ST. IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH-FORGIVE AN EX DAY
Do not be AFRAID of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Christians today are pressed on all sides. Yes, we are being tested by our government, the press, and the workplace. We may even find by our own families and neighbors. This is the work of the evil one; resist him and he will flee. Remain faithful until death by not giving up hope and when you fall get back up and follow our Lord.
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
None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus which are the beginning and the end of life. For the beginning is faith, and the end is love. Now these two. being inseparably connected together, are of God, while all other things which are requisite for a holy life follow after them. No man [truly] making a profession of faith sinneth; nor does he that possesses love hate anyone. The tree is made manifest by its fruit; so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognised by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession, but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end. Wherefore none of the devices of the devil shall be hidden from you, if, like Paul, ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ which are the beginning and the end of life. The beginning of life is faith, and the end is love. And these two being inseparably connected together, do perfect the man of God; while all other things which are requisite to a holy life follow after them. No man making a profession of faith ought to sin, nor one possessed of love to hate his brother. For He that said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," said also, "and thy neighbor as thyself." Those that profess themselves to be Christ's are known not only by what they say, but by what they practice. "For the tree is known by its fruit."
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
Forgiveness is a conscious act and for those who have been hurt by others, it can be hard when you know the scars left behind. Relationships can be emotionally intense, filled with history and memories, and can impact your life without you even realizing it. When relationships fall apart, they can hurt, and the pain can last forever. International Forgive an Ex Day is all about taking the time to reflect on your own pain and move forward by forgiving the actions of others. International Forgive an Ex Day provides insight into pain and relationships. This holiday is all about finding the insight you need to move past the mental trauma of a broken relationship, no matter how long it lasted. Typically, during this holiday, participants take an active choice to seek advice about forgiveness, whether that be going to a friend or seeing a counselor. Knowing that the path to healing can be long and hard, this holiday can be used as a start towards forgiveness or as a final conclusion towards forgiving your ex-lover. From there, after making the effort to forgive your ex, it is up to the individual to choose how to move forward from there. This holiday challenges you over how you perceive people in life and encourages people all over the world to start the path to forgiveness. It’s all about self-reflection and healing, so whether you can find the courage and peace of mind to forgive your ex-lover can take time. This is also a time to help others forgive their ex’s by giving them advice about forgiveness.
How to celebrate International Forgive an Ex Day
If 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.