Orthodox “solution” for Communion for Divorced/Remarried is no solution

Sandro Magister has a piece by Msgr. Nicola Bux which explains that the Orthodox “solution” is (pace Card. Kasper) not a solution at all for the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Pat attention to what Bux says about who may receive Communion.  It is really good!  Moreover, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist DOES NOT REQUIRE RECEPTION OF COMMUNION.  Can we pleeeeeze get away from that mania?

ROME, May 30, 2014 – On the return flight from the Holy Land, Pope Francis was asked if “the Catholic Church can learn something from the Orthodox Churches” concerning married priests and the acceptance of second marriages for the divorced.

On both of these points the pope gave an elusive response. But everyone remembers what he said with regard to second marriages in a previous interview on the flight back from Rio de Janeiro:

“But also – a parenthesis – the Orthodox have a different practice. They follow the theology of what they call oikonomia, and they give a second chance, they allow it. But I believe that this problem – and here I close the parenthesis – must be studied within the context of the pastoral care of marriage.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper also referred to this practice of the Eastern Churches in his introductory remarks to the consistory last February, in which he focused the discussion on the question of communion for the divorced and remarried in view of the synod on the family.

[NB] The current idea is that in the Orthodox Churches there is a sacramental celebration of second and even third marriages and that communion is given to the divorced and remarried. [No.]

When in reality this is not the case at all. Orthodoxy has always differentiated first and second marriages not only in ceremony but also in substance, as is clearly demonstrated by the strongly penitential tone of the prayers for second marriages.

It is enough to read, in this regard, the historical overview that Basilio Petrà – a Catholic priest of the Latin rite, but of Greek origin and a scholar in this field, a professor at the Pontifical Oriental Institute – published two months ago:

B. Petrà, “Divorzio e seconde nozze nella tradizione greca. Un’altra via”, Cittadella Editrice, Assisi, 2014, pp. 212, euro 15,90.

The following is a clarification of what second marriages really are in the theology and practice of the Orthodox Churches.

The author, Nicola Bux, an expert on the liturgy and a professor at the theological faculty of Bari, is a consultant for the congregation for the divine worship and for the causes of saints, and took part in the 2005 synod on the Eucharist, an interesting episode of which he relates here.

___________

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND SECOND MARRIAGES

by Nicola Bux

Cardinal Walter Kasper recently referred to the Orthodox practice of second marriages to maintain that divorced and remarried Catholics should also be admitted to communion.

Perhaps, however, he has not paid attention to the fact that the Orthodox do not receive communion in the rite of second marriages, since the Byzantine rite of marriage does not include communion but only the exchange of a shared cup of wine, which is not consecrated.

Moreover, among Catholics it is generally said that the Orthodox permit second marriages, and therefore tolerate divorce from the first spouse.

In reality this is not strictly the case, because this is not a matter of the modern legal institution. The Orthodox Church is willing to tolerate the second marriages of persons whose marriage bond has been dissolved by the Church, not by the state, on the basis of the power Jesus has given the Church to “bind and loose,” granting a second opportunity in some particular cases (typically cases of ongoing adultery, but also by extension certain cases in which the marriage bond has become a pretense). A third marriage is also possible, although it is highly discouraged. Moreover, the possibility of entering a second marriage in the case of dissolution is granted only to the innocent spouse.

Second and third marriages, unlike the first marriage, are celebrated among the Orthodox with a special rite, referred to as “penitential.” Since in ancient times the rite of second marriages omitted the crowning of the spouses – which Orthodox theology sees as the essential moment of the wedding – second marriages are not a true sacrament, but to use the Latin terminology, a “sacramental,” which allows the new spouses to consider their union as fully accepted by the ecclesial community. The secondary wedding ceremony is also applied in the case of widowed spouses.

The non-sacramental nature of second marriages finds confirmation in the disappearance of Eucharistic communion from Byzantine marriage ceremonies, being replaced by a cup understood as a symbol of life together. This appears to be an attempt to “de-sacramentalize” the marriage, perhaps on account of the growing embarrassment that second and third marriages induced because of the exemption from the principle of the indissolubility of the bond, which is directly proportional to the sacrament of unity: the Eucharist.

In this regard, the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann wrote that it is precisely the cup, elevated to a symbol of shared life, that “demonstrates the desacramentalization of the marriage, which is reduced to a natural form of happiness. In the past, this was reached with communion, the sharing of the Eucharist, the ultimate seal of the fulfillment of marriage in Christ. Christ must be the true essence of life together.” How could this “essence” remain standing?

[NB] So this is a matter of a “mix-up” in the Catholic camp that can be attributed to a scarce or nonexistent consideration for doctrine, according to which there has grown up the opinion, or better the heresy, that Mass without communion is not valid. [OORAH!  YES!  Thank you, Msgr. Bux.] The whole preoccupation with communion for the divorced and remarried, which has little to do with the Eastern vision and practice, is a consequence of this.  [Participation in the Eucharist DOES NOT REQUIRE RECEPTION OF COMMUNION.  Get that?  Repeat it to yourself several times.]

About ten years ago, while collaborating in the preparation for the synod on the Eucharist, at which I later participated as an expert in 2005, this “opinion” was advanced by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, a member of the council of the secretariat of the synod. At the invitation of Cardinal Jan Peter Schotte, the secretary general at the time, I had to remind Hummes that catechumens and penitents – including the dìgami – in the different penitential degrees participated in the celebration of the Mass or in parts of it, without receiving communion.

The erroneous “opinion” is widespread today among clerics and faithful, for which reason, as Joseph Ratzinger has observed, “one must again become very clearly aware of the fact that the Eucharistic celebration is not devoid of value for those who do not receive communion. [. . .] Since the Eucharist is not a ritual banquet, but the communal prayer of the Church, in which the Lord prays with us and takes part with us, it remains precious and great, a true gift, even if we are unable to receive communion. [!] If we were to regain a better understanding of this fact and thus see the Eucharist itself in a more correct manner, various pastoral problems, as for example that of the position of the divorced and remarried, would automatically lose much of their oppressive weight.”

