July 3, 2014

Divorce, Fortitude and Standing with Mary

Edwin Faust wrote an article for the June 1997 The Angelus entitled Wives and Warriors: The Nature of Fortitude. In the article, Faust stated that Fortitude is "...broadly understood to mean the courage that allows one to advance in the face of adversity", taking the form "...of that patience which allows one to endure suffering, transforming it from an obstacle into an aid to faith and salvation." He makes the natural progression from there, through Thomas Aquinas, that patience is more admirable than a warriors courage, and that when it is prolonged, patience turns into Longanimity, which then becomes a daily way of life that penetrates and marks the individual Soul. And his answer to what makes such fortitude possible? Love. And I might add to that, not just a natural Love, but the Love Christ showed to us from His Cross.

It takes no strength, no fortitude, no courage to file for divorce. No-fault divorce is the law of the land and so the Petitioner will always win. It makes no difference if one spouse wants to heal and reconcile; it makes no difference if one spouse falls to their knees and begs forgiveness; it makes no difference if one spouse documents the many reasons why the divorce is wrong (as if one needs a further reason than children); it makes no difference that the only legacy that will be left to the children will be as some nameless statistic in some sociologist’s research. It only matters that the Petitioner wants out of a troubled marriage and will de-construct the family in order to get what is wanted.  

It takes no fortitude to destroy a marriage and a family. It takes no courage to "fight" to gain a no-fault divorce. It takes no strength to sit in a chair while someone else takes the marital responsibility you do not want and gavels the end of your marriage. No! All that it takes is for the Passions to subdue Reason, and for you to nod your head up and down when questions are asked of you. And that itself begs the question: how can one swear to tell the truth before man, when one cannot even uphold the Truth of their marital vows sworn before Christ? How?? And that is just the beginning of the never-ending compromises that become part and parcel with any divorce. So...who truly has the fortitude, strength and courage - the Petitioner who takes the easy road out of marital difficulties or the Respondent who never stops trying to reconcile, to heal, to fight and to defend their Sacramental Marriage?

We are, perhaps, on the road to establishing the Protestant “personal relationship with Christ” meme within Catholic Marriages. If the the “I’m OK, you’re OK” touchy-feely catholicism gains any more of a Canonical foothold within the Sacrament of Matrimony, it will disintegrate the foundation of those who are Faithfully living their vows after years of being abandoned – by their spouse for a new Prince/Princess and by the Hierarchy through easier and even more-specious annulments. To ease the divorced and remarried outside the church back into full communion by somehow “relaxing” the moral code set forth by Christ, is to effectively destroy two-thirds of the marriage bona. There would be no need for Catholic Marriages, would there? There would be no need for Fidelity and Permanency, would there? It could also bring more pressure to bear upon the innocent spouse to simply cave to this “new evangelization” and to just “move-on” to a new, more "happier" and more "fulfilling" life. And possibly risk further dismissal from a Hierarchy that is apparently more interested in condoning sin than converting the sinner; more interested in preserving illegal alien families than the Catholic ones in their own Dioceses. The inverse of Mr. Spock's statement to Captain Kirk - "The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many" - certainly takes on new meaning, if one takes seriously all the "un-official" comments and quotes coming from our Bishops, Rome and the Cardinal Kasper's of the Church. 

The highwayman's shout to "Stand and Deliver!" should be the rallying cry of abandoned spouses everywhere to the Synod members. "Stand!", Dear Cardinal's, and defend the Sacrament of Matrimony from the assaults of Satan, who seeks to rob it from us. "Deliver!" back to us our marriages, our spouses, our families and our ability to sanctify each others Souls. Urge the Bishops to enforce the Canon Laws that urge the reconciliation of spouses! Demand that any Catholic spouse obtain permission of their Bishop before seeking civil action! You have our prayers! Do not fail yourselves! Do not fail the Church! Do not fail the Sacrament! Remember also, the “battle cry” of Juan Donoso Cortes in his Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism, 1879, which, more than anything else written by myself or others, could be applied to those who remain Faithful to their vows and who continue their defense of their Sacramental Marriages:

In this singular warfare we all fight through forced enlistment; here the system of substitutes or volunteers finds no place. And don’t tell me you don’t wish to fight; for the moment you tell me that, you are already fighting; nor that you don’t know which side to join, for while you are saying that, you have already joined a side; nor that you wish to remain neutral; for while you are thinking to be so, you are so no longer; nor that you want to be indifferent; for I will laugh at you, because on pronouncing that word you have chosen your party. Don’t tire yourself in seeking a place of security against the chances of war, for you tire yourself in vain; that war is extended as far as space, and prolonged through all time. In eternity alone, the country of the just, can you find rest, because there alone there is no combat. But do not imagine, however, that the gates of eternity shall be opened for you, unless you first show the wounds you bear; those gates are only opened for those who gloriously fought here the battles of the Lord, and were, like the Lord, crucified."

A Beautifully written mission statement for those who understand what Catholic Marriage is and why we must defend it, beyond all earthly success, is it not?

