Pastoral Care of Couples

By Fr. Michael Phillippino

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
January 22, 2011

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Third and Fourth Sundays in Ordinary Time will feature St. Paul’s writings to the Corinthians as he addresses the subject of sexual immorality. I felt I should feature an article about that very topic. Since Archbishop Michael Sheehan has addressed this subject, I thought I would reprint his article on Cohabitation. This is the second half of the article. The first half can be found in the bulletin for the weekend of January 14th and 15th.

The Pastoral Care of Couples who are Cohabitating
By Archbishop Michael Sheehan,
published April 3, 2011

Christ our Lord loves all people and wishes to save them, not by ignoring their sin, or calling evil good, but by repentance and helping them to change their lives in accordance to His teaching. We, as His Church, must do the same. In accordance with this, I would remind you of the following:

1. People in (any cohabitation situation) cannot receive the Sacraments, with the important exception of those who agree to live chastely (“as brother and sister”) until their situation is regularized. Of course, those in danger of death are presumed to be repentant.

2. These people may not be commissioned as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, not only because of scandal, but even more because one commits the sin of sacrilege by administering a Sacrament in a state of mortal sin.

3. Nor are such people to be admitted to the role of sponsor for Baptism or Confirmation, as is clearly stated by the Archdiocesan Affidavit for a Sponsor. It is critical for the sponsor to be a practicing Catholic – and can anyone be seriously called a practicing Catholic who is not able to receive the sacraments because they are living in sin?

4. When it comes to other parish ministries and organizations, I feel it best to leave these situations to the judgment of the pastor. Prudence is needed, avoiding all occasions of scandal. We must see their involvement with the parish as an opportunity to work urgently to bring such people to repentance and the regularization of their lifestyle.

5. Many of these sins are committed out of ignorance. I ask that our pastors preach on the gravity of sin and its evil consequence, the 6th and 9th Commandments of God, and the sacramental nature and meaning of Christian marriage. Our catechetical programs in our parishes – children, youth, and adult – must clearly teach these truths…

6. Those who are married outside the Church because of a previous union are urged to seek an annulment through our Marriage Tribunal. If it can be found that the first marriage lacked some essential quality for a valid marriage, the Tribunal can grant an annulment. Your pastor can help someone start a marriage case for this purpose. It is important for couples to continue to pray and get to Mass even though they may not receive Communion, until their marriage can be blest in the Church.

Our popular American culture is often in conflict with the teachings of Jesus and His Church. I urge especially young people to not cohabitate…but to marry in the Church and prepare well for it. I congratulate and thank those thousands of Catholic married couples who role model the Sacrament of Marriage according to the teachings of Jesus and His Church.

A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
January 22, 2012

Detachment from the World
Peter and Andrew were businessmen. So were their neighbors, James and John. They tried to wring a living out of the Sea of Galilee, and it probably took nearly all of the time and energy that they had.

So it would have been easy to pass on the chance to hear some new prophet proclaim that the Kingdom of God had finally arrived. And then, having heard this message, they could have rolled their eyes and chuckled about how they hoped that this Kingdom would put more fish in the lake. Or they could have made

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Faith Has Consequences, Wonderful Consequences
A while back I came upon a book that seems to be intended for young people but in reality contains wonderful meditations for all of us. Actually, we are all still young in our faith no matter what our age. Just as the Church is ever ancient ever new, so for me and for all of us, our faith is ever ancient and ever new. The book I’m referring to is George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic. I bought a number of these books, about a dozen, and gave them to people I hoped would read each chapter and meditate on it, whether they were young adults, in the process of raising young adults, or full of the youth of our faith.

I ‘Go to Church Every Day’: Actor Mark Wahlberg Credits Faith for Turning His Life Around
Actor Mark Wahlberg likely surprised viewers when he appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” last Friday to discuss a variety of issues — his faith, the importance of family, his work in the community and more.

Wahlberg, who spent time in jail as a teenager, has overcome many barriers — poverty and crime, among others. In fact, he calls his time behind bars after assaulting two individuals a wake-up call that led him to take positive steps to improve his life.

‘To Be Born’ Touches Hearts and Saves Lives
Nearly everyone involved in pro-life ministry will say that one thing they want to do is give a “voice” to the unborn.

A new film, titled To Be Born, produced by Spirit Juice Studios, does just that.

In the powerful short film, a young woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy seeks to have an abortion. In the midst of the procedure, she hears her unborn daughter speaking to her.

Quick Answers on Soul Sleep
The idea of soul sleep has appeared in a number of different forms in Church history. For a pretty good discussion of some of the terms and variants, see this Wikipedia entry.

It is also true that there are a number of passages in Scripture that can appear to support this view, which is one reason it periodically crops up.

Why Should I Listen To You?
I want to improve my life. I want to be more open to the will of God, more ready to hear His voice. Like the child Samuel in the temple, I’m not expecting to hear God speaking to me directly—so I try to be alert to other voices which have some authority, and to answer when they call.

Easier said than done. There are many worthy voices out there saying many worthy things, but here’s the catch: not all of them are talking to me. When I hear a good idea, a criticism, a suggestion, a plan, a description of a lifestyle, I often think, “Oooh, that’s absolutely right! I ought to be doing, thinking, or being…

Presence of Catholics online is essential, says Vatican official
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, emphasized that the presence of Catholics on the internet is essential.

He noted that in 2009, roughly 440 million Catholics went online.

