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mission presided over by Cardinal Rampolla. One does not


Corresponding to this movement in the heart of
the Churches is a parallel movement among the
Churches' adversaries.

forget that the Pontifical Commission for Biblical Studies are
parties to the decretals which greatly astonished most exegetists.
So it may well be imagined that the discussions which take place
there are entirely formal and formalistic. Now at the sitting
of which I was just speaking, if one closed one's eyes, one might
have imagined oneself at the Sorbonne or the Ecole des haute s
etudes, so great was the freedom, sincerity and scientific value of
the debate. The names of Messrs. Jiilicher and Loisy were
repeatedly mentioned without embarrassment, or the least

The discussion turned especially on the interpretation of the
saying attributed to Jesus by the Synoptics (Matt. xiii. 14;
Mark iv. 12; Luke viii. 10) : "I speak unto them in parables
that hearing they may not understand." The consultors who
conducted the discussion were Dom Laurent Janssens, O.S.B.,
Father Giovanno Genocchi, M.S.C., and Father J. B. Frey, of the
Congregation of the Holy Spirit.

When one or other of the examiners, abandoning patristic
arguments, appealed to common sense, the whole audience burst
into wholesome, vigorous, and quite undenominational laughter.

The Cardinal alone did not laugh ; but neither did he frown ;
he had the air of being wholly aloof from all that passed before
him. He might have been taken for the statue of the dogma
which is supposed to be outside of history.

The contradiction between certain decisions of the Biblical
Commission and discussions such as that in question is easily
explained. Only their Eminences the Cardinals have a voice
in the decisions.

After having been present mute at discussions in which the
consultants have studied a question with a quite scientific freedom,
they formulate replies which might just as well have been dictated
before any discussion took place.

Is not this juxtaposition of two organisms, apparently so opposite,
worthy of note ? Logical minds rebel and find this contradictory.
They are not wrong. Only we ought to find out whether this con-
tradiction is not a condition of life. Does not every individual
carry about two men within him ?


The result of it all is a profound change in the
attitude of our contemporaries toward religious
questions. The day is not far off when, leaving
the theologians to their debates about revelation,
every one who cares about the formation of his mental
and moral being, as also for that of those who belong
to him from the members of his family to his
fellow-citizens and the generality of men will desire
to take possession of the religious patrimony be-
queathed to him by the past, not to live on it as a
spiritual rentier, 1 but in order to make it fruitful.

Thus, for example, science, having passed the Bible
through the sieve of criticism, is about to give it back
to us at the moment when it might have been sup-
posed that, after scattering every one of its pages
to the winds, it was going to blot out its very

History has not even to discuss the theses of the
dogmatism that affirms the supernatural character of
this collection. It has neither to defend nor to attack;
its part is easier and more modest to study the
formation of each of the books which form the collec-
tion; to reconstitute the crises of social consciousness
whereof they are the expression; to mark the obscure,
age-long labour which brought them into juxtaposi-
tion, the stages of man's thought and consciousness
whereof they are the milestones. It has also to
observe the editings and rehandlings to which they
have been subjected, to study the interpolations and

Thus one gradually reaches a singularly different
notion of the Scriptures from that which theopneusty

1 One, i.e. who lives on unearned spiritual income. TRANS.


would impose. The Bible is no longer a book which
has fallen from heaven, written under God's dicta-
tion : it is the road-book of humanity, starting from
the idolatrous worship of the teraphim 1 to rise little
by little to the idea of a just and good God, and
attaining to the pages of the New Testament, wherein
Jesus, far indeed from closing the book with an
announcement that henceforward no one should write
in it, promised, on the contrary, to those who should
love him, new and ampler knowledge. 2

Protestants continue to call the Bible " the Word
of God," but will they still behave as though it were
so? Who will open it at random as they did in old
times, in order to find, in the first passage that met
their eyes, the oracle's response to their preoccupa-
tion ?

The Bible is banished to-day from almost every
hearth because a multitude of its pages are devoid of
any present and obvious interest; many offer a notion
of the Deity far inferior to that of the most blunted
conscience, while some are even revolting and

But consider the collection from the historical point
of view, and all immediately lights up. It is the
word of Man, lifting himself with difficulty above
material preoccupations in order to create a moral
consciousness, taking perhaps thousands of centuries
to stammer the words of good and evil, to create
myths that may appear infantine and incoherent, but
are nevertheless the preface to the greatest of
humanity's achievements.

