THE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL AND DESTRUCTIVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD  SINCE THE GARDEN OF EDEN:  CHURCH LEADERS PROCLAIMING CHRISTIAN JUST WAR THEORY – Part 3

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy (continued)

The tragic and on-going problem of Church leaders—popes, bishops, priests, ministers and pastors—chronically substituting a Way that is contradictory to Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, and then telling themselves, their people and humanity that their way is a Way that is in conformity with or equivalent to or superior to or more realistic than the Way explicitly taught by God-Incarnate, has mammoth and unfathomable, temporal and eternal, repercussions. For as Pope Benedict XVI has written, “Contradictory things cannot be means to salvation. The truth and the lie cannot be ways of salvation.”

For example, burning your enemies at the stake at an auto-de-fe (act of faith), as such murders were called, was taught by Church leaders from popes, to theologians, to saints as a way of salvation and believed by Christians to be a means to salvation for nearly six hundred years. There may have been Church leaders during those centuries who knew very well that the auto-de-fe was not a way to salvation, that it was no more than the evil of murder blasphemously operating under the name of Jesus. But, out of fear of reprisal they said nothing. However, their silence communicated episcopal, theological and saintly assent to this lie and it proclaimed loud and clear to everyday Christians and to all humanity, “This is a way of salvation.”

With such Church leaders running the institutional Churches is it any wonder how Christian just warists—who do not want to follow the Nonviolent Way of Jesus, but desire instead to follow the way of some just war theorist— can so perfunctorily and cavalierly make a deliberated decision not to follow what God-Incarnate has revealed through, with and in Jesus. It is an act of the will, not intellect, that chooses not to teach and not to obey what Jesus unequivocally informs His disciples they must teach and obey, namely, “all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19). 

However, the authority to substitute war or torture or capital punishment for the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as taught by Jesus is given to no Christian, no Christian leader, no Christian group, and no Christian institution by Jesus. The authority that validates this or that Christian just war theory, on behalf of this or that person or nation, as the way of God is not God-Incarnate, the Jesus of the Gospels. Just war theories owe nothing to anything Jesus ever taught or lived.  The authority that backs all just war theories, as well as all just torture theories and all just capital punishment theories, Christian or otherwise, is only some relatively little, concupiscence drenched human consciousness like our own or like that of Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas and millions of others from popes to peons. The Word (Logos) of God, incarnated in and proclaimed by Jesus, is totally opposed to the acts that these theories require and that these authorities teach as compatible with the Way of God—and Jesus says so. If Jesus, God-Incarnate, were to endorse or support the acts demanded by war, torture and capital punishment, He would be contradicting himself and denying His own truth. But,

“God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict itself”

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159).

When Jesus, God-Incarnate, says, “X is the Way,” and someone else says, “Not-X is the Way,” it is critical that the Christian recognize that logically and theologically and morally there is no middle ground between the two. The Principle of Non-contradiction, which governs the use of human language and without which morality could not exist, states, ‘Between two logical and meaningful propositions “X” and “not X” there is no middle ground. If one is true the other is false.’ So for the Christian what does reality, rationality, sanity and moral certainty dictate that he or she or they should do? Follow X or follow Not-X? Can a Christian in the same moral moment follow X and Not-X, obey the source of X and obey the source Not-X, be always faithful, semper fidelis, to X and always faithful to Not-X? It would be ludicrous to even suggest he or she could. A Christian cannot obey two Masters. If choosing to follow, obey and be faithful to both in the same moment is logically, theologically and morally impossible, then a Christian by an act of his or her will must make a deliberate choice as to which Way he or she will commit his or her life, as to which authority he or she will follow because that person teaches the truth. Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies or not-Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is the choice every Christian must make within a human condition saturated with violence and enmity—and again it makes no difference whether the Christian is pope or pew dweller. But, a Christian should be honest with himself or herself and their fellow human beings, and a Church should be honest with itself and the world, and not tell themselves and all humanity that not-Jesus’ Way is Jesus’ Way.

Deceitfulness, added onto defiant disobedience of Jesus and His Way, makes one a very effective agent for placing the yeast of evil in the human dough. If one is a Church leader such decitfullness and difiance transforms one from being a Good Shepherd, in the model of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels, leading his or her sheep, the children of God who have been placed in his or her spiritual care, along the Way of Jesus to the Kingdom of God, into a spiritual Pied Piper of Hamelin playing a tune that leads God’s children into the raging river where both body and soul are destroyed: war, violence and enmity.

“God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict itself.”

“Contradictory things cannot be means to salvation. The truth and the lie cannot be ways of salvation.” 

(To be continued)

-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org or http://www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org

THE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL AND DESTRUCTIVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD  SINCE THE GARDEN OF EDEN:  CHURCH LEADERS PROCLAIMING CHRISTIAN JUST WAR THEORY – Part 2

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy (continued)

The search for God’s truth, like the search for truth in general, morally and rationally necessitates adhering to it, obeying it, once it is found. This is a moral obligation prior to all others. To not believe in Jesus as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” and not follow His Way as the Way, Word and Will of God is rational. But, to believe that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” and not obey His Way is irrational. It is spiritual and theological cacophony and chaos. It cast one’s existence into jeopardy. It is undermining of the entire Christian life and of one’s vocation (L. voco, call) from God to be a Christian. Why?  Because, whatever God reveals is true and God is incarnate in Jesus, “the visible image of the invisible God” (1 Col 1:15ff ), the “the Word who is God” (Jn 1:1) “made flesh” (Jn 1:14 ). 

But, Jesus Way of Nonviolent Love towards all does not work. It cannot work. It is powerless. It is foolhardy. It is unrealistic. It is unreasonable. It is a fantasy meant for a few Christian fanatics,” say the Just Warist Christians Yet, all such objections are invalid and without a scintilla of relevance if the Person, who taught the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies as God’s will, is God. For if He is, then this Way is the Way of God and it will work because it is the wisdom of God and the power of God and the truth of God. That I cannot fathom at this moment in time how it will work is of no consequence. The credibility of the Author and Proclaimer of this Way is beyond all doubt because He is God-Incarnate and I, as a  Christian, have absolute faith in Him as God-Incarnate, and therefore in the truthfulness of all He says is of God.  “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7) with Christ-God along His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. We do not walk by faith as regards knowing the teaching or Way of Jesus, we walk by faith that His teaching and Way are true because of who He is, and therefore we adhere to His Way.

Walking by faith and not by sight,” when God-Incarnate is the revealer of the Way we are walking, is the only rational thing to do. It is the only rational thing to do despite all the hypothetical fears that we may have regarding walking along that Way, or despite how incredibly unrealistic we may judge it to be. When we say that a statement, which we cannot prove by use of empirical evidence, is incredible we mean merely that it is extraordinary. But it should be borne in mind that this is a misuse of language, for the credibility or incredibility of a statement has nothing to do with its intrinsic probability or improbability. The statement’s credibility or incredibility depends solely upon the credentials of the authority of the one whose statement it is. In other words, the credibility of a statement that cannot be verified by empirical evidence is correlative with and proportionate to the credentials of the authority who makes it.

Now the credentials of God are indisputably infinitely superior to those of any human being or any group of human beings. Hence, what God says is supremely credible. His credentials for truth are impeccable. “God does not lie” (Titus1:1, 2). Hence, what God says is “the Way” is the Way beyond all doubt, objection, argumentation or alteration. His Way may not necessarily be what I or any other human being could have or would have arrived at by the use of human reason alone. Its probability of success may seem to be zero from the human perspective. Yet, all such objections are intrinsically invalid and without a scintilla of relevance, if the Person who taught this Way is God. All depends solely upon the credentials of the authority of the person who is communicating, “This is the Way.” And this holds true, whether the Way being taught is the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies unto death as taught by Jesus, or the way of the justified human slaughter and maiming of enemies as taught by some philosopher, theologian, politician, media personality or prelate of distinction. What are the person’s credentials for claiming to know the Way of God, that is the question The credentials of Jesus, of God Incarnate, are impossible to trump, if you are a Christian!

(To be continued)

-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org or http://www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org

THE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL AND DESTRUCTIVE ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF GOD  SINCE THE GARDEN OF EDEN:  CHURCH LEADERS PROCLAIMING CHRISTIAN JUST WAR THEORY – Part 1

Guest article by Fr Emmanuel Mccarthy

“I respect your right to believe that Julius Caesar lived and taught a way of justified violence and enmity but I don’t believe that. I believe he taught a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies.”

Whether Julius Caesar lived and taught a way of violence and enmity or a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies is not a matter of belief. It is a matter of fact. Faith has nothing to do with determining what Caesar taught and lived. Unequivocal and incontestable empirical evidence exists and is available for all to view, e.g., Commentarii de Bello Gallico. This evidence makes it unarguable and morally certain that Julius Caesar lived and taught a way of justified violence and enmity and not a way of nonviolent love of friends and enemies. Billions of dollars worth of advertising may deceive billions of people into believing Julius Caesar was a person of nonviolent love of all, but that does not change the documented fact that he was not.

There is an old gimmick that cardinals, bishops, priests, ministers, pastors, evangelists and your local just war Christians employ with great success when asked why they do not follow the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and teach the Way of Nonviolent Love of all that He taught in relation to violence and enmity. They say, “I respect the right of any Christian, as a disciple of Jesus, to believe in the Way of nonviolence, but I don’t personally believe in that. I believe in the Christian just war theory.

Whether or not a person believes that Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of the Gospels, is “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” is a matter of faith. But the Way Jesus lived, thought, acted and died and the Way He commands His followers to live and to think, to act and to die is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of fact. His teaching is what it is regardless whether a person has faith in Him as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour.

Unequivocal and incontestable empirical evidence as to what Jesus taught, and commanded His Apostles to teach and to obey (Mt 28:19), as His Way exists and is available for all to see in the Gospels. This evidence makes it cl morally certain that Jesus rejected violence and enmity for any reason as part of His Way of life or part of the Way of Life, which His followers should live and teach. “Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19) is a straightforward instructions that any twelve year old could understand whether or not he or she believes in Jesus. That same twelve-year boy or girl would equally have no problem understanding that this instruction does not include “teaching the opposite of what I have commanded you.

The evidence in the Gospels that Jesus totally rejects violence and enmity as part of the Way of life He lives and teaches is as factually and morally beyond reasonable doubt as the evidence that He lives and teaches the total rejection of adultery. Whether Jesus is “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” or not, His teaching, His Way, is a Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Faith plays no part in knowing what Jesus taught. His Way is what it is and it is available for every human being to see. Faith, however, is the determiner of the authority, validity and truth of what Jesus taught, and is therefore the sine aqua non for accepting His Way as the Way of God, the Way of truth, and then choosing day-in and day-out to struggle to live according to it.

Faith and only faith in Jesus as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” spiritually validates as God’s Way the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, which Jesus in fact taught by word and deed, unto being murdered by a gang of religious and secular politicos. But no one needs faith in Jesus as “the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, Lord, God and Saviour” in order to know what He taught as the Way of God, the Way of righteousness, the Way of discipleship. Any literate person can know that for himself or herself. Again, to know His teaching is not a matter of faith. It is a matter of fact. To believe His teaching is the Word, Way and Will of God is a matter of faith in who He is and therefore in His authority and in the truthfulness of His teaching.

(To be continued)

-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org or http://www.emmanuelcharlesmccarthy.org

CatholicScout Ponders: Remedies to Recusant mindset, Elitism and Over-focus on the Mass

This post marks the end of this line of pondering. I have considered three reasons that contribute to the fact that Mass attendance at Traditional Masses has plateaued in England and Wales. Recusant Mindset. Elitism. And Over-focus on the Mass.

How to break out of the Recusant Mindset

As I mentioned, the Recusant mindset is both an instinctual reaction and an ingrained historical memory for English and Welsh Catholics. It is a coping mechanism. So really the way to break out of that is to apply some of the tools of modern psychology. The first hurdle is to identify that the problem exists. Once that is identified and held consciously in mind, Grace can start working in ways it could not before.

The cause of the threat is the “Catholic news” – information. Too much “bad news” creates a panic response. So perhaps a program of recovery around Catholic news obsession would be in order. Seeking a Spiritual Director would be optimal, as he would be able to advise how to carry out that recovery in practice.

