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CATHOLIC SOLDIERS. By Sixty Chaplains and many others. Edited by Charles Plater, S.J. London: Longmans, Green & Co.

How has the religion of Catholic Soldiers in the British Empire stood the test of war? This book contains an abundance of material for an answer to this question. Sixty Chaplains and a large number of officers and men have very kindly written answers to a set of questions sent to them. These answers, as well as some thousands of letters from Catholic soldiers, have been drawn upon, and the material arranged by Father Plater. It is not a controversial book, and nearly everything in the way of comparison between Catholics and non-Catholics has been omitted. Some evidence from the American Army has been added and reflects credit on the American soldiers. This Catholic Report presents very striking contrasts with the General Report on the Army and Religion lately published. In the list of contributors to the Catholic Report are enumerated British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand (also four American) Chaplains. There is no mention of Irish Chaplains. Evidence regarding Irish soldiers is conspicuous in many of the answers given, no doubt, by Irish Chaplains among others. If soldiers are designated Irish, British, etc., why is not a place given to Irish Chaplains? The British Isles are known as Great Britain and Ireland. Why will men like Father Plater lend themselves to this obliteration of the name of Ireland and not see the historical falsity in the application of this term British to things Irish?

The questions asked were: (1) If the war had affected the religious belief of Catholic soldiers, (2) is impersonal fatalism or a trust in Providence to be found among them, (3) in what way do they regard rosaries, scapulars, medals, etc., (4) are the soldiers well instructed in their religion, (5) to what extent do they practice their religion, (6) are moral falls frequent; are they followed by real contrition and amendment, (7) how many indifferent Catholics return to the practice of their religion; are there many souls of exalted sanctity, (8) do Catholic soldiers look to their priests and their Church for help in the war, and especially when wounded, (9) are they responsive to religion when about to undergo death sentence, (10) are Catholic officers helpful to the priest in his ministry, (11) has the war made men more accessible to the priest, (12) what difference has the war made in the moral and religious character of the men?

The information derived from the answers to these questions is

interesting and will be useful. No doubt, many of the answers are absolutely contrary. But then human beings cannot be labelled uniformly like goods in a window. The general consensus of opinion is highly creditable to the soldiers and supremely consoling. Some points of particular interest emerge from the enormous amount of information and are worth noting. The nearest approach to a temptation against faith is found in a letter from a private: 'I have seen sights out here that have nearly turned me against religion.' It is a solitary case. Belgian and French peasants have greatly strengthened the faith of the soldiers. The thought of those whom they had left at home was an important factor among American soldiers. The Catholic soldier was inclined to be more of a gambler than a fatalist. From the Sacraments he drew a comfort that others knew not of. Rosaries, etc., were not regarded by him as mascots but as protectives, as bits of his 'spiritual uniform,' as part of his kit, as a badge of Catholicism, The Sacred Heart badge was the great favourite among non-Catholics, and even Masons carried Catholic medals.

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The war has proved the enormous value of Catholic elementary schools, and has shown their chief weakness, 'religion not made spontaneous enough, too much a part of school discipline.' 'Our method of teaching Catechism must be at fault.' Here is a very interesting report of one of the Chaplains: 'I should roughly say that 95% in the north of England are fairly well instructed. In the south of England perhaps 70%. In Ireland practically everyone. In Scotland, fully 90%. In Australia, 30-40%. In Canada, French, 95%. In Canada, English, 40-50%. In New Zealand, fully 80%.' This good result in New Zealand is due to the religious education, and the number of religious houses, especially convent schools.' '99 out of 100 Irish would explain correctly Immaculate Conception, etc. The English often don't know these things. I except Lancashire men, who equal Irish in all respects, and exceed them in Apostolic zeal.' A Knight of Columbus Secretary puts the proportion of well-instructed American soldiers at two-thirds, or three-fifths.

