IN TI1E PAST, when [was a critical sort of Catholic, I used to notice that priests preached a great deal about money. The most rousing sermon I ever heard was in the parish church of Sneem, in Co Kerry. A fine big priest got up and ticked the people off for going after the filthy pennies of the foreign tourists".
And then he went on with the powerful suggestion that it would be pleasing to God if a little more silver coinage came into his church via the plate. But such preaching has gone out of fashion. That was Before the War.
It is regarded as positively bad form to talk about money from the pulpit. There's planned giving now and there's the debt, and that's about all. People even forget that the collections at Easter and Christmas arc for the personal use of the priests, because it is years since anyone has told them so Yet was it so bad? Money is not per se evil. I can personally recommend it And all that giving by the poor to build churches, if it did nothing else involved them actively in the Church, at least emotionally, and those fish-bony gothic spires the priests chose for them shed some dignity and even delight on them.
I predict it will have to start again and something like that embattled minority group spirit have to be re-created. 'I he great example of the new necessity which has padded up unnoticed behind us is the Westminster diocesan debt coming on top of the Cathedral restoration appeal.
We are not gentry who think it rotten bad manners to talk about money in public. Anyway, we have already sold the horses and the West Wing is on fire.
Cardinal Hume spoke up like a man in honourable debt, and the Duke of Norfolk has behaved with a noble 'vulgarity in his appealing for the Cathedral. It is at present the appeal that I would most like to see gloriously succeeding.
The Church has got too bourgeois, too refined, too fearful of what the neighbours may think. It was a far, far poorer generation that built the churches which we find so expensive to heat.
All this was started by seeing_ a poster for the National Catholic Fund. This is the "common purse" for the national work of the Church. And even the demands the bishops make this year are small for so great a Church £170,000. Cardinal Wiseman even in real money would have thought that pretty squalid.
And most of them entail a few hundred or a few thousand pounds figures that imply for certain an almost unpaid priest and/or an underpaid secretary working over someone else's shop.
I look forward to swingeing monetary sermons wherever go that will entice the holy rustle of paper from the pockets of those sitting around me. And we are going to have to put up with it and relearn that the poor talk about money and are not good at it.
And God help us! we are really becoming absurdly poor. We are not the avaricious Church. We are the Beggar Church.
Subtle pursuit of unity
THOSE racks of CTS pamphlets in church porches are always in danger of being regarded as a dated item of church furniture.
Yet though they may look familiar and therefore uninteresting to tired or cynical eyes, they are worth a careful looking over on the way out. Not on the way in for obvious reasons. In the last few years, the CTS has shown some spectacular brilliance and courage. .Just about now, you would find in your rack a 15p pamphlet called "Anglican Orders A Way Forward?" It is written by Fr Edward Yar nold, a Jesuit, from Campion Hall, Oxford.
It is written with humility and love, and it suggests that a way • might be found to unity which avoids the strictures of Apostolleae Curae of 1896 declaring Anglican Orders null and void. This was promulgated by Leo XIII at a time when union with Rome was seen as a process of individual conversions.
Fr Yarnold, to be brief, suggests some ways round to the goal that we are positively required to seek by God and the Church. Anglican clergy who have no doubts about the validity of their Orders might submit to some form of reordination out of regard for Catholic misgivings, Or they might submit to some corporate sacramental sign.
But, he writes" ... to require this of Anglicans is not only to demand outstanding humility and generosity; to some, convinced as they arc of the validity of their Orders, the procedure seems dishonest."
He tries other ways. The Orders which ma have been invalid in 1896 might be valid now. The Anglican attitude is now more sacramental, and many though far from all have been ordained by bishops of indisputable validity, for example by those of the Old Catholic Church.
Or again, the 1896 condemnation may have been based on a faulty assumption of what "validity" means. Could invalidity mean the absence of the approval of the Church? That could be restored.
Apostolic Succession is not absolutely certain at some periods within the Catholic Church. Priests sometimes ordained priests. Fr Yarnold does say that Apostalicae Curae, a fallible product of its time, is sound in doctrine and historical interpretations. But that is not the whole story. He does suggest that the case for the invalidity of Anglican Orders is not absolute. "To say that they are of doubtful validity is already to amend the decision of 1896. Dare we go further and conclude that, since the case
for invalidity is not proved, validity shoud be presumed?"
He certainly does not suggest any impatient haste in this subtle pursuit of unity. Just imagine the extent of the disunity such a union would cause within the Catholic and Anglican Churches. I fear we are not yet ready for it. But Fr Yarnold gives exciting reasons for keeping up with this painful hunt. Really, I fear, the best thing would be to read this pamphlet yourself.
Curious regal interlude
WELL was King James II a booby? Gratuitously I called him that, our Last Catholic King, a week or so ago. A person of admirable good taste wrote a letter about my jem d'esprit.
He wrote: "Whir; accepting that journalists treat words rather as mad generals treat soldiers, I cannot but take exception to his description of James II as a booby'." Anyone who can coin phrases and sentences like that cannot be all bad.
Less rounded but just as trenchant, he went on: "Nor does it behove Mr O'Donovan to cast slurs upon the memory of a man who attempted to do, and did, more for English Catholics than any journalist past or present."
Chesterton, for one, did a great deal more than a king whose political failure left the Catholics without even the measure of toleration that had been allowed to him. Chesterton gave a new confidence and joy to his generation. This is precisely what King James lost for his.
James II was a failure, but he was not really a booby: only one does get impatient that history once again did not work out in the right way. And it is easier to have someone to blame.
He was certainly a brave man and a good administrator, but pe was basically responsible in Ireland for the debacle of the Battle of the Boyne. But then the Stuarts shared the common view of Ireland held by the rest of the islands and, more than that, seemed incapable of sustained loyalty to those who were loyal to them.
Put not your trust in princes is or should I say was? sound advice and the romantic Stuarts gave the best evidence for the truth of that piece of advice to the ambitious.
James II was an inelegant sinner and a dangerously insensitive politician. But given the interest of the Protestant Establishment in keeping what they had got, given the real fear of a Catholic revival which existed in England and Scotland, and given the fact that he had a sun to succeed as a Catholic, he probably never had a chance of survival.
His brother Charles II made it by one of the most sustained exercises in charm and guile in our history. James was, cornpared with him, guileless, which does not make him good.
But he would almost certainly have survived if, like Charles, he had concealed his Catholicism, or like James I never allowed it to interfere with his plans, or like Henry VIII's bishops had packed it in.
He was only a curious interlude which served utterly to convince the Protestants of the rightness of their cause and of the necessity of doing something about it. But no, he was not really a booby. He was just one of our misfortunes. And it is a noble exercise to revere such a memory one
that is quite beyond my strength.
YOU have had your Communications Sunday. I hope
you noticed it. I hope it did you good. I hope you gave, as usual, most generously. hope your parish priest did not choke over having to be even restrainedly charitable about the mass media.
But it was really very odd when you come to think of it, all those winged words from on high about advertising. What
was said was quite true, about the pitfalls of this mode of com munication, about dishonesty, the perversion of our proper sexuality and the creation of unnecessary wants.
Fine! There is no reason why we should not be practical in church, indeed we only go there for a profoundly practical reason.
Yet can you see a single
advertising executive worth his expense account changing a Lay-out in a single magazine because of it?
Will any advertising firm working from the converted town house of an impoverished noble family give up an account, say, for the advertising of a miracle whitener because his grandmother, who, of course, did not have two houses and a little yacht on the Hamble, got a lot of healthy exercise at the wash-tub and the steam of the copper only spoilt her complexion when it was too late to matter much?
Or can you see a good Catholic family deciding to resist the blandishments of the advertisements for some polyunsaturated spread that might let them live longer because that is not nature's way?
I personally believe that the broadside was aimed at the Italians which is more comfortable than deciding that it was aimed at me and the likes of me. So why can't the Church just decide that the Italians, though charming, are hopeless and are the sort of people who would advertise tight tinderclothes beside the escalators of underground stations.
I examined my conscience that Sunday evening to find what unnecessary want had been induced in me that day by the wilts of advertisers food, drink and objets d'art not included.
Now I had seen an advertisement for a compost-making bin. 1 have a thing about compost. It represents the physical presence of virtue. It is intrinsically good. But, alas, the compost I make in a wire pen that I cobbled myself simply comes up weeds, which is not what virtue is meant to do.
So I wanted one of these bins, But I have decided not to get one, ecologically sound though they may be: not for any moral reason but because I can't afford one. Poverty more than reason is the handmaiden of right conduct. Which is utter nonsense. So perhaps there will be a bin in my life eventually.
There was just a hint on Sunday, I thought, that They thought there was something inherently dubious about advertising, But chrumsplre. See the rich and moral acres of advertising in the Catholic Herald. A more chaste, responsible and unwasteful lot you will not find. I have, however, a warning which applies to some of them.
If you are much influenced by them you might well end up a priest, by being a Servite or an Augustinian Recollect. And then you might one day find yourself vested on an altar warning against advertising.
The Provost Moves On
NEXT Sunday is Whitsun. In Winchester it will also be the occasion for a great Mass in St Peter's Church. The occasion for this is the retirement of a priest.
This is Canon Sidney Mullarkey, of whom you will certainly have heard if you live in the diocese of Portsmouth. From time to time priests do
achieve a very special fame, passed on by word of mouth and experience.
A man can earn a great reputation, be utterly trusted, be practically as obvious a landmark in his parish as his church tower. And his time will be remembered as "in Canon Soand-so's time." This Canon has had 38 years of Winchester's time. And he has won this fame without seeking it.
He is a tall, spare man: generous with the undeserving, careful in his speech. Despite the resonance of his name, he is a classical sort of English priest, traditional in outlook, firm but not unbending, quizzical, hospitable, friendly, basically and sensibly conservative.
His church in Winchester stands in the handsome Jewry Street.
St Peter's lies in a private garden, below the level oldie road. It must be one of the best known Catholic churches in the country outside London.
Few men really rejoice at retirement, especially if their life work has been satisfying and good. Canon Mullarkey his full title is Rt Rev Mgr Provost is not really going to retire and he has not yet told where he is going. He is a man of few possessions and will travel light.
The retirement' of priests presents special problems. They have no chance to lay up a fortune. As a professional body they do not make careful provisions for themselves.
But he is not going really to retire and there will be many more years of reflective preaching, good advice and quiet sacraments. I believe that he could have had "preferment" were such a conception alive in the English Catholic clerical body but refused it. He just went on and happened to become the father among the fathers of Portsmouth.
He is not a man for publicity, and, goodnessl how he will dislike this note. He has not welcomed all the changes and new attitudes in the Church, but he has adapted as far as an honest and upright man can.
Rightly, he was the first Catholic to preach in Winchester Cathedral since the Reformation, and has even said Mass there. I find it hard to believe that he will settle far from that marvellous city which, rather like him, seems to combine the old and the new with a singular and wellmannered felicity.