Marriage, anyway, is not every girl's vocation
SIR,-AS one who has had to refuse offers of marriage both from a non-Catholic and also from a divorced man and yet is (by the grace of God) not yet a lapsed Catholic on this account, I can understand the difficulties of Alice Hayes and her friends. Perhaps I may be also qualified to make some comments on her letter.
It is certainly a question that needs attention and which cannot only be dealt with by an Introduction Bureau. In my own case, I have lived for many years in a parish where there is very little Catholic social life. and no attempts are made to introduce Catholics to each other. Yet we still receive warnings to avoid mixed marriages. How is this to be done?
Yet I fancy Miss Hayes is approaching the matter from the wrong angle. Many women assume that a woman who does not marry and who has no religious vocation, is a failure and has somehow been overlooked. Surely this is a fallacy; for, instead of being willing to follow God's will, either in marriage, religon or a single life in the world, these women wish to get married whether it is their vocation or not. Surely. if our vocation is to set ve God in the married state, He will provide us with a partner in His own time. Or. do we wish to marry. whether He wills it or no? Therein lies our danger, especially as we grow older and our chances get less. Many people get married because they want to get away from their parents or are tired of their jobs, because they want a home of their own-or merely because they are lonely. Hence comes so many mistaken marriages, even between good Catholics. The difficulties and responsibilities of marriage are not always an escape from loneliness or unhappiness.
Is it not a fallacy also to think that the grace of being true to one's religion is dependent on cur meeting a suitable Catholic partner? If God wishes to test us by asking us to give up an association which is incompatible with our faith, surely He will give us the grace to keep that faith, whether we marry or not. Have we not been honoured by Him in being put to such a test? Perhaps the trials we have suffered in breaking our dangerous associations are a preparation for our real vocation: perhaps the lessons we have learned during those associations may point the way to the work God wants us to do.
As a suggestion, instead of searching anxiously for a possible partner, let us mix as much as possible in all congenial society and try to do something towards the conversion of those around us. We could forget our own interests and try to be lay apostles. God will then either help us forget our loneliness in His work or he will provide us with a partner through the work.
However, the question is much wider than can be dealt with by a few letters. Perhaps if we "frustrated girls" got together, we might be able to start something that would help others similarly placed. This urgent problem at last been brought to light and should not be allowed to
rest here. "Marika."
Snt,-If the Challoner is to become a happy hunting ground for predatory, man-hunting females, 1 for one won't be a member much longer. Graham Young.
79 Belgrave Road, London, S.W.I.
A real problem
SIR,-Miss Alice Haye's letter. published in your last issue, expresses what must be the experience and the views of many Catholic girls who find themselves in a similar position.
I myself can think straight off of half a dozen of my friends who have made mixed marriages, one of them,/ with an unbaptised pagan, and another in a Protestant church, because "there were no Catholic men"--and at the same time one is constantly coming across men who have married non-Catholic wives for a conesponding reason. I have lived in various parts of the south of England, and for the last year in London. Though I do not belong to the Challoner, I did join an organisation which might in many ways be considered comparable. My experience has been similar to that of Miss Hayes-in fact, until I actually accosted various members I was cornpletely ignored.
The considerable influx of Catholics from other European countries, among them a fairly high proportion who belonged to the "firofessional" class in their own lands, should theoretically have eased the situation somewhat, at least from the feminine angle. In fact, however, it seems that these foreign Catholics have clubs of their own nationality provided for them, where by force of circumstances the numbers of men far exceed those of women, but otherwise have no real opportunity of meeting Catholic girls.
This is, of course, only one additional aspect of the problem, as stated so admirably by MiscHayes. It is a problem which does nof merely affect us, who are faced with the alternatives either of marrying nonCatholics (which, as we are so often reminded, is contrary to the recommendations of the Church, and which, in any case, for many of us, would be a mere shadow of the wonderful thing that true Christian marriage should be), or of being denied our very natural desire for a home and family. It concerns vitally the future of the Church in this country for, though the statement may appear trite, it is the Catholic families of today which, tomorrow, will determine what that future is to be.
S1R,-Most parishes are doing all they can to assist in providing facilities for young people to meet each other. It is an extremely difficult problem, but one which must be taken very seriously, particularly in this present age where Catholic marriages appear to be taken so lightly, mixed marriages are often a failure, and the unfortunate minority position which we hold in this country.
We cannot altogether reproach the Catholic party, as many have suffered loneliness and frustration for many years before emotional strain had driven them towards a mixed marriage.
Why not have a diocesan young people's social evening, say about four times a year? I feel certain that the results would be amazing and many Catholic marriages ensue.
D. A. R., Norwich.
SIR,-The crux of the problem is to be found in the words "... I could hardly go (to a parish social) with the maid." These words express a perfectly reasonable point of view, but anyone who takes it as a basis ..for social relationships in 1952 is dooming himself to loneliness, the -professional" class loneliness which Miss Hayes refers to.
Since leaving the Anny I have been introduced to many charming young Catholic women of all classes and conditions. beautiful and plain. highbrow and low-brow, bold and shy; but diverse as they were. they had this trait in common : they had no intention of facing Catholic marriage with all its logical consequences on a teacher's salary.
My problem, however, seems insoluble unless Miss Hayes could persuade the, no doubt, "gently bred" Miss Florence Horsbrugh to treble teachers' salaries. But possibly Miss Hayes has some advice for me.
