ligious life. do very much desire to consecrate themselves to God in a secular institute , we ought to give them all the encouragement we can."
The Cardinal spoke of Provida Mater. the decree of the late Pope, which gave secular institutes their status in the Church. "We need lay folk to share in the apostolate of the hierarchy and the clergy." he said. and drawing attention to the work and life of the Grail he added. "lt should inspire us o give all the help we can to such a great work."
the protections enjoyed by those who live an enclosed life.
In everything that has come out of Rome there has been a constant insistence on the lay character of the movement. They must live "in the age and by the methods of the age". There is (or was) a member working as a barmaid in one of the murkiest streets of Montmartre, serving Pernod as she prayed.
The secular institutes of Italy. Spain, France and elsewhere vary greatly in type but there is always the common denominator: dedication of the laity to the fight for Christ in mainly enemy territory. None of them takes a vow about optimism: no pessimist or defeatist could ever take the vows they accept.
I N this country the Grail re
ceived a Decree of Approval from Rome as a secular institute in 1955-the first step to full recognition. No other English' based institute -has been honoured in this way.
You will find Grail members at the factory bench or a London reception. There are grades of membership. so that married women, and girls who later marry, can play a full part in this courageous apostolate.
THE Grail tills the Albert Hall.
The Grail asks for £20,000 and gets it. (It is constantly expanding.) The Grail brings out long-playing records of the Psalms. The Grail sells two million copies of an abridged Papal encyclical. Some of these things get into the papers.
What doesn't get into the papers is often far more important. This is a quiet apostolate, stretching out from the new chapel at Waxwell Farm House, touching ordinary people in their ordinary hours. Every member of the Grail must be mature and responsible, ready to take her own decisions on the spot. There is discipline, of course, but it is not the inhibiting kind, At Waxwell (the training centre in England) there are retreats, Family Weeks (when children are cared for), parties, holiday weeks, discussion groups, conferences for Grail chaplains and cheerfulness unlimited. A Grail member must be prepared to dig the soil, milk a cow or be sent abroad on a mission.
wITHOUT the background of
prayer and the basis of charity they could never be as consistently cheerful as they are. Even during the training (three to five years) a sense of adventure is asked for as well as obedience. The authority exercised is that of a family.
The spirit of this movement is something that ho ordinary hack can catch on a typewriter. Poverty doesn't worry Grail members at all. Everything is pooled as a matter of course-including talent, resource and initiative. You must be poor to talk with the poor; but you must have something more to persuade them. And poverty can be spiritual as well as financial.
The words "secular institute" sound much too dry for this vast and infectious spiritual adventure. They bring people to God (and there are others whom they retrieve) through their own steelcentred faith and inveterate cheerfulness,