John was already baptized, so we brought him through the ceremony to bring him officially into the Church prepared by Reconciliation. He was then Confirmed, was Wedded, and received his first Holy Communion. I couldn’t but snap the picture above at the reception as it speaks of the colors of the flag of the Holy See. We went through the process with the Tribunal of the diocese of Charlotte and, in fact, a previous “marriage” of his bride-to-be was declared null from the beginning, leaving them free to marry. In preparing John for the big day there was no hiding truth or making excuses for the cross. Instead, the boast is in Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Both Bride and Groom cried about through the whole day, for joy. It was one of the best days of my own priesthood, very much feeling to be the father of the parish family.
If I might say this: To date, on the one hand, I have not met anyone who is interested in doing things the way our Lord commanded to also be interested in Amoris laetitia‘s ambiguity and rejection of the cross and of conversion. If one loves our Lord, one wants to keep His commandments. Period. It’s a matter of love, and love makes it possible.
On the other hand, I get the impression from anyone who is interested in rejecting the commandments that Amoris laetitia has only made them terribly bitter with the Church. What they really wanted was a steadfast hand up but let themselves be thrown down at the first opportunity by which it seemed they could sin and please God at the same time, finding out that that just isn’t the case; they feel terribly betrayed by those who should have helped them and instead gave them Amoris laetitia, and thus they let those dark emotions entrench them all the more into being alienated to the peripheries which they were mistakenly led to believe was ‘accompaniment.’
People are thirsting for the truth, that is, the Living Truth, Jesus, divine Son of the Immaculate Conception who loves us so very much.
Also, just to say, we’re getting ready to set a time when John will be able to give me some pointers about how to shoot my Glock the right way. :-)
Your Grace: Why did the Malta Times take down their article about you? Were they wrong? Did they misrepresent you? Really? Since you invite dialogue, as a Missionary of Mercy I will put some questions before you for the sake of, you know, promoting justice, for the good of the Church, pro bono ecclesiae. So…
Your Grace: You say that the teaching of the Church — let’s just call it by the name of the encyclical Humanae vitae — is only for married couples which you say can be constituted only of one man and one woman, but that you don’t judge other couples, though you insist that extramarital sex is sinful but at the same time insist that adulterous couples can receive Holy Communion if they are at peace with themselves regardless of their flagrant rejection of Jesus’ teaching, of Sacred Scripture, of Sacred Tradition, of the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church: does this mean that you are making a sacrament of sinful behavior?
Your Grace: Lest anyone think that is a sarcastic question, let’s provide an analogous question regarding your longstanding promotion of the civil celebrations of homosexual love in civilly recognized homosexual unions, as long as there is no sexy hanky panky going on, though all love including homosexual love, you say, is given by God and is good and holy: are you saying with your recent statements about peaceful consciences for adulterous couples that homosexual acts are also a kind of sacrament, objectively sinful as they may be, as long as the homosexuals involved are at peace with themselves regardless of their flagrant rejection of Saint Paul’s teaching, of Sacred Scripture, of Sacred Tradition, of the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church?
Your Grace: You seem to be throwing a tantrum that the Malta Times got it wrong, but would you say that — you know, in being honest here — that they had a good instinct about your utter hypocrisy regarding sexual morality, so that anything whatsoever is just fine, including contraception also in marriage as long as those involved are at peace with their consciences?
Your Grace: Do you put condom dispensers in your Catholic parochial school bathrooms for those who judge their consciences to be at peace? Or do you put those dispensers out, say, in the lunchroom along with free copies of the Qur’an which you let be taught in your parochial schools?
Your Grace: Jesus warned those who teach people to break the commandments, so are you going to spit on Jesus while you continue to teach people to break the commandments?
Your Grace: You slit the throats of those seminarians who wish to follow the teaching of Jesus and Paul, that is, those seminarians who do not reject Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition and the constant interventions of the Magisterium of the Church: so do you think that Jesus, who is calling them to His priesthood, is happy with your violence against them?
Your Grace: Your close friend (Monsignor) Edward Arsenault, at the epicenter in so many ways of the abuse crisis, just got out of prison and is in home confinement, where he just received the news that he has been dismissed from the clerical state (laicized): is what you are doing with your not so ambiguous and inconsistent but really very clear statements related somehow to demands of his, you know, because he could spill the beans about how things have actually gone in these USA, over in Europe, and at the Holy See?
The Archbishop of Malta, C.J. Scicluna has high praise for dialogue, discernment and accompaniment in a document directed to priests which he published in the Vatican newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano (Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia), but he rejected all of this, including papal authority, by adding this:
10. If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it” (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).
The words “cannot be precluded” are directed at the priests, telling them that they have no real voice in dialogue, discernment and accompaniment, undercutting their priestly ministry and, quite frankly, threatening them with what would have to be removal from active ministry if they wish instead – knowing well the smell of their sheep – to prolong the process of dialogue, discernment and accompaniment for the good of those very sheep.
The Times of Malta reports that “Archbishop Charles Scicluna refuted the criticism, insisting Bishop Mario Grech and himself had decided not to engage with individual bloggers on the matter.” “Decided not to engage” is also not a dialogue. The “criticism” refers to Ed Peters, a canon lawyer whose blog entries on this topic can be found HERE and HERE. Ed Peters has a serious analysis. I’m amazed that +CJ Scicluna, a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, dismisses Ed Peters so readily, since Peters is a Referendary of the Apostolic Signatura, the Holy See’s top tribunal.
Archbishop Scicluna then turns his attention to those he might think are a more vulnerable class of people, the priests: “I am saddened by the reaction from certain quarters and invite priests who may have concerns to come forward and discuss them directly with us because we want to be a service to our people.” I’m sure the priests want to be of service to their people as well. But here’s the problem. If any priests go to him with their concerns they are merely self-reporting that which is absolutely intolerable, reporting that they are precluding or envision precluding that which Archbishop Scicluna says cannot ever be precluded. If they open up a dialogue with him they will simply have their heads cut off. That’s another example of what he really thinks about dialogue, discernment and accompaniment. Moreover…
The threat to impose sanctions that is inescapably implied in the absolutist phrase “cannot be precluded” goes so far beyond Pope Francis’ direction in this matter that Archbishop Scicluna is de facto usurping the authority of Pope Francis to guide the Barque of Peter. And that I find disgusting.
The direction Pope Francis gave to us Missionaries of Mercy began by all of us singing together the Salve Regina with Pope Francis. I’m sure he remembers the exuberance:
Pope Francis brought all of us Missionaries of Mercy together and brought us through, with incisive distinctions, refined moral and sacramental theology, using anecdotes some of which were terribly sad and some of which were hilarious. He did his best to form us priests into being good confessors, those who would dialogue with, discern with and accompany penitents on their journey to know the will of Christ Jesus in all of their unrepeatable circumstances.
But Archbishop CJ Scicluna rejects that effort of Pope Francis. Sad, that. Sad for him. Sad for the penitents. Sad for the priests who are treated as his robots, not as Jesus’ fathers of their parish families. And this is also the point: CJ Scicluna rejects the unrepeatable circumstances of people, ideologically putting them all in one group.
Much more could be said about anthropology, psychology, grace, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, etc., with some saying I say too much and others too little. What I’m writing about in this post is just this one aspect of what is happening:
the ministry of priests is unimportant in the Church because + Scicluna said so.
You have heard that it was said that those working in whatever capacity in the Holy See (the “Vatican”) are scared. I say that if they are ever afraid, whether priests or bishops or religious, they shouldn’t be. Fear is a sign of the lack of truth, a lack of discernment of the truth, a lack of the Holy Spirit who would instead lead us to the truth. To be established in him who is truth is not to fear. Being one with him who fearlessly says “I AM” cannot at the same time tolerate fear.
“But what should we do? Give us clear direction!”
So, I guess you missed it the first time around. Here it is: “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
“But you don’t get it, Father George, that’s considered Pharisaical, Pelagian, Promethian self-absorbed idol worship.”
“Really? Are you making that application? Even if that were true on whoever’s part, so what? Since when did we lose sight of the Beatitudes? Since when are we to mope about, have nervous sweats, panic attacks and ulcers instead of rejoicing and being glad that great is our reward in the Kingdom of the heavens because we love Jesus and want to share the greatest love of our lives, namely, Jesus? Is not Jesus the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Wonder Counselor, Prince of the Most Profound Peace, who will be the one to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire, the very fire of God’s love, the fire of the Holy Spirit? Yes, that would be him. He’s the One who said: “I AM.” So what are you afraid of? Amen.
P.S. I mean, really, what are these protestations of fear about? Is this a way of making an excuse? “Oh! I’m so fearful that my fear acted as a coercion forcing me to do something I otherwise would never do! It’s all the fault of fear! I’m soooo afraid.”
To which I say, grow up, love Jesus, and be a good son of his good mom. Also, and I don’t say this lightly, have some respect for your guardian angel who sees God in the face.
All the hints that we have in the Gospels reveal that, back in the day, pretty much no one except John, and then Jesus, was preaching about the sanctity of marriage. Everyone was busy misinterpreting Moses’ permission to write a bill of divorce, conveniently forgetting the bit about “because of their hardness of heart.” That comment of Jesus means that what Moses actually said with his permission as they bothered him non-stop, harassing him for permission was this:
“Sure, go ahead, write your little damned bill of divorce! Use it! See if I care you hard hearted haters of God and neighbor! No, really! Go to hell, too!”
Peter was lost in admiratio about this. He just couldn’t get over it. He protested. “Lord, if it’s really that way then it’s better not to get married!”
Amazement and incredulity haven’t changed much. It’s all mushy interpretation of Moses’ “permission.” But Jesus says, “From the beginning it was not so.”
Here’s the deal: John pointed to the marriage of Jesus with His Bride the Church, pointed to wedding vows of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice. People hated John for that. It would be Jesus’ turn very soon. It was right after the beheading that we have the multiplication of the loaves.
All of this is all about Jesus. We forget Him. Why is that? Do we hate Him? Without grace, we do hate Jesus. I know, for one, that I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sin, original sin and whatever other rubbish I’ve ever done in my own life. If we don’t admit we’ve all done that, we are not with Jesus, but actively against Him, hating Him, and looking to kill off in whatever way those who would, as John, speak of proper marriage.
“Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi…”
I have to wonder how many priests, when they hold up the Lamb of God, know that they are saying the words of Saint John about the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world by laying down His own life, being wedded to His Bride the Church. If more understood this, I think there would be less problems with marriage today. Priests have to understand that they themselves are married to the Church by the Sacrifice they offer, saying the wedding vows of Jesus in the first person singular: This is my body given for you in sacrifice… my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…
This is a kind of miracle. I’ve been using Father David’s article on marriage preparation for cohabiting couples first published in the days of yore in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, even reprinting this article (ever so slightly edited), usually in five parts, in so many of my parishes right around the world right through the years. You can get a reprint of that article just below the page break of this posting. Such a perspective of Father David was considered by pretty much everyone to be terribly “rigid” and “not nice” blah blah blah. Instead, he shows great pastoral sense. I learned much from him because of this article. It’s what I always believed, but, I’ll tell you this, it was good to see a confirmation of my beliefs published in a respectable journal. Why? Because I believe those beliefs are consonant with the traditional praxis of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Very happy he’s going to be a bishop. Pray a Hail Mary for him just now… Hail Mary…