THE OFFICIAL prayer of the Catholic Police Guild reads: "... Grant that we may this day, and every day, overcome all temptations, especially to injustice and disloyalty, and with out minds inflamed by Thy Holy Spirit perform all our duties in such a manner as may be pleasing to Thy Divine Will so that when called to report for the last time we may not be found wanting ..."
The last report will of course be made in that great Charge Room in the Sky. .1-he existence of the guild is a comforting thought, and it was founded before the 1914 War as the Metropolitan and City (Greater London) Guild. It began in a back room in Clapham.
Then Mgr Howlett, who was the Administrator of Westminster Cathedral, became its First president and it grew swiftly. In those days a large number of Irishmen straight from an Ireland that was a part of the United Kingdom and apparently as settled under the Crown as London itself, joined the Metropolitan Force. So there were plenty of Catholics in blue uniform.
In 1918 a Solemn Requiem was said in the Cathedral by the Guild President for their war dead. It became an annual event. Some may remember occasions when the Catholic police paraded in the rear of the Cathedral more than 500 strong. They then marched behind a police band to Ambrosden Avenue and a Requiem, with the choir hard at work. After Mass there was a march-past and the Police Commissioner, backed by incongruous monsignori, took the salute from the Cathedral steps.
But, alas, since the early 1960s the numbers have been dwindling fewer practising Catholics, a mounting disinclination to take part in avoidable parades, fewer Irishmen seeking to better themselves within the ranks of England's various establishments. Take your pick.
In 1968 the parade was fewer than a hundred strong, and seemed no bigger than the band. So it was stopped. They still have an annual Requiem with the frontseats reserved for guild members.
In 1971 the Police Male Voice Choir sang the Ordinary of the Mass and the Metropolitan Police Trumpeters blasted off at the Consecration. There was no dozing in the stalls at that Eucharist.
They are, too, a useful guild. They provide firm but courteous stewards at pilgrimages to Walsingharn and Aylesford. They show Mr St John-Stevas to his aisle seat on great ceremonial occasions in Westminster Cathedral.
In 1927, more than 80 guild members went on pilgrimage to Rome and, during an audience, gave Pope Pius XI a purse of 100 guineas, 80 of them for Peter's Pence and 20 for Mass stipends.
In 1964 they went again and had an audience of Pope Paul VI to whom they gave a police truncheon mounted on a plinth. And it is, after all, the thought that counts.
It is now a national guild, and far less centralised. They also hold an annual Mass in the Cathedral crypt on the feast of Corpus Christi. They have the civilised and ancient custom of following their public witness with a private "social", thus showing again the old and happy alliance between Church and pub.
The guild is growing again now, and, though it may never again parade to the tunes of Sousa, it deserves to flourish. I think that we, the people, need the reassurance of such actions as much as the Catholic police need the solidarity and the dead police the prayers.
IN THE New Statesman of April 8 Mr Mervyn Jones begins his London Diary thus: "Easter, for me, will always mean the Aldermaston marches."
At least Easter means something to this journalist, who is or used to be nothing if not fashionable. He even goes to the trouble of parading his republican convictions, and it is not easy to be more in-group than that.
But if you think that, in substituting a considerably less Dolorosa sort of Via for the original, Mr Jones is either being absurd or overstraining himself in the effort to offend people who are reactionary enough still to believe, there is some reassurance in his next He goes on: "It seems odd that there are people now adult who ask what it was all about, not to mention students writing theses about the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament."
Which, alas, only goes to show that even the trendiest political campaigns are just as liable to be forgotten or ignored as the central acts of a religion which changed history more profoundly than the Russian Revolution or the atom bomb, which made and informed half the world and more and which, according to Mr Jones' dead forefathers, redeemed mankind.
What a sad little, silly hale °biter dictum to find in a literate magazine!
A new start in Portugal
THE KING of Portugal was called by the Pope "Most Faithful" in the way that himself of France was "Most Christian," of Spain "Mast Catholic" and of England "Defender of the Faith."
Since those expansive days the Catholic Church in Portugal has had a series of hard times. In the middle of the last century, Don Pedro, a liberal king, suppressed the monasteries and orders. In 1910 a Republic suppressed the Monarchy.
Priests were not allowed to dress as priests in public, now they tend to prefer not to. Only the Irish Dominicans and the Little Englishmen of the defunct English College kept the splendour of the liturgy publicly alive in the years of a mini-persecution after the First World War.
I was told that when the government tried to suppress the Irish convent school, the British Ambassador drove its Reverend Mother in his car, both of them in full fig through the city. For some inexplicable reason, this seems to have done the trick.
Salazar made religious education compulsory in the schools and allowed the Crucifix. But the Church wisely disengaged itself from his stifling embrace in his last few years. The incoherent revolution that broke out in April, 1974, gravely and
properly disturbed ecclesiastical authority.
The Church was hardly in a healthy state. It was a benighted institution. South of the River Tagus, which runs by Lisbon, in the diocese of Setubal, it was found recently that 4.6 per cent of the population went to
In some of the Southern dioceses the percentage was lower. One of the bishops there has hardly been seen in public since the revolution began. Two others are hardly better.
