WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS AND WHAT SHE TEACHES
JOHN 7: 26 - 29
26 And behold, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him
26 And behold, he speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him. Have the rulers known for a truth, that this is the Christ ? 27 But we know this man, whence he is: but when the Christ cometh, no manknoweth whence he is. 28 Jesus therefore cried out in the temple, teaching, and saying: You both knowme, and you know whence I am: and I am not come of myself; but he that sent me, is true, whom you know not. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he hath sent me.
A Short Guide for inquiring for Christians and Protestants.
BY ERNEST R. HULL, S.J.
THE AIM OF THIS ARTICLE
Clear ideas of Catholic doctrine rather than proofs-such is the aim of this little work. For unless the doctrine presented in a reasonable light, convincing proofs will be thrown away. Again, clear ideas can often be expressed in a few words, whereas the real strength of a proof may be lost by compression. Moreover, the real difficulties felt against the Church are not generally due to want of proof, so much as to want of correct information as to what the Church is and what the she teaches. This tract has therefore been written with a view of enabling non-Catholic inquirers to obtain concise and correct information about our Catholic position and teaching. Those interested in its contents will have no difficulty in obtaining references to larger works by which to carry on their inquires.
Question.-- Can the labour of examining the claims of the Catholic Church, or the trouble of submitting to them, be evaded by thinking that after all religion itself is very much a matter of taste, and provided a man leads a good life, one religion, is as good as another ?
Answer.---The labour and the trouble may be evaded, but not the responsibility. If all religions were human inventions, one religion would be as good as another. But if Christ has instituted one, arid not the rest, one religion is not as good as another ; in fact, there can only be one good religion, and that one instituted by Christ, taken in the way He instituted it.
The foregoing pages will perhaps have shown that the Catholic Church is not what she is believed to be by many Protestants, who in their opposition to her are opposing what is only a creature of the imagination. If this fact has been made clear, the reader's next duty will be to inquire further into the claims of the church; since, if she is the true Church of Christ, it must be unquestionable duty of every man to submit to her authority and enter into her fold.
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Is the bible the sole means left to us for ascertaining Christ's full doctrine ?
Or did Christ make any other arrangement for this purpose ?
HOW PROTESTANTS REGARD THE BIBLE
PROTESTANTS generally take it as a principle that the Bible is the sole and adequate Rule of Faith. This is only natural, since, after rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church, there is no other rule to be found. Yet the results of this view are calculated to raise serious doubts of its correctness. In the New Testament even the most essential points of doctrine are touched on so incidentally,of its and require such careful study and balancing of different texts, that it is an extremely delicate matter to arrive at any definitre conclusion. Most Protestants believe that the divinity of Christ is clearly taught in the Bible; yet the Socinians have argued with apparent sincerity that the New Testament presents Christ merely as an inspired man. Protestants also forget how much of their firm conviction is due to early education , and to a traditional interpretation of the Bible, rather than to any critical investigation of their own. And, if this is the case with regard to fundamental doctrines, much more is it so with those points which are hinted at rather than expressed in the sacred text, and upon which the sects cannot come to any agreement.
In such a state of uncertainty, the only resource left to the inquirer is to suppose that Christ meant us to believe only what is clearly taught in the Bible, and left us free to form our own opinions as to the rest. But yet,in each of these disputed points, Christ must have taught either one thing or the other; and whatever He taught He must have intended us to believe. Hence it seems strange that He should have left us without the means of ascertaining which of the two doctrines we ought to believe. As the case stands, an earnest man can only throw in his lot with the sect whose views of Bible teaching approach nearest to his own, without the least guarantee that is doing so he has embraced Christ real teaching, an not the exact contrary. Again, the New Testament does not bear the marks of having drawn up to serve as a code of Christian belief. Neither does it anywhere direct us to take Scripture as our sole Rule of Faith, or free us from the obligation of believing more than than is clearly taught in it pages. Therefore, to assume that the Bible is the sole and adequate rule of Christian Faith may perhaps be the only alternative left after rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church; but neither Scripture nor history seem to afford any warrant for such an assumption.
Catholics on the other hand cherish the highest esteem an veneration for the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and regard it as a treasure of unique value; FIRST, because of the vivid picture of Christ's life and character which is presents; SECONDLY, because of the rich spiritual suggestiveness of its writings; THIRDLY, as a precious storehouse of dogmatic and moral instruction; FOURTHLY, as a historic witness to the claims of the Catholic Church. still, they consider that the Bible was never intended for the sole and adequate " Rule of Faith;" partly because it is not sufficiently exhaustive account of all Christ's teaching, partly because its expressions of doctrine are often ambiguous, and require authoritative interpretation. At the same time they believe that the New Testament its self points to another means provided by Christ for the preservation of His full teachings through all the ages, and that means is the authority of the Catholic Church. The facts alleged to show this will be frankly admitted by Protestants themselves, even if they hesitate to agree with the conclusions drawn from them
We find that Jesus Christ, without saying a single recorded word about a writ- ten creed or code, appointed twelve apostles to carry on the work He had begun. Invoking the power which had been given Him in heaven and on earth, bade them go and teach all nations, baptizing those who should believe, and teaching them to observe whatsoever He had commanded. The apostles were sent, not as mere messengers, but as ambassadors bearing Christ's authority and power, and teaching and ministering in His name and person ; so that in hearing them men were hearing Him, and in despising them they were despising Him. (Mt. xxviii. 18-20 ; Mk. xvi. 15 ; (Lk. x. 16.) Besides the office of teaching and baptizing, they were entrusted with the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and received a special power by the Holy Ghost to remit and retain sins. (Lk. xxii. 19 ; Jn. xx. 21-) In order that they might infallibly carry out this commission, Christ promised them the spirit of truth, which should lead them unto all truth, and bring to their minds whatever He had said to them. (Jn. xiv. I7-26, xvi. 13.) Finally, He promised to be with them in person, not for a few years or a generation, but for the indeterminate future ; thereby seeming to imply that the apostolic order should last beyond the lives of its present members, even to the end of time. ' (Mt. xxviii 2o.)
In thus constituting the apostolic body, Christ was in reality constituting His Church. The Church was no mere collection of individual believers but a definite organization, which was to be the pillar and ground of truth. (I. Tim. iii. I5.) It was to be founded on a rock, and the gates of hell should not prevail against it. (Mt. xvi. 18.) The Church, taken as a whole, comprised the teaching body and a body of lay believers; but its essential constitution lay in the existence of that teaching body, authorized and guaranteed by Christ. Such was the original constitution of the Church ; and as the Church was to last for all ages, it is natural to suppose that it should always continue to exist according to its original constitution --that is to say, as an apostolic teaching-body. The burden of proof lies on those who deny so obvious an inference. There are no signs that this organization was a temporary expedient, to die out after a few years, and leave a totally different system in its place.
