2 November 2015

Prayer for the Dead and Communion for adulterers

I have a theory about some at least of the Prayers for the Departed in some early Sacramentaries: I think some of the collects were designed to pray for people who were Public Penitents and had died before they could complete their Penance and receive formal Public Absolution from the Bishop (on some such liturgical occasion as Maundy Thursday). An example at the end of this post*.

So what? Wozzat got to do with The Only question That Matters Now Both To 'Liberals' And To 'Traddies'?  Id est: Holy Communion Or Not for folks that are shacked up with a new 'Partner' or ''Spouse''.

Some of those prelates or theologians who either come themselves from the Land of the Knockwurst or else are aligning themselves with the Knackwurst Tendenz (presumably in the hope of Preferment) carry on as though Adultery as a Problem in the Life of the Church is a modern phenomenon which has suddenly ambushed us and about which the Church has never had to take a position in the past. This seems to me a priori improbable ... unless you can show me persuasive peer-reviewed papers in respectable academic periodicals demonstrating that the imperatives of the human genitals and of their attendant hormonal systems have radically changed within the last couple of generations.

No ...?

In the early centuries of the Church's life, not only were people who fell into Adultery required, obviously, to give it up; having given it up, they were required also to do a substantial period of Public Penance ... Prayer ... Fasting ... Exorcisms ... Exclusion from Holy Communion ... before receiving Absolution and returning to the Church's sacramental life.

Yes ... don't we have it easy now in comparison ... the Church has already brought in every conceivable expression of Mercy except for the one last thing which she cannot offer: agreement that Sin is not sinful; agreement that the Adultery does not need to be given up. Perhaps that is what lies at the root of the current crisis: the Evil One has worked so skilfully over the centuries and millennia that the Church now has finally no room left for manoeuvre ... her back is right up against the wall; she now has but two options only: to stand and fight; or to say "Oh all right then ... I suppose it doesn't really matter ...".

Think about it.

Here's that ancient Collect:
*Omnipotens et misericors Dominus, in cuius omnis humana condicio potestate consistit: animam famuli tui N, quaesumus, ab omnibus absolve peccatis; ut paenitentiae fructum quem voluntas eius optavit, praeventus mortalitate non perdat.
[Almighty and merciful Lord, in whose power the whole human condicion stands: absolve, we beseech thee, the soul of thy servant N from all his sins: that he may not lose the fruit of Penance which his will hoped for ... even though Death got to him first ...] Verona Sacramentary.


Deacon Augustine said...

"she now has but two options only: to stand and fight; or to say "Oh all right then ... I suppose it doesn't really matter ..."."

If Scalfari is to be believed (all his other revelations have proven to be more or less accurate), then it appears that the Pope is about to teach the latter of those two options. I wonder whether we are prepared to "resist him to his face."?

Anonymous said...

Fr H, I’m not bright enough always to understand your discourses but I do enjoy the satisfying mix of, as it were, sacred and profane - the gamut running from “persuasive peer-reviewed papers” and “imperatives of the human genitals” to “Knockwurst Tendenz” and “folks shacking up”. It’s as if a scholarly first draft has been proof-read and re-interpreted by a columnist from The Sun.

deBop said...

Yes, but to quote (again) John Paul II from paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio, "there is in fact a difference between," say, on the one hand, two who amicably agree that a mistake was made and who both then go on to form conjugal-like relationships with others, and, on the other hand, a selfish spousal cheat who wreaks pain and havoc in the lives of his wife and children.

The interesting question is: what is the nature of this "difference" that John Paul II adverted to? I believe "traddies," and others who love to indiscriminately shout out "adulterer, adulterer," should make an effort to set out an answer to this question for us.

Is it not possible that one may indeed be an adulterer and yet, because of the circumstances under which the adulterous acts are committed, not have the guilt of sin imputed to one?

GOR said...

One of the unfortunate things about this pontificate is that so often we get ‘news’ at second (or third…) hand. Pope Francis’ penchant for personal phone calls to assorted people who then publicize them – interpreted subjectively or from fallible memory – is fraught with danger and subject to misinterpretation.

Thus, we’re left with: what did the Pope really say? As Pope Francis is not given to clarifying what he actually said – nor should he have to, regarding what he expected were private communications – it gives rise to speculation and confusion.

But from previous experience, one would expect more circumspection from him regarding private communications (“Once bitten, twice shy…”), rather than risk confusing people and generating controversy.

Or, is that his intent in ‘making a noise’…?

Paul Hellyer said...

“folks shacking up” is correct terminology. Calling it 'marriage' is pandering to the world and its false values. Sooo what's the next step? A Pope who goes against Our Lord can't be seriously listened to.
Will the bishops stand up to him? Will he get the sack? Will there be a schism?
What are we to do?
Strike the shepherd and scatter the sheep seems to be happening right now . . .

