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decays, or is weakened, because the organ decays. If, he observed, the man whose
sight is impaired by age got a new eye, t. ^., a new organ of sight, he could see as
well as ever. Cf, St Thomas, QuaesL Disp, de Anima^ art. 14 ad 19.

* But neither, it may be uiged, can man think without a brain. True, but
truer, paradoxical though it be, that he can't think with a brain. Man can't see
without light, nor eat without hands (if not his own, somebody else's), yet it is not,
properly speaking, with the light that he sees, but with his eyes ; nor with his
hands that he eats, but with his mouth and teeth. Indispensable conditions must
not be confounded with causes. The bndn is an indispensable condition of thought
in the present life ; the sole cause or agent is the mind. But, it may still be
urged, there can be no thinking where the indispensable condition of thought is
wanting, and therefore no thinking beyond the grave. Much might be said in
answer, but enough to say, first, that when the natural light £euls him, man makes
shift to see with some other light ; and when one's own hands are no longer able to
carry the food to the mouth, other hands may be found able and willing to do the
work for one. Secondly, when man has had his fill of food, he doesn't need any
more while that lasts. Now the mind carries with it the ideas which it has acquired
in this lifo, and which _^are, like itself, indestructible, to feed upon them in its long
home.



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370 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

nature has the bridge across the grave ready-made, and the
problem of immortality is solved on strictly philosophic princi-
ples. The purpose of the present article is to show that there is
in man such a form of vital energy. There are certam processes
of our mental life of such a nature that they could not by any pos-
sibility be carried on in and through, or by means of, bodily
oi^aiis; so much so that it would be jii^ as iiiq)ossii^ for these
processes to be carried on with bodily organs, as it is for the pro-
cesses of organic life to be carried on without them. These pro-
cesses are thought and volition.

Man thinks : therefore man as man, /. ^., as a rational being,
is immortal.^ To think is to exercise vital energy of a certain kind.

^ Some one may say that to prove the mind to be spiritual is not to prove the
soul to be immortal. But, really, it is. Once you establish the i*ct that &erv is m
van a prindple of life which b intrinsically independent in its being and specific
operations^ t. ^., in thought and volition, of the bodily organism, the grave b bridged,
and the problem of immortality is solved, so fu* as natural reason or philosophy is
concerned with it. The shipwright who has launched his ship feels that his work is
done, even though, staunch and seaworthy as he knows he has made her, she is yet
dfistructible, and may chance to founder or be cast away on some inhospilable shera.
Much more may the philosopher feel that his work is done when he has safely
launched the soul on the shoreless sea of eternity. For he has tested it and proved
it to be a simple, spiritual, indestructible principle of life and energy, which no wave
can whelm or wind wreck and destroy.

Consciousness attests the unity, individuality, and abiding sameness of that
which thinks and wills in each one of as. Every particle of matter in the body is
^ renewed again and again in the course of an ordinary lifetime, yet man is ever ^e
same individual. If, therefore, that which thinks and wills and is the true Ego or
Self, survives the grave, it survives as the one, individual, and same agent which it
is conscious to itself of being throughout the present life^ A living reality, not a
phantom, it will not, on being released from the body, melt into thin air, like the
shade of Creusa. An individual agent here, it will not lose its individiiaiity in the
sphere be3rond, nor merge its identity in some imaginary sea of ps3rchic energy.
<^ There was no individual current which served the electric machine and lost its
occupation when that machine was demolished,'' says one who likens the floul to an
electric current aad conceives of it as part of ao cmima mundi, Predaely. But there
ir in man an individual principle of psychic energy, capable of knowing and ideoti^Mig
itself ^and that makes a difference. The pagan of old, if he had fimtastic notions,
had a saving common sense witlul, which your modem pantheist, with his attima
mundif seems quite to lack. It was not to drown them in Lethe tiiat Charon ferried
his ghostly passengers over Acheron. Had that been the purpose, he could as well
have tossed them into the River of Woe.

