SIR,-Would you allow me to congratulate Mr. Anthony IA aeAlister for his excellent letter on large families and self-restraint. May I add to it a reminder of the clear statement by Dr. Guchtencere towards the end of his hook, The Caw Against Birth Prevention, that. when necessary. married couples can abstain without danger to their health if they will live their Faith and take reasonable precautions. In the same way if they decide that it is God's will for them to use the safe period they can eliminate the rather inhuman element that must otherwise, it would seem, enter into it.
But one is compelled to add that if the masses of our people are to rise to such an ideal we who arc called to be their leaders. whether clergy or las folk. will have to become much more spiritually articulate. I will be genuinely grateful for correction if I am wrong. but it is my opinion that speaking generally we become bookish and academic when we come to anything more than middling bourgeois piety. Surely it is possible to be articulate about our aspirations after something deeper without showing off. Unless this problem is settled there seems little purpose in pleading for brighter and more understandable services. Is it possible that our many other necessary activities can make us forget the declaration of St. Peter, "It is too much that we should have to forgo preaching God's word and bestow our care on tables"?
It is very important to be Christian gentlemen. But it is far more important to be something more when so many of our people have to practise heroic virtue in order to avoid mortal sin. Bourgeois piety will not be sufficient to keep them trying and make them persevere in their trying without discouragement, remembering the great line that was first given to me by Gilbert Chesterton :
"God will forgive thee all but thy despair."
(Rev.) Gerald Flanagan.
The Presbytery, Iver Heath, Bucks.
Sue-On this question of large families. I do not think anyone has the right to assume that those with the largest families are dee least self-restrained. Peguy, it will be recalled. named the fathers of families as "the great adventurers of the modern world" because in the memorable phrase of Gabriel Marcel, they "put themselves at the disposal of life," they truly say "Be it done unto me according to Thy will." For some, self-restraint is a not irksome discipline, for others it is a total impossibility. Some are infertile anyway, others have the fertility of the Chosen People.
What we Catholics can do to put our non-Catholic critics to shame is to love and honour children always and everywhere, no matter how many brothers and sisters they may have. We must resist mean caution and comfort-clinging which is a product of materialist doubt, not of robust and full-hearted faith. If mothers and fathers have too many children to feed, clothe and keep clean adequately. then the children must be helped in every unobtrusive way imaginable, and childless people in the parish must take under their wing (not forgetting that the left hand is not to know what the right hand does) at least one child of an over-burdened family.
Our Catholic children are a pledge of our faith in God, in the future He has prepared. and they are the essential sign of the vitality of a great people. Let us not whittle ourselves down so that we become presentable to the narrow suspicious eyes of the world; let us be gloriously free with all the abundance that God, the Lord of life. will lavish upon us.
8 East Rise,
Is it Right ?
SI11.-I have studied Mr. MacAlister's letter on "Large Families and Self-Restraint" and find the main points of it very disturbing as they appear to support a theory of the nature of Christian marriage which relegates sex to the role of a mere reproductive mechanism.
He states that our (Catholic) way of solving the problem of large families is the "truly Godly way of self-restraint," not the continence involved in the use of the "safe period." but the way of total abstinence.
This appears to take no account of the definition of marriage and that woman was created because "it is not good for man to he alone."
Derek B. P. Rowe.
30 Albert Drive, Sheerwater, Woking, Surrey.
SIR.-Let recent statistics answer your latest letters about equal pay. The source is the Bulletin of the Oxford Institute of Statistics, in a report by Mr. Lydell. In brief. this states that where the chief earner of the income unit (family) is a woman, the net income per person (£153) is only £11 below those units whose main earner is a man. Furthermore, these income units with a female head are a very small proportion of the whole.
Contrast this with the fact that approximately one quarter of Brtam's families had less than 12 per head in 1952. One third of those with two children, one half of those with three, and four out of every five of theme with four or more had a yearly income, including allowances, of less than £100 per person.
The recent Budget will, of course, tend to lower even further the family income per head.
Statistics, however, do not tell the full story and those given are subject to a fair margin of error. Even so, they discredit the claims recently made in your columns and strengthen the case for those who claim that equal pay, in present circumstances, can only come at the expense-in inflationary pressure of family incomes.
J. Groathe. 191 Essex Road,
Continued from previous column
wOmen until the ideal of equal pay for equal work does not conflict with the employer's moral obligation of paying a living wage. It would be most retrogressive to destroy the present solution without substituting a better one.
M. C. IL Symons, B.Sc., Ph.D, 22 Mitcham Park,