The details are none of my business. Thank you.
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.
[Scroll down for the update]
Some sad news about Bob Schindler, one of the most decent Catholic gentlemen my family and I have even been blessed to call our friend. He passed away of a heart attack this past week. Most of you know Bob as a loving father who for years fought to save the life of his daughter Terri Schindler-Schiavo. When the state permitted the man to whom Terri was still legally married (despite the fact he was engaged to another woman) to take Terri’s life, Bob became a leading activist within the pro-life movement for people with disabilities.
Here is what Bobby Schindler, Jr., Bob’s son who is also a pro-life leader, shared about the passing of his father:
Statement from Bobby Schindler Regarding the Death of His Father, Robert Schindler
I am heartbroken over the loss of my father and yet I know at this moment he is rejoicing with my sister, Terri. My dad was a man of integrity, character and compassion who was blessed with a close and loving family. He taught all three of his children to respect and value life and to love our fellow man.
Even at the height of the battle to save my sister Terri’s life, when his patience and temperance was near exhaustion, he managed to display a gentleness of spirit. Yet it was his unfathomable strength that allowed him to shoulder up his own heartache and lead us through our darkest hour.
What greater legacy could a man leave behind?
I can understand your heartbreak, Bobby. Your father was a good man, as Sonya and I learned quickly when we joined your family on the picket line down in Florida. I will never forget Day 6 of the 2003 protest when, with Terri about to pass the point of no return, your father came over to offer us some cold drinks and Sonya a more comfortable seat.
Sonya was nine months pregnant with our second child, but she insisted we keep making the 90 minute trip each day. We asked him how he and Mary were doing.
“Worried,” he replied.
Sonya and I expressed our understanding and sympathy, that it might be too late for Terri.
“Yes, we’re worried about Terri,” Bob said. “But we’re worried about you, Sonya and the new baby too. Her due date is tomorrow, isn’t it? We will be praying for a safe delivery. Let us know if there is anything we can do for you, and make sure you let us as soon as the baby comes.”
I looked into his eyes. He was sincere. I was flabbergasted. His daughter was perilously close to being taken from him, he hadn’t slept in months, fifteen video cameras were stalking him at every second, and he was expressing concern for our little family who had come to support him.
As I struggled to make sense of this, he began to tell me about the birth of each of his children. It was then that I understood. He was a man who practiced what he preached, who was fighting not only for his daughter Terri, but for my daughter who would be born in coming days, for your daughter, for all of our children. I had known that he was sincere, that he wasn’t just show, but until that moment I had not realized the depth of his sincerity and love.
Sorry, the tears won’t allow me to go on much longer.
You’re a good man, Bob. You taught us all what a father’s love for his family really means. I pray you go strait to Heaven because you’ve done your Purgatory here on earth. And when you see Terri, please give her a hug from us.
Rest in the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my friend.
UPDATE: Here is the original 2003 CL blog entry, written near the “hospice”, shortly after this discussion took place with Bob (Terri is doing fine, her parents are good people). For newer readers, Catholic Light was the main Catholic blog providing hospice-side updates in 2003 when the Florida judiciary ordered Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s feeding tube pulled. Here’s how I described our conversation then. I’m trying to read it myself but can’t get past the tears. It’s too much of a reminder of what a decent and loving father he was:
Terri’s parents are among the kindest and most decent people I have ever met. Before we left to return home, Terri’s father took us aside and asked if he could speak with us because he had heard from some of the nurses and paramedics at the vigil (the ones on our side) that Sonya looked like she was only a few days away from labor. He was concerned we might try and sneak up to the vigil between now and then.
To be honest, this wasn’t an unreal possibility since the hospital is about half-way between where we live and the hospice where Terri is staying. Nevertheless, Mr. Schindler said: “As a father, I’m here for my baby. We really appreciate your prayers and support, but you two need to be there for your baby now. We know you’re with us in prayer. But please come back with the baby as soon as you’re rested and able to travel.” I mention this because it is typical of the wisdom and compassion one finds with Terri’s parents. Even as they undergo such a tremendous cross, they show great consideration in generosity in wanting to make sure we weren’t neglecting our own family needs for the sake of theirs. Needless to say, we were stunned. “How could they even worry about us at a time like this?” Sonya asked. For my own part, I don’t think I could be this self-less if that was my daughter in the hospice. However, this is just one example that reveals the character of Terri’s family.
Another of this year’s Eurovision pop songs has a Christian significance, the Bosnian song “Pokusaj” (“I’ll try”).
The singer Laka dances in poses that remind us of the development of man and apes, but according to his lyric, evolution isn’t all that important: Man didn’t come from the monkeys or out of the sea, he came from love:
The musical style is stadium pop, sort of an homage to Springsteen.
The Eurovision international song contest for 2008 was held a few weeks ago, and while many of the songs in the competition were forgettable pop numbers or lame jokes, a few stood out in an interesting way. The beautiful, impassioned entry from Portugal, while not exactly a religious song, could only have been created in a Catholic culture.
The lyrics and an English translation are available on-line.