CONVERSION OF ENGLAND It is a Supernatural Task
SIR,—The correspondence on the Conversion of England is a heartening sign of the times. It shows that the interest is widespread. May an old campaigner intervene with a few suggestions, not, indeed, new, but
Worthy of emphasis:
1. The work of conversion is a supernatural task, and supernatural means are of foremost importance. We need an increased and more widely organised campaign of prayer. It ought to find a place in every school and every home. many of the a
In that work of prayer so man
Saints have joined. We need second Fr. Ignatius Spencer amongst us. His apostolate prepared the way for the Oxford Movement. 2. We need constant sermons on the subject. The best way to preserve our Own people is to make them apostolic. A minority must advance or be submerged. Mere defensive tactics are not enough. 3. We need a crusade to awaken more widespread interest in our Martyrs. Theirlives and words are a living apologetic. I have heard it said that our neglect of them amounts well-nigh to a scandal. Is that true?
4. How can we get the nation to listen? They will not come to Holy Mass on Sundays. We can attract a a number on the Sunday evening. We need variety in our services, courses of sermons and variety of preachers. All these things can often be achieved. 5. A vast number will not come to a church. We must go to " the man in the street" where he is to be found. Oh! for Mgr. Benson's dream : a body of priests—Franciscans, Dominicans, and the rest—proclaiming the Catholic message in every village square and market place. Will it ever come to pass? 6. Anglican controversy is getting played out. Not many are interested now in Anglican Orders, continuity, etc. We have to deal with a neo-pagan world.
must be approached as pagans
were in the early centuries. This point is worth elaborating.
7. The most pressing need for our laity is the implementing of the Christian Doctrine Confraternity. How comparatively easy it would be to fire the 14's to 18's with knowledge and zeal by making their religion a battle, a crusade, a defence, on the lines of Conway's Question Box. They would soon be up and doing_ In one of our leading colleges the C.E.G.transformed the whole outlook of the boys. Religious knowledge was no longer a task, a theme—it was a combat, a struggle, a contest. I submit that is worth considering. 8. To-day, it seems to me, we have a golden opportunity of blazoning forth our Holy Religion as the great school of individual dignity and liberty and as the bulwark against tyranny. What a rich and endless theme! I would like to touch on many more things—the need of more spokesmen in the Commons. Their speeches do get publicity. Oh! for men like Belloc, Dr. Donovan! Surely they can be found. One would like to elaborate the theme of the wayside pulpit, too. But I have already trespassed too much on your space. More power to the CATHOLIC HERALD!
The Root of the Matter
Sue—There is one aspect of this problem, which, while being touchedon by various contributors, seems not to been sufficiently en su have ciently stressed.
For centuries, thanks to the cruel attacks of the Reformation, of rationalism, and of secularism, the Church has been forced to withdraw within herself, to surround herself with every kind of protective measure in order the better to defend herself. The consequence has been that a new pagan world has grown up alongside the Church, living a life parallel with the life of the Church, having its own philosophy, art and literature. For the majority religion has become a thing apart, an affair of
priests and their followers. at the most church on an attendance at Mass or
Sunday, a part of life, instead of the Centre, the reason for and explanation of life itself.
Catholics are thrown into this pagan world on the day they leave school without preparation, without further formation, Left to thei:. own resour"es they are introduced into a society where physical. religious. moral and professional ideals are unknown, where "dirty " conversations, immoral pictures in papers and on the walls are the order of the day. Everything around them tends to corrupt them—promiscuity of personnel, carelessness of toilet, lack of correction, absence ol all modesty; the whole habitual atmosphere of office and workshop deforms, atrophies that decency, modesty, self respect and respect for others which they first possesse d. Timid, feeble, alone, abandoned, young Catholics have not the courage to react. They allow themselves to be led away, become sceptics, fatalists. It is this world we have to transform in its ideas, philosophy and outlook if England is to become Catholic. It is not sufficient to preserve the few for a few hours a week in a club or sports league. It is not sufficient to drag back a few of the lapsed, to receive a trickle of converts each year. to " put right " a few marriages. It is the life, the philosophy of the country we have to change, and it can only be done by the laymen themselves, first of all by those timid youths thrown isolated on the world the day they leave school. It can be done, and is being done successfully by about 2,500 youths in England at the present day, thanks to the discovery by a psychologist of merit of the most perfect, most scientific, most psychological method of integral formation yet devised. Small cells, veritable Christian communities, like the ancient communities of Corinth, Ephesus and Rome, are growing up in the factories and mines and offices and streets around us, radiating their influence out to those with members teach they are in contact. The mbers teach themselves to see the reality around them with Catholic eyes, they judge whether this reality is in conformity with the ideal to which they are called as sons of God. Wherever that reality is not in conformity with the ideal they have to act immediately, in ry, office, mine own house, street, factory, mine or workshop. They no longer feel isolated. They realise that they belong n
to a powerful organisation, national and international, having Christ at its head; us
that there are thousands of others behind them holding the same ideals, working for the same end. They are proud to wear as their badge the bloodstained Cross of Christ. In conclusion. There is no swift and clear-cut road to the conversion of this country. A new Catholic mentality has to be formed—a mentality having as its
slogan the word " Conquest." Catholics have to be formed, to be educated to we see that w have an ideal to offer, a greater than to make to society eater than the contribution of any other organisation past, present or future. The machinery for this apostolate is already moving, but it means hard work. The real formation of these apostles depends wholly on the Clergy. It is in proportion as every priest is willing to give of his time, his energy and enthusiasm to the formation of these apostles that the Conversion of England will come about. G. C. DAVEY (Rev.) Clergy House, Francis Street, S.W.1.
