Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Divorce parties and family photographs

A divorce can bring a variety of reactions, depending upon each person affected, one's attitude toward marriage and the situation at hand.  In a Marriage in the News column I recently wrote for the USCCB's "For Your Marriage" site, I focus on the contrast between lavish "divorce parties" and an adult child of divorce who isn't sure the best way to handle childhood family photographs.  Read about it here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

World Youth Day's long-reaped fruits

I still remember the shock of the difference between Toronto, Canada and Cologne, Germany's World Youth Days.  The first was such a brilliant celebration, excellently executed, with a million young people joining St. John Paul II for his final World Youth Day.  But the second seemed flat, in my eyes.  The event took place in three different cities, limiting the amount of time the pilgrims were together.  Pope Benedict did not ride through the crowds for his entrance, but rather on a boat on the Rhine, which was difficult to see.  At the time, I was disappointed in my second World Youth Day experience.

Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in Madrid.
But then we were participating in the walking pilgrimage to the all night vigil in Cologne, when I noticed the locals watching from their windows and porches.  They saw hundreds of thousands of young people from throughout the world making their way to an evening with the Holy Father.  They saw faith and sacrifice and trust and solidarity.

And then I realized -- the Germany World Youth Day was not for us, the pilgrims, in the way that Toronto's event had been.  No, this World Youth Day was for Germany.  This was a gift to a country whose faith was fading, an invitation to a greater love and joy.

So, when I saw the "First Things" headline, "Is Spain Regaining Its Faith?  And Why Isn't Anyone Else," I knew the answer had to involve, at least in part, World Youth Day.  The event was held there in 2011.  It was to be Pope Benedict XVI's final one.  It wasn't like Toronto's, at least for me, (though, admittedly, I was now a chaperone, not a soon-to-be freshman in college), but the streets of secular Spain were teaming with youth, the subways and buses were filled with song.  As we hiked to the field for the overnight vigil, generous Spaniards maneuvered their shower heads out their windows to offer some cool relief from the blazing sun.  

World Youth Day is the gift that keeps on giving.  Denver is a city transformed by Pope John Paul II's visit in 1993.  The cities chosen cannot just be the best logistical location for massive crowds.  The cities chosen become centers of renewal.  And these cities on a hill, popping up around the world, will undoubtedly contribute to the re-evangelization of many people, families and nations. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

"I said my vows to a person, not a computer program"

I'm not a daily Matt Walsh reader, but when his articles have been passed my way, I often find myself shaking my head in agreement.  This one really hits the nail on the head.  It's a response to the divorce-friendly culture, the oft-heard excuse, "My spouse changed."  It's one man's fierce loyalty to a person and to an institution, a Sacrament, a place that has the spouses instead of the spouses having "it."  

So, Matt Walsh has a few things to say on the subject.  To get you started:

“People sometimes change,” says the wise sage.
No, people always change. They never stop changing. Life is change. 
Everything is moving, everything is transforming. Everything is changing, all of the time. Life is more of a river than a stagnant, mosquito-infested puddle.
(Dear Lord, look at what this guy has done. He’s got me so worked up that I’m speaking in country-pop lyrics. “Life is a river.” God help me.)
The fact is that you can leave the room for ten seconds, come back, and everything will be slightly different. That’s true of the furniture, the curtains, the carpet, and yes, the people. Especially the people.
Divorcing someone because they change? You might as well divorce them because they breathe.
I’m not making light of it. I know that sometimes people change in a painful and inconvenient manner. I know that my wife could change in ways that don’t cooperate with my projections of how she should be and feel and think.
I guess that’s what people really mean when they say they want a divorce because their spouse “changed.” It’s not change itself they oppose, but changes that challenge them and make them uncomfortable. What they should say is: “I want a divorce because she changed in a way that doesn’t fit inside my comfort zone.”
It’s hard, I know. Every day I’m relearning this one basic truth: my wife has her own brain, her own feelings, her own soul. We are linked now through the bond of matrimony, but she is still her and I am still me. She is a force, a hurricane, a wildfire. She is not a puppet dancing on a string. She is a self — her own self — powerful and mysterious.