ANSWER TO OBJECTIONS; AND CONCLUSION OF THIS FIRST ARTICLE
Now follows what you allege in your defence. S. Paul seems (Cor. xiv.) to want to have the service performed in a language intelligible to the Corinthians; you will see that at the same time he does not wish the service to be diversified with all sorts of languages, but only that the exhortations and hymns which were uttered by means of the gift of tongues should be interpreted, in order that the Church where any one might be should know what was said: And therefore he that speaketh by a tongue, let him pray that he may interpret. He intends, then, that the praises which were made at Corinth should be made in Greek: for as they were made not now as ordinary services, but as the extraordinary hymns of those who had this gift, for the gladdening of the people, it was reasonable that they should be made in intelligible language, or be at once interpreted. This he seems to show when he says lower down: If, therefore, the whole church come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in unlearned persons or infidels, will they not say that you are mad? And further on: If any spealy with a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and in course, and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him hold his peace in the church, and speak to himself and to God. Who sees not that he is not speaking of the solemn offices in the Church, which were only performed by the pastor, but of the hymns which were made through the gift of tongues, which he wished to be understood ? for in truth if they were not, it distracted the assembly, and was of no benefit. Several ancient Fathers speak of these hymns, and amongst others Tertullian, who, treating of the holiness of the agapes or love feasts of the ancients, says: “After the washing of hands and the lamps,-each one is pressed to sing publicly to God as he is able, out of the Holy Scriptures or his own heart.” (Apol. xxxix.)
This people glorify me with their lips, but their heart, &c. (Isaiah xxix. 13)This is meant of those who, singing and praying in any language whatever, speak of God mechanically, without reverence and devotion; not of those who speak a language unknown to them but known to the Church, and who, moreover, have their heart rapt unto God.
In the Acts of the Apostles they praised God in all tongues. So they should do; but in universal and Catholic offices there is need of a universal and Catholic language. Except for this, every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God the Father (Phil. ii:11)
In Deuteronomy (ch. 30), it is said that the commandments of God are not secret or sealed up; and does not the Psalmist say: The commandment of the Lord is lightsome: thy word is a lamp to my feet ?(Ps. xviii. cxviii) That is all very true, but it means when preached and explained, and properly understood. How shall they believe without a preacher! “(Romans x. 14). And all that the great Prophet David has said is not to be understood of everybody.
But you object to me: in any case, ought I not to seek the meat of my soul and of my salvation? Poor man, who denies it ? But if everybody goes to pasture like the old ewes, what is the need of shepherds ? Seek the pastures, but with your pastor. Should we not laugh at the sick man who would find his health in Hippocrates without the help of the doctor, or at him who would seek out his rights in Justinian without betaking himself to the judge? Seek, one would say to him, your health by means of doctors; seek your right and gain it, but by the hands of the magistrate. “What man of moderately sound mind does not understand that the exposition of the Scriptures is to be sought from those who are doctors in them ? ” says S. Augustine (De Moribus Eccl.) But if no one can find his salvation except the one who can read the Scriptures, what will become of so many poor ignorant people ? Surely they find and seek their salvation quite satisfactorily when they learn from the mouth of the pastor the substance of what they must believe, hope for, love, do, and ask of God. Believe that also according to the spirit that is true which the Wise Man says: Better is the poor man walking in his simplicity than the rich in crooked ways (Prov. xxviii. 6); and elsewhere: The simplicity of the just shall guide them (xi. 3) and : He that walketh sincerely walketh conficdently ( x. 9), where I do not mean to say that we must not take the trouble to understand, but only that we must not expect to find our salvation and our pasturage of ourselves, without the guidance of those whom God has appointed unto this end, according to the same Wise Man: Lean not upon thy prudence, and be not wise in thy own conceit (iii. K, 7). Which they do not practice who think that of their own wisdom they know all sorts of mysteries; not observing the order which God has established; who has made amongst us some doctors and pastors, -not all, and not each one for himself. Indeed, S. Augustine found that S. Anthony, an unlearned man, failed not to know the way of Paradise; and he with all his doctrine was very far therefrom, at that time amid the errors of the Manichaeans. (Confessions, viii. 8).
But I have some testimonies of antiquity, and some signal examples, which I would leave you at the end of this article as its conclusion.
S. Augustine ( De Verbis Domini. Serm. viii.) “Your charity was to be admonished that confession (confessionem) is not always the voice of a sinner; for as soon as this word of the Lector sounded, there followed the sound of your striking your breast; that is, as soon as you heard that the Lord said: I confess to thee, Father, immediately the word I confess sounded, you struck your breasts; now to strike the breast, what is it but to signify what lies in the breast, and with a visible stroke to chastise an unseen sin ? Why did you do this but because you heard I confess to thee, Father ? You heard I confess, but you did not take notice who was confessing. Now therefore take notice.” Do you see how the people heard the public reading of the Gospel, and did not understand it, except this word: I confess to thee, Father; which they understood by custom, because it was said just at the beginning of the Mass as we say it now. It was, no doubt, because the reading was in Latin, which was not their vulgar tongue.
But he who would see the esteem in which Catholics hold the holy Scripture, and the respect they bear it, should regard the great Cardinal Borromeo, who never studied in the Holy Scriptures save on his knees, it seeming to him that he heard God speaking in them, and that such reverence was due to so divine a hearing. Never was a people better instructed, considering the malice of the age, than the people of Milan under the Cardinal Borromeo; but the instruction of the people does not come by force of hurrying over the holy Bible, or often reading the mere letter of this divine Scripture, nor by singing snatches of the Psalms as the fancy takes one; but by using them, by reading, hearing, singing, praying to God, with a lively apprehension of the majesty of God to whom we speak, whose Word we read, evermore with that Preface of the ancient Church: sursum corda.
That great servant of God, S. Francis, of whose glorious and most holy memory the Feast was celebrated yesterday (*written probably October 5, 1595) throughout the whole world, showed us a beautiful example of the attention and reverence with which we ought to pray to God. This is what the holy and fervent Doctor of the Church, S. Bonoventure, tells of it. (In Vita Fr. “The holy man was accustomed to recite the Canonical Hours not less reverently than devoutly; for although he was labouring under an infirmity of the eyes, the stomach, the spleen, and the liver, he would not lean against wall or other support while he was singing, but recited the hours always standing and bare headed, not with wandering eyes, nor with any shortening of verse or word; if sometimes he were on a journey he then made a fixed arreangment of time, not omitting this reverent and holy custom on account of pouring rain; for he used to say: If the body eats quitetly its food which, with itself, is to be food of worms, how great should the peace and tranquillity with which the soul should take the food of life?”