Random Musings of Faith – July 26, 2014

(I’m on vacation with a bunch of priests friends.)

Last night’s table conversation at one point meandered into a discussion of Ross Douthat’s latest blog posting on Cardinal Walter Kasper’s interview with Commomweal magazine a few months back. Among many things which Cardinal Kasper spoke about was the question of Communion for Catholics who were in a second, invalid marriage. As you can well imagine, our conversation went back and forth across a whole range of discussion r.e. both Douthat’s blog and the Cardinal’s interview.

At one point, we were talking about the practice in Eastern Orthodox churches of allowing, for various reasons, a second or even third marriage — and thus access to Communion — while still considering the first marriage sacramentally valid. I began to think back to my studies in Rome when I was pursuing my doctorate in Sacred Liturgy and all the courses I took on Eastern Rite liturgies and theology. I wonder if the practice of the Eastern Orthodox churches as regards remarriage and communion would be, in the end, something that could “fit” into our Western Latin church?

 A “Rite” (capital “R”) is a particular, distinct church with all of its history, culture, language, rituals, etc, like the Maronite Rite or the Mozarabic Rite or the Greek Orthodox church. One of the riches of a Rite is the whole entanglement of its Christian life. One cannot simply lift a rite (small “r”) or practice out of a Rite and fit it into an other Rite. So much of how it (the “rite” or a “practice”) is understood and lived is found within the whole of the life of those who live as Christians within that Rite.  It doesn’t migrate well.

So my question is how does a ritual practice (allowing for a second or even third marriage) of the Eastern Orthodox churches with its wholly different liturgical, sacramental, ecclesial, and theological foundations migrate into the Western Latin church and its own foundations without selling the richness of each Rite and its traditions short? I don’t have the answer, of course, but I am willing to engage the question. There may even be some who would challenge the validity of my premise here and that’s a good thing too….



1 Comment. Leave new

Just a thought. Why do you say that the foundations are different? The Western Latin Rite did not begin in Rome or the West but was brought from the East by Peter and Paul so its foundation is the same as any other Rite, i.e. Jesus Christ. Rather, the question might be, has the Church’s ritual practice and teaching concerning divorce and remarriage changed since its foundation (Matt. 19: 1-10). If yes, when and why. When I don’t know but it is obviously different from what Jesus taught if there are second and third marriages with the first considered sacramentally valid. The why, on the other hand, is probably for the same reason Moses allowed divorce, hardness of heart. So it would appear that the second and third marriage with a valid first marriage of the Orthodox Church comes not from a foundation in Jesus Christ but hearkens back to Moses and the definitely more Jewish roots of the Eastern churches. It may be that while the West’s foundation in Jesus Christ is the same as the East, its not so Jewish roots has allowed it to hold firm to what Jesus taught was “from the beginning.”