A Gallant New Crusade

Saving the World Through Youth

BRUSSELS, August 25.


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.


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!


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.


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.”


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 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!


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.



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

Impressive Spectacle In Paris.

“MANY times indeed, have I mounted the pulpit in Notre Dame; many times have I seen affecting spectacles in its naves; but I make bold to say that never have I seen a finer one.”

Such were the words pronounced by His Eminence Jean Cardinal Verdier, Archbishop of Paris, in the course of a ceremony when, to use the Cardinal’s own words, “French Jocism was baptized.”

By “Jocism” is meant the spirit of the organisation of the young Christian workers, ” La Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne,” familiarly known in French-speaking countries as the “JOC.” The term Jociste is regularly used to describe members of the association.

The first national congress of the JOC, just held at Paris, proved most successful. About 8,000 delegates from all the cities and many small towns, the majority of them factory employees, came to the Capital for the congress.

Special Groups Formed.

For some years there functioned in France an organisation of young Catholics known as la Jeunesse Catholique Francaise. In order to improve its methods of apostleship and organisation, it was decided to organise specialised movements for industrial workers, farmers, students and seamen.

Perhaps because, unfortunately, they must live in factory neighborhoods, too many workers are ignorant of their faith. Nevertheless, the Jocistes give every evidence of apostolic zeal and high courage.

Without neglecting for a moment the defence of their material interests and the vindication of their group, they devote themselves to combating the irreligion about them, to dispel hostile prejudices, to defend their comrades against the injustices and the attacks and brutalities which are frequently encountered in the shops.

Methods to be used to exercise a beneficent influence in the factory, workshop and office were the subject of discussion at the congress. Should Jocistes work individually and discreetly? Would it be better to work in unison, that is by means of an avowed, official existence of a group in each factory exercising action in common?

The latter plan a priori, seemed more appealing. All the members of the group would co-operate, would assist one another, reciprocally strengthening their action. But in discussion it was brought out that opposing elements would find it easier to take offence at collective action and that certain employers, even among Catholics, would be disturbed over collective activities and would demand their cessation.

It was decided that the method followed should be determined by individual or particular circumstances, since it was felt important that neither fellow-workers nor employers be offended. The essential point, in either event, it was decided, is that members of the JOC should always be the best of workers, obliging and considerate of their comrades.

Even though Jocistes act individually in the shop, it was pointed out that the members in the same line of work and in the same parish should meet frequently for the purpose of mutual encouragement and advice.

Another interesting session was devoted to the consideration of modes of action for a Jociste group reorganised in an industrial community. The kinds of service members can render to their parish were discussed also.

Attendance at all the sessions was so large that finally it was decided to hold duplicate sessions and other halls were secured to meet the need. The largest auditorium in Paris, at the Trocadero, could not accommodate all those who wished to attend the closing session. About 2,500 youths had to go to the basement of a neighboring church, where the speakers came to them after addressing the assembly at the Trocadero.

Besides the French Jocistes, the congress was attended by members of the Catholic Action organizations, directors of – the Christian labor unions, and representatives oi the Belgian, Spanish and Swiss Jocistes.

The founder of the Belgian organisation, Canon Cardijn, delivered a particularly stirring address.

“I predict for you the conquest of the working class,” he declared. “It is jrou who will accomplish this. For

you are the real revolution, not that administered with the blows of cudgels, but the revolution of souls, not that which destroys, but that which builds.


French Jocism Baptised (Southern Cross, Friday 8 February 1935, page 12) (Trove)

Pope Receives 1200 Young Workers

A very large pilgrimage of the Jocistes from France, led by the Archbishop of Sens, spent a week of great spiritual activity, recently, in Rome. There were more.than 1200 young workers, representing every part of France. Their audience with the Holy Father was marked by great enthusiasm and very thoughtful preparation.. The Jocistes came into the Hall of the Benediction singing “Vers la maison du Pere,” and when the Holy Father, borne in his sedia gestatoria, appeared in their midst, their hymns greeted him in a full-voiced choir of joy and loyalty.

When the first ovation ceased—after several minutes, one of the girls read a very beautiful address to the Pope, thanking him in a very special way for his untiring efforts for the causes of Catholic Action and the workers’ interests.

The Pope in a long discourse in French expressed the intense joy that that wonderful audience afforded him. He exhorted the young workers to sanctify their daily toil and to become apostles of Catholic Action amongst their fellow-workers. The discourse was listened to amid intense silence, but its conclusion was the signal for a great outburst of cheering.

After the Holy Father had given his blessing to all present, the 1200 voices again broke forth into a great burst of applause.

A group of Spanish pilgrims of the Alliance of “To Jesus through Mary” were received by the Holy Father. They gave the Pope a very finely worked chalice as a tribute of their loyalty and affection.


