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A YEAR of singular mercies has just ended. It opened in gloom, like a dull and hazy morning; but the clouds soon passed away,--the sun shone fair, and the Catholic year went on bright and smiling, and sunny to its close. Many lessons have been taught us in its course ; but the first and best is that which has shown us that the providence which rules over God's Church, remains ever with her, and, as it were, cleaves more closely to her, at a time when she seems deserted and despoiled of worldly goods. Many spoke, in the beginning of the year, of the blow that the Catholic body had received, as being so heavy, that it would require many years to recover its losses : but, however much individuals may have suffered, the result has shown, that in no period of our short revival, has the charity of the faithful been more exerted, nor any year past away, so marked by events that call for the grateful acknowledgments of a full heart.
Let us pause, then, awhile on the threshold of the new year, and review the wonders of the past, that while we consider them and exaggerate nothing, we may take new heart and hope to enter on this which now lies before us.
The most lukewarm observer must have felt that the progress which our holy religion has made in a wonderfully short period, is most gra
[NOTE.-Owing to particular circumstances, the enlargement of the “ Catholic Magazine” has been postponed. It will, therefore, be continued, in the meantime, without alteration in size or in price; but without departing from the intention announced, of raising its character “ as a vehicle for the diffusion of Catholic principles.” Due notice will be given when the contemplated new arrangement shall be definitively completed.] VOL. VI.
tifying; but before we refer to the general state of the Church, through. out the world, let us pause for a little while, with fond content, on the comfort which is derivable from its condition, in the fresh and newly-set vineyard of our own dative country. For though our principles be so Catholic, that the sufferings or triumphs of our Mother, in foreign lands, affect us with equivalent emotions, yet human nature--we will not here call it weakness—is such, that we cannot choose but be more moved by the troubles or triumphs which mark her progress in the land of our fathers. As the traveller in foreign countries meets with frequent signs of sorrow that speak in plaintive tongues, from the tombs of our ancestors, expatriated and exiled in the land of strangers, -as we find them pathetically mourning over the desolate state of Eng. land in those days—as hearts now mouldering in dust, wept then in bitterness and anguish of soul for their unhappy country—so now there are, in these days, many hearts that throb as warmly in joy as those did in sorrow, as brightly in hope as they in the trouble of fear. But if their's was the penance, and their's to pass through the furnace of tribulation-doubtless, now, in heaven or in the cleansing flame, they rejoice, or are relieved with us, in looking on the day of hope which we enjoy; and if, in their day, they hung their harps on the willows of exile, they hail our return with jubilee, and rejoice that we come again in exultation, bearing the sheaves which they had sown in tears.
Hence it is, that how consoling soever it may be to cast our eyes over the Atlantic, and see the progress of the faith in the islands of the ocean,or how edifying to reflect on the constancy of the martyrs in China and Cochin ;-yet when we perceive the same faith penetrating our own hearths, and see those we love either growing more fervent and zealous in its profession, or gathered from the raid of heresy to holy light,-it is hardly possible for us, but that the blood of the heart should flow with more warmth, and its affections dwell thereon with gratitude more fresh, for that they touch us more nearly.
Let us pause then awhile, and look calmly on our present position. It is but the other day that we were a proscribed and calumniated section,-a butt for all the archery of malice to aim its shafts atma poor, unknown, and uninfluential body. It is, as it were, but yesterday that a tardy justice was done unto us, yet the first use we have made of our liberty, is to forgive the long years of persecution, and to forget all, but in our prayers for the conversion of our oppressors. It is true that a few marks of bondage yet remain, and that here and there there are some who are more slow of forgiveness, than becomes the sons of mar
tyrs, but, thank God, these are few, and every-day diverts mistaken zeal, from the channels of raillery and retaliation, to the fairer bed of Christian meekness and forbearance. We come to our separated brethren in the spirit of charity, we offer them gifts—not of myrrh, but of gold and frankincense; we heap on the head of our enemies of those that were our enemies, coals of fire; the fire, namely, of devotion, charity, and Catholic love. We come to them as the Christians of old came to their heathen persecutors, when peace was restored to the Church,— not to make reprisals for the cruelty that was perpetrated on them, but for all their numbers which were greater and more widely spread than they thought for, by meekness, and charity, and forbearance, to extend the kingdom of their blessed Redeemer, with the greater zeal, because they felt that those who knew Him not, needed their zeal the more. As their weapons were spiritual—the sword of prayer and shield of faith,--so, in the like spirit would we advance-and, glory be to God in this spirit, WE HAVE ADVANCED into the camp of the enemy.
