Pater Noster: Lord’s Prayer, Not Pope’s…

Somebody forgot to say this prayer!

 

From the Editor, Catholic Truth…

When the news broke of Pope Francis’ criticism of the “Our Father”, I dismissed it as a blog topic, certain that nobody in their right mind would give it a second thought, let alone take it seriously enough to change this ancient prayer. I forgot about the Scottish Bishops.  Alerted to the incredible news that the Bishop of Paisley, (John-wasn’t-Martin-Luther-a great-guy-Keenan), and  former Bishop of Galloway, (the notorious Maurice-I’m-proud-of-my-part-in-creating-the-awful-liturgical-texts-for-new-Mass-Taylor), are sympathetic to the possibility of changing the Lord’s Prayer to suit Pope Francis’ latest shocking whim,  and might thus seek to influence the rest of the Bishops, I decided to launch this thread.  Me? I’ll say this latest “new” prayer, like, never. What about you?  Click here to check out the “cautious welcome” given to the Pope’s proposal to change the Pater Noster by these two outright modernists,  and then read the excellent commentary from the Fatima Center (Canada) website below. 

From the Fatima Center Staff: And Lead Us Not Into Stupidity…

How obtuse and inattentive have been the custodians of the Faith these past two thousand years! We and our ancestors have apparently been permitted, even enjoined, to recite the Our Father in an inaccurate and misleading way. Resonating through the corridors of time, from the first century until our own, are the words, “lead us not into temptation.” (ne nos inducas in tentationem — in the Latin Vulgate)
At last, however, in this year of Our Lord 2017, we have a Pope who is prepared to lead us out of the traditional Lord’s Prayer and into a new and improved version that will save us from the misunderstanding we have presumably labored under through the millenia.

Just what is this misunderstanding that requires correction? It is, according to Pope Francis, the idea that God tempts us to sin. “A father doesn’t do that,” the Pope said in a recent television interview. “He helps you get up right away. What induces into temptation is Satan.”

Did we not know this already? Does it require the Pope’s critique of an ancient translation to enlighten us in the matter? All authorities agree that the traditional translation from the New Testament Greek is accurate, and it has never posed a problem — until now.

But does it really pose a problem at all?

We have all prayed the Our Father countless times and repeated the words “lead us not into temptation” with the clear knowledge that we are asking Our Lord to save us from falling into sin. We have prayed these words with the understanding that we are asking for the grace to help us resist the lies of satan, and the attractions of the world and the flesh that are laid before us and that tempt us to forget we have an immortal soul and an eternal destiny.

Have any of us actually thought that God wants us to sin? That Our Lord is trying to induce us to transgress His laws and harm our souls so that He may damn us? How absurd! Yet, Francis is admittedly worried that such may be the case. How ought we to respond to the Pope’s desire to change the words of the Our Father?

We are forced, by common sense, to doubt the genuine nature of Francis’ expressed concerns. It cannot be that a Vicar of Christ, a highly educated Jesuit, really believes that the words of the Our Father have been misinterpreted for two thousand years and that a corrective is needed at this particular time. To take the Pope’s words at face value we must impugn either his intelligence or our own. Francis is not a stupid man, and Catholics are not so doctrinally benighted as he seemingly fears.

So what is this new commotion regarding possible changes to the Our Father really about?

Many things were changed following Vatican II: liturgy, discipline, customs, catechesis, prayers. Many of these changes appeared to be gratuitous, others gravely troubling. But the overall import of the changes was to unsettle the Catholic mind and heart. Once we accepted that anything and everything was subject to change, we were more likely to accept with acquiescence whatever novelties authority proposed. We simply got used to having the ground shift beneath our feet with such frequency that we no longer minded the large and little earthquakes that shook the Church.

All of these changes were merely cosmetic, we were told: an updating of language and discipline to keep pace with the times. Nothing of substance was being lost, we were re-assured time and again. But imagine someone cut off from the Church, say from 1960 until the present. Would he recognize as Catholic anything that he might see going on today in his parish? Would he not be dumbfounded by the words of the post-conciliar popes? Would he not regard Pope Francis as incomprehensible and outrageous? Would he not, like Mary Magdalene at the tomb, say in pain and confusion, “What have they done with my Church?”

What would he make of the vernacular Mass, the changed words of the Consecration, lay men and women distributing the Blessed Sacrament, people receiving Holy Communion in their hands or drinking the Precious Blood from the Chalice? What would he make of the typical Novus Ordo funeral Mass, which is now a falsely jolly ceremony of canonization? What would he make of Amoris Laetitia? Of the pedophile scandals among the clergy? What would he think of a notorious homosexual prelate being placed in charge of the papal residence and serving as the papal representative to the corrupt Vatican bank? What would he make of Pope Benedict’s resignation? We could go on. But we all know how vast and deep have been the so-called reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. The Church is hardly recognizable from what it was a half-century ago and from what it has been throughout the ages.

And there is no end in sight for the “updating” that is deemed so necessary to keep the Church relevant to the modern world. Now, we are told that the Our Father may need to be updated, too. France has taken the lead and its bishops have already changed the phrase the Pope finds theologically troubling. “Ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation” (do not let us give in to temptation) has already been adopted. So, the Pope can rest easy that at least the Catholics of France, or the diminishing remains of them, will not be misled.

As for the rest of us, we are apparently still in need of further instruction and the habits of a lifetime may have to be broken, for our own good, presumably. But does any of this nonsense about the words of the Our Father have to do with genuine pastoral concern? Is the Holy Father really worried that spiritual harm will befall us unless he intervenes to change the custom that has persisted for two millennia? It may be doubted, to put it politely.

Even the most mild and conciliatory of Catholic commentators are clearing their collective throats about this latest of the Pope’s initiatives. “Pope Francis has made a habit of throwing things into confusion, and this is one of them. It just makes you wonder, where does it stop, what’s up for grabs. It’s cumulative unease.” So says Philip Lawler, editor of Catholic World News and a compliant apologist for any number of post-conciliar novelties. Perhaps, if Mr. Lawler and others had not allowed their unease to accumulate but had addressed it immediately, we would not be faced with the present absurdity, which even they feel compelled to address, albeit in their restrained and ineffectual way.

The Protestant world, however, is not so restrained. According to a report in the New York Times, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said he was “shocked and appalled” by the Pope’s remarks. “This is the Lord’s Prayer. It is not, and has never been, the Pope’s prayer…”

But Southern Baptists probably fall within the spectrum of those fundamentalists for whom the Pope has repeatedly expressed his disdain, so he is unlikely to be deterred by his otherwise keen ecumenical sensitivities. Still, Mohler’s remarks are refreshing in their frankness when set beside the timid reservations of Lawler’s “cumulative unease.”
During her final years, Sister Lucy said that we must take the initiative in prayer and penance and not look to those in authority to lead us in these things. Those who have seen the full Third Secret, such as Cardinal Ciappi, have told us that apostasy in the Church will begin “at the top.” Has it not begun? All we can do is follow Sister Lucy’s advice. And when we pray, let us pray the words of Our Lord, “lead us not into temptation.”  Source – Fatima Center Staff

Comment:

Well – will YOU ever say the new Our Father?  Even if you are attending the new Mass, praying the new rosary, reading the new catechism, accepting the new morality, supporting the new canonisations, new everything.  Will you draw the line at this outrageous change?  Or do you agree that Christians have been idiots for two thousand years and didn’t understand the meaning of this simple prayer  – thus, now we need to grow up and get with the papal programme, which appears to be to leave nothing, absolutely nothing unchanged. Let’s hear it… 

2018: The Year of “Saint” Pope Paul VI?

From Vatican Insider

In a special issue entitled “It will be the year of Paul VI Saint”, the weekly magazine of the diocese of Brescia,

La voce del popolo, writes that on 13 December, theologians of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Montini, after a first free go-ahead had been given by the medical consultation of the Vatican Congregation itself. At this point it is necessary that the cardinals of the Congregation and, finally, the Pope express themselves on the same miracle.

The miracle regards the birth of a girl from Verona called Amanda, who in 2014 had survived for months despite the fact the placenta was broken.

Pope Francis beatified his predecessor on 19 October 2014, concluding the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

“Rumors are so insistent and the next steps so fast to take, that everything indicates 2018 as Blessed Paul VI’s canonization year”, writes the diocesan newspaper of Brescia. The last official stage took place last December 13 in the theological commission. The miracle attributed to the intercession of John Baptist Montini about the healing of a fetus in prenatal age in 2014 was approved. The expectant mother native from Verona, at risk of miscarriage, a few days after the beatification of Montini in Brescia, went to the Sanctuary “delle Grazie”, to pray to the newly beatified Pope.

