Underground catechism?| National Catholic Register

  • Virtually all ideas related to the 12 gifts were not only completely uncontroversial in Anglican England, but were shared by both Catholics and Anglicans.
  • These include: the Ten Commandments; the nine fruits of the Spirit; the eight beatitudes; the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; the six days of creation; the five books of the Pentateuch; the four Gospels; the three theological virtues; and the Old and New Testaments.

    There would have been without reason for Catholics in Protestant England to be secretive or furtive about it all. Virtually everyone held these doctrines; they have all been approved by the established Anglican Church.

    In fact, of all the proposed interpretations Fr. Stockert gives, only one – the seven sacraments – was actually a particularly Catholic belief that could have been dangerous at any time during the anti-Catholic persecutions.

    Because the P. Stockert’s interpretation doubles the interpretations of some numbers, it’s actually less more than one in 12. fr. Stockert cites at least 15 or 16 different ideas relating to the 12 days. Thus, more than 93 percent of Father’s ideas. Stockert’s summons were completely uncontroversial.

    The idea of ​​going to the trouble of encoding openly professed beliefs in every Anglican parish every Sunday makes no sense.

  • Equally remarkably, virtually every idea in Catholic theology that has been controversial by Anglicans is absent from interpretations of the “clandestine catechism“.
  • For example, the Anglican “39 Articles of Religion” includes the statement that “the Bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction in this kingdom of England”. If any Catholic creed was most hotly contested by the Anglican establishment and likely to lead to persecution, it would be the doctrine of the Petrine primacy of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, and his universal jurisdiction over the universal Church.

    If, then, any Catholic doctrine were a prime candidate for a “clandestine catechism,” it would be that doctrine (along with the indefectibility of the faith of the Church of Rome, against which the 39 articles declare: “As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome has erred, not only in their way of life and ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.”)

    Yet the “Catholic origins” interpretation of the “12 Days of Christmas” makes no mention of the papacy or the indefectibility of the Roman Church.

    Likewise, there is no mention of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which the 39 articles describe as “blasphemous fables and dangerous deceptions”. Nor do we hear of the “Roman doctrine concerning purgatory, pardons, worship and adoration, both images and relics, and also the invocation of saints”, which the 39 articles all state “reluctant to the Word of God”.

    Interpreted as an “underground catechism”, “The 12 Days of Christmas” is a double failure: not only does it unnecessarily encode beliefs that were absolutely uncontroversial, but it ignores virtually all beliefs that one would actually want to encode. for a secret catechesis.

  • There seems to be little or no obvious meaning, and therefore little or no mnemonic value or memory aid, to the imagery of the lyrics as far as Catholic interpretations are concerned.
  • For example, we have, on the one hand, the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, the eight beatitudes and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and, on the other, dancing ladies, milking maids, and swimming swans.

    Is there anything in these images that evokes these ideas more than anything else? Are dancing ladies more like fruits of the Spirit than gifts? Is it useful to have eight maids milking rather than six, or nine ladies dancing rather than seven?

    In some cases, admittedly, we might be able to make connections between the images and the meanings offered – if we’re smart enough.

    For example, two doves could be said to signify the Old and New Testaments, inasmuch as two doves satisfied the sacrifice for purification after childbirth according to Leviticus 12 (in the Old Testament) – and Joseph and Mary actually offered this sacrifice in Luke 2 (in the New). I’m not sure this connection would help someone who doesn’t already know the Old and New Testament well enough, but that’s the way it is.

    Even better, the laying of the six geese could remind us of the six days of creation, as the geese are involved in a creative process that recalls the Lord’s command in Genesis 1 to every creature to produce offspring after its kind.

    But how are three French hens more or less like the three theological virtues than three of anything else? Or how are four “colly birds” (i.e. black-feathered birds) more like the four gospels or the four evangelists than four of anything else? (In Christian art, blackbirds often represent temptation or the devil, making them an odd symbol for the gospels or evangelists.)

    Once the four ‘colly birds’ have become ‘calling birds’, it might be possible to interpret ‘calling’ as ‘communicating’, thus evoking the message of the four evangelists. But since the “calling birds” version of the lyrics is only well attested after the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, we have no reason to think that the interpretation would have been possible before Catholics were no longer persecuted in England – even if the four gospels or evangelists were a particularly Catholic idea, which of course was not the case.

    The only image in the song for which Fr. Stockert offers a specific interpretation based on the image is the partridge, which he says represents Christ. According to Fr. Stockert, the mother partridge

    pretends to hurt himself to deceive the predators of his helpless chicks, in memory of Christ’s expression of sadness at the fate of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How many times would I have sheltered you under my wings, like a hen does its chicks, but you would not have wanted it so…”

    This uplifting interpretation, however, ignores the more usual negative associations of the partridge, related to Jeremiah 17:11:

    Like the partridge that gathers a brood that it did not hatch,
    it is the same for someone who gets rich but not by right;
    in the middle of his days they will leave him,
    and in the end he will be a fool.

    In accordance with this verse, the partridge in Christian art is often a symbol of deceit, theft and the devil. Not always; the partridge can be used as a positive symbol of the Church or of truth. Yet if the line was intended to evoke Christ comparing himself to a hen gathering her chicks, like Fr. Stockert’s account suggests, why not just use a hen in the first place?

  • To compound the previous point, the specific images in the version of the song as the father. Stockert’s comments on were not standardized throughout Catholic persecution; many textual variants are attested.
  • For example, the final gift is variously attested as “12 ships sailing”, “12 bulls roaring”, “12 mares pulling”, “12 bells ringing”, and “12 roosters crowing”. ”

    Other variations present include “hares a-running”, “calves a-calving”, “ladies singing”, and “steerts a-running” (I haven’t been able to find out what a “steert” could be , unless it’s a typo for “steer”). My favorite variation is another alternate line for the ‘4 Collie Birds’, which was sung on May 2, 1913 by Mrs. Hezeltine, 73, of Camborne, Cornwall, as ‘4 Cornish Birds’.

    The inconsistency of the imagery reinforces the arbitrariness of Catholic interpretations, which are in reality only based on the numbers from 1 to 12.

    The fact that the numbers 1 to 12 can each be associated with an idea or principle of the Catholic faith means that literally any counting song could receive a similar Catholic “interpretation”, none necessarily more or less plausible or probable than another.

  • Finally, as a Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas” was sung, at most, a few weeks a year. Thus, literally any nursery rhyme, which could be sung year-round, would be a more effective “underground catechism.”
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