I would suspect a Spiritual Director would suggest abstinence from viewing and/or gossiping about “Catholic news”, as a start. A period of voluntary abstinence from all internet media, or something like that.

With all that spare time, one could use it fruitfully in improving one’s personal relationship with God (ideally under guidance of a Spiritual Director). Clearing out any Grace-blocking items from one’s conscience, by careful examination and Confession.

In a way, it is about living life here and now, having Faith, being Holy.

poster saying "keep calm and be holy"How to break out of institutionalised recusancy, for instance in the cases of close-knit Traditional Communities. Maybe situations where the Priest (and therefore Spiritual Director) is also party to this mindset. Well, the recovery of the whole, starts with the recovery of the individual. But if Pastors were able to request their flock to commence a period of abstinence from Internet Media and News, that would be a great start.

Then I hear the clamour “but if we were to abstain from Internet Media and News, how would we hear the good news and advice from CatholicScout?!” – well, just how many bloggers do you hear of suggesting people should abstain from reading Internet Media and News? Not many. I don’t write this blog to get “hits” or “followers”, I write it to bear witness to truths which I have learnt.

I found voluntary abstinence very helpful, so I don’t read Internet media and News before 8.00am or after 6.00pm. I also freely choose not to read Internet media and News from time to time. Instead spending the time doing something fruitful, such as praying a Rosary. Most of all I keep very close to my heart the maxim written above. Keep calm, and be Holy. It works. Remember, ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” Would Jesus be spending His day on Facebook, or surfing for the latest gossip from Rome? No. He would be about doing His Father’s will, and as a result, be Holy.


 

Elitism

In my post on Elitism, I dealt with three manifestations, there are more, but these three are prominent enough that most people will identify them.

The Remedy for Young Fogeyism

Humility. Docility to the Spirit, which whispers to you, when you read the Lord’s Words:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than the meat: and the body more than the raiment?

[…]

And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.

But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.

And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?

Matthew 6:24-29

Do not be solicitous. It doesn’t mean “wear a potato sack”. But if you find this level of abandonment a little to challenging, don’t just shirk away without asking for God to help you to fulfil His counsels. He will help.

After having asked for God’s help in fulfilling His counsels, and having confessed your lack of faith, and infidelity to His counsels. You can always take the path of modesty.

Be modest. Modesty is an off-shoot of humility. The two go together. Modesty seeks not to be noticed, think of it as Catholic Camouflage. How can I not attract attention?

Bright pink socks or black socks? My best gold and green waistcoat or not?

There is nothing sinful about wearing beautiful clothing. There is something very sinful about vanity. If it is for show, or to participate in a show, then it is vanity. Public show of vanity, is really an occasion of public scandal. For here, a sin is being expressed in the public.

So what is the remedy for Vanity? Well, again it is abstinence first, then the practising of it’s opposing virtue humility. Does that mean wandering into Mass in tattered jeans and a t-shirt? Or flagellating oneself publicly while wearing sack-cloth and ashes? No.

Firstly, abstinence. If there is an occasion of sin, one should avoid it. If there is a Mass where there is a public show of vanity, one should probably look to go to Mass elsewhere (if you have such an option!).

Correction of self. The sin that needs to be corrected is within ourselves. I can only cooperate with God’s grace to save my soul. I can’t save anyone elses. So my job is not to police them out there. It is to regulate myself, by cooperating with God’s Grace. The first thing that I can recommend is getting a Spiritual Director (you will see that “get a Spiritual Director” is a running theme…) who is not part of that vain scene.

It should be someone who understands that we want people to be watching Jesus, not looking around in the pews comparing. Shift your focus off you, and others, and on to the Eucharistic Lord. Modesty is the key.

This is Who should be drawing people’s attention, not you.

The Remedy for Traditional Catholic Supremacists

Humility. I think it will be hard for Traditional Catholic Supremacists to let go. So much energy in protecting their Mass. So many years, so much effort. But let go they must.

Humility to adopt new perspectives, to accept new criticisms. Humility to try new things and new approaches. An email correspondence of mine, pointed out that this problem is very similar to a psychological phenomenon he has witnessed. He said it may be recommended if these Supremacists are in groups to humbly and honestly inform themselves of the psychological phenomenon of GroupThink and to practice the precautions regardless. Thank you for that pointer.

Lastly, and this ties to the next Elitist group, transparency! No more secrecy!

The Remedy for Misers and Old Money Catholics

Humility. This out of all three, I think will be the hardest group to remedy. Detachment from money is very, very tough.

Voluntary transparency would be a good manifestation of the humility required to remedy these problems. I know very few people who would voluntarily make their accounts public, but it could be done. It could also be given as a penance by astute pastors…

Of course the Miser or Old Money Catholic could be dishonest in publishing his accounts, but that would be more coals heaped upon their head.

Lastly, I think the people who find Old Money Catholic odious (which I may add, I am included), is the perception that they do not labour for their earnings (ref: 2 Thes & Gen 3). A remedy for such a person would be for them to earn a living, which pays for their bread (not relying on the fat). Transparency of accounts also would go miles to correct it.

What to do with the Old Money itself though? Well I think Rerum Novarum is the way… voluntarily spread it out. Imagine if all the Misers and Old Money Catholics shook off their bonds and pooled the money to set up a Traditional Catholic Building Society, helping Traditional Catholics own property close to other Traditional Catholics?


Over-focus on the Mass

The remedy for the over-focus on the Mass, is a larger problem than the one than the others. The others, with good will, can be self-corrected. Sure sound preaching against these problems will be needed. But the over-focus on the Mass is out of the hands of ordinary people.

There are organisations such as FIUV, who may have the clout to express these issues, but ultimately the response lies in the Church authorities. Pope Benedict XVI promulgated Summorum Pontificum, but the Bishops ignored it. What can you do when Bishops ignore the Pope?

Pope Francis celebrating the Traditional Mass? well we can dream…

If His Holiness Pope Francis, had a sudden blinding conversion to the Traditional Mass, and by some bizarre misdirection was reading this article, I would recommend an addendum to Summorum Pontificum.

