Group Helps Separated Catholics Remain Faithful to Marriage

Almost a Vocation Within the Vocation, Says Auxiliary Bishop of Palermo

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PALERMO, Sicily, JUNE 8, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A separated 62-year-old mother tries to carry out a three-step process for other Catholics who struggle after parting from their spouses.



"Reconstruction of the person who lives acutely the suffering of rejection, forgiveness of the spouse, and renewal of the marital 'yes' to God," are the stages of the spiritual journey undertaken by members of a group called Saint Mary of Cana, according to its coordinator, Maria Pia Campanella.

The group is comprised of separated persons who remain faithful to the marital bond.

The diocesan Commission for Family Pastoral Care is responsible for supporting these separated faithful who are not living with someone else and who seek a spiritual program that includes faithfulness to marital indissolubility and the sacrament they once received.

Last Sunday, Campanella organized a Day of Reflection and Prayer, which concluded with a Mass and the "renewal of the yes," reported the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Ongoing sanctification

Pasquale Chiancone, director of the diocesan Center for Family Pastoral Care, explained: "Although a couple is separated, the indissolubility gives the faithful spouse the necessary grace to continue to fulfill the mission of marriage: one's own sanctification and that of one's spouse."

It was the goal of Campanella, who over the last few years has traveled around Italy and abroad to study what the Church proposes to those who are separated and who do not intend to start living with someone else.

"I have been married since 1968 and have been separated from my husband since 1990," said the retired teacher, who has three adult children. "Despite the great sorrow, I understood immediately that I would not try to 'remake my life,' as the saying goes. However, I wanted to know the meaning of my suffering.

"What has really sustained me is daily Mass, the Word of God read every day, and personal prayer which I raise to God from my wounded heart. To this I have added reading of the documents of the Church on marriage, trying to understand the meaning of indissolubility in conjugal separation."

Seeking a specific program, Campanella realized that pastoral care for the separated was almost never geared to helping those who do not remarry, and virtually never offered meditations on the sacrament of marriage.

Appreciating the sacrament

"The topic is never spoken about with ease," she observed. Hence the decision of Auxiliary Bishop Salvatore Di Cristina to start a group of spouses faithful to the sacrament of marriage.

Campanella explained: "The group does not meet only to pray, but tries to appreciate the sacrament of marriage and reflect further on the meaning of indissolubility in the situation of conjugal separation.

"The stages of the journey are the reconstruction of the person who lives acutely the suffering of rejection, forgiveness of the spouse, and renewal of the marital 'yes' to God. The wound is there, but it is important that it not become a plague or gangrene."

Bishop Di Cristina, who guides the group, said: "These persons must be helped and introduced into community life. This program of spirituality is interesting so that those who take part in it can support one another in consolation.

"Theirs is a communion of hope, almost a vocation within the marriage vocation. It is the demonstration that the sacrament of marriage is lasting, because it reflects God's faithfulness, who never regrets the love he gives."