The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 7th of October, 2012

The introduction of divorce to Ireland is something that has been the focus of much debate.  Especially with regard to how much it has affected the family unit.  The fact remains, however, that couples who wish to get married do not intend to divorce or separate.  Their intention is to remain united and in love for a very long time to come.  Those who wish to marry have found something in each other which completes them and makes them whole.  Nobody intentionally seeks to make themselves incomplete and fragmented by separating themselves from the one who makes them feel complete.

Those who get married commit to each other for life.  This demands of them that they give of themselves to this relationship.  Marriage requires a huge personal investment.  However, like the ads on the radio remind us - investments may rise as well as fall.

Investing oneself in a relationship is, of course, done with the intention and hope of finding that commitment to be reciprocated.  The marriage relationship is a complex interchange of two human persons with all the complexity that this implies.  When this doesn't work out it is a terrible blow.  When something goes on it is very difficult and can be undermining of even the mental wellness of the individuals involved.  And yet, people do separate.

I think the important point here is to focus on the why of divorce rather than the fact of divorce.  The fact of divorce focuses on the minutiae of settlements, legality, definitive separation and different directions.  The why of divorce is much more messy and is full of emotions, suspicions, hurts, tears and fears.

The why of divorce is important because it is there that we can appreciate the very real human tragedy involved.  It is a tragedy because something has gone wrong.  The dream has been shattered and the love that was felt is gone and the two people who loved each other begin to wonder was it ever there at all.

Something having gone wrong is how sin is described in the New Testament, hardness of heart (see Jesus reference to Moses) is also a common term for sinfulness in the Bible.  This is not to say that those who divorce are sinful - not at all.  The point is that as human beings we live our lives in the shadow of attitudes that are often sinful - that is at the core of the doctrine of Original Sin.  As human beings we are fragile, vulnerable and liable to make mistakes.  The why of divorce is not due to some personal fault of the people involved - it is about the reality that each of the two people involved is imperfect (like the rest of the human race).  This imperfection means that we can very often not be able to bring to completion even the things that we dearly desire (Augustine calls this consupiscence which he identifies as one of the results of Original Sin).

Divorce happens because people are human and imperfect.  It is another manifestation of the challenge of living in relationship with others.  Asking for God's presence in our difficulties is something we do easily in almost every aspect of our lives - unfortunately, it seems to be a resource that is not always used when we encounter relationship difficulties.

Divorce is another example of where we need to care for one another.  Part of this care is to entrust one another to God


Article posted on 8th of October 2012

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