Something along the lines of:

It is binding that every Diocesan Bishop shall set up at least one Church per major population centre (over 100,000 inhabitants) that is to be exclusively dedicated in perpetuity to offering the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. These Churches are to be in locations that are easily accessible to the majority of the population, close to the centre and near good public transport terminals. The Diocesan Bishop is free to invite a community to take care of the Church, otherwise he is bound to diligently provide Sacred Ministers for the exclusive celebration of the Vetus Ordo.

So aside from sheer fantasy, I believe that the remedy for this problem is:

For Traditional Priests to educate (and preach) on the Encyclicals of the Popes. Particularly Summorum Pontificum. For Traditional Priests to preach and practice more of the Traditional Devotions (Sunday Rosary, Sermon and Benediction, Procession on the Third Sunday of the Month, Weekly Thursday Holy Hour, October Devotions, Processions, public Novenas etcetera).

For laity to educate themselves on the Encyclicals of the Popes. Particularly Summorum Pontificum. For Laity to practice more of the Traditional Devotionals at home and in public. For them to ask Priests to lead these Devotions.

For photographers, to turn around and photograph the Nave, not too much of the Sanctuary!!


Lastly, of course, in all of these, we will be battling apathy.

Evil reigns when good men do nothing.

CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – Over focus on the Mass

Continuing the series of posts CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – really? and why?. I originally commented briefly on the reasons why Mass attendance in the UK seems to have plateaued. I pointed to our historical response to threat, and how there seems to be a mass instinctual response which is hindering growth.

In the next post, CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – Elitism, I commented on some of the different manifestations of Elitism within Traditional Circles. Young Fogies, Supremacists, Misers and Old Money Catholics.

This article focuses on, what I believe is, the third cause of the stagnation that seems to be occurring;

Over focus on the Mass

I have often witnessed, it’s all about the Mass. Mass. Mass. Mass.

Montage of photos of the Latin Mass

 

People, Priests, groups and organisations attached to the Traditional Rite can often suffer from this over-focus.

What is this over-focus? Partly, I think may be the vestiges of the pre-Vatican II clericalism. That negative clericalism, a mindset that put the Priest as a career. His job; to offer Mass. This clericalism was also a mindset in the laity, saying his job is to say Mass. The focus was the action of the Mass.

Partly, I think it may be connected to my first point, an instinctual reaction. The Mass is the Public Worship of the Church. It is the single most visible action that she conducts. The attack on the Traditional Mass after the Second Vatican Council provoked a reaction. The reaction was an over-focus on protecting the Mass.

What are the consequences of these actions? Well, the loss of the things that surrounded the Mass. Devotionals, the other Sacraments, Spiritual Direction, the list goes on and on.

The problem is, that the Mass by itself, is not enough. And here I come to a theory of mine. I repeat, a theory. I theorise that the implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in Diocesan Churches (in England and Wales) has had an inoculating effect.

Wikipedia to the rescue: Inoculation “Inoculation was a historical method for the prevention of smallpox by deliberate introduction into the skin of material from smallpox pustules. This generally produced a less severe infection than naturally-acquired smallpox, but still induced immunity to it.”

The smallpox we are talking about is Catholic Tradition. Not just the Mass, the whole thing. The way of life.

Translated: The implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in Diocesan Churches (in England and Wales) worked for the prevention of the spread of the Traditional Catholic way of life, by the deliberate introduction into Novus Ordo parishes, selected material from Catholic Tradition (i.e. The Mass). This generally produced a less severe infection, than exclusivity to the Traditional Catholic way of life, but still induced immunity to it.”

Of course, His Holiness Benedict XVI never intended Summorum Pontificum to be used as a tool in this way. But Satan whispers in the ears of those that don’t want to hear Truth. I think that the selective manner of implementation in English and Welsh Dioceses, has been shrewdly and maliciously turned into a tool for immunisation to the “disease” of Tradition.

Just offering the Mass is not enough. It’s all or nothing. You can’t do all of Novus Ordo and all of Vetus Ordo. It’s one or the other. As the Lord says:

No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other.

Matthew 6:24

Of course, back in the day, they understood that. Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Mediator Dei pointed out:

It should be clear to all, then, that God cannot be honoured worthily unless the mind and heart turn to Him in quest of the perfect life, and that the worship rendered to God by the Church in union with her divine Head is the most efficacious means of achieving sanctity.

The Pope says it’s the full thing. Conversion of mind and heart, and the worship rendered to God by the Church in union with her divine Head. Notice, he doesn’t say “the worship rendered to God by the Church in the Mass…”. It’s the full thing. Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction. Along with, Divine Office, preaching, catechesis, education, devotions, Rosary, Prayer, parish life, family life, priest life, religious life, spiritual direction, and on. EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING according to Tradition.

That and only that is as the Pope says “is the most efficacious means of achieving sanctity“.

The Mass by itself, is an island. It is stark, naked and cold. And if it is parachuted into a Diocesan parish alongside Novus Ordo Mass, with all the sacraments and parish life according to the “spirit of Vatican II” it’s no wonder that people will wonder “Sure, the Traditional Mass is beautiful, but I feel so alone”.

So what is the solution? The solution to the instinctual response, the solution to elitism, the solution to over-focus?

These I will answer in the next post.

P.s. If you can think of other reasons that put you or other people off the Traditional Mass, list them in the Comments box below!

CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – Elitism

Continuing on from the post CatholicScout Ponders: Traditional Mass attendance plateaued – really? and why?. I commented briefly on the reasons why Mass attendance in the UK seems to have plateaued. I pointed to our historical response to threat, and how there seems to be a mass instinctual response which is hindering growth.

This article focuses on, what I believe is, the second cause of the stagnation that seems to be occurring;

Elitism

This is a hard subject to put into concrete terms. There are different manifestations

Young Fogeys

There are the “young fogeys”

Yes, there is even a handbook! This is a group of young (usually male) Catholics who spend a little too much time (and money) copying the other young fogeys, that they see at certain Churches that attract a young fogey audience.

Audience is the right word here, for “show” is fundamentally what it is all about. The Churches which attract these people put on a “show”. The young (usually male) Catholics put on “show” too.

