Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The validity of marriage and presence or absence of faith

In an interview I did with Karee Santos for her article on the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, “Synod on the Family: A Preview of Coming Attractions,” I mentioned the possibility of gauging a couple’s faith in the manner it is supposed to be gauged when parents request to have an infant or small child baptized, that is, seek to establish that there is a well-founded hope that the couple will practice the Catholic religion prior marrying in the Church. While I agree with the concern expressed by canon lawyer Aldean Hendrickson concerning my suggestion, that “personal faith is a very difficult thing to measure,” I would simply note that we are already asked to measure, not perhaps so much personal faith, as the personal practice of and commitment to the faith, in the case of parents requesting the baptism of infants and small children under normal circumstances (i.e., in cases it is not an emergency- in an emergency, a case of life-and-death, we baptize).

It bears noting that in most situations this canonical requirement is considered to be met by the mere fact that one or both of the parents request baptism for their child, even if there is no discernible evidence, or expressed intention, of raising their child in the practice of the faith. Of course, baptism is not to be denied, but it may prudently be delayed in an effort to help the parents fulfill the promises they make when having their child baptized. It seems to me that often no effort is made to press them on points such as having completed their own Christian initiation, the frequency of Mass attendance, or reception of the Sacrament of Penance, or even being married in the Church.



Gerhard Cardinal Müller, the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a recent book-length interview, to be published in English by Ignatius Press with the title The Hope of the Family: A Dialogue with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, addressed this issue. Before considering Cardinal Müller’s words, I think it is important to note that this concern was brought the fore by Pope Benedict in a January 2013 speech he delivered the Roman Rota. In that speech, the then-Pontiff said
The indissoluble pact between a man and a woman does not, for the purposes of the sacrament, require of those engaged to be married, their personal faith; what it does require, as a necessary minimal condition, is the intention to do what the Church does. However, if it is important not to confuse the problem of the intention with that of the personal faith of those contracting marriage, it is nonetheless impossible to separate them completely. As the International Theological Commission observed in a Document of 1977: “Where there is no trace of faith (in the sense of the term ‘belief’ — being disposed to believe), and no desire for grace or salvation is found, then a real doubt arises as to whether there is the above-mentioned and truly sacramental intention and whether in fact the contracted marriage is validly contracted or not” (La dottrina cattolica sul sacramento del matrimonio [Propositions on the Doctrine of Christian Marriage] [1977], 2.3: Documenti 1969-2004, Vol. 13, Bologna 2006, p. 145)
In a lengthy excerpt from Cardinal Müller’s interview provided by Sandro Magister on Chiesa, His Eminence, after he strongly re-asserted the dogmatic (i.e., unchangeable) nature of the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, which is nothing other than the teaching of Jesus Christ (Matt 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12), he began to speak in an authentically pastoral manner. The assertion of the dogmatic nature concerning the indissolubility of marriage “does not,” he insists
prevent one from speaking of the problem of the validity of many marriages in the current secularized context. We have all witnessed marriages in which it was not very clear if the contracting parties really intended to “do what the Church does” in the rite of marriage. Benedict XVI made insistent appeals to reflect on the great challenge represented by no believing baptized persons. As a result, the congregation for the doctrine of the faith took note of the pope's concern and put a good number of theologians and other collaborators to work in order to resolve the problem of the relationship between explicit and implicit faith.

What happens when even implicit faith is absent from a marriage? When this is lacking, of course, even if the marriage has been celebrated “libere et recte," it could be invalid. This leads us to maintain that, in addition to the classical criteria for declaring the invalidity of marriage, there must be further reflection on the case in which the spouses exclude the sacramental nature of marriage. Currently we are in a phase of study, of serene but tenacious reflection on this point. I do not think it is appropriate to jump to conclusions, since we have not yet found the solution, but this does not prevent me from pointing out that in our congregation we are dedicating a great deal of energy to providing a correct response to the problem posed by the implicit faith of the contracting parties
It will be interesting to follow the upcoming Synod, which, as I also noted in my interview responses, did not deal in an inordinate way with the problem of Communion for the civilly divorced and remarried. It will also be interesting to read the conclusions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on this matter.

