Yen. Father Dominic
"It is comparatively easy to estimate many of the external causes which have led to the extraordinary progress of the Church in our midst, and to the.gradual undoing of some part of The ,havoc wrought by the apostasy of so many of our countrymen in the stheenth and seventeenth centuries. But the bidden causes, enormously more powerful, are very difficult to estimate. They are part of God's secret dealings with His creatures. Only occasionally does He allow us to have some glimpse of the ardent longing, earnest prayer and constant supplication, with which he has filled saintly souls for the return of England to the unity of the Catholic Church." So wrote the late Cardinal Bourne in his Foreword to the Life of the Venerable Dominic Barben, C.P., that great apostle of England.
Prayer-it is the foundation of our work as Ransomers. Years ago, at the very beginning of the Guild's life, this truth was emphasised by the Ransomers of Liverpool in an address of welcome to our venerated Founder, Fr. Philip Fletcher, in which they quoted the well-known words of Tennyson:
" More things are wrought by prayor Than this world dreams of . .
For what, are men better than sheep or goats That nuurish a blind life within the brain. If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Bath for themselves and those who call them f
For so the whole round earth is every way Bound by gold cheins about the feet of God."
Faithful regularity in the use of the daily Ransom prayer is the mainstay of the work of the Guild.
Twice a year, moreover, our prayer is intensified and concentrated in two special efforts: at the Great Novena in honour of St. Gregory, and again in the Novena of prayer in preparation for the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom. This month, then brings us the call to pray with new zeal and devotion for the return of our country to the Faith; and we depend upon the co-operation of all our readers to make this Novena in our Golden Jubilee year memorable both for its fervency and for the blessings we shall receive in consequence from Almighty God through the intercession of Our Lady of Ransom.
Work Too Little Known We mentioned above Cardinal Bourne's Foreword to the Life of the Venerable Dominic Barberi, C.P. (by Fr. Urban, C.P., published by Burns, Oates and Washbourne in 192(i). How strange it is that the name of the Ven. Fr. Dominic and the story of his holy, wonderful life, his passionate love for England, and the work that he did here, is so little known amongst Catholics. It is twenty-six years since his Cause was introduced at Rome towards the close of the pontificate of Pius X, but the Catholics of England must show far more zeal and enthusiasm than, for the most part, they do at present, if that Cause is to make any great progress. Our lack of interest is generally due to ignorance: ignorance that could easily be dispelled if we would only procure Fr. Urban Young's book, and read
for ourselves the story of Fr s Dominic's life.
In Seven Years Of Fr. Dominic's work in England, Fr. Urban writes :-" Seven short years! And in that space, brief and pregnant with hope for the future, he actually realised the dream of St. Paul of the Cross. He founded a Province of his Institute, and he did it broken in health, no longer young in years, without rescources, without money, and with friends who, though good, were few in number. That Province, the work of Dominic, has . . . prospered exceedingly and carried devotion to Christ's Cross and Passion, not merely throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland, but beyond the seas to Far Australia. Dominic lives and works on in the toil of his sons. And wherever a son of Venerable Dominic is found, there, too, is found the leading characteristic of his spirit, devotion to the great cause of England's conversion."
Every Ransomer, at least, should be well acquainted with this story, and should pray for the time when the Veil. Dominic may be set amongst the Saints of the Church.
Not least, perhaps, is our gratitude due to Fr. Dominic because it was to him that John Henry Newman knelt to make his profession of Faith, and it was from his hands that the future Cardinal received his first Holy Communion. It was Fr. Domittic's visit to Littlemore that added the Postscript to Newman's Development of Christian Doctrine-"Since the above was written the author has joined the Catholic Church." In the meeting of these two souls Oxford was to have its parallel with Milan: Ambrose and Augustine A.D. 387-Dominic and Newman A.D. 1845.
Not a Failure
In the eyes of the world, indeed, Fr. Dominic's seven years' agony in England might have seemed to be a failure. But
'' Not on the vulgar mass
Catled ' work ' niust sentence pass. Things done that took the eye, and had the price;
But all the world's coarse thumb And finger failed to plumb,
Si passed in making up the main account." BROWNING : Rabbi Ben Ezra.
So Dom Bede Catum, sums up Dominic's lifework.
" That little band of converts received at Littlemore on .October 9, 1845, was not that a harvest for which a man might well have spent a lifetime of prayer and penance? Was it a mere chance that it fell to his hand to gather in those souls and herald thus the birthday of the Second Spring? He wrote himself of this crowning act of his ministry: ' This I consider an ample reward for all I have suffered since I left Italy; and 1 expect that the results of such conversions will be incalculable.' May it not indeed he said-that the conversion of John Henry Newman was the greatest event of its kind that has happened since the Reformation, and it is not likely that the future holds in store for us a greater? And, if a conversion is chiefly and necessarily the work of God's grace in answer to the intercessions of Catholics, shall we be wrong if we attribute to Father Dominic a far greater share in this unique conversion than appears, or can appear, on the surface?'