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July 7, 1961     The Observer
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July 7, 1961

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By FATHER JOHN RYAN WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM "MASS"? The word, "Mass." used commonly to refer to the sum total of prayers and ceremonies that make up the service of the Eucharist in the Latin Rite. is not nearly so old as the service itself. The Mass has been celebrated from the time Our Lord instituted the service at the Last Sup- per, but the first certain use of the term. "Mass."" is at- tributed to St. Ambrose in the fourth century. From this time the term became more and more common. There has been much discussion regarding the true meaning of the word. "Mass". It is an equivalent of the Latin word 'missio' or 'missa" a "dismissal". The reference is to the dismissal of the catechumens before the principal parts of the Mass in earlier times and the end of the serv- ice. The 'Ire. missa est' on "Go. it is dismissed", spoken by the priest just before the Last Gospel, is the best in- dication of the meaning of the term. In the Eastern Rite, the term "Mass", is not used, but the word, "Liturgy '. CAN A DEBT BE OUTLAWED? CAN A PERSON EVER REGARD HIS DEBTS AS OUTLAWED BY THE CIVIL STATUTE OF LIMITATION, SO THAT HE IS FREE FROM THEM IN CONSCIENCE? Certain debts are of such a nature that by custom and common consent the debt- or is not considered bound to pay until he receives a bill from the creditor. Such. for example, are the debts owed to a lawyer or doctor for professional serwces. If a creditor to such a debt fails to send his bill within~ the time stipulated by law (for example, two or three years), but subsequently attempts to collect the money, the debt- or could with a safe conscience avail himself of the legal prescription and refuse to pay the bill. For the intent of the civil law in passing the statute of limitations for such a case seems to be the extinction of the debt by prescription: and according to Catholic moral principles, prescription endowed with the requisite conditions gives a valid title to acquisition of goods or to release from obligation. In this case the "good faith" required of the debtor can be merely negative, consisting only in the fact that he does nothing to prevent the creditor from trans- mitting his bill. Thus, good faith would not be present if the debtor changed his address so that the creditor could not find him. This same prinmple of prescription can be applied to a debt arising from damages, provid- ed there was no moral guilt on the part of the one in- flicting the damage. If the injured party does not take legal action within the time stipulated by law, the one who (inculpably) injured him may refuse to make any recompense--provided, again, he did not .prevent the in- auguration of a suit. In the case of an ordinary debt--a personal loan, a bill sent by a tradesman--the statute of limitation could be invoked only in the supposition that a considerable length of time has passed since the debt was contracted and there has been positive good faith on the part of the debt- or. It would seem that a period of ten years would sure- ly suffice, as long as the civil law permits this period or even less. But the chief emphasis must be placed on the need of positive good faith in the debtor--a condition which is seldom present in the case of a debtor such as we are considering. It means that he is ignorant of' the debt or does not avert to it during the entire period. This could take place in the case of a man who has in- herited his father's estate, without realizing that it is burdened with a debt. It might even take place in the case of one who contracted a debt, and then entirely for- got it for many years. But in the case of an ordinary bill which the debtor remembers, no length of time will free him from the obligation of payment, even though the creditor, after making the loan or sending the bill, never repeats his demand for payment or attempts to dun the debtor, (Connell, Moral Questions). CAN ONE WHO IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE TRUE FAITH PERFORM MIRACLES? WHAT OF A PROTES- TANT MINISTER WHO, ON TELEVISION, APPARENT- LY PERFORMS MIRACLES OF CURE BEFORE HIS EN- TIRE CONGREGATION? It is not impossible for men and women who are not saints to be the instruments of God in a particular case of miraculous healing through prayer. But it is certain that God could not grant miracles in any situation that would seem to confirm a false religion. The reason is that only God, or one to whom He gives the power, is canable of performing a miracle strictly so called. A true miracle, therefore, is God's personal sign of approval on the event with which the miracle is visibly connected. But God cannot give His personal approval to falsehood. God will not. therefore, grant a miracle in confirmation of false doctrine: for to do so would be to contradict truth, and God is the Supreme Truth. One cannot pass absolute judgment on the TV show you mention without a complete examination of the facts. But it is safe to say that the show. with its alleged miracles, is at least suspect. It is hardly plausible that Almighty God would lend His power for the enhancement of ex- hibitionism. Perhaps some of those who are "healed" on the TV show are "planted". And even if the people are sincere, the "miracle" could frequently be explained by the pow- er of suggestion. Some perhaps think they are sick and, when they go up for the "faith