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subserviency for which they were originally created.
“But in doing this the Church does not believe, neither does she teach her children to believe, that any thing which she has blessed possesses any virtue in itself, independent of the will or of the power of God; but full of confidence in Him, who has blessed us with spiritual blessings in Christ,' and whose will, as St. Paul proclaims in his Epistle to the Ephesians, is to re-establish all things in Christ that are in heaven and on earth,' she piously prays that God would revoke, in regard of these his creatures, the malediction which our sins have forced him to pronounce upon them; that he would once more give them his blessing, so that when we use them they may not prove hurtful to our bodies, or prejudicial to our souls; that they may never minister to our ambition, our avarice, or concupiscence, but that they may become excitements to gratitude, and occasions to bless and praise his holy name.
“ These principles will explain the ordinary benedictions of the Church as applicable to objects of familiar use amongst us. But there are occasions when she withdraws certain objects from all profane and secular purposes, and devotes them altogether to the purposes of religion. Then her ceremonies are more imposing, her prayers more solemn and multiplied, and she employs a holier material in blessing them, the unction of oil and chrism. This she denominates a consecration ; and in this manner she consecrates churches and altars, chalices and patens, and the bells that are 'to praise God in their high places,' and to toll for his exclusive worship.
“Now, to speak only of the last, -as being the immediate object before us,—the bell has long been considered by the Church, in point of material, as the noblest herald in her service, as the trumpet to summon her children to their holy duties, to admonish them to lift up their hearts to God, to bow down their heads to adore his awful mysteries, to bless his holy name, to implore his help in their necessities, and to pray for the living and the dead. In the sublime language of her liturgy which the bishop recites in
her name, she prays that ‘He who stilled by his voice the troubled sea, would vouchsafe to rise up to the help of his people : that he would shed upon this instrument the dews of his grace, that he would give a virtue to its sound that should scare away the enemy, and strengthen the faith of his Christian people. That as David's harp drew down the Holy Spirit, and as the thunder of the Lord thundered on the adversaries when Samuel offered up the holocaust of the Lamb, so when the sound of this metal shall move upon the air, that troops of angels may form around the church, and guard her believing children with an everlasting protection.'* These are the benefits, spiritual and temporal, which the Church prays for, and hopes to receive, not from the bell itself, not from the sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal, but, on occasion of its use, from Him who employs the humblest instruments in the performance of his grealest mercies.
“Now the ceremonies which she employs in its benediction are these.
She commences with certain select psalms, to implore the merciful protection of God, from whom proceedeth every good gist,' both in time and in eternity. Then she blesses water and salt, emblems of purity and wisdom, and having mingled them 10gether, she washes the entire surface of the metal, both within and without. Now, inasmuch as the bell is symbolical of what the Christian ought to be on occasion of its summons, this ceremony points out the necessity of inward purity, as well as outward sanctity, and teaches us that while we labor to exbibit nothing in our exterior but what is edifying to our neighbor, and conducive to virtue, we should so carefully regulate the inward man that nothing may subsist there but what conscience can approve, and what God may behold with complacency.
Next, the bishop makes upon it the sign of the cross,—that holy sign which shall appear in the heavens when the Lord shall come to judgment. And then with the holy oil, the Oleum Infirmorum, he seven
* Vid. Pontificale, sub finem.
times anoints it on the outside, and four times in the inside with the sacred chrism. The unction of oil is the symbol of grace which softens the asperities of the law, and makes the cross of Christ sit easier on our shoulders, at the same time that it strengthens the soul in her fearful conflicts with Satan, with the world, and her own unruly passions. The seven crosses, which are traced on the outside, bespeak the dauntless courage of the Christian. That so far from blushing at the practices of his religion, it is his duty to bear it visibly about bim, and to glory, with the great apostle, that he carries the stigmata of Jesus Christ on his person; and this so effectually, that his character of Catholic may never be mistaken, but that by the modesty of his deportment, the wisdom of his words, by the sobriety of his tongue, the temperance of his habits, by his patience and forbearance, and his quiet acquiescence in the holy will of Providence, the world may recognise him for what he is, a worthy disciple of the holiest of Masters. Finally, as the quality of oil is 10 penetrate even metals, it teaches that he should be thoroughly imbued with the spirit of his master Christ, so that whilst he outwardly bears about him the mortification of Jesus, he
inwardly encourage a love for his precepts, an affection for his sufferings, and be, both in heart and mind, a devoted servant of him who “ hath anointed us in Christ, who hath also sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Cor. i, 22). And this interior unction of the Holy Spirit is shadowed out by the four inward applications of the holy chrism, on occasion of which the Church prays that all who assemable at the sound, may surmount all temptations of the enemy, and diligently pursue the maxims and precepts of their holy faith.
