Puslapio vaizdai

or pain, by selecting as the subject of our observations any of the numerous devotional works recently issued by our enterprising publishers. To these we willingly accord the praise of taste and elegance, although the bulk of several of the works does not catch our fancy, since we desire greater simplicity in the exercise of piety. We do not, however, blame the publishers for seeking to gratify their patrons by every variety of devotion, which is their duty as well as interest, in all those matters which the ecclesiastical authority sanctions, or leaves free. The approval obtained from the prelates in whose respective dioceses these works have been published, shows that the publishers acted with all due regard for superiors, unless, as in some cases we know has happened, the approval be alleged without foundation. It has been presumed as a matter of course, by some who merely republished a prayer-book stated to have been already approved of by the prelate, or his predecessor, We suggest, however, the propriety of obtaining an express approval, whenever the actual prelate has not already given it, since it is incongruous and irregular to publish a work on the authority of one who has passed from this sublunary world. The same should be understood of a bishop who has been translated. As the authority of a bishop over the diocese ceases by his translation, it is a want of respect to his successor, if any devotional work appear with such sanction. For the same reason, the practice of soliciting and alleging on the title-page the approval of other bishops beside the ordinary, is indecorous, unless a higher authority intervene, especially the Sovereign Pontiff. Although this display of names, which savors of puffing, may promote in some degree the sale of the work, it is not altogether consistent with the respect due to the local authority, and it gives the bishops the appearance of easy patrons rather than of impartial judges. In the mode hitherto followed, we discover no intentional want of respect on the part of the publishers, but a natural solicitude for their own interests, which, we believe, can be as effectually promoted by a method more strictly canonical. The bishops who, through courtesy for their colleagues, decline allowing their names to be used in conjunction with that of the Ordinary, have many ways of making known to their diocesans their high estimate of works that may be circulated with advantage.

Whoever has travelled in Italy, Spain, or other Catholic countries, has not failed to observe how deficient the

people appear to be in prayer-books. The recital of the beads seems the most popular form of devotion, even during the celebration of Mass, at which comparatively few use books, containing, for the most part, short meditations on the mysteries, or prayers suited to the occasion. The Portuguese Manual, which lies before us, is of this character. It consists of little more than a hundred pages of 24mo., with a number of wood-cuts, representing the various parts of the Mass, and the corresponding scenes in the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Saviour, which are commemorated and represented. Meagre as this supply to the spiritual appetite may appear, we deem it quite sufficient, and better calculated to foster piety, than the lengthened and elaborate devotions of our ordinary prayerbooks. It arrests and fixes the attention, without fatiguing the reader, leaving him free scope to exercise his mind in reflection. The endeavor to read all that is in the prayerbook often occupies the worshipper, so as to make him almost unconscious of the meaning of that which he hastily recites. The best manner of hearing Mass, doubtless, is to recall to our minds the Passion of our Lord, and plead with him for our wants and necessities. This can be done mentally without the aid of any book, or by availing ourselves of some book, or image, to excite our memory and affection. The shorter form pleases us most, but we have no objection to the use of long prayers, such as are found in our popular works. We only observe that it is by no means necessary to read them all, and that whoever feels moved to reflect, meditate, and pray from the heart, will profit more by laying aside his book, than by continuing its perusal. Prayer and worship are the chief objects to be attended to.

It may appear to some, that the most exact and profitable manner of hearing Mass is to have before one the very words recited by the priest, and to accompany him in their recital. This may have led to the translation of the Ordinary of the Mass in “ The Key of Paradise" and other prayer-books, which, however, may also be accounted for by the desire to meet the objection of our worshipping in an unknown tongue. Strange as it may appear, the Popes have always discountenanced and forbidden such translations, So late as 6 June, 1851, the present Pontiff directed the Bishop of Langres to cause it to be discontinued. Is it that Rome fears exposure ? The world knows already all that is contained in our Liturgy : but the reverence due to the mysterious rite has led the chief bishop to seek to prevent its details becoming too familiar, lest words full of awe be pronounced with levity and profaneness. Besides, what suits the priest in his character of minister and r presentative of Christ, does not suit the faithful who concur and share in the oblation. As far as instruction and edification are in question, they are provided for by the Scriptural lessons which are read from the pulpit in the vernacular tongue, and are otherwise within reach of the people generally, together with the explanations of the various rites of the Mass, which the Council of Trent directs to be given frequently. No objection exists to this information being contained in our prayer-books, unless, perhaps, that it unnecessarily swells their bulk, and obliges the faithful to carry with them always to church that which it is sufficient to have once read and understood, in order to perform an enlightened worship. Respect for the authority of the Holy See, whose judgment is unbiassed by the petty apprehensions which disturb our peace, should exclude from our prayer-books the Ordinary of the Mass. Do we condemn those who have hitherto inserted it ? The prohibitory rule was doubtless unknown to several, and appeared to others abrogated by contrary usage ; but the doubt entertained by the venerable Bishop of Langres, and the earnest ness wherewith his present Holiness insisted on the prohibition should determine our submission. The zeal which seeks to promote the interests of religion, by nieans disapproved of by the Ruler of the Church, is not enlightened. Habent zelum Dei, sed non secundum scientiam.

