I don’t normally respond to anonymous commentators who leave false email addresses while engaging in whisper campaigns. However, Anonyman (aka “Nothanks@youdonotcare.atall”) provides me with an opportunity to re-visit a piece Jacqui Rapp and I co-authored after the marriage breakdown of several celebrity Catholic couples. Anonyman writes, in response to my post asking whether LC/RC can repent, the following:
The adulterous “professional” never will have to repent. He can divorce his wife with the blessing of the Church, knock up his little baby girl and stay with her for the good of the children and even apply for nullity, which some canonist quack like Vere or his ilk can’t wait to grant. [cut]
I know this to be true. I am living it. Pete knows this to be true as well, but I am sure has some lame excuse. All canonists do.
This story is stupid.
I’m on record several places as to why the surge of annulments among Catholics who did not practice Church teaching in Humanae Vitae: it’s the consequences of theCulture of Death. For instance, see this Catholic Light post from 2003.
But what about the breakdown (or major strain) in marriages among Catholics who accept Church teaching in Humanae Vitae? What about the breakdown in marriages between couples who practice NFP and are active in pro-life and Catholic apostolate (Which I imagine describes most of you reading this blog)?
Some whisperers will find it lame, but here’s my excuse: It’s taken from my experiences watching the breakdown of such marriages… As married laypeople, some people lose sight of the fact God called them to the married state, and not the consecrated or clerical state.
It’s that simple. It’s also tempting to overlook when one believes oneself engaged in God’s work. Yet it’s the reason I’ve dropped off the Catholic circuit and slowed down my writing apostolate since God blessed us with child number four last year. It’s the reason I will blog two or three times a day for a month, then stop for months at a time. As much as I love you, dear readers, my first duty is toward my wife and children.
A couple years ago, Jacqui Rapp – who often co-authors with me on issues concerning marriage, family life, and annulments – and I, noting the breakdown of marriages involving several people in high-profile Catholic and/or pro-life apostolates, wrote the following article: Family Before Apostolate: Pro-Life Activism Begins at Home.
The article was written (originally for Catholics United for the Faith) as a conversation between Jacqui and me. One of Jacqui’s more important points is the following:
As our Lord teaches in the Gospels, “The harvest is bountiful but the workers are few.” It is not unusual for the few to find themselves overworked. Given the persecution of marriage and family within modern society, we can become so committed to combating the culture of death that we lose sight of our own marriages and families. This is one of the reasons the Roman Church has traditionally required her clergy to remain celibate.
Now, this is not to say that the married state is incompatible with ministry or apostolate. Personally, having a family has helped me become more compassionate, while at the same time remaining faithful to the Church’s teaching in my work as a lay canonist. Being married and having children often opens us to graces and personal discoveries not previously experienced. As lay judges, both Pete and I understand certain nuances of marriage and family life that can easily be overlooked by our peers in the world of canon law who are celibate priests..
To which I responded:
In contrast, as married laymen we cannot devote the same time and effort to spreading the Gospel as that devoted by our ordained colleagues. Spouses have needs, as do children. Each of us undertakes these responsibilities toward our respective spouses and future children when we get married. The legitimate needs of spouse and children must come before the needs of our apostolic work.
Coincidentally, given that it just arrived back from the printer yesterday and is being shipped out to bookstores this week, Jacqui and I expanded this essay into the last chapter of our new book on marriage and annulments, which you can order from publisher Saint Anthony Messenger Press here.
So yes, changing diapers and plunging a toilet after my three-year-old flushed his rubber dolphin is rather lame when compared to the cloak-and-dagger excitement of taking on a codename and engaging in whisper campaigns for the Kingdom of God. But as lame as it is, it’s my vocation as one called to the married state.