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errors. They err, above all, as to the means by which they seek to gain their ends. In what they for the most part aim at, we can agree with them. We love liberty as much as they do, we are as indignant at wrong as they are; but we see them trying to effect by the state
what can be effected only by the church, and by the natural sentiment of philanthropy what is practicable only by the supernatural virtue of charity.
Every age has its own characteristics, and we must address: its dominant sentiment, whether we would serve or disserye it. Our
Our age is philanthropical rather than intellectual. It has lost faith intellectually, but retains a faint echo of it on the side of the affections. It does not think so much as it feels, and it demands the gospel of love with far more earnestness and energy than it does the gospel of truth. Charity had exalted and intensified its affections. Despoiled of charity, it is devoured by its benevolent sentiments. It would do good, it would devote itself to the poor, the enslaved, the neglected, the downtrodden. It would bind up the broken heart, and bring rest to the suffering. These are not bad traits, and we love to dwell on the disinteresteduessof the Howards, the Frys, the Nightingales, and the benevolent men and women in our own country who so unreservedly devote themselves to the relief of the afflicted. These prove what the age craves, and what it is looking for, Through its benevolence Satan no doubt often misleads it, but through the same benevolence the missionary of the crossmay approach it and lead it up to God.
We have wished, in these times, when the church is assailed so violently by the galvanized Calvinism manifesting itself in Know-Nothing movements, to show, by exhibiting the manner in which she regards those movements which spring from natural benevolence or a generous regard for human well-being, that she no more deserves than she fears their violence. What is true and good in the natural order manifested by those outside, though imperfect, she accepts. We have wished, also, in a practical way, to reply to those who are perpetually accusing us of being narrow and exclusive, and a renegade from free principles. What we aimed at before our conversion is still dear to us, and we are still in some sense a man of our age. But having indicated the good side of liberalism and socialism, we shall take a future opportunity to show more fully that it is accepted by the church, and is completed only in and through her communion.
PAGANISM IN EDUCATION.*
(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for April, 1862.)
THE Abbé Gaume, Vicar-General of Nevers, is one of the more estimable of the present Catholic authors in France. He is not, indeed, remarkably brilliant, or very profound; but he is earnest, and in all his writings aims at practical results of the highest importance. We cannot but applaud the motive of the publication before us, the end sought to be gained, however far we may or may not agree with the author as to the cause of the evil he so clearly points out, or as to the specific means of removing it.
There can be no question that the worm which is devouring the very heart of modern society is paganism. The tendency to heathenism is in our fallen nature itself, and there is no age of the world in which it does not more or less manifest its strength. As long as man exists on the earth he will in greater or less degree manifest this tendency, and the Christian will have in himself and in society to continue the old war against paganism. That in modern Europe the tendency has during the last four centuries been unusually strong, and that there has been in many countries a decided reaction in favor of the pagan world against which the early Christian martyrs so heroically struggled, and did such brave battle, we have on more occasions than one attempted to prove, and it is evident to every intelligent student of history. Heathenism is everywhere
rife, and modern generations grow up with heathen notions of life, accustomed to judge men and events by a heathen standard. Professed Christian countries have lapsed into carnal Judaism, another name for heathenism, and look only for a tem. poral prince in the Messiah, and worldly advantage or prosperity from religion. The church is tried, not by its spiritual effects, but by its assumed bearing on the temporal civilization of nations. Even the people of Catholic countries are more or less influenced in their judgments by pagan max
*Le Ver Rongeur des Sociétés Modernes, ou le Paganisme dans l'Éducation. Par L'ABBÉ J. GAUME. Bruxelles: 1851.
ims. They place, for instance, a much higher value on the active than the contemplative religious orders, and extol those who devote themselves to active beneficence and the relief of bodily wants far above those who devote themselves to prayer. The heroic devotion of the old monks and anchorites of the desert is termed by many a sublime folly. Ascetic is a word in bad odor, and if used will hardly be understood in a good sense. Faith in the reality of the unseen world is weak, and all thought and labor devoted to that world, or not attended by practical, visible results for this temporal life, are looked upon with suspicion, and very extensively as thrown away. So far gone is the age, especially among Protestants, where we see its real character, that its very spiritualism is material. We listened som time since to an oration before a literary society by Mr. Horace Greeley. He began by denouncing the materialism and utilitarianism of the age in good set terms, and with some truth and power, and ended by proposing a greater attention to physical education, or the education of the body, as the only practicable remedy !
