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Article 11 – Marriage! A Clarification and some musings

A Clarification regarding Separation.

Before continuing with St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians I would like to make a little clarification based on some recent feedback I received on one of these articles. Indeed I welcome any and all feedback that readers may have and I have included an e-mail address (john@truedevotions.ie) where I may be contacted, or if you you would prefer to send a letter to me my address is, 21 Glenbrook, Knock Claremorris, Co Mayo F12 NW20.

The article in question was about the life of Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora and the feedback concerned the fact that she told her confessor that she did not want a legal separation from her husband. The point was made to me that the Church permits married couples to separate in certain circumstances. My response to this is, that the Church not only allows separation in certain situations but I would go so far as to say that there are particular circumstances where there is a duty for one spouse to separate from the other, for example where there is a threat to one’s life or a danger to the health and well being of the children. There are also less grave circumstances where separation is both permitted and recommended.

Indeed, in Blessed Elizabeth Canori Mora’s case, she lived with her two daughters separately from her husband. However when her confessor recommended that she obtain a legal separation she decided that this step was not necessary in order to obtain her husband’s salvation and so she did not go through with it.

Imitate the Virtues of the Saints

I think that it is important, when we look at the lives of the saints, that we realise that we are called to imitate their virtues but not necessarily their actions. There can be only one St Therese of the Child Jesus and only one St Thomas. We are called to be the unique Saints that God has created us to be and we must also realise that it is God who makes Saints of us. We cannot do it without Him and without His grace. For our part we must become as little children so that we allow His grace to operate freely in our lives.

There are times in my life when I have become discouraged after reading about the lives of particular saints. Their level of sanctity is so much farther ahead than anything I can ever hope to achieve by my own efforts that it seems that sanctity is beyond me. And this is true! Sanctity is beyond me, if I go it alone. The devil is also very much aware of this fact and he will use it in order to discourage us, for discouragement is one of the devil’s commonest means of trying to steer us away from the right path.

Blessed Elizabeth lived in a particular time, in a particular place and with a particular set of circumstances. Given her set of circumstances she decided that a legal separation was not the best course of action to take in order to give glory to God in her own life. This fact does not in any way suggest that any couples who have separated have done wrong. There are of course times when it is advisable for a couple to separate and there are times when separation is not the best course of action to take. The important thing to bear in mind is that whether or not one decides to separate or to remain together in difficult circumstances, the decision should be based on what is perceived to be for God’s greater glory and the salvation of souls.

Give Glory to God – seek the salvation of Souls

This is the very point that was being made in that article with reference to St Peter’s writings, and which will also be made as we look at the writings of St Paul. Both of them remind us, that our decisions must be made with a clear focus on the glory of God and the salvation of souls. It has never been easy to live an authentic Catholic life and this is certainly true in our day when there is great confusion surrounding the concept of what it means to be a Catholic and surrounding the true meaning of Catholic marriage.

In my own almost twenty six years of married life, trying to love my wife and to raise my eight children as Catholics I have made many mistakes, I have many regrets, and I have failed many times to live up to what is expected of a Catholic husband. But I also realise that for much of my married life I was not fully aware of exactly what was expected of me. When I attended my pre-marriage course twenty six years ago I was not correctly informed of the Catholic duties of a husband and father and certain parts of the pre-marriage course I attended were not in full conformity with church teaching.

During a recent visit to a Benedictine Monastery I spoke with one of their priests about the lack of vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the world. He said that the source of vocations has all but dried up. He was referring to the great shortage of Catholic families who are striving to live an authentically Catholic family life where the focus is first and foremost on God and on the salvation of souls. Such families nurture vocations and the world needs such families now as perhaps never before.

As I have looked deeper into the Catholic faith I have begun to appreciate the sheer depth and the great beauty which is contained in the magisterial teachings of the Church. This should not come as a surprise, for the Catholic Church is the bride of Jesus Christ and yet so many seem to obscure the Church’s true teachings for fear that people will walk away from that truth. I cannot honestly say if my life would have been lived differently had I known these truths earlier but I certainly hope that I would have lived a better life. It is with a desire to share these truths of the faith that I began writing these articles in the hope that others will discover the great beauty of the gift of Catholic sacramental marriage.

And so I would appreciate any feedback you might have. With that said the next article will return to where we left off with St Paul.

God bless you

Follow John Lacken:
John Lacken is married to Naomi since November 12th 1988. They have eight children, two girls and six boys, all of whom were delivered by caesarian section. John writes about Catholic marriage for the Irish fortnightly newspaper Catholic Voice. Recently John founded an organisation called 'Legio Sanctae Familiae' who purpose is to promote the authentic traditional Catholic teachings on marriage and to help Catholic families to live their family lives according to those teachings. You can contact John using this contact form