About Me

My photo
Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bah Humbug

We are in a whirlwind of housecleaning for Christmas. We've been very busy with the shop. Sister St. Aloysius is pouring over cookie recipes. I am untangling the lights. We still have to move furniture around for the arrival of the tree and find the tree stand. At school we're working on our Christmas pageant.

It's not really a pageant. It's a concert. Grades five and up are singing in harmony, which is my job.

It has occurred to me that if Sister Mary Fiacre was with it, the three of us could go caroling as a trio. Oh well. It would probably flummox the neighbors anyhow. They would think I was with the Taliban or something.

It's all so cheery.

Too bad I have to address these bummer questions. Not that you shouldn't ask. The answers are just no fun.

Sister, what are your thoughts on the renewal of the Latin mass?

This question has been floating in our question box for sometime and I apologize for letting it hang. I'm certain you won't care much for my answer.

I just don't care about the Latin Mass. I would hope that if the Mass changes back to Latin across the boards, that you'll all go out and learn Latin again so you can understand it.

Calm down. I know you understand the Mass no matter what language it's in. But the point of having the Mass in Latin in the first place was to have it in a language that everyone speaks. It didn't start out that way. But that's what happened. Everyone used to understand the Latin used in the Mass. It wasn't just 'pretty' and 'traditional' it was understandable. The reason the Vatican made the change is that the Church realized that hardly anyone was speaking Latin anymore, except for a few moldy perennial students.

Here's my story in support of the Latin Mass (which you Latin Massaphiles should love): During the Holocaust, in the camps, a group of Jews gathered in the latrines for a high holy day. It was the only place where no one would pay any attention to what they were doing. The gathering included Jews from all over Europe, but they held their service in their common language, which everyone understood. I'm not sure what that language is called...not Yiddish...it didn't matter that they couldn't speak to each other and be understood. They were speaking to God and they all understood the words they were saying to Him.

You get my point. The story really doesn't work if the people gathered don't all understand that common language, see?

The other arguments I keep hearing..."it's so beautiful!" "it's so traditional!" just don't cut it for me. Sorry. If you love the Latin Mass and want to drive to the next town every Sunday, go for it.

I'm happy to have the Mass in the language of the crowd so that any new comer off the streets can listen to what is happening. If it changes back, I'm okay with it. I'd prefer that if did not, unless everyone takes up Latin again. Since no one can even remember phone numbers anymore because there is a phone book in your cell phone, I'm not holding my breath for people reviving Latin.

Does the Church have a teaching regarding whether Protestants go to purgatory? Does a martyred Protestant go straight to heaven? What ARE the rules about Protestants and salvation, anyway?? I mean, practically every faithful Protestant these days (not all of them, I realize) believes in and practices artificial birth control - a mortal sin. So do they all go to hell because of it?

Any light you can shed would be appreciated!

Boy. This one is a really big bummer. Sadly, yes, the answer would be hell for all involved. That is the official Church stance. To say otherwise would be to say the the Church is not the One True Church, but the One of Any Church That Makes You Comfortable.

But the Church doesn't actually say that all those people are going to Hell for certain, because we don't know their hearts for certain. They could repent at the last second. God could be merciful. We hear that He tends to be so inclined.

So the answer is yes, but not really really. Yes, but with loopholes, so to speak.

We also never ever say that anyone is in Hell for certain. Not even Hitler. We give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

After all, Jesus said, "My Kingdom has many rooms."

It's just that those people will have the rooms next to the ice machine and the elevator.

Kidding. Just kidding. But not about the Hell part. Sorry.

Not very Christmas-y.


Anonymous said...

I have a question about the Protestant/Purgatory thing. Wouldn't it only be a sin if there is full knowledge of the sin and then continue with it? I mean that's the definition of sin anyway, right? If the Protestants are not looking at the Church for leadership and disregard it's teaching and their leaders have no problem with it, they may not know it's a sin. That might fit into the "we don't know" category of where they go, but I would think that full knowledge is crucial to the whole sin thing. I mean, it's not like this is the first generation of Protestants who maybe thought it could be a sin, but went down the "what the heck, let's do it" road. Today's Protestants have been steeped in this error since 1930, if I'm remembering correctly, so it's been passed on as acceptable. I'm not suggesting they would skip Purgatory, but at least might not have the straight to Hell ticket.

Anonymous said...

It is perhaps comforting to think no one is in hell, it contains within its syntax the implicit assurance that because others are far worse than I surly therefore I am not worthy of, nor destined for such depravation as the torments of hell.

