CARDINAL HINSLEY appealed last week for offers of hospitality on the part of more fortunate Catholics on behalf of their brethren rendered homeless in the East End of London.
We hope that this appeal is only the beginning of a great movement of Christian charity among the Catholic community in this land.
In times like these, Christianity and Christians are offered their real opportunity. not only of serving God in word and deed. but of demonstrating to the world what Christianity really means.
We ourselves—to speak frankly— have never felt that the first national duty of the Church is to urge resistance against the enemy. Catholics have from the beginning played their fullest part as citizens in a war which they believe just, and they have not fallen behind their fellow-countrymen in devotion to duty and heroism, whether serving with the Forces or in the no less dangerous tasks that face civilians.
It falls more directly to the civil authorities to keep up our morale by such ways as may he thought suitable. But to the Church falls the duty of emphasising those religious, moral and humanitarian duties that are too apt to be overlooked in times of war.
In the first place, truly heroic efforts must be made, both by the clergy and the laity, to ensure that no Catholic, whether serving or civilian, is deprived for long of the Sacraments, or at least of personally given spiritual consolation, for under no circumstances could this spiritual help be more greatly needed.
Only second to this comes the duty of seeing that every Catholic —and indeed every neighbour—is provided with essential material and physical needs. Doubtless in our society this duty falls primarily on the State, but little imagination is needed to see how love and charity to our brethren in Christ for Christ's sake can give warmth and light to the impersonal service of the State, and how, moreover, the necessary defects of an organised system can be remedied by personal devotion.
Thirdly, at a time when our civilisation is falling to pieces through false principles and a defective social order, the Church dare not tire of preaching and teaching the values of the Gospels and persuading men to re-order their live? and the life of society in accordance with these values.
In this last month, especially, we have been witnessing death, destruction and dislocation that call insistently and immediately for this threefold national work of the Church. The destruction of churches and schools, as well as large-scale movements of the population, call for heroic efforts of tireless selfsacrifice if the essential spiritual work of the Church is to be carried on; and we may justly pay tribute already to the clergy, nuns and laity of London and other attacked cities for what has been done.
But our fellow-citizens will understand and appreciate more easily a great nation-wide Christian movement to provide homes, room, relief and comfort at whatever cost in personal sacrifice to all suffering from the effects of war. We must, as the King has warned us, be prepared for a grim, cold and dark winter during which suffering will steadily increase. Now is the time to prepare and organise the machinery by which our fellow Catholics may share with us whatevery protection, food and comfort there may be. In every neighbour this winter we must see Christ, for if we do not we shall forfeit the right to the title of Christian. Many already want to help, but wise and imaginative leadership will be needed if the Catholic Church in Britain is to be in the forefront of this great supernatural work of mercy and stand before our countrymen as witness to the real meaning of Christianity.
Was there ever such an opportunity? We talk of the conversion of Britain, but it is certain that nothing will convert our country so surely as the practical demonstration of what rightly-led Christians can do to help their suffering fellows in the hour of the country's need.
It is a sign of its genuine spirituality and real vitality that the newly established " Sword of the Spirit " is taking the lead in this aspect of the war. We can assure the organisers that this newspaper is at their disposal for furthering this side of their work.