Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

guishing. We have a great respect for Lord Arundel and Surrey, and we admit that he deserves great credit, considering who he is and what are his environments, but we should respect him more, and regard him as more likely to be a successful Catholic leader, if he assumed a higher tone, and asserted with more boldness the absolute supremacy of the spiritual order over the secular. The church can be injured only by Catholics, and Catholics can receive harm only from themselves. If English Catholics had had a more filial af. fection for Rome, more of the spirit of St. Anselm and of St. Thomas of Canterbury, and less of that which dictated the constitutions of Clarendon, if they had been as prompt to obey the church as they have always been to sustain their princes in their encroachments upon her prerogatives, they would never have had the affliction of seeing their religion proscribed by law in their own country, and a false religion established in its place. Nationalism has from the first been the curse of England, and till English Catholics learn that the Lord loves an Italian, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, as well as an Englishman, they need not hope for the return of their country to the church. They have always been too ready to side with the secular order against the spiritual, and till they correct this fault, they may be sure the state will despise and trample on them.

We trust that we appreciate the delicate position of English Catholics, and we are far from disregarding the admonitions of prudence; but in our times, and indeed in all times, the truest prudence is fidelity to God, and full confidence in his truth. We are too apt to forget that the church does not stand in human policy or human wisdom, that she is under the special protection of Almighty God, and that he will bless no efforts to serve her, the glory of which will not redound to him. We rely too much on ourselves, and not enough on him, and take counsel of our own short-sighted wisdom rather than of the Holy Ghost. We must not be afraid to trust all to God. The truth will sustain itself, and is needed to sustain us, instead of our being needed to sustain it. We regard the free, frank, and energetic assertion of those great principles, which so many Catholics are afraid to avow, and are always seeking to explain away, as the most prudent course now to be adopted. The church was founded by our Lord on Peter, and every attempt to lessen the power of the Holy See, to diminish resp ct for the supreme pontiff, is only an attempt to undermine the foundation of the church. The Greek empire could not bear to acknowlege the supremacy of Peter; it withheld from Rome her due, and it fell into schism, and became the prey or the slave of the proud infidel barbarian. Northern Germany would separate between the church and the pope, and she has fallen into schism, heresy, infidelity, and well-nigh lapsed into her old heathenism; England would distinguish between the pope and the court of Rome, and has become a jest and a byword among the nations. Every nation that has refused filial love and reverence to the chair of Peter has been hurled from the seat of its greatness, as France, Spain, and Portugal can bear witness. The only true policy, the only true wisdom in our times, is in exalting the chair of Peter, and energetically asserting the pontifical authority, and the universal supremacy of the spiritual order. The salvation of the world in more senses than one depends on the Holy See, and on a loyal submission and filial obedience in all things to the successor of St. Peter. We confess, then, that we are grieved to see distinguished Catholic statesmen searching history to find examples of resistance to the papal authority by the temporal power, and concluding from them that a man may be a Catholic and also loyal to his temporal sovereign. Let us, in God's name, have no more of this. Let us dare assert the truth in the face of the lying world, and, instead of pleading for our church at the bar of the state, summon the state itself to plead at the bar of the church, its divinely constituted judge. The state may become enraged, may contiscate our goods, prohibit our worship, shut up our churchesand religious houses, imprison, exile, or massacre us; but what then? Such things have been, but they have never been able, so long as Catholics retained their fervor, to injure the church or retard her progress. These things are powerful against us only when our faith is weak, and our love waxes cold. Who has God on his side has no occasion to fear men or devils.

CHRISTIANITY AND HEATHENISM.*

[From Brownson's Quarterly Review for January, 1852.]

SOMEBODY has said that history for the last three or four centuries is only a grand conspiracy against truth, and we are every day more and more convinced, that, whether its authors have been Catholics or Protestants, believers or unbelievers, it needs to be rewritten, from the original documents. Certain it is, that Catholics have never yet done justice to the defenders of their cause in troublous times, and that when the full historical truth comes to be told, it will be altogether more favorable to them than they have dared to believe.

