SIR,—As a Catholic married to a Catholic, and the mother of four young children, I must endorse every word written by "One of the Damned" last week.
We have just had in our parish a mission almost identical with the one he—or is it she? describes. I am not the only parishioner who was astonished at the quite extraordinary picture that was presented of Catholicism.
Of the four sermons I was able to attend, only the one on "the Holy Spirit" urged us to take part in Pope John's aggiornarnento and could have had the slightest practical appeal or meaning for the modern layman.
'These mission priests are undoubtedly very sincere and immensely hard-working men. but if only they showed some signs of awareness of the realities of daily married life, of the need for positive guidance and encouragement rather than negative condemnation, then their efforts might make more real impact.
It is true that when preaching on "Marriage" the missioner said that three-quarters of an hour was too short a time and he did recommend a book (by a mother of eight children) and, even more to his credit, he also recommended the C. M .A.C.
On the other hand. the rest of his advice was depressing and, in my humble opinion, likely to do positive harm.
(Mrs.) .1. M. Roberts Surrey.
Sir.—It is distressing to read the letter by "One of the Damned" telling us about his mission experience. I can assure him that 'he missioncr's tirade was not typical. It amazes us that this still goes on. It does untold damage, most of all to the very idea of a mission.
We have found that a clear exposition of the Faith emphasising the wonder of what God has done for us, helps the good Catholic, converts the lapsed and attracts the non-Catholic. Many parish priests can testify to the lasting good done by the enthusiasm that a mission generates.
It is fair to say that "One of the Damned" was not very generous in his support of his parish mission since he only went on Sunday morning. If all the parishioners acted as he did, then the missioner had some reason for being peeved.
(Very Rev.) Kevin O'Brien (Catholic Missionary Society).
Sir,—My feelings towards missions are exactly the same as those expressed by "One of the Damned". I can remember, not long after entering the Church, sitting patiently through my first Mission Week, feeling bewildered and guilty about my revulsion and thinking I must be lacking in the true Catholic spirit.
Apart from the noise, posturing and near hysteria that accompany "Repent, or Hell" sermons, I find the "playing to the gallery" even more squirm-making. Those awful jokes that, missing the bite and depths of true Catholic humour, are just silly and irre verent. (Aren't we imperfect Catholics a scream?) But those of us whose reaction is, "Is this leally necessary?" (coupled with the fervent hope that none of our separated brethren are within ear-shot) can do no more than (humbly) stay away. We have to assume that many Catholics thoroughly appreciate "a good mission", deriving, for all we know, much spiritual good from it; and this may apply equally to some non-Catholics.
IMiss) M. E. Philips London, N.W.3.
Sir.--I would like to comment on the outburst by your correspondent "One of the Damned" and say that, while he is justified in expressing his .enthusiasm for the theme of God's love for all in sermons. he must surely concede that we all need strong words from the pulpit to remind us that nothing defiled shall enter heaven.
Mary Holton London, W.I.
SIR,—Every year as Christian Aid Week comes round I have a deep sense of sadness and also of a great opportunity missed. Why are we still the one Christian Denomination standing apart from this truly magnificent effort?
Since Pope John, our leaders have continually been saying that the field of social service and work for the poor and backward was one in which we should always co-operate, and yet, in this main Christian effort in England, we are still standing apart and doing something on our own at a completely different time.
How wonderful it would be for every Church in the town to work together for this one week — its results (apart from the money raised) would be incalculable.
(Mrs.) Monica Comerford Guildford. SI R,-1 am feeling tired listening to so many grumbles from my fellow Catholics. Complaining about the baby in Church is the last straw.
Surely the liturgical movement is meant to help us to worship God in a spirit of togetherness. Is mother and her baby to be excluded, just because junior expands his lungs so often in the first months of life.
The baptised child is a member of the Mystical Body. Of course, it is too small to understand, but is that any reason for its segregation from mother in her act of worship?
How petty and small-minded can we be? Is it really distractions and noise without, which prevent our full participation in the Mass? Or is it lack of silence within, the din of our own making within our minds?
So please let us have the baby in the congregation with its parents. There is no "Problem of babies at Mass". The problem is one of "Adults at Mass".
(Miss) Loreto Healey London, N.W.1.
Sir, -1 think the answer to Mr. Matthay is that, by law, the Church of England is not allowed to sell its churches, even if unused, unless they are (as Ely Place was) extra-parochial "peculiars". The Nonconformist bodies are not testricted in this way at all, and here and there Catholics have bought several of their buildings when the owners have not required them further.
Edward Shee Barrow.