The problem is that if you are not putting on a “show” according to the young fogey criteria, then “your not in the club”, chap. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of very good and kind young fogeys, who do are very “inclusive”. What I am pointing out however, is that I suspect that the elitism that is actively and passively projected by this group can put people off the Mass. “I don’t have tweeds and speak “Rah” – I don’t feel welcome“.

Traditional CAtholic supremacists

There are the “Supremacists”, or the “old boys club”. In some way, they could be the modern “Traditional Catholic Scribes and Pharisees”.

What am I not talking about here is the group described in Leviticus 19:32

Rise up before the hoary [meaning: gray] head, and honour the person of the aged man: and fear the Lord thy God. I am the Lord.

I am not talking about our many, many good, holy and much needed brothers and sisters who are advanced in years.

I am talking about a strata of Traditional Catholics who perceive the Traditional Mass as their patrimony, their property to defend (and advocate) as they understand it. This is the group of Traditional Catholics who think that if they are not involved, the world is going to collapse and the Traditional Mass is going to disappear.

I have heard of people calling them “Rad Trads”, the “Fruits and nuts”, but I think that’s probably a bit unfair, and probably isn’t quite the group I am describing. And I need to be careful, I’m not on some anti-intellectual agenda here. It’s okay to be an intellectual, it is okay to be well read. It’s not okay to use those things as a separator between “us and them”.

A lot of people, me included, have taken offense at Pope Francis’ pointed remarks about Traditionalists, but maybe this is the group within Traditional circles that he is referring to. The modern day Traditional Catholic Scribe and Pharisee.

Traditionalist Supremacists have a difficult time stepping down from their pedestals and helping a newcomer through the Mass. The Traditional Supremacist will use “high Church language”, which the average Catholic won’t understand in the slightest.

Our Lord preached against this group in Luke Chapter 14: 8-11

When thou art invited to a wedding, sit not down in the first place, lest perhaps one more honourable than thou be invited by him: And he that invited thee and him, come and say to thee, Give this man place: and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee. Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.

They tend to be quite homogeneous and often will be found in groups, associations and even some organisations. Some symptoms of this group can be (any combination or all);

  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  2. Unquestioned belief in the morality of “the cause”, which causes such Supremacists to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  3. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the Supremacist assumptions.
  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the Supremacist position as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
  5. Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent Supremacist consensus.
  6. Illusions of unanimity among Supremacist members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  7. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the Supremacist group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”
  8. Self-appointed members who shield the Supremacists from dissenting information.

The elitism projected by this group can put people off the Mass. “my thoughts are not appreciated here, I’m not welcome

Misers and OLD MONEY CAtHOLICS

Money is an age old problem, and no group is free of it. Despite Our Lord pointing out;

You cannot serve God and mammon

Matthew 6:24

Here I am not talking about the necessary steps one needs to take to make a living. I am talking about two groups: Misers and Old Money Catholics.

I probably don’t have to explain why misers can put people off – there is nothing quite so off putting as someone who does have money, but does not give of his excess to support his Parish or help his fellow poorer parishioners.

Old Money however, needs some explaining. Wikipedia on Old Money: “The term typically describes a class of the rich who’ve been able to maintain their wealth over multiple generations, often referring to perceived members of the de facto aristocracy in societies which for historical reasons lack an officially established aristocratic class.”

So in England and Wales, for around 500 years it was illegal to be Catholic. The only publicly professing Catholic families that remained were rich land owners who could pay the fines. This effectively wiped out de jure Catholic aristocracy in England and Wales, apart from some very wealthy families (like the Stonors and the Fitzgerald-Howards).

There is today a class of rich Catholics who have been able to maintain their wealth over multiple generations, and are perceived as members of a de facto aristocracy (because formally it was illegal). My concern is, that there are examples of this de facto aristocracy in Traditional circles, which I think may be contributing to why people are put off the Traditional way of life.

How? Well, it’s one thing to have the blessing of inheritance, it is another thing to live off the fat. In some way I think that people can perceive these individuals as doing nothing for their bread. St Paul talks about them in 2 Thessalonians 11-12:

For we have heard there are some among you who walk disorderly, working not at all, but curiously meddling. Now we charge them that are such, and beseech them by the Lord Jesus Christ, that, working with silence, they would eat their own bread.

It goes back to the command issued to Adam as he was cast out of the Garden of Eden – Genesis 3:19:

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.

Now I’m sure some Old Money Catholics will have some beef with what I say here. “But I sweat hard working for the SVP, or the Order of Malta, or this that and the other” – I hear them say. The problem is, that while they are doing plenty of volunteering. That volunteering isn’t paying for their bread. They are observed by others who are earning a wage, which is paying for their bread, and that is off putting.

The Old Money Catholic may well indeed say “ah, those plebs, they are just resentful, that is their problem, not mine”. Well, yes and no. Our Lord talks about being an occasion of sin, and condemns the misers, and just remember Second Thessalonians…

Miserliness and Old Money often go hand-in-hand, and for some reason miserly people and Old Money Catholics seem inordinately attracted to the Old Rite. I don’t know why. Maybe something to do with prestige?

But I do think that these two money issues are a major stink in Traditional Catholic circles. The elitism projected by this group can put people off the Mass. “Over there seem to be the Rich people, who don’t give a penny. Over there seem to be the people who have never sweated for their bread. No place for me here.

N.B. Don’t get me wrong I am not a Communist, putting forward the idea of revolution to redistribute the wealth of the rich to the poor. I am a staunch Distributivist. Not heard of Distributivism? Then you probably have never read Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum, which condemned both Communism and Capitalism.

I will give my thoughts on the solution to these problems in a future post.

Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce

Recently I made this response to the LMS Chairman’s “we’re not facing a heretical Pope”:

Dear Dr Shaw,
Thank you for your post.

I feel that you have omitted something important:

For the Church to say “sorry everyone it seems we’ve been wrong all along” it may also entail saying “sorry everyone it seems that Jesus has been wrong all along”.

This is particularly the case with the Indissolubility of Marriage, since it is not something that the Church has defined using her Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterial Authority (such as in the case of the Assumption, or the Immaculate Conception).

An attack on Indissolubility of Marriage is an attack on the Person of Jesus Christ, and the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.

Of course if the Church has permitted a perversion or betrayal to the teachings of her Divine Lawgiver (as given in the Gospels), then the Church, should, and must repent.

