Australian Catholic Truth Society - 3 April 1945, (No. 331.)
- E.155 - No 977
Of Course We Don't Mean You
SOME PARABLES OF MODERN LIFE
In the great secular university that boasted of its broadmindedness and
its freedom of academic teaching three professors lectured in adjacent
classrooms. And all three drew large and interested classes, for all
three were men who threw into their subjects the brilliance of keen
minds and the warmth of enthusiasm.
The first professor had strong communistic leanings. He taught
economics with a slant that turned the minds of his students favourably
toward Red Russia and its current (Stalinist) "glories," toward class
warfare as the solution of social injustice and the means towards the
advancing of the race, toward Marx as Allah and Lenin as his prophet.
And his students left his class with the red flag of communism waving
in their hearts.
The second professor used English literature to illustrate atheism. He
laughed at God as he laughed at the morality of Dickens' noble
heroines, and he piled up for supplementary reading those books which
treated God as a worn-out fetish and religion as the fashion of a crude
and credulous age. And his students gave up their faith in short order
and thought church-going decidedly silly stuff.
The third professor happened to be a convert to the Catholic Faith. He
found that history told a pretty interesting story of what the Catholic
Church had done for the development of civilization and the arts, and
he rehearsed the story as he saw it - simply and honestly - with a real
affection for the Church, which he considered the mother of modern
Europe and of our entire civilization.
At the end of the year the first two professors were summoned by the
president of the university and congratulated on the interest they had
evoked from their students.
"I like professors," he said, "who stimulate their group: to
intelligent and original thinking."
But to the third professor he spoke first regretfully and then sternly.
"Professor," he said, "I'm afraid I shall have to ask for your
resignation. I cannot permit the university classrooms and lecture
halls to be used as places for propaganda and proselytism. And I am
told that you are constantly trying to influence people - young,
impressionable people - in favour of the Romish Church. . . ."
First-born of Dame Gossip.
Mrs. Paul Bristow leaned across the little table and signalled to the
three who were with her. Her husband and the other couple followed her
gesture across the verandah of the country club to the somewhat dim
"Doesn't that man with the carnation in his buttonhole look like Will
Gary"' she asked.
The three knitted their brows as they studied the man who was dancing
with a small blonde young woman and then nodded agreement.
"He's a little tall for Gary;" replied her husband, "but. there is a
"Well, that certainly isn't Mrs. Gary." laughed the other woman. "Even
at her best she never looked like that gay little blonde."
They all laughed a bit cruelly, and the incident passed.
But at her bridge club the following day Mrs. Bristow remarked during a
deal: "There was a man at the country club last night who looked
exactly like Will Gary. He had a carnation in his buttonhole, and he
was dancing with a cure little trick who certainly was not Mrs. Gary."
The dealer, who had heard the remark only above her rather noisy.
concentrated shuffle, that evening at her dinner party repeated the
story with a slight shift in particulars.
"Mrs. Bristow saw Will Gary dancing at the country club the other
evening with a blonde. And you know mighty well that Helen Gary is
black as a crow."
"Are you sure it was Will Gary?" asked a guest who was merely making
"Sure? He was wearing a carnation in his lapel," she retorted, as if
she were giving circumstantial evidence.
The next day in two separate offices, at two separate luncheon tables,
and in the midst of three separate bridge hands, different persons used
almost identical words:
"Will Gary has certainly been running loose lately. He was at the
country club the other night, a carnation adorning his Tux. and cutting
corners with cute little blonde. Poor Helen Gary!"
Eventually a friend brought the story to Helen Gary. For a moment
she suffered beyond words. Then she smiled as she remembered that on
that particular weekend her husband had driven to Chicago with her. She
recalled. too, that he loathed carnations.
But the story never died. It was
immortal, as all ghosts and lies are immortal.
Shepherds Argue, Wolves Raid the Fold.
Once upon a time there was a motorist in dire distress. Nearby were
located two repair stations fully equipped to save him. His powerful
car had stalled across the main line of the railroad. The front and
back wheels straddled the track, and the body was in the path of an
To his intense relief the driver learned that the first train, a
limited, was not due for half an hour. So he phoned the nearer repair
station and asked that a truck be sent out immediately. As time passed
and the truck failed to arrive, he phoned the second station, imploring
And behold! the trucks and crews from both stations arrived at the same
time. They looked at the beautiful new car standing in peril; they
glanced at the nervous owner; finally they looked at each other.
"What are you doing here?" demanded the driver of the first truck.
"He sent for me," retorted the driver of the second.
"Well, it's my job. He sent for me first."
"You didn't come. So it's mine."
"Not on your life! I'm here, and I stay. You beat it."
The owner of the car looked wildly from one to the other. "I don't care
which one does the job," he cried, pitifully, "but save my car."
"Then tell that other guy to scram," they both answered simultaneously.
"Why can't you both do it? Together you'd have the car off the tracks
in a second:"
"Together?" retorted the first. "Give him the credit for the job? I'll
do it alone, or I won't do it at all."
"That," the second replied, "goes for me double. He always wants the
glory for every job, but he won't get it this time."
"Send him about his business, and I'll do the job in a jiffy."
And while the owner pleaded and the drivers glared at each other, the
fast freight swept down the tracks and hurled the beautiful car into a
From the lovely spire of the church came the sound of the tower clock's
striking noon. Then slowly, rhythmically, and with all reverent dignity
the bell tolled the Angelus.
Below in the crowded street the trolley motorman unthinkingly drowned
out the sound with the wild clangour of his warning bell as a
truck stopped across the rails.
The truck driver put his hand on his klaxon and made the air hideous
with his protests directed at the woman driver who had brought her
brakes to a shriekingly noisy and perilous stop before a scattering
crowd of children.
The young man hurrying to keep a date muttered, "It's after twelve, and
she's late again." And the young lady hurrying to her date heard the
bell and whispered to herself, "This will teach him not to count too
much on me."
