Jesus Christ:Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.
I think it’s no coincidence that it’s been years since I’ve been to a wedding at Church and that so many of the weddings I’ve been to during that time have failed.
To many a wedding is just a big party and to be sure a wedding is certainly worthy of the celebrations that insures a large and joyous one if possible.
A Marriage however is more, it’s a legal public acknowledgement that the person next to you is your mate. It says to the government and the world that the children that come from this union have a mother and a father and that the people involved in said union belong to each other.
But a marriage in church, particularly a sacramental Catholic Marriage is much more. It is that acknowledgement made before God something blessed and holy. It’s a contract placed before something greater than any mere human industry and done in a ceremony that while joyous, is also consummate with the dignity and the solemnity of the event and the entity that the promise is being made before.
To be sure a church wedding does not guarantee a marriage will survive. From Henry the VIII who was married Catherine of Aragon with the greatest of religious ceremony, to Ronald Reagan to our current President men and women have revoked these public declarations even when made in church. It wasn’t until the 60’s this become not only more common but accepted and it’s no coincidence that the social ills that come with illigitmacy , single parenthood and absent fathers are now the scourge of society. The Common Thread, the secularization of the society and the removal of God from marriage made this possible.
This comes from treating the marriage contract as a “scrap of paper” to be discarded by men rather than a sacrament made before God to be blessed and kept.
I suspect Ed Morrissey has reached a point where this ignorance doesn’t phase him as much
none of this should be terribly newsworthy anyway. The Catholic Church teaches that all sins can be forgiven through Christ for those who truly repent and intend to refrain from that sin in the future. That’s true of murder, abortion, and all sorts of other sins. That does not alleviate people from the temporal consequences of sin, but it does allow the truly penitent to offer up their sins to Christ and rejoin the path of salvation. The sacrament of reconciliation exists to bring those who stray back into communion with the Church.
(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Ed Further notes in an update that this “big change” isn’t as big as you might think, particularly in the US
My friend Father Z’s post from June 2014 confirms that the procedural change on abortion is mostly an affirmation of what’s already taking place in all American dioceses, under a grant from St. John Paul II:
But the tone of the MSM suggest they are completely surprised that the sin of Abortion can be forgiven. This is this is such basic first grade knowledge that it prompted this tweet from Mollie Hemingway:
.@NBCNews Um, NBC? You can’t be this ignorant about how Christian forgiveness works
Yes Mollie they can in fact their ignorance and desire to support this meme causes them to miss the real groundbreaking news in this announcement, all that is except for John Allen who should hold a symposium for journalist so they can ask him questions about Christianity & the Catholic Church & he can educate them.
The pontiff also decided that any Catholic who confesses his or her sins during the year to a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist breakaway group not approved by Rome, will nevertheless be considered licitly forgiven.
Francis expressed hope on Tuesday that a rupture with the society may be overcome “in the near future,” seeming to style his opening as a prelude to broader reconciliation.
That is HUGE news and Father Z expands on it further (emphasis mine):
Along with this, the fact of Pope Francis’ move, together with the wording, confirms what I have been saying all along about the priests of the SSPX: they do not and have not had the faculty validly to absolve sins! The fact that this is being granted for the Year of Mercy bears out what I have been saying.
That said, if the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy? I would like to think so!
Next, this concession also underscores a point I have been making all along. If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX!
A million souls brought into full communion with the church? Sounds like a winning idea to me!
However I suspect that the media couldn’t tell the difference between the SSPX and the SPCA but if they did know it I suspect they would be horrified at the idea that the Pope is reaching out to them.
If you want to read the bulletin yourself (and you should) it is here, but there is one solid message vital to your eternal existence that the Pope is promulgating, a message that the media wants you to ignore:
GO TO CONFESSION!
My protestant friends insist that there is no need or purpose for sacramental confession so I would ask them this:
If Christ didn’t want us to seek forgiveness from within the church why did he explicitly give the Apostles as a whole the capacity to both forgive sins and to hold them bound? Does that not suggest the need for someone to independently judge is one is truly contrite or just mouthing the words and the need for someone wracked with the guilt of sin to explicitly hear the words: “You are forgiven”?
It’s one thing to believe you are forgiven, it’s another to hear it spoken aloud like this:
God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
You can not comprehend the comfort those words bring to one who needs to hear them.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.
Rory:It’s the Doctor. How did we forget the Doctor? I was plastic. He was the stripper at my stag. Long story.
Doctor Who, The Big Bang 2010
As the Synod of the family continues there is a point that needs to be made concerning mercy.
The stated purpose of the synod to analyze and determine a better way to minister to people in and the children of people in “irregular unions” who wish to move toward the church.
This is by definition a worthwhile thing, it is the job of the church to save the greatest number of people possible to help those who as Jesus says in Luke attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. In that respect the extraordinary synod is doing God work.
However there is a basic error going on that is extremely easy to miss but, once you notice it, seems so obvious that you’ll wonder how you didn’t see it, in fact I didn’t see it until I went to mass yesterday.
And that we are dodging simple truth.
