On the chaos surrounding the Synod in Rome (by Deacon Nick Donnelly)

Published with permission of the Editor:  http://www.catholicvoice.ie

(Catholic Voice is  fast growing Catholic newspaper, published every two weeks in Ireland and the U.K. Their mission is simple, ” we exist only to serve the Church in complete fidelity to the Holy See through our writing and publishing.”)

Deacon Nick Donnelly

Cardinal-Vincent-Nichols-speaks-at-a-Holy-See-press-conference-in-Rome

Looking at the censorship of the bishops’ interventions during the Synod the bulletins issued by the Holy See’s Press Office which favour dissenting novelty, and, the travesty of Faith contained in the interim Relatio post disceptationem searching questions have to be asked. Has the Extraordinary Synod ‘by fitting means’ striven diligently to ‘inquire properly into that revelation and ‘given apt expression to its contents?

If it is confirmed that officials have manipulated the Extraordinary Synod then it’s integrity and authority are in grave doubt. 

Over the past week I have alternated between anger and anguish as I have witnessed the chaos unleashed at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Never in my life have I witnessed such confusion and disorientation about the Faith at the heart of the Church, the Holy See of Rome. During the past 35 years I have looked to Rome for certainty and consolation while the storms of dissent and disobedience ravaged the local churches. However, in this week my faith in the competence, even willingness, of Rome to uphold the Faith has been badly shaken.
I know that I’m not alone in weeping for the Church and for the Faith and join my prayer to Our Lord’s prayer for Peter during His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane:
‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ (Luke 22: 31-32).
The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church sets out that the Pope has a special care to ensure that Revelation is ‘transmitted in its entirety’ and ‘under the guiding light of the Spirit of truth is religiously preserved and faithfully expounded in the Church’. (Lumen Gentium, 25). The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council also spelt out the fundamental responsibility shared in common by pope and bishops, that they:
‘by fitting means diligently strive to inquire properly into that revelation and to give apt expression to its contents’ (LG 25).
And that ‘ a new public revelation they do not accept as pertaining to the divine deposit of faith.’ (LG 25).
Looking at the censorship of the bishops’ interventions during the Synod the bulletins issued by the Holy See’s Press Office which favour dissenting novelty, and, the travesty of Faith contained in the interim Relatio post disceptationem searching questions have to be asked. Has the Extraordinary Synod ‘by fitting means’ striven diligently to ‘inquire properly into that revelation and ‘given apt expression to its contents?
As faithful Catholics our love for, and loyalty to, the Holy Father, as the successor of St Peter, are strong and central to our identity as sons and daughters of the Church. It is heart breaking to ask these hard questions. But as Pope St John Paul II has formally stipulated in his Motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem [To Protect the Faith], as faithful Catholics we have a solemn obligation not to accept or obey anything that is set against that which is ‘required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith’. This obligation to the obedience of faith has the force of the Church’s law (Canon 750§ 2). We must not be frightened off or cast aside by wild accusations of Phariseeism.
Has the Extraordinary Synod been conducted in a fitting manner?
When I was in Rome for the first week of Pope Benedict XVI’s Synod on the New Evangelisation each evening we rushed to a local internet café on the Viale Giuolo Cesrae to read the verbatim English translations of that day’s interventions by named cardinals and bishops. This freedom of expression and access to the bishops’ deliberations is absent from Pope Francis’ Extraordinary Synod on the Family. If Pope St John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI had imposed such rigid censorship of the Bishops’ interventions as we are experiencing in this synod they would have been accused of authoritarianism and a lack of collegiality.
Instead of the usual synodal custom of publishing the bishops’ interventions the General Secretariat of the Synod has issued daily bulletins containing brief summaries of unattributed points raised the previous day. These bulletins have proven deficient on two counts: the editors of the bulletins have favoured dissent and novelty rather than the exposition and defence of the Church’s doctrine, and the bulletins have intentionally left those outside the synod in the dark about who said what.
A number of senior cardinals have publicly criticised the conduct of the General Secretariat of the Synod. Cardinal Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the press that, “These interventions should be published as before. All Christians have the right to be informed about the intervention of their bishops.” Cardinal Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of The Apostolic Signatura – the Church’s highest legal authority – went so far as to accuse the General Secretariat of the Synod of ‘manipulating’ the presentation of Synod’s work. He told Catholic World Report:
“The interventions of the individual Synod Fathers are not made available to the public, as has been the case in the past. All of the information regarding the Synod is controlled by the General Secretariat of the Synod which clearly has favored (sic) from the beginning the [objectionable] positions expressed in the Relatio post disceptationem [Mid-term report of the Synod]”.
“While the individual interventions of the Synod Fathers are not published, yesterday’s Relatio, which is merely a discussion document, was published immediately and, I am told, even broadcast live. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see the approach at work, which is certainly not of the Church.”
If it is confirmed that officials have manipulated the Extraordinary Synod then its integrity and authority are in grave doubt.
Has the Extraordinary Synod inquired properly into revelation?
It has become commonplace for cardinals and bishops who propose undoing the Church’s doctrine on marriage and sexual ethics to camouflage their real intentions with the ‘doublethink’ phrase ‘Of course Doctrine will remain unchanged, what I am proposing is pastoral’. As George Orwell expressed it ‘doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.’
One of Pope Benedict’s gifts was his ability to cut through such ecclesial doublethink with the double edged sword of God’s Word (Rev 19:15). In 1998, Cardinal Ratzinger challenged Cardinal Kasper’s proposals to admit the divorced and re-married to Holy Communion. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:
‘If at times in the past, love shone forth too little in the explanation of the truth, so today the danger is great that in the name of love, truth is either to be silenced or compromised. Assuredly, the word of truth can be painful and uncomfortable. But it is the way to holiness, to peace, and to inner freedom. A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth. In the end, only the truth can be pastoral. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”’ (John 8:32).
Unfortunately, with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI the doublethink that seeks to hold together two contradictory beliefs about doctrine and pastoral care is wrecking havoc at the Synod. Of the many examples in the Relatio post disceptationem I will give just one about the pastoral care of the divorced and re-married. Paragraph 47 states:
‘For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor (sic) of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances’.
Simply put, this paragraph is proposing that divorced and re-married Catholics may be re-admitted to Holy Communion after undertaking some form of penitential self-examination. This proposal totally contradicts the doctrine, originating in Christ’s explicit teaching, that divorced and re-married Catholics are committing adultery because of the indissolubility of the original marriage. If the couple in the civil union don’t live together as brother and sister, the sacramental discipline derived from doctrine is that they cannot receive Holy Communion because they are in an objective state of sin (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1650).
Clearly, the doublethink expressed in the Synod’s Relatio post disceptationem is seeking to undo the indissolubility of marriage. The Relatio also attacks other fundamental doctrines, including those on homosexuality, and the reservation of sexual intercourse to marriage.
Has the Extraordinary Synod given apt expression to revelation?
The confusion and disorientation caused in just one week by the Synod on the Family shows convincingly that something has gone badly wrong in Rome. The chaos has been publicly acknowledged and challenged by senior members of the Synod.
Archbishop Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, told Vatican Radio that the Relatio summary of the Synod was not acceptable to the Synod Fathers because, among other things, its presentation of doctrine contained ‘sins of omission’.
While Cardinal Burke also challenged the doctrinal deficiencies of the Relatio and Bulletins:
‘While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept… The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called “revolutionary”, teaching on marriage and the family.’
Cardinal Burke concluded his devastating critique of the Synod by calling on Pope Francis to intervene and publicly challenge the doctrinal chaos:
‘The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church.’
With Cardinal Burke, and the other faithful bishops, we wait for Pope Francis to break his silence and confirm his brethren in the doctrines and discipline of the Catholic Faith, to challenge all who would seek to impose a new public revelation on the divine deposit of faith, to turn and strengthen his brothers in the faith of Christ which does not fail.

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Synodalia: Have you noticed what’s missing?

Brother Burrito:

Thanks to Johnhenry for bringing this to our attention.

Originally posted on Dominus mihi adjutor:

One thing sadly, disastrously, absent from the Synod from the scanty information we have been permitted to receive, is eternity. We look to the woefully deficient Relatio, or working document, that was so unwisely released (perhaps as a belated gesture of transparency and consultation). In its opening paragraphs it seeks to set the synodal discussions in a context, and that context is purely this-worldly. It is as if it is only this life, this world, that truly matters. The focus is entirely socio-anthropological. The closest it comes to moving our eyes away from our navels is the exhortation to have our “gaze on Christ” (#4, et infra). Yet this phrase is never adequately unpacked, except that we look to Christ for teaching on marriage.

eternity

As Archbishop Sheen was so fond of reminding us, Christ came to die. That was his mission: that by the self-sacrificial death on the Cross of…

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Nada te turbe

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

– St. Teresa of Avila

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Revolution on the way?

Pray, fast and pray some more…

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Synod14: Full Text of Relatio Post Disceptationem

“The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured.”

VATICAN CITY, October 13, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Here below is the full text of the “Relatio post disceptationem” delivered in the synod hall this morning by the General Rapporteur, Cardinal Péter Erdő.

***

Introduction

Part I

Listening: the context and challenges to the family

The socio-cultural context

The relevance of emotional life

Pastoral challenges

Part II

The gaze on Christ: the Gospel of the Family

The gaze on Jesus and gradualness in the history of salvation

The family in Gods salvific plan

The discernment of values present in wounded families and irregular situations

Truth and beauty of the family and mercy

Part III

Discussion: pastoral perspectives

Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today, in various contexts

Guiding couples on the path in preparation for marriage

Accompanying the first years of married life

Positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation

Caring for wounded families (separated couples, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced and remarried)

Welcoming homosexual persons

The transmission of life and the challenge of declining birthrate

The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization

Conclusion

 * * * 

Introduction

1.          During the prayer vigil held in St Peter’s Square on 4 October 2014 in preparation for the Synod on the family, Pope Francis evoked the centrality of the experience of family in all lives, in a simple and concrete manner: “Evening falls on our assembly. It is the hour at which one willingly returns home to meet at the same table, in the depth of affection, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, good wine which hastens the unending feast in the days of man. It is also the weightiest hour for one who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and broken plans; how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, of abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes the wine of joy has been less plentiful, and therefore, also the zest — the very wisdom — for life […]. Let us make our prayer heard for one another this evening, a prayer for all”.

2.        The source of joys and trials, of deep affections and relations – at times wounded – the family is truly a “school of humanity” (“Familia schola quaedam uberioris humanitatis est”, Vatican Council II, Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, 52), of which we are in great need. Despite the many signs of crisis in the institution of the family in various contexts of the “global village”, the desire for family remains alive, especially among the young, and is at the root of the Church’s need to proclaim tirelessly and with profound conviction the “Gospel of the family” entrusted to her with the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

3.        The Bishop of Rome called upon the Synod of Bishops to reflect upon the situation of the family, decisive and valuable, in its Extraordinary General Assembly of October 2014, a reflection which will then be pursued in greater depth in the Ordinary General Assembly scheduled to take place in October 2015, as well as during the full intervening year between the two synodal events. “The convenire in unum around the Bishop of Rome is already an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is made manifest in a path of spiritual and pastoral discernment”: thus Pope Francis described the synodal experience, indicating its tasks in the dual process of listening to the signs of God and the history of mankind and in the resulting dual and unique fidelity.

4.        In the light of the same discourse we have gathered together the results of our reflections and our dialogues in the following three parts: listening, to look at the situation of the family today, in the complexity of its light and shade; looking, our gazefixed on Christ, to re-evaluate with renewed freshness and enthusiasm what the revelation transmitted in the faith of the Church tells us about the beauty and dignity of the family; and discussion in the light of the Lord Jesus to discern the ways in which the Church and society can renew their commitment to the family.

first part

Listening: the context and challenges to the family

The socio-culturalcontext

        5.        Anthropological and cultural change today influences all aspects of life and requires an analytic and diversified approach, able to discern the positive forms of individual freedom. It is necessary to be aware of the growing danger represented by an exasperated individualism that distorts family bonds and ends up considering each component of the family as an isolated unit, leading in some cases to the prevalence of an idea of the subject formed according to his or her own wishes, which are assumed as absolute.

        6.        The most difficult test for families in our time is often solitude, which destroys and gives rise to a general sensation of impotence in relation to the socio-economic situation that often ends up crushing them. This is due to growing precariousness in the workplace that is often experienced as a nightmare, or due to heavy taxation that certainly does not encourage young people to marriage.

        7.        Some cultural and religious contexts pose particular challenges. In African societies the practice of polygamy remains, along with, in some traditional contexts, the custom of “marriage in stages”. In other contexts the practice of “arranged marriages” persists. In countries in which Catholicism is a minority religion, there are many mixed marriages with all the difficulties that these may lead to in terms of legal form, the education of children and mutual respect from the point of view of religious freedom, but also with the great potential that derives from the encounter between the differences in faith that these stories of family life present. In many contexts, and not only in the West, the practice of cohabitation before marriage, or indeed cohabitation not orientated towards assuming the form of an institutional bond, is increasingly widespread.

        8.        Many children are born outside marriage, especially in certain countries, and there are many who subsequently grow up with just one of their parents or in an enlarged or reconstituted family context. The number of divorces is growing and it is not rare to encounter cases in which decisions are taken solely on the basis of economic factors. The condition of women still needs to be defended and promoted, as situations of violence within the family are not rare. Children are frequently the object of contention between parents, and are the true victims of family breakdown. Societies riven by violence due to war, terrorism or the presence of organized crime experience deteriorating family situations. Furthermore, migration is another sign of the times, to be faced and understood in terms of the burden of consequences for family life.

The relevance of emotional life

        9.        Faced with the social framework outlined above, a greater need is encountered among individuals to take care of themselves, to know their inner being, and to live in greater harmony with their emotions and sentiments, seeking a relational quality in emotional life. In the same way, it is possible to encounter a widespread desire for family accompanied by the search for oneself. But how can this attention to the care for oneself be cultivated and maintained, alongside this desire for family? This is a great challenge for the Church too. The danger of individualism and the risk of living selfishly are significant.

     10.        Today’s world appears to promote limitless affectivity, seeking to explore all its aspects, including the most complex. Indeed, the question of emotional fragility is very current: a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity do not always help greater maturity to be reached. In this context, couples are often uncertain and hesitant, struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of emotional and sexual life. The crisis in the couple destabilizes the family and may lead, through separations and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening the individual and social bonds. The decline in population not only creates a situation in which the alternation of generations is no longer assured, but over time also risks leading to economic impoverishment and a loss of hope in the future.

Pastoralchallenges

     11.        In this context the Church is aware of the need to offer a meaningful word of hope. It is necessary to set out from the conviction that man comes from God and that, therefore, a reflection able to reframe the great questions on the meaning of human existence, may find fertile ground in humanity’s most profound expectations. The great values of marriage and the Christian family correspond to the search that distinguishes human existence even in a time marked by individualism and hedonism. It is necessary to accept people in their concrete being, to know how to support their search, to encourage the wish for God and the will to feel fully part of the Church, also on the part of those who have experienced failure or find themselves in the most diverse situations. This requires that the doctrine of the faith, the basic content of which should be made increasingly better known, be proposed alongside with mercy.

PART II

The gaze upon Christ: the Gospel of the Family

The gaze upon Jesus and gradualness in the history of salvation

     12.        In order to “walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. … Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.

     13.        From the moment that the order of creation is determined by orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish without separating the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption.

     14.        Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross.

The family in Gods salvific plan

     15.        Since, by their commitment to mutual acceptance and with the grace of Christ couples promise fidelity to one another and openness to life, they acknowledge as constitutive elements of marriage the gifts God offers them, taking their mutual responsability seriously, in His name and before the Church. Now, in faith it is possible to assume the goods of marriage as commitments best maintained with the help of the grace of the sacrament. God consecrates love between spouses and confirms its indissolubility, offering them help in living in fidelity and openness to life. Therefore, the gaze of the Church turns not only to the couple, but to the family.

     16.        We are able to distinguish three fundamental phases in the divine plan for the family: the family of origins, when God the creator instituted the primordial marriage between Adam and Eve, as a solid foundation for the family: he created them male and female (cg. Gn 1,24-31; 2,4b); the historic family, wounded by sin (cf. Gn 3) and the family redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5,21-32), in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which every true love springs. The sponsal covenant, inaugurated in creation and revealed in the history of God and Israel, reaches its fullest expression with Christ in the Church.

The discernment of values present in wounded families and in irregular situations

     17.        In considering the principle of gradualness in the divine salvific plan, one asks what possibilities are given to married couples who experience the failure of their marriage, or rather how it is possible to offer them Christ’s help through the ministry of the Church. In this respect, a significant hermeneutic key comes from the teaching of Vatican Council II, which, while it affirms that “although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure … these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity” (Lumen Gentium, 8).

     18.        In this light, the value and consistency of natural marriage must first be emphasized. Some ask whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation, which are in any case ordered in relation to it. The doctrine of levels of communion, formulated by Vatican Council II, confirms the vision of a structured way of participating in the Mysterium Ecclesiae by baptized persons.

     19.        In the same, perspective, that we may consider inclusive, the Council opens up the horizon for appreciating the positive elements present in other religions (cf. Nostra Aetate, 2) and cultures, despite their limits and their insufficiencies (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 55). Indeed, looking at the human wisdom present in these, the Church learns how the family is universally considered as the necessary and fruitful form of human cohabitation. In this sense, the order of creation, in which the Christian vision of the family is rooted, unfolds historically, in different cultural and geographical expressions.

     20.        Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

Truth and beauty of the family and mercy

     21.        The Gospel of the family, while it shines in the witness of many families who live coherently their fidelity to the sacrament, with their mature fruits of authentic daily sanctity must also nurture those seeds that are yet to mature, and must care for those trees that have dried up and wish not to be neglected.

     22.        In this respect, a new dimension of today’s family pastoral consists of accepting the reality of civil marriage and also cohabitation, taking into account the due differences. Indeed, when a union reaches a notable level of stability through a public bond, is characterized by deep affection, responsibility with regard to offspring, and capacity to withstand tests, it may be seen as a germ to be accompanied in development towards the sacrament of marriage. Very often, however, cohabitation is established not with a view to a possible future marriage, but rather without any intention of establishing an institutionally-recognized relationship.

            23.        Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm. 

Part III

The discussion: pastoral perspectives

Proclaiming the Gospel of the family today, in various contexts

     24.        The Synod dialog has allowed an agreement on some of the more urgent pastoral needs to be entrusted to being made concrete in the individual local Churches, in communion cum Petro et sub Petro.

     25.        The announcement of the Gospel of the family is an urgent issue for the new evangelization. The Church has to carry this out with the tenderness of a mother and the clarity of a teacher (cf. Eph 4,15), in fidelity to the merciful kenosi of Christ. The truth is incarnated in human fragility not to condemn it, but to cure it.

     26.        Evangelizing is the shared responsibility of all God’s people, each according to his or her own ministry and charism. Without the joyous testimony of spouses and families, the announcement, even if correct, risks being misunderstood or submerged by the ocean of words that is a characteristic of our society (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 50). On various occasions the Synodal Fathers underlined that Catholic families are called upon themselves to be the active subjects of all the pastoral of the family.

     27.        It will be decisive to highlight the primacy of grace, and therefore of the possibilities that the Spirit gives in the sacrament. This is about letting it be known that the Gospel of the family is a joy that «fills the hearts and lives», because in Christ we are «set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness» (Evangelii Gaudium, 1). In the light of the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13,3), our task is to cooperate in the sowing: the rest is God’s work. We must not forget that the Church that preaches about the family is a sign of contradiction.

     28.        For this reason, what is required is a missionary conversion: it is necessary not to stop at an announcement that is merely theoretical and has nothing to do with people’s real problems. It must not be forgotten that the crisis of faith has led to a crisis in matrimony and the family and, as a result, the transmission of faith from parents to children has often been interrupted. Confronted by a strong faith, the imposition of certain cultural perspectives that weaken the family is of no importance.

     29.        Conversion has, above all, to be that of language so that this might prove to be effectively meaningful. The announcement is about letting it be experienced that the Gospel of the family is the response to the deepest expectations of a person: to his or her dignity and its full realization in reciprocity and communion. This is not merely about presenting a set of regulations but about putting forward values, responding to the need of those who find themselves today even in the most secularized countries.

     30.        The indispensable biblical-theological study is to be accompanied by dialog, at all levels. Many insisted on a more positive approach to the riches contained in diverse religious experiences, while not being blind to the difficulties. In the diverse cultural realities the possibilities should first be grasped and in the light of them the limits and radicalizations should be rejected.

     31.        Christian marriage cannot only be considered as a cultural tradition or social obligation, but has to be a vocational decision taken with the proper preparation in an itinerary of faith, with mature discernment. This is not about creating difficulties and complicating the cycles of formation, but of going deeply into the issue and not being content with theoretical meetings or general orientations.

     32.        The need was jointly referred to for a conversion of all pastoral practices from the perspective of the family, overcoming the individualistic points of view that still characterize it. This is why there was a repeated insistence on renewing in this light the training of presbyters and other pastoral operators, through a greater involvement of the families themselves.

     33.        In the same way, the necessity was underlined for an evangelization that denounces clearly the cultural, social and economic factors, for example, the excessive room given to market logic, that prevents an authentic family life, leading to discrimination, poverty, exclusion, and violence. For this reason a dialog and cooperation has to be developed with the social structures, and lay people who are involved in cultural and socio-political fields should be encouraged.

Guiding couples on the path in preparation for marriage

     34.        The complex social reality and the changes that the family is called on today to deal with require a greater undertaking from the whole Christian community for the preparation of those who are about to be married. As regards this necessity the Synodal Fathers agreed to underline the need for a greater involvement of the entire community privileging the testimony of the families themselves, as well as a rooting of the preparation for marriage in the path of Christian initiation, underlining the connection between marriage and the other sacraments. In the same way, the necessity was highlighted for specific programs for preparation for marriage that are a true experience of participation in the ecclesial life and that study closely the diverse aspects of family life.

Accompanying the early years of married life

     35.        The early years of marriage are a vital and delicate period during which couples grow in the awareness of the challenges and meaning of matrimony. Thus the need for a pastoral accompaniment that goes beyond the celebration of the sacrament. Of great importance in this pastoral is the presence of experienced couples. The parish is considered the ideal place for expert couples to place themselves at the disposal of younger ones. Couples need to be encouraged towards a fundamental welcome of the great gift of children. The importance of family spirituality and prayer needs to be underlined, encouraging couples to meet regularly to promote the growth of the spiritual life and solidarity in the concrete demands of life. Meaningful liturgies, devotional practices and the Eucharist celebrated for families, were mentioned as vital in favoring evangelization through the family.

Positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation

     36.        A new sensitivity in today’s pastoral consists in grasping the positive reality of civil weddings and, having pointed out our differences, of cohabitation. It is necessary that in the ecclesial proposal, while clearly presenting the ideal, we also indicate the constructive elements in those situations that do not yet or no longer correspond to that ideal.

     37.        It was also noted that in many countries an “an increasing number live together ad experimentum, in unions which have not been religiously or civilly recognized” (Instrumentum Laboris, 81). In Africa this occurs especially in traditional marriages, agreed between families and often celebrated in different stages. Faced by these situations, the Church is called on to be “the house of the Father, with doors always wide open […] where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems” (Evangelii Gaudium, 47) and to move towards those who feel the need to take up again their path of faith, even if it is not possible to celebrate a religious marriage.

     38.        In the West as well there is an increasingly large number of those who, having lived together for a long period of time, ask to be married in the Church. Simple cohabitation is often a choice inspired by a general attitude, which is opposed to institutions and definitive undertakings, but also while waiting for a secure existence (a steady job and income). In other countries common-law marriages are very numerous, not because of a rejection of Christian values as regards the family and matrimony, but, above all, because getting married is a luxury, so that material poverty encourages people to live in common-law marriages. Furthermore in such unions it is possible to grasp authentic family values or at least the wish for them. Pastoral accompaniment should always start from these positive aspects.

     39.        All these situations have to be dealt with in a constructive manner, seeking to transform them into opportunities to walk towards the fullness of marriage and the family in the light of the Gospel. They need to be welcomed and accompanied with patience and delicacy. With a view to this, the attractive testimony of authentic Christian families is important, as subjects for the evangelization of the family.

Caring for wounded families (the separated, the divorced who have not remarried, the divorced who have remarried)

     40.        What rang out clearly in the Synod was the necessity for courageous pastoral choices. Reconfirming forcefully the fidelity to the Gospel of the family, the Synodal Fathers, felt the urgent need for new pastoral paths, that begin with the effective reality of familial fragilities, recognizing that they, more often than not, are more “endured” than freely chosen. These are situations that are diverse because of personal as well as cultural and socio-economic factors. It is not wise to think of unique solutions or those inspired by a logic of “all or nothing”. The dialog and meeting that took place in the Synod will have to continue in the local Churches, involving their various components, in such a way that the perspectives that have been drawn up might find their full maturation in the work of the next Ordinary General Assembly. The guidance of the Spirit, constantly invoked, will allow all God’s people to live the fidelity to the Gospel of the family as a merciful caring for all situations of fragility.

     41.        Each damaged family first of all should be listened to with respect and love, becoming companions on the journey as Christ did with the disciples of the road to Emmaus. In a particular way the words of Pope Francis apply in these situations: «The Church will have to initiate everyone – priests, religious and laity – into this “art of accompaniment”, which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Es 3,5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our  compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life» (Evangelii Gaudium, 169).

     42.        Such discernment is indispensable for the separated and divorced. What needs to be respected above all is the suffering of those who have endured separation and divorce unjustly. The forgiveness for the injustice endured is not easy, but it is a journey that grace makes possible. In the same way it needs to be always underlined that it is indispensable to assume in a faithful and constructive way the consequences of separation or divorce on the children: they must not become an “object” to be fought over and the most suitable means need to be sought so that they can get over the trauma of the family break-up and grow up in the most serene way possible.

     43.        Various Fathers underlined the necessity to make the recognition of cases of nullity more accessible and flexible. Among the propositions were the abandonment of the need for the double conforming sentence; the possibility of establishing an administrative means under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop; a summary process to be used in cases of clear nullity. According to authoritative propositions, the possibility should then be considered of giving weight to the faith of those about to be married in terms of the validity of the sacrament of marriage. It needs to emphasized that in all these cases it is about the ascertaining of the truth over the validity of the obstacle.

     44.        As regards matrimonial suits, the speeding-up of the procedure, requested by many, as well as the preparation of a sufficient number of operators, clerics and lay people, dedicating themselves to this, requires an increase in the responsibilities of the diocesan bishop, who in his diocese might charge a specially trained priest who would be able to offer the parties advice on the validity of their marriage.

     45.        Divorced people who have not remarried should be invited to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their state. The local community and pastors have to accompany these people with solicitude, particularly when there are children involved or they find themselves in a serious situation of poverty.

     46.        In the same way the situation of the divorced who have remarried demands a careful discernment and an accompaniment full of respect, avoiding any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against. For the Christian community looking after them is not a weakening of its faith and its testimony to the indissolubility of marriage, but rather it expresses precisely its charity in its caring.

     47.        As regards the possibility of partaking of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, some argued in favor of the present regulations because of their theological foundation, others were in favor of a greater opening on very precise conditions when dealing with situations that cannot be resolved without creating new injustices and suffering. For some, partaking of the sacraments might occur were it preceded by a penitential path – under the responsibility of the diocesan bishop –, and with a clear undertaking in favor of the children. This would not be a general possibility, but the fruit of a discernment applied on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of gradualness, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.

     48.        Suggesting limiting themselves to only “spiritual communion” was questioned by more than a few Synodal Fathers: if spiritual communion is possible, why not allow them to partake in the sacrament? As a result a greater theological study was requested starting with the links between the sacrament of marriage and the Eucharist in relation to the Church-sacrament. In the same way, the moral dimension of the problem requires further consideration, listening to and illuminating the consciences of spouses.

     49.        The problems relative to mixed marriages were frequently raised in the interventions of the Synodal Fathers. The differences in the matrimonial regulations of the Orthodox Churches creates serious problems in certain contexts to which have to be found suitable responses in communion with the Pope. The same applies to inter-religious marriages.

Welcoming homosexual persons

     50.        Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

     51.        The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

     52.        Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

The transmission of life and the challenge of the declining birthrate

     53.        It is not difficult to notice the spread of a mentality that reduces the generation of life to a variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans. Economic factors sometimes have enough weight to contribute to the sharp drop in the birthrate which weakens the social fabric, compromising the relationship between generations and rendering the view of the future less certain. Being open to life is an intrinsic requirement of married love.

     54.        Probably here as well what is required is a realistic language that is able to start from listening to people and acknowledging the beauty and truth of an unconditional opening to life as that which human life requires to be lived to its fullest. It is on this base that we can rest an appropriate teaching regarding natural methods, which allow the living in a harmonious and aware way of the communication between spouses, in all its dimensions, along with generative responsibility. In this light, we should go back to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Paul VI, which underlines the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control.

     55.        So help is required to live affectivity, in marriage as well, as a path of maturation, in the evermore profound welcoming of the other and in an ever-fuller giving. It has to be emphasized in this sense the need to offer formative paths that nourish married life and the importance of a laity that provides an accompaniment consisting of living testimony. It is undoubtedly of great help the example of a faithful and profound love made up of tenderness, of respect, capable of growing in time and which in its concrete opening to the generation of life allows us to experience a mystery that transcends us.

The challenge of education and the role of the family in evangelization

     56.        The fundamental challenge facing families today is undoubtedly that of education, rendered more difficult and complex by today’s cultural reality. What have to be considered are the needs and expectations of families capable of testifying in daily life, places of growth, of concrete and essential transmission of the virtues that provide form for existence.

     57.        In this Church can carry out a precious role in supporting families, starting from Christian initiation, through welcoming communities. What is asked of these, today even more than yesterday, in complex as well as mundane situations, is to support parents in their educative undertaking, accompanying children and young people in their growth through personalized paths capable of introducing them to the full meaning of life and encouraging choices and responsibilities, lived in the light of the Gospel.

Conclusion

     58.        The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view. All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity.

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Polish Archbishop: Synod mid-term report departs from the teaching of John Paul II

Vatican Radio, October 13, 2014
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In an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that in it can be noticed traces of the anti-marriage ideology. According to Archbishop Gądecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly:
“Is the purpose of this Synod pastoral support to families in difficulty, or is its goal the study of special cases? Our main task is to support the family pastorally, not to hit her, exposing these difficult situations that exist, but which do not constitute the nucleus of the same family; they [the special cases] do not void the need for support, which should be given to good, normal, ordinary families, who are struggling not so much for survival as for fidelity,” said Archbishop Gądecki.
 
 
“Referring to the issues of marriage and family, certain criteria are being applied that raise doubt. For example, the criterion of gradualism. Can you really treat cohabitation as gradual, on the path to holiness? Today, the discussion also highlighted that the doctrine presented in the document is marked by the sin of omission. As if the world’s view prevailed and everything was imperfection which leads to perfection… Attention was paid not so much to what this document says, but to what it does not say. Speak about the practical exceptions, but we also need to present the truth. Also, the points that speak of children entrusted to same-sex couples are formulated somewhat as if this situation is being praised! This is also a defect of this text, which should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is. It created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now.”
[Source, in Polish]

[Original document in Polish]

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Remembering October 13th, 1917

By Vultus Christi

Our Lady of Fatima by Sr Mary of the Compassion-thumb-300x601

My Immaculate Heart Will Triumph

Today is the 97th anniversary of the sixth and last apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima on 13 October 1917. Eleven years ago, Saint John Paul II, singularly devoted to the Virgin of Fatima, declared a Year of the Rosary. In his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Saint John Paul II called it “a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness.”

Mater Misericordiae

The Rosary is a presence of Mary, the Refuge of Sinners, saying to us in a still, small voice what Saint Benedict says in Chapter IV of the Holy Rule, “Child, never despair of God’s mercy.” She is Mater Misericordiae, the Mother of Mercy. Where Mary goes the mercy of God follows bringing forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, and peace. If you would know the mercy of God, seek to know the Mother of Mercy. She preserves sinners from the one sin that is greater than all other sins put together, that of despairing of the mercy of God.

Spes Nostra

By making “Never to despair of God’s mercy” the last of the Instruments of Good Works in Chapter Four of the Holy Rule, Saint Benedict is saying to us, “Even if you fail in all else, even if you fall into grievous sin, hold fast to this and you will not be disappointed in your hope.” In the Salve Regina, Mary is called not only Mater misericordiae but also spes nostra. The Rosary is a childlike and humble way of putting our hand in the hand of the Mother of God lest we slip into discouragement and, from discouragement, fall into the pit of despair.

The Face of Christ

The feast of Our Lady of Fatima compels us to ask ourselves if, with the passing years, Saint John Paul II’s Year of the Rosary has become no more than a distant memory, something vague and without bearing on our lives. The Rosary — a prolonged contemplation of the Face of Christ in the company of Mary — opens us to the mystery of Our Lord’s word on the night before suffered: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). If you would see Christ, pray the Rosary. If you would see the glory of the Father shining on the Face of the Son, pray the Rosary.

Benedict-XVI-Rosary

The Fragrance of the Knowledge of Christ

Do I persevere in the simple but sometimes difficult prayer of the Rosary, or I do I give in to discouragement, laziness, indifference, or routine? Where is the Rosary in my own moments of joy, light, sorrow, and glory? And where is my life in the context of the joys, lights, sorrows, and glories of Christ and of his holy Mother? Like his predecessor Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI was not ashamed to unite himself to little ones the world over who, in simplicity of heart and poverty of spirit, love the Rosary and in praying it breathe in the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 2:14).

Penitence

Our Lady of Fatima’s message was a call to prayer and to penitence. To prayer first, and then to penitence: this because prayer, especially the humble prayer of the Rosary softens even the most hardened heart, decapitates pride, and makes penitence possible. The grace of conversion of heart is given to those who pray for it, and for this there is no better prayer than the Rosary. One does not first change one’s way of life and then begin to pray. One prays first — and sometimes for a very long time — in order to be able to receive the grace of inner conversion for oneself or even for another.

For me, what I find most beautiful about the Rosary is that sinners are comfortable praying it. It is a chain that, with each “Hail Mary,” binds the heart more strongly to its treasure (cf. Mt 6:21). One need not be perfect to pray the Rosary; one need only be capable of saying again and again, “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

The Poor Man’s Rosary

The Rosary is, I said, a simple prayer. That does not mean that it is always easy. At certain times in life, one must be content with what I call “the poor man’s Rosary.” This may mean that when you are weary, discouraged, and unable to focus, you content yourself with saying a little phrase on each bead instead of the whole prescribed prayer: just “Hail, Mary, full of grace,” or just “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus,” or just, “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” Do you think that Our Lady is less pleased with the humble, incomplete stammerings of a little child than with the perfect recitation of one who, by the grace of God, can do more? Many a sleepless night has been filled with the murmurings of the “poor man’s Rosary” and in that humble prayer the Mother of God finds an immense joy.

A Path to Contemplation

The Rosary is the simplest and most accessible of prayers. It is, at the same time, a sure path to contemplation, leading ever more deeply, almost imperceptibly, into the stillness of the Most Holy Trinity. The Rosary is a way of abiding with Mary in the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. It is a way into the ceaseless prayer of the heart that is an evangelical precept addressed to all: “Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1). Do that and you will be “filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Ac 13:52). Our Lady of Fatima promises it.

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Frank discussion with Cardinal Burke

 

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Lectio Divina: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

An Invitation to Live Not Only to Eat

Paris, October 10, 2014 (Zenit.org) Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) Constant invitation to celebrate and to live life as a celebration of joy.

Among the parables told by Jesus, there is the one about a king who hosts a wedding dinner to which eligible guests don’t want to participate. This refusal pushes the king to extend the invitation to all the other people. Jesus presents us the Father as the one who “invites the whole world to the wedding of his Son.”

