1925: Joseph Arendt: Social formation by the YCW


Les Editions Jocistes No. 2

Joseph ARENDT, S.J.

SOCIAL FORMATION BY THE YCW

Young Christian Workers

GENERAL SECRETARIAT

BRUSSELS

LES EDITIONS JOCISTES N° 2

Joseph ARENDT, S.J.

SOCIAL FORMATION by the YCW

GENERAL SECRETARIAT: Rue Plétinckx, 19 (Bourse) BRUSSELS

CHEQ. POST. 105963 (P. GARCET) – TEL. 154.44

SOCIAL FORMATION

by the YCW.[1]

I. – SOCIAL FORMATION AND RELIGIOUS FORMATION.

My dear Friends, the social formation that the YCW aims to provide to its members cannot be separated from their religious formation. This, as this your first National Congress has solemnly declared, is the primary goal of the YCW, but social formation is its essential complement. Religious formation teaches young Christians to love God for Himself and their neighbour for God. Social formation complements this by teaching, in more detail, several excellent ways to practise true love of neighbour.

A. Why should we love and serve our neighbour?

1. – We love God first of all for his infinite perfection because we find in him in an eminent degree all the qualities that we admire and love in creatures: wisdom, benevolence, justice, mercy, gentleness, beauty, power. We love Him because He gave us everything, He made us what we are. Since our childhood, he has filled us with his daily blessings, with the tenderness of a father. He is preparing for us complete happiness, surpassing all our desires, which we will enjoy forever with him.

2. – Filled with love and gratitude, we in turn want to give something to God. But he doesn’t need anything, anything at all. Then, in his goodness, God deigning to provide us with the means to show our love for Him and our gratitude, God shows us our brothers, other ignorant, guilty, unhappy, sick, poor people, and He invites us to regard them as being His own image, his representatives, his friends, his sons and to do good for them, in his Name.

Have you already read attentively the admirable page of the Gospel where Saint Matthew presents us with the description, made by Our Lord himself, of the last judgment? Here we have the clear and precise indication of the will of our Divine Master. He announces that on the day of judgment He will address the elect in these terms: “Come, you blessed of my Father: take possession of the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me; in prison and you came to me… Truly I tell you, whenever you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.”

Likewise, the Sovereign Judge will condemn the damned to eternal fire for lacking practical love towards their neighbour.

3. – You understand well, my dear Friends, that in these words of Jesus, material food and drink, the clothing of the body are taken as examples; the same doctrine also and above all applies to the nourishment of the soul, that is to say to sound teaching, good counsel, encouragement, consolations and above all good examples.

You also understand that the organiser or leader of our social works who strives not only to provide his brothers with temporary and uncertain help, but to place them in a position to be able to regularly provide for themselves, through their unity, their work and their foresight, whatever they need, does more for them and therefore deserves the approval of the Divine Master more than the charitable person who limits himself to giving alms.

B. By working for the YCW we serve our brothers excellently.

1. – By becoming so actively and generously involved in the organisation and development of YCW sections, you are certainly responding to the desire of Jesus who wishes to save young, employed workers and ensure their happiness both in this life and forever. When you receive your convocations, you can say that it is He who is calling you; when you pay your publicity subscriptions, you can say to yourself that it is to Him that you are giving.

2. – As you know well, membership in our workers’ organisations has a double aspect. The worker who joins one of our groups can very legitimately seek advantages for himself, the protection of his interests; but he can also, and this is even better, seek in our associations a very safe and very practical means of coming to the aid of his comrades, of his brothers, of softening the difficulties of life for them, of protecting them from the dangers threatening, to provide them with more truth, well-being and joy, to better prepare them for eternal happiness. It is in this spirit that you have given our enthusiastic support to the YCW. and this is why you ask it to perfect your social formation and that of all your companions.

II. – THE THREE PARTS OF OUR SOCIAL FORMATION.

A. There are three parts.

All formation comprises three parts: you must learn to see, learn to judge and learn to do. See the apprentice arriving at the workshop. He must first learn to see, to know the machines, the tools, the raw materials, the different jobs and the various ways in which they can be carried out. He must then learn to judge, to properly choose his instruments, his position, the objects to transform, the method to follow. He must finally learn how to do it; and this is perhaps the most difficult part; only familiarity with the profession, acquired through long enough practice, will allow him to work easily, quickly and well.

B. These three parts are necessary.

Please note that these three parts of your social formation are all essential to the result you wish to achieve. It is not enough for you to see social realities and all that you could do to improve them, it is not enough for you to judge wisely about the means to be employed; you still need to act with courage and perseverance. But, on the other hand, it would be imprudent to act without having seen and judged well and it would be foolish to judge without having looked sufficiently.

To properly arrange our trip from Fayt to Brussels, we needed to know the roads and means of transport, the canal, the railways, the cars, the planes, we had to choose the route and the vehicle that best suited us, our goal and our modest resources and finally we needed to set out and persevere to the end.

Let us therefore get into the good habit of informing ourselves carefully and deliberating prudently before acting, but once the decision has been made, let us appreciate how to act with vigour and constancy. Let us now see how we must apply all this to our social formation.

III. – LEARN TO SEE.

A. The means of seeing provided by the YCW

And first of all, let us rejoice in noting that the YCW provides its members with numerous and excellent means of learning to see social realities.

1. – In fact, thanks to the meetings of local sections and regional federations, jocists come into contact with many intelligent, serious, observant young people; They can therefore, in friendly conversations, learn a thousand details about the industries of their region, about the working conditions, about the needs, feelings and needs of the workers. The varied characters and diverse aspirations of their comrades invite them, quite naturally, to interesting reflections.

2. – The functioning of sections and federations shows them the necessities and difficulties of association life, enables them to understand the role of leaders and the usefulness of regulations, persuades them that the good will and generosity of members are essential for the success of groups.

3. – The conferences and articles in YCW bulletins complete this mutual learning by providing the jocists with clear ideas on the program, the activity, and the successes of their national federation, on the main religious, scientific, economic, political problems, which should interest them, on the people whom they can take as models, on the life and development of Christian workers’ organisations which seek their sympathy and support.

4. – The enquiries organised by the YCW. concerning the situation of young salaried workers are of very great importance for the social formation of its members. Regional federation leaderss would be very wrong to neglect this powerful means of instruction and propaganda. These enquiries, in fact, make it possible, on the one hand, to adapt the activity of the sections to the needs of working youth in the region; they prevent committee members from falling asleep; and on the other hand, they assist sections in recruiting because they show young workers the great interest that the YCW offers them and some of the advantages that they can expect from their participation in the jocist movement. We can use the excellent questionnaires published by the General Secretariat for these surveys, but we must at all costs get as many members as possible actively involved in collecting the information and consequently we must make their work easier and more efficient. explain to them the scope of the questions asked. It is also necessary that the results of the enquiry and the reports to be drawn up be discussed very carefully by the committees first, then by the entire sections.

5. – In addition to serving to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the delegates of the different sections, regional and national Congresses nourish the enthusiasm so necessary for the movement, determine the path they will follow, and also provide the opportunity to jointly study certain important social issues.

6. – I certainly do not need to demonstrate to you that a well-conducted and lively study circle is an excellent formation instrument. The jocists who participate regularly and actively in such a circle understand all the benefits they derive from it for their instruction and their education. But allow me to remind you that to get the most out of this institution, members need to attend meetings, willingly take on the task of presenting a question and take part in discussions. This requires many small victories over laziness, which is afraid of work and reflection, over timidity which paralyses, over vanity which fears criticism, a smile or failure. On the other hand, leading a study circle being a difficult art, and it is desirable that their directors consult the masters of this art and the experience of their colleagues.

B. First thing to see: the benefits received from God through our neighbour.

Since you have so many good ways to learn to see social realities, it will be enough for me to point out to you the few main facts which especially deserve your attention, because they will help you to understand many things.

1. – See then, my dear Friends, how many benefits you have received from God through other men, see how much you depend for everything that is necessary for your life, for your moral, intellectual, bodily development on the collaboration of your neighbour.

Think also of the dedication of your parents, the hard work of your father, the incessant care of your mother. Count the years you spent as in your parents’ house as happy and carefree little children, the years during which you attended school. Try to calculate the number of people who worked for you, to prepare your food, to make your clothes, to build your house, to pave your streets, to provide heating and light. Join the army of all those who contributed to your education and instruction, your teachers, your priests, those who taught you your trade, or even those who wrote books or journals for your use; without forgetting, of course, those who recruited you to the YCW and those who direct it for your greater good.

2. – But please note that you are not alone in benefiting from the assistance of thousands of your brothers and sisters: people work for each other and the development of the means of communication as well as the progress of technology increase human solidarity every day, at least materially. The wheat and meat we eat come largely from America, the wool for our clothing from Australia and the cotton from Egypt; the coffee we drink, and the rubber for our heels come from Congo or Brazil; the paperd that you have before you was made with wood from Norway or Sweden, kaolin from England, French or Portuguese resins, alums and German dyes. The copper for the electrical pipes in this room was probably supplied by Spain or Katanga, while the electric lamps partly come from a Dutch factory. In the intellectual domain it is the same.

Our philosophers will tell you what they owe to the deep reflections of the thinkers of ancient Greece and even to the studies of the Arabs of the early Middle Ages. Our scientists will readily recognise that the progress of science is due to the collaboration of all peoples throughout the centuries. Our technicians will point out to you that the marvellous inventions that we use every day almost without thinking about it each have twenty, thirty, forty researchers of the most diverse nationalities as authors. Our priests have often told us that the doctrine they teach us is the Gospel of Christ, transmitted for nineteen centuries by the apostles and their successors to all generations of all peoples.

You will understand all the better the dependence that people have on each other as you consider more attentively the extreme diversity of people, their ages, their talents, their characters, their aspirations, their occupations, their functions, the results they obtain, the services they provide.

C. Second thing is to see the advantages that social life gives us.

1. – When you have thus fully penetrated the fundamental fact of social life, that is to say the extreme diversity of people and the weakness of each taken in isolation, you will realise the causes which provoke the grouping of individuals in families, nations, provinces, communes, corporations, unions, mutual societies, cooperatives and in a thousand other societies.

2. – You will easily see that certain of these groups, the family and the city, are natural and necessary for all people, in all countries and at all times. Without the family, the growth and good education of children would be practically impossible and without the city families would remain in the wild, in ignorance, poverty and probably corruption.

Other groupings, for example organised professions or corporations, are almost as necessary, but only when the division of labour and consequently industrial progress have reached a certain degree. The history of the 19th century shows us, in fact, the deep troubles, the social disasters, caused by the absence of suitable professional organisations. You know the injustices, the miseries, the revolts, the struggles, the physical and moral decline, which were the consequences of the outrageous application of the principles of political and economic liberalism by the leaders of the French Revolution and by their successors and imitators in many countries.

The Church is a perfect and independent society, established by Christ, to direct and assist men in the work of their salvation. It is also a society that provides us with the greatest and most necessary benefits. Since our childhood it has taken care of us through the lower groups to which she entrusted us: our diocese, our parish.

Still other groups, for example, joint stock companies, cooperatives, drama groups, choirs, are not necessary, but simply useful. The existence of these societies assures people of greater well-being and perfection, but it is not essential to achieve this result.

3. – Let us therefore often remember, my dear friends, everything we owe to the societies of which we are a part: to our family whose innumerable benefits we will always better appreciate as we grow in age and experience; to our commune and our province whose administration has provided us with security, ease of communications, electric light, abundant drinking water, progress in hygiene, the development of our towns; to our homeland from which we have received such noble traditions of honour and work, such broad freedom and so much well-being; to the Catholic Church which has communicated to us the truths revealed by God and which administers the sacraments to us. Let us not forget, of course, our dear YCW and the big family that is the Belgian Catholic Youth Association (ACJB).

Let us also recognise all the good that other societies of which we are not part have done for us, and which serve us directly or indirectly: the religious orders which take care of our instruction, our education, our evangelisation, the societies scholars who prepare for the progress of civilisation and technology, the Christian unions which study, care for and defend our professional interests, the mutual societies which insure us against the risks of life and guarantee us an old age pension, the Christian cooperatives which provide good quality goods at a low price, while promoting the development of our Christian labour movement, the workers’ leagues which are dedicated to the intellectual and moral uplift of industrial workers and the care of their general interests, the industrial and commercial companies which facilitate the supply of our country, and so many others that are impossible for me to list.

4. – My dear Friends, I would not at any price want to be unfair and I am certain to interpret your thoughts, also mentioning, at this moment, certain socialist organisations. I will have to show you in detail on Saturday[2] everything that separates us from the socialists, condemn their errors, point out all the harm they do to souls and this is why I want to recognise today the material services rendered to the workers by several socialist institutions and to pay tribute to the selfless dedication of certain obscure activists who devoted their lives to the service of their comrades. As for the very leaders whose direction we consider disastrous, we know how to distinguish their intentions, which we do not judge, from their works which we combat.

D. Third thing to see: our debt of gratitude.

Having understood the role played by the different groups and the services they have provided for you or that they provide for you, you will feel the desire to pay your debt of gratitude little by little by collaborating in the common work, by providing your assistance dedicated to some of the companies we have mentioned. You will be useful members of your family, good citizens in your community and your homeland. You are already enlisted or will later enlist in various Christian worker organisations. But to better prepare you for your social role, you will collaborate from now on in carrying out the YCW program, in the development of its different sections. For this purpose, you will need to study carefully the needs of young salaried workers in our country. The admirable program adopted a few months ago by your first National Congress will serve as your guide.

E. Fourth thing to see: the immense needs of young workers.

You will easily see that the situation of young workers and employees in Belgium leaves a lot to be desired.

1. – Certainly, from a material point of view, considerable progress has been made in recent years. Most of our young people do not complain, for the moment[3], about their salary and they hope that the prosperity of the country will later allow further improvements. The eight-hour day spares their strength sufficiently, except in a few exceptional cases. However, in industries carried out at home, in certain commercial companies, there is still excessive work and abusive exploitation of the goodwill of young employees. But with regard to hygiene, accident prevention, the fight against occupational diseases, lighting, ventilation, cleanliness of workshops and offices, sanitary installations, care of the injured many improvements are still needed.

2. – From an intellectual point of view, the situation is not so good. Primary education has been greatly improved and the young workers of today are incomparably better educated than those of twenty years ago. Vocational education is progressing, but schools are not yet all well-equipped; they do not have a sufficiently large number of teaching staff specially trained for their delicate mission. A large number of young workers were not properly guided at the start of their apprenticeship. Others, tempted by the lure of quick and significant earnings, do not attend any school or learn any trade. They are condemned to remain labourers all their lives. Unfortunately, the religious and moral education of young workers is completely insufficient. They should not be satisfied with the elementary notions that they learned in catechism; they would need to follow additional courses, to participate in the work of study circles; but, alas, they neglect to do so. The economic, artistic and civic formation of young employees is also extremely lacking.

3. – From a moral point of view, the situation is truly worrying. Certain workshops, certain workers’ trains expose the purity and the dignity of young workers to serious dangers and too often the majority of young people, while condemning and despising the few rascals who dishonour the working class, allow themselves to be tyrannised by them. The organisation of work is harmful to the moral health of young employees in too many establishments. In many others, supervision of workshops from this point of view is scandalously insufficient or entrusted to unsavoury people. This situation must stop: it is intolerable. Another fact to deplore is the progressive weakening of professional consciousness among young workers. Some of them have come to believe that they can intentionally waste paid time, that they can work carelessly. Like me, you have heard things said about this in YCW meetings that we would like to consider improbable and yet which are nevertheless daily realities in certain workshops.

IV. – LEARN TO JUDGE.

When you have looked carefully around you; when you understand all the benefits for which you are indebted to God, who has sent them to you through your brothers and sisters; when eager to repay your debt of gratitude you will have studied the needs of the young workers, your comrades, for whom you can do so much good; you will need to judge existing situations, to choose the means to use to improve them; you will have to determine the remedies that are suitable for the ailments observed.

Learning to judge is difficult and you will often have to ask for help from competent and devoted teachers; directors of your study circles, for example. I can only present to you today a few thoughts, but they will point out some very important rules for you.

You will therefore need to learn to discern what is good from what is bad; what is good from what is pleasant; what is good from what is achievable.

A. The good and the bad.

To discern good and bad in the conduct of an intelligent being, one needs to possess a supreme rule, because a reasonable being does not act without sufficient motives. When you eat, when you study, when you work in the workshop, in the mine, on the construction site you have a goal and it is based on this goal that you regulate your actions. You want to strengthen yourself, rest, educate yourself, earn money. But why do you want all this? Is it to help your parents? To prepare for starting a family? To become useful citizens of your country? To contribute to the recovery of your comrades? But again, why do you want all this? A person worthy of this name must be able to indicate the supreme goal of his life, the deep motive of all his or her reasonable actions. Life is not about taking a few steps to the right, a few steps to the left, a few steps back and, from time to time, a few steps forward. No, it’s about heading directly towards the goal, in order to arrive quickly and well.

Our Lord Jesus Christ came to show us the supreme goal of our life, and what He proposed to us exceeds everything we could have desired: to know God, to love Him, thus to glorify Him and to enjoy perfect happiness forever.

Anything contrary to this, anything that prevents us from achieving this goal is bad! To desire what is bad is to betray our duty and endanger our happiness.

You will immediately see some consequences of this principle: the social institutions which actually promote the realisation of our destiny are good, those which oppose it are bad.

