Bound Up With Social Reform
SIR,—The mass of converts to early Christianity were drawn from those classes whose life was withered by injustice: from the slaves who hoped for freedom, and from the women who desiderated a higher social status. The depressed saw in the new religion not only the prospect of eternal felicity but the likelihood of social advance. They saw that the principles of Christ were incompatible with the practices of the world. Those practices were a source of misery to them. They wanted them altered, and they realised that Christianity was the only force capable of altering them. Had not the desire of temporal reform powerfully reinforced their natural yearning for a greater knowledge of God. It is doubtful whether there would have been so many converts to early Christianity.
Now the mass of the Englieh public to-day are far more interested in politics than they are in religion. The reason is that they see in politics the only means of righting the wrongs of the social order. The injustices of the present economic system have given the Socialists their opportunity. That same opportunity must be seized by the Church. She must make it quite plain to the workers that she is on their gide. She must also make it quite plain to them that the Socialists have betrayed them.
In this matter the Church must work
through her lay members. The working class must be led by the workers themselves. But the future leaders of the working class must be thoroughly trained in Catholic social doctrine by Catholic intellectuals. In every diocese of England night-schools should be instituted for this purpose. Every parish priest should encourage the ablest workers known to him to attend these clasees. There are surely enough intelligent and well-educated Catholic laymen In the country who would be willing to give voluntary service in running these classes.
Equipped with a sound education in
Catholic sociology, the dlite of the working class would then carry the doctrine among their fellows, always driving home this point: that the doctrine is Catholic, and the authority behind it the authority of the Catholic Church. I can conceive of nothing more calculated to bring over the masses of the English working class than the knowledge that the Church will not only care for their eternal well-being, but will do her utmost to further their temporal welfare also. Let us make no mistake about this: the Conversion of England is bound up with the reform of the present social order. The two questions are inseparable. The attempt to solve the first without the second is foredoomed to failure; while the endeavour to solve the second without the first (the essence of Socialism) Is certain to make confusion worse confounded.
J. E. WHITE.
"Etherley," Dene Road, Rowlands Gill. Co. Durham.
Practising What We Preach
SIR.—I would like to quote, in connection with this subject, from a report of a sermon by Mgr. Canon Jackman taken from a recent number of the CATHOLIC HERALD.
". .. but the destitute should never be with us, as their existence points to the prevalence of a social crime.
"On such people religion cannot have a hold, for no sermon should ever fall on an empty stomach. It is a waste of words."
Here there is a common ground where all people of good will can meet, where the teaching of the Popes on the social questions can be discussed, and much sympathy will be found to exist. I also think that is an answer to the very Interesting letter of an Anglican clergyman's query as to why Catholics are not winning the ungodly sensualists, etc. It would be a grand thing if these ungodly would be compelled to say: " See how these Christians practice what they preach."
Fr. Urban Young's letter is most apt, and all of us can very well take it to heart. There are, however, those numerous Catholics who have lapsed, due largely, in my opinion, to the completely pagan world in which we live. It Is only necessary to look over the bookstalls, visit the cinema or even listen to a variety show of the B.B.C. to understand the terrific assault on Christian morals.
If, as "Anglican Clergyman " says, Catholics are regarded as outside Christianity I feel sure that our priests are regarded as still further remote. The Friars had a somewhat similar situation to meet, St. Dominic tacked the Alba gensie and achieved notable results.
Personally, I should like to see some such campaign instituted in this crisis, if the people could get to know priests there might be astounding effects. Perhaps I might instance the happy results said to have taken place in France due to the military service that priests have to undertake.
Why give palliatives to non-Catholics In the way of Mass in English? The
Liturgy was known in Britain for cen turies, our Confessors and Martyrs were familiar with Latin as a universal tongue, and surely anyone can follow the Mass in an English Missal? Anyway. no one is compelled to become a Catholic unless his conscience is convinced that his present belief is false; in such a case would the individual not welcome the fact that he is returning to the Church of his fathers in every detail? I know that I did.
So, I think, the conversion of Britain will come about (humanly speaking) when Christianity compels attention by its very insistence on Christian prin ciples. "By their fruits ye shall know them "—which saying can be applied to the above points.
Let us make no mistake; there is a powerful, well organised enemy of Christian civilisation who is the real ruler; this enemy must be rendered innocuous, before anything constructive
can be accomplished, by a united body of Christian men and womea, or, as the Pope wrote in Quadragesimo Anne, by " All men of good will."
The Hermitage, Gallow End, Worcester.
The Example of a Parish
SIR,—A.9 I must retire from this present debate by doctor's orders, will you permit a final letter from me?
Two instances have come my way recently giving Impressive support to my contentions:
(1) The English question: I have had
a visit from a recent convert of distinguished name. He told me he travelled often; in France he found its churches expressed the French idiom of piety, in Scandinavia the Scandinavian; but in England he found the Englishman was denied that which was granted to the Catholics of other lands. This absence of an English note had deterred him for long in submitting to the Church. He was delighted to find in Stevenage a Catholic church which made an Englishman feel at home.
(2) In his welcome letter Fr. Essex,
0.P., justly stressed the social aspect of Mass. Here, then, is my second illustration: recently there came to my parish a Catholic girl from the North of England born and bred in a good Catholic home. At first she felt keenly the difference of customs here; the dialogue Mass was a distraction, and the recommendation to follow Mass with a Missal a poor exchange for " hearing " Mass with a " Garden of the Soul.'' Suddenly one morning this very week there came the realisation, never known before, of the spiritual beauty of that morning's Lenten Mass and the privilege of joining in the recitation of the very words of the Holy Sacrifice.
So, in this little parish, a life-long North Catholic girl has come to experience a new loveliness in Mass, a deeper experience of what worship means; she has discovered the Liturgy.
Is not that a fact deserving of the attention of my brother priests?
May I end with a word of thanks to the Catholics and Anglicans who have written so kindly to me about this correspondence? I have been made aware I have voiced a widespread demand it would be a tragic error to ignore.
Aeasfue Vatesaria (Rev.) The Catholic Rectory, Stevenage, Herts.
The Church in England and the C. of E.
SIR,—As this correspondence seems to have taken a turn towards improved relations between members of the Church of England and the Church in England which is in communion with Rome—a matter dear to my heart and In which one received encouragement from the cordial message of welcome sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury to Cardinal Hinsley on his assumption of the Archbishopric of Westminster—I should like to recall the appeal made by the present Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford, to members of the Church of England at the Church Congress, Leicester, in 1919. Here are some of Dr. N. P. Williams's observations: " In particular I would plead for a friendly attitude on our part towards the Roman Catholic Church in England. Such discourteous nicknames as those of the " Italian Mission " and the "Roman Schism " can only be justified on an outworn and impossible theory of jurisdiction. . . The argument that because Rome denies our Orders and tries to convert our people we are therefore bound to be as unpleasant to her as we can is purely non-Christian. Churches, even more than individuals, are surely bound to set an example of turning the other cheek. And the Anglo-Roman Church in England is a body which has much to teach us. Historically, it may be described as that part of the ancient Ecclesia Anglicana which at the Reformation preferred to side with the Pope rather than with the King. It is true that its episcopate is of recent and foreign origin; but it has a real link with the ancient Church of the English people through its monastic Orders. At the dissolution of the monasteries, many monks, friars and nuns, instead of returning to the world, fled overseas and founded English communities in Prance and Flanders, and drew their postulants from the despised body of " Popish recusante " at home, so maintaining their English character all through the penal times until they finally returned to British soil after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. In this way the great Benedictine Abbey of Downside is continuously identical, through unbroken transmission of the habit, with the PreReformation Community of Westminster. . . Is it too much to hope that there may at least be relations of mutual respect between the Church of Laud, of Andrewes and of Pusey on the one hand, and the Church of Milner. Challoner and Wiseman on the other, during the long years which must yet elapse before they can come to recognise each other as co-heirs and joint descendants of the Church of St. Augustine, St. Anselm and all the English saints?"
It is not apparent what further efforts can be made to improve our relations
than by prayer, and in such personal contacts as we each individually happen to enjoy; though I would recommend to my fellow Anglicans a weekly reading Of the CATHOLIC HERALD, first brought to my notice some years ago by a favourable reference in the Church. Times. (Recent exchanges have been of a less agreeable sort, I fear; but I hope the twoeditors will soon bury the hatchet!) I do not hesitate to resort to your churches for private prayer; but with regard to the attendance of Anglicans at public worship hi (Roman) Catholic churches, unless a change of allegiance is definitely contemplated, this it seems to me is to be deprecated as likely to lead to misunderstanding and awkwardness on both sides; though (at risk of being paradoxical) I have sometimes wished—as a far-sighted anticipation of the " shape of things to come " and a present practical way out of the administrative difficulties occasioned by those Anglo-Catholics whose obstinate clinging to C, of E. membership is qualified by insistence upon a right to " full Catholic privileges " (i.e., devotions Incidental to the Latin rite)—that our Anglican authorities could let it be understood that their subjects who are not content with the evening-service provisions of the Prayer-book and yearn for Benediction, Forty Hours, Processions of the Blessed Sacrament, and the like, are free of censure in accepting an occasional hospitality of your churches to share in such devotions.
