All That I Have Written Is Straw. . .

Meanderings of a Catholic Devout

How a Catholic Deals With Divorce

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On Labor Day weekend (2009), my husband and I had an argument—a grave argument that ended our marriage.  I won’t go into details yet, but it should suffice to say that I was devastated.  Of course, I was sad that I would lose my husband, my best friend, but I was devastated because of my beliefs about marriage.   I am, after all, a converted Catholic of nine years. 

Despite my husband’s agnostic background, we did indeed marry in the Church.  Many people misunderstand the Catholic teaching on marriages of mixed faiths.  It is called disparity of cult. And many people also misunderstand the Church’s position on divorce.  I am by no means an expert on Church teachings or Church law or anything of the sort.  I did study theology at a Catholic university and am still pursuing my education in systematic theology in academia.  But I wanted—needed—to write this blog as a lay person to document what cannot be studied.

A couple of weeks before our ill-fated argument, I was studying through a Catholic scripture study group, some of the various epistles of St. Paul.  2009 was the year of Saints Peter and Paul in the Church.  For those who don’t know, or are unfamiliar, St. Paul had a lot to say about marriage; and uncommonly so for a celibate.  But in reference, we were studying Matthew 19: 3–11:

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?”

And he answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them Male and Female, and said, ‘for this reason 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.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to ‘give her a certificate of divorce and send her away’?”

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery.”

The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”

But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.”

This verse kept repeating in my mind. . . would I be doomed to a life of celibacy now that I would be divorced?  Because we were not ending our marriage because of infidelity on account of one or the other.   And then 1 Corinthians 7: 8–14:

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good to remain even as I [i.e., celibate].

But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

But to the married, I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.

But to the rest, I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife that is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her.

And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.

For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

About a month after the decision to end our marriage, my local parish priest was commenting in his homily on the vocation of marriage.  It was the Year of the Family, ironically, in our diocese.  (I have to “ponder these things in my heart.”) He was mentioning that marriage is a vocation, just as priesthood is a vocation.  But he noted, with great sincerity, that some people in our parish were suffering and that no one should stay in a marriage of abuse or neglect or even for irreconcilable differences at times.  That the Church does not condone this, that annulment is possible.  I was taken aback and tears were streaming down my face, silently.  It was as if he was speaking directly to me.  For the first time, I didn’t feel like a failure in my vocation of marriage. 

I am unsure of where this blog will tread.  I pray for these 10 things (among others):

  1. Thy Will be done.
  2. The Holy Spirit and tradition will not misguide my words.
  3. The Holy Spirit will be on my mind, on my lips and in my heart.
  4. My guardian angel holds and comforts me during the lonelier moments.
  5. There will be time to emote, healthily.
  6. The constant conversion of my ex-husband.
  7. The intercession of our Blessed Mother and her loving spouse, Joseph.
  8. The aid of friends.
  9. Inner peace and strength.
  10. Forgiveness and mercy.

Written by Written Straw

February 7, 2010 at 11:05 pm

One Response

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  1. “Heavenly Father, I pray for this woman today. I pray that Your will be done in her life. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be with her, in her. I pray that You will heal her emotionally. I pray that her ex-husband will find You. I ask that her friends will aid her. That she will find inner peace and strength. And that she will bear the fruit of forgiveness and mercy in her life. I pray that You will draw her closer to You. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”


    February 8, 2010 at 12:20 am

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