I don't know what to do; can you help?

I’ll try to be brief, but this is so messed up that I have to be a little verbose to explain my situation properly.

I’ve been a “sometimes” Catholic, well, at least since leaving Catholic elementary school long ago. My wife of 30 years and I did raise our children Catholic, my wife even taught for many years. But we didn’t go to church every Sunday.

Until my son was killed on his motorcycle 2 years ago. I became very very angry at God while at the same time praying, attending church almost daily, saying the rosary…I had to find out that my son was ok. I believe in heaven and hell and I’m sure my beautiful son is in heaven. But my depression was so deep and so dark that I began to pray to God to give me some fatal disease. Living was just too hard, despite the psychiatrists, the grief counselors and the group therapy.

I had known a friend, a lady friend and only a friend who became so moved at my son’s funeral that she converted from a kind of hedonistic lifestyle to Catholic. And yes, converts are like ex smokers…zero tolerance from any deviation from the faith. Which makes what happened next all the more strange. We fell in love. Seriously, totally, hopelessly in love. Nothing physical, but total soul mates. I found my only happiness in her presence. I even began to think about divorce so we could be together.

But then God took a hand and answered my prayer. I have a stage 4 inoperable brain tumor. With treatment, I have maybe 2 years with all the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Without treatment, 5-10 months.

I’m terrified, confused and lost. Should I divorce my wife of 30 years and be with the person I truly love, the person who makes me happy? Should I stay in this very tense and difficult marriage and live out my days in misery? I’ve been praying to God for guidance, yet I remain as confused as ever. I’m not afraid to die. I know I’ll see my son. But I don’t know how to finish my life. Do I deserve some happiness? Please give me your insight.

Dear friend,

You ARE confused. You are confusing the pleasurable feelings you get from being around a woman your have known for a short while with the challenges of your marriage to a woman who seems to have been faithful to you for thirty years and to whom you find difficlut to love at this time. The good news is that you have been focussing only on yourself and your needs as you understand them. But we were made for MORE than ourselves. You have been operationg on our culture’s values and this is why you have no peace. We weren’t created for pleasing ourselve, but for pleasing God! You have put the cart before the horse.

Since I am allotted only a minimun of words here, I will send you a reflection on the Lord’s passion which is what you need now more than ANYTHING! It will give you perspective and put Him in focus

We are here on earth to respond to His infinite love. That God would endure such agony on our behalf is more than we can wrap our minds around. But this is who He is! We are the recipients of such love; this is who WE are! The question remains: what are we going to do about this? How do we respond?

Our blessed Lord has shown us that sacrifice—not feeling—is the measure of love. We know how much we love by how willing we are to put ourselves out for the one we love.
By the way, we DON’T know that your son is in heaven. We PRAY that he is. I suggest that you offer the sufferings that you have and will have for his soul and also for your wife. None of this has been a picnic for her, certainly—and SHE is REALLY your soul mate–not because of the rush of emotional pleasure–but by reason of vows you both made at His altar! You are being actually tempted to be unfaithful to her on your deathbed! This is NOT the way you want to die! I hope that you will turn your attention to your crucified Savior and abandon your infatuation with this other woman. Ask her to pray for your family—especially for your wife to whom you need to be faithful. This alone will bring you peace. If you wish, you may contact me privately. Just respond to the reflection I will send. You are very much in my prayers. Please, please, read the reflection!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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