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that they are not. The contrast between dies and feriae must surely have a meaning. The Sundays, it may be said, are an addition to the ' forty days' of Lent. They are. But their ecclesiastical designation is Sundays of Lent': and, if of Lent'at all, then they are surely days' of Lent. Moreover, they were always days of abstinence, and were subject to the prohibition against the use of fish and flesh at the same meal, and so must have been regarded as affected by the Lenten rules and as forming portion of the period. And, if ‘days of Lent,' they will, according to the letter of the new correction, be for the future days of fast.
This, we must say, appears to us to be a strange and wonderful arrangement. Sundays in Lent used to be days of abstinence, but not of fast: now, without much cause shown, they are to be days of fast, but not of abstinence. The fast days of Lent used to be forty in number, and interruptions were allowed; now they are to be fortysix, with no interruption. Even in times of greater rigour, Sundays were held to be exempt from the severer law: now the milder obligation is removed, and the severer imposed in its place. We said, in our remarks on the new canons now in operation, that 'practically every step taken is in the direction of liberty.'1 We think so still, but that makes us wonder all the more. If we give full force to the terms of the decrec, we see no way out of the literal interpretation.
But we can hardly believe that the interpretation represents the Pope's real intention, and we have hopes that future explanations will make room for a milder view.
As for the feasts falling within Lent, St. Patrick's Day will be an important one for us, the 19th March and (generally) the 25th for those localities where they remain as feasts of precept. In accordance with the reply given by the Congregation of the Council, with the Pope's authority, on the 3rd November, 1911,2 St. Patrick's Day is a feast of precept in this country : and the regulation is not affected by canon 1247. In accordance with the Motu proprio of July 2nd of that year (already quoted 3), the law of fast or abstinence has, in the meantime, been regarded as not binding whenever the 17th March fell on a day otherwise affected by either. 4 What will happen in the future, if a dispensation is to be given ? The new clause stands in the way. After next year—the concession to be mentioned will not be in force next March-perhaps the Bishops will take their stand on the second section of canon 1245 : 'Ordinarii, ex causa peculiari magni populi concursus ... possunt totam quoque dioecesim seu locum a ieiunio et ab abstinentia vel etiam ab utraque simul lege dispensare.' If not, they will have to fall back, as before, on special Indults-unless, again, the rigour of the literal intepretation of the new clause is mitigated in the meantime.
11. E. RECORD, November, 1917, p. 366.
THE MAYNOOTH STATUTES ABUSES AT WAKES Rev. DEAR SIR,-Kindly answer the following in next issue of the I. E. RECORD :
At midnight, during a ' wake’ in a country house, a priest visits the 'wake,' and finds the man of the house, whose wife is dead, slighily under the influence of drink. No one else in the house shows any sign of drink, no drink is found in the house or on the premises, though inquired and searched for.
The Maynooth Statutes (p. 149, n. 514) completely reprobate the custom, calamitous and ruinous to Christian people, of supplying intoxicating drink in the house of the deceased or near the place of burial'; and the Bishops are exhorted to inflict grave punishment on those who transgress in this respect.'
Would the punishment be sufficient, if the priest were to absent himself from the funeral and refuse to collect the offerings ?
There is no doubt that the punishment would be sufficient : equally, no doubt, we believe, that it would be unjust and exorbitant. There are two fundamental conditions, among others, that ought to be observed in inflicting ecclesiastical punishments : one, that there should be no penalty unless an offence against the law has been committed ; the other that, so far as possible, the innocent should not be punished with the guilty. Neither condition would be fulfilled in the case.
To judge from the account given, there was no offence against the Statute. There is no evidence that drink was supplied in the wakehouse : even the 'man of the house' may have got it elsewhere. And it is well to remember that every man is to be regarded as innocent till he is proved to be guilty.
