Upon this “quarry” I will build my Church?

Since the closing of the extraordinary synod there has been a great deal of commentary on the blogosphere about the reception of Holy Communion by Catholics who are divorced and invalidly remarried.  The question is not so much as to whether the first marriage was valid and the second is not or the other way around.  The question on everyone’s mind seems to be whether or not Pope JPII W EUCHARISTFrancis is pushing for a relaxation of the law that currently exists, which says that people who are conscious of grave sin should not receive Holy Communion.  Living with someone as if he or she were your spouse when the person is not, would be one of those occasions when objectively one is culpable a grave sin.

I wouldn’t have written this article, if I thought that this is the only issue on the table.  After all, Pope Francis has not said anything that indicates that he is trying to persuade the bishops to change the law or keep the law.  What we seem to be hearing from the Holy Father is that he wants every voice to be heard.  Sometimes, when one opens the door to every voice one finds discordant voices.  Whether it’s prudent to open the door to every voice is an important question.  However, in the case of the extraordinary synod on the family, it’s a moot question, because the horse has already left the starting gate.

We have seen cardinals, bishops, theologians, religious and laymen speak on the synod and the documents that were published after.  The points that concern most people are whether or not these men and women in invalid marriages should bride & groombe allowed to receive Holy Communion; whether or not same-sex couples have something positive to contribute to the Church; and whether or not we can find any good in situations where people who are not spouses live as if they were.  I certainly can’t claim to have the answers to these questions, because they are above my paygrade.  Even if I thought I had the answer, the Holy See is not really interested in my opinion, because it’s not my place in the Church to speak as an authority of matters of faith and morals.  That authority is reserved for the local bishop.  I can only speak as an authority in my home and in my community with the Franciscans of Life.  Even there, I can only repeat what the Church teaches; I cannot teach anything that is outside of Church teaching as if it were the “official” Catholic position.

Here is precisely where we’re having problems today.  The blogosphere is overpopulated with voices that not only have something to say about these questions, but want to speak and be heard as if they had the BOOKS ON HEADauthority to make pronouncements to the rest of the Church.  When they speak they sound intelligent, because they can use big words, throw around some citations from previous popes, councils and older catechisms and there are times when their arguments have some logic.  To the average layman (not as in non-ordained, but as in newbie to Church politics) these voices can be very impressive and persuasive, to the point that these readers become talking boxes for the bloggers.  You hear them repeat, verbatim, what a blogger has written.  This is an interesting development, because the blogosphere seems to be giving birth to its own oral tradition within the Catholic Church and some people are beginning to take this tradition seriously.

At the risk of sounding like these voices, I have to state that bloggers are just that and no more.  St. Francis of Assisi held that a man is what he is before God, san francisconothing else.  This has been part of Franciscan tradition and culture for 800 years.  Why?  Because it works.  Why does it work?  Because it’s true.

When we read what someone puts out there, be he a cardinal, bishop, religious, concerned Catholic layman we must keep this person in his or her proper context.  He or she is what God sees, not how he presents himself.  When God looks at a cardinal, he sees a bishop who has a specific place in the Church, with a specific assignment, specific role and mission.  He does not see another Peter, because there can only be one Peter.  The Church is built upon the faith of one rock, not an entire quarry.

The same applies to lay writers, who are often very impressive.  Nonetheless, they are not Peter.  All of these people are commenting on what Peter has said, failed to say, should say, will never say and that’s fine and dandy.  They are commentators.  We have to take them as such.  I do not take the commentator at clerics playinga Super Bowl show and credit him with the same authority that I credit the referee.  At the end of the day, the person who makes the call whether the ball is in or out of bounds is the ref, not the guy at the microphone.  The guy at the microphone can call the shot anyway he likes it, but his call is not going to determine the outcome of the game.

Listening to and reading what every blogger in town has to say about divorce, remarriage, Holy Communion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, cohabitation, the family, sex, and many other topics that fall under the umbrella of “family” can be very interesting and very enlightening.  I certainly like knowing what other GOD IS HIDDEN WITHINpeople are thinking.  But I have to remind myself that what I’m reading are the talking points and opinions of others like the sportscaster at the Super Bowl.  These are not the officials who call the shots that shape the outcome of the game.  The only person who can call those shots is Peter.

So far, in this entire discussion on the family, Pope Francis has only said that a synod of bishops has no authority to make or change rules, much less dogma and that the pope calls a synod under his pope franciswatchful eye and under his authority.  Therefore, he and only he can decide what to keep or throw out from what comes from the synod.