The dentist slammed his office door, hung up the sign "Out for Lunch;
Back at One O'Clock," and in happy release he bolted for his favourite
restaurant, where he bolted his favourite dish. Next door two
businessmen gripped hands across the table. and one said to the other,
Twelve o'clock. He didn't arrive. His option is gone, and we get the
Their weary stenographer grumbled through exasperated lips, "If they
don't get going, I'll miss Marie. And it was her turn to pay for
But along the busy street a hurrying little cashier retired into the
garden of her heart and saluted Mary, handmaid of the Lord. And a
young college man rushing from class stopped and, removing his hat,
said the prayer that honoured God come to earth in human form. And
between blasts of his whistle and mechanical gestures with his hands a
traffic policeman slipped into a cool little house of Nazareth and
watched an angel bring to men the loveliest message ever spoken.
For the rest of the world it was just twelve o'clock noon. For three
loving souls it was the hour when God stooped to men and dwelt for our
sakes in the bosom of the Virgin Mary.
Ken looked at the picture of the girl in the green leather frame
through a mist that blurred and almost obliterated her lovely features.
He walked across his room, glad that his room-mate had not returned
from the holidays, and collapsed rather than sat on the bed. Picture in
hand, he looked into her eyes and his own heart.
Just what emotion predominated, he was not sure: a lonely hunger for
the girl he had met and "rushed" over four summer week-ends; despair at
the hopelessness of his relatively penniless position and his
dependence on his own people; fury at her father, whose letter to his
father had precipitated the break.
Of course, they planned to marry. They loved each other as they would
never love another human being. What if she was young and still in
junior high school and he just a freshman in college, his first year at
University? She knew her own mind, and so did he. She had promised to
wait, and he knew that nothing on earth would change his loyalty and
deathless love. Now they were sending her to a boarding school college
- in California, he thought, ironically, so that rivers and mountains
would lie between them.
He rose, his jaw set, his eyes narrowed in grim determination.
"Dearest," he said, addressing the picture, "they can separate us now;
they can't keep us apart forever. You'll wait for me, as you promised.
And when I've made my first money, I'll come to carry away the only
girl I ever will, ever can, love."
And he put the picture tenderly in the bottom drawer of his dressing
The two seniors went about the final cleaning of their room with an
affected gaiety they were far from feeling. Graduation two days away
meant the end of four years' association and a friendship too deep for
analysis. About them trunks yawned, suitcases stood open like
consumingly hungry jaws, and drawers cataracted their disorderly
"Gosh, what a dressing case!" groaned Bill.
"Dump the drawers out, and we'll sort the stuff," Ken ordered.
Obediently Bill emptied the drawer on to the bed. On top of the mussed
ties, holey socks, and forgotten handkerchiefs, programmes, ribbons,
and scraps of paper lay a picture framed in green leather. Bill picked
it up and whistled appreciatively.
"Wow! what a knockout! You've been hiding her from me. Who is she.
Ken?" Over his room-mate's shoulder Ken looked at the picture of the
lovely girl. "Oh, a kid I played around with during my freshman
vacation before starting Uni.. Awfully sweet kid. We were daft about
"What was her name?"
Ken paused in honest thought.
"I'll think of it in a minute." he said. "Darned if I can remember it
In the presence of the recording angel, flung there through the
shattered windshield of their Rolls Royce, stood the dignified
middle-aged couple. Delightfully enough even in heaven's ante-chamber
they were without self-consciousness or timidity. When one has met
presidents and kings and carried the heavy responsibilities of a large
corporation and of a distinguished social position, one meets even
angels with calm and poise.
The recording angel wrote rapidly in his book the answers to his first
"Sounds like getting a passport," the woman whispered, in a rapid
"Maybe it is," the man answered, ". . . let's hope to the right
His business affairs were things he was quite willing to talk over with
an angel. He had been honest in dealings, just to his competitors, and
a friend to his employees. She felt she had nicely balanced in life her
social pleasures with her charitable work, and she told the angel so.
"Married?" the angel asked, smiling at so obvious a question,
"Over twenty-seven years," he almost bragged.
"How many children?"
For the first time he hesitated slightly. But his wife answered,
"Three. Two girls and a boy."
"Why, yes," replied the man, his tone a little like the one he used
with somewhat duller directors. "When we married, we decided to have
three; we felt we were doing full justice to posterity and full justice
to the children themselves. . ."
His voice died out. For the angel was looking off into space in a most
"Please don't think we were always well
to do. We had a pretty hard time of it during the first ten years, and
we felt that children would handicap us and we would handicap them. . .
The angel looked at the two abruptly. From that moment his eyes moved
simply from the face of the man to the face of the woman.
"We felt," she explained, "we could care beautifully for three, give
them the best education, leave them well off -"
"-be to them the sort of parents we could not have been to more than
"And I really was not very strong."
"No. It wasn't fair to burden her with more children."
"Most of my friends had only two children. We had three:"
"Small families are quality families. Large families are a little
vulgar, common, without the finer instincts."
"And only the Catholic Church disapproved of our conduct."
The angel rose and wearily pulled back a curtain.
"He will finish examining you." he said, stressing the He most
"Who?" demanded the couple together, sudden terror in their voices.
"The lover of little children," replied the angel.
She was extraordinarily lovely to look at, and he asked to be
introduced to her. She smiled when she met him, and his heart missed a
beat and then beat three times in almost syncopated fashion. Yes; she
was even more beautiful than he had first thought. And what a smile!
what a smile!
"May I have this dance?" he asked.
She smiled, revealing perfect teeth, and said, "Sure."
"Lovely party," he murmured in her ear.
"You said it," she answered, with a quick play of dimples.
"And you are quite the loveliest thing about it."
"Aw, what a line!" Her blush was exquisite.
"And isn't the music gorgeous?"
"You're telling me?"
He tried her on the movies. What did she think of "David Copperfield"?
"Lousy," she replied.
He tried books. "Have you read 'The Forty Days of Musa Dagh?' "
"Gosh, no! Sounds terrible high-brow to me."
He returned to a certain and "sure-fire" subject. "Your gown is really
the most distinctive gown in the room."
"Whadda ya mean distinctive?"
"Why, it fits you, your mood, your style:"
"Say, ain't you the kidder though!"
"Not at all. I really mean it."
"Oh, yeah? You and who else?"
The dance was over, and he took her back to her place. He did not know
he could be so exhausted.
"Thank you very much. You dance beautifully."
"I bet ya tell that to all the girls," she replied.
As he walked away, he repeated out of some remotely remembered fairy
tale: "Once there was a beautiful girl. But because she insulted a
fairy, she was doomed. Each time she opened her mouth to speak, out
fell, not a pearl, but a toad. . . ."
He tossed the letter aside and walked to the window. Then he turned,
strode back to his desk, picked up the letter, and read it once more.
Through clenched teeth he swore. Of course, he had known she was
rottenly selfish, but just the same it hurt to be thrown over for
another chap just because that chap had millions. She had left him, but
he was sure she still loved him - as much as she could love anyone.
"Love?" He laughed aloud. "There is no unselfish love."
It was Holy Thursday night.
Absorption in work carried him successfully through morning. By
afternoon he was down to the report that had been haunting his
consciousness. Now he considered it carefully. The man who had drawn it
up was with a rival firm; he was a trusted secretary who needed money
badly, and because of that need had placed this complete statement of
his company's financial position in the hands of a relentless
On the basis of the information disclosed in this report it would be
easy to undersell his rival for a period of about four months. The
rival firm could not withstand that pressure.
Yet he hated to crush another man's business in these days, especially
since his informant was a nice chap with a growing family.
"Oh," he sneered, settling down to assimilate all the treacherous
information, "the world moves forward, not on pious platitudes, but
through the relentless grasping of opportunities by the strong. A great
man can never afford to take time to think of anyone but himself."
It was three o'clock on Good Friday
The morning sun forced its glaring way through the drawn curtain. The
man rolled over and buried his head in the pillow, but even that did
not blot out the light. He turned and saw his crumpled evening clothes
on a chair. His tongue was thick, and with painful twitchings he
acknowledged his headache.
"Some party!" he almost moaned. "A great gang of rowdies! a great gang!
Well, get what you can out of life. Money and a good time, that's all
that matters. When you're dead, it's all over."
It was the morning of Easter Sunday.
Leaders Are Lost.
Tom Jackson slipped off the freight train as it drew into the yards.
Externally he looked merely one of the negro tramps who by the thousand
were moving about the country. Internally he was laughing as one might
laugh at a great, precious, and privately owned joke.
For Tom's negro mother and father, down in Tennessee, were keeping for
him in a lower drawer of a rickety dresser the Ph.D. he had won, less,
he thought, in classes than while he'd slung dishes in a hash house on
Chicago's lower Madison Street. Only a sympathetic professor knew how
much of that thesis was taken out of the hearts of the men who had
talked over the beans and pork and liver and bacon served them by an
observantly watchful student waiter.
Now, Tom was in the north again, his career before him. With no
overweening pride but with a fair estimate of his own abilities he felt
he had a mission to his people. He could teach them. With his gift of
eloquence he could lead them. He had been trained to think straight,
and he could give them truth. If . . . . . . . .
. . . . if he was sure of the truth. The days in the hash house and in
the university library had taught him that there were two possible
truths: the truth that was Catholic; the truth that was Communist. And
now he had come back to find the real truth before he plunged into a
leadership to be gained over his people by patience and skill and
The lovely, restful vesper light filled the parish church. An altar boy
was lighting candles that were far enough away to make them seen like
little glittering golden stars. Tom, still in his travel-soiled
clothes, slipped into a rear pew, regarded the golden glitter as merely
a skilful setting, and directed his attention to the young priest who
was talking from the pulpit. Keenly perceptive of sincerity, Tom felt
what he could not actually know - that the young priest was speaking
from his heart things that he believed and cherished, things that he
had carefully thought out and now clung to with something like passion.
And the heart under the battered old clothes was stirred.
"What hope for any world reformation," the priest was saying, "until we
have filled our hearts with love of our fellows? What chance to gain
converts that we do not love? What right have we to plead for the
theory of social justice until we have learned to live justly, giving
to all men - however dressed, however shaded - their rights, their
opportunities, our sympathetic understanding?"
Here was sincerity, force, conviction rooted in -
A heavy hand fell on the shoulder of the negro. He looked up into a
surly, unfriendly face above working clothes.
"Why don't you go to your own church?" the man demanded. "This is a
white church. Your parish is down the street. We don't want niggers
The light from the meeting hall streamed out into the street. Tom could
hear a voice talking in a high, excited pitch.
"Until we rise in our might and strike with violence and bloody
revolution those who exploit us and oppress us, the hated classes who
have ground us down . ."
Tom swung from the sidewalk through an open doorway. Near the door
stood a white Communist, his face twisted with the hatred inspired by
the speaker's eloquence. Tom hated hatred as he had loved the love in
the voice of the priest, and yet . . .
The Communist near the door turned and smiled.
"Hello, comrade," he said, and held out his hand.
in Other Days . . .
[This parable was originally written
in 1942 and is set 1,000 years hence. Change the date to 1,000 years
from today and you'll discern the same lesson!]
The Catholic Associate Press dispatch for May 30, 2942, gives the
following synopsis of the television address given last evening over a
network that included, besides the earth, Saturn and Mars. The speaker
was Dr. Simon Hildebrand, famous lay theologian of Metropolis, United
States of Africa.
"The celebration," said the orator, "of the Feast of Pentecost recalls
the glorious miracles of the birthday of the Church and the fact that
the age of miracles is sadly over.
"We in the year 2942 hardly realize that in our miracleless age we
differ not only from the early Christians, but from their brothers and
sisters of, say, the year 1942. Those two periods were alike in this:
Both were ages of miracles.
"With wonder we read of the miracles which during the twentieth century
at Lourdes poured forth from the hands of her who was with the Apostles
at Pentecost. Miracles like those of apostolic times filled the age one
thousand years ago.
"The popular saint of the period was the Little Flower. Dusty volumes
recently unearthed by a research student who was digging in the ruins
of the Little Flower Shrine in Lisieux hold records, gathered from all
parts of the world, of miracles heaped on miracles. A surprising number
of saints were canonized during that era: St. Joan of Arc, the famous
Cure d'Ars, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, St. Louise de Marillac, young
Gabriel the Passionist. And authentic miracles are recorded for each of
these canonizations or beatifications.
