Stern on Knox nNE of the mysteries of post' humousness — if there is such a word—is the growing or declining of a person's fame. I kept thinking of this as I was reading Miss G. B. Stern's most delightful account of her relations, since her conversion, with Mgr. Ronald Knox, in this month's " Blackfriars". What a problem, by the way, his name, even posthumously, is. Is be still Ronnie Knox or the late Ronnie Knox or the late Monsignor Ronald Knox, or just Knox., like Newman, one of those whose posthumous reputation has steadily grown? Miss Stern gives a charming account of how Knox — anyhow it's shorter — and she were one day seeking together von Ragel's grave at Downside. No one there seemed to be quite cep lain, and the two of them hunted in the church for the "noble pile with an elaborately carved description setting forth his less genial virtues". But no, there was nothing. So they went to the cemetery, the parish priest telling them "you'd better let me come with you because you might find it difficult to pick out the tombstone; I often Can't myself". At last they found an "all but anonymous" grave. "Rather impressive, wasn't it?" Knox remarked, and G. B. Stern felt that "no splendid edifice could have testified more impressively to the author of The Mystical Element in Religion than this plot of earth indistinguishable from all the others surrounding it." All of which may help to raise the question of why von HOgel has never hit the posthumous headlines, though so many stilt read him unobserved, while, one feels, Ronnie Knox will steadily increase in fame.
'Meriting' Salvation HOPING to save me from "Neo" Lutheranism and the dungeons of the Holy Office", the learned Editor of "Liturgy" sends me the following note on the use of the Latin word, merere, meruimus, etc. (meriting e.g. salvation), saying that the problem can only be solved by recourse to what is known of Christian and Liturgical Latin—not apparently as precise as we usually think.
Fr. Crichton writes:
"Dom Bernard Bone and Mlle. Christine Mohrmann, who arc probably the two greatest scholars in this sphere today, in their note on meriturn (Ordinaire de la Messy, p. 85) write that it is a word whose meaning or force (valeur) can be determined from the context, but that by itself it is neutral and can remain so. We can merit a punishment or a reward, they continue, and the translation 'merit' in the prayer Nobis quo que peccatoribus (upon which they are commenting) would have completely falsified the sense. They accordingly translate: Ne pesez -pas la valeur de nos actes" (not weighing our deserts — B.O.W. Missal). "Frequently, the verb is not used in a theological sense in the liturgy where it often means no more than 'we are able'. This is confirmed by the translation adopted in the Missel des Fideles, one of the very best missals in existence. There the editors have opted for the 'enabling' sense; 'nous avons pu recevoir l'auteur de la vie, noire seigneur'. The Missel Biblique which aims at an extreme simplicity in its translations omits the word altogether. Likewise, in the prayer after the Salve Regina where the verb 'mereretur' occurs, the editors translate 'pour qu'ils (the body and soul of our Lady) puixsent devenir une elemeure digne de votre Fils . . .' Even in classical Latin, according to Lewis and Short, nterere can mean 'get' or 'obtain'. It would seem that theologically minded people with little or no knowledge of Christian Latin have read theological meanings into contexts where they do not exist. It may be that this has something to do with the uncertainty that hangs over the word 'deserved' in the Prayer for England. Even in my lifetime we have been switched from 'deserved' to 'counted' and back again three times."
Capital Punishment Moral
Kennedy's play "Murder Story", with two learned Jesuits, last Sunday, led to a view of it which, I feel sure, was not the intended moral. But did it ever strike the author? In this almost documentary play about an obviously morally innocent retarded boy condemned to death through finding himself an accessory in the murder of a policeman, the victim, with the help of the chaplain and the kindly prison warders, dies nobly and with a deep Christian spirit. In other words, so far as one can see, the sentence was the means of delivering him from a parentage and environment which would hold him retarded, almost animal-like and a-religious all his life. Surely, from the Christian point of view, capital punishment, however unjust, turned out in this case to be his salvation. It gives one to think.
Americans and Genealogy cENEALOGY is often considered an outdated and snob interest, but its appeal remains pretty widespread, not least in super-democratic countries like the United States. I am reminded of this because I have just been sent two genealogical volumes. The first is called "World Nobility and Peerage" (Specialised Reference Publishing Co., 34, Seymour Street, W.11 and the other is the 1957 Annuaire de la Noblesse de France et d'Europe, an annual publication on which the first is based. The English volume, after covering the nobility of this country and Europe, devotes nearly 200 pages to the "Distinguished American Families of Established Lineage." The French volume devotes many pages to Americans who can trace their descent to European kings, in other words who have "blood royal" in their veins. Talking to one of the editors, the Comte d'Angerville, who is English of old French descent, I heard that the Americans are immensely interested in family descents and the romanticism of royal descent, and I am sure that if American readers of this paper see these lines they will want to make enquiries about these books. Do You Qualify ?
RR1TAIN, with its very strict College of Arms, is much privileged in the strictness with which it controls claims to nobility, arms and family trees. The continental conception of nobility as a social class, together with the regretted disappearance of monarchs, has led to much laxity. In England only peers are noble; abroad all descendants of nobility are noble. It is to some extent to sort out the wheat from the chaff that the editors of these volumes have undertaken the heavy work. Comte d'Angerville wants to ensure that only families with proved descent of 200 years of nobility are inserted. I should think that among the many immigrants from the Continent to this country there must be quite a few qualified to appear. and as most would be Catholic, our readership may contain a good proportion. Comte d'Angerville would be glad to hear from them, and meanwhile they may well be interested to study these books which tell so much of family histories of Europe — and America. The Holy See, by the way, is not among those who view this subject as of snob value only. The Pope, in fact. has only just th created a new tank in e Pian Order, founded by so recent a pontiff as Pius IX, the "Grand Golden Collar" for leaders of people and others in very high authority whose services the Holy See wishes to recognise. On the other hand I have not heard for a long time of hereditary Papal titles being bestowed. But about this I may well be wrong.
Eight Word Sermon nR. F. S. Rickards, of Haver" breaks in Lancashire. tells me, in connection with the letters on preaching appearing on page 2, of the best sermon he ever heard. It consisted of only eight words. "During the blitz on Liverpool I went one evening to confession to a church somewhere near the docks. I had confessed my sins and the good priest behind the grille began his homily. 'My son' he said 'be good . . .' And at that moment there was an ear-splitting explosion which I later learned had come from a 'block-buster' which had landed a few streets away. I thought we had received a direct hit and was very shaken. But my confessor finished his instruction as though nothing had
happened: ' . whilst you have time.'"