Page 2, 19th January 1940

19th January 1940
Page 2
Page 2, 19th January 1940 — CONVERSION OF ENGLAND Not With Oxford Groups

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Locations: Reading, Leeds, Oxford


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SIR,—I want to register my 1,000 per cent. disagreement with " Peregrinus's " recommendation of the so-called Oxford Groups. It is fantastic to say that for the first time since the Reformation a great interdenominational movement has " captured " the most earnest, etc., of Protestant leaders; a list of distinguished presidential or royal names does not impress us. It is again fantastic to suppose that it Is going to inspire Catholics with a love for honesty. purity, charity and disinterestedness (let alone return to the Sacraments) save in some cases of men who have already given up looking to their Faith for enlightenment and motive. No amount of quotable instances (enough of which have come my way. too, of course) of alleged returns would alter my view that a Catholic's attitude to the Groups should be total abstention, not " whole-hearted support," and I am glad if it is true that Catholics are in fact forbidden to join the Groups. I should, of course, be pleased if even an atheist actually kicked a Catholic back into good behaviour; but it is altogether unlikely that an essentially undogmatic movement which will not commit itself to so much as full belief in our Lord's Divinity is going to do the average slack Catholic any good. This opinion is based on what I have seen of the movement at Oxford and elsewhere in England, in Smith Africa and (a little) in Australia, and if I knew how to state' it more emphatically I should be glad to do so. This does not conflict with the main contention of Mr Clancy's letter; though I fear that to try self-consciously to be "EnglishCatholic," as "Cradle Catholic" recommends, would make for affectation and nationalist snobbery as much as trying to be " Italian " does, and I should hate to ask myself if, in my prayers, I were being satisfactorily English.


P.S.—May I end this letter with a few more lines in sympathy with " Soldier "? I have always urged individual hospitality for sailors, and now do so for soldiers; but clearly it can touch hut a tiny minority, and the guest requires to be found, and a hostess might reasonably want to meet him first on some neutral terrain; this would probably be a Catholic hut or canteen, which should, meanwhile, be as " home-like " as poesible and, I agree, away from the camp atmosphere, like the one I described. As for the prayer-book, hardly a week goes by without a similar request. But there is now an official one for H.M. Forces. Not all are likely to care equally for it -I know that a number of soldiers use the Seamen's Prayer-book . . but anyway, no private writer could or should try now to compete with the official book.

[Cardinal Hinsley informed the clergy of Ms diocese in March, 1938, that "the Group Moiment is so tainted with Indifferentism that no Catholic may Join in such a movement so as to take any active part therein or formally to cooperate therewith."-Eorros.]

Sharing the Nation's Life

SIR.—I feel most deeply with correspondents who wrote to you on the conversion of England.

The non-English presentation of the Faith by some English Catholics is a great obstacle to would-be converts. There are many ways in which the English tradition could be restored to the Church.

Often priests fail to give congregations a chance to share in national events, such as Armistice Sunday. I remember leaving church at the time of the Coronation, when we had neither sermon nor other indication of a great national hour, and feeling disappointed at the failure of the Chinch, so far as my parish went, to share in the life of the country for whose conversion it prays. Why do parish priests keep aloof from the nation's great moments? They ought to seize the chance to let the Church express the national spirit as it once did.

The player said for the King at the end of the High Mesa would be shared If said in English, not Latin, as many priests do.

Can we not honour our own saints in a more widespread manner? And what about our neglected patron saint? Could not April 2 become again a gleat feast day and new churches be named after St. George? We pay more honour in many parishes to Ireland's patron saint.

Cannot the writers of the letters and those who, like them, long to see Catholicism allied to, not alien to, the national spirit band together in a society dedicated to St. George to restore the Church in its centuries-old place in national life?


53, Chancery Lane, W.C.2.

The Spirit and the Letter

Sitt,—Mr Clancy has uttered a good word. In the conversion of England may one hope for a complete overhaul of our apologetic method and attitude to non-Catholics? There are indications of a realisation of the necessity. The growth Is too tardy.

May one suggest that it is not enough to answer all the questions, penny-inthe-slot fashion, without having realised one single problem — Newman's Grammar of Assent is a neglected breviary of real apologetic method; that it is not enough to charge with rattling syllogisms; not enough to be so heartily zealous for the resounding " anti " attitude; not enough to expect a soul attuned to Craruner's prose and the modest sobriety of a St. Thomas More to find its nourishment in Italianate Novenas and interminable apostrophes-as Tyrrell observed. one can't expect them to swallow the sentiment (false attitude of mind and heart) for the sake of the dogma.

