IN the times in which we live Catholic apostolic activity takes on a rather different, and a rather wider meaning, than it has since the early ages of the Church. Once Christianity became established as the•spiritual and moral culture of the West, there existed a kind of framework of fundamental values which carried men and society along, setting a limit to the deviations which could hope to survive. The consequence was twofold. Society while able to develop, progress and adapt itself to changing needs, rested securely on a fundamental agreement about God, His Eternal Law and the Natural Law. And individual people, for their part, could not immediately endanger the basic stability, however much their own minds and actions strayed from the path of reason and conscience. v It is true, as the history of the West shows, that this moral stability was more apparent than real. It is true that new ideas and philosophies, while seemingly impotent to destroy the bases of Christian society, were all the time eating away at its foundation. Hence the Church's need all (lie time to struggle for the preservation of the truth and to exhort all men to live by that truth. Hence, too, a pressing need all the time on the part of Christians themselves
to give an example of true Christian values and true Christian
hehaviouk—a duty which too many signally failed to follow.
BUT today our generation lives in a world where any deviation from Christian truth and Christian conduct has a chance of completely destroying not only belief in fundamental Christian truths and values, but also those precious things which unbelievers have inherited from Christendom: the idea of progress, the conviction and aspiration of human freedom, the stability and continuity of the society wherein we expect to lead peaceful and personally worth-while lives.
It is against the triumph of such deviations and against the ultimate clash between such competing deviations that the Church is fighting a battle, which one must in fairness and objectivity describe as still a losing battle.
That is why we should not be content to think of contemporary apostolic work as a sort of private, or national; or sectarian, call.
When we hear of a Sunday especially devoted to the cause of the Home Mission, and the work especially of our Catholic Missionary Society—one, of course, among very many special apostolic activities in this and other countries—we should try and see it against the whole world background. We should try to see it as a political and social matter, as well as a religious one.
THE Church is not a kind of amalgam of individuals solely seeking their own salvation. Nor is it a Sect aiming at a special glory or a special success for its own partisans as against rivals.
The Church is the Body of Christ incorporating the whole human society, temporal as well as spiritual, incarnating Christ's love and will to save all men, not as detached individuals or spirits, but in and through that complex of human relationships which we call human society. All was created by God. All is loved by God. All has to be shaped to the Divine pattern in and through which our personal salvation, that is, union with God, is to be accomplished.
Because human society is a society of persons, ends-inthemselves under God, and because therefore the final realisation of God's Will is accomplished through the personal struggle of each in life to accomplish God's Will for him, body and soul, in his personal circumstances, we too easily forget the final consummation when God will come again in His glory to judge the whole world and to triumph in the last act of the drama which began with the Creation and throughout which the love of the Incarnate God is the motif.
It is that aspect of Christianity which reveals itself, as it were, to us continually when we relate our religion to the spiritual ebb and flow of human society as a whole. It is because of it that none of us can escape the consequences of an age fke ours which is in rebellion against God and therefore imperils God's pattern for each one of our lives.
TODAY, when we look around us at our own country, as the Missionary Society bids us do, and see the masses around us living lives heedless of the Christian truth, of God's love and plan, of the Incarnation—and when from our own country we look abroad to other countries, and from these to the whole world where deviations of tyranny or worship of wealth and profit or Godless planning are in the ascendant, yet doomed to destroy rather than create—we should surely try to feel a spiritual responsibility that is boundless and tremendous.
While on the one side it is exercised in the little world of ourselves and our relations with those we know and can reach. on the other jt embraces all time and space, all aspects of contemporary life, and consequently should make us totally unsatisfied with apostolic values and methods which do not aspire to have something of the universality, the grandeur, the charity, the understanding of Christ Himself.
Ours is not a petty, sectarian vocation; it is a part of the drama of creation, redemption and the ultimate coming of the Kingdom of