The CAPG's Blog
The Catholic Priest
It is quite generally believed that of all the mortals who journey through life’s weary pilgrimage, the Catholic priest is the most fortunate. For the priest, who is true to his exalted vocation, lives of the life of grace, has God as his portion in time and eternity, may well be envied. It is not, however, to the spiritual blessings enjoyed by the true priest men refer when calling him fortunate. “What a fine time the priest has,” says one, “plenty to eat and nothing to do.”
Such is the popular view of priestly life. The real priest is a very different sort of man. The guide and ruler of his flock, his every word and act is closely observed. His most heroic acts of self-sacrifice and virtue pass unnoticed, his
slightest imperfection is magnified and trumpeted abroad. Though he labors for years with the most disinterested zeal for the good of religion, depriving himself of the pittance to which he is entitled for his own support that the poor may be provided for and the faith preserved among the youth; though for long years he makes of himself a very martyr for the benefit of his people, if but one error of judgment be found in his life’s work, all the good effected is forgotten and his one mistake alone held in lasting remembrance. The approbation of men not being the object of the priest’s life, the world’s verdict matters little to him so long as he is conscious of having done his duty; nevertheless, men should endeavor to be just to one another, even in trivial matters.
The ideal priest has a pleasant life of it. He says his daily Mass, recites his office, amuses himself with the little children, visits his people, and lives to a ripe old age. No trouble, no labor of any kind. The real priest finds souls going to perdition for want of religious instruction. He must found and support Catholic schools. He finds the intemperate habits of the people undermining faith and proving a stumbling-block in the way of searchers after the truth. He must wage war against a powerful element among his flock. He finds family feuds of long standing to be overcome. There are perhaps several opposing factions in the congregation. The church, through some cause or other, is burdened with debt, or stands in need of repairs. The poor of the parish must be attended to. Here is work enough to do, and done it must be. Money is needed to support the schools. The expenses of the church must be met and money is required wherewith to meet them. The poor must live, and money is necessary for their support. The orphans require aid. Again money is needed. As Catholic charity knows no limit, the real priest makes known to his people these various needs of religion, confident that many will heed his words and correspond with his wishes. But how many there are who seem to think that the priest is begging for himself when he appeals for money on these different occasions! Listen to some members of the congregation leaving the church on a Sunday after a “money-sermon” has been preached. We recently heard a young man, the recipient of many favors from his pastor, pouring forth his pent-up indignation because his good pastor had asked him to contribute a few dollars toward a charitable object. The ungrateful wretch could not understand what the priest did with all the money he received, though he understood very well that the priest had never received any money from him. This young man’s parents died when he was six years old, and the writer of this article knows for a positive fact that the priest’s money was once used for paying for food and clothing for this same young man. He was educated by his pastor, and it was owing to his influence that this young ingrate now holds a splendid position.
Busy days and often sleepless nights, financial difficulties, disappointments, misrepresentation, exposure to heat and cold and contagion—these are a few of the temporal blessings enjoyed by the priest here below. Add to these the fact that after a long life of usefulness one mistake may suffice to cast him adrift upon the world without means and without friends, and the life of the average priest appears in its true colors—a life of weary anxiety and suffering; a life awaiting no human reward, but expecting the reward of the life to come.
Source: Truth, (A Monthly Magazine for the Dissemination of the Truth concerning the Doctrines, History, and Practices of
the Catholic Church.) Published by The International Catholic Truth Society. Rev. Fr. Wm. F. McGinnins, D.D. Editor-in-Chief NY Vol. XIX. April, 1915 NO.4
Are there any circumstances in which the priest may reveal what he has hear in confession?
The priest may never, under any circumstances reveal what he has heard in a sacramental confession; it is never lawful to manifest the least thing told by a penitent in confession. It is a grave sin, a sacrilege to make known the least sin, the knowledge of which was acquired by a sacramental confession. Not even to save his own life or the life of the penitent, not even to save the soul of the penitent, may the priest break the seal of confession. in most countries, the civil law recognizes the sacred character of this seal and does not oblige the priest from this solemn obligation of secrecy; outside of confession, he may not speak of confessional matter even to the penitent without the latter's express permission. What is told in confession ends there, as far as the confessor is concerned. History records that the priesthood has been true to this secret trust; priests have been severely punished, many exiled, some martyred, because they refused to reveal the secrets of the confessional. Catholic people recognize this fact and know that their trust and confidence will never be betrayed by their confessor.
