November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent: The Beginning of the Divorce Liturgical Year

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. The beginning of the Catholic Church's Liturgical Year. It is also, oddly enough, the beginning of the Divorce Liturgical Year. It is the beginning of my 4th Divorce Liturgical Year, and the fifth of my former wife's divorce (for it certainly wasn't mine).

Advent, as we know, marks the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas as we anticipate the Birth anew of the Christ Child, who brings tidings of great joy for all mankind that their redemption is at hand.  At the same time, in the Divorce Advent Season, it leads up to the anticipation of the hoped for re-birth of renewed Parent-Child relationships with estranged children. An anticipation that will hopefully bring tidings of great joy and redemption for both parent and child, already wracked far, far too long by a seemingly unending separation. Advent marks the first Penitential Season, where prayers and sacrifices are offered in anticipation to the Christ Child and for the children of divorce.

Then, Christmas! The Birth of the Christ Child! The redemption of Man is near at hand! All the Choirs of Angels sing the Alleluias, the Shepherds bring their gifts and the Word of God radiates Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men. But Alas, will it also bring the birth of renewed parent-child relations broken by divorce? The children bringing gifts to a Parent, and the Parent giving gifts to the children? Will a separated family now joined as one radiate the Peace of Christ so envisioned by others at His birth? Will the Alleluias bring out the Good Will so desired? 

After Christmas comes Epiphany, when Christ was revealed to the Three Kings and to the world and salvation was extended to the Gentiles. All - even sinners and pagans - can now be saved through Him. It is also the Epiphany Season of Divorce, when many a Parent await their own salvation from their children, awaiting the glorious day when they - the children - will extend the salvation and forgiveness granted by the Christ Child towards men, towards sinners, to their own parents (or parents) for the evil they have wrought upon their innocent lives.

After Epiphany comes Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent, the ultimate Penitential Season of the Church, the precursor to the Risen Christ. The Collect of the First Sunday of Lent pleads for us before the Father: "O God who dost purify Thy Church by the yearly fast of Lent; grant to Thy household that what we strive to obtain from Thee by abstinence, by good works we may secure".  

In the Divorce Season of Lent, this prayer is the mission statement of those wracked by divorce. Through prayers, alms, fasting and good works, they pray that their households may be granted Peace and the restoration, in so far as is possible, of the love between parent and child, the respect between Mother and Father, the Parental concern for the Souls of the children. 

EASTER! The dawning of the Resurrection....the day Our Risen Christ openly defies natural death and assures us of Life Everlasting. Again, the Collect of the Mass says it all: "O God, who on this day, through Thine only-begotten Son, didst overcome death and open unto us the gate of everlasting life; as by Thy prompting grace Thou dost breathe on the desires of our hearts, so do Thou ever accompany them with Thy help." 

The Easter of the Divorce Liturgical Year borrows heavily from this Collect, for on this day the desires of those whose families have been torn asunder by divorce, plead to the Risen Christ to overcome the death of their families, open the gates to forgiveness and renewed Love and through the promptings of Grace, defeat The Destroyer of Families. 

And at the end of fifty days, Pentecost, the beginning of the end of the liturgical year. The day that "... the law of grace, of purification from sin, and the sanctification of mankind, was for the first time announced to the world". The day the Holy Ghost gave to the Apostles all the Graces that were needed to convey Christ's Teachings to the world and to continue to build His Church.

 It is also the beginning of the end in the Divorce Liturgical Year, when it is hoped by its victims, that the law of Grace will somehow permeate the hard-shell of spousal relations and melt - through the quenching fire of forgiveness and the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost - the iron-clad estrangement that has so far been impervious to all other methods. There are about 26 weeks to accomplish this seemly herculean task. 

But what if it doesn't happen...what if it all continues into another year?

Then, like the Church's Liturgical Year, it - and you - simply start all over again. It goes with the vows...

Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved