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April 24, 1949     The Observer
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April 24, 1949
 

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News Section--Page 10A THE OBSERVER EDITION OF OUR SUNDAY VISITOR Sunday, April 24, 1949 Greta Palmer The Top Of Mind The 'Catholic Boom' Don't look now, but there is new villain lying in wait to threaten the American Catholic ... the villain of public popularity. Fair weather friends are appearing on all sides of us; summer sol- diers are offering to lend us their friendly services for our anti- C o m m u n i s t campaigns. The Church, which G. K. Chesterton reverently called "the Thing," is threatened with the horrible pos- sibility of becoming "the thing." a Rome is in grave danger of bein "taken up," Catholicism is becom- ing_ chic. Five of the non-fiction best-sell- ers among the season's books are religious in theme and Catholic in l authorship. The results are imme- diately perceptible to Catholic au- thors: their agents and pUblish- ers are inviting them to lunch to express a sudden, ardent interest in having them write about the Faith. Would they care to sign a contract--here, u~ my pen--to- day? Lecture agents are running through Who's Who with an un- precedented interest in the relig- ious affiliation of any entries who might be cajoled into a season's swing around the women's clubs. Would they like to take a crack at a lecture tour to sell spiritual- ity? Will they initial promotion literature in which their Catholi- cism is advertised in 18-point type ? Hollywood is also open to sug- gestions for a middling-expensive story along the lines of "Mon- sieur Vincent" according to the latest dope-sheets from the Coast. Magazine editors, who, two years ago, would have shuddered at the suggestion of a simon-pure article on any Catholic topic, now plead for detailed accounts of the life m monasteries and cloistered convents. Television producers implore someone to come up with a really red-hot notion with a Catholic theme. RISING MARKET This sudden enthusiasm for the Faith among purveyors of enter- tainment is extremely embarras- sing to the more articulate con- . verts. Warned by the priests who instructed them that they would "I wouldn't want you girls to re- peat this, but my Hurbert confided to me that for power you can't beat that hi-test gas at Bob Siefer- man's!" Bob Sieferman's Standard Service Opposite St. Vincent's Home Open 7 A. M. to I0 P. M. 1885 GOOD THINGS HAPPEN OVER COFFEE For 63 Years We Have Sold Only The Finest Quality COFFEE, TEAS and SPICES Always PURE-- ---No Substitutes Write today for complete list JAVA COFFEE MILLS 1708 S. Racine Ave. Chicago 80 Illinois EGELHOF FUNERAL HOME Tel. 26 E. Dubuque lUinois | Furniture and Rugs Chapel Home Ambulance Service Phones, Store 122, Nite Res. 70 GALENA, ILLINOIS NEWBERRY'S Wallpaper and Paint Headquarters Modern Styles in Wallpaper and Paint 12 W. Main Freeport suffer ostracism from the Faith, they discover that they have, in- stead, improved their situation. Braced to meet the slights and re- buffs of the Ku Klux Klan, they are disconcerted by receiving, in- stead, an almost sycophantic au- dience whenever they visit among their non-Catholic friends. Pro- pared to suffer some financial loss by conversion, they find that they have, instead, joined the Church in a rising market. Their tem- poral affairs are helped rather than hindered by the Catholic tag today. It would be a. thrilling moment in history if this sudden desire to spread the Faith sprang from a new and growing spirituality among the men who control mass media in America today. If the Pentecostal fire had descended on i the publishing houses and moving i picture studios, we might rejoice in having found so many zealous new lovers of the Church. Nor would the fact that these presi- dential and vice-presidential con- verts were able to publicize the truth, because of their temporal power, reduce our contentment over having them come home to Rome. The Church does not hold to the needle's eye warning so strictly that she rejects even a chairman of the board if his in- W. J. nile tentions are pure, his Baptismal promises sincere. But there has not been a marked stampede to the font among these men who are so eager to capitalize: on the Catholic trend. The men who wish to give us vast audiences for our Catholic viewpoint are not inclined to say, "I want to have these things heard because they are true." Their pre-contractual remarks are much more apt to run, "The public is in a mood for this." If "this" is Catholicism, they are content; if it were Arianism or as- tronomy, Buddhism or botany, they would be eagerly