But these are in a minority; and (to use a description by Fr. St. John, 0.P., in a sympathetic article, "Pietas Anglicane." in Blackfriars): " the larger and less definite group which forms the main body of Anglo-Catholicism," whose most outstanding personality has been the late Bishop Gore, maintains an attitude which, I am convinced, will in the long run make more surely for reconciliation between us, because by manifest loyalty to the Prayer-book services of its own communion, and consequent intelligibility to those without, it thereby produces the very condition of fruitful understanding. But whatever hue of Anglo-Catholicism ours may happen to be, I hope, Sir, we may count upon your sympathy; while on our side I hope there will be an increasing appreciation of the fact that for long periods in the history of our country it was among the despised and persecuted "recusants " alone that effectiVe expression was given to certain aspects of Catholicism we value and emphasise.
W. B. Coaaare. 24, King's Avenue, Chadwell Heath, Romford, 'Essex.
" Lay Catechists"
Sue—When writing to you on the above subject it hardly occurred to me that Anglican clergy would be among my readers. May I explain that I never ventured to suggest that they would accept the designation of lay catechists? I endeavoured to face two facts, viz.: that the majority of Anglican clergy are firmly convinced of their priestly and episcopal state, and that, on the other hand, the Catholic Church can never recognise their Orders as valid. These two facts form one of the greatest obstacles to reunion, and as a solution I proposed what I called " the appearance of compromise." The idea was that the present generation of Anglican clergy would continue to hold their belief in their Orders, and though they could not be permitted to celebrate Holy Mass or give sacramental absolution, they would continue to exercise other ministerial functions and retain their titles and jurisdiction. My use of the term "lay catechists " was the other side of the compromise, representing the true status in which they would be regarded by the Cgtholic Church, although this
would not be stated publicly. Such Anglican clergy as are celibate, and were willing, might be ordained privately, and His Grace of Canterbury, being celibate, could be consecrated Bishop privately.
I am aware that King and Parliament will only change the national religion of this realm when there is a widespread demand from the people, and that' that time has by no means come yet. My fear is that if the national religion remains what it is very much longer that time will never come. At present its practising adherents are such a very small minority of the population that we are rapidly becoming a country without religion. Yet the national Church still has an influence on our national life out of all proportion to the number of Its adherents, and I hoped this influence might be preserved and used before it melted away. This was why I suggested putting " the cart before the horse." The Faith, as another writer says, is a gift of God. But God uses human beings as His agents, and human conditions to prepare the ground, as it were, for His gift. My suggestions aimed at creating those conditions.
It is quite possible that I may be quite wrong in ray proposals, but as they have been in my mind a long time I decided to formulate them on the chance that they might help in the interesting discussion in your paper.
E. S. SUTTON (Rev.) The Priests' House, Ruislip.
Devotional° Our Lady
Sue—Your correspondent, G. Deegan, appears to have struck the right note when he suggests that a return to devotion to Our Lady as practised by our forbears will be a great factor towards the conversion of this country.
Many Catholic writers have expressed the opinion that the Conversion of England will progress in the measure that we revive our own love and devotion. One point I would like to express in particular, i.e., a revival of the custom which for years has been dropped—the singing of the Litany of Loretto during Benediction. Since the Great War this beautiful act of devotion to the Mother of God has fallen into desuetude, likewise the seasonal antiphons. It is well to remember that some of the titles in this litany were added after the help of the Blessed Virgin had been signalised, as, for instance, after the Battle of Lepanto, and the invocation, " Queen of Peace " added in our own day. Surely now is the time to invoke her aid by the singing of her litany? It must be remembered that the Benediction service evolved from the evening devotions to Our Lady, healce there is ample reason for the inclusion of the litany during that service. One forward step has been made in the recent revival of devotion to Our Lady of Waisingham.
A. SANDWELL. 253, Ribbleton Lane, Preston.