The faint croaks, whispers and contracting-out silences which are Mr Norman St JohnStevas' description (April 18) of community singing in Catholic churches really made me wince. If this is his own experience, I certainly cannot help feeling sorry for him. On the other hand, I must say I don't agree with what he says, because he portrays Catholics as being a pretty inhuman lot.
Singing is part of man's very nature. Let Norman go onto the factory floor, stand in a bus queue, go to a pub an he'll find music oozing out of people. It's something they just can't do without. It's an expression of happiness, which, to my mind, is more at home in a Catholic church than in a factory, bus queue or pub.
Here's how to get people to sing in church. There are basically two techniques: the "Layman in Distress" (LID) or the "Priest in Distress" (P1D). Of the two. the second is probably more effective, because whereas no one cares much whether a layman makes himself look a fool in public, this is not so with a priest. Everyone will have a shot at mounting a rescue operation.
Nevertheless, the layman does have a certain bonus. He can screw up his courage, face the congregation, raise both arms expectantly, and then, singing himself, glare defiantly at all of them, preferably show log signs or increasing blood pressure if little or no response is forthcoming. Putting the LID on does at least give some results.
I feel a little disappointed that Norman gives the
Methodists a sort of divine monopoly in this activity. In the church 1 attend, we sing something called the "Parishioners' Mass," which is a sure starter because the tunes are all well known and the
words so very sincere and meaningful. Come to think of it, send Norman a copy of it gratis. Better than that, I'll even
let him have one free if he
wants. That applies to everyone, too! I don't intend to
pay the postage, either, so stamped addressed envelope, please.
Ralph Midgley "Westavon," 10 John Bold Avenue, Stoney Stanton, Leicester.
Mr St John-Stevas must really check his facts (April 18), The Fathers of Nicaea not only wanted to start off the creed by saying "We Believe," they actually did so. (et Denzinger 86). (Mgr) Joseph C. Buckley Sacred Heart Presbytery, Grange Court Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.
May I express my warm support for Norman St JohnStevas' remarks about the Mass (April IS). "We Believe" is not the only example of inaccurate translation in the English version of the Mass. Another is the phrase "said the blessing" in the Consecration. The Latin is "Benedixit." Our Lord blessed the bread and wine. Why use the awkward term "Said the blessing?"
If we want a dignified, accurate and beautiful translation for many of the prayers in the Mass we can go no further than the Book of Common Prayer. That would be a better use of non-Catholic (yet Catholic derived) liturgical development than the introduction of hymn singing which is entirely alien to us.
Uvedale Tristram 27 Dorney Grove, Weybridge, Surrey.
I think Mr Norman St JohnStevas (April 18) is confusing temptation with sin when he queries Sister Loretto's statement that "Christ . . was not capable of sin". Because he was God Our Lord could not sin; because he was Man he could experience temptation, and we know from the Gospels the soft options put before him by the Devil to short-circuit his Messianic mission by the performance of miracles which were nothing less than "stunts".
Satan, who disappeared "for a time", returned in the Garden of Gethsemane, and we find Our Lord facing the temptation that the chalice of suffering should pass from him — no "facsimile" here, as suggested by Mr St John-Stevas, but a very real appeal to Christ's human nature.
Free will does not necessarily mean freedom to commit sin; otherwise Our Lady would have been an automaton.
(Mrs) Noreen White 31A Alexandra Road, SWI9.
I have been reading an article in your paper (March 14) written by Mr Norman St JohnStevas. It is about the ordination of women priests in the Anglican Church. Now, your correspondent advocates this for the Roman Catholic Church. I do not agree, although I know he is entitled to his opinion. We have not heard that Christ called women to be among the Apostles. I know that he had many devout women helping him, but he ordained no woman.
1 do not agree with Mr St John-Stevas, when he says this about our Blessed' Lady: "She was a real woman of flesh and blood, with all the strength and weaknesses of the feminine temperament."
I don't agree she had all the weaknesses, for we are told that she was conceived without original sin. She therefore had not the weaknesses of human nature. That is what we were taught. Is it still acceptable? Raphael O. Ayodeji Abeokuta,
c/o Imo P.O.W. State,