Vol 15 Issue 18 ~ Editor: Rev. Fr. Courtney Edward Krier
April 30, 2022 ~ Saint Catherine of Siena, opn!
1. Sacrament of Penance
2. Second Sunday after Easter
3. Saint Joseph, Workman
4. Family and Marriage
5. Articles and notices
On this last day of April I wish to continue on the topic of the Blessed Sacrament, and that is on our reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. Last week we considered Our Lord Who waits day and night for us to come to Him with our problems, illnesses, weaknesses, sins and frustrations in order to console us and provide a soothing salve and answer according to our needs. Our Lord goes further, He gives Himself as our nourishment in our journey to His Kingdom. Many are weak in the faith as Saint Paul warns the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 11), not distinguishing the Body of the Lord. Instead of receiving with faith, they find themselves approaching the altar to receive what their natural senses reveal: bread. Even though the Church has the faithful kneel in adoration just as the Wisemen, just as the man born blind after his cure, to express externally what should be acknowledged internally, the heart and mind are not seeing through faith Jesus Christ laid on their tongue just as He was laid in the manger by Mary. This is why when the Novus Ordo of Paul VI was introduced faithless Catholics had no problem standing and receiving in the hand: it was only bread—yes, “consecrated” bread, but bread all the same; and why a complete expression of one’s lack of faith is the omission of genuflecting when entering into the Presence of Jesus Christ. Does such a soul realize that Jesus Christ has entered in at Holy Communion and must be entertained for the time He is present (10-15 minutes)? Even the thought that while in His Presence Jesus sees the soul that appears before Him, not to judge, but to love—a love that is equal to the Father, should move the believer to at least not offend by indifference, lack of faith or grievous sin.
What should one expect in the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ? An earthly father’s love for his child is to give everything necessary for the child to develop to his or her full potential and arrive at the goal for which he or she was created: a citizen of this world and a citizen of the world to come. This comes with all the needs of the body and all the needs of the soul being tended to. It includes discipline, and it includes the child’s cooperation. Jesus Christ is not any less in His care for us. He sees our needs and, with our cooperation, provides what is good for the soul in the attainment of eternal life begun with Him here on earth, even discipline. And when He enters the soul, there is the sacramental union that surpasses all understanding but which allows the soul to receive the most abundant assistance in spiritual growth, in sanctifying grace and, particularly, the actual graces the soul needs in being His disciple, a member of His Mystical Body. This grace helps to transform the person into a Christlikeness as the communicant desires an ever-more closer union knowing that the Bread of Life is not changed into the communicant, but the communicant is changed into Christ. O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him. (Ps. 33:9)
As always, enjoy the readings provided for your benefit.—The Editor
WHAT IS THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
The Church’s Forgiveness of Sins as a Sacrament
The Outward Signs of the Sacrament of Penance
§ 13. The Object of Confession
1. Grievous Sins
By virtue of Divine ordinance all grievous sins according to kind and number, as well as those circumstances which alter their nature, are subject to the obligation of confession. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent especially stresses that secret sins and inward sins against the last two commandments of the Decalogue (sins of thought and desire) must be confessed. D 899, 917. Physical or moral impossibility excuses from the material completeness of the confession of sins. When the confession is formally but not materially complete, forgotten grievous sins, or grievous sins, which owing to a state of necessity were not individually confessed, are indirectly remitted. But the duty, founded on the command of Christ, remains of explicitly submitting these sins at the next confession to the confessional tribunal of the Church, when and if the necessity ceases, and of accepting a corresponding penance by way of satisfaction for them. DB 1111 (CIC 901.)
In the first centuries of Christianity confession was limited to the most grievous sins, particularly the capital sins. Consequently, the reception of the Sacrament of Penance was a comparatively rare event. In the case of those sins which were not subject to the public penitential tribunal of the Church, acknowledgment before God was considered sufficient.
2. Venial Sins
The confession of venial sins is not necessary but is permitted and is useful. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent teaches that it is not necessary to confess venial sins, as these can be expiated by many other salutary means, such as sorrow, prayer (“Forgive us our trespasses”), works of charity and abstinence, reception of Holy Communion; taceri tamen citra culpam multisque aliis remidiis expiari possum (D 899). However, it is permissible, good and profitable to confess them (D 899, 917; c£. 748). The permission is based on the universal character of the Church’s power to forgive sins.
