In a recent post on the vexed issue of the cardinals’ dubia and their alleged dissent, a deal of discussion was prompted, and this is no bad thing. It merits being talked through sanely and sagely, without hysterics or histrionics.
Lost, or at least potentially so, is a brief but very helpful comment from Fr Mark Kirby OSB, Prior of Silverstream, a new and thriving Benedictine community north of Dublin. In his comment he points us to a post on his blog, Vultus Christi. Acknowledging the perennial nature of “difficult pastoral situations” of the sort Amoris Laetitia seeks to address, he laments that in the current debate so little is said of prayer, grace and Mary in offering strategies for what is now being called “pastoral accompaniment”.
Of course he right, and I acknowledge the charge in my own case. The most liberal advocates of Amoris Laetitia, see in its footnote 351 the green light for civilly divorced and remarried Catholics to be admitted to Holy Communion while remaining in their inescapably adulterous situation. In doing so they reveal themselves to be at least as legalistic as the “rigorists” they oppose, and attempt to solve a profoundly spiritual problem with a mere manipulation of law.
As Fr Mark points out in his blog post, there are people of genuine faith and goodwill who find themselves entangled in a situation they cannot resolve without pain to more than merely themselves. It is the pathos of such situations on which the permissive approach feeds.
However, Fr Mark draws on the experience of a retreat many years ago to offer a less legalistic, less casuistical, more spiritual and more pastoral approach. He calls it the Marian Solution. It is not my place to telegraph his punches, so if you would like to hear of a crucially important aspect of addressing these difficult situations, you really should go and read the post on Fr Mark’s blog. It will repay the effort many times over.
Herewith, a prayer we can all use in whatever issue in our lives that could do with a dose of the Marian Solution. It should be familiar:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom: pray for us.