Following the career of the apostles as they carry out their work, we find these conclusions confirmed. There occurs no mention of any scheme for producing a written code to dispense with the authority of apostolic preaching. The apostles show no signs of regarding it as a duty to leave behind them a full written legacy. of their teaching. They write to meet incidental occasions and local needs. The evangelists seem to think it an important matter to leave us, in outline. their recollections of Christ's life and character, but they make no pretence of giving us a complete scheme of His dogmatic teaching. St. John himself declares the impossibility of writing anything like an exhaustive account of all that Christ did. Thereappears nowhere in the New Testament a consciousness that its writers were thereby supplying Christendom, with the one sole and adequate rule of faith, which should supersede the need of appeal to their oral teachings. As far as we can gather, nearly all the apostles were dead or dispersed before half the New Testament was written. According to the verdict of history, neither St. Peter nor St. Paul were alive when Mark and Luke wrote. There is no clear evidence to prove that any of the apostles saw each other's writings, with one or two exceptions. None of them, except the author himself, ever saw the gospel of St. John. Only St. John lived long enough to see the whole series which make up the New Testament ; but there is no evidence to show what he actually did see. The only clear allusion made by one apostle to another apostle's writings is that of St. Peter, who tells us how hard St. Paul's epistles were to understand, and how some had wrested them to their own destruction
On the other hand we find many illusions to Christian doctrine as derived from oral teachings. TheThessalonians are told to "hold they had been taught, whether by word, or by epistle. (11. Thes. ii. 15.) Timothy, who had been ordained Bishop of Ephesus by St. Paul (cf note at end of end Epistle, Authorized Version) is instructed to "hold fast the form of sound words which he had heard from his teacher among many witnesses'' ; "to continue in the things learned' (viz., the gospel which was committed to his trust') , "knowing from whom he had learned them,'' and to commit the same to faithful men who shall be able to teach others,'' (I. Tim. i. II ; iv. I 1-16 ; vi. 2o ; II. Tim. i. 6, 13 ; ii. 2 ; iii. 10, 14 ; iv. 2, etc.) all of which certainly stands in favor of the Catholic idea of apostolic authority transmitted to a line of successors, and against the Protestant idea of substituting the Bible as the sole and adequate rule of faith.
Still following the course of history, the Catholic view receives yet further confirmation. The various parts which now make up the New Testament were carefully treasured and read in the local churches where they had been received, and it was only by degrees that copies were spread to other places, and the whole series came to be circulated throughout Christendom. Though held in the highest authority , we find. no signs of the Scriptures being substituted for traditional as a sole rule of faith. The bishops were regarded as the authoritave successors of the apostles, responsible for the peservation of Christian doctrine; and the people looded to them for the true interpretation of Scripture. Belief did not follow interpretation of Scripture, but interpretation of Scripture followed belief. When heretics cited Scripture in support of hovel views, the fathers denied them the right to do so, reserving the interpretation of Scripture to the 'Church.
On the other hand, the Church quoted Scripture against the heretics, not as the sole basis of its teaching, but as an inspired witness to its correctness. Moreover, it is remarkable how clear the Church was in its traditional teaching even before the evidence of Scripture had been fully discussed-! refer to such questions as the nature and person of Christ. What the heretics regarded as disputable on Scripture grounds, ,the Church regarded as indisputable on grounds of tradition. In short, the general impression given by the history of the third and fourth cen-turies shows us still in operation the idea of an apostolic teaching-body, authorized and guar-anteed by Jesus Christ, to provide the rule of faith, while Scripture is still regarded as a wit-ness to the correctness of the 'Church's teaching, but not as a sole and adequate rule of faith to be put in its place.
Moreover, during the first four centuries of the Church, it remained an unsetted question what belonged sacred Scripture and what did not. There were many gospels current besides the four we now acknowledge, and a few other works like the epistles of Clement and Barnabas, and the Pastor of Hermas. Of these, several were regarded by certain of the fathers as parts of the Scriptures, and were publicly read in local churches. On the other hand, the Epistle to the Hebrews, Revelation, James, Jude, second Peter, second and third John, were called in question in some parts of the Church. It required much discussion to arrive at a final conclu-sion. But when in the synods of Hippo and Carthage, about A.d. 393-397, a list of authentic books was agreed upon and Pope Innocent I., and afterwards Pope Gelasius (A.D. 494) confirmed this list, the discussion was closed; and for the first time the New Testament was capable of being bound up into one book as we have it now.
But how was this question settled after so long a discussion ? Purely and simply by an appeal to the traditions existing in local churches where each document had been preserved, and by the authoritative verdict of the Church judging according to those traditions. Other historic evidence deciding the question in all its details, we do not possess. So that Protestants, in ac-cepting the New Testament as it stands, are implicitly reposing the highest confidence in the authority of the Catholic Church in the fifth century ; and some of them have candidly ack-nowledged this (cf. preface to Revised Version) . These facts seem fatal to the idea that Scripture was intended by Christ and His apostles to be the sole and adequate rule of faith; since our very assurance as to what the New Testemant contains rests historicallly on the teaching authority of the bishops of the fifth century, the successors of the apostles commis-sioned and guaranteed by Christ.
Passing on through the ages, we find the same systems at work. Down to the sixteenth century there existed in Christendom no other than this idea . The bishops were looked upon as successors the apostles, and their unanimous teaching was regarded as absolutely trust-worthy as truly representing the doctrine of Christ. The Church, as a whole, could not pos-sibly fall into error ; for this was guaranteed by the promises of Christ. And those who claimed Scripture in support port of their new doctrines, and against the prevailing doctrine of the Church, were regarded as heretics and rebels against Christ, and against His authority delegated to the Church.
It was not till the 16th century that whether we like it or not; this state of things received a rude shock. The radical principle of the Protestant Reformation lay in the rejection of the living authority of the Catholic church, and the substitution of the Bible, interpreted by each individual, in its place. Reviewing the consequences of this experlment, and the absence of all warrant for it in Scripture itself, and considering that It runs counter to the unanimous convic-tion of Christendom for I500 years, it can only be prudent for Protestants to reconsider their position;and to ask themselves whether after all, the conviction of Christendom forI500 years may not be right. If at length theuy come to this conclusion, their plain course will be sub-mission to the authority of the Catholic Church.
S THE CHURCH ADD NEW DOCTRINES TO THE FAITH ? VI HOW THE CHURCH REGARDS THE USE OF THE BIBLE ?
The idea of authority in matters of relgion has been much cried down in modern times, as if it were injurious to liberty of conscience. It will be well to remove this prejudice before going further. Submission to the authority of another, in matters of thought, may be justly objected to, especially when half the advantage lies in the intellectual exercise of thinking such matters out for oneself. But when it is a case of ascertaining facts which some one else knows, and which we cannot find out for ourselves; then we must, whether we like or not, take them on the authority of another, if we wish to acquire them at all. The only important condition is to make sure that our authority is reliable. No one believing in the trustworthiness of Jesus Christ would refuse submission to His authority in matters of revelation ; for everything He teaches must be true, no matter what our previous ideas on the subject may have been ; and submis-sion to His authority means acquisition of the truth. The same holds good as regards the apostles, when once we have ascertained that they are reliable witnesses to the teaching of Christ. Every Protestant accepting the statements of the Bible as correct, submits to the authority of those who wrote the books of the Bible. Finally, once being convinced that the living voice of the Catholic Church is authorized and guaranteed by Christ, the only rational course is to accept that authority as a means of ascertaining Christ's teaching ; and instead of resenting it, we ought to be thankful for the gift.
