Question of Conversion
\v HAT with the month of Our Lady whose dowry is England, Home Mission Sunday, the annual Ransomers' march and general meeting, this is the time of the year when the thoughts of many instinctively turn to the conversion of this country. I was talking recently to a non-Catholic of very good will who is obviously much fascinated by the Church and by the Catholics he knows. In fact, he volunteered to attend some of the Holy Week services with my family. Admitting the impressiveness and devotion of the congregation, he nevertheless said: " How can you expect people like me to get any idea of what is happening ? " A lot has been said about unintelligibility where the faithful are concerned, but what about interested non-Catholics ? Quite a number, I imagine, come to Catholic churches occasionally. That their way home should be impeded or delayed unnecessarily is always a tragedy. MY friend's second comment was prompted by the sermon he heard. In it the preacher emphasised reward for a virtuous Catholic life. As we came out, my friend said: "I was with you until he got on to the old Catholic business about payment for virtue. What is spiritual or moral about that ?" One was able to do a little explaining, but it was obvious that he had been put off. I report this for what it is worth.
A BOUT this question of con" versions, I frequently get sent cuttings from papers reporting Anglican claims of a "two-way traffic." Because of this I was interested in what Hugh Ross Williamson has recently written in the Irish Edition of the "Sunday Despatch." Referring to Catholic statistics, he writes: " These figures are as exact as any national register of births, marriages and deaths; for every convert's name. with all particulars, has to be entered into an official book which can he inspected. No possible doubt can be thrown on these figures.
'The Church-of England has no record whatever of 'counterconversions,' hut claims there is a 'two-way traffic.' I think there is no doubt that a few lapsed Catholics do become Anglicans. In my 12 years' ministry in the heart of London I actually knew one and heard of three."
The Bishop of Chester
THIS should he sufficient corn's' ment on the extraordinara statements attributed to the Anglican Bishop of Chester and prominently reported this week in the country's more serious papers. For our part we refuse to involve ourselves in this unpleasant statistical rivalry about conversions. The Catholic Church does not issue statistics of conversions to crow over anyone. It issues them as part of the annual statistics of every aspect of the Church's work: baptisms, marriages, number ot priests and churches and chapels, and schools in their every variety. It is up to other Communions to do the same if they wish to, though I am told that the Church of 'England possesses no accurate knowledge even of the number of its clergymen. It is mere commonsense that no serious notice can be taken of vaguely reported figures such as the Bishop of Chester offers. We are distressed, too, to find him saying that "an aggressive attack upon the Church of England " is mounting in intensity. It is simply untrue. On the contrary, Catholics today arc deeply anxious, while defending the Faith and themselves, to avoid any sort of unnecesary controversy, still more any tack of charity.
ON this same subject, the Man chester Guardian very courteously and interestingly raised on Monday the problem created by the use of advertising for preparing the way towards conversion. Of the present Catholic advertisements it wrote: Certainly the advertisements are dignified and attractive. They neither attack nisi. criticise any other Church, but they are obviously aimed more at practising members of other Christian Churches than at those who seem to be content to live without any God at all. Su long as they continue to be as dignified and uncontroversial as they are now it is hard to see any logical grounds for objection. If you believe that your Church alone has the fullness of Christian truth while all the others have only some of it, it is not easy to see any grounds for refraining from saying so, and advertising is one way of saying it."
But then it asks what will happen if the practice spreads to other denominations and it foresees "an inter-Church traffic." More realistically, it urges that even if one denomination won
through "the wake of the race would be marked by protesting, bitter, dissident groups forced by their very isolation into every kind of oddity and heresy." This does not seem a very strong argument, but it may prompt us never to forget that all the advertising in the world cannot hold a candle to the apostolic effects of Catholic example and intelligence whether within the walls of the Catholic church or outside them.
Martyr's Marble Arch
THE Annual General Meeting of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom was not only extraordinarily well attended this year, but there was real gaiety and entertainment in the speeches, which are reported elsewhere in this issue. Douglas Woodruff surprised the audience with the suggestion that the Ransomers, as they annually march to Tyburn, should how to the Marble Arch. He explained that when the French government of Louis XVIII sent to England two and a half million pounds in payment for the loss to the English Catholics involved in the sequatration of English Catholic colleges in France, George Ill's government spent part of the money in building the Marble Arch. It had been those colleges which trained many of the English martyrs and one of their monuments today is thus, accidentally, the Marble Arch near Tyburn.
Fr. Fennelly again
pR. JOHN FEN NELLY of Grey' stones near Dublin appears to have done wonders in encouraging active and intelligent participation of the people in Mass and other church services. Recently he has published by means of a duplicator "Music for Worship" with words and melodies for the incredibly low price of a shilling and, with .accompaniment. for two shillings. I sent a copy to Fr. Clifford Howell for his comments. Here is what he says. "It is a small but good collection of simple chants and pouter hymns designed for the needs of congregations. Fr. Fennelly's good taste, musicianship and literary ability are apparent especially in his selection of certain very fine old Irish tunes; some of these are arranged for wellknown words such as '0 Sacranieni mug holy,' 'By the blood that flowed from Thee,' while others have words supplied by Fr. Fennelly himself. Outstanding among these is his translation of an old Gaelic hymn—'Be Thou my joyance, 0 Lord of my heart.' Altogether there are about twenty items, all of which could find a place in the liturgical services or popular devotions held during Holy Week and Eastertide."