Catholic University of America.

American ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 online

. (page 23 of 78)
Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 23 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to the ordinary master. His Virgin Queen is bom aloft by a
throng of joyous angels, child-like figures that suggest the sin-

* Iconographie de V Immaculie Conception de la tris Sainte Vi^rge Marie y ou de
la meilleure maniire de ripresenter ce mystire. Par Mgr. J. B. Malon. Bruxelles :
Goemaere. 1856.

Digitized by



lessness of early innocence. The only suggestion of contrast
comes from the dark clouds that form the lower background of
the picture, and thus supply the artistic element represented by the
dragon without marring the happy atmosphere which the figure
of the Immaculate, " all fair," inspires. For this reason Murillo's
pictures have sometimes been called the "Ascension of the Virgin,"
to distinguish them alike from the image portrayed in the Apoca-
lypse and from the "Assumption," in which latter the Eternal
Father or Holy Trinity is frequently presented in order to express
the act of receiving our Lady into heaven, whilst the symbols of
the crescent and the sefpent are omitted. No painter has ever
so completely exhausted this difficult theme, preserving at the
same time absolute simplicity of composition, as did Murillo, the
devout lover of our Blessed Lady. There have been critics, like
Caxtier, who have found fault with the drawings of Murillo's
figures, and others who have failed to realize the lofty concept
which from the religious point of view the picture presents ; but
there is only one opinion regarding the marvellous effect of his
coloring, which gives to his pictures of the Immaculata an almost
supernatural character : the whole image seems as if it were melt-
ing away, so to speak, from the earthly to the region of the purely
ideal and heavenly.


Qu, A wealthy parishioner leaves to a number of the clergy whom
he wishes to befriend a bequest of several thousand dollars for Masses.
One of the legatees, pastor of a poor country parish, receives five
hundred dollars. The number of Masses to be said is not stipulated
in the will. Hence the priest believes himself justified in interpreting
the mind of the testatpr regarding the number of Masses to which he
is bound as legatee, by the custom which the deceased had of offering
atx>ut five times the regular amount set by the diocesan statutes for
Masses requested by him. Can the priest justly interpret the terms
of the will so as to fulfil the obligation of stipendiary by saying one
hundred Masses ?

Resp, The legatee who, knowing the habit of the deceased
during life of bestowing generous stipends, assumes that the tes-

Digitized by



tator meant to be equally generous after death, may be correct in
his interpretation ; but this does not appear to give him warrant,
cither in law or in conscience, to act upon the assumption in the
execution of the bequest.

The terms of a written testament are taken to declare the
just will of the testator, who is supposed to have made use
of conventional language and to have realized the effect of
such language in a legal instrument. It is a canonical prindple,
accepted in jurisprudence generally, that when the language
of the testament is actually ambiguous, its normal interpre-
tation follows the law and custom of the society in which it is
executed, rather than the assumption of private or individual
motives.^ This applies mainly to the forum externum. Now
as to the obligation in conscience, which devolves upon the
executor or legatee to carry out the terms of the will, it may in-
deed happen that the words of a testament do not convey the
exact expression of the testator's will, as known to those who are
familiar with the motives that prompted its provisions. But in
that case, when there is question of bequests for pious or relig-
ious uses, the Council of Trent insists that the matter be decided
only by the Bishop and not by the executor or an inditndual legatee,
" Episcopi possunt voluntatem testatoris interpretari, ita tamen ut
commutatio proprie dicta non verificatur." * The' Bishop is the
interpreter of the will, though never to such an extent as to
exempt the legatee from a clearly expressed obligation. The rea-
son of such limitation is obvious; for if the construction of a legal
will were left to the judgment of the legatee to act on the sole
probability of motives which are supposed (rightly or not) to
have actuated the deceased, numerous abuses would at once arise
to violate the testamentary dispositions, and to lead to misappli-
cation and injustice in practice.

Where the legatee is certain of the disposition of the testator,
because he has an express verbal or other assurance, though this
be not contained in the will, there he is free to interpret the
written instrument accordingly, and in his own favor. But is the
legatee certain of the testator's intention in the present instance ?

