Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Being blessed at Mass. Or not.

The religiously oriented may be aware that this is the season of Lent.  I think I said in a recent post that I tried to give up profanity for this season. You may guess how long I lasted.  So instead I'm taking advantage of my proximity to churches at work and at my digs and instead going to Mass three times a week, and making a particular effort to absorb the readings and draw meaning from them.

It's been some time since I've received communion at Mass.  I'm civilly divorced.  However, I've never been shown any reason why the Church's teaching on marriage is unsound:
The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.  Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death." [Catechism, para. 2382]
Ergo, whatever the court had to say on the matter, the marriage between the ex and I remains on foot.  So what happens if I were to remarry?  Well, such a marriage is "an objectively adulterous union that prevents [a person] from honestly repenting, receiving absolution for their sins, and receiving Holy Communion".  Now, I haven't fallen foul of that rule.  What I can't do, though, is say confidently that I'll never remarry (or indeed, repartner).  Certainly the idea has crossed my mind a few times in one context and another.  I'm not over-scrupulous (trust me), but it seems to me that if you're open to repartnering, then the only thing that stops you from falling into adultery is lack of opportunity.  A legalist might say that this still allows one to receive absolution and communion it still smells like a cheat.

(I'm consciously not going to discuss the sacramental bun-fight surrounding Amoris Laetitia; save to note that while the Holy Father might allow some scope for individual circumstances, I don't feel it would be "right for me" to take advantage of this).
Image result for communion line catholic
Harsh but funny! (Image from here)
Since I don't think I can decently take communion, what I've been doing is lining up, crossing my arms across my chest, and receiving blessing.  However, this seems to be in doubt as well.  The Vatican's "Congregation for Divine Worship" leans hard against the practice in paragraphs 4 and 5 of this letter on the reasonable grounds that -
... there are some who should neither approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those mentioned in canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, such as those under the penalty of excommunication and those persisting in manifest grave sin. Giving a blessing to these persons might give the impression that they are in full communion with the Church or have returned to good standing.
On the other hand, the website www.catholic.com (hardly a hotbed of liberalism) considers the matter a local one, observing that
... Pope St. John Paul II gave a child a blessing after giving the child's mother Communion during a televised Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on October 19, 2003. And there is no Church norm prohibiting a priest or deacon from similar blessings.
On balance, I think I'll be staying in the pew during communion from this point.  Not doing so seems like the dodging of rules that I was trying to avoid in the first place.

Now, I haven't posted this to attract pity, or to be reasoned out of the position I've reasoned myself into.  Certainly I think I'm on good ground.  Supremely this seems like a matter of personal (or at any rate local) discernment.  But I'm throwing it to you to ask: what do you think is right and rational in such a case?

1 comment:

  1. The teachings of this monk might help http://fatherdavidbirdosb.blogspot.com/2018/02/christ-of-margins-importance-of-looking.html?m=1