1958 to 1959
Happy New Year
THOUGH this issue appears in 1959, I am writing in 1958,
and therefore I feel entitled this week to wish all my readers a very happy New Year. This inchides a spiritually happy New Year, not just because it ought to. but because we all agree in our hearts—do we not?—that other happinesses depend on that basic one. I must thank readers very much indeed for receiving what seems like a good proportion of the hundreds of millions of Christmas cards that we are told have been sent out this Christmas. In particular, I appreciated personal letters from readers, especially those which mentioned that the writer had during the past year made new readers of this paper. One tends to harp, alas, on this. but quite apart from other considerations the quality and size of a paper are directly related to increase in circulation. It is not so very difficult to say "By the way, do you read the •C.H.'?" and, if the answer is "No" or "I've seen it from time to time," to say: "Why not try it for a month? I think you'll stick to it if you do and be glad of having done so." But Christmas and New Year are really over now, and I must stop making them an excuse for sales talk!
Two Recent Deaths
I MOURN the recent death of two remarkable men whom I am glad to think of as having been my friends. The first was Mgr. Humphrey Johnson whom I have known since the twenties, but it is sonic years since I last saw him in Cambridge. He was always a delightful host and conversationalist, especially on ecclesiastical diplomatic matters. He had a particularly clear and incisive mind, reflected in his dry. detached manner, which served him well in his anthropological writings which were most impressive. But 1 could never really imagine him as chaplain to the Cambridge women undergraduates.
THE second I call a friend as
many hundreds of others are entitled to call him. I mean Sir John Squire who would do anything to help aspiring young writers. I last met him at a London luncheon after not having seen him for over 15 years. When I spotted him I was just preparing to remind him of my existence when he caught sight of me, addressing me at once by my Christian name. That is the kind of man he was. One of the things he told me years ago was. "If yon
want to write biographies, always choose well-known and famous characters, however often they have been written up before. There are always plenty of people who haven't read about them. You have to be a genius to get away with unknown subjects, however interesting." And I remember how, at a gathering which included some Catholics, someone halfapologised for being a Catholic. Jack Squire turned on him and said: "If only I could he a Catholic, how proud I should be of it."
1 HAVE received from America Section 3 of the November 14 issue of the Chicago Catholic paper, the "New World " of Chicago. It contains 65 pages, everyone of which is devoted to pictures, editorial and advertisement about the new Archbishop. Even the Holy Father, whose coloured picture, I admit, appears at the beginning, might be tempted to jealousy. About half the issue is advertisement of Chicago firms and Chicago religious houses offering various kinds of " welcome", including in one instance a "royal welcome ". Other countries, other ways! But it is always astonishing to me that the country which is, I suppose, really the most democratic of all has such taste for heroworship when the chance offers.
0NE of the most fascinating of
questions is how do we know that there is really an external world and what that external
world really is. For what we call a colour outside us or a taste or heat are sense-impressions within us. Colour disappears at night and we never know whether we see the same colours as other people see, and cold and taste vary according to the condition of our sensing apparatus. I will not pursue the subject but use it to introduce the subject of a fascinating article by Bertrand Russell in the January "Encounter" called "My Present View of the World". Russell, basing himself on the know-how, yet ignorance of what underlies the know-how, of modern physics, comes to the conclusion that the starry heaven we see is not the starry heaven at all, but a vinal sensation inside our heads. We We are little enclosed worlds of our own which mirror the inferred outside world. What struck me when I read this was that it would fit in rather well with the doctrine of Transubstantiation according to which all we see or taste are the accidents of bread and wine, yet we truly receive God. Of course, this is a mystery, yet it is helpful to see the mystery as harmonising with a philosophic system.
Youth to second youth
0UR request to young people and children to write to us about themselves in connection with the "Young People's " column and the Children's Corner has brought one strange letter, signed "C. Feery 11 plus". "I see that the Editor wishes te hear from young people. But how does he assess youth? Look at young Bernard Shaw who, when he was taken to hospital at the age of 80 or thereabouts. refused to be washed, showing that he had not advanced a step since the age of seven when he refused to have his neck washed (though that is not recorded). And look at Sir Winston Churchill who chain-smokes cigars at the age of 80 like any teenage American schoolboy. Is there an age limit to the spirit of youth? What do you think?" My own son, comfortably ensconced in a car, asks a similar question (with allusions to second childhood) when he sees me setting out in the rain on my scooter. How much the poor fellow misses!
In the School Entrance
I SAID above "no more sales
talk ", but the following paragraph is overact so, rather than annoy our printers, I am using it:
One convent school that I have heard of has copies of THE CATHOLIC HERALD in the entrance hall with a notice: "Please—buy a copy. Do not read one unless you have bought it. You yourself hate to get a soiled copy. So do others!" I hope other schools, for boys as well as girls, will imitate this excellent example.
Retreats and the Lavender Market
Thi a recent issue we referred to the Prior of Caldey's " salesman trip" to America and its good results in popularising Caldey lavender. I have since received a letter, not from Caldey, suggesting that this might be misunderstood. Fr. Eugene Boylan was invited by Cistercian houses in America to give a number of retreats. The finding of a market for lavender, though important, for contemplatives must live, was quite a .secondary matter compared with hte epirituel miasion