« AnteriorContinuar »
1910, inclusively, while the United States had given to the Society two and three-quarter million dollars, the Society had given to missions in America ten and three-quarter millions. Now that this country has graduated from the ranks of missionary lands (although seventeen dioceses in the South and the Far West still receive yearly allocations from the Society), it is surely fitting that our priests and people should do their part in paying off that debt. And if the pastors take the initiative, it is morally certain that the flock will readily lend their coöperation.
It need hardly be stated that, apart from any affiliation with these foreign mission societies, a zealous priest who is big enough to think in terms of the universal Church can effectively aid the missions by his personal contributions to particular projects that make a specific appeal to his sympathy, and by enlisting the active interest of his wealthy or at least well-to-do friends for the same good cause. He can, moreover, infuse genuine warmth and earnestness into his appeal to his people to make the collection for the Missions a notably generous sum, not an insignificant pittance.
Financial assistance, however, even the most liberal and bounteous assistance, is neither the sole need of the Foreign Missions in our day nor the only way in which the Church in America can manifest her apostolic spirit in their regard. Lack of money undoubtedly handicaps the activities of the missionaries and is a misfortune; but a dearth of missionaries paralyzes the work of evangeliza
tion and is a disaster. Funds for the workers in the foreign field cannot but be regarded as an urgent need; additional workers in that field may well be looked upon as an absolute necessity. Thoroughgoing zeal on the part of a parish priest who is imbued with a genuinely apostolic spirit can speedily amass some hundreds of dollars for missionary use; but to provide a priest or Brother or Sister who will go to the field afar to devote life's energies to apostolic work is an achievement measurably harder and notably less expeditious.
Once we grant the necessity of an end, however, reasonable trust in Divine Providence assures us that means for the successful accomplishment of that end can invariably be found by men of good will. If American missionaries are needed in Asia, Africa and the Southern Seas, as they undoubtedly are, then there are, just as undoubtedly, ways and methods by which American boys and girls in sufficient numbers can be inspired with love for such a vocation and trained for the work which it necessarily entails. The first step was taken at Techny, Ill., where the Fathers of the Divine Word, in 1909, established a Mission House for the exclusive training of American boys and young men for the Foreign Missions, although of course individual members of other religious orders and congregations in this country have been going to the foreign field from time to time for decades past. Corresponding to the work of the English Mill Hill Fathers and the priests of the French "Missions Etrangères," a beginning was made, in 1910, at Maryknoll, N. Y., in the matter of providing Ameri
can secular priests for the Foreign Missions. The progress of both Seminaries is a cause for legitimate pride on the part of the zealous promoters of these excellent works, and a proof that no insuperable difficulties lie in the way of America's doing her full duty with respect to Christ's commission, "Going, therefore, teach ye all nations." Even a partial fulfilment of that duty will, however, necessitate during the next few decades the establishment of more than two or three such seminaries as Techny and Maryknoll in different parts of this great and still growing country: and there is no parish priest in the land so overburdened with work or so straitened in resources that he may not render effective aid both in furthering the prosperity of the institutions of Techny and Maryknoll, and in fostering vocations that will justify the founding of several similar institutions.
That vocations for the Foreign Missions are in this country at present sporadic, exceptional, few and far between, will scarcely be contested by any one whose interest in the subject has led him to make inquiries; that their existence in fairly large numbers should become in the near future a normal outgrowth of the religious education imparted to our young people is a consummation not only devoutly to be wished, but, at least in the opinion of the present writer, entirely feasible, not to say comparatively easy to bring about. To speak first of the sporadic vocations existing here and there throughout the land, and the pastor's duty in connection therewith: young Catholics whom the grace of God is calling to a life of consecration
and self-sacrifice have a quasi-right to learn from their parish priests that at Maryknoll, at Techny, and in various religious orders and congregations of the country, opportunities are afforded for the developments of their vocation, for a training specifically designed to fit them for apostolic work in foreign fields. Nor will it argue very extraordinary zeal on the part of a pastor if, in a given case, he financially assists the aspirant to such a life in reaching the goal of his pious ambition. A little more generous employment, by the average priest, of good advice and material aid, of the pious word and the helping hand, would very probably, even now, multiply fourfold the youthful Americans making ready for the glorious work of spreading Christ's Gospel in heathen lands.
The exigencies of the time, however, call for something more than these relatively rare and exceptional and scattered vocations. What is imperatively needed is a measurably numerous band of youthful volunteers issuing from Catholic schools and colleges with the resolute desire to work for God where God is unknown. How can such a band, constantly increasing as the years go by, be brought into existence? By precisely the same means as have proved effective in other lands-in Ireland, France, and Belgium, to mention no others. The supernatural atmosphere must be imbibed by our young folk more habitually and in larger draughts than is the case at present. They must be taught from their earliest years that whole-hearted labor in the Lord's vineyard wherever situated, endurance of trials and sufferings
for God's sake, holiness, sanctity, the desire of martyrdom even, are not abnormal manifestations of genuine Catholic life, nor mere ideals so lofty as to be unattainable by themselves. They must learn, as they will learn if properly instructed, to walk by faith rather than by sight, to discern the action of Providence, not the intervention of blind chance, in the various circumstances of their own lives, as in the bigger concerns of the world around them. They must in a word be thoroughly imbued with the idea that the things of eternity are, after all, the only things of supreme import to men and women, young or old.
To become somewhat more specific: vocations to the Foreign Missions will abound in this country if our Catholic educators and our parish priests make due account of the spirit of romance and adventure and hero-worship which in some degree is found in all boys, and which in most boys exists in a notable degree. This spirit is naturally developed and fostered by the literature especially designed for the young-tales of exciting adventure, of discovery and exploration, of martial glories and naval perils, of treasure islands and pirates' booty, of Western cowboys and metropolitan detectives, of "moving accidents by flood and field," of foreign travel and life in the open and thrilling risks and courted dangers and the whole long catalogue of the fiction-writer's devices. Now, there is nothing surer than that the career of many an American youth is practically determined by just such literature, or rather by the spirit of romance to which it caters. Of the thousands of