Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brothers and Sister

We are preparing for 40 Hours, beginning with Mass on Thursday at 8am and ending with Benediction on Friday at Midnight.
In Milan the Pope spoke about the place of the divorced and remarried and their place in the Church. I want to draw attention to the heroic role of those who live as "brother and sister", sharing a life together and yet refraining from sexual intercourse. Today, when the assumption is everyone is "at it" it is more difficult for them than in a less sexualised society these and those who come to Mass week by week and yet have remarried outside the Church and are unable to receive Holy Communion are so often living an heroic life. In spite of human weakness, and their inability to personally uphold the Lord's teaching about divorce and remarriage,  in their own way the uphold his teaching.
The post-Concilliar Rites of Christian Inititation for Adults seems to envision a broader concept of what it means to be a Catholic, there are those in  "full communion" but there also those who aspire to communion, like  Catechumens, those whose lifestyle and desire makes them candidates for baptism and therefore Communion but then there are also those who are "enquirers" or "auditors", those who like the rich young man of the Gospels are genuinely interested but who cannot "go and sell everything you have and follow me", even so we are reminded, the Lord "looked at him and loved him".
After the "Donatist crisis" it is estimated that the vast majority of "Christians" in North Africa were not in "full communion" with the Church, either because they were not yet initiated or because having been initiated they had given in during the persecution. In Hyppo some authors suggest that it would have been as high as 80%. If we have RCIA it should follow that we some formal structure for penitents, for those who for various reasons are unable to be full, communicating members of the Church.


English Pastor said...

When I was a newly ordained priest nigh on twenty years ago, I was preparing a couple for marriage; only the lady was Catholic had taken the advice of a seminary Prof not to ask for addresses and until the last session just a few weeks before the wedding was to take place, just in case in case the couple were in co-habiting in good faith. At the final session, two weeks before the marriage when I had them sign the Prenuptial Enquiry Form, I saw that they were in fact sharing a home. I advised the lady (Catholic) to go to Confession before her wedding and for them to remain chaste until after the wedding so as to make the marriage night special to them. The young lady became very distressed: “Father, I’m a devout Catholic. We don’t even hare a bedroom much less a bed; we only share our home for financial reasons. You shouldn’t presume that because we share a house we share a bed”. I have not forgotten that lesson...

Sacerdos said...

I think we already have an option available : the Order of Catechumens.

Those who are not yet baptised cannot of course receive any sacraments - but they can be received into the Order of Catechumens and be annointed with the Oil of Catechumens (which is of course a sacramental and not a sacrament).

"N., receive the cross on your forehead. It is Christ himself who now strengthens you with this sign of his love. Learn to know him and to follow him."

However, this should not give them the false impression that they can be received into Full Communion if they are living in a situation that is incompatible with receiving the sacraments.

It has often been said that in the Early Church, some catechumens put off baptism until they were on their deathbed because the Sacrament of Reconciliation could be recieved only once.

Perhaps another reason may have been that some of those catechumens were living in an "irregular state".

And of course St Augustine of Hippo was not baptied until he was prepared to live a chaste life.

lawyeratwork.com said...

It is very sad when a marriage falls apart. Any marriage.

Yet I feel that there is a deeper sadness when a marriage is dissloved on the basis of physical or mental violence, and one party remarries, and then is not allowed to receive the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

I think that Rome needs to look at this again.

A person sometimes cannot stay in the marriage because of fear, risk of HIV, violence etc.

It is therefore perhaps the only option left to severe the marriage and remain sane and live in peace and harmony. Some of these divorces save lives.

People who have run away from abusive husbands or wives did not envisage a life of pain, suffering and abuse.
If such a man or woman is lucky enough to meet someone that they can trust and develop a relationship with, why should they be doubly punished if they remarry and not live in a partnership or over the brush, and have the Sacraments withheld from them?

I make these comments based on the years of experience of seeing truely heartbreaking cases where divorce and escape was the only way a party would survive.

If they did not leave, then there was a high possibility that they would be killed, and the children of the household killed also.

To exclude such a person from the Sacraments must be terribly painful for that individual.

Surely, God did not wish more pain and suffering for that Soul?


ServusMariaeN said...

When I was growing up a friend's mother had been divorced from his father and remarried outside the Church. She always went to Mass but never to communion. Unfortunately, her "husband" hadn't changed his wayward ways and I'm sure she had much to suffer (and still does no doubt) that was 30+ years ago. It's something you can only understand in a town of 2000 where everyone knows everything. I'm sure she suffered greatly from the "I told you sos"

Sacerdos said...

Dear Lawyeratwork,

I too have come across some very sad cases - but sometimes people attempt to make a false dichototomy between the "harsh" teaching of the Catholic Church and the "compassionate" teaching of Christ.

The Church's teaching is not based on man made laws but on the teachings of Christ himself about divorce and remarriage.

You say "I think that Rome needs to look at this again."

But no priest, no bishop, no General Council and no Pope has the authority to change the teaching of Christ.

