Don Luigi to the Rescue
Passing the buck is not Christian IT is pleasant to read of the still indefatigable political activity of Doh Sturzo at the age of 82. Don Sturzo became a friend to many young Catholics with social and political interests in this coustry during the years he spent in exit in London, though alt his charm and learning failed to gain a very solid English following for the ideal of Christian Democracy which does not readily fit into our political divisions and seems often rather too political and liberal for the hien pensants within the Church. But the latter would. I think, be reassured by Don Luigi's support in the Italian Senate for Mario Scelba, for it provecho be a very strong indictment of. State capitalism which is only a softer word for what we know as Socialism. The system of State participation in enterprise allows the Governmentand private bureaucracy to spread itself in such a way as to handicap and alter an economic dynamism otherwise capable of increasing production and a bs or bing the ever-gsowing labour market," he declared. And he prophesied that "the time will come when we will all be civil servants." And, he added, in other words, 'a host of irresponsible persons." God gave us liberty with the risks attached. If you pass the buck too easily, you give up being free.
A play comes back—and a grievance THERE is a curious haunting 1 sensation about watching a play in which one has once acted. Years ago, when I was studying German in Munich. the English colony there formed a dramatic society which played, among other things, "Ambrose Applejohn's Adventure' given on TV last week. In fact, this play was given for charity before a distinguished audience, including members of the Bavarian Royal Family. Ambrose was played by no other person than Stephen Haggard, later distinguished actor and poet, who was tragically killed in battle. I remembered that I played the butler, but had forgotten his name, Watching the screen on Sunday night, it was as though unfolding a parchment long ago put away and forgotten, rather like the parchment in the play. That year in Germany gave me a deep love for Germany which have always retained. What it did not do was to make me a German scholar, partly because the English community was so much together that we only too rarely spoke German. Which reminds me of the real monstrosity that an officer doing his National Service in Austria gets little or no chance of learning the language. In fact, he seems to be discouraged from doing so. This is just throwing away a chance of equipping our younger men with a very real asset in life and business.
Letter in the post "y WAS rather surprised to see I in THE CATHOLIC HERALD an advertisement of a firm w hich specialises in altering the shape of people's faces. Surely, since God made us in His own image and likeness, it is an insult to Him to tamper with His work. The above argument may also be applied against women who paint their faces." Why not about men who shave and those of us who cut our nails? I think the writer is perhaps taking His own image and likeness" a little too verbally. More serious is the query of another reader about the morality of changing sex, reports of which have caused his children to ask awkward queries. I think this is really a question of sex, so to speak, changing itself or realising its true self, with the help of the medical profession. If sex could really be changed at will. there would be few women left, to judge by the number who say they would prefer to be men.
T. S. Eliot's kind of verse LAST week-end 1 spent a very delightful two hours reading the text of Eliot's "The Confidential Clerk" (Faber, los, 6d.), a play I have not so far seen on the stage. Whatever the merits'of "the kind of verse" (Eliot's words) used in this play and in "The Cocktail Party" when the plays are acted. there is no doubt that It greatly helps the reading of them. One gets so used to skimming the average book and taking paragraphs in a kind of visual lump that it is a rest and a new enjoyment to find the visual breaking-up of the line and the sense cif rhythm in it holding one to the actual words and phrases. This helps also to visualise the scene, so that to get the best of the play it may he a very good thing to read it first. With normal plays, it probably works best the other way round.
'Who am I to explain ?'
EVERYBODY wants to know svhat "The Confidential Clerk" is meant to convey — apart from its being an amusing and improbable social comedy. This question. no doubt. deserves the answer which T. S. Eliot once gave when asked to explain his "Ash Wednesday": "Who am 1 to explain my own verse?" To me the effect of the play comes in the phrases that run through it. "Perhaps I have taken too much for granted" . . . "We have both chosen . . . obedience to the facts" . . . "Wishes when rear lised, sometimes turn against those who have made them"; and "But we failed to observe, when we had our wishes, that there was a time-limit clause in the contract." Life. in other words, is always a wild improbability, and human bcings much more complex than they realise. But there is always a fatality and a purpose behind it. and in obedience to the facts what we wish. or ought to want, will he granted. We all have our wishes in one form or another, but it Matters very much that we accept them in the conditions that they are offered. however little they may seem to suit our logic and our feelings.
San Celestino MANY people. T am sure, read with interest the account in The Times of the only true Papal abdication in history, that of St. Celestine V. The story is beauti fully told in a book I never cease to recommend, "San Celcstino," by John Ayscough. the pen name of Mgr. Biekerstaffe Drew. I imagine the book is out of print but it would he well worth reissuing. The resignation of Bishops. apart from that of Popes, is a relatively rare event, though there is intrinsically nothing to prevent it. for Bishops who resign their territorial Sees are appointed to titular Sees in lands that were once Christian but have been overrun by the Islamic invasions.
IT seems to me that today's feast, the Feast of St. Gregory the Great, whose picture I print above, suggests the patron for European Unity. "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the con fu s ion, the lawlessness. the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy the real father is Gregory the Great," wrote the Anglican Dean Milman (quoted in Attwater's "Dictionary of Saints"). I like to think, too, that St. Gregory, besides being an administrative genius, was a great ms tic whose contribution to this subject was so well described by the first Abbot Butler in "Western Mysticism."
We need a good dose of both qualities today. Today is the last day of the Ransom Guild Novena to St. Gregory for the conversion of England.
A camera in Russia S°ME weeks ago I reported a conversation with Mrs. Bower about her photography during her recent visit to Russia. I am afraid I must have got mixed up, because was wrong in stating that she had a permit to photograph. In fact. bans and permissions to use cameras were all verbal ones. She was, however, able to obtain some official photographs of the Orthodox serninary which she described to me, and she and a colleague took pictures inside it. Fearing that the verbal permission might he restricted if she used her camera when going around apart from the delegation, she did not mention her adventures when out with the camera alone to her colleagues. I am glad to have the chance of getting this clearer. as otherwise she might be criticised for inaccurate reporting, whereas she has been most anxious to report this rather unique experience in the most accurate manlier possible.