October 9, 2010

St. Kosmas Aitolos: On Divorce and Adultery

By St. Kosmas the Aitolos

You have no authority to divorce; only death and adultery can separate you. And if it happens that a wife falls with some other man, of if the husband with some other woman, they are under obligation to go to the bishop to be divorced. But, again, he who has been injured by his wife and doesn't divorce her acquires a spiritual reward. But is there a way to forgive her? There is. How?

You, my child, travel to a foreign country or go out to your field and your wife falls with another person. You return home. What should the wife do? She should take an ax and a piece of wood, and bow before you, kiss your hand and tell you: "Master, I beg you to do me a favor. Take this ax and piece of wood, put me on it, and cut me to pieces. Throw me to be eaten by dogs because I'm not worthy to look upon you in the face, because I've trampled upon your honor, and from a daughter of Christ I've become a daughter of the devil."

What do you say, my son, do you have it in your heart to kill her or to forgive her? It seems to me that you'll say: "May you be forgiven, but never do it again."

But when should you divorce her? When upon returning from abroad you learn of it from your neighbor. Then you are forced to divorce her. In the same way the Lord, during his second coming, will be forced to put us in hell if he finds us unconfessed, unrepentant, and incorrigible. But if he finds us repentant, he has compassion on us and puts us in paradise to rejoice forever.