Some further apprehension may, however, be felt about the Church extending her authority beyond the limits of revealed dogma, and fettering the mind in fields where Christ has left it free. This is not really the case. The Church naturally expects the prevailing Catholic lines of thought and feeling, outside the strict limits of faith, to be treated with respect, especially in public writing and speaking; and her general policy is to be cautious and slow in taking up novel views, such as tend to shock and alarm the simple minded, until such views have been firmly established by evidence. But as for freedom of private thought and opinion and taste, in all matters outside the strict limits of faith, Catholics (even though some of the more simple may not realize it) enjoy the fullest liberty. The great richness of Catholic theological specu-lation, compared with that of Protestants, is a proof which will appeal to those who have studied in both schools.
In communicating His teaching to mankind, Christ has made use of the most natural means at His command. Even the apostles did not grasp their Master's full doctrine at once, or without thinking over what they had learnt and asking further questions. Thus also an inquirer coming to the Catholic Church would naturally begin by studying the penny Catechism; which repre-sents the doctrine taught In the schools and churches of the diocese in which he lives. His further questions would be answered by reading or by instruction from a priest. Continued study will carry him deeper into each subject, but will not require a departure from this simple Catechism. It is not essential that he should be a master of theology before entering the Church. A sound knowledge of the substantial doctrines is sufficient. The important thing is to be thoroughly imbued with the principle of belief in the authority of the Church ; and to be ready to accept, in general, whatever the Church teaches as belonging to the deposit of faith.
So far in practice ; but speaking more scientifically, it will be necessary to go further afield, to explain the constitution of the teaching-body of the Catholic Church. If we trace back to its source the authority of the Catechism and of the priest who explains it, we shall come ultim-ately to the bishop. of the diocese, who is responsible for the teaching of the faith within the limits of his own jurisdiction. The Catechism of one diocese is practically the same as that of every other ; and thus the Catechism represents substantially the unanimous teaching of the bishops all over the world.
Catholic bishops are no mere ''ornamental heads of churches,'' as Mr. Jacob Primmer calls ,them, but the responsible guardians of the deposit of faith. They are the successors of the apostles, endowed with their authority and power to teach and govern the Church. Taken singly, they do not inherit the personal endowments of the apostles ; they have neither the gift of inspir-ation nor of miracles, nor of personal infallibility, nor of universal jurisdiction. They receive no new revelations, nor repetitions of old ones ; and yet they are infallible in this sense, that they cannot collectively be guilty of false teaching, and so lead the whole Church astray. It is possible for individual bishops to desert their duty and fall in heresy, as some have done in times past. But such are quickly cut off from the Church, and lose their position in the teach-ing-body. For a bishop can retain his office only by remaining in communion with his fellow-bishops and with the pope; separated from this communion, he ceases to be a member of the teaching Church. It is in this collective body of bishops in communion with each other and with the pope, that the teaching Church property consists. Hence it is to this collective body that the promises of Christ apply. Consequently it is believed that any doctrine unanimously taught by this collective body, as part of the deposit of faith, must be infallibly correct ; since otherwise the whole Church, clergy and laity (whose belief is simply a reflection of the teach-ing of the bishops) , would be committed to a false doctrine, and so the rates of hell would have prevailed against the Church. It will be seen that everything works in the most natural manner possible ; and the only effect of Christ's promise is, that it guarantees the unanimous teaching and belief of the Church
The pope, besides holding the position of bishop over the local Church of Rome, enjoys the twofold prerogative of supreme ruler and of supreme teacher of the whole Church. These prerogatives are believed to have been bestowed on St. Peter by Christ (Mt. xvi. 13-19 ; Lk. xxii. 31-.33 ; Jn. xxi. I5-17) and to have been inherited by his successors the see of Rome. As supreme ruler, the pope has power to make disciplinary laws binding on the whole Church. As supreme teacher, he possesses authority to settle disputed points of faith and morals. It is with the last-named prerogative that we are now chiefly concerned. Under favourable circumstan-ces, when the teaching of the bishops is unanimous and the belief of the people undisturbed, no ulterior guarantee is needed beyond, this fact. But when a heresy arises, and the unanimity of the bishops is disputed ; or when the traditional doctrine has been imperfectly transmitted in some part of the Church, and a dispute arises on this or any other account, an authoritative declaration may be needed to close the question in a manner which admits of no evasion. It is then that the decision of the supreme teacher is called for. Now Catholics believe that in these decisions, and in these alone, the pope is infallible. For it is of the nature of these decisions to bind the whole Church, and commit it irrevocably to teaching and to believing as part of Christ's revelation the doctrine pro claimed by them. Hence, unless the pope were absolutely reliable in such decisions, the faith of the Church might be corrupted by an error, and so the gales of hell would have prevailed against it. From this it will be clear what papal infallibility means. The pope is not inspired ; he receives no private revelations ; he does not carry in his mind the whole of Christ's teaching as a miraculous treasure on which to draw at will. He has learnt the faith as we learn it, from his Catechism and from his theology. If he wishes to know the two sides of a dispute he must study it as we must. Eyen when preparing to make a defin-ition in his office of supreme teacher, he can. count on no new revelation or inspiration of a personal kind. But when he comes finally to the act of definition-when, acting in his highest official capacity of teacher of the Universal Church, he defines a point of faith or morals with the intent of binding the whole Church, then we believe, by virtue of Christ's praise, that the decision will be infallibly right.
Protestants find a great difficulty in believing that infallibility means no more than this. Dr Salmon, for instance, thought that if the pope is infallible at all he must be infallible in all his acts. This simply reafusing to accept the the Catholic's account of his own belief. But it is a groundless objection. King Edward vii does not always act as king. No one would attribute royal authority to hi views on hunting, or yachting, on the drama. Even when he presides over a court function, he is not always using his royal prerogatives. No one would attach the full authority of the crown to the remarks he makes to a deputation of Presbyterians, Jews, or Catholics. Even when speaking in Privy Council, or making his official speech at the opening of Parliament, he does not intend. to throw the full weight of his authority into his utterances. It is only when signing an Act of Parliament, or a treaty with some foreign nation, that the full and highest exercise of his royalty comes into play. Then and then alone does he act as ruler of the empire, committing the crown to the deed, and binding the whole nation. As it is with the king of England, so it is with the pope. In his private acts as a Christian, in his official acts as a bishop, in his official ants in the government of the Church, he might make a mistake or fail in prudence, and no great harm would be done. But if he made an error in commiting the whole Church to a point of faith or morals, the damage would be irreparable; the teaching of Christ's revelation would be adulterated, and the Church would cease to be the guaranteed delegate of Christ. Hence in these arts only is it necessary for the pope to be inmore fallible, according to Christ's promise that the gated of hell shall not prevail against the Church.
But this doctrine of the pope's power open to another objection ; for it seem as if, by means of it, new doctrines were periodically added to the Church's teaching of these two examples of development. Certainly more doctrines are taught of faith to-day than were taught as faith a thousand years ago ; and therefore, more than were taught as of faith by the apostles. This question leads to the idea of development of doctrine. Catholics believe that the Church never develops into a doctrine of faith anything that was not originally part of Christ's revelation. But a development can take place in clearness and definiteness of expression. St. Peter would have told us that our Lord was God and Man, but he would hardly have been able to express his doctrine in the terms of the Nicene or Athanasian creed, because that kind of language was not in use in St. Peter's time. This is an example of development from a less scientific to a more scientific form of expression.. Take another example. None of the apostles, except St. John, lived long enough to see the whole of the New Testament written. Probably St. John informed the Church of his own time that certain writings, and no other were inspired. But this knowledge was not so spread throughout the Church as to make it universally known. It took some centuries for this tradition to become unanimous and universal I Christendom. Then only could the canon or list of the New Testament books become a recognized dogma of faith. This is an example of development from local knowledge to universal knowledge, by the complete spread of the original tradition t all parts of the Church.
Protestants have accepted the results of these two examples of development. But which Protestants do no usually admit. The fathers were quite clear in teaching that the consecrated bread and wine were not common bread and wine, but became, by God's mysterious power, the real body and blood of Christ. When the scholastic divines invented the philosophical word "Transubstantiation", they merely brought about development of expression, the doc-trine remaining the same. Again, the fathers were exceedingly strong in asserting Mary's abso-lute freedom from sin, or from any touch of the devil's power. Yet it was only by a been a gradual process that the term Immaculate Conception'' was invented ; an expression mean-ing substantially the same thing. Besides, the tradition of Mary's immaculate conception was cur-rent at Rome, and in other places, before it became clear in all parts of the Church. Hence arose theological disputes, which lasted till the belief had come to be accepted almost univer-sally by clergy and people; and a final definition by Pius IX., in I854, confirmed the doctrine as part of the traditional faith. Lastly, the Church of inventing the papal infallibility in 1870. Yet this doctrine is found taught by the scholastic divines back (cf.Suarez for example) and an examination of history will show that it was clearly supposed by the church from very early times. A section of the Galligan clergy resisted it for a time, but this opposition soon died down sufficiently to allow a practical unanimity to be arrived at, and the definition of 1870 closed the discussion? once for all. All these are regarded as examples of legitimate develop-ment, in the sense of an advance in clearness of expression or unanimity, but not an invention of new doctrines, beyond those revealed and traditionally handed down from the first. This being the case, converts need entertain no fear of the pope capriciously springing new and un-heard of doctrines upon them for subsequent belief. There exists in history no case of a final definition made without accurate previous knowledge of the state of belief in the Church at large. And when we consider the numberless snares into which a pope left without divine assistance might have fallen, by making definitions based on the imperfect state of knowledge in his own times, at the risk of being proved wrong afterwards ; we can say that history affords a strong support for our doctrine, that a special providence has watched: over the pope from the very beginning, and will not fail us in the end.
The deposit of faith preserved by the Catholic Church includes : ( I ) Doctrines clearly taught in the New Testament ; (2) Doctrines obscurely taught ln the Bible, and requiring the authority of the Church to decide their true interpretation ; (3) Doctrines not mentioned in the Bible at all---.e.g., the abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath, with the obligation of observing Sunday instead ; the practice of eating meat with blood, which was forbidden for a time by the apostles (Acts xv. 20) ; the inspiration of each and every part of the New Testament. It is not that there is any antagonism between the Church and the Bible, as Protestants imagine, but that the two stand on a different footing. The Church derived its doctrine from the apostle before the New Testament was written and has followed tile law of oral transmission ever since. The fact that the New Testament was afterwards written does not interfere with this principle, but only provides us with an inspired and historic witness to the claims of the Church, and, in many points, to the accuracy of her teaching, without, however, supplying a substitute for her authority. It is, however, sometimes alleged that the Church confesses a fear of the Bible by discouraging its use. This charge is entirely untrue. The Church never did discourage the use of the Bible, but only its abuse. Probably St. Peter would have recommen-ded those who misunderstood St. Paul's Epistles to leave such difficult writings alone, until they could use them with better discretion. No book has ever been, so badly abused as the Bible. There is no heresy which has not claimed Scripture in its own support against the doc-trine of the Church. The Arians and Socinians both relied strongly on Holy Writ.
When it becomes a fashion to use the Scripture in this way for the support of private views, the Bible, instead of being a help to faith, is d into a sources of confusion. Again, modern scholarship has proved the enormous textual difficulties which abound in the Scripture, and which require all the apparatus of science and Oriental languages to master. Simple Protestants think the Bible is easy to understand, because they find some meaning or other in every verse. It is quite a different matter to find the original meaning. The most extraordinary idea can be drawn out of an English translational, which reference to the original Hebrew or Greek will show not to be in the text at all. No wonder then if the Church consid-ers the Bible anything but an easy book, which he runs may read. The in finite capacity of the human mind to go and t wrong is sufficient reason for caution but, in spite of this, Catholics have always been free to read the Bible, and encouraged to do so, provided thus the original text or an authorized translation. No one can accuse the Douay Version of being a garbled version, though not without the defects incidental to all translations. Nor does the obligation of accepting the Church's interpretation, in those few dogmatic texts about which she has declar-ed her mind, hamper or stullify the mind. For nowhere does such an interpretation do violence to the text, and in each case it will be found reasonable and likely, to say the least; and given that the Church is what Catholics believe she is, it is a distinct advantage to have an author-itative decision, where otherwise all would be left to uncertain speculation. But these decisions are comparative few and far between; and the freedom of discussion which exist in our theo-logical and scriptural schools would surprise Protestant if they came to realize it.
I PARTICULAR DOCTRINES AN OBSTACLE TO ENTERING THE CHURCH II CHRIST OUR SOLE MEDIATOR AND SOURCE OF MERIT. III PREDESTINATION AND REPROBATION.JUSTIFICATION ?JUSTIFICATION .FAITH VII ONCE JUSTIFIED,ALWAYS JUSTIFIED VIII FINAL PERSERVATION IX SANCTIFICATION AND MERIT
One who believes in the authority of the Church will naturally argue that therefore whatever the Church teaches must be true. But Protestants sometimes reverse the argument, by saying that the doctrines taught by the Church are superstitious or corrupt, or antiscriptural; and therefore the Catholic Church cannot be the true Church of Christ, no matter what arguments may be brought in its favour and so they cannot accept its authority. Hence, after expounding the Catholic view of the Church, it is necessary to show that those doctrines of the Church which run counter to Protestant ideas are not what Protestants imagine and that when rightly understood they ought to afford no obstacle to accepting the authority of the Church, the as explained in the previous section.
