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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana


 
 
 

 

 


DIVORCE

 The Greatest Superstition


 

by:

 

Dom Basilio Magno

 

 

INTRODUCTION

I WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS SEVERAL TOPICS, NAMELY SEPARATION, ANNULMENT AND DIVORCE together because, essentially, they are the same . . . i.e. they are different degrees of the same thing. Included herein is marrying one’s mistress upon the death of one’s wife. These have one thing in common — the refusal to abide by one’s vow of fidelity, the desire to be excused from the promises one has made and be exempted from the universal practice of mankind with regard to the rules of marriage. In short, they are all moves that lead to adultery. Except for separation which is exposing oneself to adultery, the rest are directly motivated by adultery.

Today, sad to say, many Catholics commit adultery even before the formal declaration of separation, annulment or divorce which, evidently, betrays the motive of their acts.

SEPARATION

RECALL THE VOWS MADE DURING MATRIMONY and it is immediately evident that separation is reneging from one’s freely-made vow . . . and since it is made before God as witness, it is evil. But the Catholic Church, though reluctantly, allows it to prevent a greater evil. Let me illustrate this.

If, because of constant and violent quarrels, the wife’s life is put in danger due to the uncontrollable rage of the other . . . to prevent the husband from committing the serious evil of murder, the wife might as well leave. But note the motive — to prevent the husband from committing a serious sin and not so much to run away from the unbearable situation. The motive is charity; it is not defeatist. Unfortunately, it is not the best choice; it is merely choosing the lesser of two evils.

Thus Moses decreed that if a man hates his wife he should divorce her even without reasonable cause. Note that Moses said ,“if he hates his wife.” When it reaches this point, the husband is already madly infatuated with another woman and is capable of killing his wife to marry the other. So, to protect the wife, Moses suggested that the wife allow herself to be divorced. Is this allowed by God? Of course not. Moses said he allowed this because of the husband’s depravity, “so that when you in your licentiousness desire to come together with another woman, you would not put to death your true wife.”

Divorce is only for the depraved. The latter are so cruel they would murder their wives if they were constrained to keep them.

Everyone, especially the Church authorities, should see to it that both do not re-marry, especially the uncontrollable raging beast who is unfit to be a husband to anyone, or be anything, for that matter. The Church usually allows separation when she is convinced that the husband is absolutely out of control and the wife, though capable of great suffering, is in danger of being murdered. The separation is a temporary truce but with the intention of eventually reconciling the two parties. In fact, separation, as practiced in the early Church, was separation of rooms only which made reconciliation more possible than separation of houses.

But even the above is not a valid reason for separation because the end of marriage can still be attained, nay, can even be better attained. And many a wife who knew what marriage is for had used it to advance to great heights of holiness. Well, isn’t holiness, after all, the end of marriage? But these are exceptional Catholics. Let us return to us.

St. Hilary of Poitier states that the only valid Catholic reason for separation is “lest a spouse be soiled by the company of a promiscuous partner,” i.e., if continuing the union will endanger the salvation of the spouse. Separation in the Church is for the attainment of greater virtues . . . for the offended. There are no virtues to talk about in the offender.

Moses, thus, declared that the writ of divorce [i.e., separation] be given to the wife who is hated by her husband . . . for her physical protection. And if the wife has no fault in this process but, later on, also commits adultery as the husband did earlier, the husband becomes, in part, the cause of her adultery. The husband will be sinning doubly: he will be guilty of his sin and her sin.

Most laws are written in view of excellence, Origen states; a few, however, by way of accommodation to man’s weakness. And separation is one such law, i.e., divorce without re-marriage.

To avoid confusion, henceforward we shall use the word “separation” to indicate separation without re-marrying, and the word “divorce” to refer to separation with the purpose of re-marrying. This is necessary since both Scriptures and the Saints used the two words interchangeably, i.e., with the same meaning. While divorce, as we know it today, is always referred to as adultery.

Marriage is an Old Testament institution . . . separation, then, was a concession. When Christ came, virginity became the rule, as shown by the example of the Holy Family, wherewith all were virgins. Marriage, today, is the concession. “Lest there be fornication, let each man have his own wife . . . I say this out of concession.” Separation is asking too much. And what of divorce?