To put the whole thing in a nutshell. Man, as man, is mortal because the soul,
which is a simple principle of psychic energy, is separable from the body. Is this



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BRIDGING THE GRA VE. 371

Thoughts arc products of that vital energy which we call Mind •
The objects of thought, the things which we think about, are
sensible and material things, or they are supersensible, immaterial,
spiritual. But whctiier Aought be about the former class of
things or the latter, it ever reveals itself as the outgjrowth of a
living energy that acts without a bodily organ ; of a vital force
that, in its operation and therefore in its being, is intrinsically
independent of matter.

«imple and subsistent principle of psychic energy separable from itself? And if not,
must we not admit it to be intrinsically and in its own nature imnortal ? " The soul,'*
obsenres acutely Cicero, " feels itself to be moved, but at the same time feels that
it is moved by its own power, not by that of another agent, and that it is impossible
it should desert itself.*'— Tk;^., 1. f . The soul is a simple and subsistent principle of
life ; therefore incorruptible ; therefore indestructible ; therefore, in the natural order,
immortal. When anyone can point to a single instance in which as much as a grain
oi matter or energy has been annihilated, or give a single good reason why God
dhould annihilate anything, then, but not till then, it will be needful to prove that
God will not aimihilate the soul.— (^ St. Thomas, la, a. 75, q. 6, ad 2«n.
Well has the poet said.

That each who seoims a separate whole.

Should move his rounds, and fusing all

The skirts of self again, should bW
Remerging in the general Soul,

Is fiiuth as vague as all unsweet :

Eternal form shall still divide

The elernal soul from all beside ;
And I shall know him when we meet.

^ Professor James of Harvard conceives of Mind as a *< stream of consciousness,'*
a striog of thoughts, one following the other, and each appiopriatmg the past
thoughts (that are dead and buried), and calling them its cwh. He fimcies the
present thought may be ** the ceaseless thmker in each one of us." This conception
of Mind is shown to be utterly false by the testimony of consciousness, which assures
Of of the abiding identity of the thinking subject, the agent that thinks, in eadi one of
tts. One may as well question one's own existence as the permanence of the thinking
principle within one, for this is the real Ego. The conception is also utterly absurd.
How can the passing thought, which has only come into being at this moment, have
become acquainted with, or now know, or own, thoughts that were already dead and
buried before it was bom ? Is it even conceivable that the thought which is now
alive and the next moment dead and buried, an entity that perishes in the very act
of affirming its own existence, can be "the ceaseless thinker in each one of us " —
can be ''that living intelligence by which I write, and argue, and act ? " Thought,
moreover, is unthinkable save as the modification of mind, the product of intelligence,
the act of an agent.



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372 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

Mind and Spirit.

First let us examine our thoughts of things supersensible,
immaterial, spiritual. And observe that we are not now concerned
to show that such things exist outside of the mind What con-
cerns us is the undeniable fact that they exist in the mind, that
we have thought about them. We think of God as of an imma-
terial or spiritual being, a pure intelligence, a pure Spirit. Even
if this conception could be had by man only through Revelation,
the fact of his having it at all in his mind would prove his mind
to be spiritual. For the conception of a spiritual being is the con-
ception of a being without extension, without weight, without
color, without any of those properties that belong to matter as
such ; the conception of a force, or energy, or active principle not
lodged in matter, but putting forth activity independently of
matter. Now it is perfectly plain that the mind, to grasp
such a thought as this, to take it in at all, must itself be
without extension, and without any of those properties that be-
long to matter as such ; must be an energy not lodged in matter,
an active principle that puts forth its activity, not in and through,
but without a bodily organ. There is absolutely no proportion
between a material agent or a spiritual agent that acts through
or by means of, a bodily organ, and is thus reduced to the level
of material agency in respect of the manner and range of its
activity ; there is absolutely no proportion between such an agent
or cause, and a purely spiritual product, such as the conception
of a purely spiritual being. That which is material, or intrinsically
dependent upon matter in its operation, can never receive into it-
self the idea, much less by itself form the idea, of a purely
spiritual entity. That, on the other hand, which is received into
another must adapt itself to the mode of being that belongs to its
recipient But an entity of the spiritual order, which is simple or
without extension, can never adapt itself to the mode of being
that belongs to an entity of the material order, which is extended,
since it cannot cease to be simple or inextended without ceasing
to be an entity of the spiritual order, /. ^., without ceasing to be
what it is. In a word, only that which is spiritual itself can think
of the spiritual. To say that what is material, or bound up with