passed on to the public whatever experts in the matter could.be booked under the catchall phrase of "expert" or "celebrity." It is not the middle- men of entertainment who have made this a "Catholic year" in publishing and lecturing; they merely ride the coat-tails of the trend. THE RIGHT HUNCH Then is the public, itself, under- going a vast, mass conversion? Are Americans by the millions groping towards the Faith? Is there a tide of honest spirituality rising in the country today? Per- haps there is. And if there is, the men who know about it do not sit in offices on Broadway or Holly- wood Boulevard: they are too busy about their work in the par- ishes for that. If there is a real ground swell towards the Faith, we shall know about it very soon from the priests who give instruction to non-Catholics. Reports of numer- ous conversions have, indeed, been published recently; but they were i conversions made in Japan. No i spectacular statistics have yet been shown indicating that the American public is becoming Catholic. or is even conducting a flirtation with Catholicism serious enough to include asking for the first hour of instruction in the Faith. And yet there is a public interest in things Catholic: the sales rec- ords of the book-stores would prove ;it, even if the publishers' hunch i was wrong. And publishers' hunch- es are not usually that wrong . . . not if they stay in business for a second year. A COMMON FALLACY There is an honest, growing interest in the Church today. But if you wish to know its limits and its origin, you need only guide the subject to religion the next time you sit down with any politieally- conscious man, or any businessman whose job involves labor-relations, or any trade union leader. All of them, you will find, are ardent listeners to your talk about the Church. All of them base their interest on a common fallacy: they think that the Church is an organization and not an organism. They think--these fellow-travel- lers and fair-weather friends of ours---that the Church is an im- mensely clover institution, held to- gether by a series of clever gim- micks which they can imitate and use. They believe that Catholics know secrets of propaganda tech- niques which they can emulate for their own little concerns; that the hierarchy has discovered some ob- scure, psychological appeals which makes the faithful come to Mass on Sundays . .. and has kept them coming for two thousand years. They want their political party or business or trade union to share in the secret. They want to steal our fire. Prometheuse like, to light their cigaretes; and if they were aware of what they were up to, they would be guilty of a giant sacrilege. They are not aware. There is an honest and widespread belief among non-Catholics that the Church is slick. They believe she is a good ally in the war against Communism because her methods are cleverer and better-tried than those of the Communists. They are I delighted to find, now and then, that their own selfish interests accord with those of Rome . . . for Rome, they feel sure, has the best bag of tricks in history. Hasn't the Church outlasted every human dynasty? Isn't that proof that the Church is smart ? OUR SECRET WEAPON And if you try to explain that the Church has endured because she is Divine, these fellow-travel- lers will think that you are hold- ing out on them. And if you tell them that the cement which holds her members to their discipline is love, these fair-weather friends will laugh. The Church today has many ad- mirers. Catholics are treated with a new respect, in many groups. The only trouble is that the admirers Our Lady of Good Counsel-- Aurora, Low Sunday. St. Mary's -- Pecatonica, Low Sunday. St. Stanisalus-- Rockford, Low Sunday. are filled with admiration for qualities the Church does not pos- sess and does not claim to have. They are trying to discover our secret weapon for temporal vic- tory. They are not interested in hearing, they will not believe that the Church has values which hold the temporal to be trash. This is the tragedy of the "Catholic boom." Bishop Urges Family Mass Replace Children's Rite Lakewood, N. J.--(NC)--"Par- ents and children should pray the Mass together ~nd family Mass rather than the children's Mass should be the rule," Bishop William I A. Griffith of Trenton advocated before more than 300 students from 20 eastern Catholic colleges at the Liturgical Study Day held at Georgian Court College here. "I cannot stress too strongly th~ fact that Catholics attend Mass not as individuals, but as members in the Mystical Body of Christ," the Bishop declared. "It is you who are the ones to further this idea. 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