What has been described is an effect of the divergence and even the opposition between dogma and liturgy. [DEAD ON TARGET.] The apostle Paul asked those who intended to receive communion to examine themselves, in order not to eat and drink their own condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29). This means: “Those who want Christianity to be only a joyful proclamation, in which there must be no threat of judgment, falsify it.” [EXACTLY.]

One asks oneself how it has come to this point. Various authors during the second half of the last century supported the theory – as Ratzinger recalls – that “derives the Eucharist more or less exclusively from the meals that Jesus ate with sinners. [. . .] But what follows from this is an idea of the Eucharist that has nothing in common with the custom of the primitive Church.” Although Paul protects communion from abuse under anathema (1 Corinthians 16:22), the aforementioned theory proposes “as the essence of the Eucharist that it be offered to all without any distinction or preliminary condition, [. . .] even to sinners, and indeed even to nonbelievers.”  [Or even to readers of the Fishwrap!]

No, Ratzinger writes: ever since its origin the Eucharist has not been understood as a meal with sinners, but with the reconciled: ["reconciled"] “From the beginning there were very well-defined conditions of access for the Eucharist as well [. . .] and in this way it built up the Church.”

[NB] The Eucharist therefore remains “the banquet of the reconciled,” something that is remembered in the Byzantine liturgy, at the moment of communion, with the invitation “Sancta sanctis,” holy things for the holy.

But in spite of this the theory of the invalidity of Mass without communion continues to influence the present-day liturgy.

_________

This text by Nicola Bux is taken from the afterword that he wrote for the latest book by Antonio Livi, a theologian and philosopher at the Pontifical Lateran University, soon to be published and dedicated to the writings and discourses of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri (1906-1989):

A. Livi, “Dogma e liturgia. Istruzioni dottrinali e norme pastorali sul culto eucaristico e sulla riforma liturgica promossa dal Vaticano II”, Casa Editrice Leonardo da Vinci, Roma, 2014.

Here is what will happen.

The catholic Left will say that Bux… like Müller and others who uphold Catholic teaching… are waging a war on mercy.

They won’t have a theological response.  They will have an emotional response, namely: You are mean!

It’ll be one ad hominem after another.

Mark my words.

They will toss around words like “inquisition” and “narrow-minded” and “rigid” and “unchristian”.

Just watch.

 

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46 Responses to Orthodox “solution” for Communion for Divorced/Remarried is no solution

  1. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “The apostle Paul asked those who intended to receive communion to examine themselves, in order not to eat and drink their own condemnation (1 Corinthians 11:29).”

    I have a question about the verse 1 Cor. 11:29 in relation the OF of Holy Mass: As I understand it this verse is *omitted* from the OF. Meaning it is not a part of the readings. Can anyone clarify this for me?

    If this is, in fact, the case – why is this so? Why in the world would this verse be omitted for the faithful to hear? To me, as Msgr. Bux forthrightly points out, why would the powers-that-be *not want* to have this grave reminder that one should be in a state of grace before receiving our Blessed Lord’s most precious Body? It is confusing.

    MSM

  2. majuscule says:

    Thank you Fr. Z and Msgr. Bux!

    My thoughts when reading Fishwrap website comments on the necessity of everyone being able to receive the Eucharist at Mass in order to gain “healing grace”–it seems to border on superstition.

    Sorry if I’m not putting that well.

  3. mhazell says:

    @Midwest St. Michael: You are right, 1 Cor. 11:29 does not occur in the OF lectionary.

    For Corpus Christi in the EF, 1 Cor. 11:23-29 is the epistle reading, and this is the same every year. In the OF, there are different readings for Years A, B and C. 1 Cor. 11:23-26 is the second reading in Year C; for the other years, we have 1 Cor. 10:16-17 (A) and Heb. 9:11-15 (B). So even if 1 Cor. 11:29 occurred in Year C, we’d only hear it once every three years.

    And when one looks at the weekday readings, the verse does not occur either. It is nowhere to be found in any part of the OF lectionary. (I am unsure quite how this can be squared with Sacrosanctum Concilium 51!)

    As to why this is the case, I don’t really know for sure, and I doubt anyone else does either. One would have to look at the minutes of the Consilium group in charge of drawing up the new order of readings to see if there are any hints there, but to my knowledge those minutes are not publicly accessible, and I’m not sure they would go into that much detail anyway. I would hazard a guess that a certain optimistic attitude among the liturgical reformers is primarily responsible for the trimming of 1 Cor. 11 in the OF – the same sort of “astonishing optimism” that our Pope Emeritus once remarked was present in Gaudium et spes (cf. Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 380).

  4. kelleyb says:

    “They won’t have a theological response. They will have an emotional response, namely: You are mean!
    It’ll be one ad hominem after another.
    Mark my words.
    They will toss around words like “inquisition” and “narrow-minded” and “rigid” and “unchristian”.
    Just watch.”
    I would also add the word “uncharitable”. I hear that word very often. Sigh.
    I will keep these people in my prayers. Members of my own small group echo these words each time we meet. “The Church much change before there are only old men left in the pews.” I respond that the church they desire already exists down the street. An almost empty Episcopal Church is a few blocks
    away.
    Thank you for this excellent explanation. I must learn more about our Orthodox brothers and sisters. I am ashamed that I know so little.

  5. Priam1184 says:

    @kelleyb Don’t forget “Pharisaical” as well.

    I don’t know. I went to Mass this morning and didn’t receive Holy Communion, yet I hardly felt that it was a worthless experience. Made it all the more meaningful in some ways.

  6. Antioch_2013 says:

    While certainly a respected scholar, Msgr. Bux is incorrect in a number of his assertions about the Orthodox position on divorce and re-marriage. Orthodox practice today does 1.) indeed consider second marriages a “sacrament,” not just a “sacramental” ; 2.) although marriage, and all of the sacraments, flow from and are perfected in the Eucharist, marriage is not celebrated in a liturgical Eucharistic context and quite possibly never was (the “common cup” may have a different origin); 3.) in modern practice the Rite of a Second Marriage, which is penitential in nature, is often only used when both the bride and groom are divorcees.

    “Marriage is a sacrament conferred on the partners in the Body of the Church through the blessing of the priest, it pertains to the eternal life in the Kingdom of God, it is therefore not dissolved by the death of one of the partners ‘but creates between them—if they so wish and if “it is given to them” (Mt 19:11)—an eternal bond’. Orthodox Christians understand marriage as a grace which, while offered, may not be ‘received,’ may be received but neglected, or may be lost through sin.” That being said, divorce is not something “granted” by the Church, rather, the Church grudgingly allows a second, or even third, marriage for the salvation of those involved, having accepted St. Paul’s words that, “it is better to marry than be a?ame with passion” (1 Cor 7:8-9). Fr. John Meyendorff writes that, “Divorce was, and still is, considered a grave sin; but the Church never failed in giving to sinners a ‘new’ chance, and was ready to readmit them if they repented.”

    The sacrament of marriage is not to be abandoned except for grave cause, and ultimately it is abandoned because of the grave sin of one, or both, of those involved. Canon 87 of Trullo says that a man or woman is committing adultery by marrying another if they had left their previous spouse “without just cause.” A “just cause” for a second marriage was considered to occur in two general cases: those that could be assimilated to death, and those that could be assimilated to adultery. Those assimilated to death include: disappearance for at least ?ve years, insanity, taking the monastic habit, or episcopal consecration. The general “adultery” category include: endangering the life of the spouse, secret abortion, forced prostitution of the spouse; essentially anything that was a serious “assault on the moral and spiritual foundation of marriage.”

    Upon divorce, persons are often given a penance of refraining from the Eucharist for a certain amount of time (in order to impress upon them the serious nature of divorce), but are readmitted to Communion when their spiritual father thinks it best. Once they enter a second marriage, they are still given Communion.

    This is not a polemical argument, nor should it become one, I just thought this topic needed clarification.

  7. Ever notice how nearly every argument advanced by the heterodox in the Catholic Church seems to take something either Eastern or patristic or both and so mutilate it as to mar it beyond recognition, and then attempt to employ it in service of heterodoxy? When you go back to the sources they lift their mangled quotes from, and peel back their crooked lines, you find that they’ve taken out of context most everything they source from.

  8. Antioch_2013 says:

    I would greatly appreciate a demonstration on exactly how the “heterodox” have done what you suggest. It’s rather ironic that you’ve resorted to an ad hominem attack considering Fr. Z’s comments about the above article.

  9. jacobi says:

    Chastity is required other than between a man and a woman in a valid marriage. Otherwise, there is a condition of mortal sin, and Holy Communion is forbidden on the basis of further mortal sin.
    What the Orthodox do, is up to them. That some look to such, is but a sign of the paucity of their theology. The Catholic Church does not have the authority to annul a valid marriage, or permit mortal sin.

    In the post-Vatican II Church we have many attempts to change doctrine by changing liturgical practise.

    The concept that we are on the verge of another Reformation, i.e., a profound change of doctrine, I first found suggested by Muggeridge in the 80s, but Wiltgen (1966) effectively hints at this. A concession on the indissolubility of marriage will, I suspect, trigger a collapse in what little doctrinal constraint remains in the Church and a new Reformation will be inevitable. And of course, it will have been caused as the first one was, by sex.

    And yes Father, we must, really must, get away from this idea that the Catholic Mass has become an all-inclusive communion serviced. The frequency required is, I think, still, once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts!

    And as for mercy and all that? Well we didn’t make the rules, Christ did, Mark 10, 6: 9.

  10. Phil_NL says:

    I have no issue with the remarks on reception by all being not needed for the Mass to be a Mass. That silly fallacy should be put behind us.

    But I do have my qualms about the example being used. One can argue if a second marriage among the Orthodox is a sacrament or a sacramental, and no doubt the Greek terms will once again have their own meanings which translate poorly, but I’m in favor of a much simpler way to deal with the issue: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck….

    The Orthodox second marriage is simply a second marriage. No matter how they cut the theological details. The question then arises if the Orthodox practice is a good practice to compare with at all. I’ve yet to see any reasons why they should be such a shining example; in fact, historically the Orthodox praxis on this issue is a tad messy – a millenium ago, they would even consider second marriages after the spouse had died to be sinful.

    It would be far better as Catholics to stick to our positions. The marriage bond cannot be broken; it might be annulled – that is, we found out later that it never was there to begin with – but that’s it.

    What we could – an most likely should – have a good look at is what we consider to be a marriage to begin with. I see no reason to recongize “marriages” which were contracted outside the Church, with vastly different terms in mind than a proper Catholic marriage. In that sense, loads and loads of marriage might indeed be invalid, which incidentally frees the parties to set the matter straight with a proper marriage.
    But those who married in the Church, knowing what the Church teaches on marriage, should not look for loopholes – not among the Orthodox praxis, nor elsewhere.

  11. Uxixu says:

    The Eastern praxis on this has always been fascinating to me especially, as Phil_NL says, second marriages required penance for a year but third marriages even after death of the spouse were considered blatantly sinful and the equivalent of fornication. The eastern Emperor Leo VI of course, needed a 4th marriage to continue his line and scandalized most of the pious. As with many of these disputes, the Emperor intruded his own compliant minion on the Patriarchal throne to get his dispensation along with Papal approval, when convenient to disputes with the patriarchate.