In the case of the sin of Sodomy, the present attack, is not so much on the Person of the Divine Lawgiver, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Nor is it so much an attack on the Inerrancy of Scripture. It is more an attack on the Tradition of the Church.

The law regarding the sin of Sodom comes from the Old Testament, and unlike certain other Old Testament Laws, the Divine Lawgiver did not give any further clarification (such as in the case with Indissolubility of Marriage), so it remained as is.

That which remains, such as that which is passed down through oral tradition, is in the custody of Sacred Tradition.

I think that these are important points to weigh in on your considerations.

Yours respectfully,
CatholicScout

To which Dr Shaw added:

The teaching on sodomy is reiterated by St Paul. Rom 1:27

The problem is that with marriage a new teaching will always be presented as an interpretation, not denial, of Scripture. The reason Catholics are more secure in how we understand Our Lord’s words on divorce is because we have an authoritative interpretation through Tradition.

These subjects have brought to my attention the issue of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Saints.

Dr Shaw is correct, St Paul does condemn sodomy in Romans 1:27, thus showing that the law regarding the sin of Sodom is continued in the Church (and for all time).

Dr Shaw rightly points out the issue of “a new teaching will always be presented as an interpretation“. In researching my response to this, I came across an excellent article titled “Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce by Monsignor Matthew Smith, 1921″ – posted on catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com which I copy here in its entirety for your convenience:



Catholic Laws on Marriage and Divorce

by Monsignor Matthew Smith, 1921

The Catholic attitude on marriage is not debatable for anyone who is really willing to live by the doctrine of the Scriptures. Here are some of the Biblical references to marriage: “Whilst her husband liveth she shall be called an adulteress if she be with another man” (Romans vii, 3). “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her” (Mark x, 11). “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder” (Matt. xix, 6). “Everyone that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Luke xvi, 18). “To them that are married, not I, but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband: and if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife (I Cor. vii, 10-11). “A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will: only in the Lord” (I Cor. vii, 39).

The reason why Christian marriage is monogamous is because Jesus has made it a figure of the union of Christ with His Church. The union of the Master with the Church is extraordinarily close. We are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones, to use the striking words of St. Paul in Ephesians. The Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage is defined in the Scriptures in this fashion: “A man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be two in one flesh” (Genesis ii, 24). Christ merely restored marriage to the pristine condition God intended it to have from the very beginning. Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, God permitted divorce to the Jews; but there is absolutely nothing in all the Christian dispensation that gives the Church permission to grant any divorce in Christian marriage with the right to remarry.

All the loose legislation on divorce in the dissenting denominations rests upon the assumption that it is impossible to live a happy or decent single life. Separation has to come in some marriages. If a man is always abusive, a drunkard, or a libertine; or if a woman is an adulteress or a spendthrift who cannot manage a home; or if there are other grave reasons, a divorce without the right to remarry is permissible. But it is possible for these people to live both happily and virtuously without remarrying. The Catholic Church knows; she has had plenty of experience with celibates, far more than any other organization. God never commands what He does not give the strength to accomplish; there is no question about the fact that He has definitely commanded the Catholic legislation on Matrimony.

Many arguments can be brought forward to show that, from a social welfare standpoint, the Catholic legislation is ideal. But the reason why we obey it is not particularly for these reasons, but because Christ commanded it. Our chief concern is to save souls. We are not running after mere earthly goals. We are not conducting a Church simply as a sociological experiment. We are glad, indeed, that Catholicity in action turns out to be the best sociology; but that is incidental.

We obey Christ because we deem Him to be God. We are here for a brief space on probation, and then we are to be judged. Our happiness or sorrow throughout eternity depends on the way we now obey Him. Hence the argument that we hold before the man or woman struggling with the question of obedience or disobedience to the Christian law of marriage comes down simply to this: Are you willing to jeopardize eternal happiness for a few brief years of tarnished happiness in this world? That, after all, is the only question that must be answered.

Those who oppose our marriage legislation try to make out that the Church has no right to interfere in such delicate and purely personal matters. Inasmuch as Christ is God, and Christ said that she has, we side with Christ. Modern man did not make the world; God made it; God made the laws, natural and supernatural, by which we will be judged. Christ taught that we should center our attention on the next world, not on this. He did not make Christianity a worldly religion in any sense; He often declared that it is wholly opposed to the spirit of the world. He compared the living of a Christian life with His carrying of the Cross to Calvary. We do not promise easy salvation to anybody. It is far easier to damn one’s soul than to save it; but, nevertheless, a sincere attempt to save one’s soul brings such peace that Christ was able to call the yoke sweet and the burden light.

Matrimony is the sacrament that unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage. God instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden (Gen. ii, 24) and Christ raised the contract among baptized people to the dignity of a sacrament. The primary object of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring; the second purpose is mutual assistance and the remedy for concupiscence. Large numbers of people outside the Catholic Church put the secondary purpose above the first, and this explains why marriage is falling more and more into contempt among them. The essential qualities of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage receive their peculiar firmness by reason of the sacrament.

St. Paul in Ephesians v tells what a Christian marriage should be like. “So also,” he says, “ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever hateth his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ does the Church, because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. ‘For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh.’ This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular love his wife as himself: and let the wife fear her husband.”

Jesus Christ Himself said, when asked (Matt. xix) whether divorce was to be permitted by Him (it had been allowed by Moses because of the hardness of the Jews’ hearts), “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” When His questioners argued with Him, He went on to say that anybody who put away his wife and married another committed adultery, and whoever married her that was put away committed adultery. In Matt. v, Jesus also warned that whoever put away his wife, except for good reasons, was to be held equally guilty of whatever adultery she might commit. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for the cause of fornication, maketh her to commit adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away committeth adultery.”

The Catholic Church holds that a married couple can separate when grave spiritual or temporal good of either party demands it. Christ mentions only fornication in the instance above, because it is the chief reason for which this separation is permitted. But remarriage of either before the other’s death is not allowed.

