done. I did it once with pen--but it looks very untidy, so now I am downloading the revised sections from the net, and will cut and paste them into my copy. It’s one way of getting to know the contents, at least!!!
In preparing my sermon on the Transfiguration for tomorrow, I have used a lot of material from the Catechism. Nothing that is remotely “un-Lutheran”, of course, but I have discovered that there is a good deal of excellent exegesis in the Catechism that is really useful.
I rang the pastor who works as a counsellor in my parish yesterday to tell him of what was happening, since Cathy would like to use him as a witness. I also talked to [a friend] whose marriage I will be celebrating in a month or so on the phone about my decision today. I ran into [some aquaintances] from the Moorabbin parish at the joint regional service at Casey last Sunday, and they were quite surprised by my decision. [One dear old lady] from Casey though is quite convinced that I am doing the right thing. “I knew all along”, she said! I am afraid though that this will just convince her that the Lutheran Church has nothing in common with the Catholic Church. Probably she is right after all... It is strange now--I can agree with those Lutherans who want to ordain women, and who want to be anti-Catholic, because I see this now as a perfectly valid living out of some aspects of the Lutheran creed.