Pantsuits and Salvation of Souls in 3 Points

Should what you wear prevent reception of a sacrament?

The short answer is NO. The long answer is no friggin way.

The story is a bit old, but recently I was listening to a radio show that was rehashing the case of a young girl who chose to wear a white pantsuit for her first Communion (early October). The pastor (and other church leaders) prohibited her from receiving her first Communion with the community when it was indicated that she was going to be wearing a pantsuit. They claimed it sent the ‘wrong message’ about, well, who really knows, but something along the lines of gender stances is likely the force that pushed the decision.

My belief is that the church here caused the scandal, not the girl.

And here’s why I believe the church caused scandal in refusing a sacrament.

PSUstock-Law-Gavel by Penn State via Flickr.


1. She was not in a state of mortal sin due to wearing a white pantsuit.

This is the big valid reason the Eucharist can be restricted to the faithful. There is no other valid reason to restrict Communion to the faithful who have been prepared (most pertinent to this age. Older ages have possibilities). Where do I get this from? Canon law. The law of the church. It actually has much stronger language than I:

Can.  912. Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.” (emphasis mine)

“Can and must”. This is more than a ‘I don’t think I like their theology and understanding of humanity.’ There is an absolute responsibility by the pastor to provide Eucharist to the faithful. There is good reason we have this rule, which is the first rule in Canon Law under the section of ‘participation in the most holy Eucharist,’ (order matters in the Law) and largely it is there for the protection of the faithful and bring them into Christ’s salvation. Most of Canon Law surrounds this intrinsic desire that all need salvation and the Church is commissioned by Jesus to evanglize and bring the world to him.

2. Spiritual and mental preparation is what is needed, not a dress.

The next Canon says this:

Can.  913 §1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

The church and its ministers have the ability to help parents prepare their children. In this process, the pastor has a duty “to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible” (Can. 914) (emphasis mine.)

There is no indication that white pantsuits prevent a child from preparing herself to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. It was only after the staff were inadvertently notified that she would be wearing a pantsuit that they sent a letter saying she must wear a dress. To me, this indicates that her preparation for the sacrament was sufficient.

To further this, upon reading several media articles (as well as the mother’s testament on facebook), her daughter has loved pantsuits since a young girl and has worn them on many occasions. When I was a little girl I liked dresses, but heck, not so much as an adult; I don’t like them most of the time. This girl called them ‘itchy.’ She’s allowed to dislike certain types of clothes, just like I do, and still receive Jesus.

3. Creating barriers to the sacraments

In response to the publicity, the church issued a statement saying that it is a ‘dress code’ issue:

“St. John the Evangelist uniformly enforces dress codes at our parish school and for religious rites,” the statement said. “We often have requests for exceptions to the dress code, ranging from sneakers to the color of one’s shirt; thus, we have consistently chosen to adhere to the dress code rather than allowing a myriad of exceptions to it.” Source

The problem with this is that it has become a barrier to the sacraments. No one has the authority to create a barrier to the sacraments where Canon Law does not have a barrier:

Can. 18. Laws which establish a penalty, restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception from the law are subject to strict interpretation.

Strict interpretation means not altered in any way, shape or form. No if, ands or buts (apart from what is in the Law). Exactly as it is written, it should be enforced. This church has forced their own interpretation of the law (forcing dress code to receive sacrament of the Eucharist). This is wrong.

Their statement, to me, highlights a very poor understanding of the role the Church plays in bringing people to the sacraments for salvation. Our Church’s highest calling is to bring people to Jesus! Not to mention a poor understanding of the law of the Church.

Ask any Canon lawyer and they will tell you that all of the Church’s law must be viewed through the second part of the last sentence of the whole of the book of Canon Law:

Can. 1752. the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes. (emphasis mine)

Knowing this, I ask you to read the last paragraph of the mother’s testament and tell me if you feel the church has done her right duty in this:

But I am sorry I stayed in your parish for as long as I did. I am sorry you made me dread going to Mass. I am sorry you made me question my faith. I am sorry I quit receiving communion many months ago because the feelings I have for you made me feel unworthy. I am sorry I watched you terrify my children and did nothing to stop you. I am sorry that when I spoke to my youngest daughter about the possibility of a new school she was happy to leave sje. But mostly, I’m sorry my children will never forget your hatefulness and will probably always associate those feelings with Catholicism. Source

To me, and I certainly am no expert, this seems to be a situation of abuse of power, to the point that souls are on the verge of being lost. This is explicitly against everything the Church is and who she represents.

Let’s pray that no more souls will be lost to the abuse of power. Also that the Church would rightly respond to properly rectify situations like this, in a most humble manner, knowing the damage she has caused to the beloved faithful, the body of Christ.

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What She Said

When are we going to die on the cross?

Yesterday I was struck by a comment from Cassia. While we were at the table, she asked, “Mommy, when are we going to die on the cross?”

She, apparently, has believed that we will die on the cross – that this is how we end our life here on earth. While I explained that it isn’t usually the case anymore, it got me thinking. And I remain in awe at her acceptance that believing in Jesus will eventually bring death on a cross.

There was a time in our history where choosing to be Christian meant near certain death. One only has to look at saints Perpetua and Felicity to know how real that threat was. We’ve lost that constant threat in our western society. Cassia’s comment reminded me how life-changing my decision to be Christian is – or should be. Am I willing to be put to death for my belief in Jesus? And while we can talk all we want about spiritual persecution and political persecution, there’s a finality when we think about physical death.

My answer is yes. But I do not feel brave. Nor do I feel confident. I do, however, trust. I have met Jesus and cannot deny him any more than I can deny my own self exists.

As I look at other Christians around me, even ones I’ve known for years, I do wonder if each has had at least one experience of meeting Jesus themselves. I wonder if they have that personal encounter that, in times of trouble and doubt, they can turn to and remind themselves of the person of Jesus, the one whom they’ve met and cannot deny.

For without that experience, it becomes much harder to maintain faith. Not impossible, but persecution would be much harsher to endure.

So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

John 6:67-69

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Friendship Friday: The Friendship Project and Spiritual Friendships

Courtesy of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I’m all kinds of excited here to share about a new book just released: The Friendship Project. In fact, if you were to go through my ‘corrected words’ history while I’ve been typing, you’d see that I’ve misspelled it to freidhsip, friendhsip, and freidhips because I’ve been typing too fast.

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Wilds of British Columbia. And Kids.

Earlier this year I traveled into the wilds by myself with our three wild kids through Saskatchewan, through Alberta, to halfway through British Columbia. To Prince George, in fact. The place, not the child. As they say, it was an adventure.

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Homeschooling Round 2.5. And Parenting School. For Me.

This year we will have two students in the house, and it’s both exciting and terrifying at the same time. School has officially begun!

We started our year the last week of August – 4 days after our whirlwind trip to Grasslands National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Laramie, WY for the eclipse. OI VAY!

We are currently doing well, there are still some kinks in our scheduling that will need to be smoothed out, but we’re off to a much stronger start than last year. Last year our strong start didn’t happen until the end of November (but we still got through all our work – thanks goodness for flexibility!). I’ve learned a bit since then (the hard knocks school of parenting, perhaps), so I’m hoping this school year will be filled up better than last.

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