Page images
PDF
EPUB

on another's dictum, I reply, this is not faith, it is obedience. Your rejoinder, that 'truths which are divine can only be defined by divine authority,' appears to me to miss this important postulate, that we are not intended, as Christians, to know all truth, but to search for as much truth as we can discover. Search is gone when obedience comes in. Do you tell me, then, that search is not a duty; that the Holy See supersedes the duty of search; that in the one word, obedience-let me call it resignation-you sum up the whole duty of the intellect, dismissing all further responsibility? I see, of course, your meaning, as a Catholic: that faith, which is the fruit of a pure obedience, and which is graced with the reward of a holy life, is better than discussion or dissertation, which keeps the mind in irresolute attitude of believing; yet I cannot apprehend how a Christian is to merit grace by abandoning intellectual solicitude, by relegating responsibility to authority, by simply saying you say so, sufficit.' Your theory of the Holy See is exceedingly beautiful; I will add, it is even essential to unity,—that is, to corporate, visible unity,—yet, it seems to me to be the purchase of a beautiful unity (consistent, I admit, with the Divine Unity in its aspect of one God, one Truth) at the cost of that obligation which appears to me to bė paramount-the working out of our Christian belief by our measure of gifts.”

If this be a fair statement of the attitude of the "thinkingclass,” it follows that they have not grasped the elementary truism that faith, in the Catholic, is a divine gift; that the Catholic intellect is taught by the Holy Spirit to apprehend the perfect reasonableness of the Catholic faith, in its integrity, its harmony, its divine beauty, as well as in its details, its "articles." Our "thinking” friends may reply, “You beg the question.” Our answer is one of fact, not of theory. Every Catholic, who keeps close to the sacraments, is rewarded with the intellectual apprehension of the fitness, and therefore divineness, of Catholic truths. So that our " thinking " friends are in error in speaking of the "abandonment of the reason”; they should have said, the “consecration of the reason.” A Catholic uses his intellect in his faith a thousandfold more than does any Protestant, because he is in perpetual meditation on the divine, intellectual harmonies which sweep, like strains of music, through the Catholic Church, enriching while stilling all thoughts. Thus much had to be said, in reply to one class of Protestants whose intellectual amiability may be conceded.

But now of the antagonistic school of thought. There are many very clever and charming Englishmen, who are amiable towards all things-save the Holy See. In a recent Encyclical to the bishops of Bavaria, Leo XIII. used these words : " It is necessary

that Christian wisdom should shine before the eyes of all, so that the darkness of ignorance, which is the greatest enemy to religion, having been dispelled, the truth may shine forth far and wide and happily reign. Nay, more; it behooves that those manifold errors be refuted and dispelled which, taking their rise either in ignorance or wickedness, or prejudiced opinions, perversely call away the minds of men from Catholic truth, and engender a certain hatred of it in their dispositions." That word hatred applies to other persons besides “the ignorant, the wicked, or the prejudiced.” It applies to many who have a strange monomania for hating without moral or mental cause.

Undeniable is the fact, that many Englishmen grow wrath at the bare mention of the Pope or the Holy See ; as though some chord had been touched which vibrated in cruel agony at the remembrance of an unforgivable wrong. Men who are always reasonable on other subjects, grow irrational when they touch upon this one; fling all decorum to the winds; and rave against " that master-curse of mankind," as though they had been ruined or poisoned by it. It would be out of place to attempt to diagnose this complaint in an article which treats only of popular aspects. It suffices to say that such hatred of what is goodand this without having suffered any wrong-looks very much like a suspicion that what is hated ought to be loved, were it not for the inconvenience of such conviction.

