Fatal Advice !
SOMEONE advised me before I left to go to Spain and Portugal to take a little notebook and jot down impressions made on the same day. It was fatal advice. Relying on general memory one returns home from such a tour with enough outstanding impressions to make a couple of articles. Owing to that notebook I have returned with enough material to make a couple of books! How to sort it all out? And where to put it all?
Some "Cocktails" FIRST some "cocktails," as it were. A memory-of inducing His Lordship the Bishop of Malaga to take snuff over the coffee and liqueurs, and the frightful consequences to His Lordship, who sneezed and sneezed. An amusing episode at Fatima. Becoming detached from my charming guide-and guides. however charming, restrict one's liberty of journalistic action-I wandered about on my own, listening occasionally to what I took to be Portuguese prayers being recited over the loud speakers. So they were, for the most part. But in fact I had also been listening, without knowing it, to what I learnt afterwards to be an announcement in English, often repeated: "Will (and my name was given). please come up to the sanctuary as there is a place reserved for him there." My guide was very assidious and I was very deaf, it appears! Again, the incredible journey from Seville to Madrid, the train taking from three in the afternoon until nine next morning to do some 250 miles. To my indignation armed soldiers seemed to be guarding the train. But when by nightfall the train had become like a concentration camp, I was grateful for the precaution which seemed to be responsible for keeping the masses outside the firstclass carriages. Transport of any kind is not Spain's forte. A Diesel train, which first went in one direction. then in the opposite, then again in the first direction, took five hours for the 90 miles or less between Seville and Malaga. Lastly, a game of ping-pong in Malaga's Social Studies Institute for Priests. My Spanish priest opponent won!
Lucia ABOUT Fatima I hope to write again, but I had the pleasure of two Long conversations with a Dominican priest who himself had been for a fortnight with Lucia, the survivor of the children who saw Our Lady. I.ucia now can hardly he seen, and the Cardinal Patriarch is not sorry, since she had been much worried by many an importunate and even frivolous journalist, as the Cardipat told me. He himself has never seen her, but he has hoard how glad she is to be in Carmel-. Lucia no Visionary THE priest with whom T spoke is. if I may say so, a hard-headed and tough Dominican, but he has not the smallest doubt that Lucia saw objective visions, as obviously so to her as the sight of other people is to us. Lucia, I was told, is even prepared to find it hard to agree with Our Lady on some points. Thus she was pressed on the point whether Our Lady meant by penance works of supererogation or just living as well as one can one's Christian life. Against her own inclination as a religious, she had to admit that Our Lady chiefly meant the second. In the same way, she left the impression that there was no concentration on hell-fire in the colloquies. but much more an inaistence on the hell on earth of a world rebelling against God.
A Monstrous Allegation
HY the way, I should like to take
the first opportunity of publicly denying the extraordinary statement in W. T. Walsh's Our Lady of Fatima to the effect that Salazar is a Catholic of minimum observance. Naturally "the Doctor " does not tell the world the state of his soul, but the view of those who know him well is that he is either a very, very good actor or a very, very good Catholic. It was a monstrous thing to say; but I am told that there are many inaccuracies in this racy American account. It is agreed that a really good book on Fatima remains to be written.
Storks on the Escorial (INE of the last things I did in ONE was to pay a visit to the Escorial. which I found disappointing, except for the MSS. of St. Theresa with her wonderful strong handwriting. I was afterwards told that only those who appreciate the Escorial can understand the soul of Spain! The most attractive thing on the outside of the famous monastery were the storks nesting on the chimneys. As far as I can remember this is the only time I have ever seen a stork-so much so that I half imagined it must be a childstory bird.
Not Publicity-Conscious ONE of the oddest things about Spain is her total apparent disinterest in the outside world. The fact was brought home to me in an odd way. When I flew from Madrid to Lisbon I was (to my surprise) met at the airport by a Pressman and a Press photographer. Later I was asked to give a long interview to a daily paper. Now in Portugal there is no reason whatsoever why any interest should be shown in me, a complete nonentity there. In Spain, however, it might be conceivable that the work of THE Coroostc HERALD might be known, and anyhow I went there under high Catholic auspices. Yet from first to last no journalist came near me!