Owing to the exceptions made by Christ in regard to fornication, in Matt. xix and v, many non-Catholics hold that absolute divorce with remarriage is permitted to the innocent party in a case where adultery has occurred. But this has never been the teaching of the Catholic Church. Other texts in the Bible prove that Christ did not intend the permission of absolute divorce in any consummated Christian marriage. The Council of Trent has settled this matter for Catholics. Christ was referring to simple separation, not to absolute divorce, when speaking of fornication.

If the texts are to be used in justifying remarriage of the innocent party in divorce cases growing out of fornication, remarriage of the guilty person would also have to be legalized. But this is so foreign to all other texts about divorce in the New Testament, and to the spirit of Christianity in general, that the question is not debatable. Furthermore, the saving phrase in the text “excepting for the cause of fornication,” refers only to the first clause, not to the second.

Jesus, in Mark x, 11, 12, made the unqualified statement that absolute divorce is not allowable. “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” Again in Luke xvi, 18, Jesus is quoted as absolutely forbidding divorce with remarriage. “Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put from her husband committeth adultery.”

St. Paul in I Cor. vii, 10-11, also makes it clear that divorce of Christians with remarriage is forbidden. No exception whatever is made. “But to them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband. And if she depart, that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.”

Again, in verse 39, St. Paul declares the same truth, making no exception whatever: “A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband die, she is at liberty: let her marry to whom she will; only in the Lord.” In Romans vii, 2, 3, St. Paul again explicitly states that a woman who is fulfilling marital relations with another man while her husband is living is an adulteress, but a wife is free to marry again when her husband dies.


Separation of Married Couples

Married persons are obliged to live together in conjugal relations, unless a just cause frees them from this obligation. If one of the two commits adultery, it is reason for the other to live apart, unless the party that wishes to leave consented to the crime, or was the cause of it, or committed the same crime himself or herself. Tacit condoning of the crime means living in marital relations with the guilty person, without bringing legal accusation or leaving the person within six months.

Other reasons that justify separation are: If one party joins a non-Catholic sect; educates the offspring as non-Catholics; leads a criminal and despicable life; creates great bodily or spiritual danger to the other party; or if through cruelties he or she makes living together too difficult; and for other such reasons, which are to the innocent party so many legal causes to leave the guilty party by authority of the Bishop, or also by private authority, if the guilt of the other party is certain beyond doubt, and there is danger in delay.

Except in case of adultery, the common life must be restored when the reason for the separation ceases. But, if the Bishop pronounced the separation for a certain time or indefinitely, the innocent party is not obliged to return during this allotted period or until the Bishop orders it. In case of adultery, the innocent party is not under compulsion ever to readmit the sinner. The innocent one, however, has the right to take back the sinner, and even compel him or her to return, unless the sinner in the meantime has, with the consent of the innocent party, embraced a state of life contrary to marriage, like going into a religious community.



Catholic Sources in Defense of the Indissolubility of Marriage

“The union of husband and wife has from the very beginning had stamped and impressed on it two peculiarly striking characteristics in order that it might more adequately correspond with the wise counsels of God; these are unity and perpetuity. . . . This we see declared and patently confirmed in the Gospel by the Divine authority of Jesus Christ Who testified to the Jews and to the Apostles that Matrimony, even from the time of its institution, ought to be only between two, a man and a woman, that of those two were made one flesh, and that the marriage bond was by God’s will so intimately and closely knit that it can be neither dissolved nor broken by any man: ‘A man . . . shall cleave to his wife and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two but one flesh’ (Mt. xix, 5-6).

“Christ restored marriage to its state of primitive excellence when He condemned the morals of the Hebrews who had many wives and who misused the permission to put away their wives; for He sternly forbade anyone to dare dissolve what God had bound by a perpetual bond of union. When He had solved the difficulties alleged from the decisions given by Moses, He, in the Person of the Supreme Lawgiver, laid down this law for married people: ‘And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. (Mt. xix, 9).

“A Christian marriage which has been consummated is complete in every respect, and should therefore possess more firmness and more stability than any other. If God had so willed, it could have been made dissoluble by adultery, as the Greeks and Protestants claim it is. But the Catholic Church has always maintained that there is no evidence of any such divine disposition, and consequently the principle holds good: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

“The Church is the best interpreter of the law of Christ and when she teaches that a ratified and consummated marriage, and this alone, is absolutely beyond human power to dissolve, it is a certainty. The ultimate reason must be sought in the Divine Will. Its sacramental character alone would not give it this firmness, but in addition the contract must be consummated. The Church has defended this doctrine always even against powerful princes and in the face of serious temptation.”

(Excerpts from Leo XIII, Arcanum divinae Sapientiae, Feb. 10, 1880).


St. Augustine, De Adulterinis conjugiis, i, 9:

“If, then, we were to say: “Whosoever marries a woman put away by her husband for any other cause than fornication commits adultery, we should certainly be saying what was true; yet it does not therefore follow that we can pronounce him innocent who marries a woman who has been put away because of her fornication; we have not the remotest doubt but that they are both of them adulterers. And in the same way we pronounce him an adulterer, who for some other cause than fornication, puts away his wife and marries another; yet we do not on that ground pronounce innocent of adultery a man who puts away his wife because of her fornication, and then marries another. We regard both of them as adulterers, although the sin of one is graver than that of the other.” (P.L., xl, 456.)

St. Augustine, De Nuptiis et Concupiscentiis, i,10:

“Now since not only fecundity, whose fruit is offspring, nor chastity, whose safeguard is fidelity, but also a certain nuptial Sacrament is set before the married members of the faithful, for the Apostle says: ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church’ (Ephes. v, 25), it follows that the ‘thing’ of this Sacrament consists in husband and wife remaining inseparable for the rest of their lives once they have been joined in wedlock, and in the unlawfulness of separation between partners except it be because of fornication (Mt. v, 32). But if a man has done so (taken another wife during the lifetime of his former partner) then by the Gospel law he is guilty of adultery, as also is the wife if she marries another (Mt. xix, 8-9), though not so by the law of this world whereby, owing to divorce, marriage can be added to marriage and no legal crime incurred; in fact, as the Lord Himself testifies, even holy Moses conceded this to the people of Israel owing to the hardness of their hearts. Between married people, then, there remains, so long as they live, a certain conjugal bond which neither separation nor subsequent union with another can remove. But this bond then remains, not as a bond of fidelity, but as the penalty of a crime; just as the soul of an apostate who withdraws from Christ’s espousals, even though his faith has gone, does not lose the Sacrament of faith which he received in ‘the laver of regeneration.'” (P.L., xliv, 420.)

