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Radio Replies First Volume - Convent life
| Fathers Rumble & Carty
Posted on 11/11/2009 9:07:56 PM PST by GonzoII
1216. Where is there a warrant for the convent system outside your Catholic traditions?
There is more than sufficient warrant for convent life in Sacred Scripture. But even were the only warrant to be found in Catholic traditions, that surely would be quite a natural place to seek a warrant for a Catholic custom. Where else would you want me to find a warrant for it? In Totemism?
1217. Perhaps I should call them Nunneries rather than Convents.
If the word Nunnery sounds more suspicious and suggestive of evil to you than Convent, then I think you should. Otherwise you would not be speaking with all the bigotry and uncharitableness you might.
1218. Is not the convent system borrowed from the pagan Vestal Virgin system?
No. The convent system occurs in history after the Vestal Virgin system, but not because of it. Chronological succession does not always imply derivation. It is true that the Vestal Virgins were women, and unmarried, claiming a religious significance. But there the likeness ends. Christianity is the negation of paganism, and the Christian motive is quite the opposite of the idolatrous motives of paganism.
1219. Where did Christ tell us to shut ourselves away in monasteries or convents?
Nowhere. But He invited some people to renounce all things and to follow Him by close imitation. "If you wish to be really perfect, sell all you have, give to the poor, and come, follow Me." If a man marries he cannot do that. He has a duty to his wife and children, and cannot sell the house and furniture over their heads, leaving them stranded. From the very beginning many Christian young men and women renounced the prospects of marriage and property for the love of Christ. The Church arranged community houses wherein the members were to own nothing, merely receiving shelter from the weather and necessary food and clothing. For the rest they were to give themselves to prayer and to works of piety and charity, instructing children, preaching the Gospel, nursing the sick, or feeding the hungry and destitute. Later these houses were called monasteries, after the Greek word Monos, meaning alone or single. The fact that those who have renounced all in accordance with the invitation of Christ live in monasteries or convents makes no more difference than if they lived in tents.
1220. Monks and nuns run away from temptation for selfish moral reasons, trying to be good in an easier life.
I am grateful for that admission that they try to be good. Meantime, if to take definite means to live a better life is to be guilty of a selfish moral end, then I wish that more men would labor for that selfish moral end. Those who enter monasteries or convents may escape certain classes of temptations, but they always have self with them, and at times the temptation to go back to the easier life they left. Nor must you think that monastic or convent life is one of idleness. Every monastery and convent is a hive of industry, each member being engaged at set hours in very definite and continuous duties of various kinds.
1221. By locking up Nuns you stand for a system that makes prisoners of our womanhood.
I do not. I believe that female criminals should be made prisoners, but convents are not prisons. They are private residences. Many people are under a delusion concerning convents. They speak of locking people up, and always with the idea of a prison in their minds. Now in prisons we lock people in to keep them in, and away from the outside world which does not want them. And they are kept in against their will. But in convents the doors shut the outside world out in order to keep it out, and away from the individuals who do not want it. And the Nuns stay there because they desire to do so. Throw open the doors of a prison. The inmates will thank you, and joyfully depart. Throw open the doors of a convent, of the strictest convent you can imagine. The good Sisters will close the door again from the inside and continue the life they prefer. If you call that a prison, then your definition of a prison sadly needs revising.
1222. Your Church is pretty clever, making thousands of weak women virtual slaves.
The thousands of Nuns are not weak, but women of very strong character as a rule. If a girl of weak character enters a religious Order, she soon leaves and resumes an easier life in the world. I admit that, if the Catholic Church were merely human, she would be pretty clever. But she would be too clever. She could not possibly induce so many to devote themselves to such a life unless God Himself inspired them to do so.
1223. Why are Nuns never allowed out of their convents?
Surely you have seen them at times travelling by train, or tram; or in the public streets for purposes of shopping or other business.
