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First it advises pastoral workers on how to assist spouses experiencing separation.
Maria Pia Campanella seeks to offer a lifeline to separated or divorced spouses who desire to remain faithful to their marriage sacrament with her book “The Gift of Self: A Spiritual Companion for Separated and Divorced Faithful to the Sacrament of Marriage.” (Note: this review will use the term “separated spouse” to refer to spouses unwillingly separated from their husband and wife, both those who are civilly divorced and those who are not.) The book’s purpose is two-fold and addresses two distinct audiences.
Although she does not include personal details of her own situation, it is apparent that Campanella has walked this path herself.
This imbues a sense of hope and inspiration to the reader.
Often an abandoned spouse who previously stayed at home with the children must go back to work and therefore make childcare arrangements, or they may be in a state of such deep depression that they feel they can do almost nothing.
By attending to these needs, the pastoral worker becomes a sign of hope in the midst of the crisis.
The greatest strength of Campanella’s book is her articulation of the vocation of the separated person to live out his or her marriage vows as a particular witness of God’s eternal love for fallen humanity, and the practical path she offers to the realization of this call.The second section, “Stages in the Journey” is primarily addressed to separated spouses themselves.It is essentially a “how to” manual on the pursuit of a spiritual path out of the unspeakable pain experienced in the wake of a separation to a place of peace, forgiveness, and renewed commitment to the sacrament of marriage.” Gradually the spouse must seek to entrust himself or herself to God and to cultivate a deeper relationship with Him.Through personal prayer and group support, the spouse may then reach a position where he or she is able to forgive the offending spouse and even renew his or her commitment to the task of marriage.
In this way the spouse becomes a sign of God’s merciful love.