Have you any problem on your mind? If you have mid you feel that Its solution would be of assistance to other people, let us have it. If, on the whet hand, your difficulty is a private (IJze, it will be solved by private letter.
Would you please explain for me some points about the ethics of bidding at auctions? (B. O'D.)
In your first case you suppose that only two persons are interested in a particular article, and that one refrains from bidding for it out of friendship for the other. There is nothing wrong in this, for no one is obliged to bid at an auction unless he wants to.
In your second case, you suppose that one of the two persons interested pays the other f.5 to induce him not to bid. There is nothing wrong with this action in itself, so long as the remaining bidder is prepared to offer a reasonable price for the article; for the seller has a right either to a free auction or to a fair price: if the freedom of the auction is interfered with, a fair price must be offered.
This conclusion applies still more strongly to your third ease, in which you suppose that a number of buyers have conspired together to form a " ring " to prevent free bidding. Since they have destroyed the freedom of the auction, they are hound to offer a reasonable price for the articles offered for sale. But the formation of a " ring " is peifectly legitimate if it is only intended to prevent the price from rising above a reasonable limit :sunfortunately, this is not usually the case.
Finally, in answer to your last question the setter at an auction is not bound to reveal defects in the articles he is offering for sale, so long as he allows the bidders to examine them beforehand : but, of course, he may not, directly or indirectly, deceive the bidders.
Does the Church give any light on the mystery of Eternal Life and Happiness? F. A. C.)
It will be best to answer a number of your queries under this single heading. The Church teaches that the human soul is immortal, and that the soul which dies in a state of grace will go (after paying the debt of temporal punishment in Purgatory) to Heaven. where it will be taken into a special supernatural union with God. Since God contains in Himself all perfection, the possession of Him in this intimate union brings with it complete and absolute happiness. In spite of the closeness of the union, however, the soul retains its individuality and consciousness of itself and of others, and has a perfect knowledge of human affairs, through the direct vision which it has of God's own knowledge. The happiness which the soul experiences, since it is strictly supernatural. cannot be fully comprehended in this life: You will remember that St. Paul says: " Neither bath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." With the question of the resurrection of the body, and with your other queries, we shall deal in a later issue.
What answer, in extenso, does the Church give to the query re " ail the money spent for churches irrespective of human beings crying out for food "? IH, D-M.) The Church herself makes no answer to this very ridiculous accusation. An individual Catholic questioned on the matter might make two answers. In the first place, he might remark that people do 'not starve because money is spent on churches. If all the money spent on churches were given to the poor instead. it would make practically no difference to their condition: it is a very small proportion of the national income indeed. Much more money is spent on, e.g., cinemas. but I have yet to hear anyone saying that cinemas should be all sold up and the money distributed to the poor.
In the second place, it is to be remembered that churches are not luxuries, but necessities: it is not possible for the ordinary man to lead a full human life without a church. Religion, the worship of God. is something demanded by human nature itself, and the fact that man is a social being means that communal warship, accompanied by sonic kind of ritual, is necessary at least to his well-being. These remarks apply to all men : how much more to Catholics, who have received from God Himself their supreme rite of worship, the sacrifice of the Mass? So that if Catholics choose to stint themselves of other things in order to build churches worthy of their haith, they are acting very reasonably, and to attack them for doing so is absurd.
In " My Pocket Companion, 1941," it is stated that " the R.C. Church proposes to convey b) blessing protectiv e virtue to material and inanimate objects: substituting superstition in place of faith in the Living God." (E. M. L.)
This is, of course, a fantastic perversion of Catholic doctrine. The biessing which the Church gives to such objects as medals, pictures, etc., is what is called an in-metrelive blessing: which means that through that blessing the Church prays God to protectehe owner or user of the thing front spiritual and temporal evils; but the fulfilment of this prayer will obviously be affected by the dispositions of the person concerned. as also
by the design of God in his behalf. The Church does not claim to infuse any sort of virtue, infallible or otherwise, into the material object itself.
Some time ago. I heard a broadcast on St. Joan of Arc, and, after a version of the trial by the Church's Court, a Protestant remarked that " that was what the Roman Catholics did." Can you tell me what answer should be given in such a case? (V. E. A. B.)
The answer is that Catholics may commit sin just as Protestants may. Protestant courts of justice have beets known to give unjust verdicts on occasion : as, for example, the courts which condemned Catholics to death here in England on the absurdly insufficient evidence of the Popish Plot ; but we do not condemn all Protestants on that account. It would he absurd to say that the trial of St. Joan was characteristic of Catholic justice. It might also be well to remind your questioner that her condemnation was officially reversed some twentythree years later.
What are the Four Estates of the Realm? (J. A. M.) In the Middle Ages, the Estates were the officially recognised social divisions of a country. In some countries (e.g., France) three estates were recognised : the clergy, the nobles, and the commons or third estate. In England there were only two estates: the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons. The term Fourth Estate has no official significance; at various limes it has been used as a nickname for various classes or professions: e.g., journalists.