Gerald O'Donovan, Father Ralph [1913] (Brandon Press Edn. 1993)

Ralph had read all about Protestants in the history books his mother gave him, books written by good old priests specially for the young. He found it hard not to hate Protestants, they were so bad, always fighting and killing Catholics or persecuting them or telling lies about them. Martin Luther was a dreadful person, of evil life, who broke his solemn vows made to God and who lived in sin. Catholics were such a contrast; all were good and holy, and if they fought, it was always for the glory of God; if they killed anyone it was because of his wickedness. Catholics, especially priests, nuns, bishops and popes, were the children of pious parents and lived godly lives, while Protestants were all worldly, when not positively wicked. The worst of all were Catholics who rebelled against the Church. Protestants might be ignorant of the truth, but there was no excuse for Catholics who acted against the wishes of the Pope or the bishops. His special aversions were Henry VIII and Garibaldi of the two Garibaldi was the worse. He dressed in a red shirt, “the devil’s colour,” Ann said, “and shut the Pope up in the Vatican, a poor prisoner, taking away his possessions.” He had been given a novel by Sir Walter Scott in which the Protestants did not all seem to be bad, nor all the Catholics good. His mother told him that this was because Sir Walter Scott was a Protestant and, of course, Protestant writers could not be trusted. She warned him that this was so with most literature and that a good Catholic should always be on his guard against the prejudices and misrepresentations of Protestant writers./Ralph thought it was a pity that so many of the writers of books that he liked were Protestants. He prayed often that they might [27] become Catholics or that Catholics might write books like Treasure Island, Quentin Durward, and David Copperfield. [... &c.] (pp.27-28.)

[Reverend Mother:] “The mother [Mrs Reardon]died of starvation,” she said. “This is a village of about four thousand - about nine or ten hundred families in a11 There is a workhouse with a large staff of officials, a dozen police men, town commissioners, one convent here with over forty nun the Dominican convent with about twenty, a bishop and five - or is it six now? - secular priests, half a dozen Dominican priests and lay brothers - all these bodies make some profession of looking after the poor. We nuns made a solemn vow to do it. Yet a woman can live in a house that s not fit for a dog-kennel and die of starvation We all make some show of doing things when the evil that could be prevented has happened. There must be a way out. I can’t rest at night in this palace with the thought of these things happening at our door.” [222]

Ralph walked home weary and depressed. The sunlight somewhat relieved the squalor of the town [Bunnahone], but he could not help shuddering as he passed dingy public houses, flanked by dingier private houses. He couldn’t get the thought of Mrs Reardon out of his mind and felt that behind every battered door was some tragedy of poverty or misery. / The expensive ecclesiastical buildings stood out in strange contrast against the surrounding poverty. A bank, the post office, Darcy’s imposing frontage, the Emporium, a few other big shops, a dozen houses belonging to doctors, solicitors and retired shopkeepers alone gave any evidence of secular wealth. The whole town, he thought, exclusive of the Church property, could be built at a third of the cost of the ecclesiastical buildings. Men lounged idly at street corners, stood chatting at shop doors or leant against shop windows. They saluted Ralph as he passed and looked after him curiously. “The new priest,” he heard someone say in answer to an inquiry. He was conscious of drawn-back lace curtains in the living rooms over shops and faces flattened against the glass in an effort to get a good view. / There was little or no industry. The smith, usually employed shoeing horses or mending farm implements, disappeared into an adjoining public house and the smithy was silent. A carpenter was listlessly making a plain deal coffin, probably for Mrs Reardon. [... &c.] [223]

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