“ And here it may occur to be asked, why the number of crosses and anointings, should be precisely seven, and four, neither more nor less. Every one who is at all conversant with the holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, knows well that there is a mysterious character attaching to the number seven, a character of completion and perfection.
“ Now as the material bell is the voice of the Church, and whilst it summons to the preaching, it illustrates the spirit and the progress, of the Gospel, these seven external anointings may seem to imply the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit enumerated by the prophet Isaiah, Tu septiformis mumere, &c., and the four anointings with chrism, in the inner side, at the four divisions where the tongue or the hammer is made to strike, will aptly signify the preaching of the Church, and the general diffusion of the Gospel from its centre to the four quarters of the globe. In omnem terram exivit sonus eorum, et in fines orbis terræ verba corum."#
Finally, the bell is dedicated to a particular saint, that under his auspices, the consecrated sigual may exert a happy influence over the faithful, and that they may hearken to its holy appeals, as if to the voice of one who now reigns in heaven, and calls upon them to imitate his assiduity and fervor in discharging the duties of religion.
“ When these mysterious anointings are finished, the attendants bring the censor to the bishop, with perfumed drugs, myrrh, and incense. These are put into the censor in the usual way, and left burning beneath until the singing of the last Gospel. Incense is of frequent use in the ceremonies of the church, and implies the energy and activity of holy prayers, which when heated by the fire of divine love, rise up and penetrate to the throne of God as a sacrifice of sweet-smelling savour. And this being a principal duty to which the bell invites us, hence the free use of incense in its consecration.
“ Lastly, a portion of the Gospel is said or sung by the deacon from the tenth chapter of St. Luke, which describes the visit of our blessed Saviour 10 Mary and Martha, in which Mary is commended for her assiduous attendance on his sacred person, and the over-solicitude of Martha is gently reproved, in that solemn and memorable admonition.—Martha, Martha, thou art solicitous and troubled about many things,
* Discourse of the Rev. Dr. Weedall.
but one thing is necessary.' (Luke x, 41 and 42).
“Such is the great lesson which the bell is intended frequently to preach to us. It will break in upon our occupations, whether serious or gay, whether lawful or unlawful.–Like the voice of Christ to Martha, it will remind us of the inutility of much that we are doing, perhaps even of its sinfulness.—It will discourse, wisely and forcibly, of the value of the soul, and of the importance of attending to its salvation ; of the shortness of time and the awful length of eternity. It will sound like the solemn warnings of the last trumpet, and teach us to prepare whilst preparation is practicable. It will entone the angelical salutation three times each day, and bid us bend our heads, and humble our hearts in the adoration of the adorable mystery of the Incarnation. It will regulate a variety of duties, as its ancient inscription purports,
poses of religion, and a prayer of the Church by which she invokes upon her children the grace of being benefited by its
How then can it be asserted that this ceremony is considered by the Catholic Church as a baptism? Does it follow that it is looked upon as a real baptism, * because this name is given to it in the popular language of certain districts, on account of the similarity between some parts of this solemn rite and the baptismal ceremony? Does it argue candor or reflection in our adversaries to prefer such a charge, when the absurdity implied in it is not less ridiculous than impious? If the bells that are consecrated are sometimes placed under the care or patronage of certain individuals, who may superintend their employment, these persons are improperly called sponsors, and the ceremony used by the Church does not require the presence of any such individuals.t As to the imputation that bells were rung at funerals and during storms, to frighten away the demons that were supposed to hover around the dead, or to be the authors of the tempest, it is too plainly the offspring of ignorance or malevolence. If our forefathers entertained the opinion that storms could be averted by the agitation of the air, resulting from the sounding of bells, perhaps they erred a little, although innocently, by calculating too largely upon a principle of natural philosophy; but they undoubtedly proved themselves vastly superior to their critics of modern times, in the theory and practice of that Christian philosophy, which led them to toll the bell at the funeral of the dead, as a warning voice to the living, and, in the fury of the tempest, to send forth its sound, hallowed as it was by the orisons of
Laudo Deum verum. Plebem voco. Congrego
Clerum. Defunctos ploro. Pestem fugo. Festa decoro.
