Sunday, February 28, 2010

Does the Q document prove that Jesus never intended a Church hierarchy? pt 1

Dear Rev. Know it all,
 My kid goes to St. Ignorantia’s, a very expensive Catholic high school, and she  came home telling me that the Emperor Constantine made up the church in 325 AD and that he is the one who decided Jesus was a god.  She said the four gospels were all written one or two generations after Jesus and they are full of mythology. They are teaching her to find the historical Jesus, not the Jesus of faith. She claims that the only true gospel is the Q document which is a collection of the authentic sayings of Jesus, who was only a teacher. The Q document has no mention of the crucifixion, the resurrection and the church, so these must obviously be made up by a later generation. Is all this true?
Yours truly ,
Moses “Moe” Dernist
Dear Moe,
Not all that glitters is gold and not all that claims to be Catholic is Catholic. As it just so happens, I have recently just finished an excellent series of lectures on the Q document and the search for the historical Jesus by Professor E.E. Peters of New York University. Let me begin by explaining what the Q document is. It is a non existent, hypothetical collection of the sayings of Jesus. 
A German theologian, Friederich Schleiermacher in 1832, interpreted a statement by the early Christian writer Papias, bishop  of Hierapolis (in present day Turkey circa 125AD) "Matthew compiled the sayings of the Lord in a Hebrew" as meaning that Papias was talking about a collection of the sayings of Jesus that was available to the Gospel writers. Developing this idea, other liberal Protestant German theologians proposed the Two-Source Hypothesis, in which both Matthew and Luke used Mark and another source of the sayings of Jesus. In German “source” is “quelle”, hence the Quelle, or Q document. Many modern scholars theorize it existed. No copy has ever been found. However there are about 230 verses common to Matthew and Luke that are not found in Mark. The theory is that they are so closely alike in phrasing and vocabulary that they must come from a common source, written or perhaps unwritten.  That source is called “Q.”
This may well be so, but what does it mean? In the hands of the pseudo-scholars who control many formerly Catholic institutions, liberal Protestants, and members of the Jesus seminar, it means that the real Jesus is found in the Q document, not in the Gospels which were products of a later generation who had not actually been eyewitnesses to the events they describe. Thus, the Gospels are full of mistakes and mythology. If we strain out all the mythology of these late documents that pretend to be eyewitness gospels, we can get back to the real Jesus, who was a nice teacher and loved everybody.   
Their  reason to say that the Gospels must be written years after Jesus is that the Gospels prophesy the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24 Mark 13 Luke21) and everybody knows that there is no such thing as prophecy. This is circular reasoning. There is no such thing as prophecy, therefore the Gospels cannot really be prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Therefore the Gospels must be written after 70 AD. This is idiotic.  We have evidence that the Christian community escaped the destruction of Jerusalem precisely because Jesus had prophesied it. In our time we have all sorts of examples of prophetic fulfillment. Fatima comes to mind.
Or how about the following prophecy from
Sr. Marianne de Jesus Torres (17th century, Quito, Ecuador): 
"The Church will find itself attacked by waves of a secret sect ... corrupted priests will scandalize the Church ... Moreover, in these unhappy times there will be unbridled luxury which, acting thus to snare the rest into sin, will conquer innumerable frivolous souls who will lose themselves. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women, and, in this supreme moment of need of the Church, those whom it behooves to speak will fall silent." 
“As for the Sacrament of Matrimony, which symbolizes the union of Christ with His Church, it will be attacked and deeply profaned. Freemasonry, which will then be in power, will enact iniquitous laws with the aim of doing away with this Sacrament, making it easy for everyone to live in sin and encouraging the procreation of illegitimate children born without the blessing of the Church.
"The Catholic spirit will rapidly decay; the precious light of Faith will gradually be extinguished until there will be an almost total and general corruption of customs. Added to this will be the effects of secular education, which will be one reason for the dearth of priestly and religious vocations. The Sacrament of Holy Orders will be ridiculed, oppressed, and despised, for in this Sacrament, the Church of God and even God Himself is scorned and despised since He is represented in His priests.
"The Devil will try to persecute the ministers of the Lord in every possible way; he will labor with cruel and subtle astuteness to deviate them from the spirit of their vocation and will corrupt many of them. These depraved priests, who will scandalize the Christian people, will make the hatred of bad Catholics and the enemies of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church fall upon all priests.
"This apparent triumph of Satan will bring enormous sufferings to the good Pastors of the Church, the many good priests, and the Supreme Pastor and Vicar of Christ on Earth, who, a prisoner in the Vatican, will shed secret and bitter tears in the presence of his God and Lord, beseeching light, sanctity, and perfection for all the clergy of the world, of whom he is King and Father."

Our Lord told her: "My Justice will be tried to the limit by the evils and sacrileges of the 20th Century ... I shall punish heresy, blasphemy and impurity." These things were said on Jan 20, 1610 almost exactly 400 years ago last month. Still think there’s no such thing as prophecy?

Continued next week 
Rev. Know-it-all

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do you think you're better than us Rev. Grumpy Pants?

Dear Rev. Know it All,
I don’t know why I bother to read your columns. I suppose it’s like looking at a train wreck. One doesn’t want to slow down and waste time, but it’s hard to ignore such a disaster. I’m tired of your constant whining. You don’t approve of anything normal. Modern marriage isn’t good enough for you. You don’t approve of what most people want at Mass. On and on! Or is it just that you’re better than the rest of us?
Ms. Guyded
Dear Ms. Guyded, 
Better?  Hardly! I am still trying to recover from the groovy sixties. I was an avid student of Lenin, Mao and Trotsky. I kept company with a young woman who was a devotee of Sartre and Camus. I wandered through Europe with a pack on my back. I played my guitar at anti-war protests and planned Hootenanny Masses, even though by that time I was beginning to think of myself as more Hindu/Buddhist than Christian.

I canvassed the Belmont/Craigin neighborhood with community organizers in an attempt to integrate the North Side. I distributed leaflets in support of a feminist professor.  I missed the “Summer of Love” in Haight Ashbury by one year. By the time I got there, it was the summer of panhandlers. I came home pretty fast. I drove a Volkswagen Beetle and, heaven forgive me, owned a Nehru jacket and a pair of orange bell bottoms. Orange bell bottoms! I had sunk that low. So you may ask, what happened?

Two things happened. The first was the Pentecostal movement which restored my awareness of supernatural things. (What’s left of it now is called the Charismatic Renewal) Having pretty much given up on traditional Catholicism, I was serving on an Ecumenical Committee, very popular back in those days. The committee assigned me to investigate a new movement that seemed to include everybody from Jews to Methodists. I spent an hour on the phone with some woman who was in an interfaith prayer group. As she spoke, it seemed like heaven filled the room and all that I had believed as a child in a Catholic home swept back like a wave. God was real.

The second was the peace committee. We were all devoted to ending the war in Vietnam and ousting Lyndon Johnson, but our committee couldn’t agree on a strategy. We were divided between those who were non-violently non-violent and those who were violently non-violent. They thought that, of course, violence was always wrong, except when it was directed at the enemies of the people, whoever those were at the moment. When the peace committee finally broke up during peace week, my brief career as a fashionable socialist was over.

Still, the search wasn’t over. I started attending the ecumenical prayer meeting that I’ve already mentioned. It was more joyful than anything I’d ever participated in. But soon things got strange. A Methodist pastor took over the group. Soon he was demanding that everyone leave their different churches in order to form the perfect church with him. That was God’s will received by him in prophecy. In a little while, he was telling people whom to marry and what color to paint their houses. I left the group and went home for the summer where I  tried to put my spiritual life back in order. I didn’t know what I believed.

In fall, I went to a retreat at a Trappist monastery where the monks had a little prayer group. I joined them for a prayer meeting and was filled once again with Pentecostal joy in a completely Catholic context. I rededicated myself to my studies for the priesthood and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1975. It still took me a while (about 15 years) to find my balance. I offered “charismatic” Masses and thought that my clever improvisations on the Mass were far better than anything in the book. Along the way, I attended a few prayer groups and covenant communities that ended in ruining some peoples’ lives. Gradually, I came to realize that I was not better than what had gone before me. I could not improve the Mass or the Gospel or the Truth.