The Church strenuously maintains that it is a distinct advantage to have an Christ is our sole Redeemer, Mediator of reconciliation, and source of merit. Without the free gift of grace we can do nothing towards salvation nor can we purchase the least title to grace by any exertion of our own. Our good works derive all their value from the grace which moves us to perform then, and any merit they possess or heavenly reward they secure, springs entirely from the merits of Christ. The only way in which merit can be called our own lies in this, that by. our free co- operation with grace we leave fulfilled the conditions attached to Christ's promise of eternal life, and thus deserve to receive the fulfilment of that that promise which God has freely vouchsafed to make. In this way St. Paul speaks of the crown of righteousness laid up for him by the Just Judge, because he had finished his course and kept the faith.
But although grace is a free gift, the Church repudiates the idea that God acts so unequally in its distribution o predestine some souls to salvation and others to damnation. God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He wills also that no man shall perish. Hence Christ was given as a redemption for all. (i. Tim. ii. 4. ; Rom. 32; II. Pet. Iii). Conse-quently God will allow any man to fall into hell for want of grace, but only through his fault in refusing to make use of it. The lowest degree of grace offered to any man is amply sufficient for his salvation and this grace is offered to all.
Justification consists in the infusion of grace into the soul, by which we are put into a new relation with Godóraised from the state of original sin to the state of grace the position of servants into that of adopted sons, brethren of Christ and children of God. God is no longer merely our Creator and Lord; He becomes our Father and our Friend. We are made heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, and our inheritance is the enjoyment of God face to face for all eternity.
The divinely-appointed means of just laid up for him by the Just Judge, because titration is regeneration by water and the he had finished his course and kept the Holy Ghost in Baptism. Since justification is a free gift not depending on the act of any creature' for its bestowal, even infants can and ought to be baptized. Being baptized, these children are put into the the State of justification, and would enter into heaven if they died in infancy. On coming to the age of reason the Church denies the need of any further justification, and only requires them to cherish and preserve the grace already possessed by avoiding grievous sin. A grown-up person approaching baptism must do with faith, sorrow for sin, and a desire to receive the grace of the sacrament These dispositions of soul never a do not give any right to grace, but are own the requisite conditions for the worthy reception of the Sacrament. It is possible for those who cannot be baptized receive the grace of justification without it, but only supposing they would be willing to receive baptism if they could do so; and the obligation remains of receiving it when it comes possible. *
* In case of invincible ignorance of this divine institution , submission of the will to God known laws is understood to imply the requisite desire. when Baptism cannot be received. The same applies to the Sacrament of Penance
It will be seen that Catholic teaching about justification differs from the view common among Protestants that justification 'consists of a subjective ''appreihending of Christ by faithful and a conscious sense of being justified. Acqording to the Church, justification is quite an objec-tive 'thing-- viz., the infusion of grace; and the best means we have of knowing whether this has taken place is the external act of Baptism, to which the grace has been attached by Christ. The Church allows that justification may be attended by a sense of confidence ; but such sentiments are not an infallible sign of justification, just as their absence does not prove the absence of justification.
Again, the Church does not admit the maxim sometimes used by Protestants, The state of justification may be forfeited at any time by the commission of a grave sin. Moreover, the state of J ossification thus lost can, through God's mercy, be recovered by sincere repentance, and by the Sacrament of Penance. During this life no man is in an absolutely assured position of being guaranteed for eternal happiness, since he always retains his power of freely coop-erating with grace or receding it, of sin; Therefore, we must all work out our salvation with fear and trembling-not fear lest God should fail us, but fear lest by our negligence we should abandon Christ and fall away into sin.
Hence it is possible for a soul once justified to end by falling into hell. Tlne anal destiny of each man! is directly determined by the good or evil state in which he dies. Theoretically speaking, an evil life ('nay end with a good deadly, and a good life with an evil deaths. Btlt practically, the probabilities are against this. It is not only risky, but principal, to count on a death-bed repentance, and avery Catholic is urged to malce less last end as secure as possible by an earnest life, which is the highest assurance we possess of final perseverance.
Besides putting us to God, justification carries with it a true quality of holiness or sanctifica-tion, but not such as to dispense with the need of spiritual efforts to grow in holiness. We must stir up the grace within us, and use it as a means of advancing 'in God's service. The Church also holds that our reward in heaven will increase according to our increase of holines in this life. Catholics ordinarily speak of this growth in grace and good works as growth in ''merit ;'' but with the explanation already given, that all the merit springs from the grace by which we perform these works. The only credit due to ourselves is our willingness to cooper-ate with grace instead of rejecting it. Thus the faithful servant who gained the ten talents de-served his reward, not for the talents he used, which were not his own, but because of the good use he made of them instead of putting them into a napkin.
According to Catholics, certain definite means of grace have been provided by Christ in the seven Sacraments of the Church. Of these seven, Protestants usually admit only two, viz., Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The description of a sacrament, as this term is used in the Church, is as follows :--A perceptible ceremony, instituted by Christ, to which He has attach-ed some definite gift grace, of which the ceremony is an out- ward sign.'' It is by the tradition of the Church and its constant practice that these five ceremonies (onfirmation, Confession, Ordination, Anointing of the Sick, and Matrimony) are included with Baptism and the Lord's Supper in the list of Sacraments. Catholics do not believe that the Sacraments are anything of the nature of magical charms, or objects for superstitious reverence. They are rever-' ended simply as functions instituted by Christ, to which He has attached the promise of grace to those who receive them worthily.
The meaning and effect of Baptism has been already explained. It is only needful to add that certain symbolic ceremonies, performed over and above the principal rite, are due to custom and Church law, but are not essential, And in cases of urgency are omitted. Confirmation is identified with the apostolic practice of laying on hands, whereby we receive the grace of the Holy Ghost to stand firm and true in the manly This sacrament is not service of Christ. essen-tial to salvation. Matrimony was elevated into a sacrament by attaching to it definitely the graces required for fidelity and mutual helpfulness in the married state. The Anointing of the Sick, as describedby St. James (v. 14) , has been kept in practice by the Church ever since the apostolic age. It is, as St. James imof plies, a means of grace to the sick and dying, and may even tend to promote bodily recovery, but does not necessarily do so.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders conveys the graces and powers required for the ministrations of the clergy. Bishops thereby acquire grace to act as trusty guardian's of the faith and rulers of the Church, and, the power of administering a11 the sacraments. Priests receive power to consecrate the Eucharist and offer the Holy Sacrifice, and to administer Penance and Extreme Unction. Without sacramental ordination, the sacraments peculiar to each office have no validity, as not proceeding from ministers deputed by Christ. This idea of a privileged class possessing powers not enjoyed by the laity, is sometimes contemptuously branded with the name of "sacerdota lism" If it were the usurpation of power by a caste or clique of men claiming for themselves a position of superiority, nothing could be more objectionable. But clergy and laity alike believe that such offices are of Christ's institution, not for the depression, but for the service of the laity; offices to be undertaken in the spirit of humble ministers of Christ, rather than that of proud masters of the people; nor is any one able to assume these offices to himself, but only those who are accepted, ordained and commissioned by the authority of the Church in the name and person of Christ.
