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HOULD any apology be needed for the publica
tion of this book, it may be found in the generous welcome accorded by prelates, priests, and press to “Priestly Practice," and "Clerical Colloquies.” Shortly after the appearance of the second volume, two years ago, the author received one day two kindly messages from distinguished members of the American hierarchy. One ran, “Don't be afraid to write a third book”; the other, “Keep on writing books of this kind; you can do it, and we need them.” The reviewers proved equally appreciative. “The American priest,” wrote one, “has an intensely human side. Books written for his edification and instruction, generally by foreigners, have as a rule overlooked this important consideration. It has been left to an American clerical writer to supply the want.” “And, last of all,” concludes another priest-editor, “the book touches upon precisely those points of the priestly life which, as a rule, are skimmed over or treated lightly in the literature destined for clerics."
If any further encouragement was required to determine the author to make yet a third venture in the field of sacerdotal literature, it was furnished by a prelate of the Eternal City. In the course of a lengthy notice of the two books mentioned above, the late editor of Rome wrote: “The author has now got into his stride, and it is to be hoped that he will yet give us more than one other bright, edifying, human book of the same kind, for there is a great dearth of them in the English language.
Obviously, there is plenty of scope left for other essays on kindred
topics, and those who have read these first two volumes will eagerly look forward to any others that Father Barry O'Neill may give us."
Some of these kindred topics are treated in the present volume, and the author indulges the hope that their nature will prove as interesting and their discussion as readable as, his friends are pleased to assure him, are the substance and style of his previous books. Three of the chapters, indeed, have already successfully run the critical gauntlet; they have appeared in the Ecclesiastical Review, whose editor, not less kindly than scholarly, has consented to their reproduction.
In view of such strictures on clerical imperfections as the reader will occasionally find in the following pages, it may be well to state that the author is far from arrogating to himself any such eminence in learning or such rectitude of conduct as would warrant his setting himself up as an authoritative censor of his brother priests. He disclaims any pretension, as he certainly has no right, to preach at any other cleric than one-the individual designated in Shakespeare's “I will chide no heathen in the world but myself, against whom I know most faults.” Every man has the right to censure and deplore his past errors and mistakes; and if, in the mirror which the author holds up to himself, any of his readers think they discern their own features, that, he submits, is rather their misfortune than his fault. In any case, oremus pro invicem.
A. B. O'N., C. S. C.
AMERICAN PRIESTS AND FOREIGN MISSIONS
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and see the countries; for they are white already to harvest.—John: iv, 35.
And seeing the multitude, He had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that had no shepherd.—Matt.: ix, 36.
Every member of the Catholic and Apostolic Church ought to consider it an honor and a glory to be included in the sublime commission to labor for the conversion of the pagan nations. Cardinal Wiseman.
native-born cleric racy of the soil, would probably resent as a downright calumny the imputation that he is narrow, circumscribed in his views, illiberal in his sympathies, and parochial in his activities. With not a little complacency, and with more or less justice, he is apt to consider himself quite the reverse of all this. If he does not exactly plume himself on his notable breadth of view, his widespread interest, his large-hearted tolerance, and his unselfish generosity, he is at least free from any consciousness that he lacks these qualities, and is accordingly fairly well satisfied with his attitude toward his friends and acquaintances and the world in general. Whether or not that satisfaction is really warranted is a question the discussion of which in these pages would perhaps be more futile than fruitful; but there can be nothing offensive in the suggestion that our average American priest may profitably examine just how much broad-mindedness, interest, sympathy, and generosity he habitually displays in connection with the Church's Foreign Missions.
Such an examination is peculiarly timely at present, because of the altered conditions of the Missions and their sources of supply since the outbreak of the European War. For the past four years the Catholic press in all lands of both hemispheres has repeatedly called attention to a fact the obviousness of which might be supposed to render iteration superfluous: that the upkeep and the progress of the Foreign Missions for the next decade or so will be dependent, principally, on the aid received from America. No reader of this book needs to be told why this is the case. The dearth of men and money in those lands which have heretofore been the mainstay of the Church's evangelizing forces in pagan countries is 'an outstanding and lamentable fact of contemporary history; and it is more than probable that the dearth will for some years survive the conclusion of the war that has brought it about. The urgent need of America's assistance is accordingly manifest.
As for the congruity, not to say the duty, of furnishing that assistance, no elaborate argument would seem to be necessary to convince any thoughtful cleric that the Foreign Missions have a quasi-right to expect American Catholics to contribute generously to their subsistence. When our Saviour said to His Apostles, “Going, therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,
and behold I am with you all days even to the end of the world," He evidently laid upon His Church a charge that was to endure as long as there remain on earth heathens to be evangelized. This apostolic commission is addressed to the Church of to-day not less forcibly than to that of the first century, and to the Church in America not less directly than to the Church in France, Belgium, Italy, or Spain. The work of actually preaching and baptizing belongs of course to the missionary priests; but, as Cardinal Wiseman declared some sixty years ago, “Certainly the whole Church—including, therefore, the laityhave their part in this solemn duty: the Apostles themselves collected the alms of the first faithful, to enable themselves to carry it out.”
In a general way, then, the obligation of the Catholic clergy and laity of this country to do their part in the evangelization of the heathen is acknowledged by all priests: the desideratum is that it should be avowed, and discharged, in a specific way by the individual pastor. The old adage that what is everybody's business is nobody's business is verified all too frequently in these United States when there is question of aiding the Foreign Missions. Not of course that there are not many priests who are acquitting themselves of their full duty in this matter; but it is probably true to say that such priests are the exception rather than the rule. If the average priest were as zealous in this good work as is the exceptional one, it is safe to assert that the financial contributions to the Missions would be increased by several hundred per cent. Is it not worth while for this average priest to take thought of his personal responsibility in the matter, and visualize the