SIR, — Those who have closely followed the long correspondence on the Conversion of England can have no doubt of its exceptional importance—or, should I say, of the importance which it could have if the ideas so freely and, often, so brilliantly discussed can be transposed from the plane of discussion to that of action.
As a preliminary to this I would first suggest that the whole correspondence—with possibly extracts from unpublished letters—should be made available in a pamphlet with a
longieh introduction written by yourself, analysing the points, etc. This pamphlet, which any Catholic publisher should be glad to finance, for its sales would easily meet the expenses, should then be taken as the standing evidence of the views and feelings of the Catholic community, clerical and lay—not to mention the excellent letter from the Rev. Cecil Clark last week—on the whole problem: the point of departure, as it were.
You have spoken of a small committee to examine the letters; perhaps they would help in the preparing of this preliminary pamphlet. But the work should go further. The committee, working on this basis, should become a commission to study the whole problem, taking evidence from representative people, employing the services of a full-time shorthand typist, working together for many sessions, and finally preparing a sort of Catholic blue-book in which the findings of the commission should be printed in full, together with extracts of evidence in the shape of letters and examinations of witne,ssea. These findings which would. of course, be :aid before the Hierarchy and be made available to all the clergy, would at length prepare the way for action, both official by the Hierarchy and unofficial by all Catholics in that there would undoubtedly be many suggestions that could be taken up by ordinary people where opportunity offered.
If the work is to be done at all, it should be done properly, and that means money. And I can think of no better gift on the part of some well-to-do benefactor than a generous donation to meet the expenses of such an enquiry.
I would suggest (as a hint to such a commission, if X may be so bold). that there are two separate, though of course related, problems: the problem of restoring the Christian spirit to the country and the problem of actual conversion to the Catholic Church.
In regard to the Arid problem—which relates itself to the recent Times correspondence and article—our chief task is to make effective contact with all Englishmen and all religious organisations where the truth of the basic dogmas of Christianity are believed in. We are faced with a pagan land, where the word Christianity has been reduced to a polite expression for respectability. Yet throughout the land there are still millions who either still believe or can easily be convinced of the fundamental fact that Christianity is not something we invent, something that suits us, but the recognition of the supernatural order in the light of which alone can any permanent standards for personal and social life be found. There is no reason why all who see this to be true cannot co-operate in the task of reChristianising our institutions. At the present moment, even on this basic line, there is no co-operation between Catholicity and other Christians—yet such co-operation, apart from its immediate effects, would surely become the broadest avenue by which Englishmen would ultimately be led to the full repository of Christian truth.
The actual task of the Conversion of England to which the first part leads is a domestic matter, to the solution of which the various points raised in this corsespondence can all contribute in their degree. Each requires careful examination by experts to see exactly how far the suggested change is advantageous and how It would fit in with other considerations.
May then this correspondence at long last lead the whole Catholic community to a sense of intelligent and wise, as well as holy, apostolate. The time was never more opportune, but it is highly doubtful whether it will long remain so. If we of this generation fail, our children and our children's children will hold us responsible.
A. B. C.
[We are grateful to the writer of the above letter for hts practical suggestions, somee run very much on the lines which the CATHOLIC HERALD has in mind.— EDITOR.]
Contributions From non-Catholics
SIR,—To one who has followed with breathless attention the numerous letters that have been appearing for weeks now Iii the CATHOLIC HERALD on the above subject, the question must spring into the mind; So what?—to use an Americanism.
Who is going to bell the cat? Who is going to take the first step of getting Into touch with the religious spirit of the great English nation? Who, and when, and how? In other words, what is going to be done?
Oceans of ink have flowed over the above subject, and nearly every conceivable point of view has been voiced. Unless the whole matter is to be a journalistic flop, something has got to be done to make the liaison with those who have been writing in the The Times, and who have doubtless followed the Catholic articles in the Csiannac HERALD.
The lead we need is -from the other side, not ours. The knowledge we need is from them, not from us. The hiatus must be supplied by non-Catholics, not by the elect, and if they be genuine, and we feel sure they are, they will be willing to present articles on the present neopagan situation as they see it from their
point of view, and we must be careful not to deny that they have one.