In such areas of poverty, religion was and is thought to be for landowners and their lackeys. A churchgoer is harshly mocked at work.
The present Prime Minister,
Mario Soares, is the son of a priest, non-practising but sympathetic and seems anxious to keep the good will of the Church. The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, a quiet and sensible man of about 50 years, Antonio. Ribeiro, said little during the troubles and is now discreetly consulted by the government.
At least one young priest is high in the councils of a Maoist faction and another of a similar sort was assassinated. But these and others are counterbalanced by plenty to whom antiCommunism is a way of life.
During the troubles, members of the UDP (Reformed Communists) marched on the Lisbon Patriarchate and stoned its facade. They also besieged the Catholic radio station all one night. This very real violence shocked more than the Catholics and helped sober the country. Now the Church is coming alive again. There are some good new bishops. Many of the young priests seem very aware of what went wrong and are being almost too political in their reaction.
In places like the Algarve, which travellers know for its sun, wine and sardines, the Church which almost died is showing life again. And in the towns and cities especially the new life is coming hack not with traditional observances but in house Masses, in Pentecostal groups and in lay activities, What was taken for granted and could so easily have been swept away now begins to appear a treasure worth a man's personal care.
Development of the Liturgy
HAVE LONG wanted to know which Pope it was who, upon being elected, said: "We have the Papacy. Let us enjoy it!" I hope someone did, for there is insufficient joy in the history of the Papacy.
I am. in miniature, in the same predicament. I have a column, and at least shall enjoy it rage Fr Paul Crane, the Lefebvre bravos and that angry man who writes to say that I am altogether too didactic and who do I think I am anyway, and demands equal space to answer me in, never so much.
I am free to write what choose. 1 ant inhibited only by morality, good taste and the limits to what I can get away with. I command a limitless amount of space so that when you look from the top of this column you cannot see its end. AL least I cannot,
And it is my contention that barring the views of the Editor, the Chief Sub-Editor, the Circulation Manager and of my relations who read this page in order to mortify their minds and so acquire merit I am free to write as I choose. (There is no validity in the tradition that a small indulgence can be obtained by reading this column from end to end -twice.
The trouble is that I want to write about the Mass in a way that is both pretentious and rash. I have been reading "Liturgy" which is the production of the Liturgy Commission and is not the sort of thing that should be kept to priests alone. It contains a practical article about the Liturgy of the Mass by Edmund Jones.
I should explain that Dom Edmund Jones is a Benedictine and the parish priest of Cockfosters, which is a pacesetting parish if ever there was one.
He makes some suggestions which appear to be excellent the sort of things which will help irrigate the present somewhat parched state of the parish liturgy.
For example, he believes that the entrance hymn gives the congregation a chance to sing themselves into a sense of community. He would do more than that and have parishioners greet one another in the pews and, like air stewards, meet strangers at the door. I can see breakers ahead there.
Then there is the question of readers. First he would emphasise the importance Of
this business of the Word. He would have the Book of the Gospels the Lectionary? carried in the entrance procession and put in the place where it will be read.
Readers should be able to communicate. "I can never understand why people should be so keen on children reading if that is going to mean a raced and unintelligent rendering of the mighty text." He would use lights and incense for the Gospel. Indeed, he would use incense for the oblations and the altar. Why? "That precisely the very oddity of the proceedings does in fact convey a sense of something quite extraordinary that precisely because it is something so totally outside our normal experience. that it does in fact create and communicate a sense of the Other, of the
He suggests using large breads which look like bread and can be broken and given out. He suggests that the congregation joins hands during the Lord's Prayer, which I personally find a suggestion of Gorgonic horror.
If you in your parish have developed a variation or enrichment to the bare framework of the liturgy that has been given us. I would be grateful to hear of it. It might not be wholly arrogant to write about it in this patch of mine.
Clergy thin on the ground
A MINISTER of die Church ol' Sweden works about 55 hours a week, This is about two working days of work more than other people work in Sweden. The clergy are not going on strike about it. They are not even complaining.
1 he Church is Lutheran and its ministers wear fiddle-back chasubles for the Eucharist and ruffs round their necks when in formal black.
Now the find that the working conditions of a minister
have been changing. There are more and more demands for advice and help but there never were enough ministers to go
round and a tired clergyman, they say, cannot give of his best.
Once there was the minister's wife at home to help with the work, but now many of them have professions and are not there to do the necessary spadework of a parish. Those head shakings were done by an association of the Church's ministers. It is hard to see what they are on about. To be tired, overworked, thin on the ground, unappreciated these are the proper conditions for a missionary's work, and it should be reassuring to receive so many calls for help.
But the association did also sav that to be a minister is a calling and not tube compared in elapsed time or effort with other forms of work.
The Catholics there arc in a worse way. They find they cannot provide priests for the foreign workers who come to turn a reasonably honest kroner in the earthly paradise. The workers come, most of them, from Southern and Eastern Europe and it is a task of despair to find priests and helpers who can cope with this northern Babel. A gift of tongues would help.
population would seem to
warrant. Rut because of the scattered manner in which people live. there is a need for more than the usual ratio of priests to people. SC1.1111 dill 9 Via. in fact, produces inure priests of its own than its minute Catholic