Monday 15 June 2020

Impossible Marriages Redeemed - Leila Miller

Impossible Marriages Redeemed: They Didn't End the Story in the Middle
Leila Miller
LCB Publishing
ISBN 9780997989328


I kept hearing about this book prior to its publication. My own parents divorced. I have a brother who is twice divorced. And Have watched friends and family struggle in marriage, separations and divorce. I have known some who desperately believed in the sanctity of marriage, and others who have been married multiple times. And I couldn't help but think about 20 Answers Divorce & Remarriage by Jim Blackburn. But this book is not about the theology in the Catholic Tradition. It is about stories. Personal stories. Some just a few sentences, and a some a few pages. It is 75 stories.

These 75 stories are told by one of the members of the couple, by their children and in a few cases by others. Bishop Athanasius Schneider states in the introduction:

“The present book, “Impossible” Marriages Redeemed, edited by Leila Miller, proclaims and demonstrates convincingly and movingly the truths that conjugal crises can be healed and that the cross of difficult or, humanly spoken, “impossible” marriages bears many spiritual fruits in the eyes of God and eternity. I trust that this book will bring light and spiritual strength to wounded marriages and families, and may they in a special manner be protected by the Holy Family: by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.”

The sections in this volume are:

How This Book Came To Be
How to Read This Book
Section One: The Redeemed
Section Two: The Standers
Prayers for Marriages in Crisis

In the forward Philip F. Lawler states:

“This is a book full of heroes.

What is a hero, if not someone who makes sacrifices for another? In this book we have the testimony of people who have sacrificed their comfort and their pride to save their marriages, for the sake of their spouses and their children.

Most of the people who contributed to this book don’t think of themselves as heroes, I’m sure. They may still be struggling from the lingering influence of neighbors and relatives and friends and even pastors who advised them to look out for themselves, to escape an unhappy situation. They may think of themselves merely as survivors.”

And further he states:

“When a marriage seems to have broken down, the options can seem like a binary, on/off choice: to end it or to slog on joylessly. Not so. There is a third and better option: to dig down, solve the problems, and renew the loving relationship on a deeper, stronger foundation.”

The two main sections of the book are The Redeemed and the Standers. The first group worked through their issues, sometimes, including separations, affairs, in some cases even civil unions. But in the end they worked things out and their vows were recommitted and the marriage restored. The second section is The Standers, there are people who believe that their vow cannot be dissolved, civilly or spiritually. And even if their spouse remarries, they choose not to enter a new relationship because of their vows.

Many of these stories are hard to read. The pain, angst, and trials some of these couples have gone through are deeply moving. The book brought me to tears on a few occasions. Reading these stories, I could not help but think about families I know. Some in very similar circumstances. A cousin twice divorced, who is seeking to get married a third time in the church. A brother going through a second divorce. And friends who have been devastated by divorces.

These stories will give hope, encouragement, and inspiration. The stories include clergy and marriage tribunals siding with the person wanting out. Some include church law not being enforced. And some include abuse. But all provide hope.

An important read in this day and age.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Note 2: When I reviewed 20 Answers Divorce and Remarriage by Jim Blackburn part of the 20 Answers Series from Catholic Answers I lost friends on FB, and about 20% of my followers on social media. It might happen again with this review. But it is an important topic.

Books by Leila Miller:
Made This Way: How to Prepare Kids to Face Today's Tough Moral Issues
Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak
Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom
Impossible Marriages Redeemed: They Didn't End the Story in the Middle

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