The Relato talks about “irregular unions”, “complex situations”, “today’s cultural reality”, “educative challenge” , “gender ideology” and “de facto unions”. Nobody seems to want to say the two words that accurately describe the state of all of these situations.
We are forgetting that the goal is to save people and what we are saving them from is Mortal Sin, it doesn’t matter what the mortal sin is, what matters is saving people from the consequences thereof.
Now mortal sin comes in a lot of flavors and can stem from many things, bad catechises, personal habits, peer pressure, social pressure, local norms, Satanic temptation, physical or emotional trauma or and sometime simple ignorance or a combination of all of these things. Moreover mortal sin, particularly sin that has been habitual for years or even decades is hard to shake.
Consider this exchange from the 1941 movie Sgt York.
the key exchange is this:
Pastor Pile:Satan’s got you by the shirttail Alvin. Alvin York: Shor has. (to Mule) Gitup Noah! Pastor Pile: He’s gonna yank you straight down to hell Alvin York:You’re plum right Pastor Pastor Pile:You’ve got to make him let loose you before it’ too late Alvin York:I sure wish I knowed how. Pastor Pile:Wrassle him Alvin, Wrassle him like you would a bar. Alvin York:I tried wrasslin him [to his Mule] Whoa Noah but old Satan he holds on tight. Pastor Pile:You and the Lord can throw him Alvin,
Sgt York 1941
Alvin York is exactly where the people this Synod is designed to deal with are in. They understand something is wrong, they want to move toward the light of the Lord but Satan and sin are holding on tight. In fat when the Devil sees people moving in a direction he doesn’t like that’s when his efforts increase and that grip can choke you beyond what you think you can bear.
Now look what Pastor Pile does, he doesn’t sugarcoat Alvan’s situation, but he doesn’t he reject him either. He gives him the best advice he can and doesn’t give up on him and during times of trial is there to help.
The basic solution for any person in a non sanctified union is pretty clear, a heterosexual match requires living as brother and sister until said union can be sanctified, if in a homosexual union or a heterosexual union that can’t for whatever reason can’t be sanctified the solution is chastity.
Because the goal isn’t to make people feel better about mortal sin, the foal isn’t for people to receive communion so they can feel socially accepted, the goal isn’t even to have people refuse communion because they’re in mortal sin. The Goal is to get them out of Mortal sin through confession.
Again lets not sugar coat this, Years of sitcom humor not withstanding living celibately with someone you’re sexually attracted to isn’t easy any more than giving up a gigolo lifestyle or a porn addiction or drugs or booze or swearing but it can be done. It might take years of pastoral care, working with a couple or individual, understanding their problems, never doubting the mercy of God but never compromising the need for repentance for a person to finally resolve to make that key first Sacramental Confession.
That’s when it really gets hard.
Because after that first confession and the communion that follows it, the battle continues, the temptations, the urges the habits are all still there and as any person who frequents temptation can tell you, despite your best efforts and your resolutions you are likely going to fall, in fact you might find yourself spending years repeating the sins you’ve resolved to dodge and confessing them to the point of despair or even laziness.
But as long as your resolve to get up when you fall, seek sacramental confession and try again and keep moving toward that narrow gate to finish that race you can win that eternal prize.
That’s what hit me, I knew I needed confession but planned on going Friday and just skipping communion at Thursday Mass but when I walked in & noticed the priest already in the confessional I felt like a fool, realizing I’m not promised tomorrow. I’m not even promised another hour, when you know you need confession the time to get it is always NOW!
And if the other people in the pews around you don’t understand your fight, it doesn’t matter because it’s between you, your priestly coach and God.
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All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?” You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is!
C.S. Lewis The Screwtape letters
One of the clubs that’s frequently used to discount Christianity in general & Catholicism in particular is the “hypocrisy card” the idea that the commission of and struggles with sin are proof that the entire faith is somehow false and worthy of being dismissed.
Now while a society that does not have the understanding of basic Christianity that it once did, said society might not realize the entire basis of Christianity is the need for the redemption of sinful man.
A practicing Christian of any denomination has no excuse for ignoring that vital fact and acting accordingly.
I’ve talked about courage as being a vital ingredient to Christian virtue. To many that statement brings to mind facing an Islamist’s sword when being ordered to convert, facing a lawsuit when refusing to sin or being willing to loudly proclaim their faith in the church in public.
However sometimes a shortage of courage doesn’t involve such dramatic things, sometimes it involves something as small as like facing your priest when you need to confess a sin that’s embarrassing.
Christians sin, sometimes on great matters, sometimes on small matters and sometimes on matters that might to others seems small but still rise to the level of mortal sin or grave sin according to doctrine. We all know this as rote
But what happens when that person is you. What happens furthermore when you are a person who knows doctrine, attends daily mass, recognizes a temptation, understand that temptation is to a grave sin, then commits it anyways? That realization is an incredible burden.
Not so much for the slings and arrows of those who don’t believe or who dislike Christianity, frankly those are badges of honor and might actually provide relief and distraction from the state of one’s soul, that requires less courage than you might think.