The hearing of Mass is, we may say, the exclusive object of the devotions in one of the English, and the Portuguese Prayer-book noted above: Para assistir a o sacrificio da Missa. The English Prayer-book contains three different methods for this purpose, and subjoins a fourth, whereby the absent may share in the advantages of the sacrifice. Although it is much larger than that in Portuguese, it contains only 168 pages in 18mo. quite a small affair compared with the monster prayer-books now in use. We do not object to some additions which detract nothing from the simplicity of devotion, such as Morning and Evening Prayers, Prayers before Confession and Communion, the Psalms of Vespers, with the various Church hymns, which may be given in English, as well as Latin, without violating any disciplinary rule with which we are acquainted. We doubt the propriety of admitting into prayer-books any hymns not sanctioned by the public usage of the Church. The beauty and tenderness of the poetic effusions of Faber are present to our mind no less than the sweet canzonette of Saint Alphonsus in honor of the Immaculate Virgin, and all the popular hymns of France and Germany, to the recital of which, apart from the solemn services of the Church, we should not object ; but a prayer-book, like the Liturgy itself, should not easily admit what has not passed the ordeal of authority. We should vote for the retrenchment of all prayers to Saints which had not the like sanction, and although we might thus deprive the pious of some consolation, the service rendered to religion by removing much that forms a stumblingblock to inquirers, and affords to the enemies of the Church an occasion of calumny, would amply compensate for the sacrifice. Respect for the Holy See, independently of these important considerations, would determine us unsparingly to exscind the numerous Litanies which fill our books, in direct opposition to the constant and actual discipline of the Apostolic See, which up to this moment unrelentingly proscribes all of them, but the ancient Litanies of the Saints, found in the Missals and Breviaries, and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. The devotion which seeks expression in forms condemned by the judgment of the Vicegerent of Christ, cannot be otherwise regarded than as morbid and delusive. We have no confidence in the success of petitions having a black mark from St. Peter.

The French prayer-book published at Liege shows that already various Litanies were in vogue besides those sanctioned by the Holy See ; of which further evidence is presented in a small work in Latin published at Antwerp in 1697, styled Sacro Litanice Variæ. The jealousy long entertained in France of the exercise of Papal authority, especially through the various Congregations of Cardinals, easily accounts for this apparent disregard of a point of discipline not solemnly urged on the Universal Church by a formal decree of the Pontiff himself. The same may be said in regard to Holland and other countries in which the prohibited Litanies have had a currency. If it be contended that contrary usage, with the knowledge of the Holy See, has abrogated the prohibition, we shall not lose time in disputing the assertion. Were we engaged in adjusting the conscience of a publisher, who has on hand a large supply of prayer-books, all of which contain them, we should not raise a scruple as to his disposal of them in the best way he could, in order to escape a great loss, although they class with prohibited books, whose retention or circulation subjects publishers and purchasers to the penalties of the Index, wherever its laws are in force. Our object here is not to disturb consciences, or demand great sacrifices : it is to challenge respect for a discipline tenaciously adhered to by the Holy See, despite of every contrary usage, and in itself marked with wisdom. The recent application made by the Bishop of Langres proves that a better spirit, manifesting itself in profound reverence for Rome, animates the French hierarchy. Leaving then to others to discuss the obligation of conforming to the law as repeatedly inculcated and still maintained by the actual Pontiff, we content ourselves with urging its expediency, by pointing to the inconveniences, not to say extravagancies which result from its neglect. Our prayer-books would be freed from

exaggerations which disfigure them, and instead of the inflated epithets which are so freely bestowed on favorite Saints, we should have formularies alike commended by simplicity and antiquity. The reduction of the books themselves to a smaller size would also be no inconsiderable advantage, as rendering them more portable and less ostentatious.

If, however, our publishers choose to give their patrons large manuals, they can find abundant materials, without inserting any prohibited or exceptionable matter. “The Daily Exercise,” placed last on our list, "published by T. V., monk of the holy order of St. Benedict,” contains above 500 pages of small duodecimo; yet nothing in it has met our eye to which we would object. It has morning and

« AnkstesnisTęsti »