The Eucharist (or Lord's Supper, as it is called by Protestants) is the sacrament for supplying our souls with the nourishment of spiritual food. It is believed, that when the formulas of consecration are pronounced, the words of Christ, "This is my body" This is my blood," are literally fulfilled, so that what were previously bread and wine become really and truly Christ's body and blood. There is no deception of the senses ; for all the properties of bread and wine that can be discovered by inspection remain as before ; and yet the things themselves are no longer bread and wine, but Christ's body and blood concealed under those appearances. It is an invisible miracle and a mystery ; but still greater is the mystery of divine condescensions, which thus brings Christ down among us, and into a most real, intimate, and mystical union with our souls.
It follows that since Christ is really present in the sacred elements, He can and ought to be adored there ; just as He would be adored if He came again on earth in His natural human form. Hence the Church causes the sacred host to be reserved in the tabernacles of the churches, not only for the use of the sick, but to enable the faithful to pay their devotions to Christ there present. The service of Benediction is an act of this kind of reverence ; the sacred host being then exhibited on the altar for adoration. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament are another form of this devotion. Clearly the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament cannot be charged with superstition or idolatry ; for all the worship is directed to Christ's person, which is believed to be present by virtue of Christ's own express words, understood in their plain, literal sense.
According to the present discipline ofthe Church, the Blessed Sacrament is received in two kinds by the celebrant, but distributed in one kind only to the faithful. Protestants regard cup to the laity as something counter Christ's institution, and as mutilating the sacrament Yet the practice of the early Church shows clearlly that reception under one kind was suffieient. It was usal to communicate infants after baptism under the species of wine only. It was also common, in time of persecution, for the faith ful to take species of bread home and administer communion to themselve and there families under one kind alone. The same was done in with regard to the sick. History affords The same was done in with regard to the sick. History af-fords Version; and hence the inference falls us a striking example show how Church discipline could be varied according to circumstances. Those who were infected by the Manichaean heresy used to abstain from receiving the cup, the principle that wine was evil. In order on h to expose these secret heretics, the Church left it no longer optional to communion under one kind, but required all to partake of the cup also. Later on, the risk of accidents to the chalice and other considerations causedthe use of one kind only to prevail. It was not until a sect arose which insisted on the necessity of both kinds that the Church, in protest, and in defence of a doctrinal perinciple made it law that only one kind should be distributed.
No Catholic believes that he is thereby deprived of any of the henefits of the sacrament, since under either as one kind he truly receives communion with living Christ ,whole and entire, which is the very idea of this sacrament. The purpose of the two species is found in in the mystic representatioon of Christ,s death signified thereby, and both are etherefore necessary in the celebration of the Eucharist as a commemoration of Christ'scommemoration of Christ's passion in the Sacrifice of the Mass In the course of controversy with Protestants the text ( 1. Cor. xi. 27) "Who soever shall eat this bread or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, etc.,'' has been used ot prove the need of both kinds. But the argument is an unfair one, sim-ply because the Authorized Version has misled its readers by using and in place of or. Prote-sants scholars admit this rendering to be an error, which has in fact been corrected in the Ver-sion ; and hence the inference falls to the ground.
Besides being a sacrament, the Lord's Supper is a commemeoration ot the death of Christ; not, however, a mere historic commemeration, but a sacrificial commemeration, in which, while the human minister is performing the visible rite, Christ the great High Priest of the new covenant offers Himself to the Father in attitude of a victim for our redemption. The idea is sublime, but difficult to explain. There are many passages scattered through the New Testa-ment which seem to regard the act of redemption as no mere momentary act, exercising an influence over the future and the past, but as an act mystically and yet ruly eternal (cf. I. Pet. I. 20 with reference there given; also many passage in Hebrews). Not only did Christ enter once into the holy place, obtaining in the act of entering (such seems to be the sense of the Greek) an eternal redemption (Heb. ix. 12)but this entrance into the holy place appears en-trance into heaven (Heb. ix. 24) ; where He ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb vii. 25 thus exercising for ever His unchangeable and eternal priesthood by a continuous mediation, and carring on forever, though not repeating, the sacrifice once offered on the Cross (Heb. vii. 24 and chap. v.).
Hence in the book of Revelations the Lamb is represented as alive, and yer standing as it had been slain(Gk. standing as slain)(Rev. v. 6). Certain obscure passages seem even to go so far as to remove the Redemption out of connection with any particular time, as in Rev. xiii. 8, which reads as if the Lamb had been slain from the beginning of the world. There are other places which treat Christ's appearance on earth as the manifestation of a mystery kept secret from the beginning of the world, by which those who lived before His coming had been re-deemed (cf. again i. Pet. i. 20 and refs.). with out pressing this mysterious language too far, it may at least serve to illustrate the idea underlying the Catholic doctrine of the Mass ; in which Christ's eternal intercession as the victim of redemption is, as it were, directed to His Father from the local centre of an earthly altar (and that we have an altar Is clearly emphasized 'in Heb. xiii. 10) . In this manner the 'mystery of redemption is, as it were, brought nearer to us through the ages, and made sensibly real to us in our midst here and now. By this continual priestly function is fulfilled that prophecy of Malachi (i. I I ) which tells of a clean oblation (minchhah) 'place among the Gentiles, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same. The correctness of any attempt to conceive this sublime idea will be safeguarded by the following theological propositions:
1) In the Mass, Jesus Christ is the Priest, offering Himself as the victim of redemption to the Father ;
2) Christ's offering of Himself is identically the same as that on Calvary, but the manner
is bloodless and mystical ;
3) The human minister act:s in the name and person of Christ, being strictly only Christ's deputy or instrument for the performance of the external rite ;
4) The Mass is a local appplication of the the one great sacrifice of Calvary to particular groups of souls, in divers times and places, rather than a repetition of the sacrifice itself. Any idea, therefore, which Protestants have conceived of the Mass being derogatory to the one sacrifice or to the priesthood of Christ, is due mainly to the difficulty of understanding this very deep subject, and is not to be wondered at. A careful study of the above remarks will, at least, clear us of this charge.
In pronouncing the words "Receive ye the Holy Ghost ; whose sins ye shall forgive shall be forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained'' (Jn. xx. 19, 20) , Christ bestowed on the apostles that power meet of Penance. This sacrament is the outward and visible means by those who after baptism have lost the grace of God by grave sin may, through repentance, confession and absolution receive pardon and reconciliation with God. As in case of other sacraments, the value of the outward function consists in giving us a definite sign of the for-giveness we have received, instead of leaving the, repentant soul in a state of harrowing un-certainty. Sincere sorrow and sincere confession, and a purpose of avoiding sin for the future, are the conditions for a valid reception of the sacrament. Confession is, therefore, no magical means of getting rid of sin ; for instead of dispensing with repentance, it is valueless without repentance; and if this is wanting, the priest may be deceived, but God is not mocked, and the sacrament is worse than useless.The priest acts the part of an intermediary as regards hearing the confession; but as far as the elects are concerned, it is a matter entirely between the soul and God.
