Well, it has been hard to get a lot of clear space to read the apostolic exhortation, but I am over a third the way through it. As yet, I’ve suffered no paroxysms or cataclysms. It is rather good in parts. There are a couple of parts pregnant with ambiguity, and I have not yet got to the controversial stuff. There is at least one missed opportunity.
As the Holy Father himself suggested, I am reading this with care and attention, and without rushing. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon I will be in a position to offer comment on it. Many commentators will already have put their oars in the choppy waters, but I shall refrain from reading them for now. Dr Stephen Bullivant’s generously-sized news bite is all I have allowed to intrude so far, other glancing at the secular media headlines proclaiming Francis is saying yes to everyone but homosexuals. But we all know they have their own agenda to pursue. Please do not let the secular media provide your commentary on this document. The Tablet‘s headline is just as mischievous, having a different, though related, agenda.
If I offer anything tomorrow, it will not be a systematic commentary but some reactions and observations, especially on points that some may likely have glossed over. However, so far no foundations have been rocked.
If you have, or have seen, any strong reactions from the Catholic world please do let me know of them. I won’t read them till I have finished the document, but they might serve as good measures for my/our own reactions.
Oh, yes. I have changed the design of this blog. The near collision of post titles with their dates in the headings in the previous theme was beyond my control and driving me potty (-er). It was time to move on. Best to minimise annoyances!
The day that we have been expecting with either excitement or dread has arrived. The pope’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia has been published and released. It is the fruit of the Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the Family. It will require some reading as it is quite long, so there goes the afternoon.
OK. So last night I was tired, still a little festal after the keeping of the Solemnity of St Benedict, and feeling a little mischievous. For some reason I was almost looking forward to a stream of hate mail, or at least a stream of opprobrium. It’s one of the areas in which I am touchiest when it comes to the blogosphere.
So it is time to come clean.
One tendency in our day that I find difficult is the transferring of solemnities to more convenient days. It is especially offensive to pious hearts when the days transferred have weighty historical and/or biblical reasons for being kept when they are set to be kept. Thus the Ascension belongs on the proper Thursday and not on the nearest convenient Sunday, to suit those who could not be bothered to make the extra effort to get to Mass on the proper day itself (and if they have a real reason for not getting to Mass they are excused – it is not a merciless system). Likewise with Epiphany, and even the Immaculate Conception. You get the idea.
So I am of the camp that says we should keep solemnities on their proper days, come hell or high water. It is the luck of the calendrical draw. Saving, of course, if they fall in the Triduum. That was my position.
However the discovery that the East keeps the Annunciation even when it falls on Good Friday—and with a Mass no less—has arrested my attention. The Annunciation, too, has serious claim to be kept on its proper date, 9 months before the Nativity. What a profoundly unsettling yet fruitful conjunction when they coincide.
So to put my cards on the table and to play no more games: keep Easter as it is reckoned and has been for centuries in the Church; keep all solemnities on their proper days except if they fall in the Triduum; and even then, should the Annunciation coincide with Good Friday, maybe there is something to be said for keeping the Annunciation even then, as it is the feast of our Lord’s Incarnation, the enabler of the central mystery of the Passion and Resurrection of the God-man by which we are saved.
That is one radical change I would like to hear more about…
Yesterday I had the rare privilege of celebrating conventual Mass in the abbey church for the Annunciation (transferred from 25 March, of course, since it fell in Holy Week this year). It is normally the prior’s day, but the prior is ill, so muggins was on deck in loco prioris.
In thinking about what to say I was struck by the fact that this year the Annunciation fell on Good Friday. This last happened in 2005, but will not happen again for another 141 years. So we will never live to see this liturgical collision again. Or will we?
To be honest, the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Urosa, has never before crossed the radar of my consciousness. But then he made an intervention at the Synod:
Mercy invites the sinner and it becomes forgiveness when one repents and changes one’s life. The prodigal son was greeted with an embrace from his father only when he returned home …
This Synod, without a doubt in the light of the revealed truth and with eyes of mercy, is called to reflect very clearly the teaching of the Gospel and of the Church through the centuries about the nature and dignity of Christian marriage, on the greatness of the Eucharist and on the need of having the necessary dispositions to be in union with God to be able to receive Holy Communion; on the need for penance, repentance and the firm purpose of amendment for the repentant sinner to be able to receive Divine forgiveness; and the strength and continuity of both dogmatic and moral truth of the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium of the Church. It provides as well lights inspired by mercy to assist more effectively those in irregular situations to alleviate their moral suffering and to better live their Catholic faith.
It has taken some time, but it is coming finally. It’s in a more subtle form than usual, and perhaps far less subtle in places I have not seen.
It is, of course, the old chestnut that bishops and clergy preach down to the faithful, have no knowledge of “real life”, and that their recourse to doctrines is divorced from reality, and almost inhuman. So we hear the drivel that the Church needs to “listen” to those in irregular situations (ie sinners) so that the Church can better “accompany them”. So this article seemed one of the more temperate versions of that rhetoric. Sr Maureen Kelleher, an auditor at the Synod, reworks the language into that of a cultural chasm between laypeople and the bishops. The bishops she paints almost as victims, desperately trying to please both the institution and the people. Continue reading “The Sin-nod — Clarifying some of the Nonsense”→
The confusion and kerfuffle in the world’s media during the first week of the current Synod were remarkable and un-precedented as far as I can see. Then came week two, and things have become truly extraordinary, and frighteningly so. Anyone who denies that a major ecclesiastical battle is being fought in and around the Synod is in cloud-cuckoo land.
Matters seem to have come to a head with the Archbishop Cupich of Chicago proposing that no-one should be denied Holy Communion as the Church should respect individual conscience. The utter logical and theological nonsense of his position is breathtaking. However, things became exponentially worse yesterday after the papal speech to the Synod. The Pope is certainly faithful to the infamous call he made to young people to go out and “make a mess”.