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BRIDGING THE GRA VE. 373

matter in such a way as to be intrinsically subject to the laws and
conditions of material agencies in its operation, can do so, is the
same as to say than man may gather grapes from thorns, or that
there can be an effect without an adequate cause. No &culty
that is of the material brder,or that acts in and through a material
org^, is fitted to receive into itself the impression of an entity
belonging to the spiritual order. For the impression made on that
which is of the material order and extended, can never be other
than material and extended. Hence men cannot see God with
the bodily eye, nor picture Him to themselves in imagination, for
these faculties of the soul are boimd up intrinsically with bodily
organs, and therefore subject in their operations to the conditions
that hamper and hem in material agencies, and the laws that
govern them.* But men can and do know God, men can and do
believe in God, men can and do love God, precisely because and
solely because the human mind in its essence or being, and in
those operations that are distinctively and specifically human, viz.,
thinking and willing, is neither material nor dependent intrinsically
upon material organs.

But not only can man receive into his mind the idea of a God
who is pure Spirit, but he can form that idea himself It cannot
reasonably be doubted that man has formed this idea, or, in other
words, has, at least in individual instances, come to know of God's
existence and spiritual essence, by the exercise of reason alone.
Even the aborigines of North America knew of God as the Great
SfMrit before ever a Jesuit missionary brought them that highei:
and deeper knowledge of Him which comes by Revelation. The
strongest, the most philosophic, proofs of God's existence as the
uncaused First Cause, the Prime Mover, Pure Act without admix-
ture of potentiality. Supreme Intelligence, were borrowed by the
school-men from the pages of Aristotle. " How," asks the Sta-
girite, " can anything be set in motion without the existence of a
motive power ? Therefore God, who is supreme, pure Spirit, does
exist"*® And he affirms that from God proceeds the spirit that
animates the human body." The mind of man, then, forms to

* How fruitless is the quest after God, the pare Spirit, by way of the senses or
the imagination, let pagan mythology tell.
»• Metaph,, XII, 8.
» Ibid,, XII, 9.



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374 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

itself the idea of a purely ^ritual being. This idea is in the mind,
and is the product of the mind. Therefore the nund of man must
be itself of a spiritual nature, for that which is material can never
beget, or conceive within itself after a psychical manner, that which
is spiritual.

Mind and Metaphysical Concept.

Nor is the idea of God the only supersensible and immaterial
idea that the human mind is possessed of." We conceive of being
as such, of goodness, of oneness, of truth, entities all of them of
the metaphysical order, beyond the ken of sense, transcending
imagination as well as every faculty that is organic or material.
We conceive of possibility as such, a something midway between
being and nothing, a something that does not but could exist
Can that which does not exist in itself make an impression upon
a bodily organ, or upon a faculty that is tied down in the exercise
of its activity to a bodily organ ? And if it can't, can such a
faculty get an impression of it, or form an idea of it ? The mathe-
matician conceives of a point, and defines his idea of it as that which
has position but not magnitude, that which is, therefore, without
parts, inextended, simple. The physicist conceives of** energy
as distinct from the matter in which it is lodged, and so far fortfi
as it is distinct, as something inextended, without parts, simple.
Again the question arises: Can that which itself has parts, is
extended, is composite, put forth an act or beget an effect that is
simple, inextended, without parts ? To ask the question is, for
any being who thinks, to answer it in the negative. Once more,
virtue, justice, duty, responsibility, conscience, are not mere

" I take it fts a certain fact that the mind of man can and does conceive, or form
an idea, of God as a pure Spirit ; and that it forms and has other ideas without num-
ber that are strictly supersensible or immaterial. If any one is disposed to deny this,
let him consider that there are to be found in the languages and literatures of all
peoples words that express these ideas or conceptions of the mind. Such words pre-
suppose the real existence in the mind of the corresponding ideas. Language is the
expression and embodiment of thought, or it is nothing but empty sound.

