Snt, — Fr. Martindale's letter has surprised me. He writes : " We cannot possibly say that all reported miracles in the fife of an undoubted Saint 'stand or full together ; we must admit them all
or reject them all '." Here he is quoting rne. Of course we cannot say it, and he who would say it should steer clear of hagiography, and, for that matter, of historical writing of any
sort. How Fr. Martindale could cart elude that I said it is hard to see. Here is what I wrote in my reply to Fr. Daniel: "No miracle as such can
be ruled out on the score 0,1 impossi
Miry : we must admit them all or reject them all." I Was speaking of miracles
in generc and in the abstract: if cote miracle is possible for God, all are possible; if one is impossible, all are impossible. This is entirely different from saying that because one concrete instance in the life of an individual
saint is admitted, all must ipso facto
be admitted. This would he a palpable absurdity. The remainder of Fr.
Martindale's letter deals with the commonplace possibilities and dangers in hagiography with which every hagiographer is (or should be) familiar.
It adds nothing to my knowledge. Just a word about hymns. In my reply to Fr. Daniel I mentioned that many of
St. Gerard's miracles were sung in the hymns for his feast, I mentioned this
merely as art interesting fact for a hymnologist. At the same time, I am sure Fr. Martindale will admit that
hymns composed in our own day in honour of a saint of whom we know a great deal are more likely to be of historical value than hymns composed many centuries ago in honour of a saint of whom "nothing is really known." Fr. Martindale concludes: " We are wholeheartedly with Fr. Daniel in insisting that any alleged miracle must be examined with the most relentless criticism by as many experts as possible." And I ant wholeheartedly with Fr, Martindale and Fr. Daniel in saying this. But I would call Fr. Martindale's attention to the difference between the " relentless criticism " possible in the case of miracles worked after a saint's death and examined with a view to canonisation and the criticism possible in the case of miracles worked during the saint's life, perhaps many centuries before. With regard to these (of which alone there is question in the dismission) three courses are open to the biographer, viz., either to cut them out altogether; or to subject them to the criticism exercised in the ease of miracles examined for canonisation— which is obviously impossible; or to narrate them as they have been handed down by respectable historians, after having reasonably sifted all the available evidence. This latter course have adopted, and 1 think I have a goodly company of hagiographers with me. Chesterton writes: " The best and boldest course would be to tell the whole story in a straightforward way, miracles and all, as the original historians told it. And to this sane and simple course the new historians will probably have to return." (St. Francis of Assissi, p. 162), Fr. Martindale candidly admits that he has not read my hook ; if he had, perhaps he would have seen that my methods are not so amateurish and slipshod as his letter seems to suggest.
JOHN CARR, C.H.R.
Mount St. Alphonsus, Lisiterick, Eire.
Sir,—May I cite a little ancient history that has a bearing on the controversy in your columns between Fr. Carr and his critics. Some years ago an Irish Bishop, whose approbation for a proposed Life of St. Gerard was being sought, refused to give it " unless the stories about the Divine Infant, ' loaves and bread ' and the key in the well ' were completely excised.' He was a prudent man, and apparently of the same mind as Fr. Daniel. Yet Fr. Carr has published all these [dories in evens°, and seems vexed almost to tears that any objection should have been raised to them. He even appears to hold that we are bound to believe all of thcm as if they were articles of faith. No other conclusion could be drawn from his reply to Fr. Daniel's criticism.
Surely the time has now come when our spiritual writers must exercise greater care in their publications. Their books should be free not only from false doctrine but also from mere " extravaganzas," and should be presented in a manner and style suitable to sacred subjects. Neither of these desirable qualities is found sufficiently in the " Life of St. Gerard " from Fr.
Cart's pen. Not only are alleged miracles poured out on us but " extravaganzas " also, such as (p. 130) the visit paid by St. Gerard when "halfdressed and wrapped in a bed-sheet" to his Holy Founder, and again (p. 210) Gerard's " taking a reet lying in a coffin," and once more (p. 354) threatening " to throw an intending postulant straightway into the river "— to mention but a few.
THE P.O.W. NOVENA
SIR,—A P.O.W. Novena is to be observed from October 29 to November 6. Thà objects of the Novena, which is under the Protection of Out Lady of Fatima, are to pray for all our brethren who are still unhappily prisoners of war, for all those who have been prisoners of war, and for the suffering peoples of Italy, Germany, Austria, and Hungary.
Thousands of Italians are still P.O.W. in Australia, and only yesterday I was informed that thousands more are WItering in the most terrible manner in Yugoslavia and Russia, and that unless the matter it taken up very seriously, thousands of these men may never see their home again. Thousands of Austrians are still P.O.W. in the same hands. The people of Germany, supported by the Church, are rightly asking for the return of their menfolk. The lot of the Hungarian P.O.W is almost too terrible to be described; they are treated as worse than cattle by the tyrants of Yugoslavia and Russia.
During this season, when the Church is celebrating the Feast of All Saints', do let us try and remember the full implications involved in the doctrine of the " Communion of Saints."
Gifts of clothing, etc., (which are so urgently needed) should be sent, if for Italy, to the Italian Red Cross Dept., P.O.W., A. S. Littleton house, Nr. Somerton, Somerset. Those for Ciermany and Austria can be sent to this address, pending arrangements for a Dept. Parcels can be accepted for individual families.
Maceetet E. G. HUNTLEY. C.hairraaa, P.O.W. Asgstauce Society.