Gehard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The preface to Cardinal Müller’s book was written by Fernando Sebastián Cardinal Aguilar, Archbishop Emeritus of Pamplona and Tudela in Spain. In this preface, I believe His Eminence hits the nail on the head and, in true pastoral fashion, points the way ahead:
The main problem present in the Church with regard to the family is not the small number of the divorced and remarried who would like to receive Eucharistic communion. Our most serious problem is the great number of baptized who marry civilly and of sacramentally married spouses who do not live marriage or the marital life in harmony with Christian life and the teachings of the Church, which would have them be living icons of Christ's love for his Church present and working in the world

17 comments:

  1. Thank you for allowing anonymous comments and not forcing another password on me.

    I ceased attending mass when during our son's wedding my wife and her long time adulterous partner were given communion, with the full knowledge and approval of Bishop Burbidge and I came to learn that Cardinal Dolan, agreed fully with this blasphemous sacrilege.

    I do not see a reconciliation in the future.

    I have no respect left for the Catholic Church. It has not respect for marriage or our souls. None.


    Karl

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  2. Karl:

    I understand the pain that is often the result of these proceedings. While I don't know the particulars of your situation, it strikes me as very odd that in all the kerfuffle about these matters very little heed is paid to the sometimes manifestly unjust and slap-dash dealings of Tribunals, not to mention to those who, grasping what is at stake, have refrained from receiving communion, given their irregular situation. I am pretty certain that making annulments easier to obtain is not the way ahead for the Church. To work to strength marriage on the one hand, while making it easier dissolve them on the other, strikes me as counter-productive.

    Nonetheless, I pray for your reconciliation with the Church.

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  3. I'm reminded of the Scriptures:
    Luke 18:9
    9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and viewed others with contempt, Jesus told this parable: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
    13″But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
    14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    And also, of Matthew 7: 21:
    Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    And of, Matthew 19:14
    Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. Bu Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.
    Isn’t it obvious that people throughout history who once received the sacraments in the Church before being told they couldn't, and hence no longer are Catholic, would eventually no longer go to a place that amputated them against their will, and hence, no longer be a part of and continue to keep the “divorced and remarried who would like to receive Eucharistic communion” small. As such, that number of divorced and remarried will always remain small as long as there is the constant amputation transitioning phase instituted by Cardinals and Pope’s from being catholic and loved to the final realization that you as a person are only an after-thought and the Catholic Church no longer cares to provide the mercy of God even when mercy is sought after!
    I'm sorry, but excuse me for getting out of an abusive relationship or marrying someone who got out of an abusive relationship!!! I do not think our Lord would want someone to be abused incessantly, but perhaps the except the Catholic Church that would like to keep abusing and foster that abuse, as it seems to sanction ever more and denying reconciliation and communion with our Lord at the same time. Or excuse us for remarrying because someone actually cared and the mercy of God came through to be able to love and be loved again!!!
    Our Lord said, “Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” However, there are times when unions are simply no longer existent, either in physical or spiritual form, and sometimes not of any coarse or declaration by any human. As with consecrated wine poured into the ocean, communion host dissolved into mud, bodies decayed, incestuous destruction, adulterous affairs, the violence of continued physical or mental abuse in marriage, we cannot affront violence/decay/desecration to the sacrament without affronting what God has separated or sacrificed, but we can recognize when something no longer exists and has been destroyed. We can recognize that the temple has been destroyed or our Lord has been crucified. As two people institute the sacrament of marriage themselves and the church bears witness, those two people are and most often are the first to sadly recognize that a sacrament of union has been decimated and can or cannot no longer exits. It does not mean the church has dissolved or divorced the union, it means the church recognizes what the couples already have, that a sacrament has been dissolved. Was bread and wine consecrated? Yes in fact if it is proper substance and form, and is the Ocean now communion when it is poured into such and no longer distinguishable? No we cannot drink of the Ocean now to receive communion, rather we recognize that what was sacred has been desecrated and destroyed.

