Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

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Hare
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Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Hare » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:14 pm

Looking ahead to All Souls day, can someone please enlighten me as to how the sentiments of this hymn accord with current thinking on Purgatory? I am unhappy with the hymn, but if I don't programme it there are complaints......

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presbyter
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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by presbyter » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:49 pm

Hare wrote: current thinking on Purgatory


Well here's the current thinking.... http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2N.HTM

.........and here's the text, to save having to look it up.

John Henry Newman (1801–90)

1 Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made,
the souls to thee so dear,
in prison for the debt unpaid
of sin committed here.

2 These holy souls, they suffer on,
resigned in heart and will,
until thy high behest is done,
and justice has its fill.

3 For daily falls, for pardoned crime
they joy to undergo
the shadow of thy cross sublime,
the remnant of thy woe.

4 Oh, by their patient of delay,
their hope amid their pain,
their sacred zeal to burn away
disfigurement and stain.

5 Oh, by their fire of love, not less
in keenness than the flame;
oh, by their very helplessness,
oh, by thy own great name.

6 Good Jesus, help! Sweet Jesus, aid
the souls to thee most dear,
in prison for the debt unpaid
of sins committed here.

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presbyter
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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by presbyter » Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:41 pm

Wherein lieth thine infelicity, O lepus miser?

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VML
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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by VML » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:28 pm

..or, please can someone explain what is the problem with the hymn. I can't see one, though we haven't used it for ages.

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Hare » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:09 am

presbyter wrote:Wherein lieth thine infelicity, O lepus miser?


Thanks for the link re current thinking Fr Presbyter. It would seem that the hymn is still in accord.

My problem, I suppose, is embarrasment at the church's teaching when dealing with the bereaved. My parish has, in the last couple of years, lost several faithful souls, who were good people. Two of them left behind non6catholic spouses, who are firmly convinced that their late loved ones are in heaven(* see below!) Thhese people still come to mass from time to time, and always on All Souls. See, particularly, verse 2 of the hymn, and see my problem.....

* OT alert - I have never been able to understand why "heaven" does not have a capital letter....or earth for that matter....?!

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by musicus » Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:47 am

This interesting Wikipedia article suggests that belief in Purgatory is by no means restricted to Roman Catholicism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory
musicus - moderator, Liturgy Matters
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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Nick Baty » Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:09 am

Hare wrote:I have never been able to understand why "heaven" does not have a capital letter....or earth for that matter....?!

It's simply to do with house style. Although any collection which capped up all such words would need wider columns – H and E are much wider than h and e.

Have you ever notice that it's only really the church papers which differentiate between a church and the Church?

Newspapers tend to cap up Internet on the basis that's there's only one – so that would be a good reason for capping up He/His when referring to God. Once words become generic rather than specific they lose their initial caps too: eg laser for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation".

HIV and BBC are capped up throughout because they're abbreviations – although Aids and Cafod remain in lower case (apart from initial letter) because, although abbreviations, they form acronyms. And then there's all those brand names which have (wrongly in my opinion) lost their initial caps: Hoover, Stove, Biro etc

And I'm just wittering on because I don't get out much. As I wrote at the beginning of this cup of coffee, it really is just a question of house style which varies from publisher to publisher.

And I'm off-topic and must flee the bear who would steal the honey from my morning toast!

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by docmattc » Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:31 am

Nick Baty wrote:And I'm off-topic and must flee the bear who would steal the honey from my morning toast!


And the Doc who might genetically modify the bee that made the honey!

Its interesting that Tthe Catechism entry Presbyter links to gives a rather less negative view of purgatory than the hymn. It talks of 'undergoing purification' and make no mention of imprisonment or suffering.

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Nick Baty
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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Nick Baty » Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:58 am

docmattc wrote:And the Doc who might genetically modify the bee that made the honey!

I'll add that to my repertoire of chat-up lines!

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Lakelark » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:02 am

I too have reservations about this hymn, with its legalistic approach to the fate of the souls in Purgatory. The Church's liturgy (as opposed to the unofficial hymn) speaks of "rest", "light" and "peace" being granted to the faithful departed, and I for one would prefer our prayers to be offered in those terms.

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Nick Baty » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:09 am

I'm presuming hymns like this were written for the 12-monthly cycle of devotions: Sacred Heart, Rosary, All Souls etc. And I agree with Lakelark that it doesn't appear to sit well with the themes of the liturgy of the day: The Lord is my light, Resurrection etc. Glancing at the M&L planner, I see this hymn is suggested but, again, it is in contrast to All ye who seek a comfort sure, I know that my Redeemer lives etc.

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by FrGareth » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:29 pm

If verse 2 is causing worry, I presume it is around the concept of God's justice requiring a soul to be punished by purgatory.

My BTh dissertation (http://www.drgareth.info/Purgatory.pdf) was to establish how we could best describe purgatory in current theology, and concluded that In the light of what we is revealed in Scripture and Tradition, or doctrinally required, we assert:

a) There is a post-mortem state in which souls expiate their debts. (From the ‘last penny’ Gospel texts, and clearly in Paul VI’s teaching.)
b) Truly penitent souls undergo ‘purgatorial penalties’ in lieu of the penances they were unable to complete while alive. (Council of Florence)
c) Living persons may contribute suffrage towards this expiation by applying Mass, prayers or alms. (Implicit by the Gospel metaphor of a debtor’s prison; taught by Council of Florence.)
d) In order to avoid this state, one must ask the Lord’s mercy before one comes to judgment. (Mt 5:25-26 and Lk 12:58-59)
e) But one will only receive mercy to the extent one has been merciful to others. (Mt 18; the Lord’s Prayer); therefore souls detained in Purgatory have been unmerciful or else unwilling to ask for total forgiveness.
f) The Church grants a plenary indulgence to all its members who die ‘properly disposed’ and in the habit of ‘reciting some prayers’. (Paul VI)
g) Those baptised who have no need of purification behold the Beatific Vision immediately upon death. (Benedict XII)
h) If faults have been committed through a baptised person’s free will, that soul must be purified either by earthly penance or else postmortem before it can enjoy the beatific vision. (Benedict XII)
i) There is a fire through which one is saved, an experience available at the Final Judgment and, traditionally, also after the Particular Judgment. (I Cor 3; I Pt; Gregory the Great)
j) This salvific fire may be coterminous with the experience of seeing one’s poor works ‘burnt up’. (I Cor 3; I Pt; Gregory the Great)
k) There may also be an experience, at the return of the Master, whereby those who sinned in ignorance receive ‘few strokes of the lash’. (Lk 12:47)

In God, "justice and mercy have met", and what God causes or permits is both just and merciful. We might prefer to speak today of the souls in purgatory justly suffering because of the natural (should that be supernatural?) consequences of their own lack of mercy towards others, while the language of v.2 hints that God is personally inflicting the suffering due to His demand for justice. It's always difficult to find modes of expression that adequately allow for God's mercy, God's justice, and the fact that God (by virtue of being justice and mercy) is at some level always involved the outworking of natural consequences. So I don't find anything theologically incorrect with v2, though if it were at my All Souls' Mass I would be emphasising the mercy of God in providing just means for our prayers to liberate the souls in purgatory from the painful consequences of their own unmercifulness.

There is indeed a pastoral problem around funerals (and by extension, All Souls) where, much as the family would be greatly consoled by my declaring that their loved one is safe with God in heaven, theologically this is the one thing I cannot do. Now, this is a pretty problem given that the majority of families choose "in my Father's house is many mansions and I have gone to prepare a place for you" as the Gospel. I do have some wriggle room: that a place has been prepared doesn't mean that the soul is there (and neither does singing v2 imply that any particular loved one is suffering there either). My usual ending to a funeral homily is to declare that the loved one has entered into the presence of God and can be helped to complete this journey by the prayers of the living, thus segueing into the prayer of the faithful.

Ultimately, though, remember that Jesus himself said (Mt 18:34-35) that is we do not forgive our brother, the judge will hand us over to the torturer, and this is presumably the text to which Newman is alluding. We have been warned!

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by NorthernTenor » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:40 pm

Following on from Fr. Gareth's detailed exposition, it might be useful to consider Newman's hymn and the thought behind it in the context of the Guardian Angel's words to Gerontius, after he has heard the angels' song:

They sing of thy approaching agony,
Which thou so eagerly didst question of:
It is the face of the Incarnate God
Shall smite thee with that keen and subtle pain;
And yet the memory which it leaves will be
A sovereign febrifuge to heal the wound;
And yet withal it will the wound provoke,
And aggravate and widen it the more.
Ian Williams
Alium Music

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presbyter
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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by presbyter » Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:14 pm

FrGareth wrote:There is indeed a pastoral problem around funerals (and by extension, All Souls) where, much as the family would be greatly consoled by my declaring that their loved one is safe with God in heaven, theologically this is the one thing I cannot do.


Indeed.

Purgatory is a very positive doctrine, showing that God's mercy towards us extends beyond the grave and that those undergoing purification are saved - even if they are not yet ready to come fully into the presence of God. (But we don't teach that purgatory inevitably follows death........ do you think this hymn - or the Dream of Gerontius - implies that?)

Contrast my memory of the Evangelical Protestant on the telly, following the death of Princess Diana. He declared with an air of absolute certainty that she is now in hell. Oh my! Who appointed him judge, I wonder.

OK Gareth (for the benefit of the forum members who don't realise priests can do this) -

Let's say you or I are called in to an A & E department, where we are presented with an unconscious person who is on a ventilator - and fading rapidly. We anoint him/her AND give the Apostolic Pardon. What have we done?

For those unfamiliar with the Apostolic Pardon...

A. Through the holy mysteries of our redemption,
may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come.
May he open to you the gates of paradise
and welcome you to everlasting joy. Amen.

or..... (and this makes any Catholic relatives present really sit up!)

B. By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me,
I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins,
in the name of the Father....... etc.

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Re: Help, Lord, the souls that thou hast made

Post by Hare » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:06 am

Apalling Ignorance Alert

Forgive my ignorance, Fathers, but is the "Apostolic Pardon" used generally, or at priests' discretion - and if the latter, may one ask how the decision is reached?

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