1224. Why can't they travel without a companion, even when visiting their own homes?
It is the rule of convents that members do not travel alone. The presence of a companion is a protection, and at the same time preserves the good Sisters from the scandal evil-minded people would be so ready to propagate if they were seen travelling and entering houses alone. I wonder whether you would always have the charity to believe that it was the home of her relatives, should you see a young Nun entering or emerging from a house by herself?
1225. It is a sad fact that Enclosed Orders never let the Nuns out, or allow them to have contact with the outside world.
It is not a sad fact. It is a fact that those who enter Enclosed Orders will not go again beyond their convent walls. In what are called the Active Orders not all contact with the outside world is renounced. Where the work of the Nuns involves such contact, it is permitted. But apart from that, the Nuns gladly return to their quiet and spiritual detachment. However, there are some Nuns who have chosen to enter convents where the rule permits them to avoid all further contact with the world. Feeling called by God to such a life, they enter an Enclosed Order. But remember that there are no Nuns who cannot leave their convent whenever they definitely will to return to that life in the world which they voluntarily abandoned.
1226. You say that any Nun could give up the life?
Yes. There is not a single Nun who cannot leave any convent, if she insists that she wants to go. No one will detain her by force and against her will. She can secure a dispensation from her vows on making due application through her superiors or directly to the Bishop.
1227. Do you know of any Nun who has left after final vows, going hack to the world and to sanity?
I know of many Nuns who have left, even at times with a dispensation from final vows. Some were sane before they left, and remained sane after they left. Some were not quite well-balanced before they entered, were discovered not to be eminently sane, and were sent away without being allowed to take their final vows, or, if they had taken them, were advised to apply for a dispensation. For religious life demands the utmost sanity in aspirants.
1228. Why oblige young immature women to take vows at all?
No Nun is ever obliged to take vows as a young immature woman, or at any other stage of life. If you can find one Nun who was compelled in any way at all to take her vows, then the Catholic Church says that her vows are quite invalid and not binding. If a Nun freely takes her vows for life, of course she understands that it is as permanent a contract for her as for the woman who freely vows fidelity for life to a husband.
1229. Nuns are martyrs to a cruel system.
They are less martyrs than a girl who ties herself to a husband for the rest of her life, in very many cases at least.
1230. Do they stay because they love the life, or because they fear the anathemas of the Church?
Because they love their self-chosen life. Not one of the Nuns would have entered unless she had chosen to do so. Nor is any Nun allowed to take her final vows until after at least four years of experience of the life to see whether she is satisfied even after entering. You might as well suggest that no married woman remains faithful to her self-chosen state because she loves and is happy, but that she does so only through terror.
1231. Anyway you allow misguided women to live unnatural lives away from the sunshine and from good men who would bestow upon them their love.
Most things that Christ taught and recommended seem to be misguided to those who are completely irreligious. No one claims that Christian and materialistic principles are in harmony. However, the good Sisters have private grounds for recreation in the sunshine, contrary to the creation of your melodramatic imagination. As for their being away from men who wrould love them, they do not wish for such love, and what kind of a man would force his attentions upon an unwilling lady?
1232. The dreadful vows have warped their minds and made them love darkness rather than light.
Who told you that the vows were dreadful? Have you tried them? I have taken exactly the same vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as the Nuns, and they are no more difficult for a Nun to keep than for myself. I do not find them dreadful. And the evidence of one who has experienced a thing is worth the assertions of ten millions who have never tried it. As for the minds of the Nuns being warped, kindly consult the thousands of parents, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who confide their children to Nuns for their intellectual and moral formation. Finally, if the Nuns have learned to love their life, of what do you complain? If you say that they only think themselves to be happy, well, they are quite satisfied, and you have no cause to be unhappy about them. Let them do the worrying.
