Before the days of wireless
MOWADAYS, with newspapers, wireless and a postal service, we often forget how difficult it was for our ancestors to communicate over long distances. Some of the primitive native tribes are still using the methods that existed in Europe thousands of years ago.
One of these was smoke signals; the smoke could be controlled with blankets of hide to give a sort of morse code that was relayed from village to village. Of course, this didn't work in a high wind or at night, so they developed an arrangement of drum-heats that were passed on in the same way.
Later on they found that a system of messengers was more satisfactory, but as few people could read or write they used sticks with carvings on them to announce the news. This is how the modern relay race was started. When Caesar invaded Gaul he found that they had soldiers stationed on hilltops to shout the message from one to another.
One of the most famous messengers in history was an Athenian called Phidipptdes. When the Persians joined battle with the Greeks on the Marathon plain 20 miles from Athens, he ran to and fro to the city bringing news. At the end of his last journey, as soon as he had announced the Greek victory, he collapsed and died from exhausfion. That is why we call long distance races "marathons" today. In case you think that these methods of communication are very old fashioned, remember that in Elizabethan times a system of beacons was used to spread the news of the coming Armada. Even more recently, in the 1914-1918 war, messages used to be passed along the trenches from soldier to soldier — sometimes getting very changed on the way. There is a famous story about a message that started out as: 'Send for reinforcements, we're going to advance." By the time it reached the other end it had become: "Send us six and fourpence, we're going to a dance!"
Monday is the feast of someone who never believed in communicating with anybody — Blessed Roland de Medici. He lived in a forest for 26 years. wearing goatskins and eating nuts. Throughout that time he Was never known to speak to anyone, even when begging tot alms. Just before he died, he revealed that he had cut himself off from mankind to avoid occasions of sin. It's a wonder that when he finally did speak he could remember any words to say !
This reminds me of the story about the two holy hermits who had vowed to live together without ever speaking to each other. After two years one of them said: " Brother Martin, isn't this a holy life we're living ? " Brother Martin answered two Years later: " Yes it is. Brother; why then spoil it by chatting ?"