I think that it is fair to say that the main concern of this king is to share the joy of the wedding of his son with those who are called, namely all people. In fact, if we read the parable along with today’s text from Isaiah (25, 6-10-first reading), the concept to focus on is the universal invitation to the joyful familiarity with God. The great prophet speaks of a big gathering of all Nations. If the image is that of the banquet (“a feast of fatty meats and fine wines”), then the main highlighted annotation is the universality (“for all Nations”). It is a feast of freedom and peace, in which “the song of tyrants has ceased” and the victory of Love is celebrated. This great hope of Isaiah does not rest on man, but only on God. It is the strength of his Word (“a perpetual Rock”: 26.4) that authorizes to hope even in times of despair (these pages of Isaiah were written in times of despair). Continue reading

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Richard Collins: REQUIESCAT IN PACE

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

It is with great personal sadness that we, the Collins Family, must inform the loyal followers of Linen on the Hedgerow, that our beautiful father, husband and grandfather, Richard Collins, has died peacefully at home this morning surrounded by those who loved him most.  He was blessed to receive the Last Rites and Holy Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at his bedside.  Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace. Amen.

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The Synod: Opening Scene of the Final Act?

A reflection by Pat Archbold from the National Catholic Register:

I think it is high time that we talk frankly about what is truly happening in the Church. It is quite probable that we are approaching the denouement of this horrible play, a century in the telling, in which the Synod on the Family, currently playing out in Rome, may be the opening scene of the final act.

We endlessly speculate and debate over who is with Cardinal Kasper and who is not, who will stand up and who will be quiet, and where does doctrine end and pastoral praxis begin.  Meanwhile, a “dark and false Church,” as foreseen by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, which has grown within the Church for a century, continues its unhindered progress.

We have many Cardinals and Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church who publicly put God’s law in opposition to God’s mercy! We have Cardinals and Bishops who say that the very words of Jesus, the same second person of the Trinity who suffered and died so that we might live, insufficiently express love!

Add to this the daily expressions of indifferentism and every other facet of Modernism (see Pascendi Dominici Gregis ) that are promulgated not only without fear of reproach, but with loud praise.

To say such things and to promote such thinking is cooperation with the devil, the devil that has as its end the destruction of the Church.  Whether these persons do this knowingly or unknowingly I cannot say, but I can say that it is evil.

For those of you now rolling your eyes over what you might consider hyperbolic and overly dramatic language, I ask you to consider a few things. Pope Leo XIII said in his encyclical Satis Cognitum:

The Church, founded on these principles and mindful of her office, has done nothing withgreater zeal and endeavour than she has displayed in guarding the integrity of the faith. Hence she regarded as rebels and expelled from the ranks of her children all who held beliefs on any point of doctrine different from her own. The Arians, the Montanists, the Novatians, the Quartodecimans, the Eutychians, did not certainly reject all Catholic doctrine: they abandoned only a tertian portion of it. Still who does not know that they were declared heretics and banished from the bosom of the Church? In like manner were condemned all authors of heretical tenets who followed them in subsequent ages. “There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition” (Auctor Tract. de Fide Orthodoxa contra Arianos).The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.

I consider it self-evident that there are many within hierarchy of the Church currently in attendance at the synod who hold beliefs different from that of the Church.  Their words and actions make this abundantly clear and undeniable even by even the most ardent defenders of normalcy.

This work of destruction is a century in the making.  There are those who wish to blame Vatican II for all the evil in the Church, but that is naïve.  The ambiguities and novelties of some documents of Vatican II were placed there and exploited by those in this “dark and false church” prior to Vatican II.  The cracks in Vatican II and all that followed are merely symptoms of the growth “dark and false church.“

Pope Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis warned us of the Modernist enemies within the Church a century ago.

That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church’s open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man.

This is a perfect diagnosis and description of the mercy vs. doctrine debate that has preceded this Synod.

This cancer that has been metastasizing in the Church for a century and those who cooperate with it hide in plain sight to the best of their ability.  There is no Holy Canon, no dogma, and no principle at all, no matter how holy, authentic, ancient, and certain it might be, that remains free of censure, criticism, false interpretation, modification, and delimitation by those in this insidious “dark and false church.”  All is clouded by senseless questions and elaborate arguments, even the very words of Our Savior. (See Holzhauser).

All that is necessary for those who work for its destruction to remain in the Church is to state that they accept the teaching of the Church while practically opposing it in every way.  There is apparently no limit to the benefit of the doubt contained in this well of deceit. They are rebellious and disobedient children who truly place themselves outside the Church, but they will not leave. No, for the real work of destruction is inside and they have spent a century climbing to the positions where they can complete their work.

And while some well-meaning Catholics, desperate to believe all is well, try to mask the cracks in the façade of St. Peter’s with layer upon layer of ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ spackle, the furious work of destruction continues unabated within its walls.

If the Church were merely an institution of man it would be a foregone conclusion that the gates of hell will soon prevail.  Of course, it is not. We have that promise.  God will save His Church. But there will be a terrible price to pay.  Our Lady will not be able to restrain the flaming sword of our destruction.

It is time that those who see the truth of what is happening to the Church speak out about the evil that would be done to Her.  We must call evil, evil.  We must get on our knees and relentlessly beg our good God to rescue us from this “dark and false Church. “

We must hold to the Church in the universal and timeless sense, we must do penance, we must fast, and we must pray incessantly, echoing Pope Benedict XVI, that the few years which “separate us from the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”

 

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Synodalia: the deeper crisis of marriage and family

Another reasoned article from Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB

At the beginning of the Synod of Bishops on the Family and Married Life, an Australian married couple, the Pirolas, addressed the Synod Fathers. It was not terribly helpful except in that it gave voice to the world and the secular viewpoint, and perhaps even the sentimental one.

In a breathtaking display of apparent partiality, a Polish married couple involved with the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family were not invited to speak. Indeed it seems no one from that worldwide Institute (founded in 1982) was invited to speak to the Synod, Sandro Magister has revealed. Thankfully Ludmila and Stanislaw Grygiel were invited to address the pre-synodal meeting of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe. Magister quotes extracts from their speeches. Do read them at Magister’s blog page. For now, a few quotes are worthy of highlighting.

Stanislaw Grygiel

From Stanislaw‘s speech:

John Paul II approached every marriage, even broken ones, as Moses approached the burning bush on Mount Horeb. He did not enter into their homes without first taking the sandals from his feet, because he saw present in them the “centre of history and of the universe.” [...] This is why he did not bend himself to their circumstances and adapt his pastoral practice to them. [...] At the risk of being criticized, he insisted on the fact that it is not circumstances that give form to marriage and the family, but it is instead these that give form to circumstances. First he accepted the truth, and only afterward the circumstances. He never allowed the truth to be left out waiting in the wings. …

One evening at his home, during the 1960’s, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla had been listening in silence for a long time to the talk of some Catholic intellectuals who were predicting the inevitable secularization of society. [...] When they had finished speaking, he said only this: “Not even once did you use the word ‘grace.’” What he said then I remember now every time I read the statements of theologians who speak of marriage with no awareness of the love that comes about in the beauty of grace. Love is grace, it is a “gift of God.” …

If this is the way things are with love, inserting into theological arguments the adage, full of pity but opposed to mercy, nemo ad heroismum obligatur, no one is obliged to be a hero, is demeaning to man. It demeans him by contradicting Christ, who on the mountain of the beatitudes says to all men: “So be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).

