What so many forget is that when a Catholic is married in a civil or non-Catholic ceremony, it is a sin for other Catholics to not only attend but to even acknowledge the marriage through gifts which indicates a sign of approval. If one or both of the parties is a baptized Catholic and they marry outside the Church they are, in truth, not married but living in sin through a mutual agreement without the grace of a Sacramental marriage. For the couple to be reinstated in the good graces of Holy Mother Church both parties must be married by a priest after a good confession. This is why the Church encourages Catholics to marry fellow Catholics because so often mixed marriages not only bring about family discord, but often prompt loss of faith on the part of the Catholic in addition to neglecting the strict Catholic upbringing of offspring. Too often the Catholic party, in an effort to "not offend their Protestant brethren," compromise not only their position but their faith.
The progressives use the trick that this is only a Church law and can therefore be changed and they also point to Christ's words in John 6: 54, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you." They claim that it is "not fair" to deprive them of Holy Communion just because they are not in full obedience to the Church and her precepts. They point to pastoral practices of other religions who are more tolerant of the laws of marriage and feel if the Catholic Church were more "understanding" of their plight she would open the way for many more to receive the Holy Eucharist. What they fail to realize is that God and His chosen Church does not need to conform to man's wishes, but that man needs to comply with God's wishes expressed through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. By caving in to the radicals demands, would not Holy Mother Church be lessening the vital importance of the Eucharist? Indeed, yes, for in Canon 897 it states: "The Most Holy Eucharist is the most august sacrament, in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered and received, and by which the Church constantly lives and grows. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated over the centuries, is the summit and the source of all Christian worship and life; it signifies and effects the unity of the people of God and achieves the building up of the Body of Christ. The other sacraments and all the ecclesiastical works of the apostolate are closely related to the Holy Eucharist and are directed to it." Therefore, it is vital that we cling to all the Church says and reinforce that to receive the Holy Eucharist one must be in the state of sanctifying grace which means free from mortal sin. This involves the indissolubility of marriage and to be living in the married state outside the Church is a mortal sin and therefore those who are not in the state of grace cannot receive the Holy Eucharist. It's as simple as that.
The Holy Father John Paul II confirmed this in an address to the Pontifical Council for the Family on January 24 of this year in focusing on The Pastoral care of the Divorced and Re-married: "The divorced and remarried cannot be admitted to Eucharistic Communion since 'their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist,' (Familiaris Consortio, n.84) But, though the Church's doctrine cannot be changed ('The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom,' (Catechism, n. 1640), the divorced and remarried must not despair. Let these men and women know that the Church loves them, that she is not far from them and suffers because of their situation...The divorced and remarried are and remain her members, because they have received the Sacrament of Baptism and retain their Christian faith. Of course, a new union after divorce is a moral disorder, which is opposed to precise requirements deriving from the faith, but this must not preclude a commitment to prayer and to the active witness of charity...Pastors, especially parish priests, must with an open heart guide and support these men and women, making them understand that even when they have broken the marriage bond, they must not despair of the grace of God, who watches over their ways."
The Church takes great pains to extend love, mercy and understanding to those who cannot receive the Sacraments but she will not and cannot compromise. One prevention is to help and support couples when they are in a crisis so their union will not end in divorce. To further prevent the dissolution of marriages Holy Mother Church, through Diocesan directives, prepares couples for this indissoluble act, by mandating the marriage banns "or other appropriate means for carrying out the necessary inquiries which are to precede marriage" (cf. Canon 1067) and establishing pre-Cana conferences in the preparation for this life-long committment to each other and to God. In regard to those who are married, to those who are contemplating marriage and to those who are trapped in a marriage outside the Church, it is always wise to heed the words of the Blessed Mother Mary to Jesus at the Wedding Feast of Cana, "Do whatever He tells you." Whatever He tells us is manifested through His teaching authority on earth - His One, True chosen Church.
In the next installment we will discuss the fifth mandate launched by the radicals that allows for local priests, lay people and the bishops of the country be involved more in episcopal appointments while significantly reducing the role of papal nuncios, the Congregation of Bishops, and the supreme pontiff.