July 11, 2012
Living with separation and divorce
By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J. *

By Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, C.S.J. *

There is nothing quite like the suffering that comes from separation or divorce.  The rupture is so deep that it radically re-arranges one’s life.  Nothing stays the same.  Each day is one of distress and tears.

The first rule for survival is to restore order where chaos has reigned.  Taking care of self, the children, and one’s employment must take priority.  Allow God’s human instruments to heal the family. Two well-established online agencies can help:  the North American Conference of Separated and Divorced Catholics and the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved.  The English-language edition of Maria Pia Campanella’s book, "The Gift of Self" has been widely praised as “a pastoral aid for spouses who are separated or divorced but remain faithful to their marriages in a society which tell them to ‘move on.’” 

It is essential to pray every day, however one can.  We can never forget that Jesus is the symbol of universal suffering, and that he is in solidarity with us, present and at work in the soul.  In the Agony in the Garden, Jesus is on the verge of crisis.  He prays not for strength, courage, and acceptance of his Father’s will.  What surprises us is the human repugnance, the horror, his revolt and effort to escape.  On the cross, he cries out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” but he does so without despairing but with utter trust in his Father.  The following psalms are prayers of consolation: Pss 43, 57, 73, 78, 79, 82, 88, 105, 136.  Pray the scriptural verse: “Lord, to whom shall we go; you have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

Strong cultural pressure dictates that one should move on—that despite Church canons, one ought to live in an arrangement, not sanctioned by the Church, in an arrangement which brings other concerns.

In her book, "On Death and Dying," the Swiss physician, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, (d 2004) identifies five stages of loss experienced by terminally-ill cancer patients:  denial and isolation, anger and rage, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Because these stages of life are a universal principle, they are applicable to the separated and divorced.  

With the acceptance of one’s new status, there are countless opportunities for finding a way to live a creative and satisfying life.  The suffering will not go away, but the separated or divorced person can come to discern in prayer a new vocation that brings with it its own joys and fruitfulness.  Committing oneself to parish or civic activities is one place to start. Returning to school for an advanced degree or for a new professional or a vocational interest is another creative way to grow and to help others. There is life after this tragedy, and God has gifted each of us with ingenuity and creativity to transform our lives into a mosaic of supreme beauty.

Sr. Joan L. Roccasalvo, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY, holds degrees in philosophy (Ph.L), musicology (Ph.D.), theology (M.A.), and liturgical studies (Ph.D). She has taught at all levels of Catholic education and writes with a particular focus on a theology of beauty and the sacred arts. Her e-mail address is [email protected].
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees
Papal Foundation Pilgrimage
Exorcism or prayer of liberation?
First meeting of Commission for Protection of Minors

Liturgical Calendar

July 22, 2014

Saint Mary Magdalene

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:24-43


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Mic 7: 14-15, 18-20

Saint of the Day

St. Mary Magdalene »


Homily of the Day

Mt 12:38-42


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: