abbé (Antoine) Martinet.

Religion in society; or, The solution of great problems, placed within the reach of every mind (Volume 1) online

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proper subject for a bed and a physician ?



bark of Peter, which steers prosperously towards the eternal
port, through shoals and tempests, bearing within it the in-
numerable family of the children of obedience and charity.*

Alas ! in the general shipwreck of intellect, misguided by
Protestantism and incredulity, where shall we find the divine
peace of the Savior, bequeathed by him to his disciples, if
not in the vast ark of Catholicism ?|

Every day we shall see approaching it in greater numbers,
souls that are vigorous enough to escape the paralysis of an
icy indifference, enlightened enough to despise the absurd
mummery of Methodism, and strong enough to break the
material ties which chain them to the standard of the Refor-



IT has been said, that to judge of the two religious sys-
tems which have confronted each other for three centuries, it
is sufficient to observe and listen to those who pass from one
to the other.

Among the Protestants, who since the early times of the
Reformation have returned to die in the religion of their
grandfathers,^ we find, particularly in our age, a host of

* Filii sapientiae, Ecclesia justorum ; et natio illorum, obedicntia et
dilectio. (Eccles. iii. 1.)

t John xiv. 27.

t A celebrated Protestant, Madame de Stael, hard pushed upon the
religious question by a learned ecclesiastic, whom she herself had drawn
into the subject, had recourse to this common defence : I wish to live


illustrious names, of superior men, whose irreproachable life,
and noble use of the finest talents had won the esteem and
affection of those around them, and the respect and admira-
tion of the public. An exalted intellect, an honest and na-
turally religious heart, soon reveal to them the perfect nullity
of a religion, which by the absence of doctrines and the
meagerness of its worship, deprives the mind of its steadfast-
ness, virtue of its foundation, and piety of its nourishment.
Catholicism presents itself to them, often in the midst of
studies which might appear foreign to the religious question.
But, as we have said above, nothing is isolated in the intellec-
tual and moral order, and truth, because it is objectively
being, becomes necessarily the parent of all that is.

One, a celebrated professor of history, meets with Catho-
licism in the application of the principles of the science he is
teaching ; * another a profound civilian, discovers it in the
fundamental laws of the social order ; f a third perceives it in
the midst of the frightful and eminently anti-Catholic scenes
of the French revolution. J Some in their researches into
the nature of the human mind, or the principles of political
economy ; others in their enlightened enthusiasm for the fine
arts, have attained the conviction that Catholicism can alone
answer to the moral wants of man, can establish by its pro-

and die, sir, in the religion of my fathers. Jlnd I, Madam, in the
religion of my grandfathers, answered her witty opponent. This is,
in other terms, the same answer that a French Ambassador made to
some English Courtiers, who seeing him recovering from a dangerous
malady, asked him if he should not have regretted being buried in her-
etical ground ? " No," answered he, I should only have ordered my
grave to be dug a little deeper, and I should have found myself in the
midst of Catholics." To however slight a depth the Protestant pene-
trates either the soil or history, he meets everywhere the ineffaceable
inscription : Protestantism sprung up fifteen hundred years after
* Doctor Thilips. f M. Hallor. \ Adam Miiller.


found morality a basis for political economy, and that it
exclusively possesses the principle of the beautiful in nature
and art.*

The first gleam of light makes a lively impression upon
souls desirous of the truth. The thorough investigation
which the importance of the subject demands, the conscien-
tious comparison of the two systems, viewed as to their
origin, essential principles and results; the attentive reading
of what their defenders have written most strongly for or
against; in a word, all the means necessary to form a deep
conviction, have been put in use.

On the other side, the very lively prejudices of early edu-
cation, the kind of ignominy which the numerous and influ-
ential family of foolish persons attach to the change of reli-
gion, the repugnance which the severe morality and certain
practices of Catholicism excite in human nature, but more
than all, the terrible tempest that every converted Protestant
draws down on his own and the heads of all belonging to
him, the mortal blow that he strikes at the heart of relatives
and friends, the tears of a wife, of children, whose brilliant
prospects he often ruins ; in a word, everything which to
ordinary minds makes truth in the wrong, presents itself
again and again to the thoughts of these men, and cruelly
assails their heart

At length, after long-continued resistance grace has tri-
umphed. The divine remedies which the heavenly physician
has entrusted to his Church have been applied to the neo-
phytes, and immediately a strength, a calmness and an inex-
pressible satisfaction succeed to the weaknesses of nature,
and to the tortures of doubtf

The first desire of a soul that has found God is to publish

* De Soltberg, Frederic Schlegel, Veith, Molitor, Bautain, de Coux,
le legon d'econ poliL
t Words of M. de Haller, Lettre a safamille, Sfc. Geneva, 1821, p. 20.


the greatness of the Divine compassion, and to invite all those
who are dear to it to share its happiness. The new con-
verts take the pen, and what do we find, in the writings in
which they publish the causes of their conversion ? an accent
of truth and love which blind enthusiasm and wavering faith
will never imitate. It is the language of a soul, which, long
a prey to the weariness of doubt, reposes sweetly in the bosom
of established truth, and does not fear to make the public a
judge of the reasons for its profound conviction. It is the
expression of a heart more filled with gratitude and love for
the religion which it embraces, than aversion for that which
it abandons, and which utters only words of kindness and
charity even to the most unjust of its former fellow believers.
I appeal to the general conscience, do we not find this the
case in the numerous writings published by Protestants
returned to the ancient religion, from those of the illustrious
Count Stolberg, to the admirable Letter of M. de Haller to
his family, and that of M. Laval, ci-devant minister, to his
old companions.*

Let Protestantism now show us her conquests. We do
not ask for illustrious names, for men who by their brilliancy
of talent, and nobleness of character, might equal the Bruns-
wicks, the Mecklembourg Schwerins, the Saxe Gothas, the
Solms Lanbachs, the Senfft Pilsachs, Stolbergs, Eksteins,
Hallers, Spencers, Schlegels, Werners, Mullers, Goerres,

* Lettre de M. Laval, formerly minister of Conde-sur-Noireau, a
ses anciens coreligionnaires, Paris, 1822. I might add the almost
daily publications of the members of the Anglican Church- and of the
University of Oxford, who have been returning in great numbers for
some years past to Catholicism ; which caused a very celebrated Scotch
Review, (Blackwood's Edinburg Magazine,) not long since to announce,
at the end of a long article on the progress of papacy, that almost the
entire press, at least in London, was in the hands of Roman Catho-
lics. (See M. Alfred Nettement, Introduct. anx Confer, du Dr. Wise-
man sur, vol. i. p. 71.)


Schlossers, Hurters, die., evidently there nre none of these.*
Let her show us at least some honest and virtuous persons
who have left our ranks, urged by the necessity of a better
faith and a better practice, and who have edified their new
fellow-worshippers by the spectacle of an eminently Christian
life. We defy her to produce one.

Who, then, nre the proselytes of Protestantism, since she
sometimes makes them or finds them ready made? They
are almost always individuals whose change of religion leads
them to hope for a change of fortune, or whose embittered
hearts would seek revenge in calumny. Here and there are a
few priests and members of religious orders, who having
exhausted the patience of their Bishops and Superiors throw
into the hands of strangers the ball of suspension or interdict.

Some of these men have published the reasons for their
conversion ; do we find in their writings anything which the
least severe police would not feel obliged to seize as an out-
rage upon morality ? f We always find in them a man, into

* I will only give as a proof of this fact the extraordinary mistake
of the Genevan who, in 1821, wishing to neutralise the lively sensation
caused by the return of M. de Haller to the Church, attempted to make
a dead person speak, in a " Reponse a M. de Haller, on the subject
of his change of religion, par feu M. de Langalerie, Geneve, 1821."
To oppose to the learned and excellent restorer of political science,
an arrogant, ambitious military man, ignorant of religion, condemned
to death in his own country, and who after disgracing himself in all
the Courts of Europe, died a professed Turk in a Hungarian prison,
was in fact confessing an extreme dearth of proselytes ; and here pov-
erty is reaHy a vice.

f At the moment when I am writing this, the journals announce the
apostacy of a priest of the diocese of Pamiers, named Maurette, and
the seizure of a pamphlet by the public ministry, entitled: Le Pape
et I'Evanqile, or Encore des adieux a Rome. The same journals an-
nounce the departure of M. Maurette for Canada, in the capacity of
a Protestant minister. (See rJLmi de la Religion, April 4th, 1S44.)
How prompt are these people in the ordination of their ministers !