Then as regards the innocent victims. The deceased herself was the first. Even the most hardened sceptic will admit that, whatever be said about others, she at all events was guilty of no offence against the Statute. Now, the refusal of burial rites, though it affects the living indirectly, is intended primarily to mark the Church's disapproval of the past conduct of the deceased. We can imagine cases, and there have been such, in which, owing to a prevalent abuse or to the introduction of ceremonies flagrantly opposed to the Church's teaching or policy, competent authority might override the rights of the deceased, and prohibit priests from attending 1-but of that we have no evidence in the case under discussion. It might be urged also that the refusal of ecclesiastical rites, as described in N. P.'s' letter, would be very slight. So it would. But, whether slight or not, Canon Law specifies very distinctly the persons against whom the measure is to be adopted; and the deceased in the case is not one of them,
Among the other innocent victims we must number the priest's confrères in the parish. They have a right to their chance of revenue; and would, we fancy, see that the 'punishment' would not be inflicted
1 The statute seems to suggest that, if the facts demand it, the Bishop might take some such step.
a second time. It might, perhaps, be claimed that, according to the principles generally admitted, the priest would not be strictly bound to make restitution. We are strongly of the opposite view ourselves, and will discuss the matter if ‘N. P.' wishes.
So, without insisting on the fact that it is the Bishop who is primarily called upon to punish the transgressors, we would recommend N. P. to select some other way of showing his disapproval of the qualified lapse of the one delinquent he has mentioned.
REAL AND APPARENT DEATH. CONFERRING THE SACRAMENTS
ON HERETICS REV. DEAR SIR,-It seems that recent investigations have made it plain that it is no longer possible to determine even within a considerable margin the precise moment of death; ... that the only absolutely certain sign of death is decomposition; ... that absolution and Extreme Unction may be given conditionally for some time after the person would have hitherto been reputed to be dead; ... that it is the mind of the Church that her minister should avail himself of any sort of probabiliiy, no matter how slight, in order to be able to give absolution, at least conditionally, in case of the dying' (Catholic Encycl. under 'Death.') Italics mine.
Ojetti (Synopsis, tit. “Moribundus ') referring to the accuratissima dissertatio of Father Ferreres, S.J., on 'Apparent Death and the Sacraments,' says: 'In repentinis morbis putat hunc statum vitæ latentis perdurare aliquando ad tres usque dies, : : . postquam infirmus ultimum spiritum exhalavit. . . . Debere sacerdotem, durante tempore mortis apparentis, administrare adultis extremam unctionem et poenitentiam.'
In the light of these remarks, may I ask for your opinion upon the following case :
The Protestant husband of a Catholic wife, lawfully married by dispensation, had faithfully kept his promises, had all his children baptized and brought up in the Faith. He was friendly with the priest and often said jokingly, “I may become a Catholic before I die.'' He, died suddenly before fulfilling this casual (?) promise. His wife sent for the priest, who arrived at the house two and a half hours after the reputed death, baptized him, absolved and anointed him, and gave the Last Blessin --all conditionally. Requiem Mass was said nominatim for the repose of his soul, and he was buried with Catholic rites.
If such procedure be commendable two and a half hours after reputed death, why not next day, or any time before decomposition sets in? What obligation is there to adopt this practice ?
VEXATUS. We do not think there is any obligation on any priest 'to adopt this practice'-meaning by this practice,' as 'Vexatus' apparently means, the practice of anointing some hours, or even days, after apparent death. But, if matters are not pushed to extremes, we believe that any priest
1 See authors generally ; e.g., Lehmkuhl, Th. Mor. (11th edition), na. 1148-1167 (especially 1160-1161), etc.
may adopt it, if he thinks it more advisable. The evidence accumulated by Father Ferreres, etc., establishes a probability that, in cases of prolonged illness, life may continue for half an hour or more after death has apparently' taken place, and that, in cases of sudden death, the period may extend to several hours--some would even say days. But the probability in the more extreme cases is so slight-and the chances, therefore, of the sacrament's producing any effect so slenderthat, unless the period is much shorter than those mentioned, we find ourselves confronted with one of those rare cases in which even the necessary sacraments need not, though they may, be administered --in which, in other words, there is no obligation to administer the sacrament, even though a priest is within his rights in conferring it if he pleases. 1
What that 'shorter period' is no one can fix precisely. Writers generally seem to be gravitating towards a five or six minutes' standard.2 If that be adopted in cases of lingering diseases, and a further proportional period be allowed in cases of sudden death, we shall perhaps have a practical rule as safe and reasonable as any that can be suggested. Before the period has elapsed, there will be an obligation to confer the sacraments; after that, there will be no obligation, but, in view of the slender probability established by the facts as we know them, it will still be lawful to confer them. That the two classes of cases are on different footings would seem clear enough from the medical evidence. We should expect, indeed, as much, on elementary principles. In the one, the vital organs have been gradually and seriously impaired, and their functions might be expected to continue only for a short time after apparent death : in the other the opposite is the case, and the opposite consequence might legitimately be assumed.
