Tag Archives: pope

Dear Pope Francis

18 Sep

Pope Francis

I am writing this seeking understanding and clarification on the “new evangelization.” Many things are being attributed to Pope Francis in the media – and many clergy, bishops, and faithful are acting on them. The most concerning of these outcomes has been the vilification of traditional Catholics in the media and by other Catholics, and the foreshadowing of the elimination of sacramental marriage by either allowing divorce and remarriage or changing the basis of annulments so that they become the equivalent of a Catholic Divorce.

As a traditional catholic, I would like to assure you that our faith is not dead, we are not uncompassionate or unforgiving. Though our loyal devotion to the catechism leaves us open to ridicule when we refuse artificial birth control and have large families in our openness to life. We are thought mentally simple when we profess a deep and abiding belief in the real presence in the Eucharist. We are ridiculed when our wives and daughters wear mantillas in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist and at Mass. Many of our wives are looked down upon because they find fulfillment as stay-at-home wives and mothers.  We are seen as deluded for considering the sacramental marriage covenant as much a promise to God, as to each other. I have been scolded many times for kneeling when taking communion, because I was holding up the line. We are derided for preferring the awe and majesty of the Tridentine Mass because it fills our souls. It is a mystical and moving experience beyond words to be joined to the sacrifice of the holy Mass in quiet and stillness, and allow yourself to be filled with God’s presence.

Often, we are accused of being intolerant as a group, especially of sexually active homosexuals, the divorced and remarried without annulments, and other people who are in less than fortunate circumstances. I reject this as patently untrue. We love the person, but we find the sin objectionable. For those seeking participation in the sacraments, we will provide whatever help we can to help them resolve their impediments. For some, that is helping find an annulment workshop, for others it is healing broken marriages, and for others providing loving support as they work to make a break from their sinful activities or attractions. Those who come to us are broken and contrite – they are seeking His Love and forgiveness. They know that to receive Him they must be free of mortal sin. I have a brother who struggles with homosexuality whom I love very deeply, and even now he struggles to be worthy of the sacraments. It is his certain knowledge of God’s real presence in the Eucharist that both pains him for his sins, and motivates him to be worthy to receive Him.

My own return to the Church necessitated deep personal change before I could be admitted to the sacraments. This process included months of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for me to fully accept and comply with the teachings of the church, even if I could not fully understand. This was a painful  journey, whose value to the faithful should not be diminished just because it is so difficult. True love and compassion are shown by the support of penitents through the process of reconciliation for admission to sacraments.

Here in America the new evangelization is giving many people the impression that the Church is advocating that being free of mortal sin is no longer necessary to receive the sacraments. It has encouraged a revolution by the sheep against their shepherds, demanding change in infallible doctrine. I believe that God is everlasting and unchanging. His Church has survived the rise and fall of states, empires, anthropological regression, and has endured according to to the promise of Christ for over 2000 years. I am convinced that it our loyal devotion to the beautiful teachings of our Church that has brought unparalleled grace and joy into our family.

The curtailment of the Tridentine Mass or the devaluing of sacramental marriage would be devastating to the faithful. After many years of poor catechesis, I often wonder if many see the Church for what she truly is. I wonder if many Catholics are left unsure or, worse yet, in obstinate disobedience to the faith. It seems that a growing number of people want us to resemble the world rather than Jesus Christ. Whether it is Gay Marriage, Ordaining Women, allowing artificial birth control, or allowing abortion, they want God to “get with times.”. In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” Please, Holy Father, help us to strive for a holiness that “sets us apart.” Lead us to our heavenly reward! I am praying for your strong leadership each and every day!

Pax Christi,

Colin

PS: I hope everyone who reads this takes a moment to pray for the Pope.

 

Papal Comments on Gays and Divorcees in the Church

29 Jul

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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

Following Christ in Marriage

5 Jul

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The recent encyclical from Pope Francis, “Lumen Fidei” which for those readers who slept through Latin in high school means “Light of the Faith”, had a plethora of profound wisdom on faith and morals. For me the following section is especially poignant, though you have to read a bit to get there. It got me thinking about the example Christ set, and how it relates to marriage.

52. In Abraham’s journey towards the future city, the Letter to the Hebrews mentions the blessing which was passed on from fathers to sons (cf. Heb 11:20-21). The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love. Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person. So it was that Sarah, by faith, became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to his promise (cf. Heb 11:11).

