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lived in St. John's. On the surface of the stone was a shield, a chief ermine, 3 pleons impaling chevronels for Ashe; with 2 crests, a griffin's head on a coronet, and a squirrel for Ashe -with the following inscription partly obliterated :

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With this splendid specimen of the poetic genius of those days, it is time for me to close this prosy paper, and simply remind the patient reader of the salient points connected with the history of St. John's Priory. It was founded by Walter De Lacy, who, having built and finished it in a superb style, handed it over as a free gift to the ecclesiastical authorities for the benefit of the sick poor. Simon Rochfort, the Bishop of the diocese, lost no time in requisitioning the services of the Crossed Friars and giving the premises into their hands. Under their management, and with the moral and material support of all classes of the community, it soon became the great central hospital of the Midlands, the friars working and toiling in it with zeal worthy of all praise until the fateful day of their eviction, which was carried out by the Commissioners of Henry VIII.

Of the stately buildings which stood out so boldly for many centuries on the south bank of the Boyne at Newtown there is nothing now left but a few crumbling walls, clothed with ivy, and a tangled mass of debris and weeds to tell the tale of a once renowned institute, established for the relief of the sick poor of Trim and its vicinity, and also for the successive generations of poor people who lived within a convenient distance of the once flourishing Capital of Royal





THE practice of organizing various forms of public amusement on Sundays has become so widespread, that it is no matter for wonder that even those of the clergy who have anything but sympathy for Pharisaism or Sabbatarianism are considerably exercised as to the line of duty they should follow in regard to the promoters of these pastimes. And the path of reformers or would-be reformers is not rendered easier by the fact that certain amusements or entertainments that they consider incompatible-if not with the hearing of Holy Mass-at least with the Sabbath rest, and the spirit of prayer and recollection that it is intended to arouse and foster, are encouraged by the clergy in, perhaps, the next parish.

One priest very strongly objects to amateur theatricals that are held in his parish on a Sunday evening, while the dramatic class that conducts them is, on the next Sunday, utilized by a neighbour to aid in the equipment of a school. Again, the owners of itinerant picture shows cannot be expected to understand how the law of the Sabbath as interpreted in one parish precludes their exercising their art, whereas a few miles away they can ply their business quite unhindered. And in some dioceses athletic sports are held in such suspicion that the clergy are forbidden to attend them; whereas at no great distance they are positively fostered by ecclesiastics as a valuable antidote to the allurements of the public-house and other occasions of sin.

Now this varying attitude of the clergy is not entirely owing to the fact that circumstances alter cases, and that amusements in themselves lawful may become objectionable, by reason of the persons who get them up, or because of the conditions in which they take place. For I think it must be admitted that our knowledge of the law protecting the sanctity, and proscribing the desecration, of the Sabbath

is, as regards the matter in question, somewhat hazy and indefinite. And it may be that a modest attempt to clarify our views, and to lay down-however provisionally-a uniform standard, will remove what is a source of embarrassment for the clergy, and one of disedification or of grumbling among the laity.

Now in the first place, as regards the classes of occupation that are definitely and unequivocally forbidden by the law of Sabbath observance, both the knowledge and-what is more important-the practice of our people are, on the whole, satisfactory. But I trust that a few words to show the particular species of buying and selling that are forbidden may not be too much out of place; because I know that different interpretations of this branch of the law obtain among the clergy, which naturally give rise to different practices on the part of the laity. What, then, is meant by the precept of abstaining a publico mercatu, nundinis aliisque emptionibus et venditionibus'1? Does it embrace every transaction to which what I may call professional buyers or sellers are parties, and is it lawful only for those who are not traders by avocation to buy and sell on Sunday? Or, on the other hand, does the prohibition merely extend to what we call fairs and markets?

Well, the reasons in favour of each solution are given very fully by St. Alphonsus; for the question has evidently been for a long time debated in the schools, though as time goes on there is a progressively marked tendency to answer it in the sense of the liberal view. St. Alphonsus himself lays down definitely that selling in public shops is forbidden; he adds, however, that the reason is the avoidance of scandal: 'Ecclesia tantum venditionem in publicis officinis prohibuit, ratione scandali.' 3 And in the notes to the latest edition of his Moral Theology the editors seem to rule out all dealings in shops, making no mention of the Saint's explanation or restriction based on scandal.* On behalf of the liberal side may be quoted his unqualified acceptance of the view of the Salmanticenses, that articles of food and drink may be sold on the Sabbath; though these theologians mistakenly appeal for support to a decree of the Congregation of Rites.

