Monday, October 22, 2012

Catholic Divorce and Irreconcilable Differences

by M. J. Joachim
Can we talk candidly about divorce for a moment? It’s an ugly topic, I know, but if you’ve ever lived with anyone for any length of time, you know there are times when distancing yourself is not only a personal preference, but an out and out necessity!

Who hasn’t wanted to LOSE CONTROL and release frustration related to putting up with their significant other at times? It’s only natural, because although we are extremely social by nature, sharing one’s space, time and thoughts can become frightful, even under the best of circumstances.

Divorce is a normal progression by today’s societal standards. People do it all the time – sometimes even 2, 3, 4…let’s just go with several times. Many claim to fall in love numerous times throughout our lives, which is probably one reason why we end up divorced so easily.

For those who have actually done it, divorce is one of the hardest things they’ve ever gone through (or put their family through, for that matter). Had they seen it coming, they would have altered their behavior (in the relationship) much earlier, to avoid such a plight in the first place. Either that or they’ve decided to hate the S.O.B., in which case they have other issues to deal with completely!

There is another group, as well…people who get divorced, because living with their spouse is positively toxic, if not deadly – not only for them, but also for any children living in the household. The internal struggle to decide your spouse is beyond any effort to reconcile, even with various aids like marriage counseling, therapy and any list of remedies, is not an easy one to make, I’m sure.

Catholics have so many misconceptions when it comes to divorce. Depending on who you talk to, you might think you’re not allowed to receive Holy Communion, participate in sacraments, or even get married again. Unfortunately, even a few priests will steer you wrong on this score.

The Catholic Church teaches that you can remain Catholic, even if you get divorced, and may participate in your faith according to its precepts. This means that divorce doesn’t stop you from being catholic. It can’t! Only God knows your heart, and if you’re divorced for valid reasons…

…not because caps are left off toothpaste, a certain smile gives you the creeps or the sound of one’s car is too annoying in the morning…

You are still a Catholic and can practice your faith fully and effectively.

Okay, there are some stipulations. Civil marriages can be legitimately dissolved (for the most part) without worrying about your catholic faith. Since the marriage wasn’t sacramental (and therefore recognized by the Catholic Church as a Catholic marriage), most of the time there is not much to worry about.

Catholic divorce is a little more involved. The marriage has to be proven invalid for specific reasons, in which case an annulment may be granted to nullify it. Each case is entirely unique, so please excuse my liberties in generalizing this topic, the way this post prescribes.

Living in sin, cohabitating, premarital sex and all the other relationship baggage, are separate issues, and therefore must consider Catholic teaching regarding each individual circumstance.

The ultimate goal remains in place, however. Marriage is not to be taken lightly. It is expressed as a firm and permanent commitment between one’s self and one’s spouse. Therefore, every effort should be made (this goes for all marriages, I believe, not just Catholic ones), to protect and serve our marriages fully and effectively throughout our lives.

However, if you are faced with the unfortunate circumstance and necessity of getting divorced, please note that you are not divorcing your entire life, only your spouse. The rest is a balancing act, particularly if there are children involved.

As one goes through the process, it is wise to remember that priests are people too. As we do with doctors when we get a tough diagnosis, it is important to get a second opinion when an obvious conclusion is not made available to us. People going through tough times need God; we all know Jesus doesn’t turn His back on people who need Him.

Getting divorced does not alienate one from God…hating one’s ex-spouse, living with a new significant other, getting greedy over communal belongings, causing extreme mental anguish and stress on one’s children…yea, these things might initiate and prolong a big divide between ourselves and God. It should be noted, these (and other inappropriate attitudes) usually have very little, if anything, to do with dissolving a bad marriage.

That’s all for now kind people. Please feel free to take a peek at my other blogs, if you get the chance. Thank you!

M. J. Joachim
©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits: (All pics) Wikicommons, Public Domain