“I remain Catholic through divorce because of Jesus Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and in my every day.”
If someone had asked a week ago why I remain Catholic through divorce I’d have given the above answer.
Jesus Christ will always be the main reason I am Catholic, but I owe the Lord and other divorced Catholics more than this simple answer. There is so much more to the Catholic faith than “just” Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist – as if that wasn’t enough!
10 Reasons to Remain Catholic Through Divorce
Adherence to the Bible
Bibles are not meant to be put on a shelf for display. They are meant to be read and noted and reflected upon, and many of today’s Catholics are returning to the Bible. They realize that the Sunday readings are straight from the Bible and that they still apply today.
Other churches denominations often quote and study the Bible, but the Catholic church adheres to the Bible in an unequaled manner. Examples of this adherence are seen in the Love Catholics have for the Savior’s mother, Mary, the confession of sins, and in the continuing presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Love of Mary, Our Mother
A single mother has no greater role model than Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. While none of us is born without sin like she was, we can be forgiven and begin living like Mary from this day forward. We can attempt to imitate her devout love, simple humility, her chaste purity, her trust in the Lord, her willingness to say yes to whatever path the Lord planned for her.
We are told in the 10 Commandments to Honor our Mothers, and, if Jesus is our Salvation, then Mary is the Mother of our Salvation and we honor her with our love. As Jesus hung on the cross, He gave His Mother to his beloved disciple, telling him to take her as his own. What individual does not want his Mother to be loved and adored? Jesus wants us to love His mother. We owe adoring love for the mother of Jesus because of Jesus’ Love for her. Catholics do not worship Mary the way we do the Trinity, but we do love and appreciate her as Jesus wants us to.
The Rosary’s Sorrowful Mysteries
I used to think the Rosary was just a lengthy, somewhat mindless recitation of prayers to Mary, but divorce drove me back to the Rosary and I learned that each bead represents an aspect of Jesus’ life. The Sorrowful Mysteries, said on Tuesdays and Fridays, ask the faithful to reflect upon the most painful part of Jesus’ existence.
The divorced and abandoned can take comfort in knowing it was no coincidence that Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. Jesus is close to the broken-hearted because He knows the pain of being abandoned by those who claimed to love Him most. By saying the Rosary and reflecting on that time, we draw closer to our Lord knowing we are not alone in our suffering and that even though we, like the disciples at the time of the crucifixion, may not see benefit to our loss, the Lord can use our suffering for tremendous good when we Trust Him unconditionally.
Forgiveness through Confession
Before moving on from the pain of divorce, it is necessary to seek and offer forgiveness. In John 20:23, Jesus gave the power to absolve sins, not in the name of the individual apostles, but in the name of God. Catholic priests hold what is said in the confessional in silence. They realize Confession makes them no more than an intercessory and that it is the Lord who forgives sins using the priests’ words and prayers only as the delivery method.
Seeking forgiveness from a spouse during a divorce is sometimes impossible, seeking forgiveness from a priest grants that forgiveness from the Lord who is far more worthy than an ex-spouse, but at the same time, it is very humbling to seek forgiveness, to admit to wrongdoings when the other person is guilty of far greater wrongs.
It seems counter-intuitive to seek a humbling in Confession while being torn apart by divorce. It seems as though a strengthening, not a humbling is necessary, and yet, when we seek the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, especially those wrongdoings that desecrated the sacred marital vows, we are washed clean, born anew, given a chance to start over. We learn that this is truly the first day of the rest of our lives. We are not a product of our past mistakes and failures, in Confession, we are given a new chance at life. It is through this humbling that we find strength.
Nowhere is this humbling as clear as is in the Catholic faith. Nowhere does the confession of sins inspire one to sin less in the future. We know one day each of us will have to stand before the Lord and be held responsible for our thoughts and actions. Confession allows us to know what that will be like and to turn to the Lord for His Divine Mercy without waiting for Judgement Day.
The Eucharist –
Catholics take the Word of Jesus literally, knowing He does not deliver empty phrases, but promises full of His unending Love for us. When Jesus said, “This is my body…This is my blood.” He didn’t say, “This is like my body…This is like my blood.” He said this IS.
In John 6: 48-71, Jesus says that He is TRUE food, and we see many disciples shrug this off as strange and decide to no longer follow Him. Eating the body of Christ is strange. It is uncommon and different and unique; it is part of what separates Jesus’ followers from those who don’t quite understand the sacrifice that the Lord has made for us and continues to make for us or His desire to remain physically with us for all time. It is accepting the impossible to understand power that allows Christ to come to us every time we take the Eucharist. It is accepting the humanly impossible power of Love that can only result from Christ Divine that allows the Living Son to return Mass after Mass for as long as we call upon Him to do so. It is the absolute trust Catholics place in the Lord despite their inability to understand fully. It is our expression of Love for our Brother who Loves us beyond our understanding.
In the insanity of divorce, voices of the world bombard from every side. Advice (wanted and not, valid and not, well-meaning and definitely not) and judgement (by family and friends, by our church communities, and worst of all by ourselves) scream, deafening us to all but defeat devastation, and worthlessness.
Jesus knew the despair of the broken hearted as He prayed in the Garden, and during this hour of greatest need He asked the disciples to keep watch for an hour, to sit by Him while He prayed. The disciples fell asleep on the job, succumbing to weakness of the flesh by sleeping, but today, we are given the opportunity to sit with Jesus, to be awake, to keep Him company, to let Him know of our appreciation for His Mercy and to allow Him to comfort and console us while we enjoy His presence.
It’s easy to get bogged down by negative voices, but in the silence of Adoration, there is a peace in the stillness, a place to find calm in the storm. That place is by the side of the Savior; no where else is that possible in the same way as it is in the silence of Adoration.
The Rosary’s Glorious Mysteries
The Glorious Mysteries, said every Sunday and Wednesday, begin with the Resurrection! Amazing, that Jesus helped the blind to see and the lame to walk, cured the sick, raised the dead, and chased away demons, and yet the most glorious part of Jesus’s life is what occurred after He died!
Divorce can feel like a part of you is dying, but, through the Glorious Mysteries, we are reminded that death isn’t often what it seems and that the best may be yet to come.
While there may be many reasons to leave the Catholic church, the reasons to stay are far greater. Those reasons to stay may be more needed by the divorced than by other populations. At a time when the world is shifting under you, when there is little stable to hold onto, and when you are searching for answers, the Catholic church is a rock, solid, unmoving, unshakable. The Catholic faith holds no ambiguity and, although it is run by imperfect people, the basis of the Catholic Church itself needs no perfecting. As founded by Jesus Christ, the basis of our belief is perfect as the Lord is perfect.
If you have been abandoned or divorced, you know the desolation that causes. We all know others who, once abandoned, seek the love of another in the wrong places. We also know others who swear off the opposite sex, closing their hearts off to future love because of begin burned once. Don’t make the same mistake with your faith. There are some issues with the Catholic church, but it is Good and Loving and Solid and you are an important part of the church body. You are needed in the Catholic church. You are Loved. You Are NOT alone in the Catholic church.
Please feel free to add your own comments about why you remain/became Catholic or about questions or obstacles you face in turning to the Catholic faith. I will do my best to answer you.
Be still. Listen. Wait. The Lord is calling you,
“Catholic, Come Home…”
SUBSCRIBE to Single Mom Smiling’s monthly newsletter and follow here to catch every post!
And, as always, thanks for commenting, liking, following, and sharing!