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I wrote my archbishop over my concerns of the use of this (Protestant) hymn (specifically) which I experienced at a local NO Mass.  My original mail is not included below but his reply is, at bottom.  My reply to him is at top here.  My original mail pointed out that the hymn seems to be decrying "dogmas", something that certainly seems like it could be aimed at the Catholic Church.  (Protestants don't really declare "dogmas", do they?  At least they certainly decry the "man-made" Catholic ones.


Mr. ,

Thank you for your reply.  Please forgive my very belated response, which is so for two reasons: I wanted to think things over carefully and I am very busy.

Although this is really a tangent, first I would like to first address your suggestion that an issue with this hymn is really an issue with the bishop in the diocese in which the hymnal is printed.  (Does that mean approved?  Given imprimatur?)  While there are obviously practical considerations in such an issue, it is also a fact that each and every bishop in the universal Church has complete authority in his diocese which includes picking hymns and hymnals.

Your interpretation of the hymn in question is actually one that I considered as well.  I admit it is plausible.  However, I consider it unlikely, or less likely than the one I suggested.  The word - dogma - is associated first and foremost with religion (the dictionary tells us), not things like "price of status, race, or schooling".  Here's the whole verse for context:

All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice
may we hallow brief life's span.

The author is listing things that "kill abundant living"; it seems to me from the most natural read that "dogmas that obscure your plan" constitute a new item, not a description of the prior one ("pride of status, race, or schooling").  When we consider that the author was a United Reformed church minister, with that separated ecclesiastical community's Calvinist background, it is certainly not a stretch to think he might speak negatively of the "man-made dogmas" of the Catholic Church that Calvin and his followers condemned.

However, I will grant - and this is fairly important - that neither of us can be sure which is the correct interpretation - that intended by the author.

So then the hymn is harmless?  Hardly, I think.  I think there is a reason why until forty years ago - a sliver of Church history - the Catholic Church would never have dreamed of using lyrics written by heretics in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Now, I would guess that my use of that word - heretic - might have made you blink or perhaps exhibit a more adverse reaction.  But what I stated is a fact according to the teachings of the Catholic Church: the author was at least a material heretic (meaning he may not be aware of the Catholic dogmas and doctrines his beliefs contradicted).  In fact, it is quite a bit more likely that he was a formal heretic.  And, again, that is nothing but a purely objective statement -- it's not an insult, or a matter opinion in any sense. 

I'm going to broaden the discussion a bit now.  If you really don't care for what you are reading, you are welcome to use the delete key.

We are living now in a crisis that is probably unprecedented in the entire history of the Church (with the possible exception of the time of the Arian heresy, where the faithful were led astray by an errant hierarchy).  We know that somewhere around fifty percent of Catholics do not understand or believe in something as basic as the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and fewer still have the proper understanding of the most basic theology of the Mass - that it is the making-present of Christ's timeless Calvary Sacrifice.  The portion of confirmed Catholics who practice their faith as obligated (with Sunday Mass attendance) and who also accept and believe all dogmas and doctrine of the faith as obligated may in fact be the lowest ever.  Certainly there is no record of such a huge portion of Catholics rejecting some of the most basic teachings on faith and morals.

So, when we have pews full of Catholics who don't know, understand, or accept their faith (and many more Catholics not at Mass but at home doing something else), is it prudent to use non-Catholic music in the liturgy - some of which is clearly at least heterodox and none of which stresses important Catholic truths?  Are we recalling that the father of the Protestant "Reformation" declared his desire to "destroy the Mass", which he considered the greatest "sacrilege" in the world?  (If he were alive today I could direct him to some parishes where he'd be quite comfortable..)

I think the answer is quite clearly no, and only a mindset of false ecumenism inclines otherwise.  (True ecumenism is concerned with bringing separated Christian to full communion with the true Church, not watering down the latter till we have a lowest-common-denominator religion of truth mixed with error.)

Important note: At times, it is indeed good and proper to stress the real and substantial commonality between Protestant and Catholic beliefs.  Protestantism, of course, broke off from Catholicism and took much truth with it - the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, etc.  (I stopped there because Protestant theology on the Redemption even is in serious error on a number of points.)  My wife and I have Protestant friends and appreciate their zeal for Christ (while not failing to recognize their clear ignorance of the Church and lack of interest in what they don't know).  These things have nothing to do with whether or not we should have Protestant hymns at the Holy Sacrifice, even though of course some of them - even many - are free from error (or even the appearance of error).  Even as ubiquitous (and beautiful!) a hymn such as Amazing Grace has heretical lyrics, something that's been pointed out by as mainstream a Catholic apologist as Karl Keating.

