Sunday, June 25, 2006
Marriage: an ever-fixed mark?
Roman Marriage Relief
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
William Shakespeare Sonnet CXVI
I recently entered into a discussion about the Sacrament of Marriage. The question came up, if a Catholic is divorced should she be encouraged to date and remarry? At first I thought that the person who was advocating dating and remarriage had failed to realize the individual was divorced and had a child. I said that this person, a convert should attempt to reconcile her marriage, raise it to the level of a Sacrament, restore the family for her child and be true to her marriage vows. This is the path of sanctity. I was told that I was mistaken because perhaps, maybe, it was possible after all, that the individual had received a declaration of nullity. It was treated as a mere formality. After all how many Catholics stop to think that they should not divorce, apply for the annulment and remarry? Far too few.
Annulment is viewed as the rubber stamp on their declaration of independence. Independence from their marriage vows and independence from the Church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
Annulment has become the loophole expanded to fit a tractor trailer comfortably. The reasons that the Church permits annulment can be found here. Funny, you don't see "immaturity" or "failure of communion of life and love" or "I found someone new" in this list. And why do we always give the benefit of the doubt to the person divorcing his or her spouse and never to the spouse abandoned? Why is the person encouraging restoration of the marriage bond the villain, and the person encouraging the divorcing spouse to date and remarry the "hero"? Because there is something wrong with our thinking. It is Americanist, individualist and not in the least Catholic. Marriage is a path to sanctity not self satisfaction, self fulfillment, wealth, respectability, ease, comfort or peace. It is far too important a societal construct than that. Once, that was recognized. No more.
Bai McFarlane has launched a movement to encourage Catholics to reject no fault divorce and re-establish marriage bonds and not encourages annulment and remarriage. She has been abandoned by her husband, had her children taken from her custody to be put in daycare and public schools (after homeschooling them for ten years, ordered to sell the family home, find a job and pay her husband child support. She is arguing that her marriage was formed not be virtue of the State but is under the jurisdiction of the Church. Therefore the Church is the arbiter of custody and separation. Bai seeks a restoration of her marriage and recognition by the Roman Rota that her marriage is valid. This she hopes will encourage her husband to honor his marriage vows. Her website is here.