Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Way of Penitents for Divorced and Remarried in Italy?

Italian theologian tries to find a way for those living in an invalid marriage and excluded from Holy Communion that includes a life of penitence:

From Magister:

It would, moreover, require a certain span of time that should be determined with prudence, which would include some of the following penitential acts, according to the traditional threefold model of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, practiced on a daily or weekly basis for a few months, according to a set schedule: the reading of the Scriptures, the prayer of the Psalms or of the Liturgy of the Hours, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist (but without receiving communion) and in adult classes of catechesis, the recitation of the Rosary, pilgrimages, moderate fasting from food and from diversions, especially in preparation for the Sunday liturgy, monetary donations to poor people nearby or far away, the assumption of roles of social service in a professional or volunteer capacity, an effort to establish forgiveness and reconciliation with the spouse, etc. Of course, this journey would need to be modeled in reference to the confession of sins, and thus to the actual condition of the penitent.
At this point it becomes clear that, according to our proposal, admission to the sacraments cannot be decided privately by the individual believer on the basis of the judgment of his own conscience, but rather passes entirely through the ecclesiastical celebration and the priestly ministry.
And again, the individual believer cannot simply make this decision under some extraordinary circumstances, for example at a child’s first communion or at the funeral for a relative. Nor can it simply be left to the prudential judgment of the individual priest. It is appropriate that there should be a common and specific ecclesiastical practice in this matter.

What I find appealing in this is that it is a step in the right direction not only for this issue but countless others that the face individuals in the Church today--that the focus is on conversion, deepening a relationship with Christ and it realizes that most of the sinful behavior committed in our lives is due to our lack of conversion.