Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Romans, Chapter 5, Verse 3-5
3 Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, 4 and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Paul is telling us that Christ has brought God’s love for us to the forefront while justification and righteousness recede to the background. We have a new life at peace with God. This peace leads us to confidence and compels us to live a new life. Christ died for us while we were at our worst. As difficult to believe or accept as that might be, we have the proof of it in our hearts where God’s love has placed the Holy Spirit to guide us in the new life. Faith triumphs in trouble.
St. Ignatius of Antioch
St. Ignatius is one of the great bishops of the early Church. He was the successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death by wild beasts during the Emperor Trajan's persecution. On his way to Rome, he wrote seven magnificent letters, which we still have today, concerning the Person of Christ, his love for Christ, his desire for martyrdom and on the constitution of the Church and Christian life. His sentiments before his approaching martyrdom are summed in his word in the Communion antiphon, "I am the wheat of Christ, ground by the teeth of beasts to become pure bread."
Exhortations to Faith and Love
Amoris Lætitia Growing in conjugal love (120-122)
The love between husband and wife is a love sanctified, enriched and illuminated by the grace of the sacrament of marriage. It is an “affective union”, spiritual and sacrificial, which combines the warmth of friendship and erotic passion, and endures long after emotions and passion subsides. Infused by the Holy Spirit, this powerful love is a reflection of the unbroken covenant between Christ and humanity that culminated in his self-sacrifice on the cross. “The Spirit which the Lord pours forth gives a new heart and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ loved us. Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained: conjugal charity.” Marriage is a precious sign, for “when a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God is, as it were, ‘mirrored’ in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is also communion: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: God makes of the two spouses one single existence”. This has concrete daily consequences, because the spouses, “in virtue of the sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that, starting with the simple ordinary things of life they can make visible the love with which Christ loves his Church and continues to give his life for her”.
Forgive an EX Day
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. Lewis B. Smedes
How to celebrate International Forgive an Ex DayIf you want to celebrate this holiday, then take the chance to talk to your ex to see how they are doing. If you’re not ready to speak with them, take the time to examine yourself and your position in life. In the meanwhile, speak with a counselor about this path to forgiveness and find advice from all sources, from friends and family to professional help. Share this holiday with your friends and family on your favorite social media websites using the hashtag #internationalforgiveanexday and see if this holiday can help others share their experiences about their ex’s and help them forgive the past.
Does Divorced mean EX Catholic?
The institution of marriage is in trouble today. The divorce rate is anywhere from 50 percent for first marriages to 80 percent for subsequent marriages. Perhaps, as a result, more and more couples are choosing to live together without bothering to get married.
The Catholic Church’s response has been to get proactive about better preparing engaged couples before they marry. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage has made strengthening Catholic marriages a top priority.
The Church—the institution as well as the individuals—needs to minister to the millions of divorced Catholics by both changing ingrained attitudes and reaching out in love. Yes, the Church is and should be pro-marriage, but, like its Lord, it must also love and support those whose marriages have failed. It’s a fine line to walk, but it is necessary.
As the survivor of divorce after 30 years of marriage, I know there needs to be a healthier dialogue within the Catholic Church between those who have never divorced (including our clergy) and those who have. Here are seven things you may not know about divorce:
1. Non-divorced Catholics often come across as judgmental of the divorced. Perhaps they don’t mean to. But there is a definite, although largely unconscious, attitude in the Church that the divorced are less spiritual, less committed to marriage and/or less forgiving than the long-term married. Non-divorced Catholics need to be careful of assumptions, to discard any trace of judgment toward the divorced. Since I have “been there, done that” when it comes to being judgmental, I can address this issue personally. It is too easy for those who have never experienced the desperation and sorrow of a failed marriage to believe that “they could have done something to save it.” Let me assure you, the divorced Catholics I know (including myself) are spiritual, forgiving people who are committed to family and to the institution of marriage. And they did all they could to save their marriages. It is time for all of us in the Church to stop judging the divorced.
2. Not every marriage was ‘joined by God’ even if it took place in a church. This may seem like a rationalization, but Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:6 (“Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate”) does not apply to all marriages. Many of us, looking back, realize that God was simply not a part of our decision to marry. In my case, I never asked God, never gave God the chance to stop my headlong (and headstrong) determination to get married. And God was trying to get my attention. There were real problems. My intended was heading to a war zone for a year, and friends and family counseled me to wait. But I would not listen. We have all attended enough weddings to recall what the priest or deacon always asks a couple at the beginning of the marriage ceremony: “Do you come here freely and without reservation?” For most of us divorced Catholics, the answer to that question, if we had been truthful, was “no.” How can anyone claim that a particular marriage was “joined by God” if that was not the intention of the parties getting married?
3. The divorced do not have to justify themselves. Even if a divorcing/divorced person is very close to you, you do not know what really happened. Therefore, you should refrain from making comments or asking prying questions. Perhaps we divorced Catholics are overly sensitive, but certain statements and inquiries are like rubbing salt into a very sore wound. I have been asked, “Did you try counseling or Retrouvaille?” as though I would smack my head and say, “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?” Yes, I tried everything I could think of. “Why can’t you just forgive him?” is another gem, to which I answer that forgiveness is not the same as a pardon. People have commented, “But you seemed like such a happy couple.” That’s what we wanted you to think; that’s what we wanted to believe. The bottom line is this: Such questions and comments just hurt, and they are unfair. If a divorcing/divorced person does not want to confide in you, do not prod him/her to tell you what happened. Just love that person. And give him/her the benefit of the doubt that he/she tried everything to make the marriage work. There are a variety of reasons why marriages fail. The “big three” most of us think of are adultery, addiction and abuse, but the real reason behind most failed marriages is simple indifference, often on the part of one spouse. There is no way a husband or wife can save a marriage single-handedly. When a marriage fails, no amount of effort, enabling or denial will save it. It is wrong to ask for details before you support your divorced friend, family member or parishioner. People should not have to justify their actions before they are loved for who they are.
4. Divorce has changed my life for the better. Many other divorced Catholics can say the same. Divorce has released me spiritually, mentally and emotionally to become the person God created me to be. I have been able to move on to a life that is fuller, happier and more creative. The most important change is this: My relationship with God is better today than it ever has been. When I was freed from an impossible, dysfunctional marriage, my relationship with God blossomed. I had some initial worries about my spiritual status when I began the process, but God quickly reassured and comforted me as I went through and beyond my divorce. The psychological counseling and spiritual direction I received during my divorce made me a healthier person than I ever was before. I have worked through the deep problems caused by my dysfunctional childhood. I have faced and forgiven everyone who helped shape my early years in negative ways. And I understand and embrace my individuality. Yes, divorce was a painful passage to go through, but I am a better person today because of it.
5. I don’t need to marry again to be happy. I get a lot of comments, concern and advice about finding someone when people learn I have been divorced for eight years. I really am happy as a single person, and not at all lonely or bitter about the past because I choose to remain single. I understood right from the beginning of my new life as a single person that, in order to be happy in a new relationship, I would have to be happy just being me and being single. My attitude now is, “If it happens, it happens.” In the meantime, please accept that I am fine as a single person. And for goodness’ sake: Don’t try to fix me up with anyone!
6. I hope my divorce makes you question assumptions about your marriage. Does that shock you? It shouldn’t. It means that I love you and I love the institution of marriage. But healthy marriages don’t just happen. I was sure my marriage would never end. At the same time, I was unaware of what makes a healthy marriage and very much in denial about our problems. My marital problems went a lot deeper than most, but every marriage needs constant care. And every marriage can use a tune-up now and then: a few counseling sessions, a Marriage Encounter weekend or a retreat together. Marriage takes a lot of work. I am delighted when friends and co-workers tell me that watching what I went through eight years ago or hearing me talk now about my divorce compelled them to take a second look at their own marriages, strengthen what was weak and recommit themselves to the relationship. The divorced have a great deal to teach the married about what a good, healthy and Christian marriage really is.
7. Every marriage ends. The marriage covenant ends when this life ends. Jesus tells us in Luke 20:34-35 that there is no marriage in heaven. Marriage is an earthly institution with a heavenly purpose. Marriage is a training ground wherein we cosmic youngsters learn about the love that has existed from all eternity within the Holy Trinity. Its purpose is to train us to give up our selfish tendencies, to care for another as we would care for ourselves, to take our place in the Kingdom of God. Marriage is a foreshadowing of our eternal relationship with God and with one another. Marriage is a wonderful thing, but it is not a forever thing. Knowing and remembering that should deepen not only the relationship with your earthly spouse, but also your love for your heavenly spouse, Jesus. As a divorced Catholic, I have taken great comfort from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well (John 4:4-42). This poor woman had been married five times and was now living with yet another man. That’s a lot of failed relationships—even by today’s standards! Jesus’ tenderness toward her and his sympathy for her situation are apparent. Did he deliberately go to that spot at that unlikely time of day because he knew she would be drawing water then? Did he send the disciples away to get lunch in the town, so he could talk to her alone? I don’t doubt it. Jesus never spoke to this woman or any other hurting person in ways that increased their pain. He offered this divorcée “living water,” himself, which was what she had been searching for in all her relationships. It is time for the rest of the Catholic Church to do the same.
Divorce and the Catholic Church
· The first thing Catholics should know is that divorce is not a sin that should keep a divorced Catholic from receiving the sacraments. A divorced or separated person is not excommunicated and is still a Catholic in good standing. The only reason for excommunication after divorce is remarriage without going through the annulment process.
· Before a divorced person can remarry in the Catholic Church, he or she must obtain an annulment by a Catholic diocesan tribunal. Obtaining such a decree does not mean that the marriage never took place; it is a determination that a sacramental marriage did not take place.
· This does not mean that the children of that marriage are illegitimate or that the couple was “living in sin.” It means that, in that particular case, the marrying couple had little or no idea what Christian marriage was all about or that there were deep problems from the beginning of the marriage, either in the couple’s relationship or in their families of origin.
· Therefore, the Church may determine that it was impossible then for the couple to enter into a truly Christian marriage. Divorced Catholics who are seeking an annulment should talk to their pastors, who will direct them to the proper contacts at their diocese.
The annulment process can give divorced Catholics three gifts:
CLARITY, by helping them see the why’s and how’s of their failed marriage in a new light.
HEALING, by allowing them to work through their anger and guilt and come through to a better place spiritually and emotionally.
TIME, by forcing the divorced person to wait before making any more relationship decisions.
Recently divorced people are especially vulnerable to needing companionship, support and sympathy. The first person of the opposite sex who provides that is going to be very attractive, but the newly divorced person does not need that kind of complication in the healing process. The newly divorced person needs breathing room after a marriage ends.
The dismal divorce statistics after second and third marriages are proof that too many divorced people simply don’t wait long enough to recover completely. Taking part in the Catholic Church’s annulment process is one way to ensure that a good healing process has begun. If a divorced Catholic does meet someone he or she might want to marry, that person will not only have better tools for discerning whether this is a good relationship but will also have the Church’s blessing on a second marriage.
The Way Prayer
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
8. I had to smile at the impatience of your prayer. You were telling him: 'I don't want to grow old, Jesus... To have to wait so long to see you! Then, perhaps I won't have a heart as inflamed as mine is now. "Then" seems too late. Now, my union would be more ardent for I love you now with the pure Love of youth.'
The Collegeville Bible Commentary
 Pope Francis, Encyclical on Love.
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