But I am well aware that what I am suggesting are indeed very sweeping changes that would not and could happen quickly and suddenly, if they happen at all.  Fortunately, though, these types of long-term changes seem to be just where the current holy father is going with his "reform of the reform".  There's light at the end of the tunnel.

Pax,
Paul

On Sep 29, 2010, at 1:40 PM, wrote:

Mr. ,

Archbishop has given your email regarding the text “For The Healing of the Nations” to the Office for Worship to answer appropriately. My name is and I serve the Archbishop as his director of the Office.

I reviewed the text of “For the Healing of the Nations”, as found in most of the Roman Catholic hymnals. Please know that each Roman Catholic hymnal must be approved for printing by the particular bishop in which the hymnal is printed.

After looking at vs. #3 of the text, I find that the ‘dogmas’ referred to are related to the concepts that come immediately before, “Pride of status, race or schooling”. Those secular dogmas are in direct conflict with any Catholic dogmas. They need to be culled out and removed from us as individuals. I did not find the text anti- Roman Catholic. I would also imagine that if a bishop in a particular diocese found that text to be anti-Roman Catholic, he would not provide ecclesiastical approval for printing.

If you still believe that the text is specifically anti-Roman Catholic, I would suggest you write to the bishop of the diocese in which the hymnal you sang from is printed.

Please know that I am available to discuss this concern with you in a phone call, if you wish. Please do not hesitate to call.

I will share my note to you with Archbishop .

PAX


This is why we need to have faithful Catholics in the chanceries across the land.
well, at least they write back to you - i've never got/get ANYTHING back be it secular or church authorities when I write

makes me an unbeliever in postal correspondence  sad

good for you writing, im happy someone cares enough to do so, espiecially in helping to increase orthodoxy in ordinary form masses
Catholic Thinker,

I am with you all the way on the debacle of the last 40 years. However, the interpretation given by the Bishop's office is, I am certain, the correct one. The "dogmas" are meant to signify the things that are listed above it, the dogmas of the world, the money, schooling, etc.

I have nothing else to add to this except my conviction that you are wrong in your interpretation of that specific stanza.

Either way, I commend your diligence in taking issue with it if you really see it the way you say you do.
(12-10-2010, 01:32 PM)maldon Wrote: [ -> ]Catholic Thinker,

I am with you all the way on the debacle of the last 40 years. However, the interpretation given by the Bishop's office is, I am certain, the correct one. The "dogmas" are meant to signify the things that are listed above it, the dogmas of the world, the money, schooling, etc.

I have nothing else to add to this except my conviction that you are wrong in your interpretation of that specific stanza.

Either way, I commend your diligence in taking issue with it if you really see it the way you say you do.

What's your evidence that your interpretation is correct?

It is immaterial - this hymn was just as example.  It is not difficult at all to find Protestant hymns sung in Catholic churches with lyrics that suggest non-Catholic teachings.
I'm not sure which interpretation is correct, but here a few thoughts as to the wording . . .


Here is the text you provided:

"All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan.
In our common quest for justice
may we hallow brief life's span."

The lines in question seem to be proposing a list of earthly things which obscure God's plan. The list begins with (pride of) "status" and uses the disjunctive language "or" to indicate the end of the list. Then, in a way that seems to refer back to the items of this list, it seems to refer to these things as "dogmas" (presumably, dogmas of the world).

I say this because there is no language to indicate the end of the list. It would read like:

"All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan . . .

The text would beg for another item to end the list.

However, reading it the way you read it, I can see your point. From this interpretation, each item in the list is actually an object of the preposition "of." In context, each item of the list is an object 'of pride'. If the author of the text wished to refer to dogma in the manner you have interpreted it, he would have had to do what he did: separate "dogma" from the other items in the list lest it, too, should be thought to be included as the object of "pride." Knowing that "pride of dogma" doesn't really make sense, the author would be forced to separate it from the list qualified by the proposition "of" and punctuated by the disjunctive "or".

