The battle of who may and may not receive Communion in the Catholic Church goes on into 2018. Some cardinals have asked for official clarification from the Pope which, to date, has not been forthcoming. Ambiguity is opening up divisions from parish to parish as there seems to be a real battle about whether divorced and remarried people can receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. And, as with any large-scale group, there are some who will see this as an easy way to deal with divorced-remarried people in their congregations that want to be ‘like everyone else’ at Communion time.
I also know, for a fact, that one cannot be too careful with whom you might speak on the subject. I was naive enough to think that discussing it with what I thought was a long-time friend, caused an irreparable chasm in a relationship. They felt the Church had to be kinder (aka overlook sin) and let these people enjoy all the benefits of our Faith without worrying about problematic rules. I was actually told that I was too hard-lined on obeying the Church and probably couldn’t even be considered a Catholic!
On December 31, 2017, two archbishops and one bishop decided to take on stand on this issue using the clarity of the already present and still in force, guidelines of the church. I will share some of the pertinent quotes and reasoning behind their proclamation.
*Sexual relationships between people who are not in the bond to one another of a valid marriage – which occurs in the case of the so-called “divorced and remarried” – are always contrary to God’s will and constitute a grave offense against God.
*No circumstance or finality, not even a possible imputability or diminished guilt, can make such sexual relations a positive moral reality and pleasing to God. The same applies to the other negative precepts of the Ten Commandments of God. Since “there exist acts which, per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17).
*The Church does not possess the infallible charism of judging the internal state of grace of a member of the faithful (see Council of Trent, session 24, chapter 1). The non-admission to Holy Communion of the so-called “divorced and remarried” does not therefore mean a judgment on their state of grace before God, but a judgment on the visible, public, and objective character of their situation. Because of the visible nature of the sacraments and of the Church herself, the reception of the sacraments necessarily depends on the corresponding visible and objective situation of the faithful.
*It is not morally licit to engage in sexual relations with a person who is not one’s legitimate spouse supposedly to avoid another sin. Since the Word of God teaches us, it is not lawful “to do evil so that good may come” (Romans 3, 8).
*The admission of such persons to Holy Communion may be permitted only when they with the help of God’s grace and a patient and individual pastoral accompaniment make a sincere intention to cease from now on the habit of such sexual relations and to avoid scandal. It is in this way that true discernment and authentic pastoral accompaniment were always expressed in the Church.
*People who have habitual non-marital sexual relations violate their indissoluble sacramental nuptial bond with their life style in relation to their legitimate spouse. For this reason they are not able to participate “in Spirit and in Truth” (see John 4, 23) at the Eucharistic wedding supper of Christ, also taking into account the words of the rite of Holy Communion: “Blessed are the guests at the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19, 9).
The fulfillment of God’s will, revealed in His Ten Commandments and in His explicit and absolute prohibition of divorce, constitutes the true spiritual good of the people here on earth and will lead them to the true joy of love in the salvation of eternal life.
Being bishops in the pastoral office, who promote the Catholic and Apostolic faith (“cultores catholicae et apostolicae fidei”, see Missale Romanum, Canon Romanus), we are aware of this grave responsibility and our duty before the faithful who await from us a public and unequivocal profession of the truth and the immutable discipline of the Church regarding the indissolubility of marriage. For this reason we are not allowed to be silent.
We affirm therefore in the spirit of St. John the Baptist, of St. John Fisher, of St. Thomas More, of Blessed Laura Vicuña and of numerous known and unknown confessors and martyrs of the indissolubility of marriage:
It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.
By making this public profession before our conscience and before God who will judge us, we are sincerely convinced that we have provided a service of charity in truth to the Church of our day and to the Supreme Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Christ on earth.
31 December 2017, the Feast of the Holy Family, in the year of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.
+ Tomash Peta, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
+ Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda
+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana
Archbishop Chaput has pointed out the current problems with the world.
“2000 years ago Jesus ended the debate of which lives matter. He died for all!”
There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak….
“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, ‘What do you have there, son?’
“Just some old birds,” came the reply.
“What are you going to do with them?” I asked.
“Take ’em home and have fun with ’em,” he answered. “I’m gonna tease ’em and pull out their feathers to make ’em fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.”
“But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?”
“Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy. “They like birds. I’ll take ’em to them.”
The pastor was silent for a moment. “How much do you want for those birds, son?”
“Huh?? !!! Why, you don’t want them birds, mister. They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing. They ain’t even pretty!”
“How much?” the pastor asked again.
The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, “$10?”
The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone. The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the pastor began to tell this story:
One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation.
Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting. “Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn’t resist. Got ’em all!”
“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.
Satan replied, “Oh, I’m gonna have fun! I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I’m gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!”
“And what will you do when you are done with them?” Jesus asked.
“Oh, I’ll kill ’em,” Satan glared proudly.
“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.
“Oh, you don’t want those people. They ain’t no good. Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you. They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don’t want those people!!”
“How much? He asked again.
Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your blood, tears and your life.”
Jesus said, “DONE!” Then He paid the price.
The pastor picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit.
I pray, for everyone who sends this on, whether to their entire address book or just a few, that God will bless them in a special way. And for those that just deleted it…and I KNOW there will be a few … WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
I thank God every day for my blessed life. I’m not rich, don’t live in a mansion and don’t have the nicest of material things, but, I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table, a family that loves me and lifelong friends to get me through… I’d say I have a lot to be thankful for.
Have you counted your blessings today?_