Source: Our Young People, 1916
Why does the Catholic Church make use of the Latin Language at her public services?
The Rev. Thomas F. Conkley, D.D. answers this question in a manner that ought to satisfy anyone anxious to know, he says:
Almighty God understands the Latin language, and our prayers are said to Him, not to the congregation.
The Catholic Church is ruled by the most learned and most brilliant intellects in the world. Consequently, they must have a good reason for everything they do or believe. Hence in advance, we ought to assume that if there is anything in the Catholic Church we do not understand, the fault is our own, not the fault of the Catholic Church, and that more education on our part will reveal the reason for such belief or practice of Catholics.
The Catholic Church has been in the business of saving men's souls for nineteen hundred years. She has had more experience than any other institution in the history of the world. She must, therefore, have a good, solid reason for everything she does, otherwise she would not continue the custom. Therefore, when she uses the Latin language in her public and official religious services we know that a very wise motive lies behind the use of Latin.
The Catholic Church uses the Latin language because Latin is NOT a foreign language. The use of Latin makes the Catholic Church the only international cosmopolitan, universal Church, and prevents it from being a mere national church.
The Catholic Church uses the language because Latin is stable, permanent, unchangeable. So is the Catholic Church fixed, stable, permanent, unchangeable.
A Catholic learns in his earliest years to follow the services in the Latin language, ans wherever he roams over the broad earth, he finds the same holy Latin tongue, the same sonorous Latin phrases, the same unchangeable Latin sentences, the same century old Latin diction, saturated by the blood of martyrs, and consecrated by saints and sages. This is one of the things that makes a Catholic feel at home anywhere in the world.
Every Catholic prayer book contains an exact translation of the Latin prayers at Mass and at all other public religious services, so that every Catholic is quite familiar with everything that is said. Ask your Catholic neighbor for a prayer book and see for yourself.
The Latin language is used only at the official, public religious services of the Catholic Church. In private devotion, Catholics can say their prayers in whatever language they please; and prayers said by the priest with the congregation are always in their own language.
The Catholic Church is the Church of all nations; therefore it uses a language intelligible to educated people in all nations. It would be difficult to think of the Catholic Church as the universal, world-wide Church of Christ if it used the English language exclusively!
Modern languages are changing continually. The unchanging Catholic Church cannot use a changing medium as the vehicle of its expression.
The Catholic Church uses Latin because priests and vast numbers of people know the Latin language. The possession of such knowledge should be a badge of distinction, rather than an object of complaint.
To assist at religious services in the Latin language no more interferes with our devotion than assisting at grand opera in Italian, French, or German interferes with our appreciation of the music.
If you want to know what Shumann-Heink or Tetrazzini is singing, you must take a libretto with you; if you wish to known what the priest is saying at Mass, take your prayer book with you.
The use of Latin beats down national and racial barriers, and tends toward the universal brotherhood of man, since all nation kneel side by side, and recite the self-same prayers, in the self-same Latin tongue.
Objection to the use of Latin comes, not from Catholics, who appreciate the verbal dignity of Latin, but from non-Catholics who do not know Latin at all. Catholics do not bother their heads about what non-Catholics do; they have quite enough to do to attend to their own business. This would be a good rule for every one to follow.
Source: Our Your People, 1916
Cardinal Newman's Summary of the Mass
To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming as the Mass said as it is among us. I could attend Masses forever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words, it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is not the invocation merely, but is I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope and the interpretation of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are the instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfill their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning: "What thou doest, do quickly." Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of the heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the name of the Lord as He passed by "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth." And as Moses on the mountain, so we too "make haste and bow our heads to the earth and adore." So we all around, each in his place look out for the great Advent, "Waiting for the moving of the water." Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intentions, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation; not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but like a concert of musical instruments, each different but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God's priest supporting him yet guided by him. There are little children there and old men and simple laborers and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens and there are penitent sinners; but out of these may minds rises one Eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and the scope of it." Cardinal Newman.
Source: The Mass and Vestments of the Catholic Church, 1909, Msgr. John Walsh
A history of the Yellow Fever
"We established, on one side of the grounds, a quarantine department. There we detained, for a number of days, every one with permit seeking admission to the camp....This precaution against introducing the plague into the camp, was very desirable, and it worked most admirably. The dangers of a panic, which might disperse the camp, were thus obviated. Every one felt the more secure, and the elements of harmony and peace were strengthened.