  12. I may be incorrect in this matter, but having completed an M.A. in Early Christian History in an Eastern Orthodox seminary, I seem to recall having a very long discussion with Archbishop Joseph Raya of the Melkite Rite about something that’s not mentioned by Msgr. Bux or, for that matter, anyone I’ve read who has commented on the Orthodox position re: divorce/remarriage.

    I believe +Raya said the second (and possibly, third…but wouldn’t one begin to wonder whether the spouse is capable of being married?) “uncrowned” marriage partner is in for a very big surprise in eternal life. It’s the parties to the sacrament–the first union–who are united in heaven.

    I don’t think many divorced spouses would be pleased with this solution if they knew that!

  13. Ironic that such an emphasis is placed on receiving Communion at every single Mass, in an age when so few Catholics actually believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

  14. Phil_NL says:

    Motley Monk,

    Interesting. Also in comparison with Matthew 22, 24-30, I’d say.

    Personally, I’m always very reluctant to form any image or imagining of what eternal life will be. A bit above my pay grade, so to say – and happy to leave it to Him.

  15. Legisperitus says:

    What is more merciful than making the truth clear?

  16. John of Chicago says:

    I am confused by how the quote from Paul in 1Corinthians are being used in the text by Bux. Paul seems to be reprimanding the community in Corinth for the way they treat the poor…

    “20When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper,21
    for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.
    22
    Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you.”

    Paul the relates the Lord’s institution of the Eucharist and then condemns those who try to shame the poor…

    27
    “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.
    28
    A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup.
    29
    For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

    It seems as though Paul specifically is equating neglect of the poor and sacrilegious communion.

  17. Brick by brick Hollywood…
    Eduardo Verastegui, aka “Anacleto González Flores” in the film Cristiada, published a beautiful picture commenting:
    “My first time serving in a Tridentine mass, it was incredible, thank you Father Geronimo. Pax Domini!”
    HERE and HERE

  18. jacobi says:

    Anita,

    May I suggest that it is precisely because we are in an age when so few “Catholics” believe in the Real Presence that emphasis is placed on receiving Communion at every Mass.

    Remember, if you want to change what people believe, then change how they worship. Its quite simple really!

  19. Faithful to the Core says:

    Regarding the value of attending Mass without receiving Holy Communion, frequent reception of Holy Communion came late. The sacrament was considered so holy that it was thought it should only be approached infrequently and preferably only after going to confession in the immediate past. Many people came to be saints during these times. The Church’s attitude gradually changed. I think it was Pope Pius X that strongly encouraged frequent communion, and I am grateful that he did. But all those faithful who attended all those masses through the centuries without receiving communion were still offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with its infinite merits, as we do today if we have some reason to refrain from communicating.

    I have personal experience of the value of attending Mass without receiving Holy Communion. My mother could not receive the sacraments due to irregular marriage circumstances. Yet, she took my brother and I to Mass every Sunday. For as long as I lived with her she never received Holy Communion. Eventually, with much difficulty, she was able to regularize her status with the Church, to receive the sacraments, and to be married in the Church. Her heroic example inspires me to this day. We don’t seem to feel that we can ask anyone to give anything up or expect any consequences for breaking laws. People who have divorced and remarried should be treated with charity and understanding. But they freely chose to commit mortal sin, and they have no right to expect to be allowed to receive Holy Communion.

  20. Anita: “Ironic that such an emphasis is placed on receiving Communion at every single Mass, in an age when so few Catholics actually believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”

    Actually, although versus populum celebration and communion in the hands while standing may come more readily to mind as causes of diminished belief in the Real Presence, I wonder whether either has done as much to dilute that belief as the “heresy” that all present must receive Holy Communion to participate efficaciously in the Mass, which instills and fosters the belief that the Mass is just a communion service for those there in the assembly, rather than a primarily perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross.

  21. danube-bosphorus-moskva says:

    No offense to Msgr. Basilio Petra, Msgr. Nicola Bux and his holliness Franics, but it rather seems that they do not get a iot of our position.
    Well first, there is not theology of oikonomia. Strictly speaking oikonomia is, in certain sense counter point to theology. (For example we speak about oikonomy of Trinity, where even formulas like Filioque could be legitimate, and theology of Trinity, where we find it wrong). Since this discussion of marriage confers field of Canon law, I presume he had in mind principle of ikonomia in Canon law (not theological oikonomy). Well, we admitt there are two principles in our praxis of Canon law arkibeia which is consistently upholding of letter of Canon law and oikonomia, literary housekeeping, better known as economy in modern parlance, ie condescension to weakness of human nature. But its bit out off topic here. Here are few remarks on statement of Msr. Bux:
    1) “Perhaps, however, he has not paid attention to the fact that the Orthodox do not receive communion in the rite of second marriages, since the Byzantine rite of marriage does not include communion but only the exchange of a shared cup of wine, which is not consecrated.”

    Quite imprecise. It’s true, there is not communion in 99,9% of marriages, but its simply due the fact, rite of marriage is dislocated from Divine Liturgy. Honestly speaking, Byzantine practice did include communion. Only in interconfessional marriges couple was given cup of wine instead of Communion (manuscripts from XIV century are giving us this data). Post Byzaantine practice, ie what we have now, dislocated marriage rite from Liturgy. Anyway, I think entire point about communion for remarried is not just for this one time, but wheather they should be admitted to communion in future (after the remariage). But, they are, by letter of Canon Law, forbidden from it for certain time. For second marrige two years, for third five. But after that, they will be allowed to commune. There are also other restrictions.
    Though, we Orthodox had to be honest and admitt, letter of Canon law is not fully enforced today.

