Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Going along, getting along together

I have been following the blogs of several ordained men and women, married people from (obviously) Christian traditions other than Roman Catholic, and I am struck by their humanity and the very ordinariness of their everyday lives, which combine a moving degree of care and concern for their church work with the same sorts of struggles the rest of us face. They worry about saving enough time for family, have children who delight and worry them by turns, must scramble to get everything done when the furnace gives out, company comes to stay, parishioners struggle with serious illness, etc.

I feel a great sense of companionship when I read the thoughts they share, a sense that we are all in this life together, walking the same path together, even if some take more responsibility for the others along the way. I have this same feeling with some of the Episcopal priests I have been getting to know over the past year. I have watched them share the joys and sorrows of the people in their churches, and we have shared a few of their joys and worries, too. In my thoughts about what a parish community could or should be that seems to me to be near the heart of it, that sharing of prayer and life, laughing and loving and sometimes crying together as we travel along "side by side." Though that ragamuffin band of disciples never seemed quite up to it, you could make the case that Jesus expected no less than this from his people.

Of course when I was growing up it was explained to us that celibacy left Roman Catholics free to work for God and worry about their people without the entanglements of family life. I'm not saying it couldn't work that way, but in practice, so often it hasn't. It seems to have created a class of men who are isolated from the ordinariness of daily life in order to pursue ... what? Even the priests who seemed to me to be the best and the brightest have put up some carefully constructed walls to separate themselves from engaging the rest of us too closely, too humanly--and then we find out they've been boinking one of the parishioners all along, or spending their off hours (loosely defined as "after lunch") drinking alone.

Do I feel let down? Sure I do, but in another sense I can't help feeling that we've all let each other down. How lonely life could be in those one-priest rectories.

Of course, anyone watching the sad spectacle that is playing itself out in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania as the calls for the resignation of the bishop and his resolve to resist both mount can see that we Romans have no monopoly on dysfunction. The only positive in that situation is that the people aren't left without recourse while the (perceived, anyway) tyrant rants.

(Of course in these modern times we don't have tyrants but rather men who exhibit an "authoritarian and controlling style of leadership.")


At 3:58 PM, Blogger Moneybags said...

As a future Roman Catholic seminarian, I can tell you that celibacy (even if it is hard) is nearly essential to serving as a consecrated person/priest. A man cannot serve two masters as St. Paul wrote. And, St. Paul also said a husband should love his wife like Christ loved the Church. In other words, a husband should love her so much that he would lay down his life for her.

A priest must completely serve God and offer up to Him the Sacrifice of Our Lord at Mass. He must give himself completely to God. The Catholic Church is completely correct in saying priests should be celibate. One cannot serve two completely separate vocations.

I completely love the Catholic faith. I love the Sacrament of Confession and being able to feel the power of Holy Spirit forgive me. I love the Eucharist - I am able to receive my Lord in bread and wine! I love the Mass so much. Not only is it a Sacred meal but a sacrifice. St. Padre Pio said, "The world could exist more easily without the sun than without the Mass."

I am looking forward to serving as a priest so much. I am hoping to be admitted into the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP). I try to pray everyday for non-believers and non-Catholics to see Christ in the Sacraments. I want everyone to accept Him in the original Church founded on St. Peter. I want souls to receive the real Sacraments in the Catholic faith. The Sacraments of Protestant denominations (except baptism) are not valid, unfortunately. Martin Luther and all other leaders that broke away were excommunicated - the penalty stops them from being able to celebrate the Sacraments. There is no apostolic succession in Protestant denominations. I admit that there are many great people that are Protestant, but the denomination does not have the authentic Sacraments.

As a convert, I can speak of how life without the Catholic Church is like living in a desert. The Church is the oasis of the world. I hope you remain in the Catholic Church for the rest of your life.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

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At 9:18 PM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

If, as you say, “The Catholic Church is completely correct in saying priests should be celibate. One cannot serve two completely separate vocations,” how come in the early Church there were married priests? Was St. Peter unable to serve the Church because he was married? (Wasn’t he martyred, by the way?) If what you say is so obviously true, why did it take the Roman Catholic Church several hundred years to require its priests to be celibate? Why are married priests (recognized by Rome) allowed in the Eastern Rite church even today? Why are married Lutherans and Episcopalians allowed to become Catholic priests and keep their wives?

To quote from the website Catholic Answers (at, “As these variations and exceptions indicate, priestly celibacy is not an unchangeable dogma but a disciplinary rule.”

I know Episcopal priests who are married and serve both their families and the people of God extremely well. I also know Catholic priests who are celibate as well as selfish and self-centered. It’s the quality of the person that makes the difference, not someone’s marital status.

Also, about apostolic succession, what you say may be true of those Protestant churches that did not value apostolic succession and gave it up, but are you sure this is true of the Episcopal church? Once ordained a priest or bishop, you continue to be a priest or bishop even if Rome condemns you, and bishops can continue to ordain new priests and bishops, who can ordain, etc. The Anglicans also trace their line of bishops back to Peter.

At 11:20 PM, Blogger Moneybags said...

I am nearly 100% sure it applies to the Episcopal church. Those who broke away during Reformation were excommunicated.

An excommunicated person is forbidden “… to have any ministerial part in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist or in any other ceremonies of public worship; to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals and to receive the sacraments; [and] to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, functions or acts of governance" (Canon 1331). The power of excommunication is a power given to the apostles and their successors, the bishops. Excommunication is alluded to in Holy Scripture: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

You also said, "priestly celibacy is not an unchangeable dogma but a disciplinary rule"

You are absolutely right. It is just a discipline although, in my opinion, a great one to have.

At 1:40 AM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

Ah, so you were merely expressing your opinion. You made it sound a lot more absolute than that.

And as a matter of fact, you are wrong about the question of apostolic succession in the Anglican tradition. When the breakaway English priests and bishops went ahead and continued to celebrate the sacraments these were still recognized as valid. The question of apostolic succession with the Anglican tradition was controversial within the Roman Catholic Church for a very long time. From the Roman Catholic point of view, the question was settled by Pope Leo XIII in 1896. His argument against the validity of Anglican orders hinges on a change in the wording of the ordination rite used in the English church as adopted under Edward VI in the sixteenth century. Pope Leo decided that this wording was insufficient for valid ordination and that the line of succession was therefore broken—well after the English church broke away under Henry VIII.

Odd, isn’t it, that I should be explaining the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church to you. But frankly, I’m disappointed that you would presume to speak so authoritatively about a subject like this when it’s clear you don’t have the facts.

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Moneybags said...

I am only trying to serve Jesus Christ and the Truth I know is in the Catholic faith. I do not know the technicalities; I only know that only the Catholic faith, and the Orthodox Churches, have valid apostolic succession.

You just pointed out how their ordinations are not valid. Why would somone want to join a church created by a king that wanted to just keep getting divorces?

Again, I might not know everything (I'm a recent convert), but I do know that Jesus is only 100% in the Catholic faith.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

Here, too, you don’t seem to have all of the facts. Henry VIII’s break with Rome was much more complicated; it was one piece of a larger political situation in which the Pope was a player. And though I stated the official Roman Catholic point of view, I didn’t say I agreed with it. Obviously the Anglicans don’t agree, and considering that it took 300 years and a divided papal commission to produce Leo’s opinion, you can assume there was a lot of disagreement within the Roman Catholic side as well.

If as you say you “don’t know the technicalities,” perhaps you should be more careful about what you state as fact. Being inaccurate tends to undermine one’s credibility overall.

As far as I'm concerned this conversation has pretty much run its course, and I don't expect to have anything more to say about it.

At 11:42 PM, Blogger Moneybags said...

I again apologize for getting ahead of myself. I sometimes equate Lutheranism for other non-Catholic but Christian beliefs. I should have researched the Angelican situtation better because I've heard of Pope Leo's words on this before. Again, I got too far ahead of myself.

I am only trying to be faithful. I don't want to see someone leave Jesus's original Chuch and join one where the Sacraments are not valid. I would never leave the true Eucharist or Confession. I hope you don't either.

Thank you for speaking with me. Again, excuse my errors. Christ knows that I don't know everything - I practically don't know anything. I just try to be faithful.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger St. Michael the Archangel said...

One foot... does that mean you have one foot in your mouth?

Who are you to jump down money bags throat and try to scower him on a stake?

After all you are the one that has been tempted by the devil to leave the one true church of Christ. Lets take a look at the Anglicans for a moment.

Apostolicae Curae is the title of a papal bull issued in 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, declaring all Anglican holy orders null and void. The main objection was the alleged deficiency of intention and of form.

In the case of deficiency of intention, the pope believed that the Anglican rites of ordination revealed an intention to create a priesthood different from the “sacrificing” priesthood of the Catholic Church.