Subsequently, a child in good health was born. After the doctors and theologians’ recognition, there are still a few more steps to be taken: the passage in the commission of cardinals, the final approval of the Pope and that of the Consistory with the official announcement and the definition of the date. But at this point, it is more than a hope. The month of October could be the right one. From 3 to 28 October in Rome, the 15th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on young people will be celebrated and will gather in the Vatican prelates from all over the world. What better opportunity to canonize in front of such a large portion of the College of Bishops, the other pontiff, after Saint John XXIII of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council? It will most likely take place on one of the first three Sundays of October, even if the most accredited date today seems to be the 21. Indeed, sooner or later, in 2018 Paul VI will be Saint! We praise the Lord to Whom we entrust the year that will come”.  Source

Comment:

Is this yet another questionable canonisation to come – the creator of the new Mass, in fact, a saint? Really? Or is this simply the latest attempt to “canonise” the Second Vatican Council and its scandalous aftermath? 

Honouring The Infant of Prague…

Comment:

From time to time, we enjoy a devotional thread, but customarily these have marked Feasts of Our Lady or other major Holy Days.  I can’t recall ever launching a thread on the devotion to the Infant of Prague, so let’s change that. 

I’ve heard stories of prayers answered, from friends who are devotees of the Infant of Prague – what about you?

If, until now, you’ve not had any devotion to the Infant of Prague, is that likely to change now?  Share your thoughts…  

Who’s Your Favourite Saint… And Why?

Comment:

This year,  for reasons beyond our control, we missed out on marking the Feast of All Saints (1st November) so, better late than never, here we go…

Tell us the name of your favourite saint  (imagine you are forced to choose just one)  and explain why.  In what way does that particular saint help your spiritual and religious life. 

2/11 – All Souls Day…

Click here to read Catholic teaching on Purgatory… 

Angel frees souls from Purgatory – Carracci, Lodovico 1610

Now discover…

How to gain indulgences for Souls in Purgatory

A brief outline on how to obtain a plenary indulgence for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls:

Six General rules for obtaining a plenary indulgence:

State of grace at least when performing the indulgenced act
Complete detachment from sin, even venial sin
Confession (20 days before or after the indulgenced act)
Communion (20 days before or after the indulgenced act)
Prayers for the Supreme Pontiff (20 days before or after the indulgenced act)
Indulgenced act: a special good work with special conditions of place and time
Indulgenced acts to be performed for obtaining a plenary indulgence:
 
From November 1 to 8: visit of a cemetery with mental prayer for the poor souls.
On November 2: visit of a church or an oratory with one Our Father and one Creed being recited.

A partial indulgence can be obtained any time by visiting a cemetery and praying for the Poor Souls.

The following prayer is especially recommended:

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.    Source

Now…

Share your comments, stories, favourite prayers, novenas, hymns etc   

Pope Francis Wishes To Change Teaching On Capital Punishment…

Speaking in Rome on October 11th, 2017 (55th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II), at a conference promoting the ‘New Evangelization’, Pope Francis made known his will for the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be revised so as to condemn capital punishment as absolutely immoral in principle. He declared the death penalty to be “in itself contrary to the Gospel” (“in sé stessa contraria al Vangelo”). Source

The Pope’s attack on traditional teaching is not going unchallenged, however;  below, extracts from a very interesting analysis from the Society of St Pius X, District of the U.S.A.  Read entire article here

Capital Punishment and Contemporary Catholicism

On April 20, 2017, Ledell Lee, convicted of the brutal murder of his neighbor, Mrs. Debra Reese, was executed in Arkansas, the state’s first execution since 2005. When asked what his wishes were for his last meal, Lee declined a meal but said he wished to receive Holy Communion before execution. He made no public statement before death, but his request to receive the Sacraments was indicative of a desire to die in a state of grace, at peace with God.

Before Lee’s execution, Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, and the Catholic Mobilizing Network, which describes its mission as “Ending the death penalty. Promoting restorative justice,” all wrote to the governor of Arkansas asking that Lee’s sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

Opposition to the Death Penalty

These Catholic bishops and activists are not alone in their opposition to the death penalty. In June of 2016, Pope Francis sent a video message of support to the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty in which he said: 

“Nowadays the death penalty is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person. It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan for individuals and society, and his merciful justice.”

What then does the Church teach about capital punishment? Is it permitted, and under what circumstances?

The Catechism of the Council of Trent tells us:

“Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thou shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives”
(Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4.).

This contrasts starkly with Pope Francis’s words, “The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty” (Message to the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty).

St. Thomas Aquinas gives two main reasons for the use of capital punishment. One is the common good:

Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since ‘a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump’ (1 Cor. 5:6).”
(Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)

His other consideration is the good of the criminal.

“They…have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from malice, it is possible to make a quite probable judgment that they would never come away from evil” 
(Summa contra gentiles, Book III, chapter 146).

The Good of the Criminal
 
On July 26, 2017, Ronald Phillips, convicted of the particularly horrible murder of a child, was executed in Ohio. The day of his execution, he reportedly spent several hours with a spiritual adviser and took time to read the Bible. Just before death, he made his first public expression of regret since his incarceration, asking forgiveness of his victim’s family. He had previously unsuccessfully sought clemency on grounds of his youth at the time (he was 19) and his difficult childhood.

While some claim that the death penalty puts an end to the possibility of the criminal repenting later on, St. Thomas does not admit this objection.

“The fact that the evil ones, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement.”

Both Phillips’s case and that of Ledell Lee illustrate St. Thomas’s point: imminent death brings home to the criminal the gravity of his crime and leads him to repentance. Samuel Johnson was the author of the oft-quoted aphorism to the effect that nothing concentrates the mind like a sentence of hanging. Of course, in Samuel Johnson’s day, executions were carried out rather more promptly than they are in the United States nowadays: a criminal can languish for decades on death row, and it is said that nearly a quarter of death row inmates die of natural causes while waiting for execution or appealing their sentences.

The Church has been careful to emphasize the need for due process and true justice. Innocent III said:

The secular power can without mortal sin carry out a sentence of death, provided it proceeds in imposing the penalty not from hatred but with judgment, not carelessly but with due solicitude.”

Whether due process is consistently available in the American criminal justice system is a matter of debate. By all accounts it is in desperate need of reform. One high-profile (and well-informed, thanks to his own sojourn in the United States’ jail system) commentator on this issue was newspaper publisher Conrad Black, who has among other issues emphasized the need to address the huge number of inmates in the prison system and the high rate of recidivism, partly due (in his opinion) to a culture in which convicts become dependent on the system. 

The Catholic Understanding of Death

[F]or the believing Christian, death is no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal: it is a grave sin, which causes one to lose his soul. But losing this life, in exchange for the next?…For the non-believer, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence. What a horrible act!”

Does the death penalty deprive the criminal of hope? Of hope for the things of this world, certainly. But there are many instances of dying criminals who have discovered grounds for hope: a certain thief once hoped, “Remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.”

In Conclusion…

From what the Catechism of the Council of Trent tells us, in combination with the teachings of many Popes and sainted theologians, it seems that while the necessity and suitability of capital punishment in a given situation remains a prudential decision for the public authorities, it is clear that traditional Catholic teachings permit the death penalty under certain conditions. One could argue that the rallying of modern Catholicism against capital punishment is at least in part due to the influence of what Scalia calls “the post-Freudian secularist,” inclined to diminish the moral responsibility of the criminal and seemingly blind to the possibility of expiation for sin and life after death.

The fifteenth-century French poet François Villon, a ne’er-do-well who frequently fell afoul of the law, composed his most famous work, The Ballad of the Hanged, in jail the night before he was to be executed. It is an entirely supernatural plea to Christ and Our Lady for mercy on his soul and to his fellowman for pity and prayers. His final stanza is remarkable for its humility and its hope:

Prince Jesus, who has command of all,                                
Do not let Hell gain lordship over us:
With it let us have no dealings.
Men, there is no mockery here;
Pray God that He will absolve us all.

Comments invited…

IS Pope Francis right to seek to “revise” Catholic teaching on the Death Penalty?

Should Catholics Be Concerned About The New Forms Of The Sacraments?

Yesterday, I found myself in conversation with a reader  (we’ll call her Jo, because that’s not her name but it’s short and sweet) who has started attending the SSPX Masses in Glasgow.  We were discussing the hostility which I have personally witnessed at a number of Fatima meetings recently, when novus-attending Catholics became furiously hostile, especially at the very idea that the traditional Latin Mass needs to be restored as soon as possible. Even put a million times more tactfully than that, hostility spilled out like fresh cream in a gorgeous Dairy Sponge cake. Except there was nothing “gorgeous” about it.  Anyway,  when I asked Jo if, after attending the Society Masses for several weeks now she planned to continue, she replied, without a second’s hesitation: “yes”, because she just could not return to the novus-ordo – especially after reading the Open Letter to Confused Catholics, penned by Archbishop Lefebvre.   Got me thinking that, although we have discussed various chapters from that excellent book from time to time, we’ve never examined the chapter on the new forms of the Sacraments, so let’s check the Archbishop’s writings on that topic: do we need new forms of the sacraments? If so, why?  Or, should Catholics be concerned about these new forms of the Sacraments?

