Friday, May 22, 2015


The gift of free-will is precisely that, a gift with a great burden and responsibility in terms of salvation.

Some in the clergy and not a few laity want to control people's moral lives as though they could usurp their free will in these matters. Rather than offer the medicine of mercy and God's grace that can eventually touch and change even the most hardened heart, they demand compliance. There are cases where absolution is denied because the compliance sought isn't quite present.

Who of us does not have habitual sins of differing degrees that needs the Sacrament of Penance? What good confessor has denied absolution in these cases? And yet in other cases absolution is denied because the penitent who by God's grace is actually going to confession can't seem to overcome whatever habitual sin he has. Why not just leave it to God and the individual and others who know him to help him come to some eventual resolution even if if be on his deathbed?

Pope Francis more than any recent pope is calling people to go to confession, to take the medicine of mercy the Church offers, yet there is carping here and there that the pope wants to enable sin while at the same time offering the medicine of mercy. How can this be?

Pope Francis more than any recent pope is calling people to believe in the devil and his temptations, oppressions and even possessions. Who of us hasn't been under the devil's influence in one way or another, some minor and some major? All the more reason to go to Confession.

Can we control governments and judicial systems and those who vote from allowing for same sex so-called marital unions? No, not even the threat of excommunication will work today in this regard.

Once a new and difficult period begins for the Church, the Church has to deal with it. We have done so with the divorce mentality throughout the world. No one gets hysterical that in their own parishes are many who are divorced and remarried without the benefit of a Church annulment. We coexist as friends and family all the while upholding the Church's teaching about the sanctity of sacramental marriage. At least I do in a parish with many parishioners in invalid marriages as the Church would understand and teach about invalidity.

We can't control sinners; we can only invite them to the Truth who is God and the mercy of repentance and absolution with a firm purpose of amendment.


Anonymous said...

I assume you are referring to the comment about the pope and virtually all the Irish bishops remaining silent in the face of today's vote to legalize "gay marriage". I disagree with you. When an entire nation turns away form Christ and the teachings of The Church He established the shepherds have a duty to not let the sheep go over the cliff. Remaining silent when people are doing things that will condem them to Hell is not pastoral or merciful, it's negligence and I would dare say, evil.

Who am I to judge?! said...

It seems likely that there'll be a large majority 'yes' vote in the Irish referendum, and that many devout Catholics -- including priests and bishops -- will vote in favor of gay marriage.

I'm deeply troubled by this, but I'm not convinced that priests and bishops entering the debate with all guns blazing would have had the slightest effect on the outcome. They have lost their moral authority in the eyes of most Irish people, or at least their authority to intervene in what is seen as a secular matter.

No doubt a few blogs have been calling for figures like Cardinal Burke to intervene in the debate. But while I admire his courage and steadfastness, the kind of language that he has used on this and related issues is utterly foreign to most of the people who'll be voting in the referendum. I'd much rather that a bishop intervened with a powerfully-worded call for reflection than with talk of "intrinsically disordered and harmful" relationships and "evil" acts. This is a nation that has lost its way, and needs to be guided back onto the true path, not rejected or denounced.

In response to one of yesterday's comments: I don't think that it's a bad thing for a Catholic blog to be a little ambivalent about this and similar issues, if ambivalence means uncertainty about how these problems can be solved. Yes, it takes courage to stick dogmatically to an unpopular position. But it takes a lot more skill to recapture lost and troubled souls.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

WAITJ: I would agree with you. I don't know what the local Irish bishops have or haven't been saying or what priests have or haven't been saying. We don't know because in Ireland there are a lot of priests and bishops.

This is what the Archbishop of Dublin said yesterday:

"In an interview with Vatican Radio on the eve of Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said that “marriage has its place in the construction of society, and changing the definition would have long-term consequences.”

“Children have a right, where it’s possible, to a mother and a father,” he continued. “A change in the Irish constitution would make that affirmation very, very hard to sustain in reality.”

“It would be possible to respond to the needs of and the relationships of homosexual people with another form of legislation which would not change the definition of marriage,” he added.