SIR,-My compliments to Miss Alice Hayes for expressing facts which every thinking Catholic realises with sadness. Why does very little social life revolve around our Catholic churches? Why are strangers to the parish seldom introduced to. and made welcome by, the community? Why are there few Catholic canteens and clubs to provide a little peace and comfort for our young men and women in the forces? Why is it that in most parishes there is little opportunity for the young people to get to know each other? These questions puzzle many socially inclined Catholics, especially when there is evidence of a generosity and community spirit showing itself in the success of bazaars, garden fetes, jumble sales and so on. There is an apathy towards finding solutions, and an utter lack of what Miss Hayes calls "Catholic Action."
John Johnson. Hill View, Greaves Road, High Wycombe, Bucks.
The Middle Class
sut,-Miss Hayes may or may not have trailed her coat deliberately; but since 1 expect that she will in any case arouse many protests against her letter in your columns, should like to express some support for her. In spite of much that is objectionable in her letter, or that might have been put differently, she is right in her facts; and I admire her for writing this letter and signing it in full when she must have overcome many hesitations before doing so.
For whatever reasons, the Catholic "middle class" in this country is small in numbers and thinly spread, and it is not easy for any of us to meet Catholic girls of the same approximate educational background or with similar interests. Although for years I belonged to the Newman Association I am not yet married to a Catholic, or to anyone else; but of the eligible young women I have met (trying to avoid the horrid term 'girl friend"), very few have been Catholics.
SI12,-I also am in the professional class, yet if God had not given me a good intelligence, good health and good luck, I also would he just a maid. Yet 1 would still aspire to be a lady and to work for the Glory of God.
I am also a convert and thought Catholics of all classes were drawn together by that bond Into one family, indeed I have found it so and refuse to be disillusioned.
Eva M. Hulbert.
1 18 ErMin Street,
Stratton St. Margaret, Swindon, Wilts.
Foolish Notions •
Sut,-I think the thing for Miss Hayes to do is rid her mind of some foolish notions such as "she could hardly go with the maid" to the local parish dances. Why not? Did not the maid get what Miss Hayes cannota husband? What does she want for a husband?
Why not join some more Catholic clubs, or Catholic Action groups? Why not join one of those groups who valiantly go out on the streets to sell the Catholic papers? She never could tell! Some handsome, eligible young man might buy a paper from her and continue doing so till eventually . . . (Mrs.) Nuala Holland.
I4R Manchester Road East, Little Hutton, Walk den,
SIR,-The young ladies for whom Miss A. E. G. Hayes speaks in her letter last week remind me of those exquisite ornaments which one sometimes finds in busy departmental stores at this time of the year-very rare and expensive-which are admired but never purchased. Do these young women ever undertake any social or apostolic work? Have they no hobbies or spare-time pursuits to which they can devote themselves wholeheartedly? Only by doing something can they be something, and unless they are something, why should any young man trouble with them? They should take stock of their assets, beauty, brains, talent of any kind, and try to cultivate them to the full. Finally, they should try to fit themselves for marriage by learning to cook and sew, to handle children and husbands, and run a home (no mean feat these days).
(Mrs.) Muriel Norman.
98 Woodlands Avenue, West Byfleet, Surrey.
Trust in God
SIR,-Whilc sympathising with Miss Alice Hayes. most Catholics meet these difficulties, and the only solution is to trust in God and (if Miss Hayes will pardon my bluntness) not to expect Him to make things too easy. He won't, anyway, but at least she can be assured that He knows best. We can only learn these things from bitter experience.
Bushey and District Hospital, Windmill Street, Bushey Heath.
SIR--Is there any club that cannot find at least one lady and one man capable and willing to be official hostess and host, to find the strangers or new-comers and see that they are introduced and made to feel at home, for the evening at least?
SIR.-Does Miss Hayes or any of her friends really expect any practising Catholic man to assail the fortresses which, by their own strange ideas of superiority, they have built around themselves?
The Catholic Introduction Bureau is constantly, and necessarily quietly, carrying out most excellently just exactly the service Miss Hayes would appear to require. Through its good offices I was introduced to the dearest and most charming young lady whose husband I will shortly have the singular honour to be.
Non sum dignus.
S1R,-My answer to Miss Hayes is, to have courage and cheer to face up to the circumstances of life in which you find yourself; there are so many so very much worse off, and may I add a Christmas blessing, and a New Year's wish of a handsome husband, and a "baker's dozen" for a family, So happy hunting, Miss
Elaine Elaine S. Burrough.
Communist growth ?
SIR,-It may be that the example of such apparently good Catholics who cling to these notions of class distinction is one reason why Cornmunism instead of Catholicism is working its way into the hearts of many men throughout the world. God bless your paper.
Jessica MacDonald, 51 Princes Road,
SIR,-Miss Alice Hayes's unhappy letter is most revealing, She need look no further than herself for the reason why she has not yet found the right young man. An "attractive and intelligent" girl would not need the Challoner or any other club to find him for her. She presumably lacks enterprise, though not, apparently, snobbery, since the Catholic Marriage Bureau is not good enough for her.
38 Queen's Avenue, N.10.
Sie,-As I have always understood it. the aim of the Challoner Club is to provide a centre where Catholics from all grades of society, and from all parts of the world, can meet in a social atmosphere. It is most certainly not part of the laid-down policy of the club to provide partners either for dances or for life. Nevertheless, from a wide experience of Catholic societies, I have no hesitation in saying that the proportion of Catholic marriages resulting from meeting at the Challoner Club is at least as high as the general average of other clubs.
A. D. Fernee,