Flores for the Immaculate Conception (No rhyme or reason edition)

flores orange 1

flores orange 2 These flowers for the Immaculate Conception are very near the hermitage, what with this orchid tree being trimmed back by the donkey in the nearby pasture. It’s not planted there on purpose. It’s just a happenstance orchid tree at the edge of a pasture, in a reasonable sort of way in God’s way of doing things, of course. It seems there are two types of flowers, the open petals kind and the hang below on a rope kind. Male and female? Yes, everything that God creates has a rhyme and a reason. It all proclaims that we should be in humble reverence before Him. And when we do that, the humble reverence thing, it is always a flower for the Immaculate Conception.

I’ve been thinking that there’s no rhyme or reason to Amoris laetitia, unless, perhaps, you know, in the permissive will of God. I’m thinking of the prophet Nathan. You remember what he does with King David? “You’re the man,” and all that? Yes, I’m thinking about that, about field hospitals, about taking advantage of women to put a feather in one’s theological cap (AL 49). I think I need to write about this much more incisively. However, it was brought to my attention that I was dead wrong about what I wrote in my first foray about this (Amoris laetitia 351 Unrepentant, active prostitutes, absolution, Communion?). But, I can’t see where I was wrong, or what the interpretation could possibly be if not what I wrote. It all seems quite inescapable. It is not enough to say that we must interpret things with a hermeneutic of continuity, for it seems to me that regarding what I wrote about AL 49, there is no precedent whatsoever, nor could there be. Is there a precedent?

Here’s the challenge: tell me why I’m wrong. Click on the link above and tell me what the interpretation should be. Or, are the prostitutes not worth it? Just who do we think we are, we who have tortured Jesus to death with our sins? Help me out here. If I’m about to do something stupid, stop me. That will be your flower for the Immaculate Conception. But if I am right, I intend to bring a whole bouquet of flowers to her. I’ll let this post hang here for a while, in hopes of some good responses. Don’t hesitate to do this. Don’t just watch. I need your help.


Filed under Amoris laetitia, Flores

18 responses to “Flores for the Immaculate Conception (No rhyme or reason edition)

  1. Father George David Byers

    [[[A reader sent in this comment by email. It made me laugh out loud.]]]

    Father ~ Of course you’re not wrong.

    “And what about Naomi?” is not what they want you to say. You know that… we know that.

  2. fr. Dominic

    Hello Fr. George, Fr. Dominic here again. From all that I have read about the year of mercy and AL and your blogs I have nothing to add but to repeat what you have already said albeit in different words- there is a tendency among the clergy, media etc to concentrate on mercy towards those who perpetrate evil/ sin etc. But less is being said on mercy towards the victims– which would mean bringing the perpetrators to justice, / restitution, etc..So there should be a balance in mercy towards both the perpetrators and the victims.

  3. L O'Brien

    I read that paragraph understanding that the child grew up unbalanced and perverse due to the lack of supervision and protection of parent. That his circumstances has warped him and that one can’t expect too much from him as a result. To insist on moral norms for such a person so distorted would be akin to stone throwing.

    Whichever way one interprets the passage there is one key underlying thought and that is that the truth itself cannot set you free. That boy needs to be able to point at the evil in his life and call it out. How can he do so when the truth is denied to him? Also are we to think that in extreme poverty Gods grace is wanting? That people cannot be responsible for their actions in such circumstances? To have compassion, understanding and patience with a sinner in difficult circumstances is commendable. However you can’t ignore the stink of sin. It must be rooted out. Not to do so would leave the sinner bleeding with festering wounds.

    What really shocks me is that the author of this document does not write as if he has any experience of the healing power of confession or fails to accept that if he has been healed then others can so be too. I can’t work that one out I’m afraid and it is somewhat startling.

  4. Nan

    If you’re wrong, then Jesus, countless Saints and whole religious orders are wrong. The greatest difficulty of redemption is finding the courage to enter the confessional, trying to amend ones ways and returning regularly to confession. Those who believe others are unworthy need to go to Adoration and have a nice chat with Our Lord.

  5. Cathy

    I’ll be honest, I find the entirety of the exhortation confusing. I kind of would like to know what a “dead stone of doctrine” is.

  6. Fr. George, I think you made very valid points in your comments above and in the link above. I don’t think you are wrong in your assessment. But I believe that Abba Father and Jesus and the Holy Ghost have the final say.

