Thursday, October 29, 2015

Marriage as "Mysterion" Experienced as Christian Faith (Perhaps Not Knowing It): The Weight of the Wedding Rings

Sacrament: Mysterion: The Whole Christ, Head and Body (The Weight of the Rings)[1]
  The reason why yes - no answer cannot be given concerning marriage and the family is its nature as the mystery of the person of Christ as Head and Body that appears to be instantiated as one of the seven sacraments. The large question will always be whether the marriage ever took place. Here is the pope on the plane back to the US:  “Another problem: faith. ‘Do I believe that this is forever? Yes, yes, yes. I believe.’ ‘But do you believe it? The preparation for a wedding: I think so often that to become a priest there‘s a preparation for 8 years, and then, it’s not definite, the Church can take the clerical state away from you. But, for something lifelong, they do four courses!  Four times… Something isn’t right. It’s something the Synod has to deal with: how to do preparation for marriage. It’s one of the most difficult things.”[2]

[1] Karol Wojtyla, “The Jeweler’s Shop:” “The jeweler examined the workmanship, weighed the ring for a long time in his finger, and looked into my eyes. For a while he was reading the date of our wedding, engraved inside the ring. Again he looked into my eyes, put the ring on the scales… then said, ‘This ring does not weigh anything; the needle does not move from zero and I cannot make it show ever a milligram. Your husband must be alive, in which case neither of your rings, taken separately will weigh anything – only both together will register. My jeweler’s scales have his peculiarity, that they weigh not the metal but man’s entire being and fate.’ Ashamed, I took the ring back and left the shop without a word. I think, though, that he followed me with his eyes;” The Collected Plays and Writings on Theater, Karol Wojtyla, University of California Press, Berkley (1987) 297-298.
[2] “Inside the Vatican,” October 2015, 47.

Pope Francis: On the Plane Back to Rome from the United States

Question: “The  question was on the notion of Catholic divorce, if the motu proprio has closed the debate e before the synod on the theme?

“This document , this ‘Motu Proprio’ [on speeding up the annulment process] facilitates the process and the timing, but it is not divorce because marriage is indissoluble when it is a sacrament. And this the Church cannot change. It’s doctrine. It’s an indissoluble sacrament”…  Another problem: the affective maturity for a marriage. Another problem: faith. ‘Do I believe that this is forever? Yes, yes, yes. I believe.’ ‘But do you believe it? The preparation for a wedding: I think so often that to become a priest there ‘s a preparation for 8 years, and then, it’s not definite, the Church can take the clerical state away from you. But, for something lifelong, they do four courses!  Four times… Something isn’t right. It’s something the Synod has to deal with: how to do preparation for marriage. It’s one of the most difficult things.”[1]

[1] “Inside the Vatican,” October 2015, 47.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Owl of Minerva Flies at Dusk: There Are No Clear Yes's or No's - Cardinal Schonborn

 The Sunday NYT (A 16) wrote that (the final document) “says nothing whether divorced and remarried Catholics may or may not receive Communion.” Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, said in a midday news conference on Saturday previewing the document,’ ‘There is no black or white, simply yes or no’ when it comes to divorced and remarried Catholics.’” All the news stories have offered the following line: Both conservatives and liberals win.

            I hasten to add that this so because of what I have mentioned in previous postings here.  That one is not necessarily validly and sacramentally married because one has said “I do.” If there is not a consciousness and intentional giving of oneself at that moment, the self has not been given, the act of faith has not been made, and the covenant has not been established. The marriage has not taken place. The "quid divinum" has not occurred here. The knowledge of this is not conceptual but conscious awareness. There is a deeper criterion at work than concepts: consciousness. Consciousness of self as gift. No one can know this but self: Intellegere  = legere ab intus: to read, and  therefore to know from within.

            Hegel wrote: "The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk." The meaning for Hegel was that wisdom occurs only when there is the experience of having lived, or not lived. In a Christian key, one can only know God when one has imaged him in faith as self-gift. As God in Christ is revealed only when the believer lives Christ as risk, to oneself for others, so one knows that he/she is not married - and can therefore receive the Eucharist in a second marriage (access to a tribunal and confession of sin duly made) – or that they are married, and cannot receive the Eucharist. “There is no black or white, simply yes or no.” One knows only when the owl has flown. 