1233. Christ did not die that Nuns should live such a strange and hard life in these civilized times.
He did not die that the unmitigated sensuality of these civilized times might continue. St. Paul chastised his body and brought it into subjection, and said that those that are Christ's have crucified their flesh with its concupiscences. Do people crucify the flesh with cocktails and comic operas, soft linen and other luxuries, with a Rolls-Royce or two thrown in? If Christ were to condemn anything in these days of civilization, it would not be the humble, pure, and mortified Nun. If the Nun's life seems strange to you, remember that the life of Christ seemed strange to the worldlings of His day, who said that He had a devil. But at least, since you regard the life of a Nun as being hard and mortified, you will never pretend that a convent is a house of unbridled luxury and sensual indulgence.
1234. What does the silver ring worn by Nuns mean?
That they prefer to give their hearts entirely to Christ rather than to any earthly lover. As the ordinary wedding ring signifies that a woman has vowed absolute and permanent fidelity to her husband, so the ring worn by a Nun signifies that she has vowed fidelity to her vocation of poverty, chastity and obedience.
1235. Why do they lose their hair and wear such ugly dress?
They sacrifice their tresses as a sign that they renounce worldly vanity. Their habit is designed according to the rules of complete Christian modesty, and is most successful in warding off evil attention. Half-dress in a loose immodest fashion, and see the attention, and the kind of attention, that a girl will draw upon herself. If she wants to avoid such attention she could not do better than to dress as a Nun. No one would look at her twice.
1236. Are not superiors very hard on young Nuns?
No, not in general. An individual superior might be exacting; but remember that superiors are not allowed to exact more than the rules of the Order demand, and every Nun has had those rules carefully explained to her before she has made her profession. If she makes her profession, she does so because she wishes to live a life of obedience under such discipline.
1237. It is cruel that young Nuns should teach tiresome children all day and then return to live with elderly and cranky Nuns.
I am glad you admit that the Nuns have taken up a tiresome duty for the love of God, expecting no other reward save His approval. You must admire the way in which they voluntarily consecrate their lives to God, and to the training of little ones to fit them for the service of God in their earthly lives. However, they have not always to return to the company of elderly Nuns. There are many communities of quite young members of their Order. Also, even elderly Nuns are not cranky because elderly. Age most often tends in religious life to sweeten character. If some are cranky, would you turn them out after their years of service and devotedness in their young days, and allow only young Nuns to remain? Have you any elderly relatives? Are they cranky because elderly? Do you regard them as a burden and threaten to turn them out into the street? Are young people never to live with elderly people, and is it always a misery to do so? The bright young Nuns would be the last in the world to take your advice, even if you offered it to them.
1238. If Nuns are so happy, why have they such sombre and gloomy faces?
Nuns have not gloomy faces. You mistake gravity for gloom. Nuns are serious women, if you like, but their hearts are as light as feathers. Half the put-on excitement of modern butterflies in these days of jazz and cosmetics is to deaden the conscience, and conceal even from themselves if possible the jaded heart of lead so many worldly women carry always with them.
1239. To my mind Nuns are the most unhappy beings in the world.
To your mind. But things are not always what they seem. You measure Nuns by your idea of happiness. The man who said, "Eat, drink, and be merry," was branded as a fool by Christ. If you ever fall ill, go to a Catholic hospital and let the gloomy Nuns nurse you back to health. It will be an eye-opener to you.
1240. I have never seen a Nun smile or look pleasant.
You know Nuns only from a distance, if you know them at all. Nuns do not mistake excitement for happiness, but there are plenty of smiles in their own convent environment. In the streets you may not have seen a Nun laugh. But the sight of poor humanity in the streets, rushing and struggling, and worried even in the midst of its giggling, is not calculated to make a thoughtful person laugh. Yet as for looking pleasant, I'll guarantee that the tranquil face of a Nun is a much more pleasant thing than the face of the average woman of the world.
1241. They will never again look upon their loved ones, but die and be buried!
We all have to die some day and be buried. As for never again seeing loved ones, even if that were true in the case of a Nun, a girl who voluntarily leaves America for China can quite easily die and be buried in China without seeing her loved ones again in this life. And if she goes, knowing the conditions, she does not burden everybody with constant complaints about it.
