From the October AD 2008
Our Lady of the Rosary
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.)
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.
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:
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
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.”
Question: Things seem so crazy, both in the
Church and in the government. Are we living in the “end times”
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)
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.”
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.”
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.
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)
(Greek - 6th century, displacing litany)
Gloria in excelsis
(previously Greek - 6th century)
century, request of the Emperor)
(Gallican - 14th century)
Psalm at the
Trinitas (16th century)
Elevation of the
Host (about 13th century)
Elevation of the
Chalice (14th-16th century)
Agnus Dei (7th
Blessing (11th -
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.
Saint Ambrose of Milan did a little bit better about A.D. 370.
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.
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
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.”
“Liturgical Development-Eastern,” September 1998 Q&A; “Western
Rites” August, September October 1999 Q&A.
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?
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.
But, never forget that sometimes—and perhaps often—the best solution is
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
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
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
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
[To be Continued]