An English-language version of Maria Pia Campanella’s book “The Gift of Self” is now available to the general public. The work is a widely praised pastoral aid for spouses who are separated or divorced but remain faithful to their marriages in a society which tells them to “move on.”
Lisa Everett, who co-directs the diocesan Family and Pro-Life Office in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, previewed the book in 2009.
“This book contains a beautiful and profound spirituality for spouses who find themselves drawn into the mystery of Christ's passion and death because of separation or divorce,” Everett commented, according to Spero News. “The author offers helpful direction to parishes and pastoral ministers in providing concrete material, emotional and spiritual support to those who have been abandoned by a spouse.”
Fr. Christopher Zugger, a Byzantine Catholic priest from New Mexico, reviewed the book for Spero News. He characterized it as a spiritual manual and recommended it for the libraries of tribunal offices and for retreats.
“It is a totally different approach to the spouses who are holding to their marital vows by living celibate lives, as opposed to the well meaning who say ‘get on with your life.’”
According to Fr. Zugger, Campanella draws on the work of the prophet Hosea to call for the abandoned spouse to continue to love and to pray for the spouse who left and to let God's love act in the situation.”
“Learning to live out the marital vocation while being alone is simply an attitude that is not found in America, and I would think not in most western societies. In that, this little book is revolutionary!"
A support network of divorced and separated Catholics helped to bring “The Gift of Self” from Italy to the United States as part of a project with the non-profit Mary’s Advocates. Network members Tim Nolan, Bai Macfarlane and Greg LeMieux have provided copies to directors of diocesan family life offices across the country.
Catholic bookstore managers and others also received copies of the book at the Catholic Marketing Network trade show in Philadelphia on August 4.
Macfarlane told Spero News that many bookstore owners said the book is “really needed.”
“Many bookstore owners told us this book is really needed. Several said they had friends who were divorced, remain faithful to marriage, and would really appreciate having this book that offers support from a Catholic perspective.”
The support network is working to secure recognition from the U.S. Catholic bishops and has held monthly telephone conference calls.