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  4. Our Lord has again been crucified. To deem otherwise and then ban all from receiving God’s mercy of reconciliation, no less with communion and sacramental life, is truly rebuking the children for wanting to come to the mercy of Jesus, and in itself invokes our Lord to depart the Church’s company, as it does also the children it has rebuked by continuing to deny sacramental grace!! Keeping those outside of the Church and wanting to remain small in number, when the greater protestant community testifies to the transition that has so often occurred throughout history. It forces the Lord and the Lord within them to depart, as he left the place where the disciples rebuked the children coming to him!Even our Lord in his words to the Pharisee’s in Matthew 19: 1-12 recognizes that marriages are in fact and have been dissolved and divorced, but this does not mean that any person is right by doing so, wrongs occur, not because someone has said, “You are no longer married.” Rather, because someone in the marriage has wrenched it and desolated it or situations have occurred that have destroyed the union either physically or spiritually, as in the case of violence, incessant verbal abuse, incest, continued disrespect, drug abuse, etc., the abuses are intolerable to someone eventually and this person sometimes has to amass great courage to recognize and declare that this union is no longer in its original form, but has been sacrificed by sin. Our Lord cautions strongly from men simply discarding a women because of a whim, but he does not say divorce is impossible, the form is always and without question existent and adultery is always what ensues rather than love and mercy anew.
    The self-righteousness wreaks from here to heaven with some people!!! And the Spirit here no longer resides, as our Lord detaches himself when people keep children from him!!! Who are we to judge except by our own sins and God’s mercy can we come to him? He who is without sin cast the first stone. If the church is so almighty that it cannot provide forgiveness where forgiveness is sought, then doesn’t it declare itself great than our Lord himself, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me.” Matthew 19:13, immediately after the discourse on marriage meant to trick our Lord, but has now tricked the Catholic Church instead. Matthew 18:2-7 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

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  5. Travis:

    I don't think leading off and ending by accusing someone of being a Pharisee is a very fruitful way to engage in dialogue. I am certainly not convinced of my own righteousness. I am well aware that I am a sinner. Nothing brings this reality home to me more than being married. I am sure that Cardinal Müller is aware of his shortcomings too. I understand this issue is a sensitive one for many people. I try to approach it in a sensitive way. Please let me also take the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions.

    1- The Church does not expect anyone to remain in an abusive relationship. Especially if the relationship is physically abusive, it is important to leave and go somewhere safe. It is perfectly possible for two people to have been married in the Church, perhaps civilly divorced, and then not re-marry. I know several such people. If a marriage was ever valid, and, as is often the case for Catholics, sacramental, the marriage is always valid and/or sacramental.

    2- It's important to have actually petitioned for an annulment. I am surprised at the number of people who have never bothered to submit a petition and who chose remain in an irregular marriage situation and who even bemoan their situation. I am not saying this is the case with you, as I have no idea what your status is. But if all the things you mentioned were things that occurred in a marriage, either yours or that of someone you know, chances are there are pretty good grounds for an annulment.

    It's important not to conflate issues. Sadly, it is sometimes necessary for a person to split from his/her spouse, perhaps even seeking a civil divorce for a variety of practical reasons. Additionally, such a person may also chose to petition for an annulment. S/he may also chose not to petition for an annulment. In the case of a person choosing not to petition and who desires to continue receiving the sacraments, then marriage is no longer a possibility. For a person who seeks and annulment and is not granted one, then it means the same thing for that person, which is a painful situation for sure. It's important to prefer nothing or nobody to Christ, even when that choice entails a great sacrifice.

    This brings me to the second issue, the one about re-marrying. Jesus said, "I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery" (Matt 19:9). It is with the words of our Lord Himself that we are confronted, not my words, not my judgment, but that of Christ Himself. So, when it comes to someone re-marrying while still bound by a previous marriage, the issue, not to put too fine a point on it, is that one cannot live in an adulterous relationship and continue to have access to the sacraments. The Spirit does not detach from the Church, which is Christ's Bride, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. To be a little child means to place all one's trust in Christ, even when, perhaps especially when, it is difficult. Besides, I don't think Jesus was a walking, talking contradiction. In the case of marriage, He took something that was easy, at least for a man (impossible for woman) under the law of Moses (i.e., divorcing his wife), and leveled the playing field, by setting the standard quite high. How high? High enough for His disciples to respond by saying, "If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt 19:10). In other words, Jesus was not speaking lightly.

    As with Karl, who finds himself in a painful situation and holds the opposite view, I pray that you may find the way to peace and reconciliation. Heaven knows that when it comes to broken marriage there is more than enough pain to go around. I would encourage you to seek pastoral counsel from your pastor, your associate pastor, or a deacon. I think that would be a fruitful way to begin to resolve the matter.

    Sincerely,
    Deacon Scott

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  6. It is easy to justify divorce. Pifle. Anyone can create a reason to walk out.

    Travis,

    I would not fight through your long posts, so I cannot comment. If you were wronged. It is sad. If there is no forgiveness, on either part, to heal the brokenness, it is the choice of both. No has the option to refuse to repent or to refus to forgive. Either choice separates the one who makes such a choice from the will of God.

    The Catholic Church has, without a scintilla of doubt abandoned justice in favore of false charity disguised as mercy.

    There can be no truth, while justice is abandoned.

    I cannot and will stand with such insolence.

    The Church must focus to foster both repentance and forgiveness to bring about reconciliation. It is doing the opposite. It will destroy itself, deservedly so, as it continus on this path.

    God is disgusted with his bride, as am I, with mine. We both await their repentance. But, it is NOT my place to refuse to forgive.

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  7. Again, this is an understandably sore topic for a lot of people. I agree that the temptation far too often is to cave into a a "false charity disguised as mercy." What we tend to struggle with in modern Western culture is a lack of transcendence, which is the root of our cultural crisis, of which our grasp of marriage is but one symptom.

    Stated simply, even as Christians we tend to think and act as though this life is all there is and so getting what we want in this life is of paramount importance. As St Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth: "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all" (1 Cor 15:19).

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  8. Forgive me if anyone has felt accused and thank you for responding. I believe your response articulates fairly well the stance of the Church. I want to be clear that my post here was meant to be a reflection in response to the general discussion being brought about within the Church and not directly in response to either yourself or Karl’s comments. However, I do think your response was pastoral and his comments completely understandable. In fact, I do not believe Karl or I have opposing positions and most probably have the same frustrations.
    I believe both of our frustrations and in general the frustrations of many (who actually have not yet made the church a “do not care anymore” in their lives, but still care enough to be affected by and engaged in the dialogue) is because of the appearance that the Church is selectively determining who and who should not receive sacraments, and thus our Lord’s grace. To make it worse, I believe with regard to remarrying the church is basing this Prohibition of Mercy unjustly, and while may be good intentioned, is no different from the disciples rebuking the children for approaching our Lord; an event that takes place in the gospel IMMEDIATELY after the Pharisee’s try to question Jesus to trick him on marriage and the disciples express confusion. To examine the gospel out of context and compartmentalize even the chapter of Matthew itself does not do service to our Lord’s action and words, nor to the history of faith, and is contrary to our traditional Catholicism.
    Please understand that I do not think the Church leaders or the Church in general is selectively doing this; however, the hammer falls on those who are visibly remarrying, on the step children and then the children brought from the fruit of the new union, as well as those who like Karl and myself have been in a relationship wrought apart by an affair by the other and our loved ones. I too am divorced as a result of an affair, and my ex also continues to receive communion, but she has chosen to not remarry and be in a relationship, as many people now do as a result of the condemnation and frustration with being in a marriage (including all participants—children, step children, close friends and family of loved ones). I on the other hand have had the courage to remarry and not insist to my spouse beforehand that we must wait to receive permission and if denied must live our lives apart. While the Church does, I will not refuse our Lord’s mercy and love, nor deny others the sacramental grace, be it by a sacramental union or by reconciliation. I did not receive permission to institute the marriage before, it was witnessed to. Marriage is a sacrament instituted and consummated by the couple and no one else. While it is easy to point the other finger of blame at a failure, we all, including myself, are not always without fault in a relationship that did not stay united, which may have not been meant to be or not. The Church provides the burden on both people by refusing sacramental mercy and forgiveness to those who are no longer married by providing both people (and witnessing to all those loved ones connected or involved with the spouses) that forgiveness is prohibited, until we (the Church) now grant that permission after a hearing/tribunal and have determined that there was no union to begin with.