A Response to a "quick question" email:Can you tell me more about St. Josemaria’s thought to the effect that a parenthesis had opened in the Church around 500AD and closed with the Work?

When St. Josemaria received the vocation of 10/2/28, he received a “message” that was not a “general insight into the universal call to holiness…”[1] Rather, he was being shown that “the holiness originating in and founded on baptism to which God is calling Christians is holiness in the midst of the world.”[2] His mission was not in any sense to replace religious orders but "to fan everyone's baptismal grace and channel it toward work and other duties - secular realities which will thereby take their rightful place in people's awareness and daily agenda as the scenario for their 'obedience of faith.' Ordinary life then becomes the setting where one responds to the baptismal call to holiness.”[3] The point is that St. Josemaria did not receive the call to found an institution but to spread the message of the universal call to holiness for everyone, everywhere. But that is the Church herself as institution.

 D. Pedro Rodriguez writes that the message "addresses not one particular group, but everyone, with no limitations of gender, race, age, job, social background, civilian status, political views ro secular creed. It seeks only to help to fan everyone's baptismal grace and channel it toward work and other duties - secular realities which will thereby take their rightful place in people's awareness and daily agenda as the scenario for their 'obedience of faith.' Ordinary life then becomes the setting where one responds to the baptismal call to holiness. From the very start this was Josemaria Escriva's apostolic horizon and task; initially, he worked alone at the job God had given him - to do Opus Dei. ... Josemaria Escriva saw with noonday clarity that, in the daily discharge  of God's will, spreading the message was inseparably linked to 'convoking' men and women who would make it their raison d’être, committing themselves to carry it to all nations. He saw that the nascent institution was internally dominated by the 'message;' the institution would be the instrument and echo chamber for the God-given message...  [So] (t)he message is the first thing God is concerned about; the institution is something he desires insofar as it can spread it. The message, therefore, determines the institution's end, mission and structure; the institution is to be understood in view of the message, which thus becomes the theological criterion to direct and discern the way it develops, institutionally, apostolically or pastorally."[4]

            The obvious question: since the Christ has called all without exception (“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” [Mt . 5, 44], why Opus Dei?

            The reason that Rodriguez develops is the same as announced by Escriva somewhere: that the Church always had the doctrine but lost the experience of many people seeking sanctity in the world, and this because of the rise of the religious order after the cessation of the persecutions in the 4th and 5th centuries. The heroism of living the faith began to be lost in the world and the search for heroic love was begun “outside” the world in very narrow circumstances, and particularly not in family life since intrinsic to the emerging canonical religious state was chastity, but understood as celibacy. Absent the experience, absent the consciousness that accrues to it. Sanctity in the world and family life was forgotten as a universal phenomenon.

   This brings us to the Synod of 2015 and the formation and search for holiness (self gift: Christian Faith) as integral to its validity as sacrament.

[1] Pedro Rodriguez "The Place of Opus Dei in the Church" in Opus Dei in the Church, Scepter (2003 27.
[2] Ibid. 22
[3] Ibid. 27.
[4] Ibid. 30

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 24, 2015, Saturday — Final Discourse on the Synod: A Pastoral and Doctrinal Masterpiece

A the end of the Synod, Pope Francis gave a final discourse in the presence of 265 bishops attending the final session, which ended just a few minutes ago.

The press conference to sum up the final document and the 94 propositions that were approved is occurring right now. (On some of the propositions, the votes were nearly unanimous. On some of the propositions, especially on the more difficult and disputed points, the final votes were closer to 2/3 of 265, but all passed with more than two-thirds of the vote.)

Here is the text of the Pope's final talk on the family.


Final Discourse of Pope Francis

By Pope Francis

Dear Beatitudes, Eminences and Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like first of all to thank the Lord, who has guided our synodal process in these years by his Holy Spirit, whose support is never lacking to the Church.

My heartfelt thanks go to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, its Under-Secretary, and, together with them, the Relator, Cardinal Peter Erdő, and the Special Secretary, Archbishop Bruno Forte, the Delegate Presidents, the writers, consultors and translators, and all those who have worked tirelessly and with total dedication to the Church: My deepest thanks!

I likewise thank all of you, dear Synod Fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors and Assessors, parish priests and families, for your active and fruitful participation.

And I thank all those unnamed men and women who contributed generously to the labours of this Synod by quietly working behind the scenes.

