Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the October AD 2008
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

On This Page
True God and True Man
The prayer Líbera nos quǽsumus
Are we at the End Times?
The Oldest Rite of Mass?
The Great Depression?

True God and True Man

    Question:  Since we are created in the image and likeness of God, doesn’t the word “mankind” refer to being “like Man”?  Why does Jesus call Himself “Son of Man”?  Certainly, He isn’t the Son of Humans? (R.D.)

    Answer:  We discussed our Lord’s use of the title “Son of Man” a few years back in the Parish Bulletin for December 1996, saying that it was used to describe Ezechiel as God’s messenger, to describe a Messias by Daniel, and adopted with this meaning by our Lord.[1]  But let me correct something the questioner said:  Jesus was, indeed the Son of a human, for Mary is human and is His Mother—a sinless human, but human nonetheless.  The Greeks say—“Panagios Theotokos, All Holy Mother of God.”  When we say that Mary “conceived of the Holy Ghost,” it is clear that Jesus had no human father, but Mary’s conception of Jesus was nonetheless real.  Jesus was not implanted in her womb after the fashion of a surrogate mother.  The humanity of Jesus is important to our salvation.  In Adam, finite mankind sinned against the infinite God, and had no way to make up to that infinite God for its insult.  Jesus became man so that he could offer infinite merits to His father on behalf of mankind, bringing about atonement.

    The Venerable Bede tells us:

    Mary was Ever-Virgin, and that, under the operation of the Holy Ghost, she gave of her own flesh and blood in bringing forth the human body of God.... the Only-begotten of God was the true Son of Man, consubstantial with his Mother.... The Apostle says: «God sent forth his Son, made of a Woman, made under the Law.» And foolish it is to try to make this passage read : Born of a Woman, made under the Law. Rather, it is truly said : Made of a woman: for he was conceived in a virgin's womb.  This cannot mean that he took his flesh from nothing, nor that he took it elsewhere than from the flesh of his Mother.  Otherwise he could not with truth be called the Son of Man, since he would have had no origin from mankind.[2]

    God might have chosen to redeem mankind without the incarnation (taking a human body and soul and nature) but He did not.  Insofar as He possessed human nature, Jesus was like us in all things but sin.

Líbera nos quǽsumus

    Question:  In the prayer following the Lord’s Prayer, how did the name of Saint Andrew come to be mentioned with Saints Peter and Paul?  (A.H.)

    Answer:  According to Adrian Fortescue, in The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy, p. 364, the prayer Líbera nos quǽsumus has varied over time:  “We have our Lady, Peter, Paul, and Andrew.  Some Gelasian MSS [manuscripts] omit Andrew.  He is named apparently as being from some points of view the next chief Apostle, the first called, Peter’s brother who brought him to our Lord (John i: 40-42).  At Milan they add St. Ambrose.  In the middle ages the celebrant was expressly allowed to add any saints he liked here.”[3]

End Times?

    Question:  Things seem so crazy, both in the Church and in the government.  Are we living in the “end times”  (A.H.)

    Answer:  Catholic people have often thought that they were living in the “end-times.”  The canonical writings of the early Church seem to suggest that they expected the second coming in a few years.  I have often tried to imagine the emotions Catholics shared on the evening of December 31, AD 1000, as the sand trickled through the hour-glass and the millennium trickled away with it.

    The Church clearly disagrees with the Protestant concepts of the millennium rule of Christ on earth before judgment day, and with the “Rapture.”  The latter idea is too silly to consider, (nonetheless, see the March 1997 Q&A[4])  but the former was condemned by the Holy Office under Pope Pius XII, on 21 July 1944:  “In recent times on several occasions this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been asked what must be thought of the system of mitigated Millenarianism, which teaches, for example, that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world. The answer is: The system of mitigated Millenarianism cannot be taught safely.”[5]

    The end of the world will come for each one of us personally at a time we cannot predict—we must be ready for it at any time, and it doesn’t matter if our personal end comes thousands of years before the general judgment, or simultaneously with it.  “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night....  Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh, shall find watching.”[6]

The Oldest Rite of Mass?

    Question:  What is the oldest extant form of Christian worship?  Rome itself used Greek ab initio; does any old Greek-Roman liturgy exist.  Also Liturgy of Saint James; what is known about it?  Ancient Armenian?  (A.H.)

    Answer:  I have heard Roman Rite Catholics claim that our Lord gave the text of the Roman Canon to the Apostles just as we have it today, And I have heard Easterners making a similar claim for the Liturgy of Saint James.  Generally, such arguments follow the line of “My dog’s better than your dog, because he just is.”

    The Catholic Encyclopedia gives a list of biblical passages which suggest, in general terms, how the Apostles celebrated Mass.[7]  Essentially, they adopted the liturgy of the synagogue, with its scripture readings, commentaries, psalms and hymns, and added the ceremonies prescribed by our Lord at the Last Supper.  The scripture readings could have included the Gospels and epistles no sooner than these were written and spread around the Church—i.e. between 42 and 96 A.D. or so.

    Early Christianity flourished in the cities, and what today we would call the patriarchal sees of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch had great influence over the liturgy in their surrounding cities.  But the liturgies of the patriarchs were not completely fixed until well into the second millennium—and words like “completely fixed” may not be exactly correct for any cultural phenomenon like the liturgy, for every age has its own needs.  For example, the Roman Mass saw the following additions over the centuries.

Prayers at the foot of the altar (16th century - previously private)

Kyrie eleison (Greek - 6th century, displacing litany)

Gloria in excelsis (previously Greek - 6th century)

Credo (11th century, request of the Emperor)

Offertory prayers (Gallican - 14th century)

Psalm at the Lavabo

Suscipe sancta Trinitas (16th century)

Elevation of the Host (about 13th century)

Elevation of the Chalice (14th-16th century)

Agnus Dei (7th century)

Communion prayers (16th century)

Blessing (11th - 17th century)

Last Gospel (16th century - previously a recessional or thanksgiving prayer) 

    Beside the difficulty of identifying when a Rite became “completed,” we lack precise information about the liturgy of the first few centuries.  Christianity was an illegal religion for three centuries, so records are scarce.  There was a reluctance to allow non-Catholics much knowledge about the “Sacred Mysteries”—a “disciplina arcana” prevented publication of the Rites in any detail.

    Saint Justin the Martyr described the Mass for a Roman Emperor around 150 A.D., but his writing was nothing like a liturgical book.[8]  Saint Ambrose of Milan did a little bit better about A.D. 370.[9]  The Last Books of the Apostolic Constitutions appeared around 390, containing a detailed liturgy attributed to Pope Clement of Rome (~88-99 A.D.), but the Constitutions were surely not written by the Apostles, and appear to be in the style of Antioch rather than Rome.[10]  A document called the Egyptian Church Order presents a further enigma—some scholars associate it with the See of Alexandria around 400 or 500—others claim it was the work of the Antipope Hippolytus who died about 236.[11]  The latter theory is held by Modernist scholars who would like to claim Hippolytus’ liturgy as the original Roman Mass.  Eucharistic Prayer II is the Novus Ordo’s characteristically sloppy version of the Egyptian Church Order/Antipope Hippolytus.  The original Gregorian Sacramentary was sent to Charlemagne by Pope Adrian I (772-795) who had request a true copy of the Roman Rite of the time, with the intention of imposing it throughout his Empire.  Which is the oldest Mass in Christendom?  Probably the best answer is “We don’t really know.”

 Additional Reading:  “Liturgical Development-Eastern,” September 1998 Q&A;  “Western Rites” August, September October 1999 Q&A.[12]  Adrian Fortescue, The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy.

The Great Depression

    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?

    Answer:  In the confessional, as in the court room, we often have to determine whether someone acted from ignorance or immorality—from incompetence or with malice..  It is difficult to know what is in the hearts of men; considerably more so when they are no longer around to speak on their own behalf.

    People have a moral right to the fruits of their productive labor; violation of that right is immoral.  Material privation often leads to spiritual despair.  It is not at all unreasonable to say that no one, or no small group of people, should ever have the ability to force such economic damage on a nation as we saw between the market crash and the second World War.  At this point it is impossible to hold anyone responsible, but it is well worth while to know what went wrong, and demand that our current crop of elected officials not repeat the mistakes of the past.

    As with so many of the evils in modern society, it is the responsibility of citizens to understand what is going on around them.  If political solutions to problems are warranted, citizens must demand responsible action from their elected officials.  Responsible solutions are those which deal with the long term underlying problems effecting the nation and not those which cater to a special interest in the short run.[13]  But, never forget that sometimes—and perhaps often—the best solution is governmental inaction.

The Progressive Era

    America may have been founded on “rugged individuals,” but the Great Depression was rooted in the expansion of government powers which took place around the turn of the nineteenth century.  This was the period of German and Italian Unification, the Russian Revolution, and the rise of communist, liberal, and labor parties in Europe and the Americas.