Pope receives 1200 young workers (Advocate, Thursday 15 November 1934, page 8) (Trove)

The Boy Scouts and Catholic Action


There are about 2,000,000 Boy Scouts in the world, and of these two-thirds are Catholics. The movement founded , by Baden Powell has spread to many nations and makes a wonderful appeal to the young. At the annual conference of Catholic Scouts in London recently, a suggestion was made whereby this virile organisation could be utilised to stem the leakage from Christianity through indifference and ‘anti-God’ propaganda. Lord Fitzalan, president of the Scouts’ Guild,, declared the objective of tho movement. ‘We are not out for soldiers but for souls. That is where the Catholic Scout movement enters this problem of leakage, which is the responsibility of all.’ Father Francis Day, S.J., pointed out that young men in Belgium had already set an example. The ‘jociste’ movement, akin to the Scouts, which was formed during the Great War to combat leakage, had grown to a strength of 70,000 members, in 1300 local sections.

Youths are enthusiastic; youths are courageous. What they need is training and direction. The Catholic Evidence Guild is doing splendid work, but it is difficult to induce men who have spent some years in professional or business, life to face critical. audiences and fence with casuists. The catechetical training of the Catholic Evidence speakers,, could be applied to the Scout movement a tremendous impetus would be given to genuine missionary work. The Boy Scout has the “spirit of service;” it should be put to the best use. The special notes of the Scouts and Guides are eminently Catholic notes— an unselfish, outlook on life, their sense that class distinctions are meaningless in the; brotherhood of fellow men, and, as the necessary means to acquiring these virtues, self discipline and willing submission to a reasonable, efficient, and yet non-repressive corporate discipline, As Archbishop Downey told the Liverpool Scouts recently, if the movement had spread wider in its early days there would not be such a lamentable lack of self discipline as is evident among many of our young, people to-day.

It is the general complaint that the present generation suffers from a lack of moral fibre. The, doctrine of so-called self-expression— meaning self-indulgence and directly contrary to the true self -expression of the strong, disciplined character— is the cant of the day. Men and women are encouraged to chafe against all; self-restraint, to follow the mood or passion of the moment, and then to assume the direction of their, own destinies and those of the nation also, before they have learned to obey. Beneath an appearance of bluff there is lack of confidence, producing weakness of character. Now be it observed that such weakness, fad or nostrum plays into the hands of any that may come along to take advantage of it. An ill-disciplined; and irresolute people of a nominally Christian and civilised country would be the ideal material for the campaign of anti-Christ. On the contrary, youth sound in mind and body,; self-disciplined and banded together in a common cause, inspired by religious zeal, marching onward beneath the banner of Christ the King; this, and the generation of men and women that will grow from it, is the one thing anti-Christ fears, and with good reason.

In a recent review of Boy Scouts in the Vatican-City, when 10,000 boys paraded before him, the Holy Father said:

“You are the younger generation— the noble, flourishing, vigorous hope of your religion and your Church as of your family and country. It is not only that you are young Catholics, you are young Catholic Scouts. And. that ‘word’ Scout means much. To be a Scout, youth alone does not suffice. Youth may, have all keenness and energy, but all the young are not Scouts. There are many who prefer an easier, quieter, less perilous way of life. A Scout needs to be ever ready for effort and courage, and at the same time for calmness and thought. Moreover, the mind of the Catholic Scout is ever permeated by Almighty God, His Divine Law, His Divine Presence, which harmonise the marvels of nature, showing their special beauties, their hidden meanings, their precious lessons. The Catholic Scout is strong and brave, and knows the road to take; he knows the path that duty traces for him: Calmness and thought. You are not out in search of empty adventure. With you it is the spirit which carries you through difficulty and trial. It is always good to train the spirit for this struggle. Life has such need of spiritual energy for good that it may remedy evil. The stronger you now hold to your purpose and duties as Scouts the Ignore faithfully you will place always spirit over matter, and matter under spirit, the more you will put the thought of God and the teachings of the faith above, all other thoughts and teachings. The movement to utilise Boy Scouts as an advance guard in the campaign against infidelity, known as Catholic Action, has already begun. The Society of St. Joseph’s Catechists was formed about a year ago in London. Last June the first certificates indicating that the recipients had followed a course of instruction and passed an examination were granted to six Rovers. Ten persevered with the course, but only six stood for examination. That is, of course, only a small beginning, but it is the work of one small area. The lectures were given at lunch hour, and by Father Devas, S.J., in the evenings at Farm-street Church. As the matter is of very great importance we intend to publish an extended report of the London Scout Conference, in the hope that it may inspire a similar movement in Australia.


The Boy Scouts and Catholic Action (Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 22 December 1932, page 20) (Trove)

The Young Catholic Workmen


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.


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