"Why the men of the twentieth century lived in a very atmosphere of
miracles. Heaven must have seemed close indeed to those people. From
our remoter workaday miracleless world we regard the twentieth century,
that era of miracles and heavenly visitations, as close indeed to the
"Upon your tongue," said the wise old philosopher, "I place a magic
word. Use it constantly. It will crush your every doubt and frighten
away any man who dares attempt to steal your faith."
The young traveller smiled, accepted the word, and went his way. His
bright young college friend met him and bragged:
"I don't believe in God. Evolution has made God unnecessary."
The magic word tripped from the young traveller's tongue.
"Why?" he asked.
"Oh, because . . uh . . . well things just evolved, that's all. My
professor proved it to me."
Gaily the young traveller laughed and continued his journey.
The scoffer met him with a cynical grin. "Are you still a Catholic?" he
demanded. "I gave that up long ago. It insults the intelligence of an
This time the magic word came unbidden.
"That's obvious. It's perfectly clear. Everyone admits it. I read it in
a little blue book."
The young traveller laughed more gaily than ever and pushed ahead. The
girl who met him was sweet to look upon but glib of tongue.
"Religion's so out of date," she said. "lt doesn't fit our generation,
But when he uttered the magic "why?" she looked puzzled and a bit
"Oh, you see . . . science . . . discovery,. . um . . modern thought,
and all that . . there's just no place . . . and the
lecturer was so charming when he proved it."
Gently, for he was gentle of manner, he bowed, smiled, and left her.
So armed with one magic word, he walked safely among snares aimed at
his feet and roses aimed at his heart and sneers aimed at his faith -
walked safely through life to
God and eternal happiness, which are the only answer to the magic why.
Way for the Lady.
The battery of news cameras was trained like rapid-fire guns on the
approaching limited Express train. Reporters stood with pencils
hovering nervously above fresh notebooks. An artist set his pad more
firmly into the bend of his arm. A newspaperwoman who specialized in
heart throbs fluttered about among the redcaps like a sparrow among
Behind the stretched ropes an eager crowd surged forward and back,
breaking in waves against the policeman's tough arms, murmuring louder
and louder as the limited pulled in.
"There she comes!" a voice cried, and those around echoed the cry,
knowing very well that she referred, not to the train, but to the
famous woman who was passing in flight through their city.
Then out of a day coach stepped a tall, elderly nun. The record of her
calm strength of soul was written in every line of her beautiful face.
The record of her achievements was carved into the three orphanages,
five hospitals, and two social centres that she had built and into the
vast educational system which, under her direction, had pushed forward
the training of little children. God considered her a most important
Cameras clicked; pencils speeded over blank pages with feverish haste;
reporters rushed forward, jabbing the air with eager gestures; the lady
feature writer swirled down in a cloud of the autumn's latest
advertised perfume; a name passed from lip to lip; and a mighty shout
of welcome went up from the crowd.
For leaning from the platform of the rear Pullman, her Hollywood
designed hat and suit striking a perfect chord of colour, was the
talking screen's most famous siren smiling a practised smile as she
passed on her way to Reno for her fourth divorce.
Is Not Lost.
Even though the client near his desk was now just another washed-up
bankrupt, the vice-president of the famous brokerage house regarded him
with more than professional sympathy. One does not soon forget a client
whose account ran far into the millions.
"I suppose your accounting department is absolutely accurate?" the
client asked, with a wisp of hope in his voice. The vice-president
nodded slowly. "Then," said the client, grimly, "everything is lost.
All my investments are gone."
He rose and shrugged his shoulders, wondering in a vague sort of way
whether he could start life again at sixty-one.
"Thank you," he said. "I'm keeping my car and chauffeur for the day.
Here's my address in case - well, just in case."
The vice-president glanced at the pencilled address, clearly in the
boarding-house district of the city. But before he could comment
sympathetically the client was gone.
At the door of his limousine, Peter, chauffeur for many years, stood at
"Just drive . . , anywhere . . for the rest of the afternoon. Then
leave me at my new address. It's all lost, Peter. It's all gone."
"Not all," protested Peter. But his employer was inside the limousine
and the door closed against him.
At the wheel Peter hesitated a moment and then with set jaw turned the
car away from the financial district and toward a less familiar section
of town. The bankrupt paid no attention until the speed of the car
slackened. He looked up to see faintly familiar walls. Quickly he
rolled down the window of the car and looked out. Up from a sweeping
lawn rose a magnificent building, its windows bright with white
curtains. From the playground at the side he heard childish laughter. A
group of little boys and girls were at play, with two Sisters walking
among them. The machine was almost crawling as Peter drove it past the
portico over which was graven his master's name.
With a flash of memory the scene recurred: the old priest who had
pleaded so eloquently for the orphans; the silent Sisters who had sat
awaiting the "great man's decision"; his impatience with the whole
intrusion upon his busy day; the sudden and inexplicable burst in which
he had impatiently called his secretary and signed a tremendous cheque
(the market had been at its peak, and the sum had seemed hardly more
than a good price for which to be relieved of importunity); the
newspaper publicity he had hated; the brief visit to the orphanage that
annoyingly bore his name. . . And now children playing about his gift
home, and sisters acting as mothers to the orphans of earth.
"I thought," said Peter, over his shoulder, "you might like to see that
it's not all lost, sir."
"No," said the bankrupt, and he suddenly smiled. "That is the one
investment the crash has not swept from me."
He squared his shoulders and faced the future with new confidence.
World Without Christmas.
He fell asleep that Christmas Eve and dreamed that Christ had never
come to earth and that there was no such feast as Christmas. Bleak,
dead December laid its cold clutch on the hearts of men; no evergreens
blossomed miraculously in shops and homes; no bright little clusters of
holly berries appeared like harmless sparks against fur coats; no
blazing trees with their incredibly gay fruit compensated for the dead
trees that filled the dreary gardens of the world; no holiday bundles
passed from hand to hand to waken smiles in many hearts.
He saw with horror that December 24 did not end in the glory of
Midnight Mass, for there could be no glad rebirth of a Child who had
never been born. No choirs echoed the "Gloria" of angels. No modern
feet ran eagerly in the footsteps tracked by shepherds and Wise Men.