One of the goodliest signs of the times, and one in which we think the past year has been progressively fruitful, is the gradual waning of personal feeling against the errors of those who are beyond the Catholic pale, more meekness in bearing the language of reproach and calumny
more tenderness in using against them the language of taunting retaliation; but yet accompanied withal with a firmness and weight which is strengthened and grounded on the better principle which directs the main object of our desires. This is well, and shows that our hearts have advanced in the true Catholic spirit,- that the leaven of selfishness has been withdrawn; in a word, that we look upon the great difference that lies between us, not as a gulf that separates man from man, not as a field of contention for the great game of dialectics, but as a fearful chaos that yawns between the souls of our brethren,-and the Great God for whom they were created, to love, serve, and obey. With the whole armour of truth on our side, we may well afford to stand on the highest point, and from our vantage ground, set forth and defend our principles, unruffled, and unhurt, either by the unreasonable prejudices, or the unjust and unfounded calumnies of our opponents. And well may we give them this on every ground: for if we consider that all heresy is unreasonable, why should we expect that those that may individually oppose us, should be exempted from the common prejudice, and if we be persecuted, and calumniated, have we not the great promise of beatitude, to give us strength to bear it, and if they call the good man of the house Beelzebub, how much more we who are his servants.
To us, it may seem wondrous that the clear light of evidence that enlightens every turn of the Catholic faith, should fall so darkly on others, whose hearts have been brought up in the maze of heresy. To us it may seem passing strange, that the single evidence of their bearing towards the faith strikes them not as it strikes us who see in the long length of the Church's career, the same opposition, and the same persecution,_modified it may be under the different phases of circumstances,—but still continual, from the time that they persecuted our Blessed Redeemer, throughout the long line of opposition which the world, the devil, and the flesh, or the three in heresy combined, has ever exerted against the faith of ages : but though they will not look on this with the eye of faith, yet we, in these days, are especially called upon to look at it with assuring faith, knowing that, as the combination in all history, has failed in its endeavours,- and the more signal the failure has ever been, the bolder it has pressed, --so now shall it fail again ; and further we will call to mind—and in this has the year past shown that we have advanced -- we will call to mind that so long as we gather meekness from the assaults of the maligner, for to such in this land is the power restrained, the spirit of persecution may go on railing against us; we shall retaliate by no weapons but meek words, by our endeavours to do good to our enemies, by our fervour in offering up our prayers for their conversion, that they may conie at length to that joy, and peace, and rest, which is only to be found in the bosom of God's everlasting and immutable Church.
This disinterested bearing of the Catholic Church towards her opponents is to us a sure sign, not only that we have advanced, but that we shall yet advance; it is wholly useless to combat every paltry insinuation, every gross mistatement, every oily doubt and double meaning that is so sadly visible even in the writings of the best of our opponents ; but we should never forget this,—that as a tangent to a circle may
be drawn indefinitely every way, and yet never enter the sphere, so proximity of belief is yet not faith, nor till the individual heart be touched by God's grace, can it ever be brought to enter within the pale of his Church. With such we may argue,– but God forbid that we should reproach, -we may speak firmly, not harshly; with authority, but not with insult; in love, not in malice; in fervour and zeal, and charity, rendered doubly more warm and glowing, that their state asks less for our indignation, than for our tears and prayers. If we bear