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  9. Forgive me if anyone has felt accused and thank you for responding. I believe your response articulates fairly well the stance of the Church. I want to be clear that my post here was meant to be a reflection in response to the general discussion being brought about within the Church and not directly in response to either yourself or Karl’s comments. However, I do think your response was pastoral and his comments completely understandable. In fact, I do not believe Karl or I have opposing positions and most probably have the same frustrations.
    I believe both of our frustrations and in general the frustrations of many (who actually have not yet made the church a “do not care anymore” in their lives, but still care enough to be affected by and engaged in the dialogue) is because of the appearance that the Church is selectively determining who and who should not receive sacraments, and thus our Lord’s grace. To make it worse, I believe with regard to remarrying the church is basing this Prohibition of Mercy unjustly, and while may be good intentioned, is no different from the disciples rebuking the children for approaching our Lord; an event that takes place in the gospel IMMEDIATELY after the Pharisee’s try to question Jesus to trick him on marriage and the disciples express confusion. To examine the gospel out of context and compartmentalize even the chapter of Matthew itself does not do service to our Lord’s action and words, nor to the history of faith, and is contrary to our traditional Catholicism.
    Please understand that I do not think the Church leaders or the Church in general is selectively doing this; however, the hammer falls on those who are visibly remarrying, on the step children and then the children brought from the fruit of the new union, as well as those who like Karl and myself have been in a relationship wrought apart by an affair by the other and our loved ones. I too am divorced as a result of an affair, and my ex also continues to receive communion, but she has chosen to not remarry and be in a relationship, as many people now do as a result of the condemnation and frustration with being in a marriage (including all participants—children, step children, close friends and family of loved ones). I on the other hand have had the courage to remarry and not insist to my spouse beforehand that we must wait to receive permission and if denied must live our lives apart. While the Church does, I will not refuse our Lord’s mercy and love, nor deny others the sacramental grace, be it by a sacramental union or by reconciliation. I did not receive permission to institute the marriage before, it was witnessed to. Marriage is a sacrament instituted and consummated by the couple and no one else. While it is easy to point the other finger of blame at a failure, we all, including myself, are not always without fault in a relationship that did not stay united, which may have not been meant to be or not. The Church provides the burden on both people by refusing sacramental mercy and forgiveness to those who are no longer married by providing both people (and witnessing to all those loved ones connected or involved with the spouses) that forgiveness is prohibited, until we (the Church) now grant that permission after a hearing/tribunal and have determined that there was no union to begin with.

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  10. Thank you for allowing me to articulate what has been within me for some time and I appreciate your pastoral response with regard to me personally, but this is a greater issue than me, in which I want our Church to respond to without rebuke, but mercy and humility without ever denying our Lord to his Children having hearts of longing, albeit temporarily or however politely.

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  11. As an objective observer, I make the following observation:

    An annulment operates as a retroactive discovery that, despite the pomp and ceremony, no marriage actually took place and that the so-called marriage never existed in the eyes of the Church and is thus, at most, only putative.

    So, if the marriage never existed, and such is only known after a decision with regard to a petition for annulment, then it cannot be known by any earthly party whether or not a so-called "re-marriage" that occurs before an annulment determination constitutes adultery. After all, if one is not married and never was (a position annulment confirms), then getting "re-married" cannot equate to committing adultery at any time, even before the annulment decision.

    I think what gives rise to the objections by Travis and others is that the position the Church takes treats marriage prior to an official annulment as adultery, even though it is exceedingly likely that adultery was a sin impossible to commit, all of which hinges on the subsequent annulment decision. Therefore, refusing sacraments a groundless punitive action. Hence, it sounds like the most equitable solution would be to forbid sacraments to "divorced and remarried" only AFTER an annulment petition is rejected, not before one has been submitted or considered. If an annulment is subsequently granted, then what grounds does anyone have for now or previously refusing another sacraments?

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  12. Travis:

    The quote about the number of divorced and remarried people who desire to receive communion being small is not a quote from Cardinal Müller, but from Cardinal Aguilar, who wrote the preface for Cardinal Müller's forthcoming book. As a matter of fact, he is correct. The number of divorced and remarried Catholics whose petitions for annulment have been denied is small. As you note, small does not mean insignificant. Even one such person is significant, both to our Lord and to His Church. So significant, in fact, that his/her eternal salvation must remain paramount. While His Eminence merely notes the number is small, he does not explicitly state nor can his words be taken to imply that such people do not matter. Rather his point is that the plight of these sisters and brothers, painful as it is for them (when one member suffers, the whole Body suffers), cannot be used to justify infidelity to the Lord's teaching.

