SIR.-It would be appreciated if you would permit me to comment on your reporter's account of the Newman conference organised by the London circle of the association on September 17-18 on the subject of "The Lay Apostolate and the Newman Association."
As a democratic body, any views expressed by members of the association, either individually or collectively, naturally receive most careful consideration both at the local circle and at the national level, where appropriate. Contrary to your correspondent's report the views expressed at the recent conference arc at present under active Consideration by the committee of the London Newman and action will be taken as necessary.
It must be remembered, however, that recommendations made or actions taken are incidental to the main purpose of such a gathering. The principal object of these occasions is to provide an opportunity for members to meet in a congenial atmosphere to hear interesting and stimulating speakers and engage in discussion and an exchange of views amongst themselves.
Experience has shown that probably the most valuable part of these conferences lies in the periods of informal contact between the organised proceedings. Your correspondent could not know that the majority of members present were currently engaged in one or other of the many forms of Catholic Action.
The Newman Association has its own policy-making bodies, and it would be strange if an organisation which was told by Pope Pius XII to have as its principal object "the permeation of contelnporary thought" were to proceed by means of resolutions passed at occasional week-end gatherings.
Finally, your reporter omitted to mention that the association had been honoured by the presence at lunch of Cardinal Godfrey, who was kind enough to express his appreciation of the work which the Newman had done in the past and to give his encouragement for work of the association in the future.
C. T. Sevin (Chairman, Summer School and Regional Conferences Committee).
The Newman Association, 31 Portman Square, London, W.I.
SIR,-The description of the London Newman Association's meeting shows in part how a large proportion of the laity lack initiative in the apostolic field. We hear a great deal today about the lay apostolate and Catholic Action but seldom do we see it in practice during the course of an ordinary day.
This prompts the question: Are we aware what is meant by apostolic work? Is it sufficiently realised that nobody expects us to become little Hyde Park Corners but that we are simply meant to integrate our religion into our daily lives?
As somebody once wrote: "Religion is more than a coat which a citizen dons each Sunday morning, doffs as soon as possible and puts away for another week."
Sundays should be given over to learning something more about our faith both from the pulpit and from books; for the first requisite of an apostle is knowledge of the faith. It is no good knowing what the Church teaches without understanding something about the Church's teaChing. "Illiteracy" was one of the points raised at the Newman meeting, and this is a very important point indeed.
The second requisite is courage. The light of our faith must not be hidden under a bushel; we must not be afraid to admit our Catholicism. There is an opportunity to spread the faith around every corner.
The sacrament of Confirmation should not be forgotten. Confirmation has been called the sacrament of Catholic Action. It can be put to good use by good example in private life. by positive action and speech in public life, and it composes anything from giving a beggar a cup of water to preaching at Hyde Park Corner. This is what is meant surely by lay apostolate. We must find the opportunities for ourselves. A little initiative, a little courage, and a great deal of knowledge would go a long way towards making a vigorous and apostolically minded layman in the street.
(Dom) Christopher Delaney, O.S.B.
Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh, Devon.