Ross Douthat wrings his hands in the NYT:
(A)dmitting the divorced-and-remarried to communion … conflicts sharply with the church’s historic teaching on marriage’s indissolubility.
Except that it really doesn’t.
Did he say “precipice”?
I like to watch a bit when amateur theologians, especially conservatives, attempt to tackle the maze of history. There was a time when murderers, adulterers, and apostates were simply kicked out of the Body. There was no reconciliation, no Penance, no hope for a hug. Only the mercy of God in the wide world.
And that changed, but the Gospels did not.
Mr Douthat asserts that we have to be saved from contradiction. I don’t think so. We just need more fallible memories.
On second thought, perhaps better memories would be in order. Remembering timeless lessons from Luke 15:11ff, and especially for the conservatives who have propped up the Church. those verses 28-32.
A Church near a precipice? If that’s where the lost are, that’s a good thing.
I remember the Cliffs of Moher. On a suitably wet and of course very windy morning. The line of not so tall vertical stones that offered to be a wall in certain areas to protect people walking near the edge of the cliff, and the well-worn path on the *outside* (seaward) side of those stones. Hale and hearty Germanic-looking hikers walked along that side.
Do you intend to show that the Church really doesn’t have an historic teaching barring sinners from the Eucharist?
If sinners were barred from the Eucharist, no one would partake, including the clergy up to and including the pope.
And let’s all remember what *this* pope said in an interview with Fr. Antonio Spadara: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.
What then is the Sacrament of Reconciliation for? Are you really suggesting it has no power to forgive sins?
I would think it certainly does. But it does not make perfect people. And some believers return to the sacrament time and time again confessing the same sins. A sacrament is also an encounter with Christ, and just for that, it has great value.
Gwenny, reading your comments I really am irresistibly reminded of Kipling’s poem Buddha at Kamakura:
O ye who tread the Narrow Way
By Tophet-flare to Judgement Day
Be gentle when ‘the heathen’ pray….
Or perhaps Jobson’s Amen:
Blessed by the English and all their ways and works!
Cursed be the Infidels, Hereticsk and Turks!
“Amen,” quo’ Jobson, “but where I used to lie
Was neither Candle, Bell nor Book to curse my brethren by…”
Can’t imagine why.
Actually, an encounter with Jesus in the form of grace from the Sacraments DOES make one a perfect person, eventually. If you allow God’s grace to work through you, that grace absolutely has the power to transform you into one worthy of the beatific vision.
However, if you rotely confess sins that you have no intention of ever avoiding in the future, you are not receiving grace from Confession and you are not allowing God to change you.
Sorrow for one’s sins and intention to stop those sins are key. And that’s the difference between the Prodigal Son and the legally married adulturer.
Adultery is a grave moral sin. If a person believes that divorce ends a marriage, they may well not have committed a sin by remarrying. People have to know they are committing adultery for it to be so.
The lost son is a specific example in a hypothetical case. To call all remarried persons adulterers, even non-Catholics, may not be true in every case. Even the Gospel of Matthew provides some leeway for “unlawful” situations. And Jesus seems rather silent on spouses abandoned. Adultery is an ego-stroking condemnation in some situations, but it may well be a caricature of specific second marriages. Possibly most of them.
If admitting every remarried Catholic to the Eucharist is described by some as “cheap grace,” it might be said that the universal condemnation of adultery in all second marriages is “cheap rigor.”
What “legally married adulterers” would those be? The woman who went through marriage preparation with her fiance followed by a nuptial Mass, only to find that her husband’s liking for things to be done his way became – over several years – a fist to the face when they weren’t; who got out, probably at considerable risk to herself and her children; who took legal steps to secure her financial and practical independence; who then found a genuinely good man who was prepared to commit to her? The man who after ten years of Catholic marriage finds that, even after couples counselling and every imaginable kind of therapy, his wife no longer wants sexual relations with him (and is emotionally distant as well)? Why are such people – with no vocation to a vowed religious life – told that their only non-sinful alternative is what amounts to perpetual celibacy?
Frankly, Gwenny, you’re coming across as someone very much preaching from a rather smug pedestal to those who’ve often faced challenges that the more fortunate of us never have to pass through. We pray every Sunday (at least) not to be led into temptation. What do you think will most efficaciously attract those poor souls who are struggling there: a table spread with mercy and grace – or a gate so narrow that only the elect can pass through?
Frankly, Jenny, you’re coming across as someone who does not believe that Table holds the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Saviour. There’s plenty of room for you in the American Episcopal Church. Why not take your apostacy there?
And as for the requirements to make a good confession, Cindy, true sorrow for sin and a resolve not to sin again is explicitly stated in the Act of Confession which is prayed at every Confession. I’m sure you frequent the confessional often and that just slipped your mind.
Let’s be careful here. My brother was an Episcopalian and had the same belief in the Eucharist described above. It is also Catholic teaching that in order for adultery (or any other serious sin) to be committed, a person must have the intent. Let’s also exercise caution in addressing sisters and brothers in belief. Let’s be critical of positions, not people.
“an encounter with Jesus in the form of grace from the Sacraments DOES make one a perfect person, eventually … Sorrow for one’s sins and intention to stop those sins are key”
Just wondering where these ideas come from. The disciples spent day after day for at least 3 years with Jesus and they never became perfect. And I don’t recall Jesus having a list of requirements that had to be met before he forgave people.
I’m late to this party, but when was “a time when murderers, adulterers, and apostates were simply kicked out of the Body.”? Are you referring to some period of the Patristic era?
I think Todd is referring to those who committed those sins post-baptism in the era before there was a reconciliation process (even that was a one-time process for a long while).
Liam, it’s been a long while since I took my seminary Sacrament of Reconciliation course, but I’m blanking on remembering an era without the one-time public profession of guilt coupled with severe penance. Time to dig up an old seminary book on the subject!
Frankly, Jenny, you’re coming across as someone who does not believe that Table holds the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Saviour.
Indeed I do – the Saviour who does not break the bruised reed, or put out the smouldering wick (Matt:12:20).
There’s plenty of room for you in the American Episcopal Church. Why not take your apostacy there?
Well, since I’m not American, that would seem unnecessarily difficult. As for the rest – thank you for the kind invitation, but no. I’m a duly baptised and confirmed Catholic, and of all the dark glasses through which humanity perceives God, this suits me best. The root meaning of catholic, after all, is “including a wide variety of things; all-embracing”. After too many years in which the Church seemed to be confining itself to an ever narrower, more inward-turning and restricted space, the big tent is finally billowing out in the breeze, there’s sunshine and fresh air. See you by the hoopla!
Oh, and Todd, my apologies re: impoliteness / intemperance in your space. I do appreciate it, so in future I’ll try to play the ball, not the man (or person…).