We have seen the devil using the Press with terrible effect for the destruction of souls; let us wrench it from him and baptize it for the service of Christ.
The parochial library as an instrument of defence and propagation is no new discovery.
[Side note: Encyclopedia Britannica]
“As Christianity made its way,” says the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” “the institution of libraries became a part of the organisation of the Church. So intimate did the union between literature and religion become, that alongside every Church the Catholic bishops had a library erected.” Now, if in times past, when not one man in twenty could read, the unerring foresight of the Church led her to adopt the parochial library as her most able auxiliary, the wisdom of that adoption applies with ten-fold force to our times.
[Side note: The Blunder of the Past]
Fifty years ago we taught the people how to read; awakened within them the native desire for knowledge, and then—stopped. When the national school was built had we established the parochial library and made it the means of continuing the child’s education, we would have a different Ireland to-day.
We made the youth hungry and then stepped aside. The British publisher came and occupied the place we should have held. He has been feeding them on garbage and gutter literature since. God grant that it is not too late to undo the mischief of our neglect.
[Side note: What we spend]
It is estimated that we spend four hundred and forty-six thousand pounds every year on English papers, books and magazines. Almost half a million of money! How many of our honest rooftrees would not that sum keep standing? How many of our pure boys and girls would it not save from the “hells” of Chicago and New York.
It is bad enough to part with the bone and muscle, but a nation loses her most precious asset when she exports her intellect. While we have gone on helping the British publisher to the carriage and the suburban villa, the young Irishman, who feels the fire of genius throbbing in his blood, sees but two alternatives before him—to starve at home or sell his brains in a foreign market.
To-day the priest holds the field, but for how long? Recent convulsions should warn us; the ground may rock again; then let us arouse ourselves to the task before us.
[Side note: Awake!]
Whether the priest moves or not the library is sure to come, and what in his hands would be a centre of diffusive light to the parish, under the control of semi-educated or conscienceless men may prove a dark curse.
Let the coarse and sensuous literature of England drop from our people’s hands. Let us encourage native genius to dip her pen into the old holy well of Catholic truth, and build up a literature that will be racy of the soil and redolent of its Faith. Let us feed the minds of the young on the untainted productions of our own countrymen and women. Let us brace them with robust Catholic principles that are mortised into the solid bed-rock of knowledge. Then the most powerful foe the future holds will blow the trumpet in vain.