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Articles
Sacramental Protection of the Family

The inspiring talk given by Mr. Emerson Hynes of the Department of Sociology, St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, on "The Christian Family on the Land" at the St. Bede Rural Life School, in June, 1945, aroused such profound interest that I received many requests for copies. Mr. Hynes spoke from notes, and so I asked him to write them out for me. I am deeply grateful to Mr. Hynes for permitting their publication in pamphlet form and consider it a privilege to sponsor the project. +J. H. Schlarman Bishop of Peoria President NCRLC Sacramental Protection of the Family The Christian Family on the Lane (Notes from a talk by Emerson Hynes to the Rural Life Summer School, St. Bede College, June 25, 1945.) I AM grateful for the opportunity to speak on the Catholic home and rural living. For I believe deeply that, even in this tempestuous world, where headlines dealing with military movements of millions are the order of the day, where the decisions of leaders are a

pparently shaping the future of all of us, where the charter of nations at San Francisco encompasses the whole world--even in such a world the most important things are still the Family and the Church. None of us will question the position of the Church. But I wonder if we do not have a tendency to regard the family as less important than we should. Theoretically, of course, we know and preach its place. But in fact we like to talk and plan in terms of modern science, the state, of so many billions of units of this and that, of a national income of 160 billion dollars, of full employment and 60 million jobs, of international economic and social and military cooperation. Those are challenging objectives. We are aiming at a better world. And it is a world of mass production and of science. I do not mean to decry these objectives or to suggest that we do not need to be concerned with planning on a large scale. It is rather that we must always keep in mind that all this has meaning only in terms of human persons and of human families. All this size, all this science, all this production, is good only if it contributes to better living for persons. And persons live most intimately and most of their time in that little unit called the family. The Family the Basis of the Future We must see, first, that the family is really the basis of the future. We cannot start at the top with international organization and imagine that other things will work out all right. We must start at the bottom. That does not mean automatically that the top will work. But it is the first requisite. Hence every leader can have hope and consolation. No matter how dark the world picture is, he can do effective work. No matter how little cooperation he gets from others in the wider circle of social activities, he can always make progress with his own little group. No matter that society seems to be destroying itself, he can always be building it by building the families under his care. G. K. Chesterton, with his flair for seeing the important in the commonplace, once made a striking analogy by comparing the family to a cabbage. A prosaic soul, he said, would think, while walking in the garden, that a cabbage was a very ordinary vegetable. But a man of vision would be struck by the grandeur, by the monstrousness of that gigantic head of cabbage growing from a tiny taproot in the soil. That something so large and bulky could come from one little root! So it is with the family, which seems small, like one of millions of roots in the fields. But it bulks large in importance as it grows and matures. In itself it is "wild and elemental." It is dwarfed by the whole field, yet it is a supreme object in itself. It is the place where the basic processes of life occur by nature: birth, growth, and death. It is able to produce the greatest love and the greatest hatred, too; the greatest joy and equally the most stinging sorrow. So we must recognize the importance of the family in t