In this advance toward the best, Man does not

1 Genesis xxxi. 19. 2 See, e. g., John xiv.


pause. The patriarch, asleep in the desert, has visions
of the future : he awakens to strive with the mystery,
demands its name of it, and concludes by imposing
one upon it.

Jacob's ladder had no objective existence; yet to
banish it from education under the pretext that it
does not correspond to any historical fact is to rob
us of an image which, if it is doubtless very imperfect,
is singularly useful.

There are but few attentive pedagogues who have
not noted the void left in education by the absence
of Biblical myths; for the complete and harmonious
shaping of consciousness requires the individual to
pass rapidly through the stages which it took the race
ages to traverse. He can only continue the ancestral
labour on condition of knowing it and of having
partaken of it. Every child should, in some fashion,
live over again the whole life of its race. This
necessity is more and more vividly perceived in every
region, and those who regard progress as a break with
the past become rarer and rarer.

It is far from being mere snobbishness that leads
so many people to fall in love with cathedrals : it is
true lovers of the Gothic are usually very devoid
of architectural knowledge; but what interests them
is far less the building, strictly speaking, than the
feelings of those who constructed it. They only
admire the stones so much because they see in them
the expression of an effort, an ineffable yearning after
the ideal and to tell all a creation of faith. They
are moved at the thought of the innumerable pro-
cessions of artists and craftsmen who only lived that
they might write these anonymous pages scattered
over the whole of Europe; and it may be that their


admiration, more than they themselves suspect, is
like a participation of desire in an ideal and dis-
interested work.

A few years ago, on one of the chief holidays, a
professor charged with the teaching of history in
one of our great scientific institutions took his place
in the ambulatory of the choir of Notre Dame,
opposite the Archbishop's throne. At the same
moment a very short-sighted young man sat down
beside him, and, raising his eyes to his neighbour,
whose umbrella he had awkwardly knocked down,
was stupefied to recognise his former professor, of
well-merited anti-clerical fame, holding a fat and
brand-new Prayer-book.

The master shook his pupil warmly by the hand.
" Fancy," he said, " I have never exactly realised
what the Mass is. I have often been present at
marriages and burials, but naturally, like the majority
of those present, I was entirely aloof from the
religious side of the ceremony. I know the purpose
of this office is transubstantiation, but there my
knowledge ends. So I have come to-day to try and
see whether, with goodwill, I can succeed in being
interested in it. I have armed myself with a Prayer-
book, and have studied it somewhat to try and follow
the various phases of the ceremony." So speaking,
he showed that he had already opened the volume
at the Ordinary of the Mass and at the Office for

In the meantime a chant arose in the choir. " It
is the canons singing tierce," the young man answered
to a mute question; and during nearly the whole of
the Mass he had to continue giving explanations.


From the Sanctus on, his teacher left him to his
reflections and prayers, somewhat astonished to see
him absorbed in them.

They came out together, equally embarrassed, not
knowing how they should separate.

When they were come into the square, the young
man said, to shelter his master : " Forgive my being
of so little use. Did you find any interest in it?"
" Not a bit. . . . But now we stand no longer in
the relation of master and pupil, will you allow me
to ask you a quite personal question ? If it is indis-
creet do not answer it. Have you faith ? "

" Your question takes me at unawares : but since
it was no more prepared than my reply can be, I do
not want to evade it. ... Yes, I think I can say
with a good conscience I have faith. It is true I
ought to have begun by begging you to define what
you mean by faith. Under the same word each man
means a different thing. Who could give a perfect
definition of love? Now faith is still love love
triumphant over time, space and matter, and creating
the future." " But it seems to me the theolo-
gians " "I beg you, do not speak to me of
the theologians. I scarcely have occasion to frequent
them. You put me a personal question, which I
answered personally. I think I have understood,
from certain of your lectures, that for you, faith is
the act whereby the faithful give adhesion to the
dogmas defined by the Church. But that is only a
very small fraction of the reality, and by isolating it
one alters and distorts it. Adhesion to dogma is but
one of the manifestations of faith. It is an external
and, in a way, a juridical sign of it, but is neither its
beginning nor its end. For me it is a kind of joie


de vivre, which finds extraordinary exaltation in com-
munion with the Church. When I sing the Credo,
and when I kneel to worship the Holy Sacrament, I
join myself to the Church with a kind of luxury, with
the glorious certitude that without her I should be
nothing but a waif: that yet she has need of me,
and that with her my life lays hold of meaning and

There was a pause. The young man reproached
himself for his volubility and presumption. He had
a singular esteem for his master, and did not wish to
seem to be giving him a lesson. On his side, the
professor feared he had been wanting in reserve and
perhaps in tact. All at once he felt awkward and
embarrassed. Instead of continuing the conversation,
he asked his companion to come and see him.

