- Created on Saturday, January 28, 2017
- Written by Fr. Robert Novokowsky
You've heard the adage, "Hope for the best but prepare for the worst"? It's what the passengers do when the airplane is in free-fall. The Catholic Church is not in free-fall, but her teaching on marriage will be an ugly battleground both within and without the Church.
We hope for the best. Natural hope directs us to natural good. This hope is a virtue. Virtue is strength. It enables us to carry on in the face of setbacks. The highest natural goods are not achieved without it. For instance, survivors of the Nazi concentration camps say that natural hope of surviving, even in the face of ridiculous odds, was necessary for physical and mental health. Hope is a virtue.
Supernatural hope has God as its object. We hope in God to bring us supernatural goods—heaven and the means to attain it. We must exercise our hope especially when its challenged. There are many temptations to hopelessness. If we try to hope in ourselves, or in worldly princes (i.e. a president) we aim for certain disappointment. But God never changes, so hope in him is founded on bedrock. He has promised us eternal salvation and the means to attain it. What he hasn't promised—there are many things—is always inferior to what he has promised.
So, naturally and supernaturally, let's be people who hope for the best. Here's something to always hang our hat on: the Church is divine. Her teachings and sacraments are the means of salvation. We enjoy (possess) them as free gifts. Who or what can take these gifts away? Even when we can't receive the Eucharist, we can make a good spiritual communion. Even if we can't assist at Holy Mass, we can send our angel to attend for us. If no confession is available, we can always make a perfect act of contrition. When we can't hear a good sermon, we can be nourished by Sacred Scripture. Real hope is well-founded.
Hope, and prepare for the worst. Naiveté is not a virtue. Marriage is under a full-frontal attack. Conjugal vows and the conjugal embrace are created to be an inseparable and harmonious whole. The 60's Revolution attempted to separate these by "free" love. Then by contraception. Then by abortion. Then by carefree divorce. Then by the homosexual lifestyle. Then, by gay marriage. The same people who have an embarrassed silence regarding the aforementioned, are now calling for Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. It's not about Holy Communion. It's about the separation of conjugal vows and conjugal union.
Now, at the risk of being a broken record, allow me to repeat: Christ's teaching about marriage was always crystal clear and always controversial: "He who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery." The Pharisees understood the difficulty and walked away. The disciples understood its difficulty and suggested a ridiculous escape: "Then it is not expedient to marry," (Matt.19). Now, some people (even priests, bishops, and cardinals) have said there's NEW Church legislation regarding marriage. Pope Francis has NOT promulgated new legislation about marriage. He has hinted strongly that he did, but did not. He has supported those who pretend he did. Please don't be fooled. He can't do it. The teaching of Christ is clear.
Church politics, however, are anything but clear. It's easy to be confused in the middle of an intra-family knife fight. We need to stay close to Christ, to hope, and to true friends. I offer the following links to articles written by true friends. It is not easy or entertaining. I believe these writings are helpful, and worthy of your attention.
1. Fr. Raymond De Souza Dec. 30, 2016 in National Catholic Register http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/debating-amoris-laetitia-a-look-ahead
2. Dr. Ed Peters: https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/is-kellers-essay-really-the-way-amoris-should-be-read/
3. Carl Olsen http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/5330/close_papal_confidant_2__2_in_theology_can_make_5.aspx
4. Dr. Edward Peters https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/the-maltese-directive-makes-answering-the-dubia-urgent/