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against Christianity agreed upon in the supreme council of Masonry
But, as the article just quoted says, the anti-Christian conspirators have now thrown off the thin veil of half-Jewish ceremonial which governed their former dark and secret proceedings. They can now afford to stand forth in the light of noon-day; to proclaim from the house-tops their principles and their purpose. The beginning of June will behold, and on the Lord's Day, the inaugural proceedings of a Masonic congress which-it needs no prophet to predict it--will have a most sinister influence over the fate of unhappy France during the next ten years, if not for more than the next ten generations.
The “Society of the Rights of Man,” which is only a Masonic and revolutionary organism sprung from French Freemasonry, animated by its anti-Christian spirit, ubiquitous like its parent, and ready on every point of France, in city, town and country, to execute the decrees of the Grand Orient, will do its best, as is the wont of the hypocritical sect, to impose on the unwary by putting itself forward as the advocate of popular rights and the generous defender of all that is sacred under the name of liberty.
It was the wise policy of the supreme council of European continental Freemasonry, up to within a few years, to so conceal its hand in the working of political institutions as not to appear in the street or at the hustings on election days. Indeed it was the boast of its foremost representatives that Freemasonry never took an active part in politics. This apparent reserve, however, was first set aside openly in Belgium, where for more than half a century the all-important question of Christian education was the real question for which contended the two great national parties—the conservative Catholics and the Liberals. The latter, from the very foundation of the monarchy, was for the most part composed of freethinkers and Freemasons, who had managed to deceive a certain number of easy-going or ambitious Catholics. Under the late ministry of the notorious Frère-Orban, the Belgian Masons threw off the thin disguise under which they had so long been masquerading, and boldly avowed their purpose of laicising, that is, “dechristianizing," all the schools in the country. The Masonic organs declared that the ministers of religion should be excluded from the school, the hospital, the army and the navy.
Education, public instruction at all its stages, the administration of charity or public assistance, the “moralization," as they miscall it, of the sick, the criminal classes, of the camp and the fieet, must be exclusively under the jurisdiction of the state and performed by lay functionaries.
The conspirators against Christendom at once set about pur
chasing and controlling the public press in all continental countries, especially in such as had been till then, at least nominally, Catholic. And, as France, until the fatal war of 1870–71, had been, in spite of ail drawbacks and the advance of infidelity, the leading nation of Christendom, all the efforts of the anti-Christian conspiracy were bent toward "dechristianizing" it.
The Belgian bishops, sustained by the timely and energetic action of the Holy See, overcame the Freemasons in Belgium. There the Catholics had learned from their neighbors in Prussia the value of being thoroughly organized, of knowing each other by name, of counting their own numbers in every electoral district, and of being confident, when election day had come, that every true Catholic would cast his vote for the man who was in favor of Christian education in university, college, academy, and parish school,-in favor of placing army and navy, the needy, the suffering, and the aged, under the blessed influence of religion and her ever-fruitful apostleship.
But anti-Christian Freemasonry, baffled in Belgium, swore that it should win the day in the France of Saint Louis and in the Italy of the Popes. We shall make no further mention, at present, of the triumphs of the anti-Christian power in the latter country, save only to say that the methods and the diabolical strategy which have there proved so successful, are now being tried in France with a confidence derived from the rapid victories of the Revolution in the Italian peninsula, and with all the conscious strength given the sects by nearly twenty years' lease of power and the almost absolute mastery of every department of the administration.
One incident, which has just happened as these lines were written (May 26th, 1888), will suffice to convince the reader that the men who at this moment administer the government in France are in full and open sympathy with the anti-Christian aims of the predominant revolutionary ideas in literature, in science, in sociology, in politics.
No one man in all France, or in all Europe, has been, for the last thirty years and more, so prominently before the public as the apostate, Ernest Renan, whose writings and labors have been directed to the one purpose of proving that Christ was an impostor and of destroying all belief in the divine origin of Christianity. If ANTICHRIST be not a mere abstraction, but a living personification of hostility to Him whom all Christians worship as the Son of God incarnate, then Ernest Renan is the worthy representative and forerunner of Antichrist.
Now here is what has just happened in the capital of France. For ome twenty-five years past it has been the custom to hold in
Paris during the month of May a congress of all the learned societies of France (Congrès des Sociétés Savantes), under the protection and with the co-operation of the government. These societies number among their most active and distinguished members many accomplished clergymen, many fervent Catholic laymen well known for being the energetic promoters of the noblest popular charities.
Well, on May 26th, the last day of the congress, M. Lockroy, Minister of Public Instruction and Public Worship (!), honored the public session with his presence, delivered an official discourse, and conferred on the most prominent members of the congress various honors in the name of the Government. Foremost among the men thus selected for national reward was Ernest Renan, on whom the minister bestowed the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, the highest distinction in the gift of the government! But it is the discourse of the Minister of Public Worship, and the eulogy pronounced by him on the anti-Christian apostate, which should be read carefully.
