Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

amazement and his respect,--provided only he had the reason of a man in strength, or the heart of a child in frankness and simplicity. Yes, in my soul I wish you at my side ; in my soul I have prayed that you might feel as I have felt, and do as I have done, when kneeling before the saintly, the angelic Odescalchi* I renounced her whom I had too long been obedient to, and promised my faith and love and duty to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Rome. My heart grows fuller as I write to yon,--too full for me to know how to direct its utterance. Would to God that we might yet again kneel at the same altar; that you too, reconciled to our common head, might once more pour forth together the sweet alternate Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, with him, who never never can cease to love and cherish, or to hope and pray for you, and who now begs you by every argument of duty and affection to look into the great question.”

Two years I spent in Catholic and Protestant Europe, with my little family; but the great world was not the place to profit by the visions of bright holiness that God had given us glimpses of; and, on returning to our country, the wonderful and wonderfully sweet providence of God placed us in the holy, happy solitude I have alluded to: where helped, no doubt, by the blessedness of sorrow, at the loss of children turned to angels, I have spent never-to-be forgotten years in learning more and more the immense revenues of love and consolation, God has placed at the disposal of his holy Church. For the first time since my return, and forced by what I consider my children's interest, I have now left this remote and almost unbroken solitude, I have left it to be thus unexpectedly and unpreparedly thrown before one of the largest and most distinguished, but fortunately for me, one of the most courteous and most generous cities that we have to boast of. God grant there be no cause to wish I were still hidden ; God grant no word of mine this night spoken may ever rise against me, for offence given to the least of all God's little ones before me; but yet the Church of God is one, and it is the duty of all, who are really Christians at heart, to proclaim this truth, and along with it the still more tremendous one, that out of that Church there is no valid hope of any man's salvation.t It is the

* The Prince Charles Odescalchi, Cardinal Vicar of Rome, who has since given up the world and all its honours and become a Jesuit.

† The sentence referred to, though theologically accurate, must be understood with the limitations attached to it by Catholic divines and the holy fathers, who, to quote the language of Bishop Milner, “at the same time that they strictly insist on the necessity of adhering to the doctrine and communion of the Catholic Church, make an express exception in favour of what is termed invincible ignorance, which occurs when persons out of the true Church are sincerely and firmly resolved, in

duty of all to proclaim the evil, that the remedy. may be sought. It is the duty of all to take their share of responsibility, and act upon it. But here it is impossible for me to express myself, as well in my own words, as I can in the words of one of the writers of the Church of England, I have so often alluded to.

“We should all recollect, that a restoration of intercommunion with other Churches is, in a certain sense, in the power of individuals. Every one who desires unity, who prays for it, who endeavours to

[ocr errors]

spite of all worldly allurements or opposition, to enter into it, if they could find it out, and when they use their best endeavours for this purpose. This exception, in favour of the invincibly ignorant, is made by St. Austin, who so strictly insists on the general rule. His words are these : “ The Apostle bas told us to reject a man who is a heretic; but those who defend a false opinion, without pertinacious obstinacy, especially if they have not themselves invented it, but have derived it from their parents, and who seek the truth with anxious solicitude, being sincerely disposed to renounce their error as soon as they discover it, such persons are not to be deemed heretics.' Our great controvertist, Bellarmine, asserts that such Christians, ‘in virtue of the disposition of their hearts, belong to the Catholic Church.'

“Who the individuals, exteriorly of other communions, but by the sincerity of their dispositions belonging to the Catholic Church,—who, and in what numbers they are, it is for the Searcher of hearts, our future Judge, alone to determine: far be it from

me, and from every other Catholic, to “deal damnation' on any person in particular: still thus much, on the grounds already stated, I am bound, not only in truth, but also in charity, to say and to proclaim, that nothing short of the sincere disposition in question, and the actual use of such means as Providence respectively affords for discovering the true Church to those who are out of it, can secure their salvation; to say nothing of the Catholic sacraments and other helps for this purpose, of which such persons are necessarily deprived.

“I just mentioned the virtue of charity; and I must here add, that on no one point are latitudinarians and genuine Catholics more at variance than upon this. The former consider themselves charitable, in proportion as they pretend to open the gate of Heaven to a greater number of religionists of various descriptions : but unfortunately, they are not possessed of the keys of that gate ; and when they fancy they have opened the gate as wide as possible, it still remains as narrow, and the way to it as strait, as our Saviour describes these to be in the Gospel. (Matt. vii. 14). Thus they lull men into a fatal indifference about the truths of Revelation, and a false security as to their salvation. Genuine Catholics, on the other hand, are persuaded that as there is but one God, one faith, one baptism (Ephes. iv. 5), so there is but one SHEEPFOLD, namely, ONE CHURCH; hence they omit no opportunity of alarming their wandering brethren of the danger they are in, and of bringing them into this one fold of the one Shepherd.' (John x. 16.) To form a right judgment in this case, we need but ask, is it charitable or uncharitable in the physician, to warn his patient of his danger in eating unwholesome food ?•*--Ed. R. C. * End of Controversy. Letter 18th.

6

further it, who witnesses for it, who behaves Christianly towards the members of Churches alienated from us, who is at amity with them, (saving his duty to his own communion and the truth itself), who tries to edify them, while he edifies himself and his own people, may surely be considered, as far as he himself is concerned, as breaking down the iniddle wall of division, and renewing the ancient bonds of unity and concord, by the power of charity. Charity can do all things for us ; charity is at once a spirit of zeal and of peace; by charity we shall faithfully protest against what our private judgment warrants us in condemping in others; and by charity we have it in our own hands, lei all men oppose us, to restore in our own circle the intercommunion of the Churches."*

But to act, there must be a plan ; and what is the plan I would recommend ? Simply the plan I followed for myself ;—to seek to know the Catholic faith from authoritative sources, from her councils in their canons and decrees, and, to seek to know her morality from the books of devotion, such as her St. Augustines and à Kempises, and from the lives of her great saints, as truly painted by those who were duly fitted for the task; and, above all, to do so in the spirit of meekness, and peace-making charity; and may I venture to add one single further means, recommended by our brethren of the Church of Eng. land,—the use of some little daily prayer, for the express purpose of imploring of God the hastening on of this happy consummation,

It is in vain to think the work of our conversion, or that of others, is to be gained without pains and efforts ; and I will not deny that I look forward, with more sanguine hope, to the piety of Protestant episcopalians in England, than in this country. Many, as you know, have already entered into the house of unity, without waiting for the Church of England; and the beautiful little collection of prayers for unity, printed at Oxford, is a proof of the sincere desire of those who remain, that all should soon be one. Let England, with her weight of influence, the learned and pious of her clergy, put forward a little longer her efforts, and persevere a little longer in her fervent prayers, and we shall see her—to use the language of one of the most beautiful writers among the divines of Oxford—“ taking the lead in the return of her sister Churches, to the reverential faith of other ages, to that high, and holy, and self-denying spirit of devotion and charity, which

† British Critic, for July 1841, p. 134.

visibly embodied itself of old in our cathedrals and our abbeys; but which has, alas, been far from impressing such clear traces of its influence, on any portion of the Church, in more recent times."*

Let once more that mother-country enter into the arms of Rome, the great head and mother of all that is Christian, Catholic, and holy in the world, and just so surely will she lead after her, not only the sister Churches of Europe, not only this country, the Reuben of her children, her first-born and her strength, but all the millions of her adopted families. “Quando, heu quando! Deus meus ne tardaveris.” Send forth thy spirit, O my God, and let the face of the earth be created anew; and let the streams of the river make joyful the city of our God. O city of our God! O glorious, O venerable, O holy Church! whose saints are sages, whose sages are apostles, whose apostles are martyrs, whose princes are the humble! O beautiful Church, whose poetry is divine, whose music is angelical, whose painting is inspired, whose architecture is inimitable ! Rise up, O shepherd of this flock of ages; rise up, O head and leader of the hosts of God on earth ; rise up, O bishop of the Churches of Rome and of the world, call around thee some few honoured from among thy multitudes ; show to those who know thee not, and are proud because they know thee not, show them thy great Gregories, thy great Augustines, thy great Aquins, thy Benedicts, and thy Loyolas; show to them thy Anthonys and thy Xaviers, thy Edwards and thy Charlemagnes, thy Catharines and thy Clares; show them thy Dantes, thy Angelicos, thy Raphaels, and show them those whose names we know not, but whose works are superhuman in science, in beauty, and in majesty. Show thyself to them, O St. Peter the fisherman of Galilee, founder of an eternal dynasty, father of an eternal philosophy, master of the great masters in all the arts noble. Show thyself to them, I thou rock Catholic, that all who would have their works to stand may build on thee. Show thyself to them, O thou shepherd Catholic, that all who would be folded with the flock of Christ may flee to thee. Show thyself to all the world, that all the world may become Catholic in wisdom, Catholic in science, Catholic in faith; that the beauties and the miracles of Rome may be seen everywhere; that the minsters of England may be multiplied in both the Indies; that thy schools may be ubiquitary, and their scholars once more be armies. Rise up, ()

* British Critic for July 1841, p. 160.

glorious vicar of God! not in anger, but in power. Smite not, but pity. Remember thy own unfaithfulness, and pray for those who have not followed thy repentance. Pray for our country, pray for the dear islands of our fathers, pray for our offspring, that the people whose habitations the daylight never dies upon, the music of whose language is breathed by all the winds, may become dwellers in the tabernacles of holiness, and chaunt thy hallowed liturgy, and the name of Jesus, with the sun that never sets,

THE DIALOGUE OF THE NOVICES.

(From the original of the B. Thomas à Kempis.)

THE PROLOGUE. “Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost” (St. John vi. 13), said Christ to his disciples. For when the omnipotent and merciful Lord had filled five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, he ordered the fragments that remained to be gathered up, lest they should be lost. In a mystic sense, these fragments are the words of the doctors, and the example of good men, which ought often to be deeply thought of, and diligently noted and gathered up in the books and tablets of the heart, as those were in baskets.

Urged by this consideration, for the exhortation of the novices, with God's help, I have thought to note down in this little work some few of the admonitions and examples of my predecessors; to the end that those who hear these good things may give greater praise to highest God, from whom all good proceeds; and that many, reading these things, may be the more inflamed unto the contempt of the world.

The Novice. 1. I pray thee, most dear Father, for the love of Jesus Christ, to take a watchful charge over me,- to teach me what is salutary, to correct my excesses with severity, to apply timely remedies to my passions; and if you know of any good example, to propose it for

my imitation : for to this end have I left the world, and the things that are in the world, that in a religious state I may more fully learn the will of God, and act so as I may live more secure from the tempta.

« PredošláPokračovať »