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A Honeymoon with the Bridegroom

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By Melanie Williams (Jun 13, 2018)
The following first appeared in the Summer issue of Marian Helper magazine. Get a free copy.

They weren't looking for hot tubs or poolside pampering.

Nor were they looking for fairytale horseback rides or fireside artisanal meals.

When Rosa and German Palma were planning their honeymoon, they knew they wanted to be with Christ in the Eucharist. So they chose to come to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Considering everything they'd been through, it only stands to reason.

Twenty five years ago, the two were Catholic in name only. They were living together, unmarried, in Puebla, Mexico. In 1999, missing her parents and daughter, Rosa immigrated to the United States to join them, with German eventually following. Settling in Southington, Connecticut, they proceeded to have three children together.

One day in 2006, Rosa overheard her sister inviting her daughter to a course on the Catholic faith. Intrigued, Rosa asked to come along.

"I encountered Jesus in that course," Rosa said. "I realized how much I was offending God by our unmarried union."

She began attending Mass more regularly and made a pilgrimage with her parish to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday. Venerating the towering Image of Divine Mercy here on Eden Hill, she knew Jesus wanted to have mercy on her and German.

With her newfound faith, Rosa gave German an ultimatum: Take the course at church or they would have to split up. Grudgingly,
German obliged. Then Rosa asked him for one more thing. She insisted he get an annulment from his previous marriage.

"I needed the Eucharist. I needed Jesus in my life," Rosa said, "and I couldn't receive the Eucharist while living in sin."

When the next Divine Mercy Sunday came around, Rosa and German attended together. The day had a profound effect upon him. He, too, fell in love with the faith. This experience led him to pursue an annulment, which had to be done in Mexico. He received help from a priest-friend who frequently traveled between the two countries. The process proved as complicated as it sounds, and for 10 years, no annulment was granted.

All the while, Rosa and German visited the Shrine more frequently. Each time, Rosa would cry when it came time for Communion.
At the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, on Nov. 20, 2016, German made a trip to the Shrine by himself. Kneeling before the Divine Mercy Image, he prayed, "Lord, if it is Your will for us to separate, then we will get separated. You put her in my life to change me and make me a better man. I put her in Your hands. I'm going to respect whatever You decide. I trust in You."

After sharing with Rosa his prayer, they decided to bring their problem before their priest. Knowing that Pope Francis had recently made amendments to the annulment process, the priest informed them they could reapply in their local diocese. With renewed hope, they tried again, and exactly one year after the close of the Jubilee Year, the couple came home to an envelope awaiting them marked "Ecclesial Tribunal." Rosa, not yet fluent in English, could only comprehend parts of the letter. "It seems we've been denied and have to appeal again," she said. In disbelief, German ran outside to a field by their house and began to beg God: "Lord, I trust in You. Forgive me for being desperate, but let it be Your will. Remember she is the woman I love. Both of us want to receive You in the Eucharist."
German thought he was going to lose her. "And with her, my own heart, too," he said.

He went back inside and found that their eldest daughter was now home. She spoke English fluently, so he asked her to read the letter.
"Congratulations! They annulled Daddy's marriage," she said.

It turned out that the part of the letter they hadn't understood dealt with the customary 11-day waiting period, allowing for someone to appeal against the annulment.

Soon after, they received the official annulment letter, and the couple made plans for a Jan. 13 wedding. Rosa knew what time she wanted the wedding Mass — 3 o'clock, the Hour of Mercy.

"The process wasn't easy," German said. "But God's mercy was greater.
So, our wedding needed to be at that time."

They also prepared for their big day by having German go to Confession for the first time in 38 years. The couple came to the Shrine on Dec. 26. Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, the rector of the Shrine, heard German's Confession in Spanish.

For 45 days before their wedding, they decided to make reparation for their sins. "We decided to prepare ourselves spiritually and we didn't have any contact at all," German said. "I began to see Rosa in a new way, as a spiritual being. I knew it was true love."

At their wedding, they received Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time together.

"It turned out to be a sea of tears," German said. Grateful tears.

"We had been waiting for that moment for so long," Rosa said.

As for the honeymoon, German knew there was only one place he wanted to bring his new bride — the Shrine, in Stockbridge.
"We feel that every miracle that has occurred in our lives has come from here," German said.

They stayed at the St. John Paul II Retreat House and arrived the day after their wedding. They entered the Shrine just before the 2 p.m. Mass and saw the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar.

"It was as if He were saying to me, 'Look, I have been expecting you. I am giving you what you asked for,'" said German.
Rosa and German want to share their love story with others, to give them hope.

"When you put yourself in God's hands, He works wonders," said German. All that waiting, he said, "was a purification process for me and for my wife."

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Sonia - Jun 13, 2018

Wow! This is beautiful! Congratulations!!!