    2) “Second and third marriages, unlike the first marriage, are celebrated among the Orthodox with a special rite, referred to as “penitential.””
    Well not quite rite, if for one of supposes it is first marriage, full rite will be celebrated instead. Lesser rite would be celebrated only if its second (or third) marriage for both sides.
    Also, maybe best formulation would be to say, second and third marriages are being seen as moraly inferior, hence Church is not offering full rite to people entering it.

    3)”Since in ancient times the rite of second marriages omitted the crowning of the spouses – which Orthodox theology sees as the essential moment of the wedding”
    Not at all. Crowning is symbolic act which follows moment when priest is blessing, or if you prefer, conducting marriage by words: Lord, by glory and honour wed them. (Sory for slavishly literate translation, I have no clue how it should sound in English).

    4) “– second marriages are not a true sacrament, but to use the Latin terminology, a “sacramental,” which allows the new spouses to consider their union as fully accepted by the ecclesial community. ”

    But, khm, you see we say we have seven Sacraments (better to say Holy Mysteries), or many or two, or just one. It could be lesser form, given the fact in Principle, Church advise just one marriage, but its still eclesiastical blessing. Blessing of watter, taking of monastic vows, its not lesser than Seven Sacraments, from Orthodox perspective.

    5)”The secondary wedding ceremony is also applied in the case of widowed spouses. ”
    Because its still second marriage, there is no idfference wheater first one was disolved by divorce or death, or entering of one supose to monastery.

    6) “In this regard, the Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann wrote that it is precisely the cup, elevated to a symbol of shared life, that “demonstrates the desacramentalization of the marriage, which is reduced to a natural form of happiness. In the past, this was reached with communion, the sharing of the Eucharist, the ultimate seal of the fulfillment of marriage in Christ. Christ must be the true essence of life together.” How could this “essence” remain standing?”

    I am not sure if this is proper quote from Fr. Alexander Schemman, since I am bit farmiliar with his works, I am almost positively sure, he is here speaking about phenomenon that rite of wedding is dislocated from Divine Liturgy. Though, best would be if autor provided us from whishc book or article he quoted Schemaman. Also, on second tought, I am not sure how Schmeman is fitting in part of article about Communion. He was proponent of frequent communion and necesity to all attending it should commune. (Of course those under canon prohibitions excluded)

  22. Elizabeth D says:

    Eduardo Verastegui link is great… one of the facebook commenters says “Yo creo que puede llegar a ser un buen sacerdote.” I don’t know how I never thought of that… even though there are clearly many very interested women, he is not married (and has good things to say about chastity). Wouldn’t that be something? Someone like that might be able to do great things for the Church and for Catholicism among Latinos.

  23. JeffK says:

    I found Bux’s piece problematic because it did not address a huge issue.

    While it may be true that the “penitents” in an Orthodox “penitential marriage” may not receive communion during the “Marriage Liturgy”, Bux does not address the issue of whether the couple may receive communion at subsequent liturgies which they attend.

    I have to assume that the answer is yes.

    Which means that–within the bounds we have been discussing, divorced and remarried Orthodox couples are admitted to communion, generally speaking.

    If this is so, then I think Kasper and others would care very little about the fact that they can’t receive at the “wedding”.

    And I am not sure that it matters very much to the rest of us either.

    If the Orthodox generally speaking admit those divorced and remarried in their church to communion, then they admit them to communion.

    If we consider Orthodox teaching and practice germane to our discussion, then germane it remains regardless of what happens at the “wedding”.

  24. John of Chicago says:

    Thank you, danube-bosphorus-moskva, for your efforts and reflections. Really helpful and thought provoking.
    Two quick questions: Am I correct in understanding that Orthodox theology, law and praxis make no real distinctions between two divorced members marrying a second time and a widow and widower marrying each other?
    Also, how much discretion to set policies and practices does an individual Orthodox bishop have regarding remarriage of the divorced in his diocese?

  25. Midwest St. Michael says:

    @mhazell,

    Thank you *very much* for your kind reply and thoughts.

    I will dive into your recommended writings. :^)

    God bless you,
    MSM

  26. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Does anyone know how the Church deals with those excluded from communion because of a second wedding with regard to the precepts of the Church to confess mortal sins and receive communion once a year?

  27. Cephas says:

    Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, shares the following insights in an interview with Fr. Geoffrey de la Tousche (from The Relevance and Future of the Second Vatican Council, Ignatius Press, 2013, pp. 153-154):

    I would not say that remarried divorced persons do not have access to the Eucharist: they continue to be invited to the Eucharist; they participate in the Eucharistic assembly; they listen with the others to the entire Word of God, including that which becomes the sacrament…the Real Presence. They participate in the offering…everyone offers himself with [Christ]. These persons are limited to the level of public witness to Communion, but nothing prevents them from making a spiritual communion with the Body of Christ that is given to the assembly.

    Moreover, in truth, every sacramental Communion must first be a spiritual communion. If there is no spiritual communion that the Sacrament then expresses and nourishes, there is no communion with the Body of Christ…It is possible that persons can be restored to the state of grace before God, even in the case of an objective limit of a failed marriage, when a new union–which is perhaps the right one–is formed, but for which it is not possible to establish juridically that the first marriage is null. Even if they cannot receive the sacraments themselves, these persons can be restored to the grace of God by repenting the initial failure, by acts of charity.

    Their witness is therefore the following: their communion expresses itself in the fact that they do not receive the sacraments, and this includes respect for the sacramental reality of the Church. Because marriage is an expression of the mystery of the union of Christ and the Church, of that one flesh of Christ and the Church. All marriages are sealed by communon with this mystery. When one finds oneself in a new union, one cannot say publicly to the community and to the world that he is one with this mystery; he cannot express it on the public sacramental level. But he can abstain from Communion and thereby express that he respects the sacramental mystery of the Church. It is important to confront this choice with the pastor of the community, to be helped by him to live in peace as a full member of the community, with this limit of not being able to receive sacramental Communion. This limit can be lived in a positive sense as a witness given to the indissolubility of marriage.