1242. There is a Carmelite Convent in my suburb known as the Death Order.
You must have been reading Stevenson's Suicide Club, and then eaten cucumbers and gone to bed with the fond hope that you would not have a nightmare after all! There is a Carmelite Convent in your suburb at Dulwich Hill, but it is not a Death Order. It is an Order devoted wholly to the life which alone really counts — that of God's grace. The Nuns are well cared for bodily, even though simply; and they attain to an age beyond that attained by the average person in the world.
1243. It costs a girl $7,500 to enter this Order!
Do you think anyone is likely to pay $7,500 to enter a Death Order when one can so easily commit suicide for nothing? People do not save up cash for the joy of committing luxurious suicide! But let me explain the real facts. The Carmelite Nuns have to live. But according to their rule their life is devoted chiefly to the salvation by prayer of people who have not got the sense to pray for themselves. Consequently they do not teach in schools, and have no regular means of income. If a girl wishes to enter the Carmelite Convent, she must be able to provide a small dowry to be invested, so that the interest will provide her with the bare necessities of life. And nothing like $7,500 is demanded.
1244. People may not enter until they are twenty-one.
That rather spoils your case. You ought to say that they are rushed in before they know their own minds whether they like it or not, manacled hand and foot, and hit to the final fate of all who enter this Death Order for the destruction of unwanted females.
1245. The Nuns are kept behind menacing iron grilles even when talking to visitors.
You have got things wrongly again. The grille is not to keep the Nuns in, but to keep people out.
1246. There are high walls round this Convent inside which the Nuns are imprisoned.
Those walls, too, are not to keep the Sisters in, but to keep curiosity-mongers out, and to give the Sisters undisturbed tranquility in their attention to God and to their spiritual lives.
1247. They never come out.
That sounds dreadful, doesn't it? But when one undertakes to enter upon a permanent state in life, it is intended to be permanent. I have become a Priest, and dreadful to relate, I can never cease to be a Priest. A girl marries a man, and dreadful to relate, she remains married to him. Yet you are wrong. A good many girls do come out of that Convent. Those who enter undergo a long probation before they are finally accepted, and many leave during this period of probation. It is far easier for a girl to come out from the Carmelite Order than it is for one to get into it. Believe me, the doors are opened more easily from the inside than from the outside.
1248. Did not Henry VIII suppress monasteries and convents because they were immoral?
If you knew anything of Henry VIII you would never suspect him of being shocked by immorality. He was quite immoral himself, and did not regard immorality as being a reason for the suppression of anything except his own conscience and his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. However he did suppress monasteries and convents. It was not because they were immoral, but rather because they stood for strict morality, and were a rebuke to his own low standards. But chiefly he wanted to confiscate their property which they used for the relief of the poor, but which he wished to use for the relief of Henry. The career of Henry was one of lust and of murder, things not usually associated with zeal for religion.
1249. Are not Nuns married to Priests?
No. Who in this world could persuade thousands of good women to forego theatres, dances, and worldly amusements, and to take a strict vow of perfect chastity in the sight of God, merely that they might be at the service of Priests who offer them no remuneration, and who strangely enough bind themselves by similarly strict vows under pain of sacrilege? Have some sense.
1250. I am a broad-minded Anglican Protestant, yet I cannot but suspect convents.
Is one broad-minded whose mind suspects evil and unspeakable proceedings in every building to which she does not happen to have access? And what of your own Anglican Sisterhoods? They model themselves on the lives of our Catholic Nuns. Those modest ladies, living prayerful and retired lives, do not throw their private rooms open to the public. Are you going to besmirch their characters also? If so, you will have the strange spectacle of a Catholic Priest defending Anglican Nuns against the attacks of an Anglican woman who rightly calls herself a Protestant, but wrongly calls herself broad-minded.
