"...the position, held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics, that the present occupant of the papal see is not truly pope and that, for lack of a valid pope, the see has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958."
Sedevacantists believe that there is no Pope and hasn't been for a number of years, mainly because of the destruction and confusion reigned upon the Church from Vatican II. Rather than trust in the Holy Ghost and Our Lord that - despite Her current wounds - today's Roman Catholic Church remains the one True Church with Pope Francis as Her earthly Head, they simply abandon Her. Abandon Her because things are just not as they should be, not to their liking, not to their image and likeness. So...they simply refuse to believe Our Lord's promise and abandon Him and the Church.
Not unexpectedly, Sedevacantists don't even agree among themselves whether the Chair is truly Vacant, having apparently differing ideas on the matter: No Pope? An Anti-pope? A Pope materialiter? A Pope formaliter? Spin the dial and let's see what we believe today! Walking away from Christ (the Church) is obviously a very, very serious affair and can lead to disastrous consequences, especially for one's Soul (and is something I will never do.)
But...is it any less serious when one abandons their marriage (their "mini-church") their Spouse and their children (the family: the "sheep")? I can think of no better analogy than calling them what they are: Sedevacantists. As applied to Spouses who willingly choose to abandon a valid Sacramental Marriage in times of marital trouble, I would define Marital Sedevacantism as:
The results can equally disastrous, whether it be for Holy Mother Church struck hard by a group of Sedevacantists or an abandoning Spouse who finds solace from marital woes in the arms of an adulterer, who has all the right answers to whisper sweetly in the abandoning spouses ear. In a matter of weeks or months, nothing matters but the sweetness of the platitudes being whispered into an ear that rightfully still belongs to another: "Oh...if only I had met you first! Just think of the happiness I and the children could have had! Just think of the misery I could have avoided! I L-u-v U!" Emotions have just overtaken Reason. Passion has subdued Fidelity. Selfless Love has been killed by Youthful Pride.
What follows then is the nightmare of civil divorce, and within that wake, the annulment of a supposedly indissoluble marriage of 5, 10 or even 22 years, blotted out of existence without first seeking its preservation. As a consequence, there now exists a permanent void in the lives of 2, 5, 8 or even 12 Souls. A living vacuum that will slowly suck the life from the innocent. A familial block of one or two decades that has been excised from all conscious memory. Where is Mercy? Where is Justice? Where is Compassion? If Mercy and Compassion have seemingly been meted out for the Abandoning Spouse via divorce and/or annulment, what of the Justice for the Faithful Spouse? What of Justice for the Children who, when asked if they want to live with Mom or Dad, would reply with an emphatic, heartfelt and tearful "WE WANT TO LIVE WITH BOTH!!"
G.K. Chesterton wrote The Superstition of Divorce in 1920. Even back then, divorce was looked upon as a beautiful thing by the "modern" divorce attorneys of the time, for Chesterton wrote that "...The doctors of divorce, with an air of the frank and friendly realism of men of the world, are always recommending and rejoicing in a sensible separation by mutual consent." Ah! Happiness is to be found in amicable and consenting Divorces! The "Divorce is Good, Divorce is Great, Embrace Divorce" mentality was apparently rampant even in the "Roaring Twenties". However, we all know - or should anyway - that "Happiness" in Marriage is not a guarantee. What is only guaranteed is our Happiness in Heaven, which is basic Baltimore Catechism #1 teaching:
"To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband' s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth..." (Genesis 3:16-19)
Bishop Sheen knew it. In his conference Problems in Marriage, he put to rest the Happiness factor and brought to the forefront the Truth of True Marital Happiness: that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife and vice-versa; that the prayers, sufferings and patient acceptance of the one Spouse's frailties can Sanctify both. That Marital Love can only be renewed and refreshed through the Love of Christ and bearing the Crosses of His choosing, not the ones we choose. Many Spouses have thrown down and walked away from the Cross of their own choosing because it was just too, too much to bear. Which begs the question: If you are so weak in bearing a Cross of your own choosing, why did you get married in the first place? Furthermore, why did you so easily abandon what God Promised and what you promised to your spouse? Here again, I must consult Chesterton, who states what awaits those who remain Faithful (my emphasis):
"...the very first thing that our experience will tell us is that it very seldom is a separation by mutual consent; that is, that the consent very seldom is sincerely and spontaneously mutual. By far the commonest problem in such cases is that in which one party wishes to end the partnership and the other does not. And of that emotional situation you can make nothing but a tragedy, whichever way you turn it. With or without marriage, with or without divorce, with or without any arrangements that anybody can suggest or imagine, it remains a tragedy. The only difference is that by the doctrine of marriage it remains both a noble and a fruitful tragedy; like that of a man who falls fighting for his country, or dies testifying to the truth."
In other words, be prepared to stand and deliver what you vowed. But how soon we forget the words of our vows: "for better, for worse; for richer in poorer; in sickness and in health; til death we do part." How soon we forget the image of Our Blessed Mother, standing silently beneath His Cross; who walked His Calvary with Him; who never left Him when even His Apostles - save one - threw down their chosen Crosses and ran. Is this the end many of today's Catholic Marriages must face - abandonment - simply because there is no Chesterton or Sheen to constantly remind them of what they vowed - Fidelity until Death?
I couldn't find the words to write a fitting conclusion to this post, until I happened across this video while searching for some old favorites from my youth to listen to. I clicked on Dolly Parton's cover of the Randy Van Warmer song Just When I Needed You Most and knew I had found the conclusion that I needed. The words certainly speak of all the heartache, sadness and loneliness associated with loosing someone you Love...someone to whom you willingly offered your Heart forever. That rejection of Love is made all the more poignant and painful when it is a Spouse who clinically and callously hands back your Heart and then walks away from their Marriage and Family. If you could have looked in a mirror at the precise moment of that rejection, you no doubt would see in your reflection the faces and the eyes of the Spouses and children shown in the video. Especially the eyes - Bewildered. Emotionless. Vacant.
Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved