The Call of Youth

The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is
a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain. . . .”— Keats.

THE space of life between boyhood and manhood is a time that is fraught with difficulties, disturbances, and dangers. The years of childhood have passed, and with them their settled feeling of comparative security. Adolescence has come with a breaking away from the old stable outlook on life, with feelings of insecurity and uncertainty born of the vital changes in mind and body. The shelters of childhood are gone —the influence and protection of the school, the absolute dependence on the parents. The youth begins to discover himself; begins to understand that he must now take his place in the world as an independent individual. Before he has attained that measure of moral balance and assurance which would enable him to stand really alone, he begins to walk, by himself, the rugged path of life. Perhaps he totters; perhaps he doesn’t. He is too shy to ask for help, too proud to cry. He longs for somebody’s confidence, but is too diffident to seek it. He is lonely in his newly discovered independence. In his secret thoughts he tries to puzzle out answers to the great questions of life. “He is too self-conscious, to speak, too tempted to move simply with the Sacraments, too perplexed always to see his way.” His character is in the melting-pot, his temporal future is in question, his eternal destiny at stake.

At this critical period in their lives thousands of boys and girls leave our Catholic Schools each year to take up their place in the world. They are thrown among fellow workers and companions who are, for the most part, indifferent, and very often thoroughly demoralised. Paganism flourishes all around them; pagan outlook, pagan conduct; pagan ideas on all the great realities of life, on marriage, on morality, and on religion. Everything about them tends to destroy in them the pure Christian Faith. What they remember of religion from their school days offers them no immediate solution to the problems and difficulties that confront them now. Destitute of effective weapons, they are faced with a destructive and well armed enemy. Is it any wonder, then, that many of these young people drift into indifference, and are even lost to the True Faith.

Australian Catholic Youth is in dire need of help. Something must be done to take up and continue Christian formation where the school left off, A definite effort must be made to so transform working life, that instead of being an obstacle to salvation, it may promote it. “Our young workers,” says Canon Cardijn, “boys and girls, are not mere beasts of burden, nor machines, nor slaves; but children of God, fellow workers with Him and heirs of His Kingdom.” This divine destiny is the sole end of their temporal and eternal life. It does not begin after death; it is embodied in their life here on earth. The sad thing is that our young workers are diverted from this divine vocation, and find it unrealisable in practice.

What is needed is an organisation of young workers in which, among themselves, by themselves and for themselves, they render one another mutual aid and support, so as to make their own lives vitally and actively Christian. By living this full Christian life, and bringing it right into their working surroundings, the members of this organisation would be enabled to face, and solve, successfully all the difficulties with which they are confronted. The Grail is an organisation that answers this need for girls. But what about our young men? Are we neglecting them? It is true, indeed, that the Young Men’s Societies, and the Confraternities, have done much good and useful work. Great credit is due to them. But they do not give a full solution to the problem. Far be it from us to discredit these excellent organisations in any way, but they do not seem to have that active participation in the every day life of their members which is necessary if the young men are to be thoroughly Christianised.

The late Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, gave us the one efficacious solution for this problem. He proclaimed: “The first apostles, the immediate apostles of the young workers will be the young workers themselves.” Those who are the victims of the paganism of their surrounding must themselves become its conquerors. Everybody can help them, but nobody can replace them. They themselves must solve their own problems; and having Christianised themselves, must win by the influence of their lives, their entire surroundings to Christ. Working on these principles, Canon Cardyn, of Brussels, founded an organisation of young workers, to be a movement of young workers for the salvation of young workers. “It would protect them in the beginning of their life, study their whole life, watch over them, solve all their problems, supply the defects in their religious, moral, intellectual and social training. It would establish a band of militants, who would form the others, and through them and with them act on the mass of young workers to Christianise them. It would put a new spirit into them by showing them the incomparable dignity of their vocation as Christian workers and Brothers of Christ the Worker. It would make offices, shops, factories, mines, and streets, places where a young worker could live a decent Christian life.”

This organisation is known as the J.O.C. (Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne), Young Christian Workers. It was started in Belgium; in four years it had 70,000 members there. In 1927 it spread to France, and since them to almost every country of the world. It has captivated the enthusiasm of modern youth. Pope Pius XI called it “an authentic form, an achieved type” of that Catholic Action which was the ruling idea of his Pontificate. It has been started in Australia—we publish an account of its Australian beginnings in this issue. It is a movement which demands our sympathy, our interest, and our help. The future of the Church here depends very much on how we answer the Call of Youth.

SOURCE

April 1, 1940.

THE CALL OF YOUTH.

THE NEWCASTLE AND MAITLAND CATHOLIC SENTINEL.

https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-306293761/view?sectionId=nla.obj-321515763

A Campion at the Court of King Albert

By LASLA LARNACH (Campion Society, Sydney)

The J.O.C. “Ou,” said I, bracing myself in a supreme effort, “est la J.O.C.?” Followed a torrent of fluent but, to me, unintelligible directions in the language of the Gauls. “Merci,” I smiled wanly, turning to my companions. “What did he say?” The blank looks on their faces told me sufficient, and then a priest was seen strolling down the street. He luckily spoke English, and told us that the Centrale Jociste is to be found on the Boulevarde Poincare, near the Gare du Midi.

After an almost complete tour of Brussels, we alighted from “Gloria,” our Austin 7, and entered the magnificent five-storey Centrale. At our request an English-speaking Jociste was brought. He explained that there were several English, Australian and New Zealand priests and laymen staying there, and, “voila,” there they were. There was time for a hasty introduction, and we were whisked off to an open-air address on the other side of the city, and in the tram we learned that J.O.C. was telling Brussels, Belgium and Europe that in a few days their 20,000 pilgrims would enter the city of Rome. (Unfortunately, this was not to be, owing to the outbreak of the present war.) Arriving there, we saw a platform, amplifiers and a fringe of cyclists in the white shirt and red tie of the J.O.C., in a crowded square of the poorer quarter of the town. Followed vigorous addresses and songs in which everybody joined in both French and Flemish. Immediately it was over we were told to hasten back and eat. The cafe was completely staffed by members of the women’s organisation—the J.O.C.F., and was crowded by happy, hungry young people.

Afterwards a drink and talk in the Brasserie, and then, tired out, to our bed in a plain, clean cubicle on an upper floor. Arising at 6 o’clock, we attended one of the several Masses going on in the chapel; then breakfast in the cafe, and a few minutes to collect literature and periodicals. The morning was spent at lectures and meetings of militants having to do with the pilgrimage, at which flattering reference was made to “Les travailleurs Australiennes”; then off in “Gloria” to the new retreat house, about twelve miles out in the country.

We found the site, farm and woodland, with a cool brook to drink from, in the heat of the beautiful summer’s day. At the most elevated spot we found in the last stages of completion a large, three-storey retreat house, built of concrete and glass in the modernistic style. It consisted of some forty rooms, fitted with hot and cold water and the necessary comfort installations. On the ground floor was the chapel, dining hall, recreation rooms and kitchen, below the furnace room.

I cannot dwell on the delightful day or on the beer, so back to Brussels and Centrale with its murmurings of European unrest. On this account a hasty decision was made and “Gloria” proceeded on her way. It is sufficient for your information to state our own enquiry, “Ou est la route a Anvers?”

SOURCE

A Campion at the Court of King Albert (Advocate, Thursday 15 February 1940, page 25)

A Modern Apostle of the Workers

By KEVIN T. KELLY, B.A.

In every age God raises up men to dedicate their lives and talents to the particular religious problems of the times. In this era of industrialism, when millions of men live their lives in the grip of the machine, so inimical to the Christian life, a Belgian priest, Fr. Joseph Cardijn, has tackled the problem of winning this machine age for Christ. Pope Pius XI. considers that he is a man of destiny, sent by Providence, and has blessed his Jociste movement, now spreading through the world, as “an authentic form of Catholic Action.”

Brussels is the capital of squat, flat Belgium, a land black with the smoke of factories and thundering with the roar of machines.

There is a gigantic stone figure of a worker standing above and dominating an old warehouse in the Rue Poincare.

Beneath the great stone figure there are the swinging doors of a brasserie. Passing through, one may clink a glass with the railwaymen who gather together after their work. On the second floor is a cafeteria where factory-girls have their meals. On the third floor are offices of administration; on the fourth, 250 young workers live.

Above, there is a flat. It is a tiny apartment, hidden at the top of the building; but it is the headquarters of a Revolution.

In it lives Fr. Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers—or Jocistes, as they are called.

In Belgium, over a hundred thousand young workers look to him for leadership; in the world, five hundred thousand salute him as chief.

Bishops, priests and laymen wait on his word. Capitalists and Communists fear him. The Pope knows him for what he is. He is a man saving the working class for Christ and social justice. He brings Catholic life and action down to earth. In forty countries is his influence felt.

WORKING-CLASS STOCK

Joseph Cardijn comes of working-class stock. In the ‘eighties, when Cardijn was born, a succession of strikes and riots swept through Belgium. Factories were set ablaze, and Socialists hailed the glare in the sky as a Red dawn. The country was then, and for a generation it remained only nominally Christian. Nine-tenths of the boys and girls starting work in factories at the age of fourteen gave up all religious practice within a few months. In the wake of oppression, injustice and the machine followed a tidal wave of immorality.

In the words of the Pope, “multitudes of workers sank into the same morass; all the more so because very many employers treated their workers as tools.” “The mind shudders,” continues the Pope, “at the frightful perils to which the morals of workers and the virtues of girls are exposed in modern factories. . . . Bodily labour has everywhere been changed into an instrument of strange perversion; for dead matter leaves the factory ennobled and transformed, where men are corrupted and degraded.”

HE WISHED TO CHANGE THE WORLD

The working-class of Belgium had not within itself the seed of renewal. Unwittingly, unconsciously almost, workers slipped into socialism or slunk into despair.

Meanwhile Cardijn grew up, and, entering upon his studies for the priesthood, vowed his life to the service of his own people, the proletariat. While still in the seminary, he saved sufficient to visit England and study there the co-operatives and the trade union movement.

Upon his ordination, he taught for a few months at the University of Louvain; but as early as 1911 he was busy in the industrial parish of Laeken, near Brussels, with a group of young workers, some of whom could neither read nor write, studying wages, hours, holidays and housing, the whole working-class environment. He had set out to understand the world he wished to change.

Already, another great priest had founded the A.C.J.B., the Catholic Young Men’s Society of Belgium. Unlike Cardijn’s group, this association studied apologetics and social doctrine in the abstract, gathering young men from all ranks and classes of society, and holding their interest by sport, a sort of study and entertainment. It was a defensive organisation; it tried to keep men good by sheltering them from a cold, bad world.

A SPECIALISED PLAN

Cardijn, meanwhile, pursued a plan radically different; he specialised. Selecting only those who shared the same social interests, who spoke, thought, worked and lived in the same milieu or environment, he grouped young industrial workers for the purpose of studying, and penetrating and converting sections of the working-class no longer Christian. He gathered, but did not isolate, his workers in order to launch the attack for social justice. He flung good apples into a heap of bad apples, and the bad apples became good. The war checked everything. Advancing down the Meuse, the Germans took Liege and laid waste the countryside. Both organisations virtually disappeared. When at last, with the armistice, release came, Fr. Cardijn was appointed director of social works in Brussels, and at once began building a strong union of young workers-La Jeunesse Syndicaliste. But from the new post his eyes greeted a greater vision; he realised that nothing less than a nation-wide, indeed a worldwide, movement of young workers could secure the working masses for Christ, the Sun of Justice. Within five years—in 1925—the Belgian Bishops approved the statutes of the J.O.C.— the Jocistes or Young Christian Workers’ Movement. Shortly afterwards, others were adopting his methods and doctrine, and adapting their activities and constitutions. By 1927 the whole Catholic Youth Movement of Belgium specialised—adapted itself to the various milieux or environments whence its members were drawn.

NO FALSE OR HALF MEASURES

The A.C.J.B.—the C.Y.M.S. of Belgium—is now a federation of five specialised branches: the Jocistes, the young Christian workers; the Jacistes, or young Christian peasants; the Jecistes, or young Christian students; the Jucistes, or young Christian undergraduates; and the Jicistes, or young Christian independents. Each has its feminine counterpart, and all follow the methods and doctrine of Canon Cardijn and the Jocistes. Let Cardijn put his doctrine to you in his own words:— “Far more than any other social class, the working-class is immediately and directly exposed to the attacks of new-fangled paganism and of militant atheism, which threaten to plunge the world into barbaric slavery.”

In the face of this threat, safety is found neither in false measures nor in half-measures.

It is useless to propose mere exterior remedies, from outside or above the working-class—remedies backed by the rule of violence, material force or the destruction of freedom.

It is useless to propose for the working-class mere interior remedies, whether temporary or economic or spiritual.

REMAKING OF WORKING CLASS

There remains only one means of complete efficacious salvation: the remaking of the whole working-class— a remaking, a renewal, at once spiritual and material, temporal and eternal, personal and social, domestic and civic, by the working-class apostolate, by the working-class laity, by Christlike, Catholic Action in and by the working-class.

The whole life, the whole environment, all the institutions of the working-class, the whole working-class and all the working masses must be brought back to their divine origin, to their divine destiny, to the Sole Reason for their being—on earth as in heaven, in time as in eternity.

In every department of life we must strive after the fundamental truth, that from all eternity God has called every worker, every worker’s family, and the whole working-class to participate in His life, His truth, His happiness and His kingdom. Not after death, but here and now, onwards and upwards from birth.

For this did God create and redeem us, incorporating us into that Mystical, Collective Christ, His Body, continuing in us the work of Redemption. In our fellow-workers is Christ poor, underpaid, sweated, overworked, out of work: Christ the factory hand, Christ the railwayman, Christ the miner, alter Christus, Christ the worker.

“Hence,” continues Cardijn, “each worker has an apostolate, his own, his personal apostolate, for which he is concretely and exactly responsible; an apostolate as a lover, a husband, a father, a worker, a citizen. An apostolate adapted to the working class; better adapted to workers than the clothes we wear, the tools we use, or the goods we produce. An apostolate only workers can discharge. An apostolate completing that of the priest, on which it depends. An apostolate without which the Faith and the Church are only a caricature and not a living reality.”

OBJECT OF J.O.C.

As Pius XI. says: “The first apostles, the immediate apostles, of workers will be workers.” “Their work is noble,” declares Cardijn, “for without work there is no bread, no wine, no chalice, no ornaments, no altar, no Mass, no church, no religion.”

The object of the J.O.C. is to train young workers for adult life on the job as tradesmen, in the home as fathers, in the industry as unionists, and for the apostolate at all times everywhere. The J.O.C. trains men to transform themselves, their homes and their country. It gives them, or, more properly speaking, gets them to give themselves a thorough knowledge of Catholic principles, of Catholic doctrine, especially regarding marriage and social justice, along with a perfect appreciation of technique and a detailed and profound knowledge of everyday life.

These young workers know how to run a movement. Their expression technique covers a multitude of methods and a thousand programmes of propaganda. For example, they issue for workers’ sons still at school a paper called “Mon Avenir,” which prepares these small children in every way for working life. Profusely illustrated in several colours, this paper is an excellent compound of Deadwood Dick, religious magazine, propaganda sheet, and vocational training notes.

NATION-WIDE CAMPAIGNS

As soon as a lad leaves school, he passes into the cells or sections of the J.O.C. proper, and there receives “La Jeunesse Ouvriere,” a paper for workers whose ages range between 14 and 25. The cells are organised and led by young workers themselves, with the assistance of chaplains. The chaplains have their paper, and the group leaders, the Militants, have theirs. By means of 17 journals, the whole movement in Belgium embarks on nation-wide campaigns for more intense religious life, more adequate formation for marriage and for the effective realisation of the revolutionary principles of social justice. Each Jociste section is much more than a Royal Commission. Slums, free-time, sport, social abuses, sweating, low wages, exploitation, saving for marriage, home furnishing, factory ventilation—all are studied continuously, with a view to action.

From the J.O.C., the young workers pass as adults into the Christian Workers’ League.

All three movements are financed exclusively by the workers. All are organised, not on a trade or vocational basis, but on a parish and class basis. All owe their origin and inspiration to Canon Cardijn and to Fr. Kothen, his right-hand man.

The movement is not only Belgian. Already it has spread enormously in France, Holland, Switzerland, Portugal, Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia. It is established in Asia, and has grown tremendously in North and South America. In England, under Archbishop Downey, it is an essential instrument of Catholic thought and action. May it reach—speedily—Australia!

CANON CARDIJN, ADDRESSING 80,000 JOCISTES AT THEIR TENTH ANNIVERSARY CONGRESS IN PARIS LAST YEAR. —Photo by courtesy of the “Catholic Worker.”

SOURCE

A Modern Apostle of the Workers (Advocate, Thursday 19 May 1938, page 9)

Catholic Social Action During 1936-1937

SURVEY BY INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE

In the Year Book for 1936-1937, published by the International Labour Office, there is a full summary of Catholic activity in social matters throughout the world (pp. 28-35). The International Labour Office was established in Geneva on January 10, 1920, with the benediction of the League of Nations. Fifty-six States have joined the organisation, whose object is to improve world labour conditions.

THE following is a “summary of the summary,” which gives some idea of the Church’s social activity throughout the world, as seen by the I.L.O.

GREAT BRITAIN

The Bishops’ collective pastoral condemning social injustice. . . . The work of the Catholic Workers’ College. . . . The C.S.G. Summer School at Oxford. . . The beginnings of the Young Christian Workers’ movement. Their work for the young unemployed in Bristol.

BELGIUM

The Belgian Episcopate protests against the falsities of modern life, and calls for justice and truth and love and true freedom among the workers. . . . Belgian Catholics assemble at Malines to discuss social, economic and moral problems arising out of modern conditions. They agree on the need for reform of limited companies and the banks. . . . At Louvain there is a fortnight’s congress, at which the importance of curbing financial dictatorships was emphasised. . . . New centres for the unemployed set up by Jocistes.

FRANCE

Messages from nearly all the dioceses calling for goodwill in attempting to solve the social problems. . . . The repeated attacks on social and economic injustices by Mgr. Salieges, Archbishop of Toulouse, by Cardinal Lienart, and by Cardinal Verdier. . . . The efforts of the Jocistes to obtain better wages and working conditions for young workers, and their ceaseless attempts to improve the lot of the unemployed.

SWITZERLAND

The celebration by 5000 Jocistes of their first national congress. , . . The establishment of social centres for the unemployed.

AUSTRIA

Cardinal Innitzer’s vigorous attacks on those who destroy social justice, and those” commercial firms who make profit out of the distress of the people. . . . The establishing of Christliche Arbeiter Jugend, which corresponds to J.O.C. and Y.C.W., in four dioceses.

ITALY

The second International Congress of Catholic Journalists at Rome. Cardinal Pacelli, in addressing these journalists of 28 countries, asked them to fight the anti-Christian ideas in the world, among which he included:— “The maxims and practices of plutocratic Liberalism which, ignoring or despising the intrinsic dignity of labour, and considering the worker as a tool for profit rather than a subject for justice, persevere in shackling, or at least hampering, the organised and progressive redemption of the proletariat.”

HUNGARY

A feminine branch of the J.O.C. is established, and there are now 46 branches of J.O.C. in the country.

POLAND

Mgr. Teodorowicz and Mgr. Twardowski call upon Catholics to interfere in social and economic spheres in order to alleviate the miseries of the working-class.

U.S.A.

Cardinal Pacelli’s interview with President Roosevelt, at which reference was made to the President’s high regard for “Quadragesimo Anno.” The great celebrations in May, under the patronage of all the Bishops and Archbishops, on the anniversary of the social Encyclicals of Leo XIII. and Pius XI., when the social teaching of the Church was discussed and explained all over the continent, through pulpit, press and radio. The National Catholic Welfare Conference tries strenuously to obtain relief for rural landowners and to develop distributive co-operative societies and mutual credit societies. The Catholic Conference of Industrial Problems holds sessions in Chicago, Schenectady, Philadelphia, Washington and San Francisco, The Jociste movement is started among Portuguese workers.

CANADA

The Jocistes, under the guidance of the religious authorities, organise relief for young, unemployed persons, and plan means by which their spare time may be used.

BRAZIL

A first and most successful social week is held at Rio de Janeiro (June 8-12). There is considerable increase in the general interest on social subjects, and courses and lectures are instituted. The Jociste movement develops strongly in all the Brazilian States.

ARGENTINE REPUBLIC

The activities of the Economic and Social Secretariat, set up barely three years ago, now cover the whole country. The organisation institutes a vast enquiry, in 22 dioceses, into the conditions of urban and rural workers. Under its auspices, a culture week, which deals exclusively with social problems, is held at Santiago-del-Estero.

SOURCE

Catholic Social Action During 1936-1937 (Advocate, Thursday 20 January 1938, page 27) (Trove)

Catholic Girls’ Movement

First Annual Communion and Breakfast

The first general Communion of the Catholic Girls’ Movement was held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the 9.30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, and all the clubs associated with the movement were represented in the gathering. The Vicar-Apostolic of Kimberley, W.A., Most Rev. Dr. Raible, was the celebrant of the Mass, and he was assisted in administering Communion by Rev. B. McGrade, chaplain of the organisation. Plain chant was sung during the Mass by the boys of St. Vincent de Paul’s Orphanage, South Melbourne, under the direction of Miss Honiss.

A Communion breakfast was afterwards held in the Cathedral Hall.

Miss E. Robinson, president of the movement, congratulated the girls on their mass demonstration in honour of Christ the King, and thanked his Lordship Dr. Raible for his co-operation. Fr. McGrade outlined the objectives of the C.G.M., and paid a tribute to its founder, Miss Robinson, who was assisted by officers of the Catholic Women’s Social Guild, who had fostered the new organisation. At present the movement includes about 17 units, and it is hoped that in the near future every Catholic girl will belong to it. Fr. McGrade also reviewed

Catholic girls’ organisations abroad, with special reference to the Grail, which he saw at work in Berlin, and the Jociste movement, which numbers about 110,000 members in Belgium and 100,000 in France. He expressed the hcpe that the Grail would soon come to Melbourne, and that the C.G.M, would associate itself in the splendid! work this organisation was doing.

Bishop Raible spoke of the problem of the Australian aborigines, whom we have shamefully neglected. At least 75 per cent of the workers in Australian mission fields are foreigners, he said. In his own diocese of Kimberley not one Australian is doing anything for blacks. One member of the Catholic Girls’ Movement has already volunteered for work in Kimberley, and he appealed for more Australian girls to join her.

Mrs. McDonald, president of the Catholic Women’s Social Guild extended an invitation, on behalf of Dr. van Kersbergen of the Grail, to any girls who wished to take part in the Grail training course in Sydney from January 8 to 15, and the camp in the Blue Mountains from January 16 to 23. The cost is £3/3/- and £2/2/- respectively and arrangements can be made through the guild.

SOURCE

Catholic Girls’ Movement (Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954), Thursday 18 November 1937, page 18) (Trove)

The Christian Revolution

THE MIRACLE OF JOC

By PAUL McGUIRE

SEVENTY THOUSAND young men and women are standing in a vast arena. About them are great machines —the machines at which they toil. To music, group after group is marching in, carrying banners and the symbols of their trades and crafts. Then come the nurses, carrying a huge white cross. A torch is lit. It passes from hand to hand, other torches take fire from it, the lights run out to the far edges of the crowd. It is the light of Christian teaching, spreading from Jocist to Jocist, to illumine the world.

The mechanics make a platform of machines. The carpenters build upon it a table of mahogany. On the table the quarrymen set a flat stone. Over it the girl weavers spread three linen cloths from their mills. At the right hand, bookbinders place a huge book, the product of theirs and the printers’ arts. Miners set safety lamps on the table. The white cross is placed above it. The altar is ready for to-morrow’s Mass. The workers have raised, from the things they make, a throne for God.

In the morning, the Cardinals and the Archbishops and the Bishops of France come to that altar. An old man and an old woman come to it

They are workers, like the tens of thousands gathered there. Between the old man and the old woman walks their son. He was a worker, too. Now he goes to say his first Mass. He is a Jocist, and those who built the altar, the seventy thousand who will presently answer his voice in the responses of the Mass are Jocists.

They are the Christian Revolution.*

The Miracle of JOC.

A year or two after the war, a young Priest in Belgium said to a young workinginan and a young working girl: ” We are going to conquer the world.” In July, at Paris, seventy thousand delegates from twenty different countries knelt before the Altar of the Workers at that first Mass of the Priest who had once been a fitter. They came from the mines and the mills and the ships and the factories and the farms and the offices. All were wage-earners. Most were manual workers. Not one was more than twenty-five years old.

To them, the Holy Father addressed a special message. He repeated that pregnant phrase of his: “The apostles of the workers must be workers.” He has said that their action is “an ideal form of Catholic Action.” He has given them his blessing.

I met, at the C.S.G. Summer School in Oxford, Father Kothen, of the Belgian J.O.C. There is still danger from Communism in France, he said, but in Belgium that is passing. Today, for each recruit to the Belgian Communist parties, JOC makes three. There are 90,000 Jocists in Belgium, 100,000 in France, 500,000 in Europe; and to be a Jocist is not an easy thing, while the organisation itself has only been formally approved for ten years. About one-sixth of the Jocists are “militants,” and each “militant” is assumed to influence about one hundred of his fellow-workmen.

To resist Communism is only an aspect of the task. Communism itself is but a symptom of social disease: of that disease in which, as Pius XI has said, “the whole economic life has become hard, cruel, and relentless in a ghastly manner.” Catholics who see our whole task, or even a major task, in mere negative resistance to Communism are grossly mistaken. We must destroy the disease of which it is a symptom. We must restore health to the body of society. We must make our own revolution, the revolution in Christ. And that is what JOC is doing.

” Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne”: they are the words for which IOC stands: the Christian Worker Youth. Christian, notice: all things are centred in Christ, Christ is our Master, the Worker who is Master of Workingmen.

Christians—W orkers—Y ouths.

JOC, though it is the most familiar of them, is only one of five great organisations: JMC (Young Catholic Sailors), JEC (Young Catholic Students), JAC (Young Catholic Peasants), and JIC (Young Catholic Intellectual Workers). JOC is essentially the organisation of the industrial workers. It will be seen at once that the vocational orders, of which the Social Encyclicals speak, are observed here in their true sense. The vocations have each their part, but the parts combine for the common good, are ordered to it.

Last Whitsun, in Paris, JOC, JAC, JEC, JIC, and JMC presented together a parable play. They described in great choruses, the selfishness and violence which destroy the social order. Cries JOC: “The factory doors are shut.” Cries JAC: “No one wants the fruits of the earth.” Cries JMC: ” Ships remain in the harbors.” Cries JEC: “Students fail in the useless exams.” Cries JIC: ” Failures and miseries multiply.” Then all cry together: “Chaos, unemployment, misery, revolution, war. We want to work and to live. Who will save us?” And a voice answers: ” Christ.”

Christ is the Unity in Whom men must live and work, in Whom all vocations, all individual talents, all personal labors and sufferings, all social effort and trial, find meaning and realisation. That is the lesson of JOC and JAC and J EC and JMC and JIC. It is the message they are carrying to the world, to their immediate worlds, to the classrooms and the ships and the farms and the mills and the newspaper offices and the mines.

JOC is for boys and girls between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five. There are organisations for the younger, organisations into which they pass after twenty-five, but one musl leave these aside for the time. JOC is based on the parochial units, in which the Priest is the centre of the group, in the sense that he is responsible for its spiritual welfare. But the officers are all Jocists. The great congress in Paris the other day was arranged by these boys and girls: and, seated in the midst of the Cardinals and Bishops, a young man presided over it all—the young workingman who is President of the JOC of France.

JOC is a school of young workers.

It is social service. It works for better conditions, better wages. It is a representative body. Its reports are valued by the International Labor Office. But, above all, it is an apostolate. It insists not only on the personal sanctification of its members, but on their duty, their splendid task, as apostles to their fellows. It works at the conquest of the workers for Christ.

Its militants are the hard core of the movement. They form cells in shops and factories and mines: they are the nucleus of the parish sections. JOC always begins with a small group of militants. One can see them in training now in England. In the first week-end of August forty young men of Wigan, Father Rimmer’s group, went into retreat. For nearly six months they have been preparing themselves. Father Atkinson has another group at Wellingborough. The organisation has been authorised in Westminster, Liverpool, Northampton, Birmingham. One believes that in a year or two it will be spreading across England, as it has spread across Belgium and France: that in every place where the toiling masses labor the spirit of JOC will be there to remind men again of Christ, Who toiled and labored.

To penetrate the milieu, that is the task of JOC. Tt is a personal apostolate for each boy and girl. You are concerned with tJie man next to you at the bench, the boys who live in your street: with the girl beside you at the loom, the young women in the dance halls. The job requires courage and knowledge and spiritual integrity. Tt is not the least of the great achievements of JOC that it has found the method of steeling the moral and intellectual purpose of the young city dwellers: it has learnt how to waken their enthusiasm, how to instruct their minds, how to nourish their charity, how to make apostles of them. The whole Catholic world can learn from JOC’s technique. In my next article T shall try to give some account of it.

SOURCE

The Christian Revolution (Southern Cross, Friday 24 September 1937, page 17) (Trove)

JOC

Next week will appear the first of a series of articles by Paul McGuire on the fgmous revolutionary organisation of the JOC (Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne, the Continental Christian organisation of industrial workers).

There are 90,000 Jocists in Belgium, 100,000 in France, 500,000 in Europe—and to-day, in Belgium, for each recruit to the Communist parties, JOC

makes three.

Read introductory reference in this issue—

See Letter from London.

SOURCE

JOC (Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1954), Friday 17 September 1937, page 1) (Trove)

A Gallant New Crusade

Saving the World Through Youth

BRUSSELS, August 25.

By CAROLINE GAYE

THIS is an age of youth movements; of youthful Fascism, Hitlerism, Communism; of Young Australia, movements, Young India movements, and etc., etc., but it has been left to little Belgium to inaugurate a young Christian movement which, in the ten years of its existence, has girt together with bands as strong as steel young Christian working men and working women throughout the whole world. I speak of the Jocistes who, to-day in Brussels, held the most amazing and most genuinely moving demonstration I have ever seen.

The word Jociste, by the way, is formed (as most of you will know) from the initial letters of Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne (Christian Working Youth), the chief aim of whose organisation—which has branches in practically every country except our own—is the rechristianisation of the working classes ! At the moment its principal activities are directed towards the building and bastioning throughout the world of a young army whose solid, united front may prove an invincible barrier to such disruptive forces as irreligion and Communism; but the methods adopted for this building and bastioning need not be enumerated here, since a brief description of the demonstration which to-day in Brussels opened the first International Jociste Congress is the sole purpose of this article.

CONGRESS OF YOUTH.

This Congress of Youth, or rather the inauguration of this Congress, recalls in more ways than one the age of chivalry —and paiticularly the chivalry of the Crusades, for the members of the J;O.C. may, in every sense of the word, be said to be Crusaders. . . . Here is a well-known picture which most of you will remember—it stirred my imagination When I was very young, and, probably, stirred yours, too—in which a young squire, on the eve of receiving his knighthood, keeps watch all night before the altar upon which his armour is laid. It was a common practice in those days for earnest young squires, before being knighted, to keep this Viellee d’Armes. . . . Last night in the churches of Belgium just such a vigil was kept, and, hour after hour, young Jocistes took it in turn to mount guard before the Blessed Sacrament. Outside the quiet churches very different preparations were going on. All through the night trains hurried in and out of Brussels, two huge stations, depositing their seemingly endless cargoes of young working men from England, Holland, Spain, from Canada, Portugal, Switzerland, India, Africa, France. From France, at half-past five in the morning arrived a contingent of 1300 youngsters who marched straight off to the Church of Notre Dame de la Chapelle, where the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris was waiting to say Mass for them!

WONDERFUL ORGANISATION.

Not the least part of this day’s celebrations, by the way, has been the smooth organisation of colossal crowds. One hundred thousand Jocistes arrived in Brussels, and Brussels was hardly aware of the fact. Every single one was comfortably accommodated, and everyone knew exactly what was expected of him (or her). This morning, in their various groups, they attended early Mass, received Holy Communion, and, subsequently, found breakfast prepared in nearby schools and clubs. Afterwards, valiant and young and proud, they marched to the wooded heights of Laecken, where, beneath the towering monument of Leopold I., Cardinal Van Roey celebrated High Mass. Immediately after High Mass, the congressists, together with their families and their friends (whose numbers nobody even attempted to guess) had their luncheon on the great Plain of Laecken. That pleasant ceremony over, they marched to the Heysel Stadium, where their picturesque and moving demon stratum was to begin at half-past two.

It would need a poet to describe the effect created by those hundred thousand young men wearing, according to their groups, different coloured shirts, and the ten thousand young women in brightly coloured pinafores and white blouses, all kneeling before an altar which was made lovely by the surrounding forest of banners whose glorious colours reminded one of the knights of old who valued beauty even in the panoply of war. And it would need a Memling or a Van Eyck to paint the picture they made as, beneath a cloudless sky, they carried their banners there were, literally, thousands of them, and they were made of shimmering satin and velvet, in rich deep tones of rose and blue and green and red—to the stadium. There, another miracle of organisation was worked—for it must be remembered that the majority of congressists had arrived in Brussels during the night, too late to take part in yesterday’s rehearsals. After the arrival of the important personages, the Prime Minister of Belgium, several ambassadors, three Cardinals and some two hundred prelates, the demonstration began with a picturesque trooping of flags. This was followed by a Jociste song, and then by the speaking choir which proclaimed the aims and ideals of Jocism.

A rostrum was erected in the centre of the arena, and there the two leaders of the choir—one speaking Flemish, the other French—directed the proceedings. They were surrounded by some five hundred trained youths, who all the time accompanied the choir with appropriate actions, whilst on the surrounding benches sat massed Jocistes from every land, adding the thunder of their voices to this mighty profession of faith.

“THE CHORUS OF REVOLT.”

I shall quote only a few extracts to give you some idea (if possible) of the spoken songs which, for close on three hours, held that huge audience spellbound. . . . One is called the Chorus of Revolt. It begins in Flemish:

“Hard is’t labeur

Hard! Hard! Hard!”

Those two lines need no translation, but the ones which follow bear little resemblance to our own language, so I must give my own rough translation of the Frencli version:

“Pitiless masters burden us with work.”

“Like a yoke work weighs upon our shoulders.”

“We break beneath its weight.”

“We die beneath its weight.”

1st Chorister: “Workers we are, not slaves.”

Choir (100,000 male voices) shouting: “Slaves!”

1st Chorister: “Our backs are breaking.”

Choir (shouting): “Slaves!”

1st Chorister: “We dare not lift our eyes.”

Choir (shouting): “Slaves!”

1st Chorister: “We are outcasts. We are pariahs. We are the cogs in a merciless machine.”

Choir: “We are finished with. life. We have had enough of life. Life has beaten us,” . . . and so on. This lament is then followed by the Jociste’ challenge to liberty, to manhood and to hope. Accompanied by Theban trumpets the young voices proclaim their faith and pride in the J.O.C. Then the chorus of Revolt asks—

“Who goes there?”

The crowd answers: “The Jocistes.”

Chorus of Revolt: “Jocistes! Who are the Jocistes?”

1st Chorister: “Jocistes, who are you?”

The Crowd: “We are youth!” 1st Jociste: “Jocistes, who are you?” The Crowd: “We are the working Youth.”

1st Jociste: “Jocistes, who are you?”

The Crowd: “We are the Christian Working Youth.”

It seemed as if the fervour of that declaration would shatter the blue dome of heaven. And so it goes on. The Jocistes are asked what they wish to become, and why. Their answer is that they want to Christianise their work; they want to be pure and strong; that they want to glory in it, not to hate it. The Chorus of Revolt mutters:

“You are outcasts, just as we are. You are slaves, just as we are. You are miserable working men, as we are— nothing more.” At this the leader cries:

“Jocistes, say the name of Him Who, like you, was a working Man.”

A hundred thousand voices answer: “Jesus Christ!”

Other songs follow, and the burden of them all is this: that work is a noble and creative thing, a thing into which the Jocistes must put their whole hearts and their whole strength in order to support their families, to bring prosperity to their country, and to win back the world to Christ. That statement, of whose truth the Jocistes are utterly convinced, is no idle boast. Less than ten years ago they numbered a paltry few hundreds ardent young Belgians struggling against what, even to them, must have seemed insuperable obstacles, but determined to answer generously (quixotically, it seemed to their critics) the Holy Father’s call to Catholic Action— and to-day one-tenth of a million representatives (mark you!) from every nation bear eloquent testimony of health and strength and powerful growth. There must be something magnetic about self-sacrifice. There must, I think, be something pretty big and splendid deep down beneath “our tainted nature” that responds to the call to immolate itself—when the call is properly made! In every human being there must be a strong urge to do grand things and good things, for it is a well-established fact that the criminal has yet to hang who is not possessed of qualities which, did they know of them should make the more law-abiding citizens blush for very shame. All that is needed is the genius of direction-and the Jocistes have found just such a genius in their leader, Canon Chardyn Membership of the J.O.C. is not an easy thing. It is a daily battle. Battle against those who promise—and can give—the means to make life easier than it i s-battle against those who make fun of Jociste ideals and Catholic principles and, hardest of all, battle against beloved parents and friends who think the whole idea is a little demode and farfetched, and that modern youth should spend its leisure on the beach or tennis court, in dance halls and cinemas, instead of giving up valuable time to the service of the J.O.C.—which, by the way, provides its members with every facility for bathing, tennis, dancing, cinemas, etc.!

But, to return to the demonstration of this afternoon. Every word and every action was directed towards one central idea—namely, that the world can be saved only through a mighty revolution of youth determined to destroy utterly forever the forces of atheism, nihilism, and materialism; and, with all its heart and all its soul, to fight for the restoration of the only true kingdom—the kingdom of Christ. “But,” Canon Chardyn was careful to point out in his address at the end of the afternoon, “though this demonstration has been neither a declamation, a play, nor a concert, but a public confession of Jociste faith in the Jociste ideal, it is not here, in the midst of music and pageantry, that you must look for the true spirit of Jocism. That spirit is to be found only in the factories, the mines, ths workrooms, the shops, the kitchens and the offices where Jociste boys and Jociste girls live night and day the hard and hidden realisation of their great crusade.”

CONQUEST OF SELF.

Then the Canon endsd his address with these words:

“You have shown to-day that in the whole world there is but one J.O.C., and that it knows no such thin – ; as hatred, violence, egoism, or jealousy. It has but one moving force—unselfish love for all young labourers and for all mankind irrespactive of class, race, or country. To all wars and threats of war, the J.O.C. will oppose its unshakeable determination for peace, the only true peace, which is the peace of Jesus Christ. . . . Jocistes, I send you forth now to your homes, to your workshops, to your various countries with only one command, one watchword—

“Conquest!

“Conquest of yourselves.

“Conquest of your comrades.

“Conquest of your workshops.

“Conquest of your families, to-day and to-morrow.

“Jocistes, be the glory of the Church, be the honour of your country, be the hope of your age. … I give you my blessing!

“Forward!”

No comment is necessary. To all those who have eyes to see, it must be clear as day that Jocism is a lively and constructive thing, and all those who are not blinded by prejudice must agree that it is not only a finer and more noble thing than Communism, its arch enemy—but a more natural, more friendly, and infinitely happier solution to this world’s troubles. In short, it is a daring and audacious attempt t» establish Christianity—as the Founder of Christianity meant that it should be!

Pray heaven it may succeed.

THE HIGH MASS IN THE OPEN AIR IN THE PARK OF LAECKEN. NOTICE THE VASTCONGREGATION OF YOUTH.

SOURCE

A Gallant New Crusade (Advocate, Thursday 17 October 1935, page 6) (Trove)

The Young Catholic Workmen

CATHOLIC ACTIVITIES IN FRANCE

Organisation for Help and Self-Help

Lecture by Rev. George O’Neill, S J.

The Young Catholic Workmen

A similar association, likewise recruited from youths under twenty-five, has spread from Belgium into France. This is the “J.O.C.”—“Jeunesse Ouvriere Catholique”—a work of quite recent origin and of immense promise. Its ranks are filled exclusively from the working classes: there is here no suspicion of “bourgeois” exclusiveness or intrusion. This suspicion has been injurious or deadly to older works of a more patronising character. The business of a ‘‘Jociste” once he has got himself straight with his religion, is to contribute to the formation of an “elite” of young workmen an “elite’’ of his own factory, shop, neighbourhood; and. ultimately, an “elite” of the entire French or Belgian working-class, whose object to bring their brethren into accordance with the model supplied by the Young Worker at Nazareth.

How sadly dechristianisation of that class went on since the middle of last century, and from various causes, there is, unhappily, no need to tell. Soviet Russia is the most eloquent, but not the only, evidence of the menace to religion and civilisation that has thus arisen. How is the evil to be countered and undone? Even were there far more numerous factory owners, mine owners and (so-called) “captains of industry” of the admirable type of the Harmels and the Feron-Vraus,  the work could not be left to them. The youths of the J.O..C. are apostles of Christianity among workmen— apostles who begin and end as workmen themselves. Their means of action are already of the most varied type. None surpasses in its efficacy the retreat—above all. the enclosed retreat—with its day or so, if no more, of silence, recollection and spiritual “taking stock.” In many places the enclosed retreats have nourished exceedingly. During the year there are hours of recollection in common on holidays: there are other organised exercises of piety compatible with working days and hours: there are study-circles for the gaining of a knowledge, both solid and controversial, of Catholic social ideals and theories: there are bureaus of counsel or help for the boy or youth entering on active life, whereby he is enlightened as to choice of a situation, chances of a job, dangers of certain new surroundings, initial difficulties, risks of one kind or another; there are night-schools,. Sunday clubs, occasional organised excursions, the advantages of a trade union in time of strike or other crisis; there are funds for the training of orphan or destitute children—a purpose to which millions of franks have already voted.

SOURCE

Catholic Activities in France (Advocate, Thursday 31 July 1930, page 12) (Trove)