Old Wine— Young Victorian
The Catholic Worker
-w ELL-WISHERS and supporters of the Catholic Worker will learn with great regret of the loss of Mr. R. P. Walsh as its editor. Under his lead the paper has reached a big circulation and attracted much notice, both inside and outside the
Church. I feel sure that this has been due to two things: the simplicity, directness, concreteness, manifest spiritual inspiration of the paper and to the tremendous enthusiasm among active friends, sellers, contributors, etc., which Mr. Walsh in
spired. The latter has been something quite unique in the Catholic history of This country. Mr. Walsh did not see things from the remote heights of an academy but from the windows of the worker's home, from the actual windows of his House of Hospitality. The view may be somewhat more confined, but there are men and women of flesh and blood in it, and such a view inspires not only social and academic remedies but the need for prayer and work, so spontaneously expressed in the Catholic Worker's natural blending of devotion (especially through the liturgy) and active, self-sacrificing sympathy (a worker feeling with the worker). It will be a tragedy if anything of this spontaneity and actualncss is lost through confusing the academic work of formal instruction m social principles with presenting a vivid example of the workers' Church in action.
Lord Alfred Douglas
MANY whose minds are of a somewhat earlier vintage than my own—if may so put it—are reading with great interest Lord Alfred Douglas's Without Apology which Martin Seeker has recently published. My own interest was probably no less great for Lord Alfred writes in so human, candid and easy a way that it is exactly like listening to a friend who has plenty to say. If he will excuse me. 1 always think of Alfred Douglas as perpetually young yet as completely belonging to a generation that is past. He is a man of many gifts and a great trier in the face of the world's harsh treatment of him. He was a fist-class journalist, he had the makings of a barrister and was a loyal friend in times of tragic difficulty. He is a real poet Few would believe that he was also something of an athlete. But I am sure he would agree that the greatest success of his life took place in 1911 when he was received into the Church.
Chapter xxx of these memoirs contain the truth about Wilde's reception into the Church. Wilde had told him some years before his death : " Catholicism is the only religion to die in, and if I am ever dying and you happen to be there, you must send for a Catholic priest." He was in fact received into the Church on his death-bed by a Passionist, and though a Catholic present at his death-bed subsequently tried to make out that Wilde was quite unconscious at the time, the Passionist wrote to Abbot Hunter Blair : "I satisfied myself that he understood and assented, although he was unable to speak."
I am not sure but that Douglas's loyalty— many pages of the book arc an impassioned defence of his loyalty which was impugned by many enemies—does not carry him in one passage into false theology. He contrasts paganism with Christianity and seems to allow that certain methods of behaviour are defensible in a pagan outlook and have only become reprehensible because of Christianity. This would imply that immorality is wrong because Christianity has made it so, whereas, of course, it is forbidden by Christianity because it is intrinsically wrong always and everywhere.
A Pair of Apes!
The book is naturally full of stories, some of the most amusing being about his own (Queensberry) family. His uncle Beau (uncle by marriage) was much grieved at the death of his brother-in-law, Lord James Douglas. So much so that he consumed a large quantity of aloohol C' even more than usual ") and was forbidden by his wife to go to the funeral, his black clothes having been previously hidden. However, he managed to borrow a waiter's trousers which were much too short for him and an overcoat, and attired in this strange garb he appeared at the funeral, " and with tears running down his cheeks. he threw himself down by the grave and ejaculated : How 1 loved that man; we were like a pair of apes!"
That Friday Morning Feeling
wE seem to be acting as a counter weight to the law of abstinence. Among the many kind letters we receive from readers there runs a remarkable refrain. Something of this sort : "I really look forward to each Friday morning. I get quite a thrill each Friday as I open the
paper." That, I think, is the very best compliment that can be paid to any paper. To bring some sunshine into Fridays is a minor work of mercy. 1 havementioned it because its recurrence is really remarkable, and I don't think I can be accused of using these columns for self-advertisement. For one thing it's not news; for another, it's very boring.
Your Health and Mine
THE medical magazine, Doctor, of which I wrote somewhat critically in a recent issue, very courteously informs me that its aims are solely " the maintenance of health, both bodily and mental, by emphasising the desirability of having proper medical advice and treatment at the earliest possible stage." It also tells me that it has had to reject a very considerable amount of unsuitable adverGising.
This is all to the good, but the very fact that much unsuitable advertising was offered to the magazine goes some way to establish my contention that a popular medical magazine with a large number of photographs of medicine in action appeals more to the morbid than the healthy taste of the public. Perhaps 1 am squeamish and I have no doubt " moderns" will say that this reaction is just another example of the ignorant Catholic fear of the body and its functions, despite God's having made that body and intended its functions!
On the other hand I am just as critical of Human Health, a pamphlet issued by the Bureau of Cosmotherapy, which another correspondent has sent me " for favourable review." It ends with the words : "The organs are one with the body and the body is one with the universe. There is but one science—one dynamic unity which is life. And the final and ultimate law, valid throughout human, earthly Not a Jour Morbidity and Medicine and universal life, is the law of mutual aid, the law of harmony, the law of love." If people can avoid colds in the head by believing this, good luck to them!
A CORRESPONDENT has sent us a
letter of violent protest against one of the very best of the daily papers for accepting advertisements of birth-control advocating books. That paper adopts, I find on enquiry. the policy of accepting advertisements of what it considers serious books on the subject, but rejects all advertisements for contraceptives. This I think is a fairly common policy with the better-class
of journalism. It seems to be a typical British compromise. To forbid the serious discussion of the subject in medical. social and psychological works is obviously impossible, but I doubt whether birth-control advocating hooks can ever be called serious. They arc propaganda and generally issued for the money-returns. Between them and the advertisement of contraceptives I can see little difference.
" Lord of the World"
j AM told that the German translation
of Mgr. Hugh Benson's Lord of the World is a best seller among Catholics in Germany. It is many years since I read it, but my recollection is that in it the Church is ultimately reduced to a handful of faithful, or was it the Pope alone? It is certainly significant that German Catholics should be finding consolation in this interpretation of " the gates of hell shall not prevail " under their present conditions.
AN idea of the number of Englishmen who have served in the International Brigades in Spain is given by the letters received at this office from parents or relations of young Catholics who have gone to Spain and who have not been heard of recently. We are asked to make enquiries about them. A hard job, though our correspondent and friends in Spain do their trace best to tra the names among prisoners, etc. In most cases these men were up against it and out for adventure or excitement of some kind, but if it happens with the green wcaad. . • .