The Men of the C47
Their last hours
-v-ou wit! remember the 1 tragedy of the American C-47 military plane which left Rome for Lyons on October 24 and disappeared. I have just received a letter from a priest in Rome which asks me to tell the relatives of the lost men that "the last things they saw on earth were the tombs of the martyrs." They had just been taken around the Catacombs of St. Calixtus and had been made welcome by the Fathers and Brothers there. "They were men of all ages. There was one who had been in Korea and another who told me he had four children. One said he would do anything to go home and see mother. Some were Catholics.... When I told them that Rome was like a huge tree covered with fruits (the galleries and museums) and that the roots of the Church were in the Catacombs, one young man said : 'So Rome is not only a city of pickpockets and swindlers as I had been told.'" It is not always easy to remember that the loss of a plane is more than a statistical event. Here is a case where we can dwell on the thought of these men's last hours and say a special prayer for the repose of their souls and the comfort of their kin.
IFE is never as simple as one
J_dthinks it is. A week or two ago I was bold enough to suggest that the difficulties about the new fasting laws could be entirely solved hy a two-hour fast, together with the retention of the proviso that drinking natural water did not break the Eucharistic fast. I was relieved to hear from a priest who is a great expert on liturgical matters in many countries that this solution has been widely discussed in recent months, the principle being that the fast should have nothing to do with the time of day, but simply be of a certain duration. Some believe in one hour, hut the commonest view is two hours, as I suggested. However, the same priest points out that. even so, this would leave a very important problem unsolved. It is the case of priests who have to say two Masses or even three on Sunday mornings.
The case of duplicating priests
BEFORE Christus Dominus, the Apostolic Constitution which altered the fast, priests could get dispensations for a hot drink between Masses. no matter what Me interval was. Now they cannot. They must abstain from any liquid nourishment for an hour before celebrating. But many priests have to say Mess at 8 a.m., 9.30 a,m, and I] a.m. With notices, sermon and a possibly long Communion, the 8 o'clock and 9.30 Masses will not be over an hour before the start of the next Mass. This means, in effect. a complete fast from 7 o'clock until 12.30, despite the enormous expenditure of energy involved in three Sunday Masses. Pending any amendment of the law, one moral strikes me—and that is that the faithful should be extremely forbearing about any shortness of temper or perhaps not perfect ceremonial on these occasions.
Working in the dark
IN an article in the French II Dominican review La Vie Intellectuelle, Donald Nichol], writer and university lecturer. makes the point that a "climate" of serious Catholic thinking in this country does not exist, despite much first-class writing that appears in our many Catholic reviews and magazines. He gives as an example a controversy in a Catholic weekly (not this one) which continued for some time without anyone referring to an article by Fr, Cyprian Rice in "Dominican Studies' which had the answer. It is a case of the number of small closed tunnels within which our intellectuals have to work in the large number of tiny-circulation periodicals. For my part, I dislike the common suggestion that all these periodicals should be "rationalised" into one or two big ones. It would never work, and the vitality now present would, I think, be killed. I wish I could give more publicity to the excellent magazines which accumulate on my desk, hut it would only he a case of hardly more than listing titles of articles which is not very helpful. We are neither a gregarious, nor an intellectual, nor a conference-minded people, and, frankly, I cannot think of an answer to a problem which, if solved, would do .so much to make the Church a serious intellectual influence in the country.
Catholic papers and the leakage
WE all here take special pride in the observation of one of the Irish Jesuit missioners hard at work once more in our midst. He said : "1 am off now to call on the people house to house with a curate on the pillion of my motor-bike. If I could get THE CATHOLIC HERALD into all their homes, there would he no more defections." On the letter page this week and in the editorial above there is much about this dreadful leakage problem. I would be the last to suggest that it could be solved by getting a Catholic paper into every home, hut with so many of our ordinary faithful parishioners desperately anxious to do something to help, it would surely be a simple thing to see that an old paper, or even a new one (price 3d.), did get into homes where they could do something to help.
A printer's prayer
ONE of the most original "odd" prayers that has come my way is a Printer's Prayer, that appeared in Print, and which a correspondent has kindly sent me. It is a mistake to suppose that journalists are necessarily always on the best of terms with printers, though their association is nine-tenths cordial, so I, so to speak, rededicate this prayer WITH ITS MANY TECHNICAL TERMS to the famous and eminent firm which prints this paper : "TO the Great Printer Who 1 Prints in all the colours of the rainbow, and Whose Type Faces are stars and clouds, autumn leaves and sunbeams, snowflakes a n d flowers, This is my prayer: — "That 1 may SET UP my life to the MEASURE of a man; that I may have the courage, win or lose. to follow the RULES of the game; that I may POINT my life towards the things that count; that I may LOCK UP within my heart idle tales, gossip, and words that hurt; that I may MAKE READY for the opportunities to serve that come my way; that I may REGISTER in my memory the splendour of sunsets, the glow of friendships, the thrill of great music, and the mental lift of inspiring thoughts; that I may PRESS forward in the spirit of adventure towards new horizons of achievement; that I may WORK AND TURN out worthy accomplishments; that the IMPRESSIONS I make on the white pages of time may encourage, cheer. and inspire all those who cross my path: that I may BIND together in my own life all those positive qualities that make for happy. creative, triumphant living: and finally, 0 MASTER OF PRINTERS, help me avoid the disgrace of making PI of my life and guide me safely around the yawning mouth of the HELL BOX."