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December 8, 1961     The Observer
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December 8, 1961

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By FATHER JOHN RYAN WHAT IS MEANT BY THE .CHARACTER" WHICH SOME OF THE SACRAMENTS IMPRESS ON THE SOUL? Three of the sacraments produce effects in the soul which are of such a nature that they cannot be repeated. It is this type of effect that is known as a sacramental character or seal, By Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders the soul is placed in a special relation to Christ. The theory of the sacramental character was developed in conformity with the consistent practice of the Church of not re-baptizing, re- confirming or re-ordaining one who had previously received these sacraments validly. WHAT IS THE MORALITY OF SELF-SERVICE, COIN- OPERATED AUTOMATIC LAUNDRIES BEING OPEN ON SUNDAY? ~ : Moral theologians fnclude necessary*wash- ' ~ ing of clothing among the works which are allowed on Sunday. In itself, therefore, it would seem that the kind of activity re- ferred to in the question would be allowed:~ On the other hand, the fact that the activity takes place in a public place, and not within private homes, might create a disturbance that would be harmful for the observance of Sunday It would seem, therefore, that it would be preferable to use the machine on weekdays, but that those who need to do so might use them on Sundays provided rea- sonable efforts are made to keep the activity from interfering with proper observance of Sunday. IS IT APPROPRIATE TO GIVE TO A FRIEND AS A CHRISTMAS PRESENT A CARD TESTIFYING THAT THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS WILL BE OFFERED FOR HIS INTENTION? Certainly no more helpful Christmas present could be of- fered than the graces which derive from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In requesting that a Mass be offered for a friend or a loved one, a definite portion of the fruits of the Mass are made available for his needs, and his own prayers will be strengthened by the power inherent in the Mass itself. As a person's faith grows stronger and becomes more and more influential in his daily living, he will appreciate more and morn the eternal value of the H01y Sacrifice of the Mass, as contracted with the passing satisfaction which comes from the gifts of merely material value which are commonly ex- changed at Christmas. Especially for people whose wants are known to be well provided for, the gift of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered for their own intentions should be most welcome. WHAT DOES THE FISH AS AN ANCIENT SYMBOL IN THE ' CHURCH, SYMBOLIZE? It has nothing to do with the practice of abstinence from meat. It has a much deeper significance. It was the chief sym- bel:of the early Church. It happens that the letters for the Greek word for fish formed the initials of the title, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior."(JCHTHUS): Jesous CHristos THeou Uios Soter. This symbol was used by Christians dur- ing the persecutions as a password and as a secret sign of identification. IN SOME SECTIONS OF THE NATION CATHOLIC SCHOOL CHILDREN ATTEND MASS DAILY, OFTEN AS A PART OF THEIR SCHOOL PROGRAM. WHAT IS THE AT- TITUDE OF THE CHURCH TOWARDS THIS PRACTICE? Whether o1" not attendance at daily Mass is practical, or consistent with the academic demands of the program of the Catholic school is a matter for each locality to decide for it- self, In many places it would be impossible for children to come to Mass daily; in other places it might be quite possi. ble to make daily Mass fit into the program of the school without any inconvenience Much can be said against the practice of forcing young people to attend Mass. There are good reasons why attendance at Mass should be left to the voluntary devotion of the children themselves. On the other hand; it cannot be denied that daily Mass, even when it is made obligatory, has a great disciplinary and devotional value. Needless to say, it would be wrong to bring attendance at Mass into the program of any school if this would neces- sitate curtailing essential classes, or otherwise reducing the efficiency of the school in relation to its academic standards. DOES THE CHURCH HAVE ANY LITURGICAL RULING REGARDING THE USE OF ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS ON THE ALTAR WHERE THE BLESSED SACRAMENT IS RE. SERVED? The '!Ceremonial of Bishops" gives a direction on this which reads as follows: "It is quite proper to use natural and sweet-smelling flowers and plants or artificial flowers of silk for the decoration of the altar, particularly on festival days." It can resonably be presumed that if silk is not available, oth- er materials may be used, provided the decorations are suit- able for the:purpose. In the use of artificial flowers, one must be careful to avoid the grotesque, the gaudy and the unseemly. R~ther no decorations at all than those which detract from the beauty of the