, Quality of Spiritual Training
SIR.—Mr. Daniel M. Guilfoyle, in your issue of October 16, has exposed what to me seems to be a strong comment on the neglect of practical apologetic teaching by both clergy and teachers in Ireland. On my last. visit to Dublin I had occasion to complain to a priest, in one of the big churches, that Irishmen coming to England had little knowledge of their Faith, and were incapable of withstanding attacks ort it in their daily surroundings. Many seemed to look upon it as a Sort of political party and manifested indignation when it was assailed on the Protestant Alliance and similar pletforme in Hyde Park and elsewhere. I explained my reasons from personal experience of the C.E.G. meetings, where their ignorRace was exposed. But T got no satisfactory reply. An old Irish priest friend visiting London was also told about this. When I gave indoor expository lectures at two churches outside London 1 also found indifference to acquire kaowIedge by Irish immigrants who came here to find work. We thus lose thousands of adults in this country and this no doubt is an important reason for our " leakage." Mixed marriages, of course, arc also reeponeible, and I learn of many cases from clergy.
Mr. Guilfoyle is right " Too much is taken for granted " by those responsible at home in Ireland. Piety can be superficial and only habitual when around one's . family and friends. something more solid is needed to ingrain the reality of religion into the soul, especially after leaving school. Parents are also too ignorant and neglectful of their duty.
P. W. O'CoReame, M.D.
Irish Citizens' Union Speaks SIR, — On behalf of the " Irish Citizens' Union," I feel I cannot let the challenge thrown down by Mr. Guilfoyle pass without cansment, especially his assertion that the root or the trouble lies in Ireland, and not in the environment of English life and custom. It may be true that we Irishmen take Much for granted, but I deny the assertion that Irishmen take their faith for granted, and that at home they merely " follow the crowd," losing their desire for regularly attending Mass when once, for reasons over which they have little control, they/ are separated from their home life. I dislike the expression " mob-psychology " anyway, when it is to be applied to sacred things.
It may be true that at home religious instruction is a little lax — but who is to blame for that? Surely the teachers rather than the taught, as Mr. Guilfoyle himself rather seems to agree in the closing paragraphs of his article. I think the fault lies in that the Church is content to judge more by mere " observance " rather than by a man's inborn faith and reverence for the things of God. Irish Faith is proverbial all over the Catholic world, and is matched only by the devotion of the Spaniards. The nearer truthsis that the Church has been content to stand back too long on questions of every importance to Irishmen, instead of supporting the Irish cause to the full.
Furthermore, we do not always feel very welcome in English homes, and I am very sure something of the same spirit towards us, although we arc. fellow-Catholics, in the Churches here.
As far as We are concerned, I repeat that we have all faith—in God, in "'reland, and in ourselves. We have, generally speaking, little to complain of its the civil administration of the Home Country, and we can now toist each other. as never before ih history (" even Orangemen are Irishmen today ")—and we are now looking for a lead from the Church which will serve tel unite every phase of Irish life and thought into a united whole. So far such a lead has not been forthcoming. and I myseif do not wonder at the laxity among Irish workers in this country alleged by Mr. Guilfoyle, in wherever degree it exists !
J. J. Gucgrast,
Chairman, Trish Citizens' Union, 23, Mary Road, liandsworth, Birmingham. 2,
From Northern Ireland SIR,—For the past few years 1 have had considerable opportunities of observing the triumph or failure of Catholic workers, gathered in hundreds from all parts of Ireland (North, and especially from the West and South), in this rather non-Catholic part of the United Kingdom.
I am most happy to be able to testify to the fact that these Irish Catholic workmen were a credit to themselves, their parishes and their religion.
Indeed, their exemplary lives have been a source of edification to me. I may add that in neighbouring districts, as testified to by the parochial clergy, workers from various Irish counties have been no less faithful and inspiring than those of whom 1 have personal knowledge.
AN IRISH PRtEsT.
From Kent, Sue, — The experience of Mr. Goldfoyle must surely be unique. My own experience and that of numerous wellinformed acquaintances over several years is quite the reverse. To mention only two instances: some time ago this widely-scattered parish received an influx of Irishmen engaged on road work. These men, living in apathetic or even pagan surroundings, walked considerable distances to hear Mass regularly and also to ahead devotions. At a mental hospital some three miles from the parish church, there have been for many years about 100 Irish nurses who, in their love of Holy Mass, are a striking example to the apparently better instructed local Catholics.
42, Bower Mount Road, Maidstone, Kent.
From Dagenham STR,-1 am not writing to corroborate or refute Mr. Guilfoyle's arguments. I write, simply, lest Mr. Guilfoyle's statements be accepted as a blanket aspersion on all Irishmen forced to earn a living over here. We have a large parish, composed to a large extent of Irish-born subjects, who, I regret to say, are not all 100 per cent. churchgoers. The absentees, however, are rather the exception than the rule. We have an early Mass on Sundays and holidays of obligation to accommodate the workers, and in they troop, hundreds of these Irishmen, dressed in their working
Clothes, Clutching their Little baskets of meagre war-time provisions.
