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Francis Xavier (Mlle. Irma le Fer de la Motte), which gave us, incidentally, biographical details of many other distinguished personages, who were active agents in the western missions. Recently, she supplemented this work with a volume of sketches of the ecclesiastical history of Indiana, beginning with the biography of Bishop Bruté and ending with that of his latest and still living successor, Bishop Chatard. We have also here a summary of Indiana history, sketches of Bishop Flaget, the Abbé Dujarié, Mothers du Roscoat and Lecor, Mother Theodora, the Superioress-General of the Indiana Sisters of Providence, Bishop Hailandiere, Elvira le Fer de la Motte (Irma's sister), Bishop SaintPalais, and a good account of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Indiana. Ainong other pieces of valuable information given in an appendix, is a list of nineteen missionaries secured for work in America, by Bishop Bruté on the occasion of his third journey to France.
INDIFFERENTISM; or, Is One Religion as Good as Another? By the Rev. John Mc
Laughlin. London: Burns & Oates. New York: The Catholic Publication
Society Company. 1887. A most timely and admirable work is this little volume given to the world by a missionary priest of Glasgow, Scotland. As it is calculated to do immense service to the Church, and in her to the cause of religion and civilization, we hope it will find its way into the hands of every honest seeker after truth, and especially of every Catholic who may be in danger of being tainted with the most pernicious evil of religious indifferentism, so prevalent in these days and sapping the foundations of orthodoxy in so many weak minds.
In a brief space the author reviews the whole subject and refutes the theory of indifferentism both from reason and Revelation. Then he explains the chief marks of the Church, her unity and universality or Catholicity. In conclusion, he cleverly and forcibly explains how indifferentism may be turned to great profit in the search after the True Faith, how the disagreements of its advocates may enable us to find out where the only infallible Voice speaks.
ANCIENT HISTORY; From the Dispersion of the Sons of Noe to the Battle of Actium
and the Change of the Roman Republic into an Empire. With Questions adapted to the Use of Schools. By Peter Fredet, D.D. New Edition, Revised and Enlarged. Baltimore: John Murphy & Co. 1887. Rev. Dr. Fredet's Histories were popular among Catholic students from their first appearance, and have, especially the volume dealing with modern times, retained that popularity to our own day. The shortcoming recently found in the “ Ancient History was one that could not be foreseen by the author, for of comparatively recent date are the archæological discoveries that have revolutionized our knowledge of the greater part of Eastern ancient history. It was a thoughtful and a grateful task, therefore, to revise and remodel his work on the line of these discoveries. The stories of Assyria, Babylonia and Egypt are almost entirely rewritten in this new edition, as are also the earlier portions of those of Greece and Rome. We have here, besides, the added features of accurate colored maps and distinctive headings of paragraphs. A close examination of the work fully assures us that the publishers do not exaggerate in their statement that they have “spared neither pains nor expense in making such improvements as were best calculated to enhance its value."
SUBSCRIPTION, $5.00 PER ANNUM, PAYABLE IN ADVANCE.
Bonum est homini ut eum veritas vincat volentem, quia malum est homini ut eum veritas vincat invitum. Nam ipsa vincat necesse est, sive negantem sive confitentem.
S. AUG. EPIST. ccxxxviii. AD PASCENT.
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THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC
VOL. XIII.-APRIL, 1938.-No. 50.
THE LAW OF NATURE DIVINE AND SUPREME.
CARLYLE says somewhere in his “ History of the French
Revolution," "Nature rests on dread foundations, and Pan, to whose music the Nymphs dance, has in him a cry which sends men distracted.” The cry of nature in behalf of starving men seems to have robbed some people of their wits.
The Atlantic cable has so fully explained the circumstances under which I appealed to the law of nature that I hardly like to weary the reader with a repetition. Nevertheless, I may so far return upon the past as to say that my words were spoken in a Conference, not a mere public meeting, and written for use in one of our most literary, I may say esoteric, reviews.
My object was to show the foundations, both natural and legal, of our English Poor Law, and to prove that its administration has drifted from its first principles and deviated from its essential obligations. The relief of the poor in England until the 5 Elizabeth, cap. iii., was by the voluntary action of private and ecclesiastical charity. Both in the tithes and in the lands of the Church the poor had a share by right. The bona ecclesiastica were described as
Vota fidelium, pretia peccatorum, patrimonia pauperum” (the oblations of the faithful, restitution for sin, the patrimony of the poor). I am not one of those who believe that the relief of the
before the suppression of the monasteries was adequately discharged by the monasteries. They were, indeed, a thousand centres from which alms daily flowed. But this must have been partial and local. Their lands were one-third of the land in England, but the population of the remaining two-thirds were not relieved by them. For these the palaces of the bishops, the homes of the clergy, the castles of the rich, and the houses of the faithful at large afforded such relief as was given and received. The whole of this almsgiving was voluntary, springing from the law of Christianity, and resting ultimately on the law of nature.
VOL. XIII. -13
When the Act of Elizabeth made this natural obligation compulsory by law it did not extinguish nor suspend the Christian or the natural law. Nor did this law recognize only the obligation of those who possess by the positive and human law. It also recognized the natural right of the poor to share in the common sustenance of the earth.
Now this high and sacred foundation of our Poor Law has been absolutely denied by many. It has been the habit to denounce it in all notes and tones. Even so moderate a man as Mr. Fawcett asks whether it might be wise and just to abolish the Poor Law, and answers only that “it would not be wise and just to abolish it precipitately.” If put to the vote of the ratepayers I fear that it would certainly be abolished. But if there be a natural right in v the poor to sustenance in time of extreme need, the Poor Law can never be abolished. Nevertheless, even good and generous people do not know or remember that such a natural right, with its correlative natural obligation, exists. They pay their poor rate, as they think, as a tax or out of pure benevolence and gratuitous charity. This habit of mind rests on a denial of the rights and obligations of nature, and generates an essentially erroneous and even immoral habit of mind. To combat this perversion of morals and to recall people, if possible, to a higher sense of duty, I affirmed that the foundation of our Poor Law is the natural right of the poor to work or to bread. The next morning the Times newspaper rebuked me for countenancing this “popular fallacy.” Truths are not fallacies, and fallacies are not truths. To call it a fallacy is to call it a falsehood, and to propagate such a denial of truth both natural and Christian is fraught with consequences both harsh and dangerous.
It can hardly be necessary to justify what I have said among Catholics, I might even say among Christians; but both Catholics and Christians are often not fully aware of the broad and solid ground on which they habitually rest. I will, therefore, draw out in full what the other day I gave only in reference. I do this not out of pedantry but out of prudence, for some good men may, for want of knowledge, be misled.