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Cynthia Fauth wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What do I have to do to become Catholic?
  • About how long does the process take?

My husband is Catholic but I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church. I was also married before for two years.

  • Will that be an issue?

We have two children that we would like to raise in the Catholic Church.

I really want to be a part of the entire Mass with my family.

Thank you,

Cynthia Fauth

  { What are the steps to becoming Catholic, how long does it take, and will a prior marriage matter? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Cynthia —

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • What do I have to do to become Catholic?
  • About how long does the process take?

It's simple. Make an appointment with the local pastor to share with him your interest in joining the family. The length can vary from situation to situation, but it is usually around a six to nine month period that ends on Easter Sunday.

Some may think this is a long period of time but there is reasoning behind it.

Becoming Catholic is not just a one-time confession of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is that, but it's more. It includes:

  • understanding all the teachings of the Church
  • developing friends and friendships with your Catholic community and
  • discerning where the Lord is calling YOU to serve in His Church

The length of time may differ in other countries for various reasons.
In unusual cases, the training time may be reduced, but it's not the norm.

The benefits of a long training session is that you'll become, over time, more knowledgeable about what Catholics believe and why. Getting a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church would be a great start. This will give you more of an opportunity to clear up misperceptions about what the Church teaches among non-Catholic and anti-Catholic family members and friends.

Check out my favorites page. You'll appreciate the reasoning more.

You said:
I was also married before for two years.

  • Will that be an issue?

Yes!, it may be. The Church would have to check on the validity of any previous marriage.
These paragraphs from the Catechism will give you the mind of the Church, on this issue:

III. Matrimonial Consent

1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; to be free means:

  • not being under constraint;
  • not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that makes the marriage.(Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 1.) If consent is lacking there is no marriage.

1627 The consent consists in a human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other: I take you to be my wife - I take you to be my husband. (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1; Ordo celebrandi Matrimonium 45; cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 2.) This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two becoming one flesh. (Genesis 2:24; cf. Matthew 10:8; Ephesians 5:31)

1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1103.) No human power can substitute for this consent. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 1.) If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.

1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 1095-1107.) In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1071.)

1630 The priest (or deacon) who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. The presence of the Church's minister (and also of the witnesses) visibly expresses the fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.

1631 This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement: (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1813-1816; Code of Canon Law, canon 1108.)

  • Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church;
  • Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children;
  • Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses);
  • The public character of the consent protects the I do once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.

1632 So that the I do of the spouses may be a free and responsible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance.

The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation.

The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the family of God is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family, (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1063.) and much more so in our era when many young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently assure this initiation:

It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own. (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 49 § 3.)

Hope this helps,

Mike
[Related posting]

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