But, if this interpretation was actually intended, it wouldn't make sense to sing:

"All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
dogmas that obscure your plan . . ."

. . . because it doesn't ever conclude the list. It would only make sense if it were written this way:


"All that kills abundant living,
let it from the earth be banned:
pride of status, race or schooling,
[and/or] dogmas that obscure your plan . . ."

But I don't know that the music would have allowed for the additional syllable.

Are you proposing that since it is a list included at the end of a colon, the list doesn't require disjunctive or conjunctive language to be understood, thus making "dogma" part of the list but separate from the object of "pride"? For example:

"These items are prohibited: movies, music, TV."

. . . rather than saying:

"These items are prohibited: movies, music, and/or TV.

Perhaps I am getting too technical here, but there doesn't seem to be any way to figure out what was meant. To me, since lyrics are often adapted to conform to the music, the disjunctive "or," which is needed to make it specifically express the interpretation you are contesting, wasn't inserted not because it wanted to evoke a list wherein dogma is included as an enemy of God's plan, but because the conjunctive "or" would offset the syllabic conformity to the time signature.

I welcome your further thoughts . . .
That's some impressive lexical analysis, INPEFESS.  I agree with your conclusion.  At best, it's imprudent to use such a hymn at Mass, isn't it?
Had I any say in the matter, my solution would be to remove most if not all Protestant hymns from ALL hymnals used in Catholic churches.  I'd also put the kabosh on OCP (Oregon Catholic Press) and remove their right to use the term "Catholic" in the name of their organization.  It seems way too much of the music (not hymns, but songs) in their publications - as well as those of NALR (North American Liturgy Resources) - was composed in the '80's and '90's and makes for way lousy secular folk tunes, much less music for Christian worship.  Most of the garbage produced by these two giants of the NO "Liturgical Industrial Complex" in the past 30-40 years is barely Christian, much less truly Catholic.

Having said that, I also say that as big a spiritual burden as it to me, I have to admit that I'm forced to attend the NO mass pretty much exclusively these days because whether I were to attend the TLM or Divine Liturgy - I'm a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic - both are offered at the same location in my part of the world.  That location is an 80 mile round-trip from my home and my poor ol' clapped-out vehicle is not up to making that trip even once a week.  Since the nearest NO parish to me is less than a mile up the street and has a Perpetual Adoration chapel, at least I can offer my sufferings to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and pray for a wholesale return to Tradition in the Church.
(12-11-2010, 01:38 PM)AdOrientem Wrote: [ -> ]Had I any say in the matter, my solution would be to remove most if not all Protestant hymns from ALL hymnals used in Catholic churches.  I'd also put the kabosh on OCP (Oregon Catholic Press) and remove their right to use the term "Catholic" in the name of their organization.  It seems way too much of the music (not hymns, but songs) in their publications - as well as those of NALR (North American Liturgy Resources) - was composed in the '80's and '90's and makes for way lousy secular folk tunes, much less music for Christian worship.  Most of the garbage produced by these two giants of the NO "Liturgical Industrial Complex" in the past 30-40 years is barely Christian, much less truly Catholic.

Having said that, I also say that as big a spiritual burden as it to me, I have to admit that I'm forced to attend the NO mass pretty much exclusively these days because whether I were to attend the TLM or Divine Liturgy - I'm a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic - both are offered at the same location in my part of the world.  That location is an 80 mile round-trip from my home and my poor ol' clapped-out vehicle is not up to making that trip even once a week.  Since the nearest NO parish to me is less than a mile up the street and has a Perpetual Adoration chapel, at least I can offer my sufferings to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and pray for a wholesale return to Tradition in the Church.

I "feel your pain" in not having a Tridentine Mass available and salute your obedience to the Church in still observing your Sunday Mass obligation.  The tide is turning, slowly.
Sometimes it is a matter of interpretation. It can be helpful to find out the author of the hymn and then review him and his background.
I often hear "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" in Catholic churches and I find it inappropriate as it was written by Martin Luther and is sometimes considered the "battle cry" of the Protestant  Reformation. Then again, most Catholics don't even know the background of Luther's hymn and don't even notice who wrote what they are singing. Nonetheless, I think we need to focus on purely Catholic hymns now in all our liturgies.

C.
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