December 21, 2014

REPOST: Divorce, October Baby and Choosing Forgiveness


It is an integral part of our Catholic Faith and one not easily forgotten, especially when one remembers that its defining moment came from the lips of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  As He hung in agony upon the "infamous gibbet" , the first of His Last Seven Words: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..." were directed not only at His executioners, but at all of us as well. They are words not easily forgotten or ignored, though many do and have done so. But those that willingly choose to, do so at their own peril, for Our Lord also said:
  • But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences. Matthew 6:15
  • But if you will not forgive, neither will your Father that is in heaven, forgive you your sins. Mark 11:26
  • And when you shall stand to pray, forgive, if you have aught against any man; that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:25
There can be no clearer meaning than this: any who wish to enjoy the Beatific Vision, must choose forgiveness!  If we expect to be forgiven by Christ, we must first be able to forgive all others who have injured us! If we expect to enjoy the peace, contentment and Graces that come from receiving the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we must first go and reconcile ourselves with those who have injured us! Nothing can be more plainly stated nor understood than those words of Our Lord: FORGIVE! 

Lack of forgiveness is nowhere more apparent than with those suffering the tragedy divorce. And of those intimately involved, it is upon the children that it has the more far reaching effects. Effects that will follow them well into their adult lives and that have the capacity to permeate, infect and kill any future relationships. If a child (and I speak here of older teen children) cannot forgive a Parent for words and /or actions that damaged a Parent-Child relationship, how could they ever hope to forgive:

  •  a best friend, for dumping their friendship in favor of a more popular "friend"
  •  a boy friend, for going out with friends that did not include her
  •  a fiance, for letting emotions get the best of him at the office party and kiss a female co-worker he is not engaged to
  • a wife, whose anger at her husband drives her to neglect her housework
  • a husband, who is so distraught over his wife's anger that he succumbs to adultery
Lack of forgiveness kills more than relationships - it has the capacity to kill one's immortal Soul, if left unattended to fester and to turn to bitterness. One has only to remember the words of Our Lord Himself as testimony that this possibility does exist. 

Which is why it so very hard for Parents to see their children make choices that the Parents know will not be in their best interests, but that they can do nothing about. Forgiveness requires an act of the Will, a conscious decision to choose good over evil and no parent can force that decision upon an older child (though that is precisely what is needed.) The only recourse Parents have is prayer and sacrifice - and a continuance of the non-reciprocal Love of which their child (or children) is in dire need of. It may not happen within their lifetime (which is another Cross lovingly borne for the greater good of the beloved, whether child or the Christ-Child), but they hope that it will. The consequences suffered by the children if parental estrangement is left unresolved is almost beyond description.

I wrote the following post on forgiveness this past June, that was wrapped within the themes of the movie "October Baby". A recent experience of mine has highlighted just how serious is this matter of forgiveness, and just as serious is the hard reality that the wrong choice may already have been made by those I love. [Ed.]


Divorce hurts. It also scars, destroys and betrays - especially the children. No matter their age, they find themselves thrust into the center of a maelstrom they simply haven't the maturity to understand, let alone cope with. Hell, most parents haven't the maturity to understand fully the looming disaster that they themselves have unleashed, so how can they expect their kids to?

The above statements are a Truth of this particular divorce, and no part more so than the continual lack of forgiveness being retained after four years by those most devastated. It is and remains "...the gift that keeps on giving".  But it's time this particular gift is returned, for despite my counsels, it has become a burden to those I continue to Love and miss dearly and remains a source of almost constant sorrow.  Forgiveness, being an integral part of Catholicism taught by Christ Himself from the Cross, has had no part in this divorce and, in my opinion, has no part in any divorce, as divorce and the requisite hardness between spouses and children is the anti-thesis to all that Our Lord has taught. Divorce should have no part in any solution to any Catholic Marriage experiencing trouble - period. If I had my way, any Catholic spouse who filed for divorce would be told to get back together or face Ecclesiastical wrath (oh...wait. That's already part of Canon Law, isn't it. ISN'T IT??)

I've not seen too many movies that I can point to that upholds Catholic teaching. I've seen fewer still that parallels to my present situation enough that it brings tears to my eyes from the shear weight of its message. One film that does both is 2011's October Baby, a remarkable pro-life film starring and written for Rachel Hendrix, that is so powerful - and beautiful - it will leave you at the end with more tissues on the coffee table than remains in the box. From the actors to the musical score, it left me no where untouched, especially as she confronts the first realizations of her remarkable birth and adoption - after a failed abortion that her adoptive parents kept secret from her. It will - or should - leave you with misty eyes as Rachel's character, Hannah, seeking answers to her hidden life, is suddenly hit full force with the realization of her birth, after talking with the nurse who knew her birth Mother. It doesn't get any easier on her, as she gets Cross after Cross thrust upon her, consoled only by her childhood friend Jason, played by actor Jason Burkey

Her answers - and understanding - comes at the hands of a Catholic priest, in a Cathedral that Hannah's adoptive Mother sometimes visited, and to which Hannah herself eventually goes, seeking the answers she has yet to find. The whole scene is moving and poignant and requires from the viewer just what the priest did - to simply set, watch and listen. First to Hannah and then the priest: 

You can see the moment of Hannah's understanding, the moment the slight nod indicates the acknowledgement of the burden she has carried - hatred - all these years. A bit later in the movie, her first tentative steps to forgiving are made with her Father as he weeps over his mistakes - and she stops him with "Dad...I Love you and its OK". She has found the answer that has eluded her...forgiveness. It is the same answer I desire that my own children find, especially those most affected by this travesty. 

Hatred is not a factor per se in this divorce, but lack of forgiveness is and it has the capacity to harden further hearts that need to forgive in order to heal - and to Love. As I stated above, and mentioned to more than one of my children, it is a burden none of them need no longer carry. It's time to let it go, for the reason for its existence has long been disproved. They are all teenagers and above, and while not all are unforgiving, even if there is one, it is one too many. It was relationship issues for the most part that have separated us; it is sheer willpower that now keeps the separation alive; it is fear of pain that prevents us talking; it is reluctance to choose forgiveness that prevents healing. They are all Children of Mary by Baptism and She will correct matters eventually, I know. For some it will be hard; for others easy. For all, refreshing. 

Dear Catholic Spouses: don't do what you are thinking about. It is not worth the pain and suffering that is caused to the children you supposedly Love. Divorce solves and settles nothing. I am living it and speak from experience.  You haven't a clue as to what you are doing, what effect this will have on you and your spouse but more importantly your children. Wikipedia can't tell you the deepest secrets of the HELL you will be going through. You can have no pre-preparation to spare you pain. You will have no safety net. No safe harbor. No surety. The only surety you will have is a broken home, broken lives, broken trust, broken dreams. You won't be able to get any of it back, either. Once you accept that divorce is the answer to your woes, the devil has already won. He will leave you to fend for yourself and go find another more fruitful and voluptuous family to destroy.

On the other hand, in your deepest, darkest misery; in the farthest recess of your shattered dreams of a happy marriage; in your subjective notion that your marriage is over; in the fear you see in the faces of your children...there are Two who will never leave you; Two who will never turn Their backs on you; Two who will forever keep Their Hearts open to you; Two who will offer solace, comfort and reconciliation. Fly now! Fly to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary and beseech Their intercession, if not for yourselves, then for your children. Save your marriage! and in the process your Souls and those of your Children. Fight for your marriage! and fight for your Spouse and Family! Do not let the Deceiver win!!

 Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved

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