Industrial production is not a final end, but a means. It should never be used as an excuse to harm higher spiritual interests. We must willingly agree to sacrifice a little money or a few amenities to obtain moral or religious progress! The concern to promote one’s own material interests is legitimate, but it cannot be pushed to the point of eliminating Christian fraternity!

B. The good and the pleasant.

What is pleasant is not always good: there are unregulated appetites in man: to satisfy them is to turn away from the true goal: see the drunkard who seeks pleasure, who degrades himself, wastes his time, ruins his natural energies and endangers his happiness. Sometimes duty seems hard and unpleasant, it requires painful sacrifices but joy always comes at the end. We therefore need to know how to distinguish apparent goods, which pass, from true goods which remain. The sacrifices made for a great cause, the obscure and tiring work of Christian propaganda, the subscriptions faithfully paid are imperishable goods.

C. The good and the achievable.

What is good in itself is not always and everywhere achievable. Many useful reforms, many desirable improvements need to be postponed until later. It is a great art, but a necessary art in social action, to know how to wait for the favourable moment, to know how to take into account material resources and available personnel, the long delays necessary, the transitions to be managed. We must never let go of the prey for the shadow.

V. – LEARN TO DO.

My dear friends, your extraordinary attention and the signs of approval that you have given me show me that you understand, on the one hand, the greatness of the benefits that you have received from God through the societies of which you are a part. and the immense needs of our dear Belgian working youth and, on the other hand, the imperative duty imposed on you to thank God and show your gratitude to Him by contributing generously to the moral, intellectual and material uplift of this working youth, for the greater good of all workers, of the homeland and the Church. You also understand that great intelligence and prudence are required in the choice of the means to be used in this great work. But you are now wondering how you will practise serving your comrades for Christ’s sake and what help you can expect in this endeavour.

A. How will you exercise?

Let us distinguish, if you wish, the good that each of you can do individually to the members of your family, to the comrades around you, the good that you can do by working for the YCW and the good that can be achieved by the YCW.

1. – You are not going to give speeches or sermons to your brothers or your comrades. You are not going to start big discussions with them; but you will be able to occasionally, by your silence or by your reserved attitude, show that you disapprove of light or bad conversations, you will be able to use a well-chosen word to show how weak and ridiculous the attacks against Religion are; you will know how to modestly and discreetly offer fraternal advice to a poor comrade who allows himself to be led towards evil, you will know how to appeal to the honour, loyalty, and dignity of young workers to stop them, strengthen them, or encourage them.

But, above all, and this will be your main means of action, you will set a good example. You will take care of your outfit, your clothes will always be clean and well fitted; you will speak correctly, and your words will always be worthy of a Christian; you will carry out your work honestly, courageously, carefully. You will show yourself as you want to be pious, modest, honest, generous, valiant. Your comrades seeing you like this will admire in you an image of Christ: they will taste something of the incomparable joy of those who see Christ, they will respect you and imitate you.

2. – But, not content with this individual action, you will want to increase your strength for good by working for the YCW, by contributing to constitute, maintain and develop the national federation, the regional federations, the local or special sections, the works of the YCW. You will thus obtain a triple result: you will forge the powerful tools which will be used for the collective action of the YCW, which I will talk about in a moment; you will improve yourselves through the exercise of numerous virtues and you will excite your companions to secure the same advantages.

What a powerful means of social and religious education is the faithful collaboration of the jocists with the action of their groups! How can we count the triumphs that must be won over himself by the young worker who wishes to attend meetings regularly, pay his contributions on the appointed day, listen attentively to the speakers, seriously read the articles and circulars, think deeply and give good advice in assemblies; actively participate in surveys and discussions. Through these frequent and difficult exercises, the will is tempered, the character is formed, the child of yesterday becomes the generous and resolute Christian of tomorrow.

The effort required and the moral benefits assured to committee members are even greater. They must, in fact, carry out methodical and sustained propaganda, keep registers and accounts up to date, organise interesting sessions, comply with the directives of the General Committee and the Regional Committees, and ensure the regular functioning of various services. In the beginning, in times of enthusiasm, all this can be pleasant and easy, but to continue, without failure, in times of failure and struggle, despite fatigue and boredom, one must be very courageous and very love Christ.

This is how the YCW prepares truly useful and beneficial members and leaders for workers’ organisations. It is a school of initiative, activity, and generosity. You can be proud of it.

3. – Through the YCW and its various services, you will carry out the magnificent program acclaimed at the Easter Congress. You will restore confidence, courage and joy to young workers. You will protect them against bad influences and by influencing public opinion, civil or military authorities, bosses, you will obtain for them more security, more well-being, more happiness.