And so I repented for my sin of the sixties. We thought we were better than those who had gone before. We were not. We, like they, were sinners in need of grace. That arrogant spirit still infects the society and the Church. It is the belief that I know better, that I am part of a generation that is smarter, more technically advanced, and more powerful than all that’s gone before. Because of our superiority, God and the Church should accommodate themselves to us.  Above all, the Sacrifice of the Mass should accommodate itself to our more enlightened tastes. I have come to think differently. Those, who so radically changed the liturgy, among whom I count myself, succeeded only in emptying the churches. They made what was mysterious and unique into something commonplace. They replaced incense with air conditioning and silk with polyester. They replaced Calvary with a stage performance. They did all this in defiance of the Second Vatican Council, and while they did it, they prattled endlessly on about “the spirit of Vatican II.” We were lied to and in consequence we lied to you. We have replaced the truth with what we wanted to be true.

Ask yourself some simple questions. With all our labor saving devices and communications, do we have more time, less work? With all our science, with all our technology, is there peace?  As regards peoples’ sexual mores, with all our tolerance and permissiveness, are we more loving and more loved?  Is the family stronger? Do our children have a greater sense of security? With all our liturgical experimentation and our constant rearrangement of the furniture, are the churches fuller? Are we holier? You tell me.

Rev. Know-it-all

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How do you feel about Eucharistic Adoration?

NB. A glossary for, Heathens, Protestants and Modern Catholics:
Eucharist, a Greek word meaning thanksgiving. A reference to the Thanksgiving Sacrifice in the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant that the Messiah gave us this Eucharist (Thanksgiving Sacrifice) is usually called the Mass. Outside of the Mass, Eucharist also refers to the consecrated bread and wine which we believe the Holy Spirit transforms during the Mass into real the Flesh and real Blood of Jesus of Nazareth.
Tabernacle: the box or container in which this transformed bread is kept in most Catholic churches. In traditional churches, it is kept in the center of the church because it is Christ who is really present among us and is the center of our lives. In more progressive and up to date churches it is kept over on the side or in a broom closet or behind some shrubbery.
Eucharistic Adoration: The host (a Latin word meaning sacrificial victim), which is the  consecrated communion wafer, is placed in a monstrance (another Latin word meaning “display case” related to the English word demonstrate, sometimes also called an ostensarium. Same meaning) We spend time in prayer and worship before Christ present in the Eucharist and displayed in the monstrance, though the Eucharist not eaten as at Mass, only worshiped.

