A RIGHT UNDERSTANDING OF WORSHIP

A Right Understanding of Worship

The way back to God is the way of worship. If all that we are and become and do in our many-leveled life could be made one in worship, we should be saints. Some people think that Christian morality is no more than a series of don’ts; others a little less ill-informed think it is no more than a series of dos. These things are included, for being and doing are interdependent, but it is being that comes first in importance; and Christian morality tells us first of all not what we should do, still less what we should not do, but what we should be.
That is why you cannot possibly separate, as some people would have us do, the Church’s moral teaching from its beliefs about God’s revelation of himself to the world. You cannot possibly separate them, because the moral teaching is entirely determined by the doctrine; and if you try to isolate it, you destroy it. You could isolate this or that element in it; you could cling to the ideals of justice, kindness, generosity, fortitude; but these virtues would then cease to be the Christian virtues, because they would be divorced from worship.
FATHER GERALD VANN, O.P.
Father Vann (+ 1963) was an English Dominican and a popular preacher, lecturer, and author.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE By ROBERT SPAEMANN

OPINIONS

Divorce and Remarriage by Robert Spaemann
The divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whether it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.
The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.
Sadly, the Catholic Church is not without blame. Christian marriage preparation very often fails to give engaged couples a clear picture of the implications of a Catholic wedding. Were that so, many couples would very likely decide against being married in the Church. For others, of course, good marriage preparation would provide a helpful impetus to conversion. There is an immense appeal in the idea that the union of a man and a woman is “written in the stars,” that it endures on high, and that nothing can destroy it, both “in good times and in bad.” This conviction is a wonderful and exhilarating source of strength and joy for spouses working through marital crises and seeking to breathe new life into their old love.
Instead of reinforcing the natural, intuitive appeal of marital permanence, many churchmen, including bishops and cardinals, prefer to recommend, or at least to consider, another option, one that is an alternative to Jesus’s teaching and basically a capitulation to the secular mainstream. The remedy for the adultery entailed by remarriage of the divorced, we are told, is no longer to be contrition, renunciation, and forgiveness but the passage of time and habit, as if general social acceptance and our personal comfort with our decisions and lives have an almost supernatural power. This alchemy supposedly transforms an adulterous concubinage that we call a “second marriage” into an acceptable union to be blessed by the Church in God’s name. Given this logic, of course, it is only fair for the Church to bless homosexual partnerships as well.
But this way of thinking is based on a profound error. Time is not creative. Its passage does not restore lost innocence. In fact, its tendency is always just the opposite—namely, to increase entropy. Every instance of order in nature is wrested from the grip of entropy and over time eventually falls under its dominion once again. As Anaximander puts it, “From whence things arise, to that they eventually return, according to the appointed time.” It would be wrong to repackage the principle of decay and death as something good. We should not confuse the gradual deadening of the sense of sin with its disappearance and release from our ongoing responsibility for it.
Aristotle taught that there is a greater evil in habitual sin than in a single lapse accompanied by the sting of remorse. Adultery is a case in point, especially when it leads to new, legally sanctioned arrangements”remarriage”—that are almost impossible to undo without great pain and effort. Thomas Aquinas uses the term perplexitas to characterize cases like these. They are situations from which there is no escape that does not incur guilt of one sort or another. Even a single act of infidelity entangles the adulterer in perplexity: Should he confess his deed to his spouse or not? If he confesses, he might just save the marriage and, in any case, he avoids a lie that would eventually destroy mutual trust. On the other hand, a confession could pose an even greater threat to the marriage than the sin itself (which is why priests often counsel penitents against revealing infidelity to their spouses). Note, by the way, that St. Thomas teaches that we never stumble into perplexitas without some measure of personal guilt and that God allows this as a punishment for the sin that initially set us down the wrong path.
To stand by our fellow Christians in the midst of the perplexitas of remarriage, to show them empathy and assure them of the solidarity of the community, is a work of mercy. But to admit them to communion without contrition and to regularize their situation would be an offense against the Blessed Sacrament—one more among the many that are committed today. Paul’s instruction on the Eucharist in First Corinthians culminates in a warning against unworthy reception of Christ’s body: He who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself. Why did the liturgical reformers strike these decisive verses from the second reading for Mass on Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi, of all feasts? When the entire congregation stands up to receive communion Sunday after Sunday, one has to wonder: Do Catholic parishes now consist exclusively of saints?
But there is still one last point, which by all rights ought to be the first. The Church admits that it handled the sexual abuse of minors without sufficient regard for the victims. The same pattern is repeating itself here. Has anyone even mentioned the victims? Is anyone talking about the woman whose husband has abandoned her and their four children? She might be willing to take him back, if only to ensure that the children are provided for, but he has a new family and has no intention of returning.
Meanwhile, time passes. The adulterer would like to receive communion again. He is ready to confess his guilt, but he is not willing to pay the price—namely, a life of continence. The abandoned woman is forced to watch while the Church accepts and blesses the new union. As if to add insult to injury, her abandonment receives an ecclesiastical stamp of approval. It would be more honest to replace “until death do you part” with “until the love of one of you grows cold”—a formula that is already being seriously recommended. To speak here of a “liturgy of blessing” rather than of a remarriage before the altar is a deceptive sleight of hand that merely throws dust in the eyes of the people.