whose hands a Bible has very fortunately fallen, beginning to
read it secretly (for according to these accounts it is a prohi-
bited article of traffic among Catholics.) He finds in it
neither transubstantiation, auricular confession, purgatory,
nor the worship of saints and images, nor the adoration of
the Pope, nor the celibacy of the priesthood, nor religious
vows, nor fasting, abstinence, nor fifty other superstitions of
the same kmd. He then, perhaps, consults a Catholic priest ;
but the latter requires him in the first place to deliver up the
Bible, and preaches absolute submission to Romish traditions
under pain of eternal flames. Indignant at finding the word
of man preferred to the word of God, the neophyte makes
haste to cast off the dust of his feet, and quit the Romish

Let us admit the truth of this fact, what follows? Here is
a man who tells us that he no longer believes in the Catholic
doctrine ; but what doctrine does he put in its place ? He
does not say. He tells us that he cordially detests the Pope,
Bishops and Priests, and that he joyfully leaves the Church
of anti-Christ ; but what is the charm which attracts him
towards Protestantism, and which among the innumerable
sects that are swarming in it, is about to console him, by the
purity of its worship, for the loss of Roman abominations.
He does not say.

He says that he abjures confession, fasting, abstinence,
celibacy, religious vows, &c., but to what practices will he
confine himself, in order better to conform to a Gospel which
only preaches renunciation and mortification ? Concerning
this he preserves silence. He is evidently a Christian whose

Moreover, if the essence of Protestantism consists in opposition to
Catholicity, or as a distinguished minister has said, M. Vinet, in an
irreconciledble hatred to authority. (See Guide du Catechumeni
Vaudois, torn. iii. p. 276,) to whom, better than to a bad priest, could
the care of propagating such a religion be confided !


faith has met with a discomfiture, and who wishes for morality
at a discount.

If it is a priest or an unfrocked religious who holds the
pen, he will be more frank. Amid many insults and calum-
nies against those who have driven him from their ranks he
will quote Buffon on ike impossible rule of celibacy ; and
will confess that the noble and august image of woman, that
master-piece of the Creator, that complement othe imper-
fect portion of man . . . has charmed and attracted him.*
In short, it is the old comedy of the sixteenth century, which
invariably ends in marriage, and the living Bible which has
convicted Rome of error, is always a woman.

It is evident that Catholicism well understands the art of
forming thorough Christians, while Protestantism can only
unmake them.

I will conclude with a fact of public notoriety, the consi-
deration of which has moved many Protestant consciences.
There are very few of our Catholic priests, however limited
may be their ministry, who are not often called to receive into
the Catholic Church, dying Protestants, whilst it would be
impossible for me to cite a single example of a Catholic
desiring to die in any other communion than his own.f

* May I be excused for quoting the Adieux a Rome, of the ex-priest
and soldier Bruitte, p. 92, 94 ? It is just to observe that this vile pam-
phlet has obtained at Geneva as elsewhere, only the contempt which
must be excited for it in any honest mind. It could find favor only
with the sheep of the Pre. Beni.

t Milner, Excellence of the Catholic Religion, vol. i. page 105.
This fact which has contributed to the conversion of many distinguish-
ed Englishmen, is one of the Fifty reasons which induced Jlntoine
Ulric, Duke of Brunswick, to embrace the Catholic Religion, a work
which made a great sensation in Germany in the beginning of the last




LET us now follow Catholicism into Pagan countries in
pursuance^of the mission which was given it, eighteen hun-
dred years ago, to announce and teach the practice of the
Gospel to every creature.

