Tag Archives: bible

St. Jerome on Both Marriage & Divorce and Remarriage

2 Apr

Caravaggio_-_San_Gerolamo

Of late I have heard many people spouting that the prohibition on Divorce and remarriage was not always so in the Catholic Church. I have heard them say that the early church was not firm in it’s teachings on this matter. I have heard it said that Jesus taught “compassion” trumped the Sacrament of Matrimony.

I beg to differ. More importantly, St. Jerome himself (author of the Latin Vulgate Bible), very strenuously objects. Read what he had to say on the indissolubility of marriage and then ask yourself if you truly accept and believe authentic Catholic Teaching from the very beginning of the Church.

There is a gem in the last paragraph that explains exactly why celibacy was considered better, because in the Catholic Church the Yoke of Marriage is a very heavy one, as the Apostles themselves realized.  It can be a joyful one only if men and women work together in marriage. This letter makes clear just how seriously Christians took marriage in great contrast to societies they lived in who openly supported divorce (romans, jewish people, etc..)

Oh yes – there is one other item to be pointed out – if the wife is put away for “fornication” it would mean that she was put away because it was discovered that she had been unknowingly promiscuous before the marriage. After the marriage it would have been properly termed “adultery”. Misrepresentation is one of the clear grounds for declaring the marriage nullified – meaning it never happened and thus she would not be an adulterer because her husband put her away and she remarried. St. Jerome is wonderful in his clarity.

Letters of St. Jerome 360 AD. Letter #55 Paragraph 3

3. I find joined to your letter of inquiries a short paper containing the following words: ask him, (that is me,) whether a woman who has left her husband on the ground that he is an adulterer and sodomite and has found herself compelled to take another may in the lifetime of him whom she first left be in communion with the church without doing penance for her fault. As I read the case put I recall the verse they make excuses for their sins.We are all human and all indulgent to our own faults; and what our own will leads us to do we attribute to a necessity of nature. It is as though a young man were to say, I am over-borne by my body, the glow of nature kindles my passions, the structure of my frame and its reproductive organs call for sexual intercourse. Or again a murderer might say, I was in want, I stood in need of food, I had nothing to cover me. If I shed the blood of another, it was to save myself from dying of cold and hunger. Tell the sister, therefore, who thus enquires of me concerning her condition, not my sentence but that of the apostle. Do you not know, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband, so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.Romans 7:1-3 And in another place: the wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.1 Corinthians 7:39 The apostle has thus cut away every plea and has clearly declared that, if a woman marries again while her husband is living, she is an adulteress. You must not speak to me of the violence of a ravisher, a mother’s pleading, a father’s bidding, the influence of relatives, the insolence and the intrigues of servants, household losses. A husband may be an adulterer or a sodomite, he may be stained with every crime and may have been left by his wife because of his sins; yet he is still her husband and, so long as he lives, she may not marry another. The apostle does not promulgate this decree on his own authority but on that of Christ who speaks in him. For he has followed the words of Christ in the gospel: whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, commits adultery.Matthew 5:32 Mark what he says: whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.Whether she has put away her husband or her husband her, the man who marries her is still an adulterer. Wherefore the apostles seeing how heavy the yoke of marriage was thus made said to Him: if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry, and the Lord replied, he that is able to receive it, let him receive it. And immediately by the instance of the three eunuchs he shows the blessedness of virginity which is bound by no carnal tie. Matthew 19:10-12

Pax Christi,

Colin

Papal Comments on Gays and Divorcees in the Church

29 Jul

20130729-155605.jpg

Today Pope Francis is being accurately quoted by the media HERE but they are drawing some very disturbing conclusions which the Catholic Church has not expressed support for.

While the issue of Gay Catholics was the most sensational, the most disturbing was the medias insinuation that divorcees who had remarried might be allowed to partake of communion, despite willfully and defiantly living in a state of mortal sin – compounded by the fact they the cause another to sin in the process. I’ll address them both now…

The church’s stance on Gays is not new, it is the behavior and not the person which is judged by church teaching. See the catechism 2357-2359. Compassion and acceptance of the person is required of Catholics, acceptance of the behavior is explicitly forbidden. This cannot and will not change.

As for the divorcees receiving communion – since the church cannot recognize a civil divorce nor grant one ever, then without an annulment any Catholic divorces and their new pseudo-spouse are barred from communion for living in a willful state of mortal sin. The cardinals may review this issue, but unlike the author of the article I fully expect that the result will be a retention of the status quo. Anything else is going to require theological justification that I cannot see happening, and would degrade all of the Catholic teachings on marriage and family – perhaps causing a schism.

Pope Francis has been very compassionate, but also very orthodox. The prohibition on divorce is a core Catholic belief as taught by Christ himself, it is Dogma. To attempt to change it is unthinkable, as is any attempt to remove adultery as a sin. I have to expect the Pope was misquoted or taken out of context.

According to the teaching of the Church, if a couple is validly married, nothing but death can break the marriage bond. A valid marriage cannot be annulled, and an invalid marriage must be proven as such to the Church prior to an annulment being granted.

A valid Catholic marriage results from four elements:

(1) the spouses are free to marry
(2) they freely exchange their consent
(3) in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and be open to children
(4) their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized Church minister. Exceptions to the last requirement must be approved by church authority.

Read more about sacramental marriage and requirements HERE.

This teaching is hard to accept, but Christ never claimed it would be easy. This is a mandate from Christ himself – not some ordinary man. In fact, the divorce issue was the reason Henry VIII declared himself Gods representative on Earth. The sad truth is that there are songs sung to this day about how many wives he burned through. If you are divorced and remarried (unless your spouse has since deceased) you are living in mortal sin and the only way to fix it is to either obtain an annulment (nowhere near an easy or cheap process) then marry again, divorce your false spouse and choose to live a chaste life, or reconcile with your rightful spouse. It is in knowing that the union is indissoluble that we find both comfort and great strength to overcome obstacles together. Without that knowledge and certainty it is all too easy to give up, and even easier when society hangs no shame on the failure. God weeps not just at the covenants broken, but at the pain we cause ourselves in doing so.

In short, divorce is not allowed. An annulment is not a divorce. You can separate from a spouse and remain chaste until their death, or reconcile your marriage. This teaching of the Church is key to the Sanctity of Marriage and the stability of the family in a world that has run amok with narcissism, hedonism, and selfishness.

“Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18; Mark 10:11-12)

“A married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives . . . Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive” (Rom. 7:2-3)

“To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)–and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10)

Yours in Christ,

Colin

%d bloggers like this: