By Rose Sweet
Jesus fell three times.
That’s how a lot of divorced Catholics feel as they trudge uphill through battles of loss, anger, depression, loneliness, court battles, custody arrangements, and more. Their road is long and it seems whenever they get ahead, the weight of their cross drives them back down. It’s vital for those who minister to the divorced to maintain balance in the way they help. Let’s draw two clear and complementary truths from the way of sorrows: Let them be comforted
At the start of Jesus’ passion, the Father permitted his Son to sweat blood in the garden but also sent an angel to console Jesus. On the way to Golgotha, Veronica also comforted Jesus, by the gentle wiping of the blood from His brow and the sweat from His face. Consolation has always been part of the spiritual road along with times of dark desolation.
Some people who minister to the divorced have a Veronica personality that is loving and gentle – in a sense ”feminine” although many men have this gift as well by their natural temperament. They’re best at listening, affirming, nodding, smiling, hugging, and encouraging pats on the back. The divorced need that. But they need more than that, too. Let them carry the cross
Suffering is hard to watch, but it can be cleansing, purifying, and instructive. Rather than try to take the cross away – or minimize it – it is better to help the divorced see the hard truths about their lives that they may not have wanted to see before. Do they need to get to confession? Is there forgiveness that needs to be sought? Are they stuck in fear, anger, or pride? For their very salvation, this rocky road may be how God wants to call them to go higher.
Some who assist the divorced can be like Simon – they help to carry the load for a short time or only when absolutely necessary. It will be easier for those with a certain personality to confidently teach the truth about love, marriage, sin, and divorce. They seem less comforting but they will not be afraid to make waves if it means bringing the truth into the light. Even though this might seem a more “masculine” approach, both men and women can have this gift of boldness.
Both comforting and challenging are necessary for a balanced approach to ministry. Jesus had the “work” of salvation do in His suffering; similarly we should not try to comfort or carry other’s crosses for them forever. All are called to help, but not to stand in the way of what is necessary for true healing – helping the divorced person along the way, past their hurts and fears, to a total surrender of their heart to the Father, back to God in the fullest way possible, through His Church and the Sacraments.
Yes, Jesus fell three times . . . but with the help of others He got up three times, too.
Rose Sweet is an author, speaker, and producer of “The Catholic’s DIVORCE SURVIVAL Guide,” a 12-show DVD series available at www.CatholicsDIVORCE.com . You can read more about Rose at her website www.RoseSweet.com . Summer 2011