« PredošláPokračovať »
Earth has nothing sweet or fair,
When the morning paints the skies,
When the day-beams pierce the night,
When, as moonlight softly steals, Heaven its thousand eyes reveals, Then I think: Who inade their light, To a thousand times more bright.
When I see, in Spring-tide gay,
If I trace the fountain's source.
Sweet the song the night-bird sings,
Sweetness fills the air around,
Lord of all that's fair to see!
Let thy Deity profound,
To behold Thee as Thou art. This beautiful hymn was composed by an individual named Angelus. He was a native of Breslau, and was born in 1624, and died in 1677, having been physician in ordinary to the Emperor Ferdinand the Third. In 1653 he resigned his post, in order to become a Catholic: he was afterwards made a priest, and assumed the name of Angelus, although his real name was Scheffler. (See “Sacred Hymns, translated from the German,” by Frances Elizabeth Cox. London: Pickering, 1841.)
HINTS TO CONVERTS, MORE ESPECIALLY NEO
PHYTES, WITH DEDUCTIONS THEREFROM.
The conversion to the Catholic faith, of one who has been brought up and carefully instructed in a creed which use, prejudice, association, or long conviction, has made more than second nature, has ever seemed to us a high standing miracle, and continuous confirmation of the truth of God's Church upon earth. It is the attestation of one that has been her enemy ;—it is a confession drawn out by the power of conviction ;- it is the bending of human thought to the inscrutable Majesty of Divine government, and, in a certain sense, a constrained, though afterwards a willing acknowledgment of the absolute inferiority of what man, at his best, can do, when put in competition with what emanates from the divine mind, and is upheld by the daily instance of an Omnipotent Providence. Material miracles, though oftentimes vouchsafed to the servants of God, for the comfort and cheer of the faithful, are comparatively less convincing, than such as that which takes place in the soul of the convert ; seeing that the power must be so much higher that can influence the immortal spirit, than what affects the gross and inanimate; and farther, that the latter have
occasionally been subject to the power of evil agency, while the former can alone be bent by the sweet influence of supernatural grace. If, then, the gift of miracles occasionally displayed to cheer some who from being ever faithful, may be ignorant of the vast wonders that take place in the conversion of one who knew not the truth, to the full light of truth, it is well to bring this subject often before our notice, that so we may let no day pass without drawing new draughts of much refreshment from the consideration of this standing miracle of grace, which, thanks to the goodness of God, is now of so oft recurrence amongst us; and surely if this beget in us the fruit that it is but due it should, we shall be all the better for the contemplation; and others yet fast limed in heresy may, by holy prayers, have their wings freed from the foul attachment, so that they may henceforth soar, "like the seeled dove,” in one direction ; and that is up to heaven!
When the convert looks back on his past state, and, independent of the evils of his sinful life, reflects on the insecurity and untenableness of what he once believed, he may well tremble and adore that hand of mercy that called him all unwilling from the tottering and shifting sands of error, to the firm footing of the rock of the Church. Here, firmly planted, he rests, rejoicing awhile for the ease of sweet conviction, after the toils and perils of the past; but how soon, in trembling gratitude, does he look back on the fearful dangers he has escaped; how zealous he is to recover the time that is lost; how anxious that others most dear may come, like him, to the holy ark; how continual in prayer, not for himself alone, but for all, that whether they know the faith, but make light of it in practice, or whether they know it not and sin, it may be in ignorance, that all may be brought to cast off their lightness or their error, and taking up the yoke of Christ, find in every deed that it is sweet, and his burthen easy.
