Monthly Archives: January 2017

Mary, Our Chief Cosmologist

St. Elizabeth, the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her joyful greeting, called Mary the mother of my Lord [Luke 1:43] and St. Gregory Nazianzus called Mary “the Mother of the King of the universe,” and the “Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world” [Ven. Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginum #11]  Ven. Pius XII sums up the corpus of theological writings and traditions when he states, The theologians of the Church, deriving their teaching from these and almost innumerable other testimonies handed down long ago, have called the most Blessed Virgin the Queen of all creatures, the Queen of the world, and the Ruler of all [Ven. Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginum #22].

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Coronation of Mary, by Velazquez

Now here’s my experience.  I was out on a Rosary walk on Sunday, and while praying the Glorious Mysteries, and upon meditating on the 5th mystery, Coronation of Mary, I realized something immediately, and I chuckled because of all of the heartache surrounding cosmology in the Church during the 16th and 17th centuries:  Mary really is and has been the Queen of the Universe for nearly 2000 years now!  Because Mary is Queen of the Universe, then the Earth from which she and our Lord King of the Universe first appeared, must actually be at the center of the Universe, and all of the controversy surrounding Copernicus and Galileo must be just an unfortunate mishap!

Recall that Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Ptolemy (100-170 AD)  had their theory that the Earth is at the center of the Universe; this position was well-validated by the Book of Joshua which implied that Sun and Moon move in the sky around the Earth according to how God commanded:

‘Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ai′jalon.’ And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. [Joshua 10:12-13, RSVCE]

 

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Aristotelian-Ptolemaic Theory of the Universe (Earth is center, circa 150 AD)

Copernicus then published his helio-centric theory in 1543 which placed the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of the Universe.

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Copernican Heliocentric Theory of the Universe [Sun is center; circa 1543 AD]

Galileo then picked up that theory, and began to teach and write about it in the early 17th Century.  In 1633, Galileo was brought before the Roman Inquisition to answer for his conduct and writings, having inadvertently embarrassed Pope Urban VIII, and being severely reprimanded and censured as a result.

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Galileo at Roman Inquisition, circa 1633

Note, however, that Galileo, who embraced the Copernican helio-centric theory, was never officially branded as a heretic by the Church.  Essentially, there was just a nasty misunderstanding.

So, all of this time, we should have known that Mother Mary is the Chief Cosmologist of the Church.  We needed only look to her, and to her title as Queen of the Universe, since her son is King of the Universe, to know where planet Earth truly stands in all of the Universe – in the center where God, the King of the Universe is ever-present to us, with her, the Queen of the Universe.

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Where the Center of the Universe is Presently Present to Us

 

 

 

 

Guidance for Raymond Card. Burke On Amoris Laetitia

Raymond Card. Burke is very anxious about Pope Francis and Amoris Laetitia (AL).  Is it possible that by saying there is much confusion amongst pastors regarding the Pope’s writings about the “irregular situations” and reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and illicitly remarried that he is really projecting his own confusion and reservations about he Pope’s intentions onto them? 

 In speaking about Amoris Laetitia (AL), he skips over this qualification which Pope St. John Paul made very clear in Familiaris Consortio #84, before reminding all of the Church’s long tradition of not admitting the divorced and invalidly remarried to Holy Communion:

“Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage…”

Pope Francis now writes in AL about the reality that there are cases requiring discernment where a deep spiritual understanding of both justice and mercy is required, and which the rigorist, controlling personality may be unwilling to accept: the type of the “unjustly abandoned.”  

St. John Paul already allowed the divorced and remarried (in cases when best for the children) to Holy Communion when they agree to live as brother and sister. So, the Church admits that there can be cases of adultery (defined as being divorced and invalidly remarried) which are not strong enough to be considered mortal sin and inadmissible to Holy Communion – in this case, living as a civilly-married couple but not engaging in conjugal relations.

So now, Pope Francis takes us further along into discernment to find those who have been egregiously abandoned but who, for the good of the children, engage in activities available to them to safeguard the children. This is the case where the husband runs off abandoning his family, remarries a wealthy woman for the allure of her money, and has another family with this wealthy woman, leaving his valid wife and three children alone on a farm deep in the Amazon, without access to priests, where such husbandless families are vulnerable to evil. A good, non-Catholic man comes along, and having love and compassion for her and her family, and desiring children with her in addition to her own and being a man of great virtue, marries her and protects the family. Is this adultery? I might consider that it could even be a lesser grade of adultery than that which still exists in the divorced and invalidly remarried who are living as brother and sister as a civilly-married couple, in a safe and modern urban city with access to many priests and services, for the sake of the children, but who are no longer having conjugal relations. 

 And so, I think Raymond Card. Burke is missing out on understanding scenarios like this one.  Where the Blessed Sacrament helps the civilly-married, non-conjugating couple keep from falling into mortal sin for love of Jesus, the same could help the abandoned wife and mother, who is called in her heart to metanoia, strive for perfection and obtain a non-conjugal agreement later when her children are older.  This process might speed along if by her attachment to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, who never abandoned her, she also converts her husband to the Faith, and he then desires to become obedient.

Just like violating the commandment not to kill can have cases where killing is not a mortal sin [self defense, “just cause” military action], there might be be cases, IMHO, where what the Church defines as adultery may not necessarily be mortal sin. Yes, it is adultery, but is it venial instead of mortal if the intention of the second marriage was the securing of a bond required for the defense or protection of her children? This requires Magisterial discernment.  

This, I believe, is Pope Francis’ rendering of the wishes of the Holy Spirit in Amoris Laetitia .  Not that the divorced and remarried may be admitted, as a new rule, to Holy Communion.  No!  But that the abandoned may not also be abandoned by the Church and by Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament when she, in her abandonment, dire fear and defense of her children,  needed Him the most.