Archbishop Lefebvre writes….

The Catholic, whether he be regularly practising or one who goes to church for the great moments of life, finds himself asking such basic questions as, “What is baptism?”

It is a new phenomenon, for not so long ago anyone could answer that, and anyway, nobody asked the question. The first effect of baptism is the redemption from original sin; that was known from father to son and mother to daughter.

But now nobody any longer talks about it anywhere. The simplified ceremony which takes place in the church speaks of sin in a context which seems to refer to that which the person being baptized will commit during his or her life, and not the original fault that we are all born with.

Baptism from then on simply appears as a sacrament which unites us to God, or rather makes us members of the community. This is the explanation of the “rite of welcome” that is imposed in some places as an initial step, in a first ceremony. It is not due to any private initiative since we discover plenty of variations upon baptism by stages in the leaflets of the National Center of Pastoral Liturgy. It is called “deferred baptism.” After the welcome comes the “progression,” the “seeking.” The sacrament will be administered, or not administered, when the child is able, according to the terms used, to choose freely, which may occur at quite an advanced age, eighteen years or more. A professor of dogmatic theology, highly esteemed in the new Church, has established a distinction between those Christians whose faith and religious culture he is confident he can verify, and the others–more than three-quarters of the total–to whom he attributes only a supposed faith when they request baptism for their children. These Christians “of the popular religion” are detected during the preparatory meetings and dissuaded from proceeding any farther than the “ceremony of welcome.” This method of going on is “more appropriate to the cultural situation of our civilization.”

Recently a parish priest in the Somme department who had to enroll two children for their First Communion asked for their baptismal certificates, which were sent to him from the family’s parish of origin. He then found that one of the children had been baptized but not the other, contrary to what the parents believed.  This is the sort of situation that results from such practices. What they give is in effect only a semblance of baptism which those present take in good faith to be the true sacrament.

That you should find this disconcerting is quite understandable. You have also to face up to a specious argument which even appears in parish bulletins, generally in the way of suggestions or testimonies signed with Christian names, that is to say anonymously. We read in one of them that Alan and Evelyn state, “Baptism is not a magic rite which will efface by miracle any original sin. We believe that salvation is total, free, and for all: God has elected all men in His love, on any condition, or rather without condition. For us, to be baptized is to decide to change our life, it is a personal commitment that no one can make for you. It is a conscious decision which implies preliminary instruction, etc.” What frightful errors are contained in those few lines! They lead to the justifying of another method; the suppression of infant baptism. It is another alignment with the Protestants, in defiance of the teachings of the Church right from its beginnings, as St. Augustine wrote in the fourth century: “The custom of baptizing children is not a recent innovation but the faithful repetition of apostolic tradition. This custom by itself alone and without any written document, constitutes the certain rule of truth.” The Council of Carthage, in the year 251, prescribed that baptism should be conferred on infants “even before they are eight days old,” and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a reminder of the obligation in its Instruction Pastoralis actio, on November 21, 1980, basing it upon “a norm of immemorial tradition.”

That is a thing you should know so as to be able to insist upon a sacred right when someone attempts to refuse your newborn children their share in the life of grace. Parents do not wait until their child is eighteen years old before deciding for him his diet, or to have a necessary surgical operation. Within the supernatural order their duty is even greater, and the faith which presides at the sacrament when the child is not capable of taking on for himself a personal engagement is the responsibility you would have in depriving your child of eternal life in Paradise. Our Lord Himself has said in a most clear manner, “No one, unless he be born again of water and the Holy Ghost can enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The results of this peculiar pastoral practice were quick to appear.  In the diocese of Paris, whereas one child out of two was baptized in 1965, only one child in four was baptized in 1976.  The clergy of one suburban parish observed, without appearing concerned about it, that there were 450 baptisms in 1965 and 150 in 1976. From the whole of France, the fall continues. From 1970 to 1981, the overall figure dropped from 596,673 to 530,385, while the population increased by more than three million during the same period.

All this is the outcome of having falsified the definition of baptism. As soon as they stopped saying that baptism wipes out original sin, people have been asking, “What is baptism?” and straightaway after, “What is the good of baptism?” If they have not got as far as that, they have at least thought about the arguments that have been put to them and accepted that there was no urgency, and after all, at the age of adolescence the child could decide for himself and join the Christian community in the same way as joining a political party or a union.

