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Blog – Divorced Catholic Dads

Mar 16

When a wife leaves for another woman – Another Story

My friends, it seems that Jose’s story is not unique, as the dialogue with Bill below shows.  In this case, his wife has not left physically, but in every other way.  Unfortunately for him and the children, I suspect that the damage is worse because of it, as they have been living a lie for so long.  Here is the dialogue as it has occured to this point.

Again, I would ask you to post in the comments on the web site rather than email.  Thanks.

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From: webmaster

To: dave

Subject: Submitted Form Report

Divorced Catholic Dads

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Name: Bill

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Comments:

Dear Dave,

I have been married for 19 years with 2 kids (Daughter 1x and son 1x).

When our son was 3, he was diagnosed to be mildly autistic and underwent chemotherapy for leukemia (AML)as well. When he was 13, he was had epilepsy and he is still on medication. He is now in remission for his leukemia. Praise the Lord!!

As Asians, English is not our spoken language and we were not Christians.

We converted to Catholicism back in 20xx when our son was healed by Jesus through intercessions from our Holy Mother.

Since day 1, the foundation of our marriage was rather weak. There were hardly any serious husband-wife communications; very infrequent physical intimacies…I was basically a loner. When our daughter was about 6 months old, I found stacks of photos and love letters addressed to her…..from several women. Some of them were even in our home whike I was out working.

Our marriage started to collapse when our son was diagnosed with leukemia in 20xx. We could not handle the stress….were were not intimate but over 2 years. Our marriage somehow improved when our son recovered and after our baptism.

However, I guess she could not leave her alternative lifestyle behind and recently, I discovered she was seeing another woman, she had also placed postings for “woman-seeking-women” websites, transferred funds to another woman etc….Yes, she is a home-maker and presumably, she is using her allowances (from me) to support her partner/s financially. Our communications these days is non-existent. Just a casual “Hi, how was your day?”

I have spoken to my parish priest and he advised me to pray and persevere; offer my sufferings to Jesus….I have been doing that all these years and never gave up.

I have gone into depression and have insomia. I am seeking a shrink and on medication. I feel much better now.

I plan to initiate divorce proceedings in 3-4 years time when my daughter turns 21-22.

I just dont know if divorce is the way to go actually. I am afraid of hurting my kids.

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From: Dave
Sent: Thursday, March 15
To: Bill
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads post

Bill,

My heart breaks to read your story.  As you know from reading the blog, you are not alone in suffering this particular situation.

In this place of suffering, Jesus means to draw you close, to a place of peace, no matter what is going on around you.  Priority #1: Take the time to avail yourself of the Sacraments of Confession and Eucharist.  In Confession the clouding effects of sin are wiped away making the soul receptive to grace and light and wisdom that comes from the Body of Christ in Eucharist.  My first priority in suffering is to draw closer the Lamb who walked the Passion in great suffering, but tremendous inner peace.  “My peace I give you, my peace I leave you.  Not as the world gives peace…”  He will grant you that peace as you need it.

Bill, this is not a psychological struggle, although certainly I know myself the depression that comes from suffering emotional and psychological pain.  No, this is primarily a spiritual struggle and a mighty one at that.  You need all the spiritual armor you can get.  Then you need to ‘gird you loins, pick up the shield and spear’ of the Spirit and fight it like a man of God.   With gentleness and humility and compassion, yes, but the uncompromising truth.  The spear of truth is the Light of Christ shining on darkness and evil.

So the question is, how do you handle the fact that your wife is cheating on you and has been for some time? Maybe, and likely even before the marriage? Whether it is a woman or a man is not important, the fact is that she has broken the marriage vows and lives the lie of infidelity.

You say you are afraid of hurting your kids, but the reality is that they are already being hurt by living in the situation.  They see it, sense it and know it deep within themselves.  At the moment, everyone in the house is living a lie.  The home should be spiritual school of the heart – a place to school the family on the art of living a holy life, not one of living in deception.  Which is the greater hurt, to evade reality, give in to the lie and let evil have a footing in the family, or confront the reality and let the human emotions suffer a little?  Truth in love must always win out.

You obviously have a tremendous amount of strength to persevere for so long, but that has worked against you, as you have allowed this lie to go on for so long.  It also sounds like you have a lot of compassion which you will need going forward.

I think you will need to know what your options are ahead of time, but somehow, the objective of restoring the marriage so that Christ is integral to it must be the focus.  The Sacrament is not a two way deal.  It is three way, three persons.  The two of you bonded to Christ and each other with His grace.  Otherwise, there is no marriage, just cohabitation, a lie in and of itself.

You are worried about whether divorce is the right thing?  I would not worry so much about that, as it may be that there was never a valid marriage in the first place.  I would focus on determining how to restore it, if that is even possible.  Christ will show you the way.

What is really at stake here, Bill, is the salvation of souls.  Yours, your wife’s and your children.  And then the souls of all those who know you and your family.  The children need to be rooted in truth and love, and see you as compassionate and loving.  Perhaps your wife has an addiction and needs help – you may be the only one who can save her.  Christ has made His Presence known in your lives – you are now Catholic and He means to manifest His will in your lives.  Could it be that He is asking you to reach out in love to draw her back into His will?  What if her salvation is dependent on you?  Then it is urgent that you approach Him and seek His will.

Don’t look for wisdom in how to handle this from the world.  Yes, priests and lawyers and psychologists can have some practical advice, but the real wisdom you seek is the wisdom from the Spirit.  Look at some of the advice on how to do that on the blog.  There are a number of posts along those lines.  See also the DECIDE TODAY post.

Peace

Dave

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Sent: Friday, March 16
To: Dave
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads post

Dave,

I believe my wife and I are suffering in silence. Both of us are waiting for each other to ‘push the button’ and I feel that it is now appropriate that I initiate it.

You are right. Both of us have been acting out and lying to ourselves. We hold hands when we are out and we acted as though we are a happy family. At home, she stays in the living and me, in the bedroom.

We do not share our thoughts and at most, it’s very casual conversation like “what’s on TV?” or “what’s for dinner?”.We do have family dinners together and that’s the closest family time we have.

We have been sleeping separately for 3 years due to the fact that our son has early morning epileptic attacks and need someone to be with him. So, bedding arrangement is such that I sleep with my son in the master-bedroom and she, with our daughter. So, we have not been intimate since then.

Our 1st year of marriage in 19xx was pure hell for me. I didn’t understand why she set up “Sex Rules” …..no intimacy on weekdays; only on Saturdays IF she’s not tired. If she is then I will have to wait for the following weekend! Frequency was about once every 2 months if I was lucky. Subsequently, the frequency was further reduced till in 20xx, she told me that she doesn’t like doing it anymore.

Before my treatment for depression in Jan 20xx, I was angry with her for her emotional and mental abuse she had caused me. Before my baptism in 20xx, I felt it was justified to have my own flings and I did, out of spite and revenge. When I gave up these flings, I resorted to masturbation to curb my sexual needs. I felt miserable going for weekly Confessions as I was crucifying Jesus each time I succumb to these acts. I struggled with this addiction and prayed to Jesus to stop it.

I was also suffering from low self-esteem as I felt I was a failure as a man. My ego was bruised and battered. I developed excessive and uncontrollable retail therapy piling up credit-card debts of over $150,000. Fortunately, I was able to convert the outstanding amount to a 5-year bank loan paying $2,500/monthly. I am now in my 3rd year of the loan.

Since  taking Lexapro and Zipoclone in Jan 20xx, my libido has diminished significantly and I no longer resort to masturbation. My compulsive spending has also stopped and I feel much better now.

I have also forgiven her and released her from my anger and bitterness. I try to spend quiet times with the Lord and go for daily evening Mass. I meet up with my Spiritual Director from Opus Dei monthly to discuss over issues and get spiritual nourishment from him.

As for the divorce plans, I intend to discuss with my lawyer on the options available. My wife does not know that I have details of the funds transfer, her web-postings and that she was seen with another woman in a shopping mall. She still thinks everything is fine. I would like to avoid all these revelations and work towards an amicable and mutual agreement where we can still remain friends.

I am certain that if her secrets were out in the open, she will categorically deny them and may even devastate her. Being openly gay in this part of Asia may not be socially accepted. I still care for her well-being and I pray for the wisdom and guidance for the Holy Spirit to help me make the right decisions.

I am actually confused. Has the Lord recognized of my tolerance and perseverance all these years and is He revealing to me all these “evidences” for me to take action? Does He have other plans for me? As an Asian and a Catholic, divorce was never an option for me all this time. I always believe divorce is a very selfish act by adults who only think of their own happiness without any concern or love for their children. I am beginning to think otherwise now as my health is now affected and it’s my responsibility to make things right.

I have told her many times that I would like to grow old together with her but I guess that was never in her plans.

Regards, Bill

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From: Dave
Sent: Friday, March 16
To: Bill
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads post

Bill,

Your story comes at a very interesting time.  I just received an email from Jose, whose story you see on the blog.  (I know the blog is pathetic.  I am working on it.) He has been through something very similar and here is part of the result:

 

God has blessed me immensely and I am moving forward with my life.

 Since the last time I spoke to you I enrolled in a Christian College and started taking MINISTRY Classes here in Texas.

 I am actually working on my MASTERS in Mediation and will be completing  it in September.

My daughter is staying more frequently with me, and she has very little to do with her mom. She finally revealed to me,  that they found out their mom had been lying to them the whole time. God has helped her reconcile with me and seeing the truth. My favorite bible verse- ROMANS 8:18 I consider the present sufferings not compared to the future glory that will be revealed to me..

AS you know the course of events what I went through and where God has been leading me…I am very blessed and being obedient and following his word. ROMANS 12:1 Being Transformed with my life and proving what is good and acceptable to the will of God. 

I now can see GOD had a purpose and moving all the evil away from me. It was very painful during that time,  and I know I persevered with his help and with several people who were supportive of me throughout all of this. .

 

 

In Jose’s life, like yours, it was a homosexual wife.  She refused to be helped and turned the children against him initially. But you see the fruit of it.  From a destroyed man to a free and ‘resurrected’ man.

The truth has to come out.  I cannot speak for anyone and certainly not for the church, but I question the validity of the marriage in the first place given the unexpressed pre-conditions she had on sex and her more than likely addiction to homosexuality before entering the marriage.  The question needs to be asked, does she want help?  It seems to me that you have endured terrible suffering, but also perpetuated, as I did myself, an untruth.  In my case, the marriage should have ended 6 months in, although we were both Catholic and I never even knew anyone who had been divorced.  Yes, and we pretended a lot, putting on a good public face.  And yes, the denial of sex was one of the weapons she used, as sometimes it was years in between.

The question now is one of truth and saving souls.  Yours first, and those of your children and finally your wife’s if she is open to the truth.  Secrets must be made to be in the open.  Perhaps it is an addiction that needs treatment and you are the only one who can reach her.  But maybe it will be ‘tough love’ – she may have to lose it all and hit bottom by herself before she wakes up.

We are all in need of conversion – on a daily basis.  And you are in need of a very deep conversion to get very, very close to the Heart of Christ for what shall come.  It is good that you have this season of Lent to reflect on the Passion and the Way of the Cross, because that is to become your way.  Remember, He walked the entire Way of the Passion without any resentment, anger, bitterness or violence.  Just the Peace from the Father through the strength of the Spirit.  So must our walk of our own be, although we will fall as we fail at it, but that is the lesson of the Way of the Cross.

As the Peace of Christ becomes more of who you are, you will lose your anxiety and perhaps the need for compensations like spending, sex, food, etc. and maybe even the medications at some point (only a Dr. can tell you that).

As I mention elsewhere on the blog, there are some very good resources at Direction for Our Times.  You can purchase the books or even download for free.  http://www.directionforourtimes.org/library/  They were instrumental in rekindling my spiritual life.  In particular, you should read the Booklet on Divorce.  I would also recommend Volumes I and II.  I have read them all and they are superb.  Vol. II is for meditation.

I am here for you and obviously you are in my prayers. Your brothers in Christ can walk with you along this path.  I think our discussion will be valuable for other Divorced Catholic Dads.

Peace,

Dave

 

Mar 15

When a wife leaves for another woman

Dear readers,

I have been having an on-going dialogue with Jose in Texas via email, as he used the ‘Contact Us’ page instead of commenting on one of the posts.  I have asked his permission to post our dialogue, and he has granted it.  Following is that dialogue:

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Name: Jose

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Comments:

I would like to talk or chat with other dads who have spouses who left with another woman. I cannot understand how or why after 25 years of marriage, how did this happen?  Why was I blind to this in our marriage? I trusted my wife, and didn’t think she would do this to me…

Jose

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From: dave

Sent: Thu, January 7
Subject: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Jose,

I am REALLY sorry to hear that your wife left with another woman, particularly given that you were married so long.

Yes, she did it to you, but in a way she did not…  She has done it to herself and the devastation she will endure will be terrible.  I can only pity her and pray for her that she will not lose her soul to her disordered passions.

Why were you blind to this?  I have learned painfully that I cannot know another person’s heart and even if I could, I am often too absorbed in my own interests that I miss a lot of the signals and warnings.  I have learned that only deep prayer can keep my heart, mind and soul sensitive enough to be aware of other’s needs.  The more I pray, the more aware I am.

Jose, do you mind if we put this discussion on the comments on the web site?  Then others will be attracted to your comments and you will be able to chat with others who have had the same experience.

Let me know.

Peace

Dave at Divorced Catholic Dads

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Sent: Friday, January 08
To:dave
Subject: Re: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

That’s fine….I want the whole world to know what kind of woman this is…..

I know that God has a plan to show her a lesson, and I hope it’s not through the kids..

I know vengeance is His and it is mighty & swift….

She didn’t even want to go speak to our priest at our church.. she noted ” I DONT WANT TO GO SEE THAT MAN”!!!  It’s awful how she has lost her faith and a sense of religion in her heart….

THANKS

Jose

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To: jose
Sent: Fri, January 8
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Jose,

And so it falls to you to be what God, what Christ, calls you to be, alone.  He calls you to be holy and the example of Christianity to your wife and children.  It is especially now, in this time of your greatest suffering, that He holds out the greatest graces to you.

Be the best Catholic man you can be.  Now is the time for you to be a man.  A man of Christ.  Just think of how He responded both to the prostitutes and to the soldiers who tortured and killed him.  He was compassionate.  And that is our example.

Pray, pray, pray and then pray more for courage, strength and wisdom.  And your brother Divorced Dads will pray with and for you as well.

Dave

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Sent: Saturday, January 09
To: dave
Subject: Re: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Its that I’m hurting so much….I’m trying not to go to the lawyer and file for the divorce yet..I’m still hoping that God will intervene, in just as small as a  mustard seed.

My kids at time are rude & ugly to me when I call them…I just blow it off so
I can hear & speak to them…My son called me last night to ask me for money, he had his car impounded for outstanding tickets…I told him I would help him, but he later called me and told me no after all….I just wish I could talk to my wife to apologize and communicate with her..She doesn’t want to have anymore conversation with me.  I asked my daughter and she said mom says no…I feel like their intent is to break me down emotionally…I’m praying constantly to keep from this happening…

I wish there were some more brothers here in HOUSTON to help me…

Regards

Jose

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To: jose
Sent: Sun, January 10,
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Jose,

I understand the hurt.  Actually, my wife left me 5 times before she finally left the last time and filed for divorce.

If you are “still hoping God will intervene”, then in my experience, I found I  needed to open myself as much as I could to hear Him.  So I went to confession and Mass to receive the Eucharist.  I did not want any stain of sin clouding my interior vision or my ability for my heart to hear His word to me.  As I said before, God has great graces for you in this time of suffering.  He will never allow anything in our lives that He does not also provide sufficient graces if we will be open to them.

This is a time when it is VERY important to be in tune with the graces God has for you in this time of suffering.  Offer your emotional, psychological and human suffering for your sins and the sins of your wife.  Yes, you will suffer in your hurt and react humanly, and that is only normal.  Or you can suffer in your hurt and react with the grace of God – spiritually.  Just recognize that your emotions are normal human reactions, but separate the spirit from the flesh within yourself.  Let the suffering rip your flesh apart from your spirit and put your will in the spiritual side.

I had no one to help me.  Many times I cried out to God for someone here locally to help me, but there was no one.  No family, no friends.  Just me and Jesus and Mary and my parish priest.  Can you find a parish priest who can help?

I will still work at putting this dialog on the blog so that perhaps someone in Houston will see it and maybe put the two of you in touch.

Peace

Dave

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Sent: Monday, January 11
To: dave
Subject: Re: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Could you explain to me a little bit more in detail how I can separate the emotional, psychological, and physical sense…   I feel like I want to give up on my kids since they protected her and went on her side.  My priest at church told  me I have been betrayed 3 times:  1- my wife 2- next, my kids  3rd – my friend from work whom I introduced to my wife, the lesbian.

Everyone else around me tells me I didn’t do anything wrong, it was my wife who just left like a thief in the night. She never gave me a chance to try to work things out.  I kind of suspected it might have been her boss if not the lesbian friend .  She met someone who was able to give her the intimacy we lacked in our marriage.

Jose

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To: jose
Sent: Mon, January 11
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Jose,

I want you to do a short exercise.  Say a short prayer – Our Father or Hail Mary and ask the Spirit to help you.  Then, for a moment, close your eyes and then ‘step away from your body’.  Look at what you see.  A hurting guy and ……….  Describe it to yourself.  That is your humanity suffering – emotional, psychological and physical.  But that is NOT your soul, your spirit, which is with you as you stepped away.

Then you can see what Jesus sees.  A guy who is hurting emotionally, psychologically and physically, even.  But that is JUST your humanity, which is not eternal and will die some day.  Your soul, the spiritual part of you is what will live forever, and the destiny of your soul is based on the choices you make – your decisions, particularly at this moment.

When you do this, then you have a way to separate the spirit from the flesh.  And you can have pity for the humanity part of you without getting sucked into letting it drive your thoughts and actions.  Pray for the strength to go there often.  Then the great graces God is offering you in this moment of great suffering will give you peace and sanity.  You can, with God’s grace, look at the situation with peace, objectivity, and detachment.  Pray for detachment.

Pray for God’s wisdom.  The world has no wisdom compared to God’s.  Look around you at your own condition and the condition of the world.  This is wisdom?  It is pathetic.  No, God means to give you wisdom.  His.  And He is with you.  NOW.  And at every moment.

OK, so you, like me are a sinner and were not the best you could be in your marriage, and lacked some degree of intimacy.  EVERY man who ever was married and walked the earth with the exception of St. Joseph, was the same way in their marriage – not perfect for what our wives needed.  You have lots of company.  It is normal to fail in what we were called to by the Sacrament of Marriage.  God is supposed to be the Third Person in our marriage around whom we both center our relationship.  So, as you look at your own sin and weakness, your failings in the marriage that were not what Christ called you to, then be honest with yourself and Him and make a confession.  So I disagree with your family and friends:  yes, you did do something wrong in your marriage, but every husband can say the same thing.  Start with the realization that your sin and weakness was a contributor to the situation, just as your wife’s was.  And make a good confession.  That is key to coming to peace.  It is the building block, the foundation.

I would say it perhaps differently than your priest.  Your wife betrayed herself, the Sacrament of Marriage, and Jesus, not you.  You are not her god and were never meant to be.  That is ‘possessive’ of her and the relationship.  In marriage, we give ourselves to each other to be helpmates and stewards to each other and our children to get to heaven.  We do not own each other or our children.  That is the disorder of our culture.  We become so possessive of our wives and children that we become addicted in a way, and when they are taken from us for whatever reason, then we act like drug addicts going into withdrawal.  Sound familiar?

To say she betrayed you is correct perhaps from the human standpoint, but not from the spiritual or eternal standpoint.  No, she did not betray you, if you understand what I mean.  She betrayed only herself, the Sacrament and God.  Pray for her conversion.

And your children did not betray you.  They were manipulated, perhaps and maybe even, seeing the marriage from outside, saw where the love they were receiving was coming from because you were gone working or whatever.  But, again, they did not betray you.  When they are old enough to reason right from wrong and have attained spiritual maturity, then they will see the truth, for whatever that is.

And the lesbian did not betray you, but rather, herself and God.  And giving in to her weaknesses and lusts, led someone else astray.  Pray for her conversion.  God’s justice for the unrepentant in eternity (hell) is not something I would wish on anyone.

So no one has betrayed you.  All, including you, just like the rest of us have fallen in sin and weakness.  We betray ourselves, the Sacraments and God.  Once you can understand that, that no one has betrayed you, then you can see more clearly.  We are all responsible for our own decisions.  You cannot blame yourself for your wife’s decisions, or your children’s – or anyone else’s decisions.  You can only take responsibility for your own decisions.

DECIDE TODAY

Decide today.

Decide to let go.

Decide to love.

Decide to pray for conversions for yourself, your wife, your children, the lesbian and everyone supporting them.

Decide to admit the truth about your own sin and weaknesses.

Decide today to struggle for holiness as God is calling you to, particularly now, in this moment.

Decide today not to blame anyone.

Decide today to raise the eyes of your heart and mind to God many times throughout the day and ask Him how you should think and act.

Decide today to accept the grace He is offering you.

Decide to let every action be guided by Him.

Make those decisions today.  And tomorrow and the next day. And EVERY day.

Then Christ, who is the Answer to every dilemma, every question and every struggle, will give you His wisdom and His Peace, a peace the world cannot understand.

The Peace of Christ be with you.

Dave

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From: jose
Sent: Monday, January 11
To: dave
Subject: Re: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

WOW DAVE,

I never really envisioned my soul and detachment of humanity on myself in that light. What comes to mind, is that a lot of this sin could have been avoided.  I myself brought it upon myself for sins not confessed and forgiven. Did I really wholeheartedly ask a true confession for my past transgressions?  Is God showing me and opening my heart up for a true contrite heart to make myself pure for his works?  Does he have a plan he’s going to set me upon to walk through?  I have only concerns for the relationship that has been scarred with the children.  It will only take time like you say until they reach maturity and can grasp the truth “VERITAS”.

I can only hope and try to improve my relationship with the children , when they are ready to come around.  At different times I have reached out to them, and each time I end up getting hurt and feeling worse.  I asked   them to attend Mass this past Sunday and I invited them to breakfast. My daughter never hugged me or spoke to me, and the whole time she was text messaging with her friend or her mom..  My oldest son was on the defense with me and just started arguing about issues going on between me & my wife.  I just feel like just leaving them alone for right now and not to persist anymore contact. I thank you for taking time out of your schedule to help me and guide me with your knowledge and spirit of our Father..

Thank You

Jose

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Sent: Tuesday, January 12
To: jose
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Jose,

WOW God!  You are a ‘beautiful’ soul!  Open to hearing God’s word to you.  If I as a poor schlock and sinner myself can be a conduit, then fine, but it is you who are open and receptive to Him.

Yes, we can both say that much of our sin could have been avoided.  All sin can be avoided.  And a “humble and contrite heart He will not spurn” as scripture says.  I grow in humility, it seems, only by being humiliated humanly before God, others and before myself.  I am not the great and wonderful guy I think I am in my humanity.  An openness to being humiliated, instead of anger and resentment at being humiliated, can lead to the virtue of humility if one is prayerful about it.

And so, our wives and family leaving us is certainly a humiliation.  Seeing my sin in truth for what it is, is a humiliation.  I can never throw a rock at someone else or condemn them, because in the depth of my heart I know my sin and how much worse I am than they could ever be – even if their sin is so open and gross.  My sin is worse because I know God, I have a relationship with Him, and still I commit sin and offend Him terribly.  Who is the worst – the one who is insane and commits murder or one who has full use of their own mind and plans it and carries it out?

So I have gay, lesbian and playboy friends, but I see their sin, their pain they are obviously reacting out of and only have pity for them and pray.  “Lord, they do not know what they are doing.”  But I know what I am doing when I choose sin over obedience.  Who is the worse sinner?  I am.  The realization brings humiliation, insight into the truth, repentance and freedom as I embrace the Mercy of God through His Sacraments.  Then I can stand firm in my faith and be the silent, and sometimes not so silent, witness even as I reach out in friendship and love, praying to draw them into the arms of Christ as someone else did for me.

With truth, humility and God’s abundant Mercy, then I can be pure for His works as you say so accurately.   Repentance and reparation for my sin is the starting point for me to begin a renewed climb of the mountain of holiness.  The mountain we are all called to climb from our baptism.  Jose CAN be holy and grow in holiness each day.  He calls each of us to that.  It is not just for clergy or the saints.  We are all called to holiness.  And He will provide the grace to do it.

This is your moment of grace, in the depth of your pain and suffering.  Open your heart to it at this moment!  Rejoice!  He will fill an empty vessel.  It is your time of ‘kyros’ – your time of grace!  Empty yourself completely before HIM and be open to being filled with Him and His grace.  See with new eyes, hear with new ears, and love with a new heart!

 

Ezekiel 36:26

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.

I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

 

And if you are serving Him with all your heart, mind and soul as scripture says, He will take care of the salvation of your children, and perhaps even heal them in secret ways at the appropriate time.  He WILL take care of the loved ones of his dedicated servants.

It was a good thing to reach out to your children.  They DO need you, even if they do not know it or show it.  YOU must be the calm, peaceful and silent witness to the value and centrality of your Catholic faith and Jesus Christ in your life.  ESPECIALLY now, when they are living in the situation they are in, you must affirm your faith.  By the quiet witness of your life and behavior.  NOW is the time of ‘metanoia’ for you, the time for radical conversion.  Let them not hear it but see it.

In the end, I always make sure that whatever the dilemma, my children know that I turn to my faith for the answer.  Christ IS the answer

Be exceedingly patient, kind and forgiving of them.  They are angry and they have shown it by their behavior.  That is perfectly normal and natural.  They have a right before God to be angry, right?  You and your wife failed them, yourselves and God.   Stay away from loosing yourself in your ‘hurt and feeling worse’.  That is the poison of a fallen humanity.  I deserved all the anger and frustration that came my way.  And actually, if they had known the depth of my sin, I deserved more.  Even my multiply handicapped, retarded son who has such a beautiful, sweet and innocent spirit was angry about the divorce and I was forced to deal with that.  Talk about humiliating.

Your witness of kindness, peace, forgiveness and love is very much needed in your children’s lives right now.  Be as Christ would be to them – merciful, understanding and loving.  No need to argue with them.  You do not need to defend yourself.  Just acknowledge their feelings, anger and frustration with you both.  It is the truth of the moment, and even if some of their perceptions are incorrect, the feelings are not.

Be you, but make sure that you are striving to be a model of a father and husband who has failed, yes, but is struggling to grow in faith, hope, love and holiness.  Words are not needed.  Ask St. Joseph for his help and model him.

God will work miracles in your life if you stick to the path of serving Him, of that I am sure.  Look for them, but whether they can be seen and their timing is up to Him.

Peace,

Dave

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From: jose

Sent: Tuesday, January 19
To: dave
Subject: Re: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

I’m just at a loss of words tonight…I just got served tonight at my business the divorce papers from my wife..The day before my birthday…Im barely able to keep the business open for a short time…i dont know what im going to do to get a lawyer…

business has been slow for me the past two weeks, and my brother in law is going to try to negotiate something amicable between my wifes lawyer and himself..Hes an attorney but he doesnt practice family law… If she refuses to, then i have no choice but to hire a family practice  attorney…

Everybody keeps asking me what happened, why did your wife leave…Everybody is dumbfounded, and cannot explain how could she do this to you… Everyone tells me I’ve been a nice guy and too good for her, and she took advanatage of me.. I just keep reverting to what you told me in earlier messages. I’m trying to keep the faith, but I miss my children more so than her. When they were younger I always ran the household, my wife didnt.. I cooked and cleaned when I came home from work. I guess its the routine and chores I missed doing for them out of my heart.

Now its all come to an end  The Alpha & the omega for every rhyme & reason under Heaven.

________________________________

From: dave
Sent: Tuesday, January 12
To: jose
Subject: RE: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Jose,

I am delighted to hear from you, though my heart is torn apart in hearing your story.  It is VERY similar to mine.  And getting served the papers was humiliating, I know.  It was the worst day of my life.

I too worked very long hours, and still had to do a lot of the cooking and picking up after her.  My oldest daughter and her husband said I was both the father and mother in the family.

Hang in there my friend and pray that God will give you the strength to endure, as I know He will.  I find our circumstances to be so similar in many ways.  I know for SURE He will provide extraordinary graces for you if you look first to Him.

I ended up having to hire an attorney and had to borrow the money to pay for it.  I am so in debt from the divorce that I am still facing bankruptcy and loss of my house.  But I have to trust that God will continue to take care of me, just as he always has, and my two special needs boys He has entrusted me with.

Never be afraid of having the truth come out.  And sooner or later, no matter what the lies and accusations are, if you, yourself, hold to the truth, and remain humble, the truth will come out.

Jesus did NOTHING wrong, but they scourged Him and crucified Him.  And he did not judge or condemn them, but only asked the Father to forgive them.  We can do the same.  I have tried to model that.  And mostly failed.  But keep trying.  So if you fail to do it, keep trying.  If you succeed at modeling that behavior only 1 time in a 100, then praise God, because you succeeded once, which is one time more than you would have before.  So go for two times!

Do you understand me?

Keep trying with your whole being to respond in the fashion that Jesus Himself is asking you in this situation. And if you fall down, and fail, try again.  You will win great graces for yourself and your children and loved ones by that little effort.  You cannot believe how much Heaven will rejoice in your smallest efforts to respond as Jesus asks of you!!

And if every Divorced Catholic Dad in the world did the same, it would radically change the world.  Heaven would bend to earth to honor the suffering, sacrifice and prayer to redeem the families of the world.  Be your part of that as I will also lend myself.

Jose,  my heart breaks for you.  I am so close to your circumstance and feel it deeply.  I am and will be praying for you and offering my own suffering for you, my friend.  Close your eyes and do that exercise again, and you will see that Jose suffers in his humanity, but the Jose’s spirit can be growing in holiness even as this great evil unfolds in your life.

Know too, that it may not all be coming to an end as you say.  Rather, God may allow this to free you for a new beginning and a fresh start.  Perhaps it was so disordered, given your wife’s apparent issues, that He did not want to let it continue – for your good and that of your children.  It will all take time to unfold, but let it.  Be patient.  And ready for Him to show you a new path.

Be careful, though, and do not fall into your weaknesses through any temptations.  Now is the time to be strong and make use of the sacraments, especially Confession and Eucharist.

Peace to you, my friend and please stay in touch.  You have a brother who is praying for you and suffering with you.

Keep in touch, please.

Peace

Dave

————————————————

 (Dear readers, please use the comments to post to the blog and not the contact us box which sends emails to me directly.  That is a better way as it serves all who come to the blog.)

From: jose

Sent: Thursday, January 21
To: dave
Subject: Re: Divorced Catholic Dads web site inquiry

Thank you  soooooo much  dave…I look forward in hearing from you…I spoke to my son tonight. He called rather late to wish me a Happy Bday…I thanked him for the gesture…I didnt think he was going to call..We had a rather long conversation and got a little heated..But each time i reflected back on humanity….I thought about the thing you said….. I had like 3 people approach me today to find out about the sell of my business..Im just asking God to please help me so i can sell it and use some of the money for the divorce….

——————————————–

From: dave
Sent: Thursday, January 21
To: jose

Jose,

And yes, happy birthday to you!

Jose, if you can manage it and you are not already doing it, try daily Mass whenever you can.  Particularly, now, in this time of trial, you need the extra grace that He offers in the most perfect prayer you can offer – the Mass.  And spend a little time in adoration before or after Mass.  Pray for Wisdom and Peace.

As you grow in interior peace and grace and silence – interior silence at this point is VERY important – God will be able to whisper His Wisdom to your heart about the best way to proceed that is His way of holiness.  Then calm purpose will accompany love and charity as you move through the day.  Pause as often as you need throughout each day to get back in touch with Him and reclaim your calm, peace and interior silence.  And by the way, people will notice it because it will change your exterior behaviors.

I will continue to pray for you, Jose.

Dave

——————————————

 

From: jose
Sent: Friday, January 22

To: dave

How I wish you lived close by…..I have my family for support, but some of the

support they give is not good and wise choises…I have to discern sometimes whenever they say things to me….I wish i had a close male friend  just to go talk with…

My brother lives on the other side of town, but then again  I have to be prudent and discerning what he says..I wouldnt tell himm this but i know he means well some times..

I’m just living day by day, and trying to stay afloat…The Devil just likes to make things hard for me sometimes..I feel he picks his teeth with me..

Thank You so much for being here for me…I really take to heart the reflections & guidance you have given me…

Jose

—————————————–

From: dave
Sent: Tuesday, January 26
To: jose

You are right.  Family can provide some emotional support, but I was shocked at some of their suggestions.

My Catholic faith tells me that the ways of the world are not the ways of Jesus Christ, and that we are all infected with the disease of the way of the world.  So being prudent and discerning with the guidance of the Spirit is wise of you and so  important for your peace.  If you go His way, you will find peace.  If you respond as the world tells you, you will never find peace.

Look around you.  What can the world teach you about peace – in relationships, families, nations and the world?  NOTHING.  Caution:  be wary of the ways of the world infecting advice and counsel, even from among your closest and most trusted family and friends and even priests and therapists.  Discern everything.  Only Jesus can teach us the true way of Peace.

When divorce strikes a Catholic Dad, hell itself rejoices because the Dad is emotional and vulnerable.  How many souls have been lost because, in the course of and the aftermath of divorce, they chose the ways of the world?  Is it worth it?

Yes, Satan knows your every weakness and will strike at every place that you are weak or vulnerable and in every way he can, whether that be from within (your self condemnation, for instance) or from without (family and friends).  He will play you like a fiddle, very carefully and slowly if need be to achieve his aim.  Make you fall just a little here and there.  Then bigger falls, more serious sin is much easier to achieve.   Sometimes he will make it hard – even impossible for you, and sometimes he makes it so easy and enticing that you wonder why not go this way.

Caution.

Fortify yourself with prayer, Mass and the Sacraments.  The battle is intense at this point and the soul of a Divorced Catholic Dad need all the armor of Heavenly grace it can get.  Pray, even as you are under attack and feel like giving in, and God will send his angels to protect and guide you.  Sometimes I have only been able to cry out to a particular saint, “Help me” because I was so weak in the face of the attack.  God has not failed me in those instances.  But be careful, because just as you breathe a sigh of relief for overcoming an attack, Satan will come back at you sometimes 10 times harder.  Pray again.

Your focus on just living day to day is actually very good.  It is what we all need to do more of.  What does Jesus Christ want of me today?  How does He, in the particular circumstances of my life at the moment, want me to live to reflect Him and His love for people?  Do that, and He will take care of everything else in His way.  I am very good and have developed an art of living in fear and anxiety about tomorrow and the future.  The more I want to control things, the more anxious I become.  But He calls me to be peaceful and calm as He was during His passion.  Just that little sacrifice of remaining calm in the storms of life on a daily basis will save many souls.

As for being local, Jose, yes it might be nice.  But you know, you gave me permission to post our emails on the blog, which I have been doing.  So your  suffering has other merits you and I do not know – only God knows – because other Divorced Catholic Dads can benefit from it.

Peace,

Dave

———————————————-

From: jose
Sent: Monday, February 01
To: dave

My mom always called me ____ …. Since i was the baby of the family… Im the youngest of six siblings….Its stands for “KING”  i was the king of the house when I was little growing up…  I dont feel like one…

I just have only one king who I serve…..I reach out to him constantly all day and in quiet prayer…. I was invited to go to a church healing service where a friend of mine goes to.. She says they have a very nice congregation and evening prayer service… Im going to go on wednesday night after 7pm…

THanks DAVE for being a friend there for me…

You have given me alot of kind words & Godly inspiration….You dont know how much I look forward in hearing from you..

THANKS

Jose

——————————————–

From: dave
Sent: Monday, February 01
To: jose

Jose

A healing service sounds like a very good thing.  I went to healing Mass myself here locally and the priest laid hands on each of us and prayed for extensively over each of us.  I have to believe that God has honored those prayers for healing.  Some of it I think was at such a deep level that while I could not sense what it was at the moment, I have seen its effects over time.

Original Sin had devastating effects on all of creation, and we suffer those effects in every part of our humanity.  We are all in desperate need of healing and restoration that only God can provide.  Jesus is Healer – he was MOST known when he was on earth for that.  He will do that for us if we ask in faith like the blind and lepers.  But it means we have to be humble and admit our disease to Him, face the disease of sin that afflicts us and its particular symptoms in our lives, and then ask Him to heal us.  He is compassionate and merciful and will answer sincere prayer.

Your constant and quiet prayer is outstanding.  St. Paul says “pray constantly”, and so your action is a proper response to his exhortation.

You are doing marvelously well – much better, I think than how I did when it happened to me.

You know, there are so many Divorced Catholic Dads that need help.  I wish I could reach every one of them on the face of the earth.  If they just followed your example instead of going down the tubes and following their human instincts with anger, revenge, hate, rejecting the Church, Jesus and morality, the world itself would be changed.  I have seen so many Divorced Catholic Dads throw away their faith to chase their feelings and lusts and hurts that it really pains me.

As you struggle through this time, do me a favor.  Offer your suffering for all Divorced Catholic Dads that they might turn to Jesus and His consoling Mercy.  Maybe if enough of us do that, we can help put an end to the loss of so many souls who are so afflicted.

I will be looking forward to hearing how the healing service goes.

Keep going to Confession and Mass to keep the channel of grace open.  Grace can overcome the defects of our humanity as we work out our salvation.

Peace to you!

Dave

——————————————-

From: jose
Sent: Wednesday, February 03
To: dave
Hey Dave

How are you doing…Have you been okay..  Do you get busy at night?? I only have computer access at work, so Im unable to check my emails till I get to work.. I wish I had computer access at home…Right now im staying with my mom, till I can get through the divorce..

I’m suppose to go to court on the 23rd  the petition for  the hearing- my moms birthday… Im just hanging on and doing my daily prayers & petitions..How are your children doing… Im still struggling trying to reach out to my middle son and my younger daughter… My oldest son is the only one speaking to me..

I hope everything is doing well with you…Ill keep praying for you & your family as well…

Jose

—————————————

From: dave
Sent: Saturday, February 06
To: jose

Thanks for the check-in.  I am doing OK at the moment.

God has always come through for me and I am sure something will unfold in terms of what He is asking me to do next.  The interesting thing is to step outside myself and see how my frail humanity reacts in this situation – fear, anxiety, lack of trust, etc.  So for me, this is a valuable spiritual exercise and trial.  To remain peaceful, calm, joyful and trusting.  To stay focused on His Will and what Heaven wants me to do each day.

And so it is with all our trials and suffering if we will let it “be done on earth (in each of us) as it is in Heaven”.  I think Our Lady must have mastered that art, as her life at certain times, was so tumultuous, like fleeing to Egypt when she and Joseph had built such a nice little house in Bethlehem, and all the other contradictions she lived.  As I contemplate her life of contradictions and hardships, I grow in my appreciation of her Motherhood and the graces that come to me from her.

I think that for both of us, this time of suffering can have great value if we cooperate with the flood of graces available to us.  Let’s catch some of that and see where it takes us!

Peace,

Dave

————————————-

From: jose
Sent: Saturday, February 06

To: dave
Hi Dave,

Ill be praying for you and your endeavour of finding a new job. I’m thinking of my humanity myself and stepping out and seeing myself frail and not reacting quickly and not thinking it out.

I went to a Mens Prayer Group meeting this morning. I met a whole new set of friends at the Catholic Charismatic Center. These are a group of men who do bible study and a whole lot of encouraging and help men in crisis or having difficulties or problems. They provided alot of help & support that I could see I’m lacking.. It felt  sooo good….I’m hoping to go back soonnnn I can hardly wait……

Hope to hear from you again

GOD BLESS

——————————-

From: dave
Sent: Saturday, February 06
To: jose
Jose,

I really appreciate the prayers.

The asceticism of looking at yourself from a spiritual perspective is a great foundation for growth in the spiritual life.  From that place, you can begin to see yourself as Jesus sees you, with compassion, mercy, love and joy.  We are at once insignificant, lower than the lowest, and at the same time, loved to the heights of Heaven no matter our failures.  It is the true heart that draws down from Heaven an abundance of graces to continue the growth He desires.

I am delighted that you found that group and their support.  That can be very helpful to have some community around you to pray and encourage you in your spiritual growth.  I spent many years leading Catholic Charismatic prayer groups and Bible studies.  The experiences enriched my spiritual life and propelled it forward out of the every day, run of the mill, go to church on Sunday type of life.  I grew interiorly in ways I had never known possible and that is where my very personal relationship with Jesus took root and flowered.

And being with other men who have experienced struggle and pain and suffering can be very good and help bring insight as you listen to their struggle to grow in faith.

As always, take everything in and ponder it interiorly during your daily prayer time.  Discern it all and recognize that even in those groups, as with all of us, there are the effects of sin and weakness and evil.  Go with both an open heart and with confidence that Christ is leading you.  He will bless you through them and at the same time use you to reflect His love.

May you devote yourself even more to your practice of daily prayer and to the growth of the interior life through the Spirit.  I would encourage you to continue your daily meditations in quiet some place.  He means to lead you in a new way to a place you have never been and it takes a quiet heart, mind and spirit to hear His voice.

Peace,

Dave

———————————————-

From: jose
Sent: Monday, February 22
To: dave
Thanks Dave…..

Im doing greaaaaaattttt  I thank GOD  everyday for all of his blessing he has bestowed upon me to this moment. Im doing his mission he has set before me, and I’m following the path he has directed me to. Im continuing to go to my mens bible studies, and Im still going to my counseling at the diocese. The man whom I was before is no longer in me, I can feel the HOLY spirit in me and guiding me to do GODS mission everyday. Im still seeking his wisdom and I read my bible everyday for food and nourishment. I stay up at night some times for hours and before I know it its 2am before im going to bed.

I spoke to my attorney the other day, and my wifes lawyer informed him they were going to set a restraining order upon me. But I thought to myself, GOD knows that I havent done anything wrong,or  threatened my wife or any type of stalking on her & my daughter. Shes the one who has the demons she’s fighting not me. Im giving it up to GOD, and he will get me through this. I told my attorney, “Its sad to say, but this could of have been the best thing she could have ever done for me.” She has set me free and I feel uplifted  with GOD and to do his will. You know for all the years of my marriage, I was always the caregiver, the nurturer in my family.

My children know that all the things I ever did for them in my marriage. I can sleep at night knowing that I was always there for my children.

My wife spent alot of time at work or at home drinking or partying with friends.

I have developed new relationships with people whom Ive become friends with at church. They are inspiring and have helped me get through this.

I hope your doing well and  and Im still praying for your new job your going to receive, if you havent yet. I hope  for GOD to help you to continue to receive his graces, since We are committed to GOD, and doing what is right  who can HARM US. I know we have to suffer here on this earth to share some of Christ’s passion, but I know Christ suffered more for us.

I look forward in friendship here online..

Your brother

Jose

————————————————–

 

 

Nov 15

Loneliness and Aloneness

Being a single divorced Catholic dad can be a very lonely experience.  For me, that would be an understatement of a lifetime.  It has been exceedingly lonely.  Painfully lonely.  The closest family is 1500 miles away in terms of brothers and sisters or other relatives.  And though my daughter and family are 2 hours away, they have their own lives with small children.  Even my best friend is 2000 miles away.  My neighbors I either do not know, or see very seldom with one exception – but even with them, we might get together a few times a year.

I am essentially alone in this place in my life.  And the pain of being so alone sometimes is overwhelming.

So where do I go with the loneliness?  Certainly I have considered every avenue of relief, from dating to one night stands and everything in between including support groups.  Having a live-in has occured to me.  Ah, the temptation to find comfort and consolation that my humanity cries out for so desperately is very great and constantly demanding.  And I see so many guys around me in the same boat taking a way out of the pain that makes them feel good for the moment.  I certainly understand what drives that.

But in the end, the futility of every path I considered was readily apparent.  I have spent my life struggling to grow interiorly, spiritually.  I could not, for all the pain, throw it and my salvation away.  And support groups or other ‘support’  type functions have either not been practical due to my committments at home – no one to watch them while I was out – or for other reasons, unappealing.

