What a beautiful and blessed morning, learning that it is official that Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia in September, 2015! "The World Meeting on Families" is what I'm most passionate about and is constantly on my mind. I passionately write about success and how to connect the dots that helped me. I owe my surviving and keeping a family together to my Catholic upbringing and spiritual search. As beloved Mother Teresa quoted: "The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family." Being widowed and having a family tragedy nearly destroyed me. I couldn't bear to think of what it might do to an innocent child.
Pope Francis's visit to Philadelphia will truly be the highlight in my life and maybe yours, too. I continue to keep my heart open to learn more about the concerns regarding traditional marriage that might affect us all. Below is a tribute to the Catholic Church on family and marriage as the foundation that served my soul's highest interest. Whether you are religious or not, perhaps there is something here that might relate to you as well. As I wrote in Imprinted Wisdom:
The Power of Love
My parents had been very strict, raising us with morals and values through the word of God, rather than in the ways of the world. Those values stayed with me and I still practice them as much as possible with my own children. I feel blessed that I've endured some things in marriage that others may have given up over, and feel that Church teachings reflect the true picture of marriage, divorce, and their effects on children that we cannot always see.
I have seen those vows‒"for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health"‒neglected, even though we should view them as a blessing and a protection. In my marriage, and in my life, I have learned not to pass judgment; I also do not feel that entering into a marriage agreement or leaving it should be taken lightly. With more than half of all marriages ending in divorce, we need to give this matter serious consideration as there are many long-range consequences for everyone involved.
This is not a stand against divorce, but rather a stand for love. I have seen examples of people ending a marriage only to realize later that they hadn't been so bad off after all. In the Church, discernment, listening to our hearts, and deep prayer and meditation, are all called for before entering into or ending such a union. But many who choose divorce are abused, physically or mentally, and in those cases, not only their happiness, but also their lives are in danger, and surely God does not intend for them to remain in harm's way.
One of my heartfelt prayers was to be able to keep my family together, and this prayer came with the greatest challenges and obstacles. Staying together as a family is probably one of the hardest things in the world for some of us, and it surely wasn't always easy for me. In a marriage, when we think that someone else, in some other place, would bring us greater joy, most of the time it's only our thoughts that we need to change. In those instances, our disharmony comes from inside us, from within our own minds.
Staying in a marriage or union for the sake of keeping the family together can provide just as many challenges to overcome as divorce. But the persevering individuals who stay in the union may have been able to do so by finding peace of mind through faith, or else by investing in other aspects of their marriage, perhaps by focusing on the children or on their profession, something that gives them a sense of fulfillment, thereby taking pressure off their partner. This can deepen their relationship with God and allow them to grow. Some who choose to leave the union or marriage because of disharmony, rather than abuse, often find new obstacles and challenges in the next partner or circumstance. That is why it is such a gift when we at last begin to see the truth; for some of us, our greatest opportunity to start over comes from staying right where we are.
My own marriage improved greatly only when I silently vowed to take God as my spiritual husband. In doing so, I could actually feel the joy coming from my earthly husband, almost as though a weight had been lifted from him. And I found that my own joy and contentment grew as well. A sacred vow of emotional interdependence and a reliance on the word of God is a marriage made in heaven, whether we stay single or not.
I relate deeply to 1 Corinthians 7: 7-9 because it gives me a clearer understanding that God knows us, His children, better than we know ourselves. The scripture reminds me that no one is going to fill us with as much love as God does. And maybe this is the first vow that we need to make, in a marriage of the Sacred, before making marriage vows with another person. To me, this union with God seems to be the only kind that will keep us on the right path, married or not.
Could it be that the holy marriage described in the sacrament of Holy Orders, in which priests are ordained, is actually meant for all of us, not just for priests? A marriage made in heaven, based on a love and unity through the Holy Spirit that no one else can ever separate us from, makes more sense the longer I ponder it.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's
works graced locations from churches to public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles and the works of Marianne Williamson among many others. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom.