It gives me happiness to write, for those who have wanted to know, of what has become of us since October 28,1949, the date at which our story ends in The Loyolas and The Cabots. I am happy to tell this further story, even though briefly, because it is a recounting of the bounty and the protection of us by the Blessed Mother of God.
We who took part in the so-called Boston Heresy Case are, thanks to Our Lady, still together and intact. “Heresy,” by the way, was an accusation made by us, not of us. Our accusation was substantiated by Father William Keleher’s reply in the newspapers to the charge of the four professors.
We have lost of our number only six. Two dropped out, and four were dismissed, because, though we are not strict without reason, we do have our rules and decorum which must be lived up to. We do not know any religious group which has had so few casualties as St. Benedict Center.
At this point, a reader may ask, “But are you a religious group?” The answer to that question reveals our secret. Yes, we are a religious community. We are, indeed, a religious order — perhaps more technically a religious congregation. Each of us has, by vow, dedicated his life to the preservation of the truths of his Holy Faith under the title of — Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We took our vows and became Slaves of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart on the first of January, 1949, three months before we were disciplined by our Archbishop for continuing to profess the defined doctrines of the Church on salvation. It was while Father Feeney was in correspondence with Father Vincent A. McCormick, S.J., the American Assistant to the General of the Jesuits, and while Father was pleading for a doctrinal hearing before his superiors. It was while three of the professors were under severe pressure by Boston College to give up both the Church’s doctrine on salvation and their support of Father Feeney in upholding it.
We were beginning to realize the character of the battle before us, not only for the preservation of the sacred dogmas of the Church, but actually for their restoration. It was to prepare ourselves by prayer and discipline, and to secure graces enough to enable us to face such a battle, that we became a religious order.
It will be asked of us, “Who are you that you should take responsibility for the Church’s doctrine?” Our answer to that, I hope I have brought out in this book. The answer is, as I wrote in the second chapter, that the sacred doctrine of our Holy Church is the responsibility of each Catholic, be he powerful or lowly, learned or unlettered, clergy or laity, rich or poor. Each of us is the Catholic Church. God’s Truth belongs to each of us, and we are each responsible for it.
We live a community life, as Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with hours of prayer, hours of study, and hours of work. Father Feeney and the young men who some day hope to be ordained priests live in one of our houses known to us as Sacred Heart Hall. Our girls who have dedicated their lives in singleness to Our Lord and Our Lady, live in a house which we call, among ourselves, Immaculate Heart Hall. Our families live in houses just below Sacred Heart Hall.
We are, during this interval under fire, waiting for the time when we can present our Order to the Holy See, as all Orders must eventually be presented. We know that many of the Orders in the Church whose work was most lasting and fruitful began under circumstances similar to ours. We know that many men and women who were later placed upon the rolls of the saints were at some time in their lives under the ban of interdict, and even excommunication. St. Joan of Arc died excommunicated; St. Ignatius of Constantinople died under threat of excommunication. We are not saints — though we pray we may be — and we are not excommunicated. We have offered our lives to God, and have consented to die, if need be, for our Holy Faith, in the saddest way (to our minds) that it is possible to die — under the ban even of excommunication.
We are waiting, then, to present our Order to the Holy See, to secure the blessing of our Holy Father, and to ask the Holy Father to foundation us as a permanent and abiding battalion in the army of our Holy Faith.
Father Feeney intends to get out, himself, a book on the whole controversy which is now at issue, and to show just how and where the theological teaching in this country started to go wrong, and where it should have been checked. Father has had, because of our Order, an extremely busy three years. Too, there is so much confusion both in the minds of the people and in the articles being written on the doctrine of salvation that until much of it subsides, Father thought it better to write a book in which the recollections could be clear and final. And so he chose to do a book about England — about London; in fact, about the center and core of all that England means to itself and to the world. Father’s purpose in this book — by unanimous consent the most brilliant of any he has written — has been to show what happened to London when the Faith left it, and what is keeping the Faith from returning to London. Almost unknown to himself, Father Feeney has, in this delightful volume, London Is a Place, written the most beautiful apostrophe to the Blessed Virgin Mary that has yet come from his pen — which has been dedicated to no other service since the day Father first began to write.
Father’s priestly heart and poet’s nature, in spite of years of persecution, still finds it hard to believe men will give him back brutality and injustice in place of the trust he offers them. But they always do these days, and sometimes it is almost more than we can bear. The calumnies which have been deliberately spread about Father and St. Benedict Center are so dreadful and unfounded that they could come only from a source which was very fearful that the truth should again be taught in its entirety.
And to that, our answer is — our Order; one hundred people vowed to the living of a religious life, for the preaching, teaching, and preservation of the doctrines of our Holy Faith. We have come together from nations and countries all over the world, and from different parts of the United States. We have some of the finest minds in the world, and certainly the bravest and stoutest hearts.
All are dedicated slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.