Amoris Laetitia. As I write this on Wednesday (April 6) I am anxiously awaiting the release on Friday (April 8) of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation which is supposed to address the pastoral treatment of the family, including some hot-button issues like whether people who are divorced and remarried may receive Communion. The title of the document is Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love.”
Unfortunately, I have no idea what the document will say, but by the time you read this on Saturday or Sunday it will have been released and you will have received your initial instruction on its contents from the media. But remember what I have told you time and time again about the media: do not believe the media when it talks about the Church. They don’t like us, and they lie about us.
I am certain that no matter what the document actually says—or does not say—the media will portray it as changing fundamental doctrines of the Church. Of course, that’s not going to happen, because, as Pope Francis has repeated explicitly acknowledged, no Pope has the authority change doctrine like that. So whether what you read or hear in the media about Amoris Laetitia makes you happy, angry, confused or whatever, take a deep breath and realize that it’s probably not accurate.
Next week, or perhaps in this Sunday’s homily, I will try to address this topic as best I can, and will follow up with more in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, make sure you form your understanding based on impeccably reliable orthodox Catholic news sources like those available on ewtn.com, catholicculture.com., and ncregister.com, to name a few. Or read the document itself.
Roman Canon. People often kid me because I always pray the ancient Roman Canon–the long Eucharistic Prayer I–at Mass. But I do this because it is so beautiful and rich with theological and doctrinal gems. As I explained in my Holy Thursday homily, one prime example of this is a line that comes soon after the consecration in the Canon, as the priest prays to God the Father: “Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance.”
Now, “countenance” means “facial expression”, and “serene” means a sense of profound calm, peace, and tranquility and, even implies a kind of interior joy. And of course, “kindly” denotes warmth, affection, and tenderness. But what the Father is looking on upon in the Eucharist is, “this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim,” i.e., Jesus suffering and dying on the Cross.
How can the Father “be pleased” and look “kindly”, much less “serenely” on that?
Could you really bear to see the terrible wounds piercing our beautiful savior, or the horror of His pain? In the Eucharist, Jesus mercifully spares us this by veiling the Crucifixion under the appearance of bread and wine, so that we are not overwhelmed by the horror of Calvary, and can instead “see” things with a certain calmness, and understand more clearly the full meaning of the Cross, and so the Eucharist.
In this calmness, we can see the Cross as the fulfillment of man’s desire to offer fitting sacrifice to God, and in particular the fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices, from the first sacrifice of Adam’s son, Abel, to the Sacrifice of Abraham marking the beginning of the Old Covenant, to the mysterious sacrifice of Melkizedech (all mentioned in the Canon). Most especially we understand that it replaces and fulfills the Passover sacrifice of Moses, saving us from all evil and sin and establishing a New Covenant in Christ, who offers Himself—the Lamb of God—through his body on the Cross, to God the Father and to mankind.
We also see it as the perfect sacrifice for giving thanks and praise to God for “the gifts that” he has “given us,” and the perfect sacrifice of atonement for all the sins of mankind from Adam and Eve until the end of time. And we see it as the perfect sacrifice of redemption, or ransom, as God the Son, Jesus, gives his life to free us from slavery to sin.
And finally, and most blessedly, we see that from His suffering and death comes the new life and glory of the resurrection. And so we see the Cross as the font of our salvation, redemption, and grace, the opening of the gates of heaven, and the pledge of eternal glory.
That is the Cross, and that is the Eucharist. If we looked at the Eucharist and saw the reality of the bloody Cross we’d be too overwhelmed by the suffering to see the fullness of the wonder unfolding before our very eyes.
But God the Father sees it all, in its full beauty. And that is why He can look at the Eucharist, see the Cross, and indeed, “Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance.”
I that’s just one reason I love praying the Roman Canon.
“There you go again.” A few days back when Donald Trump was asked if women who have an abortion should be punished, Trump responded: “there has to be some form of punishment, yeah.” Later, after both pro-life and pro-abortion leaders reacted harshly to that statement, Mr. Trump tried to walk it back, several times, eventually issuing a statement saying: “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman…The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”
I have previously expressed my concern about Mr. Trump’s bona fides as a “pro-life candidate,” based on both his very recent conversion from being radically pro-abortion and statements he’s made about appointments to the Supreme Court. My concern continues: even if he’s had a conversion, how deeply is this new conviction held and how far has he thought it through, and when he thinks it through further will he reverse himself yet again?
For the record, Trump’s final statement about punishing doctors and not women is the position of every pro-life leader I know, including myself, since, as Trump rightly noted (finally), women are always a co-victim in the abortion.
Again, I am not taking sides in the election, or endorsing or rejecting a candidate. Just pointing out a “yuge” concern you should consider.
Natalie Butler: National Champion. Congratulations to parishioner Natalie Butler and her teammates on the University of Connecticut’s (UConn) Women’s Basketball Team for winning the NCAA National Championship last Tuesday. Thanks be to God for the gifts He has certainly given Natalie, and congratulations to Natalie for using these gifts to His great glory. Congrats also to proud momma, parish secretary Mary Butler.
Blessed Easter Season. Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles