(Click on the headline above to go to the video.)
This comes from a new web site I'm hearing about everywhere: Catholics Come Home.
I looked through this site Friday; it looks good, and I'm glad to highlight it.
That said, I do have two suggestions for the folks who did this:
1) Give a little more work to your explanation of what an decree of nullity, regarding a sacramental marriage, is (less helpfully known as an "annulment"). Yes, it's hard to make clear while also being brief. My answer, for what it's worth, below.*
2) In giving steps to coming home, please mention the sacrament of penance! In my own case, I was away 10 years, and yet--when I realized the jig was up, and Christ wanted me back in the Catholic Church, I knew what to do: I headed to the nearest Catholic church, got in the line for confessions, and began..."Bless me father, for I have sinned; it has been ten years since my last confession..." In ten minutes, I was "back"!
Anyway, back to the video...pretty awesome, huh? Did you choke up? I did.
*I.e., when the Church gives a decree of nullity, it is responding to the question, was this attempted, sacramental marriage, actually valid as a sacrament? Or was something lacking?
I heard a great illustration of this, which is due to a brother priest, who may not want to be named on my blog, but kudos, Father A. for this:
It's like when you bake a cake; if you put in all the ingredients, and you drop it, and it's wrecked...it's still a cake, but a ruined cake. By the same token, just because a marriage is wrecked, doesn't mean it wasn't actually a sacramental marriage--it's just that it became a mess.
That said, it's also possible that when you attempt to bake a cake, you might leave out something essential; and while it looks like a cake, it isn't a cake. And that's what happens with a decree of nullity: the Church, asked, responds, no, something was lacking.
My favorite image is to use a football game; a receiver catches the pass and runs down field, into the end zone--touchdown! Wait--the coach has thrown a red flag, he's asking for a review; go to the tape. Yes, see, he stepped out of bounds. Something essential was lacking, and as a result, the play is invalid.
Now, I hear you say, okay, what's essential for a valid, sacramental marriage? This will seem simple, but not on closer examination: a man, a woman, both free to marry, each other, capable of entering into marriage, and they give free consent to marriage, with the right intentions, and if one is Catholic, they marry in the Catholic form unless dispensed.
There are lots of ways something can mess this up: either party is bound by a prior marriage; they give consent under duress, out of fear, there is fraud involved--one party misleads the other about something significant, they have sufficient maturity, they intend marriage as life-long, faithful and exclusive, they have not excluded any of the ends of marriage (i.e., neither said, "we refuse to have children") and so forth.