** Conceives of it, I say, as distinct, not as existing apart from the matter, for he
knows full well that the Idnd of energy he has to do with never does exist by itself
apart from the matter in which it is lodged.



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BRIDGING THE GRA VE, 375

names. They are potent realities in the world of mind, and make
their influence felt in the world of matter. But what eye has se^i
these things? What ear has heard the sound of their voices
(save in a figurative sense)? What fency has pictured them ? No
psychical faculty or power that operates in and through a bodily
oi^^an ever yet has caught, or ever can catch, the faintest impres-
sion of these subtle and elusive, yet most real and influential enti-
ties, liiat dwell, as in a world and kingdom of their own, in the
mind of man. They are subtle and elusive, because they are
spiritual ; they are real and influential for the same reason. Mind
dominates the world of matter, and is, in a certain high and true
sense, the only reality. Two things, St. Augustine observes, God
made in the beginning : Mind, next Himself; Matter, next noth-
ing — unum prope 7>, aliudprope nihil.

Mind and Self.

Finally, there is that most wonderful feat of Mind, which is
revealed in what Tennyson somewhere speaks of as " the power
to feel, * I am I.* " The mind thinks on itself, for it thinks on
its own thought ; therefore it is spiritual. Consciousness attests
that the mind thinks on its own thought, when it reflects.
But its thought is in itself, for thought is an immanent act, not
passing to an object, but remaining in the subject that elicits
it Therefiwe, to think on its own thought, the mind, —
instead of reaching out towards objects tfiat are external to
itself in order to grasp them, in its own way, and take them
in, as it does in all acts of direct perception — must reflect,
turn back, or return upon itself in .such a way that it becomes
at once the subject and object of its own act And since it
thinks upon its whole thought, it must return wholly upon
itself — not as one part might return on another, but whole on
whole. This phenomenon of reflection, the existence of which is
so clearly attested by consciousness, is inexplicable, and must for-
ever remain inexplicable, on any other theory than this: that
the subtle (brce which we call intelligence or intellect is neither
material in its essence, nor lodged m matter in such a way as to
be unable to energize save in and through matter, in obedience



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3/6 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

to the laws that govern the actions of all material agencies." To
say that the phenomenon is inexplicable on any other theory is
really to come short of the truth. It is in palpable contradiction
to all our experience of the way material agents act, and all that
we know of their nature. One body may act on another body ;
one particle of matter may act on another particle ; but that one
body, or one part of a body, should turn back its activity on itself,
this has never yet been known, and the intrinsic impossibility of
the thing must be plain to every thinking mind.

Alexander MacDonald.

St Francis Xavier College, AnHgomsh, N. S.

(SKOod part foUowt.)



THE PBIEST AS eUARDIAN OF PUBLIO HORALITT.

His Commission.

THE priest has his commission to watch over and correct the
morals of his brethren, dirctly from God. It is only under
the sanction of a divine authority that his right can be consist-
gently demonstrated and vindicated. The democratic principle of
state-right arising from and depending on the consent of the
governed, which finds its counterpart in the ministerial calls by
which non-Catholic congregations choose the exponents of the
moral law according to their liking, has no place in the elec-
tion of the Catholic priesthood. Like Abraham, Aaron, David,
and the prophets of old, God appoints him, gives him his creden-
tials which no man may question, anoints him, and bids him
announce His laws and precepts. His statutes and His justifica-

>* Self-consdous energy, though verj wonderful, is not unintelligible. The
mind, being itself simple and spiritual, its act is simple and spiritual, and the product
of its act, or the thought, is, in like manner, spiritual, simple, Mrithout parts. Such
An energy, if it reacts upon itself at all, must react upon its whole self. But reflec-
tion is unintelligible and utterly unthinkable on the supposition that the mind is
material or uses a material organ, such as the brain or any part of the brain, to think
with. It does use the brain, to be sure, but not as an organ — not to think with, but
to fiimish it with food for thought.