The question is raised in the same way regarding marriage.  Marriage has always been defined by its first aim which is procreation and its secondary aim which is married love. Now, at the Council they sought to alter this definition and say there was no longer a primary aim, but that  the two aims of which I speak were equivalent. It was Cardinal Suenens who proposed this change and I still remem- ber Cardinal Brown, the Master General of the Dominicans, getting up to say, “Caveatis! Caveatis!–Beware! Beware! If we accept this definition we go against all the tradition of the Church and we pervert the meaning of marriage. We do not have the right to modify the Church’s traditional definitions.”

He quoted texts in support of his warning and there was great agitation in the nave of St. Peter’s. Cardinal Suenens was pressed by the Holy Father to moderate the terms he had used and even to change them. The Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, contains nevertheless an ambiguous passage, where emphasis is laid on procreation “without nevertheless minimizing the other aims of marriage.” The Latin verb, post habere, permits the translation “without putting in second place the other aims of marriage,” which would mean “to place them all on the same level.” This is what is wanted nowadays; all that is said about marriage comes back to the false idea expressed by Cardinal Suenens, that conjugal love–which was soon termed quite simply and much more crudely “sexuality”–comes at the head of the purposes of marriage. Consequently, under the heading of sexuality, everything is permitted–contraception, family planning and finally, abortion.

One bad definition, and we are plunged into total disorder.  The Church, in her traditional liturgy, has the priest say, “Lord, in Thy goodness, assist the institutions Thou hast established for the propagation of the human race…” She has chosen the passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which points out the duties of the married couple, making of their joint relationship an image of the   relationship uniting Christ and His Church.  Very often the couple to be married are nowadays invited to make up their own Mass without even having to choose the Epistle from Holy Scripture, replacing it by a profane text, and taking a reading from the Gospel that has no connection with the sacrament to be received. The priest in his exhortation takes good care not to mention the demands to which they will have to submit, for fear of giving a forbidding impression of the Church or even of offending any divorced people present among the congregation.

Just as for baptism, experiments have been made for marriages by stages, or non-sacramental marriage, which scandalize Catholics. These experiments, tolerated by the episcopate, take place following lines laid down by the official organizations and are encouraged by diocesan officials. A form put out by the Jean Bart Center shows some of the ways of going about it. Here is one:

A reading from the text: “The essential is invisible to the eyes” (Epistle of St. Peter). There is no exchange of vows but a liturgy of the hands,  symbol of labor and workers’ solidarity.  Exchange of rings (without the blessing), in silence. Reference to Robert’s work:  welding,  soldering (he is a plumber).  The kiss.  The Our Father by all the believers in the congregation. Hail Mary. The newlyweds lay a bouquet of flowers at the statue of Mary.

Why would Our Lord have instituted the sacraments if they were to be replaced by this kind of ceremony devoid of everything supernatural, excepting the two prayers at the end? A few years ago, we heard a lot about liturgy in the department of Saône-et-Loire.  To justify this “Liturgy of Welcome,” it was said that they wished to give young couples the desire to come back later and get married for good.  Out of something like two hundred pseudo-marriages, two years later not a single couple had returned to regularize their position. Even if they had, the fact would remain that the priest of this parish had actually recognized officially, if not actually blessed, over a period of two years, something none other than concubinage. An official Church survey has revealed that in Paris, 23% of the parishes had already held  non-sacramental weddings for couples, one of whom if not both were non-believers, for the purpose of gratifying the families, or the couples themselves, often out of concern for social conformity.

It goes without saying that a Catholic does not have the right to attend such goings-on.  As for the so-called married couple, they can always say they have been to church and doubtless they will end up by believing their situation to be  regular by dint of seeing their friends follow the same path. Misguided Catholics will wonder if it is not better than nothing. Indifference takes over; they become willing to accept any arrangement, from a simple registry-office wedding to juvenile cohabitation (in respect of which so many parents want to show themselves to be “understanding”), and finally through to free unions. Total de-christianization lies ahead; the couples each lack the graces which come from the sacrament of marriage in order to bring up their children, if at least they agree to have any. The breakdowns in these unsanctified households have increased to such an extent as to worry the Council of Economic and Social Affairs, of which a recent report shows that even a secular society is aware that it is heading for ruin as a result of the instability of these families or pseudo-families.

Then there is the sacrament of Extreme Unction. This is no longer the sacrament of the sick or the feeble. It has become the sacrament of the old: some priests administer it to persons of pensionable age who show no particular sign of approaching death. It is no longer the sacrament that prepares one for the last moment, which wipes out the sins before death and disposes the soul to final union with God. I have in front of me a notice distributed to all the faithful in a Paris church to warn them of the date of the next Extreme Unction:  “For those who are still active, the sacrament of the sick is celebrated in the presence of the whole Christian community during the Eucharistic celebration. Date: Sunday, at the 11 o’clock Mass.” These anointings are invalid.

