Monday 3 March 2014

An Important Lenten Programme

Important Lenten Programme

I am proposing to the parish that during this Lent we offer a daily Rosary for the Synod on the Family, and that our penances and extra prayers be offered for the same intention. It is imperative that this Synod be supported by our prayers since it is dealing with the fundamental foundation of society; a foundation under heavy attack from secular forces (forces which have influenced too many in the Church and threaten to destroy the Faith).

I hope to be proved wrong, but I see danger ahead. If the Synod takes the orientation that Cardinal Kasper appears to offer, which seems to be that we can tolerate second marriages but not accept them, then the faith as we know it will die in the West.

Marriage of man and woman is founded upon the biological reality of the human person as either male or female and the psychological differences between them. Marriage of one man and one woman is the building block of the family which is that of father and mother together with their off-spring. The union of father and mother jointly caring for their offspring is the building block of a stable society, family life being the situation in which equality of dignity within the diversity of biology and psychology is demonstrated in the role of mother and father, and where the stability, fairness and mutual support necessary for a stable, fair and peaceful world are seen and learned. From the spiritual standpoint, marriage is fundamental to the holiness of the vast majority of those in the lay state in that marriage is the sacrament by which a man and a woman make one another holy, and together form holy children.

If we tolerate second marriages (in contradiction to the Gospel and the entire Tradition of the Church), we tolerate that which is objectively wrong and thereby destroy the notion of marriage as a “holy estate” in which husband and wife build one another up in grace. We have spent decades promoting the fact that marriage is a holy vocation in which man and woman minister sanctifying grace to one another, yet some in the hierarchy are on the verge of trying to accommodate irregularities that which God has forbidden. Marriage is either a holy vocation or it is not; if it is holy, it cannot be allowed to be tainted by that which the Lord has forbidden.

If we tolerate second marriages (in contradiction to the Gospel and the entire Tradition of the Church) we also destroy the role of Confession, since reconciliation to God and re-direction of self towards the good by a firm purpose of amendment and reparation will no longer makes sense if situations which are objectively wrong are tolerated, for in toleration of irregularity there is no need for Reconciliation.

If we tolerate second marriages (in contradiction to the Gospel and the entire Tradition of the Church) we make the Eucharist party to adultery; party to an objectively sinful situation, which is sacrilegious guardianship of the Blessed Sacrament.

If we tolerate second marriages (in contradiction to the Gospel and the entire Tradition of the Church) then we destroy the Church’s role as teacher, for what she teaches can be put aside for ‘pastoral reasons’. All doctrine would go out of the window, since if one doctrine can be put aside, any and all doctrine can be put aside.

I don’t always find myself quoting Archbishop (now Cardinal) Nichols; his tolerant words on ‘civil unions’ for homosexuals dismayed many Catholics, but he is right when he says there must be ways in which people can live a very fruitful ecclesial life even if they don’t have access to the Eucharist. Can we not have formal guidance from Rome on how to keep those in irregular situations supported without abandoning Truth? After all, Our Lord does abandon truth to be compassionate. The divorced/remarried could be formally encouraged to keep up their life of prayer and charity, undertake pilgrimages, attend prayer meetings and seek counselling from their pastor etc, and encouragingly reminded that to come to Mass is to stand at the foot of the Cross that the Blood which flowed from Christ’s wounds may wash away our sins that we might be filled with the grace that flowed from His pierced side. They could be reminded too that although they have chosen to remove themselves from the reception of Holy Communion by their attempt to enter a civil marriage, they have not removed themselves from the obligation of attending Mass.

Unfortunately we have become rather casual in regard to the Blessed Sacrament. So much so that people receive by habit and no longer prepare for Holy Communion by frequent Confession; many are just as happy with a “Communion Service” as they are with Mass because they are able to receive Holy Communion, which many see as the whole point of coming to Mass (I have been told by some folk that they stay away from Mass if they have broken the fast because they cannot come to Holy Communion). We seem to have forgotten that we are not obliged to receive Holy Communion every Sunday: we are obliged to attend Mass, but not to receive. An affirmation of this reality would go a long way to helping those in irregular situations. I fully support Cardinal Nichols when he says

“When I was growing up, there was a more reserved approach to the Eucharist. It made demands on us. To receive the Eucharist was the high point. There must be ways in which people can live a very fruitful life in the church even if for the public reasons we all understand they might not have access to the Eucharist.”

It is essential that the Synod uphold the indissolubility of marriage between one man and one woman for the raising of children; it is also essential that Pastoral Care be about “doing the truth in charity”, not putting the truth aside to be ‘charitable’ by which we avoid the practical consequences of Truth. One of the devil’s master strokes in the 20th century was introducing the idea of Pastoral Care as Person-centred charity; he distorted our perception of Truth by turning “do not judge” from “do not judge your neighbour [in himself]” to “do not judge your neighbour[’s acts]”.  Satan has distorted our perception of the Truth ever since the fall when he convinced Adam that if God had made Adam to His image and likeness that Adam should be like God in knowing good from evil. He perverted a truth then, and he is perverting the truth of “do not judge” now. We must never forget that we cannot be genuinely charitable to our neighbour by allowing him to live outside of Truth. It is as basic as this: Christ is The Truth, and we cannot encourage souls to live outside of Christ, where no life can be found. After all, Christ is The Truth and The Life; He cannot be divided. We must not imply that He can. 