“No one is permitted to know a woman other than his wife. The marital right is given you for this reason: lest you fall into the snare and sin with a strange woman. ‘If you are bound to a wife do not seek a divorce'; for you are not permitted, while your wife lives, to marry another.” (St. Ambrose–A.D.387)”Do not tell me about the violence of the ravisher, about the persuasiveness of a mother, about the authority of a father, about the influence of relatives, about the intrigues and insolence of servants, or about household financial losses. So long as a husband lives, be he adulterer, be he sodomite, be he addicted to every kind of vice, if she left him on account of his crimes he is still her husband still and she may not take another.” (St. Jerome–A.D. 396)

“The practice is observed by all of regarding as an adulteress a woman who marries a second time while her husband yet lives, and permission to do penance is not granted her until one of them is dead.” (Pope Innocent I.– A.D. 408)

“Just as a woman is an adulteress, even though she seem to be married to a man, while a former husband yet lives, so also the man who seems to marry her who has been divorced does not marry her, but, according to the declaration of our Saviour, he commits adultery with her.” (Matthew 14:24–Origen A.D. 248)

“That Scripture counsels marriage, however, and never allows any release from the union, is expressly contained in the law: ‘You shall not divorce a wife, except for reason of immorality.’ And it regards as adultery the marriage of a spouse, while the one from whom a separation was made is still alive. ‘Whoever takes a divorced woman as wife commits adultery,’ it says; for ‘if anyone divorce his wife, he debauches her'; that is, he compels her to commit adultery. And not only does he that divorces her become the cause of this, but also he that takes the woman and gives her the opportunity of sinning; for if he did not take her, she would return to her husband.” (Clement of Alexandria–A.D. 208)


Trent, Sess. xxiv, De Sacramento Matrimonii:

“Can. v.     If any one shall say that the bond of matrimony can be dissolved for the cause of heresy, or of injury due to cohabitation, or of willful desertion; let him be anathema.”

“Can. vii.     If any one shall say that the Church errors when she has taught, and now teaches, that according to the doctrine of the Gospels and of the Apostles the bond of Matrimony cannot be dissolved owing to the adultery of one of the partners, and that neither party, not even the innocent party who has not by committing adultery given any ground (for separation), is free to contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other partner, and that he who after putting away his adulterous wife marries another, commits adultery, or the wife who after putting away an adulterous husband marries another, let him be anathema.”

Pius IX, The Syllabus, Condemns the following assertion:

“The marriage bond is not indissoluble by the law of nature, and in various cases divorce strictly so-called can be sanctioned by the civil authorities.”–Condemned

(Acta Pii IX, I, iii, 703)

Explanation of Canon 1069 of the 1917 Code of Cannon Law:

Persons who attempt marriage while bound by the impediment of the bond of previous marriage are declared to be infamous by the Code; after due warning they are to be punished by the ordinary with excommunication or personal interdict.(30) By a decree of the III Plenary Council of Baltimore,(31) automatic excommunication is visited upon those who dare to attempt marriage after a civil divorce. One guilty of this offense is also suspected of heresy as if denying the dogma defined by the Council of Trent regarding the unity of marriage.(32) If he actually thought he was free to enter the second marriage and contumaciously affirmed this, he would be a heretic and subject to the penalties visited upon heretics in canon 2314. Such a criminal is also irregular.(33) Unless his action is occult, he is also a public sinner, to be denied admission to the sacraments(34) and to associations of the laity,(35) as well as Christian burial.(36) Outside the case of urgent necessity the delinquent cannot be given absolution merely on the promise to put away the person with whom he is living in adultery; actual reform and cessation of concubinage is required.

30. Cf. can. 2356.
31. Acta, no. 124. Cf. II Plen. Council of Baltimore, Ada, nos. 326-27.
32. Gasparri, op. cit., no. 559; ct. Conc. Trident., sess. XXIV, de matrimonio, can. 2;
Schroeder, Council of Trent, p. 181.
33. Cf, commentary on can. 985, 3.
34. Cf. commentary on can. 855.
35. Ct. commentary on can. 693, 1.
36. Ct. commentary on can. 1240, 1, 6.

Prayer in an Unhappy Marriage

O God, Lord and Director of my life, You have placed me in the state of marriage. In it I hoped for joy and happiness, but alas! I experience only tribulation upon tribulation. But this is Your will. O Heavenly Father, may Your will be done! You place before my eyes Your only, Your well-beloved Son, Whose whole life here below was the hard way of the cross. You call upon me to follow Him. I will do, 0 Lord, what You demand of me. I thank You from my heart for Your love in treating me as You treated Your well-beloved Son, eternal with Yourself, and equal to You in essence. But behold my weakness! Have pity on my cowardice! I know that, without Your special grace, I shall be unable to bear my cross as I should. Give me what You demand of me, and then ask what You will. Give me Your most amiable Son, as You gave Him to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, that He may be always with me, to counsel and assist me, to preserve and daily confirm me in Your love. Place me in the open wound of His Heart. Fill me with His meekness and humility.

Grant me a share in His fortitude, and I shall be able to endure all things. Lord, send me sufferings, trials, and tribulations as numerous and as heavy as seems good to You; but, at the same time, increase my patience and resignation. Teach me, after the example of my sweet Savior, to repay evil with good, angry words with silence or gentle replies; to merit Your favor by a strict fulfillment of duty, and, by ready obedience and constant, faithful love, gain my husband’s (wife’s) heart for You. Preserve us, Almighty God, from the deceits of the evil spirits and from the malicious, or perhaps well-meant, though foolish language and counsels of silly people. Grant us peace and harmony, true affection and forbearance, devout sentiments and holy fear, that we may cheerfully labor, pray, and suffer with and for each other. May we tread together the way of Your holy Commandments and together reap the reward of our good works for an endless eternity! Grant us this, Heavenly Father, for the love of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as also of all the saints who, in the married state, sanctified themselves and attained eternal life. Amen.


Other related links to the Sacrament of Matrimony from catholicharboroffaithandmorals.com