Page 2, 14th April 1960

14th April 1960
Page 2
Page 2, 14th April 1960 — REAL LAY ROLE?

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Organisations: RS
Locations: Surrey, Trealaw


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SIR,-Querulous and cavilling I See at all eye to eye with wittily about the possibility of an It is easy enough to see that throughout the Christian era no age has lacked lay saints. Indeed, I should suppose they vastly outnumber the clerical saints. But the writer does not mean "lay" in this sense.

Evidently he means it in a sense I should regard as rather pejorative-"lay" with respect to the kind of organisational, business society which, as the writer rightly points out, western man has expanded.

In the current "Catholic Truth Quarterly" (of Ireland) there is an illuminating article by An tAth. Padraig 0 Fiannachta in which he tells us that the Gaelic laoch (hero) is a borrowing from the Latin laic, as if every layman is potentially a warrior.

The article has much to say upon Christianity in my own land since the Reformation, and he sees that among my people the role of the layman became more and more important (but then a mediaeval bard might be preferred before a mere secular priest before the Change) and it is significant that the protomartyre was a layman.

In the Orthodox (Dissident) body of Christians, for whom we especially pray, the layman takes such an active part that, according to one apologist, some of the best known theologians are laymen; and the un-focused characteristic of both Orthodoxy and oriental Catholicism-suggested especially by the ikon screen and the style of church building-may have to do with the circumstance that every confirmed member of some Orthodox (Dissident) communion may be called to be a teacher and may even be a missionary. Laymen also take part as elected representatives at church councils, at national, diocesan, and parochial levels.

It has been commonly pointed out that eastern traditional ways reflect a passivity alien to us. Indeed, from this point of view Catholics of the Western tradition and Protestants may be said to fall under the same spell.

They look to some point, whether altar or pulpit, the Quakers alone excepted. They examine the matters of infallibility from the point of view of "leadership" or some book. That there is an infallibility residing in the Church as a living community is not at all exclusive of papal in do not wish to be. But I do not your contributor who wrote so age of "lay saints".

But perhaps our attitude of mind is best seen in our spires and towers and the tensed struggle of stone thrusting upward. It is in that scene that we must see ourselves, so we think, as layfolk. I do not say it is wrong. I do think it is not all there is to say on the subject.

Certainly all my Catholic friends and acquaintances seem to take for granted the persistence of this selfsame "organisational" business society", and would probably think that it is one of those Good Things.

I do not know why they insist upon the permanence of westernism and its extension and development. Their view seems rather more irrational than Friedrich Hielscher's prophecy of "the undoing of national states and the revival of the ancient tribes RS members of an occidental league".

I have no wish to give even the impression that I am here concerned with what some call the "priesthood of the laity"-even in the sense the Church approves. I am concerned with the layhood of the laity.

It seems to me a blemish upon our thought that we think again and again of the layman only in relation to his work under and through the clerisy. And I am surprised that no Catholic ever suggests that our western expansionist and activist civilisation, which we have tried to impose upon the world, has not the signs of rapid corruption. II. W. Edwards 220 Rhys Street, Trealaw, Rhondda.

S1R,-Should we not be thinking in terms, not so much of building Catholic monasteries, etc., as of building Catholic villages, changing society from its roots?

As with the Third Orders (whose meetings are often little more than tea-parties) we are too limited and "catacomby" in our outlook.

The distribution of Fr. McNabb and Chesterton has great possibilities as well as the "family community" idea (as at Tacna). Should not more religious houses try to copy the ideas of Aylesford, at least in part? Peter Laversuch 63 King's Road, Richmond, Surrey.

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