altar itself. In a matter of choice, natural flow- ers should be preferred over artificial. And, no matter how beautiful, artificial flowers should not become permanent fix- tures. Queries for "QUESTIONS YOU ASK" should he sent to: Father John Ryan, St. Joseph rectory, Lena, IlL It is not necessary to sign your name unless you wish a personal reply. However, Father Ryan reserves the right not to use unsigned questions. What is required of those who believe in God is a witness of God; and what the world demands and expects of the Christian is first and foremost to see the love of truth and brotherly love made genuinely present in and through man's personal life--to see a gleam of the gospel shining in the one place where the crucial test and crucial proof are to be found, namely the obscure context of relations between person and person. J. Maritain o Vol. XVl, No. 49 e~ 1 December 8, 1961 THE MOST REVEREND LORAS T LANE Publisher THE REVEREND ARTHUR J. O'NEILL Managing Editor MARJORIE GALLAGHER Women's Page Editor ROBERTWILLEMS News Editor BEULAHO'MEARA Business ROBERTJ. STARR Advertising ANI~I BERTOLASI Circulation The Observer, published weekly at 1060 W. Stephenson St Freeport, Illinois, is the official newspape, a~ the Catholic Diocese of Rockford. Second class,p9stage paid at Freeport Illinois. Subscriptions $4.00 per yem prepaid in the United Statee ALL COMMUNICATIONS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO THE OBSERVER, 1260 NORTH CHURCH STREE1 ROCKFORD ILLINOIS POSTMASTER: Please send form 3579 to the OBSERVER, . |260 Nurth Church Street, Rockford, Illinois. on Church Support With the end of the calendar year we may ex- pect to see a number of statistical studies concern- ing the spending habits of the American public. ,There will also be illuminating surveys total national income, consumption of goods and many other subjects which make up our economic life. Year's-end seems to be the logical time for sum- ming up cumulative achievements. Somewhat in this tradition, our Catholic par- ishes will issue their Annual Reports. While these serve to give an indication of the over-all picture of parish life, the greatest emphasis (and inter- est) will be on the financial pages. Comparisons between these church reports and the national picture are almost unavoidable. We will undoubtedly be treated to the perennial tid- bit-Americans in general (this includes Cath- olics) spent 9 billion dollars last year on liquor, a sum which exceeds several times the total contribution to all churches. Or, if we are favored with the annual comparative study of church sup- port on the basis of denomination, we predict that the Seventh Day Adventists and the Mormons will again take the lead. What little embarrassment is provoked by these comparative studies is certainly very tran- sistory. No lasting reform in the giving habits of Catholics is in evidence. To state the case frankly, there are some Catholics who give.generous and heroic support to their parishes. There are many others who either give no tangible support or are satisfied to maintain the status qua of thirty years ago. To promote Church support based on a realistic view of current needs we wish to give an answer to this quesion which crops up in the minds of. sincere Catholics: How much support am I ex- pected to give my parish? No one likes to be told an exact figure which represents his just share of the burden of parish support. Indeed there are circumstances in which men who have similar incomes would not have similar responsibilities. But the ideal expressed by experts who have studied the situation is: If every Catholic contributed 5% of his net wage (take-home pay), the Catholic parishes would be able to meet 'all their expanding obligations in the operation of both church and school. Another norm along the same lines as this "moderate tith- ing system" is the contribution of one hour's wage per week. If everyone could accept the idea that the parish is in a sense a large Catholic family, the Catholic people would give more serious thought and more generous response to the problem of Church support. If the 5% norm ever becomes widely accepted, we surmise that the gap between church support and luxury spending will be con- siderably lessened. Tinsel or Purple? The Church calendar with its succeeding sea- sons of penance, joy, triumph and spiritual growth, exemplifies and epitomizes each year the complete life of Christ. It is an invitation to live with Christ and to grow in Christ-likeness. But we to often fall into the attitude of taking only part instead of the whole. For example, we like Christ- mas but are prone to ignore or pass over the spiritual significance of the season of Advent. Each year in the prayer-life of the Church re. captures the totality of God's dealings with man- kind. The story with all its supernatural overtones needs re-telling. The season of advent recalls the long period of waiting between the time of Adam and the time of the actual coming of the Messias in the person of Jesus