The confession of venial sins became first a disciplinal exercise, then a sacramental confession in different monasteries, especially in Ireland. Through Irish monks (St. Columbanus) the repeatable private penance, which was also used in cases of venial sins, became established on the Continent. The Council of Trent defended against the reformers the practice of confessing venial sins. Pius VI adopted the teaching of the Council of Trent against the pseudo-Synod of Pistoja (1786), which desired to limit the so-called devotional confession, on the grounds of reverence for the Sacrament. D 1539. Pius XII, in the Encyclicals “Mystici Corporis” (1943) and “Mediator Dei” (1947), recommended the frequent reception of confession, calling it, “the pious practice of frequent confession, introduced by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Ghost,” and condemning the belittlement of frequent confession as; “an enterprise which is alien to the Spirit of Christ and most deterimental to the Mystical Body of our Saviour.”
3. Sins already Forgiven
Those sins which are already forgiven directly by the Church’s Power of the Keys are a sufficient object of confession. (Sent. certa.) CIC 902.
According to the declaration of Benedict XI (D 470), the repetition of confession is an act of submission and therefore of atonement. In this case the absolution, according to the teaching of theologians, results not only in the removal of those obstacles which remain as an effect of the sins already forgiven, and which oppose the efficacy of grace (reliquae peccatorum), but also in the remission of the temporal punishments of sin which remain.
§ 14. Concept and Quality of Sacramental Satisfaction
By sacramental satisfaction is understood works of penance which are imposed on the penitent in atonement for the temporal punishment for sins which remain after the guilt of sin and its eternal punishment have been forgiven. The will for satisfaction, which is virtually contained in every true contrition, is an essential element of the Sacrament, but the implementing of this will for satisfaction is only an integrating constituent part.
2. Dogmatic Basis for the Doctrine of Satisfaction
All temporal punishments for sin are not always remitted by God with the guilt of sin and the eternal punishment. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers: Si quis dixerit, totam poenam simul cum culpa remitti semper a Deo, satisfactionemque poenitentium non esse aliam quam fidem, qua apprehendunt Christum pro eis satisfecisse, A.S. D 922. Cf. D 807, 840, 904, 925.
The Council of Trent, in establishing the truth of this Dogma (D 904), points to the “clear and vivid examples in Holy Scripture, “which show that the sinner must suffer punishment even after the forgiveness of the guilt, for example, Gn. 3, 16 et seq. (First Parents); Numbers 12, 14 et seq. (Miriam); 14, 19 et seq. (Israel); 20, 11 et seq. (Moses and Aaron); 2 Sm. 12, 13 et seq. (David). Christ demands of His disciples that they carry the Cross with Him (Mt. 16, 24; 10, 38), that is, perform penitential works.
The conviction of the Fathers in this matter finds expression in the penitential discipline of the Early Church. If reconciliation was granted for weighty reasons before the expiration of the term of penance, the penance had to be continued after the reconciliation (cf. D 57). St. Augustine says: “The punishment lasts longer than the guilt. Otherwise the guilt could be regarded as being petty, if the punishment also ended with the guilt ” (In loan. tr. 124, 5).
3. Closer Determination of the Sacramental Satisfaction
The priest has the right and the duty, according to the nature of the sins and the ability of the penitent, to impose salutary and appropriate works of satisfaction. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent declared: Debent sacerdotes Domini . . . pro qualitate criminum et poenitentium facilitate salutares et convenientes satisfactiones iniungere. D 905; CIC 887.
The right to impose penance is a corollary of the judicial character of the power of forgiving sins. The duty of the imposition of penance follows from the fact that the priest, as administrator of the Sacrament, must strive to achieve the completeness of the Sacrament, and as a physician of the soul, must organise the healing of the wounds in the soul. The penance imposed is directed at expiation and amendment. Cf. D 904, 925.