Re-marriage is allowed in the Catholic Church ONLY if the other dies, “ . . . laid to rest”, but even this is a concession “. . . for those who do not wish earnestly the greater graces to become more blessed.” Re-marrying after the spouse is laid to rest was frowned upon, but allowed, in the early Church. The reasoning is quite simple. If marriage is used properly, its goal can be achieved during each other’s lifetime. If the goal is achieved, why marry again? But most Catholics do not use their marriages properly, thus not achieving its goal; so the need for an indefinite number of re-marriages.

A valid reason for re-marriage, St. Basil states, is if a wife discovers that the man she married was already previously married; then, she MUST separate from him and may marry someone else, though it is better if she remains unmarried.

Thus, in summary, in the New Testament, marriage is a concession; separation is a further concession; to re-marry if a spouse dies is an even further concession. But to divorce a wife and re-marry is just deplorable in the Catholic eye. In fact, the three previous concessions are allowed to avoid the greater evil of divorce for the purpose of re-marrying.

ANNULMENT

THOUGH ANNULMENT, I.E., A DECLARATION THAT THERE WAS NO MARRIAGE from the beginning, exists in the Church, it is humanly impossible to find out if such a state exists. It is one of those things that only God knows . . . which is not a problem since some priests think they are gods.

Sacramental Matrimony is an instrument for salvation. The sacrament is the instrument, not the person. If the rules of Christian marriage are followed, the marriage will be happy no matter who the wife is; if the rules of marriage are not followed, the marriage will be miserable no matter who the wife is. The only reason one would like to annul such an instrument is because the person involved does not want to be saved anymore, in which case — why bother getting an annulment?

Review St. Paul’s words on the primary goal of Christian marriage and you will see that the bases for annulment today, both civilly and in the Church, would make St. Paul turn in his grave. In spite of psychological incompatibility, impotence and whatever — the goals of Christian marriage can be attained and, therefore, there is a marriage. A valid basis for annulment is when there is something that prevents the attainment of the goal of marriage, i.e., sanctification. And not one of the above-mentioned bases is a valid basis . . . in the eyes of God, anyway.

What are these bases for annulment? Man-made loopholes to enable them to commit adultery . . . legally. Sacramental marriage is a school of love. Couples, sort of, enter into it to learn and perfect their love [just as monasteries are schools of love, except that the monk is in a hurry.] And we never put conditions on love: the bases for annulments are conditions that are not met . . . harsh conditions that say “love me but I don’t have to love you.”

If we can put four to five conditions on loving, what will stop us from adding one or two more in the future? We might as well include having a mother-in-law as a basis for annulment.

Then, why does the Church entertain such appeals? As a concession to the weak — to prevent them from leaving the Church. Weak in what? In every virtue. The Catholic Church is a master in the handling of suffering; it thrives and grows in it that it is said the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. The Prophecies about Christ show Him to be a Man of suffering; His invitation is to follow Him to the cross and resurrection . . . but first on the cross . . . and Catholics, today, are forever running away from suffering.

And since some of our priests today love pleasures and detest sanctifying suffering, they tend to easily grant annulments for marriages, most if not all of which cannot be annulled in the eyes of God; thus driving the couples to adultery. Weak priests and weak couples are a formula for disaster: priests who tolerate non-observance of marriage vows are also non-observant of their priestly vows.

Psychological incompatibility? It is impossible to find out the psychological make-up of a person: more so, the compatibility of two persons. Anyone who makes such a claim is no different from one who claims to know the future.

From the beginning, Christ said, God joined together one man and one woman: not one man and many women. That’s how God wanted it from the beginning: and that’s how it should remain. This arrangement is of the utmost importance for our happiness and eternal salvation that God imposed a heavy price for it — “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother.” And just as it is accursed to cut off one’s flesh, so it is accursed to separate husband and wife, “What God has put together let no man put asunder.” Old Testament, you might say. Well, see Christ’s teachings in the New Testament: “It is better for man not to marry.” But then that’s for the chosen few, “for those who made themselves Eunuchs for the kingdom of God.” Let’s stick to the many who are called and in constant danger of not being chosen.

So a marriage tribunal should only grant annulments if it is certain that the marriage is not put together by God. To know this, one must know the mind of God: and only Saints know the mind of God. If the members of the tribunal are not saints, it is impossible for them to judge whether a marriage can be annulled or not.

The Marriage of Joseph and Mary

IF THE BASES FOR ANNULMENT ARE TAKEN SERIOUSLY, then there had been no marriage between Joseph and Mary. Mary wanted to remain a virgin and Joseph was forced by the angel — thus there was no mutual consent; and Joseph was impotent in that he never touched any woman and Mary kept secret from Joseph what really happened to her. Yet they were the most married couple in the world . . . I would like to believe.

St. Ambrose states: “It is not the deflowering of virginity that makes a marriage, but the marital contract .” So, even if the marriage is not physically consummated, there is marriage . . . as long as there is the consent to embrace the burdens of marriage. The “to whom” is immaterial.

So, Scripture says: “Joseph took his wife.” And to further confirm their marriage, the genealogy of Jesus was made through Joseph, not through Mary. Their marriage was so real that Joseph was truly the father of Jesus. In fact, the angel did not hesitate to say, “Fear not to take Mary, your wife . . .”, even before they were married, while still merely betrothed. That’s how married they were.

MARRYING ONE'S MISTRESS

THIS SEEMS TO BE OUT OF TOPIC, BUT IT IS NOT, since this is adultery . . . a continuing adultery. A husband who takes a mistress is an example of one who cannot wait for an annulment or a divorce. He takes on a mistress while his wife is still alive. This is adultery. When the wife dies, this does not cancel the adultery of the husband. Only true repentance can remove that sin. And since the sign of true repentance is not to commit the sin of adultery again, he should then leave his mistress. But since he marries his mistress rather than leaves her, then there is no sign of repentance; the adultery continues. He just marries his adultery.

If you steal from another, the mere death of the other does not erase your sin of stealing: you are still a thief until you repent. The death of one’s wife does not automatically remove one’s sin of adultery. And marrying one’s mistress is merely legalizing one’s sin in the eyes of men, but it is adultery, pure and simple, in the eyes of God . . . I repeat . . . because there is no repentance. Paradoxically, there might even be joy at the death of the wife now that one’s fantasy will be fulfilled. Such a marriage, even if solemnized in Church, is nothing but a continuing adultery: it was a sin of adultery before, and for lack of proper repentance and precisely because the sin is continuing, it is a continuing adultery. It would be better if he married another woman.

Divorce

DIVORCE IS THE EPITOME OF SEPARATION AND ANNULMENT; while in the case of the husband who marries his mistress, he is simply spared giving a wretched rationale for his adultery. All of these are called the tragedies of marriage. Why some husbands ... or wives, for that matter, are happy that there is divorce beats me. Masochism? Decadence, I would rather say. Adultery, this is the second strongest vice used by the Evil One for the destruction of man, writes St. John Cassian. The first is food.

The Tragedy of Divorce

[The annulment of a previous marriage

 for the purpose of re-marrying]

MARRIAGE WAS INSTITUTED BY CHRIST to establish a lasting bond for the sanctification of the marriage partners and their offspring. Today, this bond is easily shattered. There is no sanctification to talk about. No one, today, believes in the Sacrament of marriage. Those who undergo it do so out of habit or tradition, not out of conviction. But Christ believed in it!

Marriage is an ideal, altogether outside time and place. It is part of the following of Christ; so it is difficult at anytime. But its purpose is ingrained in the very nature of man. To betray its rules is unnatural; and only the unnatural will actually betray its rules.

And the vows made by the couple to be faithful is as natural as a song is to a bird. He who cannot keep his vow is like a man who cannot keep an appointment. He is merely fleeing from what he cannot understand . . . he is fleeing from the art of living well. And the reasons he has made up for fleeing are exceedingly fatiguing to the clear-headed.

The clear-headed will easily see your point if you consider that marriage does matter and so does the keeping of one’s vow. But the clear-headed will be puzzled if you consider that marriage does matter but not keeping one’s vows. “I want to marry but not keep my promises.” It’s like buying one shoe without the other.

It is bewildering that people today are fanatical in getting married in church while missing the point of marriage. The inevitable consequence is they want to marry and marry and marry... but without keeping this vow and that vow and that vow. Not much difference from some religious who love to make their Solemn Profession or take ordination but without keeping their vows of poverty or celibacy.

The proponent of divorce argues thus: “Why am I not allowed to marry and marry, just because I promised to be bound to one? Why am I not allowed to violate my vows at the same altar where I made it?” Such reasoning deserves no comment . . . for herein is an inconsistent man demanding that the Church also behave inconsistently and grant him approval for his inconsistency.

