Question:

I am a divorced Catholic.After 40 years of what I thought was a good marriage, my husband abandoned me for another woman.I stay within all the guidelines of the Catholic church and feel 'safe' with activities within the church.I still act in every way as married since I don't have an annulment, and I desire to receive holy communion.I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize my standing within the Holy Mother Church.
Since I like to stay active, I have taken some art classes. I'm also considering to learn karate.What activities are safe for someone like me to indulge in?

I met a lady the other day who's been divorced for 40 years and has no desire to remarry yet she goes to senior center dances.Our priest sees this as being innocent fun.I don't agree. Am I supposed to "lighten up" a little -- this is what I was told. I'd like to take dancing lessons, as I've always enjoyed dancing, but the way I see it, this wouldn't be safe or in line with the teachings of the church because I'd most likely end up with a male instructor.

I am in the process of an annulment (not to remarry) but for healing and to see what went wrong within my marriage. I could never bring myself to date, although I have had men already ask me out, so I fear they would think I'm available if I went to any type of dances.I've been told I'm an attractive woman and I've always taken good care of myself.

There isn't a support group here for divorced women like me, and some whom I've met immediately put the cart before the horse and date.I refuse to do that and abide by all the teachings of the Catholic Church. I wouldn't even have lunch with a single gentleman, even if it was coffee.I feel that's leading to temptation.

Thank you greatly.I so much would appreciate your advice and input for someone who's divorced, very involved within my parish but would like more social activities that are safe for me. Primarily, I'd like to know your opinion on dancing, since it's always been something I've loved to do and would really like to take lessons to learn more styles such as line-dancing, square dancing and the correct way to waltz.


Answer:

You've asked me what would be proper for a Catholic woman to do, but since I am not Catholic and I don't teach Roman Catholic doctrine I cannot answer the questions you asked. I am a pure and simple Christian. I follow only the teachings of the Bible and that is all that I teach. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11).

I'm sorry about the failure of your marriage. I understand how rough that can be. The Roman Catholic church, to its credit, does understand the seriousness of marriage and the devastation caused by divorce. But in their eagerness, they go beyond what Jesus taught: "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9). Divorce is to be avoided, but when a divorce occurs because a spouse has committed adultery, God does allow remarriage. The Catholic church tries to avoid the issue by annulling marriages -- declaring that the marriage was never proper in the first place. To me it is a sham because ten years ago, your marriage would be declared to be proper by all. What should be faced is that your husband violated the terms of his covenant with you before God. He will answer to God regarding that, but you are released from your covenant because of the adultery and the divorce.

If you don't think an activity is proper to do, you should not be trying to talk yourself into ones you are uncomfortable with. "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:22-23). I believe that dancing between a male and female partner is only appropriate in marriage. If the music was not there, the close contact between the man and woman would be seen as having sexual connotations. See "Dancing" for a detailed explanation.

Having friends who happen to be male is harmless, so long as all involved understand that friendship is all you are interested in. You are correct that too many see any opening as an invitation to go too far, but misdeeds by some is not a reason to exclude all activities. Going to public places with a man would not be wrong if all that was involved was friendship. It could be wrong if he had expectation possibly marrying you and you have no intentions to get married. You don't want to leave a wrong impression.

There are lots of ways to get exercise. The martial arts is good exercise and would help in self-defense, but it is a rough sport (this from a man who started martial arts when he was 36 and eventually got a third-degree black belt). Going to a gym or hiking is also fine exercise, and might leave you with a few less bruises.