cures", think they are healed. Often the entire cause of a disease is psychologi- cal. Such cures are merely functional, not organic, and hence cannot be miracles. The 72nd General Assembly of o u r ,Senators and Representatives in Springfield has adjourned after considering more than 2.700 bills. The past session was a stormy one and concluded with an assembly-line passage of many laws which m a y yet get the veto from Governor Kerner. W h i 1 e most of the proposed legislation concerned itself with fiscal problems, we single out two new laws for comment because of their special moral impli- cation and in the hope that these will be signed into law by-Our Governor. Liquor Purchasers The first of these is the legislation passed by both Houses to regulate the legal age for a fe- male to purchase liquor. Heretofore it was legal for a w o m a n a g e 18 to purchase intoxicating beverages while the legal age for a man was 21. The new legislation raises the legal age to 21 for female purchasers also. The origin of the discrepancy in age required for the purchase of liquor is difficult to trace. But the results of the long-existing abuse are not difficult to enumerate. Legally a girl recently out of high school was able to go into a tavern or liquor store and purchase what she (or others waiting outside) wanted. The new legislation reflects a growing aware- ness of an acute problem--drinking by minors. Traffic officers and ambulance drivers have facts a plenty on the results of teen-age drinking. The purchase and use of liquor by minors also h a s many psychological and moral effects which can- not be translated into statistics but `which a r e nonetheless extremely harmful for the young. The Church has a reasoned attitude on the use of stimulants they must be used in moderation, if at all. Those under twenty one do not have the physical capacity and the moral stamina to use liquor without strict regulation. The intent of the law should cause parents to reflect on their re- sponsibilities concerning the consumption of beer and liquor by their teen-agers at home. We are happy that the Illinois legislature has now made it illegal to sell liquor to anyone under 21 years of age and hope t h a t this becomes a state law with restrictions sufficiently severe that dispensers of intoxicating beverages will fear to break this law. Auto Sales The second piece of legislation which we select for comment is the passage of a bill to make il- legal the sale of autos (new or used) on Sunday. Whether or not the legislators had in mind the third commandment is debatable, but they di d have the backing of many auto dealers' associa- tions. We will now have the law that the contract sale of an automobile is an illegal contract. It is encouraging that m a n y associations of reputable car dealers wanted this legislation. This shows that they desire to return to a s t a te of normalcy and give their employees the opportun- ity for the proper and traditional observance of Sunday. There can be no argument that s o m e prospective car buyers need Sunday sales oppor- tunities. Most working people have at least one day a week of leisure and besides the enterprising car dealer is open some few weekday evenings. These two new pieces of Illinois legislation will not correct all the abuses in the areas they touch. There will always be those who will find a way to skirt the law. It is encouarging however, that the intent of these laws is so clearly in favor of traditional Christian principles. The passage of these laws is a recognition that the disregard of moral principles begets evils in civil s o c i e t y which soon become an outright menace to t h e common good. It is not surprising to us that the regulations of civil law will frequently reflect the practical applications of the moral law. Some- one may raise an eyebrow over the passage of these laws and hint that the legislators are get- ting a little too pious. Others may interpret the new laws as the result of pressure from religious groups to get their own peculiar thinking framed into civil law. These attitudes show a biased con- cept of the function of law-making and seem to limit this noble profession to the business of rais- ing taxes. A more basic function of law-making, as reflected in these proposals of our recent As- sembly, is the protection of rights of individuals for the common good of all citizens. (From the Rockford Register Republic June 30 Issue) Belief of many parents that private schools do a better lob of teaching basic subjects than public schools is substantiated by records of the United States Office of Education. Enrollment in Catholic private elementary and s e c o n d a r ~chools has shown a sixfold 'increase--from 200,- 000 to 1.200.000--since the end of World War II. During the same period, Catholic school enroll- ment increased 100 per cent, and public s c h o o 1 enrollment .went up 68 per cent. More parents are now able to send their chil- dren to parochial or private schools, despite the cost of supporting public education. The Catholic education program has been greatly expanded in many communities, especially in areas w h e r e church membership has increased. Parental willingness and desire to send their children to private and parochial schools can be attributed to the high-caliber of instruction in these schools." SPOTLIGHT ON SOCIAL REFORM --~! a i i i lID I I I AD TO PUBLtC AWKWARD POSITION rice :onomlc Monsignor George G. Higgins in his column "The Yardstick" commented recently on a new book called THI~" RELIGIOUS FACTOR. by Dr. Gerhard Len- ski of the University of Michi- gan. Monsignor Higgins called in question a conclusion in Dr. Lenski's volume. The caption over the column indicates the point at issue. I read, "DO Catholics Put a Brake on Eco- nomm Progress?" Dr. Lenski at least implied that Catholicism does tend to act as a brake on e c o n o mic ~ < ~.