1251. Convents should be open to public inspection.
Inspection of what? Even if admission were free to the public, the public would not wish to inspect convents. It is rather dreary work to walk through empty corridors, inspect ordinary kitchen tables, wooden chairs, and bedrooms which differ little from the common boarding-house variety. In fact it would be a pity to destroy your ideals. All your delight in the idea of inspecting convents is based upon what you imagine you would find and which in reality does not exist. Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. An actual visit of inspection would only mean the destruction of your castles in the air. Surely you would prefer not to be disillusioned by the finding of nothing blameworthy in convents.
1252. Until such inspection is granted I cannot consider convent life above board.
Is the Wesleyan religion not above board because the minister's Manse is not open to public inspection? If women wish to live bad lives, could they not obtain such lives without bothering to enter convents, renouncing money and all worldly pleasures? The last thing an immorally inclined woman would think of would be to enter a convent as a Nun.
1253. But if everything is clean and upright, why not throw them open to the public?
If everything is clean and upright in your own home, why do you not throw it open to public inspection, instead of regarding it as private premises? Why not ask all passers-by, complete strangers, to walk in and inspect your private rooms? If I came to your house and told you that I suspected you of leading an evil life, and that I insisted upon inspecting every room in order to try to prove my suspicions, what would you say? Think it out, and you will have your answer.
1254. Our Protestant Churches are open to the public.
Catholic Churches are still more open, and for longer hours. But convents are not churches, nor are they public institutions. They are the private homes of ladies who wish to live together in the service of God.
1255. Would you personally vote for the systematic inspection of convents by the police?
No. Nor would any reasonable man. Why should the private dwellings of any citizens who transgress none of the laws of the land be subjected to such an indignity? But submit your reasons for the inspection of convents to the Chief of Police. He will soon put you right. The police do not even want to inspect convents. Should any violation of the law occur within a convent there would be no difficulty whatever as regards police inspection, just as in the case of any other private dwelling.
1256. How can we know of convent scandals when they are closed to public inspection? We must believe the accounts given by Maria Monk and others until we see otherwise.
You cannot know of convent scandals, not because convents are closed to public inspection, but because the scandals don't happen. That you must believe in such scandals until you see otherwise looks fairly hopeless, since you intend to keep your eyes tightly shut against any good in the Catholic Church at all.
1257. Convents have laundries and schools. Surely these are public institutions.
If the Sisters conduct an institution, that institution is distinct and separate from the convent proper, and may be inspected at any time by any authorized person. But the right to inspect a public institution does not give the right to inspect the manager's private home. Would you insist that he must show you the kitchen, dining-room, bath-room, in his personal quarters, and let you see for yourself that there were no dead bodies under the linoleum?
1258. Public inspection would be the end of the system.
It would not. The only fear of a novice when she enters is that she will be found unsuitable and not be accepted. Open the doors, and the Nuns will close them again, as they did in the first place, imploring the Church to let them do so with her blessing. They are happy in their self-chosen state. If you threw open the doors of married life and released married women from all further obligations far more would depart from their husbands than Nuns from their convents. Your ideas on this subject are not prompted by philanthropic interests in the good Sisters, but by your blind hatred of the Catholic Church.
1259. Martin Luther, the good man who started Protestantism, left the abominations of the monastery. He was an ex-Monk.
He was. But if he was so good a man, and the monastery so evil, he was a mighty long time living an iniquitous life before he got his conscientious scruples. Yet hear a few facts. After Martin had left the Catholic Church, he gave permission to Philip of Hesse to commit bigamy and have two wives. Does that sound good and Christian? And to Philip he said, "Provided you keep it quiet." Does that sound straight? He called his enemies "Coarse donkeys, cursed sows, epicurean swine, putrid puddles, and the cursed broth of hell." It does not sound much like Christian charity. To his friend Weller he wrote, "Why do I drink too much, talk too much, and like good meals too much? It is when the devil prepares to torment me and mock me." Preaching against his fellow-Protestants, the Anabaptists, he says, "The Anabaptists say that reason is a torch. Does reason shed light? Yes, like dung would shed if set in a lantern. Reason is a prostitute. Throw dung in her face to make her hideous. Reason ought to be drowned." But I spare you. Phrases such as these are legion in the writings of Luther, and the greatest tribute to the Catholic Church is that a man like Martin Luther felt impelled to leave her.