born of Mary in Bethlehem. The long sighs for the Messias are recaptured in the official prayers and actions of the Church dur- ing the season of advent. The Church wants us also to think about the spiritual coming of Christ into our souls through grace. Hence we hear in the Sunday gospel the warnings of the last of the prophets, St. John the Baptist. We are also reminded of the reality of Christ's coming for the final judgment of the world. These are serious thoughts on man's salva- tion which do not have any relationship with a backdrop of "Jingle Bells." There is a sombre, penitential, expectant at- mosphere to Advent season which we are missing. Surely there would be a more spiritual enjoyment of the real Christmas--the birth of Christ the Sav- iour-if this great festive day were preceded by a season of prayerful consideration of the stark reality that there was a time when the world lan- quished without.its Messias and the time is com- ing when the world will be asked with finality how it has accepted this same Messias. lumn ine CLEVELAND-. WORKER DIGNITY "The average worker wants to feel that he is part of the firm. Employment does not change a man's dignity. A man is not less- ened by employment that makes him a subordinate. A firm which recognizes this and sees the work- ers' need for non-economic :bene- fits will have happier wor~ers. Morale is an important part of cost control. A common ,sense approach Of consultation!with employees will build up'a! pre- ventive conciliation and solve a lot of labbr-management prob- lems before they become critical." The Rev. John F. Cron~, S.S assistant director of So- cial Action Dept National Catholic Welfare Conference in an address to St. John college adult education class. COMMENT: The manage. ment.labor relationship must respect the dignity of the worker and recognize his con- tribution to the enterprise. This was brought out forcibly in Pope John's "Christianity and Soeiay Progress" (Mater et Magistral DALLAS- FAITH & WORKS I I I I I | I I II III ! IIII II I O I I I I I . I I II I II I I I I II I Ill I II III TINSEL, TINSEL, LITTLE ME WHO I WONDER WHAT I BE SPOTLIGHT ON SOCIAL REFORM e There is an axiom in education- al circles to the effect that the alert teacher often learns as much from his pupils as his students learn from him. We certainly have found that true in dealing with adults. I have come to the con- clusion that it may also hold for the columnist. One thing you soon learn in do- ing a column is this: Many read- ers often see something in an article that just isn't there. They seem to read their own thoughts into the writer's piece and then either praise or blame him for what they think he wrote. A letter recently written to the editor of the Catholic News, New York, illustrates the point and offers an opportunity to clear the air of some misconceptions. The letter-writer raises a series of questions which, presumedly, I should have answered some- where along the line and failed to do so. There is likewise a not too-veiled assumption that I am encroaching upon the liberty of thought of fellow Catholics and presenting an untenable view- point on social issues. Here are the questions and my answers to them: I. Question: "Are Catholics required to be 'liberals'?" Answer: Catholics have the responsibility to read, study and to know the social doctrine of the Church. The latest pronounce- ment of the Church on social questions is the recent encyclical of Pope John XXIII--Mater et Magistra (Christianity and So- cial Progress.) When a Catholic has digested the contents of that document and then wishes to call himself a "liberal" or a "con- servative," that is his business, not mine. 2. Question: "Are Catholics required to believe in every piece of legislation proposed, if it is proposed by a 'Liber. al'?" Answer: If Catholics are obliged to subscribe to such a non- FATHER WILLIAM" SMITH, S.J. sensical supposition, I am afraid " that every necessary nickel that I do not qualify as a Catholic. must be spent for military de- Neither in principle nor in prac- tice can such an absurdity be ad- vocated. Daniel O'Connell, the great Irish leader, gave a pretty good norm for this kind of ques- tion when he remarked, "I take my religion from Rome, my poli- tics from home." 3 Question: "Is it wrong to feel that much of what is go- ing on today will be the fore- runner for Socialism tomor- row?" Answer: The answer to this question lies in the area of what are called "prudential judg- ments." The Catholic may form an affirmative or a negative judgment on the subject as his knowledge of the facts dictates. As far as one's conscience is concerned a prudent norm would be to be guided by the official statements of the American hierarchy. To date I have found no pronouncement by the Bishops cautioning or warning us of such an eventuality. We are living in an age of gigantic social problems, many of which can be met only by na- tion-wide programs in which in- dividuals, social groups and pub- lic authority must cooperate in the interest of all our citizens. If our Catholic citizens would stop running away from these problems and throw the weight of their influence into the struggle to steer solutions into proper chan- nels and in correct directions, we would have a much better "Catho- lic public opinion" on such is- sues than we have today. 