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August 8, 2011 | Volume 86, Number 21






– Necrology


Revised Roman Missal said to ‘clamp down’

The report about workshops on the revised Roman Missal (The Catholic Virginian, July 25, 2001, p. 13) reads: “By using the right (my emphasis) words in prayer, [Ms. Coddington] said, ‘we get closer to the heart and mind of God.’”

Now they tell me! Apparently I’ve been using the “wrong” words for years — ever since my generation was weaned away from the Latin Mass. And apparently these words were not only “wrong” (if the new words are now/ temporarily “right”), but if I am to believe Sally Ann Gill, the old words have even aided and abetted thinking on a lower plane.

As she says, “We need to think on a higher plane.” Mea culpa!

Furthermore, the language of the new translation, observes Gill, “has a more reverent, elevated tone and I don’t think we need everyday language in our Mass.” Yes indeed!

I’ve often thought to myself as I’ve recited the current creed that I simply shouldn’t be using constructions like “one in one being with the Father, in whom all things are made” out there on the street in my everyday life. “Everyday language” is so, well, vernacular.

I couldn’t agree more that language is an avenue to understanding and one of our most important gifts. That’s why I take very seriously any false claims about the nature of language that may rationalize and help us deceive ourselves about decisions and motives.

Although there may be inaccurate uses of words, there are no “right” and “wrong” words. There are only usages that a culture deems more or less appropriate in a given context for given purposes. As culture and purposes change, what is considered appropriate language usage also changes.

Historically, language has always been marshaled as a proxy for other things, often in the interests of politics, witness the elimination of the teaching of German in our schools during WWI as but one example.

Let us not fool ourselves about the purposes of the current revision of the Roman Missal. The culture of the institutional church is in the process of turning us away from Vatican II.

This latest revision of the Missal, whatever else it may be, is a proxy for this turn. Vatican II is now thought by the hierarchy to have been too loose (to use the vernacular), as made plain in the less reverent and elevated language of the ritual prayer authorized by Vatican II.

The hierarchy is determined to tighten things up and clamp down.

read the article »

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Revised translation in Roman Missal questioned

At the July 6 workshop on “Welcoming the Roman Missal” (July 22 issue) it was stated that the new translation “will get us closer to the mind of God.”

I for one fail to see how, for instance, saying “and with your spirit” instead of “and also with you” will bring me closer to God.

It was also stated that saying “I am not worthy that you should come under my roof” (come and visit me in my home) will bring me closer to Christ than saying “I am not worthy to receive you” (into my very own body!”)

The whole exercise of a revised translation from the Latin is a time-consuming and costly exercise. It won’t do much to resolve the pressing problems of the priest shortage and parish closings which limit our access to the Eucharist, our treasure as Catholics.

read the article »

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Physician speaks on advance directives

There are several significant but understandable misunderstandings in Mona Buck’s June 13, 2011 letter to the editor (“Nurse Speaks on Right to Life Issues.”)

First is the statement that living wills are not legal documents, in a specific hospital setting or in general. A living will (also known as an Advance Medical Directive) is a document granted specific powers by the government through an act of legislation. These legal powers are specified in Virginia Code Section 54.1-2982.

Although living wills are clearly legal documents, Mrs. Buck brings up an important point: even if living wills are legal documents they are sometimes not enforced.

There are no established agents to enforce living wills, nor is there a specific agent to press litigation if any party is derelict in their duty to uphold a living will.

Living wills will be most effective if they are backed by family and/or an individual endowed with Power of Attorney (POA). However, living wills are not just about court battles and legal documents, they are just as much about education and dialogue.

I understand how uncomfortable this topic is, however, creating a living will is an opportunity to think through end of life issues and talk to your family, priest, doctor and friends about how to best meet your end of life wishes.

It is true that living wills are not legally binding in the same sense that Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and Do Not Intubate (DNI) orders are. However, in some cases even DNR/DNIs have been ignored when family or doctors intervene. If your wishes are unclear, medical personnel will make conservative choices (as they should).

