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August 12, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium (n. 36) says that Latin is to be preserved in the Roman Rite, and it goes on to say that the people should be taught to sing or say in Latin the parts of the Mass pertaining to them. So, is there anything wrong with softly saying those parts of the Mass in Latin as Vatican II called for as long as I am not disturbing anyone around me? After all, Latin is still the official language of the Church. – G.Y., Kansas.
A. No, we don’t see any reason why you cannot sing or say the words quietly in Latin. But while Vatican II said that Latin should be preserved, it also said in paragraph 36:
“Since the use of the vernacular, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, may frequently be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This extension will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants….It is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 22.2 [the bishop] to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used according to these norms; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See.”

Q. Thank you for responding to my question about what the Virgin Mary said to the children in Fatima when she showed them a vision of Hell. What Mary “said” still puzzles me. Who knows what she said since it was reported by illiterate children, repeated by others, written up, translated, paraphrased? — C.E., California.
A. Don’t be too quick to disregard the reports of the visionaries at Fatima. What happened, and what Mary said, on July 13, 1917, come from a very credible source, the oldest of the three children, Lucia dos Santos, age 10. One doesn’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar to describe accurately the terrifying vision of Hell. As Lucia said many years later: “This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first apparition [on May 13], to take us to Heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”
Lucia, who lived until 2005, wrote hundreds of letters about her experiences and published four volumes of memoirs, in 1935, 1937, and 1941. So, the accounts that we have about the six apparitions in 1917 were written when Lucia was between 28 and 34 years old. She had been extensively interrogated by Church authorities over many years, and it took seventeen years for the Church to declare that the apparitions were worthy of belief.
For a comprehensive account of this matter, see Fr. Andrew Apostoli’s book Fatima For Today.

Q. At our church, we have to recite “Hail, Holy Queen, [Mother of mercy], our light [sic.], our sweetness, and our hope.” This prayer goes on to talk about “mourning and weeping in this vale [sometimes “valley”] of tears,” but our congregation is pretty cheerful. The prayer was written by Hermann of Reichenau, born 1013, who was disabled from childhood. He could move only with difficulty and could barely speak, so his parents gave him to the Benedictines when he was seven. The prayer starts with Mary being the light of the world, but that was Jesus’ claim. We have a new priest coming in, and I think it’s time to dump the prayer. What do you think? – D.G., Ohio.
A. Whoa, whoa, whoa! There is no way that we would ever dump this awesome prayer, which is also known as the “Salve Regina.” It doesn’t call Mary the light of the world, but rather “our life, our sweetness, and our hope.” It encourages us “poor banished children of Eve” to cry out to her for help. We ask this “most gracious Advocate” to turn “your eyes of mercy toward us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” We beg this “sweet Virgin Mary” to “pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.” Jesus gave His Mother to us on the Cross (cf. John 19:27) and wants her to lead us to Him, as when she said at the wedding in Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).
We’re glad that your fellow parishioners are cheerful, but there isn’t much to cheer about beyond the confines of your church. If we ever needed this Queen of Heaven and Earth, we need her now as our society is about as far removed as one can get from the Kingdom of Jesus. One ought to say this prayer fervently several times a day, particularly when concluding the rosary.
As for Hermann of Reichenau, he was despite his disabilities a brilliant intellectual who was accomplished in many fields of knowledge. He wrote books on astronomy, mathematics, poetry, music, Christian martyrs, and a world chronicle of history from the time to Christ until 1054. Would that those of us with no physical handicaps could accomplish a fraction of what Hermann achieved in his lifetime.

Q. I have often wondered how an individual gets to attend a papal audience at the Vatican. Is it based on being a politician, like Nancy Pelosi, or giving money to the Vatican? What is the protocol? – R.B., via e-mail.
A. While public figures like Nancy Pelosi and her husband can gain quick access to a papal audience, it is frequently possible for ordinary folks to attend such an audience. Tickets are required and must be applied for in advance. They are available through tour operators and travel agencies, or requests can be addressed directly to the Bishops Office for United States Visitors to the Vatican. The address is Via dell’Umilta 30, 00187 Rome. By the way, there is no dress code for large papal audiences, but visitors to churches, particularly St. Peter’s, must observe dress codes. Women are no longer required to cover their heads, but they must cover bare arms and shoulders. Skirts and dresses must fall below the knees. Neither women nor men may wear shorts.
It’s too bad we don’t have the same dress code in American churches.

Q. There may be a technical theological difference, but for all practical purposes aren’t humility and mediocrity about the same thing? – G.P., via e-mail.
A. Not at all. Mediocrity comes from Latin roots that mean “halfway up the mountain,” not striving to reach the top but being satisfied to remain in the middle, to be just average or ordinary. It is not a compliment to be called a mediocre person. Being called humble, however, is a compliment because it means that a person is not always blowing his own horn or telling everyone who will listen how great he or she is. Here is how Fr. John Hardon, SJ, defines humility in his Modern Catholic Dictionary:
“The moral virtue that keeps a person from reaching beyond himself. It is a virtue that restrains the unruly desire for personal greatness and leads people to an orderly love of themselves based on a true appreciation of their position with respect to God and their neighbors. Religious humility recognizes one’s total dependence on God; moral humility recognizes one’s creaturely equality with others. Yet humility is not only opposed to pride; it is also opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which would fail to recognize God’s gifts and use them according to His will.”
The Rule of St. Benedict sets down twelve degrees of humility: (1) fear of God; (2) preference for the will of God, not one’s own will; (3) obedience; (4) embracing patiently hard and contrary things; (5) openness to one’s superior; (6) contentedness with the lowest position; (7) believing oneself lower than his companions; (8) following the rule completely; (9) observing silence; (10) restraint in laughter; (11) speaking gently, gravely, and sparingly; (12) showing humility to all.

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Today . . .

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Catholic Replies

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