  1. If you are going to lead your parish in prayer for the synod then you should do so in an unbiased open way eg 'let us pray that the holy spirit may guide and inspire the synod...'. You shouldn't be praying for a pre-determined outcome.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Mary.
      I don't think it is biased to pray for an outcome consistent with the Teaching of the Church through two millennia; we must all be praying that the Synod remain faithful to the voice of God who is immutable and cannot, therefore, change with the times.
      God Bless

  2. I think if the clergy (the 'Church') vote for admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion they are overturning Our Lords teaching that he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Imagine how all those faithful Catholics (in irregular marriages) who have stayed away from Holy Communion for years and years now feel if all along they could have gone to Holy Communion all the time. This weakening and accommodating of the Faith seems to go hand in hand with the low respect shown by not being allowed to kneel and to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. After all He has done for us can't we just for once show respect and love and worship by kneeling to our King and God?

    1. Thank you, brandsma,
      I agree. If the Synod does not uphold the traditional position on admission to Holy Communion if will be a slap in the face to those who have suffered for many years to remain faithful to the Lord as best they can having chosen an irregular situation.
      God Bless.

  3. God bless, Father. will keep this intention in mind. As soon as eve started dialoguing with the serpent about how to accommodate a departure from what God gave, it didn't end well. Either we believe that God's justice is for our own good, or we don't. in the new church's bid to remove all 'suffering', it just seems to be saying, the broad way is easier, don't worry. I sometimes wonder if some prelates think that the power to loose and bind actually means the power to redact God; if so, the serpent's reletavism is still being accommodated.

    1. Thank you, viterbo.
      I think that some believe that the text (paraphrased) "whatever you bind (or loose) will be bound (or loosed) in heaven", means that God will oblige and allow what the Pope allows, whereas it simply means the Pope will be able to discern what heaven allows!
      God Bless.

  4. Dear Father,

    Thank you for another cogent article which well articulates the concerns of many priests and lay people.

    It seems very unusual that Cardinal Kasper's focus is so heavily and ambiguously on this single issue relating to marriage, whilst the highly organized attack on marriage/family/life occurring across the globe is not being sufficiently addressed or resisted. Neither does he raise the issue of orthodox marriage preparation, which is urgently required to help counter the problem of divorce.

    The dramatic situation of so much sacrilegious behaviour towards the Blessed Sacrament throughout many parts of the world, coupled with the fact that politicians publicly voting for abortion/same-sex 'marriage' are going publicly and undeterred to Holy Communion, should surely be higher up the list of issues to be addressed.

    Some years ago at college, we had to read and critique Cardinal Kasper's exegesis of the Miracle accounts in the Gospels. His treatment of the Miracles and the Resurrection were highly reductionist and seemed to contradict the clear teaching of the Church throughout history and as presented at the First Vatican Council.

    In short, being more akin to the preconceptions of 19th Century liberal Protestant scholars, they seemed to be a perfect expression of Modernism.

    Not a few students were scandalized that such a writer could have been raised to the College of Cardinals. It would not be the last time such scandals would occur.

    In Cardinal Kasper's case, the most charitable explanation offered was that his 'ecumenical hermeneutic' had caused some blind spots in his exegesis. This was held up as a cautionary tale for those wishing to draw from Sacred Scripture in harmony with Tradition and the Magisterium. A less orthodox faculty would have presented Cardinal Kasper's work as 'gospel'. Indeed, this was witnessed at Ushaw when a 'Scripture prof' attempted to reduce the miracles and prophecies to 'literary constructs'.

    And now we have the approach of the Synod.

    With God's help we will join our Lenten practices with you and your parish for this vital intention.

    God bless.
    Alan and Angeline

    1. Thank you both for this.
      Yes, marriage preparation is vital and too often badly done today, based as it is on the secular theories used in marriage counselling.
      As for Cardinal Kasper’s exegesis, many of us were form in the historical-critical methods popularised decades ago, so his exegesis is not unique to him. I personally think it was a method used so as to make Catholic scholars look as intellectual as their atheistic counterparts, yet filled with Faith. Hmm...
      God Bless.

  5. Father, you sound like you are 'academically challenged'. Why are you so scared about the forthcoming synod. Relax and trust the Holy Spirit. Have some real faith!

    1. Dear Mark,
      I hope no one has studied in seminary for six years is academically challenged -that would mean every Bishop and priest in the world.
      Faith does not negate the need to use our reason and discern possible fruits or dangers on the road ahead.
      God bless.


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