With broken marriages and families, we must com-patire [suffer with] and not have pity. In that case, pity has within itself something disparaging for man. It does not help him open himself to the infinite love to which God has oriented him “before the creation of the world” (Eph 1:4). Pitying sentimentalism is a forgetting of what the things of man are like “from the beginning,” while com-passion, suffering along with those who have gotten lost “in the dark forest,” reawakens their memory of the Beginning and indicates the way back to it. …

Basing his insights not only on his personal experience but on the truth of Christ, especially as elaborated by St John Paul II, he reminds us that to leave truth and grace out of human marriage is to direct such unions towards failure. Marriage, a gift from God and a grace, involves a commitment to truth that should shape the lives of the married couple – their fallible life choices should not shape their marriage. It is another way of saying that Christians have a mission to transform the world with God’s grace, not to be transformed by the world.

Stanislaw also puts before us the true meaning of compassion, a brave and painful “suffering with”, not some quick-fix sentimentalism, or worse, condescending pity. Pity would ignore the truth to make the sufferer feel better; compassion involves walking with the sufferer and leading him or her back to the right path of truth, and to the reason for our creation.

Stanislaw is warning the Church not to enthrall itself to a purely worldly, temporal, humanistic view of human living and suffering, but to embrace the Christian concept of the centrality of the Cross in the life of all disciples, a Cross that leads from this short life to the eternal life of heaven, where the suffering of this short life finds its meaning and its resolution. The Church needs again to preach courage!

Ludmila Grygiel

Ludmila came at the issue from a different angle entirely, but perhaps even more powerfully.

Chesterton said that we do not want a Church that will move with the world, but a Church that will move the world. Paraphrasing his words, we could say that families today, those in crisis and those that are happy, do not need pastoral care suited for the world, but pastoral care suited for He who knows what the heart of man desires. …

Christ agrees to speak with a woman who is living in sin. Christ is not capable of hating, he is capable only of loving, and therefore he does not condemn the Samaritan woman but reawakens the original desire of her heart, which is obfuscated by the experiences of a disordered life. He forgives her only after the woman has confessed that she does not have a husband.

In this way the Gospel passage recalls that God does not make a gift of his mercy to one who does not ask for it, and that recognition of sin and the desire for conversion are the rule of mercy. Mercy is never a gift offered to someone who does not want it, it is not a product on sale because it is not in demand. Pastoral care requires a profound and convinced adherence of pastors to the truth of the sacrament. …

lack of confidence in the family on the part of pastors is among the main causes of the crisis of pastoral care for the family. This cannot ignore the difficulties, but must not dwell upon them and admit discouragement and defeat. It must not conform to the casuistry of the modern Pharisees. It must welcome Samaritan women not to hide the truth about their behavior, but to lead them to conversion. …

… in spite of the hardness of heart of his contemporaries [Christ] re-proposed a model of marriage as God had wanted it from the beginning.

I get the impression that we Christians talk too much about failed marriages, and too little about faithful marriages, we talk too much about the crisis of the family and too little about the fact that the community of marriage and the family assures man not only earthly happiness but also that of eternity, and is the place in which the laity’s vocation to holiness is realized. …

Ludmila joins her husband in reminding the Church that marriage has a supernatural and eternal end, above and beyond its temporal and natural end. God’s mercy is something only the repentant can receive, and our mercy must always directed not to indulgence, but to gently leading the sinner to repentance, and thus to God. God might be present to us in the depths of our sin, but only that we might move from sin to holiness.

Yet she is most striking in her bold challenge to the clergy of the Church: marriage must not be defined but its failures but by its essential truth. Moreover, the clergy must have confidence in the family and marriage; if they do not, they undermine the people’s confidence. This clerical crisis of confidence, this lay woman says, is “among the main causes of the crisis of pastoral care for the family”. Many clergy obsess so much about the pastoral care of those who have failed to commit to marriage in times of trial (for whatever reason, some of them profoundly sad, some of them strikingly selfish), that they leave to themselves those married couples struggling to endure times of marital crisis. Concern for those who have divorced (in civil terms that is) must never preclude the duty to support married couples and families as the Christian norm.

If pastors will not commit 100% to the truth about marriage and family life, and thus about the role of human sexuality, is any wonder so many Catholics are in a crisis of living, and a crisis of faith. Perhaps the implication of Ludmila’s speech needs to be stated clearly: the modern crisis in human sexuality and marriage is in large measure due to the failure of clergy to speak the truth in love.

With Ludmila and Stanislaw we can truly say we hear the voice of God’s faithful people, the sensus fidelium so often misidentified.

This couple should be at the Synod. They have more to say that is from God than the Pirolas.

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Prayers for Richard Collins to Pope Venerable Pius XII

As a follow-up to our prayer request for Richard Collins  here is a post from Mundabor:

No time to go into details now.

Mr Richard Collins is still alive.

There is an initiative to pray Pope Venerable Pius XII for his miraculous healing.

My take: let’s do this!

Let us storm heaven with our prayers! But let us all pray to the same man, Pope Pius XII!

If the miracle happens, this will be used towards his beatification and/or canonisation. If it does not happen, it will be many more prayers for Mr Collins anyway.

Let us storm heaven! Reblog this, or link, or encourage your readers to do the same!

M

PRAYER

O Jesus, eternal High Priest, Who didst deign to raise Thy faithful servant, Pius XII, to the supreme dignity of Thy Vicar on earth and to grant him the grace to be a fearless defender of the faith, a valiant champion of justice and peace, zealous in proclaiming the glory of Thy most holy Mother, a shining example of charity and all virtues, deign now to grant us, in view of his merits, the graces we ask of Thee; so that, made certain of his efficacious intercession with Thee, we may one day see him raised to the honors of our altars.             Amen. 

Imprimatur – Dated December 8, 1958:  + Petrus Canisius J. van Lierde, Vicar General for Vatican City

 

 

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Here With Me

Please forgive poor Burrito who is suffering from another attack of sentimentalism. I have just worked a busy night-shift and am having trouble sleeping. These experiences tend to weaken me.

You might remember in a previous post that I asserted that any love song could be turned into a prayer. I hereby refine that assertion: any love song by a woman. Women are the more natural worshippers, that’s just the way they are made.

Please watch this pop-video by the beautiful young artist Dido, and read the lyrics. I hope you see and hear what I do.

I didn’t hear you leave
I wonder, how am I still here?
And I don’t wanna move a thing
It might change my memory

Oh, I am what I am
I’ll do what I want, but I can’t hide
And I won’t go, I won’t sleep, I can’t breathe
Until you’re resting here with me

And I won’t leave and I can’t hide, I cannot be
Until you’re resting here with me

I don’t wanna call my friends
For they might wake me from this dream
And I can’t leave this bed
Risk forgetting all that’s been

Oh, I am what I am
I’ll do what I want, but I can’t hide
And I won’t go, I won’t sleep, and I can’t breathe
Until you’re resting here with me

And I won’t leave and I can’t hide, I cannot be
Until you’re resting here
And I won’t go and I won’t sleep, and I can’t breathe
Until you’re resting here with me

And I won’t leave and I can’t hide, I cannot be
Until you’re resting here with me

Oh, I am what I am
I’ll do what I want, but I can’t hide
And I won’t go, I won’t sleep and I can’t breathe
Until you’re resting here with me

And I won’t leave and I can’t hide, I cannot be
Until you’re resting here
And I won’t go and I won’t sleep, and I can’t breathe
Until you’re resting here with me

And I won’t leave and I can’t hide, I cannot be
Until you’re resting here with me

Songwriters
DIDO ARMSTRONG, PASCAL GABRIEL, PAUL STATHAM

Published by
Lyrics © TCF MUSIC PUB INC , TCF MUSIC PUBLISHING O/B/O NEW REGENCY MUSIC

Read more: Dido – Here With Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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Atheism is Acquired, and recent studies show it is not natural to the human person

chartres cathedral homeThe Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen once remarked that atheism was not natural to the human person and that it was acquired. He used as his reference St. Paul’s words in Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).

And thus the Holy Spirit, speaking through St. Paul, says that the ungodly  suppress a truth that is plain and available to the human intellect, namely that God exists and is to be honored and thanked. Our capacity to perceive the existence of God is activated by the evidence of God’s power and divinity that is itself perceivable in creation. Hence, to choose to live in an ungodly (atheist) stance is not natural to us, but must be acquired through suppression of the truth and the evidence.

Since this suppression requires effort and an overriding of truth and evidence naturally available to us through our reason, those who engage in this suppression are, as the text says, without excuse. The term suppress is a present active participle in the Greek (κατεχόντων (katechonton), literally “suppressing.” Hence the text implies that atheism requires an ongoing effort to maintain the suppression.

Now of course none of this would mean a thing to an atheist, since I am quoting a sacred text. However, for us who believe, Scripture is a prophetic interpretation of reality. In other words, it tells us what is really going on. Atheists are suppressing the truth in an ongoing way. The reference to their “wickedness” need not be taken to mean that all, or even many atheists are living wicked lives in a comprehensive sense. Rather, it can simply mean that the suppression of the truth of God’s existence and the evidence for it in creation is itself a sin, a form of  wickedness. As such, atheism is not seen by Scripture merely as evidence of bad luck, poor upbringing, or ignorance. Atheism is sinful because it resists what we are naturally equipped to do: perceive God’s existence. And this resistance is described as on ongoing, sinful state since the verb form used is a participle, indicating ongoing action.

A recent article at Science 2.0, describes some recent studies on the capacity of the human mind to perceive and ponder the metaphysical. The term “metaphysical” refers to concepts and realities that are beyond (meta) the physical world. Hence, concepts and realities such as justice, fairness, mercy, and so forth are not seen under a microscope but as real concepts that we not only debate, but which can both cause war and launch great humanitarian acts. Radical materialists deny metaphysics anywhere in the definable world. However, truly radical materialists are very rare, partly because it is so unnatural for humans to “think” this way, or to suppress the truth of metaphysical reality, which so clearly affects us.

I’d like to highlight excerpts of the article in the usual way, using black, bold italics, and include my own remarks in plain, red text. I do not vouch for the credibility of the Science 2.0 site, and I limit my comments simply to what is written in the column. But even if the science of studying this topic is nascent and is disputed by some, it nevertheless remains interesting that some in the field are beginning to discuss whether the human person is naturally wired to perceive and ponder the metaphysical. The full article is here: Atheism Unnatural?

Cognitive scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a metaphysical outlook may be so deeply ingrained in human thought processes that it cannot be expunged … We are born believers, not atheists, scientists say. Humans are pattern-seekers from birth, with a belief in karma, or cosmic justice, as our default setting. “A slew of cognitive traits predisposes us to faith,” writes Pascal Boyer in Nature, the science journal, adding that people “are only aware of some of their religious ideas” …

And this is just what Fulton Sheen once observed: atheism is unnatural to us and is acquired only through effort. There is also reference here to a kind of “meta-narrative” about justice, to which all human beings seem oriented no matter the culture or the era. We have a sense of justice, of right and wrong. I recently featured an article describing the discovery by brain researchers that this sense is apparent even in the youngest children. You can read that article here: Even the youngest children know right and wrong

While the UK is often defined as an irreligious place, a recent survey by Theos, a think tank, found that very few people—only 13 per cent of adults—agreed with the statement “humans are purely material beings with no spiritual element”. For the vast majority of us, unseen realities are very present … In the US, only 20 per cent of people have no religious affiliation, but of these, only one in ten say they are atheists. The majority are “nothing in particular” according to figures published in New Scientist

And this makes sense, since the rejection of God does not necessarily imply a wholesale rejection of the metaphysical, as is proposed by the radical adherents of “scientism.” Scientism is the claim that the physical sciences can and do explain the whole of reality, that there is nothing beyond the physical.

Indeed, it appears that stories exist to establish that there exists a mechanism or a person—cosmic destiny, karma, God, fate, Mother Nature—to make sure the right thing happens to the right person … the stories which become universally popular appear to be carefully composed records of cosmic justice at work

This is what I referred to above as a meta-narrative, which is essentially the set of archetypal stories that illustrate the basic human longing for justice and truth, and the triumph of what is good and true. This is a consistent theme in every culture and in every epoch of recorded human history. It is a remarkably consistent theme that points to its being placed in the human heart and soul, not merely as a learned preference but as an infused attraction to what is good, true, beautiful, and just. Biologists and anthropologists may wish to attribute this merely to a learned biological mechanism that helps survival. But the question still remains as to how the physical can produce the metaphysical. Further, it seems puzzling that this would be a necessary adaptation for survival, since none of the other animals seem to need a meta-narrative, or archetypal stories assuring final triumph of justice, in order to survive.

But if a belief in cosmic justice is natural and deeply rooted, the question arises: where does atheism fit in? Albert Einstein, who had a life-long fascination with metaphysics, believed atheism came from a mistaken belief that harmful superstition and a general belief in religious or mystical experience were the same thing. 

In other words, atheism arose as a response to spiritual extremism and unbalanced or inaccurate notions of God and faith. But they overcorrected by dismissing good faith along with bad or flawed notions.

But as higher levels of education spread, will … atheism sweep the field, as some atheism campaigners suggest? Some specialists feel this is unlikely … The need for periods of contemplative calm in churches or temples or other places devoted to the ineffable and inexplicable will remain. They appear to be part of who we are as humans.

Yes, it is unlikely that we will outgrow what is a fundamental human trait. Faith is not a lack of education; it is a fundamental human quality that may at times go in wrong directions intellectually, but which is innately correct and essential to who and what we are: spiritual as well as corporeal persons.

When looking at trends, there’s also population growth to consider. Western countries are moving away from the standard family model, and tend to obsess over topics such as same-sex marriage and abortion on demand. Whatever the rights and wrongs of these issues, in practice they are associated with shrinking populations …

Touché

Africans and South Asians, on the other hand, are generally religious and retain the traditional model of multi-child families—which may be old-fashioned from a Western point of view, but it’s a model powerfully sanctioned by the evolutionary urge to extend the gene pool.

The power of the womb and the noticeable dying of the culture of death and selfish decadence; faith will out!

“It’s clearly the case that the future will involve an increase in religious populations and a decrease in scepticism,” says Steve Jones, a professor in genetics at University College London, speaking at the Hay Festival in the UK recently … Bad news for pro-atheism campaigners.

Indeed, I frequently get atheists, and also some non-Catholics, who predict the demise of the Catholic Church. I always respond to them that they must not have not read history. In the 2000 years of the Church, empires have come and gone, nations have risen and fallen, theories, heresies, trends, and fads have all sparked and then faded. But the Church is still here. Many have predicted our death, and to quote Chesterton, “We have buried every one of our undertakers.” Where is Caesar, where is Napoleon, where is Stalin, where is the USSR? They are gone, but we are here. I do not write this triumphantly; the Church is ever in need of reform and our numbers may rise and fall, but by the Lord’s promise, the power of Hell will not prevail over His everlasting Kingdom, the Church.

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