September 21st 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Federal Government should abolish Renewable Energy Certificates

ENERGY BP annual Review shows consumption, production up

CANBERRA OBSERVED NSW Labor caught in Panda's paws doing 'whatever it takes'

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM Religious discrimination bill: A litany of questions

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Boris' brinkmanship shakes up Britain, EU

WATER POLICY Angry farmers protest over Murray-Darling Basin Plan ... again

TECHNOLOGY Are we the dumbest devices in the room?

HISTORY AND POLITICS Lord Acton, nationalism and multiculturalism, Part 2

LITERATURE D.H. Lawrence: The Modernist in exile

MUSIC Dialectical transcendence

CINEMA The Farewell: Elegant and bittersweet

BOOK REVIEW Owning up to market imperfections

BOOK REVIEW Heroism and faith under tyranny

BOOK REVIEW The love that comes after love is gone


EDITORIAL Gladys Liu controversy ignores reality of China's interference

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The love that comes after love is gone

News Weekly, September 21, 2019


by Dr David Anders

EWTN Publishing, Irondale, Alabama
Paperback: 222 pages
Price: AUD$36

Reviewed by Michael E. Daniel

“I hate you.”

It has often been said that a great work of writing should engage its readers by entertaining and challenging them. Anders’ reflection begins with these starkly confronting words, said to him by his wife in the early 2000s, when his relationship with his wife was at breaking point.

Both he and his wife had contempt for one another, and Anders thought death was a better alternative than persisting with the marriage. At that stage they had been married for almost a decade and had some small children.

Here, Anders reflects not only on his conversion to the Catholic Church, but also on how the grace of God saved his marriage and healed the relationship with his wife, which he now describes as happy, dynamic, and thriving.

The author hosts the program, Called to Communion, on EWTN.

Anders admits that the marriage was in crisis largely because of his self-absorbed behaviour. Focused on obtaining his doctorate, he had relocated his wife and children. Although they were in a finan­cially precarious situation, his focus was on completing his studies, and he was oblivious to his wife’s emotional needs, and provided minimal assistance with child rearing.

Anders was raised in a devout Christian home. His parents’ marriage was a stable and happy one. He recalls witnessing as a child and teenager his father on numerous occasions counselling men not to leave their wives. By contrast, his wife came from a troubled family background. Furthermore, although raised a Catholic, her faith was not strong, and he encouraged her to join him at his Protestant church. They were married while still relatively young in 1992.

Anders’ ambition was to pursue an academic career with a focus on religious studies. This is despite the fact that he realised that jobs were difficult to obtain, that the pay was low, and job security was limited.

While studying, Anders was convinced that the Protestant theology of salvation by faith alone was correct. However, a fellow student who had become an unbeliever challenged him, asserting that this core Protestant belief was not compatible with what the Church Fathers – particularly St Augustine – taught.

The reading and careful study that followed this challenge shook Anders’ belief in justification by faith alone. He also became convinced that artificial birth control was wrong; however, he admits that his timing in suggesting natural family planning to his wife – namely, when they were at the lowest point in their marriage – was counterproductive.

Taking a break from his doctoral studies to work for a year as a school director was a critical step in Anders saving his marriage, as he was able to provide a secure income for his family.

Although the classical curriculum approach the Presbyterian school used enthused him, as the year progressed, he realised that school administration was not his calling.

Anders eventually entered the Catholic Church; however, his marital discord was far from over. While his wife accepted his conversion, she made it clear to him that she would never return to the Catholic Church. She did return, how­ever, a few years later.

The ministry of the late Fr Angelus Shaughnessy OFM Cap. in the confessional was to prove crucial not only for his wife’s reversion to the Catholic Church, but also for him to repair and strengthen their marriage. A critical observation Fr Shaughnessy made – which was to change their perspective on marriage – was that suffering had meaning. Through his patient guidance, Anders and his wife came to learn how to live in peace, the value of suffering, how to forgive, and seek the forgiveness of others.

For both Anders and his wife, a critical point was when they both learned that in the eyes of the Catholic Church their marriage was not sacramentally valid, as his wife – being a Catholic – had married outside the Catholic Church without permission.

Anders realised that at this point he could have walked away from the marriage. However, he realised that that would be a betrayal. He recommitted himself to their marriage when it was convalidated in 2007.

The Catholic Church Saved my Marriage is an inspirational read. In a society with a high divorce rate, it is an encouraging book that readers of various backgrounds will find appealing. At times it is confronting, because it forces readers to undertake their own moral inventory; yet, this is one of its great strengths.

Michael E. Daniel is a Melbourne-based writer.

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