What Is Divorce

DIVORCE IS NOT MERELY THE NEGLECT OF MARRIAGE; as most of us do neglect our marriages. It is not the dissolution of one’s legal status as husband and wife; in the Church, no such thing exists.

Divorce is anarchy with respectability. A divorcee [let us use this term to describe one who desires or seeks for divorce] violates his vow and demands a certain respectability and social status for doing so. He is not interested in whether what he is doing is legal or illegal. He is interested in walking the aisle for the social recognition. He knows that if he does not walk the aisle people will abhor him. And mind you, he is not interested in religion, either.

It is this vain desire for respectability for which he claims the sanction of religion. A sort of “I have to get a document from the Church and get married in Church to get respectability . . . but to hell with the Church” attitude.

Strange . . . but this respectability that he wants is a respectability that rightfully belongs to marriage which, as in the early Christian times, is a witnessing symbol of eternal fidelity.

Why Was Christian Marriage Respectable

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES WERE VERY RESPECTABLE because of the superhuman manner by which spouses observed their vow of fidelity. The divorcee wants the respectability of the vow of fidelity but without the fidelity.

Fidelity connotes dedication and the willingness to undergo discomforts to fulfill one’s duties to which one freely binds oneself. Such a person deserves respectability. But to respect the absence of willingness . . . it’s like saluting a uniform without the person in it. At least, the ancients believed that it is not the habit that makes the monk. Modern man thinks it is the veil that makes the bride . . . the vow, not the fidelity, that makes a marriage.

Fidelity is the readiness to fight and even be defeated in defense of the family. A soldier is admired because he is ready to die or be defeated: he does not have to die. It is his readiness that makes him faithful to his country. And so, likewise, every marriage is not doomed to evil, sickness or poverty; but each one deserves respectability for their willingness to face evil, sickness and health, richness and poverty, to make the marriage work. The divorcee works simply to protect his interests.

Marriage, more often than not, is among the higher ideals that we find we must defend with war. We go to war to protect our family: no one in his right mind really lays his life for a country . . . unless he is like some pagans who are willing to die for their stone idols . . . which makes a country a soil-idol. This is pure romanticism for which I can give up a night’s sleep but never my life.

Marriage, as envisioned by Christ and later by St. Paul, is such a supernatural ideal that attaining it is as difficult as living the life of the Church. In fact, you cannot live the ideals of a truly Christian marriage without at the same time living the ideal life of the Church: because Christian marriage is a part of Evangelical Life. One who seeks divorce has long stopped living his Catholic Religion.

Nothing Wrong with Marriage: It's You

AS AN INSTITUTION, MARRIAGE IS PERFECT. There is nothing wrong with it. The defect is in one or both spouses . . . the seeker of divorce wants to have sex without love. The agents of divorce even feign love as the cause of separation or divorce . . . to minimize its tragedy they describe it as separation by mutual consent — though it is always neither mutual nor consenting. It is often only one party who wants the divorce; the other does not . . . that is already a tragedy, by any norm, even before the actual separation or divorce. Fidelity in a Catholic marriage demands that we offer our lives to prevent such a tragedy.

But today we live in a neurotic fantasy filled with emotionalism, believing the lie that divorce is the more romantic solution to our marriage problems. Romantic fairy tales make more sense in that at the end, the hero and heroine are wedded “and live happily ever after.” But the romantic divorcee holds that “when they divorce they live happily ever after.” He is not really very romantic, after all. This is reality: in a divorce, both become unhappy. For no one finds happiness in hurting another nor being the victim of a hurt. Divorce is the breaking of hearts and breaking of promises. And you expect to be happy in doing that?

There might not be many happy marriages; but definitely all divorces are unhappy and unjust. Because here the innocent partner always receives all the punishment due the guilty party . . . for being faithful.

It would be normal, I presume, for a man to complain that he has a wife. But for the same husband to complain that he lives as if he has no wife is liable to raise eyebrows. When I hear such complaints, the couple is usually already separated, probably not in body but in mind due to the unbearable tension . . . made unbearable because one is seeing someone else. So he wants to be formally separated . . . and re-marry. That’s the catch and that’s what makes it doubly tragic — this mentality is what has caused the unbearable suffering for the partner he has left. The divorcee has a doubtful past, a doubtful present, and a more doubtful future.