    …Communion is not only a means of increasing grace in us. It is also a public witness. And going to Communion is part of the public witness of the Church. The Church expresses her communion with the Holy Trinity through the Body of the risen Christ whom one receives because he said to us, “Take and eat”. One expresses then that one is obeying him, that one welcomes him. It is a light for others. As you say, to come forward and express that communion in a different manner [i.e. remarried divorcees, instead of receiving sacramental communion, cross their arms and receive a blessing from the priest during the Communion Rite] that respects the limit imposed by the circumstances of life assimilated in faith makes it possible, then, to express communion with the Church and to live in peace.

  28. danube-bosphorus-moskva says:

    Hi John. Thank you for kind words, but I am not really expert. I had to consult my Canon Law notes from University, in order to write this answer :)

    Am I correct in understanding that Orthodox theology, law and praxis make no real distinctions between two divorced members marrying a second time and a widow and widower marrying each other?
    Tome of Union issued by Council of Constantinople held in 920 which ultimately set rules for second and third marriages, does not make any distinction between remariage of divorcees and remariage of widowers/widows.
    It sets that person being 40 years or older and having issue from previous marriage(s) is under no circumstances allowed to enter third marriage. This implies widowers.
    Also in Euchologions, there is single “Order of Second Marriage” which is to be used when both partners are entering a second marriage, so liturgicaly speaking there is no distinction either.

    Also, how much discretion to set policies and practices does an individual Orthodox bishop have regarding remarriage of the divorced in his diocese?

    Verry wide, altough it depends from local Church to local Church. There is allways room for higher eclesiastical courts, and Lesser Synod and ultimately to Assembly of Hierarchs, but not a lot of cases reach this levels.

    Also, just to add something, while Msgr. Bux misunderstood our certain positions, he is right in his basic persumption. Orthodox rite for second marriage is really extraordinary rite, which is bestowd under precisely defined circumstances, and not something which recieves ruber-stamp as valid practice. Its great condescension after all.

  29. Panterina says:

    On the topic of “oikonomia” practice used by the Greek Orthodox Church, with a theological examination of such practice from a Catholic point of view, I found very illuminating this article by the Rev. Dr. Father Dylan James: Divorce and Remarriage, Oikonomia, and the peril of following the Greeks
    http://fatherdylanjames.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/divorce-and-remarriage-oikonomia-and.html.

    To me, the Greek Orthodox “oikonomia” follows the reasoning of Moses’ allowing divorce “[b]ecause of your hardness of heart” (Mt. 19:8). It’s a workaround–well-articulated and pastorally sensitive, but a workaround nonetheless. The Catholic church, on the other hand, has always followed Jesus’ teaching.

  30. rusynbyz says:

    The Eucharist therefore remains “the banquet of the reconciled,” something that is remembered in the Byzantine liturgy, at the moment of communion, with the invitation “Sancta sanctis,” holy things for the holy.

    Father, I would add one extra comment to this, however: that in the Divine Liturgy, the people’s response to the invitation (“Holy Things for the holy”): “One is Holy, One Is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the Glory of the God the Father, Amen.”

    I’m not exactly disagreeing with the statement that Holy Communion is a banquet of the reconciled, but Orthodox praxis would firmly remind one that we cannot make ourselves worthy to receive Our Lord’s Most Precious Body and Blood – God alone is capable of that.

  31. “Ioannes Andreades says:
    1 June 2014 at 9:58 pm
    Does anyone know how the Church deals with those excluded from communion because of a second wedding with regard to the precepts of the Church to confess mortal sins and receive communion once a year?”
    Well, confession needs contrition: you regret your sins. A valid confession is a confession with contrition. Once a year in not the norm, it’s the minimum below whitch you should not go. Cardinal Arinze explains HERE.
    If you want to flirt with the minimum, and you decide to “divorce”, at least civilly, and to “marry” again with someone else, civilly again, then after maximum one year you confess all your mortal sins with contrition, which means you quit your new “wife” and reconcile with your legitimate wife. After this reconciliation, you can go to Mass and receive Holy Communion.

  32. guatadopt says:

    Being culturally half Orthodox (my great-grandfather was an Orthodox priest for the Antioch rite), I often see myself comparing East and West theologies. Obviously, being 100% Catholic, I follow the RCC teaching, but it is interesting to compare and to long for the day of reconciliation. In speaking with an Orthodox priest not to long ago on this topic, he had an interesting point. Our church (RCC) consistently sites Our Lord’s words on divorce and applies that in practice. However, he said that Jesus said many other things that were just as strong in which the Catholic church (and the East) allow some wiggle room. For example, Christ said that we must turn the other cheek and if one tries to take our cloak, we must give him that and more….but the Church allows one to defend himself with violence if necessary. Why is that? If we are to take Christ’s direct teachings literally and carry the context, we must then concluded that self defense must not be allowed.

    He cited other examples…anyway it was interesting speaking with him about it. He made some valid points.

  33. The situation to be “excluded from communion” (not the best way to describe the situation) is not meant to be permanent, the Church always asks for conversion, contrition, and reconciliation for the sake of love, i.e. charity: love of God and love of neighbour.

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Superb article-post, Fr. Z. I have linked this on my blog. More Catholics need to understand this entire problem from East and West point of view.

  35. Andrew says:

    guatadopt:

    You have to differentiate between what is bad, what is good, and what is best. The bad is forbidden, but the best is recommended, not demanded. Not all are required to be virgins or celibates or give away all their possessions, etc. But all are forbidden to sin. There are different gifts but none of them stipulate the permission to sin.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    “If we are to take Christ’s direct teachings literally and carry the context, we must then concluded that self defense must not be allowed.”