4. Question: "Is a sin com- . mitted by those of us who be- lieve that there is more so- cial injustice involved in our present income tax structure than in almost any other field?" 'Answer: The assumption here is, I presume, that I have ex- pressed an opinion on this sub- ject and consider such a belief to be sinful. Both assumptions are as wrong as rain at a Church pic- nic. To date I have never made any comment on the subject in any way. Personally, however, I believe lense is a national obligation. It goes withOUt r saying that eco- nomies could be practiced in the spending of public money on prac- tically every level--Federal, State, City. Politicians are bound by the moral laws of justice, just as individual citizens. When and if they spend the people's money needlessly or for their own politi- cal" advantages~ (thereby raising taxes) they certainly will be called upon to give an account of their consciences. : 5. Question: "Are we sin- ful if we resent the stupidity which has lost Cuba or has just about thrown away Laos?" Answer: To my knowledge, I have made no reference at any time to the tragic blunder over Cuba or to the practically im- possible situation that exists in Laos. 6. Question: "Must we sup- port a viewpoint which makes no outcry to the admission of Outer Mongolia to the United Nations and are we mistaken if we read at least a little ap.peasement into this ac- tion?" Answer: I have no crystal ball to help me "read into" such is- sues. No one has an obligation to support a viewpoint that makes no outcry to the admission of Outer Mongolia to the United Na- tions. 7. Question: "Are we, many of us college graduates, illiter- ate if we do not blindly fol- low the precepts of one Rev. William J. Smith, S.$.?" Answer: This query, 1 presume, is supposed to be the "clincher". The correspondent misses the point in posing it as he has on the questions which preceded it. To qualify as a "social illiter- ate", in the sense the term was used in a- previous column, a Catholic must consider Catholic social doctrine as synonymous with Socialism or insinuate that those who promote the social encyclicals are guilty of some such relationship. College grad- uates, including Jesuit college graduates, are eligible. "The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine congress has shown us how much can be done when there is unity of heart, forces and method . . . (concerning also the Catholic Relief Services). The agency's shipments of food, cloth- ing and medicine to the needy enable the Church to do in South America what the communists say they will do, but never do," The Most Rev. Juan Maria Riofrio, O.P. bishop of Lpja, Ecuador, in closing session :of recent CCD congress. COMMENT: The CCD con- gress brought together a vast crowd from our hemisphere intent in bettering the cause of Christianity by improving methods of teaching; the Ecu- ador bishop's comment on aid through Church agency is a telling comment on the link between words and deeds. SAN ANTONIO- A FAULT "The Church today ts than at any other time in his- tory, but it is failing to make a profound impression on the world and is not exercising an im- portant influence on human so- ciety Never was therea movement so strong against God as communism is today. In Latin America even students in Catho- lic Universities think that the Church is unable to Solve the social problems of the age and turn to communism for the solu- tion The profound reason for our weakness is the Catholic mentality -- it is too individualis- tic. Most Catholics think of re- ligion merely as a vertical rela- tionship between themselves and God. How many Catholics think of their responsibility to the com- mon good? How many think that it is a sin not to do all that one can for the community? We suffer the consequences of this individualistic mentality more to- day than ever before because the world is better organized and more compact than ever before. We must realize that we are all one or we are lost." Father Rocardo Lombardi, S.J. Italian priest leader of the Better World Movement. COMMENT: Catholics re- ceive frequent callsand warn- ing~ to begin to have more appreciation of the full mean- ing of the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ --the Church -- but seem slow to grasp and apply the full im. plleations of this teaching. REAPINGS AT RANDOM WASHING-T-ON- as BY GERARD E. SHERRY In recent years I have been amazed at the affront of busi- nessmen and department stores that do not even wait for Thanksgiving to come and go before they put out the decora- tions for Christmas. They excuse themselves on the grounds that the people like to shop early for Christmas and after all, what other purpose is there