It will summon us to prayer, morning and evening; it will notify in deeper tones the celebration of the awful mysteries. It will remind us of the duty of praying for the dead, it will encourage us to pray in seasons of danger, it will multiply its admonitions on our holy Sabbaths, and give a cheerful solemnity to the days consecrated to a more particular worship.”*
These remarks will sushice to explain the nature of the ceremony by which bells are consecrated, and to overthrow completely the grounds on which modern fanaticism has undertaken to brand it with the note of superstition. In the judgment of those who sincerely investigate the truth, and who find no gratification in the low artifice of impugning and denouncing, by unfair representation, every practice that savors of Catholic piety, it is obvious that the whole rite is nothing more than a solemn dedication of a work of art to the noble pur
* It is stated in the Capitulars of Charlemagne, that this prince forbade the ceremony, because, says a writer, it was thought by some to be a baptisin. That this prohibition however was merely a prudential and temporary measure, to prevent the growth of an erroneous notion among the people, is inanifest from the fact, that the ordinance of the emperor was not enforced, and the custom of blessing bells prevailed throughout the Church in a form not liable to abuse. Pope John XIII, in the tenth century, was not the author of this ceremony, as may be seen from Marteac, lib. 2 de Antiq. Eccl. Rit. c. 21.
+ See Roman Pontifical.
religion, as a cry of alarm and as a general supplication to him who wields the thunderbolts of heaven, that he would look to the affliction of his servants, and avert the dangers with which they were threatened. In all this there might be something offensive to that desolating puritanism which has endeavored to divorce nature from its Divine Author, by denying all religious influence to the external world, but in the eyes of reason, it will always be a mark of
true religion, as well as the glory of the Catholic Church, to make use of outward things, as fit and powerful agents for awakening in the heart of man the most salutary impressions. “Praise ye the Lord in his holy places : praise him with sound of trumpet; praise him with psaltery and harp; praise him on high-sounding cymbals; praise him on cymbals of joy; let every spirit praise the Lord.” Ps. 150.
THEORY OF THE WESTERN PRAIRIES.
BY PROF. DOCATEL.
is not astonishing that a traveller com perhaps feel more surprise than the western
traveller at the extent of the forests, and exhas been accustomed to see the surface of
press greater wonder that they should so the country divided into cultivated fields, in far have escaped the devastations of the fire termixed with groves of trees as regularly and the hurricane. allotted almost as the fields themselves, and But setting aside the surprise, we who as he proceeds westwardly finds himself have been accustomed to see these lands more and more pressed in by dense forests clothed with trees, may well ask why it is of lofty trees that seem to bid defiance to that these western plains are destitute of the further progress of civilization, should timber. The phenomenon, for such at first experience some surprise at the sudden ap sight it appears to be, has given occasion pearance of those unwooded and uninter for much speculation. rupted plains of the farther west that have “ It has been suggested,” says Judge received the name of Prairies, adopted by Hall, “ that the prairies were caused by us from the French. So it is not astonish hurricanes which had blown down the timing too, that the French adventurers who ber, and left it in a condition to be consumed preceded us, coming from the champaign by fire, after it had become dried by lying regions of their own country, should have on the ground. A single glance at the imleft no record of a similar surprise ; but on mense region in which the prairie surface the contrary beheld in these flowery mea predominates sufficiently refutes this idea." dows something that reminded them of Mr. Kendall, in the interesting sketches of home, to which nothing was wanting but incidents connected with his Santa Fe exthe stately chateau, the vineyard, and the pedition, mentions a prairie “ at least tico hamlet to complete the resemblance. The hundred and fifty miles in width.” Now,
allatter, therefore, did not stop to speculate though hurricanes sometimes extend for about the origin of this champaign coun many miles in length, their track is always try, which they looked upon probably as of narrow, and often but a few hundred yards very natural occurrence; whilst to us, by in breadth. “And it is a well-known fact, the contrast just referred to, it is the very that whenever the timber has been thus prosreverse.