One would suggest, therefore, that as a great many Catholics do not read The limes, in which have appeared these corresponding articles on " Religion and the National Life," the writers in The Times, or similar serious-minded leaders of religious thought, non-Catholic, should be asked to submit to the editor of the CATHOLIC HERALD informative articles for Catholic reading on this subject Thousands of Catholics up and down the country must feel that the time has come to act: to part forever with our so-called exclusiveness: to come out of the shell in which we are accused of hiding and to ask our brethren, and they are our brethren, to show us their point of view and to make us acquainted with their difficulties at a time when we all envisage a changing, if not a sliding, of civilised ethical, moral and religious thought. STEPHEN a BARBER. 52, Southdown Road,
[The possibility of studying co-operation along the Uses suggested ta the above two letters Is being borne in mind.
Unity in the Faith
SIR,—IS it not the central truth, a truth high and luminous as the sun, that faith is a gift of grace, and grace, as St. Thomas defines it, is a likeness to God's own nature, due to our being made partakers in that nature? If people are to come to the unity of the faith, they must receive this likeness, and they can receive it only when some gleam or effluence of God's Mind and Life enkindle and mould them. The special mystery of this radiance is love and charity : for God is those. It is when men's hearts are drawn by this love and charity seen by their human faculties that they are drawn to the love of things invisible: it gives them a foretaste of heaven, and so feeds and nourishes hope; hope not only of blessedness after death, but hope of transforming days on earth, hope of a gradual increasing participation in mysteries. For it is the nature of grace to be changing always into glory; indeed, the life of grace is to move from glory to glory as by the spirit of the Lord. But no sooner have love and charity opened up this world of hope than the mind sees the substance of things hoped for, and enjoys the manifestation of things not seen. And when this is done it has received the gift of faith. For just as each person of the blessed Trinity is equal in majesty and undivided in unity (so that he who has seen Christ has seen the Father), so love, hope or faith, as each grows perfect, shows the perfection of the other two. A perfect love of God comprehends both hope and faith, and a perfect hope in God is built of memories of love and faith till it grows spontaneously from thanksgiving: in hope and faith are loving confidence and confiding love.
Here then is the secret of restoring England to Catholic unity: It is to irradiate the supernatural climate of light and air, of truth and mysticism, of sympathy and love, in which alone grace can grow. It is to show that all the hest desires of the soul find their perfect consummation in the Church which is the fullness of Him who filleth all in all.
Wherever human considerations, whether they are arguments, or distaste, or distrust, or early loyalties, are foremost in anyone's attention, faith cannot germinate. The seed must be warmed by the sun of participation in the mysteries by which the natural is elevated into the supernatural, by which, if we could but recognise it, the Divine becomes immanent in certain things of earth. For the Church applies the Incarnation in two ways, by the Word and by the Sacraments. For if unity with the Church is the normal means of holiness, so holiness is the means and cement of unity.
When English people are given fuller opportunities to see that the Church fulfils their hopes, and draws their love, they will believe in her if they have inclination to believe in anything. To meet every legitimate aspiration, to nourish and chime with the national genius which built England's great Churches and Cathedrals into the Catholic faith, to show the wealth of meaning in Lituigy and Bible, to reverence holiness and good wherever found, to reject all that is poor and mean, to think on and cherish all that is just and lovely and of good report, to work for partnership in all virtue and in all perfection : here is the one live way to draw other individuals or groups into the unity of the faith.
This is the programme of the new Pope's first encyclical. Alone among religious leaders, he points to that interplay of nations, that mutual amity and commerce which alone give a real meaning to Christ's vital peace.
So in the bond of peace we will become solicitous to keep the unity of the spirit. So through one spirit we will realise that we are one body. So we will pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and finding the plenteousness within her palaces, we will be sanctified in truth : and that is to inherit the mystery of glory which, making us partakera with the saints in light, makes us one also with Christ indwelling Who is the hope of glory. In His Body we are made perfect in our unity with one another.
When, furthermore, Englishmen see that what Geneva failed to provide, Rome has always provided, when they find through Rome a means to bind up the unity of Europe, they will have come before they know it to unity with one another.
How better centre this double work of fostering co-operation with the Holy See for peace and of exemplifying the graces which make for peace than in a abuse of prayer established for such a work, and while collecting goodwill and constructive information, banishing controversy? Much help has been offered towards founding this house: if more will offer a little more, surely it will be founded. Offers may be made to me through the CATHOLIC HERALD.
