The war drags its slow length along, and no man can yet see the end of the struggle. Ever fresh appeals are made to us to contribute to the national effort by work and watchfulness, by thrift and loans, by cheerfulness and endurance, In the spiritual order we have called upon you to pray and do penance, knowing that in the hands of the Lord are the blessing e of peace and victory over the powers of evil.
But the 'world is too apt to forget that the root cause of this, as of every other,
war, is sin. Millions, even in this professedly Christian country, never think of God, never pray to Him, never offer Him an act of conscious worship.
Individuals of good will, no matter how humble their station, can contribute to the restoration of order. They can be just and kindly in their own small circle. They can set their faces against class warfare. They can refuse to be stampeded into unChristian hatred of the national enemy, even in presence of his most violent and ruthless attacks.
The sins of the flesh, the contempt of the sacred state of marriage, the impurity which separates the use of marriage from its natural effect of the procreation of offspring, disorganise society at its roots; for these. sins introduce disorder into the family, which is the fundamental and most permanent element of human society.
We do not presume to know the mind of the Lord, but should we have any reason to be surprised if, as some have alleged, He had permitted this war in punishment of such cynical contempt of His law, or as least as a merciful chastisement designed to re-awaken in us a sense of that eternal rule of the order which is a condition of peace?
Thomas—Bishop of Lancaster.
One of the greatest dangers that faces civilisation to-day and a rock on which civilisation may easily founder, is the disruption and destruction of what we know as the family. The family and its accompanying home, with its rights and respon sibilities, is the foundation stone of Society.
The securing of this good family life is the responsibility both of the parents and of the State. The responsibility of the parents comes first. Jr is the responsibility of both parents to make the home life. Alas, it is so often left to one of them, generally the mother, to do everythtng.
Parents too have the duty of correcting their children; and I think that this is a duty which needs a certain amount of emphasis in these days, when there is a certain amount of the spirit of easy-going about, arid for the sake of peace parents are tempted to shirk this duty.
It is the duty of the State to acknowledge and respect the rights and duties of the parents in regard to their children, and not as in the Totalitarian systems, openly to usurp those rights to itself. nor, as in some other rdgimes, less openly to undermine those rights. Parents have the right to demand that in any systetn of public education, to which they contribute their fair share in rates and taxes for the expenses thereof, their children shall be educated in such a way that the most precious thing in life—their faith—shall he safeguarded, and that without any discrimination or further financial loss.
Henry John—Bishop of Leeds.
CATHOLIC ACTION We would crave you, attention and interest whilst we put before you some thoughts on Catholic Action in the diocese. The organisation has now been functioning for some four years. It has made contact with our various religious and charitable societies; it has coordinated and directed the many activities that make for the spiritual betterment of the people. It has introduced new movements that have already proved their usefulness. Unfortunately the war has impeded its progress and made some of its labours almost impossible. It is more difficult to hold meetings, to organise lectures, and to develop certain works that ,promised excellent results. Moreover, the call to military duties has deprived our committees of some of their most active and zealous members. The organisation has been so adversely affected by war conditions that there is danger of paralysis from complete inaction. We must at any cost avert this danger. Catholic Action is a great spiritual machine which must not be allowed to rust from want of use. The most essential and important part of the machine is the parochial committee. This must not only be kept in being but be kept strong and active.
Thomas—Bishop of Middlesbrough.
A FIRST PASTORAL
A Bishop's first pastoral letter to his people is of tender interest to himself and them. This letter is written to you in less than a week since the gorgeous and touching ceremonial of our consecration in the Cathedral Church of Our Lady and St. Thomas at Northampton. The music of the words of that sacred rite rings still in our ears, and the holy anointing upon our head hits scarcely dried. By divine right, by Christ's own ordinance, as His Vicar and visible Head of the Church upon earth, and acting as successor of St. Peter and therefore enjoying the primacy given to the Prince of the Apostles, His Holiness the Pope has once again placed by the Holy Ghost a bishop " to rule the Church of God." In obedience and loyalty you have rightly rejoiced, and with us returned thanks to God—to whom alone be all honour and glory for ever .
