Dark preoccupation with the war and the problems raised by it mark the Advent Pastorals of the British Hierarchy.
The fortitude of the people under the grievous trials calls forth the Bishops' admiration, and they see in these trials many opportunities for the practical service of God and the love of our neighbours.
While all the pastorals reflect the loyalty of our people to a just cause in which, as some Bishops point out, the liberty of Catholics in England is involved. there is a constant demand for prayer that God may protect this country and forgive the sins of the past, a prayer so clearly answered during the summer when disaster was averted.
In one pastoral the need to avoid hatred for the enemy and to learn the lessons of the last peace are emphasised, while in another we are warned that, however just our cause, it may be God's will that we should be further punished for our sins in British history and to-day.
From the point of view of eternity and in the light of Calvary the grave hour through which we are passing may he regarded as a grace from God rather than as
a chastisement. It is an opportunity for heroic courage and for the proof of our Christian charity. The heroic fortitude of our people has been evident to the whole world. Many families, particularly among the poor, have been rendered homeless because of the barbarous cruelty of modern war ;nett-lads. Yet the losses and the horrors inflicted have not cowed the spirit of fortitude in our people. Moreover, the sorrows and sufferings of our brethren have called forth unstinted charity. We desire to express our gratitude to all those who so readily responded to our appeal on behalf of the homeless.
—Arthur. Cardinal HinsleY•
Values which we bold dearer than life itself are at stake, • We have much to learn from the past. We have to learn that triumph of arms is not sufficient, that victory must conic from within ourselves, that even amidst the din of battles, we must clear our minds, purify our hearts, and steel our wills, if we are to bring this war to a really successful issue. We must rise above the ethic of the jungle and see that hatred finds no place in our spiritual equipment. I think it is true to say that we regard the misinformed, misdirected and misled peoples marshalled by dictatorship against us more in sorrow than in anger. Nevertheless they must be enlightened. They must be taught a hard lesson in the interests of Christian charity and the comity of mankind.
We Catholics of this country, and of the British Empire, most readily pledge our complete loyalty, for it must be remembered that to us loyalty is a sacred duty and a virtue. It is something which we owe as part of the wider virtue of piety by which we give love and service to our Father in heaven as the author of our being, to our father on earth as God's appointed cooperator in the bestowal of our life and personality, and to our native land, in this sense our fatherland, as the scene of our labours, the citadel of our rights, the source of our security, and of the rich and varied social development which, under God's providence, is ours.
—Richard, Archbishop of Liverpool.
JUST CAUSE In this time of trial we should like to offer to you in all humility some simple thoughts which may help to console you. And first let us remember that the cause for which we are fighting is undoubtedly the cause of right. Our nation after making every possible effort for peace, came into this war to aid Poland which was invaded unjustly by Germany. Poland is a small nation and a Catholic nation ; the Germans have no right to Poland but they have might and force. We came in on the side of right against might. Our difficulties 'are tremendous, for the enemy has been almost completely successful in Europe; but we have always the thought with 'us that we are on the side of right and justice and freedom, and with God's help we trust that right will triumph over might.
—Thomas. Archbishop of Birmingham.
"GIVE ME THE CHILDREN"
The modern State is trying to relieve parents of the trouble of rearing and educating their offspring. the error lacing their belief that the children belong in the first place to the State.
" Give me the children," thundered Hitler less than seven years ago. He is sacrificing them to Moloch to-day. "Give me the children," whispered cunningly, for decades, Grand Orient Masonry in France. And the youth from its State-sehools broke in defeat when the Maginot Line was pierced. "Give me your children," purrs Secularism for years back in England.
Crucial times are at hand. The Christians of to-morrow must needs be integrally Christ-like, if they are not to become flabby worldlings. Their lives must be penetrated and permeated by His religion, governed and ruled by the will of Christ, the thoughts of Christ, and Christ's sense of values.
—Michael, Archbishop of Cardiff.
WORK FOR ALL
It is no time for jealousies and discord when the nation is engaged in so terrible a struggle. In any town or district, just as in any parish, there is work in abundance for every one to do. " Whatsoever the hand is able to do," says Ecclesiastes, " do it earnestly." All must co-operate for the welfare of the community. Whether it be with our 'heads or with our hands, or any talent God has given us, all must contribute goodwill and energy to keep up the spirits of the people and to build up the nation for the future.
Those who have been rendered homeless, those who have lost friends and property, all who have been sorely tried by the hardships of the war, can be an encouragement and an inspiration to others by their splendid bravery and wonderful endurance.
Peter, Archbishop of Southwark.
How wonderfully our prayers have been
answered ! The salvation of our expeditionary force, the success of our gallant airmen in resisting the onslaughts of the enemy, the frustration, at the most dangerous moment, of the threatened invasion— every one of these events was beyond the expectation of friendly neutrals, every one was critical for the defence of those natural and Christian liberties which our country's
enemies are attempting to destroy. The valour of our fighting forces, the stubborn resistance eaf our sorely-tried civilian population, the' titanic energy of our munition workers have all contributed tosthese results. It is no depreciation of their efforts to attribute our survival and success to the almost visible intervention of Divine Providence on our behalf. These things we are to remember as an encouragement to our further prayers.