Even during the week they do not forget the God of their fathers. As I write these lines I can bear the heavy tread of working shoes passing under my window. It is some of those. poor fellows on their way, in the black-out, to the church—their daily visit after a day of toil. And for some time I was wondering whether Central Africa or the &llamas were anding representatives to daily Mass. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that a bar of oldfashioned kitchen soap could transform these temporary " deities" into their original Corkonian hue. They work all night in Ford's, and Henry Ford never intended his workshops; to be beauty parlours.
It is of this class of Irishmen I write. Mr. Guilfoyle has apparently taken lavish and superabundant care of the other.
C. J. HAYES (REV.).
St. Peter's Pre,shytery, Dagenham, Essex,
From Leicester SIR,—Mr. Guilfoyle may be interested to know that there is a big percentage of Irish at present in Leicester. No man, or priest for that matter, can point the finger at them and say they are lax Catholics. Now it is hardly likely that all the good ones were sent to Leicester. They do not follow the mob, because if they did it would surely not lead them to Mass—yet they are far from home and nobody to worry about them. Your correspondent, when speaking of a c,erfain labour camp, states there are a number of men in their 'teens—this is indeed very strange, as the regulations forbid men under 22 years to leave their country.
I can assure your cdrrespondent, or anyone who may think as he does, that Ireland is as strong in her Faith to-day as she was in her darkest days, and please God she will remain so, and when Europe is free again I have no doubt she will turn her eyes to Ireland for missionaries.
Tnos. F. Heteertme.
c/o 37, Keythorpe Street, Leicester.
Holyday Obligation SIR,—The article hinges on the question . . . what justifies a Catholic from absence from Mass on a Sunday or Holyclay of Obligation. A sufficiently grave reason obviously excuses, and thus we have the further question, Is essential war-work in the gravest national emergency a sufficiently grave reason? Most people will think that it is.
Many of the keenest Catholics at the present time cannot get to Maas even every Sunday and few would accuse them of laxity.
No one can impeach Irish worklnen, as a body, of being bad or indifferent workmen, and they have a sense of solidarity with the minds of their workmates and their employers, even when their political outlook is not in harmony. In other words, they have a sense of justice and charity, which is, briefly, a sense of proportion—a truly Catholic characteristic.
P. V. Ilacgerr (Rev.).
13, South Parade, Bath.
[Owing to the number of letters received, we have been obliged to shorten most of those printed.--EuiTog, C.11.1
PAPAL TEXTS SIR.—I wonder could one of our Catholic papers or some Catholic Society undertake to print the full text of the many addresses of' the Holy Father which have such a wide appeal? The difficulty of space in our newspapers is fully realised, but 1 consider the speeches often worth the sacrifice. The C.T.S. has publisheCencyclicals in excellent pamphlet form and has also published important pronouncements, whilst the press has done its best to give the public the main points in Papal utterances. The Clergy Review has from time to time given the text or part of the text of an important speech, and such has been the response of the people tothese pulpit readings that we should be encouraged to still greater efforts to bring the Pope still nearer his people. To ask for every public address might not he reasonable, but I feel more frequent selections could be made, and the full text of these appear in sheet form, except where their length demanded a pamphlet. Our present Holy Father is always the Priest, the Shepherd of souls, always teaching and guiding his people. There is so much in ‘what he says that concerns us. His address on his Jubilee, which I happened to find in full, in a copy of the Register, an American paper, was inspiring throughout, and contained golden words on the primitive church. This and like addresses are lost to us far too often, in spite of the efforts already mentioned and fully appreciated. Perhaps some Catholic body Fould undertake to print these further utterances with the approval of the Delegation at London, so that we could be always quite confident as to the text. Should such a venture be undertaken I feel sure the clergy would give their support and bring the matter to the full notice of their people. A number of addresses in hook form never have the same appeal as the copy to hand soon after the Pope has spoken.
P. 3. PEDRICR (Rev.). The Presbytery, South Street, Exeter.
[We think, however. that it would be a very good work if each year one of our publishing houses undertook to edit and gather together in a convenient volume the more Important utterances of the Holy Father in the previous year. —Etnros C.H.1 ST. THERESA AND MONEY SIR—The Saints, from their interior pinnacle, behold the errors of all generations. I have just found this searching criticism in St. Theresa's Autobiography, chapter 20: " What do we buy with this money we are so keen about? Is it something really precious? Is it something lasting? And why do we want it? It is a wretched sort of pleasure that is paid for so dear. Often, what we buy with it is hell, everlasting fire and endless torments. Oh, if everyone looked upon riches as a barren soil. how quickly we should all agree! Flow soon would disputes be ended! With what friendliness would all men treat one another, if only this concern for money and honour were to be abandoned! I believe myself that everything would then come right."
FR. CYPRIAN, O.P.
The Presbytery, Stroud, Glos.