Our First Post-Reformation Cathedral
NEXT Saturday is the centenary of the I. 1 consecration of the first Catholic cathedral in Britain since the Reformation, St. Chad's, of Birmingham. An interesting article on the subject by Denis Gwynn appears in the current Clergy Review. Though bombscarred, St. Chad's still stands, a hundred years old, to remind us again of the days when Bishop Walsh, Vicar-Apostolic of the Central District, celebrated the consecration of the cathedral in the presence of 12 bishops, 150 priests, and the faithful from all over the country. The presence of the Apostolic Delegate in Birmingham next Sunday reminds us of the path trod by the Church in England from the days of the Vicars-Apostolic to these when Cardinal Hinsley is one of the most distinguished national figures in the country and the Pope's own representative lives among our people. The war has made it impossible for the ceremonies to possess the truly national character that is their due, but those who cannot be present will remember Archbishop Williams and the great archdiocese that has suffered so heavily from the enemy in their prayers during the weekend.
VTOWEVER urgent national or other " work, I recommend a short hotiday, even though holidays in these times cannot be what they once were. I have managed to get away for a little time. and I return in a more optimistic frame of mind than I have enjoyed for some time. It is well not to bother about the news during a rest. The news forces one to think of our own situation, and when one does not have it hammered into one every few hours, one begins to wonder about the other fellows: As a result, in my case, I return to work very much cheered up by the thought that in nearly two years of war Hitler has not solved any of his problems. He has won all round and got himself nowhere. Against the background of memories of the last war arid the highly troubled period in Germany between the wars this realisation must be most disturbing to the long-suffering Germans who were promised a quick and localised war. I believe that if we knew more about the real state of feeling in Germany we should all be much happier.
SPENT some days in the enviable position
A of guest at Prinknash Abbey, about which I have written much, but never be fore seen. I could write at length on the subject, but I confine myself to stating one of those master considerations which occasionally strike one and which seem suddenly to open out a whole new way of thought. I was told that at Prinknash one finds one monk after another developing quite unusual talents as artists and craftsmen. Working-men, ex-soldiers, clerks and others seemingly picked at random from our business civilisation becom monks, live for a period the contemplative life and then find themselves producing a quality of work that takes one right hack to the artistic output of the Middle Ages. Vestments, metal-work, pottery, painting and designing, in all that Prinknash produces there is a simplicity and a rightness of line and colour that seems to spring quite directly from the holy an civilised social life lived within the monastery. Here we get a living example of the vital relation between art and society and the real explanation of why beauty has been lost in our unholy contemporary world. The Benedictine life at its very best feeds the natural talents that lie in most men and produces that phenomenon that is so incomprehensible to us but so obviously true of the great ages of the Church: a societe where. the ordinary craftsman is a better artist than the Royal Academician of to-day. I am hoping that we shall be able to study this more fully and to illustrate it in a later issue of this paper. It is evidently a matter of the very first importance.
Beauty Looks After Herself
LET it not, however, be thought that Prinknash is in any way self-conscious about the matter. Most modern attempts to live again a civilised life are ruined by self-consciousness—the " arty-crafty " mentality. To the outsider it is a wonder that any Prinknash monk has any time for any sustained artistic work. The whole of the office is sung daily with the conventual High Mass, a large, efficient and apparently prosperous farm is maintained, stones are quarried for the new monaster and the site cleared and levelled and a considerable amount of intellectual work is done, apart from the training and teaching ot novices and junior monks. If ever there was a case of beauty looking after herself it is to be found at Prinknasb.
A Great Opportunity
ACTUALLY a great opportunity of developing the true religious art of Prinknash is offering itself Cut off from the Continent, the whole of our repository trade must look to British design and British workmanship for a good many years. Holy pictures, rosaries, statues, Church furniture and requirements will have to be native products in future, and if cells of genuine social life, such as Prinknash, can help to fill the gap, then perhaps we shall return to the distant days when our Catholic homes can be filled again with reminders of the supernatural that will sustain our faith instead of daily testing it.
