The Point – August 1953

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center

August, 1953

POINTERS

To anyone interested in preserving the singularity and necessity of Our Blessed Lady, in this month of her glorious Assumption, we recommend Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort’s challenging writings about her. A fair example of why the French peasants loved him, and the Calvinists tried to murder him, is the following statement from Saint Louis-Marie’s True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin:

“All the true children of God, the predestinate, have God for their Father and Mary for their Mother. He who has not Mary for his Mother has not God for his Father. This is the reason why the reprobate, such as heretics, schismatics and others, who hate Our Blessed Lady or regard her with contempt and indifference, have not God for their Father, however much they boast of it, simply because they have not Mary for their Mother.”

In the January, 1953, issue of The Point we protested against Archbishop Cushing’s statement that all American soldiers who die fighting in Korea are “genuine martyrs,” and that there is no need even of praying for them.

This month, Boston’s diocesan newspaper made an attempt to rectify the Archbishop’s theological blundering. In a front-page article, it admitted that soldiers who die in modern wars should not be called martyrs, because they do not die for the Faith. But in trying to haul the Archbishop out of the frying pan, the newspaper got one of its own theological fingers burned. Referring to the Holy Innocents, it said they were “brought by their death to the state of sanctifying grace.” The truth is, the Holy Innocents were Jewish boys of two years and under. They had been circumcised, according to the strict Jewish code, at the age of eight days. It was by circumcision that they were brought to the state of sanctifying grace; by their death they were brought to the Limbo of the Just.

Boston’s diocesan paper has changed its editor many times in the past few years. And if Archbishop Cushing reads the paper, we expect that the present editor (a priest who was recently advertised as lecturing in a Protestant church) may soon be changed, too. The Archbishop may not resent having his theology corrected, but not by someone who knows no more about it than himself.

The appreciation of Hilaire Belloc which Father Leonard Feeney wrote two years ago in his book, London Is A Place, appears in Father Feeney’s column this month. It was written about the Belloc who was then waiting for his “summons to the Particular Judgment,” and is the more touching now that this summons has come.

NEW VERSIONS AND PERVERSIONS OF THE BIBLE

When the Protestants broke away from the Church in the sixteenth century, one of the chief reasons they gave for doing so was that they thought the Bible, all by itself, should be enough to teach a man what he ought to believe and how he ought to act; and that there should be no need of any Church to interpret the Bible or to supplement its teachings.

It was apparent from the beginning, however, that the Protestants were not going to get along any better with the Bible divorced from the Church than they had gotten along with the Bible and the Church together. Thus, they found that when they tried to preserve the Bible’s literal sense, they were always getting bitten by the snakes they were supposed to be able to pick up; and when they tried to pass off the whole Scripture as figurative and symbolic, they were always running up against texts, the clarity of whose dogma would confound them. Still, for all the hardship it caused them, the Protestants never quite gave up the Bible; and whenever they felt called upon to make a profession of their faith, they always did so by pounding the book vigorously or waving it aloft.

But, last September, Protestantism reached the turning point. The event was marked by the official publication of a new Scripture translation, called the Revised Standard Version. In this book, which is meant to supersede all previous English Bibles, the Protestants finally, and convincingly, have let it be known how far from Christianity they have come in their 400 years. They have at last dropped all pretense of getting their faith from the Bible just as God wrote it, and, by way of offering a “new translation,” they have re-written the Bible so as to make it fit their preconceived Protestant notions. No longer will Protestants have to skip pages in their Bible-reading in order to miss religiously embarrassing passages; all such passages have been altered so that they are no longer embarrassing.

The Revised Standard Version is a perfect Protestant document, having no certitude, no integrity, no authority. It contains nothing to offend the skeptic sensibilities of Protestants or to shake them in their disbelief. It turns Our Lord in the Gospels from the Son of God preaching the Kingdom of Heaven into a mawkish, ineffectual do-gooder, patterned according to the familiar Protestant type. And Our Lady, long the Protestants’ foremost resentment, it turns from the Virgin, foretold by Isaias, who would conceive and bear a son, into just “a young woman.”

Yet, anxious as the Protestants might be to twist the Bible to their heretical ends, they would never dare do so were there not some Catholic sanction for the act. The Church is the donor and protector of the Bible, and every Bible-tamperer fears her wrath. The reason that the Protestants have dared to publish such a flagrant distortion as the Revised Standard Version is that the stage was already set for them, the precedent established by a Catholic priest. That priest is the Right Reverend Ronald Arbuthnott Knox, author of The Knox Bible.

When Ronald Knox gave up his Anglican ministry to become a Catholic (in 1919, having waited two years to make sure the pull he seemed to feel toward the Church wasn’t just a case of “war-nerves”), he brought with him two gifts. These gifts were: a deep devotion to, and sympathy for, the pagan classics; and a kind of fluency and unctuousness in the use of the English language that passed for an elegant prose style. Knox presented these two talents to the Church as his dowry, and received from the Church in exchange for them the gift of Holy Orders, validly administered.

These same two talents have been Knox’s chief assets, his stock-in-trade ever since. By advertising his love of the pagans and familiarity with their languages, he got himself appointed Chaplain at his alma mater, Oxford; and by squirting his oily prose at impressionable Catholics, he has kept them blinded to his almost total lack of Faith.

But it was not till 1939 that Monsignor Knox found an exercise that would enable him to display his talents to the fullest. In that year he retired to the manor house of a friend and began to translate the entire Bible into English from the Latin Vulgate. This virtuoso performance was meant to replace the traditional, and faithful, Douai-Rheims version, which had been used by English-speaking Catholics since the time of the Reformation.

Despite the terrible presumption of the title, there is ample justification for calling this book The Knox Bible, as his publisher and practically everyone does. For it is much more Knox’s work than God’s. It is dominated by Knox’s vocabulary, his sentence structure, his phrases. If he thinks something is not sufficiently clear the way the original, inspired writer put it — if it does not mean what Knox thinks it ought to mean — then he redoes the passage, adding words, leaving words out, and substituting phrases of his own (the Oxford equivalent) for the phrases used by the inspired writers. The cumulative effect of this is devastating. Thus, the fiery and overflowing Saint Paul, after being subjected to the School of Knox, sounds likes a secretary in the British Foreign Office. Example: at the end of his life, Saint Paul, having fought the good fight, writing to his disciple Timothy, boasts of his great achievement: “ … I have kept the Faith.” Knox decided this should have been less enthusiastically rendered: “ … I have redeemed my pledge.”

Knox treats the authors of Holy Scripture not as inspired writers but as hacks like himself, who are trying to find the best way of saying what it is they have to say, and who do not always succeed as well as he himself might have. You get the impression that the Evangelists were just interim instruments the Holy Spirit, used while He was waiting for Knox to come along. As a specimen of his attitude toward the Bible and the men who wrote it, here is one of his patronizing paragraphs, commenting on the Gospels. Referring to the place in the last chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, where Our Lord asks Saint Peter: “Do you love (diligis) me? … Do you love (diligis) me? … Do you love (amas) me?” Knox says: “The probability is that Our Lord used the same word for love, and Saint Peter answered Him in the same word, three times over, but John (or his Greek amanuensis) introduced a second word in the Greek, from a natural (though mistaken) desire to avoid monotony. ”

It is almost impossible for a Catholic to read the whole of The Knox Bible, unsuspectingly, and keep his Faith. He would be almost better off reading the Revised Standard Version. The perversions of that book are so monstrous and overt that every Catholic would immediately recognize them, and be on his guard; but The Knox Bible gets him unawares. It does its damage not so much by clear, specific distortions as by its faithless British slant. There is an unholy attitude that pervades the book, a kind of atmosphere that hangs over it, like a London fog, and that, quietly but thoroughly, obscures God’s Word and stifles the Catholic Faith.

BY FATHER FEENEY

Hilaire Belloc is a Londoner in looks, a Londoner in walk and talk, and a Londoner in stubbornness. But he is the only London writer I know — with the possible exception of Philip Guedalla — who is not a Londoner in soul. Belloc has a Continental soul — a perfect sympathy with things French, Austrian and Italian, and a perfect shrewdness for everything that is German. Belloc never lost his Continental kinship with soldiers (he once served in the army of France), nor did he ever lose his sense of comradeship with the spirits of Continental saints, nearly every one of whose shrines he has at some time visited, making the journey on foot. His is also a Continental thirst for wine.

Belloc refuses to drink any liquor discovered or invented since the Protestant Reformation. The odors of brandy, sherry and port delight his Catholic sense of smell, but whiskey is a word one must never utter in his presence. I am almost afraid to put it in a paragraph where the name of Belloc is mentioned.

… He is now an old man, older, as he once remarked, than the Little Flower of Jesus would be were she still alive. Belloc has now a bent back, is helpless, is unshaven, is unreliable in all his remembrances, and faithful only to his memories. He sits by the fireside in some hidden country place, and waits for the tap on the shoulder that is to be his summons to the Particular Judgment.

When Belloc goes to Purgatory — I am positive Our Lord will never send him to Hell — I know he will be required to purge his soul of some of the interests collected there during life, by reason of too much association, even in the heat of conflict, with some of the heretics of his time. But I also believe he will be promised high rewards in Heaven for the clear courage with which he proclaimed all central Catholic truths, fearless of what would be the consequence to himself.

(from London Is A Place, Ravengate Press, Boston)

The Finalys and Baptism Betrayed

Q. What is Baptism?

A. Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, heirs of Heaven, and subjects of the Pope.

It is by this kind of summary that a Catholic child first learns the supernatural difference which spoken words and poured water can make in someone, and did make in him, long before his catechism days.

Christianity’s initial overture, or better still, its initial threat, is made in terms of Baptism. “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter the Kingdom of God.” And it was in terms a threat set to rhyme that Baptism once got called:

That pouring to producing
a loosening of Grace,
Divinity imparted at
the pourer’s pace,
When a trickle with the Trinity
will negatively tell
Of the dryer way to Hell!

Because Baptism makes all the difference in the world (and in the next world) between Christians and not, Heaven and Hell, saved and damned, we want to tell you this month two stories about it. The first, and the happy one for Baptism, goes this way.

One hundred years ago, in Italy, there was a servant girl named Anna Morisi, employed in the household of the Mortara family of Bologna. Now, Anna was a devout Catholic, while the Mortaras were Jews, and parents to a Jewish child named Edgar. One night, as Edgar lay sick, and close to dying, Anna Morisi poured water on his head, saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

Seven years later, the civic authorities of Bologna found out that the child, Edgar Mortara, long since recovered, was a Christian. In a matter of hours, Edgar was taken from his Jewish parents and dispatched to Rome, there to be brought up in the home of a Catholic family. For this was necessarily the law in a place where the Sacrament of Baptism was valued for what it is.

And no amount of Jewish wailing, at which Mrs. Mortara was most accomplished, could persuade the authorities otherwise. Appeals to the local clergy were useless. The priests of Bologna held the law to be quite in accord with their Catholic belief in the effects of Baptism. In Rome, Cardinals agreed with the Bologna priests, and the Holy Father himself, Pope Pius IX, could not be prompted to indicate even the least displeasure with the affair of the Mortara child.

Here is the second, the recent, and, for Baptism, the very sad story.

In 1944, shortly before they were killed by the Nazis, Dr. and Mrs. Fritz Finaly left their two Jewish sons in the protection of a French Catholic lady, Miss Antoinette Brun. Four years later, under Miss Brun’s auspices, Robert and Gerald Finaly were baptized in the Catholic Faith. It was after this that certain of their Jewish relatives became solicitous for the welfare of the Finaly boys and anxious to gain custody of them.

When it appeared that the French courts would require Robert and Gerald to leave Miss Brun and their Catholic home and move to Israeli with a Jewish aunt, plans were made. The boys must be taken across the border into Catholic Spain and hidden there. The hiding began last February, and involved in this holy plot to guard the Sacrament of Baptism were eight French priests and nuns.

Last month, the Finaly boys were found and returned to France. Previously found, and jailed, were the eight French religious. By an agreement between the Grand Rabbi of France and a prominent French Archbishop, the boys were to be turned over to their Jewish relatives, and the kidnapping charges against the priests and nuns were to be dropped. This seemed so eminently fair that the highest court in France labeled the agreement “justice” and closed the Finaly case.

To international Jewry, this was good news to hear. Baptism had come off as expendable. To restless Europe, the Finaly decision came as a kind of symbol. Here was the obituary for a European thing which was long suspected of having died. In the press, spokesmen for the people suggested that the “thing” was provincialism, or perhaps conservatism. Eight French priests and nuns thought it was the Faith.

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