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THE PRIEST AS G UARDIAN OF PUBLIC MORALITY . 377

tions, without sense of fear or favor, but following the dictates of
the revealed and unalterable law of God.

Indifference and Over-Zeal.

A commission such as this involves, of course, very definite
responsibilities for those who accept it It forbids indiiferentism
on the one hand, and selfish or inconsiderate exercise of authority
on the other. The soldier who is detailed to direct a column or
to do duty as a scout, or to carry a message to the commander
of a separated corps, is not at liberty to loiter by the road or the
camp-fire. His duty is to look, to watch, to act with discretion,
and to remember that he is answerable to martial authority for
interests in comparison to which his personal safety and comfort
count as nothing. On the other hand, he is not to forget that his
duty limits him to the terms of his command. He is neither to
exaggerate nor to minimize, but simply to represent with prudent
discretion, yet with conscientious loyalty, the will of his superior
officer. So, precisely, is it in the case of the priest. If his call to
the ministry marks the high distinction of a divine election for a
task which a man could not otherwise undertake successfully or
obtain by any right of human concession, it exacts from him a
proportionate zeal, which manifests itself in careful vigilance,
indifference to the world's criticism, constant readiness to act in
behalf of the common interest, with a corresponding neglect of
personal comfort and safety. This alertness and sense of duty
are the main elements that secure pastoral success.

A recent writer on pastoral theology tells of a parish priest
who complained that his people were callous, hard, and without a
sense of the importance of education for their children. He was
disgusted with the congregation, and had ceased to preach regu-
larly because, as he said, those who came to the two Masses on
Sundays needed no sermon, and those who needed it would not
come. Did he make any effort to reclaim the delinquents?
" No," he argued, " it is their duty to come to Mass, and if they
don't do it they will go to hell." This he told them at a meeting
in which they proposed to have a town-festival to celebrate the
silver wedding of the owner of one of the principal mills in the
place, a man much liked, a baptized but merely nominal Catholic



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37*^ THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

who helped the Church liberally, although he lived in a neighbor-
ing town for the greater part of the year.

This priest did not see, or had not the energy to realize, that
his parishioners might be of a very different character if they had
as guide a man who was interested in their moral uplifting, who
would make his preadiing interesting to them, would visit their
femilies, bring together the children for instruction, and the young
people for the purpose of enga^[ing their cooperation in some
scheme of charity, edification, or healthful recreation. The &ct
is, the discontented priest was transferred at his own request ;
and the Bishop, seeing that the young pastor needed guidance,
attached him to his Cathedral under pretext of promotion, but
with a view mainly of keeping him busy, since he had not the
talent of portioning out the work for himself. A young priest,
prudent and energetic, succeeded in the little country parish, and
tilings are in a very different condition after only two 3rears, as is
attested by a school and a sister-house, and by the tasteful decora-
tions of the interior of the church, which formerly resembled a
mouldy and whitewashed brick bam.

But if indifference and a lack of conscious energy are a source
of most probable failure in the sacred ministry, they do perhaps
less serious harm than the zeal for apparent improvement, which
acts without reflection or counsel. There are certain common-
place features that characterize this sort of pastoral energy which
belongs to the zealot, and is not according to knowledge. Yet
what is wanting to this temper of mind is not a desire for knowl-
edge so much as the power of repression. Indeed, the zeal with-
out prudence is for the most part rather inquisitive— «iind*s every-
body's business, catechizes anyone that will talk, and establishes
a sort of reception bureau for information, or a gossip line, through
the sexton, the housekeeper, or some favorite crony who £uls to
attract elsewhere.

A Guardian, not a Pouce.

Now the priest, though a guardian of public morality, is not
a policeman with a club and star showing diat he has the power
to consign a breaker of the law to durance vile. His duty is,
indeed, to correct, but his methods are those of a father, and not



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THE PRIEST AS G UARDIAN OF PUBLIC MORALITY, 379

those of an inquisitor. Let us examine briefly what is his com-
aiission. The prcq>het Jeremias gives us the form of his own



Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 42 of 78)