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Q&A
January A.D. 2010
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

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Why Do You Offer Mass in Latin?

The Moral Aspects of the Great Depression (Continued)

[ Q&A ARCHIVES ]


Why Do You Offer Mass in Latin?

Question:  Why do you insist on offering Mass in Latin instead of English.  Didn’t Vatican II require that all Masses be offered in English?

Answer:  I hope this doesn't turn into a magnum opus ("grand work" for those who don't speak Latin—perhaps even "grandiose"), but there a number of good reasons

    While I most often offer Mass in Latin, no Catholic would ever insist that Mass could not be offered in other languages.  The first Mass was celebrated in Hebrew, the liturgical language of Aramaic speaking Jews.  Greek was used pretty much universally until sometime in the second century, when Latin came to predominate in the western part of the Catholic Church (www.rosarychurch.net/history
/western.html).  In the eastern part, a number of languages are used, including Greek, Old Slavonic, Arabic, Old Armenian, Coptic, and Chaldean (www.rosarychurch.net
/history/eastern.html).  I offer Mass in English each month at the Harbour's Edge rest home, and generally use English if I expect a significant number of people to be unfamiliar with Latin—say, at a funeral or wedding Mass.  Bilingual translations are provided in the pews, but I will normally read the Epistle and Gospel in English if I think anyone is not reading the translation in a bilingual missal.

    “Cradle Catholics” are generally familiar enough with the Latin ordinary of the Mass (those parts recited most or all the time) to follow a translation.  Most of our people can follow in their heads because they have frequently assisted at Mass.  Even the children pick it up quickly.  Apart from Mass, I confer the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction in English, as they are less familiar to the people.

    We have parishioners who are native speakers of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French in our parish.  For the most part, they have missals in their language and Latin, but most of the romance language people can follow the Latin without a translation.  They seem to have no problem with the Sacraments I mentioned above in Latin.  It would be virtually impossible for me to offer Mass in all those languages, and pastorally absurd to fragment the parish into linguistic groups.  In spite of any theoretical objection posed by non-participants, our people are happy with the traditional Mass in its traditional language.  It unifies, rather than divides.

    The concept of a liturgical language is not unique to traditional Latin Rite Catholics.  As I mentioned above, Hebrew was and is still the language in which Orthodox Jews worship.  Eastern Orthodox generally employ an ancient liturgical version of their national language, as do some of the Eastern Catholics.  Moslems read the Koran in Arabic, and frown on vernacular translations.  Sanskrit remains the normative language of the Vedas.  A liturgical language serves two purposes.  First, it keeps doctrinal errors from entering in through purposeful or accidental mistranslation (see below).  Second, it immediately impresses on the mind that something special is going on;  that people have entered a sacred place, where they are expected to disassociate themselves from the secular world in favor of union with God.

    Even the Vatican II declaration on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, did not contemplate a complete translation to the vernacular for the celebration of Mass (except, maybe, in totally non-Western cultures):  “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (article 36);  "steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" (article 54).[1]  “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services” (article 115).  The Church’s enormous treasury of Sacred Music would be nearly wiped out if the Latin selections were abandoned.  The understanding was that the scriptures might be translated if need be.  But the so-called “spirit of Vatican II” was an all out attempt to turn Catholicism into Protestantism (or worse), and poor translation was one of the tools employed.  The mistranslation of the Consecration of the wine, expressing the heresy of universal salvation, is the most noteworthy, but even those prayers which the Novus Ordo (New Mass) retained from the Catholic Mass are often translated is such a way as to remove their dogmatic content.  The idea of Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice is foreign to Protestants, so most of the remaining sacrificial terminology was translated in such a way as to make the sacrifice over as a sacrifice of giving something up (like sacrificing candy for Lent) or as the mere giving of praise.  Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave a lecture in July 2001 lamenting the loss of belief in the Mass as a sacrifice.[2]  It is, perhaps, even worse among the liberal laity who frequent the Novus Ordo.[3]

    And no one can dispute the casual attitude toward worship fostered by the Novus Ordo:  People in their shorts, tee-shirts, flip-flops, and best bowling jackets, hearing banal translations of the Scriptures, handing out Communion hosts, dropping them on the floor, and selling them on E-Bay.  (Honest!)

