The bookseller cannot possibly know more than the titles of most of his books, If, after stocking a book, he finds it is hereticel or morally objectionable, or perhaps even blasphemous, must he destroy the copies of it and be the loser? If so, he would not be long in business.
THIS, if ever there was one, is a 1 pantechnicon question. The first point to be made is that in a society, community or state where the laws and customs conflict with normal Christian morals, where various Christian sects flourish side by side with agnostics and atheists, no Catholic is bound to undertake any particular form of business or to enter any particular profession or calling.
But he is bound, in making his decision, to consider the possible moral problems that may face him
in the normal discharge or practice
of any one of them. Once in that protession or business, he is obviously
bound to he as wholly Christian and Catholic as his moral stamina will allow, not merely to observe the minimum obligations binding him under pain of mortal sin.
It would seem to he a poor bookseller who knew no more than the titles of most of his books. The name of the author or of the publisher is some guide. Then there are publishers' magazines designed to give booksellers some idea of the books, and salesmen whose job it is to Inform booksellers of the value and, roughly, the field of appeal of the books they offer, and something of their contents.
If, after taking all reasonable steps, the bookseller did discover that a book, though not obscene in the sense understood by the police or aggressively and purposefully blasphemous, were nevertheless "morally objectionable," he would he bound to discontinue sales and return copies to the wholesaler or publisher.
Such a judgment would be difficult to form except in the case of clearly pornographic books and those commending and urging plainly immoral practices. Each example must be considered on its merits. But it is difficult to imagine any circumstances where, after reasonable care and attention to his job, the bookseller would be in the position of having to shoulder financial loss under pain of grave sin.
If the bookseller is catering for the general public, then clearly there are books which, though heretical or otherwise unsuitable from a Catholic standpoint, he could and would hope to sell to his non-Catholic and agnostic customers.
In point of fact, the good bookseller, the true Christian bookseller, is in a quite exceptionally advanta geous position for positive apostolic work. In all but the largest and most depersonalised of the book emporia, the bookseller knows his customers and knows his hooks, and the question evaporates.
Is it not superstitious for people to think that so long as they wear the Scapular Medal, it does not matter what they do or think about God— they are bound to be saved?
YES, it is. The Scapular (of which the medal is a token form) is a sacramental, expressing in outward form an interior devotion; it is not a substitute for grace. The Church does not require us, of course, to believe in the authenticity of the appearance of Our Lady to St. Simon Stock (traditionally stfpposed to have happened at Cambridge); hut she does permit such belief.
Our Lady's traditional words gave the Scapular as a badge, a iign of grace and salvation. a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and the covenant; as a means of expressing, that is, in the form of a special devotion to her, a soul's acceptance of Christ's grace. It is to those who wear it as meaning these things that the promise of salvation is made.
Superstitition lies in emptying it of this meaning. and giving it a mechanical, magical meaning contrary to the teaching of the Church, who has blessed and approved the Scapular as a sacramental for the use of those who like to express a true devotion to Our Lady in this way.
Is it possible that a marriage should be annulled by the Church because the non-Catholic husband did not carry out the promise to have the children brought up as Catholics?
A DECREE of nullity does not Pl.undo a marriage: it is a declaration that in this case, because of some defect present right from the beginning, no marriage ever took place. If two people really are married, however badly either of them behaves they cannot become unmarried.
But non-fulfilment of this promise might be connected with nullity in this way: the consent of the Catholic bride and the consent of the Church to the marriage (both, of course, necessary for its validity) were only given on condition of the promise being made. If it could be proved that the promise was never really made, because the bridegroom never meant a word of it, this fraud. present from the beginning. might be a ground of nullity. But it would be very difficult to prove.
Readers' difficulties and questions should be sent, with a stamped addressed envelope, to "Here's The Answer." "Catholic Herald," 67 Fleet Street, London, E.C.4. A selected number of questions and replies will he published.