- Posted by Mary's Advocates
- On March 1, 2011
Book Review — Help for separated and divorced spouses — The Gift of Self
The Gift of Self is a spiritual companion for separated and divorced spouses who are faithful to the sacrament of marriage. The book is by Maria Pia Campanella and has the approval of Salvatore Di Christina, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Palermo, Italy. Campanella is part of the diocesan Commission for Family Pastoral Work and acts as a resource for groups of separated persons who take the path of fidelity to the sacrament.
Archbishop Christina writes in the preface that The Gift of Self “breathes a serene atmosphere of suffering born with dignity, and of the deep sweetness of one who has tasted both the vinegar of pain and the paternal consolation of God…. You can almost touch with your hands the surprising power of faith in the Risen One here: His desire to soothe suffering, to heal wounds, clothed in mercy in the face of any violence suffered.”
Maria Pia Campanella writes in the book’s introduction: “These pages were written by one hand and many hearts.. .they were written for all the innocent children of separated persons who are unknown, as are their stories, and for those people whose suffering is so often ignored or not understood.”
The “gift of self is offered to the Father for the conversion of one’s spouse. The Church has the job of helping separated married people who remain faithful to the sacrament of matrimony to travel their “path of sanctification,” choosing their marriage right to the end.
“The separated person who did not wish for separation is more often than not experiencing an anguished and critical moment in his or her life” (p. 11). In such instances, the parish of the separated person ought to offer a word of consolation, expressing sentiments of empathy and esteem, and next offering material assistance, such as helping the individual secure a place to live or gainful employment, or helping meet physical needs of any children. Finally, weekly or monthly meetings promoting faith should be offered, reviving hope and activating charity. This book is an excellent study guide for such meetings.
Campanella recommends that families of separated persons never be referred to as “broken,” but rather “wounded,” in order to give the children the idea that they are not bereft of hope. Spouses are not referred to as “ex”; they are not told that “maybe this was not the right person”; they are not “single again,” and they are not to seek another companion.
Groups utilizing The Gift of Self reflect on the fact that one’s sacramental marriage is not “over” but alive, and that the faithful spouse remains a minister of the grace it provides (p. 48). In a gentle and inspiring way, participants pursue a formation that investigates more deeply the meaning ofindissolu- bility in the case of separated spouses.
Each chapter of this book provides a specific goal or offers a particular help in carrying one’s cross with Christ, including the Mass. prayer and personal reflections. It also discusses mistakes to avoid, and there are testimonies at the end of the book from spouses and children who have been abandoned.
Maria Pia Campanella’s program is not morose but is full of hope, promise and consolation@things every parish in America needs to offer for the separated and divorced.
Homiletic & Pastoral Review; March 2011, Vol. 111 Issue 6, p76
This article is republished condingent upon permission of
Homiletic & Pastoral Review,
Editor: Kenneth Baker, S.J.
Managing editor: R. Jeffrey Grace
Homiletic and Pastoral Review is published by
San Francisco, CA