Adventures in Second Marriages

broken bandsdotCommonweal looks at some Cardinal Kasper detractors. Some of their own readers take them to task for giving a platform to one of the more conservative enclaves. Indeed, my friend Crystal offers the obvious question in the commentariat:

Interesting how vowed religious have such strong opinions about a relationship they have no experience of.

Another dearth of experience is in the situation that happens more frequently than divorced spouses reconciling.

Say you have an inquirer, Mary, who is interested in the Catholic Church. As she gets involved in the parish and does the intake process, the interviewer sighs in relief to learn she has only been married once. But then it gets tangled. Her husband, a non-Catholic, has been married previously. I’ve known situations of people being evangelized who were married for years, if not decades. But the institutional focus is on a first marriage that lasted months, if not weeks. Contact is lost, and the possibility of an annulment is mostly a pipe dream. Probably crack.

You readers do know what happens if the pastor is one of those JP2/B16 straight arrows, right? The husband must get an annulment. Doesn’t matter if he’s not Catholic, or has no intention od becoming one. The whole procedure is hung up on convincing people totally outside the Church to undergo a “healing” for-pay process of which they likely have little to no understanding.

Adding an unnecessary burden?

test tubeCrystal’s point is aptly considered. I think we have far too many busybodies in the Church these days–people who offer opinions to those outside their circles. Even theologically astute folk who might find themselves out of their depth. I think care is needed in these situations. I think cross fertilization in most instances is good: lay people discerning seminarians, priests counseling engaged couples, lay associates of religious orders, women and men religious serving parishes, lay people in Roman dicasteries. But such persons are responsible for seeing the whole picture, not just offering a serum concocted in their own test tubes.

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EG 263: Evangelization Today Not Harder But Different

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis is not too concerned with the modern environment for sharing and urging people to the faith. Saints of history, especially during the Roman Empire, might actually have had a tougher go of it:

263. We do well to keep in mind the early Christians and our many brothers and sisters throughout history who were filled with joy, unflagging courage and zeal in proclaiming the Gospel. Some people nowadays console themselves by saying that things are not as easy as they used to be, yet we know that the Roman empire was not conducive to the Gospel message, the struggle for justice, or the defence of human dignity. Every period of history is marked by the presence of human weakness, self-absorption, complacency and selfishness, to say nothing of the concupiscence which preys upon us all. These things are ever present under one guise or another; they are due to our human limits rather than particular situations.

Rather than blame the world, let’s be challenged by our own weakness. Then turn to God to work with us in spite of our failings. That rings more true than playing the victim card.

Let us not say, then, that things are harder today; they are simply different. But let us learn also from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day. So I propose that we pause to rediscover some of the reasons which can help us to imitate them today.[Cf. V.M. Fernandez, “Espiritualidad para la esperanza activa. Discurso en la apertura del I Congreso Nacional de Doctrina Social de la Iglesia (Rosario 2011)”, in UCActualidad, 142 (2011), 16.]

And if we find ourselves at a loss, Pope Francis’ advice also strikes me as deeply useful: look to the witness of the saints.

Evangelii Gaudium is available online. Worth reading as a whole.

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Reconciliation Lectionary: Colossians 3:1-10, 12-17

mary-the-penitent.jpgThe Wedding Lectionary offers verses 12-17 as a possibility. You can check a wedding-friendly essay here.

Scripture scholars have remarked on the similarity between this section of Colossians and Ephesians 5 on which we posted last month. The main difference would be the addition of the urging of virtues in Colossians 3:12-17, because the theme of verses 1-10 is familiar.

For this post, I’d like to focus on the first ten verses:

Brothers and sisters,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

You might remember the theme of Ephesians 5 if you read this series closely. Believers are urged to a higher standard than their life had before. But since most Catholic baptisms are administered to infants, perhaps this passage is best saved for those transitional moments: the transition to the sacraments of Confirmation, Ordination, and Matrimony.

This passage, for example, might be a good one to share with a couple celebrating reconciliation before their marriage. It might work especially well if they’ve chosen Colossians 3:12-17 for the wedding liturgy.

Confessions are often heard on retreat. The encouragement to recognize the opportunity for a change in life is very present in many retreat situations and this reading might be fitting. Let’s keep reading:

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.
But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.

A shorter selection from one of the sample liturgies has Col 3:5, 8-10, 12-17. My sense would be that just verses 12 through 17 make for a nice reading for the Rite of Penance by themselves.

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The Gardens of Castel Gandolfo

Pope Benedict XVI at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Rome, Italy - 26 Jul 2010Catholic watchers know of the summer vacation spot for popes. Astronomy buff may know of it as the location for the Vatican Observatory, run by Jesuits–even before Pope Francis. BBC has a nice video feature on Pope Francis opening up the gardens there to the public. Why wouldn’t I be surprised?

Osvaldo Gianoli, director of the residence there, has a brief interview in the segment. The gardens were acquired in 1596, developed as a papal retreat in the 17th century, and renovated under the orders of Pope Pius XI in the 1930’s.

The head gardener is pretty dry and funny, too. A tour costs 26 euros.