May one also suggest, too, that the time may have come for a little less emphasis on morals and legalism, and a little more on the spirit that quickeneth. I know one convert who asserted that the book which had helped him most to the Faith was a reprinted essay by Dorothy Sayers on the Cross; the good Methodist to-day still knows what we mean when we preach Christ crucified; he is repelled when the way to Christ is strewn with the flinty crags, and massive boulders. of philosophy and theology. On one occasion I heard a sincere inquirer ask a Catholic " What is the soul? "; to which there came reply, in full paraphernalia of phylacteries, " One must begin by distinguishing between an entity with parts and an entity withOut parts. . . ." The listener was docile, bewildered, went empty away. A more spiritual Thomism might be developed for outside consumption-and inside consumption.

May one also suggest that perhaps the emphasis on " station in life "meaning the building up of a socially sound middle-class Catholic body-has accomplished its wretched work, and It might usefully now be relegated to the attic-the means becomes an end and the first places are sought, giving scandal and causing injustice to do its bitter work.

May one also suggest that some of our Catholic Press might refrain from giving the appearance of expediency where this war is concerned the recruiting rag is a stumbling block. May one also suggest that it should not be considered near-heresy to criticise things Italian?

There can be a fruitful apostolate on the golf course, in the ale house. in the office: sectarianism is to be shunned: but may one finally suggest that the spirit of St. Paul would not have thought the forthright question "What think you of Christ? " in too, too bad taste to be uttered in the midst of Greek Mayfair or Roman stews.


Breary Lane, Bramhope, Leeds.

Combined Effort Needed

Sig,—I fully agree with Miss Beryl Manthorpe when she says that the apostolate of the laity must be carried on at work, in the home, and in the casual social round; but is she not restricting that apostolate when she says that the re-conversion of England is only possible if each individual aims at being a saint?

Personal sanctification is vital, certainly. but the majority of people must have outside influence to persuade them that this cught to be their aim, and it is through movements such as the Young Christian Workers' movement, which aims at conquering the whole life of the young worker, that they are being brought to realise this fact. Obviously, if individual sanctity is all that is necessary there would seem to be no need for an apostolate of the laity.

That there is a dire need for it is evidenced by the number of boys and girls who have responded to the appeal made by our late Pope. Plus XI, to " recall the world of labour to Christ" by joining the Young Christian Workers' movement. Through it they make contact with other workers who have lapsed entirely or who are just nominal Catholics, afraid to profess their faith openly, and try to convince them that religion is not something to be kept apart. but must permeate their whole lives. Thus It is by combined and not individual effort that the masses will be converted and that " wave of saints " of which Miss Manthorpe speaks be forthcoming. ANN lizgencrol.

Catholic Action House, 11, Princes Street, Blackburn, Lancs.

Scripture Reading

sin,—It is with great diffidence that a convert (although of 26 years' standlog) ventures to offer a suggestion as to a possible help to bringing about what we all so ardently desire, viz., the conversion of our country to the Catholic faith.

Would it be possible to incorporate in the evening services some scripture reading in English?

The English people, cut off for so many years, centuries in fact, from sacramental life, turned with reverence, love and trust to the Bible and found in the "Word of God " light, help and spiritual sustenance: those of them who still realise that spiritual things are the only really valuable possessions we have and who would gladly suffer and even die to preserve them, have a great love and devotion to the scriptures and if. on their occasional shy visits to our churches. they could have them read to them in their own tongue with clearness and due emphasis they would be likely to be much more strongly attracted than by listening to the rapidly said Rosary or litanies (often said in Latin) which are quite foreign to all that they have been accustomed to.

Sung Mass and Benediction attract many people, otherwise more or less Indifferent to the claims of the Catholic Church, but though impressed by the beauty of these services they cannot understand their meaning and so are not drawn to Inquire further. The writer remembers a poor old woman (in the old days) who loved to go to plain, daily matins and evensong in an Anglican church; when asked why she did so she said " I do like to hear those two chapters read and explained." No explanations were given at these sere vices,e the lessons were simply read slowly and impressively, and the truths contained in them found their mark. Again, a very earnest and religious visitor was taken to the Sunday evening service at the cathedral a little while ago; she stayed through it, behaving quite reverently, but outside she said "I would rather go to a service I could understand something of."

These people are craving and longing for a refuge in the time of trouble, a refuge they might find in the Catholic Church, and are turning aside to such futilities as Theosophy and Spiritualism, and some of them are settling into despair. If the Church in her motherly wisdom and love would stoop down to them and give them what they need so sorely in words that they can understand, many of them might cease to remain outside.

A VERY THANKFUL CONVERT. The League of God Sia,-I read with interest "Another Cradle Catholic's " letter to the Caretonic HERALD, and would like to introduce the work of the League for God.

Briefly the aim of the league is to bring our country back to God and to that obedience to His laws by which alone right order can be restored to the world. This can only be done by work, prayer and sacrifice, and so the league asks each of its members to adopt a road in which to work for God by seeing that each house in it gets a league leaflet in its letter box each month. Each also prays for the people in the road adopted. offering Communions, Mass intentions, Rosaries, or visits to the Blessed Sacrament for them, that they may be brought to the knowledge and the love of God.

In order that sacrifice may be added to this prayer and work, and to keep

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