Be assured of my prayers, that the Lord will reward all of you with his abundant gifts of grace!

As I followed the labours of the Synod, I asked myself: What will it mean for the Church to conclude this Synod devoted to the family?

Certainly, the Synod was not about settling all the issues having to do with the family, but rather attempting to see them in the light of the Gospel and the Church’s tradition and two-thousand-year history, bringing the joy of hope without falling into a facile repetition of what is obvious or has already been said.

Surely it was not about finding exhaustive solutions for all the difficulties and uncertainties which challenge and threaten the family, but rather about seeing these difficulties and uncertainties in the light of the Faith, carefully studying them and confronting them fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.

It was about urging everyone to appreciate the importance of the institution of the family and of marriage between a man and a woman, based on unity and indissolubility, and valuing it as the fundamental basis of society and human life.

It was about listening to and making heard the voices of the families and the Church’s pastors, who came to Rome bearing on their shoulders the burdens and the hopes, the riches and the challenges of families throughout the world.
It was about showing the vitality of the Catholic Church, which is not afraid to stir dulled consciences or to soil her hands with lively and frank discussions about the family.

It was about trying to view and interpret realities, today’s realities, through God’s eyes, so as to kindle the flame of faith and enlighten people’s hearts in times marked by discouragement, social, economic and moral crisis, and growing pessimism.

It was about bearing witness to everyone that, for the Church, the Gospel continues to be a vital source of eternal newness, against all those who would “indoctrinate” it in dead stones to be hurled at others.

It was also about laying closed hearts, which bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.

It was about making clear that the Church is a Church of the poor in spirit and of sinners seeking forgiveness, not simply of the righteous and the holy, but rather of those who are righteous and holy precisely when they feel themselves poor sinners.

It was about trying to open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints, so as to defend and spread the freedom of the children of God, and to transmit the beauty of Christian Newness, at times encrusted in a language which is archaic or simply incomprehensible.

In the course of this Synod, the different opinions which were freely expressed – and at times, unfortunately, not in entirely well-meaning ways – certainly led to a rich and lively dialogue; they offered a vivid image of a Church which does not simply “rubberstamp”, but draws from the sources of her faith living waters to refresh parched hearts.1

And – apart from dogmatic questions clearly defined by the Church’s Magisterium – we have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent, is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another; what is considered a violation of a right in one society is an evident and inviolable rule in another; what for some is freedom of conscience is for others simply confusion. Cultures are in fact quite diverse, and each general principle needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied.2

The 1985 Synod, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, spoke of inculturation as “the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity, and the taking root of Christianity in the various human cultures”.3

Inculturation does not weaken true values, but demonstrates their true strength and authenticity, since they adapt without changing; indeed they quietly and gradually transform the different cultures.4

We have seen, also by the richness of our diversity, that the same challenge is ever before us: that of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of today, and defending the family from all ideological and individualistic assaults.

And without ever falling into the danger of relativism or of demonizing others, we sought to embrace, fully and courageously, the goodness and mercy of God who transcends our every human reckoning and desires only that “all be saved” (cf. 1 Tm 2:4). In this way we wished to experience this Synod in the context of the Extraordinary Year of Mercy which the Church is called to celebrated.

Dear Brothers,

The Synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulae but the gratuitousness of God’s love and forgiveness. This is in no way to detract from the importance of formulae, laws and divine commandments, but raather to exalt the greatness of the true God, who does not treat us according to our merits or even according to our works but solely according to the boundless generosity of his Mercy (cf. Rom 3:21-30; Ps 129; Lk 11:37-54). It does have to do with overcoming the recurring temptations of the elder brother (cf. Lk 15:25-32) and the jealous labourers (cf. Mt 20:1-16). Indeed, it means upholding all the more the laws and commandments which were made for man and not vice versa (cf. Mk 2:27).

In this sense, the necessary human repentance, works and efforts take on a deeper meaning, not as the price of that salvation freely won for us by Christ on the cross, but as a response to the One who loved us first and saved us at the cost of his innocent blood, while we were still sinners (cf. Rom 5:6).
The Church’s first duty is not to hand down condemnations or anathemas, but to proclaim God’s mercy, to call to conversion, and to lead all men and women to salvation in the Lord (cf. Jn 12:44-50).