On the other hand, one accus trated, a dense and tangled chicket shoots tomed to the sight of the prairies with only up immediately, and protected by the fallen their strips of woodland along the water trees, grows with uncommon vigor.” courses, on going to the eastward, would Some have imagined that the prairies have
been the bottom of lakes, but this hypothesis is pot tenable. For, “as a general rule, the prairies are highest in the middle, and have a gradual declivity towards the sides; and when we reach the timber, instead of finding banks corresponding with the shores of a lake, we almost invariably discover valleys, ravines, and water courses, considerably depressed below the general level of the plain.” And again as a general rule, “the prairie surface is slightly, but decidedly convex.”
General Pike attributed the destitution of timber upon the prairies to the aridity of the soil, which, having so few water courses running through it, and these being principally dry in summer, has never afforded moisture sufficient to protect the growth. But this opinion is disproved, not only by the luxuriance of the wild growth, and the adaptation of the soil to the ordinary purposes of husbandry, but by the readiness with which forest trees, artificially laid out, take root and flourish in the prairie soil. A very remarkable instance of the facility with which the prairie soil becomes covered with umber, when protected from the usual cause of its absence, namely fire, is mentioned by Judge Hall, as having fallen under his observation. “ An individual had enclosed a single field in the prairie, in which corn was cultivated for several years, when it was abandoned, and the rails that composed the fence carried away.
In the meanwhile, the corners of the fence, and a narrow strip on each side, having been protected from the fire on the one hand, and the plough on the other, grew up in bushes. After the field was deserted, this natural hedge remained for years; having grown up into a row of tall trees, occupying the former line of the fence, while the interior of the square became also covered with brushwood ; and thus a grove has been formed, which bids defiance to the fire.”
Stoddard, in his “Sketches of Louisiana," says that the prairies were probably occasioned by fire; “ because whenever copses of trees are found on them, the ground about them is low, and too moist to permit the fire to pass over it." The correct expression of the fact we apprehend would be
this :-On low and moist grounds upon the prairies, copses of trees are found that resist the ravages of the fire.
In the narrative of Major Long's first expedition, it is said: “If the prairies were at any former period covered with forests, it may be easily supposed, the yearly devastations of fires breaking out in dry seasons, would destroy many of the trees. The forests being thus broken, the growth of grass and annual plants would be greatly facilitated by the nakedness of the soil, and the free admission of the rays of the sun. Forests attract rain, and impede evaporation, while the reverberation from the surface of vast plains and deserts, tends to dissipale the clouds and vapors which are driven over them by the winds. In fertile districts like the alluvial lands of the Missouri and Mississippi, a heavy annual growth of herbaceous plants is produced, which after the autumnal frosts, becomes dry and peculiarly adapted to facilitate and extend the ravages of fire. In a country occupied by hunters, who are kindling their camp fires in every part of the forest, and who often, like the Mongalls in the grassy deserts of Asia, set fire to the plains, in order to attract herbivorous animals by the growth of tender and nutritious herbage which springs up soon after the burning, it is easy to see that these annual conflagrations could not fail to happen." Doubtless if the prairies were at any former period covered with forests, the most effectual agent that could be employed for their destruction would be fire. It would require, however, we apprehend, a much greater conflagration than is commonly produced by the Indian method of firing not only the prairies, but the woods themselves, for the purpose of securing their game. This method they have practised at all times, certainly with the effect of thinning, but without destroying the timber; as we see from the immense forests of Western Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri, that were once also annually fired by the Indians, and are now, to a more limited extent, by the white hunters, to burn the high grass, in order the better to see their game. This practice, which effectually destroyed the undergrowth, only thinned the trees;