    I’ll tell you about a woman I worked with in the early ’80’s. Her situation disturbed me back then and when I read your comments, I thought of her. This gal was very meek, rather smart but extremely ugly. There is no kind way to say it. Our male co-workers (including management) made cruel remarks under their breath about her lack of physical beauty, I’m being polite here – use you imagination and make it crude. They would laugh – I heard them, she sat next to me and I an certain she heard them too. How humiliating that must have been. I was embarrassed for her. {Now days she could have sued for harassment – but back then that wasn’t an option}

    Now here is the really bad part. She worked as well, as thoroughly, and perhaps even with more accuracy than the rest of us ‘beauties.’ But come time for reviews and raises, she was always overlooked – there was always a ‘good’ reason – (a trifling error or some minor thing.)

    She confided to me that her only child was the product of a rape, and that her family disowned her because she would not have an abortion and that she was on food stamps and government assistance. When she finally got a raise she found out she was was making $2 a week too much to keep getting food stamps. She couldn’t make ends meet and resorted to ‘entertaining gentlemen.’

    I always thought that God understands that some people are in a ‘different’ status and maybe He makes allowances. He knows all the facts.

  7. Father George David Byers

    joisy goil: — As with the other comments, I’ll incorporate your concern for our wayfaring state. Thank you. I guess what I’m looking for here more precisely is whether or not this paragraph can refer to anything other than prostitution…

  8. I just realized that this might sound like I am defending prostitution – i am not. Only observing how some sad a situation it can be

  9. Monica Harris

    Honestly, originally I took it to it for desperate abandoned wives who felt they had to have a new boyfriend/male partner in order to have a father and bread winner for their children for survival. Whether one can refer to that as prostitution is something I won’t speculate.

  10. Fr. Dominic

    From one perspective it is appropriate that public sinners involved in giving scandal are to be denied communion, unless they repent and amend their lives. However all sacraments have a coomunitarian effect, ie. It affects ones membership in the Church; similarly also ones exclusion from the sacraments . So if the Parish community has not done all that it could do to prevent its members from committing public sin, (even if it is due to a lack of proper forum in the Parish, which persons in crisis could approach)be it divorce or prostitution due to poverty, then the Parish community as a whole too is remotely, if not directly, involved in the public sin and they too may need to examine their consciences before receiving communion. The key issue at hand is that the tyranny of relativism, (as Pope Benedict XVI put it ) has influenced the Church at the grass root (Parish) level and its aftermath is liberal individualism.

  11. elizdelphi

    I also took it like Monica did. The other thing I think of, maybe moreso, is situations involving significant mental illness or other mental impairment of one or the other person. I know situations where a couple in an irregular situation stay together because of the care needs of one of the partners, I also know of situations where a mentally ill Catholic knows they should not engage in sexual activity but when their ability to make sound decisions is impaired they are pushed into it (exploited). In a situation where for instance a seriously mentally ill woman entered an irregular “putative marriage” with a man who she is now dependent on for her welfare, but who doesn’t respect her sincere desire for a brother-sister relationship and sexually exploits her vulnerability every time she has a medication imbalance or a breakdown, I am not sure one could say that she was gravely culpable. Ideally there would be a possibility to rescue the woman from what is objectively a serious situation. But that may prove impossible for any number of reasons.

    The somewhat devout Catholic I have in mind who has repeatedly gotten sexually exploited by a non Catholic former boyfriend in situations where her ability to ability for rational decision making was compromised was faithful about going to confession after these incidents–incidents which greatly disturbed her. In other words she did not want to claim that it was okay to do, and when she was in a healthier state she did not at all want to do anything like that. The role both of confession and the Eucharist in this person’s life has been so important for her welfare and healing, from what I can see. A person in an irregular “remarriage” who was in this disturbing situation yet barred from confession and the Eucharist because of disability-related failure to live the “brother-sister” requirement could be in an unfair situation.

    I don’t know if that speaks to it.

  12. Father George, I’ve reread AL 49 a number of times in order to respond to this post. Personally, I did not interpret -i.e. the single mother going to work, – that her ‘work’ was prostitution. Since the child was mentioned in AL 49, i.e. “the child can grow up exposed to all kind of risks and obstacles to personal growth” while the mother is at work, I thought the focus was to say, don’t blame the mom if the child turns out badly.

    That being said, I have not been exposed to such poverty where prostitution may seem to be a way to escape the poverty, so prostitution would not immediately come to my mind. But then, the paragraph does beg the question why would we be throwing ‘dead stones’ and ‘imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned” if it were ONLY to do with poverty and a child gone astray, and not a sinful situation with respect to the mother? And by the way, prostitution and children gone astray can also happen within rich families.

