I am wondering about the Church's decision on how to handle those who by society's standards have divorced and remarried. I am prayerfully looking for reasons because I think the church has them, but I just don't know where! I am not angry and lashing out, just searching. Is there something I can read that will lovingly rather than legalistically bring this home for me?
When we marry in the Catholic Church I understand that as a sacrament; more than a legal contract, but a sacred oath between the two. So I also understand "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." I also understand the Church wanting to protect that union to protect and strengthen society, and to protect and strengthen each individual union. As Christ is to His bride the Church, we are to be to our spouses in our marriage.
I start getting confused when I see the consequences for those who are not able to maintain that sacrament, obviously through our human weakness-sin. When the couple who is remarried is not allowed the Eucharist, or the sacrament of Reconciliation it seems to be pulling out God's loving touch in their lives which need "more" of God's touch, not less of it! Doesn't this seem abandonment when a person who has committed other horrible sins, such as murder, is able to confess their sins and come back to the sacraments?
As I type this out I can really tell that I am influenced by society's definition of marriage, aren't I? Moses seemed to know it was beyond our capabilities.
Since the Eucharist and Reconciliation is not available to them, is salvation also out of reach for those who have remarried?
Never there, always searching;
Thanks for the letter and the sincere question (as well as permission to post it since so many others also ask the same). A completely frank response would not sound hard by our society's standard. But no harder than Jesus' words: "If a man divorces his wife and marries another, he commits adultery..." (Mk 10:11)
A person in that situation could go to confession, but would need a sincere repentance. I think you can see where I am going...
As far as communion, no priest can deny communion if someone comes forward.* Even Cardinal Law did not refuse communion to Ted Kennedy at his mom's funeral. Still we should help people be aware of the danger Paul describes: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord." (I Cor 11:27) Those are heavy words. He goes on to say that person "drinks judgement upon himself." (v. 29)
We live in an age of "frequent communion." Almost everyone receives, but how well prepared are we? Frequent communion has not been the norm in history. Blessed Juan Diego obtained a special permission to receive three times a week (but not at every daily Mass he attended). Nor is frequent communion the norm in every country today. For example, while Mexicans are much better Mass attenders than we are, the majority do not go to communion at any given Mass.
I'm not saying we were wrong in promoting frequent communion, but perhaps we sometimes take it too lightly. To participate in the sacrifice of the Mass, even without going to communion, is a tremendous source of grace.
About salvation we have to leave than judgement between each soul and God. I hope I have not confused you with all this. Write for any clarification.
Fr. Phil Bloom
*If the priest (or eucharistic minister) recognized that someone was doing it to deliberately cause a scandal, that might be different. I have not heard of such a case, altho I have quietly counseled someone if I felt I could do that without creating a ruckus.
Please check out Catholic Answers' Articles on Divorce and Remarriage and on Who Can Receive Communion