Worthy of the 'Golden Legend'
THREE CHILDREN, by Canon C. Barthas, translated by Sister M. Dominic, 0.SS.S. (Clonmore and Reynolds, 15s.).
THREE CHILDREN, Our Lady's messengers at Fatima, by Canon Barthas of Tou louse may become the classic telling of this most moving story; not the definitive, critical history of the events and the biography of the children involved, but the artistic recreation of the happenings at the Cava da Iria in May, 1917, so that the story of these apparitions may be read with edification by the young and, without disedification or irritation, by their elders.
The book first appeared in 1940 and won from the Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione, the significant praise: "You have displayed as much piety as talent in your unfolding of this story worthy of the Golden Legend." The war that the revelations might have prevented if men had been willing to listen to the message of Fatima was in its full swing of horror and the author had not visited the scene nor the folk still living who had witnessed some of the events.
The second edition, published in 1947, added those elements of the story revealed by Lucia onthe 25th anniversary of the apparitions in 1942. This, the third edition, is much enlarged and improved by the knowledge gained on visits Canon Berthas has made to Fatima, the talks he has had with the witnesses of events in 1917, his close study of the archives at Leiria, and thc "note books" of Sister Lucia of Jesus.
The hook has already been translated into some 15 languages and has been published in the original French in most French-speaking countries. For the very susceptible English reader, who likes his piety dry, the translator has omitted (with the author's permission) some of the pious exhortations and reflections which perhaps caught the eye and touched the heart of Cardinal Mag
B whereas styles may legiti
mately vary, the substance of the story remains one of the most extraordinary, the most marvellous, mysterious and yet most simple of those in the annals of the Church: simple shepherds about whose very graves there was doubt in the case of one for at least a year.
BASIC ECONOMIC PROBLEMS, by John F. Sleeman (S.C.M. Press, London, 10s. 6d.).
THIS is described in a sub-title as -I"A Christian Approach." This in itself makes it interesting and exciting; for though many Christians of varying degrees of faith and piety have in the past tackled basic economic problems, few have dared to invade the dismal science with the hope
and optimism which Christianity implies.
The author is Lecturer in Social Economics at Glasgow University, where Alec Cairncross. whose Introduction to P.conotnic.v is becoming a standard text-hook, is Professor of Applied Economics: but the Lecturer owes little to the Professor. This is a brave. encouraging book, stimulating and helpful, that all students of economics ought to study and all good citizens would do well to read. It burkes none of the issues. even if front a Catholic point of view it leaves much still to be said and is disappointingly vague where it could be positive. The author is no starry-eyed idealist. "Man is created in God's image," he writes, "capable of rising to great heights of idealism both in vision and achievement, but he is also fallen. Selfishness is innate in him as well as idealism." In fact, under the ameliorated term "self-regarding clement" he sees this selfishness as a legitimate factor in economic analysis and planning. But when all that is kindly has been said. it is quite incredible that nowhere does John Sleeman say anything of Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno or of any of the Papal Encyclicals which touch on these problems. Nor does he seem to have undertaken as a preliminary to his writing the hook any study of moral theology, which has much to say on the just price, the just wage, the right to combine, the limits and qualifications of "ownership," which Capitalism sees as "sacred" and talks of as "absolute."
Finally, of course. there can be no such thing as a Christian Economic Order, any more than there is a Christian Political System. Christian, can Christianise any economic system, from the paternal and tribal to the industrial, just as they can Christianise any political system from that of the tyrant and the king to that of oligarchy and the democracy. it is not Christianity which has failed to make an impact on the modern industrial economic organisation, nor even the Church, but Christians, all of them-with, of course, some very notable and reasonably numerous exceptions.
With the increased interest in archeeology, there should be a special welcome among Irishmen and lovers for Ireland for Prof. Sean O'Riordan's study of the Antiquities of the Irish Countryside (Methuen, 15s.). Ireland is one of the richest countries in the world in field antiquities, and in this volume many of those antiquities are described and illustrated in non-technical language. The reader is helped by endpaper maps giving the position of every place referred to.