Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Pope Allows Communion for Divorced and Remarried

Posted: November 14th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Today, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) confirmed that the Holy Father himself has issued a statement outlining the conditions under which divorced and civilly remarried persons will be allowed to receive Holy Communion. Here is the relevant quote from the Pope’s document:

“Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”

The Pope’s words and further explanation are contained in a document he has entitled Familiaris Consortio, dealing especially with issues facing the family. This Apostolic Exhortation was written following the synod of bishops meeting devoted to the family which ended on October 25th.

It is hoped that there will be time for the attendees of the next meeting of the synod of bishops to read and discuss the teachings in this important document.

UPDATE: If you are perhaps confused, you might check out my next post which clarifies a few things: Can the Divorced and Remarried Really Receive Communion

Supreme Court Gay Marriage Prediction Happily Realized

Posted: November 8th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

6th Circuit Court of AppealsLast month when the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals on several gay marriage cases many people either started a victory celebration or started to despair. I cautioned that I thought the court was merely delaying until the 6th circuit court of appeals ruled on several cases. The post I wrote at the time, “Supreme Court Hasn’t Decided Marriage Yet,” explains more what is going on, but here are a couple relevant quotes:

Rather than grant appeal based on any one case, it is far more likely that they are waiting for one of the circuits to return a contradictory ruling, such as is likely in the 6th circuit. It is much more within the role of the Supreme Court to settle conflicting circuit rulings than simply to decide to settle a “big issue.”

By not granting certiorari for these cases thus far they haven’t decided anything…other than to say “not yet.” In essence, they’re waiting for the kind of conflict and the kind of case we saw with Hobby Lobby. That day will come. It’s anybody’s guess how they will decide, but the day will come…just not yet.

This past week, my predictions came true as the 6th circuit did in fact return the contradictory ruling we were looking for by upholding bans on marriage redefinition. The timing from this point forward is anyone’s guess, but there is at least a good chance that we will see the Supreme Court take up the case this term. Now that there is a clear conflict, I’m also hopeful that the court will stay the lower court rulings that led to some states issuing marriage licenses that could very well be invalid in a few months. We’ll see. In the mean time lots of prayers are in order.

Homily 281 – Called to be Winners – All Souls

Posted: November 2nd, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Today the Church celebrates the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, often called All Souls Day. Yesterday we celebrated all the saints in white. We honor those have washed their robes and taken their place in heaven. Today we remember all our loved one’s who have died who are still in the process of being “cleaned up” for heaven. There is a tendency today to pretend that everyone goes to heaven, and that they do so immediately after death. The truth is that both heaven and hell are very real. Only people that are perfect enter heaven with the saints, so what about those that fall a little short of “perfect” in this life?

Today’s homily uses some lessons from the world of sports to help us understand our vocation better in this life. We understand in the world of sports that there are winners and losers. Part of the reason that winning is so meaningful is because losing is a very real possibility and losing is terrible. If everyone was a winner, or just “declared to be winners” such as Martin Luther might espouse, then there is really no reason to play the game. Winning wouldn’t mean anything. In the game of life there are winners in heaven and losers in hell. This ultimately should not scare us, but serve to make our lives meaningful. Our struggles matter. Our sufferings are not for no purpose. Fighting hard means we can win!

The good new is that, unlike the World Series where my beloved Kansas City Royals fell 90 feet short of being winners, God has an option not available to the world of sports. God loves us too much to simply allow us into heaven while we’re still losers, but he also loves us too much to send us to hell for being 90 feet short after an otherwise great season. If we truly live our lives loving God and doing the best we can, then God gives us the merciful opportunity to get cleaned up and truly become perfect in Purgatory before entering heaven.

Today we can truly assist our brothers and sisters who have died and can benefit from our prayers. We should also remember that life after death makes this present life all the more exciting. We are called to be winners, so we need to start competing well for the faith. The good news is that, unlike sports where every winner means there is also a loser, in life the only way we wind up losing is if we fail to try.

Homily 280 – Truth, Mercy, and Marriage – 19th Sunday after Pentecost, EF

Posted: October 19th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

These past few weeks have been filled with a lot of confusion as faithful Catholics and even the larger world have been trying to make sense of various pieces of information coming from Rome and the Synod on the Family. In the process we’ve seen bishops of the Church engaging in political shenanigans, outright lying, and leaking a host of misleading statements. I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that this has often been the case throughout the history of the Church; it’s just that now we have Twitter to cover the play by play.

In spite of the very human side of the Church exposed for all the world to see, the Holy Spirit has indeed been at work. Today the Church beatifies Pope Paul VI who faced similar pressure from society in his day to change Church teaching regarding contraception. The Holy Spirit protected the Church from error then and will continue to do so. In the mean time, the process may indeed look a little messy. They say that if you like sausage you shouldn’t look at how the sausage is made. While that’s not an excuse for some of the behavior we’ve seen over the last weeks, it does give us a reminder to be somewhat patient.

