What Could Be Done
SIR,-"The leakage worsens"! I think it will become a burst unless we really face facts-and do something about them. I ask:
1. Arc there any statistics showing the relationship between lapsing and infrequent visitation of the clergy?
2. Is there not insufficient realisation that we are a//-whether at the helm or in the galley-in the same boat, that there is a Big Red Storm all around us and that the help and abilities of every man, woman and child are vital?
3. Are youth to be blamed if they don't thrill to stupid, sickly hymns and extravagant, archaic prayers? For instance, soonduring Lent-we will be hearing. "Nail my heart to Thy Feet that it may ever remain there and never quit Thee again." Surely our hearts and whole spiritual, mental and physical resources should be engaged in living for Christ. We haven't been called upon to die for Him .. . yet!
4. Couldn't sermons be directed more at the children and youth so that they realisethat the Church is not the priests, collectors, choir, altar-boys, worthy folk who have sat on the same area (more or less) for the last umpteen years, but all of these members plus the youth; that it depends on the youth in fact, whether Christ or Communism will win in this country?
Let youth realise that Our Lady was a teenager when God asked her co-operation; that the only Apostle who stood by Our Lord at the Crucifixion was also probably a teenager; that Our Lord did not sneer at the five buns and two fishes of a boy-He took them, with the boy's consent and co-operation, and fed five thousand people with them; that Our Lord loved dhildren-"Let them pass" He told the Apostles; that Jairus' daughter was only 12same age as Mary Smith in Class?
Our young people are lapsing because-like young people everywhere-they naturally want life and action. What they arc told is a Living Body appears to them (and I think very often justifiably) deaf, dumb and crippled. Our Lord attracted potential leaders by inviting them to do something. He wasn't always saying "Don't do that."
5. When are we going to have a daily Missal at a really reasonable price (--something like the C.T.S. Holy Bible, for instance?) Should not children be taught and encouraged to use one as soon as ever possible so that "Liturgy" is not a hard, strange word, but an "Omen Sesame" to the exciting Jewels of the Church? But don't let parochial events and the Liturgy fight each other. Let's celebrate big feasts in a big way, but don't let's "celebrate" Lent with coffee mornings and Passion Sunday dances.
6. Is not the coldness-even hostility-of "good Catholics" responsible sometimes for a second lapsing on the part of those who make, or try to make. a comeback?
7. Why is active participation in the Mass still not introduced in some places? And is it quite out of the question for a daily Mass at an hour more suitable than the busiest time in a normal family?
8. Could not school children be taken on tour around their parish church and have the vestments, stained glass windows. etc., shown and explained to them?
9. Would it not be a good idea if,. during the last year at school, primary schoolchildren had talks -or chats---with ordinary Catholic workers? Priests and teachers have theoretical knowledge of industry and commerce but-with few exceptions-they have not worked in them.
10. Would it not be a good idea also for all schools to have a Past Pupils' Association and the new young workers be encouraged to return after a month or so' in their jobs to give children soon to leave school an idea about factory, shop, and office life?
I 1, With so many new churches now being built-and schoolscould not young people be allowed to choose the names? After all (if they don't lapse!) they are likely to use the church the longest. A competition (resulting in greater spiritual knowledge) could be set, e.g., "Why I would choose St. X as Patron of our church."
12. Is it not vital that schoolleavers should practise the procedure-and be able to speak out -at a meeting?
13. Should not religious teaching be linked more with modern, everyday, work-a-day life? For example, could not children be helped to see that the hospital nurse wiping a patient's brow is a modern Veronica comforting Christ; that the young mother in the 'bus with a toddler-and no seat-is Our Lady and the Divine Child; that the tired man limping with a heavy case up the station bank is Our Lord carrying His cross?
14. Could there not he a Committee of Youth for Church and Youth Activities guided, of course, always by wisdom and experience? If we don't let youth run in the church a bit, they'll run from it. By their very nature they must have action. If they don't get it in the church, they'll get action-probably the wrong sort -elsewhere. Doesn't the church need all the actionists she can get? Compare the Communists' progress in 50 years-and the Church's in 2,0001
15. If a parish could say with !vat sincerity and in unison only the very first word of the "Our Father" would there be much lapsing in that parish?
3 John Street South, Meadowfield, Durham.