Monday, August 31, 2015

Marriage and Eucharistic Communion in poor countries

By Ángel Arnáiz Quintana, OP (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Fe Adulta
August 30, 2015

How can a priest deny Communion to someone seriously ill with cancer because he hasn't fulfilled the rite of marriage in the Church, even though he is an exemplary father and an admirable husband?

How can the bread of life be denied to thousands, millions of peasants on the Latin American continent and throughout the world because they don't have this Church rite, though they are fathers and mothers who love their sons and daughters and sacrifice themselves for them, and are wonderfully humane as spouses?

Why condemn immigrant couples who can't get married in a Church ceremony because they don't have their baptism papers in order because of an infernal war years ago now?

Can't a medical doctor take the sacramental Body of Jesus when she lovingly fulfills her work with the sick and is faithful in her marriage, even though she didn't get married by the Church in the official rite for the various reasons there may be?

Where is the merciful love that Jesus proclaimed as the greatest Christian commandment -- "Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful?" Where is the cry of the prophets -- living, experiential knowledge of God I desire, and not sacrifices (liturgical rituals today), mercy instead of burnt offerings (laws devoid of human content)? Where are the beatitudes?

How are the Catholic churches in the rural parts of every continent not going to empty out if they are considered sinners or, at least, unworthy to approach Jesus? But weren't they the preferred ones of Jesus of Nazareth? Weren't the beatitudes addressed to them before anyone else? Didn't Jesus surround himself with sinners and people who hadn't even been married civilly, as we would say today? Didn't the Apostle explain that Christ liberated us so that we might be free?

One humiliation after another -- a married life, a family one so marvelous in human Christian values -- the limitations of that life are not unknown too, obviously -- is not worthy to receive Jesus' sacrament of love.

It doesn't matter that you have a devoted generous love, faithful love, with no other relationships, a permanent love, lived for life here on earth, that is, the characteristics of true Christian love.

That's how they've been held for centuries -- colonized, humiliated, marginalized -- and that's how those who want to be among the faithful of the Church are kept, deep down.

It's more important to fill a church with flowers, musicians, carpets, vestments and words even though the consistency of that love isn't even known. The ritual is worth more than tried and tested everyday life. We shouldn't be surprised that good people are absorbed by religious groups that speak directly to them and accept them without so many barriers. At this rate, the Catholic Church will be devoid of the poor, the favored of Jesus.

I'm speaking to you from crucified Central America, from a tiny little country, El Salvador, but it's a cry of a whole continent. Don't be deaf to its voice.

Image: Fr. Quintana, a missionary from Spain now working in El Salvador, prepares to bless the new community center of the Asociación de Comunidades Unidas para el Desarrollo Económico y Social del Bajo Lempa.

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