Why then, the proponents of this anti-hell theory have to answer, did Jesus mention, threaten admonish his disciples with the assurance of such a place as Gehenna and why in the Creed do we affirm (well some of us still do) "He descended into Hell", if it was empty what was he doing there?

What did Jesus mean when he said of Judas the Iscariot that it would have been better had he not been born or his promise of a deep sea fishing trip to child abusers.

Again advocates must conclude Jesus was full of empty threats. As I consider this It also occurs to me what Jesus said on the cross to the good thief, If all are destined to Heaven why didn't he say that both thieves would be with him in Heaven that day, not just one. And what of Revelations -

We just don't know anyone is in hell is a sophistic argument, Hell appears through out the new testament, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, James and Peter. CCC 1034 affirms Jesus often speaks of "Gehenna" of "the unquenchable fire" reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"

So what does that mean if there is no Hell? It means Jesus is a Liar a scaremonger and if he can make that up he can make it all up, It means there is no justice in God and the righteous are all being conned. In which case who do we trust if the Church is wrong on this, what else is it wrong on and how do we know.

No people, Hell is real and so is salvation, otherwise I'm staying in bed on Sunday and then I'm off for a bit of drunken rape and pillage, after all if Hell doesn't exist why fear God, if its not true it doesn't matter what we do.

Anonymous said...

Sister, what would you think of the Traditional Mass if it was in English? How would it compare to the Novus Ordo?

Alice Gershom

Kevin - "pax tecum" said...


"and why in the Creed do we affirm (well some of us still do) "He descended into Hell", if it was empty what was he doing there?"

I believe that Hell has a different meaning than here than what you are thinking...

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of what Mark said was *very* loosely quoted. When did Jesus talk about "child abusers"?
For that matter where does this idea of "mortal sin" come from? Not from Jesus or any of the gospels. Too much of Catholic teaching was made up by Paul and others. This is why some people insist that Catholics are not Christians.

Anonymous said...

No comment on your post. Just wanted to say I love your wit and look forward to reading your common sense answers.


Sister Mary Martha said...

Mark, I realize there is an anti-hell theory out there. I hope you don't think I was saying there is no hell. There is. I was merely pointing out, as I think it is very important to remember, that although there is a population in hell, we don't take names.

Unknown said...

Kevin, about the creed, I believe it's more common now to say "descended to the dead", meaning the place where all the holy people were who'd died before Jesus opened the gates of Heaven. Moses, Noah, etc had no where to go before Heaven was opened again, so it wasn't "hell" as in the place of the forever-doomed to perish with Satan, just a place of the dead. Hope that makes sense.

And, SMM, maybe I've heard wrong, but I think the idea with the Latin Mass is not that it will replace the common-language Masses, but just become more common-place again...is that right?

Anonymous said...

It's not quite accurate to refer to the "Latin Mass" since both forms - the new and the old - are both in Latin. Let's also remember that it was never the intention of the Council to remove Latin entirely from the Mass. We've done that on our own (among other things).

And let's not dumb down the folks in the pew anymore than we've already done. We all sing "Adeste fideles" at Christmas (enthusiastically, I might add) and we can all read. A book with Latin on one side and English on the other would allow us to preserve our "Roman-ness" and also allow us to understand what's being said.

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

By the way, here's the first loophole for Protestants practicing contraception:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." ccc

If they don't have full knowledge of a sin's object being grave matter, it's not mortal for them.

The second loophole, of course, is perfect contrition.

Anonymous said...

I've been skulking around for years with the same thoughts on the Mass in Latin, and here you are boldly posting them on the web! Kewl. I much prefer understanding the language. The books with side by side latin/english are really cool for those of you who are not holding small children who will unbutton your blouse the moment you take your eyes off of them, and who want to be held, and who NEED to be held to prevent them from chewing on the pew in front of you or undressing themselves or....

The church was very merciful to those in my position and temperment when she made the mass available in the vernacular. I'm all for having the Mass available in Latin for those who prefer it, but I'm sticking with english.

Anonymous said...

Sister Mary Martha

Pray for me as Im sure there is a room with my name on it next to the ice machine and elevator..

Anna :(

Anonymous said...

all i can say about the Latin Mass is:

i am from singapore, where we don't have the tridentine Latin Mass in our archdiocese AT ALL.

So i run to SSPX for the TLM, even when i get condemned for this.

