Your Day and Mine
By CONSTANCE HOLT
BUILDING is one of the most "obvious activities of the day, as we realise when side-stepping the planks in the heart of the City or on the new housing estate at the far end of the bus route. It is going on, too, in more remote parts of Britain, and among lone masons as well.
A friend of mine who has settled in Wales because she loves the country and because she wants to join in the steady forward drive of Welsh Catholicism, describes their local priest : "He has a very uphill job, and for seventeen years has struggled along all alone. Most of his parishioners live in outlying districts. He is a great builder and has made a delightful garden complete with a Lourdes Grotto out of a rubbish tip, carrying the earth in little lots, and building a wall to hold the river hack, with great boulders from the river bed. "He plans to build a chapel of the Sacred Heart. He is out and about among his parishioners in all winds and weathers too...."
ONLY recently, when I heard reference in a sermon to medieval building, did it fully come home to me that the glorious cathedrals of Europe were first put together by young men (young, I assume, because there were not many old men in medieval times) who had never seen a really lovely building or even a picture of one.
Isn't it truly "terrific" to think. of men, whose homes were a one-room mud hut with a single hole for the smoke, raising, over years, something that would become a poem in stone, with power to make 1954 tourists hold their breath?
Surely the fact that such cathedrals got built can be called a miracle? There is a sort of beautiful "magic" about it.
Our eyes are more used to great size. and other massive buildings can dwarf the cathedral once the greatest structure in any countryside. I well remember the curious sensation of seeing St. Patrick's Cathedral as a little toy church, when looking out from half-way up a building in Fifth Avenue, New York.
Perhaps the tiny domestic shrine will have new appeal in this age of outsizcs? I wonder if you agree that at home, or wherever we have them, it is better and more helpful to have our statues little and good? One does get the idea sometimes that there are zealous providers of holy images who believe that bulk brings blessing. So often we meet topheavy figures of Saints and Crib Bambinos we would not pass as good taste if we were choosing dolls. Perhaps the sight of immense Buddha figures in museums and, looking more alarming still, in their native Eastern temples, have increased my shrinking from large statuary. I am open to conversion if I see a large Christian statue which can convey what I found in an exquisite Holy Family group in a cottage dwelling. A little girl being shown it said: "That looks 114.41 like Jesus, doesn't it?"
Almost literally a suggestion of : " 'I come in the little things,' saith the Lord."
IT is good to read a peaceful story told by a nun entirely about—and in—her convent. Madeleine de Frees tells it in The Springs of Silence. Some of the episodes she records are simple to the point of naivete, but the reflection of herself arising from them is never obvious.
This gentle but vigorous American nun always implies that the "bad patches" were her failures. In days when every human motive is held up to neon-light, the gratitude of a nun for a nun's vocation, and some of the homely close-ups of a place which is after all one of our power houses, is refreshing. I would recommend the book to any woman who gets a little weary of the world and its cares, or to any young girl who has not had time to get we.ir .
SOMETIMES a totally different, and much less "peaceful," book can be equally refreshing. Some of our Catholic novelists are specially qualified to write with deep penetration of "other denominations," and Sheila Kaye-Smith, with all her other great novelist qualities. is certainly among them. She puts her understanding to wonderful account in The View from the Parsonage. This very good story., with its fascinating inter-play in characters and ideas, set in the country which this writer always describes with such great skill, gave me the pleasant old-fashioned regret when the tale was told. It left more than a vivid picture behind.
St. Jude the Strong
THIS autumn promises to last a, long as harvest-gathering. So the country may blaze with deepening colour in many counties—beyond the Feast of Ali Saints—on into so-called grey November.
The town parks, so warmly admired by visitors from overseas this past summer, will glow with chrysanthemums, some late dahlias and even roses. The late beauty of this golden month has a peace all its own—serene and stimulating too. A walk off the traffic routes is a wonderful background for thinking. if you have time to take it at lunch break or just before fetching the children from school, or—just because you must. At any time we get the kind ol bright. swift day on which we just have to "rejoice and be glad in it''for surely now is now—the stuff (a which Eternity is made—whatevel the state of the world.
see that St. Jude's Feast is due next Thursday. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I can never get over the idea that be was surprised to find himself the patron of the desperate.
He seems too retiring in the Gospels, but his Epistle is short and strong. If you feel like having a look at the last two heart-lifting verses, I shall have left you with' better words than mine.