By Claire Bordelon
I’m the culture writer. I want to write about books, movies, music, and have the digital equivalent of a Finer Things Club. But Pope Francis’ issuance of two moltu propio has put a hold on that, since it invites a perhaps more authentic look at the role of Mother Church in our daily experience of the world.
As I said in my last post, it is quite easy to distance oneself from the world, but it is also easy to become so bound to her, bogged down in daily life, and even fearful of an in-depth examination of one’s life that we drown out what is often the only authentic voice speaking in our hearts. Pope Francis’ reformations of the Church’s process for granting annulments will no doubt be examined by far greater minds than my own, but it does resonate with the part of me that loves talking about culture because of what it points toward. Those pieces of art and experiences of human talent that resonate within us do so not because of the greatness they have in and of themselves, but because they echo some desire deep inside of us that perhaps we have not even noticed ourselves. As C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory:
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
The most beautiful things are the truest; they know the deepest desires of our hearts and feed them with the only sustenance that will satiate us.
Pope Francis’ comments on this revised system are beautiful in that they speak to the desire for clear judgment and authentic mercy, two attributes often absent from what was before a lengthy and uncertain annulment process. In streamlining this process, Pope Francis has not only strengthened the Church’s stance on sacramental marriage, but also reaffirmed that sense in the human heart that the world today would so quickly diminish or deny completely: that we are made for truth, and in truth we find our happiness. The beacon of marriage and all that the Church does to protect this sacred vision of Christ’s divine love speaks to the Church’s great insight into the human heart, speaking words of truth and wisdom even to those who have forgotten how to hear Her.
In the Holy Father’s own words:
The Church, showing itself to the faithful as a generous mother, in a matter so closely linked to the salvation of souls manifests the gratuitous love of Christ by which we were saved.