for that happy seasontide? To me, this is a most blatant example of modern day secularism. Very few businesses propagate the real meaning of Christmas. To them Christmas has no religious conno- tation. It is simply a happy time for which they can provide happiness. They encourage a rather pagan attitude towards one of the greatest Christian feasts. They talk about the "spirit of Christmas"; but they have no time to emphasize the spiritual. It is true, of course, that some shopping centers and some stores erect a crib as a sample of religious deference. But it is unfortunately purely a gimmick, a come-on, for the so-called sentimental shop- pers. Ordinarily, we would not get excited about such every- day expressions of the secularist trend. But we think it is time to demand that the business community stop exploit- ing Christianity and its beliefs. After all, they have taken Christ out of Christmas and have replaced Him with the false God of Commerce. : Modern Day Spirit What is being said is that religion is no longer a part of Christmas; that the spirit of Christmas is not Christ but some nebulous deity symbolized in the merchandise and tinsel deco- rating our store windows; that the spirit of Christmas is your dollar given from the heart for the purchase of gifts from a shop which is gay and colorful. Of course, this modern-day spirit of Christmas is also por- trayed by the shopkeeper who stands at his cash register glee- fully piling in the dollars from those who have the heart to purchase goods. This Christmas spirit also includes our dear old friend Santa Claus (Oh, how St. Nicholas must be turning in his grave) sitting on his guilded throne smiling benigifly as he pats children's heads and asks them what they'd like for Christmas. Poor old Santa Claus. It seems such a shame to fool the kids. But more important, it's disgusting how we adults tol- erate the whole nasty affair. Becomes Debauchery Yes, it is true, religion does seem to have gone out of Christmas, and we should be indignant about it. The poor Babe of Bethlehem has had His swaddling clothes torn away. He lies in a bare crib surrounded by the coldness and empti- ness of modern man. Few, it seems, want to celebrate His Birthday with Him. They use Christmas simply as an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. With this attitude, Christmas no longer is a feast or a celebration, it is merely a debauch- ery. These Reapings are never meant to be solely negative. Therefore, we Would suggest that our readers set about here and now bringing Christ back into Christmas. This does not Commerce mean, ofcourse, that we should not celebrate, buy gifts for our. relatives ahd friends or sit down to the plum pudding. Christmas, however, is Christ's birthday--the commemora- tion of the birthday of the Son of Man Who came for one express purpose on this earth--that of redeeming us from our own folly. There's nothing lighthearted or gay about this. We mean too much to Christ for Him to let us squander away our lives on this earth in the purely pagan ritual of merriment. Manger and Cross Bethlehem, the Manger, the shepherds and the angels in the sky are not figments of our imagination; they are reali- ties, they are the beginnings. The spirit of Christmas is the peace on earth promised by the choir of angels at the birth of the Savior. This should illumine for us the fact that Bethlehem is bound up with Calvary. While we rejoice at the Manger's door, we must also suffer at the foot of the Cross, It is perhaps good to reflect on this t, uth in these days when the peace on earth promised by the Heavenly throng seems almost incapable of fulfillment. All over the world TIMELY MESSAGE "One doesn't have to be a Ro- man Catholic to be interested in reading most carefully the recent statement of the Catholic Bishops of America. It is a pronouncement on moral values that should be examined by members of all ligious faiths, including those Asia and the Middle East. It re- flects broadly the traditional American concept of moral law which has always motivated the American people in their internal as well es eternal affairs. In these times, when in the So- viet Union, atheism is the rec- ognized "religion," and it is con- sidered proper for the Govern- ment there to give a pledge and then to break it, there must soon- er or later be e realization among the people behind the Iron Curtain that there can be no peace for ger, greed, exPloitation abound. Fear sets the course and the will is paralyzed. Oh, yes, let's have our Sant~i Claus, our Christmas trees and our tinsel, but let's not forget Him. He lies in the Man- ger waiting for us to pay homage to Him, the King. Yes, let's have the "real spirit of Christmas." man is set against man. Ruthless anti-Christs roam at will mankind based on such dishon- and attempt to destroy in their path all hope. Poverty, hun- estY. David Lawrence, editor, U.S. News and World Report, in editors note heading publica- tion of complete text of the 1961 Message of American Catholic Bishops.