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this contention, no doubt; but room could easily be found for this important department of religious instruction, by excluding from the programme, and from the examinations, many questions in Bible History and in Christian Doctrine that frequently figure in both, and which seem entirely too advanced for even the higher classes in our primary schools. It is, of course, entirely a question of relative values; but it would seem to the writer, at any rate, a better thing to have a senior standard know the words and meaning of the Gloria in Excelsis than to have them discourse learnedly on the reviviscence of Sacraments; a more profitable expenditure of time and trouble to teach them to sing the Credo than to overload their memories with such details as the precise dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant.
If some simple scheme of liturgical instruction adopted in our schools our boys and girls could easily be taught the words and meaning of the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Sanctus, the Agnus; and those of them who are musically inclined could easily learn, in addition, a simple Gregorian setting of the same, say the Missa de Angelis. This may seem a very large order, but it is by no means so difficult as it might at first appear. The present writer has seen a Solemn Mass, at which the entire music of these portions of the Ordinary was rendered in plain chant by a whole congregation, consisting of the members of a confraternity and the pupils of two schools, one a primary school and the other a secondary; rendered, too, with the taste and devotion begotten of intelligent comprehension of the significance of the words and ceremonies. As the school children of to-day will be the men and women of to-morrow, it would be but a very few years till we should have a considerable percentage of our people capable of following with intelligence and devotion the venerable ritual of the Solemn Mass, and even of singing congregationally at least the easier portions of the Ordinary. High Mass might then become, as it ought to be, at least in the larger churches, the usual form of the Divine Liturgy at the principal Sunday Mass; or, where this would not be possible owing to a dearth of sacred ministers, the Missa Cantata without deacon or sub-deacon, could be substituted. Thus, with a little effort and organization, we might hope to realize in Ireland what Pius X reminded us is the Church's liturgical ideal, the Solemn Mass with the entire congregation as a choir; and we should remove from our most Catholic nation the reproach
of ignorance and neglect of that venerable liturgy in which the age-long tradition of the Western Church has enshrined the supreme act of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
There are many other liturgical prayers of frequent occurrence in the daily services of the Church, which one would like the people to know and understand. Take the Burial Service for example. What a pity they should know nothing of the meaning of those most beautiful prayers with which the 'Pia Mater' consigns her beloved children to their last long rest. Would it not be possible, with all the opportunities we have in the schools, to let the rising generation of Irish Catholics know something of the meaning of the Libera, the In Paradisum, the blessing of the grave, and the last prayers ? Could they not be taught even to give the responses in the language of the liturgy? No doubt all this will seem very extravagant to hope for or expect, in the judgment of many readers. But we may point to the success of the Gaelic League in a similar attempt to teach the commoner prayers, even to adults, in a language much more difficult to read and pronounce than Latin. Watch an Irish language enthusiast (all honour to him) trying to teach a class of fullgrown men and women the ‘Ár n-Atair,' and I imagine you will soon be convinced that the Pater Noster could be taught in half the time and with but a tithe of the trouble. And why should not our people know and use the De Profundis as a prayer for their dead? Would it not be possible for the rising generation at least to recite it in alternate verses with the priest after Mass, thus sharing in those daily suffrages for the faithful departed which are peculiar to our Irish Church, and are offered to supply as far as may be for the foundation Masses that were lost during the days of persecution and confiscation? Then there is the Magnificat, Our Lady's own canticle, which might as easily be made as popular with our people as it has long been with the Catholics of France. The same might be said of the Stabat Mater, the Te Deum, whose wealth of beautiful thought and phrasing is a closed book to the vast majority of the Catholics of Ireland.
Much help could undoubtedly be given in this matter of educating the laity in matters liturgical by the publication of prayer-books that would keep more in touch with the liturgy than our popular books of devotion generally do. The Catholic Truth Society has done some good work in this field, but much still remains to be done. The great field of
operations is, however, unquestionably to be found in the schools; and there the work must, from the nature of the case, devolve principally on the priest, and on the ecclesiastical authorities who are responsible for the diocesan programme of religious instruction. With their opportunities, it should be easy, within a short time, to open up some at least of the treasures of our venerable liturgy, to the devout and receptive minds of a people who have too long been strangers to them.
J. J. M'NAMEE.
BY R. M. BUTLER, M.R.I.A., F.R.I.B.A.
DURING the past couple of years several articles on church building and decoration have appeared in the I. E. RECORD and elsewhere betokening a revival of interest in this subject. Sundry conversations with priests and others induce me to think that some notes of a practical character on the subject of church building and decoration, by one who has had for many years to deal with these matters, may not be devoid of interest. I venture to offer some rather casual remarks in the hope that, possibly, they may prove helpful to some, and perhaps stimulate interest or discussion.
I propose to first touch briefly upon the general aspect of church building and design, and then to consider the chief points of decoration and furnishing.
Modern Irish churches have been the subject of a great deal of adverse criticism, much of it true, some of it merely ill-natured, and very little of it helpful.
One or two of the articles which appeared in the I. E. RECORD a year or two ago, to a large extent dealt with some aspects of church building, legal as well as constructional; into these I do not propose to follow in detail. As to the first, I think that of all subjects the law perhaps is that which best exemplifies the truth of the saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,' and there is a dictum that the man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for his client.' I do not think that a slight acquaintance with the law of building is likely to be helpful. It is a most difficult and complicated branch of legal knowledge, understood by few, even amongst the ablest lawyers. The wisest course is to select the architect and the builder with care and discrimination, and so reduce the risk of litigation. No precaution can ensure immunity from dispute or law, but careful foresight and
prudent guidance may do much to avoid it. Above all, the selection of a builder with a reputation to lose will, more than anything else, tend to put it out of the region of probability. Such builders deserved to be encouraged, and should not be lightly passed over for the sake of a few pounds, for they can save a building owner large sums. They are more common than might be supposed, and when found, should be made a note of.'
If a building owner is so unfortunate as to have to face law, then the wisest course is to place himself in the hands of a solicitor in whose capacity and honesty he has absolute confidence, get him to submit the whole matter to some counsel of large experience and special knowledge of building law, and he will soon advise whether the case is worth fighting, or is one that ought to be settled.
It is unnecessary to remark that the modern contract system, based on keen competition in prices, hardly conduces to securing the best materials and workmanship, but it is difficult to find a substitute for it. Recently, owing to the difficulty of making fixed contracts during the war, many works have been carried out on the basis of the net vouched outlay on time and materials being charged, plus a percentage of profit for the builder; and granted a reliable contractor, this arrangement works fairly well; it has proved in some cases quite as economical in practice as the contract system, but, as a rule, it is costly work.
Messrs. Harland & Wolff's great ship-building undertakings have all been carried out on this basis, and, I believe, with perfect satisfaction to those concerned.
Another system is that of 'direct labour,' in which the building owner engages a reliable clerk of works, who employs the workmen and buys the materials. Many buildings have been carried out on this system, but its whole success hinges upon the personality of the clerk of works. Broadly speaking, this system tends towards securing good workmanship, but it is not economical, unless in exceptional circumstances.
If, in each province, a few builders were specially patronized for church work, after proved honesty and capacity, they, in time, would gain a reputation which they would be in no hurry to sacrifice.
A good clerk of works is simply invaluable, and is correspondingly rare: an indifferent one is useless, one might say worse than useless, for he is a broken reed upon which to lean.