Among the men and women Pope Francis was set to unite in marriage were Catholics who have been living together as well as couples who already have children.
The pope, who is the bishop of Rome, will preside over his first wedding ceremony as pontiff during a nuptial Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Sept. 14.
The event, which will see 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, was organized by the vicariate of Rome.
“Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” the diocese said in a press release Sept. 10.
I believe with all my heart that any path other than the one our priest set us on would have ended disastrously for our family. “Scorched earth” is a pretty apt term for what would have been left of the three of us if the Ogre and I had been pressured and brow-beaten into attempting to correct our lives at once. I believe that because even being on the slowest path possible out of mortal sin was almost too much for us. There were so many close calls, so many narrowly averted crises. We almost didn’t make it to a place of relative stability, and we wouldn’t have if weren’t for God’s infinite patience, mercy, love, and grace. He let us move slowly, and he loved us in spite of it.
I’ve heard many people soundly denounce couples who are in the situation we were in, people who don’t know the details of the situation, who don’t know what roadblocks the couple is up against, and some who don’t even know the couple at all. It hurts to hear other people judged so easily and with so much confidence, and I often wonder if those doing the judging would think twice if they knew even a fraction of the long-term suffering, pain, and humiliation that accompanies an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and the subsequent attempt to right the wrong. A few people have even insisted that our priest was wrong, that we should have been ordered to bring ourselves away from mortal sin no matter the cost, that God’s grace would surely have been sufficient to save us both if we had only made the effort.
I can’t say that God’s grace would have been insufficient if we had chosen a different path. I can say, though, that I do not believe that either of us were capable of choosing a different path at the time. The road we took was long, and to those on the outside it doubtless looked slow and meandering. But every step we took on that road, and the many we took backward, were excruciating for us.
Looking back, I see two people trying to wrench themselves out of sin without much hope of success, but with the unshakeable confidence of a gentle and loving priest to guide our steps. I know that even on that long road, in which we were still shadowed by sin, God’s grace was there. I know that he never condemned us, withdrew his company from us, turned his back on us, or abandoned us to our sin. He walked with us, patient and merciful, just as he walks with us now. And I am so grateful that this is the God we serve: a God who is both just and merciful.