Class; Saturday June 21, 2014
In his address at the Vatican Press Office, March 25, 2014, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, recalled that “Pope Emeritus Benedict, in his homily at the Opening Mass of the Synod on New Evangelization, said that there is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. There is also, in my view, a clear link between the crisis in families and the crisis in society at large.” In 1998, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the same Pope emeritus as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger remarked that “further study is required… concerning the question of whether non-believing Christians – baptized persons who never or who no longer believe in God – can truly enter into a sacramental marriage. In other words, it needs to be clarified whether every marriage between two baptized persons is ipso facto a sacramental marriage. In fact, the Code states that only a ‘valid’ marriage between baptized per sons is at the same time a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055, par. 3). Faith belongs to the essence of the sacrament; what remains to be clarified is the juridical question of what evidence of the ‘absence of faith’ would have as a consequence that the sacrament does not come into being.”
Me [Blogger]: Given the state of affairs of a world culture that is turned back on self as a “structure of sin” and trapped in a global economic ideology of self where the bottom line is profit and not gift; and given that faith in truth is an habitual state of being turned away from self as gift to Other, the real question is not trying to see where there may be “an absence of faith” but where in this culture it may be present, and therefore validating matrimony as a sacrament. And since the true exercise of faith may be scarce, the real import of the pope’s enquiry into the possibility of communion for the divorced and remarried is to go deeply enough into discerning the real state of validity to confront the fact that the entire ascetical culture of the Church must change. That it is not enough to “beef up” pre-cana as entre into marriage, but the entire orientation of the Church toward sanctity in ordinary life must go through conversion. That is, failure to approach matrimony as the ordinary way to achieve sanctity from baptism through family, classroom, pulpit, confessional, spiritual direction and pre-cana will leave the sacrament invalidly administered because the attitude of the spousal-ministers was self, superficial,bourgeois and banal.
Consider the meaning of faith as understood in the Magisterium of Vatican II, Dei Verbum:
John Paul II:
“These admirably compact and precise words do not yet speak of faith but of Revelation. Revelation is ‘God communicating himself.’ It thus possesses the character of a gift or a grace: a person-to-person gift, in the communion of persons. A perfectly gratuitous free gift which cannot be explained by anything but love.
“All this concerns Revelation. What about faith?
“We read further on in the same text: ‘To God who reveals himself we must bring the obedience of faith by which man entrusts himself entirely, freely, to God, bringing to him who reveals the complete submission of his intelligence and heart and giving with all his will full assent to the Revelation which he has made.’ Thus faith is man’s reply to the Revelation by which God ‘communicates himself.’ The constitution Dei verbum expresses perfectly the essentially personal character of faith.
“In the words, ‘man entrusts himself to God by the obedience of faith,’ one musts see, if only indirectly, the thought that faith, as response to the revelation by which God ‘gives himself to man,’ implies through its internal dynamism a reciprocal gift on the part of man, who in a way ‘also gives himself to God.’ This gift of oneself is the profoundest and most personal structure of faith.
“In the act of faith, man does not respond to God with the gift of a bit of himself, but with the gift of his whole person. Of course, in this reciprocal relationship the disproportion remains.’
“So misapprehension is frequent. Those who say, ‘faith is a gift,’ implying that they have not received it, are at the same time both right and wrong. Right, because there really is a gift on the part of God. Wrong, because this gift is not one of those which require only a banal acknowledgement of receipt; it only takes effect when there is reciprocity.
‘Man gives himself or “entrusts himself” to God in faith, by the response of faith in the measure of his created – and therefore dependent – being. It is not a question of a relationship between equals; that is why Dei verbum uses with superb precision the words ‘entrusts himself.’ In the ‘communion’ with God, Faith marks the first step.
“According to the teaching of the apostles, faith finds its fullness of life in love. It is in love that the confident surrender to God acquires its proper character and this dimension of reciprocity starts with faith.
“Thus while the old definition in my catechism spoke principally of the acceptance as truth’ of all that God has revealed,’ the conciliar text, in speaking of surrender to God, emphasizes rather the personal character of faith. This does not mean that the cognitive aspect is concealed or displaced, but it is, so to speak, organically integrated in the broad context of the subject responding to God by faith….
“Before I tell you how I am inclined to conceive this commitment, allow me to examine once again the fundamental meaning of this word in the light of the confident surrender to God.