The same collectivist mentality has provoked the vogue of penitential celebrations. The sacrament of penance can only be of an individual nature.
By definition and in conformity with its essence, it is, as I have previously pointed out, a judicial act, a judgment.  A judgment cannot be made without having examined a cause; each one’s case has to be heard in order to judge it and then to remit or to retain the sins. His Holiness John Paul II has insisted several times on this point, notably to the French bishops on April 1, 1982 telling them that personal confession followed by  individual absolution is “a requirement of the dogmatic order.” It is consequently impossible to justify these ceremonies of reconciliation by explaining that ecclesiastical discipline has become more relaxed, that it has adapted itself to the needs of the modern world. It is not a question of discipline. There was formerly one exception: general absolution given in a case of shipwreck, war, etc.; an absolution whose value is debated by learned writers. It is not permissible to make a rule out of the exception. If we consult the Acts of the Apostolic See we find the following expressions uttered both by Paul VI and John Paul II on various occasions: “the exceptional character of collective absolution,” “in case of grave necessity,” “in extraordinary situations of grave necessity,” “quite exceptional character,” “exceptional circumstances.”

Celebrations of this type have, however,  become habitual though without becoming frequent in any one parish, due to the scarcity of faithful who are disposed to put themselves right with God more than two or three times a year.  They no longer feel the need, as was quite foreseeable since the idea of sin has been wiped out of their minds.  How many priests still remind people of the need for the sacrament of penance? One member of the faithful has told me that in going to confession in one or another of several Paris churches where he knows he will be able to find a “priest on duty” he often receives the congratulations or thanks of the priest, surprised to have a penitent.

These celebrations subjected to the creativity of the “animators” include singing, or else a record is played.  Then comes the turn of the Liturgy of the Word, followed by a litany type of prayer to which the assembly responds, “Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner,” or else by a sort of general examination of conscience. The “I confess to Almighty God” precedes the absolution given once and for all to the whole congregation, which only leaves one problem: would a person present who did not want absolution receive it just the same? I see on a duplicated sheet distributed to those taking part in these ceremonies at Lourdes that the organizer has asked himself this question: “If we wish to receive absolution, let us dip our hands in the water and make the sign of the cross upon ourselves,” and at the end, “Upon those who are marked by the sign of the cross with the water of the spring the priest lays his hands. Let us unite ourselves to his prayer and accept pardon from God.”

The British Catholic paper, The Universe, a few years ago lent its support to a movement launched by two bishops which consisted of bringing back to the Church those of the faithful who had long since given up the practice of religion.  The appeal made by the bishops resembled the public notices put out by families of runaway adolescents: “Little X, please come home. No one will grumble at you.” It was then said to the future prodigal sons, “Your bishops invite you during this Lent to rejoice and celebrate. The Church offers to all her children, in the imitation of Christ, pardon for their sins, freely and without restriction, without their meriting it, and without their requesting it. She urges them to accept and begs them to return home. There are many who wish to return to the Church after years of separation but are unable to make up their minds to go to confession.  At any rate, not straightaway…”

They could then accept the following offer: “At the Mission Mass which will be attended by the bishop in your deanery (here is given the time and the date) all those who are present are invited to accept the pardon of all their past sins. It is not necessary for them to go to confession at that moment. It will be sufficient for them to repent their sins and desire to return to God, and to confess their sins later, after having been again welcomed into the fold. Meanwhile they have only to let Our Father in heaven take them into His arms and embrace them tenderly. Subject to a generous act of repentance the bishop will grant to all those present and desiring it pardon for their sins. They may then immediately receive holy communion…”

The Journal  of the Grotto,  the bi-monthly magazine from Lourdes, reproducing this curious pastoral letter under the heading “General Absolution: Communion now, confession later,” made the following comment: “Our readers will be fully aware of the deeply evangelical spirit which has inspired it, likewise the pastoral understanding of people’s actual situation.”

I do not know what results were obtained, but that is not the issue. Can pastoral needs take precedence over doctrine to the point of undertaking to give Communion in the Body of Christ indiscriminately to people who are probably in many cases in a state of mortal sin, after so many years without the practice of religion? Certainly not. How can we so lightly consider paying for the conversion with a sacrilege, and how much chance has this conversion of being followed by perseverance? We can observe, in any case, that before the council and before this “welcoming” pastoral method there were between fourteen and fifteen thousand conversions annually in England.  They have dropped off to about five thousand. We recognize the tree by its fruit.

