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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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The Special Synod Faces Serious Issues

We all know that there are many people who come up for Holy Communion while ill-disposed for the sacrament. This is a deeper question than the plight of divorced-and-remarried Catholics.  There is regular scandal about pro-abortion politicians taking the sacrament.  All hell broke loose when a priest denied the Eucharist to a lesbian woman at her mother’s funeral.  This does not even take into account the many communicants (unknown to the priest) who are ill-disposed by various mortal sins and lack of prayerful preparation.  There is also the question of non-Catholic participation, and their sense of alienation and not being welcome when Holy Communion is distributed.  Given these many scenarios, it seems that part of the special synod must be on the nature of the Eucharist, its reception and how we might deal with the growing tension.

Outside of Mass attendance, the special synod will necessarily have to discuss the evolving changes in the makeup of family units: one-spouse homes, broken families, children raised by grandparents, foster and adoptive parents, families with unmarried couples and illegitimate children and same-sex unions.  There are even bizarre situations, as when I had two women and a man come see me to prepare for the baptism of two children.  One belonged to the man’s wife and the other to his girlfriend or mistress.  They all lived under the same roof.  These things are less and less rare.  They make my head hurt.  How can it be fixed?  Must we live with the messiness?

4 Responses

  1. If we are true to confess all of our sins but tend to fall back into sin, even serious sin, does God ever hold back a request for our healing? Or is He the God who forgives our sins and heals our illnesses? Signed, heartily sorry and so desperate to become well again and live in the grace of Him Who made me.

    FATHER JOE: God does not hold back. There may be temporal punishment and bad habits with which to struggle, but God’s mercy is real and substantial. One might look at physical sickness and healing as an analogy. The doctor gives you medicine and you make a full recovery. You are well. However, later you catch something new from someone and are sick again. Again, you need treatment so as to get well. We live in a world where there are viruses and sometimes we have accidents. We also live in a world filled with sin and all sorts of temptations. But whatever comes our way, God is always ready and able to forgive us.

  2. If you think the world, or even the church, may be tidied up from its messiness, would you please tell me how?

    Do you think such tidiness could be achieved immediately, or might it need some effort, a time when the work was being done but was incomplete?

    FATHER JOE: Thinking back as a child watching my mother at work, I used to wonder, does a woman ever finish cleaning house? Our people find themselves in a confused, messy and broken world. As much as we tidy and organize, it seems to me that we must always expect a certain messiness. At least this will be the case until the final consummation. Otherwise, how can we be where our people are? Was this not lived out by our Lord who went out to the hurting, sinful and alienated?

  3. The points you make and the issues presented in your latest post, are valid, prescient, and painfully relevant. However, the reality of the situation to which our current cultural decline has led us had better not cause the Church to weaken Her doctrine or compromise Truth. The Church had better stand firm lest She be evangelized by the world. Once Truths are compromised, they can never be affirmed.

  4. KARL:

    Your first paragraph struck me as very good.

    BUT, you must come to understand that, even in black and white cases, no action is taken even though all the “damning” evidence is in the public view and specifics are in the testimony and documentary evidence which sits, only God knows where, in the possession of the Church.

    I can only imagine the circumstances you have seen as a priest “on the ground.” I am certain nothing rational will come from the Church.

    FATHER JOE:

    Nothing rational, really, that has not been my experience in the Church. I am not a canon lawyer but I have assisted many in assessing their cases and in preparation of the depositions and essays for annulments. If I see grounds, I tell them so. If I do not, then I am just as honest. More walk away from my office, never to enter their cases, as do those who go through with it. The process is not perfect, but we seek to protect both the indissolubility of marriage and to show compassion in cases where marriages were proven defective and invalid.

    KARL:

    The Rorate revelation was not news to those of us living in purgatory already. As with my wife, so it will be, it seems, with the Church….no reconciliation through death.

    FATHER JOE:

    The gossip of blogs and supposed experts in-the-know is a poor place to place one’s credence. One dissenting shepherd here or there also does not speak for the Church. The Pope, himself, is restrained by Scripture and Tradition. We might find better ways to process cases and to facilitate healing; however, it will not be at the cost of truth. The Pope is infallible (in certain specific cases) but he is not all powerful. He is the servant of the Word, not its master.

    KARL:

    I do not believe that God will turn me away under the circumstances I am living, at my particular judgment. I am separated from both adulterers, not joined to another.

    FATHER JOE:

    I hope you are right. Speaking for myself, I seek always to practice the sacraments and to remain within the saving Church.

    KARL:

    Were I to take the next step and to marry another woman, with what I know (even if nullity is found), or were I to “join” an adulteress sect like any protestant denomination or WORSE, I doubt eternity would be pleasant.

    FATHER JOE:

    I said as much in my other response to you. As long as you believe your marriage was real, you are bound in conscience to remain celibate.

    KARL:

    The mess is the result of many factors but the loss of a Christian cultural context will render recovery impossible over the whole earth or even on whole continents. The Catholic Church will survive on a much smaller scale, likely through the SSPX and traditional Catholics.

    FATHER JOE:

    The Church may indeed grow smaller but I put no hopes in the future of the SSPX. Indeed, they are moving ever more and more in the direction of the sede vacantists. When that day happens, their tenuous tie to the See of Peter and the Church instituted by Christ will be severed. They might even embrace anti-popes, like some of the smaller breakaway groups. If this should happen, they will have little or no claim upon THE CHURCH outside of which none can be saved. I fully support traditionalism and our Latin traditions… but only within the saving embrace of Mother Church. That means both spiritually and juridically. Break ties with Peter and one becomes just another Protestant, even with Catholic trappings.

    KARL:

    Secular attempts to address ISLAM are doomed. The outcome will be a secular “ISLAM” of misguided socialist tyranny with laws that say nice things and practices that are arbitrary. This is exactly what will come from these two synods as the “Catholic” version of the same nightmare. This will be integral to the coming “remnantization” of Catholicism. Kyrie eleison.

    FATHER JOE:

    I am not afraid. I believe the Holy Spirit is with the Church instituted by Christ. I remember Cardinal Kasper when he taught students at Catholic University. He is a brilliant man. But not all ideas, even from such men of learning, are correct or will win the day. Cynicism is a sin. Christians are people of hope. I have high hopes that our appreciation that we will see an enhanced understanding of how Marriage and Eucharist as sacraments inform each other, especially in reference to our divine bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Jesus will never abandon or divorce his Church. Similarly, we should keep our promises.

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