That the uneasiness, the insubordination, the revolutions, and the terrible social as well as spiritual evils which afflict modern society, grow out of the prevalence of paganism, or carnal Judaism, no well-informed Christian can doubt, and that it is the one and only enemy to our virtue and to our peace, whether individual or social, is just as certain. That it is necessary to see this, to understand well the fact of the prevalence of paganism in modern society, and the means of banishing it, or of emancipating the young generation from its thraldom, the Abbé Gaume feels deeply and sees most clearly, and so far we sympathize entirely with what he writes. The cause of this paganism in modern society he ascribes to the use of heathen works as class-books in our higher schools, and the remedy, he contends, is to abolish those works, and to substitute text-books written by Christian authors in their place.
He assumes that the difference which obviously exists between modern society and society in the middle ages is due, and due alone, to the difference between the system of education adopted and pursued then, and that adopted and pursued during the last four hundred years. Education, he contends, makes the man, determines not only his intellectual, but his moral character, and that education, too, which is accomplished in the individual during the period between
infancy and youth or adolescence. “The life of man,” he says, “is divided into two periods, perfectly distinct, that of receiving and that of transmitting. The first period includes the time of education, that is to say, of development, or of instruction; the second, the rest of life till death. Not having being in and of himself, man receives all, in the intellectual and moral order no less than in the physical order. After having received, he transmits, and he can transmit only what he has received. In transmitting what he has received, he creates family and society after his own image. The truth or falsehood, the good or evil, the order or disorder, realized in the external facts of family or society, are only the reflex and product of the truth or falsehood, the good or evil, the order or disorder, which reigns in the interior of his soul.” That is, the child is purely passive, and ductile as wax in the hands of the instructor, and receives the form, whatever it may be, that the instructor gives him. The original nature and disposition of the child, it seems, count for nothing, and never interpose any obstacles which defeat the intention of the instructor!
The opinions and manners of parents, the author maintains, form those of their children, and the opinions and manners of the uneducated classes are formed by the opinions and manners of the educated classes. The opinions and manners of the educated classes are formed by their literary education. This education is principally determined by the books which are placed in the hands of the young during the seven or eight years which unite childhood to adolescence or youth. It is so because these years decide the character for life, because these books are the daily food of the young, who must study them with care, learn them by heart, and thoroughly master them both as to their form and substance, and because this assiduous study is accompanied with explanations and commentaries designed to make the students comprehend the sense of these books, admire their style, their thoughts, and beauties of every sort, -to exalt the deeds, the words, and the institutions of the men and nations whose history they relate,-in a word, to present the authors of these works as the unrivalled kings of talent and genius. Hence all comes from education.
The question opened by the author is a grave question, and is at the present moment exciting no little controversy among Catholics in France. Respectable names are found on both sides. The Abbé Gaume appears to be sustained by Cardinal Gousset, whose name has deservedly great weight, and also by Count Montalembert, dear to every Catholic, for his chivalric defence of Catholic principles, and his steady devotion to Catholic interests, but who perhaps is a little too enthusiastic in his admiration of the middle ages. We are ourselves incompetent to mingle in the debate. Prior to our conversion, and during the first two or three years after, we entertained to their full extent the views defended by the Abbé Gaume. Maturer reflection, and something of that intimate acquaintance with the tendencies of our fallen nature which is obtained only by the effort to live the Catholic life, have led us to regard those
ews as somewhat exaggerated, and to the conviction that the disuse in our schools of the Greek and Roman classics as text-books would of itself have comparatively little effect in banishing paganism from society.
We do not question the faith or the piety of our author, but we cannot bring ourselves as a Catholic to believe that a system of education has been adopted and pursued for four hundred years by the most illustrious religious orders and congregations, the most able and learned doctors, and the greatest and most heroic saints, under the supervision of the church, and at least with her tacit approval, which is directly titted to paganize society. It seems to us that we could hardly say so without impeaching either the vigilance or the infallibility of the church herself
. Education is a part, and an important part, of the mission of the church, and to suppose that she has fallen into a grave mistake on the subject, or has utterly failed in her judgment of what is essentially a Christian education, or what is essentially repugnant to it, is in our judgment more than we can do compatibly with our Catholic faith. To do so would be only to follow in the track of Savonarola, who has not yet been cleared of error and proved to have been a good Catholic. Of course we do not mean that it is a matter of faith that. heathen text-books should be used in our schools, or that educators are not free to disuse them, or that it is not lawful to maintain that it would be well, or indeed that it is. even necessary, to discontinue their use; but we do doubt our right to contend that their use has been incompatible with Ohristian education, and has been the cause of the paganism in modern society. The Abbé Gaume is free to maintain that it would be well, and that under existing circumstances it is necessary, to banish the ancient Greek and