Wednesday, April 13, 2016


I was at a conference where Father Benedict Groschell was one of the main speakers. He was no flaming liberal to say the least. But he was a street wise priest who had the smell of the sheep on him and New York to boot.

He was a pastoral liberal. I consider myself the same as well. I am a traditionalist when it comes to the Liturgy, dogma and doctrines of the Church but in the messiness of life I try to cut people some slack. Only God is perfect and we can only reach that perfection ourselves through the Church because through the Church God makes us a part of Himself.

It might do us well to understand, especially as we enter the Bread of Life discourse in John's Gospel with our daily Easter Masses, that when we receive the Food of Holy Communion, Jesus doesn't become a part of us, no we become a part of Jesus or better yet, we are sustained in our having been grafted only by the grace of God onto the Vine that is our Lord.

Back to Fr. Groschell. He spoke of a young homosexual man who was  very promiscuous. Promiscuity was his habitual sin. Yet he was also very religious having been brought up as a Catholic. He went to Mass each Sunday and he felt sorry for his sins, all of them, frequented confession regularly but still lived the lifestyle he had a hate/love relationship with because of its passing pleasure but ultimately quite empty and sterile.

Gradually, with the help of God, frequent Confessions and Holy Communion, he fell in love and settled down and lives a same sex relationship that is a far cry from his past.

Is Holy Communion to be denied to someone like this who goes to Church regularly and lives a just life filled with good works but his sexuality is the main part that is not perfected yet, yet his sexual relationship has elements of good in it?

Confession and Holy Communion as food for the sick, not just a reward for the virtuous and righteous, is not alien to Catholic thinking and theology. And to describe every Holy Communion received by an imperfect person who is sinful as a sacrilege is a bit much. The devil is in the intentions. If I receive Holy Communion in order to make a personal statement against the Church and her moral teachings or politicize Holy Communion by my reception--yes this is sacrilegious.

My only fear is unfairness when it comes to the application of "The Joy of Love" in local dioceses and parishes. It will very from priest to priest. That's not right. Of course, one size doesn't fit all. But I know from my own experience that there are Catholics who faithful to the letter of the law of the Church do not receive Holy Communion but apart from their supposed "adulterous or fornicatorous" relationships are more moral than 90% of the Catholics who do receive Holy Communion each Sunday.

I feel bad for them that they feel excluded from Holy Communion and Confession when others don't give a flip and do come forward with no public signs of irregularity or habitual sins but their lives actually filled with it.

We cut people slack who are habitual sinners with pornography and masturbation, fighting with their spouses and using angry, malicious words against them, being unfair to their family and co-workers and using bad language and bad example with others.  But if they have a habitually sinful sex life and we know about it, the wrath of God is unleashed upon them and burdens placed upon them that we would not place upon these others. I'm speaking of people who go to Mass regularly in these irregular habitual sinful situations and refrain from Holy Communion but others who receive each time they attend Mass never having gone to Confession and the times they go to Holy Communion are only Easter, Christmas, Funerals and weddings. 


Catechist Kev said...

I don't know, Father. I pray I am not off base, but it seems to me this post adds to the confusion that AL has brought upon us (with its now infamous footnote).

Has AL officially brought the opening of Holy Communion for... well, any one? (no matter the state of their soul).

Have we forgotten that the following passages from Sacred Scripture (i.e. written *by* God through man) are *omitted* in the Novus Ordo Lectionary? Can we ask why?

"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. -- For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." (1 Cor. 11:27 and 29)

I don't know what to believe on this issue now (on the worthy reception of Holy Communion).

Have we forgotten the prophetic words of Pope Pius XII from 1946? "The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin." (you know, when the lines to the confessional were as long as the line to receive Holy Communion?).

Catechist Kev

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Under this pope we have returned to a 1970's theology of morality but with some advancement over the 1970's. We have to live with this while this is in effect. Overnight the next pope may reverse the trend towards walking backwards to the 1970's and leapfrog us in continuity with Pope Benedict. But that's not where we are today and a pope has given us a pastoral theology that is confusing to say the least.

Apart from that, though, his whole exhoration must be read, not the footnotes and the statements saying anyone now is free to receive Holy Communion after an decision of conscience. I would once again say that as a priest I must teach all that the CCC teaches especially on the proper formation of conscience.

What I dislike to high heaven is being a policeman of morality in the Church. Adults who flaunt the law of God are responsible, not me if I have led them to the proper sources of truth: Scripture, Tradition and Canon law.

Anonymous said...

"Adults who flaunt the law of God are responsible, not me if I have led them to the proper sources of truth: Scripture, Tradition and Canon law."


Canon Law may be a reflection of Truth, but it is hardly a "source" thereof.

Agnes said...

Father, I have my own habitual sins that I need to work through. When I am not in the state of grace I don't receive Holy Communion. It seems to me that there is a big difference between someone who falls into sin, repents, tries to live a moral life but then falls again (and repeats the process) and someone who chooses to remain in sin, even if there are other elements of the person's life that may be praiseworthy. Under certain circumstances it can be argued that the latter person is moving in the right direction; however, it doesn't mean the person gets a free pass.

Maybe priests need to spend more time in their homilies actually talking about the Christian moral life in all its forms, instead of wasting people's time with a homily that does nothing more than paraphrase the readings of day or can be read from a 'quote of the day'? If you want people to be holy then inspire them to be holy. NB: This is not a personal statement against any of Father McDonald's homilies, as I have never heard them. It is, however, a comment on the far too many homilies I've had to listen to since I was a small child.