“I have already drawn your attention to the difference between the catechism formula, ‘accepting as true all that God reveals,’ and surrender to God. In the first definition faith is primarily intellectual, in so far as it is the welcoming and assimilation of revealed fact. On the other hand, when the constitution Dei verbum tells us that man entrusts himself to God ‘by the obedience of faith,’ we are confronted with the whole ontological and existential dimension and, so to speak, the drama of existence proper to man.
“In faith, man discovers the relativity of his being in comparison with an absolute I and the contingent character of his own existence. To believe is to entrust this human I, in all its transcendence and all its transcendent greatness, but also with its limits, its fragility and its mortal condition, to Someone who announces himself as the beginning and the end, transcending all that is created and contingent, but who also reveals himself at the same time as a Person who invites us to companionship, participation and communion. An absolute person - or better, a personal Absolute.
“The surrender to God through faith (through the obedience of faith) penetrates to the very depths of human existence, to the very heart of personal existence. This is how we should understand this ‘commitment’ which you mentioned in your question and which presents itself as the solution to the very problem of existence or to the personal drama of human existence. IPt is much more than a purely intellectual theism and goes deeper and further than the act of ‘accepting as true what God has revealed.’
“When God reveals himself and faith accepts him, it is man who sees himself revealed to himself and confirmed in his being as man and person.
“We know that God reveals himself in Jesus Christ and that at the same time, according to the constitute ion Gaudium et spes , Jesus Christ reveals man to man: ‘The mystery of man is truly illumined only in the mystery of the Word incarnate.”
“Thus these various aspects, these different elements or data of Revelation turn out to be profoundly coherent and acquire their definitive cohesion in man and in his vocation. The essence of faith resides not only in knowledge, but also in the vocation, in the call. For what in the last analysis is this obedience of faith by which man displays ‘a total submission of his intelligence and will to the God who reveals himself’? It is not simply hearing the Word and listening to it (in the sense of obeying it): it also means responding to a call, to a sort of historical and eschatological ‘Follow me!’ uttered both on earth and in heaven.
“To my mind, one must be very conscious of this relation between knowledge and vocation inherent in the very essence of faith if one is to decipher correctly the extremely rich message of Vatican II. After reflecting on the whole of its content, I have come to the conclusion that, according to Vatican II, to believe is to enter the mission of the Church by agreeing to participate in the triple ministry of Christ as prophet, priest and king. You can see by this how faith, as a commitment, reveals to ur eyes ever new prospects, even with respect to its content. However, I am convinced that at the root of this aspect of faith lies the act of surrender to God, win which gift and commitment meet in an extremely close and profound way;” Be Not Afraid, St. Martin’s Press (1981)64-67.
CWL: In your address to the consistory, you ask whether we can, “in the present situation, presuppose without further ado that the engaged couple shares the belief in the mystery that is signified by the sacrament and that they really understand and affirm the canonical conditions for the validity of the marriage.” You ask whether the presumption of validity from which canon law proceeds is often “a legal fiction.” But can the church afford not to make this presumption? How could the church continue to marry couples in good faith if it assumed that many of them were not really capable of entering into sacramental marriage because they were, as you put it somewhere else in your speech, “baptized pagans”?
Kasper: That’s a real problem. I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid. Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament presupposes faith. And if the couple only want a bourgeois ceremony in a church because it’s more beautiful, more romantic, than a civil ceremony, you have to ask whether there was faith, and whether they really accepted all the conditions of a valid sacramental marriage—that is, unity, exclusivity, and also indissolubility. The couples, when they get married, they want it because it’s stable. But many think, “Well, if we fail, we have the right.” And then already the principle is denied. Many canon lawyers tell me that today in our pluralistic situation we cannot presuppose that couples really assent to what the church requires. Often it is also ignorance. Therefore you have to emphasize and to strengthen prematrimonial catechesis. It’s often done in a very bureaucratic way. No, we have to provide catechesis. I know some parishes in Rome where couples have to attend catechesis, and the pastor himself does it. We must do much more in prematrimonial catechesis and use pastoral work and so on because we cannot presuppose that everybody who is a formal Christian also has the faith. It wouldn’t be realistic.
CWL: But you can imagine the outcry there would be if priests regularly told couples, “I can’t marry you because I don’t really think that you believe in the things people have to believe in order to get married.”
Kasper: That's why there must be dialogue between the couple and the priest, who should teach them what it means to marry in the church. You can’t presume that both partners know what they are doing.