Blessed Paul VI expressed this eloquently: “”We can imagine, then, that each of our sins, our attempts to turn our back on God, kindles in him a more intense flame of love, a desire to bring us back to himself and to his saving plan… God, in Christ, shows himself to be infinitely good… God is good. Not only in himself; God is – let us say it with tears – good for us. He loves us, he seeks us out, he thinks of us, he knows us, he touches our hearts us and he waits for us. He will be – so to say – delighted on the day when we return and say: ‘Lord, in your goodness, forgive me. Thus our repentance becomes God’s joy”.5

Saint John Paul II also stated that: “the Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy… and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser”.6
Benedict XVI, too, said: “Mercy is indeed the central nucleus of the Gospel message; it is the very name of God… May all that the Church says and does manifest the mercy God feels for mankind. When the Church has to recall an unrecognized truth, or a betrayed good, she always does so impelled by merciful love, so that men may have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10)”.7

In light of all this, and thanks to this time of grace which the Church has experienced in discussing the family, we feel mutually enriched. Many of us have felt the working of the Holy Spirit who is the real protagonist and guide of the Synod. For all of us, the word “family” has a new resonance, so much so that the word itself already evokes the richness of the family’s vocation and the significance of the labours of the Synod.8

In effect, for the Church to conclude the Synod means to return to our true “journeying together” in bringing to every part of the world, to every diocese, to every community and every situation, the light of the Gospel, the embrace of the Church and the support of God’s mercy!

Thank you!
1 Cf. Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina on the Centenary of its Faculty of Theology, 3 March 2015.
2 Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Fede e cultura alla luce della Bibbia. Atti della Sessione plenaria 1979 della Pontificia Commissione Biblica, LDC, Leumann, 1981; SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Gaudium et Spes, 44.
3 Final Relatio (7 December 1985), L’Osservatore Romano, 10 December 1985, 7.
4 “In virtue of her pastoral mission, the Church must remain ever attentive to historical changes and to the development of new ways of thinking. Not, of course, to submit to them, but rather to surmount obstacles standing in the way of accepting her counsels and directives” (Interview with Cardinal Georges Cottier, in La Civiltà Cattolica 3963-3964, 8 August 2015, p. 272).
5 Homily, 23 June 1968: Insegnamenti VI (1968), 1177-1178.
6 Dives in Misericordia, 13. He also said: “In the paschal mystery… God appears to us as he is: a tender-hearted Father, who does not give up in the face of his childrens’ ingratitude and is always ready to forgive (JOHN PAUL II, Regina Coeli, 23 April 1995: Insegnamenti XVIII, 1 [1995], 1035). So too he described resistance to mercy: “The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of ‘mercy’ seem to cause uneasiness…” (Dives in Misericordia [30 November 1980] 2).
7 Regina Coeli, 30 March 2008: Insegnamenti IV, 1 (2008), 489-490. Speaking of the power of mercy, he stated: “it is mercy that sets a limit to evil. In it is expressed God’s special nature – his holiness, the power of truth and of love” (Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, 15 April 2007: Insegnamenti III, 1 [2007], 667).
8 An acrostic look at the word “family” [Italian: “famiglia”] can help us summarize the Church’s mission as the task of: Forming new generations to experience love seriously, not as an individualistic search for a pleasure then to be discarded, and to believe once again in true, fruitful and lasting love as the sole way of emerging from ourselves and being open to others, leaving loneliness behind, living according to God’s will, finding fulfilment, realizing that marriage is “an experience which reveals God’s love, defending the sacredness of life, every life, defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously” (Homily for the Opening Mass of the Synod, 4 October 2015:L’Osservatore Romano, 5-6 October 2015, p. 7) and, furthermore, enhancing marriage preparation as a means of providing a deeper understanding of the Christian meaning of the sacrament of Matrimony; Approaching others, since a Church closed in on herself is a dead Church, while a Church which does leave her own precincts behind in order to seek, embrace and lead others to Christ is a Church which betrays her very mission and calling; Manifesting and bringing God’s mercy to families in need; to the abandoned, to the neglected elderly, to children pained by the separation of their parents, to poor families struggling to survive, to sinners knocking on our doors and those who are far away, to the differently able, to all those hurting in soul and body, and to couples torn by grief, sickness, death or persecution; Illuminating consciences often assailed by harmful and subtle dynamics which even attempt to replace God the Creator, dynamics which must be unmasked and resisted in full respect for the dignity of each person; Gaining and humbly rebuilding trust in the Church, which has been gravely weakened as a result of the conduct and sins of her children – sadly, the counter-witness of scandals committed in the Church by some clerics have damaged her credibility and obscured the brightness of her saving message; Labouring intensely to sustain and encourage those many strong and faithful families which, in the midst of their daily struggles, continue to give a great witness of fidelity to the Church’s teachings and the Lord’s commandments; Inventing renewed programmes of pastoral care for the family based on the Gospel and respectful of cultural differences, pastoral care which is capable of communicating the Good News in an attractive and positive manner and helping banish from young hearts the fear of making definitive commitments, pastoral care which is particularly attentive to children, who are the real victims of broken families, pastoral care which is innovative and provides a suitable preparation for the sacrament of Matrimony, rather than so many programmes which seem more of a formality than training for a lifelong commitment; Aiming to love unconditionally all families, particularly those experiencing difficulties, since no family should feel alone or excluded from the Church’s loving embrace, and the real scandal is a fear of love and of showing that love concretely.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Marriage Catechumenate: The Goal of the Synod of 2015

