By Fr. PAUL Bagful of CRANE, S.J. lecturers HOWwonderful the English countryside looks, especially when you have been starved of it for some time! It is approximately a year since I moved from Oxford, where I had lived for fifteen years, to London. Now, I am a city boy.
How different it was during my time at Oxford where I lived with beautiful country all round me, particularly the lovely Cotswolds which, in some moods, I think of as the most lovely part of England. I know a valley there which 1
stumbled across by chance and to which I used to return from. time to time. On the right kind of day in June or September it comes very close to heaven on earth.
Moreover, I travelled, during my time at Oxford, much more in England and Scotland than I am able to do at present, with a load of writing to get through and trips that take me out of this country for months at a time.
During the last 12 months I have seen far more of Africa than of England. I find that continent fascinating, but 1 have not been struck by its beauty. There is a rawness about its countryside which can become oppressive. There is nothing on which one can easily rest one's eye—like the lake in the corner of the grounds which circle the house where I am staying now. That little stretch of water is placid and very still, typically English in its beauty.
Every time I look at it now I realise how much these past 12 months I have missed the quiet gentleness of England's green and pleasant land. It would do many people a great deal of good if, instead of striving so earnestly to build the new Jerusalem upon it, they took time off to thank God for the beauty of its presence about them.
From Surrey with love
I AM in the midst of England's
countryside as I write these lines from the White Fathers' house at Coldharbour, near Dorking, where some 40 of them are gathered for a two weeks' course of lectures and discussion. So. I have the opportunity of seeing. once again, the best of what Surrey has to offer.
It is extraordinarily lovely. From the terrace of this old house your eye rests on acres of rolling, wooded hills. They are at their best. 1 think, when you see them in the clear light of early morning bathed in white mist.
What an incredibly beautiful place England is and, for those who know her well, how varied and individual her countryside.
Refresher for missionaries
SINCE coming down to Coldharbour I have not found much time to explore its surroundings. 1 have had to content myself with an occasional glimpse at its graceful grounds. There has been too much talking to do; too much to discuss to allow one to engage on anything else.
The White Fathers on this course are veterans in a way. though many of them are still young. All have years of missionary experience behind them and are trying now to equip themselves to meet the problems which emergent Africa is rapidly placing before them
It is my business and that of other lecturers to confront them
with these problems or, better, to speak of problems which have long confronted us in this country and which are similar to those appearing now in Africa. Thereby we hope, by pooling our experiences, to make an attempt, at least, at their solution.
The whole thing is a fascinating experience. Much, i believe, is being learnt not only by this missionary audience, but by those who have the pleasure of addressing it.
WE have been able to assemble a good team of speakers for this fortnight's course, which closes tomorrow (Saturday). They have included the editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD; Canon Edmund Arbuthnott, national chaplain of the Y,C.W.; Fr. Francis Somerville, S.J., director of the Catechetics Centre; Fr. William Yeomans, Si., who will be assisting with the production, next year, of a new spiritual quarterly, "The Way", to be published from 31 Farm Street.
Douglas Hyde is yet to come as I write these lines: so, too, is Michael Kildare, who writes each month for my own monthly, "Christian Order", on trade union affairs. He is due to give his missionary audience a course of four lectures on trade unionism with special reference to the African situation.
1, personally, shalt be extremely interested to hear some talks on the Legion of Mary from Frank Duff, its founder. The Legion has a very great reputation in those parts of English-speaking Africa which I have visited.
Young Africa speaks
ONE of the most successful lectures of this course has already been given. It was by a young Nigerian, who has spent the last six years in this country and obtained a degree and an education diploma. He returns to his own country to take up an appointment as education officer in a few weeks.
He told a fascinated audience of the difficulties he experienced as an African Catholic coming to this country for the first time and of the efforts he made to overcome them. His talk was one of the most impressive things I have heard for a very long time.