What If You’re Divorced?

08/14/2015

I am divorced. And in the deep recesses of my being, I still allow that to define me.

Today’s Gospel is a difficult one for me.

a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife

Why did it happen?

The reasons are layered and complex. I was (and probably still am) blessed with a certain level of naivete. Socially, I’m clumsy. If I don’t come across that way, it’s not because I don’t feel that way.

Never, ever, in a thousand years… in a million years… did I ever even suspect that Sue and I would become a statistic.

and the two shall become one flesh

That’s not an excuse. I do not excuse myself.

Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.

Okay… so what made me think that it was permissible to separate what God joined together?

I never did. I don’t think it is permissible for any of us.

Just like I don’t think it’s permissible to live contrary to any of God’s laws.

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”

He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”  They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” – Matthew 9:3-12

No other gods. No idols. Keep the sabbath. Honor Mom and Dad. Don’t kill. No adultery. Don’t lie. Don’t steal. Don’t covet. Don’t covet (yes, apparently we need more than one reminder of that one).

So… how good are you at adhering to those?

I suck at it. Pardon the vernacular.

How do we resolve what Jesus told the Pharisees?

I don’t know.

I know what the Catholic Church teaches. Sort of. I know they permitted me and Kathy to both seek (and have granted) a formal annulment of our previous marriages, thus giving us permission to marry each other — in a second sacramental union (for me) — and still participate in the sacramental life… receiving Holy Communion, having our sins forgiven in Confession.

Have I resolved all this in my own mind?

No.

That is clearly because I am an imperfect, flawed human being.

My ways are not His ways.

Okay, this is supposed to be a quick meditation. Not a sermon. Not a book. So…..

Has anything helped me overcome my guilt?

A handful of years ago (was it five, six, more?), I discovered the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. If you are familiar with me and this blog, you know that.

Jesus was born into this hellhole to save us from ourselves.

We’re the ones who have taken His Father’s glorious creation and created a cesspool, made a mess of just about whatever we’ve laid our hands on.

We are imperfect human beings.

We will sin. We will be immoral. We will offend others and thus offend God.

We will.

Today.

Reflect on that before you nod off tonight. And ask forgiveness.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm:

His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 136 (all verses)

The Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared to human beings. The Lord, Jesus Christ, has made Himself known and spoken clearly to human beings.

Mary gave us the Holy Rosary.

Jesus gave us the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

He promised that even the most hardened sinner, if they will say the Chaplet even once, will be granted His Divine Mercy.

It’s stuff like that, folks, that engages my consciousness, that gives me hope, that permits me to forgive myself, that keeps me strong.

I don’t know if my words do that for you. But I want them to.

If you’re struggling with something, I don’t have all the answers. But I do have empathy. I’m capable of praying for you (or with you). And I believe with every ounce of life that my/our prayers are heard and answered.

Don’t forget to listen. Never forget to listen. The answers are there. We also suck at listening.

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Today is also the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

You did not choose me, but I chose you… John 15:16a

St. Maximilian had a lifelong devotion to Mary. He wanted to start a radio station. Instead, he was captured by Nazis and died in a concentration camp.

He chose one thing. The Lord chose another.

Decades later, Mother Angelica spearheaded EWTN. How much more powerful and meaningful is the legacy of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe because of his experience and suffering at the hands of enemies of God than if he got what he chose?

I pick up my pen and tap on my computer to get these words out. Yes, I choose to write. I choose to press “Publish.” I can’t help but feel in some way the only reason I’m doing this is because He chose me. I don’t have all the answers. I’m just supposed to get you to think.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for still not posting a meditation daily.

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Sleeping Late, Feeding the Cats, Sin, and Love

01/10/2015

I feel so sorry for our poor cats. Weekends are a real crapshoot. During the week, they’re used to eating between 5:15 and 5:30 in the morning.

Last night, I watched the nightmare from Edmonton others would refer to as a hockey game. It wasn’t over until 11:30 or so.