    In the United States a thorough analysis would include such names as Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton.  But it will have to suffice to say that by the late 1800s the politicians had convinced Americans — and Americans had convinced them­selves — that more government was the solution to all of society’s ills.  In the period that included the two Roosevelt administrations — Theodore’s and Franklin’s — big government became the tool for every interest that wanted to reshape society.  Industrialists used it to battle other industrialists, and bankers to battle other bankers.[14]  Surprisingly. it was often the leaders of big business who called for federal regulations (which they often wrote), outright control or cartel formation.  The bankers insinuated themselves into big government in order to control the money supply and make their firms so essential to the economy that government would not allow them to fail if badly run.  (A la Bear Sterns, Fannie, and Freddie.)   Pietistic Protestants engaged the government to ban the sale of what they considered to be “demon rum” and other “evil” alcoholic beverages.  The “Progressive” movement, with its underlying philosophy of pragmatism enlisted government as the means of “scientific” education and social work in hopes of creating a sort of national religion pretty much lacking God, and without any formal Creed or religious authority.  Businessmen enlisted American military might to open new markets around the globe while undermining foreign economies.  Academic “experts” were enlisted to give all of this legitimacy.

    The rule of law came to the Americas by way of the British Common Law, a body of customs based on what Catholics know as the Natural Law which sets out the duties of men relative to God and to one another.  This was proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence with the idea that all individuals are “endowed with inalienable rights by their Creator” (not by their government).  This was enshrined in our Constitution, and particularly in the Bill of Rights (not privileges) which sets forth the more important rights like religion, speech, assembly, self and mutual defense, and so forth, and reserves to the people and the states all powers not specifically delegated to the federal union.  But in the mid 1800s these Natural Law concepts began to be questioned in Britain and in America.  Laws in both countries began to be influenced by the Utilitarian philosophy of men like Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill.  Instead of the law protecting individuals from the usurpation of their Natural Law rights, this new theory demanded that the law enforce whatever brought the most benefit to the most people.  The growth of government, with an attendant disregard for individual rights, closely followed the rise of Utilitarianism.

    Utilitarian society rejects the concept of God-given individual rights, replacing it with an unclearly defined concept of “the greatest good for the greatest number.”  The concept may take various names, being  referred to as “the will of the people,” “the common good,” “the glory of the nation,” “the solidarity of all peoples,” or any one of a few dozen such high sounding but purposefully vague slogans.  The essential problem is that some elite group of people must make the decisions for society as to who does or doesn't get what in order to secure this “the greatest good for the greatest number.”  Although such schemes may start out with good intentions, it will soon be seen that the less productive, the weak, and the vulnerable, have a lesser place in society, and will be asked to sacrifice for “the greater good” of the others.  And, rarely will the Elite rule impartially for society, without regard to their own personal well being.

    In practice, the interference of government allowed select interests to prosper at the expense of their competitors and the public.  Government itself added an additional unproductive layer to the economy, and made regulations calculated to gather votes while undermining full employment and productivity.  Some governmental interference was conducted under guise of law—the Income Tax and the Prohibition of alcohol being justified by Amendments—but other actions, like the chartering of the Federal Reserve System and the 1933 confiscation of gold, were in flagrant violation of the Constitution.  Although the Great Depression eventually ran itself out, federal government interference has long been with us.

    The tendency of government in this era, from Roosevelt to Roosevelt and beyond, was for it to increase regulation in nearly every aspect of life.  But it cannot be ignored that significant numbers of Americans favored the even more all-encompassing forms of government found in State Socialism and Communism.  In the 1920s, the Communist Party USA would claim 60,000 members, and its rival the Socialist Party of America another 40,000.  Untold numbers of university students and professors were taken by the Party’s ideology.  Communist ideology, as powerful as religious zeal brought Americans to spy on their country.  Influential Americans in the media and the government covered up the spying and the very real atrocities of the Soviet Union;  the mass murder, starvation, grand theft, forced labor, religious persecution, and other horrors necessary to establish the “people’s paradise.”  The effect of Marxism on America is very real, and still going strong.

    Traditional Catholics would be wise to see a similarity between the changes in the American outlook on government, and the religious changes of the post-Vatican II Church.  Modernism, the “synthesis of all heresies” has its own elements of Pragmatism, Utilitarianism, Marxism, and all of the other errors and corruption which plagued the American Republic.

    In order to treat the Great Depression properly we will be printing a brief column each month, in hopes of making a complex subject more understandable.

[To be Continued]



[2]   Book 4, Chapter 49, on Luke 11 Matins, Common of the BVM

[3]   A. Fortescue, The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy, p. 364

[5]   Denzinger 2296.

[6]   1 Thessalonians  v: 2-4  Luke xii: 37.

[7]   C.E. s.v. Liturgy,

[13]   Cf. Henry Hazlitt, Economics in Onne Lesson, p.191.

[14]   See Thomas Woods, “Theodore Roosevelt and the Modern Presidency”
“The Morgans  vs, The Rockefellers, ”


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