The joy of children was not found in hearts that had never yearned
lovingly over the Child of Mary.
Human hope lay like a dead ember on the hearthstone of the world.
Belief in God's love was wrapped in a shroud of black despair. Men
looked upon one another with disgust and hatred; they had never joined
hands over the crib of Bethlehem.
There was, he dreamed, no Christmas, and the world was a sad and
That was his dream, and it passed like a dream. For he woke to the
sound of the world's loveliest song, "Adeste Fideles," and he looked up
to see lips smiling with mirth, mankind quickened with love of children
because of its love of a Child - and the face of the Infant Christ
smiling warmly over the world's December.
Into the dead world of winter a Child had come with the fulness of life
and its best joys.
Easy to Fight.
Mike looked up sheepishly from the toe he had been polishing with
nervous concentration on the back of his trouser leg. Then still more
nervously he glanced over his shoulder as an ambulance rushed by,
clanged around the corner, and disappeared.
"Sure, Father, I'm a Catholic. Sure I've kept the Faith," he said,
while he studiously inspected his split knuckles.
"Then why, Mike," the priest asked patiently, "haven't you made your
Easter duty? Why do I never see you at Mass? And why does your poor
wife come weeping to tell me about your periodic drunks?"
Mike's smile was a blend of embarrassment and ingenuousness.
"Sure, Father, I'm a Catholic. Sure I've kept the Faith. But, Father,
I'm a hard-working man, and it's little time enough I have to be comin'
The priest sighed hopelessly; and Mike, relieved of the cold eye that
had been holding him impaled, slid past the priest and disappeared down
the street with systematic speed. Mike was one of the priest's worst
problems: Catholic-bred, yet never at church, the Faith in his heart
but a thirst in his throat that seemed to drown every other
Unconsciously the priest followed the path of the ambulance round the
corner to where it stood backed before a notorious tavern. The hitherto
discreetly curtained window had been smashed by a heavy stool that had
been hurled through it. One badly beaten figure was reposing in the
ambulance, a second was limping into it on the arm of an impatient
"What happened?" the priest asked of a youngster who ran up smiling and
touched his cap.
"Mike did it," he replied, boastfully. "One of those guys said the Pope
was a wop and he hoped Mussolini would put him where he belonged, and
Mike cleaned up the whole place."
The priest walked on with an even heavier heart. It is so easy to fight
for the Faith and so hard to live it.
Knock . . .
About the luncheon table sat three young matrons. All of them had
finished a Catholic-college course, each in another school; all had
worked successfully for a brief space: and all were now happily
married. They talked of schools and education.
Said the eldest: "One thing sure, my daughter is going to get a convent
education, from kindergarten to college. That is something she is not
going to miss."
The slightly younger, very blonde matron shook her head.
"I don't see your point. Personally, I've always been sorry that I
didn't go to a State university. The Sisters haven't the specialized
training for college teaching. They are fine in the grammar schools,
and I do think their academies are lovely - if slightly impractical -
places. But the nuns really are not equipped to teach in college. If I
had it to do over again, I'd go to a big school with a big name and big
The youngest looked at her earnestly. "Of course I don't agree with
you," she said, "but I was just thinking that if the Sisters haven't
all the training they should have (though certainly most of them have
the training), it isn't always their fault. I've been told that they
are wonderfully generous with girls who can't afford to pay the tuition
fee. I've heard that they carry many girls right through college.
"Perhaps if all the girls in Catholic colleges paid, as girls have to
pay when they go to State universities, the Sisters might be able to
afford more extensive training and more ample opportunities for
"We never knew who paid and who didn't pay tuition in my class; but
I've always been glad that my tuition was paid in full. It was the
least I could give the nuns in return for all they did for me."
The very blonde matron buried herself in her salad. For, like most
alumnae who pick defects in their college, criticize their former
teachers, and regret that they did not go elsewhere, she was one of the
large army carried tuition-free by the gracious charity of the Sisters.
. . .
He'd been practising law for about three years, and he knew he was a
failure. He had no clients. He had no prestige. He hadn't won a single
case. And he figured rightly enough that there was just one thing for
him to do - get a job in a grocery store.
So he did. But he knew he was a failure, and he was ashamed that he'd
made such a "fist" of his law.
She went out to Hollywood as a beauty prize winner. The home town
turned out at the train to see her on her way. There were speeches and
flowers, and the mayor kissed her on the cheek, and news cameras
cranked as the train pulled out.
Only she found she lacked one rather unimportant thing. She couldn't
act. She looked heavenly, but before a camera she had all the acting
ability of a totem pole.
So she came skulking back to the home town and got a nice job as a
waitress. But nobody ever heard her talk about "my days in Hollywood."
People don't listen to failures.
Their's was a fashionable and very beautiful wedding - flowers, ushers,
candles, the proper services, "Lohengrin" played with a tremolo stop,
vows, congratulations, honeymoon and all. And everybody said, "They are
made for each other," and "Aren't they the lucky young couple?"
Only she couldn't cook - or she wouldn't. He was bad-tempered and
didn't care who knew it. They were no more fitted to be parents than
they were to be Arctic explorers. So they went into the divorce courts,
and the judge pronounced their marriage a failure and sent them on
their separate ways.
The newspapers headlined, and their friends celebrated. And they
actually seemed proud of the fact that they were such rotten failures,
such complete "flops" in one of life's really important vocations.
Moral: The only failures that act
like successes are the failures that rush into the divorce courts.
the Sun Shone.
Blue Monday, and a succession of tragedies filling the little study
A tearful letter from Jack Carey's mother stated that Jack was back
from the State university and definitely out of the Church.
A newspaper notice on the society page blazoned the fact that little
Clare Bowen (it seemed only yesterday that she was dressed in the white
of her first Communion) had been fashionably married to her
non-Catholic love, a minister officiating.
Carmody, back again and much the worse for wear and tear, had taken
another very fragile pledge.
And the new book on the table screamed another fierce attack on the
Holy Father. Then the phone rang insistently. Down near the gas tanks,
which distinguished but did not dignify the "other half" of the parish,
Mrs. Murphy's little boy with the fractured kneecap was crying to see
his friend the priest.
