Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thoughts on conscience by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki:

It is important to set the record straight about some incorrect statements made by John Freml in his letter to the editor (December 21, 2015). He notes that Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago has said that people in “irregular” situations, such as those who are divorced and civilly remarried and those who are in same-sex government marriages, should work with a spiritual director to come to a decision “in good conscience” about receiving Holy Communion.
Of course, those who are in “irregular situations” should talk to a qualified spiritual director or a priest in the context of sacramental confession, but forming a “good conscience” means that they will recognize and repent of their sins, resolve to reform their lives in accord with Christ’s teachings and receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion.
According to the canon law of the Catholic Church, Canon 916 directs those “conscious of grave sin” to refrain from receiving Holy Communion. Individuals must form their consciences in accord with Church teaching. Conscience assesses how a person’s concrete action in a given situation accords with Church teaching — not to determine whether one agrees with or accepts Church teaching in the first place.
Canon 915, however, in contrast with Canon 916, directs ministers of Holy Communion to withhold the Sacrament, not from “sinners” per se (since no one can read the state of another person’s soul), but rather, from those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” In Catholic tradition, attempting marriage following a civil divorce without a declaration of nullity and entering a “same-sex marriage” are examples of the kind of gravely wrong public action that require ministers not to admit to Holy Communion those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” under Canon 915.
When withholding holy Communion from those whose conduct is described in Canon 915, a minister is not assessing personal “worthiness,” but rather, is acting in accord with an age-old sacramental discipline designed to protect both the Sacrament from the risk of possible sacrilege and the faith community from the harm of scandal caused by someone’s public conduct that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Thus, when Mr. Freml says that people may receive Holy Communion in such cases “even when the church hierarchy says that they should not,” this is simply not true. It is true that Jesus welcomes everyone. But as Jesus said at the last supper, so we say in the Eucharistic prayer at Mass, Jesus poured out his blood “for you and for many,” since not everyone accepts what Christ offers, just as Judas did not accept what Christ offered him.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Learning to Love.

Maybe one way of learning how to show love to our husbands, our wives, our children and neighbors, is to begin by saying it to God. Surely the rest will follow.

"It is our part to seek, His to grant what we ask; ours to make a beginning, His to bring 
it to completion; ours to offer what we can, His to finish what we cannot."
St. Jerome

Be not afraid to tell Jesus that you love Him; even though it be without feeling, this is the way to oblige Him to help you, and carry you like a little child too feeble to walk.
St. Therese of Lisieux

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On Solitude and Loneliness

morning prayer

Solitude is not loneliness and loneliness is not simply being alone.
Loneliness is a condition of the heart, not the circumstances of life. When one is lonely there is a lack of knowing love in the depth of the human heart. Loneliness is a symptom of the yawning absence at the foundation level of each human person. It is an unhappiness at being alone which grows into a restless search for something–we know not what.
So we spend an enormous amount of time, money and energy trying to fill that gap. We try to fill it with entertainment, drugs, sex, possessions, family, friends, career. In a multitude of ways we try to fill that gap, then when all those things are over the gap is still there because we never succeeded in filling it because we were trying to satisfy a hunger with the wrong thing.
Feeding the hunger for love with everything else but love is like trying to nourish your physical hunger with anything else but food. You will not make hunger go away by drinking water or taking pills or doing exercise or sitting still and taking deep breaths and telling yourself you are not hungry.
You need food.
So your heart also needs Love. I capitalize “Love” because I am not referring to human love, (although that helps to fill the gap). I am referring to the Divine Love. We are made for God. We hunger for God’s love and that is the only thing that will satisfy the hunger.
Loneliness is the deprivation of the knowledge of that Divine Love. That’s why you can be lonely in a crowd. That’s why you can be lonely at a party. That’s why you can be lonely in a family. That’s why you can be lonely in a marriage.
The monastic life (and the word comes from monos–to be alone) is a witness to the truth that the human person is able to be solitary but not alone. The photograph is of a Carthusian monk–hermits who live the most complete life of solitude as hermits.
The solitary hermit has learned that he can live in complete peace with no one but God. This is the witness the hermit gives to the whole church. He says to me and he says to you–“See, I am a living illustration of the truth that God will supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory!” (Philippians 4:19) The hermit says, “See, I live in this cell with nothing but God. I am a living witness to the truth that you do not need all that ‘stuff’ in your life to make you happy. I am happy with nothing but God!”
Finally, the hermit is a living witness that the follower of Jesus Christ needs never to be lonely. We may be solitary, but we do not need to be lonely. We can move out of loneliness by developing a life of prayer, and through the life of prayer we will learn that “He who has God is lacking in nothing.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Did the Second Vatican Council Accomplish What It Set Out to Do?

The media had very little impact on Vatican I, but by Vatican II, you have a full-blown media blast. There was no planning or provision for dealing with this at the Vatican. The secular media took tremendous interest in the Council and did a tremendous amount to interpret what the Council was about. Bishops participating in the Council got more information from outside (from the media) than from inside the Council. This was a very unfortunate situation. There was no provision for the Council to communicate within itself.
The way the media covered the Council built up a lot of push behind the things the secular media wanted. The things they were for received a tremendous amount of publicity and consideration. They were cheered on.
The secular media, in general, have been, increasingly in my lifetime, not in the business of reporting, but in promoting. They’re trying to bring about change in the world, rather than being concerned primarily with accuracy. I think they were very skillful in “playing up” people. Promoting the “right” ideas became a very big thing, and if you disagreed with what they considered the “right” ideas, you didn’t get much coverage; the media didn’t mention it. If you had a good argument, you never heard anyone repeat it. Even the telling of the story was a falsification, because the arguments were over-simplified and important points left out.