Hence the favourite objection, that confession places a barrier between the soul and God, is quite fallacious. The office of a confessor is that of a helper, for his training enables him to solve doubts, to ease difficulties, to offer advice as to the way of avoiding sin, and to give encouragement to tine weak. Many a soul has felt the need of some one who, from his sympathetic spirit, and discuss difficulties and troubles in the light of a wide experience, and yet never betray outside the confessional any consciousness of having received such confi-dence at all-and this is the function which a confessor exercises for those who wish it. On the other hand, those who need no such help can make their confession in a business like manner, without question, or discusunsion, or comment, except of the briefest kind, selecting, if they like, a confessor noted for taciturnity. It is true that a sensitive subject sometimes finds an ordeal in barely mentioning sins committees but the feeling wears of when it is found that an experienced confessor is surprised at nothing, having often heard every kind of sin in the course of his experiencethat he is never supposed to scold his penitents, but to direct all his remarks towards their help and encouragement.
As for the alleged moral uphealthiness of priest and penitent dealing in matters of a delicate nature, this objection comes only from those who know nothing of the confessional in prac-tice. If the matter is plain and straightforward no. question or discussion is needed. If the pen-itent needs advice or help, it can be. given in the same professional way as a doctor would give it. But confessors are trained to great prudence in this mater, and are taught that "it is better to fall short by reserve a thousand times than, to go beyond the mark by a single super-fluous questioners." They are cautioned never to say a word which will convey fresh know-ledge of sin to innocent minds; and a bishop who came across a case of imprudence in this matter would take actlve measures against it occcurring again.
There is no absolute necessity to go to confession except in case of grave sin ; but it is a laudable and customary practice to do so, as a safer preparation for each communion, and also to confess all sins that the soul is conscious of without drawing any hard and fast distinc-tion be, tween graver and lighter sins.
Those who, by reading the foregoing pages, have come to see the main doctrines of the Church in a reasonable light, may still be kept back by the difficulty of taking up certain practices and devotions of Catholics which they have been used to regard as objectionable. These it is now necessary to explain, together with the doctrinal basis on which they rest.To smooth down difficulties at. first it may be remarked, in general, that no convert is obliged to plunge at once into the practice of every kind of Catholic devotion. He must begin by ack-nowledging the doctrine on which they rest, and the legitimacy of their practice. In course of time he will and himself naturally drawn rather to one devotion than another ; and need have no fear of following his preferences, since the choice of devotions is largely a matter of taste.
Obviously, devotion in some form or another to Christ our Lord is the essential part of a Catholic life. Two special forms of devotion alone need explanation. Devotion to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament means prayer and worship directed to Him as being really present on the altar of the Church, and in a spirit of gratitude for the gift of this great sacrament. Devotion to the Sacred Heart regards Christ specially in the aspect of His human nature, and the affect-ionate love of His human heart for mankind.It will be seen from these examples that devot-ions to Christ only differ from each eve other by the partic-ular line of thought which dom-inates our prayers to Him. The worship directed to Christ if of the highest kind, such as is due to God alone ; since He is the second person of the Blessed Trinity.
The subsidiary devotions now to be considered are of a totally different kind, and stand on another footing. They concern our fellow creatures in the household of God. If the word "worship'' is ever used with regard to a creature, it is used in the wide sense in which our forefathers used to speak of the "worshipful company of fishmongers,'' or as we duress a judge as "your ."worship." now a It is practically better not to use the word ''worship'' at all, and to take ln its place the more ordinary terms "reverence'' or "honour.'' No one can object to Catholics reverencing Mary or honouring the saints. The only complaint which might be raised is against regarding this reverence and honour as part of religion. To this the answer is quite clear. Religion is necessarily concerned with many objects besides God. It involves the love of others for God's sake. To love our neighbour as ourselves is a part of religion. St, Paul teaches that it is part of the Christian religion to honour the king. Our Lady herself declares that all generations shall call her blessed. To honour those whom God has delighted to honour is to reverence God Himself in His noblest works.
But we go a step further in praying to them ; and it is imagined that prayer ought to be directed to God alone. Yet prayer only means asking for what we only want; and provided those in heaven take an interest in us on earth, and can hear tis when we speak to them-- as the Church teaches to be the case --there is no more objection to our asking them to help us by their prayer's than there was to St. Paul asking the Ephesians and other Christians to pray for him (Eph. vi, 19 ; Phi1. iv. 3; I Thes. v. 25: II Thes. iii. I) If the saints on earth can be asked for prayers, why not the saints in heaven ? If St. Paul's request for the prayers of his fellow Christians on earth does not encroach on Christ's sole mediatorship, neither does our request for the prayers of the blessed in heaven.
No Catholic ran be so ignorant or stupid as to imagine that praying to the saints he is pray-ing to God. Nor can it be objected that we pray too much to the saints and too little to God. The whole of Mass and Communion, Vespers, Benediction, the Stations of the Cross, Devotions to the Sacred Heart, the use of all the sacraments ; these one and all are acts of the direct worship of God; prayers to the saints are, as it were, thrown in incidentally and now and then, and hold the subsidiary place to which they are entiled. Even the Rosary is not mainly an act of devotion to Mary, but is more properly a rapid review of the chief events of the life of Christ. Only two out of the fifteen: mysteries concern our Lady alone. In the rest, Mary only figures as she figures in the gospel ; and in several she does not appear at all. As for the recitation of the Hail Mary, this is mainly a repetition of the greetings addressed by the angel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth to our Lady; a practice to which no one can reasonably object,
The main idea being clear we can deal more in detail with tile Church's doctrine Lady It may be summed comcerning our Lady up briefly under three heads; -- First, Mary is mother of the God-Man Jcsus Christ, and is a most eminent saint, dear to God and man. Secondly, she takes an interest in. the faithful on earth, redeemed like herself by the blood of her Son, and prays for them in heaven. Thirdly, it is legitimate and becoming to honourher, and to ask for her prayers. On the other hand the Church repudiates all idea that Mary is more than a crea-ture, or that her intercession stands on the same level or in any way means the same thing as the intercession of her Divine Son. Any language used by foreign devotional writers which seems to English ears to suggest by an objectionable sense ; signs ought rather to be taken in a rhapsodical and poetic sense, and not to be regarded as serious doctrinal prose. As a matter of taste, it might be better to restrict in some way the use of words. For it is in this case as in the abuse of superl-atives ; if we exhaust our highest lanbe condemned otherwise, would the Church if in tended to bear such but such expresguage over Mary, we shall have no higher language left to apply to our Lord. But matters of taste are not matters of dogma.
The doctrine Immaculate Conception simply means that Our Lady, in view of her exalted office, was endowed with God's grace from the first moment of her existence, instead of be-ing conceived and born in original sin. Every Christian receives this purification from original sins by baptism ; in our Lady's case, the effect of baptism was anticipated. We cannot hence infer that Mary did not owe her redemption to Christ's death, but only that the grace of re-demption was conferred beforehand in view of Christ's future merits; just as was the case with the saints of the O1d Testament, who received their Justification before Christ came on earth. The idea of this total freedom from the stain of original sin will seem more natural by the fact that Adam and Eve both enjoy-ed this privilege in their creation ; and had it not been for the fall, every member of the human race 'would also have been immaculately conceived. As to the definition of this doctrine in 1854 by Pius IX., enough has been said in the section on development of doctrine.