Will the Synod Replace Pre-Cana With ‘Marriage Catechumenate’?

Posted by PETER JESSERER SMITH on Monday Oct 19th, 2015 at 8:49 AM

A number of bishops have proposed that current marriage preparation is not enough, saying the Church needs to provide far more profound formation for marriage. 

[Blogger: "Now We're Talking"]

NEW YORK — Could marriage preparation by itself become a thing of the past for couples approaching the wedding altar?

The idea of a “marriage catechumenate” — a period of formation for marriage that would cover a period of time both before and after the wedding day — was partof the discussion at the ongoing synod of the family taking place in Rome.
“At least 10 times, the topic of a ‘catechumenate for marriage’ came up,” Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica revealed at an Oct. 6 media briefing, describing it as “preparation for marriage, a longer process for marriage, as well as a preparation that takes place in the years right after the [wedding]; it continues.”

Overall, Catholics have a lower rate of divorce than the general population in the United States. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University reports close to one out of three (or 28%) of Catholic marriages end in divorce. But the rate jumps to nearly one out of two marriages ending in divorce for Catholics in “mixed marriages” with Protestant or non-religious spouses.

CARA’s surveys also show that weekly Mass attendance and church involvement correlate strongly with better family outcomes, such as spending time together as a family, eating dinner or playing games as a family, or even praying together. But just one out of five Catholic parents with children at home go to Mass weekly; and just under half of Catholic parents go to Mass once a month or more. The other half of parents go rarely or not at all.

One of the proponents of a “marriage catechumenate” type of formation is Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who proposed the idea in a book called The Mystery and Sacrament of Love, first published in 2007, but updated later to coincide with the synod discussions. The cardinal noted that, with so many couples poorly formed in marriage, the Church might instead offer them a “prolonged catechumenate” for marriage “if they wish to celebrate their marriage covenant in a Christian way.”

“Marriage catechumenate” is not a technical term. The “catechumenate” is technically a period of formation in the Christian faith for those approaching baptism.

But the concept of a post-baptismal catechumen experience of ongoing catechesis is a reality lived by Catholics who belong to the Neocatechumenal Way.

“It has helped me live out my marriage in a Christian way,” said Andrew Malone, a married father of eight who is part of a “Neocat” community at St. Benedict Joseph Labre parish in Queens, N.Y. While the Neocatechumenal Way has no formal marriage-preparation program, its catechumen-like catechesis involves two key important elements: sound, ongoing formation in the faith and a supportive community at every step of a person’s journey deeper into the faith, so he or she does not get lost or discouraged.

“It’s a lifetime apprenticeship,” said Malone, pointing out that many members in this context grow from “an infantile faith to a more mature faith that is trying to deal with all the difficulties of life.” 

Marriage Like RCIA

Some dioceses are already drawing inspiration from the catechumen-model in order to rethink how they can form engaged couples who have little grasp of their faith and an understanding of marriage shaped largely by secular culture.
“The goal of marriage preparation is spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ,” said Mike Phelan, director of parish leadership support in the Office of Marriage and Respect Life for the Diocese of Phoenix, who told the Register that the diocese revamped marriage preparation to “imitate the catechumenate.”