The sacramental satisfaction as a part of the Sacrament of Penance effects ex opere operato the remission of temporal punishments for sins and the curing of the reliquiae peccatorum, that is, the weakening of evil inclinations. The amount of the punishment for sins which is remitted is proportional to the measure of the penance imposed and to the dispositions of the person making
satisfaction. The ex opere operato effect of sacramental satisfaction also depends on the degree of grace of the penitent.
The performance of the satisfaction need not precede the absolution. Cf. D 728, 1306-1308, 1535. In Christian antiquity the satisfaction was rendered before the reconciliation as a rule. By way of exception, for example, in danger of death, on the outbreak of a persecution, reconciliation was granted before the performance, or at least before the completion of the penance. When in the early Middle Ages, under the influence of the Celtic penitential practice (St. Columbanus + 615), repeatable private confession was introduced, the submission to penance and the reconciliation were still separated from each other, except in danger of death. In consequence of practical difficulties, the granting of reconciliation immediately after confession and imposition of penance was exceptionally permitted, since the end of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 11th century (Burchard of Worms + 1025), the immediate granting of reconciliation had become a general practice.
(To be continued)
The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
M. F. Toal
THE GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY
JOHN X. 11-I6
At that time: Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf corning and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep. And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.
ST AUGUSTINE, BISHOP AND DOCTOR3
On the Shepherd, the Thief, and the Hireling4
John x. 1-16; Ch. i. The health of the members (of Christ’s Body) is in unity and love.
Through your faith you are aware, Dearly Beloved Brethren, and I know that because of this you have been taught by the Master from heaven in Whom you have placed your hope, that Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has just suffered for us, and risen again, is the Head of the Church, and that the Church is His Body, and that in His Body the unity of the members, and the bond of their mutual love, is as it were the token of its health. And whosoever has grown cold in charity, has grown weak in the Body of Christ. But He Who has raised up our Head is able also to heal our infirm members: provided they are not cut off by too grievous wickedness, but remain with the Body till they are healed. For all who adhere to the Body still have hope of healing; but they who have been cut off can neither be treated nor healed.
Since then He is the Head of the Church, and the Church is His Body, the whole Christ is then both Head and Body. He is now risen. And so we have our Head in heaven. Our Head intercedes for us. Our Head, without stain and immortal, now makes intercession with God for our sins, so that at the end of the world, we also being risen, and partaking of His heavenly glory, may follow our Head. For where the Head is, there also are the other members. And whilst here, we are His members; let us then be filled with hope that we shall follow our Head.
Ch. ii. The Unity of Christ and His Members. For consider, Brethren, the love of this Our Head. He is now in heaven, yet while the Church suffers here on earth, He too suffers here. Here Christ hungers, here He thirsts, here He is naked, here He is a stranger, He is sick, He is in prison. All that His Body here suffers, He has said that He suffers. And on the last day, setting this His Body at the right hand side, and the rest, by whom He is now despised, on the left, He will say to those on the right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt. xxv. 34). And in reward for what? For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; and so He goes on to the rest, as though it were He Who had received: so much so that they, not understanding Him, answer and say: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, a stranger, or in prison? And He will say to them: As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
For so also in our own body is the head above, and the feet on earth. Yet in any crowd when men press close together should someone tread on your foot, does not your head say, ‘you are treading on my foot’. No one has trodden on your head, or on your tongue; it is above in safety, no harm has come to it, and yet, because of the bond of love, there is a oneness from your head down to your feet, the tongue does not consider itself apart from the foot, but says: ‘you are standing on me’ when no one has touched it. Therefore just as the tongue, which no one has touched, says, ‘you are standing on my foot’, so Christ, Whom no one has touched, says: I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. And how does He conclude? These shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
Ch. iii. Christ is the Door. Peter unknown to himself is weak.
Now when Our Lord was speaking on this occasion He said He was the Shepherd, and He said also that He was the Door. You may read both words there: I am the door, and, I am the shepherd. In the Head He is the Door; He is the Shepherd in the Body. For He said to Peter, on whom alone He built His Church: Peter, lovest thou me? He answered: Lord, I love thee. Feed my sheep. And a third time He asks: Peter, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved that He had asked him a third time (Jn. xxi. 15-17): as though He were looking at the conscience of a betrayer, and saw not the faith of the one who confessed Him.
