AFASCINATING and far from merely abstract part of any study of the Church is the tracing of threads that mysteriously connect events in its long life — removed from each other, as they may be, by many centuries and thousands of miles.
We print this week, for example, an absorbing account by Mrs. Frank Sheed of heroic endeavour in India. Exactly a year from today, the fortieth International Eucharistic Congress will reach its formal conclusion in Melbourne, Australia. The link between these two fields of activity is that of pastoral dedication.
Such dedication is the theme of no less than a whole year of preparation for the Congress, a preparation already well under way throughout Australia.
The Congress could well be the most significant and influential Eucharistic Congress ever held. It richly deserves support in terms of prayer, and even, where possible, of actual attendance, by the Catholic community of Britain and Ireland.
In pastoral renewal, as a preparatory programme, the Congress's principal organisers, Frs. Kevin Toomey and Brian Walsh, could hardly have been presented with a more opportune theme. Its inspiration came directly from Pope Paul himself when first announcing that the Congress would be held in Melbourne.
Whether under the blaze of pUblicity, or in obscure corners of the world, it can well be argued that a selfless campaign on the pastoral front is not merely the best, but is virtually the only hope, for a Church and a world menaced by particularly insidious forms of materialism.
It can be further argued that for all its massive theological formulation and thundering anathemas, the renewal of pastoral endeavour was the most lastingly important work of the Council of Trent. For, bent on nothing less than spiritually revolutionising the world, there emerged from that event a vast army of newly dedicated men and women among whom, for many, St. Francis de S'a'les still stands supreme as a model and inspiration.
Men without God
One of the errors which that particular pastoral army had to combat remains with us in one form or another. It is the assumption that men can live without God and can achieve a relative degree of justice by their own unaided efforts. Modern attempts to revive such ideas, traceable originally to Pelagius, were given a timely and effective rebuff by the learned and level-headed Bishop Philbin of Down and Connor in the waning weeks of Vatican II.
But if inhabitants of these islands wish to honour a particularly picturesque opponent of Pelagianism — as far at least as the most attractive of the legends is concerned — they need seek no further than Wales's own St. = David whose feast we celebrate this coming week. Of greater lasting importance, again, than the mere attacking of error was the pursuit of pastoral objectives in the inspiring life of Dewi of Mynyw (Menevia), whose last words were : "Be joyful and keep the faith." a
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