—Thomas, Bishop of Lancaster.
DANGER TO CHURCH
There seems to be a revival of the old pagan conspiracy of silence with regard to the Catholic Church, as is evidenced by our daily newspapers.
In a time of war like this, there is always a danger for the Catholic Church, which is international and supernational.
There is a danger, and even signs, to-day of a recrudescence of anti-Catholic propaganda. We can see the signs of it in the newspapers and reviews—it is the old familiar trick of suggesting the false and suppressing the truth. Our Holy Father, the Pope, as head of the Catholic Church, is the butt of this propaganda, but we, too, as his faithful children come in for some of the suspicion, if not hatred, which such propaganda stirs up. Let us pray earnestly in these difficult days for the Church and our Holy Father.
—Henry John, Bishop of Leeds.
SIN WORSE THAN WAR
The world in which we are now living is a sad world, scored and cratered by suffering a world of blood and tears where we know not whom to pity most—the slaughtered or those who are spared to mourn them. Could we truly see the effects of sin the sight would be even more hideous than the mangled bodies of the wounded and the dead, though that revolting vision is in reality a vision of the results of sin.
Yet even in such a world, in which ruthlessness and brutality would scent to make man contemptible and the sovereign rule of men mysterious, are we not amazed by the heights to which men and women can rise in goodness and virtue: their bravery
and endurance ; their readiness to suffer and even to die for others ; their tranquil patience and unflagging hope in times of unspeakable hardship and gloom?
—Thomas, Bishop of Middlesbrough.
OPPORTUNITIES The numerous inconveniences and anxieties of which we all have our share under present circumstances, offer ready-made opportunities for the practice of penance and patience—opportunities of greater value because they are not of our own choosing. By accepting these in union with the sufferings of our Divine Lord, we shall be making some reparation for sin and hasten the return of that peace which He came to bestow upon His human creatures and which they have forfeited because they have forsaken His love and service.
—John, Bishop of Nottingham.
NO SPIRITUAL NEUTRALITY In respect to the fight on behalf of the Kingdom of God there can be no neutrality. Either men are for God or they are against Him. In these days when the minds of men are disturbed by the violence of passion, it is sad that so many, including even some classed as Catholics, are apparently indifferent to the outraged majesty of God. They are aware of appalling blasphemies, sacrileges, profanations of the Blessed Sacrament, denial of the consolations of religion to the dying, brutal treatment of priests and nuns and loyal Catholics, corruption of the young in the cause of the furtherance of pagan ideals, and theories and political creeds repeatedly condemned by the Vicar of Jesus Christ. They raise no voice against these outrages. Because of personal prejudice or material interests, they remain passive spectators whilst the work of the devil is promoted. By that passive attitude they encourage the enemies of God, and side with them against their Father. So our prayer must be that grace will triumph over worldly interests and prejudices in their hearts, and that they too shall be stirred up to enthusiasm for God's cause, no matter what sacrifice it may entail in this world.
—John Patrick, Bishop of Plymouth.
WERE WE DEFEATED As far as we can see in history the horrors of this war have had no parallel except perhaps in the ravaging of the savage hordes that for two centuries butchered their way over the ruins of the Roman Empire. The Goths, the Huns, the Vandals and the Lombards, these left such a name of horror in history that 'Civilised nations thought that such days could never be seen again. In addition to the physical pains and terrors of this war and which is in a way more hopeless for the future, is the•utter disregard of that precious safeguard of civilisation, the " jus gentium," the law of nations to which even perfidious kings have hitherto at least paid lip-service, but which is now openly scorned and flouted. Solemn treaties made by our present enemies have been broken as soon as they were signed. There seems to be no sure foothold for permanence of peace so long as this " jus gentium " is not maintained. Only seven years ago a solemn concordat was made by the German Government and the Pope. Within less than a month the National SocialistS broke it and it has continued to be broken ever since.
We ought to face boldly and in full enquiry what would happen to us as Catholics in case we were defeated. What would happen to our churches and schools that we have built and maintained out of our poverty, out of the pence collected week by week in the outdoor collections? What would happen to our religious teachers, men and women, what would happen to the freedom of Catholic teachers in our schools, what would happen to the freedom of preaching and teaching the Gospel by our priests and bishops?
Let us not, however, take it for granted that because we entered into this war with clean hands and for a noble cause that we must necessarily be victorious. Possibly it may not be according to the designs of God. it may fie—we pray the mercy of God it may not be—that we have not yet paid as a nation for our.past sins. We cannot forget the long roll of sins against the Divine Majesty committed by this country in the, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which have not yet been atoned for.
Besides these sins of our fathers there are the sins of to-day: the forgetfulness of God and general unbelief in the last hundred years, the frequency of divorce and the breaking down of the sanctity of marriage, and the deliberate Prevention of the birth of children.
—Ambrose, Bishop of Shrewsbury.