The defect in intention was inferred from the omissions. The pope argued that, by omitting to mention what was the distinctive characteristic of the Catholic priesthood, the Ordinal was embracing a different doctrine of Holy Orders from that of the Catholic Church, whose Orders had been handed down in unbroken succession from the apostles. Leo XIII declared that the omission from the Edwardine Ordinal of what he regarded as the distinctive characteristic of the Catholic priesthood gave to the Ordinal a native indoles ac spiritus – an innate nature and spirit – which was of a Protestant theology rather than one that was in continuity with Roman Catholic theology.

In “Saepius Officio: Answer of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Bull Apostolicae Curae of H. H. Leo XIII”, the Anglican Church replied. The basis of the counter-argument was that the Book of Common Prayer contained a strong sacrificial theology, in particular in the Preface to the 1550, 1552, 1559, and 1662 versions of the Ordinal. These were not discussed in Apostolicae Curae.

Despite the ongoing work of the ecumenical Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), in 1998 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and later Pope Benedict XVI) issued a doctrinal commentary to accompany Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter "Ad Tuendam Fidem", which established penalties in Canon law for failure to accept “definitive teaching.” Ratzinger’s commentary listed Leo XIII’s Apostolicae Curae, declaring Anglican Holy Orders to be “absolutely null and utterly void,” as one of the irreversible teachings to which Catholics must give firm and definitive assent.

These teachings are not understood by the church as revealed doctrines but are rather those which the church’s teaching authority finds to be so closely connected to God's revealed truth that belief in them is required in order to safeguard those revealed truths.

Those who fail to give firm and definitive assent, according to the letter, “will no longer be in full communion with the Catholic church.”

Now, for you to say that you have a direct line back to the apostles, would be a lie. Moneybags was right, when a person is excommunicated, they lose that right. When King Henry the 8th decided to break away from the church, he did so by naming himself the sole leader of the Anglican church. He cut off all ties to the line of the Apostles, and by doing so, your line goes back to good old henry and not a step further.

Have you ever heard of the phrase "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence"? This is what you are doing, you are lacking in faith, you only see the cream of the other religions and not the internal turmoil and lack of God. You are missing the fact that only the true Catholic church has the true body and blood of our lord in it, and also the other 7 sacraments. Anglicanism is very close to Catholicism, but they are missing out on the true body and blood of our lord. They do not have a Papa 'Pope', they are missing out on all the graces and benefits of the Catholic faith. How could you leave such a wonderful place.

Since you study Pope Leo, you need to read his St. Michael the Archangel prayer... it might help you fight the temptations from the devil and help you build a stronger faith.

May God open you eyes, ears, and mind.


At 8:41 AM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

Sigh. When I read stuff like this, from "good" Catholics--good Catholics who want to be priests, no less--I have to admit that the grass really does look a lot greener on the other side.

Better read up on apostolic succession. It refers to bishops. Henry was never ordained, wasn't a bishop, so he is not in the line of apostolic succession no matter whether you are considering it from a Roman Catholic or Anglican point of view. You guys really ought to check your facts before you get so high and mighty.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger St. Michael the Archangel said...

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At 12:08 PM, Blogger St. Michael the Archangel said...

Your right Henry wasn't a Priest, or a Bishop, but he did name himself Pope, by declaring that he would be the head of the church of England. here is a funny fact, since you say you have apostolic succession, why then is your church called the "Church of England" That is a pretty bold statement, in other words one that defines your beggining and your end. It was started as a rogue church, and it will finish as such. Why are there hundreds of thousands of converts from the Anglicans to the Catholic church each year?

I know my history, I know my church, and I know my God.

Do you know yours? You think you do, your calling us high and mighty, when you are the one that is having to ask questions, and make such bold statements as if you actually are linked to Christ... The only link you have is through the Catholic church... I hate to dissapoint you, but that is it.

When you want to talk about somethin intellectual and inspiring look me up, check out my blog, I will be posting soon on some good topics.


At 12:14 PM, Blogger Widening Circles said...

I did not edit or truncate your comments. Whatever you write appears here without any intervention from me, so I have no idea what you're talking about. You must have pushed a wrong button somewhere.

As for the rest of what you wrote, it's too silly to be worth commenting on.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Moneybags said...

One Foot,

I appeal to you to follow your heart. Please see Jesus in the Eucharist. He is there! He is there in the Sacrament of Confession so real and perfectly present.

I ask you please not to leave His True Presence. I am going on vacation and will be staying with a group of Benedictine monks, so I will be away from the Internet for about a week. I hope you remain in the Church, though. Of course not for me - but for Jesus, who loved us so much He gave His life for us.


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