It is not my intention here to feed gossip or to seek sensationalism at the cost of a couple’s reputation. Everything upon which I will remark is already in the public domain. My mention of a specific case is only because I am concerned that Catholics and returnees might have their faith dashed by the tragic story that is being played out before our eyes.
February 4, 2003, Bud Macfarlane, Jr. writes that “Being an e5 man has helped my marriage, and it can help yours too.” Nevertheless, by March 19, 2004, the story had broken that he had filed for divorce against his wife Marie (Bai), a devout Catholic mother of four, on the grounds of “extreme cruelty” and “gross neglect of duty”.
Bud Macfarlane, Jr. and Bai Macfarlane have four sons: Jude, Buddy, Xavier, and Clete.
“I believe we do have the ability to be happily married,” Mrs. Macfarlane says. “Isn’t it worth giving reconciliation a shot? Maybe not every marriage will get fixed, but some of them will.”
He was a best-selling author of three novels, had a major Catholic website hub, and had co-founded with his wife the Mary Foundation. Now there is no mention of her at CatholiCity and we are all left wondering how this mess could have happened. His wife begged him to go to counseling with her and took legal action in a seemingly vain attempt to save the marriage and to prevent divorce.
Bai Macfarlane, like any of us, may not be entirely innocent in this tale; but I could certainly sympathize with her willingness to fight for her family and against the evil of divorce, particularly the “no fault” variety.
I am fearful as to what the next stage of this debacle might be. Remember the controversy over the Kennedy divorce and how Sheila Rauch Kennedy fought the annulment that her ex-husband, U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy II initiated? We could be just at the beginning of this soap opera.
We are led to understand that Steve Habisohn (founder of e5) advised Bud to leave his wife. An uncharitable letter was sent to her implying a threat from her. How does Bud remaining with his wife put his life in jeapardy? The Bud Macfarlane camp has been silent about any justification based in faith, but not in legal machinations.
Bai Macfarlane appealed to the Church and even wrote the Vatican. Bud went ahead with the divorce all the same. She pleaded that they seek help together. It did not happen.
The Mary Foundation (which they founded) has done good work and Bai has evidently asked that patrons continue to support its efforts at evangelization.
National Catholic Register Article
“But her family is being torn apart. On Sept. 13, after a hearing requested by Bud, an Ohio judge ordered that, because Bai is defying an earlier court agreement to stop home schooling two of her four children, Bud should be the legal custodian and primary residential parent “for school purposes” of the children, who range in age from 3 to 12 years old. The judge also said Bud should take immediate “possession” of the children, which Bud has already done.”
Is there any greater nightmare for a wife and mother? Her husband abandons her and then through the legal system strips her of her children. She is painted as a religious fanatic and the whole home-schooling phenomenon, which they once both supported, is maligned by the courts, and apparently by her husband, or ex-husband.
Mr. Macfarlane and Mr. Habisohn were on the phone many hours a week before Bud abandoned his family in 2003. In an E-mail dated August 29 from Mrs. Macfarlane, she wrote: “Steve and April did visit Ohio during one of Bud’s weeks where I could not be with the kids; I saw them at my son’s baseball game. When I told April that she and Steve are the only people I know supporting Bud’s decision to divorce me, and I asked her if there was anything she could do to encourage Steve to stop supporting Bud’s divorce action, for the sake of our children; April said, “I support my husband.” When I asked Steve if he thought John Paul II’s Theology of the Body supported Bud’s decision to divorce me, Steve answered, “I don’t want to talk to you Bai.”
If ever there was a family that needed serious prayers of intercession, it is this one. We must hope and pray that Bai does not utterly despair.
May her hopes and dreams come true– may their family be whole again. May she have the strength to go on, no matter what. May Bud keep his promises to God and to her. Amen.
Eric Scheidler | squarezero.org |
Fr. Joe, I continue to believe that you are behaving irresponsibly and I’ll have more to say about that in the new spin-off thread on e5. But let me here address on point you said particularly troubled you — Habisohn’s response to the question whether a man should tell his wife he’s fasting for her or not.
I’m certain that as a priest you appreciate the value of fasting. I said before that I’m not a particpant in the e5 fast, and that’s largely because as a Byzantine Catholic I get a hefty dose of fasting as it is; fasting is right at the center of the spiritual battle.
But fasting must always be undertaken with prudence, which includes the question of how public to be about your fasting. We don’t want to fast boastfully like the Pharisee, and Habisohn acknowledges that risk in his response.
Habisohn also recognizes the very thing that you pointed out yourself, the danger of suggesting to one’s wife that “Having a wife like you forces me to do extra penance and fasting just to stay with you!”
Yet as a confessor you must know that there are cases when indeed one or the other spouse can only survive through extraordinary prayers and penances. Moreover, in every marriage there will be things about your spouse that legitimately trouble you and make it difficult to be completely happy. Surely it is a good thing to pray and do penance for your spouse about these matters — yet it may be a bad idea to SAY SO.
It seems to me that this is a pretty straightforward idea, and I would suggest that you are only finding fault with Habisohn’s remarks on this one point having been biased by him on account of the Macfarlane affair.