Q. I read recently that, during the consecration at Mass, the blessed Savior is most present to us — and that if we have a special prayer request, that would be the best time to make it. Can you tell me if that is correct, or is there a more appropriate time? (Columbia, Missouri)
A. It is true that when the words of consecration are pronounced by the priest, Jesus himself becomes present on the altar under the appearance of bread and wine. This makes that moment, of course, an especially sacred one. I have noticed that even when a congregation has seemed fidgety and distracted, a reverent hush descends at the time of consecration.
If you feel a particular closeness to Christ right then, by all means go ahead and make your request — although the primary focus at that moment should be gratitude to the Lord for coming so near.
Finally, I need to point out that, in listening to our needs, God has no “office hours.” I believe, and the teaching of the Church holds, that Jesus’ invitation to “ask and you shall receive” applies in any circumstance and in every setting.
Q. I have read your column and you seem to make appropriate clarifications. Here is the situation of my friend, who lives in the Philippines. (By the way, divorce is not legal in the Philippines.) Some time ago, she was married in a Catholic Church wedding; that marriage has now been annulled civilly, but not yet by the Church. Later she married a different man in a civil wedding, and that second marriage is now in the process of civil annulment.
I am only concerned about her standing in the Church. In the Church’s eyes, is she still married to husband No. 1? Does this mean that she has two husbands at the same time? And finally, can she take Communion in the Catholic Church? (City of origin withheld)
A. It is true that the Philippines, where 86 percent of the population is Catholic, is one of the few countries in the world where divorce is not recognized legally. However, that fact is extraneous to your question, which regards only your friend’s status in the Church.
Her first marriage, which took place in a Catholic Church, was and still is recognized by the Church. It sounds as though a petition for a Church annulment may have been filed, but until that process is decided, the first marriage is still valid in the Church’s eyes.
The second wedding “did not count” in the view of the Church; not only were they married outside the Church, but your friend was still married to husband No. 1 and therefore was not eligible to marry again with the Catholic Church’s blessing. (So she doesn’t have “two husbands” in the Church’s view; only the first one.)
Where does this leave your friend right now? I assume that she is no longer living with husband No. 2, since you said that the marriage is in the process of being civilly annulled. So your friend is in good standing in the Church and eligible to take holy Communion.
However, before she does that she should go to confession and tell the priest about her marriages — especially the second civil marriage, which would have been objectively sinful.
It will be good for you to pass this information on to your friend; there is a common belief that a failed marriage by itself (apart from a second marriage) separates one from the community of the Church and the grace of the sacraments.
That is not true — a spouse might be relatively blameless in the collapse of a marriage and may (and should) continue to receive the sacraments.