'Catholic Herald' Reporter
TWO violently contrasting stories were told at the Westminster Catholic Evidence Guild's
annual meeting on Friday.
First came Mr. E. A. Ratio, the general secretary, to tell the rather odd story of the difficulty of speakers in search of an audience.
In some parts of London the C.E.G., after somewhat desperate efforts to hold on, have had to abandon some "pitches" because people in the neighbourhood are too indifferent a bout religion : the speakers just cannot get a crowd.
Then came Mr. Douglas Hyde. The contrast was appalling. He was speaking about the Far East and what is happening to the Faith-and the faithful there.
He stood one day on a hill in Korea looking across the frontier upon which the Iron Curtain has descended, and realised that from that point onwards all is in the hands of atheistic Communism-all Siberia, all Russia, then Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Albania: you can go on and on in a train for perhaps two weeks and still be behind the Iron Curtain.
No indifference there.
Yet his story of Korea was all hope -and heroism.
He took us into Pusan, so often in the Korean war bulletins, where at this moment "there is more human suffering than in any other spot on earth." Tens of thousands are T.B. victims.
But those tens of thousands, and many more thousands. are clamouring for the Faith. Every Sunday morning they gather in big groups on a hill. in the middle of each group is a Maryknoll Sister telling them about Our Lord and His Church.
The Sisters and the missionaries cannot cope with them all. They could do with ten times as many missionaries-and if they had them they would have a hundred times as many
converts, "for the movement is like a snowball."
Conversions, in fact. are limited only by the number of teachers.
Then the town of Mokpo. Here the story is even braver than the story of Pusan, where people are hoping to get into the Church before T.B. takes its final toll. For the Christians of Mokpo were all but slaughtered in a mass martyrdom.
Douglas Hyde picked out Old Paul, the catechist of Mokpo, for the admiration of the Westminster catechists.
When the Communist troops entered Mokpo, they killed the three priests and sentenced the 4,000 Christians to death. They filled a garage with Christians and poured petrol over it.
They were saved at the last minute by the arrival of South Korean troops, including the house-boy who looked after Mr. Hyde during his visit--the boy whom the Communists forced to dig his own grave.
Then, when the Chinese Communists arrived they were saved again at the last moment by United Nations forces.
But. said Douglas Hyde, if you say even to the pagans in Mokpo now : "The United Nations troops saved you, didn't they?" the' answer: "Our Lady saved Mokpo.'
Thousands of pagans in Mokpo have become Catholics in the past two or three years. Every morning the Catholics are in church. praying, at 4 o'clock. At 5 a.m. they hear Mass. Then they go off to work on the land.
Every night they go up the hill again to the church. Then to bed.
"They are some of the poorest people on earth," said Douglas Hyde. -The missionaries tell you that all they have is their Faith, and their work."
MISSION BY THE LAITY
'Perfect means' to share in the apostolate
rARDINAL GRIFFIN, presiding • ■•••at the meeting in the Westminster Cathedral Hall, said that each member of the Mystical Body of Christ has a personal part to play in the teaching mission of the Church.
"You know that this mission is not merely the duty of Bishops and priests. The laity is asked to share in the apostolate of the Hierarchy.
''If the layman's task is dependent upon the Hierarchy of the Church, this in no way diminishes its importance nor lessens his responsibility.
"It is in the light of the teaching mission of the Church that we can best regard the work of the Catholic Evidence Guild.
"Here, surely, is a perfect means by which the individual Catholic can share in the work entrusted to the Church. by Christ Himself. . .
"Of course, it is true that public speaking is not closed to priests and I welcome the active support which many priests are giving to the Catholic .Evidence Guild at this time.
"But they cannot do the job alone and therefore there is a great need for active, zealous and well-trained lay apostles to help in this work of the public explanation of the Church and her teachings."
The Cardinal remarked that "doctrinal knowledge is not the only equipment of the lay apostle.
"Above all, it is through prayer and frequentation of the sacraments that our union with God is fostered. Without a well-founded and steadily developing spiritual life no man can hope to take Christ to his fellows."
Another speaker at the meeting was Fr. Ian Hislop, 0.P., who discussed the problem of the laity's position in the Church.