THIS NEW FEATURE (In this new fortnightly feature the Editor and other members of THE CATHOLIC HERALD staff will discuss difficulties submitted by readers. It should be understood that there can be no undertaking to deal with all difficulties sent in. The purpose of the feature is rather to discuss difficulties and problems selected because of their general interest to readers. The writers also wish to make it clear that they write as Catholic friends of some experience, in no sense as theologians or moralists. What is written is intended to stimulate discussion and reflection; it does not presume to solve the problem finally. Next week, Douglas Hyde will discuss some difficulties in the social question).
RELIGION AND FEES E.S., of London. W.9, writes as a Catholic working-man to complain of the difficulty of sending his daughter to a Catholic school. The only available ones charge fees totally beyond the means of a man with a weekly salary of £5 3s. Consequently the child will have to go to a non-Catholic school, even though convents often take in feepaying non-Catholics.
LIKE, most real difficulties, this one has no easy or obvious answer. Though most convents will do all they possibly can to provide a Catholic education at the lowest possible cost to Catholics who cannot afford full fees. we cannot get away from the fact that the nuns and teachers in these establishments have to live, and to live in large measure on the fees paid. There is a limit of generosity beyond which they cannot go if the convent itself is to continue in being and give proper instruction. If it means taking in non-Catholic children, as well as Catholics, one cannot after all disregard the likely good effects of such children receiving a Catholic education, especially in these days.
But what about the unfortunate Catholics who cannot be received? Well, we have to remember that a good Catholic home can largely compensate for a secular education. I think it is arguable that with a good Catholic home a child may become all the better Catholic in the end if from the beginning he or she is up against a secular and nonCatholic environment. If I had to choose betwen them, I would prefer a good Catholic home to a good Catholic school.
But there is one other aspect. Snobbery is not unknown in our schools and convents. While one should respect the wishes of a headmaster or headmistress who feels the necessity of keeping up the tone of a school by ensuring that most of the pupils are of certain type, it is very easy to 4o too far along this line. Catholicity after all gives the best tone. Social divisions are beooming antiquated. Even our " best" schools may gain, rather than lose, by being ready to take all who can profit, religiously and scholastically, from the education given. It is a poor school which feels that it can only maintain its standards by catering for the " best " society according to the judgment of a world that is now dead. Unfortunately in our still much too snobbish world it sounds very well to have Lady X Y or the Hon. A B among our-" old girls."
INDULGENCES IN 1950
Various readers are worried because they cannot travel to Rome next year. and yet will be spiritually penalised because indulgences may only be obtained in Rome in Holy Year,
IT seems to me that in all such matters one has to be very careful not to allow religion to degenerate into superstition.
We know that indulgences are remissions before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has been forgiven. As such, we all need to try to earn them. Apart from this the prayers or good works needed to gain indulgences are very good for us, indulgence or no indulgence. But we were never meant to think of the Christian life as a kind of religious game in which one amasses as many blessings, indulgences, ejaculations, what not, as one possibly can. We shall not break spiritual records that way, though we may indulge, our own little spiritual vanity.
Surely we can take a broad and sane view. U we can get to Rome and earn the Holy Year indulgences that is a great blessing for which we should be thankful. If we cannot, we can still gain indulgences for the souls in Purgatory (which may do us a good deal more good in the end.) Meanwhile, whatever we can or cannot do, we can still lead good, prayerful lives, and leave the rest to God's love and mercy. Worrying about such things is no use, anyway,