all open forum for all ,Ahades of opini on including LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Unity and the Martyrs
S1k,-1 have no doubt of the good faith and intentions of your correspondent "British Colonial", but I wonder whether he realises the grave injustice his letter (June 12) does to thousands of British Catholics, and its erroneous theological implications.
If we British Catholics (and I hope that we can also speak for "colonials", whoever and wherever they are, excepting a minority of one) are obsessed with the passion and glory of our martyrs, this is because we see their sufferings as a reflection and projection into out history of the passion and resurrection of Christ
For us, the martyrs are the equivalent of those Saints whom the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews recommends to the first Christians for their imitation and veneration (Hebrews II). It is this awareness of salvation-history, no matter how inarticulate, that has brought multitudes of Irish Catholics living in this country to express their faith in Christ through devotion to our martyrs. "British Colonial" has even less sense of history than he betrays in his letter if he believes that the Irish are intent on futhering a glory that is peculiarly English!
It would be as well to remember, also, that when the Church, by a decree of beatification, gives permission for a limited cult, she is inviting the faithful, to whom that permission has been granted, to a renewal of faith in Christ by intensifying their devotion to the becalm'.
British Catholics are, therefore, pledged to promote devotions to their beatified martyrs by every means in their power. One of the most hallowed means of fostering this devotion is the pilgrimage. If the practice, for "British Colonial", smacks of the Canterbury Tales, his slighting reference smacks of Lollardy and inconoclasm. Enough has been said, in the columns of this paper and elsewhere, to rebut the fallacy that devotion to the martyrs and ecumenical charity are mutually incompatible and to show (what English Catholics have always held) that the reverse is true.
(Rev.) James Walsh, S.J.
The Cause of the English & Welsh Martyrs.
Sex and marriage
Sir,—I was heartened to read Mr. J. Bruckman's letter (June 19) and grateful to know that there are others with more knowledge and understanding of the Church who are not in complete accord with the Church on the major moral issue of birth control and contraceptives. As one of the ordinary 'girl in the street' Catholics I have felt that I was casting myself off from the Church. because in all conscience I cannot agree.
1 am a Catholic girl who will shortly be marrying a non-Catholic boy. We are marrying because we love each other and wish to spend the rest of our lives together "as one flesh". My fiance is sacrificing a very great deal in agreeing to be a spiritual outcast in his own family and in allowing his children to be brought up in a religion which, although he respects, he considers to be inhuman. However he will do all this for me.
The problem of birth control is not so easily settled. We both believe that the expression of our love should be natural and spontaneous, not for our own sexual satisfaction but to provide a harmonious and happy background for the family we shall have. We feel self-control should be used in mutual respect and consideration. If this cannot be done without the use of contraceptives, then contraceptives should be used. We know that the safe period is by no means foolproof for a good many couples, and there is a very definite chance that after several years of marriage and several children the only way to prevent the birth of a child it would be irresponsible to have would be total abstention. For a couple to have to sleep apart or to avoid each other's loving advances. apart from the strain on themselves and therefore on the family, is as unnatural as contraception, if not more so.
The Catholic theory may be reasonable under ideal circumstances, but these occur seldom, and as the Dutch Bishops made clear this is problem for man and his conscience. No one will say today that the physical expression of mutual love is not an integral and necessary part of marriage. We feel our marriage should be a joyful thing to bring happiness, to ourselves and to others about us, but we feel this burden on us could kill this joy before it begins, threatening to kill our love, so that our niarriage will no longer be the means of our mutual sanctification. This is a very real problem to us and, we are sure, to many other young Catholic couples.
Sir, — Recent correspondence on this subject in the CATHOLIC HERALD has tended to concentrate on intellectual arguments and to point to the experience of those who are able, more or less, to live up to the Catholic ideal without placing any great strain on themselves or their normal pattern of life. But there are many who find little of practical help in this approach. I am thinking, for instance, of families (and they are numerous) where the husband is or necessity assay from home frequently and the young mother is left to cope: and of families where one of the children suffers from a physical handicap: where there are financial and housing difficulties: and where the mother or father is simply not equipped by nature to control a large family unaided.
Eulogies from wonderful "Mothers of Seven" and injunctions to frequent the Sacraments make no practical contribution to their problems. So often a priest will tell us that Our Lord will help, but He works through human agency. i.e. la. I wonder how many CATHOLIC HERALD readers. after absorbing the recent correspondence, have been moved by understanding and pity to offer help to a young Catholic family struggling IC) obey the teaching of the Church in a society which is simply just not geared for family life? 'Yet this is clearly the best way to help remedy conditions actually existing. Birth control is not the only difficulty, but the controversy over the pill will not have been useless if we are all drawn closer in a desire to help each other. This used to be the mark
of the Christians. • , There is too much disapproval of the young mother today, and a good deal of open disapproval of large families. What she needs is sympathy and help, to quote a few examples: a lift to Mass: a lift for shopping or visits to clinics etc.; a day's rest away from the children; organised exchange of clothing and school uniform; help with mending, sewing and knitting; a weekend away from home; inexpensive holidays, e.g. at convent schools during holidays, as in France.
The best way to defend Catholic family life is to help preserve it and it should be possible for women's organisations to adapt themselves to this work. We tend to think that other people's troubles can be cured by will power—and so they can, hut it is our will power that requires to be put to work. The formation of Young Wives Groups for mutual aid, comfort and instruction would be an excellent beginning. Prayer is essential. of course, hut prayers are generally answered through other people — someone has to do the work.
(Mrs.) M. Norman, West Byfleet, Surrey.
Douai Sir,—It is ssith something like despair that one regards the front page photograph in last week's issue of the stone-laying ceremony at Douai Abbey. The "modernists" seem to have finally triumphed over intelligence, just as they did at Liverpool.
The development of Douai was particularly dear to me (though I have no connection with the place and have never been near it) on account or the determination expressed about 30 years ago to show in its architecture a firm continuity with the Gothic tradition just at the point it had reached in 1530 when that rascal Henry Tudor cut as with a knife the whole cultural life of the country.
One of the many lies which even Catholics believe is that Gothic was e dying art by the time of the Reformation. It is ignorant nonsense. Building skill was in fact moving to greater beauty and more marvellous technical ability. The Gothic revival of last century was a failure for two simple and obvious reasons. 11 was not within the Church which had inspired it, and it was in the hands or abstract architects: not architectural craftsmen. Even such little building as took place within the Church was stultified by the second consideration.
It was the declaration of the Douai community which thrilled me with its good sense 30 years ago. They intended to pick up the living thread of development exactly where it had been severed, to put themselves into the minds of the master-masons of 1530 with their daring ambitions and clever improvisations. It seemed that 80 years after the restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy of England we were going to see the restoration of true English Catholic culture. The beautiful tracery of the windows and the chequered parapet of the chapel, shown in the photograph. give a hint of what we might have had. But it is not to he. Real architectural intelligence is "out"; just as every gracious tradition is out. These are the days when even the Church of God must he with it— whatever "it" may be. Nor need the "moderns" claim any particular skill. A cylinder supported on a stiff cone—as at Liverpool—is. a perfectly ordinary piece of engineering: no more clever than a cooling tower of an industrial power station. Alas, that the noble Benedictine Order should dabble in such callow nessl
Harold McCrone Laxton.