The Loyolas and the Cabots
In the spring of 1947, more men resigned from Harvard in protest against its teaching. They asked to be enrolled in the Center School, and St. Benedict Center was honored to receive them.
The story of Temple Morgan is similar to that of Kevin MacGovern, Howard Cannon, or any of the students who resigned at this time. His is, perhaps, the one which caused most reverberation. Temple belonged to a family whose men had been educated at Harvard for generations. His grandfather gave to the College one of its fine old gates. Temple was a member of Harvard’s Porcellian Club. There were times when we wondered whether the shock to Temple’s friends was so much because he had come into the Church, or had resigned from Harvard, as it was that he renounced membership in the Porcellian Club. This last, no one seemed to be able to recover from.
Temple Morgan was an Air Force officer during the war, after which he returned to Harvard to complete his college work. He was back but a short while when he realized his complete dissatisfaction with the courses, and he told many of his friends that he would have “given the whole thing up” in December of the first year of his return if he had had anywhere else to go. It was in this frame of mind that he used to stand across the street and watch Father Feeney talk, on Thursday nights. Finally, he decided to come in. Dr. Maluf was lecturing the night he came, and Temple liked what the had to say. He returned to the Center, that same week, to hear Father, and after that he dropped in regularly.
Temple’s family had a dinner party, shortly after this, to which some of Harvard’s official staff and members of the faculty were invited. The conversation turned to education in general and Harvard in particular, and one of the guests asked Temple what he thought of it. His answer was so thoroughly negative that he was prepared for a great deal of protest in reply. To his amazement, none was forthcoming.
“We don’t entirely disagree with you”, one of the men said. “But what would you suggest doing about it?”
Temple’s reply was by way of question. “Have you”, he asked, “ever thought of the Church?” Try as he would, he could not get from any one a serious answer. Later, the Senior Dean came over to him. “I was immensely interested in your remarks on education, Temp,” he said, “but I don’t at all agree with your solution. Don’t you know that the Church is dead?”
The morning after this dinner party found Temple Morgan on the front steps of St. Benedict Center, waiting for Father Feeney to arrive.
“Father Feeney,” Temple said, “what is the earliest time you could receive me into the Catholic Church?”
“Sit down, Temple,” Father replied, “and let’s talk about it.”
Temple Morgan, with several other students, was baptized, some weeks later, on Easter Saturday afternoon. The next morning, in the burst of glory which is the Mass of Easter, he made his First Holy Communion. In the light of Him Who is Eternal Truth, all problems resolve themselves.
On the day which followed Easter, Temple again came to Father Feeney’s study. He told Father that he was about to put into effect a decision he had made some time after his return to Harvard, when he had had a chance to evaluate the teaching he was receiving there in the terms of the lessons he had learned in the war. He was prevented from taking a definite stand on the matter only because he felt he hadn’t solved an even more basic problem of his, the question of religion and what he owed to God. Now that that, thank God, was taken care of, he was ready for the next step.
“And what is that, Temp?” Father asked.
“To resign from Harvard”, Temple answered. “I get my degree in June, but I don’t want to take it.”
“You’re sure you’ve considered everything sufficiently, Temple?” Father questioned. “You realize all you will be giving up? You might want that degree some day.”
“I’ve thought it all out, Father. Don’t you think I should resign?”
“It might be a kind of stunt if you did it now. Why don’t you let it go for a while?”
“Well — O.K., Father”, Temple answered, and walked out of the study. In the front of the Center, he came upon Fakhri Maluf, and he told him what he had been discussing with Father, and asked his advice.
“I would not know how to answer you, Temple”, Fakhri answered. “In the first place, in matters of courage you have to decide for yourself. One cannot counsel courage for another.”
“Yeah,” said Temple, “I guess you’re right.” And he left the Center, determined to finish at Harvard and get his degree. Back in his house, however, all of the old objections overwhelmed him, and he decided that there was nothing to do but leave Harvard. He went to the Dean’s Office the next morning and resigned.
Things truly began to happen to St. Benedict Center after that. One of the Deans of Harvard College was a member of Temple’s family. He came over to see Father Feeney about his cousin’s resignation. Father told him, simply, that he thought Temple Morgan was an extraordinarily fine and courageous person, and while his action was not what the world would call a prudent one, it had, he was relieved to say, the kind of integrity and nobility which had achieved all the great and fine things which had ever come to pass in the world. This was the kind of response which had eventually civilized the world- in the centuries when it could boast of a civilization.
The overt reaction to Temple’s decision (and to St. Benedict Center in the light of it) went on for some time. A man chartered a plane and flew up from New York to see him. Temple’s family in New York took to telephoning the Jesuit Provincial and Archbishop Cushing, sometimes late at night. The news finally reached even to Rome.
The Boston hierarchy, as well as the sons of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we were surprised to observe, came in for unusual attention at this time, in the form of dinner invitations from people who had heretofore held them at arm’s length. This was a strange alliance. We were reminded of the famous quatrain:
And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where, the Lowells speak only to Cabots,
And the Cabots speak only to God.
We have succumbed to the temptation, as doubtless the reader has noted, of substituting “Loyolas” for “Lowells” in the above stanza, with more than unsatisfactory results.
Some time later, Temple Morgan, Fred Farrell and Richard Picardo applied, in person, to the Provincial of the Jesuit Order for admission to the Society of Jesus. Father McEleney, the Provincial, told Fred that he did not have enough Latin, and if he could make that deficiency up, he might apply the following term. Temple, he said, was not yet in the Church a sufficient length of time to, make application for religious life. Richard Picardo he accepted.
Father McEleney seemed happy to talk to the boys about Father Leonard Feeney, for whom he was full of praise.
“Father Leonard”, he said, “will take as much care explaining the Faith to a child as to a grown-up. He is the greatest theologian we have in the United States, by far.”
The boys returned to the Center, Fred for more concentrated study in Latin, Temple to major in Greek, and Richard to prepare for entrance into the Jesuit novitiate in the fall. Four other students were studying at the Center that summer, preparatory to entering religion in September: William Gibbs, for St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, N. Y.: Richard Van Every, Kenneth Parker and William Smith, for missionary work in North Carolina; and Marion Gardiner, for the Sisters of Mercy, in Portland, Maine.
Temple Morgan and Fred Farrell never left us. As the academic year 1947-48 developed, they realized their work was at St. Benedict Center. Richard Picardo and William Gibbs later returned to us. Liberalism, we came to find out, was very well established in the seminaries of America, as well as in Catholic colleges.
Archbishop Cushing, in October of 1947, came to the Center. Notice of his coming had been posted, and the crowd which awaited his arrival, both inside the Center and outside in the little square, was so large that it was necessary to telephone for police officers to cake care of the jam. Students were standing in every available place, even five abreast on the long radiators by the windows. Father Feeney presented Monsignor Hickey to the audience, and he, in turn, introduced His Excellency.
Friends later told us that never had they heard Archbishop Cushing endorse anyone so wholeheartedly as he endorsed Father Feeney in his speech to the Center that evening. Five times, in various way, His Excellency said that the Center had the official sanction and gratitude of the Archdiocese. If ever there were anything he could do for us, the Archbishop told us and our guests, he would be very happy indeed to do it. He had known about and was very grateful, he went on, for the religious vocations which had gone out from the Center. The Center students, he said, had the best teachers in the world.
“As regards Father Feeney,” the Archbishop declared, “we feel about him the way the little boy felt, when he knelt down one night and said his prayers, this way: ‘Dear God, please bless my mother and daddy, and all my aunts and uncles; and please dear God, please take care of Yourself. If anything happens to You, the whole show is over!’ ”
The Center applauded His Excellency for many minutes. Father assured him of our gratitude to him, and of our love and trust in him. Remembering this evening, we were completely taken aback by Archbishop Cushing’s words with reference to St. Benedict Center, the next spring, while dining at Lowell House, at Harvard College. This particular evening in October, 1947, however, was, at the time, a most consoling one. We had been having a difficult time because of Miss Evelyn Uberti’s resignation from Radcliffe College, just before the beginning of the fall term. Evelyn was an honor student at Radcliffe, and her resignation was for the same reason that the men had resigned from Harvard: she could not, in conscience, go on in sociology at Radcliffe and keep her Faith. Her parents, who had wanted the prestige of a Radcliffe degree for their brilliant daughter, were very much upset about her decision, as was the pastor of her church in Waltham. Her pastor said he thought she should not have gone to Radcliffe in the first place, but having gone, she should stay there. Finally, Evelyn and her parents went to see Bishop Wright about the matter, and Bishop Wright sent for Father Feeney.
He told Father that there were a number of complaints against St. Benedict Center. He could, however, boil them all down to two fundamental ones: (1) Who was responsible for censorship of articles in From the Housetops? and (2) students should not be permitted to leave Harvard and Radcliffe without the permission both of their parents and their pastors.
“What if a student is clearly losing his Faith because of attendance at these colleges, he says he is, and his parents and his pastor will do nothing about it?” Father asked His Excellency.
“Oh, that is an entirely different matter”, Bishop Wright answered- as he let the whole thing definitely and evasively in mid-air.
Evelyn Uberti resigned from Radcliffe. The censorship of articles in From the Housetops was left to Father Feeney, for all but his own articles, and Father’s articles were to be submitted to his superior, Father Louis Gallagher, S.J. Bishop Wright said at this time that Dr. Maluf’s article on “Sentimental Theology” had so stirred St. John’s Seminary that a group of theologians had met to consider it.
“Did they find anything doctrinally wrong with it?” Father Feeney asked.
“No, they didn’t,” Bishop Wright answered, “but they said there were some controversial statements in it.”
Dr. Maluf had written in his article, “Sentimental Theology”:
“…I know I am not wasting punches at a straw man. Sentimental thinking about religious matters is very much with us today. A great deal of what is being said by Catholics today sounds in very sharp contrast with the accent of the authentic voice of the Church, teaching, warning, and defining. The sharp weapons of Christ are being blunted, and the strong, virile doctrines of the Church are being put aside in a conspiracy of silence.
“While talking to a Catholic group recently, I was shocked to a realization of what is happening to the faith under the rising wave of liberalism. I happened to mention casually the Catholic dogma, ‘There is no salvation outside the Church’. Some acted as if I were uttering an innovation they had never heard before, and others had the doctrine so completely covered with reservations and vicious distinctions as to ruin its meaning and destroy the effect of its challenge. In a few minutes, the room was swarming with the slogans of liberalism and sentimentalism, utterances which are beginning to have the force of defined dogma. Taken in their totality and in the manner in which they were used and understood by their utterers, these slogans constituted an outlook incompatible with the Catholic faith and with the traditions of the Church. ‘Salvation by sincerity’, ‘Membership in the soul of the church’, ‘Don’t judge’, ‘Don’t disturb the good faith of unbelievers’, ‘It is not charitable to talk about hell or to suggest that anybody may go there’, and ‘Isn’t faith a gift?’ and ‘How about baptism of desire?’ and so on. I am not concerned with these phrases as they might occur in a theological treatise with sufficient explanations and with only proportionate emphasis; I am rather concerned with a practical attitude of mind which seeks and selects precisely these phrases and builds them into a closed system of thought, ready to justify every act of cowardice, and disloyalty to the Church.
“…The Catholic Church does not proclaim the exclusive salvation of one race or one class of people, but invites every man to the great joy of being united with Christ in the communion of saints. The Catholic truth is not a sad story for which we need apologize; it is a proclamation of the greatest good news that could ever be told. No matter how sternly its message is phrased, it is still the one and only hope in the world. Only love and security can afford to be severe. When we say that outside the Church there is no salvation, we are also and at the same time announcing that inside the Church there is salvation. The world already knows the sad part of our story, because the world finds no salvation in the world. The Church does not have to tell unbelievers that they are in sin and in despair; they know that in the depths of their hearts. What is new to the world in the Christian story is that through Mary, the gates of heaven are opened and that we are invited to become brothers of Jesus in the Eternal Kingdom of God. This is not a story which can be told with the subdued and hesitant voice of “sentimental theology.”
September, 1947, From the Housetops, No Salvation Outside the Church. For the first time, censorship for magazine was being talked about. Why, we asked ourselves? Other Catholic magazines had no imprimatur. Had we said something that was not sound doctrine? No, we were told, we hadn’t, but we had said something controversial. Was a defined doctrine of the Church controversial? No one answered us.
In February of 1948, a great honor came to St. Benedict Center. A statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague was presented to us, blessed by the Archbishop of Prague, His Excellency Josef Beran. The statue arrived on February 22nd, the day the Communists took over Czechoslovakia.
The story of the miraculous statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague is one familiar to almost every Catholic. It is a devotion which has been precious to Catholics for centuries, and grows more beautiful with time. Through it, the Christian pays homage to Him Who, even as an infant and Mary’s child, was at the same time the King of Kings. The statue is dressed royally, in rich vestments for the King who was also the Great High Priest. The small right hand is raised in a Bishop’s blessing, and on the infant head is a tall crown, majestic and heavy.
The statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague called forth all of Father’s priesthood. He blessed us with it, spent a whole day finding the best spot in the Center in which to place it, and he was not content until he had, finally, built for it an altar, with a baldachino. He secured, through a friend, some fabulous material which had come from Japan, into which was woven, in delicate design, the sixteen-petaled golden chrysanthemum of the Mikado. This cloth covered the throne of the Infant Jesus of Prague, and fell in folds to the floor. We carried the statue to the Carmelite monastery, where Father said a Mass of thanksgiving for its coming to us. He placed the Royal Infant on the gospel side of the altar, and spoke, himself, from the epistle side.
On Sunday, May 2,1948, over 1200 people from St. Benedict Center carried His Infant Majesty in procession through the grounds of His Excellency, the Archbishop, to the altar in the garden at the back of the Archbishop’s house. The Archbishop received us, and listened to the promises of the St. Benedict Center students to the Infant Jesus, Who was so beautifully symbolized in our statue, and to the addresses which followed the promises. Archduke Rudolph, of the House of Habsburg, and Count Edmund Czernin, of Prague, were significantly among the speakers, significantly because both their families figured for centuries in the history of the miraculous statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. It was through Count Czernin, who was a member of the Center, that the precious statue came to us. He told us:
“If Prague had remained faithful to the Infant Jesus, all that has befallen it today would not have happened. Devotion to the miraculous statue spread all over the world, and yet thousands of people in Prague knew nothing of it, cared to know nothing of it. We have had Chinese come to Prague, Americans come to Prague, people from everywhere, just to visit the statue, only to be told by someone who lived a few streets from it that he did not know where it was.
“This statue of yours is exactly like the original. If Prague goes down before the Communists, at least the Holy Infant is here, honored and beloved.”
It was a magical afternoon, that afternoon in May, l948, as we stood with lighted candles, singing hymns to Our Lady, with the statue of Her Infant Son resplendent upon the Archbishop’s altar, in the Archbishop’s presence. One year later His Excellency had placed us under interdict, and silenced our priest. And one year and two months later, over forty of our people knelt three hours on the lawn, in front of this same residence, reciting the rosary, waiting for the Archbishop to come out and speak to them; but he would not. They waited for the Archbishop to tell them why the sacrament of Matrimony was refused to the Center boy and girl whose wedding day it was to be; they waited for the Archbishop to tell them why they should be penalized for professing the doctrine that was at once the protection of the Infant Jesus of Prague, their own protection, and the protection of their children to come. But the Archbishop would not come out; he would not answer them.
By another strange turn, Archduke Rudolph wrote us after the “Boston Heresy Case”. We were flying in the face of tradition, he told us, to persist in standing on doctrine when discipline was in question. Poor Archduke Rudolph- tradition was all he had. We could see at last what had happened to the House of Habsburg. If it had had courage to fight for the Faith, the only thing worth fighting for, it would have had the courage also to preserve its throne. Tradition, and nothing else, is not enough. Doctrine is tradition. If the Communists come to Boston, it will not be because St. Benedict Center has not had the courage to guard the Infant Jesus of Prague!