By CANON F. H. DRINKWATER
I WONDER how many -Ireaders shared my good fortune in listening to Fr. R. H. Lesser (Christian Outlook. 13.B.C. Network 3, Sept. 5) talking about the Mils, an aboriginal tribe of two million people in some corner of India.
Some of them are Catholics, and Fr. Lesser was giving recordings of their catechismsongs. in words composed by the BhiI catechists themselves. Brief litany-like stanzas such as:
"0 You who came down from heaven: we salute You 0 Saviour!
"0 great Giver of life; we salute You 0 Saviour!"
This one went to a little melody of three notes which may well be 5.000 years old. The accompaniment seemed to be a sort of Pipeand-tabor-and-cymbals affair. It was enthralling to recognise, in a little pipe-melody which introduced Fr. Lesser's remarks, the exact four-note tune, A-C-D-F, which (the learned tell us) is the old, old archetypal root-tune out of which all our music comes: the one you get in Old Man River, or the Kyrie of Our Lady's Mass.
These Bhils are still content with the original four notes as creation's dawn once heard them. Happy HMIs! They evidently have no need for catechism-revisions and I dare say they feel no urge to dispute about the sources of revelation. •
Fr. Lesser's impressive ten minutes was another reminder of the need for a catechism-in-verse for our primarsaschool children, on which our own Sister Marie du S. Coeur has broken the ice so tunefully.
Various people seem to be working at it also in U.S.A., not without some measure of success. If anybody would like to study the latest effort in that line, they should send for a copy of "Story of the Redemption for Children", by Fr. F. Abair and Sister Joanne SND, of U.S.A. It is obtainable for 3s. 9d. from Cary & Co., 16 Mortimer St.. London, W.I. There is one on the Rosary Mysteries also. You may not think them ideal. but they are certainly a move in the right direction.
Should catechelics concern itself with sixth forms and under graduates and what they call adult religious education Surely, why not? If so, here is an up-todate moral problem for discussion:
Let us suppose that you and have held up a Post-office mailtrain and got away with £2,000,000 of bank-notes being returned to the banks for cancellation and renewal. Nothing else, nothing else at all; you and I would not dream of taking any real valuables. The question is, have we committed a mortal sin, or even a sin at all? A sin of theft, I mean. As for knocking the enginedriver on the head, it happens every day nowadays and nobody seems to worry. Now, if it was a sin of theft. somebody must have foss something. But who has lost anything here? Nobody suggests that the banks, or their shareholders, are actually out of pocket. The insurance companies, then? No, apparently not. A Midland Bank spokesman, in the recent case. unguardedly admitted that their notes were not insured, but were "covered in another way" or words to that effect. Presumably the Bank of England would make good the Midland Bank's missing notes by printing some replacements, which it was going to
do in any case. So who loses anything?
Ah, says our brightest sixthformer, it is the general public who will lose: when the stolen notes all get into circulation, there will be some slight-currency-inflation to that extent: the cost of living will rise slightly, and though this will mean only an infinitesimal loss to any one individual, it is still a grave matter for the community as a whole, especially if there should be a bank robbery every week, This reasoning sounds plausible, but it won't work because of course the Bank of England can easily counteract the slight inflation of currency by withdrawing a corresponding amount of notes from circulation.
Similar speculation can presumably be indulged in as regards the art of forging bank-notes or coining false-money, providing the metal used is equal in value to that of true coins.
Evidently it is against the common good in some way, but can it be called theft? If the discussions were carried on long enough, it might even throw some light upon why we have to pay double cost for building our Catholic schools, owing to the six per-cent loan charges over 30 years, or whatever the figures are.