The above remarks will make it superfluous to deal with devotion to other saints in the calendar of the Church. As regards the use of statues, crucifixes, and pious pictures, the Church allows them as means to help the memory and imagination. No one can say that graven images were absolutely forbidden by the law of Moses, since graven cherubim and lions, oxen and palms, bowers and pomegranates were freely used in the ornaments of the tabernacle and the temple. Such objects were forbidden to be made for the purpose of idolatry.
The Church is quite unnecessarily clear in asserting that we do not pray to images, for they can neither see, hear, or help us. The same applies to the veneration of the Cross and relics of the saints, which stand on a par with heirlooms and property once belonging to those we love and reverence. As for the act of bending the knee before such objects, it might as a matter of taste be preferable to restrict the kneeling attitude to ants of divine adoration. But so long as Englishmen continue to bend the knee before the king or bow before his throne, there ought to be no difficulty in allowing Catholics to do the same before the sign of redemption, or the relics and images of the saints.
In any Catholic prayer book there will be found attached to certain prayers such remarks as the following : "40 days' indulgence , "100 days indulgence," or "A plenary indulgence is granted to the devout recital of time following prayer." It need hardly be said that these indul-gences do not mean a privilege to commit sin. To explain what they mean will require a some-what lengthy consideration. The root idea underlying the use of indulgences is that Christ, in freely gaining for us the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation, did not abrogate the law of right order and healthy discipline,which requires that wickedness should never be passed over with impunity, that sin should carry with it some penalty, and that forgiveness should not leave us without the obligation of making some amends the past, even after the sin itself has been forgiven. According to this principle, the church teaches that every sin committed after baptism incurs a debt of dolly's temporal punishment. This debt or part of may remain, even after the offence against God has been condoned, and must be paid to the uttermost farthing; either in this life, by penance or other works Christian virtue, or in that state of purgation which intervenes between death and our entrance into heaven. Every act of Christian virtue we perform can be accepted by God as amends for past on sin, whether it be prayer. alms-giving, or works of self punishment, such as fasting, and other forms of penance, or even the incidental hardships of life borne with patience. This doctrine carries with it the double advan-tage of affording a check on sin and an incentive to earnestness of life. To Protestants it may seem novel, ought not to seem unreasonable.
In ancient times the Church used to take the matter in hand, by imposing severe penances for the more grievous sins. The good disposition of the penitent, or the prayers of the confessorsand martyrs,sometimes led to a remission or shortening of the penance ;and any such remission was called an, indulgence.'' The ancient discipline is now obsolete except so far as its practice survives in the short prayers given as a penance'' in the confessional. The Church, however, retains the custom of attaching "indulgences'' to certain forms of prayer or other good works which she specially wishes to encourage; and still preserves a relic of ancient forms by assigning numbers of days to the indulgence "40 days" "100 days"or a full and ''plenary indulgence's "These numbers have no definite assignable of value except for comparing one indulgence with another; since we know neither the measure of the debt due, nor the obsolete value of each penance in the sight of God. The power of the Church to assign expiatory value of prayers and good works springs from here jurisdiction over the sins of the faithful, and rests on belief that the wishes of the Church, expressed in granting an indulgence, will be ratified by the application of Christ's merits to 'the advantage of those who use them. A plenary indulgence is one in which the wish of the Church is unlimited except by the full needs of the individual soul. And if such an indulgence be performed with the highest devotions. it is believed that God will regard the whole penitential debt as satisfied. But the actual results of indttlgences remain a secret known only to God. Catholics generally speak of the penitential value of such ants as ''satisfaction" not in any sense which touches the satisfaction made by Christ for the guilt of our sins, but as meeting the debt of temporal punishment which, as already explained, God has attached to sin to prevent it from being passed over with impunity.
Closely allied with this question subject of purgatory, of penitential satisfaction is undergone if full amends for sin have not been made in this life. We know nothing with certainty about purgatory, except the fact of its existence, and that it involves a delay in entering heaven till the last relics of sinfulness are purged away. We are told nothing-of the amount, kind, or dur-ation of its purgative processes. We know, however, that by our intercessions and other good works we can help those detained there. Hence the practice of prayers for the dead, and the application of indulgences to the soul of the departed.
From what has been said, It will be seen how the Catholic idea of the Communion of Saints brings the blessed in heaven, the faithful on earth, and the souls in purgatory into one great family and household of God, bound together by an intercourse of prayer and intercession ; the Church triumphant helping the Church militant, the Church militant helping the Church supering; all united in the common offices of mutual charity, and all working for the one great end of God's greater glory and the happiness and well-being of mankind.
No one can deny that this is the usage recognized and recommended by Christ and His apostles, and practiced by the early Christians ; and that the Church is more Scriptural in re-taining it than Protestants are in abandoning it. The only question is whether it suits the pre-sent age or not to impose fasting and abstinence as a routine duty, instead of leaving it to each one's devotion. However, the Church still retains an immemorial custom, which seems strange to Protestants only because they have abandoned its observance. But circumstances have in-troduced the need for. many exemptions and dispensation, at least in this country ; and the rigour of ancient discipline has. been mollified to suit the case. Even for those who through weakness or excessive occupation cannot practice it, it still serves as a reminder that we do not live for pleasure only, and that self-mortification in moderation is good for the soul.
The liturgical services of the Church are solemn and dignified, but cannot be called simple. They are more or less dramatic, and as far as possible magnificent in their appointments ; music, lights and incense, vessels of gold and silver, broidered vestments all contributing to this effect. Protestants have been accustomed to a bald bare service, and fail to understand the Catholic usage. Let us admit at once that it is no question of divine appointment, and mainly a matter of taste; and the Catholic taste happens to have tended towards making the public functions of the Church as splendid as possible. If this is found attractive to the people and induces them to attend service without weariness, it is difficult to see any objection to it. But when the novelty wears off, these exhibitions of splendour cease to be sensational, and become in- stead full of interest, religious significance and devotion.
The use of Latin is felt to be perplexing to strangers. But to Catholics the difficulty does not occur, as they are accustomed to following the service with an intelligent knowledge of its meaning, and a translation, or suitable private devotions. Possibly if the English or Scotch people were to come over to the Church in large bodies, the Pope might willingly grant them an English liturgy, since he has made similar concessions among the English schismatics. Ther is nothing essential involved, and Latin has its advantages and disadvantages. Converts, as a rule, find their objection vanish almost as soon as they have joined the Church. The movement now afoot in favour of English evening services, and the congregational singing of English hymns, will do some thing towards meeting the want wherever it is felt. .
The foregoing pages will perhaps have shown that the Catholic Church is not what she is be-lieved to be by many Protestants, who in their opposition to her are opposing what is only a creature of the imagination. If this fact has been made clear, the reader's next duty will be to inquire further into the claims of the church; since, if she is the true Church of Christ, it must be unquestionable duty of every man to submit to her authority and enter into her fold.