Its means of action are still just what they were when it
came forth from the upper chamber to the conquest of the
world, most feeble in the eyes of human wisdom and ill pro-
portioned to the magnitude of the enterprise. It is always
nothingness which in the hands of the Most High, produces
prodigies, that no flesh should glory in his sight.*

Instead of the five thousand agents whom the Bible Socie-
ties show us with .pride, escorted by women and children, and
receiving every year thirty or forty millions of francs either
in Bibles or in salaries, f what do we see ? a few priests, a

* I. Cor. i. 20.

t In 1830, the Catholic Church only numbered four hundred Mis-
sionaries in heathen countries, and the receipts of The Association for
the Propagation of the Faith did not exceed 300,000 francs, ($60,000)
whilst the equipment of the Bible Missions was 5,242 individuals, and
the annual expenditure exceeded 20,000,000 of francs. So that a Protes-
tant publication (The Evangelical Magazine) exclaims : " Romish
Church ! now come and boast to us of thy Apostolic labors, and tell us
if, even in the palmiest days of thy long existence, thou hadst pha-
lanxes so numerous and well disciplined to oppose to the great enemy
of the salvation of the human race ? " (See Annals of the Associa-
tion, vol. iv. page 184.) No, gentlemen of The Evangelical Magazine,
the Roman Church is not so rich, and it is unfortunate ; for with 5,242
Missionaries and an income of 20,000,000 of francs, she would soon
have converted the world. But tell us why, with your phalanxes so
numerous and so well paid, you have not been able to do what one of

VOL. II. 10


few religious embarking at Havre, Brest or elsewhere, bidding
an eternal adieu to their family, to their friends and to Eu-
rope. They carried with them a Bible, a breviary, the indis-
pensable articles for worship, and some pictures. The pov-
erty of those who sent them obliged them to calculate exactly
the expenses of the expedition, and having arrived at the ter-
mination of it, they expended every year the sum of six or
seven hundred francs. Instead of establishing themselves, like
the Bible Missionaries, between a fort and an English factory,
which insures safety, they landed on a savage, inhospitable
shore, dreaded by mariners. The captain and the crew,
whose affection these apostolic men had won, exclaimed at
their rashness and departed with tears in their eyes.

Thus landed, in the month of August, 1834, at the Isles
of Gambier, two priests and a. catechist of the Society of
Picpus ; in the same manner, three years later, the priests of
the Society of Mary established themselves at the Wallis
Isles, and at that Futuna famous in the annats of cannibalism.*

The Missionaries advanced towards the royal hut, a fright-
ful slaughter-house, where streams of human blood had just

our Missionaries alone has done the Jesuit Father, Jean de Brito, who,
a martyr at forty-five years of age had converted nearly a hundred
thousand heathen at Madura and among the Maravas. (See Berault
Bercastel, Histoire Ecclis., torn. xii. an. 1692. Lettres Edifiantcs et
Curieuses, torn, x.)

* According to documents taken down from the mouth of the natives
themselves, the number of the Inhabitants of the two islands (Futua
and Arofi,) commonly designated in French charts by the name of
Alloufatou, not long since exceeded four thousand; at present it does
not exceed eight hundred, and it is in a great measure the tooth of the
survivors which has caused this great diminution. Not more than
twenty years since, the rage for human flesh was so excessive, that
wars were not sufficient to supply the hideous banquet, the inhabitants
hunted each other even in their own tribe : men, women, children, old
men, friends and enemies, were killed without distinction. They even
massacred the members of their own family, mothers, &c. (See Lettre
du P. Chevron, Annahs, torn. xv. p. 41.)


before been flowing.* The mild and inoffensive air of these
strangers, the small gifts which they brought, the crucifix
glittering on their breast interested barbarian majesty. A
piece of land was assigned them where they could build a
hut of branches and plant some vegetables.

A cross was elevated ; the celestial power that bent the
head of the Caesars before this long despised and infamous
wood, soon moved the hearts of these islanders. A crowd
collected around the new comers ; their extraordinary life,
divided between prayer and labor, the care they gave the sick
and those wounded in their frequent savage wars, the cures
they effected, less by their remedies than by the power of
Him who sent them, conciliated the respect and affection of
a part of the inhabitants. According to the example of the
Divine Missionary, they act before teaching. \

Destitute of the aid of an interpreter, they collected with
the help of signs, the most common words of the language,
composed an alphabet, gathered the children around them,
taught them to read and to bless the name of the true God.J
Schools were opened through a whole Archipelago : the Mis-
sionaries were constantly passing from one island to another,
in their frail barks, at the risk of perishing in the waves, or
by the hands of barbarians who were enraged at not being
able to induce them to take part in their infamous diversions.