    I don't want to go on at length, but some other factors seem to have been missing from the questioner’s understanding of the Mass.  That is that there is more to the Mass and Sacraments than what is apprehended on the intellectual level.  While important, and always fostered by the Church, knowledge of the Scriptures is only part of being a Christian.  Keeping the natural moral law, expressed in the Commandments is essential, and requires very little book learning.  The Sacraments are effective quite apart from any academic understanding of them.  They are not mere “rights of passage,” or mere commemorations of past events.  Our Lord associated salvation with the Sacrament of Baptism (Mark 16).  He associated eternal life with the reception of His body and blood, and did not call back those who thought this impossible (John 6, Matthew 26, Luke 22, etcetera).  He gave His Apostles the power to forgive sins (John 20).  The power of God flows through the Sacraments to make people holy and to give them the graces needed to deal with their particular state in life—it flows even to the illiterate and the uncomprehending.

    And, finally, truly contemplative prayer is virtually always on a non-verbal level.  True, the lower stages depend on discursive prayer (meditation), and the Scriptures are invaluable for meditation material, but this is not the same as reading or listening to them proclaimed in church.  It is more a matter of calling the events to mind and placing one's self in the scene with Jesus, Mary, and the others.  Properly meditated, the Rosary serves this purpose admirably--as does sitting in our Lord's presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.


Moral Aspects of the Great Depression (Part XVI)

 

[Continued from last month]

    Question:  Were there moral aspects to the Great Depression?  A lot of people suffered for well over a decade.  Shouldn’t someone be held responsible?  Can we prevent such a thing from happening again?

● More Alphabet Soup ●

    Right up there with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), which paid farmers to destroy crops while people were starving, was the National Recovery Administration (NRA).

    Symbolized by the “Blue Eagle,” the NRA was an attempt to subject virtually all of American industry to government regulation and price control.  The government’s theory was that prosperity could be restored by keeping prices high.  In fact such price supports discouraged commerce, benefiting only the larger corporations, and the army of bureaucrats required to enforce the “codes” imposed on hundreds of major industries.  As with the AAA, the stories of NRA tampering with the economy would be laughable if they had not harmed so many people and prolonged the great depression.  Again, I quote from John T. Flynn’s The Roosevelt Myth:

    Mussolini is an evil memory. But in 1933 he was a towering figure who was supposed to have discovered something worth study and imitation by all world artificers everywhere....  What they liked particularly was his corporative system. He organized each trade or industrial group or professional group into a state supervised trade association. He called it a corporative.... The NRA provided that in America each industry should be organized into a federally supervised trade association. It was not called a corporative. It was called a Code Authority. But it was essentially the same thing. These code authorities could regulate production, quantities, qualities, prices, distribution methods, etc., under the supervision of the NRA. This was fascism. The anti­trust laws forbade such organizations. Roosevelt had denounced Hoover for not enforcing these laws sufficiently. Now he suspended them and compelled men to combine....

    At its head Roosevelt appointed General Hugh Johnson, a retired Army officer....  He began with a blanket code which every business man was summoned to sign ­ to pay minimum wages and observe the maximum hours of work, to abolish child labor, abjure price increases and put people to work. Every instrument of human exhortation opened fire on business to comply ­ the press, pulpit, radio, movies. Bands played, men paraded, trucks toured the streets blaring the message through megaphones. Johnson hatched out an amazing bird called the Blue Eagle. Every business concern that signed up got a Blue Eagle, which was the badge of compliance. The President went on the air: "In war in the gloom of night attack," he crooned, "soldiers wear a bright badge to be sure that comrades do not fire on comrades. Those who cooperate in this program must know each other at a glance. That bright badge is the Blue Eagle."

    The second phase was to sign up separate industries into the corporative code authorities. Over 700 codes were created. Business men were told to come to Washington and "write their own tickets," as Roosevelt said. They could scarcely believe their ears. Again the conservatives applauded. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said: "The blamed thing works." Dun & Bradstreet said: "Critical opposition of certain industrialists to NRA procedure is gradually being turned to wholehearted support."

    But little by little the spell began to fade. In spite of all the fine words about industrial democracy, people began to see it was a scheme to permit business men to combine to put up prices and keep them up by direct decree or through other devious devices. The consumer began to perceive that he was getting it in the neck. ....  Bitter slurs were flung at the Blue Eagle as a fascist symbol. A senator called it the "Soviet duck." Silk workers on strike stoned the blue Eagle in the shop windows. Labor suddenly discovered it was getting mostly fine phrases. A wave of strikes swept the country. A battle for control of NRA between labor and capital broke out. Roosevelt went on the air and pleaded for peace. Farmers were indignant at the rising prices.

