In part II we briefly explored the life of St. Thomas More, a great lover and defender of the truth. In this final installment on the love of truth, let us explore just why the particular truth for which Sir Thomas More gave his life, the indissolubility marriage, is so crucial.
As has previously been stated, marriage is the representation of Christ’s love for His spouse, the Church. If we would only view marriage in this light and determine to follow the example of that most perfect relationship, all of our marriage problems would be solved.
Henry VIII was unfortunately one of the many throughout the centuries who refused to correctly understand the institution of marriage. He, like so many others, demanded to remake marriage into a tool for his own personal satisfaction and happiness. Henry rejected the notion that his love for Catherine of Aragon was meant to reflect the love of Christ for His Church, and he instead chose to abandon his lawful spouse. Henry thus effectively made a mockery of the institution of marriage–just as many of us do today.
Christ could never abandon His spouse, yet we have somehow come to believe that we have more power than God. He once promised that He would remain with His Church, His spouse, all days even until the end of the world. We make a similar promise when we stand before God at the foot of our altars and claim, “Until death do us part.”
For all too many of us, that promise turns out to be a lie.
What a dreadful thought, to imagine standing before our Infinite Creator and having to admit that we lied in His presence and made a mockery of the very institution which He established to reflect His infinite goodness and love.
Better to suffer the heaviest of crosses here on Earth rather than to make a mockery of God’s love for just a few relatively short happy moments during our mortal lives.
Now it must be mentioned that of course there are times when the only possible solution to a couple’s problems is separation. No one can deny this. When one party determines to abandon their lawful spouse, the innocent party can only hope, pray, and plead that the guilty party will come to their senses. There are most certainly in today’s world far too many cases where separation,and even a legal divorce, is the only option.
But do the crimes of one party dissolve the union between the two? Does the innocent party get a clean slate with which to work? Is the union of husband and wife no longer meant to reflect the union of Christ with His Church?
Of course not.
No matter the severity of crimes one party may commit, the two must still strive to imitate Christ and His spouse. We have to understand that although our marital relationship is meant to reflect a divine relationship, the parties involved in our marital relationship are merely very flawed human components. The husband may not always reflect the impeccable Christ, and the wife may not always reflect the ever-faithful Church.
But we must try. Can any of us imagine Christ abandoning members of His Church when they have fallen into sin and error? Never! His love is all the more intensified, and He leaves the 99 just sheep to go and search after the one poor lost sheep. Our attitude towards our poor spouses should be no different. If one party has lost his way from the flock of Christ, our love should be, like Christ’s, all the more intensified. We should seek night and day after the lost sheep, our spouse, and never rest until he is returned to the flock. Is there any other way in which we could be more Christ-like? When one party of a marriage is steeped in sin, they are then in more need than ever of the special love and assistance of their spouse.
Will we abandon them at the very time when they are most in need?
Unfortunately, the answer is all too often, yes. The demands placed on the innocent party are tremendous and seemingly unbearable at times, but we must remember Christ’s promises. Just as He promised to remain with His Church all days even until the end of the world, He has promised to remain present in our own marriages all days even until the end of our lives. God gives man no cross too heavy for him to bear. We can, with His help, work through any problem.
The moment one party chooses to remarry while the other party is still living, however, they are effectively telling God that His help is not desired. Rather than stay true to the ideal of marriage, some poor souls choose to forego the supernatural aspect of marriage, the resemblance of Christ’s relationship with His Church, for the purely natural aspect of marriage, inter-spousal consolation and happiness.
But God is not fooled.
He remembers the vows that were made, “Until death do us part.” He knows precisely what marriage is, the Earthly symbol of His Heavenly love. And He knows that just as His relationship with His Church will never be broken, no power on Earth can dissolve the marriage bond between a man and a woman. The very moment a couple stands before God at the foot of the altar to take their vows, they are acknowledging that they are to be a reflection of Christ’s union with His Church. God does not forget vows, and He will always hold the two parties accountable.
This is the goodness, this is the truth, for which St. Thomas More gave his great life. How easy it would have been for St. Thomas to remain reticent and show implicit acceptance of the king’s crime. But no, when the truth was on the line, St. Thomas did what all good men do. He rose up to the occasion, and he demanded the truth could not be contradicted. Oh, that we had more valiant souls like him today.
If, dear reader, you find yourself to be one those poor souls detailed above; either abandoned by your spouse or have done the abandoning yourself; if you, whether guilty or innocent of the initial separation, have chosen to remarry while your indissoluble marriage bond remains in place, there is no need to despair. Nor should you rush to defend yourself and your actions. This is no trial. This writer is no judge.
Yet there is an Eternal Judge waiting to pronounce your sentence at a time of which you are unaware. What will He find when your trail begins its session? Will you be one of the few today who stay true to their marriage vows, thus reflecting the goodness and following the law of your Eternal Judge? Or will you be one of the many who manifest contempt for His law and the love which His goodness professes for His eternal spouse?
If you find yourself to be of the latter group, do not dither. Do not make excuses. Do not postpone your conversion. Do not tell yourself that their will be time on your deathbed. The only effective way to solve a problem is to tackle that problem head on. Be honest with yourself. Have you remained true to your marriage vows? If your Eternal Judge were to visit you today, would He find you innocent?
If not, ask Him for help! He is the Eternal Lawgiver, and only He can help you conform to His laws. Do not pretend that your situation is too peculiar, too tough, for Him to solve. It is simply a tactic of the devil to make problems appear worse than they are. Everything is as nothing to God. No thing is hard or impossible to Him. No matter the severity of your situation, He could remedy it all in a single instant!
But only if we ask Him. Remember, if you are lost, He is seeking you. The Good Shepherd will leave the multitudes of His fold to go and search after the one lost sheep. He is calling out your name and begging for you to come home. All you have to do is simply reach out your hand to Him, The Eternal Good Shepherd. He will take you by the hand, He will lead you back to His fold, and He will protect you from all of the wolves seeking your life. There will be a most grand celebration amongst the entire flock upon your return, and your reward for choosing the truth will be infinite.
Will you delay? Will you remain reticent as He calls out your name and begs for you to come home? Pray to Saint Thomas More to obtain for you the strength to speak up. Cry out with St. Thomas the name of your God, and He will fly to your side. Do not delay. He hangs on the cross with His arms open to embrace you, His heart open to receive you. Go to Him. Love the truth. Embrace the truth. Call out His name. Do not delay. Do not delay.
Saint Thomas More, pray for us.