Conversation with the Minister I WAS lucky enough last week to • have the chance of a long chat with our senior Catholic Minister, Mr. R. R. Stokes, the Minister of Works. We plain citizens feel a certain amount of reflected power on such occasions, as, when driving through London, one says to the Minister: " Why not have a new fountain there?" And he answers " Why not?," and with the smile of one indulging a child adds: " I'll see to it — if I remember, which of course I won't." More seriously however I can report that Dick Stokes, to my surprise, finds his Ministerial job rather less arduous than his back-bench plus-industrial life of the past. A back-bencher, dead keen on his work as Dick Stokes always is, has to keep himself an fait with practically every topic likely to arise in debate, and this nowadays makes a tremendous task. As a Minister in charge of a department employing over 60,000 people directly and indirectly, there is obviously a strict limit to what he himself can personally do. As with most of his Parliamentary colleagues these days, he finds the toughest part of his life to consists in making himself physically present at the House for the critical divisions which follow one another so regularly.
Strong for the Middle-classes 'WITHOUT, I trust, breaking con" fidences I can say that I found Dick Stokes anxious. as are so many of his colleagues of the Labour Party, about the future of the middle classes. He thoroughly believes that the future depends in large measure on a strong and economically sound middle class or middle income group, and he is very well aware of the increasing difficultywhich so many arc experiencing in bringing up their families and enjoying the opportunities of that creative and re-creative life which is essential if they are to exercise true responsibility and initiative in their productive lives. I imagine that he himself would feel that the next great job of the Labour Party, both for the good of the country generally and the future of the Party itself, is to do for the middle classes what it has done during the last five years for the working classes. But this will prove a much tougher job, since the cost of what has been done has had to be paid for so largely through the sacrifices of the middle classes. But Dick Stokes, essentially and always a person of the utmost buoyancy, does not quail before even this job. I think that for his own part he scold be willing to risk a substantial cut in the income-tax on earned income.
Conversion by Arithmetic "IF every Catholic and every new convert in China were to win One single person to the Faith each year, its 450 million souls would all find themselves in the Catholic fold io less than 13 years." I read this remarkable example of geometrical progression--if that's the right word —in Chan Kwong. a leaflet issued each month by the Irish Jesuits for their China missionaries. It sets me wondering how soon this country could be converted by a similar process! My maths are not up to it. but I'm sure that the answer would bring us near the "relatively" phenomenon of the conversion being achieved almost before it got started. But even half a dozen converts per Catholic lifetime would make half Britain Catholic in a generation. Solemn and fruitful thought for the Centenary.
St. Paul Might Have Been There A FRIEND of mine back from " Rome the other day reported that he found the Beda College there in low financial waters. Reinstatement after the war, the devaluation of the pound together with the high price of food has upset its balance. The Beda does a specially interesting job by taking the professional man whose vocation to the priesthood came late in life, and giving him a shortened course of training. One might describe the atmosphere at the Bede as combining a seminary, an English university and an officer's mess; students who have been there look back on those days as some of the happiest in their lives. France and other countries have tried the experiment of sending young priests to live and work with ordinary laypeople (priest workmen)—ethe Bede does the same thing in reverse, so to speak. sending men who already have a craft, trade or profession trained as priests to go among their
religion means. associates to show them what
s igt.lopnau nlian might have been a Beds
student had he lived today. It seems a pity that he might have been one on the waiting list now because funds so limit the accommodation,
Our Public Schools THE astonishing scholastic success of Ampleforth is reflected in scholarship figures recently given in the Oxford Magazine. Among the 21 schools in the country which in 1949-50 have gained four or more awards at Oxford Colleges, Ampleforth's is the only Catholic name. and it stands second to Winchester with 23 awards. Among the 13 schools which gained ten or more awards at Oxford and Cambridge taken together, Ampleforth again stands alone among Catholic names, and comes fourth with 15 awards. after Winchester. Manchester Ci.S. and Eton. What is it then that Ampleforth has, and others have not got? It is a serious question in these days when the cost of a Public School edu cation is tremendous, and should be assessed in terms of these concrete educational dividends that are more and more becoming the high-road to success in a career. Ampleforth is the biggest of our schools. but Downside together with its preparatory. Worth, is about the same size as Ampleforth with its preparatory. the number of boys being about 600 in both cases. Stonyhurst, together with Hodder, has only a little over 400.
The Secular Arm THE Bandwagon repeats a story which even I know to be old; but it is good enough to repeat: Once at Magdalen College, Oxford, during Evensong. a lady in the congregation had the temerity to open her mouth and compete with the choir. She was sternly rebuked but refused to withhold her participation in the service until the other visitors also looked at her with irreverent disgust. Afterwards she approached the President to register her virtuous complaint. " Am I not in a House of God, sir?" she demanded. "No, madam, you are in Magdalen College Chapel," came the polite reply. Along the same lines is the extract from an Anglican Bishop's address given in the New Statesman's "This England ": " We derive our inspiration from God, but we are grateful to the Times for the strengthening of our convictions."
IWAS interested to read in the Tines this week a letter in which the writer stated that owing to prior claims on his time he had left his strawberry bed unweeded with consequent lamentable results to the cyc, but magnificent results with the strawberries which were better than ever before, and attacked neither by slugs or birds. A friend of mine had much the same experience with his onions—the best crop of his life having come in a year when for some accidental reason the onion bed was left to nature. I am sure there is something here. So long as the soil has plenty of food in it, the value of leaving the plants undisturbed may well be greater than the loss of food value to the weeds. The trouble is that we like to see tidy gardens and we fear the labour of the autumn clearance. I am coming more and more to. the conclusion that our whole theory of cultivation needs a revplutionary approach on the basis of naturally enriching the soil at the surface and leaving nature to do her own work.
Thought for the Peace-War Campaign " WOULD to God, then, they that " now exercise us were con verted and exercised with us: but let us not hate them. though they continue to exercise us; for we know not whether they will perservere to the end in their wickedness. And many times when you imagine that you hate your enemy, it is your brother you hate, though you are ignorant of it. The holy scriptures plainly show us that the devil and his angels are doomed to eternal fire. It is only their amendment we may despair of, with whom we wage an invisible war; for which the apostle arms us, saying: Our conflict is not with flesh and blood, that is, not with the men you see before your eyes, hut with the princes. r.
and powers, and
-ulers of the worldf this darkness." Front Maundy o
Thursday at Matins, taken from Si. Augustine.