    But NRA continued to exhibit its folly in a succession of crazy antics which could proceed only from people who had lost their bearings and their heads. A tailor named Jack Magid in New Jersey was arrested, convicted, fined and sent to jail. The crime was that he had pressed a suit of clothes for 35 cents when the Tailors' Code fixed the price at 40 cents. The price was fixed not by a legislature or Congress but by the tailors. A storm of indignation swept through the country.... The judge hastily summoned the tailor from his cell, remitted his sentence and fine and offered to give the offender his own pants to press. The purged tailor proclaimed the NRA a beautiful thing. Each town had its own horrible examples.

    The NRA was discovering it could not enforce its rules. Black markets grew up. Only the most violent police methods could procure enforcement. In Sidney Hillman's garment industry the code authority employed enforcement police.  They roamed through the garment district like storm troopers.  They could enter a man's factory, send him out, line up his employees, subject them to minute interrogation, take over his books on the instant.  Night work was forbidden.  Flying squadrons of these private coat­and­suit police went through the district at night, battering down doors with axes looking for men who were committing the crime of sewing together a pair of pants at night.  But without these harsh methods many code authorities said there could be no compliance because the public was not back of it.

    Feuds broke out everywhere.  [General] Johnson suggested that a committee be named by the President to investigate....  It held hearings and issued a report in May, 1934, blasting the NRA with a merciless damnation. Some of the words used in the report to castigate it were "harmful, monopolistic, oppressive, grotesque, invasive, fictitious, ghastly, anomalous, preposterous, irresponsible, savage, wolfish, and others."  Johnson denounced the report but the judgment had come from a board named by the President with a chairman suggested by Johnson. After that the life began to run out of NRA....

    Johnson tried twice to resign. The President refused. Department heads were at war with each other. Roosevelt forced Johnson to take a vacation and while he was away, set up a board to manage the thing.  When Johnson got back, Roosevelt told him the board would remain.  Johnson quit.  Finally the Supreme Court got around to hearing and deciding the Schechter case ­ the famous "sick chicken" case ­ which involved the constitutionality of the whole thing.  On May 27, 1935, the Supreme Court, to everybody's relief, declared the NRA unconstitutional.  It held that Congress at Roosevelt's demand had delegated powers to the President and the NRA which it had no right to delegate ­ namely the power to make laws.  It called the NRA a Congressional abdication.  And the decision was unanimous, Brandeis, Cardozo and Holmes joining in it.[4]

● The Schechter Case ●

    In the 1930s, the Schechter brothers ran a chicken business in Brooklyn. The name Schechter is derived from the Yiddish word for “butcher,” and this is what the brothers did: they slaughtered chickens and sold them to shops. The brothers seemed to be typical immigrants, at once struggling and succeeding.

    But in 1934, they became famous thanks to Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States....  Prosecutors said they had sold an unfit chicken, one with an egg lodged inside it, and had also tried to undercut their competitors’ prices. It was the latter charge that cut to the core of the new law. With the Great Depression under way and deflation causing economic ruin, the Roosevelt administration had outlawed “destructive price cutting.”

    [The Schechters were also accused of allowing the customer to choose which chicken he wanted out of a cage of many—the Code insisted that it be the first chicken the butcher could grasp!]

    The brothers were found guilty, given a harsh fine ($7,425) and sentenced to between one and three months in jail. They fought back, however, all the way to the Supreme Court, and they won. In a unanimous ruling the court found the code to be an unconstitutional expansion of federal authority. On the day of the ruling, Justice Louis Brandeis took aside one of Roosevelt’s aides and told him, “This is the end of this business of centralization.” The National Recovery Administration, the agency that had gone after the Schechters, soon dropped hundreds of similar cases and closed its doors.[5]

 [To be continued]


NOTES

[4]   John R. Flynn, The Roosevelt Myth, pp.  41-47 (emphasis  added).

[5]   From David Leonhardt “No Free Lunch”  New York Times book review August 26, 2007 of Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/books/review/Leonhardt-t.html

  



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