instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, August 15, 2015

But wait, there's more important

In my last post, I did the same thing the media (and, I get the impression, too many bishops) have done, which is to reduce the Church's current concerns over the family to the question of "remarried" Catholics.*

The excerpts Vatican Insider published of Cardinal Cottier's interview with Fr. Spadaro of La Civiltà Cattolica cover more than just that -- even beyond the weekend retreat you could make on the single statement, "Mercy... is the crux of Christian doctrine."

For example, Cardinal Cottier says the Sacrament of Matrimony is
"the elevation of a natural institution to the dignity of a sacrament. It does not mean that a supernatural element should be added to a reality that essentially remains natural; it means that sacramentality gives this reality – which then presents itself as a material cause – a new form, a new essence and identity."

Is "transubstantiation" too strong a word for this? Don't the words I've boldened apply to the Blessed Sacrament? Ever think about the parallels between what happens when a couple exchanges vows before the altar and what happens when a priest prays the words of consecration at the altar?
What concerns the Swiss theologian the most “is the fact that no real innovations have been introduced on an ecclesial level to implement a new pastoral care programme for marriage preparation that addresses the crisis in the sacrament. Current practice has become inadequate and often come across as a mere formality rather than an education towards a commitment for life.”
The collapse of Catholic marriage is a documented fact we in the Church are pretty good at ignoring. One of the bees in my bonnet is that, although we pray at every Sunday Mass for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life (yay!), I don't think I've ever heard a prayer for vocations to marriage. It may just be a problem of which crisis do you put the oxygen mask on first, but I'm not sure how many Catholics even realize that marriage need oxygen -- that is, that marriage is a sacrament and a vocation, and that those words means something, just as "Holy Orders is a sacrament and a vocation" means something.

Cardinal Cottier concludes by talking about mercy and the Church's pastors:
"There are still people who are scandalised by the Church, men and women who, due to a negative judgement which was expressed in an impersonal and insensitive way, have felt a terrible rejection. This is where confessors have a huge responsibility. Whenever they express a judgement and whatever this judgement is, it needs to be expressed and explained in a way that communicates the Church’s maternal concern. Pope Francis repeatedly speaks about the beauty and joy of Christian life which the Church needs to get across. Through the voice of its pastors, the Church must always show that it is guided by divine mercy."
As you say, your Eminence, but let's not forget the other 99+% of the Church, which is how the world nearly always personally encounters her. The laity too needs to express and explain their judgments in a way that communicates the Church's maternal concern. We too need to get across the beauty and joy of Christian life. We too must always show that we are guided by divine mercy.

I've said it before: A Christian is always a sign. The question is whether the Christian is a sign that points toward Christ or away from Him.

* Is a person who is married any more capable of marrying someone else than a person is capable of marrying someone of the same sex?