Monday, January 29, 2007

Get Out of Jail "Free"

The Holy Father has spoken on the scandal of Catholics who divorce their wives or husbands and then receive annulments for the flimsiest of reasons.

My first response is, "Well it's about time." and my second is that until annulments are refused and Catholics do not expect a "Get out of my marriage" free card and permission to attempt another "marriage" no one will pay attention to the Pope's exhortation.

And beyond that the best we can do is pray for strong Catholic marriages or even weak but permanent Catholic marriages. A friend who was instrumental in bringing the Latin Mass to a large North East city once confided in me that he was considering divorce. He and his wife had "grown apart". She didn't attend the Latin Mass. I rebuked him very strongly and said that that was no excuse. His wife was a good woman. She was the mother of his children and that he would be setting a terrible example for us "younger" Catholic families. I offered him no sympathy and hope that he took what I said to heart.

The other important response is to value and esteem the first, sacramental marriage. Forget about "keeping the peace" and winning popularity contests. If an acquaintance or family member gets the brilliant idea of trading in their spouse for someone new you do not have to recognize it. You can support the real family- the children and the spouse. You don't have to go along to get along. You can support Catholic marriage. You must.

It is sobering to read the books on marriage written in the 40s and 50s about how much children of divorce suffer. These books also explain how delinquency in children is caused by divorce. You will hear not a peep about such things now. Delinquency is inevitable. Divorce unavoidable. The future of marriage and family life dire.


Petrus said...

While I wholeheartedly agree with you, I do think that part of the cause of so many annulments is that they allow people to marry who are in NO WAY prepared for the sacrament - like those living together, previous marriages, etc. etc. etc. Its like they allow people to marry in these circumstances with the full knowledge that a sacrament will not take place, and it gives the couple an easy out.

M. Alexander said...

I disagree. And don't think it matters anyway. Believe me, no one is prepared for marriage. There is no way to prepare someone for what they may face. The thing is- it's permanent and that's it. That's all they need to know.

Edward said...

I most heartily agree with Madame here. I mean, how much preparation would one consider sufficient? After all, the Church has never looked favourably upon over-long engagements.
Besides, the Church MUST give the couple the benefit of the doubt they did indeeed KNOW what they were doing. "NO WAY prepared" is quite a qualification, and I think rather rare.
The vows (words we speak to God) were made in a language common to and understood by both; they were of the age of reason; and after all, no one was standing there with a gun in their ribs! From start to finish the entire enterprise was entered into with foreknowledge that somehow a "marriage" was going to take place between them.

Rob said...

I see Edward's point. It's long past time we started expecting things of the Catholic in the pew. You took the vows, you speak the language, you got what you asked for. Now learn to live in peace with one other person.

Marriage is the foundation of this "world peace" liberals talk about so much. If you can't get along with your wife, do you really think you can "get along" with your enemy?

petrus said...

But why are we marrying people when we KNOW it won't last? Like people who are living together before marriage?

Edward said...

Petrus, I cannot answer for the judgment of every pastor. We may be living in a time when the laity are called upon to take greater responsibility in building up the health of the Church (and that's not the same thing as being a "Eucharistic minister" or "altar gal"), but ultimately it is the clergy who must lead. And as we all know, we lead first by example.
That is after all, why they are called "pastors" - shepherds.
The multiplication of 'bad' clergy and the rotting of leadership has almost always been a consequential penalty for the sins of the people.
"The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed" (Milton).
The people must thirst for righteousness, and then they shall be given the gift of holy Priests: Priests who will lovingly guide them unto their just aspirations.
And although we are currently having a very hard time in that area, still we must not compromise the meaning and reality of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony by trivializing it to the point where it would soon be jettisoned by modern society as an obscure anomaly.
The rules DO and MUST hold and bind. If there are those who are being led to an existence of living in objective mortal sin, they may yet not be personally culpable (yet entirely deserving of our pity and God's saving grace and Mercy); and in the end, wrathful accountability shall seize upon and be exacted from the clergy who have confirmed them in error.

Dymphna said...

I remember one wedding where the bride's own mother stated during the reception that no matter how things turned out she wanted her daughter to have a beautiful first wedding to look back on. Many of the guests whispered that they hoped the marriage would last. The couple was divorced before my father in law had a chance to develope the film he shot that day. No one honestly thought this couple would make it but some 300 people showed up and partied.

No-one is really prepared for marriage but Pre-Cana (for what it's worth) should do a better job of making couples look honestly at themselves.

Travis said...

I am of the thought that the poor catechesis of the past 40 years has alot to do with this. I have friends and relatives who are getting married, and have recently gotten married, that get more of an explination of what the sacrament of marriage entails, and the grounds for a valid marriage, what makes a marriage invalid, etc.

I believe that it will take true conversions, followed by strong catechsis to to restore the dignity of the traditional family unit, which is found through marriage.

In Christ,


P.S. Good Blog. I will add you to my sidebar.

Madeline said...

I think the cause for the acceptance of divorces goes even beyond poor Catholic formation; it's society-wide poor character formation.

I'm sure that Mary and Edward are right, that nothing can truly "prepare" one for the triumphs and tragedies of marriage, but even a pagan with a sense of respect, honor and duty can make a marriage last. They can even make it a "happy" marriage.

Another problem is that for so many (Catholics included), expectations of what makes a marriage are derived from soap operas, feature films, and romance novels. If your day isn't set to a soundtrack performed by Survivor, then it can't really be a marriage, can it?