Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Old Fashioned Catholicism

Its Half Term so I am back in my Half Term parish. The Parish Priest is on pilgrimage so I took advantage of his absence and had a snoop around the presbytery last night and found some notebooks containing the minutes of Legion of Mary meetings from the 1940's. In one I found some letters, many official from the SVP approving funding for a parishioner's medical bill and one personal from a parishioner thanking a legionary for her visits while she was in hospital. As I read it I was astounded by the language she used speaking about the importance of suffering andf offering it up for the Holy Souls, saying she had received a visit from Our Lady of the Slipper Chapel at her bedside comforting her. I thought maybe this should be sent to Rome to prove a private apparition but realised it was normal for a sick Catholic at this time to speak about the comfort she reveives from Our Lady and in England especially Our Lady of Walsingham. How many sick people would write a letter like that today?

Also among these papers were flyers for public events including a public meeting at the Town Hall for all Christians in the town to meet a panel of all the local clergy of the various denominations represented in the area (Catholic, Anglican and Free Church) to discuss issues that affect them and how each would deal with it according to the rules of their particular denomination- that would put a sock in the mouths of liberals who claim that not only did ecumenism begin after the Council but that true ecumenism means everyone doing it the Protestant way.

Other flyers detailed regular meetings for non-Catholics to find out about the Catholic faith with statistics like, '80% of those who attended the last session were received into the Church'. This kind of 'propaganda' would be illegal now as incitement to hatred. Today we are expected to sit back and wait for people to come to us and then tell them the Catholic Church is no different to any other Christian 'Church' or religion.

Its amazing what has changed in only 60 years!


Anonymous said...

Love your comments. However the Legion of Mary are still toiling away, "offering it up." But what an extra-ordinary honour it is to be allowed to "slogg away" for Our Lady one small step at a time.
Mary (an Edinburgh legionary)

gemoftheocean said...

Thank you for taking the time to write about the letter you found. I think it must have been unusual, even then for such a letter to be written and sent. It would be interesting to know if any relatives of the person who sent the letter are still parishioners. I think he/she/they would be touched to see the letter their relative had sent. I do not find it odd that a person suffering would offer up their troubles. when I was a little girl in the 50s and early 60s - that was a common refrain from our parents and the nuns at school when we were facing troubles: "Offer it up." I do not know if your generation got that thought passed on in full measure as it should have been. This was the kind of thing passed on in the home and reinforced in homilies and in school.

Don't forget at the time this woman wrote, people in England still had about as much rationing then as during the war still - the only way to make some good come out of privations and suffering like that would be to "offer it up." [I remember reading that in 1946, for instance, that the food ration was LESS than it had been in 1945.]

I think you will still find this spirit in your future parishioners. You will seldom get a letter like that, but the spark is often still there.

I think the PP of the church you are in now would also get a lift out of seeing that letter - be sure to show it to him.

Re: "proving" a private revelation - as far as I know, such a think can't really be done. I'm not saying it didn't happen - just that the church can not bind us to someone's private revelation. For instance, I happen to believe in the miracle of our Lady at Lourdes, but I am not bound by the church to believe it. I remain a bit skeptical re: Medjugorie.

As re: the town hall meeting, I'd be curious to know what issues were to be discussed? Was that noted?