To all those novous ordo advocates out there, i am sorry, but i can never look at a NO Mass the same way again after attending a TLM.

Gos bless

Anonymous said...

Is it weird that I don't feel like I have a right to worry about what form the Mass is in? I just feel that I am there to worship, and that the Mass is not about my preferences in any way. I am just glad to be in a Catholic church, celebrating the Mass and striving to pay attention while I wrestle with my two year old.

Anonymous said...

Katy: The reference to "child abusers" referred to those who "lead the little ones astray". That covers a lot of things, including those who teach children false doctrine, don't teach them anything at all, commit child abuse, set a bad example, lead them into sin, etc.
Mortal Sin just makes common sense. Mortal Sin completely cuts off our relationship with God. Would you prefer all sins to be equal? An uncharitable remark is equal to murder? I sure hope not. Luckily, the Catholic Church has both Scripture and Tradition to rely on. Remember, the Bible doesn't say anything about cloning, stem cell research or a host of other things. We can rely on the wisdom of the Church for answers to those dilemmas. Thanks be to God!
PS Quit giving St. Paul such a hard time.....he is always getting knocked on the head.

Anonymous said...

Katy--First of all, the reference to child abusers is obviously the millstones being placed around the necks of those who lead little ones astray (the "deep sea fishing trip" that Mark referenced)...

And to all the TLM bashers...it's not that we have a "right to worry about what [language, not form] the Mass is in"...it's that we have a duty to celebrate with reverence. Unfortunately many people took the N.O. changes and ran with them like a runaway train. We now have the resulting wreck in clown masses, liturgical dancers with bowls of incense, or less obvious errors, like who can preach the homily, the priest making up his own prayers of consecration/changing the words, abuses of the Eucharist, etc, all in the name of being "relevant" or "welcoming".

I don't think the Latin Mass will solve all the problems, but at least it's a tug in the direction of those who are concerned about the excesses on the other end of the spectrum. What I would love to see is the Latin Mass (Tridentine, whatever you want to call it) celebrated in English, and reverently, using SOME Latin to remind us of our heritage and "set apart" something special for Church, and incorporating better musical accompaniment in the Mass.

Just my slightly more than $.02 offered........

Anonymous said...

Hi to all the respondents (and a Happy Christmas to you all)


I believe you refer to the Limbus Patrum. The Limbo of the Patriarchs (or the Fathers) is to the best of my knowledge the place Jesus descended, but my point being it was still Hell; still a place that was not Heaven (Purgatory being heavenly by nature of its assured salvation). Soterology is a minefield on this topic because as Sister says, we don't take names, well not of the damned at least.


I was being loose, as you put it deliberately, trying to avoid chapter and verse in my comment, I'm sure we who look forward to, and read Sisters blog know common biblical referenced but on your specific point see Matt. 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2. It doesn't say explicitly child abuse, but it says all it needs too, I just love the economy of salvation.


Hell has this in common with Sacred Mystery; we don't want to go there (is that how it goes?)


See Catechism of the Catholic Church on the profession of the faith (The Apostolic Creed) 631 - 637 Article 5 - "He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again"

Anonymous said...

Just to put the Hell thing into perspective, I am a "good" Catholic and I deserve to go to Hell. Anyone who is saved is saved by the grace of God. Being Catholic means having lots of channels for God's grace. Personally, I need them.

Anonymous said...

the Latin Mass being revived does have a section which mentions us Jews, which we would be glad that you left out. The universal language for Jews IS still Yiddish, which is making a revival now; there is a Yiddish major now being offered at Emory University here in Atlanta. It made communication in the camps during the Holocaust possible.

Anonymous said...

Yiddish isn't a 'universal language for Jews': it was the language of the Jewish diaspora for those who moved to north-eastern Europe. The equivalent for the Jews of southern Europe was Ladino.

The language which Jews in the death camps were praying in would have been Hebrew - an ancient language used by all 'frum' (Orthodox) Jews to this day in prayer. It was revived and to some extent modernised as the national language of Israel, but most Jews outside Israel don't understand it, any more than most Catholics understand Latin. It would have been the language in which Jesus celebrated the Seder, the Passover meal which was the Last Supper, though even 2000 years ago it wasn't a 'spoken' language: the everyday language was Aramaic, which bears very roughly the same relationship to Hebrew as Italian does to Latin.

I find it slightly ironic that you praise the Jews for using a common tongue (which, as explained above, they would not in most cases have been able to speak) but dislike the idea of Catholics doing the same.