1260. What about Maria Monk?
Maria Monk was a woman of no religion, who was arrested for vagrancy and sent to jail in Montreal in November, 1834, by Mr. Justice Robertson. The following year she entered a Magdalen Asylum for fallen women managed by Catholic Nuns. She was not a Nun, but an inmate. After a short stay there, she left and began to pose as an escaped Nun, relating horrible charges against the Sisters. She said that she had been a novice there for four years. Judge Robertson exposed her, saying that she had been in jail at the very time she was pretending to have been in the convent. However, she wrote a book called, "The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk," and lectured on the Protestant platform, going from town to town as fast as the refutation followed her. Discredited entirely in the end, she fell back upon the streets. In 1849 she was arrested for stealing from a man who was consorting with her, and died in prison while undergoing her sentence.
1261. You must convince me that she gave false evidence in her book.
On October 24th, 1835, her own mother swore that she had never been a Nun. Dr. Robertson condemned her as a fraud. The Protestant Press in Montreal denounced her book as a tissue of lies. Before Benjamin Holmes, J.P., on November 14th, 1835, different people swore to all the places in which she had been engaged in domestic service during the very period in which she said she had been in the convent as a Nun. The President of the Bank of Montreal and a group of Protestant gentlemen visited the convent she had attacked, and found that the rooms and corridors in no way fitted her descriptions. Dolman's Magazine, October 9th, 1849, says: "The notorious and unfortunate Maria Monk was sent to jail for stealing from a consort in the streets, and died last Friday in prison." Chamber's Encyclopaedia says: "Her lying story deceived many credulous people." If this does not convince you, I challenge any one on earth to convince you of anything you do not wish to believe. I only wish you were as exacting in demanding proof of evil in the Catholic Church as you are in demanding its refutation.
1262. Montreal is a Catholic city; we can understand the verdict on Maria Monk.
Dr. Robertson, J.P., was a Protestant. Maria's mother was a Protestant. The gentlemen who inspected the convent were Protestants. All the Protestant papers in Montreal denounced Maria Monk.
1263. Why is her book allowed to he published, if not true?
As long as there is a credulous public, or section of the public, wanting such books and prepared to pay for them, publishers will be found to seek the profit from them. In many countries, as a matter of fact, her book is forbidden as indecent literature.
1264. What about the revelations of Mrs. Shepherd?
She is not a reliable witness. Her whole record is criminal. She died in 1903, but not before becoming a celebrity on the Protestant platform. Under the name of Miss Douglas she was arrested for forgery, and served sentences on other counts under the aliases of Parkyn, Edgerton, and Margaret Shepherd in Bodmin, Cornwall, and London jails. The Salvation Army tried to reform her, but she betrayed them, and Miss Florence Booth said, "The woman is undoubtedly a fraud." She deceived even W. T. Stead, who wrote later to a friend, "The less you have to do with the lady in question, the better for your peace of mind and for your pockets." Margaret Shepherd never was a Nun. She came into contact with Nuns only through being sent to the institution for fallen women at Arno's Vale, Bristol, England. She took to writing obscene books, and exploited the credulity of unthinking Protestants. Even Protestant clergymen wrote to the papers warning the public of her true character. That you should have to fall back upon such witnesses is a tribute to the Catholic Church you so dislike.
1265. If Nuns can leave convents so easily, why all the fuss when Sr. Ligouri ran away from the convent at Wagga, N.S.W.?