Gloom in his heart and a feeling that the whole world was going to the
dogs by limited express enveloped the parish priest as he jammed on his
hat and started down for the gas-tank district.
And then . . .
Two sweet-looking girls, coming out of church after a visit, paused as
he passed, smiled, and said, "Good morning, Father."
The wildest boy in the block shifted his bat to his left shoulder,
touched his perforated cap, and grinned a friendly, if sheepish,
A battered old Ford cut in to the curb with a terrific grinding of
brakes, and a clear-faced chap with a freshman-college cap cried, "Give
you a lift, Father?" and waved a friendly hand when the priest said he
needed the walk.
Then two little girls, scientifically rolling up their jump rope,
sidled up hopefully and began to trot beside him. "May we walk with
you?" one of them proposed, shyly, but confidently.
And there ahead of him, on the battered porch of the Murphy cottage,
the little rascal with the fractured kneecap was holding out his arms
in wild delight and shouting his welcome to the priest.
Looking around him, the priest suddenly realized that the sun was
shining, the sparrows in the gutter were really songbirds, the sky was
abnormally blue, and God's good world was filled with grand and
Add Your Check.
The Incident: The waiter in the night club with elaborate unconcern
lays the check face downward on the table. The youthful host (age about
twenty) picks it up, looks at the red-pencilled total at the bottom of
the card, smiles in an expansive way to cover the jolt he has received,
pulls out some bills and slaps them down on the table. Deftly the
waiter scoops them into his hand.
A larger number of people than you might fancy have noticed that the
young man did not check over the items or add up the bill. The incident
elicits the following mental comments:
The Young Host: I hate tightwads who add up a check. I'd rather be
cheated than be cheap. And I'll bet everyone around here thinks I'm
rolling in money.
The Waiter: I thought he was that kind. Anyhow, if he had added it up,
I could have claimed that the three bucks added on was a mistake.
The Frivolous Girl in the party: Isn't he grand? He's a real spender. I
wish he was interested in me instead of in her. Maybe I can make him
like me before I need that spring coat.
The 'Bus Boy: Someday I'll have money to throw away like that; but
believe me, I won't throw it away on cheap waiters.
The Other Young Man: Grandstander! But I should worry; I'm not paying
The Young Man's Father (at home and running through his chequebook
stubs): He certainly spends my money pretty easily. Let's hope he'll go
a bit easy on his allowance this month. Money's tight. But then money's
always tight except when you're spending somebody else's.
The Sensible Girl in the party: I'm sorry. Mother told me once that a
man who was a fool with money before marriage would be tight with it
afterward. Free spender in a night club, stingy about the home kitchen.
Well, I won't let myself really like him. He's such a likeable fellow,
too -except for that.
The Elderly Gentleman at the next table: He's the fellow that was in
the office today with a letter of introduction from Smith of the Third
National. Let a careless spender like that into our firm? Not while I
live. I must remember to tell Johnson to write him that we have no
The Night Club Manager: Another sucker.
The Young Man himself: Well, we can go now. I certainly made an
impression on this place tonight.
Best of Natural Gifts.
"God and fortune have been good to us," said the eldest of the group
that sat near the window of the famous club. "Blessings have been ours
in abundance. Sometimes I've wondered what you think is the greatest
natural gift God gave you."
"Wealth," cried the first,
unhesitatingly. With that I have bought all other natural blessings."
"Health and strength,"
answered the second. "Without them nothing keeps its savour."
"Education and travel," came
the third answer. "They have unlocked for me the world and its
"My home," replied the next,
"with the lovely family it shelters and the peace and safety I have
"Adventure," the answer of the
last, "and the thrill of the unknown."
"And you," asked one of them, addressing the man who had asked the
question, "what is your greatest natural blessing?"
"The thing that has made success enjoyable and failure endurable, that
has made friendship sweet and enmity unimportant, that enriched wealth
when it came and softened the blows of poverty, that was with me in
health and did not desert me in illness, that filled my home with peace
and went with me when I ventured forth - my greatest gift has been a contented mind:"
And the rest bowed reverently before the most richly endowed.
Matter of a Name.
A famous leader of Arctic explorations, though he had already made the
trip twice, sat down and for hours on end checked over even the least
details; what to leave, what to carry, how to go, what to avoid. Men
called it planning.
The happy couple facing a holiday pored for hours over railroad
folders, computed the safest and pleasantest way to their destination,
and carefully measured and calculated their funds against likely
expenditures. They called it budgeting.
The general knew that the land ahead was tricky and treacherous and
beset with foes. So before he moved so much as a company, he and his
officers drew up their line of march and decided on the necessary
supply bases, the roads to be followed, precautions to be taken against
unexpected attacks. The general thought of it as campaigning.
The board of directors of the newly-organised company sat down together
and for days plotted out their business. They measured sales
resistances, noted territories to invade and territories that had
wrecked other companies, drew up plans for their salesmen, selected
points for advertising. They regarded this as executive control.
The young man sat down and looked ahead to the grave and what lay
beyond. He chose the road that would carry him most safely through
life, selected his leader, planned his safeguards against pitfalls and
failures, thoughtfully decided on what he would need for life's way and
what would be a hindrance. He called it mental prayer.
Buzzing of Insects.
It was a grand moon. It splashed over the lawns a green silver. It ran
long fingers through the girls' hair and spun from the yellow and brown
and black and red threads the loveliest aureolas. The tawdry music of a
uke and the approximate blending of untrained voices became under its
magic rich harmonies. Any picnic would be delightful under such a moon
. . .
. . if it weren't for the insects, drat 'em. Out of the grass rose
persistent little pilgrim ants making their devout journeys to the
insides of trouser legs and the inner bands of touchily sunburned
elbows and through the unsuspected apertures of shirts and sports suits
along the belt lines. And loud-voiced mosquitoes came singing and
stinging out of the swamp, which had seemed like a beautiful silver
platter when first the moon had lighted it up. And gnats, drawn by the
lure of the men's cigarettes, were snuffed up with sudden intakes of
breath and got into eyes and buzzed in annoying persistence about ears.