Spiritual but not Religious?
What’s all this “spiritual but not religious” claptrap? Saying you’re spiritual but not religious is like saying you love food, but hate cooking. Let’s take it further. You love food but hate cooking? That means you can’t be bothered to learn to cook. You can’t be bothered to study food and a meal and how it all fits togethers. You can’t be bothered to read cookbooks and learn how to make a recipe. You’re not willing to give it a try and burn something and be embarrassed. You’re not willing to burn your fingers, make a mess and have to clean it up. You’re not willing to invite friends, plan a dinner party, take a risk, spend some money and cook for them.

Slicing Salvation In Half
Fr. Barron does a bang-up job explaining why this video has gone viral. The video, he notes, is the result of the American emphasis on ‘freedom’. Properly understood, freedom is a great thing. Freedom from oppression, indignity, bondage, and sin are all noble pursuits. But in today’s lingo, ‘freedom’ usually boils down to ‘liberation from rules, obedience, commands, structures, and–most importantly–anything that rankles my comfort.’ Since religion can be challenging, and since it doesn’t always console and affirm, it’s often thrown under the bus by proponents of this pseudo-freedom.

What is Moral Conscience?
Refuting four mistaken ideas about conscience in light of the natural law tradition.

My experience as a teacher, counselor and confessor has repeatedly confirmed that there is a tremendous amount of confusion, especially among Catholics, about the nature of moral conscience. That experience has also taught me just how sensitive this topic is. Want to make a group of people immediately uncomfortable? Start talking about conscience—and worse, suggest that the ideas they have about …..

Religion With Dogma
One of the tragedies of Catholic thought for the last 50 years or so has been the attempt to develop a religion without dogma. In this, many Catholic theologians belatedly followed a tendency inherent in Protestantism for several centuries, in which theology was not important and being nice was. One of the principal places where this tendency has been evident is in regard to Christ.

God Matters: Ethical Theory and Divine Law
“We do not offend God unless we act contrary to our own nature.” This remark, which Thomas Aquinas makes in his book Summa Contra Gentiles, is a pithy summary of his view of morality. It encapsulates morality’s twofold source in human nature and God’s law. God commands us to act in accordance with the human nature that he created, so actions are specifically good or bad depending upon whether or not they perfect human nature, and therefore are reasonable for us to choose or avoid, respectively. Thus, in choosing well, we please God by our obedience, and in choosing badly, we offend him by our disobedience.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Perhaps the greatest stumbling block for Christians and non-Christians alike is the issue of suffering. If God is a good God, how is it that bad things happen at all, much less, to good people? While it is essential that a person understands that God does not create or commit evil, it still exists as a natural consequence (or possibility) of our free will. The question at hand is asked in the aftermath of catastrophic events; the news shows ask every available priest, rabbi, imam and minister for an answer. It is a natural response for a person to seek an explanation….

Raising Independent Catholic Kids in an Age of Conformity
Sexting, drugs, alcohol, cyber-bullying, teen suicide, rampant materialism, technology addiction, and me-first mindsets – the list of challenges to young people today can seem overwhelming. As parents of two boys under the age of 15, I feel like my wife and I are on the front lines of a never-ending war for the very souls of our children. I would love to tell you that we have the upper hand in this ongoing struggle, but some days I am not so sure.

Appreciating God’s Gifts and Overcoming Obstacles
Looking back at my childhood, I am thankful for the many gifts the good God sent my way in the form of people who knew and loved Him and chose to share that knowledge and love with me. There are so many examples from the good Catholic sisters and priests who taught me to my Presbyterian friend, James, who announced that he was going to save me from the “chains of my Catholicism”! He was wrong about the Catholic faith, but there was no doubt concerning his zeal for the Lord. And his zeal most certainly helped me grow in my Catholic faith.

Does Morality Inhibit Freedom?
St. Thomas Aquinas gave primacy to the natural reason as formative in our free choices—the use of reason ordered to truth, and the will ordered to the good, uniting to make a choice.

“Jesus didn’t come to give us a bunch of rules.” Perhaps you have heard this kind of complaint. Some people seem to think that expressing a clearly defined morality is locking them up in some kind of invisible prison that is constricting their freedom. They may equate moral standards with self-righteous hypocrisy. They don’t want to be “moral machines” following a “hard cold legalism.”

17 Big Companies That Are Intensely Religious
Many big brands are intensely religious, even though consumers may not realize it. Most of the time, it comes from a devout founder passing his or her values on down the line.

Some companies put their religion right out in the open, and are proud of their identities. Chick-fil-A is infamous for closing on Sundays, and In-N-Out puts Bible verses on its packaging. Interstate Batteries’ mission statement states up front that it exists “to glorify God” while selling its products.

Does the Bible Condemn Repetitive Prayer?
One of the common arguments raised against Catholic devotions like the Rosary is that Catholics are praying the same few form prayers over and over again, and Scripture condemns repetitive prayer. After all, in Matthew 6:7, Christ says, “And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words,” or to use the KJV, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

The answer to this is simple: Christ condemns vain repetitions, or heaping up empty phrases. Repetitive prayer, including the use of form prayer, is embraced by Scripture, and practiced by the early Church. Let’s look at repetitive prayer first, and then form prayer.

How to Pray Like Jesus
During a recent talk, Fr. Thomas Richter explained that praying like Jesus requires one thing: to desire for God to have his way in your life.

As the vocation director for the Bismarck diocese, it would seem that Fr. Tom knows about answered prayers. Bismarck is in the top twenty per capita for vocations in the country. But Fr. Tom would say it’s not a matter of God answering his prayers as it is for him to be answering God’s will in his life. They key to prayer, according to him, is to get out of the way.

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