Of course, we did not entirely depend upon human precaution to protect us. The most of those admitted to our camp were Catholics; hence, one of the first building erected on the grounds was a little church. It was on wheels, and located at one end of our main, on Father Mathew Avenue, beneath the shades of a forest tree. It was dedicated in honor of the Sacred Heart of our Divine Lord, and we all looked upon it as the Ark of our safety. There, during the place, I celebrated Mass almost every morning, and recited the rosary and gave benediction of the most blessed sacrament every night, when, after the day's labor in the plague-stricken city, I returned to rest at the camp, and be consoled by the prayerful greetings of our poor, faithful people, who daily feared that I would be stricken down. These esteemed greetings afforded me many a relieving joy amidst the most gloomy days of the awful plague....
The plague raged every-where through the country districts around us. Its victims form even the very confines of the camp, were being daily carried to their graves. Out of our population of about 400, we had only ten deaths from fever. in each case the fever was contracted in the city. It did not spread in the camp. In fact we had not one certain case, of a fatal or unfavorable result, contracted in our camp: Providence must have assisted us.
William Walsh, Rector of St. Bridget's Church, Memphis, Tenn. December 5, 1878
Let us restore Catholic Atmostphere in the Home
One of the deplorable results of the indifferent and lax spirit of the time is the gradual disappearance of the Catholic atmosphere form the home. Time there was, and that no longer than a generation ago, when a visitor could tell a Catholic home immediately upon his entrance. A crucifix upon the parlor mantel, and a statue of the Blessed Virgin or a picture of a favorite saint adorned the walls; but now, these articles of devotion are relegated to the bed-chambers, if indeed in many of the so-called Catholic homes of today they are permitted even there. The spirit of paganism has penetrated into Catholic homes to such an extent today that the crucifix has been superseded by the carnival or golf trophy, and the image of the Blessed Virgin by the picture of popular actresses.
Catholic Christian atmosphere is being dissipated by the fetid atmosphere of modern materialism, save for the "distinguished" Catholic, who, by tagging a medal of St. Christopher, the patron of travels, to his automobile, with never a prayer on his lip, expects thereby to save himself the expense of a smash-up. In these days of luxuries and modern vanities the custom of Catholic men raising their hats in respect to the Blessed Sacrament as they pass a Catholic Church is about the only evidence of Catholic atmosphere that we find in public life. The laws and prejudices of a portion of the people of America have so regulated manners and customs that it is not considered "good form" for Catholics to project their religious ideas on the former by any public display. As a result all customs and practices which create a distinctly Catholic atmosphere are confined to the home, and, sad to say, are fast disappearing from that.
Catholic atmosphere is perhaps more frequently found in country places and in small towns than in large cities. The bustling life of a city, the many pleasures and dissipations seem to leave little room for thought of decorating the home with Catholic pictures or ornaments.
It is only in the old-fashioned Catholic homestead that the Catholic atmosphere may be found an instinctively felt. Yet there are traditional memories in many a home when the evening found the family gathered before the crucifix or the picture of the Blessed Virgin in order to recite the "Rosary" and have family prayers in common. There are pious customs that are still kept up in some Catholic homes even now, and which give them a Catholic atmosphere that is unmistakable.
Protestants returning from certain parts of Europe are impressed by the "Catholic Atmosphere," and this has been the secret of the conversion many, especially of Anglicans. Speeding along the country roads it is not an uncommon thing to see a cross over the door of a house, or the image of the Blessed Virgin or a saint at its eave. The wayside shrines of the Crucifixion and of the Blessed Virgin, with pious peasants kneeling in prayer or respectfully doffing their hats as they pass, attract and impress.
In Continental Europe, too, in may towns and villages, as the priest carries the blessed Sacrament to some departing soul, the men, women and children follow in respectful devotion, often chanting piously the "Pange Lingua." Who would think of accompanying the Blessed Sacrament thus to the homes of the sick and dying, even in the most Catholic of our American cities? But there is one thing that we can all seek to do, and that is to restore the Catholic atmosphere of the homes where Catholics dwell. The Crucifix on the walls or mantel, the statues and pictures of the Sacred Heart, the Blessed Virgin and Saints, the tiny holy water font at the door, the gathering of the family for morning and evening prayer, or at least for the daily recitation of the Rosary in common - all these are practices in the Catholic home which cannot fail to impress the heart of youth so that the minds of the children may be influenced, and no amount of latter day indifference which they will not fail to meet in the world without can destroy such true and wholesome effects.
Source: Our Young People, 1916, The Morning Star