THE GRAVE SIN OF ADULTERY
Letter to a Catholic Friend In an Invalid Marriage

May 2001By Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin (a pseudonym) is a writer and mother.

Dear Amy,

When you called a few months ago to tell me you and Joe were getting married, even though his request for an annulment had been denied, I tried to marshal what arguments I could against marrying outside the Church. Since you realized this was a gravely sinful action and that you would be unable to receive Communion, it seemed there was a chance you might be moved to fear for your salvation. So I mentioned the possibility of death in a car accident, or in other circumstances where there might not be time to arouse in yourself the sentiments of perfect contrition. Though Joe may be the most wonderful man in the world, “what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Mt. 16:26).

To play havoc with your own opportunity for salvation is one thing, but to give a bad example to your children could be even worse. If they want to make a similar decision at some point in their lives, you will be hard-pressed to dissuade them. How can you expect them to respect the teaching of the Church when you have denied its practical importance in your life? This is surely a source of scandal to your little ones.

St. Thérèse lamented that Love is not loved. He who is our greatest good is not appreciated as such by us. If we truly believed that He became man, suffered and died for each of us as though no other existed, we would try to requite this unfathomable love. He thirsts for us. By desiring anyone or anything more than Him, we make that person or thing our god. This is a violation of the first, most basic law of the Decalogue: “You shall not have other gods besides Me” (Exod. 20:3).

In the course of our conversation, you remarked, “I knew that’s what you would say, Agnes.” I should have asked you to help me understand how you saw things. What happened to change you from an orthodox, faithful Catholic to one who makes moral decisions without reference to the teaching of the Church? I remember the home Masses and rosary cenacles you hosted, your devotion to Our Lady and the saints, and your love of the Eucharist, and find it hard to comprehend how such a privileged soul could do an about-face.


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