"Doggone the insects," growled one of the boys. "They're driving me
"And me straight home," retorted a girl. So though the moon shone so
brightly and the grass stretched in pan-velvet sheen and the breeze
sighed refreshingly through the maples, the harassed and troubled
picnickers left nature to the insects and hastened back where screen
doors got between them and the attention of ants and mosquitoes and
Kneeling that night for his examination of conscience, one of the boys
got a light. It hadn't been a roaring lion, he thought, that ramped
from the bushes to drive them helter-skelter to safety. No hippo had
thrust his ugly snout into their presence. Death would have followed
either of these. But lions are relatively rare and most carefully
housed behind bars, or they live in unfrequented jungles. And hippos
are not ordinary wanderers through city parks.
So, said he to himself, in the burst of that brilliant light, mortal
sin, coming as it does with death in its wake, is rare among good
people. Terrible, but rare. When it comes, it strikes swift and deadly
But the thing that makes life miserable, that drives us away from
friends and spoils our days and nights, is the persistent stinging of
those insects of the soul, venial sins. Ill-manneredness and uncharity,
petty lies and meanness, nagging ways and bitter tongues, envy and
spite - insects of the soul that spoil life's picnics.
Lions are deadly but infrequent. Insects are merely annoying, but oh,
so exasperatingly insistent. Mortal sin . . . venial sin . . . And
kneeling beside his bed, he made some resolutions that meant much to
the happiness of the world.
Had a Million.
The newspaper headline screamed the provoking question: "What Would You
Do If You Had a Million Dollars?" And the brains of uncounted readers
clicked rapid answers.
"Nothing," said the lazy man, sick of his job and his routine. "Nothing
from then on."
"The things I've always wanted to do and couldn't," said the egoist.
"I'd make things sweet and comfortable and sure for my wife and my
children," said the young husband, dreamily.
I'd buy security for my old age," said the man upon whose head streaks
of grey had fallen terrifyingly.
"Every cent would go for pleasure - and how sweetly it would flow!"
said the sensualist.
"Gratify my hobby," said a score, one of whom thought of golf at the
country club, another of first editions, a third of great music, and a
fourth of travel to little-known ports.
"Expand my business," said the industrialist.
"Buy power," said the financier.
"Pay my way into the blue book," said the young matron, whose eyes were
unhappy and whose soul was discontented.
"Make happier my fellow-men," said the humanitarian.
"Purchase heaven," cried the saint. And then forgetting the million, he
hurried out to buy heaven with a penny that he dropped into the cup of
Time at All.
Once upon a time there was a very, very busy man. He had six
secretaries, all of whom had sharpened pencils and yellow pads and
files that ten clerks couldn't keep in order. He sat at a polished desk
about the size of a prize-fight ring and pushed buttons that were
connected with power plants and machine shops and harnessed waterfalls
and vice-presidents' offices. His six telephones were direct lines to
his shops and offices and plants out in Tulsa and Chicago and South
"By Jove!" he often cried, banging his fist on the desk and making his
letter opener and three office boys jump, "I've got my business
organized. That's the secret of success, organization. I sit and do the
thinking; let the hired help do the work. In that way I can spend my
winters in Florida, my summers in Canada, my springs in Switzerland,
and my autumns in South Africa."
So while his vice-presidents signed his checks and his secretaries
wrote his letters and his managers handled the details of his business
and his shop supervisors attended to production, he sailed his yacht,
played golf at six different country clubs, took three hours for lunch,
saw all the new plays on opening nights, and made so many trips to
Europe that he was given a commuter's ticket.
Then one night he fell asleep in his four-poster in his mansion, with
its twenty-two servants (this does not include the chauffeurs and the
chef who travelled with him) and woke up before the judgement seat. "As
far as I can see," said St. Peter, "you haven's been practising your
religion for the past thirty years."
"Oh," he hastened to explain, "I'm a very, very busy man, and I have
never had the time:"
And one of the younger cherubim was unkind enough to laugh.
Accuse . .
Avoiding the eyes of the accused young man, the foreman of the jury
answered the clerk's routine query. After all the prisoner at the bar
had stolen a diamond ring from the finger of a wealthy drunk who had
fallen asleep in an all-night roadhouse. He deserved gaol. "Guilty,"
said the foreman, and the courtroom stirred its approval.
But suddenly consternation fell on the whole courtroom. In back of the
accused appeared a radiant figure.
"His guardian angel!" gasped the young woman juror, who was a Catholic.
The rest of the jurors heard, without hearing, what the glorious
apparition, his face terrifyingly stern, was saying.
"And I find this jury guilty of the crime of this young man," said the
angel. "He was hungry and out of work, and yet you" -he singled out the
Catholic girl juror -"bought a fur coat this winter, which made it
impossible for you to contribute to the city's charity fund.
"And you," he continued, singling out another young woman, "who wear
those beautiful rings passed him on the street and pulled your escort
away when this prisoner approached to ask for a dime.
"You" - he turned to the foreman of the jury - "laid off five young men
like him just before Christmas so that on the first of the year your
ledgers might show a better profit. One of these men was the elder
brother of the accused.
"While you," he said, indicating a well-to-do merchant, "because you
wanted a favour from a political grafter, voted for a city candidate
who has been grafting on Federal relief funds. Those funds should have
been used to help the destitute like this young man.
"You" - he pointed to an elderly woman juror - "are almost his
next-door neighbour. You live in your comfortable house, while on the
same street he and his mother and the other children live in a hovel
over a stable. All you knew was that the neighbourhood was running down.
"You" - he fastened on a young man -"were stopped by him on the street.
He asked for a match. He wanted to talk. You thought he wanted to make
a touch. You shrugged your shoulders and walked off.
"He dropped in one evening about a month ago at his parish's young
people's club. But he was poorly dressed, so you two" - he picked out a
young couple sitting together in the box - "laughed behind your hands
and treated him so unkindly that he didn't have the courage to come
"You two believe people should be kept in their place. He was out of
luck; but people who are out of luck deserve to be out of luck, you
thought. That meant you had no faith in him.
"You" - he levelled his glance at a successful young dentist "have an
excellent practice, a good income. It never occurs to you that you have
a responsibility toward the less fortunate of your city.
