FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, 1942
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The " Tablet
IN its last issue, our contemporary, the Tablet, took other Catholic papers to task for not being "content to keep step with the Poles over the Soviet."
For some years now the Catholic papers, realising their essential identity of purpose, have refrained from criticising one another. But this is not such a healthy tradition as it may appear, since it has the effect of depriving these papers of the valuable sanction of publicly-expressed criticism for which all of us are the better.
We are therefore not sorry that the Tablet has set the ball rolling, however gently. We propose to keep it in play in the certainty that the Catholic press will always keep to the rules of the game.
The Tablet asks us to keep step with the Poles. By this, of course. it means the Polish Government, since there are Poles in plenty who are not altogether happy about the London-inspired policy of General Sikorski. Not that they are prepared to oppose it, since they realise the very speCial and very grave dilemma with which Poland to-day is faced, a dilemma all the more difficult to solve in that the natural courtesy of the Poles would endure much rather than do anything which might be interpreted as poor repayment for the hospitality of the country which has championed their cause and furnished them with a safe shelter.
The Poles being so situated, we cannot see the smallest reason why Catholics in the totally different circumstances of this country 'should attempt to keep step with them.
The danger of a far-reaching Soviet influence after the war has more than once been underlined in the Tablet which in particular has taken the Times to task for expressions of opinion which would seem to indicate an acceptance of the Soviet as the dominating Power in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. The Soviet may well be sincere in its promise to support a strong Poland after the war, so long as it is allowed to maintain the Baltic States. parts of Rumania and the greater part of the Eastern Polish territory it occupied in 1939. It is rather towards the South-West that the Soviet looks, and in the Balkan countries, together with Hungary. there are lands in which Catholic interests are no less strong than in Poland.
The Grand Alliance and Christianity But these details are, we admit, a matter of conjecture, and the Tablet may reasonably take a different view from ourselves. What, however, is not a matter of mere conjecture is the broad religious, moral and cultural background of the war. The Tablet appears to be so satisfied with the outlook in these respects of London, Moscow and Washington that it is content week by week and with increasing emphasis to equate the aims of the Grand Alliance with the future welfare of Christianity.
This conviction has prompted it to wage incessant war, on religious as well as political grounds, with Eire and Vichy France. This conviction expresses itselfin the view that the London representatives of the European Powers will peacefully and automatically return to their lands to reassume leadership as though nothing had been changed and learnt in these years of experience through suffering. It accounts for the reluctance to remind the paper's readers, not only of the dangers of the Soviet regime, so eloquently described in the past, but even of the increasingly secularistic and totalitarian tendencies, deprived of any 'positive Catholic counterbalance, of Washington and London.
One could scarcely guess from the columns of the Tablet that it is not the old-stagers of the Foreign Office who will mould post-war Britain, but unknown leaders expressing the raw, but vital, forces at work through the Picture Postand New Statesman-led people of to-day. It is to the new world of the factories, of the popular press, of the soldiers that the Christian ear should be attuned, not to the gossip and inspired hints of the official lobbies.
It is noticeable, moreover, that while our contemporary criticises Eire and France, it takes a very different line with Franco's Spain end Portugal, two countries that have no more excuse for failing to see where the rights and wrongs of the war lie. Is this because it is in Britain's interests to keep these countries neutral. while it is very much in our interest to end the neutrality of Ireland and France? If so, it would surely be better to discuss these matters from a purely political angle and avoid importing religious arguments. We fully share our contemporary's view that an Axis victory would have the gravest consequences for the Church. This obvious truth must powerfully reinforce our natural patriotic determination to conquer our own enemies. But this is very far from being the same thing as saying that the eventual tnumph of the Grand Alliance will necessarily ensure satisfactory conditions for the Church. It may indeed guarantee for it a restricted sphere of religious liberty, though this is by no means certain: but to judge by the optimism of our contemporary we should expect that the ideals of the Grand Alliance would somehow evolve into some kind of post-war Christendom.
