Archive | May, 2014

Why the Latin Mass – A serious Answer from a Catholic Wife

21 May

20130518-112422.jpgI’ve got it! I finally get it! I mean… From the very beginning, I fell in love with the traditional Latin liturgy. There’s just something so incredible, awesome, and beautiful about it, but I couldn’t explain it aside from a handful of somewhat cosmetic things that I like about it. I think I finally fully understand it now, and I’d like to share.

First: The pomp and circumstance inherent to the Latin Mass is something to behold. Like the medieval churches that were built with vaulted ceilings, magnificent stained glass, and awesome spectacles of artistic wonder in sculpture above the altar were intended to inspire the soul and draw our thoughts up to God and heaven, the ceremony of the Latin liturgy was designed to do the same. There are many elements in this symphony of spirit such as the priest leading us in prayer facing God with us and humbling himself in prayer and worship on our behalf to the meticulous and continuous acts of reverence, but the ultimate effect is to remind us that God is God, and while we are certainly not, we’ve been invited into His glory, and Holy Mass is a bit of heaven here on earth.

Second: The language–I will be the first to admit that learning enough Latin, not having been raised Catholic or taken any in school, was a serious learning curve for me in participating in the Latin Mass. 110% worth it! No, that’s not a typo–I mean 110%. Latin is our Church’s heritage and many of her greatest traditional treasures are found in it. No, it’s not the only traditional language used for Mass–eastern rites celebrate in others such as Greek. But there’s something about learning an older traditional language for the worship of God. It makes that worship something special, a concerted effort of mind and will and spirit that we don’t find in our common daily language. Yes, I know–Latin wasn’t always the official language of the Church, nor was it always a formal tradition from history. It was once the vernacular for a great many people. In fact, the Latin Vulgate translation of the scriptures is so named because at the time, the scholarly language was Greek and Latin was considered common or vulgar. But it became the official language of the church precisely because it was no longer in use in common speech anymore, and would therefore no longer be subject to the steady march of adaptation across time. That’s, quite frankly, pretty cool! It means the same thing now as it meant 1000 years ago! Meanwhile, in English, that idiomatic expression you used five minutes ago may not mean the same thing or make any sense whatsoever by the time your grandchildren become high school grads.

Third: the active participation–in the documents of Vatican II, a reform of the liturgy was suggested with an eye to the allowing of the vernacular in some instances to increase active participation. See, fewer of us were learning Latin in school anymore and it was feared not enough of us knew what was going on. This is a valid concern, of course. When the reform came, active participation was the first and foremost thought. But what is active participation in the Mass? For centuries, the Magisterium, priests, theologians, religious brothers and sisters, and our Saints talked about this. They said things like “offer yourself up as sacrifice with The Lord at the Holy Mass.” Now this, as you might expect, is not so much something you physically do. No–it is an act of interior will done quietly and prayerfully at your pew. Active participation then was an act of the interior life of a Christian in a manner similar to reaching for contemplative prayer. The deeper we allow our minds to plunge into the great mysteries of the faith, and in particular, the mystery of the Eucharist and Christ’s salvific act on Calvary, as the Mass unfolds, the more successfully we have actively participated. Yes, it’s challenging, and your success at this spiritual exercise may well vary widely across time. But in the reformed liturgy? Active participation suddenly became singing along with the hymns, engaging in a banter of verses and responses, and mimicking the priest’s gestures (whether such was liturgically instructed or not). This is not to say we aren’t still supposed to participate interiorly, but fully participating becomes much more an external exercise. You may rightly suspect that the latter makes success at the former somewhat more difficult for some of us. It certainly does for me.

Now, mind you, I don’t want this to be about which is better. Each of us is different and are in different places along our journey. But I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked, “Latin Mass? Why the heck would you want to do that?” Well… I finally can give you a serious answer. 

Debra –

A Valid Marriage

18 May

couple-fighting-on-couchI know a man who is divorced with a child and just cannot let go of his ex-wife. The facts are simple: she left him, the marriage has been adjudicated invalid, there was a child produced by the marriage, former wife is now remarried with another new baby, he is now alone and paying child support for his child.

I’ve been pretty dry about all this emotionally. However, It is nothing if not: messy, sloppy, heartbreaking, fist-clenching, and gut wrenching. That said there is a distinct lesson to be learned from this persons experience. Take steps to ensure you enter only a valid marriage. This means you attend the Pre-Cana sessions and tell the truth. Expose yourself up front fully so that your heart will not be rent later. Choose wisely – you only get one shot at this, don’t allow your hormones to make a choice you’ll regret later.

Most of our friends who are long married started as we did: friends, best friends, more than friends, then married. In this progression all secrets and warts get shared up front, we learn to forgive, and we know them intimately in a way that allows us to truly asses our ability to get along, function as a team, and collaborate on things long before sex and other considerations can skew our viewpoint. We see our spouses as people, and not objects. The trick to long term marriage is to stay best friends always – the friendship provides a firm foundation for true love when the mutual feeling love is there, and provides a safety net in marriage for those times when we let that love die down or even go out for a time. When there aren’t any secrets or hidden pasts to fear in a relationship there is a real freedom. It comes from being loved for yourself, not the persona you donned to woo your wife but couldn’t maintain forever.

It’s a suggestion I hope more men will heed for the sake of their children and the sake of their hearts, as well as love and concern for their spouses future happiness. Nobody should ever feel cheated by their spouses lack of disclosure 2 years into a marriage.

Please take a moment and pray for this man, and all persons who find themselves in this position or affected by one like it.

Pax Christi,

Colin

The Pope Tweets on Marriage!

9 May

For my readers –
This will sound very familiar. Please share as widely as possible so that everyone might be blessed by this wonderful truth!

Pax Christi,

Colin

Annulment does NOT equal “Catholic Divorce”

7 May

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There is a lot of talk about making annulments making more easily available, easing the annulment process and how it will fix all the churches problems. I would venture to say that people that make such proclamations ignore 50 years of history, and fail to understand just what an annulment is (Hint – it is NOT “Catholic Divorce”). In fact, divorce is a civil proceeding in which civil authorities terminate a marriage in direct contradiction of Christ’s admonition that “What GOD has joined, let NO MAN put asunder”. The very idea that a state has any authority as regards a Catholic Sacrament is both offensive and ludicrous. The state is simply terminating a civil contract – but the Sacramental Marriage remains. God not only does not recognize a civil divorce approved by men, but specifically forbade it. A Civil divorce does not dissolve an existing Catholic Sacramental Marriage – nothing can. An annulment is a finding by the Church that there was never a sacramental marriage in the first place (so in essence the marriage never happened and therefore rendering the ideal of dissolution a moot issue).

In order to make my point more saliently, I would ask you to to read this article by Msgr. Pope at the Archdiocese of Washington website here: http://blog.adw.org/2014/05/the-church-cannot-change-her-doctrine-on-marriage-and-divorce-concerns-for-the-upcoming-synod/

Pay special attention to this paragraph from his article:

Many troubling statistics could be presented to show that there has been a true explosion in the number of annulments granted. In the early 1960s, there were about 300 annulments granted per year in the United States. Today that number is over 60,000!

Stew on it it a bit. This is the number granted not the number applied for or appealed, and people are screaming and clamoring for many more to be granted for an ever expanding number of new reasons. They do not want to obey their vows or the Church – they want a shortcut back into communion with the Church that somehow makes their ongoing sin clean – or frees them from a binding commitment to God and their rightful spouse so that they can re-enter the Sacrament of Matrimony with another. The fact is that the church is granting more and more annulments every year – so many that even Pope Benedict Ordered a review of the process and criteria used in the US for granting them since our nation/society seems to be in the lead on this. Note that rather than slowing the disintegration of the Catholic families down, it has been like throwing gasoline on a fire to douse it. So much so that an exponential explosion of civil divorces and associated annulment requests continues to expand.

The rapid expansion in the numbers of annulment application has presented challenges for the Church aside from the increasing numbers of divorces by Catholics. This is before we address the very uncomfortable issue of the costs associated with obtaining an annulment. I know personally a number of people who spent huge sums on canon lawyers, application fees and appeals. I also know personally, that by the current levels of decentralizing the process,  people have been denied in their own archdiocese – even through the appeals process. Only to apply in another diocese where annulments are known to be more liberally approved, and quickly receive their annulment. Many of these people have come away with the impression that an annulment is something to be purchased at great fiscal cost from the correct diocese – even if the grounds for the annulment were solid. This impression must be combated with all vigor – as it brings scandal on the Church. The idea of further decentralization to increase volume and limit review is fraught with greater issues – not the least of which is inconsistent applications of standards and scandal in the Church. With proper Pre-Cana counseling, the ability of a couple to get an annulment should be extremely limited (all but non-existent without fraud being committed) – all because Pre-Cana properly documented that all steps were taken to ensure the validity of the sacrament up front.

An annulment is not a divorce – an annulment means that the marriage was invalid on it’s face. Invalid because it did not meet the requirements specified in the CCC 1625-1632. Annulment means that sacramental marriage never happened because of some impediment to sacramental marriage in place at the time of the original marriage. The idea of claiming youth as an impediment I personally view as a cop-out. Young people do stupid things, but an annulment is not a vehicle to undo a choice you regret. An annulment is supposed to be based on whether you understood the Catholic Teaching on Sacramental Marriage and had no impediments when you entered into it – nothing more.

Marriage is very hard work, you are essentially committing to serve your spouse (husband or wife) in union and fidelity no matter what happens in the future. People will change over time, this is not a reason for an annulment. People will be unfaithful, once again not a reason for an annulment. People will complain they do not “love” their spouse anymore. Love is a choice we make every day . The feeling we so often mistake for love is the hormonal rush that is a result of the hormones released when we successfully make that choice – but it is just a feeling, not love itself. Marriage is not about being in love – it is about service to God through the service to one’s spouse. Sacramental Marriage is about consecrating one’s words, actions, body, and heart to God and their spouse every single morning and then working together with a single purpose to achieve your shared goals.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have an answer people will like regarding this teaching of Jesus Christ himself on Marriage, but I will also be one the first to admit that it is through Sacramental Marriage that I maintain God in my daily life. I would remind people that even the Apostles were shocked and made Jesus repeat for clarity his statement on the indissolubility of Marriage. Jesus did not promise us the path would be wide, or pleasant – just that it would be worth it, nothing more. As for those claiming compassion as an excuse to contradict Christ himself – I would ask them if giving an alcoholic another bottle is true compassion. I would ask them if Christ himself made such a teaching crystal clear from his own lips; Then whom do they really serve that would propose to change it in His name, under the banner of “compassion”?

The indissolubility of sacramental marriage is a continual reminder of the indissolubility of God’s love for us, and serves as my compass and my shield. Take these from Matrimony and what you have left is no longer something precious and priceless which is beyond any earthly power to purchase, and instead it becomes something common, base, worldly, and pedestrian that can be bought and sold – and given and taken by mere men. Sacramental Marriage is a great gift from God – we should treat it accordingly with the respect and reverence it is due. In my humble opinion – Until the Church solidifies this teaching by requiring strict observance of the grounds for invalidity, the faithful will continue to waiver. Only when the magisterium takes a hard stance, will the faithful will start to take the teaching very seriously once again.

Pax Christi,

Colin

 

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