Nearly all our popular histories, even those circulating among Catholics, especially in England and this country, have been written from the point of view of the secular order, by unbelievers, misbelievers, or at least by men whose devotion to the state was more lively than their devotion to the church. The truly orthodox have seldom written history; and if men of unimpeachable faith have sometimes written it, they have done it, not primarily as Catholics, but as Italians, Spaniards, Frenchmen, Germans, Poles, or Englishmen, in whose hearts for the time being their country predominated over their church, and their patriotism got the better of their religion. Even ecclesiastical history proper, in so far as adapted to popular reading, has fallen into the hands, when not of open heretics, of Gallicans,-if we may use the term without implying or_intending to imply any peculiar reproach to France or to Frenchmen, for the thing we mean has been confined to no nation,—or at least of men moved by Gallican tendencies, and more intent on vindicating the conduct of their political sovereigns towards the church, than on placing in its true light the character of the popes who were forced from time to time to resist them. We have met with no history circulating among the people, civil or ecclesiastical, written from the true Catholic point of view, with that deep love and reverence for the chair of Peter which every Catholic ought to entertain, and which are invariably warranted by the facts in the case.

* Lorraine et France. Etudes sur les Doctrines religieuses et la Politique de ces deux Pays et de leurs Princes. Par M, G. DE LA TOUR. Paris: 1851.

This may, perhaps, be easily accounted for. History is a record of the past, and its proper subject is the dead, not the living. The church has never been numbered with the dead. Always and everywhere present, immutable and immortal, she has and can have, strictly speaking, no past, and is and can be no proper subject of history. She has no need of history for her own instruction and edification. They who partake the most of her spirit, and have the most. lively sense of her catholicity in time as well as in space, must always be precisely those who are the least disposed to devote themselves to the long and wearisome study of the chronicles and monuments of past ages. They live in the present and the future, and all the past of interest to them is present in the church, which is one in time and space, teaching all ages and nations, and maintaining all truth. They have for themselves no motive to study history. They have no need of its lessons. The church teaches them, here and now, all they need to learn, and they have only to learn and understand what she teaches to be able to perform well their part either as churchmen or statesmen.

Moreover, the sincere, earnest-minded Catholic, whose faith is firm, who knows that his church is indefectible, that that she is founded upon a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against her, that she is sustained by God himself without the aid of the puny arm of man, has always other and more pressing work than that of poring over the records of the past,—that of relieving present suffering, and of inducing men to live for the glory of God and the salvation of their souls. He finds always, here and now, more than he can do, and has no time or thought to spare for any thing else. He cannot, therefore, consent to devote himself either to the study or the writing of history any further than he finds it necessary in order to refute or repel contemporary heresies.

As far as necessary for this purpose he will, indeed, study it, and even write it; but all beyond is to him a matter of comparative indifference. He is prepared to let men read history in their own way, so far as their reading leaves him room to defend the dogmas, the unity, catholicity, apostolicity, and sanctity of the church. He therefore lets much pass that he might well dispute, and concedes much that a little closer study of documents would prove to be false ; because he sees that to concede it does not really affect any thing he holds it necessary to defend. Nothing is, then, more natural than that popular history, from the half-Arian Ensebius down to Fleury, from the Nestorian Socrates down to the Gallican Lingard and the infidel Voltaire, Gibbon, or Hume, should be written by men without faith, by misbelievers, or at best by men whose affections for the church, especially for the Holy See, are cold and languid, if they even exist.

In this way, too, we must explain those numerous unwarranted concessions and uncalled-for apologies made in regard to historical personages and events, by professedly Catholic writers, and which constitute the chief difficulty the modern Catholic encounters in his controversies with Protestants. These concessions have passed into history as undisputed and indisputable facts, and have misled Catholics as well as their enemies. Hence we find even Catholics apologizing for the acts of the sainted Hildebrand, the illustrious Innocent III., the noble Boniface VIII., and the heroic Julius II., acts among the most admirable recorded in history, and which endear these great pontiffs to every truly Catholic heart! What Catholic needs to be told that the sovereign pontiffs most censured by the world are always those most dear to the celestial Spouse of the church? Whom does the world more deeply hate, or more bitterly persecute, than our blessed Lord and Master, whom it crucified between two thieves, and whom it continues to crucify afresh every day? If they call the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household ? Always will the most worthy popes be those most hated and calumniated by men of the world, by heretics, unbelievers, temporal sovereigns, lukewarm and, as we say to-day, liberal, Catholics. Whom God loves the world must always hate.

The causes which have operated to throw the concocting of popular history into the hands of the unorthodox or the worldly-minded, have operated also to render all general, or, as it is not inaptly called, profane, literature uncatholic and heathenish. In no age or country has popular secular literature been truly Catholic. The popular literature in what Digby calls "the ages of faith," was unchristian in its substance, and breathed the spirit of Græco-Roman gentilism, Celtic and Scandinavian superstition, or Arabic and Moorish sensualism. The songs of the troubadours, trouvères, min

« AnteriorContinuar »