Any fuss was caused by bigoted Protestants who hoped to work up a scandal against the Catholic Church, and who persuaded the Sister to sue the Bishop for $25,000 for wrongful arrest and detention in the Reception House for deranged people. The verdict was given for the Bishop. In his summing up, after all the evidence of that famous case of 1921 had been taken, Judge Ferguson said that she herself had refuted any idea of any unkindness shown her while a member of the community. He remarked that the conducting of the case for the plaintiff was marked by sectarian feeling, adding that "questions were asked designed to show that people of her faith could not be believed on oath," and that other questions "were intended to bring into question the propriety of the convent system." No breath of scandal, however, resulted. The Judge also pointed out that Sr. Ligouri had no difficulty whatever in leaving the convent, but that, instead of leaving in daylight, fully dressed, she departed at midnight, half-dressed, and without shoes, leaving no word whatever as to her intended destination. She had no relatives in Australia, and the convent authorities had every reason to suspect mental derangement. They sent to find her having a duty to provide for her. The Judge said, "I am amazed that the convent authorities are called upon to excuse themselves for having sent to search for her. What would have been thought of them if they had not done so?" In her disturbed state of mind she sought refuge with complete strangers who happened to be Protestants, and the Orange Lodge took up her case to the bitter disappointment of its hopes. Sr. Ligouri left the convent in circumstances which would lead anyone to conclude that in her own interests she should not be let loose upon the world in such a deficient mental state. She would not have been retained in the community, and would certainly have been given a dispensation from her vows. But out of charity the Nuns insisted upon making provision for her until they could give her into the keeping of her own relatives. The "Ligouri Case" was a complete fiasco as an argument against convent life.
Encoding copyright 2009 by Frederick Manligas Nacino. Some rights reserved.
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TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic
KEYWORDS: catholic; monasticism; radiorepliesvolone; religiouslife
Historical Context of "Radio Replies"
If one recalls the time frame from which Radio Replies emerged, it can explain some of the frankness and lack of tact in the nature of the responses provided.
It was during this timeframe that a considerable amount of anti-Catholic rhetoric came to the forefront, particularly in this country. Much of this developed during the Presidential campaign of Al Smith in 1928, but had its roots in the publication of Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons, originally published in book form in 1919 and also published in pamphlet form in 1853.
While in Britain (and consequently Australia), the other fellow would surely have experienced the effects of the Popery Act, the Act of Settlement, the Disenfranchising Act, the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, and many others since the reformation (that basically boiled down to saying, "We won't kill you if you just be good, quiet little Catholics"). Even the so-called Catholic Relief Acts (1778, 1791, 1829, 1851, 1871) still had huge barriers placed in the way.
And of course, they'd both remember the American Protective Association, "Guy Fawkes Days" (which included burning the Pontiff in effigy), the positions of the Whigs and Ultra-Torries, and so on.
A strong degree of "in your face" from people in the position of authoritativeness was required back in the 1930s, as there was a large contingent of the populations of both the US and the British Empire who were not at all shy about being "in your face" toward Catholics in the first place (in other words, a particularly contentious day on Free Republic would be considered a mild day in some circles back then). Sure, in polite, educated circles, contention was avoided (thus the little ditty about it not being polite to discuss religion in public, along with sex and politics), but it would be naive to assume that we all got along, or anything resembling that, back in the day.
Having said all of the above, reading the articles from the modern mindset and without the historical context that I tried to briefly summarize above, they make challenging reading, due to their bluntness.
The reader should also keep in mind that the official teaching of the Church takes a completely different tone, best summed up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without human sin:
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271
818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers .... All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."324
269 UR 3 § 1.
270 Cf. CIC, can. 751.
271 Origen, Hom. in Ezech. 9,1:PG 13,732.
272 UR 3 § 1.
273 LG 8 § 2.
274 UR 3 § 2; cf. LG 15.
275 Cf. UR 3.
276 Cf. LG 8.
322 LG 15.
323 UR 3.
324 Paul VI, Discourse, December 14, 1975; cf. UR 13-18.
Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble, M.S.C.
"I was brought up as a Protestant, probably with more inherited prejudices than most non-Catholics of these days. My parents were Anglican and taught me the Angelican faith. My 'broad-minded' protestant teachers taught me to dislike the Catholic Church intensely. I later tried Protestantism in various other forms, and it is some thirty years since, in God's providence, I became a Catholic. As for the 'open, free, sincere worship' of a Protestant Church, I tasted it, but for me it proved in the end to be not only open, but empty; it was altogether too free from God's prescriptions."