They returned three or four times to Notre Dame.
The master went alone much oftener. He also went
to other churches. He strove to understand what
the faithful put into or find in so many acts of worship
that formerly appeared to him mere empty forms.

His convictions have not changed, but he feels his
life enlarged and beautified by the new sentiment
he entertains for his Catholic fellow-citizens. He
has not become a Catholic, but he understands that
one could; and if he notes that many people are so
by chance and not by choice, he also sees that the
Church has members who live by her and by whom
she lives.

A similar work is being wrought in many minds.
If the Separation of the Churches and the State has
encroached upon the material resources of the Church
in a degree that it is hard to estimate, if it has taken


from her the mighty prestige of an official institution,
and caused many candidates whose vocation was
scarcely more than a lively desire to become officials
to desert the avenues of the sanctuary, it has drawn
to her a sympathy and aid which in the near future
may well compensate, and more than compensate, her
for the losses sustained.

If Catholicism could succeed in separating its cause
from that of a political, aggressive, violent and in-
tolerant Clericalism, the awakening of idealism which
is everywhere astir, both in our country and else-
where, would quite naturally translate itself into a
Catholic religious spring. Who lives will see.

What is certain is that at this moment the need
is imposed on every mind to revise those summary
judgments on religion which were the very natural
reaction from the persecutions to which free-thought
had been subjected.

The success of William James's works is a charac-
teristic proof of this. People are grateful to him for
having shown how the religious life may be the
object of scientific study; in Latin countries they have
been especially grateful to him for being an American,
and for having said all he has without being, strictly
speaking, a believer. If his Varieties of Religious
Experience had had a Latin author, it would have
had far less importance on this side of the Atlantic;
people would have been tempted to see in it an
indirect essay in apologetics.

We are at the precise moment when psychological
and religious science have just joined hands to make
the religious life their favourite study.


What will be the result of the action of these two
sciences on the evolution of ideas, feelings and con-
victions? It is difficult to foresee. But it would
seem to be already certain that, after having momen-
tarily disconcerted old customs, they are renovating
this region by rendering it wholesome. They cannot
sow other seed in it than that which exists already;
but this seed, scattered over well-tilled ground, where,
above all, the wind and sun have free play, will yield
harvests of unexpected beauty.

The study of religious experience and of the history
of religions is about to transform our teaching and
profoundly to modify our political, moral and social

The unheard-of progress made by the sciences
during the last half-century has created among many
savants, as also among thinkers and even among
statesmen, the nostalgia for progress of a spiritual


IN order to recapitulate our country's present re-
ligious situation, two facts, apparently contradictory,
must be noted : the rapid advance of indifference,
and an unexpected awakening of religious aspiration.
This double phenomenon may often be observed in
one and the same individual.

At bottom this is not so strange as at first sight it
would appear : the Churches treat alike as unbelievers
those who have no religious life, and those in whom
it is too young and too intense to find full and entire
satisfaction in the formulas of the past.

Now it really seems as though we had reached an
era of reconstitution, and one might say of religious
vindication, somewhat similar to that of the begin-
nings of Christianity. If the Church of Rome
appears to have been more affected than any other by
the political and intellectual crisis, it may, neverthe-
less, be said that, in the midst of the spiritual debris
that surrounds us, the thought of to-day is seeking
out, for the foundations and columns of the new
temple, ideas and feelings whose Catholic origin
is unquestionable : the sentiment of the mystery that
envelops and embraces us; of the unity and the
solidarity of all beings throughout time as through-
out space.

The ensemble of confused impressions that leads



us to the great law of tradition : the certainty that
there is a duty for man, and that this duty is to utter
his harmonious note in the eternal concert wherein he
participates for a moment only, but of which he
glimpses the meaning and, as the philosophers say,
the finality; the conviction that every effort avails
only in so far as it is disinterested, and that the most
vital man is he who gives himself, forgets himself,
sacrifices himself; the sensation that he, in appearance
an ephemeral being, will leave an ineffaceable trace of
his passage, and may associate in the labour of eternal
life a labour which he dominates and may, in a
measure, direct : all these feelings are emphatically
those of the present generation, 1 and it is emphatic-
ally the Church which has sown their seed in its

The Church of Rome, despite its failures and in
spite of all appearance, keeps thus a unique and peer-
less place in the heart and conscience of the flower
of the coming generation, because it alone has real-
ised the unity and eternity of its life. As to other
ecclesiastical institutions, they do not even perceive
that the greater part of the advantages they pride
themselves on offering are, on the contrary, incurable
vices. How many intelligent people fail to under-
stand that the notion of a national Church is a mutila-
tion which takes the meaning and value from the
very idea of a Church!