    Not true. The original quote, in context is:

    “38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

    39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
    41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
    42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”

    —Matthew 5:38–5:42 KJV

    The context makes it clear that this is a corrective to, “An eye for an eye.” By that light, if someone strikes you on the cheek, you would be justified to strike them back. Jesus says not to resist the evil. The Greek word, anthistemi, means not simply to resist, but to set oneself against the evil. It is a form of taking vengeance. Vengeance belongs to God, so that stance is not permitted. It is a stance contrary to charity.

    Self-defense, on the other hand, is all about charity – the defense of ones neighbor, in charity, or oneself. One intends to stop the aggressor, not deliberately (in the sense of anthistemi) hurt them. That may happen as an unavoidable accident, however (so double effect applies), but it does not contradict the doctrine of turning the other cheek, which forbids retribution. There is no contradiction in the Catholic application. So, one cannot use this passage to plead for a non-literal interpretation about divorce.

    The Chicken

  37. TWF says:

    Panterina:
    You say that the Orthodox Church has found pastoral “work arounds” while the Catholic Church has always followed the teaching of Christ. I’m not sure if this is an accurate statement historically. There were, in the early Church, those Fathers even in the West, I believe, who made pastoral concessions, after a suitable period of penance, for the readmission of certain remarried individuals to holy communion; furthermore, the Byzantine Church developed the basis of its current system long before the Great Schism with Rome…thus the Byzantine Church was in every sense of the word ‘Catholic’ when it began to allow second marriages as an exercise of “economy”. That being said, since the Great Schism, the Catholic Church has come to better and more fully understand the nature of marriage and I agree that the Orthodox approach is not an option.

  38. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    There are four things I find most interesting, to wit:

    1. Whether it’s Moral Theology, Liturgy, or name- your -discipline, some folks appeal to the East to support their problem with something the Roman Church teaches;

    2. Many times, some of these folks don’t care a whit about what the Roman Church teaches in regard to name-your-discipline, and it makes me wonder why they should care a whit about what Orthodoxy says;

    3. Since at least 1054, there has been a schism, in spite of what Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras said or didn’t say.

    4. It’s worthwhile to examine Orthodoxy’s understanding of a great many things. Even if there are things we don’t agree on – and there ARE – it makes for fascinating reading.

  39. guatadopt says:

    Chicken

    Thank for the insight. I would counter that, though with the defense of “things” rather than people. In other words, if I was defending my home against a robber, am I justified to shoot him for taking my television? That doesn’t seem charitable based on that interpretation of Matthew’s gospel. Is someone’s life worth my TV? But, with current church theology, if I caught someone in the act of robbing my house I could, in good conscience, inflict harm on that person.

  40. guatadopt says:

    Sorry hit post too fast…I realize that my questions there may be getting close to a tangent on the subject of Christ’s teaching on divorce…just some rhetorical questions.

  41. danube-bosphorus-moskva says:

    I dont think intention of this article was to heat Orthodox-Roman Catholic debate on who has right approach on issue. Point was rather Eastern Orthodox praxis is not what those appeling to it want to introduce in Roman Catholic praxis.

    Not true. The original quote, in context is:

    Hm, we will see it bit latter, that context should not be exactly taken hyper-literary.

    There is no contradiction in the Catholic application.

    There is no contradiction but there is condescension. Roman Catholic Church does not condemn self-defense.

    So, one cannot use this passage to plead for a non-literal interpretation about divorce.

    Weeell, one can use that passage to plead for non-literal interpretation.
    You see, part about slaping is figure of speach. You must remember 99% of people are right handed. When you are facing somebody, your right is his left and vice versa. So man slaping you will in 99% slap you on left cheek. So, this verse has value only when left handed person is slaping you?

    Of course, there is no discussion Christ’s message should be taken alegoricaly, far from it. Orthodox Paterikon’s are full of stories about venerable monks being slandered, accused beaten and they were not offering resistance. But you cant argue this passage does not cover self-defense. Self-defense is obviousyly devense of your own person. Not charity to somebody else. There are two options, one is advised, and superior (controling your emotions, self appeasement, kenosis) and other is valid, alowed (to follow your natural instinct and protect yourself). (Akreibia vs Oikonomia on this example)

  42. Gail F says:

    danube-bosphorus-moskva: Thanks for those explanations.
    Panterina: Thanks for the idea of a “work-around,” that makes the concept very clear to me.

    I’m very interested in Orthodox ways of looking at things. I do believe that one day the two sides of the Church will reconcile and many things that seem insurmountable now will be seen as just different ways of looking at the same thing… although, of course, not everything. There will have to be concessions and compromises on both sides. Sadly, I think that Fr. Benson’s fictional Church of the “future” in Lord of the World is likely to be the way things really go: All the talks and meetings in the world won’t do much more than increase goodwill (itself a good) but the two sides will suddenly find their differences don’t mean much when sheer necessity from the outside (political, secular, whatever) makes unity a must. Communism, fascism, and WWII didn’t do it… So what does will be worse.

  43. The Masked Chicken says:

    “But, with current church theology, if I caught someone in the act of robbing my house I could, in good conscience, inflict harm on that person.”

    No. You misunderstand, it seems, the Church’s doctrine of double effect. There are four conditions where double effect can be argued. From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/double-effect/

    1. The act itself must be morally good or at least indifferent.
    2. The agent may not positively will the bad effect but may permit it. If he could attain the good effect without the bad effect he should do so. The bad effect is sometimes said to be indirectly voluntary.
    3. The good effect must flow from the action at least as immediately (in the order of causality, though not necessarily in the order of time) as the bad effect. In other words the good effect must be produced directly by the action, not by the bad effect. Otherwise the agent would be using a bad means to a good end, which is never allowed.
    4. The good effect must be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the allowing of the bad effect“ (p. 1021).

