policy of palliation
However. our young students stuck to it, and impressed them so much that some of them, after going to confession, almost ivorked harder than the students themselves at getting their mates to come to confession. Some of them actually came to beg pardon from our young men for having laughed at them, and professed themselves to be ready to do absolutely anything they nright ask.
"They scented to have a sort of taste for profane talk and practices, and so the better to keep them off these practises they energetically begged one to give them a talk in a chapel that they have on the Bank, every feast day, so that, said they, being thus decently occupied, they worrid be less likely to go off wandering through the city and doing what they shouldn't.
" Many of them resolved never to sail again without having been to confession
and Communion first. They hadn't a bell; so when a sermon was to take place,
a group of sailors who had already been to confession ran about among the boats, to get the others."
Like Helps Like
Now how is that for Catholic Sea
Action? Like helps like.' The Fisher fishes the fisherman. St. Ignatius did not think only of the river (though I'm glad he did think or it), but observed the incredible ignorance or the peasants who came down from their distant fields to the city, to sell foodstuffs: he arranged. for their continual catechising in the open squares.
At first, I agree, the visiting of the destitute. the prisoner (I have read really appalling accounts of the blasphemous and filthy condition al prisons then and also of hospitals; not that our eighteenth and even early nineteenth centuries in England had much, if anything, to boast themselves of, in comparison), the sick, the shamefaced decent poor, was something of a palliative.
But Ignatius founded solid institutions for ex-prostitutes and for girls in danger (how far has our prudery travelled from the piainspokenness of the sixteenth century Saints?), for orphans, for Jewish converts, and so forth: hut, what is more, he insisted that all his men should do the lit*. It would be easy to write the " charitable history " of Rome, and of the older and newer religious Orders who worked there, and of the devout Roman laity. It is a false and rather disloyal broad-mindedness which tempts us to-day to emphasise so much the shortcomings of Catholics
All the same, there is one short-coming that we cannot but attend to. I do not know enough to be able to assert whether it was universal; but anxiety about it is not expressed in the documents and references that I have been seeing.
It is the fact that men ought not to have been in such a wretched state, and that it was the great nobles, who so generously gave money to those who worked among the poor, who kept them in that condition.
People, of course, still say the same— G. B. Shaw's Major Barbara has that for its theme—ought she to accept help from the rich brewer, to finance her temperance scheme?
Ought the shipping companies to make so much money that they can .afford to give lavishly to the equipping of a magnificent Seamen's Home? Ought a Catholic charity to accept what is little else than " conscience money," if not " hush money "?
Well, I have often said that I cannot see in St. Vincent de Paul a reasoned reprobation of the kind of society for the correction of whose injustices he laboured till he died: nor in St. Peter Claver, a denunciation of the slave trade as such, albeit he worked his heart out for the well-being of the slaves. Yet, see how theories interfere.
I remember a non-Catholic being positively awe-struck with what I told him about Clover — till I mentioned that he took brandy down to the slave-ships when
they came not for himself, though he was, each time. sick and re-sick because of the stench, and went white at the very prospect of a new ship's corning . but for the almost delirious cargo of Black Flesh (about a third of she slaver had died on the way; and still the trade was remunerative. . But brandy? That finished him.
Too De-personalised To-day, we have emigrated from the sphere of charity, into that of justice: from individual loving effort, into saying: " The State ought to see to that, .": from what may have been to haphazard, into what is certainly too de-personalised. Well, it is always hard Co keep two ideals in one's head at the same tin-IC, above all, in proportion. May our charitable societies, like the S.V.P. thrive far better than they do, palliative though be their work upon the whole. And may we think out what is for the betterment of our people, and hack at the roots of evils, far far more intelligently and bravely than we do.
We certainly do not expect the English to accept absolute centtalisation (though unawares they are travelling pretty fast in that direction): Catholics, anyway, will not, odd as that may seem to those who believe us Rome-ridden. But if we really want to get beyond what may be truly called the suicidal policy of parochial-palliation, we must have more men who know the facts, can say how to cope with them according to Catholic principles, and create the necessary organisms, at once national and wisely decentralised. And it has to be laymen who do that!