Pius X and his predecessors may> indeed, have
been far from exceptional men; but the idea whereof
they are the precarious and fragile symbols is one of

1 M. Delvolve expresses this in other words when he says that
" the finality of the conscious ego is only one with a universal


the greatest and most fruitful humanity has caught
sight of, and all the living forces of democracy push
on towards its realisation. To those who observe it,
this idea is perceived to be first-cousin to that which
was the soul of our country during the period so ill-
named the revolutionary. For many a Frenchman,
that wholly superficial appellation still conceals the
real character of a crisis which was, before all else, the
outcome of an age-long effort.

Our contemporaries often find no answer to the
simplistic minds who make a pretext of the mistakes,
weaknesses or crimes of the popes for cursing the
Papacy; but there are also those among them who feel
the vanity of such arguments. They divine that
when it created the expression " the Chair of Peter ,"
and the notion which it represents, and even when it
served ambitions which were not always ideal, the
genius of man groped its way forward towards in-
finitely grand ideas, stammered prophecies of whose
realisation we scarcely catch a glimpse, but whose
realisation has, nevertheless, begun.

The Church has, indeed, traced out paths whereby
to ascend toward the heights. It must, of course,
be expected that not one of them is definitive, and
that along each one discouraged and wounded pil-
grims are sure to be met, reproaching their illusions;
but evidently many of our contemporaries perceive
that to put forward these disappointments and
failures as a pretext for not advancing toward the
heights is as mistaken as to give up eating for fear
of adulterated foods.

If, whether we will or no, " we live and move
and have our being" in the Church, it is certain
she, in her turn, receives something from us, and is


gradually transformed, while remaining ever the
same. 1

1 When M. Diirkheim says, " In divinity I only see society
transfigured and symbolically conceived," he formulates a notion
near akin to the fundamental Catholic thought, according to which
the experience that the faithful have of the Church is the basis of
all else. That experience leads to God, and becomes the constant
inspiration of life. Hereby Catholicism, apparently based upon
doctrinal theses considerably remote from our preoccupations,
may have roots in the individual life, unsuspected by its adversaries.

The Catholic says to God," Our Father," but when he speaks
of the Church he says, " Our Mother " ; and it is she whom, from
his first glance, he sees leaning over his cradle; she who teaches
him to lisp the name of the Heavenly Father. The Communion
of the Catholic with the Church is not the result of an act of will,
or of reasoning, it is the initial fact of his moral life. He believes
in her as naturally as the new-born babe believes in his mother.
The Church takes possession of his soul so quickly and entirely
that, in his experience, the Church and his soul are not merely
inseparable, but, in a sense, they have one and the same being.

Ignorance of this fundamental fact explains the failure of anti-
Catholic propaganda. It is not very difficult to draw individuals
or groups of individuals away from all ecclesiastical influence;
but so far as I know the attempt to provide them with a new spiritual
milieu has been no more successful than attempts to provide
orphan children with a mother.


Action fran^aise, 71 n.

Albani, M., 175^.

Alfieri, A., 176;;.

Alsace-Lorraine, 53-4, 56-7

America, 52, 246

Anglas, J., 231 n.

Annales de la jeunesse laique^

2i9., 231 ., 274;*.
Aquinas, Thomas, 185-6
Arreat, 7 n.
Avignon, 175

Balzac, 208 .

Barbier, E., 183^.

Bartholome, 126

Beethoven, 93

Belgian Catholics, 61 n.

Belot, G., 231 ., 254, 260 n.

Benezet, St., 175

Bergerac, 198

Bergson, H., 85, 90-93, 95, 113,


Bernigni, Mgr., 182
Bersier, E., 62 n.
Berthomieu, C., 231 n.
Bertrand, A. N., 135, 212 n.
Besanc^on, 46 n.
Bidou, M., 128
Biondi, 126
Birot, L., 176 n.
Bismarck, i$6n.
Bjornson, 133

Blondel, M., ioo., 113, 186
Bocklin, 123
Bois, H., 120 n.
Bonet-Maury, G., 197 n.
Boniface VI 1 1, 60

Bonne Presse, 23-5, 74 n.
Bossuet, 142
Bourgeois, L., 260 n.
Boutroux, E., 16 n., 62^., 85-7,

110-20, 169
Bricout, Abbe, i6n.
Brisson, A., 276 n.
Brunschwicg, M., 260 .
Buisson, F., 195 ., 219, 223,

233-5, 243, 260 n.
Buriot, M., i6gn.
Buzy, Rev., 285 n.

Camelots du JRoi, 217

Canaan, dialect of, 178, 192 n.

Carriere, E., 125-32

Casati, A., 1 76 n.

Catholic Press, 23 n.

Cevennes, the, 19^., 147

Chaine, L., 232

Chantepie de la Saussaye, 285 n.

Charlemagne, 206

Chateaubriand, 89

Chenon, 61 n.

Chevalier, U., 186

Colin, A., I2., 202 n.

Comte, A., 84 n.

Corrispondenza Romana, 62 n.,


Courbet, 124
Cousin, V., 241
Couve, B., 120 n.
Cultuelles, the, 8

Dadolle, Mgr., 257 n.
Darboy, Mgr., 45
Darlu, M., 260 n.




Darmesteter, G., 15/2.
d'Aygaliers, W., 231 n.
de Cathelinean, X., 163 n.
de Gourmont, R., 89-90
de Lerins, V., 193 n.
Delvolve, J., 262-3, 266-72,

296 n.

Demain^ 17 '6n.
de Mun, A., 188/2., 225/1.
de Paul, V., 206
de Roquefeuil, R., 188/2.
Descartes, 185
Descoqs, Father, 72 n.
Doumergue, P., 120 n.
Drews, A., 159, 164
Dreyfus Affair, the, 29-30, 136,

194, 227

Duchesne, Mgr., 187
Dumay, M., 47
Dupont, G., 198 n.
Durkheim, Prof., 254, 260 /2.,

267/2., 298 n.

Elijah, 25

Encyclopaedists, the 84, 168
Eucken, R., 113, 169

Fallot, T.,62/2.
Ferrari, Cardinal, 181
Ferry, J., 243, 263 n.
Fillot, H., 231/2.
Flandrin, H., 37
Flournoy, M., 16/2., 113, 169
Fogazzaro, 169
Fonsegrive, 61/2., 113, 186
Fouillee, A., 100/2., 254
Fourrier, C., 84 n.
Fracassini, U., 210 n.
Francis of Assisi, 41 n.
Fredericq, P., 195 n.
Freemasonry, 61, 225 n.
Frenssen, 165
Frey, J. B., 286 n.
Fribourg, 183

Gambetta, 74
Gambier, A., 190/2.
Gaudeau, B., 277/2.

Gauls, Primate of the, 35 n.
Gayraud, Abbe, 61 n.
Gemahling, Abbe, 61 n.
Genevieve, St., 206
Genocchi, G., 286/2.
Germany, 50-1, 58, 156-70, 237
Gerold, T., 62 n.
Girolamo, Societa di S., 210/2.
Gounelle, E., 231 n.
Gratry Society, 61 n.
Grotz, Pastor, 103/2.
Guyau, J. M., I, 15/2., 20/2., 85,
100-13, 120, 21 1/2., 254, 256

Harnack, A., 161

Hebert, M., 214/2., 223, 274/2.

Hermann, E., 62 n.

Hibbert Journal, The^ qu., 1 57 /2.,


Homer, 108
Hugo, Victor, 96
Huysmans, H. K., 134

Ibsen, 133
Ireland, 60
Italy, 54-5

Jacob, B., 254, 260/2.
Jacob's Ladder, 107, 289
James, W., 17/2., 85-7, 89-93,

113, 169, 221/2., 293
Janssens, L., 286 n.
Janvier, Father, 36/2.
Jarnac, Union of, 190/2.
Jaures, J., 36/2,
Jay, P., 176/2., 232/2.
R., 6i.

esuit Fathers, 178/2.

oan of Arc, 206

oinville, 206

orgenssen, 133

ulicher, 286 n.

Kant, E., 158/2., 185
Kaspar, J., 231 n.
Key, Ellen, 133
Kohler, Prof., 157/2.



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Online LibraryPaul SabatierFrance to-day, its religious orientation → online text (page 21 of 22)