In our view an extremely important difference between the Allied and the Axis causes from the point of view of the future of Christianity lies in the remaining freedom of Christians in Britain and America to fight openly for Christian values in the political, social and economic fields. This freedom gives us the great opportunity—of which Chris tians in Germany are deprived—of giving a positive lead to that important undercurrent of Christian feeling which has been aroused by the realisation that the war is but the culmination of an era of false philosophy, an undercurrent, moreover, which is in reaction against the secularist tendencies of those who possess almost a monopoly of effective publicity.
But surely little imagination is needed to realise how much will have to be done if this undercurrent is to make itself felt against the much stronger secularist, materialist and LC progressive " elements in London and New York which are in such intimate alliance with the Bolsheviks of Moscow.
We live in a largely pagan age, and the almost complete eclipse of religious values in the life of the average twentieth-century citizen is com pleted in the policy of nations. Our first task, while loyally fulfilling our duty to our country and rejoicing that its cause remains so morally superior to the gross degradations of the enemy, is surely to try to see ourselves, no less than our enemies, in the fierce and uncompromising light of Christian values. This light brings a more correct perspective to the differences between groups of nations, more especially perhaps in their respective histories, of which the war is so largely the consequence. We cannot but think that in a critical situation like this so influential a Catholic organ as the Tablet is playing less than its fullest Christian part in insisting that our cause is simply the cause of Christianity and in attacking islands of fuller Catholicity because they heiitate to act on the sitnpliste view that London for the time being is the only antechamber to the Vatican.
And we say this while fully realising how greatly the Catholic com munity is indebted to a paper whose habitual information, judgment and tact make it much the most effective spokesman for Catholic interests with the governing classes.
Evening Mass THE request for an evening Mass, which
has been recently raised again in view Of wartime difficulties, is not a new thing. have been sent an extract from the Ecclesiastical Review of 1911, in which "An Old Pastor " makes a similar plea. " Why give the devil a monopoly ot the evening?" he asks. " Would to God that we could by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass make this free time of our people an occasion for promoting their welfare and piety and of preserving them from dangerous places of amusement, from secret society lodges and the propaganda of Socialism!"
The paper itself then discusses the historical aspects of the question.
" During the entire period of the persecutions, that is during the first four centuries of the Christian era, the Sacred Mysteries of the Mass were celebrated generally at night; as a rule either late in the evening or early in the morning, so as not to attract the attention of the pagans and expose the sacred rite to profane interference. The ancient custom of the evenipg Mass is attested by what St. Luke relates in the Acts of the Apostles concerning St. Paul's sojourn at Troas. The evangelist. who was at the time the companion of St Paul, tells how on a Sunday night the Christians came together " to break bread." Paul, who was to leave early the following morning on a journey by land to Assos, preached to them until midnight. " Then going up, and breaking bread and tasting, and having talked a long time to them, until daylight. so he departed " (Acts 20;7-12). The same custom of celehreting Mass at midnight or in the evening or early morning hours is referred to constantly by Justin and Tertullian."
Westminster Reminiscences I AM reminded by Mgr. Canon Jackman
that during the last war every Ambassador to the Court of St. James's (save one) was a Catholic. He recalls the fact in connection with the 25th anniversary of the death of the then Russian Ambassador who is buried in Westminster Cathedral. The inscription slats done more recently to Eric Gill's design.
Mgr Jackman ' also notes that the Founders of the Cathedral still await a permanent memorial and discloses that the eleventh name on the list, inscribed as George D, stands for Fr. George Dover, a lovable humble priest from Ambleside who forbade his identity to he revealed during his lifetime
" Made-in-Japan" FROM the beginning of a despatch of the Evening Standard's Special Correspondent in Singapore: "As 1 write this message, close formation of 30 and 20 odd Japanese aircraft are circling the city. Even secondrate ' made-in-Japan fuselages, with their grinning baboons at the controls and the bomb-sights. ." I wish somehow our Far Eastern journalists would wait until the Japs are beaten before adopting the Goebbels racialist creed and journalistic technique.
" Journal in France" QURELY no one eve, spent sixpence inure 1-1 profitably than a non-Catholic friend of mine who picked up for that sum a copy of Journal in France, by T W Allies. The hook is dated 1849, and it consists of a diary of two journals in France in 1845 and 1848, as