But He had always known him. He knew him even when Peter knew not his very self He had not then known himself when he said, I am ready to go with thee, even to death (Lk. xxii. 33). And how weak he was he knew not. And this will happen often with the sick, that a sick man does not know what is the matter with him, while the physician does: though it is the sick man who is suffering from the illness, and not the physician. The physician can tell what is happening to another better than the one who is ill can describe what is happening to himself. Peter was then the sick man; the Lord was the physician. The one said he had strength; when he had none. The Other, touching his pulse, says that he is going to deny Him three times. And so it came to pass, as the Physician had foretold; not as the sick man had believed (Lk. xxii. 33, 34, 55-61).
And so after the Resurrection the Lord asks him; not as though He knew not with what fervour he would confess his love of Christ, but so that by a threefold confession of love he might cancel the threefold denial of fear.
Ch. iv. What is asked of Peter? To enter the Sheepfold by the Door.
The Lord accordingly asks Peter: Peter, lovest thou me? as it were saying: what will you give Me, what will you offer Me, since you love Me? What was Peter to put before His Lord, now risen from the dead, and ascending to heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father? As though He said: You will give Me this, you will offer this to Me, if you love Me, that you feed My sheep, that you go in by the Door, that you do not climb in another way.
While the Gospel was being read you heard the words: He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep; he that climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber; he cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Who is this who enters in by the door? He who enters in through Christ. Who is this? He who associates himself with the passion of Christ; He who has learned the humility of Christ; so that he has learned that though God has become man for us, man himself is not God, but man. For he who desires to appear as God, when he is but man, is no follower of Him, Who while being God, became man.
To you it is not said: be something less than you are; but rather, learn what you are. Know that you are weak, know that you are a man, know that you are a sinner; know that it is He Who sanctifies you; know that you are stained by sin. Let the blemish in your soul be made manifest in your confession, and you shall belong to the flock of Christ. For the confession of your sins invites the Physician to heal you; just as when he who is sick says, ‘I am well’, he desires no help from the physician.
Did not the Pharisee and the Publican go up into the Temple? The one boasted of how strong his soul was; the other showed his wounds to the Physician. The one said: God, I give thee thanks that I am not as is this Publican (Lk. xviii. 11). He set himself far above the other man. And so if the Publican had been strong of soul, the Pharisee would have envied him; for he would have no one above whom he might set himself. In what state of soul did he come who was so ill disposed? Surely not in a healthy state; and though he declared how strong he was, yet he went down unhealed. But the other, with downcast eyes, not daring to raise them towards heaven, beat his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
And what does the Lord say? Amen I say to you, that the Publican went down into his house justified, rather than the Pharisee: because every one that exalteth himself. shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. They therefore who exalt themselves seek to climb into the Sheepfold by another way; while they who humble themselves enter the Door. And so of the one He says: he entereth in; of the other that: he climbeth up. He that climbs up, you perceive, who is seeking the high places, does not enter in but falls. But he who bows himself down that he may enter through the Door, he does not fall; and what is more he is a shepherd.
Ch. v. The three persons who come to the sheepfold: the shepherd, the thief, the hireling. The shepherd is to be loved, the hireling suffered, the thief guarded against.
But the Lord speaks of three persons, and we must consider them carefully as they are in the Gospel: the persons of the shepherd, of the hireling, and of the thief. While it was being read I presume that you noticed that He was describing a shepherd, that He described the hireling, and He described the thief. The shepherd, He said, entered in by the door, and laid down his life for his sheep. The thief and the robber, He said, climb in by another way. The hireling, He said, should he see a wolf, or even a thief, flies; because he has no concern for the sheep; for he is a hireling, not a shepherd.
This first enters by the door, because he is the shepherd; this other climbs in another way, because he is a thief; and this last seeing those coming who are going to steal the sheep is afraid and runs away, because he has no care for the sheep; for he is a hireling. When we have learned who these three persons are, Your Sanctity has found those whom you should love, those whom you must bear with, and those of whom you must beware. The shepherd you must love, the hireling you must suffer, against the thief you must be on your guard.
