Last month I spent a few happy days at Lourdes and I can understand the mixed feelings which underlie the letter of J. E. A. Bennett (September 13).
It seems to me that the proper balance between the roles of celebrant. commentator and people could have been preserved by more careful adherence to the principles laid down by the Bishops of France in their magnificent Direetoire pour La Pastorale de la Messe.
It seems to me also that active participation in the liturgy will be far more satisfactory when the use of our native language is extended at least to all that is spoken aloud at Mass. In particular the work of the commentator will be greatly reduced it it does not become unnecessa ry. .
(Rev.) Godric Young, O.F.M. London, E.7.
CHURCH IN INDIA
I read the CATHOLIC HERALD. which comes to me by air mail, regularly. In your issue of September 13. page 4. there is an article entitled "India's Non-violent Persecution."
I am not entering now into a discussion on the merits or demerits of that article; for I do not want to be involved into a needless and fruitless controversy. For it is always easy to piece together stray and strange incidents (and this is applicable to any part of the world) into a general theory.
To visitors from abroad who come to our country, and enquire about the situation of the Church in Independent India, I generally present the publication "The Church in Independent India"; which is factual; and also draw their attention to several articles that have been written by me and others on the situation of the Church after Independence. Under separate cover, I am sending a copy of this publication-"The Church in Independent India" for your information and that of your "Special Correspondent."
But the main purpose of this letter is to express surprise as to why my picture should be set in the heart of that article. There is no reference in that article to me at all. But there is every danger that the unwary reader seeing nty picture may unfortunately get the impression as if the views expressed in that article were mine; though of course reading it carefully he would see thet it is by your "Special Correspondent". I would be grateful if this letter of mine is published in your paper as early as possible to offset any misimpressions that may prevail.
.1. Valerian Card. Graeias Archbishop of Bombay.
We apologise to His Eminence for any impression that the article was written by hum. His photograph was used simply as an aid to the typographical presentation.-EDITOR.
"Paters" letter (September 6) and some other letters by Catholics published in thc Observer prompt me to ask how sure we can be of the Church's teachings in the matter of birth control. How much of the present attitude is "infallibly pronounced doctrine" and how snitch is opinion only? Wc arc now assured that the Church never "officially taught" that Genesis was to be interpreted literally and "Evolution" to be considered an heretical doctrine but there must be many priests and bishops who took this line at the very time when the laity were disturbed by this issue.
Will those of Us now trying to uphold the Catholic position on birth control, learn from our grandchildren that the Church's pronouncements on this matter were never "official"?
R. K. O'Keelfe London, W.5.
"Pater" in his letter quotes Catholic Moralists who speak out against the use of the 'Safe Period' in family limitation.
. I have come across an extra ordinary statement in an Irish Messenger pamphlet called "The Young Husband". This booklet bears the Nihil Ohstat of a Theologian and Imprimi Poles! of an Archbishop of Dublin. I give the sentence exactly as it is printed.
"The one who desires to limit the number of his children, will come under God's anger" (page 3).
There is no qualification such
as "by perverting the Marriage Act" or "unless the means be self control". The only mention of limitation is a reference to "serious reasons" perhaps "illness" or "great danger to health".
With such a booklet on sale at the back of our Churches we can easily see how non-Catholics regard as they do our position on this matter. This sort of statement, which I maintain is pure heresy, impedes conversions and makes us look ridiculous.
"Father of Five" Plymouth.
Nobody can deny that the plight of people like "'Devon" (August 30) is the most scandalous disgrace in the Catholic world today. The average size of the modern Catholic family points unquestionably to the fact that either the vast majority of Catholics find the Safe Period perfectly satisfactory, or the vast majority are living lives of sin.
If the first is true. the burden of the unfortunate minority will clearly continue to he intolerably difficult. In addition to their financial nightmare. unless they can bring themselves to pin "Safe Period Casualty" placards on their children's backs. they will go on being scorned as feckless or even downright lustful. Is it surprising that they in their turn feel friendless and embittered, and begin to suspect the parents of small families of being "up to something".
If the second is true, i.e. that the vast majority have been driven to practise contraception. then the Church has no grounds whatsoever for glib complacency. If thousands of Catholic wives arc (as the F.P.A. assures us) flocking to birth control clinics, It is time something more practical than hell-fire sermons was produced.
