By Fr. PAUL CRANE, S.J.
WE arc at last beginning to discover that what is wanted today is not so much knowledge or organization as mere Christianity: Motivation is what has been missing, if you want to fall into current psychological jargon. What counts in life arc the values you have rather than the degree of knowledge you possess.
Someone who really knows what it means to share life with Christ cannot go through his day without having an impact on others. By contrast, he can be a member
of fifteen different Catholic organizations and, lacking this essential, he incapable of moving anyone in any way whatsoever.
I wrote in that Vein some weeks ago and it produced a most favourable reaction. I was not surprised. I have been convinced for a long time that people were hungry for the meaning of life itself as distinct, for example, from an understanding of the exact significance of the doctrine of the living wage. I have become more and more sure of it as the years have gone by.
Example from Antigonish
TAKE, for example, the case of my friend M. de Robillard, who has been doing great things recently in Mauritius. He started, I imagine, as we all do, The great thing was to know one's stuff and then get it across and then the social revolution would be worked.
That, in a sense, is what the first men from St. Francis Xavier's University thought more than thirty years ago when they went to help those in Canada's Maritime Provinces who had been flung into destitution by the great depression. So they started as M. de Robillard started, I imagine, and as many others have done. They drove in on the theoretical angle of Catholic social teaching through the formation of discussion groups and other such means.
The groups were a failure. The Antigonish men asked themselves why they were a failure and found a very simple answer. They led to nothing practical.
So the Antigonish people started another kind of group, which began to tackle neighbourhood and family problems. Out of these groups the Credit Union Movement was born. It is, really. one of the most significant things that has come out of the Church during the last fifty years.
It may well prove a main strut in the salvation of South America. It has worked wonders in the West Indies the South Pacific, and elsewhere It is about time it came here. Credit unionists and co-operators are always careful to pay tribute to the Rochdale pioneers; but that, I am afraid, is simply ritual. We have nothing in this country comparable with their effort, which has a whole Christian philosophy behind it
Hurricane on Mauritius
BUT to get back to M. de Robillard I have reason to believe that he started in, as we all do, with the theoretical approach. I imagine he then found, as we all do, that only a very few were interested. He had the great sense to learn the appropriate lesson. He started his Credit Union on the island. along with other good works. It was all practical stuff: Christianity in action, the Church extending itself into the lives of the people. Then came the hurricane which tore poor Mauritius to pieces earlier on this year. De Robillard and his men were ready. They called for volunteers and went like true Christians to help the victims —the hungry, the helpless. and the hoNmoe Now, sd—ewi it tohbitihi aeri dr hands.gdsior stroemmtyinsgillInip Fer.e.LeTthEehei dsetare stretch extremely days, he says, from Christmas until the New Year serve as a week of fraternal charity. Funny? j Impractical? You judge yourselves by your answer.
What de Robillard is calling for is mere Christianity—of the type that flourished at Bethlehem on the night Our Lord was born, He says"Look—let's be Christians for just eight days of the year." If Christians everywhere did that, the effect would be tremendous. He is, of course, perfectly correct. It try it''
would. How many, I wonder, will
A sign of decay
Ir is, I suppose, one sign of a society in decay that the simple things of life should seem to it far-fetched and complicated. Charity is not understood by the selfish and hard of heart. "Love my neighbour, old man? Damn it, give me a chance!" One can almost hear them talking that way.
And yet, there was that distinguishing mark of our ancestors in the Church: "See how those Christians love one another!" But, is that considered an oldfashioned sentiment? If it is. this civilization of ours has had it.
So little, really, so simply applied could do so much. We don't recognize it. There is great talk of the part of the personnel manager in modern industry, of clean canteens and group motivation.
When some of us Were children at this game, and tended to think, there was something in this kind of talk..Please nod, we came to see later that what was missing from our contemporary society was charity—the love of Christ installed in us by grace and capable of changing this world. How many of you really SeIieve that? So many of us remain, without knowing it, Pelagians at heart.