Eventually, Leslie became a priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
In 1928, Fr. Rumble began a one-hour 'Question Box' program on 2SM Sydney, N.S.W. radio on Sunday evenings that was heard all over Australia and New Zealand. For five years he answered questions on every subject imaginable that had been written to him from all over that part of the globe. His first show began with a classic introduction:
"Good evening, listeners all. For some time I have been promising to give a session dealing with questions of religion and morality, in which the listeners themselves should decide what is of interest to them. Such a session will commence next Sunday evening, and I invite you to send in any questions you wish on these subjects . . . So now I invite you, non-Catholics above all, to send in any questions you wish on religion, or morality, or the Catholic Church, and I shall explain exactly the Catholic position, and give the reasons for it. In fact I almost demand those questions. Many hard things have been said, and are still being said, about the Catholic Church, though no criminal, has been so abused, that she has a right to be heard. I do not ask that you give your name and address. A nom de plume will do. Call yourself Voltaire, Confucius, X.Y.Z., what you like, so long as you give indication enough to recognize your answer."
"By the summer of 1937, the first edition of Radio Replies was already in print in Australia, financed by Rt. Rev. Monsignor James Meany, P.P. - the director of Station 2SM of whom I am greatly indebted."
"I have often been mistaken, as most men at times. And it is precisely to make sure that I will not be mistaken in the supremely important matter of religion that I cling to a Church which cannot be mistaken, but must be right where I might be wrong. God knew that so many sincere men would make mistakes that He deliberately established an infallible Church to preserve them from error where it was most important that they should not go wrong."
Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty
I broadcast my radio program, the Catholic Radio Hour, from St. Paul, Minnesota.
I was also carrying on as a Catholic Campaigner for Christ, the Apostolate to the man in the street through the medium of my trailer and loud-speaking system. In the distribution of pamphlets and books on the Catholic Faith, Radio Replies proved the most talked of book carried in my trailer display of Catholic literature. As many of us street preachers have learned, it is not so much what you say over the microphone in answer to questions from open air listeners, but what you get into their hands to read. The questions Fr. Rumble had to answer on the other side of the planet are same the questions I had to answer before friendly and hostile audiences throughout my summer campaign."
I realized that this priest in Australia was doing exactly the same work I was doing here in St. Paul. Because of the success of his book, plus the delay in getting copies from Sydney and the prohibitive cost of the book on this side of the universe, I got in contact with him to publish a cheap American edition.
It doesn't take long for the imagination to start thinking about how much we could actually do. We began the Radio Replies Press Society Publishing Company, finished the American edition of what was to be the first volume of Radio Replies, recieved the necessary imprimatur, and Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen agreed to write a preface. About a year after the publication of the first edition in Australia, we had the American edition out and in people's hands.
The book turned into a phenomena. Letters began pouring into my office from every corner of the United States; Protestant Publishing Houses are requesting copies for distribution to Protestant Seminaries; a few Catholic Seminaries have adopted it as an official textbook - and I had still never met Dr. Rumble in person.
To keep a long story short, we finally got a chance to meet, published volumes two and three of Radio Replies, printed a set of ten booklets on subjects people most often asked about, and a few other pamphlets on subjects of interest to us.
Fr. Carty died on May 22, 1964 in Connecticut.
"Firstly, since God is the Author of all truth, nothing that is definitely true can every really contradict anything else that is definitely true. Secondly, the Catholic Church is definitely true. It therefore follows that no objection or difficulty, whether drawn from history, Scripture, science, or philosophy, can provide a valid argument against the truth of the Catholic religion."
Biographies compiled from the introductions to Radio Replies, volumes 1, 2 and 3.
posted on 11/11/2009 9:07:57 PM PST
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posted on 11/11/2009 9:09:16 PM PST
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