Catholics are just as confused in Great Britain as in France. If a sinner or an apostate, following his bishop’s advice, presents himself for collective absolution and at the holy table in these conditions, does he not risk losing his confidence in the validity of sacraments so lightly accorded, when he has every reason to consider himself unworthy of them?  What is going to happen if later on he neglects to “regularize” himself by going to confession? An unsuccessful return to the house of the Father will only make more difficult a final conversion.

That is what dogmatic laxity leads to. In the penitential ceremonies which take place, in a less extravagant manner, in our parishes, what certainty has the Catholic of being truly pardoned? He is given over to the same anxieties as Protestants, to interior torments provoked by doubt.  He has certainly gained nothing by the change.

If it is a bad thing from the point of view of validity, it is also bad psychologically.

For instance, how absurd to give collective absolution with the reservation that people with grave sins have to confess them personally immediately afterwards! People are not going to draw attention to themselves by showing that they have grave sins on their consciences, that is obvious!  It is as though the secret of the confessional were violated.

We should add that the faithful who communicate after collective absolution will no longer see the need to present themselves before the judgment of penance, and that one can understand. The ceremonies of reconciliation are not complementary to auricular confession, they eliminate and supplant it. We are proceeding towards the disappearance of the Sacrament of Penance, established like the six others by Our Lord Himself. No pastoral concern can justify this.

For a sacrament to be valid, the matter, the form and the intention are all needed.  The Pope himself cannot change that.  The matter is of divine institution; the Pope cannot say “tomorrow we will use alcohol for the baptism of infants, or milk.” Neither can he change the essential of the form. There are essential words. For example, one cannot say, “I baptize thee in the name of God,” because God Himself has settled this form:  “Thou shalt baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation has been equally maltreated. One formula current today is, “I sign thee with the Cross, and receive the Holy Spirit.” But the minister does not then specify what is the special grace of the sacrament by which the Holy Ghost gives Himself, and the sacrament is invalid.

That is why I always respond to the requests of parents who have doubts regarding the validity of the confirmation received by their children or who fear it will be administered invalidly, seeing what goes on around them.  The cardinals to whom I had to explain myself in 1975 reproached me on this and since then similar reproaches are repeated through the press on all my journeys. I explained why I carried on in this way.  I meet the wishes of the faithful who ask me for valid confirmation, even if it is not licit, because we are in a period when divine law, natural and supernatural, has precedence over positive ecclesiastical law when the latter opposes the former instead of being a channel to transmit it. We are passing through an extraordinary crisis and there need be no surprise if I sometimes adopt an attitude that is out of the ordinary.

The third condition of a valid sacrament is a right intention.  The bishop or priest must have the intention of doing what the Church wills to be done. Not even the Pope can change that.

The priest’s faith is not among the necessary elements.  A priest or bishop may no longer have the faith;  another may have it less; and another a faith that is not quite complete.  That has no direct effect on the validity of the sacraments they administer, but may have an indirect one. One remembers Pope Leo XIII’s decision that Anglican ordinations are invalid through a defect in the intention. Now it was because they had lost the faith, which is not only faith in God, but in all the truths contained in the Creed, including, “I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church,” that the Anglicans have not been able to do what the Church wills.

Are not priests who lose the faith in the same case? There are already priests who no longer wish to confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist according to the Council of Trent’s definition. “No,” they say, “the Council of Trent was a long time ago.  Since then we have had Vatican II.  Now it’s trans-signification, or trans-finalization.  Transubstantiation? The Real Presence of the Son of God under the appearances of bread and wine? Not in these days!”

When a priest talks like this, he makes no valid consecration. There is no Mass or Communion. For Christians are obliged to believe what the Council of Trent has defined about the Eucharist until the end of time.  One can make the terms of a dogma clearer, but not change them; that is impossible. Vatican II did not add anything or retract anything; and it could not have done so. Anyone who declares that he does not accept transubstantiation is, in the terms of the Council of Trent, anathema, that is, cut off from the Church.

This is why Catholics in this latter part of the twentieth century have a duty to be more vigilant than their fathers were. They must not let just any idea be imposed upon them, in the name of the new theology or the new religion: for what this new religion wants is not what the Church wills. [Emphases added]
Source – The New Forms of Sacraments Baptism, Marriage, Penance & Extreme Unction

Comment:

Should Catholics be concerned about the new forms of the Sacraments?