What the Church should do Immediately regarding annulments!

Synod on the FamilyAll of us have friends and family members who have been married, divorced and married again outside the Church. Some are in these painful situations due to no fault of their own and others may be guilty of causing the destruction of their first marriage. Many of them want to find a way to a full, active participation in the life of the Church. That is what is what they all want, and what we all desire for them. However, both parties in the former marriage must be considered and protected from a faulty annulment process, lest the Church Herself through false compassion blesses marriages that can’t take place due to a previous valid marriage.

Some years ago, a good friend of mine who is not Catholic started talking about his own situation. He went on to explain how although he grew up in the Salvation Army and is a practicing Mason, he wanted his wife to have the ability to be married in the Catholic Church. I will call him John to protect his identity. John went to the local Catholic parish and met with the priest. He told the priest that his was was Catholic and he was not. John had been married previously and was willing to go through what is necessary to give his wife a Catholic marriage. Father went on to tell John that he needed to go through an annulment process, and that it would cost him $500.00. John thanked the priest, stood up and walked out. John and his non-practicing Catholic wife were married outside the Church.

There is no guarantee that if John went through the annulment process that he would have received the outcome that he desired, but he was willing to do it anyway. Due to the Church’s fees for an annulment, John and Mary (not here real name) were married outside the Church and the hope that John might have even considered becoming a Catholic was lost forever. To John, we became the Church that is only worried about money. And at time, I can’t blame him for his thinking.

I suggest that the Holy Father ban charging for annulments immediately. And, if bishops refuse, place an immediate canonical punishment on them. Most dioceses in the United States charge their parishes an annual assessment (a church tax), and in some nations like Germany, there is a national tax support the Church. We have become a Church obsessed by money. There are so many second collections in the US that you could choke an elephant with the envelopes.

If we were to offer an annulment process with no cost everybody wins. Right off, you put an end to the attitude that you have to “buy” an annulment. Of course this does not guarantee people will get their desired outcome, but they will see a Church of mercy that desires to help Her children without a cost. In the end, those people who have gone through the annulment process could be invited to give a donation and they will become better Catholics because our Church has sought to aid the sinner and not attack their pocketbook.

My encounter with saints

In just a few days, 1 November, we celebrate the Solemnity of all Saints. On this great feast day, we celebrate those men, women and children who are in heaven, but not on the Roman Calendar. Reality is that we don’t have to be canonized by the Church to go to heaven. Canonization is a formal process that declares that a person lived heroic virtue and is worthy of the “cult of saints.” Not “cult” in the sense of a false religion. For Catholics, the word cult means a form of worship or honor. There are two kinds of cultus in the Catholic Church. One is called dulia and the other latria. Latria is worship and adoration given to God alone. “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3) But, there is also something we call dulia. Dulia is a theological term signifying the honor we pay to the saints and the prayerful intercession we ask of them. Hyperdulia is the veneration we offer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

So, dulia and hyperdulia in a worldly sense is like the pictures of our loved ones sitting on the bookshelf in our homes. We look upon the picture of our deceased grandmother with great love and veneration. We know that she is not God, we still love her with all our hearts. God comes first in our lives and our loved ones follow behind. But we still have that connection with our saints that has been given to us by our loving Father. They are our family in heaven, praying for us, rooting for us, giving us their examples of total self giving to the Lord and doing all the God allows them to do to help us get to heaven.

Sometimes we look at the world around us and see all that is bad, all the is evil. And, there sure is a lot of that today. But, we often fail to see what is good, true and holy. I have been blest by the Lord to know at least a few saints. And I’m sure you have known at least one.

The first picture is a week or so after my ordination to the priesthood. I made a pilgrimage to Rome to visit our family friend Cardinal Ciappi in the next picture. I had the awesome blessing of concelebrating with Saint John Paul, II in his private chapel in the Papal Apartments. The second picture is during that visit to Rome when I concelebrated with Luigi Cardinal Ciappi, O.P., Theologian of the Papal Household. One is canonized and the other is not, at least yet. Cardinal Ciappi was indeed a very holy and saintly man. I believe he is in heaven. If you would have know the good Cardinal, I think you would believe the same. So as we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, let us give thanks to the Lord for the good example of all those unnamed saints, who lived their lives quietly in their little corner of the world and made a difference, even if no one else saw it.

