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indiscriminate giving. In particular cases the head not infrequently yields to the heart, reason to feeling. The typical tramp who tells us a pathetic tale of being unable to get a job, and, parenthetically remarking that he hasn't had a bite to eat for two full days, begs for a quarter with which to purchase a meal, is very probably lying, and doubtless intends to invest the wished-for coin, if he gets it, in whiskey or beer; but, notwithstanding the numerous lessons taught us by experience, we are prone to tell ourselves that 'tis better to be cheated by a score of mendacious rogues than to allow a possibly truthful fellow-mortal to go hungry-and we hand out the money. From one point of view, our act is a corporal work of mercy; from another, the social-action as differentiated from the Christian-charity viewpoint, it is a reprehensible encouragement of dishonesty and thriftless vagrancy.
With increasing years and more thoughtful study of the world around us, we shall probably learn how to relieve genuine distress among the deserving without constructively promoting the increase in numbers of the undeserving. Our charity towards the tramp mentioned above, for instance, would be, subjectively, fully as meritorious-and, objectively, a good deal more prudentif, instead of giving him the price of a meal, we gave him our signed order for such a meal in a cheap restaurant or boarding-house. May it not be the additional trouble occasioned by this latter plan that prevents our adopting it? If so, our charity is not really so laudable as we may like to consider it.
It need hardly be said that, if many of the comfortable and well-to-do cherish a more or less unreasonable prejudice against organized charities, a still larger number of the beneficiaries of such charities look upon them with instinctive dislike, not to say positive repugnance. Sturdy old Betty Higdon, in Dickens' “Our Mutual Friend,” is a type not at all uncommon even in our own day of social conditions notably improved in many respects since the middle-nineteenth century. Her horror of lapsing into a state in which she would "come on the parish," to be committed to the poorhouse as a permanent lodger, or even a "casual," finds its counterpart in the sentiments of many of our own poor and unfortunate. Then I get numbed," explained Betty to her friend, "thought and senses, till I start out of my seat, afeard that I'm a growing like the poor old people that they brick up in the Unions, as you may sometimes see when they let 'em out of the four walls to have a warm in the sun, crawling quite scared about the streets. Trudging round the
country and tiring of myself out, I shall keep the deadness off, and get my own bread by my own labor. And what more can I want?" Dickens satirizes in his own effective style the constituted authorities' exaggerated condemnation of the old woman's independence; but his Betty Higdon remains a concrete exemplification of a truth thus phrased by Southey: "That charity is bad which takes from independence its proper pride, and from mendicity its proper shame.”
To the great mass of the unfortunate poor the
bread of dependence is more bitter than sweet; and this very fact furnishes a potent incentive to the social action which tries to prevent poverty and misery by removing their causes in as far as is practicable. Supporting a destitute family is no doubt a charitable act; but helping the members of that family to support themselves is both enlightened charity and a distinct social benefit. Securing some kind of remunerative occupation for a blind man or a cripple is far preferable to securing his recognition by the Associated Charities, or a similar organization, as a “case" to be looked after in accordance with the most up-todate scientific formulas for “ameliorating the lot of the deserving poor." The average pastor finds no lack of occasions for dispensing Christian charity pure and simple; but he can also readily discover multiplied opportunities for supplementing such charity by effective service in improving the social efficiency of the more necessitous of his flock.
A priest's social work is necessarily conditioned by his environment. The kind of parish in which he is stationed and the activities-commercial, industrial, agricultural, etc.—in which his people are engaged will naturally determine the particular beneficent enterprises to which he lends his encouragement and his personal service. In our American cities and our larger towns, the ordinary pastor is perhaps less called upon for active exertion in promoting organized social action than is his brother-priest in the small town, the village, or the rural parish; because in the more populous
centres special priests with special knowledge and fitness may be, and quite commonly are, assigned by their ordinaries to particular works; whereas in the smaller communities the pastor himself must supply the place of the trained social expert. On the other hand, the village or the rural parish does not ordinarily present so many or so complicated problems as do the larger centres; and its pastor as a rule has both more time to devote to the study of the conditions surrounding him, and a freer hand in organizing and promoting the definite works best suited to such conditions.
Organization and promotion, be it said incidentally, comprise the main duties of the pastor who interests himself in these social activities, whether in city or village, in town or country. As Father Plater points out: "It is now no longer possible—if it ever was-for the priest, personally and unaided, to relieve the poverty of a parish, care for the sick, manage the clubs, keep working lads faithful to their religious duties, fight the battle of religious education, promote the Catholic press, organize recreations, combat intemperance, and carry on the other hundred works which more or less directly concern the salvation of souls. No matter how great the priest's zeal or how unflagging his energy, he will find it impossible in these days to do by himself a tithe of the work that must be done."
If the work must be done, and the priest by himself is incapable of doing it, the assistance of the laity is obviously indispensable. And that assistance, it is gratifying to note, is more available
at present, is given with greater cheerfulness and in larger measure in this twentieth century than in any previous period of the world's history since the days specifically designated "the ages of faith." The "lay apostolate" is in our day no mere empty phrase but a name corresponding to a living and energetic entity that is accomplishing great things for the glory of God, the interests of the Church, and the spiritual as well as the material well-being of the Church's children. Catholic men and women in all classes of society are realizing that the slogan "the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man" is, after all, only a restatement of the two great commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, above all and thy
neighbor as thyself"; and they are seeing to it that in word and work they yield unquestioning obedience to both. Recognizing that outside the pale of the Church the first of these commandments is being progressively minimized where it is not entirely ignored, that the fatherhood of God is being overshadowed, not to say eclipsed, by the brotherhood of man, our Catholic laity are willingly proffering their help to the clergy in giving concrete expression to the intimate union of both ideas, in showing themselves true brothers of their fellowmen while remaining true children of their Heavenly Father.
Just how effectively this lay help may be utilized in a given parish will depend very much on the personality of its pastor, the sum total of his qualities and endowments. A buoyant temperament and a winning address are assets scarcely