Let me tell you a story. I’m no good at telling them, but I’ll do what I can.
Maria and her husband, Noway Jose, were not actually Hispanic. I just like the names. They were Catholic, however, and quite unusual in modern society, in that they actually believed all that stuff! Incredible!
They even believed the stuff about sex and having babies! I know, right! So after about 17 years of normal, married life, they had a bunch of kids. I’m gonna say seven, because it’s a nice, theological number. Life was pretty good and amazingly they had got to this point without killing each other. Or the kids. So that was all good.
They lived in the suburbs in some kind of an English-speaking country, somewhere in what had been The Greatest Civilisation Ever Known Formerly Called Christendom and which was now rapidly imploding.
Maria was very concerned about the future, especially for her children. Some days, she wondered if maybe Satan’s Special 100 years were up, or would she have to wait until the 100th anniversary of Fatima for that? Other days she wondered if maybe the Sweet Meteor of Death would take care of it. She was well prepared, however, with a large supply of piña colada at the ready. But most of the time, she was just taking care of business and focussing on The Joy of Sox. With so many people in the family, the sock basket was always full and of course, there were very few pairs.
Unfortunately, before either the arrival of the Sweet Meteor, or the hundredth anniversary of Fatima, or the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, Maria was astonished, one sunny day, to hear her husband say, “Maria, I don’t want any more kids. You have to go on the Pill, or I’m leaving you.” After her jaw had hit the floor and she had a few moments to recover, she replied, “Who the hell are you and what have you done with Noway Jose?” Actually, she didn’t say that at all. I have no idea how she responded, apart from indicating a firm negative. But naturally, she was a mess.
It got worse, of course. What Maria didn’t know was that Noway Jose had recently started an affair with a woman called Belinda. Still, it’s a big deal, even for people who go off the rails to just up and leave, so he hung around for a while, trying to cajole Maria into getting the Evil Drug from their doctor. She would have none of it, however. Between the very many crying sessions (away from her children as much as possible) she somehow, unaccountably, kept up with the cooking and if not the cleaning, at least the socks. Somebody vacuumed the floor eventually, but I’m not sure who. Amazingly, nobody starved to death.
The children knew something was wrong and were more than usually restless and quarrelsome. Maria tried to hold it all together. Suffice it to say that she said many prayers. Most of them were along the lines of “God, help us!” Visits to Church were made more often. She might have lain prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament at odd intervals.
After a couple of weeks of this, Noway Jose moved out. I probably should just start to refer to him as ScumBag, in that what I’d like to call him is not fit for my blog to publish. The children were distraught. Most people supported Maria, after a fashion. That is, they vented their spleen at Scumbag, saying what a jerk he was etc. This was all perfectly true and pretty well summed up Maria’s anger about the situation, but did not actually help her or the children, for the simple reason that they all still loved this man. Remember, they had just had the biggest shock of their lives. Maria had only had a couple of weeks or so to begin processing all this.
Worse, though, were the useful idiots who blamed her for “having too many kids” and being a “bad wife” (because in the usual way, ScumBag was, of course, trashing her reputation in a bid to justify his evil behaviour) and unfortunately, many people are just plain dumb. What can you do, eh?
After having left his wife, ostensibly for her refusal to go on the Pill, ScumBag knocked up Belinda. Twice.
I hope you all realise that Maria’s heart and her children’s hearts had been broken into a million pieces by all this, but it got worse, because after about two years of this mallarkey, the happy couple Celebrated their Leeerrrrrvvvvvv by getting married (i.e. legalising their adultery) in a white wedding at the beach, natch. Of course, all Maria’s in-laws were there and about half her former friends and they were sooooooo excited, because who doesn’t love a Fake-Wedding?
The only real problem was that now all the millions of little pieces of Maria’s heart and the children’s hearts broke into a million more pieces, which is to say they were pulverised utterly. The children themselves were required by their mostly absent father to attend this Travesty and were emotionally blackmailed by all and sundry into looking happy and indeed being happy about it. Because Christian charity.
Trying not to think too often of suicide, and trying not to give in too often to the Deadly Sin of Wrath, Maria contemplated – when she could bear it – the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ and unknown to her, Our Lady, the Mother of Jesus, had carefully gathered all the pulverised bits of Maria’s heart and the children’s hearts and placed them all inside her own motherly heart for safe keeping. Upon their broken hearts the Love of God works day and night, mending and mending, in this life and the next.
Gosh, that was rather religious. So, moving on:
All the while, Scumbag kept going to Mass, more or less, and Father I’mSoCoolIDon’tBelieveAnyOfThisStuff saw no problem with this, because hey, marriages just fail sometimes, y’know? Plus, #Pastoral. Of course, Scumbag received the Body and Blood of Christ every time he deigned to go to Mass, apparently not caring about the sacrilege he was committing because, hey, we’re all going to heaven anyway, right?