Anonymous said...

If Rorate correctly reported what Scalfari wrote that the Pope said....it's all the bishops' fault. They "accepted" the "principle" at the Synod. "¡Hagan mucho lio!"

Jacobi said...

What gets me is why are we all obsessing with adultery. I mean there are so many sins to choose from. The seven deadly, and the four that cry out to Heaven for vengeance, and one or two others I could think of?

I mean if its all right to run off with the bird, sorry the distraught lady next door, leaving your wife and children, well why not all the others, sins I mean?

And why are we obsessing about Holy Communion, which we are required only to receive once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts, and the right of all, but all, to receive as and when?

Now it couldn't have anything to do with an ultimate denial of the Real Presence could it, or is that just my nasty suspicious mind?

Highland Cathedral said...

I was an absolute dunce at school when attempting to learn Latin so I cannot vouch for anybody’s translation of the document into English but the version on the Vatican website does differ significantly from the version given by deBop.

“Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is in fact a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned, and those who through their own grave fault have destroyed a canonically valid marriage. Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children's upbringing, and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.
Together with the Synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace. Let the Church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother, and thus sustain them in faith and hope.
However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples."
I think that that is perfectly clear. As far as Communion goes, it does not matter what people might think subjectively about their situation; it is the objective reality which matters.

Kathleen1031 said...

deBob, you may feel comfortable leaving that hair-splitting act with your local bishop, but I would not. There are no people running around crying "Adulterer, adulterer". This is what the left uses to try to manipulate the faithful, the implication being that the faithful are being Pharisees, holding others to a standard they themselves don't follow. That is far from the truth. What we are talking about is sacrilege, because we would be departing, the Church that is, from the teaching we have held since Jesus gave it to us, about when it is and is not appropriate to receive the Holy Eucharist. And it is not just about this issue, immense as that is. These are dominos, and once you knock one over...

Nicolas Bellord said...

Highland Cathedral: Instead of quoting the actual text of 'Familiaris Consortio' it is surely preferable to rewrite it as the 'Instrumentum Laboris' did by changing 'to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass' to 'participation in the celebration of the Eucharist' and then leave out that tiresome sentence about not being allowed to receive the Eucharist. A sentence that got left out of the final Relatio as well. Instead you have confused us with the facts!

deBop said...

Dear Highland Cathedral, Kathleen,

If all objectively adulterous relationships are the same with respect to their objective adulterousness, then why does John Paul II speak of differences? What difference could these differences possibly make to the objective reality?

Are they such that, because of them, a discerning pastor may objectively assign more or less sinful culpability to those who persist in adulterous relationships? So that, for example, a willfully abandoned young mother of an infant, who subsequently forms a stable, longterm adulterous relationship, not least for the benefit she perceives might accrue to her child, may be adjudged less culpable on that account than a willfully abandoning cad who does the same to satisfy his lusting vanity?

And if this is true, and if one is obliged per John Paul II's teaching to take account of the differences that render it true, then must it not be acknowledged that circumstances might so mitigate culpability that the soul of the persister in adultery may no longer be accounted mortally endangered because of that persistence? And if this is so, would it not be objectively wrong to withhold access to the sacraments for such a one?

And why, finally, is persisting in the objective wrong of illegitimately denying Holy Communion not itself a stepping out onto a slippery slope?

jasoncpetty said...

I'm wondering, perhaps daftly, what basis I have for disputing those who deny the validity of the Consecration at all OF/NO Masses? the validity of the Consecration at a particularly debased OF/NO Mass?

To use the language of Familiaris Consortio: if these deniers are "subjectively certain in conscience" that the "irreparably destroyed [general rite/form or a particular celebration] had never been valid," then who am I to judge?

In other words, what other sacraments are now presumed invalid, or only valid on the basis of the decision rendered in the internal forum or, worse, in the conscience of the faithful?

Remnant Clergy said...

Francis will say that it doesn't matter, the only question being how, whether directly (e.g. Scalfari) or devolution to episcopal conferences.

Nicolas Bellord said...

deBop: There is a difference between the culpability of the sinner and the gravity of the sin. Adultery is always wrong but of course the culpability varies as you suggest. However once a person who has divorced and remarried approaches the Church they should be apprised of the wrongness of their situation regardless of their culpability. Their conscience may have told them it was okay but a priest would need to tell them of the irregularity of their situation so that their conscience becomes an informed conscience and they realise the truth of their situation. Think of someone shooting someone dead. There may be practically little or no culpability on the part of the killer but the victim is just as dead.
The act is wrong.