But try facing a priest you know when you’ve committed a sin that embarrasses you. That’s a different story. You know in theory the priest doesn’t judge you but you say to yourself. What must be going through his mind? He sees you at mass, he sees you pray the rosary, he sees you do devotions, does he think you’re a phony?
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
and remember “being embarrassed by your sin” does not constitute a “grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession”.
I found myself in that situation last week and found myself in a quandary. I had been wrestling with sin and received confession but within a couple of days I was in the same boat. Because I am familiar with the norms I couldn’t in good conscience receive communion but I still didn’t approach my priest, embarrassed not only by my sin but at how soon after confession I had fallen into it.
I found myself skipping communion one day, then another. I couldn’t bring myself to sit in my normal spot at Mass staying in the back. I felt every eye was on me “Why isn’t HE going up for communion, what did he do?” Oddly enough the temptation of the primary sin that put me in this mess was gone, it wasn’t needed, that introductory sin had already roped me into the much more effective and deadly sin of pride which was rapidly joined to despair. I found myself judging not the others but myself, judging the sincerity of my own prayers condemning myself and tricking my way toward the only unforgivable sin not seeking and accepting forgiveness that was there for the asking.
In this state your patient will not omit, but he will increasingly dislike, his religious duties. He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over. A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.
Then an interesting thing happened while I was at mass one morning I noted a person I had seen many times but I had never formally met. It was a mother with young children. I had often seen her at daily mass and admired her willingness to make mass daily with young (and sometimes difficult) children in tow. I remembered how hard that was once a week so her ability to do it nearly daily really impressed me. So when mass was over I introduced myself complemented her and thanked her for her example. This produced a welcome smile on her face as she did her best to control her rather active toddler.
At that point it hit me how small my worries were next to hers and approached the priest near the altar asking if he had time to hear my confession. By an odd coincidence there was another woman ahead of me who was making the same request. The priest told me that he would be happy to do so but there were two ahead of me so he suggested I wait in the back of the church till he had finished with his post mass duties and he would hear our confessions in order.
I went to a pew near the back of the church and knelt down in prayer waiting for the priest, a few minutes later started heading for the confessional in the back of the church. I knew the woman next to me was ahead of me so I turned around to see who was first and that’s when I saw that pious young lady toddler in hand enter the confessional just behind the priest.
I laughed aloud and it was a laugh of relief This young lady provided me with the final example I needed. Here I was worrying about how going to confession a few days early would look and here was this woman whose piety I admired taking the sacrament with humility (it hit me that she also had skipped communion staying in the crying room but at the time I presumed it was due to the rambunctious child). When I got into the confessional I poured out my sins, not just the base one that got the ball rolling but the pride and despair as well.
Father listened intently and gave me one other important perspective.
He talked of the great saints and how they attended confession but not just that they received the sacrament for the sake of receiving it but how they perceived their own sins and how those sins pressed upon them. While others saw them as examples the more advanced they progressed in the faith, the better their understanding of God the more conscious they were of their own inadequacies and failures like a professional carpenter seeing a beam that’s a 1/32″ off line or a support that’s failing when an untrained person or amateur eye might not see a thing. To the casual observer they were the holiest of men and women, to themselves, experienced in the way of Christ & the Church they saw themselves as they were and did not hesitate to ask for the forgiveness and absolution that they needed to progress further.
It’s one thing to know something in your head, it’s another to have the understanding written on your soul.
I left that confessional in tears from the joy of absolution and with the knowledge that the relief & release I was feeling from my sins was the very same as the great saints whose path each one of us are called to follow and that young woman will likely never know how she helped me back on the path I needed to be.
Without question the Lord works in mysterious ways.
Imagine just for a second that the IRS is interested in you.
Imagine that you have not filed for years, have underpaid your taxes, have dodged taxes, owe back taxes or most serious of all, support conservatives in general and the Tea Party in particular.
What if you were in any of those situations and the IRS said to you: “Tell you what, if you come into the office and say you’ll do your best to follow the tax laws they will not only leave you alone, but you wouldn’t even have to pay any money you owed back.
If you were convinced it wasn’t some kind of trap wouldn’t you jump on that kind of deal?
This is the question that my Parish Priest asked when it comes to confession.
As a sacrament Confession is amazing, the priest exercises the power Christ has given the apostles to forgive sins in his name even to a person who doesn’t have perfect contrition for said sins.
The forgiveness is free, all you have to do is come and get it, yet so many Catholics do not choose to take it.
Barring massive stupidity, one must conclude that a person who claims Catholic belief who is lying about belief who fails to take advantage of this sacrament of salvation has to have the worse case of the sin of pride there is.
There is a reason why the sin of pride is first on the list.
Never forget the one unforgivable sin, is to refuse forgiveness.
For the 2nd week in a row I’ve failed to make the weekly paycheck putting me on a pace to be over $400 shy of my mortgage payment this month.
One should whenever possible look at the positives, first of all the paycheck did much better than last week and more importantly this is the start of a new week so anything is possible.