Terence it\ Sheehy
NO DOUBT that cmine Victorian Karl Marx, who died on March 14, one hundred years ago, would have admired the mansion of a similar vintage in Millionaire's Row, in Kensington Palace Gardens, in West London, which is the Embassy of the Soviet Union today.
A formal reception there is a long remembered experience. On a recent visit we found ourselves inside the entrance hall regarding a soldier in Soviet army uniform standing impassively in front of a television screen.
He was not watching Coronation Street. He was monitoring each guest crossing the threshold.
Awaiting our turn to be introduced to the Ambassador, we admired a larger than life portrait of Lenin gazing down on us from above the hall stairway. It is said that on his death bed he cried out, 'If only we had had one Saint Francis of Assisi'.
His Excellency the Soviet Ambassador speaks impeccable English, and is reputed to have played cricket for his English University team. His greeting to
the Catholic Herald representative was warm and sincere.
The reception was crowded with Ambassadors, members of the Communist Party of' Great Britain, and jet-set business men furthering Anglo-Soviet trade and relations. With Russian champagne and vodka and caviar, and all sorts a exquisite mouthfuls of food, relations were good.
We drifted from one chandeliered reception room to another, admiring the oil paintings of Russian forests and villages and towns, on the panelled walls, and finished up in a minor Crystal Palace, full of palms and potted plants, and helpful counsellors, ever ready to effect introductions.
In the gardens outside security guards patrolled restlessly up and down in the darkness.
We listened to fag-ends of conversation . . the Soviet Union lost 20 million people in the great patriotic war . . We are encircled by American nuclear missiles .. . our national day is not May Day, it is November 7, the anniversary of October Revolution • of 1917 . .. Let's lunch at my club when we get back from Cuba ..."
The benign Soviet embassy staff behind and in front of the various bars had the cheerful bucolic look of a group a Irish politicians from County Mayo.
Ethel Mannin, who wrote one of the best travel books of this century, The Road to Samarkand, observed in this famous work that Russians she met at the most remote railway stations on the Trans Siberian railway were very like the people of Connemara for courtesy, ease of manner and friendliness.
Army chaplains needed
MGR JOHN MORAN VG, who holds the rank of Principal Chaplain (RC) to the Army, looks every inch the soldier he is. Tall and slim, with steely blue eyes, his territory of pastoral care for service personnel and their dependants is both at home and overseas, and includes Northern Ireland' and West Germany.
When we talked with him last week he expressed his concern at the shortage of priests in the Army, thirty-five are required, and the number stands at twenty-seven at present. The RAF strength is sixteen, four short, but the Royal Navy has a full complement of fifteen.
Chaplains are drawn on a volunteer basis from the various dioceses and Orders. The Benedictines are well to the fore in all three services, while the Jesuits tend to wait until there is a war on before they volunteer.
There is one army chaplain to about every two and a half thousand Catholics, while the national average is one priest per thousand. The percentage of Catholics in the army is well above the national average and is over sixteen pc, cent. Benedictine schools provide a high percentage of commissioned officers.
One of the long term solutions being studied at pi esent to alleviate the shortage of chaplains is to train resident deacons, This would, of course, be a revolutionary step, but a course well worth much consideration. At present a chaplain on duty in West Germany, where there is every co-operation from the local German clergy will, for example, celebrate two Masses on Saturday night, and travel 150 miles on the Sunday in the course of saying three Masses. There are no problems in West Germany, or indeed in the Falklands, but it must be difficult for troops serving in Northern Ireland to hear Mass in or out of uniform in any local parish church. The Irish Guards, for example, do not serve in Northern Ireland.
The chief Marshal
SURPRISINGLY enough, the Irish Tourist Board in its announcement of Mr Joseph Kennedy, a Belfast man, and Korean War veteran, as its new General Manager for Britain, does not mention that he was once recipient of the supreme accolade of the New York Irish Americans in that city when he was elected chief' marshal of the famous St Patrick's Day parade.
The marshal, chosen annually, is the unanimous choice of 400 New York Irish American Societies. The chosen one, in grey topper and morning suit, leads a procession of 125,000 marchers, including hundreds of bands, in this 192year-old procession.
It starts at noon, and by Angelus time it is still passing the review stand outside the bronze doors of St Patrick's Cathedral. The Ancient Order of Hibernians founded the procession, and nowadays an anonymous Irish American pays the 900 dollars to have the green line painted down Fifth Avenue.
This year an elderly Provisional IRA sympathiser has been chosen as the grand Marshal, and the Irish Government, the Irish Tourist Board and Aer Lingus will
boycott the parade. So will New
York's Senator Daniel Moynihan, and the Archdiocese of New York has stated that it has no connection with the show.
Across America similar parades are held, on St Patrick's Day, and in San Francisco we have seen a strong contingent of Chinese marching and wearing green.
Book of the Gospels
HAVING been brought up on a diet of Jesuit liturgical confusion and near perfect M.C's, and swung a mean censer in our time, we are all for the highest solemnity being accorded to the Gospels.
This is especially true during the Liturgy of the Word, when
the Book of Gospels is carried to the place of proclamation accompanied by incense, lights and sung acclamation.
Collins Liturgical Publications, jointly with Geoffrey Chapman, have just published the Book of the Gospels. A beautiful volume, it is designed for use for Sunday Mass, Solemnities and for solemn ritual occasions.
Homage to George Baker
THE CURRENT edition of the Poetry Nation Review pays homage to the Catholic poet George Barker on his seventieth birthday.
In the course a an interview with Robert Fraser, he points out that Hopkins deliberately restored the sprung rhythm of English verse of the years between 1.200 and 1450 in his poetry. George Barker has been writing poetry within a Catholic frame of thought since 1939. His mother was Marion 'Faalle, a Catholic from Drogheda, and it was through her that he received his early religious education.
As he explains: 'When I was still at school my mother used to receive visits from a Jesuit attached to the Brompton Oratory by the name of Father 0' Roberts.
'When I was thirteen she told him I had been writing verses which she then showed to him. He was very taken in by this nonsense, so he arranged for me to go along for two hours on Tuesday and Thursday evening.
'This went on for about four years, from the time I was thirteen to the time I was about seventeen, and that was where I was really educated.
'They also taught me a love which I've always found to be among the best things I've ever known: a great love of reading history, for which I've been grateful ever since.'
George Barker believes with T. S. Eliot that 'only those who believe can blaspheme'. He believes that it is impossible for anybody to write seriously without having a particular philosophical or religious point of view.
P N Review is published at 208-212 Corn Exchange Buildings, Manchester.