Monday, December 06, 2004

Found While Looking for Something Else Dept.

I was rummaging through my bookshelves this morning looking for a copy of a medieval engraving of St. Nicholas to scan and post for St. Nicholas' Day. I didn't find it. Instead I found the special issue of The Chesterton Review put out in 1996 dedicated to Fr. Vincent McNabb, O.P. Which led to an hour or so of browsing which should have been spent elsewhere.

Still it was an excellent way to spend part of a morning, caught up in the optimism and joy which surrounded Fr. Vincent, Chesterton, Belloc, Baring and the others who made Catholicism explode into life in the first half of the 20th century. Chesterton said of Fr. Vincent, "Now I am nervous about writing here what I really think about Father Vincent McNabb; for fear he should somehow get hold of the proofs and cut it out. But I will say briefly and firmly that he is one of the few great men I have met in my life; that he is great in many ways, mentally and morally and mystically and practically... for at least nobody who ever met or saw or heard Father McNabb has ever forgotten him."

In searching the web for something to refer you to on Fr. Vincent, (and save myself a fair bit of typing) I find that Gerard Bugge, God rest his soul, produced a webpage based on this same special issue. You can find it here.

One of Father's anecdotes that Gerard doesn't recount:

I well remember going off to America in 1913 finding myself in the steerage of the ship with 400 or 500 emigrants all seeming to be in the depths of sorrow and gloom. There was nothing to look out on but the huge warehouses of Liverpool docks. It was a dull day, nothing to eat, nothing there but the sea and the sky like lead. People were sitting on their luggage (we were being kept on deck while we were case-papered or something), sadness in their hearts, hungry. I thought "Isn't this awful?" Then a few children came along very shy and quiet at first. I thought "Thank goodness there are children. Now things will begin to liven up." They looked at each other gloomily for a moment and then they started dancing and singing "round and round the Mulberry bush" round a great steel stanchion. We could only see a steel stanchion -- they saw a mulberry bush. I have never forgotten the vision God gave me in a few moments in Liverpool docks.

And one more, which I think St. John of the Cross would very much approve of:

Thank God I have never had any visions. I don't want any. The Apostles' Creed is quite enough for me. I've never yet understood the whole of it. I've never had anything approaching a vision or a revelation but I've had answers to prayer innumerable.

Some links to distributism and related topics, Fr. McNabb included.