« PredošláPokračovať »
former position. And how did those whom He sent forth interpret His words? Far from seeking a home for themselves, and the possession of a house and family, and so endeavouring to act upon society as examples of decorum and respectability while they propagated the faith in a crucified God with which they were charged, one of their first acts was willingly to cut themselves off from the possibility of this. Clearly they sought not to influence others by an exhibition of the family life, for it was specifically this life which they renounced. As clearly they sought not the influence of wealth, for they considered it as the most dangerous snare, and chose to be poor. And as for human honour, their portion for ten generations was, more than all other Christians, to be outcasts, the refuse of men, as one of their chief leaders calls them. And by carrying out these three things they planted the Christian Faith through the Roman empire. At length, when the Cross, from having been the gibbet of the slave, was woven into the standard of kings, and became the fairest ornament of their diadem, honour followed likewise to the special champions of the Cross, and gifts of piety surrounded them. But they still kept a guard against both by that signal mark of their Lord upon their bodies, the profession of the unmarried life. Still in this form they refused to take provision for the way, to furnish themselves with purse, scrip, or sandal; the way was still the way to them, not a home; a journey, not a rest. And because it was so, and just so far as it was so, they found an entrance into all lands, and lived in the hearts of their people, and continued on, not by a carnal, but by a spiritual generation, drawing to them from age to age the flower of their flocks, the noble in mind, and the strong of heart, who could choose that way of violence, and take the kingdom by force. They do not, therefore, cultivate a profession, but perpetuate a sacrifice; they do not recommend civil decency and social virtues, but the crown of thorns on the head of Him whom they follow has flourished on their head into the coronet of the Virginal Life.
In virtue of this one institution in the Clergy and the Religious Orders the whole work of maintaining the Catholic Faith and of propagating it has been through eighteen centuries and is a work of divine love and not of human remuneration. It proceeds and lives not by tempering the three concupiscences, but by overcoming them. As St. Paul went forth with Silvanus, Luke, Titus, and Timotheus, and each city produced a Thecla as the answer of his teaching, so now on the emigrant ship may be seen the missionary bishop and his attendant priests, and with them likewise St. Thecla's representatives and successors, the Sisters of Mercy and Charity, and of so many other religious rules, bearing to distant lands their unbought love, unsalaried labours, and fruitful sufferings. India, China, and Australia know them, and recognise them now, as France, Spain, Germany, and England knew them and recognised them of old; and what the work of the past has been, the work of the future shall be. But if they have done this of old, and if they do it still, it is solely in virtue of the Virginal Life, and its attendant grace and strength, which they have chosen.
And inasmuch as there is in the religious life a special inspiration, which blows where it lists and with unequal spirations, this supernatural element is guided and administered by the unity and equability of the Church's spiritual rule. What is needed is a moderating hand, which shall distribute and apply the force which works through these various rules on the common basis of the three vows, and their root, the profession of celibacy. And the more so because these Orders have their own distinct impulse, as each plant that distinct life which draws it into the shape and produce proper to it: and again, because, the life being something above and beyond nature, while it works in those subject to nature, has inequalities, excesses, and failures by turns. Therefore the guiding power arranges and orders the work and the field of work for each. The supremacy of spiritual jurisdiction, being necessarily one over the whole Church, because the Church is one, like an experienced general, directs the plan of the whole battle with the world, holds its reserves in hand, and so produces, from a source uncertain in the individual, but regular in the universal, that equable movement of discipline, that continual supply of forces, which is necessary to maintain action on any great scale, and which secular
government rightly looks for in the work of teaching its people. Within the last two generations a great neighbouring nation has seen the Church, after losing, together with the proscription of her Clergy and her Religious Orders, the whole of her property, both that which belonged to her secular and that which belonged to her regular clergy, reproduce as it were anew the whole machinery requisite for the teaching of a people, springing up with the vigour of fresh youth, amid poverty and trial of every kind, from the inexhaustible root of religious celibacy.
Secondly, the work of education has ever been in the divine society one not of profit, but of devotion, a dedication of the best gifts of mind and heart to the service of others. The function of teaching is one specially belonging to the Clergy and the Religious Orders. The time which they have gained by withdrawing from the pursuits and pleasures of the world they have freely bestowed on imparting knowledge. Who shall describe the patient sacrifice of long years in the flower of life given up to the instruction of youth by so many priests, by so many religious of both sexes? When their own inward life had been formed, this was their work in all the period from opening manhood to middle age, at the time that energy of mind and body is freshest; a work not pursued for praise or emolument, but simply to communicate to others what they had themselves received. Thus, during the Benedictine centuries, a period of at least five hundred years, the monasteries of that order sowed Europe with spiritual seed. Each of these were centres of intellectual power and moral training, where the Christian life was first cultivated in its highest perfection, and then disseminated among the surrounding population. In the thirteenth century the Franciscan and Dominican Orders infused fresh vigour into this great work. In the sixteenth the Jesuits instituted a new and more perfect system of intellectual training, and became the founders of modern education. Their schools were for a long time the most celebrated in Europe; their course of studies the most complete. And what these Orders did for one sex a multitude of religious congregations did for the other. None of these teachers had in view the making private fortunes for themselves: their own rule of life rendered such a purpose impossible. Accordingly the education which they gave was not costly, but so far as the expenditure of their own labour and the gift of their own talents were concerned, was even gratuitous. The pupils might pay for their own maintenance, but not for the value of their teachers' accomplishments. Thus teaching never became a livelihood, but remained a spiritual work