Tuesday 9th May, 2000

After I completed the journal on last night, I looked up “Catholic Catechism” on the Internet; finding it, I spent the next hour and half down loading it page by page and got to bed at 1:30am. But not before reading the following statement:

1665 The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.

This really set my mind in a spin: did this mean, that as a Catholic, I would not only be a layman, but I would never be able to receive communion?

In some agitation, I rang Fr D. in the morning (I probably got him out of the shower), and told him of my fears.He said “Don’t worry”. He was going to see the Vicar-General that morning, and I was “not to worry, but to enjoy my holiday”. The words “Be not afraid” keep coming back to me, but I must say that I have been afraid over the last few days. I have thought about this issue incessantly. It was truly worrying me whether I could get an annulment of my first marriage, and what was really worrying me is that I knew that Cathy would not agree to an annulment from Ian.

Anyway, I came down to the Island on today. I read an article by Richard J. Neuhaus about the difference of the Catholic Church (in the book Evangelicals and Catholics together). Neuhaus is an American theologian who recently converted from Lutheranism to the Catholic Church. I found myself agreeing with everything he said about the difference between the Catholic and evangelicals, siding always with the Catholic position. I know that the Lutheran Church has steered a different line in the past from the outright evangelicals, but I wonder how much this has had to do with the prevailing neoconfessionalism since the 1830’s? Before that, there was little to distinguish the Lutheran churches from the other Protestants, and it seems that these days confessionalism is once again retreating, and that the whole Lutheran church has turned evangelical.

I also have been reading (almost finished) an excellent little book by Cardinal Ratzinger called Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today. P. lent me this book, which claims to be a “primer” in Catholic ecclesiology. In fact, I have found it very informative. It has dealt with issues of Papal Primacy, Apostolic Succession, the Nature of the Priesthood, and the necessity for the constant reformation of the church (a section that I am just reading). I have been impressed by its fidelity to the Scriptural tradition, and by the constant rejection of non-ecclesiastical theologies of the liberal theologians. In all, I found it educational, and also reassuring--because once again, Ratzinger was expounding truths that I had always suspected, and, in many cases, already held.

I felt a twinge (or more of a twang) of regret when I read a section about how the “priest of today” must regard himself and his work. It spoke so well to my current condition, and then I realised that I would not be functioning as a priest in the Catholic Church. This is what Ratzinger said:

He who acts on Christ’s behalf knows that it is always the case that one sows and another reaps. He does not need to bother incessantly about himself; he leaves the outcome to the Lord and does his own part without anxiety, free and cheerful because he is hidden within the whole. If priests today so often feel overworked, tired and frustrated, the blame lies with a strained pursuit of results. Faith becomes a burdensome piece of baggage that the priest just barely manages to keep dragging along, whereas it should be a wing that bears us aloft.

Well, I have at least a few months of ministry left. I will try to live by this in the mean time.

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