"One duty now remains to be fulfilled," he said in concluding, " pleasing alike to the minister and to the man. In our day there lives a writer who is, at one and the same time, a master of our language, a scholar familiar with the most difficult studies, a man of daring intellect, a sower of ideas, a mighty initiator. He reminds us of many great men, but he only resembles himself; his works are connected with a great movement in French thought, and he is perfectly original. We should not define what he is by recalling Spinoza, or Fontenelle, Plato, Montaigne, or Fenelon, by reminding you that his genius, so peculiarly French, combines the qualities of both Briton and Gascon, or that he possesses the erudition of a Benedictine, the irony of a great comic author, and the fancy of a great poet. I shall not attempt myself to give you a definition of this great genius: I shall merely pronounce the name of ERNEST RENAN.
"Among the pleasant surprises which official power has kept in store for me, the present opportunity is one of those which I never thought I could look forward to. For me, it is a great honor to be able, within the walls of the Sorbonne, to hallow thus, in presence of the élite of our scholars and artists, the leader of that famous mission to Phænicia on which I had the honor to accompany the future author of the Origines du Christianisme.
" It is also pleasant for me to think that, in receiving from my hand the highest distinction which France is this year able to bestow on letters and science, Ernest Renan will himself connect pleasantly with one of the earliest memories of his career the
homage which the government of the Republic pays to his great mind."
None of the French scholars present protested against this sacrilegious act of the man thrust by the irony of fate into the once respected office of Minister of Public Instruction and Public Worship in the ancient kingdom of St. Louis. The aristocracy of birth and talent were there; but not one of these descendants of the Crusaders cared or dared to stand up and stigmatize the act of the minister. From no one of the hundreds of scholars and scientists present came a protest against this consecration of the baneful genius of Renan in the halls where the doctors of Sorbonne were wont to unfold the sublime truths of Christian theology.
Apparently, then, Antichrist has it all his own way in what was, a century ago, "The Most Christian Kingdom," and to the numerous, well-disciplined, and united forces enlisted to do battle "against God and His Christ" there would be in France, were we to draw a hasty inference from such a proceeding as we have just narrated, no army of soldiers of Revealed Truth ready or fit to contend, with any chance of success, against such overwhelming odds.
II. Thank God, it is quite otherwise, as we shall now endeavor to show.
Not forty-eight hours before the "Congress of Learned Societies" had met in inaugural session, on May 22d, the seventeenth yearly assembly of French Catholics had just concluded its labors. And, on the evening of the very day rendered memorable by the official glorification of Ernest Renan's blasphemies and impiety, the writer of these pages had the honor to be present at another assemblage of French scholars, scientists, statesmen, and magistrates, who meet yearly in Paris to combine the ripest results of scientific observation with enlightened zeal and long experience in dealing with all the social problems of the day. This annual gathering is composed of two distinct associations, founded by that eminent scientist, Frederick Le Play, the author of La Réforme Sociale en France ; Les Ouvriers Européens ; Les Ouvriers des Deux Mondes; Les Conditions de la Réforme en France, and other admirable works, all aiming to concentrate the attention of statesmen and scholars on the real elements of social prosperity, morality, happiness, greatness, and stability, to be found in the institutions, in the public and private life of the peoples who once constituted Christendom. The first of these associations is the “Society of Social Economy,” the members of which devote themselves to observing the conditions of the laboring classes among all the nations of both hemispheres, and reporting the results of their conscientious studies in the form of “monographies,” each monography being an exhaustive description of a working-man and his family in each of the trades or labor professions of town and country. Their studies give the clear and full light on the labor question. The other society, or “Social Peace Union,” is composed of men devoted to carrying out in practice the reforms pointed to by the studies of the Society of Social Economy. By enlightening both the working classes and their employers on their true interests, on their mutual duties, these generous men restore peace in the manufactory and the mine, between the agricultural proprietors and their farmers, between employer and employees in every field of human labor. The two societies meet together every year to communicate to each other the result of their wide-extending studies and of their labors in improving the condition of the working-man, and in making capital and labor toil together, side by side and hand in hand, in making the earth fruitful and life less of an intolerable burthen.
Let us see what each of these armies is doing for the good of France, and, by their example and teaching, for the good of the entire human family. They are only two of the most prominent of the active forces which an all-wise and all-inighty Providence is using-silently, quietly, and in comparative obscurity—for healing the social wounds of France, and for restoring, sooner or later, the old moral and social order in the convulsed and disorganized Christendom of our day.
Unhappily, the volume containing the report of this year's proceedings in the assembly or congress of French Catholics has not yet been printed. But a glance at the published report of the proceedings of last year will give us some conception of what the children of God are doing here to secure and to enlarge His reign over the homes and lives of men. The congress met on May 10th, 1887, under the honorary presidency of the Archbishop of Paristhe active president being Senator Chesnelong, so celebrated as an orator and as the foremost promoter of every great and good work in Paris and throughout France. The congress divides its labors between four permanent committees, those, namely, on the works regarding Faith and Prayer; the Holy Land and the East; on Education; on the Public Press and Lectures; on Social Economy and distinctively Catholic works. The first of these divisions comprises a sub-committee on Christian Art.
To us American Catholics, with a new world before us, in which to plant and to rear to all the glory of their perfect fruitfulness religious institutions of every kind, every detail of our French brethren's struggles and apostolic labors is pregnant with instruction.