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Several Chaplains make the point that there was a better religious spirit among Catholic soldiers in the earlier part of the war than in the latter. 'The English out of the line I have found a slack and disappointing lot. The better part of them have been those of Irish extraction.' 'I remember giving Holy Communion one morning in a village church to 900 men of the Connaught Rangers. The curé helped me, with tears streaming down his cheeks. At the end he said: 'those strong men have all the faces of children as they kneel to receive their Lord in Holy Communion.' In an Irish Battalion of which 60% were Catholics, practically every Catholic man and officer always went to Confession and Holy Communion before each turn in the trenches. The same can be said of the Canadians.

It is agreed that the moral standard of Catholic soldiers has not been lowered. Moral falls were somewhat frequent owing to most awful surroundings,'' the loose behaviour of French and Belgian girls,' and VOL. XV-12

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drink. The influence of religion, however, had a wonderful effect on Catholic officers in keeping them straight. The average nonCatholic,' says a Major in the Canadian Army,' is frankly and practically a sense-utilitarian.' As a rule, the contrition and amendment of Catholics were immediate and lasting.


The most encouraging part of the Report is that dealing with the enormous numbers of Catholics who have returned to the practice of religion during the war, after many years of absence. There were many real saints among the men, especially among the Irish and ScotchIrish, leading the holiest, most supernatural lives, devoted to the Blessed Sacrament.' There were souls of singular sweetness and innocence.' A French-Canadian boy was asked if he were willing to make the sacrifice of his life, he replied: 'Sure, Father, I did that five months ago, with the intention that peace might come soon.' 'Some men were always wanting Holy Communion.' Many vocations to the priesthood were discovered or matured during the war. A beautiful, but pathetic letter written by a soldier in the American Army on Y.M.C.A. notepaper, with the envelope addressed to the Blessed Virgin, Mary and Mother, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Mercy off Sinners,' and signed by him, was found by the sacristan of the Cathedral of Blois, on the altar of Our Lady and before the tabernacle. It ran thus:

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'My dear heavenly Mother, Blessed Virgin, I ask your mercy on me, poor sinner, you see how I suffer without you and without Your Blessed Son, Jesus Christ. You know how happy I was when I was at the Holy Mass, and receiving Holy Communion every morning before I went to work, and now, my Dear Heavenly Mother, pray for me that them days will come back soon, that I will receive Your Son in Holy Communion again. That good Jesus Christ sees how I suffer without Him. You know, my Dear Mother, how happy I spent my days with You and Your Son Jesus Christ, and now my Dear Mother, pray for me, your loving child, Walter-Anser prayer soon.'

Father Plater has produced a remarkable report, and successfully accomplished a huge, onerous task. Taking the Report all round the Church has reason to be proud of her sons. Their conduct is an object lesson to non-Catholics and the Report is a witness to the power and influence of the Church for good.

M. R.

A CHRISTIAN SOCIAL CRUSADE. (3rd Edition.) Oxford: The Catholic Social Guild.

SOME time ago an Interdenominational Conference of Social Service Unions was held, consisting of the ten most numerous religious bodies in England. The joint deliberations, that took more than a year to prepare, were drawn with the greatest care, and a common statement of social principles and a common programme of social reform were issued. This document introduced to the public is now in its third edition. It is compressed to the minimum limit and needs a com



mentary and a supplement from the Catholic point of view. These are provided in 4 Christian Social Crusade. The Catholic setting is given and Catholic doctrine is brought to bear on, and to elucidate, the problems. The book gives us a firm grasp of Catholic social principles and an increased power of applying them.

The Statement deals successively with principles, evils, and remedies. But in the Commentary these three are considered together under the headings of the various social questions. We thus get a more comprehensive view of each question in all its details. The questions treated are: Christianity and Social Action, The Basis of Christian. Social Reform, The Living Wage, Housing, Employment, The Economic System, Rest and Recreation, Marriage, Education, Duties, and the Family and the State.