As is often the case, the media is not so good about covering the Church. They try to fit things into categories they can understand. In this case, they have tried to explain the synod by supposing that there are two factions or political parties at work. On the one side there is truth and those rigid conservatives who demand adherence to outdated teaching with cold and unfeeling hearts. On the other side are the pastoral and compassionate progressive bishops who want to show mercy. This might make for a nice news story, but it is simply not that case that there is some battle going on between truth and mercy. The two are not opposites. Both truth and mercy come from the same God and must always be in harmony. Today’s homily seeks to explain the role of each and how they relate to marriage and the family.

Supreme Court Hasn’t Decided Marriage Yet

Posted: October 7th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Lots of people are confused today as to why the Supreme Court elected not to hear appeals on any marriage redefinition cases. Don’t panic. The sky is not falling (yet). Yesterday’s decision is almost certainly due to a legal technicality as opposed to anything regarding the merits of the cases. Each of the cases on appeal came from three U.S. circuits that all had judges that favored imposing marriage redefinition on the states. While the Supreme Court would have the authority to accept any of these cases, the Roberts court is far more restrained and is doing everything possible to roll back the negative example of the courts appearing to be “activist.” Ideally the people should decide “big issues,” not judges.

Rather than grant appeal based on any one case, it is far more likely that they are waiting for one of the circuits to return a contradictory ruling, such as is likely in the 6th circuit. It is much more within the role of the Supreme Court to settle conflicting circuit rulings than simply to decide to settle a “big issue.” The Roberts court embraces a concept of “judicial restraint” such that they actually seem to want to avoid deciding “big issues” if at all possible (consider Roberts’ amazing vote to redefine Obamacare as a tax).

Since the marriage redefinition movement is being imposed on various states almost entirely through the judiciary and not by the people (in fact against the will of the people in almost every state), the Supreme Court will eventually have to decide. By not granting certiorari for these cases thus far they haven’t decided anything…other than to say “not yet.” In essence, they’re waiting for the kind of conflict and the kind of case we saw with Hobby Lobby. That day will come. It’s anybody’s guess how they will decide, but the day will come…just not yet.

UPDATE 10/8/14: When I wrote the above last night I did have one bit of confusion in my head that I didn’t mention. I found it rather unfortunate that while we wait for the 6th circuit and others the court was going to allow the granting of marriage licenses to go forward for same sex parties. In the case of Hobby Lobby, they issued a stay while waiting for the right time to hear the issue. So I was asking myself last night, “Why no stay for this situation?” Well, now today we have it. Justice Kennedy has issued a stay for at least a couple states. I would think other states would get equal treatment if they also request.

UPDATE 10/9/14: I just got back and read the circumstances regarding Justice Kennedy’s stay. It appears now that it was pretty specific and temporary. I would guess it will be vacated shortly when the issue is resolved. That still leaves us with what I had originally said. Look for the court to take this issue up in the future and actually make a decision.

Homily 279 – Who Do You Say the Church Is – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 24th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

Catholics love to talk about the Church, and today’s Gospel is a great one. Yet, we must learn from the Gospel that the Church is built on personal faith. Specifically, it’s founded on the confession of faith given by Peter himself. Each of us must ground our faith in a similar personal encounter with Jesus. When we have a personal relationship with Jesus, then the Church helps this faith to become powerful. The Church gives that personal faith a communal direction. Today’s homily focuses on both of these important aspects of life in Christ.

Homily 278 – We Want God – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 17th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses an encounter with a Canaanite woman to teach us about prayer. He delays answering her prayer immediately so that her desire might be increased. God does the same with us. He wants us to desire him. Sometimes is takes a long time of asking and even suffering. In the end, the answer to our prayer is not as important as our desire for God. He wants us to end up chanting as they did when St. John Paul II visited Warsaw, “We want God!”

Homily 277 – Encountering God – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted: August 10th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

How do you normally expect to encounter God? Each of today’s three readings point to three different ways that we might have such an encounter with God.

Whose Business Is It?

Posted: July 9th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

I Stand with Hobby Lobby for Religious FreedomLeading up to and following the recent Supreme Court case involving Hobby Hobby I have seen many people on the left using the phrase “not my boss’s business” to describe their opposition. Liberals all over are now using this phrase and making the claim that the Supreme Court decision allows business owners to deprive women of contraception. I am fully aware that politicians are masters at taking facts and then twisting them to tell the story that they want their voters to hear.

I just wonder, with this case, will women realize that they are being treated as nothing more than pawns in a voting block. The very people that are yelling for the rights of women are really hoping that most women are stupid and will vote for them just because they yell the loudest for women. The facts of the Hobby Lobby case are pretty plain, but perhaps there is need to explain the way employment and compensation work. As simple as I can explain it, here is how it works:

  1. People want stuff (car, house, contraception, other medical care, etc.).
  2. There are two ways to get stuff:
    • You buy it
    • Someone gives it to you
  3. In order to buy stuff you get a job.
  4. When you consider taking a job, the potential employer will explain what compensation he or she is offering. This compensation comes in two forms:
    • Money
    • Other benefits
  5. Perhaps the “other benefits” include some of the “stuff” you want like:
    • A company car
    • Food
    • Healthcare
    • Dental or Eyecare
  6. If there is some stuff that you want, or even “need,” that is not included among the “other benefits” then YOU MAY HAVE TO BUY IT.
  7. Given the “other benefits” provided, or lack thereof, one must then consider whether the salary is sufficient to buy all the stuff that one still wants/needs.
    • If I know I need eyecare, I might be willing to work for a lower salary if the employer offers vision coverage since I won’t have to buy it.
    • If I know I need food and the employer offers free meals in the cafeteria, that will influence my evaluation of my potential salary since I’ll have to buy less food.
    • If I know I need healthcare and my employer DOES NOT provide it, then this will really effect how I look at the salary since I know I will also need to buy healthcare.
  8. Given the entire package of compensation, including salary and the value of all the extra benefits, YOU DECIDE if you will except that job.
    • Note that the employer is not forcing a compensation package on you. YOU DECIDE.
    • It is NOT YOUR BOSS’S BUSINESS how you spend your salary.
    • It is completely your boss’s business what amount of compensation he or she chooses to offer.

The Hobby Lobby decision primarily centered on abortion causing drugs, but lets take the slippery slope all the way to the liberals’ extreme scenario of a Jehovah’s Witness employer excluding blood transfusions from the healthcare benefits he or she provides. The decision explicitly excludes this, but we’ll go with it. What would this mean for an employee?

  1. You might be a Jehovah’s Witness employee yourself and are very happy that your employer is not wasting money on things you don’t need.
  2. You might be someone who really thinks they want healthcare coverage for blood transfusions.
    • This means that you will have to consider the fact that a part of your salary will now have to go to paying for a separate insurance rider to cover blood transfusions.
    • Is this the end of the world? Does this deny you healthcare? No. It just means that you will have to use your salary to buy it instead of having it as part of your compensation package.
    • In the end, YOU DECIDE if you are willing to work for the given salary considering the lack of a certain benefit which you will have to buy.

We make these decisions all the time when we accept a job. Most employers do not provide food, yet we certainly can’t live without food. Are employers denying people food by not providing it? No. Neither are employers denying anyone contraception by not proving it. The irony is that Hobby Lobby pays their employees so well that most low-level employees would actually come out better working at Hobby Lobby and paying for the contraception themselves. Why can’t reasonable people just deal with the facts of what the Hobby Lobby decision said rather than twisting it to tell some story that they hope their base will be stupid enough to believe?

Religious Liberty – Two and a Half Years Later

Posted: July 4th, 2014, by Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Listening to Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless the U.S.A.” while watching fireworks with friends and family always seems to bring a tear to my eye. This year I celebrated by exercising multiple constitutional rights, including going to Mass in the morning, going to a shooting range, blowing things up, and drinking some beer. I even managed to avoid having to quarter any British soldiers against my will (thank you 3rd amendment!).

This year’s Independence Day was also a little sobering. I fear that the freedoms we celebrate today may not be there for the coming generations. This past Monday the Supreme Court gave a narrow victory to religious people saying that, in certain narrow cases, we don’t have to pay for abortion, sterilization, and contraception. Yet, something so obvious as this, something so fundamental to the freedom of religion, carried the day by only a 5-4 margin. What’s even more alarming is that the most important issues in our society are being decided in courtrooms, by unelected rulers. The Executive and Judicial branches of our government, designed to be the weakest branches, now rule supreme. One can argue that we are no longer a republic.

This past Monday I admit that I celebrated a little to hear the Supreme Court’s decision. We’ve been losing so many of these battles in the courts. Yet, I was also sad that I have been reduced to the seemingly helpless position of waiting for the opinion of a few people on a court to decide the fate of our country. Hardly ever do we see a rally at the U.S. Capitol, the people’s house. No, we are constantly gathering outside the Supreme Court building, praying that the all-wise rulers from on high will benevolently grant us our rights.

On this Independence Day weekend, I look back and am grateful, grateful to have been raised in the time of some of the greatest moments in this country. I pray for our future. We can’t simply look to Washington to fix our problems. The real problems are in the hearts of each and every American. This country was founded on the idea that “we the people” are people of virtue. We are a nation of people that have time and again been willing to sacrifice our own interests and even our lives for the greater good of our country and of the world. I fear that we have now become a nation of selfish navel-gazers who only look out for ourselves and try to get as much as we can. No system of government can protect us from a citizenry that lacks virtue, nor can such a nation long endure.

It’s been two and a half years since the HHS mandate came down. Monday’s Supreme Court decision closes a certain chapter in the fight that began that day. There are more battles surrounding the mandate still making their way through the courts, but perhaps things may briefly head in the right direction on this issue. Two and half years ago the bishops of the United States came together with people of all faiths to defend our religious freedom. That Sunday I read a letter from Archbishop Naumann and gave a homily on religious freedom. I just listened to it again. I invite you to listen to it again as well. Then go listen to Lee Greenwood and be thankful, thankful that we still have the freedom to work for a better future for this great country.

http://www.shawnthebaptist.org/2012/02/homily-192-religious-liberty-and-justice-for-all/