    I simply have to note that Scripture is not for private interpretation. To attempt to employ Scripture to rebuke the Church for seeking to be faithful to the Lord's teaching strikes me as mistaken from the get-go,not to mention theologically inocherent. Nobody is being made to "wear the scarlet letter." Only in the United States does almost everybody, or in a lot of cases, everybody, receive communion at Mass. Anybody living in a gravely sinful manner, or conscious of an unconfessed grave sin, should not receive communion. This is the just teaching of the Church.

    We all have to embrace our role within the Body of Christ, which is not guide and direct the Church. That is the task entrusted to the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him.

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  13. I'm afraid the middle portion of my last comment was not posted, but instead the first part was repeated. I believe you are making reference to the middle portion, which did not get posted with "wear the scarlet letter", which of course was figurative to mean publicly seen. I can re-post the middle portion if need be and it is not too much just for discussion sake. I understand these are difficult questions to wrangle with, especially if you are the one being asked to not receive sacramental grace. However, without wrangling with the Word it is difficult to grow in and know our Word, especially in Lectio Divina. The golden rule is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and if we are doing that indeed he is with us in the shadow of death. I do want to receive sacramental grace, but I will not deny others by refusing to remarry or not marry someone divorced also as such because I have been denied the same. Thank you for the correction --Cardinal Aguilar. Also, I did not catch that "small" was in reference to those denied annulment, at least from the context of the article above. Once again I appreciate the discussion and many difficult issues to wrangle with are present, and no more than those whom it affects on deep levels, on sacramental levels.

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  14. In regards to Karl above, we all want you to be with us again and united in the Catholic Church. I can’t speak to your personal experience, we share similar ones apparently. As you said the Church must, so must we each foster repentance and forgiveness. Let us not forgive up to seven times, but seventy times seven times (Matt: 18:22). And yes, a reason can be found with anything and this should be a difficult discussion or it would not be worth fighting for to get the right approach from all angles of the issues. At times when I have struggled with the acts of others, in the Church or not, I have asked myself, what would it be if all the Apostles left Jesus forever because Judas betrayed him? If we could love God with all our heart, we cannot help but be changed and love with unending love all his people. If your ex has sought forgiveness to the Lord (either through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or in prayer) she should be forgiven, as should my ex, and if someone lives in sin continually without a sincere contrite heart then forgiveness has been rejected. You too can receive Reconciliation. Because I have “remarried” or may be “married” for the first time (as yet to be determined in an annulment hearing), I am Prohibited by Church doctrine to receive Reconciliation and so is my spouse, and this does effect my entire five children and my parents, who I have tried to educate to Church doctrine, but to look in your child’s eyes and explain to them why God cannot grant us Reconciliation is quite a difficult matter. It is a very sad way and thing to try and explain. It has caused me to reflect greatly, especially when I have always wanted to raise all of my children and family in the eyes of the Church.
    I do think that the Anonymous above, (which may be Karl or not), I will call Observer, has practically hit the nail on the head!! There is no reason for false mercy or charity, or water down of doctrine or compromise, only truth and from truth love comes. To prevent sacramental grace is not just when there has been no determination. It is like providing, if you will, a punishment in search of a crime, or a guilty as charged before being heard. Only the logistics on this issue is really a bit backwards. I am certainly am not reflecting that adultery and sin, and contrition and these issues with regard to Reconciliation should be abandoned. Rather, justice is not served, nor mercy to FIRST act with rebuke, and then after determine that a crime (adultery or sin) is being committed on-goingly. I think Observer has provided the perfect just and merciful solution to the issue here that is also my own dilemma, which does seem to be at the forefront of discussion now within the Church leaders, who are also reflecting! And as you say Deacon Scott, it is not for me to make the final determination. I do however live and reflect and pray for all God’s people. And thank you again for allowing this forum to do that in a small way. Peace be with you!