The book shows that the contribution of Christianity to social reform is of a spirit rather than of a cut-and-dried programme. Too much stress is laid nowadays on programmes, not enough on the spirit. The sacredness of personality, which is at the root of every social problem, is rightly emphasised. It is the key of all social reform, whether we discuss the question of the Living Wage, Housing, Marriage, Rest and Recreation, etc. On all these questions A Christian Social Crusade takes up a reasonable, common-sense attitude. It sets its face against. social militarism, against Fabianism, in any shape or form.

We heartily recommend the Crusade. It is an encyclopedia of information on social questions-it is the social question in a nut-shell. It sets down the basis, the leading lines, of the social reconstruction of the morrow. It will serve as a framework for all social clubs and for social study. It is clear, concise, comprehensive and logical. It should be read from cover to cover and studied. It provides abundant food for thought. For more detailed information on the various questions it refers us to a large selection of cheap and excellent treatises written by experts. It is a most useful, engrossing and attractive little book, sold for the modest sum of one shilling.

M. R.

A SOLDIER'S CONFIDENCES WITH GOD. Spiritual Colloquies of Giosuè Borsi. Translated from the Italian by Rev. P. Maltese, New York; P. J. Kenedy & Sons.

AMONG the heroes of the war there is none more inspiring than Giosuè Borsi, the young Italian lieutenant who died on the Isonzo battlefield while leading his platoon to the attack. He went to the front as a volunteer, with the presentiment always in his soul of sacrificing his life for his country.

Borsi was no hermit, but a young man of the world, poet, scholar, dramatic critic, commentator of Dante, darling of the salons of the gay world of Rome and Florence. His father was a clever journalist who made a political platform of his hatred of the Catholic Church and who brought up his son in an atmosphere of hostility to religion. Out of deference to the wishes of a pious mother the boy was baptized

and made his first Communion, but this was the last for many years. Losing three of his dearest ones in rapid succession shook Giosuè's hopes of earthly happiness, and at the same time brought him into friendly relations with the Franciscan monks of San Miniato in Florence. In the spring of 1915 he found the way of happiness, devoutly received confirmation and plunged with all the ardour of a neophyte into the study of the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers of the Church.

He began to keep this diary of his talks with God and Mary, and wrote the first thirty-five Colloquies. The last eighteen were written in the trenches; his daily meditations, amid the crash of shrapnel and the thunder of guns. They are in the form of prayers, not written for publication. He believed that Providence inspired him with the idea of praying and meditating in writing. He rose with the lark to fix his thoughts with his pen so that he might find them again and feel them better. He hoped to make this an indispensable and delightful habit.

But for his death these Colloquies would have remained the secrets of a soul. He had to die, for these records of a soul were far too precious to be lost. They are not art, and they were never corrected or revised, yet they are written with vigour, naturalness and ease, with a beauty of form unrivalled perhaps in the annals of modern Church literature. They are the pure outpourings of an intensely artistic soul, of a most refined nature, of a soul in intimate communion with God, overflowing with enthusiasm for a new-found but unshakable faith. They have been called by the best Italian critics the finest religious literature that has appeared since the Confessions of St. Augustine.' They are serenely calm and beautiful, bearing the stamp of his individuality. They are the most sublime thoughts that the human mind could conceive. They seem indeed inspired.

The wonderful success of Borsi's little book (many editions of it issued within a single month) warrants the hope that his spiritual Colloquies will be read by the young of future generations and will accomplish untold good. The book will bring home to all Catholic readers the nobility of their faith and the dignity of a consistent Christian life.

M. R.

IN AN INDIAN ABBEY: Some Straight Talks on Theology. By Rev. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. London: Burns and Oates.

THE Indian Abbey spoken of in the title is situated in the hill country, 'somewhere north of Bombay.' It was founded in the twenty-first century by a wealthy London banker, who on his death-bed bequeathed a million pounds for the purpose. Boys are educated in the English schools and universities, and then sent out to fill the vacancies in the monastery, where as lay monks they live a celibate life, making no vows, but only a promise of stability, renewable every five years. At the end of 25 years the monk is pensioned off, returns to England, and becomes

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