Maria tried to ignore the vicious whispers of the parents at her children’s “Catholic” school, who were mostly only interested in her marriage tribulations because of her prior insistence on using her womb so wantonly and daring to go to Mass every Sunday and – worse – actually believing All That Stuff! She tried to ignore the cutesy, gushing birth announcements in the “Catholic” school newsletter when ScumBag and BElinda’s sweet, illegitimate babies were born. She also tried to ignore all the cooing over the babies – in her face, and loudly – when Belinda was there to pick up her elder two children from school. Belinda had had these children from two different (absent) fathers. I’m sorry, did I not mention this already? Actually, it was at this “Catholic” school that Belinda and ScumBag met. Did I mention “Catholic” schools are now a very effective dating site for adulterous parents? Cool, huh!
At least now Maria had stopped hating ScumBag. This was because their two youngest children had by now stopped crying themselves to sleep every night.
Maria did her best to ignore HandsomeSchoolDad, the man who often looked at her appreciatively after school. Her reluctance was not only due to her practically non-existence self-esteem, at least in the romance department. As a young woman, she had been cute and completely unaware of the fact. Now she was a cute, middle-aged woman and still completely unaware of the fact. But no, if you can even remotely believe this – hey, this is fiction – she didn’t encourage HandsomeSchoolDad because she didn’t want to violate her marriage vows, even in her thoughts! Can you believe it? Crazzzzzy, right? Wow! This is positively mediaeval! Particularly since about nine out of her ten remaining friends, plus everyone else, were telling her to find another man, because I guess that would fix everything, right?
But hang on, how could she violate her marriage vows when she was divorced? Weren’t they cancelled? Well no, apparently not according to Catholic teaching, they aren’t. Bummer!
No matter what these people did or said, Maria just would not get with the Programme! #Unbelievable
I should point out that all this while, Maria had been praying to the God she really believed in – the God, Who she believed had created marriage as a covenant, which is truly unable to be broken by anyone, and which is only ended at death. This God had been working the whole time and never ceasing. Maria couldn’t know that her husband thought of her and the children every single day and usually many times a day. She couldn’t know that he thought about going back to her and the children, from the moment he had first walked out, and on the days that his two new children were born and on the day of his Fake-Wedding until this point in the story. He thought about her, not just because of feelings of Leerrrrrrvvvvvv, but because they really were one flesh in a covenant with God and no writ of divorce, no hot, younger Fake Wife and no illegitimate babies, no matter how adorable, could ever change that. Only his or her death would really end it.
So, nearly four years after he had left, was she surprised to find her errant husband on the front doorstep asking to be let in? Not really, because she had read many stories of exactly this kind of thing happening. Was she surprised when he apologised for putting her through such great suffering and asked to be admitted back to the family home? Not really, because she had always felt deep within her that it would one day happen. The day Noway Jose had left her, was March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the day God became Man. She had always taken that as a sign that he was one day to return home.
Now he was really there again with his true wife. It was Easter Day.
Epilogue: At this point, a certain type of reader is wondering why the heck did Maria never grow a backbone and why did she not tell him to get lost and “cry me a river” and all that. Also, this same type of reader is very sorry for poor Belinda and her assortment of children, particularly the two she had with Noway Jose. They are also disgusted that Noway Jose got away with it!
This reader needs some help and I’m going to give it to him/her, because I’m good like that.
Maria is emphatically not the kind of woman who lacks a spine, she just knows what marriage vows mean and what it really means to be a wife. She knows that the words “for better or for worse” actually really mean something. She is happy to be a wife, because she always felt she was made to be a wife. Being a wife and mother makes her happy. Being separated from the man she really is one flesh with made her unhappy, although she got used to it for those rough years and the adjustment to her husband’s return was not easy either. She knew, because it is in full accord with Reality, that no new relationship with another man would fix anything, but rather would only create more problems for everyone. She knew, because it is in full accord with Reality, that her children would be immeasurably better off if their parents would reunite and remain together until death. She knew that this was not just for the good of her, her husband, and their children, but also for their salvation and for the good of their grandchildren, great grandchildren and all their relatives and friends.
Noway Jose had to eat humble pie when he went back to Maria and every day he faces many and various consequences resulting from his evil behaviour. He has to pay in this life (with money and time) and live with ongoing sorrow for sin. When he dies, he will not get out of Purgatory until he has paid every last farthing. He has not got away with anything, though he has been forgiven.
This reader will now be pleased to learn that really, although Belinda feels terrible and all her children are suffering, ultimately, she is better off. This is because she is no longer a Fake Wife and adulteress. She is free to do the right thing from now on, if she would. The children have suffered terribly, because of their parents’ bad choices and selfishness and not because of anything else. As they grow, they will come to know that existence is better than non-existence and that the God Who permitted them to exist, loves them immeasurably, in spite of the terrible circumstances around their conceptions. He will heal their wounds. He loves them and will, every day of their lives, call them to Himself, Who is the Peace which passes all understanding.
All the suffering in this story came from sin.
Sin is dumb. God is good.