Editor’s Note: One of our readers, D.M. of Virginia, has forwarded a letter that he had published in his diocesan paper, the Arlington Catholic Herald, regarding President Trump’s executive order on immigration. D.M. was responding to two articles in the paper. Here are his comments:
“The reactions reported by the Herald from Church leaders, the USCCB, lay Catholics, political leaders, and others I found not to be at all commensurate with the executive order and its intention. I suspect that most, if not all, of the protests came from people who had not bothered to read the text of the executive order, but rather relied on reports from a media that apparently have considerable animosity toward our president and are rather quick to bring heavy criticism on his presidency. Here is a portion of the order that explains its purpose:
“‘In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own), or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.’
“Were I to rely on the Herald for news of this matter, I would assume that the executive order was unlawful, un-American, in violation of Church teaching, not going to make our nation safer, a dark moment in U.S. history, cruel, devastating, and an animus toward Muslims. However, that is not at all what I understand after reading the actual order. In fact, after reading the order and the overreactions recorded in the Herald, I might easily assume that Church leadership and others must have no objection to immigrants coming into our country who are bigots, racists, violent persecutors of other religions, and do not respect our laws and our Constitution.”
Q. After Mass today, a woman asked me a question that seemed sort of strange. If there is a High Mass on a particular day, is there any rule that it must be the last Mass of the day (or at least of the morning)? Do you have anything on this? — T.L., Colorado.
A. Our recollection from our younger days is that High Mass (see description below) was usually celebrated as the final Mass on Sunday morning. Whether that was required, or whether it was the choice of the pastor, we don’t remember. Perhaps some reader can enlighten us about the “old days” and whether a High Mass celebrated today in the Extraordinary Form (Latin Mass) must be the last Mass of the day.
What about the distinction between High and Low Masses? According to our St. Joseph Daily Missal, which was published in 1959, “a High Mass is sung. A Low Mass is read. A High Mass is called Solemn Mass when it is sung with the help of a Deacon and Subdeacon. A High Mass sung by a priest, with the assistance of those Sacred Ministers, is known as Missa Cantata. Low Mass is one in which the priest, assisted by one server, recites in a speaking tone the parts that are sung in a High Mass. It is in fact the abridgment of the Solemn Mass which, in ancient days, was the normal way of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice. Low Mass was evidently introduced on account of the difficulty of securing the help of Deacon and Subdeacon.”
The Missal goes on to say that “in recent years the Dialogue Mass or Missa Recitata (which combines features of both High and Low Mass) has become quite popular. Its purpose is to join the faithful closer to the priest celebrating at the altar and to each other by the common recitation of certain prayers of the Mass. On September 3, 1958, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued an Instruction greatly urging the use of the Dialogue Mass.”
Q. In your recent response about the unfortunate debate/controversy over the repose of the remains of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, you wrote that he died in 1984. I believe, however, that he died in 1979. Thank you for your wonderful column all these many years. You have educated and enlightened many in the teachings of our precious Catholic faith. — J.K., Arizona.
A. You are correct that Archbishop Sheen died in 1979. He was 84 when he died, and we mixed up the two numbers. Thanks for catching this and for the kind words.
Q. In my youth, my mother often spoke of Therese Neumann. She said that she, like Padre Pio, carried the five wounds of Christ (the stigmata). Is this true? Was she ever canonized a saint or even considered for sainthood? – J.G., Minnesota.
A. Therese Neumann (1898-1962), the German stigmatist, was born on Good Friday in 1898 and received the wounds of Christ in 1926. Thousands of people visited her because of her bleeding wounds, her mystic visions, and her ability to exist for many years on no food at all, except Holy Communion. She was miraculously cured at different times from blindness, paralysis, and back ulcers and had not only the five wounds given to most stigmatists, but also the marks of the scourging and the crowning with thorns.
Therese also had the gifts of bilocation and prophecy. Her cause for beatification has been underway for years.
For more information about her, see books by Michael Freze (They Bore the Wounds of Christ), Johannes Steiner (The Visions of Therese Neumann and Therese Neumann: A Portrait), and Albert Vogl (Therese Neumann: Mystic and Stigmatist).
Q. Was it possible for Christ to have sinned even though He never did? — D.C., via e-mail.
A. No, it was never possible for Jesus to commit a sin because it would have meant that God was capable of sinning against Himself. Since Christ was a divine Person, whose every act was an act of God, He could not sin.
“In him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5), said John the Evangelist. And the Letter to the Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
When we are tempted, our will wavers and we find ourselves leaning toward evil. There was no wavering will in Christ, no inclination toward sin, and no struggle in choosing between good and evil. Jesus had both a human will and a divine will, but as the Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) taught, His human will followed His divine will “without resistance or reluctance” (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 475).
So why did Jesus subject Himself to temptations (cf. Matt. 4:1-11 and Luke 22:39-46)? Perhaps to show us how to overcome them in our own lives. “Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,” says Hebrews (2:18), “he is able to help those who are being tested.”
Q. Our Blessed Mother told the children of Fatima that their young friend Amelia would remain in Purgatory until the end of time. Does that mean that our prayers and plenary indulgences can’t really help the souls in Purgatory? — C.S., Arizona.
A. No. It is a clear teaching of the Church that we can offer plenary indulgences for the souls in Purgatory and, if all the conditions are carried out perfectly, the souls for whom we are offering them will indeed be released from their time of purification so that they can experience the joys of Heaven.
Amelia must have been sorry for whatever sins she had committed or she wouldn’t have been in Purgatory. But only God knows why she would have to remain there until the end of the world.