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Divorce & Annulments

Last week’s article on feeling disconnected was well received. Apparently, there are a lot of people feeling that way. In light of that response, I wanted to share with you something I wrote a while back, but never published, in hopes that it will offer more encouragement for those who are struggling.

 

(September 2009)

 

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wanted to say something so badly, you wanted to jump up and shout it out, but for one reason or another you just couldn’t? I just had that experience at a Sunday mass recently and I really want to share it with you.

 

One of the priests at our parish took some time during his homily to tell the congregation about a mission trip he had taken to Guatemala. I’ve known many people over the years who have made these trips to serve other people, poorer people, and they always come back full of joy and with a more balanced perspective on their own lives, so I suspected this would be the case with our dear parish priest. As it turns out, I was correct and he told many heartwarming stories about how he and the other missionaries cleaned and cared for the homeless in the town they visited. He ended by detailing the need for all of us to be aware of people who were suffering… to make time for them and be generous in helping them. I wanted so much to stand up and shout, “Wait! Don’t go to South America, just look around you! There are people right here who are suffering through a divorce and no one is doing anything for them! They’re all around us every day, trying to heal, trying to rebuild their lives and I guarantee you they wish someone would show them some compassion!”

 

And at another mass, a wonderful woman beginning a ministry for children with special needs announced there were several ways we, as a congregation, could help her get this ministry off the ground. Out of six possible ways to help, one of those was to be more kind during mass by not giving them disdainful looks or judging them. She added that some families with special-needs children stopped coming to mass because they felt judged by the parish community. Again, I had to control myself because all I wanted to do was jump up and shout, “Please extend this kindness to those you know who are divorced! They, too, feel judged and embarrassed and many of them have stopped coming to church because of this!” It was all I could do to keep quiet.

 

 

The separated and divorced community within our church, most of the time, is ignored or forgotten. There are many, many ways to suffer in this world, but I believe that the men, women and children who suffer through the tragedy of divorce are truly the walking wounded of our society. Their battlefield – the home – is the very place that should be an oasis of familial love and tranquility, and the wars they are forced to fight are cruel and unusual punishment. The parish – the very place they should be able to find solace and consolation – is often a lonely and cold place. How in the world is it that our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering alone without even a kind word from their parish family?

 

When a spouse dies, crowds gather, flowers are sent, condolences offered, meals prepared. But when a divorce occurs, none of those supportive actions take place. A single parent, devastated by the betrayal and abandonment of his or her spouse does not receive visits from neighbors bringing dinner. A husband or wife trying to make sense out of the sudden and unjust loss of their marriage receives no cheerful bouquets of flowers, no one calling “just to check-in.” The pain they must deal with wreaks havoc on every level of their existence and yet, they are ignored or even worse, expected to just “get over it” and get on with life.

 

 

I believe that if you are suffering through the pain of divorce right now, whether you are in the initial throes or years past, your suffering is a blessing that will lead you to heaven – if you allow it to. The strength, courage, and resilience it takes to live your life in the face of so much that is against you is amazing and you those who know you will certainly learn great lessons from your example.

 

Don’t ever give up hope, don’t ever feel that you are not an important member of the Body of Christ, and certainly, don’t ever doubt the love that Christ has for you, especially in your suffering.

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13 Comments

  1. Vivienne-926474 April 18, 2013

    Sometimes when I go to Mass with my children and feel alone and betrayed, then the truth kicks in: Jesus is here and that He is really all that is necessary to get my radiance back.

  2. Pat-5351 April 18, 2013

    All of these feelings apply just as much to those who have never been married and are isolated and feel alone too and want to shout out, I am right here, don’t you see how much I am hurting too?

    But no, we have groups for the divorced and annulled at most every parish, but do most parishes have a group for those who are not married (other than the YAM type stuff)? No.

    So while I am posting, I also don’t see why we have so much emphasis in this blog on the divorced–the unmarried suffer just as much, and there is very little specially posted to address our situation.

    I am sorry if people had marriages end, and maybe half of everyone on here is divorced, so that is why 1/2 of this blog is addressed to the divorced every week, or maybe it is just that Lisa is the most prolific of the bloggers, but even in this discussion, here is yet another group that is called out to be specially cared for (the divorced) while the never married (who have done everything right in terms of living their life in accordance with the teachings of the church), sit unacknowledged, unaffirmed, and not ministered to in the least.

    • Michael-780154 April 19, 2013

      Heheh. I know of ONE parish in the Tampa area that has a Young Adults Ministry. Sad, really. If I didn’t work rotating shifts, I’d start such a group at my parish. It is truly sad that it seems the Church forgets about those of us so wanting to build a family grounded in our faith. How do all these Catholics meet and marry? What about those of us who can’t seem to find someone?

    • Gordon D. April 20, 2013

      Hi Pat, I like your thoughts! Every Single should be included. Everyone is looking for that someone special! http://www.SmartAlternativesLLC.blogspot.com. God Bless! Gordon

  3. Adam-918483 April 18, 2013

    Well said. It had to be said. Personally, the words of Christ informing that in heaven none are married nor given in marriage, both stump my feelings for and make me reassess marriage. Family and church are ideally identical life of being connected just how we are supposed to be, is how this seems to me. Christ shocked witnesses by living truly connected to those in hurting, overlooked. If we don’t overlook our king, our church won’t overlook us. “Wheat from the chaff”. Christ answered this for us.

  4. Marie-958315 April 19, 2013

    Yes, it is so true it happen to me several years ago I went throught a very dificult divorse and I was going to my local Catholic Church, caming in and going out crying out for help or just for some one to listen, but NO ONE came to me and asked me what is wwrong they see me crying as i walked in and as I walked out but, NO ONE had the heart to give me a hug or ask ” how are you doing? how can I help”. so after a while I stoped going to that church and I started going to a Christian Church I could NOT beleive the level of love I got there, the very firstday everyone was welcomig me with hugs I felt so important and wanted there. everyone was praying for me wanting to help and giving me what I was missig at the Cathic church Im so sorrry that i had to go through this, but I gain OUR GOD…
    To this day I go the this Christian Church and I love it . I have made so many friends and I now love OUR LORD MORE THEN EVER AND OUR GOD IS EVERYTHING TO ME..I praise GOD for this eperience…I got to now the LORD…
    BLESSINGS TO ALL, MAY GOD BLESS..

    • Michael-780154 April 19, 2013

      Marie, indeed, I am considering having to make the same move. Every single Catholic church I turn to has nothing for “single again” people who are hurting and so desparately want to rebuild a family with our Church at the center. There is ONE Young Adults group in Tampa. Having just crossed over 40, I’m now too old. Another closer to me only goes to age 35. As though men and women over 35 don’t want to marry and have children.

      So… I am beginning to look around for a Christian church in the area. Though I intend to continue attending mass, I’ve given up the notion that the Catholic church can provide me with a wife and now feel compelled to take my search elsewhere (and pray She will convert.)

  5. Ed-501357 April 19, 2013

    I agree with Pat. Quite often at my parish and I suspect others as well, all activities seem to be family oriented. There’s really nothing offered for singles, who have never married and if you don’t have kids, you’re basically invisible.

  6. Diana-956573 April 19, 2013

    Lisa, thank you for always posting different articles. This article made me realized that there is also Divorced memeber of the church that we need to pay attention too. I love to volunteer and help others in whatever I can but I think I neglected to look around me at the church or at the adoration to know if there is someone who just need a listening ear or a hug.

    Pat, I understand what you’re saying. I think we need to have a core group at each parish for the single man and women. I am glad that I found a community it is Singles For Christ. (I am not sure if I am allowed to say the name of our community here)

    Marie- I can feel what you experienced and I am glad that you love our God and He touched your heart and life.

    This catholic match helped me to gain more knowledge about God aside from my community,parish and own research. It makes me aware that it’s not only me or the other single men and women are looking for the God’s gift (partner in life) but also the divorced and widowed. I am grateful to be here and have you all! :)

  7. Joan-461057 April 19, 2013

    I love my faith and enjoy my church. That being said, I must admit that the Catholic Church as a whole doesnt do a good outreach job for ANY special groups. I live in an area that is not very Catholic but is heavy on what I used to call “pop up” churches (churches that someone just says one day “lets have a church”! and so they do. If you are Catholic, There is a good chance you have been part of the largest club in the world all your life and take it for granted. Most of us that are unhappy about the lack of interest in our special need also do not throw ourselves into volunteering in church activities because we either take it for granted that someone else will do it, or we feel unwanted and therefor dont volunteer.
    The same problem plagues the more traditional Prostestant churhes as well. But the “popups” (also referred to as “Christian” as if we were not the original Christians) REALLY work hard on attracting all different groups, because they have to build a congregation. They outreach to gays, divorced, singles, widowed and of course parents with children.
    I’d like to suggest to my church that they take one year and pretend they have to double their congregation to survive and then see how many unsatisfied needs are addressed. I would do that nyself but I’m busy and I’m sure someone else will do it. (See what I mean?)
    If you are hurting as a divorced person or a parent with special needs kids or a widow, go to the church council and ask them to sponser you in starting a group. That’s one way to insure that a group gets started.

  8. Lesley-158563 April 19, 2013

    I hold tight to my faith, but the Episcopals do throw a mighty nice picnic!

  9. Maggie-900710 April 21, 2013

    The comments I’ve read make mention of “the church”. Please be reminded that UNITY is the essence of the church. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. As a result of disagreements (such as those mentioned in this discussion), large communities become separated from the full communion with the Catholic Church which often has man is to blame. Remember that Christ bestowed unity on his church which we, the faithful and clergy alike, must keep by praying and working to maintain, reinforce and perfect the unity that Christ wills. So, let’s work on keeping the unity…

  10. Lavidaesbella-916159 April 23, 2013

    Beautiful. Very true and encouraging. Thanks for sahring it.

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