Great news out of Washington University concerning the ongoing restoration at St. Francis de Sales Oratory (above photo by Eric Cesal):
One of those school buildings includes an 8,000-square-foot children’s theater that is in urgent need of renovation. This fall five teams of architecture students from Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts have worked to develop plans for the theatre as part of the Sam Fox School’s Community Service Competition.
Jon R. Roche, office administrator for the church, explains that the theater is located on the third floor of an 1888 structure that once housed the former parish girls’ school. In the 1920s the theater served as home to the Benton Park Drama Club but in the 1940s was subdivided into classrooms, the two-story stage split horizontally by dropped-in ceilings.
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES
It is sort of amazing how a rumor will start, build, and develop its own logic. These excerpts from an article in the Burlington Free Press (Bishop Matano’s local paper) I am posting here to highlight the process.
An earlier post on the kindergarten field trip to the lesbian “wedding” spurred some comments, many of which diverted into a discussion on marriage and the increase in decrees of nullity. One priest posted a comment in response to another reader that I thought was very interesting and deserved a broader exposure. So, here it is, beginning with the excerpt from the previous comment to which this priest responded. Thank you Father, for your thoughts, and my prayers are with you:
“My husband and I used to teach the Archdiocese Pre–Cana classes and have quit because 99% of the couples were living together and most of them had even told their priests! It was too disheartening to know that their priests weren’t loving them enough to be the good shepherds that God has called them to be.”
As a pastor, I am in a bind. I am not able to deprive people of their right to be married in the Church. Thus, even when I hear that couples are cohabitating, even if I have a gut feeling that a particular marriage is not a good idea, I am compelled to place them in the pre-marriage process… a process I know is broken, but the only one that we have.
Rest assured, I insist that the couple ‘invest in their marriage’ by separating and living chastely. What’s the only tool I have at my disposal? Well, in my parish, a couple known to be cohabitating is not allowed to desecrate the Eucharist or scandalize the faithful: marriage is not allowed at Mass, and it is limited to a ‘simple’ form. Two witnesses and a non-prime-time hour (Friday nights). When couples are known to cohabitate, there is no “Fairy Tale” wedding for them at my church. So what happens when I lay this out at our first meeting? The couple is usually very quiet. They do complete the paperwork and the other stuff I give them at the first meeting, then they call about two business days later and politely say that they decided “not to get married”, which I presume to mean “not to get married at xxx church”.
[Fortunately, getting married at the courthouse or at the protestant party’s ‘church’ outside of canonical form is easy to annul. A Catholic attempting marriage outside of the Church is prima face evidence of an invalid union. 60-70% of the cases I send to the tribunal are these. But the toll it takes on the parties and their children and families is incalcuable.]
These folks are also probably dropping out of the practice of the faith completely after this meeting… of course most were not practicing to begin with. Is this an ‘acceptable loss’? Everything in my constitution as a spiritual father goes against this. There is no such thing as ‘acceptable loss’… but they are free to walk and it’s the devil (not me) making them do it.
There are also cases of cohabitation where folks come already with (their) kids in tow. The same rules for marriage in the case of cohabitation apply, but I subscribe to the opinion that the greater good is that the child(ren) have both parents available in the home. I do insist on chastity and point out that each must have separate bedrooms.
Marriage is in an ugly way in the Church today. I and my parish are slowly moving things the right direction, I hope, but there is only so much your priests can do. We need prayer, we need good solid couples to assist and cooperate with the effort to promote strong, holy families, we need parents to have the guts to hold their children to good Christian values. I fear that this couple who knows what Catholic marraige is all about, who in their frustration has quit assisting at Pre–Cana has become part of the problem, and not part of the solution. Frustration is a tool of the devil, no matter how righteous it feels.
The annulment conditions of being “drugged, threatened, kidnapped” are obviously legitimate. A Catholic marriage does not result from these putative unions. Those are stupid-obvious (and frightening) when they show up in the office, and I think the Church has a handle on that. THese situations are also formal impediments which do not allow me to proceed to the sacrament. Under present law, however, there are many other ways for folks to enter marraige which, upon further investigation, also lack sacramentality on honest investigation of the intentions and dispositions of the parties (which frequently is not present, except in hind-sight).
My point… we all, pastors and laity, need to be working at fixing everything that is broken in the Church’s practice in this sacrament… and it is much more complicated than I can express in a blog com-box. I love the idealism of folks here who see things as black and white. Indeed, in the day of the Lord, we will be consigned to heaven or hell… that is as black-and-white as it comes. Of course, this is not my judgment, and I have to worry about my own salvation.
Those who find themselves in an invalid marriage have to deal with a lot more shades of gray, sometimes of their own making and sometimes not. The Church must serve them and vindicate their rights (even if by tribunal) as well.
As a pastor I would have a request of the tribunals: place many more vetiums (prohibitions) on subsequent attempts at marriage when it is demonstrated that one lacked the ability to form consent. How about 10 years from the date of the civil divorce? This is not punishment, but is, rather, a prudent precaution to protect the sacrament in these extraordinary times.
A good reminder that parish priests are on the front lines and charged with the difficult task of teaching, exhorting, and leading their flock on the path of salvation in the midst of confusion and spiritual warfare. They most definitely need and deserve our prayers.