Family Adoption Scheme
A NOVEL ORGANISATION WHEREBY THE RICHER CATHOLIC WOMEN IN LONDON CAN BE PUT INTO PERSONAL TOUCH WITH THE POOR HAS BEEN PROJECTED AND IS SHORTLY TO BE PUT INTO OPERATION.
It has been inspired by the CATHOLIC HERALD Family Adoption Scheme and is an extension of it to make it more easily applicable to special conditions.
The essence of the Family Adoption Plan is to restore Catholic neighbourliness between the more fortunate and the less fortunate members of the Mystical Body.
The actual giving of material help is nothing but the natural expression of charity in the supernatural and Christian sense of mutual love for Christ's sake.
The present scheme will afford, first, a special organisation and special facilities for putting the richer Catholics in London in touch with the poorer, and, second, the establishment of a central depot or pool in which will be kept all kinds of things needed in poor families.
The scheme is described in detail below by those who have made themselves responsible for its undertaking.
Those who wish to participate in this great work or to make inquiries in regard to it are asked to write to: The Organiser, 26, Chesham Place, London, If the scheme succeeds in London it is hoped to organise it in other large cities.
" Hare-brained " an d "scheme " go together, but a new scheme need not necessarily be hare-brained. A good scheme is nearly always a return to some older but forgotten method of work.
So it is with the scheme, which is now beginning, for Catholics to give a lead in practical charity. It is a scheme which thinks of two classes: the rich and the poor. Of the rich, who are so often left out of Catholic Action because they are thought to be superior, and of the poor, who so often receive gifts which are a relief without being the fruit of Divine charity.
The CATHOLIC HERALD Family Adoption Scheme resulted in a great response from the less well to do, but the rich members of the Catholic community, as a body, have remained comparatively uninterested.
THE RICH There is a great deal to be said in defence of the rich. They are so used to a regular and permanent income that it is often actually harder for them to spare money because everything, including certain charitable donations, is earmarked. Also, we must recognise that the social position of many people of means makes it difficult for them to join forces with Catholics who are less favoured financially.
As a result of living in a different social sphere the rich suffer—certainly in the next world, but to a great extent in this. It is not possible for each to follow the counsel of perfec (ion, to sell all that he possesses for the poor. It would often be, on the contrary, an injustice to his family and dependants if a rich and influential man suddenly decided to make himself destitute.
But the obligation of charity remains. Everyone must be sanctified and this cannot he done through the discharge of purely social duties. No Christian can enjoy life if he be completely indifferent to the misfortunes of the poor.
Sympathy must not be a mere expression of regret that others are suffering, but must be active to help them bear their burdens.
It is a great argument for Communism that Catholics may be regarded as pillars of the Church while completely out of touch with fellow Catholics whose worldly condition is utterly miserable.
It is possible for rich people to believe that they are discharging the duty of charity merely by giving occasional gifts to much advertised charities. There should be also some sort of personal service for Christ's poor. "I say to you," said Our Lord, "as long as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren you did it unto Me." Charity must carry us further than the desk where we write our cheques. So much for the rich.
THE POOR As for the poor, which this scheme has in mind, at least at first, they are those who are struggling against the injustice of social conditions, but, despite their efforts, struggling unsuccessfully.
Every priest knows certain families in his parish in which the father, whether he be working or not, is facing such difficulties as to make a moral and honest life Impossible without almost heroic virtue. The kind of man who, when he is unable to pay his bills, is told, even by public' officials, that he ought to be ashamed of himself for having more than two children.
Through the Camerae HERALD Family Adoption Scheme. those in good economic circumstances are giving other families living in distressed areas new
hope and stability for the future. It cannot often help those who are the unfortunates in busy industrial centres, THE PLAN
A certain Catholic lady wants the rich members of the Catholic community to help her to plan in each city, but first of all in London, a group which will befriend poor families.
This group will not be engaged on what is known as rescue work.
It will be a personal service league sispernaturalised.
There will be a central office, in which will be kept all kinds of things needed in poor families: Clothes. blankets. perhaps some furniture. Ladies during their shopping expeditions may buy a few extra things, for example, some babies' clothes, and drop them in as they pass.
Each lady Will befriend one family and make herself personally responsible for its comfort, and will occasionally make a visit. She will be careful not to think that she is going slumming." There must be no patronising.
It must be a frank recognition of what is entailed by membership of the Communion of Saints. Every woman must. justify her existence as a Christian, that is, as a member of the Body of Christ.
Rich and poor, equally, are members of this Mystical Body. It is clear that communion connotes actual contact. Those who have been blessed with possessions should find consolation in the fact that they have the privilege of serving Christ in His poor.
TO START AT ONCE
This is not a CATHOLIC HERALD scheme, but because we have seen the success of our own scheme we are anxious to give every possible support and encouragement to this movement.
If any of the clergy have in mind a family which needs to be set on its feet and would gain new hope if befriended in this way, they should send a line to the Organiser (address above). This society does not propose just yet to take a name. It is more interested in starting immediately to make contact between rich and poor than to organise committees and rules which so often make charity degenerate into bureaucracy.