01 August 2012

Some Thoughts For Catholic Bloggers

Reading, as one does, James Byrne's thoughts in 1922 on the future of the Catholic Evidence Guild, I was struck by the fact that in the absence of a culture of street corner speaking, it is bloggers, rather than debaters who have inherited the mantle of the Guild.  This isn't to knock those who go onto TV or radio to be answer for Catholicism on some issue of the day; but the issue of the day is rarely Catholicism and such catholicism as can be expressed is mediated through the secular prism being employed on the relevant subject matter.  We need people prepared to go onto the Today programme to defend a Catholic position on gay marriage; but we also need people who are preaching the Faith to those whom it will not reach unless we engage them on our terms in their space.

This is how Byrne puts it, and uses rather more of a piece by Cardinal Newman than is normally used:

Such then the C.E.G. has been in its short history and such it is to-day ; and now, what of the future ?

The work done by the Guild is based upon a series of discoveries; that the work is no degradation for the educated Catholic but a great honour and privilege, as well as a grace from God; that, caeteris paribus, the mere fact of being a Catholic gives an enormous intellectual advantage over other religionists, and that this is recognised by the crowds ; that the capacity of the average Catholic for the exposition of his religion is far greater than has hitherto been supposed, when he is care­fully prepared along certain lines, and well supported and led; that the crowds will take our best and be grateful for it and ask for more; that, as Catholics are compelled to give an account of the faith that is in them, it is better to take the initiative than to remain permanently on the defensive; these are some few of the discoveries already made in connection with the work, and it is clear that many others have yet to be made, for the work is still young, is highly experimental throughout and is pushing ahead rapidly.

The question then is, will the Catholic laity rise to the height of their great opportunity?

“There is a time for silence and a time to speak; the time for speaking has come. What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is; it is one of those ‘better gifts’ of which the apostle bids you be 'zealous’.  You must not hide your talent in a napkin, or your light under a bushel. I want a laity not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold, and what they do not, who know their creed so well, that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it.  I want an intelligent, well instructed laity.  I am not denying you are such already, but I mean to be severe and, as some would say, exorbitant in my demands.  I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and truths of Catholicism and where lie the main inconsistencies and absurdities of the Protestant theory … You ought to be able to bring out what you mean, as well as to feel and mean it; to expose to the comprehension of others the fictions and fallacies of your opponents and to explain the charges brought against the Church to the satisfaction, not indeed of bigots, but of men of sense of whatever opinion ... He who can realise the law of moral conflicts, and the incoherence of falsehood, and the issue of perplexities, and the end of all things, and the presence of the judge, becomes, from the very necessity of the case, philosophical, long suffering, and magnanimous."

So the great master of us all, Cardinal Newman, wrote seventy years ago, and it rests with the present generation of the Catholics of this country to give his words an extension that even his eagle glance could not reach.

The work done to date is little more than a pre­liminary survey of the gigantic task before us or (changing the metaphor), the first trickling of a stream which later, with God's help, will become a mighty torrent. The demand of our non-Catholic fellows for our best must be met. The actual religious needs of the day, shifting as well as permanent, must be supplied from the storehouse of Catholic truth. Our work is essentially that of adaptation of the old; of that which was in the beginning, which we have heard and seen and our hands have handled of the Word of Life. "Non nova sed nove.”  We must show the modern man what it is that he lacks to become a perfect man.


Sixupman said...

The BBC Religious Department was based on Oxford Road, Manchester - within 500 metres or so from The Holy Name [iconic]Church where orthodox Catholicism [TLM/NOM]is celebrated.

Not really wanting people who would espouse and explain orthodox Catholicism, they would go for 'Tabletistas' or whatever.

Richard Collins said...

Good post Ttony, many thanks.


Greetings ttony,

I have been following this CEG thread for a while now. Did you know that one of the main people who was at the forefront of the CEG was Myles Dempsey of the Prince of Peace Community. He also leads the annual Walsingham New Dawn conference which brings between 3,000 and 5,000 Catholics to Walsingham to this week long event every year and promotes the need for UK Catholicism to embrace Walsingham once again.

He was the Catholic who coined the phrases "I am Catholic First, Catholic Second and Catholic Last" and "If you scratch an Englishman you will find a Christian. If you Scratch him hard enough you will find a Catholic". and is seen by many as a potential to be elevated to Venerable etc when he dies. From what I understand there will be people who will be prepared to argue his case.

He may very well be a good port of call to see about getting the CEG organised once again. He was one of the original CEG people who debated on Hyde Park Corner. Normally, I would not have mentioned this point because I would not have thought that he would have been interested. However, he has just been on one of the 4thought TV episodes on Channel 4 and now might be a good time to approach him.

Be warned though he is the real deal when it comes to Catholicism. Not only does he run the New Dawn and the Prince of Peace community but, he also has a ministry whereby UK priests go to the community on retreat and trust his advice and support but, he also has a deliverance ministry.

Deacon Nick Donelly of Protect the Pope is also a big supporter of Myles Dempsey.

Myles can be found at:

Prince of Peace Community
St. Emilies, Oakhill Park, Liverpool, England
L13 4BP
Tel: 0151 228 0724


For the record, someone with media experience who was trained up by Myles was Anna Maria Vesey. She would be more than capable of going on national news programmes to defend the Church.

Both Anna and Myles would be superior to the Catholic Voices people and would 'get it right' for once.

CatholicAMV said...

Hi, I would eagerly be involved in any attempt to get the C.E.G up and running again, (although I believe a guild still does exist in the Westminster diocese - or did up until very recently).
Let's find a way to find out how many people are interested, willing, and able; and then we could hire a church hall somewhere for the day, meet each other and see if we could get something off the ground, perhaps Myles would even be prepared to come and give us some initial training?
Or we could just continue to sit at our computers typing about it being such a shame that no one is doing anything instead.
Anna-Maria Vesey