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Lavers & Co., are evidently expecting a boisterous evening, while Eversley looks for all the world as if, like the war-horse in Job, "he smelleth the battle afar off."
Mgr. Eversley. Don't you believe him, Father John; we're all very peaceably inclined. Personally, I'm simply anticipating some good stories from our friends from the rural districts. It has been some time since we've had Fathers Brawley and Hennessy at the Club together. Fr. John. Hello, Father Jerry. I didn't know you were in town. Why haven't you been up to the house?
Fr. Brawley. I just got in an hour ago, Father John; and O'Connor insisted on my coming over here to meet all the fellows. I'll be up to see you before returning to St. Hubert, however. In the meantime, how are Mrs. Dolan and Maggie and Tim?
Fr. John. All well, though Tim complains occasionally of his "sciatteky." Mrs. Dolan will be delighted to see that they haven't starved you, out at St. Hubert. You're looking stout and hearty, Jerry.
Fr. Hogan. I say, Hennessy, what's the talk down your way about our next bishop?
Fr. Hennessy. Well, we are rather expecting to hear, any day, that our friend the Dean here has been notified of his appointment.
Fr. Hogan. I'm afraid that would be too good to be true. As the French say, 'tis the unexpected that always happens; and in all probability we'll get an outsider.
Fr. Dempsey. I'm not so sure of that. It would be pretty hard to find men better fitted for the position than some of our own clerics; and I shall not be a bit surprised if our next bishop proves to be one of our diocesan brethren, or even one of our Club's members.
Fr. Lavers. Thanks, ever so much, Father Larry; but don't you think I'm a little young yet for so responsible an office? Fr. John. You're getting over your youth, Tommy; but your inveterate solemnity and habitual taciturnity spoil your chances so far as the purple is concerned. Joking aside, I suppose we shall be getting news of the appointment very soon now. 'Tis over a month since the bishop's funeral.
Fr. McGarrigle. Six weeks, next Wednesday.
one reason given for adopting the new plan of episcopal appointments was the comparative quickness with which they could be made, I'm rather surprised that the announcement hasn't appeared already.
Fr. O'Connor. Apropos of the new plan, what do the priests in your section of the diocese think of its merits, Brawley?
Fr. Brawley. On the whole, their views are decidedly favorable. True, one or two of the consultors and irremovable rectors are a little disgruntled because of their lessened importance in the matter of naming the bishop; but the general opinion seems to be that the new plan will work out better than the old.
Fr. Hogan. By the way, Eversley, I had a visit the
other day from the Vicar-General of Neallyville, and he rather intimated that the new decree of the Consistorial Congregation is not too favorably looked on by our bishops themselves. What do you think?
Mgr. Eversley. There's nothing in it, Tim. In the first place, the original draft of the decree was sent to every bishop in the country to inform him as to what was proposed, and to get his views concerning modifications which he might · consider necessary; and a large majority of the prelates expressed themselves in favor of the change. In the second place, the advantages of the new plan are so patent that a man who has had experience of the disadvantages of the old style of proposing names of candidates for a vacant see can scarcely fail to acknowledge and approve them.
Fr. Hennessy. What particular disadvantages, apart from occasional long delays in making the appointment, were inherent in the old plan? Mgr. Eversley. Well, one of them was pointed out in a document issued by the Congregation of the Consistory about seven years ago. It strictly forbade the publication of the names of the candidates and enjoined the utmost secrecy concerning the deliberations of the clergy and the bishops in selecting the terna.
Fr. John. An excellent regulation, too. I remember when, a good many years ago, it became generally known that the late Father Timmons' name headed the terna for the diocese of Trocario, and then the appointment went to a priest
from another diocese altogether, poor Timmons felt pretty bad. He couldn't get it out of his head that some reflection had been cast upon either his ability or his character, or both. Fr. Dempsey. Yes; and another disadvantage of the old system was that the new bishop almost invariably felt himself somewhat handicapped by his knowing, as of course he did, who had voted for him, and who against. It made his position a little delicate in a number of circumstances, and occasionally restricted his full freedom of action. There'll be none of that inconvenience under the new system. Dean O'Reilly. On the face of it, don't you think, the new method should commend itself to all of us. If we have the elementary good sense to credit Rome with knowing its own business pretty nearly as well as we profess to know ours, the presumption is certainly in favor of the new decree. Loyalty to the Church demands our willing adhesion to her disciplinary rulings, and censorious criticism of this particular ruling is at least premature. Objectors may well wait until we see how the system works out in practice.
Mgr. Eversley. And even if it doesn't work so well as Rome hopes it will, provision is made in the decree itself for the trial of some other plan. Its final clause states that the decree shall be in force "ad nutum Sedis Apostolicae." In the meantime, I think we may all rest assured that our next bishop, no matter where he may come from, will justify Rome's wisdom in selecting
him. So far as I know, every prelate whose appointment in this country during the past quarter of a century came as a surprise, because he was chosen outside the terna, has invariably made good.
Fr. Lavers. All of which is doubtless very interesting; but I have a hunch that Fathers Brawley and Hennessy didn't come over here to-night to talk shop, or listen to it, either. I move, accordingly, that we change the subject. Fr. McGarrigle. I second the motion-and declare it carried. What's the last good thing you've heard in the line of stories, Father Jerry? Fr. Brawley. Stories! What stories, save chestnuts, do you suppose we get hold of out in the country? If you can stand a chestnut, however, the best one I have come across in a long while is Francis Murphy's introduction to an after-dinner speech in London at a St. Patrick's Day banquet. "I'm American," said he, "by residence, English by language, Irish by extraction, and half Scotch and half soda by choice." Fr. Lavers. That's all right, all right. Father Hennessy, what's your latest?
Fr. Hennessy. Like Father Brawley's, the one I've enjoyed best of late months is not new. I presume most of you have read it in Shane Leslie's "The End of a Chapter." "Tis about the challenge sent by the football captain of the Jesuit school, Beaumont, to the captain of Eton College. With characteristic superciliousness, the Eton man asked: "What is Beaumont?" The answer was really worth while: "Beau