There are men in the Church of whom the Apostle says that they preach the Gospel because of their circumstances, seeking from men the things that are theirs (Phil. ii. 21): money, honour, or human praise. They preach the Gospel, seeking gain by any means; seeking not so much the salvation of those to whom they preach as their own advantage. But he who hears the word of salvation from him who has not himself gained salvation, should he believe in the One Whom he preaches, not placing his hopes in the one through whom salvation is preached, he that preaches shall suffer loss; he to whom he preaches shall gain.
St. Joseph the Workman
1. On May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII delivered a significant address before an assembly of representatives of the Catholic Association of Italian Workers. Toward the end of his speech, the Holy Father said: “We are happy to announce to you Our determination to institute—as we do now in fact institute—the liturgical feast of St. Joseph the Workman, assigning to it precisely the first day of May.” He had previously stated: “The world of labor has claimed [May 1] for, itself as its own proper feastday.” Now, he is instituting this feast, not as “a stimulus for discord, hate and violence,” but, to be “a recurring invitation to modern society to accomplish that which is still lacking for social peace. A Christian feast, therefore; that is, a day of rejoicing for the concrete and progressive triumph of the Christian ideals of the great family of labor” (cf. The Catholic Mind for Sept., 1955).
2. “. . . Jesus journeyed on, and came to his own countryside, where he taught them in their synagogue; so that they said in astonishment, How did he come by this wisdom, and these strange powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:53-54). St. Joseph was a carpenter in Nazareth, a man of the working-class. True, he was a descendant of the royal family of David; but this royalty no longer connoted glamor; its former magnificence and wealth were gone. Joseph was obliged to live by the labor of his hands. Far away from the royal palace in Jerusalem, he dwelt in the hidden, despised town of Nazareth in Galilee, and plied his trade there. The houses he knew were certainly unpretentious, even primitive, being mere mud huts with roofs supported by beams, and floors of packed clay. Carpenters fashioned the entire structure, as well as its furnishings. Tools and implements for home and farm came from local shops. Such was Joseph’s trade, his whole life long, in this community of simple, rural Galileans, and it brought him neither riches nor honors. Consequently, when the young carpenter married the Virgin Mary, he could have offered her only a very modest home, probably a house that he himself had built.
“It happened that a decree went out at this time from the emperor Augustus, enjoining that the whole world should be registered . . . and Joseph, being of David’s clan and family, came up . . . to David’s city, . . . the city called Bethlehem, to give in his name there. With him was his espoused wife Mary, who was then in her pregnancy . . . there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7). Here, Joseph was made painfully aware of the fact that he belonged to the poorer class, for he was compelled to house his bride in a stable. The months in Bethlehem were difficult ones, but it must have been even more difficult to live as a refugee and support a family in Egypt. Only after the death of Herod was it safe to return, and then, not to Bethlehem, as he would have desired, but to Nazareth, since the even more cruel Archelaus was now ruler of Judea. In Nazareth, Joseph was once more the humble carpenter.
“. . . Joseph, the husband of Mary; it was of her that Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matt 1:16). Thus did God honor the lowly worker, selecting him to become the husband of Mary, the Mother of God. Joseph knew the secret of his betrothed: an angel had enlightened him. The child in her womb was “of the Holy Spirit.” So Joseph took his wife to himself and became the Virgin-Protector of the Virgin-Mother. Indeed, he became in a true sense the father of the Child whom the Virgin conceived and later brought forth in Bethlehem. By virtue of the matrimonial bond, Mary’s Child is his child, too. He exercises paternal power and authority over the incarnate Son of God. The Lord of heaven and earth is subject to him (cf. Luke 2:51). He owes and renders obedience to Joseph as His earthly father. Thus, again, does God honor the poor carpenter, making him head of the Holy Family. Mary, Mother of God, radiant with grace, virtue, and holiness, wants to be dependent on and directed by the will of St. Joseph in all matters. She serves him, loves him, entrusts herself and all her interests to him. He lives, night and day, under the same roof with her and Jesus in an intimate union of hearts, a close fellowship of interests in home and shop. With what greatness and dignity God honors Joseph the Workman! “The humble workman of Nazareth not only personifies before God and the Church the dignity of the manual laborer, but also he is always the provident guardian of you and your families” (Pius XII).