"And you" - he picked out a fat, complacent businessman- "voted against
the Bill that was intended to regulate the kind of tavern where that
man with the diamond ring could become drunk and be a temptation to the
"As for you" - he turned to the intelligent-looking young man in the
back of the box - "you've had a magnificent education, a sound training
in the social sciences. But you are content merely to know; you turn
none of your knowledge into practice. You do nothing to see that your
Catholic religion, your philosophy, your economics be made helpful for
such as he."
The guardian angel turned to the judge. "Your honour, I find the jury
guilty of the crime of my young charge, and I ask sentence upon them."
The guardian angel disappeared. The judge cleared his throat. The jury
dismissed what they considered as a momentary hallucination. The young
man at the bar was duly sentenced.
is the Bunk.
"Faith," said the flip young cynic, "is the crutch of lame and lazy
minds. Fancy staking one's ideas of right and wrong, of present and
future on the word of anyone, God or man! I believe nothing that I have
not tested and proved. I take no one's word for anything really
important. Let the stupid believer act on the say-so of priest or
prophet; my own experience and fact knowledge are my sole guides."
So saying, he went out and made the following interesting acts of faith.
He called a certain man father and a certain woman mother because they
told him they were his parents.
He knocked off work and celebrated what he believed was his birthday
because he had been told he was born on May 11.
A doctor advised him to eat plenty of green vegetables because they
were good for him. Obediently he ate them, though thus far he had never
shaken hands with a vitamin.
The morning paper carried headlines of the Nicaragua earthquake, and he
shook a pitying head over the plight of a land he had never visited and
a people he had never seen.
That evening he read the biography of Cleopatra and said,
enthusiastically, about a woman who died two thousand years ago:
"Clever girl. Sorry I wasn't alive to meet her."
At luncheon a scientific friend told him some interesting facts about
the rings of Saturn. He was much interested and tucked away the
information for future use.
In return he talked cleverly about evolution, though, naturally enough,
he had never seen anything evolve and had all his information from his
high school instructor in biology and one popular book on science.
Said he to a friend "Relativity is the greatest scientific theory of
the last hundred years." He neglected to add that he was not one of the
seven men in the world who understood it.
His broker assured him that United Yeast was due for a rise. So he
bought United Yeast.
That night as he was summing up the day, he said, in self-approval:
"Thank the powers I accept nothing on faith. Faith is the bunk."
And, poor idiot, he really believed it.
"The Equitable Trust Building had a bad crash last night," said the
secretary, chattily, as he laid the mail and the day's appointments on
the glossy expanse of the great Catholic architect's desk.
"So I saw in the paper. Dangerous sag. They'll have to tear it down."
"Too bad, sir. A beautiful building. Strange that faulty construction
like that got past the inspectors."
"Oh, the construction was perfectly sound.
Termites did the damage. The industrious, destructive, ugly little
beggars have been at work. They're not the size of an average ant, and
cleverly they leave the surface smooth and intact. It's the heart of
the piles and wood beams that they eat away. You wouldn't know there
was a thing the matter with your building till bang! it's collapsing
about your ears. Well, what's the schedule for the week end?"
"The committee from the grand lodge of the Masons is calling on you
about the new temple. If you weren't a Catholic, sir, they'd have taken
your plan without a second's hesitation."
"I know. Inconvenient and expensive sometimes, this being a Catholic."
"You'll be conciliatory, sir, if you're wise. It's a two-million-dollar
job. You're taking lunch with - ah - Miss Roberts."
"Yes. We're planning to remodel her town house. Have you seen her in
"Lilacs in Bloom"? Delightful! Phone for a table at Pierre's." He
smiled in disarming simplicity. "My wife prefers the Plaza."
"I called the post office at Meadowdale, sir. There is no Catholic
church in the town and none nearer than twenty miles from there."
"Too bad. Well, a date's a date. I can't break up the Oslow's week-end.
Get me a ticket and a seat in the parlour car, please. Is that all?"
"The complete set of Voltaire you ordered will be delivered this
"Thanks. Clever devil, Voltaire, even today. Terribly irreverent, and
he does bang the idols about. But brilliant. Thank you. That's all.
I'll dictate at ten-thirty."
When some years later the town was startled by the sudden divorce and
remarriage of the Catholic architect who had become a brilliant
ornament of country clubs, swank week-ends, and Masonic dinners, the
Catholic groups wondered at the unexplained and altogether unexpected
Nobody explained to them about moral
and a Hit.
The little knot of "yessers" gathered round the famous
playwright-producer-star and bowed their heads in rhythmical assent.
"It's certainly hot, sir." yessed the first.
"Hot and a hit," the others caroled.
"Good thing the curtain is asbestos."
"Hot even for asbestos."
"A sure-fire success."
"You're smart, sir, and nervy." .
Backstage the comedians were still blushing slightly from the skits
they had just put through: the chorus girls retired to put on some
clothes; the electricians rubbed wrists tired from pulling the switches
for black-out: and everybody discussed in undertones the possibilities
of a run, an official closing by the police, a tour of the Cities
later, or a trip to gaol.
The playwright-producer-star picked up his hat and gloves.
"Well, boys, if you want your play to go over, shock 'em, and shock 'em
hard. Good-night, everybody. I think we've got a hot hit."
The chauffeur of the famous p-p-s had been keeping the good old system
warm with a little consoling alcohol. So he failed to notice the
ten-ton truck in the road. The body of the p-p-s was removed from the
wreckage and given a grand funeral. The show opened two days later, and
somebody else made the chief curtain speech.
For the soul of the p-p-s had suddenly found itself the star guest of
his Satanic Majesty.
"Front! A room for the gentleman; one with sulphur bath," said his
majesty, genially "It's a little dirty, sir, but you like dirt."
The next morning the little red bellhop transferred the p-p-s and his
luggage to a room directly under the sulphur bath. The next morning he
was conducted into the furnace room. The next morning he was parked
close to the furnace. The next morning the bellhop grinned sardonically.
"You're being moved directly into the heart of the furnace," he said.
Right there the famous p-p-s protested and demanded to see his Satanic
"Is this a game?" he roared. "Why the rising temperature? Why all
the heat?" "
"Oh, that." said his majesty "is being furnished by your play. It's a
hot hit, my friend, a hot hit."
* * * *