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April 8, 1977     Arkansas Catholic
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April 8, 1977
 

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PAGE 12 THE GUARDIAN, APRIL 8, 1977 [ In John Howard* Griffin's View i Being Oneself, Contemplation, Social l Action Essential for Balanced Life Little Rock - "What we have to be is what we are" was the summary statement of Catholic novelist and lecturer John Howard Griffin in closing his talk on "Contemplation and Action in Today's World" last week at the Arts Center. Griffin was the third and final speaker in the 12th annual Ecumenical Lecture Series sponsored by the Women's Council of Holy Souls Church. The noted writer and anti- prejudice leader originally was scheduled to deliver the first talk but suffered a heart attack and was forced to delay his delivery• The man who changed the pigmentation of his skin so he could live as a black in the Deep South in 1959, was in a wheelchair as a result of the heart attack and spoke in a soft tone of voice. Due to excellent acoustics, there was no problem hearing him, however. Having just completed writing the official biography of Thomas Merton, the famed Trappist Monk with whom he shared a great friendship during the 60s, Griffin started his lecture with his relations with Merton and excerpts from the monk's papers. "Thomas Merton saw a necessity for contemplation and sought ever deeper solitude in the woods after he had obtained permission," Griffin related. "He wrote spiritual books in his early life as a monk, but later believed the most urgent thing was social action•" Griffin continued, "Today's cultural patterns are causing persons to no longer know who they really are. Contemplation, whether by a businessman or nature lover, creates a hope for the re-humanization of a fragmented world•" The be-whiskered, gray- haired Griffin said that Merton lived in a primitive cabin, with no water or electricity, and learned to cook his own food. He quoted from Merton's journals that "anyone who spends a lot of time in solitude ... becomes passionately concerned with honesty and reality, the con- trast between the ideal self and the actual self." He continued, "Merton disliked the image that most people had of him as an ascetic mystic. After he had visitors, he would flee back to his solitary cabin as if from the plague. Most laymen had the idea that they should be holy as ap- proximates the monastic life but Merton was against this idea. When others followed his example, he felt that he was a failure• He wanted each person to be like himself, a separate person. "His idea was that a person should be unafraid, should know himself as he is and never fit himself into any one eise's mystique," Griffin explained. In a humorous vein, the speaker, who helped Jews escape via the "underground railway" from Nazi Germany until he himself was forced to Griffin flee from the Gestapo, said Merton had some rare recipes. "In one of his journals, he said he had made an excellent potato soup with dust from an en- velope. He mentioned sitting in his cabin listening to the sound of rain on the roof and windows - - the talk of the rain. Merton wrote that there was no way to charge for listening to the sound of rain but probably someone would figure out a way at some future time." Griffin, who was badly wounded while serving in the Air Force during World War II and was blind for 11 years as a result, said he was in the battle against prejudice and racism in America during the early 60s. "President John F. Kennedy had a commission investigate atrocities in Mississippi from January through June and 65 were reported. I was asked to Congolese Execute Assassins As World Mourns Slain Cardinal ( By N.C. News Service) As Cardinal Emile Biayenda, murdered archbishop of Brazzaville, The Congo, was buried inthat city, Congolese government sources said two_of those charged with his murder had been executed. Earlier, Congo's ruling 11- member military committee promised Pope Paul V1 that the killers of Cardinal Biayenda would be punished "in an exemplary fashion." The promise was conveyed in a letter to the Pope, hand- delivered at the Vatican to Jean Cardinal Villot, papal secretary of state, by Pierre-Felicien N'Koua, The Congo's am- bassador to France• Cardinal Biayenda was buried in Brazzaville's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart after a Mass concelebrated by three Congolese bishops; Ar- chbishop Oriano Quilici, apostolic delegate in The Congo: Joseph Cardinal Malula of Kinhasa, Zaire, and many priests. Members of the rfiling military committee and thousands of people attended. The 50-year-old cardinal was murdered early March 23, five BROTHERS A ReHglous Community of men who share a life of prayer and work for Christ, as teachers, farmers, social workers, campus ministers, parish coor- dinators, medical per- sonnel and other ministries. For Information write to: Provincial Office ; Dept. 7J St. Edward's University Austin, Texas - 78704 days after the assassination of Congolese President Marien Ngouabi. Officials of the west- central African People's Republic of The Congo charged three relatives of Ngouabi with the cardinal's murder, which they said was an act of tribal revenge for the earlier death. The government accused former President Alphonse Massamba-Debat, who was ousted by Ngouabi in 1968, of masterminding both killings. Two days after the cardinal's death, the government radio announced that Massamba- Dabat had been executed after being convicted of plotting Ngouabi's assassination. In the letter to the Pope, Maj. Denis Sessou