Thursday, March 4, 2010

No support system and plenty of contacts make “Catholic divorces” easy (series)

Growing up in a "different" community
I was a Roman Catholic for more than 40 years. I was the eldest of nine kids and all of us piled into the car every Sunday with mom and dad and made a 15 mile journey to the little mission church in Eufaula.

That was “our church” though it was usually just a Sunday thing, except for an occasional “holy day of obligation” and maybe a church dinner once or twice a year at most.

We really liked all the folks at that little church and they felt like family to us—for a couple of hours every Sunday. And after those two hours…we rarely saw any of them for the rest of the week.

In fact, the rest of the week, we were “real ecumenical” in a hometown that was wall to wall Protestant. Mom even sent us to vacation bible school at the Church of Christ (where I first learned to read the bible) and the Methodist Church (more bible practice).

Another favorite summer vacation bible school was the one out at the lake with the Federated Church minister and his wife (more singing and crafts than Bible reading). We even occasionally went on youth trips throughout the year with the First Baptist (Southern Baptist) Church. And yes, believe it or not, as teenagers, me, my two brothers (twins) and sister made the headcount look a lot better in the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF). I’m not kiddin’—Catholic kids moonlighting as MYF members. We did it.

So what’s the point? We were Catholic kids who grew up in a Protestant community. Consequently, if we ever had an important conversation, it was usually with a Protestant and not a Roman Catholic. The few times I had an important conversation about one Roman Catholic doctrine or another—mom and dad would go ballistic—especially if I noted the bible we’d learned about with our Protestant friends didn’t say a thing about this Catholic belief or that one.

I wanted to know too much
I was really the only kid, among the older ones in my family, who was interested in what the Catholic Church had to teach us. The same thing was true with the woman who became my wife. She really just didn’t care what the church taught. She was raised to go to a certain church every Sunday and that was that—just like me—except I had this "stupid" interest in what the church required us to believe.

Still, for both of us, the word “church” simply meant a “place” to “be near our Maker” for an hour or two a week. That was all. Even when Roberta began singing at church, that was just another hour of practice. She enjoyed singing, so the extra hour just made her feel better that she was contributing to the worship.

Did we have close Catholic friends who cared enough about the faith that they called us to be “good Catholics?” No. We had some Catholic friends, but we didn’t see them much, except for Mass and none of them ever offered any “spiritual” support. That just really wasn’t to be found—it was always treated as something that was just too “personal.” We didn’t really even talk about it.

When I finally began trying to practice the Roman Catholic teachings I was raised in—my wife was having nothing to do with it. Weekly or monthly confession? I had to be kidding! Daily Mass? What’s wrong with you?

And that was only the beginning, the list of required-for-salvation Catholics beliefs is a long one: Papal infallibility and supremacy, Mary’s immaculate conception and her bodily assumption into heaven, Mary’s perpetual virginity, the existence of Purgatory, the absolute necessity for confession of our sins to a priest and absolution from the priest, the teaching that you will go to hell if you die with a mortal sin on your soul, no assurance of salvation, transubstantiation, the consecrated host containing the “whole” Christ—his body, blood, soul and divinity, the Mass as an actual sacrifice, to name just few.

Blocking me out--facilitating the divorce
So my wife decided she just wasn’t even going to think about all that—just keeping going to Mass and singing on Sunday—block out what she considered negative. She never had anyone but me asking her to try to support the teachings of the church and I was easy to block out. Where were the priests? Where were the devout Catholics? Where was her own family? Her Roman Catholic deacon daddy?

Her Roman Catholic deacon daddy? He was the guy who made it easy for his “baby” to divorce me. He facilitated the whole thing. He and Grandma were there to take our own babies away so their daughter could tell me she’d filed for a divorce, then dash off to join all her liberated “Mary Kay” girl friends for the “conference” in Kansas City.

Had her parents tried to slow her down? Asked her to consider a temporary separation? Urged some serious counseling? Inquired about her antidepressant medication? If her parents did so, they never mentioned a word of it to me and never gave me even one supportive word—and its been nine years now.

Instead, they made it their goal to meet and exceed all their daughter’s selfish, over-medicated decisions. They paid for the divorce attorney, put her up at their place for several months while she got a job and got her feet on the ground, took care of the boys, helped her get into a home. Yes, they’re the salt of the earth, and they haven’t done a damn thing to this day—to help give our marriage a second chance in any way. Baby don’t want that.

On to the annulment
But now comes the one contribution they can make to drive the stake of sure death into this marriage—help baby get that annulment—so she can feel good about doing “things” with other men.

My wife’s own mother has spent the last several years telling my two boys it’s ok for their mom to date other men—because she "deserves" to do so! What? Yep, even Grandma gets to air her twisted doctrine of "divorce deserves good things."

As for my own mom? My wife told the boys that all my “mommy dearest” had to tell her was that she couldn’t believe my wife hadn’t divorce me sooner! I swear, you’d think I had been building a brothel or beating my wife or something. As always, thanks so much for your support mom. There’s nothing like family!

And just when you thought it couldn’t get better for baby—her daddy, the good “deacon emeritus” has a bunch of friends in Tulsa where he’s helped from time to time at the tribunal. Yeah, he’s helped people get annulments there before—and you can bet he’ll be right there for his baby again this time.

These people don’t care about doing the right thing—they just want to help baby get what baby wants. And no, it don’t matter if it’s a sin or not. And no, it don’t even really matter that Jesus says baby will commit adultery if she remarries (Mark 10:12). What matters is what baby wants, and what baby wants, is what baby gets. How’s that for some REAL Roman Catholic doctrine?

To top it all off—the local priest is a canon lawyer! Go baby, go baby, go baby go! We’ll get you the handbasket you want for Hell, and give you the church’s blessing to boot!

The witnesses
The hypocrisy doesn’t get much deeper than this folks. And to think my two young sons are plenty old enough that they’ll remember all this for the rest of their lives.

Talk about a model family.

Lord, have mercy.

Annulments simply finalize divorces--throw spouses to wolves

The easy divorces, like the one my wife got from me, are the norm in the good ol’ U.S.A. these days. She filed in March of 2001, and less than two months later, sometime in May, the divorce was finalized. I wanted to fight it, but my attorney insisted there was no use and he reminded me that’s why I had hired him—to appear in court on my behalf. Still, if I had to do it over again, I’d at least read a message to the judge telling him I was against the divorce.

On the other hand, I had just spent two months in the same house with a wife who had filed for divorce (much to the amazement of my attorney) and I was dead tired of begging her to reconsider and crying myself to sleep at night, knowing we’d have to tell our children soon.

Yes, the attorney was amazed to find that although my wife had filed neither she nor I had any intention of leaving the place we were staying until school was out in May. She’d move with the boys and I would follow two months later

So two short months, and bam—she took off with the boys for her mom and dad’s house, and I was just lucky to find a job nearby. Otherwise my sons may have seen very little of me. Nine year later, I guess I should be grateful they’ve seen their dad about a quarter of the time.

In any case, these easy divorces do nothing good for anyone. The woman in the divorce is immediately potential food for the wolves of the online dating services—which may be what she wanted if she was the one who filed. But it’s hard to believe many women actually “want” that.

One of the things I wondered as soon as I found myself “single” was how stupid this whole “divorce” thing was. In my mind. How dumb could my ex be? I mean, maybe I hadn’t been the most gracious husband lately, but at least I was a damn site better than most of these guys online who want nothing to do but get into someone else’s pants!

I mean, geez, talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. I wonder how many women actually consider their aloneness and the wolves as they file for divorce? Maybe that’s what it’s all about with these women—going for the fire?