The issue in divorce is not divorce; it is adultery. It is not re-marriage, it is sex without love. We see men dying with torments to redraw frontiers and we cannot die to preserve our marriages? Fidelity does not demand that you die; it simply demands abnegation or self-denial and you cannot do it? And this self-abnegation is not for your wife; it is for you who made the promise. Abnegation is asking yourself to keep the promises you made that you may be respected as a man.

The Seeker of Divorce is Too Emotional

MARRIAGE IS A MYSTICAL INSTITUTION. It is likened to the marriage of Christ with His Virgin Church. Now try to understand that. The reason why many do not value their marriage is because they do not understand its value: being a mystical concept, it is simply beyond their limited thinking. Whose fault is it if, not knowing the value of a diamond, one throws it away?

We live in an age where men don’t think . . . understandably so, because, bombarded by our environs, television, newspapers, magazines and the countless forms of distractions, we have no time to think. If the thinking man finds it difficult to appreciate marriage, what happens to the unthinking man? Add to these distractions the continuous stimuli showing the pleasures and excitement of adultery and divorce. No one seems to think of the divorce and the hurts . . . only the approaching adulterous wedding. We have come short of having a divorce cake.

Divorce . . . that is normal for corrupt fallen nature that thinks only of oneself. Fidelity is for those who want to overcome their fallen nature. Well, that’s what marriage is for . . . an instrument to overcome the corruptness of one’s fallen nature. Now, if you do not want to overcome your corrupt nature using marriage as an instrument, why do you get married . . . or re-marry?

One who seeks divorce does not believe in the vows of marriage . . . and in marriage, for that matter. Then, why does he want to re-marry? Didn’t he get the divorce to be able to remarry; why do so when he does not believe in it? Obviously his reason has nothing to do with marriage. Divorce can only be understood if you can understand the killings in Africa, the terrorism in the Middle East and the tortures in the slave states. Call it what you may — ethnic cleansing, liberation . . . it is nothing but proof of the fall of man from the dignity for which he was created to a level that would make the beasts blush.

Every time the Saints talk about divorce, it is followed with “let each one remain single,” thus referring to separation, really. And to leave a marriage partner without valid reason compels the other to commit adultery, says St. Clement of Alexandria. Adultery is such a serious sin that Communion has always been denied the adulterous [Council of Elvira] . . . and, surprisingly, this is observed in some dioceses in the United States. But, of course, we are more modern . . . or less Catholic, I should say.

St. Ambrose states that to seek for divorce is a very serious sin because here the husband is trying to invest his sin with legal authority. St. Jerome calls divorcing one’s wife — for the sake of a second joining in marriage — criminal.

St. Augustine states that remarrying is unthinkable, that is, while the spouse is alive, because of the bond of chastity, which consists in fidelity that remains in spite of the separation. This is part of the marital contract: that they must be together and if separated, due to fornication of one, must remain unmarried.

The model of this bond is found in the marriage of Christ and the Church. So as long as each spouse lives, the conjugal bond exists, which no one can take away. So when a Catholic marries another religion, he becomes an apostate, sort of, i.e., he abandons his wife, the Church, but keeps the sacramental character of his faith received at Baptism. But instead of this character meriting a reward, it becomes the aggravation of his eternal punishment. Thus one who divorces and re-marries has transformed an institution meant for the salvation of his soul into an instrument of his eternal perdition. In the early Church, an adulterer was not allowed to go to confession until his wife or lover was dead. Really, what for, if he continues to live in sin?

Countless are the enemies of the family. A godless and slave state is one. In earlier times there was the slave trade that broke so many African families. The ungodly way wars were conducted destroyed many families, too. And uncontrollable sex characterized these godless, pagan and slave states.

Our present era is, in some ways, godless and slavish. We are slaves to money and God plays no part in our lives. And so promiscuity is prevalent. We call it free love: but it is neither free nor love. This is what Christianity came to change: Christianity perplexed and puzzled these slave and godless states with high ideals of spiritual emancipation, chivalry and love. And from slaves and pagans, the Church produced free and virgin martyrs. These Christians were the substance of the Early Christian Civilization.

