London Prelate Recalls World War II Suffering

Says It’s OK for Children to Hear ‘No’

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LONDON, NOV. 9, 2011 ( The retired archbishop of Westminster invited listeners of Radio 2 to be willing to say «no» to their children, and to deny themselves, with a spirit of trust in God and solidarity.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor was a featured speaker on Radio 2’s «Pause for Thought» program.

He noted this week’s celebration of those who have served in the armed forces and reflected that he is the last generation to remember World War II.

«I was 7 years old in 1939 and how well I remember the Battle of Britain when we had to sleep in the cellar of our house,» the cardinal said. «Fortunately for us, the bombers usually went over to London and not too many bombs dropped on Reading where we lived. 

«What I remember particularly about the war is, of course, the hardship of not having quite enough food. I wonder how many listeners remember powdered egg, spam or tripe? I remember once at our table my mother confronted by her five sons, of whom I was the youngest, and after I had eaten what we were given I said, like Dickens’s Oliver Twist, ‘Can I have some more, Mum?’ Her eyes filled with tears — there was no more to be had.»

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said he didn’t want to «make too much of this.»

«The hardships of the war were borne very stoically with much patience by everybody,» he reflected. «Nowadays, most of us in this country have plenty to eat and children have so many things by way of toys and games, sometimes too many, unheard of 70 years ago.»

In this context, the cardinal offered this advice: «While I realize these are difficult times, crunch times financially for many, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to your children if they always ask for more, nor indeed to say ‘no’ to yourself and deny yourself something, especially so that you can give more to other people.

«As Jesus reminds us, ‘If God has clothed the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you people of little faith? So do not worry about tomorrow; let tomorrow take care of itself.'»

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