In yesterdays Mass reading from 2 Maccabees 7:1.20-31, about the martyrdom of a mother and her seven sons it is told of how they held out against the king. The king was torturing them with whips and scourges to violate Gods law. The mother then spoke to them in the language of their forefathers, the language of their people. At the time of her youngest son was being tortured she said in their native language: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence. Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”
This sort of thing can be seen time and again throughout history, in the film ‘Karol, a man who became pope’ there is a scene during the war days of the youth of Bl JPII in which many of the young polish people are meeting to discuss their future and how they are to keep Poland alive during the Nazi occupation. One of the group leaders is saying we should get what weapons we can and fight back, Karol’s response is – ‘We must keep our polish culture alive, with plays and poetry. We must keep our mother language alive.’ In other scenes such as when a great friend of him is fleeing Poland to America when he reminds her to always keep her polish identity and language alive, for it a part of who she is. In a third place in the film the idea that anybody would betray their mother tongue, their language rouses the rabble to do something to keep Poland alive. Although Poland was invaded by first Nazi Germany then the Soviet Union they kept their language their culture and their heritage through such activities as these plays and poems that remind them of their history. They never lost sight of themselves.
On reflection of this very similar things are happening in our modern western culture. Instead of whips and scourges its humiliation and ridicule, peer pressure to follow the life of sexual ‘freedom’ or to be taken in with the dictatorship of relativism ‘its not hurting anybody [that I can see at this moment] how can you call it morally wrong, you must be judging and discriminating against me.’ We must hold out and be firm. To be catholic in this world is to have a heroism in your proclamation of the truth, a heroism in the virtues. Do not be afraid. Practice what you preach, and preach what you practice, for without either the new evangelisation will not take hold. This has come about in a time when we are also losing ‘the language of our forefathers’ the language of the Church. I recently read another blog post saying that even some cardinals do no understand Latin in this modern word, yet the ecclesiastical language is a part of our faith, our history and our culture, the Catholic culture must be kept alive. Cardinal Heenan recognised the need to keep our own language ‘If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church, it is essential to keep a universal tongue.’ For without a universal tongue how can we claim to be the universal Church.
Likewise with our celebrations of the great feasts, particularly Holy Days of Obligation, where are the Eucharistic processions on Corpus Christi? It’s both a prayer, blessing all those whom gave upon the Blessed Sacrament as He is carried past, and a huge act of witness to all those who see us celebrating our Catholic faith, celebrating the feast of Christ being truly present body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Where are the Marian processions on great feasts such as the Assumption, let us not forget Bl Pope Pius IX told the world, “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” With an army that marches forth with a Marian icon at the head all praying the rosary reverently and fervently, we would surly win many souls for Christ. Where is the Gregorian chant and other forms of transcendent music? Where are the candle-lit prayer vigils in graveyards during November particularly the feast of all souls? Such traditions as these are all a major part of being Catholic and need to be brought back into use as they will have great effects on the world.