ISHOULD like to comment -11on one point arising from Kevin Mayhew's somewhat distorted look (March 24) at the Newman Association. According to him, the London Newman Circle "no longer talks or writes of 'the Mass'; they call it 'the Eucharist'."
First, as far as I am aware it is only in Contact, the London Circle's monthly newsletter of which I am Editor, that "Eucharist" is written. I write this newsletter quite independently of the Circle Committee although I am, in fact, a co-opted member.
Secondly, some members of the Committee talk of the Eucharist; others maintain that the word "Mass" is more meaningful. While disagreeing with the latter, I respect their right to choose whichever word word they find more helpful. Similarly, the Committee respects my freedom with regard to the editing of Contact.
Perhaps it is necessary to explain for Mr. Mayhew's benefit that the word "Eucharist" is not a recent innovation. The concept of eucharistein, to give thanks (which has connotations of making really present an historical event in anamnests i.e. remembering') is a biblical one. The word "Mass", however, seems to have come into use in the fourth century (see The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.
To revert to biblical usage, although not essential where a valid tradition of the Church has displaced it, can provide a valuable scriptural insight into the meaning of liturgy today. Is this really "way-out"?
Mary Lee (Miss) Editor of Contact London, W.1 MAY I fill in the back ground to my views on the Newman as summarised in Kevin Mayhew's article of March 24.
I am sure the proposed breakaway would be a mistake. Two competing graduate organisations, inevitably labelled "Left" and "Right" respectively, could hardly fail to devote much of their time to opposing each other and both of them would lack the balance that the Church today needs so badly.
I hope Mrs. Hindmarsh will decide to stay, although I am hound to say that the thought of the Newman being critical in its attitude to the Church is not something that worries me. Informed, responsible criticism, of which the root is love for the Church, is neither new nor undesirable.
The suggestion that I would "like to sweep away the radical alliance" could be misleading. This alliance includes some very fine people whose talents and zeal would be a sad loss to the Newman. What is wanted is a balanced governing body to apply restraint when restraint is called for and to restore the rather tarnished image of the association.
The Church in England today is crying out for the lay leadership and service that the Newman Association is in a key position to provide. It is not providing it because it is off-balance and off-course.
The notion that those who are not of the radical alliance are ipso facto stuffed shirts or unthinking ecclesiastical tickertape is quite wrong. There is an appreciable body in between to whom John XXIII and Vatican II give as welcome a lead as they do to the "Left".
We tend to be a little older than our radical friends and to be pragmatic rather than dogmatic. We think that ideas conceived in a spirit of detachment from the people for whom they are meant are unlikely to succeed.
We are deeply conscious, because we are part of them, of Archbishop Dwyer's "vast majority of people . . . in the middle . . . attached to their ways . . . but willing and indeed eager to learn". We feel instinctively the mistake of trying to do too much too quickly and the danger of rushing ahead until we are out of sight and out of touch with the people we want to serve.
If this body of opinion could really make its influence felt in Carlisle Street — and I know of no reason why it could not — the Newman could recover its balance and regain the confidence of priests and layfolk that it has unfortunately lost.
F. 3. McGowan Wallington, Surrey.
AS a member of the Newman Association Council the time when Dr. Pratt, Dr. Bryden, Dr. Lawlor and the other members of the "radical alliance" came to power, may I correct one statement in Mr. Mayhew's otherwise excellent article?
However we may now be described by those who at present control the association, I and the other members of the council at that time were not "well to the Right" in our sympathies.
Indeed, one of our reasons for opposing Dr. Pratt and his associates was the fear that their extravagances would ultimately set back the progressive movement in the Church. I am afraid that recent events are proving that our forebodings were justified.
G. G. Harris London, N.W.3 IF Mrs. Cathaleen Hind marsh (March 10) is alarmed about the present tendencies within the Newman Association, I suggest that she turn her energies towards a most important Catholic organisation, the Catholic Evidence Guild. For more than 40 years the guild has been meeting the direct challenge of Christ to proclaim the Gospel.
Within the guild we have conflict between conservatives and progressives. but this tension is productive and is never allowed to obscure the basic function. We have even survived and benefited from talks by Charles Davis and Laurence Bright!
Instead of Mrs. Hindmarsh trying to obstruct what might be a useful movement in her own association, let her come to the Catholic Evidence Guild and do some real work for Christ!
Ralph Chandler Propaganda Secretary, Catholic Evidence Guild, Westminster Chiswick, WA
IREFER to Kevin Mayhew's article in your issue of March 24 concerning the Newman. He deals with and dismisses the Scottish Circles as follows : "Scotland, for example, is said to be 'hopping mad' at the trend of the Council".
Representatives from each of the four Scottish circles meet at regular intervals in Edinburgh. I have attended all of these meetings in the last year. Neither in formal meeting nor in informal discussion have I come across the feelings which you describe.
The meetings to which I refer are of course, the meetings of the Scottish Council of the Newman Association. Mr. Mayhew seems to be unaware of its existence.
There may be a few in Scotland who are "hopping mad", but I have yet to hear of their existence. As a friend of mine on the Scottish Council has said, the members of the Newman Council are a very hard-working lot. One may not agree with absolutely everything they do but they do deserve all of our support. Jamus Smith Chairman, Scottish Council of the Newman Association Aberdeen