The Rising Of A New Youth
Christ and the Workers. By Stanley B. James. (Sands and Co. 5s.). Reviewed by HARRY TOLFREE Two outstanding personalities of this age will go down in the history of the Church as the architects of twentiethcentury Catholicism, who have seen in perspective the structure of a new Christian society.
One is our Holy Father—the father of the workers—the Catholic Action Pontiff —one of the greatest men to occupy the See of Peter. The other is, in the words of Pius XI. " that mart raised up by God " --Canon Cardyn, founder of the Young Christian Workers' Movement.
Mr. James has attempted in this book to interpret Catholic Action in the terms of the Y.C.W. At a time when Westminster commences its Catholic Action drive, this book will do much to strengthen and guide those upon whom the direction of the lay apostolate will depend.
In taking as a model the Young Christian Workers, Mr. James follows closely the wishes of our Holy Father, who describes this movement as "an authentic form of Catholic Action, appropriate to the present time."
Never before in history has such commendation been given to a lay organisation —it is comparable to the starting of a new religious order. Its dynamic revolutionary power has swept throughout the world, bringing Christianity to the workers, and through this, the workers to Christ. Its spirituality dominates and leavens all its activities.
This " spirit " of the movement can only be seen by contacting its members—always an outstretched hand, a smiling face and self-sacrificing zeal. Thousands of these working boys give their life for the movement.
What is the reason behind this dynamic spiritualising mission of the Young Christian Workers? is it built up upon an emotionalism produced through banners and uniforms? Or does it transform the life of the individual? The latter is the case, as anyone will see upon reading this book, in which Mr. James elaborates the realism and the idealism of the Y.C.W.
An idealism based upon the knowledge that every young worker, through baptism, has a divine destiny. He is a son of God—an heir of God—a brother of Christ, the divine worker of Nazareth. His working life, his life at home and recreation must be transformed and re
-Christianised. Christian standards must
replace materialist standards. A whole, new Christian working class must be built up.
A realism based upon the knowledge of conditions of life as they are. The Y.C.W. has faced up to all the problems of the young workers, and worked out the practical solutions to these problems.
If you are squeamish you will turn over quickly the pages in this book giving long extracts from answers to enquiries undertaken by the Wigan Young Christian Workers. If you are as practical as the Y.C.W. you will face up to the fact that these conditions exist and must be changed —and then you will set about changing them.
You will see after reading Christ and the Workers that the Y.C.W. is not a label which you can stick on to any existing sodality or confraternity. The success of a new movement often brings its own failure: it becomes popular, concentrates on externals, and so loses its soul. The success of the Y.C.W. in England depends largely upon the work of the priests in training the " apostles of the workers."
In so far as the priest gives to the movement, so will he receive in return what many priests have already received—a realisation of the true nature of their vocation.
Naturally (as Fr. Bernard Goode points out in a brilliant introduction), the book leaves many questions unanswered and also answers others in a way with which all may not agree. However, Mr. James has rendered a service to the movement and to Catholic Action with his book, and I join with Fr. Goode in thanking him for baying written it.
A priest, speaking recently in Ireland on the Young Christian Workers, has summarised what I think the majority of readers of Christ and the Workers will feel: A movement that can inspire such apostolic.zeal and self sacrifice; that offers the open hand of friendship in place of the clenched fist of Communism; that aims at peace and harmony between class and class, not a peace won by surrender, but a peace won by vindicating the rights of the worker and introducing the spirit of Christianity into all human dealings, surely such a movement will bring about a new world through a new youth."