—First Things, August/September 2014, page 18.
Robert Spaemann is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Munich.

PRAYER FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY

George Washington’s Inauguration

( A Prayer for the Fourth of July 2014)

Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed your glory to all nations.                                                                                                                           God of power and might, wisdom and justice,                                                                                                                                                                            through you authority is rightly administered,                                                                                                                                                                  laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.                                                                                                                                                                         Assist with your spirit of counsel and  the President of these United States,                                                                                                                     that his administration may be conducted in righteousness,                                                                                                                                           and be eminently useful to your people over whom he presides.                                                                                                                                   May he encourage due respect for virtue and religion.                                                                                                                                                     May he execute the laws with justice and mercy.                                                                                                                                                                 May he seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.                                                                                                                                                              We, likewise, commend to your unbounded mercy                                                                                                                                                              all who dwell in the United States.                                                                                                                                                                                          Bless us and all people with the peace which the world cannot give.                                                                                                                               We pray to you, who are Lord and God, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.     — Archbishop John Carroll (alt.)

MISSOURI RIGHT TO LIFE, Press Release

For Immediate Release For Information – 573-635-5110 / 314-966-3889

June 30, 2014

The following statement can be attributed to Pam Fichter, President:

Today the Supreme Court upheld the fundamental right of the American people to exercise their religious freedom. The 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby confirms the principles on which our country was founded. The Court’s ruling acknowledges that privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods cannot be forced to violate their principles by providing abortifacient drugs through their company’s insurance plans.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama Administration ordered U.S. businesses, including Hobby Lobby, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs as part of their employee health plans. The Green’s, owners of Hobby Lobby, refused on pro-life grounds: they are devout Christians and could not in good conscience participate in the taking of innocent human life. The Obama Administration threatened fines of $1.3 million a day if Hobby Lobby doesn’t comply with the mandate.

Hobby Lobby asked the courts to put an end to the administration’s radical attempt to impose a pro-abortion agenda on every business in America. Today, the Court did.

The Court’s ruling means that Americans of every religious background are free to take their faith with them into the workplace, and free to make their religious beliefs a part of how they run their businesses.

Our Constitution protects the right to live our faith peaceably-at church, at home, and in the workplace. The American people won a great victory today.

______________________________________________

BREAKING: Supreme Court Declares HHS Mandate
for Closely Held For-Profit Corporations Unlawful

In a 5 to 4 decision the US Supreme Court declared this morning that the HHS Mandate which imposes the contraceptive mandate on closely held for-profit corporations violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Justice Alito writing the majority opinion stated:

“We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substan­tially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.

In holding that the HHS mandate is unlawful, we reject HHS’s argument that the owners of the companies forfeited all RFRA protection when they decided to organize their businesses as corporations rather than sole proprietorships or general partnerships. The plain terms of RFRA make it perfectly clear that Congress did not discriminate in this way against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the ma­nner required by their religious beliefs.”

Thomas More Law Center News Alert
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The Day After Hobby Lobby Decision,
Supreme Court Rules For Another Corporation Challenging the HHS Mandate

The day after its ruling in Hobby Lobby, the US Supreme Court granted review of the Thomas More Law Center’s petition on behalf of Eden Foods and its president Michael Potter, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case back to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration in light of the Hobby Lobby decision.

Click Here for Supreme Court Order

The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, filed Eden Food’s initial challenge to the HHS Mandate in March 2013. After being denied a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the HHS Mandate by a federal district court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, TMLC filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court.  That petition had been held in abeyance pending the decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

Eden Foods, co-founded by Potter in the late 1960s, is the oldest natural food company in North America and the largest independent manufacturer of dry grocery organic foods.  In 2009, Eden Foods was selected as the best food company in the world by Better World Shopping Guide, which also acknowledged the company’s outstanding record in social and environmental responsibility. The company employs 128 employees.For years, Michael Potter, a Roman Catholic, President and sole shareholder of Eden Foods Corporation, for religious reasons, had arranged for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance coverage he designed for his employees to specifically exclude coverage for contraception and abortifacients.  In accordance with his Catholic faith, Potter believes that any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation, whether as an end or means”—including abortifacients and contraception—is wrong.

The HHS Mandate forced Potter to make a choice between violating a foremost tenet of his faith or face fines up to $4.5 million per year.

Potter brought the lawsuit because he cannot compartmentalize his faith and his business practices.

Mr. Potter said in a statement, “We are grateful for the Hobby Lobby decision and look forward to further developments.”

Erin Mersino, TMLC’s Senior Trial Counsel who is handling the Eden Foods case commented on yesterday’s Supreme Court order, “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hobby Lobby preserves the religious freedom we are guaranteed under the Constitution.  The HHS mandate required business owners to directly violate their faith.  The Supreme Court relied upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law by President Clinton and passed in a bipartisan effort to protect our First Amendment rights, to strike down the mandate.  Under RFRA, the government has to establish a basis for substantially burdening one’s religious faith.  Here, the government failed to do so.”

Mersino continued, “Justice Ginsburg’s dissent and proposed parade of horribles has no basis in reality.  No flood gates have been opened.  The truth is that the Supreme Court struck down an unjust law.”

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