Sir,—An ordinary working-man begs leave to use your valuable space to raise a problem which is disturbing many rank-and-file Catholics today. Many of us think that the Church in England is being slowly dominated by a group of intellectuals who, although they have no experience of practical apostolic work nor contact with the vast majority of Catholic people, are determined to impose their ideas upon us all.
They are critical of our seminary teaching. Judging from letters and articles we have studied and some discussion with our priests, we believe that they are bent on ousting "an imposed philosophy", Scholasticism. in favour of what is fondly, but often falsely, called philosophy in our modern universities, These gentlemen seem to want to turn every priest into an intellectual. They say that the training in our seminaries must ensure that our priests are able to meet modern humanistic philosophers on their own ground.
But, sir. our priests are a crosssection of men. Only a small, very small, percentage of them, thank God, is capable of high intellectual achievement. Our Lord did not call His Apostles from the ranks of the intellectuals of His day. He chose the fishermen. Nor did He join the intellectuals Himself; instead He preferred "the dusty battalions of the workers of the world", to quote Stanley B. James, What is lacking, if anything, amongst our priests is not intellectualism—there may already be too much of that, in the sense that some who are unor ill-equipped aspire to be intellectuals—but genuine pastoral skill. There is not enough practical training in the techniques of apostleship. This is the message of Cardinal Suenens in his splendid "The Gospel to Every Creature", Publishers are complaining that Catholic books are not read. They say that small circulation keeps prices high. But who is to blame? The publishers themselves — because they seem to be prepared to limit their output mainly to translations of works by Continental intellectuals who are usually innocent of practical ideas of the vital apostolate of personal contact.
Our bishops, we were told the other day, are worried because people no longer attend popular devotions: they never hear a public prayer to Our Lady, a Litany or a hymn. Who is to blame? Surely those priests who have never troubled to make evening devotions attractive.
A church in our neighbourhood has proved that people will still attend Sunday devotions. The priest there has had the courage to get out of the familiar rut of Rosary (usually unedifyingly rushed), sermon (often a string of unprepared platitudes) and Benediction (with an untrained choir and carelessly decorated altar), and is attracting considerable congregations by a popular devotional service of prayers, hymns and a short meditation. This could be done elsewhere.
Most Catholic people have learned to pray by praying in
Sir.—To find a vernacularist as prominent as Fr. Clifford Howell able to write 'in omnibus caritas' about the tension-fraught subject of the liturgical changes is indeed an occasion for thanksgiving.
Avant garde vernacularists are so often in their writings 'cold, hard and devoid of love', towards those whom they regard. often wrongly. as stumbling blocks in the sweep of progress. Against this background. Er. Howell's letter is doubly refreshing, lightening a sea of frustration, evasion and apparent ignoring of what would seem to be a reasonable point of view, put forward by those in the Latin Mass movement.
To deal with the two main points Fr. Howell raises in his letter (February 12): (1) Should the Latin Mass, if allowed, be at variable times each Su nday?
With this we would entirely agree since it requires a degree of tolerance and adaptation from both sides in the true spirit of the Constitution. Both the vernacular and the Latin dialogue Mass would require a degree of intelligent participation. and mutual charity which would eliminate any dichotomy between them.
(2) Should the Proper of this Mass be in English, retaining the Ordinary in Latin?
Here again it is possible to reassure Fr. Howell that this is what I, and many others in the Latin Mass movement, see as the compromise situation (implementing both Article 14 and 54 of the Constitution.
To hear the prayers of the day, together with the Epistle and (inTel, in one's own tongue, is to render these intelligent, and intelligible, in one's own country.
To retain the unchanging Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, is to retain, for the Universal Church, and in the view of at least three modern Popes: a language . . . "which can be called truly Catholic" (Pope Pius XI).
a language "consecrated . . . a treasure of incomparable worth." (Pius XII.) a language "universal but also immutable. in essence, the language of a Church which "embraces all nations, and is destined to endure until the end of time."
This last quotation is from Pope John of aggiornamento fame, from his Veterutn Sapieniia, only three years old next week on Latin, the Language of the Church.
When we consider Pope John as the main concocter of many of the present changes, can we cat only that half of his cake which is favourable to our digestions?
He had the wisdom of looking both ways, the insight to insist on the preservation of the great traditions of the Church alongside the noval innovations of present and future. Can we do better than follow his example? (Mrs.) Cathaleen Hindmarsh, M anchcstcr. public. As a child I went with my parents regularly to evening devotions and there came to love the Rosary, the Little Office, the Litanies, Bona Mors, Jesus Psalter and the traditional hymns. By a combination of the discouragement of the clergy (the fruit of their own devotion to routine and lack of inventiveness) and the misguided efforts or certain intellectuals (who completely fail to understand the needs of simple, ordinary folk) our traditional devotions are fast disappearing. Their place simply caunot he taken by the liturgy.
The result of all this is that the majority of Catholics, who belong, at least in big cities like Liverpool, are facing an era of spiritual starvation and bewildering change.
Now we hear that the Holy See is to decree that it will no longer be necessary for the non-Catholic parties of mixed marriages to promise in writing that the children will be brought up as Catholics. Have the children no longer any rights? Must our legislation be based on the demands of a tiny minority?. Practising Anglicans who marry Catholics arc probably not one in a hundred of the non-Catholics who wish to contract a mixed marriage. If this legislation goes through many good Catholics will lose faith altogether in the Church. They know that a written promise is the best way to impress the nonCatholic partner. There is nothing unecumenical about it for the simple reason that only one in 20 of the people of England receive Communion in art Anglican church on Easter Sunday, and of that 5 per cent probably not 1 per cent wish to marry a Catholic. This letter is much longer than it nas intended to be, but I hope you will publish it all the same, and that it will open much practical discussion in your columns. The trouble is that such discussions arc usually dominated by the intellectuals whose basic sin is to confound natural knowledge with supernatural faith.
John Kelly Liverpool, 3.