N'Guesso, head of the Congolese ruling com- mittee, praised Cardinal Biayenda as "a great patriot" and a "man who throughout his life preached love, tolerance, brotherhood, harmony and unity." Free World Warned Of Bogus Charity Rome (NC) - The Polish bishops have warned Catholics abroad not to support in any way an apparently Polish Catholic relief agency which, they claim, was set up by the Communist government to undermine the bishops' authority. In a communique released here by the Polish bishops' press office, the Polish Bishops' Conference said that the government-run Catholic Caritas Association i$ a "camp of political activity and an organization to attract Church personnel with the more or less clear intention of putting them in opposition to Church authorities." According to the statement, the Communists have sent a special booklet marking the 25th anniversary of Polish Caritas to foreign Catholics• IIII The cardinal and Massamba- Debat, the former president, were members of the southern Lari Tribe. Ngouabi was a member of the northern Koyou tribe, which is part of the Mboschi tribal family. Sessou N'Guesso and the other members of the ruling military committee belong to the Mboschi or other northern tribes• The Congo has a population of about 1.2 million from 75 dif- ferent tribes. The population is 38 per cent Catholic• The government is Marxist- Leninist in political and economic policies, but capitalist France remains The Congo's principal trading partner and chief source of economic and financial aid. The country has no legislature. Legislation is the responsibility of the political bureau of the Congolese Labor Party, the country's only political party, which was also headed by Ngouabi. The first president of The Congo when it gained in- dependence from France in 1960 was a Catholic priest, Father Fulbert Youlou. Labor unrest, supported by students and the army, led to Youlou's resignation in 1963, and Massamba-Debat became head of a provisional cabinet and later president. WANTS MARRIAGE CURBS New York (NC) - A priest who has spent more than six years in counselling teen-agers has proposed that the U.S. Catholic Church ban by law teen-age marriages. Father John C. Marquis also suggested that 21 be made "the minimum age for allowing a Catholic to marry" in the Church in the United States. Guardian Ads Are A Good Investment continue the work after the commission was disbanded." Griffin then related the story of the persecution of a young Negro in Mississippi who tried to enter a university there. He owned a farm nearby which he had purchased with money saved while in service for 10 years and had to attend that school so he could maintain the farm. He had already com- pleted two years at the University of Chicago with high grades. The black was put into prison on a trumped-up charge, drawing a seven-year term of hard labor. He then developed an intestinal Cancer but was denied the services of the prison hospital. He was taken to the fields each day until he collapsed and then was brought back to prison. There was a rule that if a prisoner missed at- tending a meal, he wouldn't east and the young man became too weak to move. He finally wrote to his mother and his sister, the latter a nurse in Chicago who worked with the poor. The sister contacted Griffin, Martin Luther King and Dick Gregory. They petitioned everyone from the governor on down to admit the prisoner to the hospital, but with no suc- cess.. Finally, a doctor was per- mitted to examine him and told the warden that he should be treated unless "he wanted a corpse on his hands." The young Negro was granted a conditional pardon and was flown to Chicago at Gregory's expense. Griffin said he visited Merton at this time and the latter somehow knew of the young man's plight despite reading no newspaper and listening to no radio. He sent a valuable book to the young man via Griffin. "The young man clasped the book to his heart and it was buried with him," Griffin said in a broken voice• "Merton became a famous man through this act of kindness as every Negro newspaper in the country carried the story," he con- tinued. "The young man's mother told me, 'This is the only true act of mercy my son knew in his last years of life.' " Griffin stated the greatest error of mankind today is the belief that others should live according to a person's f mystique. "Children  t brought up to believe r people with other skin col0 , beliefs are intrinsiCa.,: ....... il tl" other he said Unt J;,e • , v- changed, there will be preJ u¢ and racism." The author of "Black Me" also mentioned thato South wasn't the only '1! affected by the problegl.-d cited cases in Africa.., Canada to develop this tho8 Griffin concluded witP paper he had read: "... "L. the deepest level of coy' munication is communion , Not to discover new unity bU rediscover the old." . F?ther Joch%Miha[! O.C•., p •o t d Le monastery, introduce ._ speaker. His Excellency ]3. Andrew J. McDonald of D Rock congratulated hira oo talk. A large crowd was on h a9d f¢ the two-hour presentation"  Previous speakers wet Scb. Right Rev Alexander_n • D p'' memann, S.T.D., L.L.., ,ot of the Orthodox Ea, Church, and C. Eric I,Cv,h. Ph.D., of the Methodist Cbt" Provide For Your Loved Ones in Your Will But Remember Without God's Help You Would Have Nothing to Leave So Bequeath Part of Your Estate to Spread the Good News of Christ's Coming in Arkansas You May Specify the Apostolate to Which Your Bequest Is to Be Applied For Information, You or Your Attorney May Contact: MOST REV. ANDREW J. McDONALD, D.D. CHANCERY 2415 N. TYLER, P.O. BOX 7239 LITTLE ROCK, ARK. 72217 TELEPHONE 664-0340 i