God blessed such generous efforts. The children becom-

* The king alone, in quality of God was served with whole bodies ;
in other kitchens the dead were dismembered. Fourteen victims have
been counted at one time on the table of a prince. With roasted
bodies living men were also frequently served, with their feet and hands
tied ; they were extended on large trays that their blood might not be
lost . . . An old man was one day pointed out to me, who alone out
of a village of three hundred souls escaped the oven. (Letter of P.
Chevri'i, p. 42.)

t At. Ap. i. 1. t Annales, torn. viii. p. 5, 6, 40.

3*males, torn. ix. page 24.


ing so many Apostles, chanted in their families the first truths
of religion which were introduced into their hymns, and talked
to their parents of the God who made heaven and earth, and
promises his worshippers eternal joys. All hastened to their
lessons, attracted by the sounds of the harmonica,* the
chanting of hymns and the pomp of the Holy Sacrifice cele-
brated in a temple of boughs. The image of Mary attracted
their regards, called forth questions, and in speaking of the
Great Mother, the Son was also spoken of, who descended
from heaven to crush the tyranny of the cruel Aruino.f

The manica with its three equal leaves, (the same trefoil by
which St. Patrick used to teach the Irish idolators the mys-
tery of the Holy Trinity,) became the symbol of one God in
three persons. J The cross erected on the public place, and
the sign of which was repeated on every forehead, incessantly
recalled the principal doctrine of Christianity.

In proportion as the divine light insinuated itself from the
senses into the soul of the idolators, they were ashamed of
the absurdity and degradation of their worship. Nine months
had scarcely passed after the arrival of the Missionaries
before two islands had planted the Cross on the ruins of
superstition, and a whole Archipelago celebrated with trans-
ports of joy the arrival of the Pontiff who came, in the name
of Jesus Christ, to take possession of the fifth quarter of the
world. What a beautiful sight to see this prince of the Church
enthroned on an inverted tray, in a cathedral constructed of
reeds, in the midst of a throng of half naked savages !

Every day witnessed the fall of an idol beneath the blows

* Ibid., torn. ix. p. 40.

f This is the name which the inhabitants of Gambler give to the
bad Spirit.

J Jlnnales, torn. ix. p. 34.

Mgr. Rouchouse, of the diocese of Lyons, Apostolic Vicar of
Eastern Australasia, who arrived at the isles of Gambier the Oth May,
1835. (Jlnnales, torn, ix., p. 144.)


of its undeceived adorers; and, before the end of 1830, the
rest of these monstrous fetiches were shipped to France,
which, in exchange for these trophies, sent the missionaries
cloth to cover their neophytes, medicines for the sick, mate-
rials for spinning and weaving cotton, instruments of labor,
masonry, carpentry, and husbandry, and for the building of
churches and houses.

There the Catholic priests are still the same as they were in
the forests of America, in the 17th century; in our Europe in
the Middle Age men of science and of arts. One is occu-
pied with medicine, another digs wells, plants vines, or is
employed in freeing the Archipelago from the formidable ani-
mals which devour even the roots of the trees.* A third
traverses the ocean to procure for the new converts of
Gambier books printed in their own language.

It is thus that these poor islanders, who, not long since,
cried " A miracle !" at seeing water boiling in a kettle,| have
rapidly become initiated into the prodigies of our arts, and
receive from the same hands the knowledge which leads them
to their celestial country, and that which softens the severity
of the terrestrial journey.

The same means effected the same prodigies at New Zea-
land and in the isles of Wallis and Futuna, where the priests
of Mary are reaping, in such abundance, the fruits of their
toil, and the blood of one of their brethren. J

" But," some zealous Protestant will object, " these chris-
tians do not read the Bible." This is true. Mgr. Pompallier,
landing at New Zealand, had probably only a Latin Bible,

* Jlnnales, torn. ix. p. 19. \ Annales, torn. ix. p. 141.

t The Father Chanel, massacred at Futuna, at the close of 1841.
(See concerning the conversion of the Wallisians, Futunians, and New
Zealanders, and the admirable spirit which animates them, the rela-
tions of the Maristes missionaries.) finales, torn. xiv. p. 1'Jl, 201, 205,
217 ; torn. xv. p. 29, 399, 403, 407, &c.



and I do not know that he translated it into the Maori, as
the Methodist ministers had done, who, he found, had been

Online Libraryabbé (Antoine) MartinetReligion in society; or, The solution of great problems, placed within the reach of every mind (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 36)