For centuries, St. Joseph succeeded in remaining in the background, just as he had done during his earthly life. Little by little, however, God brought him out of darkness into light, so that now one frequently sees pictures of him and altars or churches dedicated to his honor. Numerous religious institutions, monasteries, and convents have entrusted themselves to his fatherly care, bear his name, and honor him as their protector and their advocate at the throne of God. Indeed, at a time of great oppression, in the year 1870, Pope Pius IX named St. Joseph “Protector of the Universal Church” and approved the application of verses 20 and 21 of psalm 32 to him: “The Lord is our strength and our shield: in him our hearts will find refreshment, in his holy name we trust” (Introit of the former Mass of the Solemnity). And how many of the faithful, having taken refuge under his protection in time of distress and need, have experienced his help and the power of his intercession! In this way, again, the humble Workman of Nazareth personifies, in the eyes of the Church, the dignity of those who labor with their hands.
“Do not forget,” says our Holy Father to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers, “that your first care is to preserve and foster Christian living among workers. To this end it is not enough for you to fulfill, and urge others to fulfill, your religious duties; you must deepen your knowledge of the teachings of the Faith.”
Go to Joseph! He asserts that “no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by the spirit of Christ than the foster father of Jesus. . . . If you wish to be close to Christ, We again today repeat: ‘Ite ad Joseph’—Go to Joseph” (Gen. 41:55).
Collect: O God, Creator of the universe, by whose decree toil has become the common lot of mankind, grant us this boon, that by the example of St. Joseph, and under his protection, we may carry out the works which Thou dost command, and gain the rewards which Thou dost promise. Amen.
CANA IS FOREVER
COUNSELS FOR BEFORE AND AFTER MARRIAGE
By Charles Hugo Doyle (1949)
Chapter Five: MIXED MARRIAGES ARE DANGEROUS
Dangerous as mixed marriages are to the faith of the Catholic parties involved, the dangers to the faith of the children are even greater. Here are a few statistics from the Holy Name Journal that
may amaze you.
(A) In families where both parents are Catholics only eight out of every hundred will forsake the practice of religion in later life.
(B) In families where both the parents are of the same Protestant denomination some thirty-two out of every hundred will be lost to the practice of that religion.
(C) In families where one parent is Catholic and the other a non-Catholic sixty-six out of every hundred will forsake the practice of religion later in life.
Some years ago Rev. M. V. Kelly, C.S.B., made a survey of the leakage in the membership of a Catholic city parish of seventeen hundred souls. He limited himself to the special study of one hundred twenty-one cases in which the whole family was lost to the Church. Here are his findings:
1. There is not one case out of the one hundred twenty-one in which both parents were brought up Catholics. Six were cases in which one of the parties had become a Catholic on the occasion of marriage and the remaining one hundred fifteen were cases of mixed marriage.
2. The falling off can be explained in six cases by the death of the Catholic parent and in eight cases by a divorce or permanent separation.
3. There remain today, therefore, one hundred six clear cases of a Catholic father or mother who had contracted a mixed marriage and who is allowing his or her children to grow up outside the Church.
4. In these one hundred six cases the Catholic party is almost entirely to blame; instances of any determined or effective resistance on the part of a non-Catholic husband or wife are almost negligible.
Such tremendous leakage from the faith through mixed marriages is easily understandable when one considers the whole problem in the light of cold judgment. For instance, how can a non-Catholic mother, even though she signed the pre-nuptial promises in the best of faith, very convincingly teach her children doctrines they must study in the catechism when deep in her own heart she believes them to be false, if not downright evil? Or take the case of a Catholic mother who rises early on a Sunday and starts out for Mass with her children on a cold winter’s morning. In between the biting blasts of wind one of the children is certain to ask, “Why doesn’t Daddy come to Mass, too?”
“Your father is not a Catholic,” the mother must say, “and his religion does not demand that he attend Church under pain of sin.”
Right there and then a division is created between the father and the rest of the family—a division which ought not to be there. Too, human nature being what it is, it is quite possible that a less exacting religion might seem more appealing in view of the biting wind.