Too Much Continentalism
Site—Are not some of us writing at cross-purposes? Thus: Fr. Tomlinson denies that masses of Englishmen are anxious to become Catholics, and also that is any substance in the assertion that we have only to " go English " or
in der to win them. I, for one, have
argued. have ventured to ve not so rgued. I havntud to offer a ready-made solution to a serious problem, my contention has been that we impose unnecessary difficulties by ignoring national traditions. Religious Orders are better able to witness to continuity than the more isolated secular priest, so it is significant that two Orders deeply rooted in English ry, namely the Benedictine and o Dminican, are outstandingly "English" worship an in their presentation of and in es; but the architecture of their church
no one will venture to assert those Orders are un-Catholic! I am not voicing my own likes but c
reording the fruits of long experience of the countryside. I find, then, amongst Anglican enquirers, a sense of distaste at so much Continentalism in our churches, which, in many features, can be dated back to the post-Reformation age. Amongst working-class people in are rep general numbers repelled by so much Latin. " We cannot understand your services," is the discouraged an remark after a appearance at Mass. On the Sunday before Christmas Day we sang, while returning to the Sacristy, the English hymn " 0 come, 0 come, Emmanuel ! " At that Mass there was an intelligent non-Catholic man, having his first experience of Catholic worship. I met him later. His comments were: " I did not find the ritual strange, for I am a Freemason, but the part I liked best was the hymn at the end, because I could sing that." The fear of Latin is enhanced by the silence of our congregations at Mass in en many churches. I think it would encourage visitors if they could hear all joining in. Thus: at our children's Mass during the catechism half-hour on Fridays (here all Catholic elementary schoolchildren come daily to church for Catechism at 9 ant. and then proceed to their schools) every child joins in the Dialogue Mass, even the babies saying at least " Et cum spiritu tun and the Kyries. The children, several evacuees, learnt to answer perfectly in four days, and all are emphatic that they love joining in. The tragic thing is that on their return to London parishes these (evacuee) children will probably find an enforced silence, with loss of interest and devotion. If Latin is to be retained and England converted, we must first teach actual Catholics to recite and sing the liturgy, qu s dumb of duirers will not be and then en so discouraged by congregations whose r worshippers, whoestless silence is a sad contrast to the fervent singing in almost all non-Catholic places of worship. Mr Burgess-Bayley is indeed right in advocating more contacts with nonCatholics. May I say that this very week I lectured on St. Francis of Assisi to a Wesleyan Literary Society. At the end of the lecture the Wesleyan Minister proposed a vote of thanks, and in the course of his gracious speech he said: "I hope Fr. Valentin will come again, and that he will once more give us a lecture on a Catholic Saint. We have all found his theme to-night most inspiring." I even dealt with the whole principle of the Religious life! Yes, dear Anglo-Catholic, many of us are wanting in sympathy and charity towards you. Perhaps, though, you do not realise how irritating you are at times; so make allowances for human frailty.
ARTHUR VALENTLN (Rev.). The Catholic Rectory, Stevenage, Herts.
A Solemn Warning
Sia,—The clergy must give the lead. I for one would like to endorse your fine article sounding the call for Catholic Social Reform, and I can best relate the latter to the Catholic " enlisting " of youth, your other plea, by a quotation from Catholic Revolution, by J. F. T. Prince—" The Catholic Church is constructive. She seeks first whereon to build: are we to acquit the age wholly of virtue? Tragically enough, there is a growing tradition that the dissent of Youth is the birthright of revolution. It is not. The rising generation may grasp at truth with implements strange to the mere Traditionalist.Convention (apt ever to masquerade as a thing of absolute value) holds up its hands in Au horror. A verso, the distrust of tradition is so great, the human animal soss absurdly given to associating unassociable things, that Christ is made the protagonist of economic oppression. Once more He is vested in soiled purple and mocked with the mockery of children who do not understand." It is a solemn warning.
Put Our Own House In Order
Sne—Ae a convert I am naturally interested in the correspondence on the Conversion of England. Not until our people practise the elementary virtues of truth and honesty will the conversion of England be brought about. In my fourteen years of Catholic life I am more and more amazed at the slackness of our people, lying is general, dishonesty in the matter of debts very frequent, few people even attempt to observe the laws of fasting and abstinence, and how often the Church's law on the matter of birth control is ignored must be well known to most priests. Put our own house in order first and then we shall begin to impress the world.
S. G. J. Aurora
44, Station Road, Egham.
The Bad Catholic
&A—AB a convert from the lower working classes, it has been my experience that the chief obstacle to the conversion of England is the bad Catholic. Catholics arc watched far more than other professing Christians, those and tho whose devotional life is not balanced by charity towards their neighbours do untold harm. our We may multiply ou societies and discuss the subject ad infinitum, but only in proportion as we love God and have true charity towards others shall we advance this great cause.
Let every layman fulfil hie ministry by concentrating upon individuals, not so much by precept as by example. L. F. COLE. 10, Liddington Road, West Ham, E.15.