(Well, some would argue it was over long before that…)

I cannot just turn off the television after watching the Blackhawks play – especially when they lose so decisively – meander into the bedroom, plop myself down, and fall peacefully to sleep. No. There’s a certain ‘unwind time’ necessary for this hysterically casual observer.

Plus, there’s always some reason to sneak into wake up every cat as I walk into the kitchen, even it’s only to shut off the lights over the sink and stove.

Well… last night was no exception. Lady Jay led the charge, looking at me hopefully with those sad green eyes, groaning a raspy meow. Did I bother to give her a morsel of food? HAH! Not me! Their unthoughtful Daddy squeezed his way through the feline masses and left them all on the edge of starvation.

Despite the fact that multiple bowls of dry food were a mere inches (okay, okay… a couple of feet) away.

Before dawn, I woke up, got up to check the clock. 6:30. Fleeting thoughts of staying up and starting the day crossed my mind.

Naw. Too many nights of four and five hour sleep this week laid their grip on me. I crawled back under the covers.

Two hours later, the sun – which actually decided to make a brief appearance this morning – nailed me straight in the eyes. I stirred and made an effort to get out of bed. That woke Kathy, who looked at the clock (I can’t see more than a foot in front of me without my contacts or glasses) and remarked at how nice it was that we both slept until 8:30.

EIGHT THIRTY?!?

Half my morning was over! Forget the cats, I’m usually either done with my second breakfast or desperately seeking the nearest morsel of food by 8:30.

I was definitely “behind my time,” to quote Bob Cratchit. And the cats knew it.

Part of my morning ritual is to pray. That usually occurs, in part, while I’m feeding my little babies.

Weekends are a little different. EWTN is a Catholic television network. Morning Mass is generally offered every morning at 7:00. I try to watch the Mass both Saturday and Sunday.

Before I went to bed, I changed the channel to Comcast 119. In the morning, I could either watch live or rewind and watch later. EWTN broadcasts in low definition digital, not HD, so you can rewind the DVR for a couple of hours without formally recording the program, versus the 30 minutes of live TV that’s ordinarily captured from the typical DVR.

Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Divine Mercy has been saying Mass all week while the Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word were on retreat.

Fr. Wade gives a most powerful homily, or sermon. He is blunt, direct, matter of fact.. he quotes scripture or the Catechism and tells it like it is. He pulls no punches. But make no mistake, he is a delightful human being.

Today’s first reading was the end of the First Letter of St. John. In his homily, Fr. Wade discussed John’s emphasis on love in his first epistle. He discussed how the Ten Commandments emphasize love of God (the first three commandments) and love of neighbor (the final seven commandments). He examined sin and its relationship to the love of God. He discussed the differences between mortal and venial sin and the benefits of frequent reception of the sacrament of confession.

Certain thoughts resonated:

  • Sin destroys or wounds love, our love for God and love between human beings.
  • Sin injures man and wounds human solidarity.
  • Frequent confession increases one’s humility, tends to help control bad habits, and leads to greater self control in daily living.

When Fr. Wade said that both venial and mortal sins can be forgiven by confession, it made me cry. It made me realize the overwhelming love of God for each and every one of us.

At the beginning of Mass, the people participate in a Penitential Rite, a form of contrition for our sins. One of the optional prayers begins “I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned…”

And then I spontaneously blurted “sometimes I like to, sometimes I want to, and sometimes I can’t help myself.”

And that’s precisely why frequent confession is so essential. We sin all the time. All day every day. It’s part of the human condition.

Does that mean we are bad? No. It simply means we are human. We are not God or gods. We are poor sinners. Sinners who need the mercy of our loving God. To repair our relationship with love.

So as I listened and performed my weekend morning ritual, I finally finished repairing my relationship with the cats. They got their food around 9:20. Yeah, I tend to get distracted.

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Learn more about Father Wade at http://fathersofmercy.com/priests/fr-wade-menezes/ and more archives of his work at http://fathersofmercy.com/author/fr-wade-menezes/


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