In a secular society even if predominantly Catholic the Catholic Church is quite ineffective in describing what it opposes in the language of sin although that is where the Church's competence is, not in sociological or political maneuvering.

I hope that same sex marriage doesn't pass in Ireland but if it does, the Church has to speak reasonably to those who disagree with here and within her own ranks.

The unreasonableness of shrill kinds of language and the mean-spirited like that of Westboro Baptist Church in the USA gets people no where.

Anonymous said...

About the referendum in Ireland on homosexual "marriage,": I thought today at Mass, today the Irish are being asked, whom you want? God, or Satan?

We know how the world has been answering this question. And still scholars tell us the story of Adam and Eve is a myth. Ah, some myth. It tells the truth about mankind at the most fundamental level. And we still live out the myth, even unto this very day.

Anonymous said...

Fr. McD said, "We can't control sinners; we can only invite them to the Truth who is God and the mercy of repentance and absolution with a firm purpose of amendment."

And we can pray for them, really pray. Because the Holy Spirit, who really exists, can enter and touch a soul when our invitations fall on deaf ears.

Our prayers allow God to justify the merciful graces he bestows on them. So let us pay the price for our lost brothers, and buy them back from the slave-drivers who captured them. Pray.

Julian Barkin said...

"Pope Francis ... Confession" father you do make some good points here in this article and pose a difficult and sad situation worldwide in our parish communities.

However on the Pope Francis statement I must comment further. Yes you are right about his firm preaching on the devil, sin and mercy. However there is more to this problem. The majority of the Lay faithful do NOT read his homilies or media. They are not the type to plug into social media and read his speeches. Likely these are the people needing to be preached to the most. If they do plug in it is likely standard social media that warps his words. It's the choir already being preached to that knows the truth. The healthy as it were, not the sick who actually need the medicine.

Also, most people, if they care, would get any sort of spiritual "nourishment" from their priests at their 1hr "mandatory" shift as it were in Sunday Mass. We know generally that we cannot depend on most of the Church's clergy to be 100% faithful to Pope Francis. Some are even known at the highest echelons of the Church as heretics in public or even, dare I say it, homosexuals with a likely history of sexual crimes against laity. Back to the priests, do you honestly expect everyone to be like good Father AMJ here? No. They are likely struggling in their faith, overworked, or scared of being shipped by their lukewarm bishop to timbucktoo in their diocese away from civilization. So they preach on the nice bits of Pope Francis while leavin out the best stuff.

Finally, most people are just naturally lazy, preferring routine, comfort, and pleasure. Even if they get a whiff of Pope Francis' true "mercy" they will be spiritually blind in their senses and return to their usual programming ... Sin. Cause they want to and like it.

So yes, while I agree with Frs base points of Pope Francis not being 2 faced and intentionally contradictory, it's clear where more of the problem lies in why his message is not being delivered to the faithful.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Julian, agreed one hundred percent. There are only a tiny minority that bother to read what Pope Francis says and in context, not sound bites and then there is a larger tiny minority that get their news from the media who manipulates the Pope's words with soundbites and ideologies of their own.

What is needed it a thorough study of the CCC and the word of God needs to be preached in parishes. This is the missing link and what is preached is usually Scriptural exegesis which isn't wrong but not helpful for living the Catholic life or if it is too academic the same occurs.

Bee, you are right about Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit wanted to be tasted and consumed.

Julian Barkin said...

Sorry Father, but I was never taught about scriptural exegesis. Never did post-secondary studies in Christianity. What is it, and how is this done in common parishes?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Scriptural exegesis is simply explaining the meaning of a particular Scriptural passage. Usually one would get into the historical context, the type of literature and speak about the oral tradition being different than what an editor would have compiled in putting into writing the various oral traditions that he was aware of and making it in a coherent story. this is okay for a classroom but usually irrelevant to the lives of those to whom this is taught.
Basically a priest reads a commentary on a particular passage and uses that commentary in his homily.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Good Father - The commentary on which the homily is based which you refer to is arrived at via serious Scriptural exegesis, which you so naively dismiss.

Exegesis is the basis for understanding the how Scripture is relevant in the daily lives of the People of God.