 

Loosely translated, a marriage without God is rudderless and adrift. Doomed to aimless drifting searching for land while dying of thirst, or doomed to be dashed on rock and reef when salvation seems within our grasp. Harsh isn’t it? This passage applies to marriages in relation to God, not just Catholics, but people of all faiths who recognize Him. This is the part where people tend to rebel, it’s all about playing your part in HIS plan as he intended from the beginning by making the moral choices in the situations in which you find yourself. Free will allows you to cut away from the path he intends for you anytime you want to. If you truly have felt his mere presence and peace even once in your life, you will never want to be apart from it again. The same is true of marriage – once you have found and nurtured true love into a burning fire in your heart, you never again have a desire to go back to darkness and cold.

The Holy Bible is replete with references to the church as the Bride of Christ. I’m not big into quoting chapters and verses or playing the Sophist with semantics so I’m referencing key stories and concepts. If these are unfamiliar to you then you need to read the Bible. Let us examine a few examples to see how Christ’s example for marriage is relevant to our own lives:

He sacrificed himself for the Church, that all of its members might have eternal life (this includes non-Catholics). We must be prepared to do the same in our marriages, it is what we are called to by his example. In almost all cases the sacrifices required of us to preserve our families are pedestrian in comparison to his sacrifice, but we are not perfect. However, our free will allows for us to overcome imperfections. Humans are capable of emulating Christ in this. Mere men step between assailants and their families and the families of others facing almost certain death during robberies and home invasions. Father Maximillian Kolbe was sainted, in part for asking if he could please be brutally murdered in place of a man with a family in a German concentration camp (the man he saved was a Jew). Military men sacrifice themselves every day to ensure the safety of not only their families, but the families of their whole country. No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for another, said Jesus. Now, think honestly for a moment of your wife. If you are not willing to die for her, are you truly in love? Platitudes about how your wife does this or that or doesn’t love you are meaningless. Jesus’s example was clear as a bell, he died even for the sake of people who despised him, proving that great love is not always returned. Take another moment and consider what might change in your wife if she had no doubt that she was so important and loved by you that you would willingly die for her – if you are honest with yourself you will know that her feelings and actions toward you would change. So lead, make the change first and love with all your heart and soul. Would you die for a home, a car, or a raise? For any earthly thing? After all what would be the point! If you cannot love your wife, then neither can you truly receive love – because it is in learning to give that we learn to receive. Love is also one of the few things that transcends death, along with regret, and your memories. Love with all your heart and soul, make sweet your memories, and do not make any choices, or fail to make choices, which you know will cause you regret.

Jesus forgave. Not only did he forgive, but he refused to condemn. Think of his conversation with the adulteress at the well, he forgave her and condemned her not. Now consider your reaction to any failings of your spouse. Do you forgive and refuse to condemn her? Have you stopped to consider that humans are their own harshest judge? By forgiving her, refusing to condemn her, and continuing to love her she will only feel her remorse more deeply than if you lash out at her. Reaching out with love is the most effective thing you can do, and often one of the hardest. Keep in mind that you too have failings and that you are setting an example for both her and your children in how to deal with such adversity. Follow the example Christ sets for us, that your wife, your sons, and your daughters might emulate your example. This is, no doubt, the second hardest thing to do.

Jesus suffered. It is the nature of man to suffer and die in this existence. In fact, we can only be sure of 3 things in this life: Gods love, Suffering, and physical death. Suffering can be alleviated by sharing the burden. God provided a help-mate to Adam to ease his suffering as he would in turn ease hers and provide comfort to each other. He as our creator reminded us that it s not good for man to be alone. While the suffering associated with life is unavoidable, the way we deal with that suffering defines whether we are overburdened or not. In married life the suffering is increased by the fact that there are two now living as one. If you keep secrets hidden from your wife those become burdens she cannot help carry – and the same is true for her. Such burdens tend to weigh on you more heavily as time passes if unshared until eventually their weight crushes you, and you spouse with it. Wisdom is in changing the things you can, and accepting those you cannot, what remains are burdens you must work together to carry to their destinations. Don’t let selfishness push a burden onto you spouse alone, nor allow pride to facilitate refusing her assistance, and you will be surprised at the results. This is the easiest of the three to address and the most pervasive in our progressive and secular society which teaches a “do what feels good or makes you happy for the moment” mentality. Long on instant gratification and very short on lasting happiness.

All this from just paragraph 52 of “Lumen Fidei”, goodness knows what other pearls of wisdom are waiting for you to discover in Pope Francis’s latest encyclical. You can read it or download it FREE here direct from the Vatican (shame on the USCCB trying to charge for an electronic copy):

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei_en.html

Sincerely,

Colin Corcoran

cc70458@gmail.com

**Please feel free to write or comment on this post, I’d really like to hear from those that are able to have this experience and how it is changing their marriage, their wives, and their lives.

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