This exceptional school of haters may seem old-fashioned. Still there are many specimens which survive. They may, for the most part, be called “historic haters,” because they always carry you to history. Nor can half-educated persons, or persons of strong prejudice, be much censured for most firmly believing what they have been always told, and have always read, to be true. The historic school of haters has, however, become smaller since the introduction of "The Catholic Revival.” Such a vast number of books have been lately published which have disillusioned the English mind about “ Popery”; which have taught them not only the truth about Catholic history, but the highly equivocal origin of all Protestantism; that it is pretty generally understood, as to the charge of "papal tyranny" (to quote the words of a Baptist periodical), that “Protestants live too much in glass houses to throw stones at the persecuting Roman Church ; it has been six of one and half a dozen of the other; only, Protestants have had less excuse for their tyranny, because they have made a boast of their freedom.” This, at least, shows a spirit of fairness. Such a writer as Dr. F. G. Lee, a ritualist clergyman, has wonderfully opened the eyes of all Anglicans to the true story of the Protestant Reformation, and the true story of the Marian persecutions; while the slanders of Dr. Littledale have been as severely taken to pieces by Anglican as by Catholic writers. The University Presses, the best London publishers, the most popular of the magazines and reviews, have published, and constantly publish, the true version of the historic episodes which have furnished Protestants for two centuries with “grounds of hate.” So that the historic haters are almost rest of their reason-why. And so, too, of the doctrinal haters—the haters of Roman doctrines—their reason-why has been taken away from them by themselves—by their own appropriation of Catholic doctrines. On one point alone are many Anglicans still haterson the sovereign authority of the Holy See.

Now this surviving hatred let us call it repugnance,-in even the most advanced of English ritualists, lets out the secret that it is not doctrine which alarms the ritualist, but the assertion of a priestly prerogative. To speak plainly, the hostility to the Holy See—that is, the hostility to obeying it-does not proceed from considerations as to doctrine, but from repugnance to submission to authority. A ritualist pleases himself as to doctrine, quite as much as does a low-churchman or a dissenter; the only difference being that a ritualist takes a wider sphere for the exercise of his private judicial mind; including the early Church, as well as the living Church, the Councils, as well as the two Testaments. The ritualist, therefore, “ hates " the Holy See (we do not, of course, use the word in a moral sense), because the Holy See would take from him the right of judging everybody; the right of sitting in his private pontifical chair,—or, if this be too strong, of sitting as at least assessor in the final court of appeal as to all truth; the right of determining his own obedience or disobedience to any or all bishops throughout Christendom. The attitude, therefore, of the ritualist towards the Holy See-unlike any of the other attitudes we have sketched—is the attitude of a man who insists on the authority, “the Catholic authority," of his own doctrines; but who will not refer his doctrines to living authority. “My doctrines are infallible,” is his argument, “because I pick them up from my own readings of such authorities as I am minded to approve and to accept; the Holy See would take away from me that election; therefore, I reject the Holy See.” It was necessary, in concluding, to allude once more to this last development of the many attitudes of the English mind towards the Holy See, because it is the last development, the last possible development, of Protestant would-beCatholic theology. To have reached the point where, in judging the Holy See, it was necessary (1) to admit the existence of Catholic authority; (2) to admit the duty of Catholic obedience; (3) to affect an authority without obedience; (4) to affect an obedience without authority; and this, before proceeding to build up a house of sand, to be known as the Anglo-Catholic Church, was to have

reached a point where the confusion of the human soul had tumbled into “chaos come again.” Nothing so unintellectual had been invented. The baldest Protestantism was a triumph of reason compared to it. Euclid would have given it up, not with a " which is absurd," but as a proposition of which each step denied the other. Yet, such is the attitude of the English ritualist: assuming authority in order to be able to pass judgment, and passing judgment in order to be able to assume authority.