~ ,x progress. The i!!iii::~ ii!i~iiii}iii~ point under dis- cussion, as quoted, runs: "'In view of the social heritage of contempor- ary Catholic- ism. it seems unlikely that in the foreseeable future, any devoutly Catholic State will become a leading in- dustrial nation--one in the fore- front of economic development and p r o g r e s s. Catholicism seems to contain too many ele- ments which are incompatible for such a role. As an extension of this proposition it would ap- pear that as the Catholic seg- ment of a pluralistic nation (for example, the United States) in- creases, this will tend to reduce the rate of economic growth." Important Distinction Monsignor Higgins pointedly and quite properly makes a dis- tinction between the "practice of Catholics in a given place in a particular period of time" ~nd Catholicism as such, that is, ,s the social doctrine of the Church has been officially en- unciated in papal encyclicals. Monsignor Higgins quotes two reputable Cakholic authorities who concede it may be true that some Catholics -- too m a n y Catholics, perhaps -- in some countries are apathetic about economic progress, but the fault lies not with acceptance and ap- plication of Catholic doctrine but indifference to it or the re- jection of it by Catholics. Really Progress? I have not had the opportunity to read Dr. Lenski's book, so I am not in a position to comment FATHER WILLIAM SMITH, S.J. on it in any way. Nor do I dis- agree with Monsignor Higgins in the distinction he makes. I would, however, raise a further question, namely, "do the de- mands of ethical standards put a brake upon what is common- ly accepted as economm pro- gress ?" We have in the United States today the mightiest economic system in the world, the most productive system known to his- tory. It was, for the most part, built upon more than one decade of cut-throat competition. The false and unjust principle of laissez faire may not have been always applied in its crudest form but it did play a very im- portant part in the quick and ruthless rise to power of modern capitalism. Monopoly has had a share, a.strong and in some instances an enduring share, in the establishment and develop- ment of our now modern eco- nomlc system IlliCit Gains Here and abroad (perhaps more so abroad than at home} but. nonetheless, universally, great portions of the populations of the world have been unscru- pulously and ruthlessly exploit- ed to build up the economic sys- tems of practically every pros- perous nation. Would the economic progress which now prevails in more for- tunate nations have proceeded at so quick a pace if the norms of ethics and the moral law had been at work checking the illicit gains that contributed to the evolution of modern economm systems ? Theoretically, perhaps, the question can be answered either yes or no and plausible argu- ments offered for either posi- tion. Personally, I have often wondered what would be the state and stage of genuine eco- nomic progress today if cam- ' petition over the years had been restrained by the norms of ethi- cal practice. Power in Capital Years ago Ida Tarbell in a volume on the oil industrymade the statement. "There hasn't been a fortune in America made honestly." An exaggeration per- haps, yet power begets power and surely one of the main -~ources of economic power in every nation has been an ac- cumulation of capital. Concern- ing this question of economic power, Plus XI had this to say in 1931: "In the first place, it is obvi- ous that not only is wealth con- centrated in our times but an immense power and despotic economic dictatorship is con- solidated in the hands of'a few, who often are not owners but only the trustees and managing directors of invested funds which they administer accord- ing to their own arbitrary will and pleasure. Fruit of Struggle 'This concentration of power and might, the characteristic mark as it were, of eontempor-~ ary economic life, is~ the fru~ that the unlimited freedom o~ struggle among competitors has of its own nature produced, and which lets only the strongest survive: and this is often the same as saying, those who fight the most violently~ those who give least heed to their consci- ence. "And as to international rela- tions, two different streams have issued from the one foun- tainhead: on the one hand, eco- nomic nationalism or even eco- nomic imperialism; on the other hand, a no less deadly and accursed internationalism of finance or international imper- ialism whose country is where profit is." The Real Question No one can doubt ,the fact of economic progress in a country such as ours. When we contrast it with the underprivileged na- tions of the world now seeming- ly in revolt everywhere, surely the question might be asked, "What prme economic pro- gress?" How much at it has been made at the sacrifice of ethical and moral standards? How much is today main- tained at the same price? Perhaps the question should be framed not in terms of "Does Catholicism act as a brake upon economic p r o g r e s s?" but "Should religious faith and ethics be accepted as a restrain- ing influence on a type of eco- nomic progress which brings in its wake world-wide woes to be visited upon generation after generation tar years to come?" WHAT IS A DISCALCED