Today, the godless and slave civilization is, indeed, making a comeback. And the luxury of divorce is the devil's most attractive bait for Christian civilization to revert to the godless, slave state. Divorce is a fitting instrument, well chosen for the degradation of human dignity. He who cannot respect his own wife will respect no one; one who is unkind to his wife will be kind to no one.

Modern Man and Divorce

COUNSELING ON FAMILY, TODAY, IS MAINLY FOOLISH AND VAIN; it is wearisome and inhuman because it merely exhibits an exhausting combination of guesswork, fanaticism, romanticism and pseudo-psychological fantasies. The reign of terror of Robespierre was better thought out. Anyhow, counseling literature all exhibit a nightmare of spiritual imbecility, products of twisted and tortured minds that only produce poison for our present age. Such writers have no right to peddle their opinions about humanity . . . but, of course, their opinions are welcome materials for fledgling journalistic deadlines and witnesses for freedom of the press.

Our modern era, so called, is like a mad dog. Those bitten by it become diseased and abnormal in their thinking. St. Frances de Sales describes countless animal behaviors that could put humans to shame. St. Francis, in fact, presents them as models for the imitation of men who wish to become Saints. Man, today, does not even think like an animal. He thinks like a vegetable.

For modern man, everything is a problem. I remember a course in a seminary entitled, “The Problem of God.” By Jove!…and I thought man was the problem! I guess we don’t know what a problem is. A problem exists if there is no solution . . . then we have a problem. But if there is a human or, better still, a Godly solution, then there is no problem. I say this because divorce is claimed to be the solution to an unsolvable problem in marriage. But as we have seen, there is no problem in marriage. The seeming problem is unmanageable sex, which is no problem because honest men, and even animals, can very well manage it . . . unless, of course, one is a vegetable.

Let me illustrate my point. If, while a wedding is in progress, it is discovered that the ring bearer forgot the rings, since the rings are not of the essence of the marriage and a pair can be easily borrowed from the guests, then there is no problem. But if, during the ceremony, the woman discovers that the man is “gay”, then there is a problem because her only two alternatives are both disadvantageous. On one hand, to continue the wedding is a matrimonial disaster; on the other hand, to expose her discovery would cause a ruse of unforeseen description.

Now, if a wife is being beaten, there is no problem. She can either leave the house and return to her mother or hit the husband back with a frying pan … definitely not with a cleaver. But when there is a tendency towards adultery due to unmanageable sex, then there is a problem because all human solutions have great disadvantages. Like in being gay, the solution to unmanageable sex is spiritual. A divorcee is seeking a human solution to his spiritual illness which is no solution at all. That is like curing a blasted gall bladder with Mercurochrome.

If we are to abolish the indissolubility of marriage because our wife annoys us in our quest for adultery, then we might as well abolish the civil government, the tax bureau, the water bureau and the police force because they annoy us in our quest for self-interest. This will end our problems . . . or it will be the start of bigger problems. Divorce, as a solution, raises up bigger problems.

Making exceptions to rules is dangerous to human affairs; it is never allowed in the Divine sphere. And those who ask exceptions, like divorcees, are usually the least who deserve them. Those who want superior treatment are usually the inferior; and those who think they are extraordinary are usually those below the ordinary. And divorce-seekers think they are superior, extraordinary and thus deserving to be exceptions. Like, if you made this announcement: one who is noble and possessed of a wondrous personality and piercing intelligence may have two wives . . . you will see drunkards, murderers, drug lords, politicians, egotists, lunatics, maniacs, adventurers, thieves and maniac artists lining up.

In the same way, if we declare marriage is for the common “tao” but divorce is for the free, brave and noble, all the scum of the earth will line up for divorce. The real free, brave and noble will stick it out with their marriages, precisely because they are noble . . . and sticking it out will make them look ordinary. A noble soul never separates himself from the tragedy besetting his family; for this he thinks he is ordinary . . . which makes him extraordinary.

The danger with the proposition that marriage is for the common man is that the proud think they are uncommon. The true Christian and noble soul is always an ordinary man; the maniac is the “superman.”

 

Young Love - THE BEGINNINGS OF Fidelity

ONE WHO THINKS OF DIVORCE IS NOT CONSIDERING THE IDEALS OF LOVE, fidelity, keeping of vows, the bonds within the family . . . everything that makes up marriage . . . everything that made up the first innocent and valiant experience of young love, born free in our hearts, which we all thought would never die. Yes, it was meant never to die; in fact it was meant to grow to perfection within marriage.