It has often occurred to us, that the faithful (and by such, in this place, we mean those who have been bred from infancy in the graces of the holy sacraments), are generally not aware of the infinite distance that there is between a belief in the Catholic faith, and that which is professed by men who have chosen a creed for themselves, or been brought up in the school of those who formerly protested against her authoritative teaching; nor is this distance decreased by an apparent proximity in certain outward or inward ceremonies or doctrines, but rather made the greater, like the aversion which the negative has from the positive pole, is increased by being brought into sudden collision. Settled and grounded in the faith themselves, they are too apt to think it wondrous that others should still be at open enmity with truth, and to argue and reprove, as obstinacy, wilfully blind and perverse; when all the while, it may, and must be, in much measure, ignorance. For the interior doctrines of the Catholic Church are the last that are revealed to the inquirer after truth; and there are many who are lured, and love the faith, as it were, in the porch of the Church, who are ignorant of the supersubstantial beauty of what they learn in the sanctuary. Hence the Catholic should be tender in his bearing to his erring brother, even the more because of the vast distance that separates their several beliefs : and it behoves him often to reflect on this truth; that except in case of willing apos. tacy, or a sensual apostacy for a while, through the dread the flesh has to forsake its sordid gratifications, no person out of the Catholic Church can know what her true doctrines are; for in the day he comes to this knowledge he ceases to be an unbeliever, and takes the ready and due steps to procure his reconciliation with, and reception into, the Church.
This will in some measure serve to explain whence it is that the brawling controversialist continues to attack, and not to see that every point has been defended. Hence, too, it is that we painfully listen to weak and straw-like objections, often childish, in the mouth of men, who may be learned, and on other matters, sound reasoners. Hence it is that unimportant externals are cavilled at, when the great line of argument is left untrod; and hence, too, frequently, if these should fail that the personal defects, scandals, or weaknesses of individual Catholics, are so readily pressed into their service, as arguments, and arrayed with precious effrontery round the outposts of error, like pickets, to harass the advance of truth against their own crumbling and ill-fashioned works. But if we, who have the shield of faith, the sword of prayer, and the whole armour of salvation, but called to mind that those who resist us do so with clouded intellect, and hearts untouched by grace, surely we would both bear and forbear; and using our arms in the spirit of charity, above all, the sword of prayer,' abide with patience the malevolence of the enemy, and impetrate meanwhile the whole court of heaven in their behalf; saying, with the holy protomartyr, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge;" or, with our sweet Lord on the cross, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
“ I have seen whole swarms of Aies attracted by a drop of honey," says St. Francis de Sales ; “ but not one drawn round a basin of vinegar:" and our own Spenser says, “ An ounce of sweete is worth a pounde of sowre." So if we but follow the advice of the saint and the poet towards those who are without the ark, we may gain some of them, and assuredly act in accordance, 30 far as we are concerned, with the principles of the Gospel and the earnest wish of the Church. It is not by noise, or rhetoric, or angry chiding, that we can guide and maintain discipline in our domestic circles, but by gentleness and forbearance ; so that even in reproof the affections are gained, and the machinery of social life runs smooth and noiseless. If it so be with those we love, how much more then with him we both love and pity; for he is our brother, though he be in error: Christ died for him, though it may be he know it not; the fountains of the Church flow for him, though he may be still quenching his thirst at the waters that perish; the bread of life is for him, though he is fain to take his fill of the husks of swine; and the gates of heaven are still open for him, though he is yet wandering desolate on the mountains of vanity. “Who art thou,” says a holy father, “ that judgest thy brother, in whose heart the seeds of conversion may now be cast, to be ripened one day in tears, when thou, by thy pride, wherein thou hast plumed thyself, and hast despised him, shalt be thyself cast out."
When the convert looks back on the time when he was ignorant, and yet out of the pale of the Church, the contrast between his state then and now, is both humiliating and instructive. His best endeavours (and we will suppose one earnestly striving after truth), were given for some substantial basis on which to rest; and if, blinded by an inferior sense, he seemed at times to have attained his object, and rested secure in the sensible pleasure which his fervour or diseased imagination may have conjured up, yet in a day the vision has melted before his eyes, and he has been left to mourn in bitterness of spirit, the vanity of his deception. He may have moulded a system of belief from the holy Scriptures, and rested with content for a while, in the support that he thought most surely his preconceived notions received from the undoubted Word of God; but when he looked around, and saw others, whom he regarded as good and holy men, deriving most opposite conclusions from the very proofs of his belief, he could not but come to this alternative,-either that they were in gross error, or that his own judgment was to be mistrusted; for he could not believe that both could be right on points, doubtless of much moment, nor could he condemn them, without constituting himself as an infallible interpreter of the holy Scriptures,--a conclusion logically just, but which so many of