Those people who are saying that the Church is going to do A, B, and C, because the synod fathers said something in favor of A, B, and C can be very mistaken.  The Church is going to do whatever Peter decides.  It may be A, B, and C or D, E, and F.

Do not take these bloggers too seriously, nor reporters for that matter or people doing interviews.  Remember St. Francis of Assisi.  A man is what he is before God, nothing else.  None of these men is Peter.  They have strong opinions and are often very rational.  Other times they have very strong opinions and are very illogical.  I don’t pledge my support to the former, because as logical as his opinion may be, he lacks the authority to speak for the Church.  I listen to his opinion and like Mary; I hold these in my heart.  On the flip side, I don’t pledge my allegiance to the latter either, because his opinions are illogical.

Saint Pius XUntil the Church tells me that what appears illogical to me must be obeyed and held, I have no duty to do so.  The key here is “to me”.  Just because something seems right or wrong to me, does not make it so.  Just because I think I understand what the Church has traditionally said on a specific subject does not mean that I do.

We are very proud of what we think, to the point that we throw our ideas out there as if they were revealed truths and we’re willing to insult, hurt, and ignore others who do not agree with our understanding of the faith, morality or Catholic tradition. Which leads me to ask whether at the end of the day, all of these interviews that people are giving, all of these opinions that people are posting on blogs concerning the Church, the family and the pope, and all of these sound bites are just another temptation to pride and disobedience.

How much of all that is said is about love of God and man and how much is about love of one’s opinion and one’s idea of what “is” means?

—— Life Issues Seminar —— March, April 2015


Published in: on February 24, 2015 at 6:16 PM  Leave a Comment  

— Project Joseph Workshop — March 2015


Published in: on February 24, 2015 at 6:07 PM  Leave a Comment  

Thank you!

The season of Lent has begun, in which the Church unites herself to Jesus in the desert (CCC 540) and invites us all to engage in spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, voluntary self-denial, and fraternal sharing (CCC 1438). All these, of course, as part of our lifelong process of conversion.


Lent is violet time…

“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers…take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery … remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart” (Dt 6:10-12, 8:2)

Indeed, this is not a time of mourning, but a time to look back in order to move forward; a time to make ours the invitation that was made to the Church in Ephesus: “Remember from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” (Rv 2:5) It is a time to examine our consciences, that is, in the words of the Holy Father Francis on January 1st, a time “through which we review what has happened; we thank the Lord for every good we have received and have been able to do and, at the same time, we think again of our failings and our sins”.

“To give thanks and to ask for forgiveness”. In particular, would add the Pope in this year’s message for Lent, by confronting the culture of indifference, striving to become “islands of mercy in a sea of indifference”.

In this context, we wanted to begin by giving thanks, first and foremost to the Lord, and immediately afterwards to you.

You see, on January 1st we “manifested without fear our needs” in the form of an article that expressed a simple question: “Can you help?“.

In the following weeks, we received much support from you, and we were greatly moved by how you helped us meet our needs, particularly now that we have more brothers in formation in the motherhouse.

The first challenge met was the replacement of the toaster. We have been blessed with an “upgrade”: a toaster-oven that has been our companion beyond breakfast and has even allowed us to save some energy 🙂


Breakfast time!

Shortly afterwards, the second challenge was met: the replacement of an old mattress. Here, too, we were greatly blessed: the new mattress came with certain features to help the brothers that suffer from backaches; it also came with a pillow!


How the brothers feel on the new mattress

Last but not least, we tackled the leak problem in the AC unit and the hole in the ceiling. The issue got worse before it got better. One day, an additional dripping began, a few inches away from the opening…but right on top of the kitchen table!!

However, we had already set aside enough to be able (we hoped!) to pay for the repairs. That same day the repair crew found and fixed several issues with the AC unit, and finally they tackled the hole in the ceiling. The latter was no small task! The repair required opening up that spot on the ceiling, inserting two layers of wood, and finally sealing the opening.


As easy as 1, 2, 3? Not quite…!

Again, THANK YOU for being there for us. This has been a very edifying experience for us.  Be assured that you are always in our prayers.

Last but not least, we should mention our brother who is pursuing doctoral studies. He has been working with dedication, while pursuing with great love the formation time. You can see him below, presenting a final project!

[How to Help]