    Another formulation:

    1. that the action in itself from its very object be good or at least indifferent;
    2. that the good effect and not the evil effect be intended;
    3. that the good effect be not produced by means of the evil effect;
    4. that there be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect” (1949, p. 43).

    Deliberately inflicting harm on the robber violates conditions 1 and 2 . There are other things one might do, such as fire to frighten or warn, or call the police, etc. that do not violate the command to turn the other cheek. One may fire at the burglar only if one must for a separate reason that is proportional, such as to save a life (condition 4).

    Even Jesus was not absolutely non-violent, as the driving out the merchants in the a Temple shows. His actions follow the principle of double effect.

    The Chicken

  44. Uxixu says:

    Similarly, Our Lord did not command St Peter to throw away his sword when He rebuked him. And then there’s Luke 22:36. In the hypothetical, you could potentially detain the burglar and use proportionate force should he resist. If it was your livelihood, for example, you could morally defend your property and legally as well in most jurisdictions. Inflicting such force out of malice or vengeance would stray over the line, of course.

    Those in the west usually parroting this sort of thing do not fully grasp the Eastern traditions or history and context behind them. Similar to the arguments for married clergy, they miss that even in the East, a priest cannot contract marriage after ordination… instead of initiating into Orders those men who are already married, which is a distinction the usual proponents are usually completely ignorant of. That it also begs the next most natural counter-point on why even in the East they have a celibate and continent episcopate is neither here nor there.

    I think we’re so close on true dogma, Gail, that restored Communion should be a foregone conclusion but for pride and expectations of continued grinding of old grievances. Ecumenism doesn’t mean they should compromise their principles any more than we, but we can debate the theology without acrimony and polemics.

  45. bobk says:

    There seems to be an idea here that a couple in a 2nd or 3rd marriage in the Orthodox Church aee somehow noncommunicants. Not so. The rite for their wedding differs from a first wedding, but they certainly receive communion like anyone else. The wedding always uses that common cup of wine, alas, not the chalice. The term “sacramental” as far as I know is a pure Roman Catholic description, the Orthodox don’t use it for anything. We call a couple in a 2nd or 3rd marriage “married”. Economia is another term that gets thrown around with some freedom. I was reminded once by one of our bishops that everything God does is economia. God made the universe by economia, the Incarnation of the Word of God is
    economia, and anybody getting communion ever is by God’s economia. He said people
    wanting what they think is “akrevia” or strictness have to be careful what they’re asking for. The Orthodox would also (I think!) regard attending the eucharist and never receiving
    communion a spectator sport. I have heard of the the bad old days when very few Orthodox received more than about 3 times a year. One bishop came from the altar with the chalice and finding no one prepared to commune preached right then to the congregation that they were obviously not in communion with him or one another; what had they come to do that morning? If a person excludes them self from receiving 3 Sundays in a row technically they have apostasized. I’ve never heard of an Orthodox being told they’re participants if not communing, just sorry they weren’t ready or permitted, and technically an excommunicated person wouldn’t even be in the nave for the service beyond the sermon. That is pretty rare.

  46. danube-bosphorus-moskva says:

    There seems to be an idea here that a couple in a 2nd or 3rd marriage in the Orthodox Church aee somehow noncommunicants. Not so. The rite for their wedding differs from a first wedding, but they certainly receive communion like anyone else.
    Eeeee not quite so. They will recieve communion, after epitimy. Person older than 40 years, entering thrid marriage, will not be allowed Holy Communion for 5 years. Person 30-40 years old, will not be allowed to Cup for 4 years. Its not quite like everyone else.

    The term “sacramental” as far as I know is a pure Roman Catholic description, the Orthodox don’t use it for anything. We call a couple in a 2nd or 3rd marriage “married”
    Bob, we call marriage a sacrament. Or if you prefer Orthodox terminology Holy Mystery.

    The Orthodox would also (I think!) regard attending the eucharist and never receiving communion a spectator sport. I have heard of the the bad old days when very few Orthodox received more than about 3 times a year
    To be honest, those bad old days are reality today. In most of Churches in Russia, Serbia, Romania… people are communing only during fast. Of course we could discuss wheatehr that practice is good, in my opinion not quite. But bad old days did not pass.

    Economia is another term that gets thrown around with some freedom. I was reminded once by one of our bishops that everything God does is economia. God made the universe by economia, the Incarnation of the Word of God is economia, and anybody getting communion ever is by God’s economia. He said people wanting what they think is “akrevia” or strictness have to be careful what they’re asking for
    Eh, there is oikonomia in Dogmatics, where there is drawn line between Theologia and Oikonomia (Oikonomia of Trinity, or Oikonomia of Salvation), and there is Oikonomia in canon law, condencesion to weakness of Human nature, vs akrevia (akrebia for those who prefer betacism) strict application of rule (usualy Canon law). Church teach about uniqueness of Christian marriage, even vidowers are discouraged from entering new marriage, and priests are absolutley forbidden to enter second marriage (to them we have akrevia, and to laymen we have oikonomia)

    If a person excludes them self from receiving 3 Sundays in a row technically they have apostasized
    I know for that canon, but thing is, by just that majority of Orthodox are apostates.

    I’ve never heard of an Orthodox being told they’re participants if not communing, just sorry they weren’t ready or permitted, and technically an excommunicated person wouldn’t even be in the nave for the service beyond the sermon. That is pretty rare.
    But there is difference between prohibition of communion and excomunication. Person, not excomunicated, but forbidden from Eucahrist, is expected to leave Church on words:

    All ye catechumens, depart! Depart, ye catechumens! All ye that are catechumens, depart! Let no catechumens remain! But let us who are of the faithful, again and again, in peace pray to the Lord.

    And this applies to persons entering second and third marriage.