The. Delegate of the Holy See to this country has prayed ; and the clergy of the diocese and yourselves assembled on the fitting feast of the Apparition of Our Lady Immaculate at Lourdes, to pray with him: that God would deign to bless and to sanctify and to consecrate the bishop-elect before him.
It is our intention to move amongst you as soon as the difficulties of transport and daylight permit. Our clergy will invite us, we feel sure, and arrange this matter. We realise that very many people to-day are away from their homes; that many are engaged for long hours on national work, and therefore our meeting with them may he deferred.
There are also many welcome strangers in our counties ; scattered perhaps, some possibly with their whereabouts yets unknown. Let every Catholic make himself known. No matter what the difficulties of these abnormal times, let all come who can to meet their Bishop.
Leo—Bishop of Northampton.
PEACE OF HEART
Holy Church has chosen for special cornmemoration not the day on which her saints are born into the world, but the day upon which they pass out of it as their " dies natalis "—their true birthday. In scriptural la n guage our Divine Lord has taken the sting out of death, and familiarity with death is of the Christian spirit and is one of the grand mercies of the Christian life.
St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of this when he says: " We will not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again; even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with Him." And it was this belief which inspired Francis Thompson to write these words: " The faiiest things in life are Death and Birth, And of these two the fairer is Death— It is the falling star that trails the light.
It is the breaking wave that jhath the might, • The passing showers that rainbows maniple."
Jesus of Nazareth, then, true God and true man, lived and laboured and suffered and died that we, His human creatures, might enjoy, even in this life, that peace of heart, mind and conscience for which we crave, and which God alone can bestow— a peace which the world cannot give.
John—Bishop of Nottingham.
SPIRITUAL ASPECT We have seen how much the Church has lost in Europe since the great apostasy of the sixteenth century. And we have seen how the despised races of distant lands have ardently welcomed the faith rejected by those who considered themselves superior beings. That is one reason why the recen Popes have been such ardent supporters of the missions. And when the Church seemed to be regaining some of the lost ground in Europe the devil has again used many instruments to try to bring about her ruin.
Latterly we have seen how in certain States under a tyrannical form of government the Church is attacked as though she were a menace to the State because she refuses to concede to it the right to rule the souls of men.
We hove witnessed the rise of a ruthless power, which. because it has rejected God, has persistently shown its animosity to the Church of Christ, has persecuted her ministers, hampered her work, taken out of her hands the education of the young. and which would. if it could only achieve its political aims, endeavour to destroy utterly the Church upon earth. Though she could not be destroyed, the Bride of Christ would be disfigured, His Mystical Body grievously wounded.
Let us spare a thought for this aspect of the deadly struggle in which our country is engaged, apart from all political or social considerations. This is apparently an aspect which not all Catholics are anxious to con sider. But loyal Catholics, having considered the serious consequences for the Church, were the enemy to triumph, will be strengthened in their civil loyalty by spiritual and supernatural reasons because it just so happens that the defeat of the
national enemy will help the cause of the Church, the cause of God.
John—Bishop of Plymouth.
Since the beginning of Advent much sorrow and tribulation have come upon the diocese. especially in North Cheshire and along the whole south bank of the Mersey.
From New Brighton at the mouth of the river up to its source at Stockport death and mutilation eind the destruction of homes have come to many families of our people, and to them 1 offer the sympathy of the rest of the diocese, and my own prayers that God may soon ease their terrible burden.
The suffering has been something that we hardly dreamt of a year ago. and it has been borne with a patience which has aroused the admiration of our friends abroad, and has filled even our enemies with wonder. From every part of the country there comes the same story of cheerfulness in affliction and the grim determination to hold on come what may.
Yet the suffering is still there no matter how bravely it may be borne. The continued loss of sleep. the daily anxiety of what horror is to come, the loss of homes and relations and neighbours must tell their tale. The heartbreaking news of violent death and untold suffering are hard to bear, and though carried bravely they are still carried with an aching heart which still aches in spite of the outward show of freedom from care.
Ambrose—Bishop of Shrewsbury.