To sum up, very briefly, what has been said: We began with the remark that the social, popular changes in the direction of Democracy versus Feudalism, had prepared the English mind to take a democratic estimate of all principles, religious and civil. Hence came “indifferentism," not necessarily from moral sloth, but from an acquired mental approval of the theory that “the Unknowable should be approached with a philosophic reserve." Liberalism, to be wholesale, was made to include the sitting lightly, not only to others' opinions, but to one's own. (2) This led to a certain easiness of loyalty, equally in grooves, religious and political ; so that, when the old school of Evangelicalism paled its forces before enquiry, and the new ritualism made authority to appear ridiculous, Englishmen took up with the attitude of a general forbearance froin all anathema, and a general polite respect for sincere convictions-“ Popery” included. (3) The next point was to show that the new ritualist party—the most learned and the most active of Protestant sects—was quite as bitter against the Holy See as that old-fashioned “ low" party, which made Popery-hating the staple of its theology; while, at the same time, the ritualist party had a profound contempt for its own sect, historically, doctrinally, and disciplinarily. (4) The various dissenting bodies were shown to be in accord with the ritualists in their repugnance to the authority of the Holy See. (5) All recent Anglican literature has made for the primary postulate that private judgment takes precedence of all authority ; because the attitude of every Churchman is, “ I judge all churches, that is, interpret their orthodoxy for myself; judging the Roman church by the primitive church, and interpreting the primitive church by my own intelligence; and subjecting the Holy See to the terrible scrutiny of my judicial mind as to its authority, its decrees, its mistakes." (6) Society, as distinct from the “clerical mind," was next shown to be respectful to the Holy See, from the archaic or antiquarian point of view; declining to let the Holy See teach the truth, but permitting it to represent Christian authority. A polite indifferentism has taken the place of the old odium; the Holy See has become interesting, not repugnant; earnestness in regard to controversy is now old-fashioned, and the new void is filled with speculation. (7) The humbler classes, having no motive for antagonism, are better disposed to receive instruction in Catholic truth ; wanting only the opportunities which fall to the lot of society to receive what society rejects. (8) The “ thinking " class was next referred to, as living always in the clouds ; admiring the picturesqueness of the Holy See, but, intellectually, objecting to its authority; and this, too, on the ground that to believe is not to obey, but to work out our faith in all sincerity. It was answered that this fallacy-most popular with the highly educated-proceeded from not knowing the actual fact that the intellect of the Catholic, kept fortified by the Sacraments, is more active in the apprehension of divine truths than is the non-Catholic intellect in questioning them. (9) The antagonistic school of thought, the “ Pope-haters,” was mentioned as exceptional yet eager; while (10) the historic school, or men who always appealed to history, was shown to be weakened by recent literature. Some of the ablest scouters of prejudice being Anglicans,—in the domain of proving "history” to have told lies,--all Protestants may now know, both that the Holy See has not been criminal, and that most of the “Reforming" heroes were so. (11) Yet the Holy See, though row exonerated from criminal acts, does not receive Protestant ilial homage, because in the one offence of being preserved from teaching error, it necessarily obliges all men to believe in it. This last demand, being repugnant to modern thought, is (antecedently) impossible to be admitted. Right or wrong, it is absolutely fatal to speculation; and speculation is the pride of free Englishmen. (12) Finally, the ritualists were again referred to, as the last possible development of Protestant thinking; men who advocate Catholic authority, yet deny it; who insist on obedience, yet refuse it ; who even pray for Catholic union, yet will not hasten it; who believe in three churches, each anathematizing the other, yet fantastically called branches of one church ; and who turn away from the Holy See because it is the only Christian authority which either claims to teach One Truth or to revere it. Thus the ritualists are shown to be the worst enemies of the Holy See, because they prove its divine authority by their disobedience, while recommending obedience as a Catholic duty. Their “ Branch Theory,' two branches without a root, or a root with three branches of different trees, recalls the words of St. Optatus (which are quoted by Father MacLaughlin as a motto to his admirable book on “ Indifferentism "): Vivendum est quis in radice cum toto orbe manserit, quis foras exierit . ... In radice manemus, et in toto orbe terrarum cum omnibus sumus.”

« PreviousContinue »