CARMELITE? A barefooted Carmelite. This austere branch of the Carmelites was founded in the 16th century by St. John of the Cross. The Discalced Carmelites use the designation (O.C.D.) after their names. Questions for "YOU ASKED IT" should be sent to: Father John Ryan, St. Joseph rectory, Lena, Ill. It is not necessary to sign your name unless you wish a per- sonal reply. However, Father Ryan reserves the right not to use unsigned questions. REAPINGS AT RANDOM rman By GERARD E. SHERRY Adolpf Eichmann tried to deny his guilt at his trial in Jerusalem for the mass murder of Jews. His defense laid the responsibility at the door of his superiors. Even his own signature authorizing executions was brushed aside as the responsbflity of others. ~[~4~ What a different picture is presented by some of Eich- ~~~ mann's fellow countrymen. In Germany the Catholic Bish. ops recently issued a joint statement which recalled the Nazi War of genocide against the Jews and which urged ~,~ ~ ~ ~,~,~ a~-.~ their fellow countrymen to do everything o ~.~ possible to make restitution for the crimes ~~iii!::iii::i!i~ ~SS I' ' committed. ~~ii{i: VoL XXVI, No. 27 ~ July 7, I961 The German hierarchy far from repudi- ~~ii~i - ating responsibili'ty for the anti-Jewish ex- ~~i}~i THE MOST REVEREND tOP, AS T. lANE Pubfishet ceases committed by the German nation ~~i THE REVEREND ARTHUR J. O'NEILL Managing Edtot ,not only admitted that such crimes took ~~i THE REVEREND WILLIAM |. JOFFE .Asst. Managing Editor place, but asserted t h a t all Germans ~~ IV~ARJORIE GALLAGHER -- ~. Women's Poge Editor BEULAHROBERT WILLEMSo, MEARA NeWSBusinessEditot should share the blame. ~~ ROBERT''' STAR~ ' "" "--'-- ~*'~ Xdv'r~iS ' n~ r Church Coneerned ~ii~ ANN SERTOIAS'. Circulation They went further. They pubiished ai~!!~ The Observe, ~ririted .weekly at 413 Pleason~ $troet 8elolt VV-~ special prayer both for the.murdered Jews ~l~i~ ~ln. ~s the official newsPoo~ ~' tl~e CathoiJc Diocese of R~kfo~d. and their persecutors. They asked that Second class Dostage i~aid o4 Beloit Wisconsin. this prayer be recited in all the German Churches. They also ca)led on the Faithful in Germany to "implore God in a spirit of atonement to forgive the sins committed by Subscriptions $4.00 pe~ year prepaid in the Unffea States ALL COMMUNICATIONS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE OBSERVER, 1260 NORTH CHURCH STREE1 ROCKFORD ILLINOIS. PQST/~LSTIER: Please send farm 3579 to fl~e OBSERVER, 12~0 Noffb C~burcb Street, R~kfoM, UUnohk the members of our nation." Modern day Germany, we feel. has learned its lesson well. The Church there is especially concerned that youth shall learn from the crimes of the past: that it build new bridges of understanding m reparation Ior the horrors of Belsen and similar concentration camps. What must never be forgotten, however, is that even at the height of persecution against the Jews, there were Germans Willing to .tend up against the crimes being committed in the name of the Fatherland. One has only to think of the late Cardinal van Vreysing, Bishop of Ber- lin, who 'risked his life to help the Jews. There were many others, too, both Catholic and non-Catholic who stood up to the Nazis. The trouble is. there wasn't enough of them. And the Nazis continued their blood path until they met their own day of reckoning. Learn ~essou We here in America can also learn a lesson from this terrible era. We can begin to understand and recognize the Divine dignity and eternal destiny of every fellow human being, whatever his race, color or creed. We should he ready to defend even the most insignificant per- son from injustice, exploitation and oppression. In some parts of these United States the Jew is dis- criminated against, especially in relation to professional organizations and housing. The "exclusive neighborhood" policies of some real estate men is a case in point. Along with the Jew is the Negro. the Mexican, the Puerto Rican and other Spanish speaking. Many of us not only don't want to associate with them--don't even want to recog- nize them as fellow humans born in the image and like- ness of Almighty God. mer|cans Must Be Vigilant Our extreme nationalism is creating neurosis. We seem to forget our own immigrant status of the past. Organiza~iL tions have sprung up in various parts of the country whicli pay lip service to patriotism. Their "exclusive member~" ship" is intended to create the impression of an elite of true-blooded Americans. They look with suspicion and mistrust on anyone who looks foreign or has a foreign- sounding name. Yes, so many Americans are a mixture of so many races and n'ations. Hitler tried the same thing in the 30's. But he got his comeuppance. Alas, it had to come from the outside for there were not e~ough Germans with courage to cry "halt" to the excessive nationalism. In like manner we have our Nazi style organization run by a gentleman called Rock- well. People laugh at him now, and say it can't happen here. They used to laugh at Hitler, but it did happen. We in this country have to be ever vigilant. Task of Americans Let us not therefore look too severely at our German brethren. Indifference helped the Nazis liquidate millions of Jews. In this country the same dangers exist: Our task is to cease being indifferent. We must become concerned about minorities in our midst. We should welcorrie them in a real Catholic way. We should offer our services to them. More important, we should pray for them. Finally, we Should also pray that we will always have the courage to be with them in their hour of trial