T RARELY go to the cinema, but I was A shocked on a recent visit to hear the vulgar rudeness of the commentator on the death of the Kaiser. A friend writes to tell me that he heard a commentator asking, in conjunction with a picture of survivors from the Bismarck, whether the audience could really feel glad that they had been saved? Such inhumanity and vindictive condemnation from the generation which was recently preaching the optimistic moral indifferentism of Liberalism t
What Italians Thought of Germans
THE early pages of Jan Yellin's famous book which I am reading, Out of the Night, refer to Italy during the last war. It is curious to think of the fickleness of nationalist feelings:—" Every news kiosk," Valtin writes, " was plastered with pamphlets and posters showing German soldiers nailing children to tables by their tongues, or tearing out the tongues of beautiful young women. I could not go into the harbour without being assaulted and trounced by bands of Italian Hoodlums On the way to and from school, and even in the garden adjoining our cottage on the slope of the Righi, I and other boys suspected of being German were bombarded with stones and manure of mules beaten with sticks, spitten into our faces ane hounded even through the broken window-panes of our homes. I had little respect for Italian boys as fighters Banded together and armed with solid clubs, six Austrian Swiss or German boys could easily, I believe, put ten times their number of youthful sante wolves to flight." Any way, I doubt whether the German opinion of Italian fighting has changed. A LBERT Perry, artist; the man whom 1-1 the Royal Academicians despised in spite of his reputation in Paris and Edinburgh; the man who hung his pictures on the backs of sandwichmen and marched them through the West End as a moving exhibition, has been turned into a movie himself. Pathe has made a film of Bert Perry's street exhibition which is at present showing in most of London's news theatres. " I've no intention of seeing this pathetic film," writes the inconsequent Mr. Perry. " I don't feel like having a good cry."
Church in U.S.A.
I HAVE just received a most interesting letter from a correspondent in America —an Englishman, who has been there for a few months. His impressions are of public interest:— The Church ha. a mighty chance in this favoured land. Everyone is democratic in ideals and our home Tore mind is unknown; the Church in the south is weak, but on this eastern horde' so strong as perhaps to be dangerous even to itself. The magnificent plant, the crowded communions and wonderful schools; all ir so different to the little hole-and-corner thing it looks at home. I don't think it is led by great men to-day; and that is the general complaint. There are tendencies to crudeness or financial racketeering, to devotions which tend to superstition; but, on the whole, many priests are alive intellectually and socially, and there is real devotion in some of the orders, though some are low in every way. Then the country has such a chance with its great resources the protective seas, and the drive of the people If it can only reform soundly and slowly and avoid revolution and reaction it may lead the world. The standard of life is unbelievably above ours, especially now; but this makes for the dignity of labour, if it makes for the indignity of the millionaire It is estimated that the country could keep up its present standard by working a twenty-hour week. More is demanded for the millionaire and for the incipient industrial imperialism, which wants maladies for the surplus and greater profits foi the few. But the Church is not only socially on the watch, but many priests are chosen for their competence in settling disputes. The head of the Labour Relations Board appointed by the State is a Catholic priest, and well worthy of the job he is; he has settled thousands of disputes and knows his subject with modest confidence.
(Continued at foot of next column).
Coupons and Charity
THESE are the days when large families arc coming into their own. A friend runs a scheme for providing for expectant mothers in an evacuation area to which I have previously referred. It is called the " Stork Club." The need for coupons has considerably affected the work. But one mother with a family of about ten has offered coupons to help out. " Coupons!" she said, " You can have lots of mine. I've got far more than I want or can afford to use." But is it legal to accept them? There will now be a great demand for second-hand clothes, and I have already re ceived requests to beg. I expect the " Stork Club " could be helped out with some, and Sister Gertrude, a St. Vincent de Paul nun, who runs a clothing club for Catholic mothers in Fulham, has asked me to appeal for help. " Rationing is going to make things difficult for us," she says. "And so now I want second-hand children's and baby clothes—very badly indeed. Those I can sell to the mothers without a coupon. I always charge the mothers something—it is better for them and really they prefer it. They don't want charity. But the need is very great and we will be grateful for everything." Send them to Sister Gertrude, St.. Mary's Priory, Fulham Road, London, S.W.I4.