Christ's teaching of course must be presented in its compassionate entirety. The Saviour came to save us from sin - not to condemn us - but not to condone sin either.

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" "No one, sir" she replied. "Neither do I condemn you" said Jesus "go away, and don't sin any more." (John 8:10-11).

James said...

Well said Sacerdos. Marriage needs to be defended now more than ever. No one forces divorced people to remarry or shack-up with the next character that comes along. I share a home with my companion who refuses to divorce as she insists on witnessing to the bond. We share the joys and sorrows of life and with the help of God, we remain chaste. It is far from impossible.

Anonymous said...

May I respectfully and humbly congratulate you, Father Ray, for your faithfully submission to Our Holy Father, One of my successors in a former parish publicly denounced that term.."Our Holy Father, the Pope" which I always used.

Katy M said...

I have a sister who was abandoned by her husband and left to bring up three young children in hardship. She suffered greatly, but at no time has contemplated a relationship with another man. Her ex- husband remained her husband in the eyes of God, as far as she was concerned. She finds it extremely upsetting that there is much weeping and wailing over the divorced and remarried, but those who uphold the Church's teaching seem to be ignored.

Anonymous said...

Lawyer at work,

Adultery is adultery, and to receive communion in that state is sacrilege. Nothing can change that. It's divine law.

The unexpressed assumption behind your position seems to be that there's a right to happiness.

The most important lesson I have ever learnt in life was when my spiritual director informed me that no such right exists.

+ Wolsey

P.S. We're both lawyers, and I'm sure you've heard the expression as often as I have: "hard cases make bad law."

Lynda said...

Very well put, Wolsey.

Lawyeratwork.com said...

Morning All

Thank you for your comments.

There is a difference between the dissolvement of a marriage based on the grounds of adultery and on the grounds of mental or physical abuse.

When men or women and children have ended up in hospital several times, with severe injuries, and yet still return to the abusive person and continue to receive abuse, no one can tell me that it is necessary for them to continue to be abused because of their marrital vows.

I marvel at the strength of some people who have the courage to return to their situations, knowing that they firmly believe in and wish to fullfil their vows, knowing that the abuse will surely return and there will be another hospital visit.

That is my point to all this. The courage of St Rita, the strength and determination of St Blanca.
Very honourable.

But there is a limit to how much a person can take. We all know that.

Also, if a person has withdrawn from a marriage for whatever cause, the pain and hurt can last for years. Some wounds are very hard to heal. They may not even wish to contemplate another intimate relationship. 'Hence the saying: 'Once bitten, twice shy'.

And for your further moot:

I have known Catholic Priests to bless second marriages in their churches --- in this country.

So, Rome still needs to look at this subject.


nickbris said...

I have been giving this Same-sex-Marriage debate a lot of thought lately and we have been bludgeoned night and day with it.

What I don't get is what it has got to do with Catholics.We do know that sex outside Marriage is forbidden the same as cannibalism.

Homosexual Catholics are not likely to ask for something they can't have.

It is a bit like getting het up because Jews & Muslims won't eat pork.

I,m not articulate enough to put this over correctly but I do know that somebody will understand what i am talking about.

Gabriel Harrington said...

Father, can I ask why you didn't post my comment? I've noticed that you've posted comments by other people since I submitted mine. It wasn't abusive or anonymous so can't understand why you didn't let it through.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't think I deleted your comment, did you actually post it?

As Catholics we are concerned about many issues here, primarily the redefinition of marriage to include something that is not orientated to the procreation of children.
It is not about being Catholic but about being a human being.

georgem said...

This is why SSM affects the Catholic Church (from the Protect the Pope website):

The key ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that the gay marriage advocates are ignoring is the March 2012 ruling in a suit by a French lesbian couple, Valérie Gas and Nathalie Dubois.

The court ruled that although there is no human rights obligation for any country to legislate for gay marriage, once a state had passed a gay marriage law it must be applied to all citizens equally including those seeking religious marriage. There must be no exemptions.

Lynda said...

As Catholics, we are not only concerned with sacramental marriage but the natural institution of marriage and the family founded upon it and the due recognition and respect (or otherwise) afforded thereto by our nations' secular governments - which act on our behalf and, properly, for the common good. Marriage and the family are essential to the common good, and no one has a right to interfere with these naturally occurring phenomena - manifestations of our human nature. Natural marriage is naturally known by all human beings by virtue of our nature - regardless of our religious adherence or even of explicit acknowledgement of

Aaron S-C said...

As we're on the subject:



"Equal Civil Marriage Consultation: CBCEW Response"

Anonymous said...

Lawyer at work,

There has always been the possibility of physical/geographical separation from the abusive spouse. That's never been an issue.

The sacramental bond of the marriage, however, remains intact. This must be so because ultimately marriage is about the common good of society, being its fundamental building block, not the happiness, romance or even mere sexual satisfaction of the abused spouse. The good of the individual, must, sadly, in a fallen world, take a back seat to the common good, which would be undermined if, because of physical (or other) abuse, the wronged spouse was able to re-marry while the wrongdoer was still alive.

+ Wolsey

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