I have no right to be happy. I have no right to look for joyful times in what remains of my natural life. I have no reason to be looking for a new wife (as if that were even possible, as beginning that process would require me to un-love my former spouse, something that her divorce and annulment thankfully failed to do) to assuage the spousal loneliness that is a large part of this particular marital Cross. I have no right to expect anything but gray skies and fog shrouded days until they lock the lid and lower me for my final journey to meet my Divine Judge. Why do I say this, you might ask? Has discouragement clamped its slimy hands about me? Has despair settled into a new home? Has stoicism enveloped my personality?
Obviously, the answer to all the above is "No", for I must live the remainder of my life as we all should - Trusting in Our Lord Jesus Christ. This means enjoying the day for what He brings to it; enjoying the laughter of the friends He provides; enjoying the privilege He extends by just waking up each morning. It also means enjoying the privilege of carrying this marital Cross (though not without a complaint or two sometimes), the privilege of praying for and sacrificing for my children and the Salvation of their Souls and the privilege of continuing to show them the non-reciprocal Love preached by Christ from the Cross. All the above, however, doesn't alter the perception that I do not deserve happiness, for what have I to be happy about, when the landscape of my children's future has been so disgracefully altered?
Children are supposed to be kept as isolated as possible from the machinations of divorce, protected from its potential error(s) and those of the parent(s) and both parents should work together to limit the impact of divorce in their children's future lives. As I have written in a previous post, the rules and requirements have all been in effect probably as long as No Fault Divorce, and they were put in effect for one reason - to protect the innocent. If you violate the established rules, or worse don't pay them any heed, then the innocent suffer. And they suffer because one or both parents failed to follow the rules; failed in their parental vocation; failed their children by willingly immersing them into an adult situation. Is this good parenting? Or just plain selfishness? If you are not able - or simply incapable - of initiating and sustaining your own divorce without sucking the future from your children to help you cope and subsist, then why-in-the-hell start it in the first place? Is your perceived notion of your "right" to personal happiness of greater concern than the inherent right - via your Marital Vows - of your children to theirs? Since when do children have to sacrifice for the parents happiness? Where is that written in Catholic Marriage 101? What lesson plan covers that in Pre-Cana Conferences?
Consider what children learned from Parents who ignored established rules:
- a spouse only needs to work for an extended period of time (as arbitrarily set by that spouse) to try and affect needed change in spousal relations. If no change has been forthcoming from their singular efforts, then divorce is the only answer;
- Third party assistance to help in marital difficulties is unnecessary;
- it is OK for a divorced spouse to date, even though it violates the Fidelity to their first spouse and the Sacramental bond that remains in effect after a civil divorce;
- it is OK to deny a Parent their moral right to be actively involved in telling children about a divorce;
- children should be left alone to cope with strained parent-child relationships or even estrangement from one parent;
- children have an inherent right to know details of private spousal conversations.
And then there are the Spiritual and Moral ones they have been taught:
- ignore the requirements of the 4th Commandment;
- dismiss a Spiritual Work of Mercy - Forgiveness;
- ignore the Greatest of the Three Theological Virtues - Charity.
And so... I'm to believe I have a "right" - given to me by virtue of two legal documents - to my happiness??? Not hardly, my Dear Judge. Not hardly, my Dear Bishop. Not when my children are in so much need. To do so would require the total abrogation of my vocation and my capitulation to an inherent evil. Which isn't going to happen, even if all my prayers and sacrifices would prove to be fruitless in the end. Which isn't going to happen either, by the way. All of my children were Consecrated to Mary at their Baptism with this prayer, recited by me (and their Mother in absentia), kneeling before Her Altar:
Blessed Virgin Mary, * Queen of Heaven and Earth, * to your Immaculate Heart,* the channel of all graces, * we consecrate this child * whom we have received from God’s goodness. We offer him [her] to you * that you may present him [her] to Your Divine Son, * that you may take him [her] under your loving, maternal protection,* that you may preserve him [her] from dangers, * that you may keep him [her] from all sin, * that you may make him [her] grow in piety * and in all virtue * so that he [she] may always be worthy * to call himself [herself] your child. May he [she] grow daily in wisdom and in grace, * may he [she] go through life having you always as his [her] refuge and mother. * May all virtues shine in him [her] * and may he [she] never offend your maternal Heart. May the Eternal Father always look upon him [her] with delight * and see in him [her] * a ray and reflection of your Immaculate Beauty. And as today he [she] gladdens our home, * so may he [she] one day gladden the Eternal Home * which we pray will be his [hers]. Amen.
Am I supposed to simply forget and dismiss this prayer because of a civil document and a Church annulment? Have I been released from this Vow to Our Lady and no longer need honor these words to Her? To the Mother of Christ? Truly??? Sorry, but it isn't going to happen and no document - Canonical or otherwise - will ever give me the requisite Peaceful Conscience that would be required for me to do so. Besides, She does not long leave any of Her children to continue in error. The dawn of their understanding approaches, though neither I nor they know the day or the hour.
I do not know when this estrangement with one-half of my children will end, or when they all will regain their Catholic senses and unwrap themselves from the emotional cocoon in which they find themselves. Perhaps it will only be when they are out "in the world", experiencing and living their own lives and all its nuances, conflicts and confusion. Perhaps it will only be after my death. Regardless, I only know that I am bound to never stop my efforts, my prayers or my sacrifices on their behalf. Much like Our Lords words at His Crucifixion, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do", my children - in large part - also do not know what they do, mainly because of their immersion into an emotional cesspool of such imprudent and unnecessary magnitude that it has subdued their Catholic Reason and religious teaching. The mere FACT that this divorce has so decimated a family and parental relationships is proof enough that divorce - at least this particular divorce - has borne no good fruit for any of my children. You simply cannot get good fruit from a tree that has proven to only yield bad fruit time after time after time. No matter how many grafts you try to implant, no matter how much Miracle Grow saturates the soil around its roots, you are naive to believe you can make a divorce something it will never be - delicious... inviting...beautiful to behold. To much destruction lies behind in its wake...
Is this, Catholic Spouses, what you want for your children? Are your "irreconcilable differences" really all that irreconcilable? Or are you just getting tired of trying to "fix" all your marital troubles on your own? Are you prepared for the personal sacrifice - that Gift of Self - that is necessary to ensure your children's happiness, or are you just prepared to sacrifice only for your own? Do you sincerely and truly Love your Children, as Christ and Our Blessed Mother Loves you?
Divorce is not worth it, Friends...the cost it requires you to pay is far, far too high. Think again. Pray again. And then pray some more. And then go back home and hug the hell out of your children, before one of you looses that privilege, perhaps forever.
Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved