By Father Joseph Breighner
On the rear of a car I noticed a bumper sticker that read: “Thy Will Be Done!” Then I noticed that someone had run into the back of the car. The bumper was smashed in.
An interesting contradiction isn’t it? On the one hand, we expect God’s Will to be good. On the other hand there is also free will. (for more details see my book: “When Life Doesn’t Make Sense”. Surrendering to God’s will doesn’t always mean that things will be pretty (the cross on Mt. Calvary was not pretty) but it does mean that things will ultimately work out. It takes eyes of faith, however, to see how it all does work out.
The wrong ending on the car might also serve as an introduction to the Conference at Bon Secours Spiritual Center on Saturday April 27 for the separated, divorced, bereaved and remarried! The conference, sponsored by the Catholic Single Again Council, is titled: “Fully Alive With Joy.”
There is little joy when a relationship ends. Separation, divorce, or death are not part of the wedding plans. It takes time to heal from any ending. We have to go through the stages of grief. We have to be patient. And we have to allow ourselves to be open to the help that is there. That’s what this conference is all about.
Dr. Robert J. Wicks, a psychologist and professor at Loyola University, as well an author of numerous books, will give the keynote at 9:30a.m. Following that, there will be various workshops by different specialists. Brother Loughlan Sofield, S.T. will give a workshop on “Self-Esteem.” “Dating Pitfalls,” another workshop, will be given by Carrie Hansen LCSW-C. Phil Kotschenreuther will speak about basic finances (I should be in that course). In the afternoon Carrie Hansen will give another workshop, titled: “Blending Families.”Dr. Barbara Hunter will speak on “Growing Through Bereavement.” And I will give a workshop on “Loving Yourself and Boundaries.” I didn’t write that title for my workshop. I don’t think there are any boundaries to love. I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to say. The afternoon workshops are at 1:50 p.m. I will celebrate the closing Mass at 3:45.
I go into some detail about this conference since this column is their main source of advertising. If you are reading this column, please call or tell someone else about this day. A lot of good people are doing a lot of good things. Hurting people need to know that help is available.
Throughout my 42 years of priesthood, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for ministry to the separated and divorced. My own parents separated when I was a child. They never divorced. Divorce carried a penalty of excommunication from the church. Had my parents divorced, I would never have been accepted into a seminary!
People still have lingering memories of those days of harsh penalties. To set the matter straight, once again, no one is excommunicated today for a divorce. Yes, those who are separated or divorced can continue to receive the sacraments. Those who contemplate marrying again have the option of pursuing a church annulment, not always an easy or fast process, but one handled by caring people who will help you to navigate through the legalities.
Put simply, the church attempts to uphold the ideal of Christ of marriage for life, and at the same time, attempts to deal compassionately with humans who don’t always live the ideals! Who of us does?
We live in a throw away culture. It’s often true that we sometimes can throw away people and relationships. This day is meant to be a day of healing. It’s for the separated and divorced, but also for those in the process of grieving as well as for those remarried.
My favorite word to describe the life of Jesus is compassion. It comes from two Latin words, meaning to “suffer with.” Isn’t that a perfect description of the life of Christ? He is God become human who came among us humans to take on our pain and misery, and to set us free. Jesus came to give us back our birthright.
We were designed by the creator to live in the Garden of Eden in a state of love, joy, and peace. As we well know, we have all fallen from that state of grace. Christ came to bring us back. Christ came to help us let go of our fears and worries, and come back to love. May this day help that process! (for info call Myra 410-302-0754 or click here)
Copyright (c) April 25, 2013 CatholicReview.org