A living will can supplement a DNR/DNI and help make it more enforceable.

This goes both ways. A living will may also help stop a family member from applying a DNR/DNI order while you are incapacitated if you do not wish it.

Even where living wills are not as enforceable as a DNR/DNI, they may still play an important legal role. If family members, POA empowered individuals and doctors disagree with one another about your treatment, a living will may help sway the court in the direction of your wishes.

Living wills are not just about end of life issues. There are other circumstances under which it is essential to have your medical treatment wishes expressed in a legal document.

What if you are unable to make decisions for yourself because of dementia or mental illness?

It happens more often than most people think and it is important to be prepared. Psychiatric advance directives (PADs) are relatively new legal instruments that may be used to document a competent person’s specific instructions or preferences regarding future mental health treatment.

Psychiatric advance directives can be used to plan for the possibility that someone may lose the capacity to give or withhold informed consent to treatment during acute episodes of psychiatric illness or dementia.

PADs can help people avoid chemical restraints (immobilizing drugs), unwanted visitors and help make sure they receive care from the doctor of their choice when incapacitated. Mental Health America of Virginia is dedicated to educating Virginians’ about PADs. You can learn more at

Both living wills (Medical Advance Directives) and Psychiatric Advance Directives are a relatively new phenomena. In the coming years they will play a greater and greater role in America’s healthcare system.

The full potential of these documents will emerge in the years to come as Advance Directive databases and Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) become more prevalent. All this adds up to a healthier and more cost effective America.

read the letter »

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Church teachings must be considered

Deacon Hornstra’s well-reasoned letter of 6/27 has brought forth the expected howls of protest from the determined left whose catechesis seems to have been conducted more from the platform of the Democratic Party than from close attention to the magisterial teachings of the Catechism and statements of the last two Pontiffs.

By their reasoning, any opposition to the recklessness of the Federal Government over the last decades is declared immoral; opposition to the welfare state is sinful.

Christians need to form a “circle of protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.”

Unfortunately, these writers have, willfully or not, misunderstood the teaching of the Church, and misunderstood basic economics.

Any economist who is not blinded by prejudice will realize that programs designed to “help the poor” usually end with the recipients in a worse state than before. As Benedict XIV states in “Caritas in Veritate,” such programs inevitably “give way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.” (57)

Moreover, to argue for current and expanded entitlement programs directed by the Federal Government is to ignore the plain and clear teaching of the Church on the principle of subsidiarity.

“The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention.”

(Catechism, 1855). Subsidiarity, if these authors need their memory refreshed, is the principle according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” (1853).

By usurping the charitable function and arrogating to itself virtually unlimited powers, the central government damages the mission of the Church and deprives it of its God-given right to be the source of “Charity in Truth.” Such collectivism breaks the “reciprocity” which is “at the heart of what it is to be a human being.”

graphic: rules for sending letter to editorThe problem of poverty is not an economic problem, it is a moral problem. It calls for greater generosity on our part, a movement of the heart that is thwarted when the government forcibly requires charity.

I would invite the authors of these letters to understand the wisdom of that true advocate for the poor, when she writes “The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge and belief in love.” (Dorothy Day)

read the Hornstra letter »

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Fr. Brickner lauded by former parishioners

Please accept our thanks to you and your staff for producing an informative and interesting diocesan newspaper.

In particular, thank you for your profile of our former pastor, Father Charles Brickner, that appeared in the July 25 issue. He has been so selfless and strong, serving the three parishes around there, plus saying Mass for the Latino faithful in the area!

He did all this so unassumingly that it was a revelation to read of the life and busy career that he led before ordination. If you have a chance, please pass on our thanks to him for his service to God’s people.

For the past 10 years we are now at Our Lady of Nazareth in Roanoke where we have another great priest, Msgr. Joe Lehman. And to add to our good fortune, we have Msgr. Tom Miller, right down the road at St. Andrew’s. What wonderful priests we are privileged to know!

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