SIR,-One of the hardest things, and yet the most vital for those who come from a traditionally Catholic home, is to see the Faith as a fresh, personal discovery. Franyois Mauriac speaks of how he envied converts in France for this reason. He found it difficult to avoid the emotional repugnance towards something however good that had been imposed on him willynilly. 1 have noticed the same thing in Ireland where the Faith can be as exasperating as one's family is at times. Andre Maurois puts this very vividly in his useful book, The Art of Living: " But your own family's love is unreasoning. You were born into it and are of its flesh and blood. Nevertheless, it can irritate you more than any group of people in the world?' Yet. from another angle, as he shows, your home is normally the happiest place because in it you feel free to be completely yourself.
It is the same thing with our supernatural home, the Church of God, when we have had the privilege of being born and bred in it. The problem, therefore, is how to dominate the boring, exasperating side of family life, both natural and supernatural, and thus be able to concentrate on the fact that the deep sense of communion in it is the solution of our greatest problems: loneliness and frustration. Since no family is completely normal, especially in the war-torn world of today, this can only be wholly true of our supernatural home. If we can only awaken to it we will begin to appreciate even in youth what an extraordinary privilege it is to be born and brought up in the Faith. We know our way about. We have not to acquire its habits, its instincts. We have only to awaken them.
Perhaps the best way to achieve this is to learn the distinction between actual and sanctifying grace, a distinction which even educated Catholics rarely realise. Personally, I grew up thinking grace was merely a help to be a good boy. Since I made the discovery that, besides the actual grace that helps me to be faithful to the laws of God. there is another called habitual, or sanctifying. grace which makes a radical change in my whole being. I have noticed how startled people are when I share with them this new knowledge.
We all know, of course, theoretically. the two terms, hut in practice we ignore the second. We have never tried to bring home to ourselves what really happens at baptism. Yet, something happens then that is as real and much more tremendous than what takes place at conception, when our parents unite to form our bodies and Almighty God joins them, creating at the same time our souls. At the moment of conception we become members of a human family, but at baptism there is infused into us a new kind of life. a created share in the very life of God Himself. by which de become members of His Family. Wc become co-heirs with Jesus Christ and children of Mary Immaculate as concretely as we have become the children of our earthly parents. We have become new creatures as St. Paul says, radically distinct from those who have not been baptised. It Is this distinction that comes out so grandly, so exultantly, in ancient Catholic poetry echoing the fierce realism of the prayers that accompany the Sacrament of 'Bap
tism. " Les paiens ont tort " cries the Chanson de Roland and its message has been worthily carried on by Chesterton and Reline. to the hewilderment of modern humanists who consider them narrow and reactionary. They cannot understand that even when the unbeliever surpasses the baptised Christian in the natural virtues he is still of a fundamentally lower order of being. It is this woeful ignorance that makes the project of a union of Western Europe against the new barbarian invasion from the East such a forlorn hope. But surely, this sense of sheer desperation that possesses all thoughtful Catholics to-day ought to drive us to relive the Christian epic so grandly told by Chesterton in the Rallad of the White Horse, and in a more personal way by Paul Claudel in the Satin Slipper. Trusting in the supplex omnipotentia-the prayerful omnipotence-of Mary Immaculate on the feast of her Assumption.
GERALD FLANAGAN (Rev.) The Presbytery, Iver Heath, Bucks,
THE PARISH REFORM
SIR.-My personal interest in this vital subject was induced many years ago by the eminently reasonable and able way in which the present Lord Rankeillour through, I think, the aegis of the Catholic Times, outlined the shortcomings of our parochial life, and it is a measure of the convincing arguments he adduced and of the necessity for this innovation -the reorganisation of the parishthat my interest has been sustained all these long years. It is much to be hoped that your leader will be read and studied by at large following and that something concrete may result along the lines of an organisation which will link up every parish in the country and thus bring into a fuller use the army of laymen who could' and should shoulder the mundane duties associated with the parish.
PEI ER HUGHES. Sheffield, 11.
PUNISHMENT AND CRIME
SIR. A letter in the Times of August 31, 1948, draws attention to the shocking contrast between a sentence of six months' imprisonment for improper possession of petrol coupons, and another sentence of one month's imprisonment meted out to a man for brutally treating an infant. This phenomenon, I suggest, is a direct consequence of the denial of the Christian basis of our law, which was edplicitly recognised in a recent decision on a matrimonial case in the House of Lords. Our lawmakers and administrators, following the popular trend, seem to have lost sight of the true source of all author
ity. The State increasingly usurps that prerogative; and, as a natural consequence. offences against the State have come to be regarded as more serious than offences against the laws of God. The world, in fact, is upside-down.
STANLEY E. NORFOLK.
Captain. R.N. (retd.). Court Lodge, Vine Court Road, Seveneeks, Kant.