Losing one's head
Caritas—even over animals
THERE is something psychologically odd, surely, about the reactions of many to the three words "cruelty to animals". Among very many letters received in connection with the recent reports about Ireland, a small minority are balanced and sensible, but the vast majority are from people who write completely uncritically. A few are a hundred per cent tough and seem to think that all interest in animals is slushy sentimentality: but far more seem to "see red" and brush aside as irrelevant any inquiry into the truth of allegations splashed in the press. I am proud to be able to put on record the fact that the most charming and heartening letter we received was from the Hon. Treasurer of "The Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare". It may be (I don't know) that she and I would not wholly agree about everything, but I am sure we could discuss the subject fruitfully, I perhaps learning from her and she perhaps seeing the relevance of a point I might make. In omnibus caritas— even where the dumb creation is concerned. One letter received from an exile from Ireland was signed "One of the Exported". Another suggested that conditions in the Belfast Prison needed prior treatment as human deaths were hastened by incarceration in it.
MY attention has been called to a certain degree of bias in this week's Panorama discussion on Cremation. Against a background of the neatness and hygiene surrounding the disposal of bodies at the Golders Green Crematorium and the untidiness of our great London cemetery of Kensal Green the argument was allowed to run. A clergyman showed that the rite of burning was carried out with all reverence and a priest amid the crumbling gravestones gave the Catholic point of view. The interviewer had of course to say it: "Your Church is not abreast of scientific developments" and the picture was cut as the priest protested. There seemed to be no time to put the obvious points that grave scientific or sociological reasons against burial in our big modern towns would be a sufficient reason for the Church to change an ancient discipline supported by weighty spiritual reasons, but neither dogmatic nor part of the natural law. Cemeteries always tend to look untidy, but one does sometimes feel that more could be done to maintain their upkeep.
'Thank You to the People
"THANK you all for co-operating
— especially you who don't like it, but do it all the same." These, are the kind of heartening words from the pulpit which cause revolutions in parishes and enthusiasm for the Dialogue Mass. They are reported to me by a reader who goes to Ely Place in the City of London. In the case of Ely Place the above gracious "thank you" to the people (why so rare?) was for co-operation in the proper postures for Mass as described in a welldistributed leaflet based on the authority of the great liturgist. Fr. J. B. O'Connell (see C.H. January 15. p.8). "One gets the feeling that everybody would find it hard not to do what the Ely Place priests ask with such simplicity and love," my friend writes. "I took a stone-deaf non-Catholic there on a very full
day. She said: 'That seems like family worship. 1 can't usually follow in your churehes'." If only sve all realised that love and court
esy get infinitely better responses (in all senses of the word) than admonition and vexation! It is worth reporting that any visitor who goes to the I p.m. Mass at Ely Place must be astounded by the perfection of the full dialogue responded to by a City collection of men and women distributed through the Church. If it can be done by so disparate a congregation, what of the parish?
Grateful for plain Spokenness
A SIMILAR moral may be " drawn from some pages of the Parish Magazine of St. George's, Sudbury, in which the parish priest has printed a letter (a rather silly one, I thought) from a parishioner taking his P.P. to task about a recent bazaar and giving the clergy generally a dressing-down. The point is the P.P.'s comments. "Good, however can often come from evil. and. with the writer's permission. on undertaking. naturally, to suppress his name and address. I am publishing his letter . . . One of my ieactions --the first and chief one, was—gratitude. Here at long last was one who did not hesitate to express exactly
what his reactions were . . A priest, especially a Parish Priest, ought to be told of his shortcomings or faults 'face to face'. He can then either defend himself if he feels mistaken or can show he is right, or else mend his ways, grateful for the opportunity of doing so. Saint Paul relates how he 'withstood Saint Peter to the face because he was to be blamed'. He considered Saint Peter's dealing with a problem that had arisen was weak and lacked courage. Saint Paul asked of the Colossians. 'Am I therefore to become your enemy because I have told you the truth?'" Here is another form of dealing with the people with love and courtesy.
AM I right or wrong in supposing that in this country the numbers of godparents allotted to the baptism of infants is a function of the social standing and wealth of the parents. And if so, why? 1 have always supposed that one godfather and one godmother were enough, and that it was far more important to choose them for their responsibility and virtue than their wealth of station in life. Anyway, I see it is laid down in "The Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary": "In Baptism there may be one sponsor only (of either sex) or one of each sex." So what are the others doing? Is this custom common in Catholic countries?
'Wind and Rain' Again
PERE TEILHARD de CHARDIN'S work (I hear his book is selling like hot cakes) is to be a subject of the first issue of the revived The Wind and the Rides." which used to be a quarterly and is now to be an annual Review of the Arts, published from America and edited once more by Neville Braybrooke in London. What the editor calls "the territory between natural science and religious experience" will constitute the general background of this first issue. into which Pere Teilhard's views will naturally fit. "Contributions are invited before April 25" I take to mean literary rather than linancial since the latter could hardly be too late. The address is 10 Gardnor Road. Flask Walk. Hampstead, London, N.W.3.
Whitaker's and 'Man of the Year'
KNOWING the difficulty of " rapid printing, binding. and distribution of hooks, one has to congratulate "Whitaker for 1960" (21s.) for taking in its stride all the complex General Election results. The innovation of a number of illustrations bound together in the centre continues, and surely for the first time a new motor car is included the Morris Mini-Minor. somewhere down the waiting list for which is the present writer's name. This seems a good augury, if not for rapid delivery, at least for a happy life. Might not Whitaker's adopt the U.S.A. habit of the "Man of the Year" as a frontispiece? President Eisenhower is "Time's" choice. with Macmillan apparently as runner-up. If Khrushchev had been chosen it would have been for "confronting freedom with its sternest tests".