I - and others like me - are ready and most willing to continue our defense of this Sacrament and our marriages if the Synod should not. We will continue remain Faithful to our vows, to "Stand and Deliver" at the Foot of Our Lord's Cross our Marriages, our Spouses and our Families, comforted and consoled only by the Presence Our Lady. And as She never abandoned Her Son nor His Church in Their greatest hour of need, so we also will never abandon Them – nor our Spouses and Families, despite the vast array of Wills pitted against us. 

As Catholic Spouses, we can do no less…

Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved


  1. Very inspiring, Dave. We have Our Lord and His Blessed Mother on our side! Attending Holy Mass, prayer, fasting, offering up sacrifices...the Holy Rosary is a powerful weapon in battle. Those that abandon their true spouses and families are selfish, cowards. Keep the Faith and fight on!

  2. Thanks, Anon...The Rosary, Our Lady and Our Lord. It's all some of us have left. But it is enough....and still we Love those we are parted from, and yet hope to regain. IF not in this life, then the next. God Bless.

    1. My comment was just typed into this box. It was my second attempt to reply. Please tell me what went wrong?

    2. All comments are moderated...your first one has yet to be released. Hope to get to it soon. Thanks! God Bless.

  3. Sorry, but I find this post lacking in charity and humility. Although I have never been divorced, thank the Lord, I personally know some who have. Going through both the divorce and annulment processes took much courage and fortitude for these people. I admire their sincere efforts to get it right with the church. There will always be marriages that are toxic for all concerned, especially the children. There will always be people who make a bad choice of spouse for themselves. The church rightly acknowledges these huge problems by offering the annulment. Living out a divorce, as my parents did, does lots of damage to spouses and children alike. Moreover, this unfortunate life does not inspire other people or give glory to God. Those of us who have been blessed with long term, stable marriages should not become proud, self-righteous, or judgmental. After all, it is only by the grace of God we enjoy such a relationship. Praise and thanks to the Spirit for this huge blessing. A friend of mine told me he became much less judgmental of others after going through a divorce he did not initiate.

    1. Thanks for your comments…however, my opinion and statements stand, especially as they relate to my own experiences and to those of many friends who have shared my fate and I theirs. No fault divorce cannot be defended against, even if the one spouse desires reconciliation; irreconcilable differences are only so if the one spouse refuses to seek help; parent-child estrangements occur when one spouse violates established secular and moral principles; refusal by one spouse to acknowledge the severe financial jeopardy a divorce would place on the only working spouse…These actions are full of Catholic Charity and Humility?

      Divorce is inherently lacking both attributes – it is its nature to be so – and therefore can have no positive affect on anyone, let alone children. (Abusive situations excepted. Even the Church recognizes the immediate action required to protect lives in such cases.) No Fault Divorce favors the Petitioner with a guaranteed win and denies Catholic Charity to the Respondent who has no right nor even the privilege to defend their Sacramental marriage – at least until the annulment tribunal. And even there, the mindset is already for nullity, simply because a civil divorce decree has been issued. This much has already been documented by authors, such as the late Robert Vasoli. My own Bishop pronounced our marriage “irretrievably broken”, without even meeting both spouses in conference to ensure his statement was valid. How Charitable is that? How Just is that? Since when does a civil divorce decree trump a Sacrament of the Church? Besides, it is a violation of Canon Law NOT to seek the reconciliation of Spouses…Charity and Humility?

      Glory to God comes from the patient acceptance of our daily Crosses, the complete resignation to His Will, and Trustful Surrender to His Providence – and the Faithfulness and Fidelity to Sacrament of Matrimony, despite the seeming failure of the Spouses. Spouses are supposed to sanctify each other through the acceptance of each others Crosses, thereby saving their own Souls and those of their Children. That is where True Catholic Charity and Humility lie, not in the divorce court.

      Lest there be any misunderstanding about the matter: were it possible, I would resume bed and board with my former spouse, no questions asked, at anytime up to and including the final breath of this old man’s body. The vows I took – we both took – demand nothing less, as does Catholic Charity and even Humility, I suppose. Besides, I still Love the woman…

      God Bless and thanks again for commenting.

  4. Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. ( 1 Corinthians 13)

    I kindly suggest that you learn more about the Catholic Faith, the virtues, the Commandments, the Sacrament of Marriage, the difference between a civil divorce and an annulment, and the history of divorce, especially no-fault divorce. Unfortunately, no-fault divorce and invalid annulments are an easy way out for most. Any lawyer can tell you one cannot stop no-fault divorce or properly defend oneself and their family.

    An annulment is not granted for a so-called toxic marriage or a bad choice. (Btw, both terms are vague and subjective. Neither are valid grounds for an annulment.) For a few serious reasons, the Catholic Church allows a civil divorce but the marriage bond remains. An annulment states there never was a valid marriage from the start. Thus, an annulment never dissolves a valid marriage.

    You state ''this unfortunate life does not inspire people or give glory to God.'' I beg your pardon, maybe you should also study the lives of the saints too. Did you read Dave's post on St Elizabeth of Portugal? Did she take an easy way out or leave her husband? What about St John the Baptist...he was killed for speaking up against adultery. Why didn't he keep silent? Read about King Henry VIII, Sts Thomas More and John Fisher. Pick up a copy of The Imitation of Christ.

  5. There was a time in history, not too long ago, when a Catholic couple had to be married at a civil ceremony as well as in the Catholic Sacrament, because civil authority did not accept the Religious ceremonies as legal. They eventually changed the law and the Religious Ceremony became legal . My husband and I felt strongly that "if either of us broke our marriage vows by adultery that would be the end of our marriage. [he was Protestant and myself Catholic and married in a Catholic ceremony] To me, when a person breaks a VOW whether religiously or civilly, that is equivalent as breaking a VOW to Christ. Marriage is sacred whether you are married civilly or sacramentally. I personally feel that the Catholic Church should accept a civil divorce IF the marital vows were broken and also if the husband/or wife were abusive, physically or mentally of the other. People can say what you want about divorce affecting the children....well, a child living with parents who are abusive to each other, is a bad situation for the children psychologically and they probably are also abusive to the children . Remember, Jesus said "let no man put asunder". He never said a wife has to live under cruel conditions. Someone said "An annulment is not granted for a so-called toxic marriage or a bad choice." Well, my niece married at the age of 18 and got an annulment "because the church said she was too young to know what she was doing". Another I know, a woman with a priest and a nun in her family, divorced and remarried and actually could not afford the cost of an annulment and that saddens her and you people on this blog will say that "she does not really love God". God forgives all human weaknesses. The people on this blog are too righteous. I know another young lady who divorced because her husband was mentally abusive to her and their daughter and he continually committed adultery. Her decision to divorce took a great deal of COURAGE. [she did not know what he would do]. She remarried and she has had a wonderful marriage and the child is treated like his own with respect and love. Both get love and kindness from him. That is the way God wants things to be. You people think that if you suffer enough, God will love you more. I had an aunt who was beaten by her husband and she stayed on because she could not support herself years ago and the children suffered also from witnessing this abuse. Today woman don't have to take abuse because they can support themselves and they are better off for it. By the way, I am 87 years old, not a young woman libber. Yes, I believe, under certain circumstances that the Church should accept divorce. When you are my age, you have seen a lot. My husband died 1985 and we had a wonderful, loving and respectful marriage & I would wish this on everyone. Respect is so important, it builds true love.

    1. Thanks for commenting...

      This blog was never meant to cover every aspect of divorce...only that defined by my own experiences, its similarity with other Catholics defending their marriages and what I read of and form opinions on relating to the above. Marital situations ripe with abuse - physical, sexual or drug - are not part of this and never will be. I've not the intellect nor the experience needed as abuse is, in my opinion, an entirely separate and sensitive issue best left to the professionals. Even the Church knows in abusive situations that the safety of the innocents is paramount and would never stand in the way of anyone seeking relief from such, up to and including a divorce, if that is what was required for protection. That is also in Canon Law and easily referenced for the exact wording.

      We don't have the individual right to presume we can licitly invalidate a Vow made before Christ, anymore than we can self-confess our sins. It doesn't matter what we believe we can do on a personal level; it remains that only the Catholic Church, through a valid annulment process, can release us from marital vows, thereby ensuring a clear Conscience and Peace of Soul. This is the raison d'être of the October Synod and what they are trying to address - and hopefully address in line with current Catholic teaching and doctrine.

      God does forgive all human weakness, through a valid Confession, sincere repentance and amending ones life so as to not to let it happen again. We amend our lives, our marriages and our relationships as best we can and continue on, secure in the knowledge His Grace - and the Grace of the Sacrament - will be there to help. We but have to ask Him...he won't help us if we don't ask. Anymore than a Marriage Counselor can help Spouses in trouble without them asking. Spouses are supposed to sanctify each others Souls and those of the Family...it's hard to do that if they won't defend their marriage and each other and instead simply give up and seek a better life elsewhere because they tire of the struggle. They tire of the struggle because they don't have the needed strength and courage. They don't have strength and courage because they don't ask. They don't ask because they they were too discouraged. They were too discouraged because why? ...because they didn't ask for help...it's cyclical.

      My opinion on the lack of Courage required to file for divorce stands - it takes no courage to file on "irreconcilable differences" (abuse is not an "irreconcilable difference" - it's criminal, or can be). It does take Courage to sacrifice, to mediate, to acquiesce one's desires and yes, even one's happiness, for the greater good - the preservation of a marriage , of a family, of the security of the children and the firm foundation of their future. My parents did so, as have others that I am familiar with.

      You are blessed to have had a happy marriage. I was blessed to have had parents whose marriage was not happy, but who stuck with it and actually became quite good friends while traveling around the country in their motor home. Though each had every right to call it quits, neither did. They Sanctified each other through the acceptance of their Crosses and Dad nursing his comatose wife until her death is proof of that.

      God Bless...


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