Devotion to Our Lady
Your correspondent's wonder as to why England has not been converted brings the following passage from Fr. Faber to mind: " Devotion to Mary is low and thin and poor. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls which might be saints wither and dwindle; that the sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls
enthusiastically evangelised. Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet if we are to believe the revelations of the Saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. . . ." (Introduction to True Devotion.) "God is pressing. . . ." Consider the last century. We are given the Apparitions to St. Catherine and the Miraculous Medal (how neglected this nowadays), Blessed De Montfort's long lost True Devotion, and finally the definition of the Dogma. We are given La Salette, Lourdes, Knock, Guadeloupe, Fatima. Pius IX cries : "If I had an army to say the Rosary. I could conquer the world"; and Leo XIII writes ten Encyclicals on the Rosary (bid to most he is the Pope of Rerwm rirovarum).
Could God have been more urgent In directing the nations to their Perpetual Succour?
In earlier ages whole nations were rapidly converted, and St. Cyril did not hesitate to declare at the Council of Ephesus that it was by Mary they all were won to Christ. The Church is faced with enemies very like to those she faced in her early days. Like evils demand like remedies. When we have found a practical method of winning the individual, the family, the nation, to consecration to Her we have found the solution to all our evils, both spiritual and social.
G. DEEGAN. 96, Makin Street, Liverpool, 4.
From Another Anglican Clergyman
ft,—I have studied the correspondence in your last week's issue. You are doing a service to the cause of Christian unity by inviting such frank and free discussion. Emboldened by your sympathy, I beg leave to add to it.
Having considerable knowledge of the inner workings of the Church of England, I suggest that in one instance Fr. Sutton, of Ruislip, " puts the cart before the horse." King and Parliament will only change the national religion of this Realm when there is a widespread demand from the people, and that time has by no means come yet. Further, in the best Anglican circles there is a growing feeling in favour of some form of Disestablishment from within to secure spiritual freedom; so I suggest that this item be postponed, if not until the Greek Kaiends, at any rate until the age of our grandchildren.
To many Anglicans the suggestion that their Graces of Canterbury and York Should act as " lay catechists " is distinctly humorous. Great and good men as they both are, those who know anything of Dr. Lang or Dr. Temple find such a suggestion lmost impossible to envisage. But is there not " a more excellent way "? Lambeth Conference has declared that once other differences are adequately readjusted no barrier need stand in the way of any ceremony considered necessary to render Anglican Orders negotiable throughout the Catholic world. •
This, at any rate, is the gist of their resolution. And need all Anglicans or even Nonconformists remain " lay catechists " for life? Could none of the married ones be admitted to Orders after the custom of the Uniate, on the understanding that future celibacy should be the norm? And one further point on this matter. Anglicans fully respect, if they do not agreed with Rome's attitude towards their own Orders; but if Rome could see her way to treat Anglican Orders as " gravely doubtful " instead of " certainly null and void," it would considerably assist those on our side who preach and teach ultimate corporate reunion.
We teach, as you do, that while the character conveyed in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Ordere cannot be repeated, the outward ceremony which confers them can, and must he repeated, when there is doubt as to whether it has been adequately performed; and further, even if the doubt exists on one side only, that is a sufficient justification for repeating it.
Non-Roman Catholic readers will note with pleasure the emphasis in the correspondence upon liberty of conscience for 'all. Personally I never doubted it, but old prejudices die hard, and numbers of Anglicans think, or . hoose to think, that If Rome regained temporal power she would at once start persecution. A letter In last week's Church Times suggests that the Church of Rome should make up its mind on " such momentous issues as the ethics of religious persecution." While no sane person could imagine the present Pope or his revered predecessor taking the line of " persecution," and when the present Pope has spoken so generously of the noble Finns, who are essentially Lutherans, a clear and authoritative statement from the highest quarter would be invaluable.
Lest I should scare a number of my acquaintances out of their senses by what I have written, I enclose my card, and sign myself Akzet.icsNus.
[The CATHOLIC HERALD believes that at the present critical time, when men are turning again from an agnosticism tl. it has brought the world to its present pass to inquire about Christianity, it is well that Catholics should be informed of the views of non-Catholics, who share our desire to re-Christianise our land. The publication of such letters does not, of course, commit us to gthing that may appear In them, and we print them as they reach us without alteration of terms, of some of which we cannot approve.—Eorroe.1
A Spineless Lot
Sie,—I have been reading with much interest your correspondence on the Conversion of England and would like to say, that while Catholics continue to set such a bad example to the rest of the world, / fall to see this magnificent project materialising.
Since I was called up I've realised what a spineless, weak-kneed lot of fellows my co-religionists are. Why out of approximately 70 Catholic soldiers In this camp only about six of us have received Holy Communion regularly within the last two months and have made our Easter duties.
Ought we not to put our own house in order first?
(Gunner) D. F. Garai, 1483851.