* €/, Lehmkuhl, Tkgo/, Mora/is, Vol. I, n. Ii68, ii.
« Trid. XXII, 6, 8.

Digitized by



We think not The deceased had indeed the invariable custom
of giving a stipend larger than that fixed by the ordinary statute
or by custom. But it is a well-known fact that personal con-
tact influences the manner of our charity, and that a direct
intercourse with authority induces generosity which at other times
might limit itself to the required fulfilment of a law or custom.
This truth is demonstrated by the method which leads pastors to
collect personally from their people instead of making merely
the appeal and of sending the ordinary collectors to gather the
results. The gift made to the priest, hand to hand, even by those
who are not sordid or actuated by mere human respect, is
usually greater than what would be laid by from a simple sense
of duty.

Hence we believe that the obligation of saying the Masses,
when a number is not clearly defined by the terms of the will,
should be regulated not by the individual view but by the statute
law of the diocese and ordinary custom of the locality, just as
in all other cases where a sum of money is left for Masses


In a recent letter the Sacred Congregation of Rites answers
a request from the Right Rev. Bishop of Natchez, as to the law-
fulness of using electric lights on the altars of our churches. The
document is in fact merely a repetition of a decision given by the
same Congregation under date of June 4, 1895, stating that elec-
tric lights may not be used on the altar in place of liturgical lights,
which must be of pure wax ; but that there is no objection to their
use for lighting dark churches, or for ornament — provided this be
done in a becoming way, and so as to exclude anything like imi-
tation of spectacular or theatrical show.

At first sight the distinction between lights for the purpose of
"worship {ad cultum) and lights for decoration or ornament may
not be very apparent, since all decoration in the church and
around the altar has for its purpose to express our worship. What
is really meant by the decree is that the splendor of the decora-
tion should not lead us to identify it with the object of our adora-

Digitized by



tion. We can imagine the lights on the altar artificially so ar-
ranged as to make us lose sight of the six wax candles with their
sacrificial symbolism, thus making of the altar of sacrifice a sort
of showy repository. Here the splendor of the decoration would
obscure the characteristic features of the Catholic worship, in
which the altar of the Holy Sacrifice is ever the central idea. Or
again, the arrangements of artificial lights may be made to pro-
duce effects which make an unreality of simple faith. Thus, if a
strong light were placed behind the Sacred Host so as to give
the impression that such light issued in a manner from the Blessed
Sacrament, it might mislead the simple-minded into superstition,
and lessen the sincerity of our faith, which is given despite the
impression made on the senses :

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur
Sed auditu solo tuto creditur.

A display of lights, artificially arranged in such a way as to
attract attention to itself rather than to the centre of worship, which
is the Real Presence, would be an abuse in so far as it casts into
the background what is the most important and central object of
our faith and actual adoration. People would say : " Look at
the lights on the Tabernacle ! " instead of " Look at God in the
humble Host ! " To argue that the artificial splendor of the dec-
oration serves mainly to enhance the act of adoration is to sub-
stitute a motive for an effect. If it were true that the glare and
display of artistically arranged lights around the Sacred Host
had the same effect upon the average spectator or worshipper as
the little red flame of the solitary sanctuary lamp, then it would
be proper to make such display ; but as a matter of fact this is
not the case. We are not told that the little Babe of Bethlehem
sought to inspire faith in His Divine Personality by donning the
angelic splendors that had drawn the shepherds to seek Him.
And we cannot imagine St. Joseph to have attempted any trick
of decoration to impress the visitors to the cave with the splen-
dor of the Son of God, whatever splendor there might have been
in the gifts of those who surrounded Him. In the same way the
Church refrains from all attempt of decoration which might with-
draw the soul from the act of faith by transferring it to admira-

Digitized by



tion for the [splendor of display. Her gifts and ornaments are,
indeed, both a means to draw the adorers to the Divine Presence,
and also to serve as an expression of her own appreciation of what
is due to Him who is our King. But the theatrical arrangements
which are calculated to impress the spectator, making him lose
sight of the humble presence of the Host and of the sacrificial
character of the altar, actually lessen faith in proportion as they
cease to be anything more than evident expressions of gratitude
and worship.

We do not, indeed, wish to make the impression that electric
lights are out of place round about the altar or in the sanctuary ;
but the arrangement should always leave the sacrificial altar with
its wax candles a distinct feature undisguised by the ornamental
illumination that adds beauty to the house of God.


Scripta manent. The printed utterances of our Catholic jour-
nals on the subject of the " Philippine Friars " show that editors
also may be deceived. Whilst it is always possible and good
form to acknowledge an error, there is little or no apology to be
made and accepted for wanton personal attacks upon high officials,
whether in the State or in the Church, made on the basis of par-
tial and uncertain reports. Such irresponsible language is likely
to lower the estimate which many unprejudiced Americans have
of the Catholic Church, and it is also apt to defeat the purpose of
benefiting the interests of the Friars by provoking the just resent-
ment of the officials in whose hands the settlement of the diffi-
culties is placed. Rome in its dealings with the Taft Commission
has shown a very different spirit — altogether temperate and
conciliatory, without sacrificing any principle. And Rome is in
possession of the facts. That ought to be a lesson to those who
are responsible for the reckless charges of bigotry against persons
who in fact have shown themselves well-disposed to see justice
done to Catholics, whilst they were not blind to the actual con-
dition of things in the Philippines. Some of those things are
humiliating enough, and they suggest that we would do well to
look to things that need correction in our own camp. There is

Digitized by



no gain to the Catholic cause from the practice of white-washing
ruins under the plea that they were at one time destined to and
did serve as part of the grand structure of the Church. The
decayed material should be thrown out of the Church, and it
behooves us who dwell in the Church to do it.



It is to-day an accepted theory that the light-giving power of the
gas flames employed in artificial illumination depends on the pres-
ence of highly-heated solid matter. When the air-supply is much
restricted, a hydrocarbon flame smokes strongly. The temperature
is comparatively low, as part of the heat energy liberated must be
sacrificed to effect the decomposition of the gas. This reaction,
therefore, takes place at the expense of the luminous efficiency. The
light is most intense when as much carbon is separated as can be
wholly burned in the flame. An increase in the supply of air is re-
quired to effect this oxidation. The greatest heat, on the contrary, is
developed when a still larger volume of air is mixed with the gas in
such a proportion that the flame has a minimum volume. In this case
no carbon is set free and the flame is nearly invisible.

It is obvious that our modem highly-perfected incandescent mantie
light differs only in the character of the solid matter, and in the way
in which it is introduced into the flame.

This mode of producing light can be traced back to 1826, when
Lieutenant Drummond, of the British Navy, first used the calcium
light in geodetic survey operations. Sir Goldsworthy Gumey was the
inventor. When, however, large dense masses of lime are employed
as in this method, no ordinary flame can concentrate heat enough to
produce incandescence, and hence the oxy-hydrogen jet must he used.

Experiments have shown that a mixture of these gases can be
burned at but a limited rate. A jet of large cross-section is either
unsafe or inefficient ; while a small one cannot be urged beyond a cer-
tain pressure limit, as the flame is thereby blown out. One thousand
candle-power has been claimed for the calcium light. More conserva-

Digitized by



tive estimates place the figures at eight hundred. In ordinary prac-
tice about one-half of this is attained.

Ten years later Talbot published the fact that a piece of cloth
soaked in calcium chloride solution would produce a powerful lumi-
nosity to an alcohol flame. This was the germ of incandescent lighting,
/. /., saturating a combustible fibre with salt of a metal, burning off the
organic matter, and leaving a skeleton of the metal in so finely a divided
condition that when subjected to the heat of an ordinary non-luminous
flame it becomes incandescent.

While all solid bodies, if heated enough, give off light, a certain
class of substances possesses this emissivity in a high degree. The
majority of these are the oxides of a series of metals known as the
metals of the earth. " Earth '* is the general name attached to these
compounds. This emissivity may depend to some extent upon the
fact that they can bear high temperatures without dissipation ; but this
is certainly not the whole reason. They seem to stand in some as yet
obscure relation to radiant energy.

Calcium sulphide, for instance, phosphoresces vividly in the dark.
This substance is better known as Balmain's or luminous paint. The
only satisfactory Rontgen ray screen depends upon calcium and
barium salts. Vivid phosphorescence is not uncommon when com-
pounds of many of these metals are subjected to '* cathode rays,'* /./.,
the peculiar radiation given off at the negative pole or ** cathode"
when an electric discharge occurs in extreme vacua.

Among metals not belonging to this group of ''earths,'* zinc
and chromium furnish analogous compounds.

The simple elements are not ordinarily refractory enough to serve
a useful purpose as radiants. Carbon and platinum are notable excep-
tions. In intrinsic brilliancy the **arc" light surpasses all others.
The arc, however, is itself non- luminous : the light is really due to
incandescent carbon.

In i84* Cruickshank took out a patent for a cage or basket of fine
platinum wire to be suspended in a non-luminous flame. He found
that coating the wire with magnesia improved the light, but he could
not succeed in making the coating adhere. In 1878 Edison experi-
mented with a similar process at a time when he was making efforts to
utilize platinum, in the electric glow lamp. All attempts, however, in
this direction have proved failures. The fusion point of platinum is too
near that of proper light-giving incandescence, and moreover it deterio-
rates giadually if subjected to prolonged heating in a gas flame.

Digitized by



These early platinum mantles were heated by alcohol flames, or by
the combustion of water-gas. This gas was produced by passing
steam over burning coal. About this time Bunsen, in Heidelberg,
invented the now familiar burner which goes by his name. The
invention has done more for the gas industry than any other invention
or discovery connected with it.

Lime and magnesia proved not refractory enough. The former
absorbed moisture and crumbled when not in the flame, and the latter
contracted and volatilized in its heat. Clamond moulded threads
from a magnesia paste, and formed them while plastic into mantles or
cones. He experimented for a time with inverted burners, the
flames being driven into the burners from above. Bergemann,
in 1852, noticed that thorium oxide gave when heated a brilliant
greenish light. From this it may be inferred that the story how
Auer von Welsbach came to invent the modem mantle light is im-
probable. It is said that while he was working with solutions of thoria
in Bunsen* s laboratory, the liquid boiled over and evaporated on the
ragged edges of the asbestos mill -board which was placed under the
beaker. The flame lapping over the edges caused the oxide to give off"
a brilliant light. It must be taken for granted that Bunsen and Wels-
bach knew the properties of the earths before the latter started on his
seven years' course of experiment which resulted in his patent of 1885.
Oxide of zirconium or, more simply, the " earth'* zirconia, was the
basis of his first mantle. Lanthana and yttria formed one-sixth each of
the composition. The zirconia mantles were a commercial feilure. They
shrunk seriously, had no cohesion, and four candle-power per cubic
foot per hour of gas consumed was their average luminous efficiency.
He tried thoria next, and found himself on the road to success. Wels-
bach had the idea that pure thoria possessed a high emissive power.
Rigorous investigation, however, proved it to be very inferior in
this respect ; it gave less than one candle-power per cubic foot of gas.

He soon perceived that though this substance had all the desirable
qualities as a basis of the mantle's structure, the real incandescence
was due to an impurity. Much painstaking research revealed that
this *' impurity " was the " earth" ceria. When it was present to
the extent of one per cent, the thoria mantle gave a maximum
efficiency. When all conditions are favorable, this may rise to twenty
candle-power per cubic foot of gas.

The field today is held by the thoria-ceria and the alumina-chro-
mium oxide mantles. The former (Welsbach) fall off" decidedly in

Digitized by



emissive power, but they keep their shape excellently and possess re-
markable mechanical strength and durability. The latter (Sunlight)
are said to maintain candle-power better, but they are liable to more
mishaps, owing to shrinkage and fragility. This shortens their life and
indirectly affects their candle-power. For it is necessary, in order that
this may be maintained, that the mantle, as already remarked, should
not work into an eccentric position or become distorted.

Considerations of cost for a long time made it problematical
whether the incandescent gas light would become a commercial suc-
cess. Welsbach's raw material were thorite and orangite, found in
Norway. They are crude hydrated silicates of thorium, containing
from 50 to 72 per cent, thoria and traces of ceria and other earths.
These minerals were rare and costly. At that time monazite, from
which to-day most of the thoria is derived, appeared to be still more
rare. This mineral contains phosphates of the earths, and thoria is
present to the extent of from one to sixteen per cent. Nitric acid is
used to extract the thoria. Thorium nitrate as derived from monazite
has fellen in price from about two hundred and fifty dollars per pound
to five. Diligent search revealed large deposits of monazite in the
United States (North Carolina), Canada, Brazil, Siberia, etc.

We have at present no better developed method of obtaining light
than to raise the temperature of a solid. The higher this temperature
the more light the solid emits. In the flame, therefore, from which
heat is derived, the combustion must be as complete, rapid, and con-
centrated as possible. The design of the burner employed in heating
the mantle must meet these conditions. Of the many burners on the
market few only are really successful. It is a difficult matter to design
one that will make a perfect mixture of gases and burn them with a
rigid flame exactly where wanted and in the smallest possible space.
This space is that comprised within a moderate depth immediately
over the mantle's surfece. Bandsept's burner has never been sur-
passed. The tube is built up interiorly of widening truncated cones,
one above the other, bases downward. Air inlet holes are provided
about the bases of the cones. Gas enters below through a conical in-
jector so designed as to cause a divergence of the jet. De Mare's is
made of two elongated cones with their truncated apices together.
The now much advertised Kern burner combines both designs, and
yields practically the same photometric results. Where the mantle is
to produce its best effect, no burner inferior to these should be used.
The object sought in all good burners is control of the proportion of

Digitized by



gas and air, complete mixture of the same, and direct impact of the
flame upon the mantle. The mixture must be made while the gases are
passing at comparatively high speed through a short tube. A perfect
mixture is very likely impossible under such conditions. It is more
than probable that the high result of twenty-four candle-power per
cubic foot of gas was attained, by the manufacturers who claim it for
their mantles, with the aid of devices by which mixture was perfected
before the gases arrived at the burner.

When the conditions upon which a high flame temperature depends
are not maintained — for instance, by employing a burner of inferior
design, or by faulty adjustment of a good one — a ciu-ious blackening
of the mantle is often observed. When gas is in excess, carbon is
liberated and deposited upon the cooler part of the mantle, which is
usually the top. Such a deposit can frequently be burned off" by sup-
plying more than sufficient air ; the unused and highly heated oxygen
will reach the deposit and gradually oxidize it. If, however, the
burner is not powerful enough, the dissipation may be only partial.
If the formation of the deposit be closely watched, it will be observed
that its growth from a minute black spot to dimensions which may
envelop the febric for as much as two-thirds of its surface down ta
the hottest zone, is one of rapid acceleration. It is curiously analo-
gous to the growth of bacilli in a culture medium : one microbe the
origin of a multitude. Still more curious is the fSact that the influence
of ceria upon the mantle's emissivity is accounted for by some phys-
ical reactions as those known to be involved in the formation of the
carbon deposit. This is ascribed to the catalytic properties of this
carbon. By catalysis is meant a chemical process initiated or main-
tained by the mere presence under the proper conditions of a body
which itself is to all appearance in no way altered. Any one possess-
ing a Welsbach may try an experiment in catalysis. This mantle
usually is suspended from a loop of fine platinum wire. If after the
mantle has been brought to full incandescence, the gas is suddenly
turned off and immediately on again, the loop may be observed to
continue to glow indefinitely in the cold stream of imbumt gases. In
the finely divided state known as platinum sponge the metal does not
even need to be previously heated. The well-known Dobereiner self-
lighting lamp depends upon this action of platinum upon hydrogen

Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 23 of 78)