Good evening Father,
I have a doubt that I have been thinking about for quite a while.
I have been civilly married for 17 years. For some years now our marriage has practically ended but for the sake of the children we live in a relationship of respectful coexistence and total abstinence from what are normal marriage relationships.
Now, feeling the need to reconcile with God, I realize, however, that I have broken the laws of God and as I do not want to persist in error, I wonder if I can get back to faith and receive the sacraments, that is, confession and communion and hope for forgiveness.
Thanks for your answer which I hope will help me to understand which is the way to go.
1. the good of the children is so great that it deserves the sacrifice you are making, especially since you talk to me about “respectful coexistence”.
In the past in moral theology it was taught that if cohabitation at home was “cum contumelia Creatoris”, that is, if it constituted a continuous insult to God from pervasive quarrels, mutual spite and the scandal given to children, separation was lawful.
But this doesn’t happen in your case, thank God.
2. You tell me that you now feel “the need to be reconciled with God”.
To tell the truth, the Lord is the one who has been pressing for quite a while because He wants you to fully live your Christian life “for God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” (Phil 2:13).
All the while the Lord has been waiting for you, to embrace you again and to satiate you with the abundance of the goods of his house (ref. Ps 36:9).
All the while He has been waiting to give heaven the satisfaction of your return because He assured us that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance” (Lk 15:7).
3. Your return is sincere and you do not ask for any half measures, especially since you live in a perfectly chaste way, that is, with “total abstinence from what are normal marriage relationships”.
4. You can therefore also immediately approach Confession and then Holy Communion, with the only consideration being not to generate confusion in the other faithful if they know that you are only civilly married.
So, either you keep your civil marriage incognito in front of others or you approach Holy Communion where you are not recognized as only civilly married.
5. Your return not only to faith but to a committed religious practice will be a great witness that you give to God in front of your children.
Without doubt this is one of the most precious goods you can give to those you have generated for eternal life.
6. It is also not excluded that in the future your marriage may be revitalized.
The “respectful coexistence” which even in abstinence is also made of mutual help can be perfected by the grace of the sacrament of marriage.
This would also be an inestimable grace.
And with the facts you can tell your children that in the past, because of little or no faith, you made a mistake, but then you understood and you put yourself back on the ways of God. And you wish with all your heart that they will always persevere in His ways until the end.
7. I advise you to recite the Holy Rosary so that Our Lady may obtain for you a happy return to God in Confession and Holy Communion.
From afar I am happy to help you with my prayer which I will gladly do for all your family members too.
I bless you and I wish you all good.