Wednesday, February 1, 2017




Can a valid Sacrament die? As far as I know, although our sins and outright rejection of what our Lord does for us in all of the Sacraments can be corrupted, those who are validly baptized and Confirmed as Catholics are always Catholics even though they might renounce their Catholicism. In such a case the Sacrament is corrupted but not made null and void.  The same thing is true of valid ordination to Holy Orders and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

But it is not true of the Most Blessed Sacrament--the on-going Real and Substantial Presence of Christ under the form of bread and wine. If the outward accidents of the valid Sacrament become corrupted and no longer resemble bread or wine, the Sacrament ceases in those elements, in other words corruption leads to the the death of those elements conveying the reality of the Substance of the Real Presence of Christ.

Currently, a little ole footnote in Amoris Laetitia, an otherwise wonderful document of marriage and the family (but who would know that as the footnote consumes commentaries) gives into the current ideology in many cultures that the individual takes precedence over the common good.

Thus a person in a valid sacramental marriage that has ended in a civil divorce (or is that even necessary?) lives with another person to whom they have no sacramental marriage but nonetheless engage in the marital act. If this person can justify their situation in their own conscience, it appear Amoris Laetitia allows for this fierce individualism rather than the common good of upholding sacramental marriages which because of sin have become corrupted by the infidelity of the Catholic breaking his marital vows with someone who is not their sacramental spouse.

The common good of the Sacrament of Matrimony is preserved in the external form of the Annulment procedure, which allows the Church for good cause and based on objective evidence to declare what was presumed to be a sacrament as never having been one. Thus the Catholic could enter another marriage in the Church or have an adulterous union validated in the Church.

But Amoris Laetitia undoes this solemn tradition by allowing an individual to make a decision of conscience. But the Church cannot endorse the conscience of that person by blessing their adulterous union. But the Church, it appears, is allowing a public sinner to receive Holy Communion without ending the adultery (as well as the other sacraments of the Church, but excluding Holy Matrimony which is illogical given the false logic of Amoris Laetitia).

But what if the Church was involved in the process and had a canonical procedure to declare a marriage dead, not null and void, but spiritually dead because of corruption that had rendered it dead like the bread and wine of Holy Communion which no longer resembles bread and wine due to the corruption of the accidents?

Can a sacrament die? Yes in some cases as in the case of Holy Communion. Extend it to Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders and allow a person in an illicit adulterous situation to have that union blessed as a Sacrament once the Church's canonical process declares their previous marriage dead!

This removes it from the flawed conscience of fierce individualism and brings back the ecclesial dimension of the decision which leads to the validation of what was once considered objectively adulterous.


Gene said...

RE: individual conscience: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Jer. 17:9.

TJM said...

I am not a canon lawyer and I have to admit I have not studied this issue with great care since I have been married for over 40 years. If seems to me, rather than using this "conscience" gambit or the "internal forum" the Church would be better off revisiting the grounds for a Church annulment to flesh out what "consent" to enter into a Christian marriage entails and really means. I believe this would be more intellectually honest.

Jusadbellum said...

Theologians who stray off the reservation usually do so by sleight of hand in proposing an analogy and then taking this at face value.

So divorce is considered "akin to a death of the relationship" or "irrevocably broken, like death". And then they claim this metaphorical death is equal to or morally equivalent to actual death and declare the sacramental covenant over.

But see, two can play this sophist game. I can declare a Modernist Theologian to be akin to an ape in his lack of conceptual congruent logic and his lack of any semblance of higher intellectual functions. Well. If a Theologian is an ape then he's not my equal as a human being is he? I can treat him as just one more animal, right?

Ah, not so nice when their same "argument" is turned around on them is it?

Theologians - the modernists and Germans especially in their arrogance are amazingly susceptible to this sort of sophistry and never seem to have thought through the wider implications of their arguments designed to justify the sexual revolution in private affairs and socialist revolutions in their public policy affairs. They never seem to be aware that one day they won't on the top of the totem pole and others will use the tools they've created to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Anonymous said...

In the case of the Blessed Sacrament, we see that once the material part has decayed or dissolved and is no longer present, the grace of the Sacrament is no longer present either. The material decay or dissolution of the Blessed Sacrament rendering the Sacrament complete or ended is akin, in my opinion, to the material decay or dissoloution of the human flesh, which renders the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony complete or ended (until death do us part). For some to suggest that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony "dies" while those who validly and licitly entered into it still live is equivalent to the "death" of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist when the host or wine is decayed or dissolved are chasing after phantoms and mirages. It is simply not the same thing.

But even more generally, such equality cannot be achieved among the Sacraments anyway. Some have a permanent, immatieral effect on the soul (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders) and some do not (Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Matrimony). If there is any equality to be found, it is probably only in the fact that all seven are demanding and difficult (both in believing that they are actually efficacious and in carrying out their responsibilities and duties). Many left Jesus after His Bread of Life discourse in John 6. Many doubt or avoid Penance. Many think Confirmation is a stretch and balk at the demand that one "spread and defend" the faith once confirmed. Why should marriage be any less demanding?

TJM said...

I understand that Cardinal Mueller has given an interview which in a backhanded way answers the Dubia and his answer is for the loons (bishops) in Malta to bone up on their theology of marriage, that it is a mortal sin for an adulterer to take Holy Communion. I hope Pope Francis asked him to say this.

Anonymous said...

It is not flesh that marries flesh, so speaking of the dissolution of the flesh isn't germane.

A person marries a person. Flesh, mind, will, spirit, and soul, so the decay of the accidents of bread is not a good analogy.

A marriage cannot exist without the whole person engaged therein. Marriage is an imperfect reflection of Christ's love for the Church.

What degree, if any, of imperfection allows for us to think of a marriage coming to an end before the death of one of the parties?