It is possible, too, that the faith of the little ones might even suffer damage by a thoughtless remark of a non-Catholic parent. I recall once hearing of a little lad who asked his father to go with him to the Catholic Church for the closing exercises of the Forty Hours.
“You go, son,” said the father. “I can’t stand all that ritualistic stuff.” So saying, he finished putting on his long tails and white tie, and packed a sword, apron, fancy cuffs, embroidered collar, scarf and a white-plumed Lord Nelson hat. “I’ll be home late,” the father said; “there is an initiation at the lodge tonight, and I’m on the ritual team.”
The father’s scorn of religious rites was bad, but his logic was worse!
Another great disadvantage for children born of mixed marriages is that they rarely receive a Catholic education. The public schools today have hundreds of thousands of Catholic children on their registers who are there because a Catholic mother or father has compromised on the matter of their Catholic education, and such compromise leads to subsequent loss of faith by the offspring.
If the Church never warned against mixed marriages, good logic would dictate their avoidance. Marriage is based on perfect sympathy and understanding. It is a career-partnership, and the fundamental requisite for any successful partnership is common interest. A wise lawyer who wished to take a partner into his firm would naturally choose another lawyer and not an electrician.
Then apply that same logic to matrimonial partnerships. A woman who has made a career of painting would not let herself fall in love with a man who despised art and artists; then why should she fall in love with a man who, if he does not despise religion outright, at least is cold and indifferent toward it? No other partnership would succeed under like conditions. That is just common sense, and when common sense and love work together, you can expect a masterpiece.
A Catholic who begins serious company-keeping with a non-Catholic and does not at the outset discuss the problem of religious difference as it affects them acts unfairly and selfishly. Many a non-Catholic falls in love and becomes engaged before the Catholic party dares mention the sweeping promises regarding the Catholic upbringing and education of all children of either sex born to them in marriage.
Long before the matter of the engagement is contemplated, religious differences should be discussed as well as the problem of birth control and Catholic school education of the children. Above all, the non-Catholic should be acquainted with the fact that certain promises regarding the Catholic education of the children must be signed and, if possible, a visit should be paid to the rectory and permission asked to have the non-Catholic person read over the promises. Did you ever see those promises yourself?
Many a mixed marriage could be avoided if only the Catholic party had sufficient strength of character to insist that marriage is out of the question if the other person cannot conscientiously accept Catholic doctrines. Many fine, worthy Catholics today owe their submission to the Church, after God’s grace, to the presence of that condition. Sad to say, there are many who are not willing to accept the alternative of abandoning the prospect of a marriage which seems in every other way most desirable. They have all sorts of excuses ready to offer for their indifference or fear, and usually they are cloaked under such statements as: “I would not have him enter the Church just for my sake,” or again: “I knew others who became Catholics just to marry someone, and they gave it up soon afterward.”
It might be well to remark here that no one is admitted to the Church unless a priest has first given the person adequate instruction and passed upon the candidate’s disposition and assumed responsibility for the serious step to be taken.
It has been the experience of most priests that where the Catholic party is prayerful, firm, and patient, he or she will inevitably be rewarded with the conversion of the non-Catholic before marriage.
Too, it has been the sad experience of priests that where such converts later lose the faith, the blame must be laid directly to the bad example of the Catholic mate.
When Our Lord changed the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana, the change was complete and total. There was not just part water and part wine, but the contents of the whole six waterpots were miraculously changed into superb wine. Let there be no mixture of religions in marriage. Good common sense demands that you marry your own, and if there must be any converting done, by all means get it done long before the marriage. And don’t be too anxious about the possibility of losing your beloved because you are holding out against a mixed marriage, for Thomas Carew naively suggests:
Then fly betimes, for only they
Conquer Love, that run away.
Remember it’s better to say “no” now to a mixed marriage than be tempted to say “Reno” later!
(To be continued.)
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop Daniel Dolan, who passed to eternal life on April 26.
Father Krier will be in Albuquerque, NM, (Saint Joseph Cupertino) May 10; Pahrump, NV, (Our Lady of the Snows) May 12; and Eureka, NV, (Saint Joseph, Patron of Families) May 19.
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