Christ victorious

Question: When we say that Christ was victorious over the powers of the world in his death and resurrection, what do we mean? There is still so much suffering in the world.  — Ellie Springfield, Mo.  

Answer: This is a question that would require volumes for an adequate response.  

However, let me quote from William Barclay, a Scottish Presbyterian Scripture scholar of the 20th century, on this. He writes in his book “The Mind of Jesus” (HarperOne, $18.99): “No picture of Jesus is commoner in the thinking of the early Church than the picture of him as Christus Victor , the Conquering Christ. It may be that this is one of the pictures which is remote from us, but to a world haunted and hag-ridden by the thought of the demons there can have been nothing in this world so gloriously emancipating than the conviction that the power of the demons was broken. And even if in its particular expression this conception comes from a world of thought which is not our world, it still has the permanent truth that on the cross a blow was struck which disarmed evil forever. And it must be remembered that, however strange this idea is to Western, civilized, sophisticated man, missionaries tell us that for primitive peoples the greatest thrill that Christianity brings is the thrill of knowing that there is one loving God and not a world of hostile spirits and divinities.”  

W.P. Wittman photo

By no means does this say everything that could be said about the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but it says a lot. If we attended the Easter Vigil, the words of the great Easter Proclamation — the “Exsultet” — should still be ringing in our ears. I would encourage readers with Internet access to look up the “Exsultet.” You will find one of the greatest and most poetic statements of the power of Easter.  

There is, indeed, still much suffering in the world. But in Christ’s death and resurrection, the end of evil has begun.  

Bilingual possibilities  

Question: As a pastor, I am subject to an argument among my parish musicians about the use in Mass of traditional music to Latin texts. One side claims that Latin music should be used only in Latin Masses, and the other side says that Latin music may be used in English (and Spanish) Masses. Is there any rule about this?  — Name and address withheld  

Answer: Bilingual possibilities in the liturgy were established long before the Second Vatican Council, and they have taken hold in a more comprehensive way after the council. There is no explicit rule about this, but there is an assumption underlying all the official documents on liturgy and music that music set to Latin texts may be used in the vernacular liturgy.  

Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy states: “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art” (No. 112). It continues: “The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and cultivated with great care” (No. 114), and it asserts as a general principle, “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services” (No. 116).  

Numerous Church documents have reasserted these principles, and it has become commonplace to combine music set to Latin texts with vernacular liturgical celebration.  

--Msgr. M. Francis Mannion is a priest and theologian of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Send your questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.