In Phoenix, couples go through a nine-month formation process intended to help bring about conversion. The groundwork consists in completing the pre-marital inventory and typical education about basic marriage and communication skills.
“The goal of that is to do pre-evangelization, so we can begin evangelization,” Phelan said. The next steps are a day-long program following the DVD-based God’s Plan for a Joy-Filled Marriage (Ascension Press), that immerses the couple in the Scriptures, the kerygma (proclamation of the Gospel), canon law and theology of the body. The couple is later taught natural family planning and goes to confession before celebrating the sacrament of matrimony.
“It completes a good amount of catechesis,” he said of the program. The anonymous feedback they have received shows close to half of their sexually active couples decided to abstain until marriage — as the Church teaches — after going through the program, and up to 60% said they were committed to using NFP.

One of the areas Phelan said that needs more work is helping couples to reconnect to the parish after the wedding. He said the diocese is hoping the synod on the family can give them concrete ideas in how to bring these couples into the parish and ongoing formation, especially during the first five years of marriage when couples go through early crises. The diocese is trying to get parishes to connect engaged couples with older mentor couples they can relate to, and this could provide an existing relationship to invite the newly married to take an active part in parish life.

“It’s growing as a pastoral concern,” he said. Phelan added that 20% of their parishes now have hired staff focused on marriage and family life, and they are seeking to expand their network of marriage and family counselors.

Ongoing Formation Needed
The Archdiocese of Chicago is known as the birthplace of pre-Cana, but since the 2000s, under the leadership of the late Cardinal Francis George’s leadership, it moved away from a marriage-preparation model to a “marriage ministry” model.
Frank Hannigan, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Marriage and Family Ministries, said a comprehensive formation process for couples before and after the wedding was “absolutely the way to go.”

“For too long, parishes in the Catholic Church have done a ‘one and done’ [approach]. … Once the couple is married, there is nothing for them afterward,” he said. “It’s not helpful, and it doesn’t seem to work.”

Instead, the archdiocese’s marriage-formation strategy now has four components: age-appropriate education in relationships and marriage, ranging from grade school to college years; personal preparation of the engaged; preparation for the marriage celebration; and ongoing education for the newly married.
Hannigan said that marriage preparation for the engaged includes a series of videos that speak to different couples’ situations, e.g., cohabiting, stepfamilies or deployed military; can be worked through by the couple at their own pace; and also education in natural family planning. They are also available online and can be reviewed for a year and a half after getting married.

“What we’re doing is a personalized marriage-prep experience,” he said.
But he said few dioceses have concrete programs for what to do with the newly married, but they see providing ongoing formation as a necessary “ministry of accompaniment” for the family that Pope Francis has called for. The archdiocese offers five workshops for the newly married — they are working to make them available online for those unable to attend — sends out regular e-newsletters on marriage to 10,000 couples, and sends a calendar to married couples that has daily ways to invite them to think about their marriage. They also offer a day-long retreat for married couples that involves short talks with time for a couple to take a walk, reflect and discuss what they learned.

“We felt we had to put our efforts into continuing education, because that’s the longest part of the sacrament,” Hannigan said.

Chicago is not alone in developing new methods: The Augustine Institute developed a marriage-preparation and ministry resource called Beloved. And otherdioceses and archdioceses have been re-evaluating their programs and reformatting ongoing outreach.

Canon Law
Expanding the process of marriage formation could be helpful, or it could backfire, if it becomes merely perceived as “more hoops” that could discourage people from looking to the Church for marriage preparation, according to Benedict Nguyen, a canon lawyer who serves as canonical counsel and theological adviser for the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Nguyen said expanding the process would have to be done right and that canon law actually provides a beautiful vision for marriage formation in Canon 1063. It involves ongoing catechesis of youth and young adults before they are dating or engaged, personal preparation for the engaged and ongoing formation for the couple after the wedding.

But Nguyen said all the components need to be put in place together, or any strengthening of marriage prep will achieve “mixed results, at best.” The status quo is also not an option either.

“I don’t think that marriage preparation as it is done today will ever achieve the results we would like to see,” he said, adding that trying to provide marriage preparation at the engaged phase is “almost too late.”
Nguyen said canon lawyers on tribunals “see on a daily basis the trends that cause marital relationships to break up.” He recommended that parish and diocesan family-life offices dialogue with them and then “collaborate closely with directors of catechesis and those in youth ministry to see how formation in Christian vocation, especially marriage, can be integrated appropriately at all catechetical stages.”

 Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today is the second official feast day on the Church’s calendar of Saint John Paul II, my hero in the faith and the inspiration of my life’s work. During his canonization ceremony, Pope Francis stated:

In his service to the People of God, Saint John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families toward the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey that, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.
     The Synod on the family, of course, concludes this week. Sadly, based on reports coming out of Rome, it would appear that most of the cardinals and bishops gathered for the Synod are unaware of the treasure that “the pope of the family” gave us in his theology of the body.
I’ve read of interventions at the Synod calling for compelling answers to the pressing questions on the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women regarding marriage, but I haven’t heard of any reports recognizing, as John Paul II affirmed, that his theology of the body provides “the answers to the perennial questions in the conscience of men and women and also to the difficult questions of our contemporary world concerning marriage” (TOB 133:4).
I’ve read of interventions at the Synod calling for a renewed appreciation of magisterial teaching on sexuality and marriage, but I haven’t heard of any reports recognizing, as John Paul II affirmed, that “the theology of the body … is quite indispensable for an adequate understanding of the magisterial teaching” on these subjects (TOB 59:7).
Similarly, I’ve read of numerous interventions calling for renewed educational efforts that help contemporary men and women understand the requirements of marital love, the reasons for these requirements, and for pastoral solutions that empower men and women to fulfill those requirements, but I haven’t heard of any reports recognizing, as John Paul II affirmed, that his theology of the body “is at the same time a pedagogy [that] seeks to educate man by setting the requirements before him, giving reasons for them, and indicating the ways that lead to their fulfillment” (TOB 59:2).

I also read an intervention at the Synod insisting – rightly – that what is needed to address today’s crisis in the family is an extensive, Christ-centered, biblical vision that restores the foundations of what it means that we are created male and female in the image of God, but this bishop seemed completely unaware of the fact that we’ve already been given precisely this in Saint John Paul II’s theology of the body.
It can be disheartening, but, honestly, it’s not surprising. This has been my experience speaking to priests and bishops around the world over the last two decades: very few are familiar with the riches Saint John Paul II has given us.
I say this not to disparage the leaders of our Church. There are a-thousand-and-one understandable reasons they haven’t been exposed to John Paul II’s teaching. I say it, rather, to give those of us who have been exposed to this life changing teaching a-thousand-and-one reasons to share it with everyone we know – including our priests and bishops!

My Response:  Dear Bonnie,
   You are completely correct. I have not heard a word about TOB. And it is precisely the answer to the doctrine/love disjunction. As I think it out, TOB is couched in the personalist anthropology of "I" - "thou." Francis is speaking in the context of the sociological and cultural; i.e., Marxist liberation theology which was opposed by the Christian liberation theology of pueblo fiel. In my reading of "The Reformer  Pope" by Austen Ivereigh. Bergoglio, as Jesuit provincial of the Argentine Jesuits, was squeezed in this position between younger Jesuits whose primary concern was overcoming devastating poverty by their personal involvement with the poor, and Jesuits of Pueblo fiel, who were  spiritually sound and doctrinally faithful. All of liberation theology has to do with the liberation of the person from sin and its effects. I believe a perfect example of pueblo fiel was the "reductions" of Paraguay (by the falls of Iguazu) that were the mission territory of the Jesuits of the17th c. You have seen the movie "Mission" which is indescribably fabulous.
   But when all is said and done, it is a religious and clerical phenomenon of religious as missionaries entering into a secularized sinful setting. What would it be if it were layman dealing with layman, and not priest...? (I am thinking out loud) TOB is concerned about the truth of the human person, husband and wife,  as self-gift and forming an unum as image of the Trinity that is unum

   This occurs to me thinking out your acute observation on the  non-appearance of TOB. Should it appear? The dynamic of love and truth as identical in the human person is the dynamic that would explain both poles of the disagreements. It is always GS #24: Man... becomes himself by the sincere gift of himself. the truth of man is love. This is why I think that the cultural failure to enter matrimony as self-gift disqualifies it as valid sacrament - which means that the majority of couples are not married, and that the question as to whether the divorced-remarried can receive Communion is a gift to us to confront this widespread invalidity, and to transform the entire understanding of evangelization of and in the Church. It is a bomb that must be detonated. VIVA TOB!!!! Where TOB is not understood and lived, there is no matrimony.