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  15. The middle portion to my above reflection (made to fit the word count): If we are to clear people before receiving sacramental grace, then shouldn’t we not publicly go down a litany of potential sins to be sure no one is receiving communion who has not first received forgiveness, especially when it may be readily obvious that others are living in sin as well. Why not declare this publicly when it is already a public tragedy that families are being denied and made to wear a scarlet letter during celebration of the Eucharist at Mass, not just via the individuals remarried, but also for the loved ones who witness such unjust withholding or rebuking of our Lord’s Mercy. Are we not all children coming to our Lord? Does any of us deserve to not seek forgiveness or Reconciliation? Should any of us first “rebuke” the children who wish to be in our Lord’s presence and asking forgiveness?
    Jesus DEPARTED from them (the disciples) when they rebuked these children. Is it of no surprise that the number is “small,” a word Cardinal Muller uses to slight or dismiss those who are remarried and want to receive communion in the Catholic Church. It may always be small because they may not be around in the Church without first a great struggle. The Spirit within us and the Spirit itself is always repelled by self-righteousness, and to justify that such rebuking is not self-righteousness on the grounds that “marriage is always valid and/or sacramental” is not only unmerciful and exalting, but also not just. We don’t say that communion poured into the ocean is still communion, communion baked into leavened bread after consecration is still communion. What of the host that has molded or dissolved into salt water? Do you give it to your people on the premise that it is the body of our Lord and we cannot discard it, even dissolved or diluted to the extreme, it must be consumed, even though it is rotted or may sicken the individual, or with consecrated wine poured in with poison or venom, or radiation. We are not blind to alterations that can occur, if they were to occur, but we try to prevent them to the best of our ability! Marriage is no different. It is a cruel thing to force someone into a hearing while denying them (rebuking) from our Lord, until the hearing is satisfied.
    To the disciples response from the Lord’s answer to the Pharisees (Matt 19:11), our Lord says, “It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted.” He did not say that divorce, or dissolution does not exist, in fact He acknowledges, dissolution/divorce has occurred with example of the past, as allowed and recognized by Moses (Matt 19: 8). However, the Church interprets this one line that “anyone who divorces his wife –I am not speaking of an illicit marriage (translations vary here, in others it is “except for fornication”) and marries another, is guilty of adultery” as meaning divorce/dissolution does not exist. This is the same as saying bread does not mold, or wine never poisoned, so therefore consume it anyway. While grace is provided to hold a couple together, it also is not everyone who can accept (either by understanding, but also by grace of physical union efficaciously provided where the substance may no longer be present), except those whom it is granted. Some people are able to overcome the stress of war without being traumatized, however, not everyone. Some people are able to overcome abuse (different forms existing and often blindly do), but not everyone.
    The disciples were not immediately granted what the Lord was saying, as their reactions to the children demonstrate as such by rebuking the children for approaching Him. The Church too is reacting in zeal in the same manner, and people often appear to choose to detach themselves together With the Lord as a result, when in fact the Church (the disciples) were the ones that may have first detached themselves from the Lord and his flock initially by rebuking one from the other.

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  16. This will be my final comment on this thread.

    It's important to keep in mind that when it comes to marriage we make choices. We choose whether or not to marry in the first place. If one's marriage ends in civil divorce for whatever reason(s), either by one's own choosing, or that of the one to whom you are married, or by mutual consent, the decision to marry again is a choice.

    For a Catholic, a big factor in choosing whether to re-marry is how that will affect one's ability to participate in the sacramental life of the Church. So, when one chooses to re-marry without seeking to have the prior bond declared null, or even if an annulment has been sought and not granted and you proceed to re-marry anyway, then it is not the Church withholding sacramental grace from you, it is the result of a decision made contrary to the explicit teaching of our Lord and the judgment of His Church. I note this because it's important to know on whom the onus in these cases falls.

    Obedience is not usually the easy way, but the difficult path. We are richly blessed when we humbly submit ourselves, especially in those matters in which we would rather act to the contrary. This is the witness of the saints. We are not trying to conform the Church to our image, but, through the Church, be conformed to the image of Christ. Whether it's having suffered the pains of a divorce and living with the implications of that, or whether it's something else, we cannot be so conformed without pain. In my view, it just isn't possible.

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    1. I agree the discourse is exhausting, and for the sake of my livelihood, I must put the pen down. I would only provide friendly encouragement to ponder in your own time "Catena Aurea Matthew 19." A search on Google negates having to spend your own money on the expensive volumes in my physical possession. Here, all can review the commentary collected out of the works of the Church Fathers by Saint Thomas Aquinas to this matter as well.

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