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DPPL 5: For Clergy and Religious Heads

STA altar at night smallWe hear who the intended readers are for the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL). It’s a hierarchical thing: first bishops, then clergy, then heads of religious communities:

5. The operative proposals of this Directory, which are intended solely for the Latin Church and primarily for the Roman Rite, are addressed firstly to the Bishops, whose office entails presiding over the worshipping community of the dioceses, promoting the liturgical life and coordinating other forms of worship (Cf. Lumen Gentium 21; SC 41; Christus Dominus, 15; Directorium de pastorali ministerio Episcoporum, Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1973, 75-76, 82, 90-91; CIC, can. 835, ‘ 1 and can. 839, ‘2; Vicesimus quintus annus, 21.) with it. They are also intended for the Bishops’ closest collaborators – their episcopal Vicars, priests, deacons and especially the Rectors of sanctuaries. These proposals are also intended for the major Superiors of the institutes of consecrated life -both male and female, since many forms of popular piety arose within, and were developed by, such institutes, and because the religious and the members of the secular institutes can contribute much to the proper harmonization of the various forms of popular piety with the Liturgy.

It is true that some forms of piety were developed by lay people within religious “institutes.” (Vatican-speak for religious communities.) But the responsibility for harmonization lies with the ordained.

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EG 262: A Renewed Missionary Impulse

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis,  giving “Reasons for a Renewed Missionary Impulse” in Evangelii Gaudium, suggests a believer pray and work. He begins by making a very audacious statement:

262. Spirit-filled evangelizers are evangelizers who pray and work. Mystical notions without a solid social and missionary outreach are of no help to evangelization, nor are dissertations or social or pastoral practices which lack a spirituality which can change hearts.

Would some interpret this as a criticism of many Catholic intellectual and working strains? What is the problem if some dissertation expresses the truth?

These unilateral and incomplete proposals only reach a few groups and prove incapable of radiating beyond them because they curtail the Gospel. What is needed is the ability to cultivate an interior space which can give a Christian meaning to commitment and activity.[Cf. Propositio 36]

A balance of contemplation and action:

Without prolonged moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the word, of sincere conversation with the Lord, our work easily becomes meaningless; we lose energy as a result of weariness and difficulties, and our fervor dies out.

It is a matter of nourishing and sustaining the evangelizers of the Body.

The Church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer, and to my great joy groups devoted to prayer and intercession, the prayerful reading of God’s word and the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist are growing at every level of ecclesial life. Even so, “we must reject the temptation to offer a privatized and individualistic spirituality which ill accords with the demands of charity, to say nothing of the implications of the incarnation”.[Novo Millennio Ineunte 52] There is always the risk that some moments of prayer can become an excuse for not offering one’s life in mission; a privatized lifestyle can lead Christians to take refuge in some false forms of spirituality.

The appeal occasionally heard from introverts, for example, might suggest withdrawal into a personal refuge. But the missionary impulse asks many things of the various believers, and God is certainly well aware of the set of gifts of the extreme introvert, and may still urge an offering of those gifts in a certain way. Careful discernment is needed, not being just like everyone else.

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DPPL 4: Nature and Structure of the Document

STA altar at night smallLet’s examine the “Nature and Structure” of the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (DPPL).

4. This Directory contains two parts. The first, entitled Emerging Trends, provides the elements necessary for the harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety. It draws on the experience which has matured during the long history and emergence of the contemporary problematic (Chapter 1). The teachings of the Magisterium are systematically restated since they are indispensable for ecclesial communion and fruitful action (Chapter 2). Finally, the theological principles, according to which difficulties concerning the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety are approached and resolved, are stated (Chapter 3). The possibility of realizing a true and fruitful harmonization of Liturgy and popular piety can only be achieved by a wise and committed respect for these presuppositions. Conversely, overlooking them leads to nothing but reciprocal and futile ignorance, damaging confusion and contradictory polemics.

This first part will cover sections 22-92. History will be summarized in DPPL 22-59, the Magisterium in 60-75, and finish up with the theology of popular piety in 76-92. If we maintain daily posts, that should take us well into the Fall.

The second part, entitled Guidelines, offers a series of practical proposals. It does not claim to be able to include every usage or practice of popular piety to be found in particular locations throughout the world. Mention of particular practices or expressions of popular piety is not to be regarded as an invitation to adopt them where they are not already practised. This section is elaborated in reference to the Liturgical Year (Chapter 4); to the special veneration given by the Church to the Mother of our Saviour (Chapter 5); to devotion to the Holy Angels, the Saints and the Beatified (Chapter 6); to suffrage for the dead (Chapter 7) and to pilgrimage and examples of popular piety connected with shrines (Chapter 8).

In numbered sections, these topics will cover DPPL 94-182 (the Liturgical Year), 183-207 (the Blessed Mother), 208-247 (angels and saints), 248-260 (the dead) , and 261-287 (shrines and pilgrimages), leaving DPPL 288 for a conclusion.

The purpose of the directory is outlined, to offer guidance and keep believers largely to the straight and narrow:

The object of this Directory is to offer guidelines and, where necessary, to prevent abuses or deviations. Its tone is positive and constructive. In the same context, it provides short historical notes on several popular devotions in its Guidelines. It records the various pious exercises attached to these devotions while signalling their theological underpinning, and making practical suggesting in relation to time, place, language and other factors, so as to harmonize them with the Liturgy.

What do you think so far?

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