Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ordered respect to be paid to the sacred vases, to the churches, and to Christian women; though the whole of barbarism personified in its two greatest leaders seemed to pause before St. Leo, who was alone able to restrain Genseric and make Attila recoil,-it is not less true that these two centuries of the invasion of the heart of the Christian world did not suffice to unite the conquerors in the religion of the conquered. The Saxons, Franks, Gepidi, and Alani remained idolaters, and what was a thousand times more lamentable, as fast as these nations became Christian they fell a prey to heresy. The truth was for them only a bridge from one abyss to another. Kept down for a moment in the empire by Theodosius, Arianism seduced and subjugated the future conquerors of the empire. The Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Heruli, and Burgundians became Arians. Euric and the Suevi in Spain, Genseric and the Vandals in Africa, immolated thousands of victims to this. doctrine, which was the idol of all tyrants; because it flattered the revolt of reason against faith, and the usurpation power over the Church.

of

The contagion of Roman morals soon infected these young and passionate races. Their energetic vitality fell a prey to the impure caresses of a decrepit civilization. The conquest became a debauch, and the world ran the risk of changing masters without changing its destiny. Who then will discipline these unconquered races? Who will instruct them in the great art of living and governing? Who will teach them to establish kingdoms and societies ? Who will bend without enfeebling them? Who will preserve them from the contagion? Who will prevent them from rushing headlong into corruption, and rotting before they are ripe?

The Church: but the Church through the Monks. From the depths of the deserts of the East and of Africa, God sent forth a host of black men, more intrepid and patient, more indefatigable and more severe towards themselves, than were either the Romans or the Barbarians. Without noise they spread over the empire, and when the hour of its ruin struck, they were ready in the West as in the East. The Barbarians came, and as they advanced, by their side, before them, behind them, and wherever they passed with fire and death, another army encamped in silence; other colonies were formed, grouped together, and

devoted to repair the horrors of the invasion, and to gather the fruits of the victory. When the exterminators had overrun, ravaged, and conquered everything, a great man appeared. St. Benedict was the legislator of voluntary labor, continence, and poverty. He counted his children his soldiers, by thousands. He received some from among the Barbarians. Even their chief prostrated himself before the saint, and arose with the title of his vassal and auxiliary. St. Benedict wrote a rule which for six centuries shone on the world like a lighthouse of salvation, and was the law, the strength, the life of these peaceful legions, destined in turn to inundate Europe; but to fecundate it, to raise its ruins, to cultivate its wasted fields, people its deserts, and conquer its conquerors.

The Roman empire without the Barbarians was an abyss of slavery and corruption. Conquered by the Barbarians, it was a chaos without the Monks. The Barbarians and Monks united renewed the world, and this new world was called Christendom.

Thus far we have translated from an article by the illustrious Count Montalembert, in the Revue des Deux Mondes of the 1st of January last. The article is a fragment from the author's History of the Western Monks,a work which the Catholic world is awaiting with some impatience, and which it is prepared to greet with a cordial welcome. Our readers need not to be told of the high estimation in which we hold the profound, eloquent, and learned author, and accomplished academician. Our confidence in his wisdom and prudence as a Catholic leader has not been shaken by the sneers and abuse of the Univers, or the attacks of those whose principle it is to adulate power, and to despise a manly independence. In religion Montalembert is a sincere and earnest Catholic; in politics he is the stanch defender of true liberty, and the uncompromising enemy of despotism, whether the despotism of the one, the few, or the many. He is no democrat, no revolutionist, but he certainly believes that political liberty is a right, and that some guaranties against the abuses of power are necessary, alike under a temporal and a spiritual point of view, for every people. In this we are most happy to agree with him, and we honor him that he has had the firmness to stand by his old principles, not

withstanding the defection of so many of his friends, the horrors perpetrated by Red Republicanism in the name of liberty, and the present reaction in favour of arbitrary power. We always loved and admired him; we now do so more than ever, and we are proud to be included in the number of his friends, and in our humble way to co-operate with him and his noble associates in France.

The men who have principles by which they can stand, in good report and in evil report, are few. In our country everybody can talk about politics, but not one in ten thousand has any real understanding of political science. Most men follow the fashion of the hour. Hence it is that the man who has principles, and abides by them, is almost always misinterpreted. From 1843 to 1850 we directed all our energies against revolutionism and the exaggerations of democracy, and were denounced as hostile to political freedom and in favor of despotism. Since the resuscitation of the imperial régime in France, we have opposed as strenu ously as we could arbitrary power, and the extension of Cæsarism, and we are supposed by not a few of our friends to have changed our principles, and deserted the stand we took against the European republicans. The truth is, we were misapprehended then, and are misunderstood now. When we opposed the revolutionists, we did it in the name of liberty, not of kings and Cæsars, and in opposing Cæsarism now, we do it in the name of liberty, not of democracy. What we oppose is arbitrary power, in whose hands soever vested, a government of mere will, whose will soever it may be. We have repeated this so often that neither our friends nor our enemies have any valid excuse for misapprehending us. In the same way has our illustrious friend been also misapprehended. When he advocated authority against the anarchical revolution of 1848, and labored to save society from the destructive fury of Red Republicanism and despotic socialism, he was denounced as the supporter of arbitrary power; when a reaction took place, and the nation was ready to surrender itself body and soul to Cæsar, and he refused to applaud it, he was sneered at as a constitutionalist, a parliamentarian, and as hankering after the tribune. But in both cases he was the consistent friend of political freedom. He holds and always has held, whether under the elder or the younger branch of the Bourbons, the republicans, or the Bonapart

ists, that the nation has a right to a voice in the manage ment of its affairs, and that there can be in modern times political freedom only under a constitutional and parliamentary government, which secures publicity and freedom of discussion. He is no enemy of the Bonapartes, he is a loyal subject of Napoleon the Third, but he wishes political guaranties, which the imperial constitution does not give, both for the sake of the temporal order and the spiritual. For this, whatever others may do, we honor him, and deem ourselves honored in so doing.

We know that there are Catholics, at home and abroad, who think the cause of religion is to some extent identified with the present imperial régime in France. They regard Louis Napoleon as the defender of religion and the protector of the Church, and our refusal to give him our confidence has made us more enemies than friends. We regret this less for our own sake than that of our holy religion. We believe the Emperor wishes well to the Church, but he is ignorant of her interests, and seeks only his own. He neither understands nor loves the freedom of the Church, and, like absolute princes generally, he will protect no further than he can enslave her. As a question of policy, we doubt the prudence, in a republican country like ours, or under a constitutional government like Great Britain and Belgium, of identifying the cause of our Church with that of absolutism. We are charged with being the friends of despotism, with being opposed to political liberty, and we only confirm the charge by our sympathies with Louis Napoleon. He has done nothing, that we are aware of, to endear him to the hearts of Catholics, and if he is fighting against one bitter enemy of the Church, he is in close alliance with another, avowedly in defence of a third. The Univers, the leading Catho lic journal in Europe, and which under many relations deserves well of the Catholic public, is doing great injury to the Catholic cause, in France and out of it, by its devotion to modern Cæsarism, and its fierce attacks upon liberty in the past and the present, in the old world and the new. It is doing not a little to aid the powerful reaction already commenced against Catholicity. We regret some of our own Catholic journals copying its bad example. From 1830 up to 1852, the great leaders of the Catholic party in Europe and this country had adopted

to see

liberty as their watchword, and had advocated, each as the necessary condition of the other, both religious and political freedom; and we have seen no reason, because France has passed from constitutionalism to Cæsarism, to change this wise and sound policy. The Church has no natural affinity with despotism, and has herself always been on the side of freedom. We think of Red Republicanism precisely as we did in 1848, and as we opposed then all alliance of the Church with the Revolution in its favor, so do we oppose all alliance of Catholicity with the Cæsarism which has supplanted it. We do this, not only because we hate despotism in whatever shape it comes, but because the centralized monarchy now dominant in France and Austria will soon provoke a Red Republican reaction, and involve the world anew in the horrors of anarchical revolution. Europe will settle down permanently neither under absolute monarchy nor under absolute democracy, and will alternate from the one to the other till the friends of freedom and order grow wise enough to avoid either extreme.

Religion certainly had much to fear from the revolution, but it has even more from the Cæsarism which is accepted as a remedy against it. This Count Montalembert shows clearly enough in the fragment we have translated. In all ages absolute princes have been the worst enemies of religion, and the Church has nothing more to dread than their protection. They may keep her churches in repair, contribute liberally for the support of the clergy, and the maintenance of the pomp of divine service, but they will never allow her her rightful freedom and independence. They seldom consent to serve her any further than they can use her, and her interests must always be sacrificed to the policy of state. They study always to confine her action to the narrowest possible sphere, to deprive her ministers of all manliness and independence of character, and to render them imbecile or the mere worshippers of power. They oppose every effort on the part of the clergy to educate the faithful, and to elevate the moral and intellectual character of the people. We have seen this in every Catholic country subjected to their domination. A few are educated. Churches are multiplied, the pomp of religious worship amply provided for, but the mass of the people are suffered to vegetate from age to age in the gross

« AnteriorContinuar »