Dear Rev. Know it all, 
About a month or so ago, I was asked by a parish member (who is also on our parish council) if I would be interested in participating in 24 hour adoration. I reluctantly said yes, and explained my reluctance was not because I didn’t want to participate in such a wonderful practice, but that I didn’t think the organizers had thought it through.  I brought up a few of the problems that I knew just off the top of my head and simply said if you can get these things answered I would consider signing up.
1) Our Tabernacle is in a side chapel that only allows maybe at most 6-10 people in it at once.  What if 15-20 people want to adore at the same time; do we tell them no? 
2) Our Priest lives 15 to 20 minutes away from the Church, what if nobody shows for their time slot?  What are you going to do with my Lord?
Well, as with any of the other issues of abuses and or novelties that I have brought up to my Priest and parish council, they ignore my thoughts as being nuts and continue on.  I need your help with this because as you know, if this is treated with the same cavalier attitude that the other novelties and abuses which they have introduced, we could have some serious problems! I have kids at this school and really don’t want them introduced or confused by anymore abuses or novelties!  The Catholic faith is so beautiful. I don’t want them to question any more things that go on there than they do already.
Thank You for Your Time,
Si Kahtic,
Dear Si, 
You may be nuts, but about this, I think you may have a point.  Eucharistic Adoration is an amazing source of grace. The Real Presence in the tabernacle of Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah, Son of God, Son of Mary, is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise “Behold, I am with you all days ‘til the end of the earth.” It is not a virtual presence, not a symbolic or metaphorical presence, but a real presence. The whole Christ is present in the bread and wine become Flesh and Blood. God became flesh and remains in the world He loves so dearly in every tabernacle. Therein lies the problem.
We are pieces of work, we moderns. We wear pajamas to the grocery store. People go to the office in sweat pants. We wear ripped jeans to Mass. I was at a wedding not long ago and the younger members of the family of the bride were wearing greasy looking T-shirts. Why is this a problem? After all, isn’t it what’s inside that counts? That may be true, but you can usually tell what’s inside by the outside actions. What our actions say in this self absorbed culture is that “My personal comfort is more important than the people who have to stare at me.” To dress appropriately is really more about my respect for the people around me than it is about my vanity. We live in the culture of “Whatever.”  You don’t matter to me. Only I matter to me. This is the prevailing mindset of our dying culture and it  endangers Eucharistic Adoration. 
Eucharistic Adoration is wonderful, but what passes for Eucharistic adoration is often only Eucharistic convenience.  Back in the Neolithic Age when I was a boy, people dropped to their knees when the priest opened the tabernacle to get the sacrament for a sick call. Often, an altar boy carrying a lit candle and ringing a bell would accompany the priest on a sick call. Catholics would drop to their knees on the street if a priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament walked by (People walked back then, it was really something to see.)  The family of the person receiving the Sacrament at home would greet the priest and his sacred burden by kneeling with lit candles. Now it’s hard to get the person receiving the sacrament or his family to turn down the television.
These outmoded superstitions were replaced in the glorious and groovy sixties by a more modern, breezy attitude. Eucharistic ministers would pop by the church to pick up the Eucharistic on their way to the supermarket. People would keep the Blessed Sacrament in the top drawer in the dining room cupboard so that they would not have to be going back and forth to Church, I even knew people who like to keep the Blessed Sacrament in their night stands as a sort of good luck charm. Mind you, I have nothing against Eucharistic ministers. There certainly seems to be precedent in the history of the Church for non-ordained people to bring the Sacrament when a priest cannot. 
Remember St. Tarcsissus? It would be well to remember him. He was a young boy who was bringing the Eucharist to jailed Christians back in the Roman times. He refused to show what he was hiding to some pagan friends of his and they beat him to death for his persistent refusal to show them what he was hiding. I have no trouble with a lay minister who is willing die for the honor of our Lord in the Sacrament.  We moderns however have gotten a bit casual about things.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that Eucharistic devotion is an essential, even central part of the Catholic life. It’s nice to pop in and say “Hi!” to God, but that’s called “a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.” It’s wonderful. I do it all the time. That’s one of the great things about being a parish priest. I live next door to Jesus. However, Eucharistic Adoration is something more. In the olden days, we had something called Forty Hours Devotion. The whole parish geared up and spent forty hours in prayer before the Lord. Night and day members of the parish came and spent time on their knees before the Lord. It was one of the high points of the Church year. You don’t see many Forty Hours any more. Why bother? I can run over to St. Dymphna’s and drop in on the Creator of the Universe for five minutes.
Eucharistic Adoration should not be convenient. It, like the Mass, from which it flows, should be sacrificial. It is my opinion that only a few places in a diocese should be permitted to have perpetual adoration, and that adoration should be truly perpetual. I have often gone to places that advertised perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and found our Lord there, alone as could be. He was not being treated as the Lord of the Universe, but more like a museum exhibit in a glass case.
So, here is my suggestion; if a parish and its pastor really believe that the Lord is calling them to be a center for perpetual adoration, then some real preparation has to happen. You must have two people volunteering for one hour, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, four weeks a month.
Why two people? One person often can’t make it, or has to leave early for perfectly good reason, or the car won’t start in the middle of the night, yadda, yadda, yadda. In effect, you need adoration teams. 
Why once a month, not once a week? Unless you are dealing with contemplative nuns, it gets old fast. Asking someone to get up at 3AM every week until they drop dead is like asking someone to live in a state of constant jetlag.  They have to go to work in the morning. They are going to be snarling at their children and arguing with their spouse and glaring at their boss.
Remember, sacramental commitments are primary. Going to Mass is a sacramental obligation, Marriage is a sacramental obligation, Eucharistic Adoration, though involving the Blessed Sacrament, is not a sacramental obligation. Irritability should not be the result of worship.
So that means 2 x 24 x 30 (or 31) = 1,440, or 1.448 people. Has your parish got 1,400 plus people who are willing to commit to this? Perhaps they can conduct a little experiment and if they get 1,400 people to visit the Blessed Sacrament regularly for a couple months they should go on to the next step.
If I had a group of people who were insisting on Eucharistic Adoration and I came into the Church and found the Sacrament abandoned, I would fold it down that moment. Eucharistic Adoration, though a sacrifice, should be a joy and a privilege, not just a boring burden. Once a week becomes a burden for most people. Once a month is a special privilege for which people gear up. Trust me. I’ve been in the business a long time.
I remember the story that should point out our proper attitude to the Sacrament. A Catholic once worked with a Muslim. The Muslim began to quiz him on his faith. The Muslim said, “Do you really believe that God has a son?”
The Catholic said, “yes.”
The Muslim asked, “Do you really believe that this son who is himself God, came to earth?”
The Catholic said, “yes.”
Again he asked, “and you really believe that this divine being is still here under the appearance of bread, and is kept in a box on the altar in Catholic churches?”
The Catholic once more said, “yes.”
The Muslim finally said, “If I believed what you believe, I would find the nearest Catholic Church, I would go in, fall on my face and never ever leave.”
We cannot let the glorious gift of  the Real Presence become common place. The Blessed Sacrament is heaven come to earth and should be treated as such. 
Rev. Know-it-all

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why can't "domestic partners" receive Communion?

Once again the Rev. Know it all is in a caffeine-induced snit. Do not throw this article to the floor in disgust once you have begun reading it. Please read it all the way through.            
Dear Rev. Know it all,
Last week, I was driving through some rural backwater and, turning on my radio, I heard what at first sounded like some half-baked preacher ranting about marriage. Then to my shock, I realized I was listening to a Catholic priest. He was an absolute fossil. He was reminding people that if they were “living in sin” they shouldn’t be going to communion. He was trying to explain the annulment process, which, as far as I’m concerned is just a bunch of Catholic mumbo jumbo. He seemed to be telling people to remain in loveless, abusive relationships because those were the rules. What does he know about it anyway? People have the right to be happy. It’s in the Declaration of Independence. When will the Catholic Church catch up to the times?
Ms. Annie  Portnoy-Storm
Dear Annie,
First let us understand annulments. A divorce says that there was a marriage and now it is over. An annulment says that there was no marriage in the first place. Covenants end when one of the parties involved dies. Contracts end when the business at hand is over and or, one of the parties breaks the contract. Catholics believe that marriage is a covenant, not just a contract -- “Till death do us part.”  The state believes that marriage is a contract.  So what has this do with annulments? 
Within the covenant there is an initial contract. We Catholics contract three obligations in the sacrament of marriage. We promise a marriage that is for life, is exclusive, and in which two parties concede to each other the right, perhaps not the ability, but the right to have children. It must be freely and knowingly entered and not coerced. 
If perhaps a person AT THE TIME OF THE CONTRACT AND THE COVENANT is crazy, or worried about a shot gun or marrying to hide something about themselves or marrying because they have to please their rich uncle, there is not a free contract and the ensuing covenant does not happen.
This is real. I’ve met some randy old goats who are on their fifth wife. When they have to make an important decision they call their wife, by whom they mean their first and real wife, the mother of their children. No matter how hard they’ve tried, they cannot break the indissoluble bond of marriage. On the other hand, I’ve met people who have been  married for 30 years and they are absolute strangers to each other. The spiritual bond has never been there.
Annulments are real and the annulment process is very healing for most of those I know who have gone through it. The Church doesn’t necessarily forbid divorce. There are certain extreme circumstances of real abuse in which someone is in real danger, physical or spiritual. However, in this case, the problem is not divorce but re-marriage.
This is not your real point. You, I suspect, think that people should be able to try different sexual relationships until they find one that makes them happy.  You are of the opinion that the Church is dominated by a bunch of crabby old men who wear black, and are jealous of anyone else’s good fortune. Well, we the clergy, may in fact be crabby, but it’s not because we are jealous of people who have been through a string of unhappy relationships.
After a life time of dealing with miserable divorces and their sad consequences, I have come to believe that one should prefer a serious disease to a divorce. No, we are crabby because we are expected to fix, or least tolerate, and sometimes to celebrate, the messes that some people have made of their relationships. The party line, to which I heartily subscribe, is that if you are in a sexual relationship that is not a sacramental one, you may not receive Holy Communion.
Why is the Church so narrow minded on this topic? Simple. Jesus was narrow minded on this topic. Jesus said “Anyone who divorces his wife and, except for ‘porneia,’ and marries another commits adultery (Matt 19: 9 and following). The disciples were astounded and said if you can’t divorce, it’s better not to marry.  Jesus replied, “This is a hard saying.” 
Just a note on the word “porneia.” King James who himself had a very interesting relational life, published a bible that translated the word porneia as “marital unfaithfulness.” That makes it easy. Your spouse cheats on you, you’re off the hook. The word is mistranslated. The word “porneia” means marriage in a forbidden degree, literally “sexual uncleanness.” The Egyptians, for instance, were fond of marrying their sisters. It kept the money in the family and made holidays much easier. No in-laws to deal with.  Jesus gave annulments for such bizarre arrangements, so annulments are biblical. Dumping your spouse because the old reprobate cheats on you is not biblical. The vow is “till death do you part,” not “till a good fight or a better offer do you part.”
Well then, the next question: Why was Jesus so narrow minded about the whole thing?”  Again simple: God is love.  Well isn’t that the point? We enlightened moderns hop from bed to bed looking for love?  No, we are looking for entertainment. Remember, as I am always telling you, the Greeks were precise to the point of being tedious. The specific Greek word that the Holy Spirit uses in the Gospel text is “agape” which means sacrificial love. You can almost translate the bible quote, “God is Love” as “God is sacrifice.” So I ask you, are you dumping your wife, the mother of your children for an 18 year old exotic dancer in a spirit of sacrifice?  Are you ditching your bald and boring couch potato husband for a good looking pool boy because you want to be conformed to Christ? 
You may have noticed that I am not fond of garden weddings. Beyond the bugs, the mud and the sunburn, there are reasons against garden weddings. When people ask me why they have to be married in a church I always tell them because there is an altar in a church. An altar is where you make sacrifices, and believe me, marriage and family are sacrifices. The world will tell you that the purpose of life is happiness of which true love is a component.  Jesus will tell you that Love, defined as sacrifice, is the purpose of life, and happiness is only its  by-product. We believe that the first purpose of marriage is the sanctification of the partners and of their children, that means your job is to get yourself, your spouse and any children to heaven. If doing that makes you happy, fine, but happiness in this world is not the first goal. If it was, Jesus would not have let Himself be crucified.
Marriage is a VOCATION, a calling from God for the purpose of making people look like Christ, full of love and kindness, self-control and obedience and all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit. Do you really believe that God is calling you to a deep spiritual commitment to the new squeeze you met in the dim light of some sleazy tavern?  As for happiness, I can’t remember anyone I’ve ever known who was really happier in the long run with wife numbers 2, 3 or 4, than they were with wife number 1. Jesus said he who loves his life in this world will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will gain it to everlasting life? Do you think He was kidding?
Well still, why can’t people who are desperately trying to sort out their lives receive Holy Communion? Don’t they need the consolation of the Sacrament even more? There you go again, thinking that the Body and Blood broken on Calvary are just nice things to make you feel better. We call it the sacrifice of the Mass. When I take communion, I am receiving what Christ sacrificed for me and I am saying that I will sacrifice myself for Him and His bride, the Church. Communion isn’t just where you “get Jesus.” It’s where you give yourself to Him. “O Lord, I give you everything about me, except of course, my sexuality which is none of your business, Amen.” Having given yourself totally and eternally to a few spouses you can’t give yourself to the Lord. There’s nothing left because you’ve squandered it all on your search for happiness. The narcissism of the age is not an acceptable offering on the altar of the Living God. 
So what are people to do if they are in a non sacramental relationship?  Should they just don a sackcloth and a scarlet letter, move to the desert and mumble “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn people they meet on the way? Not necessarily. If the relationship is one of concubinage (an archaic term meaning “shacking up”) stop it! If you are in a “committed relationship” (don’t you love that currently trendy term?) why not get married? Or aren’t you that committed to your committed relationship?  If you are involved with someone who is not free to marry, end the relationship. There is usually some reason that the first spouse dropped him or her like a bad habit. If you are married civilly to someone but not sacramentally proceed with care, especially if children are involved. Go see your pastor and inquire about the possibility of an annulment. In my experience, many people who divorce were not ready to be married in the first place. We live in a culture whose idea of morality is Hollywood. Try to get “right with God,” as the saying goes.
St. Augustine says that, regarding the Christian journey, “To wish to go is to go.” If you are desperate enough to really repent, bow your head and say,”Lord, I want to follow you. Teach me ways and show me the right thing to do.”  I’ve never known that prayer to go unanswered when prayed by the sincere heart, the heart ready to obey. By the way, you asked “When will the Catholic Church catch up to the times?” The times stink. Hooray for the Church.
Rev. Know-it-all