Browsing Pastor's Corner

The Ache of divorce and loss

Oct 11, 2018

Our time has been called the "age of loneliness." It's estimated that one in five Americans suffer from persistent loneliness, and while we're more connected than ever before, social media may actually be worsening the problem: A condition that significantly raises the risk of a number of physical and psychological health problems, including heart disease and depression.

What psychology and sociology are only now beginning to fathom, Holy Scripture has been addressing since the absolute dawn of creation: “It is not good for man to be alone.” To experience the agonies of loneliness is what theology and in a remote way psychology calls Hell.

And Christ's response to the threats of Hell is the Sacraments of Marriage and the Eucharist.

More than being made in our parent’s image…like them and all people…we are formed first and foremost in the image and likeness of Almighty God…therefore what we desire most is unity, togetherness, belonging…in other words, a partnership with God who more than any other person is our true soul mate only because all our souls were drawn forth from His eternity and made with His infinite love.

And since we are created by and with infinite love we cannot nor ever will be satisfied with anything less than infinite love…which only God can satisfy. And we get hints and glimpses of that love in and from each other where that all-powerful love resides by way of grace…but these loves, even the deepest, most intimate and most impassioned love of all…marriage…is still but a sign-post meant to point us in the direction of God and Heaven, especially by way of being thankful for so wonderful a gift of love as marriage and family are.

The two shall become one…to cherish one another, honor one another, love one another ALL the days of one’s life…but sadly there are only so many days until death do us part…

And so what gives…during the Wedding Ceremony…do we not hear…what God has joined together no one or nothing must separate? And yet that is what happens…are we then because of dying and death in violation of God’s command…God’s law of enduring and never meant to fail love?  In a sense…yes we are…

The greatest hurts, wounds, frustrations and aggravations we sustain in life are from loss, separation and division…experiences we were not created to endure since nothing is more contrary to God’s nature which is enduring unity, togetherness and partnership…in a word…family…

The what gives is Satan and Sin…losing his place in Heaven and now forever separated from the love and joy of God and Heaven…in horribly classic misery loves company form…Satan and his ever disgruntled minions try to inflict their hatred, jealousy and division upon all of us…none more so than upon a husband and wife…divide and conquer…which is so sadly evident by how few couples comes to Mass together any more…

In today’s Gospel teaching on divorce, Jesus seems a little harsh but we have to appreciate the perspective from which He is delivering this teaching and pleading with us. God is unity…we are created for togetherness not separation.

The reason for example that we have such a deep seated fear of dying and death is because nothing is more unnatural to us since we are created by the God who defines Himself in this way:

I am the Way the Truth and the LIFE…we are the life and love of God in human form therefore nothing is more contrary to our existence than death…the absolute worst separation, loss and division there is…but again sin creates this unfortunate condition not God…

And like death, divorce is a separation that God would have us avoid at all costs…since the pain associated with it is very similar to the experience of dying and death…if someone were to forcibly try and remove your arms from your body…the pain would be immense…to remove grace and love from one’s soul especially when that love is the investment of your entire being in the love of another till death do you part…worse even than a broken heart…this rupture and pain goes way deeper…in fact into a darkness that Christ perhaps with just such a hurt in mind, plunged Himself into so as to redeem, the greatest agony He ever endured when screaming from the Cross said My God My God why have you forsaken me…that is death pain, that is divorce pain.

And not just for a couple…it is no coincidence that immediately following this discourse Jesus indignant at the disciples for preventing the children from coming to Him, insists that they do…so that He can embrace and bless them…and this is the third Sunday Gospel in a row where Jesus insists on blessing children and drawing attention to their importance…the greatest in fact in the Kingdom of Heaven…and how sad, that so few children are brought to Church anymore to receive that all-embracing and protective Jesus blessing…

And not just with a quick hand gesture through the air blessing like waving a magic wand…but He embraces them…and what is an embrace…two people holding each other, so close, so tight as to appear to be one person…and what other beautiful, intimate and blessed embrace does that remind one of?

The Marital Embrace…as we heard today…and must reflect upon and repeat every day if married or contemplating marriage…this is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one flesh…

That is because within and from this embrace…in giving to one another the gift of one’s heart, mind, soul and especially body…in grand Holy Trinity style…they form one family…in the person of their child…their love is visibly made one in the child their unified love has created.

A child’s whole life and world then is his parents…his family…their togetherness, partnership and unity provides that child or children with security, safety and the confidence and peaceful assurance of being cared for, provided for, loved…but when that arrangement is threatened by separation and divorce…a child’s whole world seems to come crashing down all around him or her…that if mommy and daddy are pried apart, how safe and secure really is the bigger more dangerous world he or she will be let loose in?

We are created for union…or to put it better…Holy Communion…what Satan, sin, suffering and death have torn apart or threatened, God has rejoined together…in epic fashion with a bond of love, if it can even be conceived, that is more powerful and binding and intimate than what it was prior to Adam, Eve and Satan creating all that divisive havoc by the original sins.

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ…In His one person…our fallen humanity and God’s all powerful Divinity are made one…the womb of Mary is the Bridal Chamber where this incredible union…this marriage of God and humanity takes place.

And the two shall remain one flesh…and how so…the Resurrection…no more till death do us part…our lives are restored, renewed…rejoined…and we celebrate this re-union when at Mass we receive the Holy Eucharist where in Holy Communion we become one flesh with the Risen Christ.

Holy Matrimony and Holy Communion then are the greatest expressions of God’s love in this world and in our lives…

As Saint Paul reminds us:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved His Bride the church and handed himself over for her that he might present to himself the church in splendid beauty. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body.w

31“For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother

and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh.”x

32This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and His Bride church.y 33In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

We are created for union and communion and to live happily forever after.

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