This is why young lovers keep on making vows and keeping them... because they are lovers. They do the weirdest things to make their protestation of irrevocable love, like carving every tree and vandalizing every rock with their names. They swear by the stars and waves to witness against their infidelities; they tattoo each other with their vows. They behave like madmen . . . mad solely with the idea of binding love . . . which, come to think of it, is not mad after all.

Every lover feels that his love is eternal [for, after all, it is a taste of God Who is Eternal Love] without having to make an oath or vow. Yet not to make a vow is unthinkable among lovers; in fact, they become addicts in making vows. Young love does not want the freedom to make or not to make a vow. They are fierce in chaining themselves with vows . . . funny, at a time they do not need it. Have you thought of this? No wonder Christ wants us to learn from the young. Sadly, though, most of our young behave like the old.

Myths and legends are probably more theological than mythological in portraying man for what he really is — a monster. There is the Centaur — half man, half horse, and the mermaid — half woman, half fish. For unless she is a saint, there is always something fishy in a woman; and unless he is a saint, a man will always horse around. And so the mental rumination of evolution that man descended from the animal is futile. Man is still an animal . . . at least a part of him, like the Centaur, from the waistline down . . . which makes him a monster. If he is all man or all animal he won’t be a monster. A seeker of divorce is a Centaur and you know what Centaurs do. And man’s evolution is indeed moving, but backwards... he is becoming more horse than man. At least the Centaur is man from the waistline up. The modern Centaur is only human in the ears.

Make Up Your Mind

MAN HAS A THOUSAND VOICES WITHIN HIM. Sanity is to know which voice to listen to and which to reject. And the best guide is to choose what makes sense for eternity. Such a man will make extraordinary decisions. He who professes love for country must first think of love for his family, otherwise, he is just a politician.

It is an awesome moment when young lovers carve their names within a heart on a tree because they are witnessing to a moment they believe to be immortal . . . a preview of eternity. I have nothing good to say of moments spent in a civil or Ecclesiastical matrimonial court.

When you play, you bind yourself by the rules . . . there is the fun of it. Golf is no fun if you can drop the ball into the hole with your hands. The fun is in binding yourself to drop it in the most ridiculous way — with an iron that is more often out of control. Yes, you curse, but you abide by the rules. Though you undergo numberless perils from flying balls, snakes, and heart attacks climbing uphill, golf has its rewards and adventures, real or imagined as they might be. In the same way, if I marry I must follow the rules, otherwise there is no fun in marriage.

The romance in fairy tales is that, amidst the silliness of princes turning into frogs, their ending has an element of reality: “They live happily ever after.” Though I wonder how come they never are wedded; they only dance the waltz. Well, anyhow, a marriage can live happily ever after.

Now, let’s leave fairy tales and myths and talk of Christian marriage. Christian marriage is a school where young lovers grow and mature through a disciplined life, to become Divine lovers. It is the garden where frogs and beasts turn into princes or, better, into saints, where, in the rush of one’s exuberant love, one makes oaths and promises and develops the discipline to keep them. In marriage, we are not asked to do what is unattainable, like loving all mothers-in-law, or to desire what is undesirable, like putting all mothers-in-law under your roof. Its modest, attainable, and desirable goal is simply this: for each one to learn how to love in the schoolhouse of the family . . . and, as a bonus, God has guaranteed all His help. The reason for all the rules in Christian marriage is to grant each couple the freedom to run wild in their mutual love.

CONCLUSION

MARRIAGE IS MEANT TO BE A FORETASTE OF HEAVEN here on earth; let us not turn it into a hell. Let us love the blessings of marriage: the offspring and the fidelity that we need most in our old age . . . and of course the sacramental bond that makes our marriage Catholic. Let us love our children, not so much because they are born but because they can be reborn in the life of grace. We marry, not to bear children but to bear saints. Because, unless they become saints, they are born to eternal punishment. Let us love the bond of fidelity which is not lost either through separation or adultery: it is the rarest yet most sought-after quality of man. Let us love the Sacramental bond which makes our marriages a school for modesty, temperance, gravity, self-restraint, chastity, justice, righteousness, reverence, self-control. If we do this, then those who view our family will exclaim: “There is a family where God reigns!” That makes our family just like the Holy Family.




(updated 01-03-02)

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