1 New Code, can. 1248.

2 Theologia Moralis, Gaudé's ed., lib. ii. tract. iv. n. 285 sqq.

3 Op. cit. n. 286.

4 Note (a) to n. 286.

The Saint also makes his own of their view that the sale of boots, candles and such things' is lawful, on the ground that as the price of these is already determined, dealing in them does not distract one's attention from the service of the Lord by the sordid anxiety-and perhaps the heatincidental to haggling and chaffering. But if this principle be admitted, it is plain enough that most other commodities may be purchased on Sundays, no less than the articles specially referred to. In fact, the Saint explicitly sanctions the sale of a horse or of a house on Sunday, even though the negotiations are protracted-but evidently only in circumstances where such a transaction takes place more or less privately, and not in a place specially set apart for buying and selling. And he concludes his treatment of the subject by mentioning, without reprobating, the view that all contracts that are not effected by deed, or at least those not in writing, are, in a sense, private, and may be permitted without disrespect to the law of the Sabbath.

The principles of St. Alphonsus are summarized and various rays of light from other theologians are brought to a focus by Lehmkuhl, who confines the prohibition to 'mercatus et nundinae quae publice cum strepitu fiunt.' And following Benedict XIV, he goes on even to exempt 'nundinae quae certo die affixae sunt.' Indeed, he explicitly allows shoemakers, etc., to keep their shops open on Sundays, even though the expenditure of some labour is necessary in order to fit their customers; partly on the ground of the triviality of the infringement of the law, and partly for convenience' sake.3

Auctions are certainly prohibited on Sundays by the ecclesiastical, no less than by the civil, law. And though the theologians say they may be tolerated in certain circumstances, personally I should be very slow to give any countenance to them; for in my experience when they take place on a Sunday they are often associated with an orgy of drink.

So far the teaching of the authorities is definite and satisfactory. But when we come to the question of amusements we lack their guidance in details, and have only general principles to fall back on. And I hope that what is a voyage of discovery-judging from the books I have been

1 n. 286.

2 Theologia Moralis, 11th ed., ii. n. 704.

Op. cit. n. 707.

able to consult-will not be brought to an untimely end by the reefs and shallows of an uncharted sea. Now, considering the purpose of the Sabbath in the first place, and in the second, the nature of the works and occupations that are expressely banned, one will have no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that, broadly speaking, dramatic entertainments of a purely secular character are prohibited on Sundays. Indeed this is so generally recognized by the people that there is no need to delay in proving or emphasizing it. And the public sentiment or conscienceand custom, which is the concrete and permanent embodiment of it-is in this matter considered decisive, within limits, as to what is allowed. 'Proinde,' says Ballerini,1 ' egregie S. Alphonsus injecit mentionem aestimationis hominum; quippe communis sensus et consuetudo inde proveniens optime explicat legem. . . Habenda est ergo

ratio consuetudinis.'

If, however, a play is acted not by professionals, but by amateurs, whether in a regular theatre or in one improvised for the occasion-a school or a court-house-I think no clear proof can be adduced that it is unlawful on Sundays. I know, indeed, that it may be argued that such a performance is as detrimental to the Sabbath rest as one given by professionals; and that both are calculated to distract and alienate our thoughts and affections from what are their proper objects, on Sundays especially. And I admit that, judging by purely theological standards, it is not easy accurately to define the difference between the two. the feeling or judgment or Catholic instinct of the people is quick enough to appreciate it. So much so that as a rule they frequent amateur performance without any qualms; whereas it is only those whose standpoint has been secularized, and whose consciences have been blunted, that patronize a professional entertainment on a Sunday or holiday.


Besides, I venture to think that, on theological principles, as amateurs are, as a rule, acting for some public or charitable purpose, their efforts are entitled to a certain amount of toleration that could not be extended to professionals, whose object is purely and simply private gain. For many theologians, if not all, make a great distinction

1 Opus Theologicum Morale, ii. tract. vi. sect. iii. n. 29.

See St. Alphonsus, op. cit. n. 283; Laymann, lib. 4, tr. 7. cap. 2, n. 6; Tanquerey, Theol. Moralis, i. n. 1039; Slater, Moral Theology, p. 265. This distinction is not admissible in the case of works that are purely servile.

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