B. What help can you expect?

You are intelligent enough and serious enough, you have enough experience of your weakness to understand that powerful help is necessary for you to carry out your generous resolutions in favour of the young workers of Belgium.

1. – The help you need, absolutely need, is offered to you by God. It is up to you to obtain this help: you know where you can find it. Our dear Saviour has left us his Church, which gives us the teachings and direction necessary for our religious and social action and which places the sacraments at our disposal. By praying every day with humility, confidence and perseverance, by attending mass, by receiving communion often, we immensely increase our power for good. Let us therefore get into the habit of praying a lot for our comrades, for our dear YCW, for its leaders, for the priest-directors of the various federations or sections.

2. – But apart from this divine help on which you can count with certainty since you know the love of Our Good Master for you, do not count too much on other help! If zealous young intellectuals or generous and selfless people help you, so much the better; but don’t wait for these interventions to take action.

For almost twenty years I have followed very closely, with the greatest attention, the development of our Christian workers’ organisations and I have always seen that these organisations grow and prosper when the workers who are part of them truly consider them their business and are serious about ensuring their success. On the other hand, I have seen all the workers’ organisations vegetate or perish whose members passively awaited the results of propaganda, initiatives, combinations of zealous priests or devoted bourgeois.

An editor of your bulletin, from the Jeunesse Ouvrière, rightly wrote last month that an essential condition for the success of jocist action is the very active contribution of all the members of the committee. “To chair meetings, to collect subscriptions, to keep the accounts, to represent the section on the federal committee, to put everything in order, with the regional and national secretariat, young people must dedicate themselves, work hard, learn to write, speak, and act.

So don’t rely too much on human assistance. Don’t wait to act for others to start, for others to help you, for others to encourage you!

Do not count too much on the collaboration of young lay intellectuals: for your propaganda, for your study circles, for the writing of your newspapers and your bulletins. For twenty years, in Belgium, young lay intellectuals who have given themselves entirely to workers’ organisations to serve them have been very rare: one could almost count them on one’s fingers. As for young intellectuals, students, lawyers, doctors, engineers, who occasionally lend their assistance to our unions, our mutual societies, our cooperatives, our workers’ leagues, they are still far too few in number. Unfortunately, at the moment, in certain circles, young bourgeois Catholics are full of distrust towards our workers’ organisations and they hesitate to support their social action. These facts are regrettable, but we cannot hope for a big change in the state of mind any time soon. You will need to put up with it and redouble your efforts to compensate for this lack of useful help. I hope that the young propagandists trained by the Central Workers School of Louvain will be of great service to you.

Don’t rely too much on material help from your priests either. Certainly, in the name of the Bishops, they will provide you with the direction, moral support and encouragement you need. But you know how few our priests and vicars are, how overloaded they are with apostolic work. They owe it to all souls, to the sick, to the poor, to sinners; they do not have the freedom and time necessary to put themselves at your service as they would like. Besides, your priests cannot follow you to the workshop, on the trains, to the café, and you have to win decisive victories there.

Above all, do not count on alms from the rich to fill your coffers and support your propaganda. You must be keen to pay for everything yourself, with the product of your work! You will thus much more easily gain the trust of the souls you wish to conquer; you will attach yourself more entirely to the YCW, which will be more completely your work; and you will be particularly blessed by our Divine Master. Remember his emotion when he saw the poor widow deposit her two small coins in the trunk of the temple. When He witnesses the small sacrifices you make for the prosperity of your groups, He will rejoice and help you even more wonderfully.

3. – I say, “even more wonderfully”, because the rapid development of the YCW, your zeal, your generosity, your piety, your enthusiasm are already magnificent benefits from our Good Master.

What amazing works you could accomplish if you fully respond to the invitations, to the offers of divine grace!

Answer it fully, you will not: we must sincerely recognise our weakness and foresee the consequences. But disposed as you are, I am certain, absolutely certain, that you will do great things: tomorrow in the YCW, later in our other workers’ organisations. And thus, through your generous and persevering action, many Walloon workers will return to Christ who loves them and awaits them.


[1] Lesson given at the YCW. Study Week in Fayt, Thursday September 23, 1925.

[2] In the lesson on “Socialism and Religion”. (This lesson will soon appear in a brochure from Editions Jocistes.)

[3] September 1925.

Computer-aided translation by Stefan Gigacz, 2024

Original document: https://seejudgeact.org/1925-joseph-arendt-la-formation-sociale-par-la-joc/