Page 6, 14th August 1936

14th August 1936
Page 6
Page 6, 14th August 1936 — PARISH PRIEST SPEAKS OUT Laymen Need Fortifying

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Organisations: Shilling Opera
Locations: Tel Aviv, Rome, Oporto


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every case that is recorded in history, in which the Church has been attacked in a " Catholic country " it has been evident that the attack was made possible by the apathy of the Catholics themselves.

Apathy on the part of a Catholic can only—at any rate in the vast majority of cases—be attributed to a lack of knowledge of the Faith which that Catholic professes.

In what are called " Catholic countries" it is easy for people to become automatic in their religious observances, conforming to " public opinion merely, without any real conviction, or even understanding.

The same is to be found in large Catholic congregations in our big towns and their suburbs, and even in our Catholic schools.

A vast number of our fellow Catholics go through life with no better or deeper knowledge of their faith than the odds and ends they can remember of the penny Catechism, which they learned by rote in their infancy.

For the most part these people live amongst non-Catholics, read non-Catholic papers, hear anti-Catholic talk and, as often as not, contract " mixed " marriages.

The question is often asked, when this subject arises, " Why don't the priests do something about it?"

This is a very facile question, and one that tends to comfort the heart of the slack Catholic.

So far forth, at any rate, the majority

of Catholics in this country do go to Mass on Sundays—so much so that in many churches Mass has to follow Mass as quickly as possible, in many places at intervals of an hour at most.

Priests are instructed to give a short ad dress at each Mass—but in the few minutes at their disposal these addresses must perforce be merely a few words about some text in the day's Gospel. Already people are coming in for the next Mass, and there arc Holy Communions to be given.

What is to be done? These people will not get any sort of real instruction at the Low Masses on a Sunday morning—the sort of instruction they need so much in their daily contact with the forces arrayed against the Church.

Yes—but there are the evening services.

True (but as a carefully kept record over many years in a busy parish amply proves) not more than one in ten of the total Mass attendants will come to the evening service on the Sunday, even less on a weekday.

A few more may come if a " special preacher " is engaged and advertised largely for weeks ahead; but that is not much use as sheer instruction, and it is too costly for many of our busy but financially sorelytried parishes.

Then -it may be said—there are the Catholic papers. Again, true; but the same record tells pretty much the same tale—out of a Sunday attendance of a thousand. never more than forty bought papers, and often the number was much less.

Is it not now time to face up to the sad fact that a vast number of our Catholics, in every walk of life, are sadly lacking in the sort of knowledge of their faith which is of prime necessity in these difficult and dangerous days? We read a tremendous lot of nonsense about our " progress," and about this or that pilgrimage or new confraternity or sodality, hut we read little or nothing about the losses we sustain through those ill-instructed Catholics who fall hefore subversive propaganda, which is often, if not always, subversive to both faith and morals.

I am conscious that this letter is not in any way constructive-mainly because I am too busy trying to stop the leaks, one by one, as they become evident, to have time to think out a system by which leaks can be avoided. It is to be hoped that somebody, more capable than 1, will outline a scheme by which it may become possible, not only to instruct the average layman. but to get hint so understand that he does need instruction, and to get him to come when instruction is given.

Experience has proved that the average young Catholic man, if he can be " got hold of " at the age of about eighteen or•nineteen, not only appreciates instruction. but really tries to put it into practice in his daily I ife.


The Pope's View

SIR.—I think it was in an interview with Canon Cardyn that the Pope made the statement about which Father Quinn asks

me for further information. I am sorry I cannot tell him more exactly than that.

He still persists in limiting the J.O.C. activities to French-speaking countries. I should like to say that every single young Catholic worker in Oporto, Portugal, received communion last Easter through the instrumentality of the 1.0.C. which is very strong indeed there, as it was in Spain and is in Jugoslavia.


Congregation Comes Last

SIR, In musical circles reference is

made to The 3 B's " (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms). Fr. McElligott now introduces us to " 3 C's,"—the Clergy, the Choir and the Congregation, and I find the order in which these are placed distressingly significant. For what is the good of a congregation longing to answer, or even to follow, the Mass if their parish priest prefers to say it on his own, frequently in a most private tone of voice? And what is the good of a congregation wanting to sing if a choir insists on doing it for them? Even given an enlightened choirmaster, what can he do if the parish priest should happen to disagree with his views?

Our first crying need is for some effective means of awakening in the clergy and in choirmasters the realisation that they are in actual fact (though of course unintentionally) withholding the Mass from the people. Teachers and their superiors (whose support is essential to success) are guilty of the same thing in a great many of our schools where, alas! no Latin is taught, and only hymns are sung.

X. Y. Z.

Mass in English

SIR,—It seems to me that your correspondents on the subject of the Liturgy overlook one vital point, i.e., that the Latin tongue is not and never will be understand

able to the majority of layfolk. Latin classes and such expedients cannot do more than touch the fringe of this difficulty.

The time may come when the Church, in her wisdom, may allow us to enjoy the Liturgy in our Mother tongue.

Meanwhile, what can we do to break down this barrier between the Liturgy and the People?

I would make two suggestions First, that simple English Missals for Sundays and Holy Days should be handed to each member of the congregation, and secondly, that the Proper of the Mass (excluding the Epistle and Gospel, which are, of course, read from the pulpit) and all those parts of the Common which the priest recites aloud, should be prayed aloud by the entire congregation, led by volunteer laymen.


30, Cavendish Avenue, Church End, Finchley, N.3.

Speed of Mass

SIR,—I would like to point out yet another way in which the clergy are not infrequently a hindrance to the liturgical movement. It is quite simply the terrific speed at which some priests run through

their Mass. This is especially the case with the Canon, where it is often only possible to keep up with the priest by leaving out large portions and so mutilating the continuity of the prayer.


235, Balfour Road, Ilford, Essex.

Origin of " Shilling Opera"

SIR, -It was from Catholic countries who had never lost the Mass that the " shilling opera " sprang, in fact the one example in this country was a valiant attempt to transplant a little bit of Rome into our cold English worship.

We must go to Catholic culture if we would find the true source of our liturgical and artistic disorders, to those Baroque absurdities and senseless fripperies which surround so many altars in Italy, Austria, and Spain. It is there we shall find the parasite strangling the life out of the arts which had so generously spent themselves in the service of Religion for several centuries.

The correction of the Holy See came none too early, and we should now take the whipping that is meant for us, not shift the blame to others. H. H.


Sue—Your Palestine expert would have been fairer had he made clear that from round about 1516 till 1918 the Palestinian Syro-Arabs were subject to the misrule and extortion of the Ottoman Turks, and it just was not worth anybody's while to plant olives and vines, drain swamps, and all the rest of it. These naughty lazy Arabs have never been backed by a great power and a wealthy organisation—quite the contrary. And it should be clearly understood that the civilisation which, as your correspondent says, the Zionists represent, is the civilisation of capitalist industrialism, ultimate unemployment. godlessness, and communism: I was at Tel Aviv at the end of 1919—and it was like a genteel shamEuropean hell then.

Anyway, since when have material development and prosperity been for Christians a criterion of righteousness and justice?



SIR,—The only quarrel I have with " Peccatrix's" letter is that it seems to assume that it is at variance with my article. On the contrary, it seems to me to make an excellent point which I should like to have made myself if I had been writing two articles instead of one.

It supplies, also, part of the answer to " Peccator's ' letter of last week. It is obviously true that bodily beauty can be enjoyed without evil intentions but it is also true that in many periods and places the conditions of life and morals is such that the necessary degree of detachment is attained by comparatively few. In what sort of world is " Peccator " living if he does not see that the present decade in England is a period of this kind?


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