With today’s post, we would like to offer some tools to help those who would find themselves in a difficult situation, yet desire to draw closer to the Church and renew their relationship with God.
Each one of us is called to search and respond to God in our personal situation, situations which can be – and many times are – complex. With this in mind, we have prepared a few tips for those who have gone through a divorce, remarried, begun another family and are on their way home.
These can also be useful for those who minister to or are friends with those who live in this situation. We must all do our best to manifest Our Father’s warm embrace.
1. Believe in God’s Mercy
The prodigal son took one step forward and, out of nowhere, he began to hear shouts, howls, exclamations of joy, jubilee, and surprise. He knew that voice; he had heard it since he was young. Suddenly, he was on the ground. Someone had tackled him with a huge. The kisses that he received on that road rekindled something in him that he hadn’t felt for a long time: he was loved.
Realizing that it was his father, he pulled himself together and began saying everything that he “should” say. He had practiced the best explanations to excuse himself. He had prepared the best confession. But it wasn’t necessary. Because mercy doesn’t demand explanations.
Thus, the first step is to believe that God’s mercy and welcome is real.
2. Acknowledge Your Pain and Accept Your Mistakes
The path of the Prodigal Son is one that we all walk, time and time again. It is a path that draws us away from our Father, from his mercy, grace, and love. Be it because of our own errors or because of the consequences of other people’s mistakes, we have turned our hearts from our Father. Perhaps now find ourselves in the middle of the road of life and desire to be embraced and kissed with that merciful love. This is one of the most basic and fundamental desires of the human person: to be loved, to be valued, to be forgiven.
Draw close to God without fear. Ask for forgiveness for your failures but also pray for consolation. Going through a divorce can be one of the most painful and anguishing moments in life. Share your pain with the Lord, let him comfort you. Allow him to reveal to you the path towards his reconciliation.
**It’s worth clarifying here there are cases in which divorce doesn’t seem so much a mistake as a necessity. Situations of domestic abuse, for example, are just one of the legitimate reasons for divorce that the Church recognizes (cfr. CCC 2383).
3. Commit to your Christian life
Having received that loving embrace, full of longing for all the time that you were distant, now is the time to commit. Now is time to discover that the best way to receive God’s love is a commitment (and not always a comfortable one!). You must commit to living a life that is in tune with the customs of the Father’s house. Here we aren’t talking about some imposition of rules; we are talking about responsibility. When we live in someone’s house, we too need to take care of its upkeep.
For tips on how to live out your faith in your daily life, take a look here.
4. Look for help and allow someone to walk with you
The community doesn’t always know the best way to offer that loving embrace that God wants to give you. But this doesn’t mean that we aren’t welcome or loved. Don’t give up on looking for it in your encounters with others, with other married couples and families. Don’t give up on looking for it in the company and consolation of a good priest or a loving friend that is secure in his or her faith. To receive that embrace, we need to allow others to do so. And once you have found those people, stay close!
Along these same lines, Cardinal Scola once accompanied about how important it is to be accompanied by regular meetings with a priest to discuss one’s faith journey. “These gestures can express the desire to change and to ask God for forgiveness while waiting for one’s personal situation to develop in such a way as to allow one to approach the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.”
5. Make a spiritual communion of desire frequently. If possible, every time you go to mass.
Marriage is an indissoluble sacrament that binds a man and woman together for life. Together, the couple is called to love one another and seek out the wellbeing of their children. Perhaps you didn’t understand all of the implications or the meaning of marriage when you were married (this is quite common). Or perhaps there were circumstances that made this union unviable, for reasons that you know in your heart.
Now, just because your heart is not in grace, doesn’t mean that the desire of God has disappeared. It is always there. It is strong. Although you cannot receive the Eucharist, you can always make an act of spiritual communion of desire.
According to Cardenal Schola, the act of spiritual communion of desire can be understood as: “the practice of communing with the eucharistic Christ in prayer, of offering to him one’s desire for his Body and Blood, together with one’s sorrow over the impediments to the fulfillment of that desire.”
Here is a prayer that can accompany you in receiving Christ in your heart.
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
shower your mercy upon me
and help me to do everything that I can
to walk towards that day where I can embrace you fully in the Eucharist.
The original article was written for Catholic-Link Spanish by Gabriel Saucedo.