Most of the theological statements in this connexion have been already cited in the I. E. RECORD.4 Vexatus' gives two more. By way of supplement, we may be allowed to quote one or two of the more recent. In the Sabetti-Barrett Compendium,5 we find the golden mean recommended. In reply to the question, 'What is a priest to do, if he comes to a sick man and finds him, as generally described, “just dead ? the solution given is :
The priest may-and, it seems to us, ought to-absolve him and give him Extreme Unction conditionally. For, as long as there is a probable hope that life still remains and as long as there is no certainty that death has really taken place, so long is it lawful and obligatory to confer, at least conditionally, the sacraments that he possibly needs; and these are Penance and Extreme Unction. Now, according to the
1 Cf. authors passim in their tracts on the Sacraments in general.
3 Cf. Ferreres, Death : Real and Apparent, Antonelli, Dsed. Past., ii. pp. 260 sqq. ; Villada, Casus, iii. p. 244 ; Capellman, Med. Past., p. 178; Nouv. Revue Théol., xxxviii. p. 606, xxxix. p. 496, etc.
4 Cf. a very readable and moderate article in the April (1911) issue, pp. 363-9, by the Rev. J. J. Sheridan ; also a thoroughly scientific résumé by the present Archbishop of Cashel, ibid., Oct., 1911, pp. 416-17, etc,
pp. 776, 777. We give a translation.
view of very many learned medical authorities, it is probable that, in nearly all cases, internal life continues for some time (intus aliquamdiu) after the ‘moment of death' as it is commonly termed, or after the last breath--for a shorter or longer period, according to the nature of the cause from which death resulted. In cases of death from slow disease, it is likely that internal lise continues for some minutes
, about six or so, or, according to some experts, half an hour; in cases of sudden death, internal life lasts longer, perhaps not improbably (forte non improbabiliter) until decomposition has set in. If the priest, there fore, arrives at the same time, morally speaking, as death is commonly supposed to have resulted irom disease or sudden accident, he may-and, it seems to us, ought to-confer the aforesaid two sacraments conditionally. And we think the same should be held if he arrived in cases of sickness within half an hour, in cases of sudden accident within an hour, of the time of apparent death. If, however, in case of sudden death, he comes an hour or two after the last breath and before decomposition has begun, he may administer the sacraments : as for his obligation (in those circumstances), I leave it to wiser men to decide.
It will be noted that the writer extends the obligation a little beyond the limits given above; but the modest claim suggested by his . perhaps not improbably would seem to represent pretty accurately the shaky condition of the evidence when the period, in any set of circumstances
, exceeds two hours. In a new edition of Father Marc's work, 1 published two or three months ago, similar doctrine is repeated, but mention is made mercly of lawfulness—not of obligation--and a warning is added against pressing the principles beyond reasonable limits :
A priest arriving late may confer conditional absolution, in fact Extreme Unction also, on a person recently deceased.' The available time, within which this will be done prudently, will be more or less according as there is question of sudden death in a healthy person or of death after a long-continued illness; in favour of the latter, the available time will be anything up to half aa hour, in case of the former up to an hour and a half at least. ... There are authors, however, who warn us (ard not without some foundation in iact) that abuses may easily arise in these matters, and that the theory is not to be applied in ordinary cases or without due discrimination.
The caution with which the theory is applied by responsible theologians is due, we suspect, in no small degree to a reaction against the extremists. Some people, having got hold of a principle, never know where to stop. In connexion with our present subject, we have heard of men who, forgetting apparently all about the distinction between the different classes of cases and about the various shades of probability, were prepared to maintain an obligation to anoint in all cases almost till the moment of burial. What abuses that would lead to we can easily imagine. Men of common sense would think that priests had all gone mad, if they found them going around and anointing corpses indiscriminately. And they would have gone mad—which is more to our point.
1 Instit. Mor. Alph. (pp. 387-8).