UPDATE 15 July 2019:
Rev. Mr. Kandra remarked at his blog about this post. He disappoints.
The non-canonist deacon disagrees with the canonical arguments of the esteemed canonist Ed Peters. Fine. Kandra can state a position and attempt to defend it. So can Peters. That’s not the disappointment.
What disappoints is the flippancy with which Kandra treated the issue of continence for deacons. He concludes…
Meantime, the Church has moved on to more pressing matters.
Regarding his last point: I suspect many would greet that admonition the same way they greeted Humanae Vitae.
“More pressing matters”? Like… what? Climate change?
This is a big fail because a major component in long-building Present Crisis has to do with the eroded identity of Holy Church’s clergy. It is hard to think of a “more pressing matter” than clerical identity. Who is the cleric and how should the cleric live is at the core of many problems we face today. Are married deacons clerics or not? Remember, there are married priests out there, too.
In the post above, I cited how seriously GOD takes priestly continence in the episode at the mountain before the Law was imposed (because of disobedience). The Church has taken clerical continence seriously for a long time and for good reason. If married permanent deacons want to be taken seriously as clergy, they need to take issues that concern clergy seriously and not just blow them off.
And moving to that second part, and the reference to Humanae vitae… how to read that?
If I understand Kandra correctly, I think he is referring to the fact that many lay people ignored or willfully and knowingly violated the Church’s teaching concerning contraception. Many of them did this because their clergy told them they could and should. I may be wrong, but it seems that Kandra is, with that Humanae vitae reference, suggesting to his married diaconal confreres ignore or disobey the admonition in the Roman Catechism.
There may be a newer catechism since the Roman Catechism, but that doesn’t make the Roman Catechism into a nothing. This is a serious issue addressed by serious and saintly theologians (including St. Charles Borromeo). They didn’t include that admonition for the heck of it. Clearly they thought there was a spiritual good in it and, therefore, a good for the whole people of God.
One of the traps of modernists is the erroneous notion that we of this, our 21st century, are more mature, more sophisticated, better now than our benighted forebears. We’ve outgrown all that old stuff and can put it aside without any qualms. Who cares what the letter says? Who cares what our predecessors thought or admonished? We know better.
I’m not saying that I think Rev. Mr. Kandra is a modernist. I’m saying that this is a modernist trap into which many people can and have fallen.
In any event, canonical issues aside, I think that this is a serious issue precisely because it concerns a key and divinely instituted component in our collective Catholic identity.
___ Originally Published on: Jul 14, 2019
From a reader…
The Roman Catechism (Trent) says that a couple should abstain from the marital act at least three days before receiving Holy Communion. I have read that this, though still advisable, is not required under current law. Please advise? Thanks and Jesus and Mary be with you.
In a section concerning the ends of marriage, the Roman Catechism – intended to improve the preaching of priests in parishes – temporary abstinence from the marital act is recommended for the sake of greater prayer.
It was recommended. It is not required by law.
This is still an issue in the case of married permanent deacons. Canonists such as Ed Peters argues – convincingly – that, as clerics, they are obliged to abstinence by can. 277 and tradition upon which it rests.
Unlike angels, we humans have both body and soul. It therefore makes sense that people should prepare in both soul and also body for reception of Holy Communion.
In our souls we prepare by making an examination of conscience, confession of sins, prayer and meditation on the profound implications of such a daring act.
In our bodies we prepare through self-denial of bodily appetites which, obviously, includes sexual desires.
Food is good. Sex is good (natural sex, of course, not the same-sex filth that makes even the demons turn away their gaze). We practice denying ourselves good things. These mortifications and sacrifices are good for us.
Abstinence, especially for clergy, is attested to in Scripture. It was the will of God that, before His descent upon them after the Exodus, men (they were all priestly then) should abstain from sexual intercourse. They weren’t even to set their feet on the mountain. They violated God’s will and, as a result, since they weren’t to be trusted on their own God imposed more laws on them. The Roman Catechism also cites the example of David, who abstained from sexual relations for three days before receiving the show-bread from the priest. Of course David is a priestly-king. But by baptism, the baptized participate in Christ’s three-fold office.
Remember too that while the Roman Catechism advocates frequent Communion, it comes from an era when Communion was received relatively rarely, even as seldom as once a year. The Church did have to demand, as a matter of a “commandment of the Church” to receive Communion at least once a year.
It is a matter of conjecture to consider the relationship between the infrequency of Communion and the strong admonishment to refrain from sex for three days before Communion.
It is perhaps a sign of the times that, now, bodily preparation for Communion is so attenuated. It is as if the post-Conciliar Church succumbed to the “ghost in the machine” view of man. Abstinence from food before Communion devolved. It was, once, from midnight onward. Then it was for three hours. Now it is a laughable one hour before Communion under normal circumstances. But at least there is a law about the Eucharistic fast. There is nothing whatsoever about sexual abstinence, not even a recommendation.
And it isn’t as if practicing Catholics are going to Communion once a year only. They go all the time. It has gotten to be that people think they haven’t been to Mass if they haven’t received Communion. FAIL! People think that they have to go to Communion. FAIL! The result is that there is now a kind of psychological pressure to receive which overrides sound judgement about being in the state of mortal sin.
Heck, Amoris laetitia has even given license to adulterers who are not living in continence to go to Communion. Ideologues are on the ascendancy right now, and therefore totalitarianism, with its tenet, “Everything that is not forbidden is compulsory”. Both Communion and sex are now obligatory, even for adulterers.
I wonder what would happen if the Church started to admonish married people to abstain from sexual relations for three days before Communion.
Or, let’s be post-Conciliar, and say one day.
Or, let’s be post-Conciliar and into Amoris laetitia, and say maybe only one hour? Including adulterers?
No, that’ll be shouted down too.