Part of where I take the pain is to obedience and submission of my will to the Divine Will of God.  And the another place I take it is to the ‘unitive’: uniting my aloneness with His aloneness (“my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”) and His suffering.  He was tempted in every way we are, scripture says.  I am sure, although I have never read it, that many attractive women in His travels, were drawn to Him and presented themselves to Him in not so holy ways.

And besides, being with me at every moment, He knows my heart ache and pain, besides all the temptations.  So the ‘illuminative’ way becomes apparent.  I begin to understand the movement of the Spirit in my interior life and that of others, and His way of viewing our pain and temptations with such understanding, mercy and forgiveness – and wanting to shower us with His grace if we but turn to Him in every moment of weakness and temptation.

All this can sound too much.  Too ‘holy’.  But we are called to holiness are we not?  And I am also a pragmatic man, and to me, this is a pragmatic approach to a problem for which the world has no lasting or sound answers.  The answers the world offers lead to fleeting satisfaction and are futile in the end.  I have watched those who have tried other ways out.  I could go those ways only if I were willing to subvert my conscience to the desires and wants of my flesh and humanity.

And so I turn to God who is faithful and always present to me and who would never abandon me.  Although I fall down in this struggle, He is always ready to extend His hand to help me back up and continue my walk to grow in holiness as I struggle against my nature. That is the answer each of us Divorced Catholic Dads have – to turn in our pain to Him, to trust in His graces and walk in His Way despite out pain.  That’s Catholic manhood.

 

 

Dec 16

What to do with the pain

Divorce causes pain.  Lots of pain.  Long, drawn out pain.  Emotional and psychological pain.  Blinding pain.  Depressing pain.  Pain without seeming remedy.  More pain than I have experienced in any other way.  As I have said before, I think the worst scourge on the face of the earth is abortion – killing the innocents for sexual convenience.  But having experienced it, I think that divorce is the second worst scourge on the earth.  The pain and destruction – the devestation caused by it is enormous, affecting the immediate family, but also extended families, and friends, fellow parishoners and even neighbors.  Relationships are destroyed and the community of life forged by those relationships and the love exchanged is shattered.

Let me be clear here: I can only talk from the experience of having divorce thrust on me, unwillingly and from my perspective, needlessly.  I speak from that vantage point only.

So, as a Catholic dad, what do I do with the pain I feel?  I had the occasion to share pizza and a glass of wine with a fellow parishoner a few weeks ago who was starting down the divorce path, after his wife tossed him out.  He was with his father who was visiting trying to help his son deal with it.  The son was in pain, a LOT of pain.  I remember those days and that pain very well.  Searing, blinding pain that I thought would claim my life with a heart attack or something.  So he was in pain.  I tried to talk to him about his pain and what his Catholic faith offered as a way to deal with it.  He was angry and stayed in it.  I found out several weeks later that he had come back to the same place looking for me a week later, perhaps to help him deal with what he detected was the truth.  But not finding me, he became frustrated and abusive, and ended up being hauled out to jail by the police.  Sad.

So what does a Catholic dad do with the pain he feels as he experiences divorce?

I will give you a radical answer:  offer it to Jesus Christ for your sins and those of your family and loved ones and all families suffering.

I believe that while divorce is a scourge and has no place in the lives of any family, it represents an unmatched opportunity for redemptive suffering.  I believe that if all the Catholic dads in the world who were going through or had gone through an unwanted divorce were to offer their suffering and pain for those intentions, the world would be radically changed in the blink of an eye. 

What else can I possibly do with the pain I am in?  Oh, sure, I see it all around me.  Sex, drugs, alcohol, the wild life, escapism, a live-in, compensations, anger, revenge and even violence.   Where so many Catholic dads take their pain is more destructive, to themselves, their families and their souls – their salvation.

But I am Catholic and being a Catholic, it affects every aspect of my life, including my thoughts and actions.  Divorce did not just happen to me.  It takes two to tango.  But only one to end the tango.  One can be unfaithful to their faith or misled by the world.  I share some culpability, or maybe even most.

The great mystery of my faith is that no matter who is “at fault”, I can humbly offer the pain each day and each moment to Christ in the economy of redemption for the salvation of my soul and that of others.  If the saints could offer the pain of little discomforts , illnesses, abuse and even torture and death, then I can offer the pains, emotional, psychological, intelectual, physical and spiritual for the same reasons. 

As I work through the pain, I constantly pray to offer it yes, but also I pray that the fire of the pain in my soul might burn out all the impurities there.  Like gold in the crucible as scripture says.  So may all the imperfections in my soul be burned out! 

The pain from this divorce is so severe at times I can hardly function.  At those times, I have to beg God for the grace to take the next step, to prepare the next meal, do the next load of laundry, help my handicapped son with his shower or say night prayers with the boys.  It is a place of deep humiliation – I can only function as a father by begging God for the grace to carry out the rudiments of being a human being.  I am reduced to being a beggar to exist. 

In my pain and humiliation, I seek God, not for comfort or compensation, but for peace.  I keep thinking about the Last Supper and Jesus who knew what He was going to suffer, stayed focused on why He came and His mission of salvation. Not once on the way from the Last Supper to the Cruxification did He become angry or hateful or vengeful.  With one thought he could have ended it or the existence of any or all there.  He did not. 

He can and has shown me how to walk that some path, even though I have not walked it without failing many times.  So I take my pain there, to the Cross and give it to Him.  Hang it on the Cross with Him.  And pray for peace within me.  And not judge or condemn because I am in this place of suffering.  May my suffering be joined to His for His redemptive purposes.

Then I may know peace.  Even as I carry the Cross of my state in life.

Dec 12

Psychology, therapy and the role of grace

A Catholic coworker who recently went through a divorce was telling me that his wife who had been to lots of therapists before, during and after their divorce was pressuring her adult 19 year old daughter to go to a therapist to deal with ‘potential’ issues arising from their divorce.  She wanted the ex-husband to help pressure the daughter as well.  He asked my advice.

I am not a therapist, and have nothing against them as I have been helped through some extraordinarily tough issues in my life (for another day) with some good therapists.  But I have also learned some things that have put their value and place into perspective.

My bottom line:  picture yourself – here we are at one level, if you can imagine, hold your hand at a low level.  And where God wants us is at a much higher level, holding your other hand at a higher level.  He intends for us to close the gap with the grace He provides – in abundance if we ask for it continually and persistently.  What I see so often and even fell into it in my past at times, was that today, psychology and therapy, etc. purport to fill that gap.  I have seen so many cases, and in fact, I think, my ex-wife, where the person turned to the therapists and self help groups (I have attended them myself for short periods looking for answers) who told people how to think and react.  The role of complete dependence on God and His grace was left out of the picture or at least made secondary in actual practice, despite the fact that the 12 Steps advocate complete dependence on God (Step 3).  Easy to say, difficult to do would be my observation.  But this is not about debating the value of the 12 Steps, which I think are actually very good.

As I said, I think there is a role for therapists, psychology (I have nearly enough credits for a masters in psych and my daughter is a shrink) and self help groups.  But while all those may acknowledge Jesus Christ to some degree, they do not purport to be the secondary or servant of Jesus and the graces He offers for us to rise above our human nature and take on the divine through grace.  Instead, they all profess to provide the answers – even the self help goups. 

Let me take on the issue of the self-help groups based on the 12 Steps.  I believe in the 12 Steps – when “God as we know Him” is Jesus Christ.  What I have seen at all levels of those programs however, is that naturally, people in those groups do not have the same views, and therefore, in my opinion, while God is the object of their stated goal, cannot enjoy the fullness of the grace offered by Jesus Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth and the LIfe”.

As a divorced Catholic dad, my responsibility to myself and my children is make sure that the first and foremost place of healing and restoration we go to is the graces offered by Jesus Christ and His Church through the Sacraments.  Every other source is secondary and useless without that foundation first.  I need the graces of the Sacraments, particularly Reconcilliation first and then Eucharist in order to clear away the debris in the soul left by my sin and be left full of grace.  Then I can see and hear with divine sensibilities. 

And the journey from the state I am in at the moment to the state God is calling me to is easier as I am not weighed down with the baggage of sin, but rather fortified and strengthened by grace.  As a divorced Catholic dad, everything I do and undertake must have as its foundation the graces offered by Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church.  Frequent Confession, Mass and Eucharist are the best foundation to build any healing, restoration and higher state of being that God is calling me to.

Sep 01

A story of financial infidelity

A reader of the web site and blog sent me the email below.  I attempted to reply to him, but the email was incorrect and I was unable to reach him for permission to move the discussion to the blog.  However, I thought it was a story readers would benefit from, so I have changed his name and a detail or two to protect his identity:

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Dave,

I am Catholic and I am divorcing my wife of ten years due to lies, what I consider fraud, and now bankruptcy due to her many financial infidelities.
 
I am currently saddled with all household bills with no contribution from my ex-wife. On some months the outgoing bills and expenses exceed my income and I have had to rely on family members to cover the budget gaps during recent months. My ex-wife refuses to pay any bills associated with the household even though she does produce and income from part time work. Since keeping a roof over our head for the sake of my daughter is the number one priority, my income is put toward the household bills first (i.e. mortgages, utilities, food, etc.) Additionally, the household bills consume all my income and I do not have additional funds to put toward my ex-wifes debt repayment currently. I do make monthly payments on our joint credit card which is all that I have the bandwidth for at this time.

My ex-wife has shown a history of spendthrift behavior, deceit, and extremely high hidden credit card balances relative to our earnings. This behavior began during our first year of marriage when my ex-wife squandered almost $10K of wedding money that was given to us by our families. This misfortune was further compounded when at the same time, my ex-wife ran up an additional $8.5K of hidden credit card debt. All of these expenditures took place without my knowledge or consent. By the time I found out it was too late. I stepped in to clean up the mess; we patched up our marriage and moved on with the mutual understanding that this was not the way to run a household.

This behavior pattern repeated itself three years later when my ex-wife ran up another $12K in hidden credit card debt. Again, these expenditures took place without my knowledge or consent. The mail was hidden from me and calls from bill collectors were deleted from the answering machine. Out of a commitment to make the marriage work, I stepped in again, putting forth all manner of initiatives and solutions to pay down the debt and clean up our damaged credit. My ex-wife and I patched up the trust that was lost in our marriage and moved on. I sincerely wanted to make this marriage work. I was promised by my ex-wife that something like this would never happen again, especially since we were planning to have children. We both agreed that lies, irresponsibility, and self-inflicted financial hardship would be a suboptimal environment to raise a family.

Three years later, my ex-wife continued her negative contribution to the marriage by initiating another $46K of hidden credit card debt. Some of which began just before my daughter was born but really commenced just after my ex-wife quit her job that year. So much so, that there is not even sufficient household income to repay the minimum balances. Additionally, $5K of reserve fund savings went to pay off the initial past due card balances beginning last fall, when I first learned of these debts. This coincides with the time when my ex-wife up left with my daughter for three weeks to stay with her parents. During this time, about $1,600 was withdrawn by my ex-wife from my daughter’s bank UGMA account to cover additional hidden credit card balances. There is now a $1.73 left in this account for my daughter’s college savings. A $500 gift check, given to my daughter from my Godmother, was also cashed and spent by my ex-wife without my knowledge after I was repeatedly told that it was lost.

She duped me three times in our ten year marriage. Each time with a promise to change and that it would never happen again. I bailed us out of it each time, and when enough time went by and I let my guard down, she did it again. This third and final time I am forced to file bankruptcy, attempt to sell my house in a down market (all offers have been less than I paid for the home), my credit is ruined because she put my name on some of the cards which she never intended to pay, and to forfeit all of the sweat equity that I put into this home over the past four years of back breaking renovations that were done on nights and weekends after my 60 hour work week.

I know that this site is geared toward Dad’s who have been left. However, I just wanted to let you know that there are catholic dad’s out there like me who hung in there and tried in earnest to make it work but opted out after years betrayal and deceipt.

Thanks,

Joe

 

Aug 11

The issue of annulment

A non-Catholic friend of mine was asking me about the Church and annulments today when we got around to the topic of each of our love lives.   He is also divorced.  I told him that while I had lots of opportunities to entertain one, I had decided to avoid even entertaining the notion in the near term until I got my annulment paperwork submitted and had an answer back.  He was perplexed.  Especially when I told him another friend of mine was trying to set me up with a ‘drop dead gorgeous and well to do” woman my age who he thought was a great match.

I tried to explain to him that as much as I wanted and felt I needed a female companion which is A LOT, I did not want to go down that route until I knew what God had decided in my case from the Tribunal.  I think that I do not want to date if the purpose of dating is at some point a longer, enduring relationship if the judgment of the Tribunal is that I am still married in the eyes of God.  Then in truth, I could not date and be true to my state in life as God sees it.  Ouch, that’s painful to even contemplate, but truth is truth.

I do believe there is more than good reason for an annulment in my case, but I have to trust God with that part of my life like I trust Him with every other part.  My friend understood that, but thought that the Church’s rules were kind of harsh since “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis).  I tried to explain to him that it was not the Church’s rules.  It is simply the Church seeking the truth about how God sees my relationship  and then helping me to see what God sees.  Truth.  Plain and simple.  No rules involved.

The result can be hard to bear.  It is hard enough the last 20 months going it alone and living a chaste, celibate life as a father with 2 kids with disabilities and working full time.  And to have that for my future as a possibility is a cross I pray I do not have to bear.  I can hardly bear it now.  I am just trusting God that in fact, whatever He wills for me in the future will be accompanied by the graces needed as they always are.  I cannot even look to the future.  That is His business and not mine.

I can certainly understand a Catholic man who decides to fore go  the annulment process and remarries anyway.  I  feel sorry for them, though, because I think God wanted to show him something and he chose to turn away from the truth, whatever it was.  Or guys who do not remarry, but just go from one relationship to the next.  Sometimes the stress from my aloneness makes me a wreck and it is everything I can do not to chuck the ‘rules’ and go blow off steam with a date and one night stand – maybe.  But then I have to come back to reality and I know that’s even more impossible than living the way I am now – sooner or later I will have to face the truth again the way God sees it all.  Better now than discover a trail of pain and regrets later.

So I have to rejoice at my friend’s questions because it caused me to patiently explain my beliefs and attitudes and not some set of ‘rules’ that I do not even know anyway.  And sometimes we do not really know what we believe until we have to emote them.

I would be interested in how others perceive this issue.  Obviously there is a lot more to this discussion than what I could have written here – heck there are whole books and libraries on the topic.  I was simply trying to explain what a plain ordinary Catholic guy thinks about living my faith in this area.

Your thoughts?

Peace

Aug 11

Greetings

Thanks for coming to our blog. Look here for future posts to Divorced Catholic Dads.  I sincerely hope that what you find on this web site is useful to your spiritual walk in the most difficult experience.  Please let me know what you think about the blog and the site.  And how I can improve it.

Peace

Dave