May I suggest that as a start the Church organises officially some adequate financial help for genuine Safe Period casualties, thus rendering us the envy of our nonCatholic acquaintances, instead of, as at present. the object of their furious contempt. If these casualties are so numerous that the Church cannot afford to assist them and to build schools as well, may 1 dare to say that schools are less important? A Catholic education is pointless if children grow up only to find one of the Church's fundamental laws impossibly difficult.
If the Church is not prepared to help these people. what right has she to insist that they avoid contraception And when, please, may we see in the Observer an authoritative Catholic contribution to the Katherine Whitehom controversy now raging in that paper?
This 'trotter is the subject of an article and editorial comment on Page 4.
Not long ago you were kind enough to publish my letter appealing for books for the library of a Teacher Training College in Nigeria.
I have since received a request from the same college, for a copy of The Westminster Hymnal, New and revised edition (with notation), Bums, Oates & Washbourne, London, 1948. and wonder if any kind reader has one to spare and would be willing to send it to: Rev. Fr. Labriche, C.S.Sp., Our Lady of Schools Teacher Training College, Ayangba via ldah. Nigeria, West Africa.
(Miss) Marie .1. Finebam Market Harborough.
I think some kind of case might be made against Fr. fvtcKee's Walter Mitty article as being tooclever-by-half. but none at all against it as being "fatuous". A highly intelligent "progressive" Catholic friend of mine thought it a witty and amusing jett d'esprit. I dare say that Fr. McKee offered it as a light interlude amid much heavy theological "encircling gloom". Its conclusion seemed to me most touching. The Mary Ann McGintys are the salt of the earth. "Thank Heaven", as in Gigi, for Fr. McKee's (Inc tribute to them and their faith.
John V. Simcox London, N.W.5.
Two atom bombs are dropped on Japan. because, judging by the course of the war up to date, it would otherwise have cost so many more lives to subdue the country. The city of Dresden is bombed in the course of a war in which both sides massively bombed each other both for strategic reasons and in reprisal. As an act of policy in an attempt to put the clock hack Queen Mary makes many Protestant martyrs. And during the subsequent 100 years two or three hundred English priests and their protectors were hanged, drawn and quartered and Catholics continued to endure civil disabilities for some time longer.
Who are responsible for these things? Individuals, parties, the common citizen? Who could have stopped them or have made effective protest?
We cannot know the answers, we cannot re-live the past. we cannot put ourselves in the contemporary predicament. We have not the means to judge and it is wrong to indulge in the luxury of moral indignation. Let us leave these old wounds alone.
(Col.) E. M. E. Coghlan Bredon, Glos.
If my memory is accurate, Miss Barbara Cartland, well known for her active interest in youth welfare, recently quoted a highlyplaced senior official (avowedly an atheist) as declaring to a visiting American educationist that education was not concerned with religion. Well, my fellow countryman. Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (born in Dublin). remarkable for his shrewdness and commonsense, observed: "Educate men without religion and you make them but clever devils." James Maher Halifax,
was very interested to read in last week's issue that a secret hiding place had been discovered at Ripley Castle near Harrogate, and presume this is the hiding place referred to by Granville Squier's in his book "Secret Hiding Places" written about 30 years ago In that book he stated that there was a tradition that a hiding place existed at the Castle by the side of a big chimney in the present library "but it has never been explored." Perhaps some reader who has some knowledge of this recent find would be good enough to send me particulars for I am at the present time collecting information (and photographs where possible) of secret hiding places, or places where secret hides are reputed to exist, in the North of England. I would therefore be grateful for any information or pictures.
L. P. Crangle 71 Hurstwood Road,
.1 too find myself in sympathy with Messrs. Gould and Nash (September 6th) on the question of Sunday observance, and I am sure that the degree of uncertainty does not rest solely with us, torn between the often conflicting factors of the Church and our consciences and what appears to us to be sound common sense.
The position of the Church on any matter of dogmatic theology is of rather an autocratic flavour. And as autocrats rise and fall and their laws disappear with them. so have there been a number of interpretations, not only of the laws and words of God. but also of the laws of the Church. and as the Church itself does not always succeed in arriving at some legislature of a more contemporary kind Catholics arc often left to their own consciences with disastrous results.
'Ilse attitude to the Commandments. of course, changes noticeably but beside the nebulous and convenient rulings. there is often formed an iron prejudice. which. in my opinion, being the hardest to dispel, is ene of the greatest evils.
Such was the feeling in the stricter sects. for instance the Scottish Presbyterians, no doubt much to be admired in that the Commandments were observed with a rigidity which many Catholics could well do with, but the rigor mortis so formed in any religion utterly paralyses it, and invites criticisms from many quarters who condemn it as 'old fashioned' and 'out-of-date'.
There must, however. be a logical, practical solution, to be founded on the earliest teachings of the Church. The Third Cornmandment instructs us tie keep the Sabbath Day holy, and the Church interprets this as meaning that we should abstain from servile work, go to church and give due praise to God.
Up to now I have based much of my religious education on the teachings of the Rev. Charles Hart, B.A.. in his eell-known Student's Catholic Doctrine. but 1 was sui pi isod to discover that the convictions of many celebrated clergymen arc not as strong as they should be.
.fhe Rev. Hart assumes that servile work is that performed by the body and by such people as -servants, mechanics and tradesnien". According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word 'servile" is plainly connected with the work that slaves do, or rather did. in the days when Christian masters were compelled by their religion to allow their employees the opportunities to keep the Sunday holy.
Today one is correct in assuming that there are no longer slaves: consequently the ruling has had to be altered although the meaning of the word remains the same.
Now. servile work is merely that performed as an occupation. where a man works more for his own living and money than as a serf for his master. Thus. when the Rev. Hart says: "Fishing with the rod and line, for example. is not unlawful. but going out to sea and plying the trade In an ordinary way is forbidden", he is unquestionably wrong. and fishing with a rod and line no a Sunday where the catch is sold for profit is a sin. being servile work.
This conclusion means that work of all kind as a money-making concern is most certainly servile, or at least the equivalent of the old meaning. Under the new heading would now be incorporated. in the relevant cases, work from the mind and body, so that an author who works for money on a Sunday is sinning just as gravely as a shopkeeper who does so.
The factory worker, therefore. is perfectly entitled to dig his garden for pleasure; he may do so praising God. and provided that he has fulfilled his Sunday obligations by going to Mass, and the question of giving scandal does not arise. he would certainly not be sinning. Giving scandal, however, is a problem which can he cleared by a greater understanding.of this view.
M. N. Downes Ilighbridge. Somerset.
MASS AT HOLY PLACES
Visiting Cleeve Abbey in Somerset recently (surrendered to Henry's ruinous Commissioners by Abbot Dovel in 1537), my wife and I were struck by the atmosphere of sanctity and spiritual power still alive in the place particularly at the site of the high altar. Would it not be both pleasing to our Lord and contributory to the work of the angelic powers of Light if Mass were said at least once a year on this and other similar holy sites? In most cases, we imagine. little difficulty would be experienced in obtaining the requisite permission. As Anglicans, we stand ready to be corrected when we say that we sense a greater awareness of these things amongst certain of our own clergy and people than in the Roman Church. Devotion to the Forty Martyrs is, we feel, less natural than pious. It "harks back" overmuch. They made their supreme sacrifice and they are among God's elect. But the angels arc always with us-as much as
our own Holy Eucharist as at the Roman Mass. Can we not, therefore. whether Roman or Anglican, further their mystical work in this materialistic age in such a way?
At Holy Glastonbury (again, correct us if we are wrong) your emphasis appears as on the martyrdoms and errors of the past; ours on the sanctity of the great Abbey and the need for restoring the religious life there. The Anglican rite is yearly celebrated where once Blessed Abbot Whiting stood to invoke the great Sanctifier; until that wonderful days dawns when the deepest wishes of John XXIII and Paul VI shall materialise, and we shall all be of one foid, should not the Roman rite, too, continue a contributory hallowing of that sacred place? Surely, in the new spirit which is working between our two great Churches. this would not be impossible to arrange!
Eric and Pauline Hemery Wirral. Cheshire.