Meeting Saint John Paul, II after concelebrating Mass in his private chapel

Meeting Saint John Paul, II after concelebrating Mass in his private chapel

Concelebrating with Cardinal Ciappi

A picture after concelebrating with my friend Cardinal Ciappi, and my friend and his secretary Fra Mario

Like a virgin

The famous Sister Cristina has a new video out. It’s Madonna’s “Like a virgin.” I don’t know about you, but I think this crosses the line. Isn’t there enough beautiful and sacred music without using a song that is “touched” by the insinuations from Madonna’s video and concerts.

I’ll stick with the Dominican Sisters of Mary and the Benedictines of Mary. They both sing music that lifts the heart and soul to God, there is a danger that Sr. Christina’s secular music “Like a virgin” will encourage a spirit of lust in the spirit that the song was written. Don’t get me wrong, Sr. Cristina has a very beautiful voice and a gift from God, but like we were told in Sunday’s Gospel: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comment box below.

Time to meditate on the messages of Akita

fire_from_heavenIn 1973, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to a religious, Sister Agnes Sasagawa in the convent of Akita, Japan. The messages were approved by Bishop John Shojiro Ito and later Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (although some will deny that today). Leave aside your bias and let’s have a look at the messages, and draw some conclusions.

June 28, the eve of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

“My daughter, My novice, you have obeyed Me well in abandoning all to follow Me. Is the infirmity of your ears painful? Your deafness will be healed, be sure. Be patient. It is the last trial. Does the wound of your hand cause you to suffer? (Sr. Agnes was given a stigmata in one hand) Pray in reparation for the sins of men. (The same message as at Fatima in 1917. Nothing more than the message of the Gospels.) Each person in this community is My irreplaceable daughter. Do you say well the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist? Then, let us pray it together:

“Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. (Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is paramount. Needed more than ever as we see denial of this Sacred Truth of our faith by countless Catholics.)

“Most Holy Mother of God. Never let me be separated from Your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as Your special child. Amen.”

August 3, 1973 (1st Friday of the Month)

“My daughter, My novice, do you love the Lord? If you love the Lord, listen to what I have to say to you. It is very important. You will convey it to your superior.

“Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with My Son, for souls who will repair, by their suffering and their poverty, for the sinners and ingrates. (Remember, this is 1973, it’s only the beginning what would come down the road in years to follow.)

“In order that the world might know His anger, (If He was angry then, I can’t image today.) the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With My Son, I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities (We have seen so much human suffering. Tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, terrorism, war. I wonder what was prevented.) by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him and form a cohort of victim souls. (So many good people suffering. We all know victim souls, who carry their sufferings with patience in union with our Lord.)

“Prayer, penance, and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire this also from your community, that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice: offer (whatever God may send) in reparation for sins. Let each one endeavour, according to her capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord.

“Even in a secular institute, prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered. Without attaching too much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.”

October 13th (Anniversary of the final apparition at Fatima)

If men do not repent and better themselves, (Are things better now? I don’t think so. As Pope Benedict said, we are living in a “dictatorship of relativism.”) the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the Bishops and the priests.

“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church (There is no doubt that this has happened. Religious, priests, bishops and even cardinals would have been tried for herasy in the past.) in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. (Just look at the lead up to and during the Synod. It’s anything goes. Cardinals attacking those who believe what the Church teaches.) The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. (Does anyone have a list of all the churches that have been closed in the past few years? And, do a search and see former church that are now restaurants, homes, stores, Mosques. You’ll never see a Mosque become a Catholic Church!) The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, (Yep, we all know who they are, and they no longer hide.) and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. (Not only to leave, but to stay and destroy from within. We would be better off if they just packed up and left. But no, they want to remake the Church in their own perverted image!)

“The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls (How many are going to hell because of compromising, loose living and perverted clergy & religious? Remember where Dante puts them all.) is the cause of My sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them.

“…Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able to still save you from the calamities which approach. (Get that. There may still be hope. I say may, because that was back in 1973. And, it may be too late. We just may face the full wrath of God’s hand.) Those who place their confidence in Me will be saved.”

Are you prepared for “fire” to fall from the sky? And a great part of humanity to be destroyed? We have to do something. Even if we can’t stop it, we can help shorten it.

Start by going to Confession. Keep your soul right with God. Go to Mass frequently. Pray the Rosary. These are bad times, but there is hope. “In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” (Fatima, July 13, 1917)