John Nolan said...

So, going back to the bar graph, it would appear that a clear majority of Catholics (it doesn't say if they are declared Catholics or practising Catholics, and I would not be surprised if it were the latter) approve of same-sex marriage and abortion. In the western world Catholicism is hardly even a cultural construct and the faith and morals which once underpinned it have largely disappeared.

By the way, it doesn't help if you have a view of sexual morality which puts masturbation on the same level as sodomy and adultery. It raises the old adage that one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What is very unclear to me given what others are saying about what the pope is allowing is the "internal forum" for ambiguous situations.

We already know that even if someone is living in what appears to be a state of sin, that if they are civilly married or simply cohabiting, be it adultery or fornication, that if they abstain from sex, they would be free to go to Holy Communion after Confession. It is in the confessional that the priest counsels this person. I get that.

Then we have the more messy situation of someone whose previous marriage is presumed to be valid by the Church, but after a civil divorce and remarriage, they have tried to get an annulment and can't because of technicalities, lack of witnesses and the such.

In this case, the priest in confession (and the penitent not the priest initiates it, adjudicates the case by listening to the facts and discovers from that person if only witnesses were present or someone would cooperate, he would have gotten an annulment. Apart from that there would be no impediments to the marriage being blessed in the Church.

The priest gives an internal solution barring any scandal, that the person may return to Holy Communion if in good conscience the person feels they can.

The priest may not under any circumstances, bless the marriage. But there is civil recognition already of the marriage and there was in the early church the practice of simply living together in a committed, lifelong relationship that constituted the sacrament. A ceremony was not needed in other words--common law was all that was needed.

The more difficult situation for me and the pope has caused it, is for those who refuse to go through the annulment procedure or gays living together in a civil marriage or whatever---how can anyone allow someone in a clearly unrepentant situation return to Holy Communion after confession but no desire to make amends. This is what I want answered by my bishop and the pope. I am confused here.

tjv3 said...

It seems to me that when dealing with the pastoral care of a recidivist, the question of purpose of amendment must be the focus. When the person is living with a paramour, of either sex, the very living situation is the near occassion of sin. Different sins call for different remedies. But is one authentically attempting to amend their life if they continue to live with someone to whom they have emotionally bonded and have a sexual history? No one said salvation or cooperating with grace was always easy. To help move them toward a habitual life of grace necessitates moving them to a living situtation that is not fraught with temptation. The individual needs to be assisted in developing a solid and healthy spiritual life with a firm reliance on grace to maintain chasity. While falls are to be expected, they should not be encouraged. The fact you got burned does not suggest you should again jump into the fire.

Fr. Bebedict also spoke of the Irish mist principle. Two elderly ladies lived together, chastely. However, once a year, on St. Patrick's Day, after a bit too much Irish Mist, a little "hanky-panky" went on. Do you have to tell them that they have to move out and not live with one another? No, you tell them not to drink Irish Mist. Different situation from the one presented above, where there is ongoing, regular illicit sexual activity. Then, someone has to move out, for the good of souls.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but am I missing something here?I have Fr Richard Rego's GUIDE TO CONSCIENCE from the late eighties 1990 and in it here clearly says that ALL SINS OF THE FLESH including self abuse are all MORTAL SINS objectively. Get a copy of it and read it it spells out all things there are sins and in which category. Maybe Cardinal Burke EWTN and the good men at the Vatican should all read it. This all boils down to what is being called a REVOLUTION in the Church by evil subversives who want to make a NEW CHURCH and thus help bring in a NEW WORLD ORDER. WAKE UP EVERYBODY!

Wide Awake said...

"Objectively" is not "Subjectively. And, like it or not, this is an essential distinction.

That there is a difference is no revolution whatsoever.

Adam Michael said...

"Gradually, with the help of God, frequent Confessions and Holy Communion, he fell in love and settled down and lives a same sex relationship that is a far cry from his past."

His Confessions and Holy Communions led him to a stable, mortally sinful life? Can the grace of God also lead me to a stable life of mortal sin? This is a pretty accurate application of Amoris Laetitia para. 303 and 305 (with footnote 351) in the mentality of those formed by it. However, St. Paul condemns it (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and I confess, in the words of the Apostle, "be not conformed to this world, but be transformed in the the newness of your mind, that you may discern what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2)!

Adam Michael said...

"That there is a difference is no revolution whatsoever."

Of course - the real revolution is that all morality is no longer absolutely connected to people's lives. All moral teachings remain, but as ideals, and individual conscience may discern that the practice of objective sin (mortal or venial) is what God is asking them to temporarily embrace (para. 303), without any impact on their relationship with the Church (para. 301, 305/ft. 351, as well as the principles outlined throughout Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia). Thus has the liberal Catholic desire to divorce Catholic morality from the lives of the faithful in the name of conscience triumphed.

Zachary said...

Father, I cannot agree with this viewpoint, your mission as a priest is to tell unvarnished, the truth of the Catholic Church, you may speak it more or less tactfully but the truth does NOT stop being true nor is it relative to people's personal situation.

Respectfully, would you have told this young man w/ homosexual desires that he should not take Holy Communion while still in this relationship and encourage him to live a celibate life?

Because that is the only answer according to the Laws of the Church and the Divine precepts put down by Our Lord.