“They think of marriage as something that lasts for ‘as long as we both shall want,’ not ‘as long as we both shall live,’” said Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. Others’ is.” Buying into cultural misconceptions like that one, as well as misconceptions about God, marriage and the meaning of life, aren’t just problematic because they can lead people to divorce.
Much of the reason for that, said Frese, is that “Catholics have been infected by the culture’s idea that we’re somehow entitled to happiness. They’re also problematic because they can lead people to rush into new relationships, believing that’s the answer to their unhappiness, ignore the Church’s teachings on chastity, and repeat past mistakes, mistakes which more often than not cut them off from the Church and the sacraments.
“They’ve bought into a fake image of what it means to be loving. “There needs to be a big move within the Church to not focus too heavily on triage,” said Sweet.
They’ve defined ‘good’ as never making waves and defined ‘kind’ as not saying anything that would make the other person uncomfortable.” “But,” she continued, “Jesus often made people squirm in their seats. “We need to shove a sucker in their mouth, then get them on operating table.” That is to say, in order for divorce ministry to truly be effective, it can’t end with cookies and a hug.
“Helping them let go of all that, and see that what they’re truly longing for is Jesus, takes some work.” So does overcoming some fundamental problems of catechesis. ” (Journey of Hope Productions, .99), that catechetical challenge starts with countering the idea that being a divorced Catholic is an oxymoron.
According to Vince Frese, co-author with Lisa Duffy of “Divorced. “Many people believe that if they’re divorced, they can’t be Catholic anymore,” Frese told Our Sunday Visitor.
And that challenge is made all the greater by the pre-existing wounds most divorced people bear — wounds from habitual sin before and during marriage, wounds from the culture or wounds from their own parents’ troubled marriages.
Most Catholics, divorced or otherwise, think they know the Church’s answers to those questions. Many also have bought into an idea of marriage that isn’t about the two spouses helping each other grow in holiness, but rather about each person’s own personal happiness. Our personal happiness is not supposed to be at the top of the list.
“In the immediate aftermath of divorce, you feel like you’re not wanted by anybody,” said Greg Mills, president of Catholic Divorce Ministry (formerly the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics).
“Your self-worth is zero.” Helping people address those wounds is a serious challenge for most priests and lay ministers, many who have little to no background in counseling.
And it’s a good first step for those going through divorce. “Divorced Catholics are suffering in a different way,” said Craig Dyke, who chairs the Diocese of Peoria’s advisory board for divorced and widowed ministry.
“They’re dealing with anger, hurt, frustration and the misconception that the Church has turned her back on them. They need to hear the Church’s teaching in all its strength.” To make matters worse, however, plenty of Catholics involved in ministering to the divorced and separated don’t want to give that.