    Bottom line, I find the paragraph confusing, (as I do the whole exhortation). And so very needless, as there is only confusion. How can confusion help any one of us? How can confusion lead people to follow our Lord Jesus, and to live eternally with Him?

  13. Cathy

    Maybe it’s just me, but AL reads as a laundry list of situational ethics, excuses for sin. I know of a situation where a single mother was engaged to be married, but entered into cohabitation in order to keep her single mother status at a Catholic College, because marriage would have forced her to have to go back and pay for all her tuition. I really have cut off particular Catholic Charities because of their insistence in incorporating assistance to sin – teaching masturbation, condom use, etc. I have to ask, is it these charitable institutions that claim an argument regarding “dead stones of doctrine”? Many are extremely unhappy when it is revealed that they are partnering with institutions that promote every sexual sin imaginable. Is it to avoid criticism that they would hurl a charge of “dead stones of doctrine”?

  14. Chapter Two is ‘The Experiences and Challenges of Families.’ After reading this its entirety, I think it is a rather detailed examination of the problems that attack the family on social, economic and spiritual levels. It’s impressive and surprisingly comprehensive. The Bishops seem to have covered many of the facts and even point out the Church’s part for some of the confusion and the current angst and frustration concerning the Sacrament of Marriage.

    As for section 49 – I think you are oversimplifying – unless you mean prostitution in a very broad sense. Because many women, even married ones, find themselves in the situation of having to abandon their children daily to go to work. By abandon I mean to leave them home as latch key kids, unsupervised and on their own for most of their awake hours. Selling one’s self for money on the street is called prostitution but how broad is that definition? Is a factory worker, a nurse, or a cashier at a grocery store selling herself to her employer?

    ‘Dead stones to hurled at others’ could be the attitude of “Children are your first responsibility you should be there guiding and teaching them” etc, etc.
    While this certainly is true, this kind of condemnation doesn’t help and is only one more hunk of guilt thrown at people who are struggling. And isn’t a roof over their heads and food in their bellies and clothing part of taking care of them?

    Section 49 seems to be defining a no win situation many single mothers and indeed married people find themselves facing. You are doing the right thing but not doing the right thing – you are sinning by omission and yet while you are sorry to be neglecting the kids. How can you have a firm purpose of amendment? Not every one has assess to childcare. Or the luxury of being a stay at home mom.

  15. Pam

    I don’t have anything knowledgeable or learned to say, to be able to speak to one paragraph. But here is what your post and all these comments bring to my mind. Does AL have to make sense? Does it have to be coherent and cohesive? Well, we would probably all quickly think: yes it does. Why do we think that? Just because we want to think that, because that’s how we have been trained or learned to look at life and at the things of God?

    We don’t want it to be a bunch of gobbledygook. We don’t want it to stray from doctrine, even by innuendo. All I can say is that I have seen in my lifetime that “1984” kind of thing actually happening: words don’t mean what they used to mean. Doublespeak. Contradictory ideas jumbled into one presentation.

    It seems to me that people are interpreting according to how their minds already think and according to their life experiences. It’s not that this is wrong. It’s basically how we function and try to make sense of the world. Actually, I don’t even know what to think. I could look at it from so many different angles. Isn’t that part of the big problem? We’re having to guess?

    Forgive me, Father, if this comment goes too far off the path of your request. Lol — I’m not even sure I’m making any sense at all.

  16. Daniel P Furey

    Ridiculously confusing part, of an entirely confusing whole.
    I suppose the document could be referring to prostitution as “work.” One may as well add narcotics trafficking, shop lifting, or bank robbery. However, this is not what people normally mean by the term “work.”
    Perhaps it refers to throwing “stones” at the mother for the way the child is being raised/neglected.

    Maybe this new Church is never supposed to criticize, or blame, or expect any effort on the part of individuals to improve their morality. After all, we’re talking IDEALS, not reality!

  17. Fr. Dominic

    A doctrine which is not based on a firm foundation is confusing and misleading. For Catholics the foundation is Revelation and Tradition.

    If any doctrine/ teaching on ‘God’s way of dealing with souls or the way God wants the Church to deal with its members ‘ is not founded on this foundation then it smacks of Gnosticism. Eg. If one says that a person who is justly refused communion according to the present norms of the Church might actually be just in the merciful eyes of God because God knows the person better than anyone else then such a statement has no epistemological foundation.

    The principle to be followed is one should not confuse human perspective with divine perspective. We need to act according to our limited knowledge gained through Revelation and Tradition and let God act through his Omniscience. When humans overstep into God’s jurisdiction it leads to error of Gnosticism.

  18. Father George David Byers

    Brilliant, Father.

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