Catholic University of America.

American ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 online

. (page 71 of 78)
Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 71 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


a sufferer from a spiritual tetanus. He cannot say : Peccavi! nor
Miserere! He comes to die. Prayers are said for him in every
church and convent in France. The Sister of Charity by his
bedside presents the last hope — the crucifix. He turns aside
from the saving mercy and dies — impenitent. Three days later,
after he has been buried, like a beast, without rites, his brother
arrives in haste. The rooms are empty. The dead sleep on. The
despairing and broken-hearted priest rushes from chamber to
chamber, wringing his hands and crying : Oh, mon fr^re ! mon
frire!

LXIX.

It is said, the brute creation knows not its power. If it did,
it might sweep man from the earth. The same is said of woman ;
the same of the Moslem, in reference to European civilization



Digitized by



Google



«34 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

the same of the Tartar hordes. Might we not without disrespect
say : The Catholic priesthood knows not its power. If it did, all
forms of error should go down before it. The concentrated force
of so many thousand intellects, the pick and choice of each nation
under heaven, the very flower of civilization, emancipated, too,
from all domestic cares, and free to pursue in the domains of
thought that subject for which each has the greatest aptitude,
should bear down with its energy and impetuosity the tottering
fabrics of human ingenuity or folly. Here, as in most other
places, are hundreds who, freed from the drudgery of great
cities, the mechanical grinding of daily and uninspiring work,
are at liberty to devote themselves to any or every branch of
literature or science. They resemble nothing so much as the sen-
tinels posted on far steppes on the outskirts of civilization, with no
ui^ent duty except to keep watch and ward over tranquil, because
unpeopled, wastes ; and to answer, now and again from the guard
on its rounds, the eternal question : " What of the night, watch-
man ? Watchman, what of the night ? " " Ay," saith someone,
pursuing the simile, " but suppose the guard finds the sentinel
with a book, not a musket in his hands, what then ?'' Well, then,
the student-sentinel is promptly court-martialled and shot !

And it was of these, sentinels of the West, that the very unjust
and bigoted Mosheim wrote : ** These Irish were lovers of learn-
ing, and distinguished themselves in these times of ignorance by
the culture of the sciences beyond all the European nations ; the
first teachers of the scholastic philosophy in Europe, and who,
so early as the eighth century, illustrated the doctrines of religion
by the principles of philosophy."

LXX.

The worst sign of our generation is not that it is stifT-necked,
but that it wags the head and is irreverent The analytical spirit
has got hold of the human mind ; and will not leave it until the
usual cycle of synthesis and faith comes back again. Outside
the Church, I searched for it everywhere — ^this lost spirit of rever-
ence. I sought it in the devout Anglican, hiding his face in his
hat, as he knelt in his well-upholstered pew. Alas! He was
killing time in studying the name of its maker. I sought it



Digitized by



Google



FROM FATHER SHE SHAN'S LITERARY WORKSHOP, 635

among the philosophers, and found that from Diogenes down,
they spat at each other from their tubs. I sought it, rather un-
wisely, in criticism ; and found a good man saying that The
Saturday Review temperament was ten thousand times more
damnable than the worst of Swinburne's skits. I sought it, still
more unwisely, in politics; and read that a very great, good
statesman would appoint the Devil over the head of Gabriel, if he
could gain a vote by it. I went amongst my poets; and heard
one call another: "School-Miss Alfred, out-babying Words-
worth and out-glittering Keats ; " and the babe replying :

What — is it you
The padded man that wears the stays —

Who killed the girls and thrilled the boys
With dandy pathos when you wrote ?

A lion, you, that made a noise,
And shook a mane, en papillotes.

What profits now to understand

The merits of a spotless shirt —
A dapper boot — a little hand —

If half the little soul is dirt ?

A Timon you ! Nay, nay, for shame !

It looks too arrogant a jest !
The fierce old man — to take his name.

You band-box. Off, and let him rest !

Then I went away. I passed by France, the cradle of irreverence,
and went out from Occidental civilization. In the East, the land
of the sun, the home of traditional reverences, the place of all
dignity and ceremonial, where you put the shoes off your feet,
and touch your forehead, and place the foot of your master on
your head — here is reverence — ^the turning to Mecca, the kissing
of the black ruby ^ in its silver sheath in the Kaaba ; and the glory
of being an El Hadj ; the drinking of the sacred fountain, Zem-
Zem; the deep voice of the preacher: Labbaika! Allahatnma!
Labbaika/ I entered a Turkish town in the evening. The natives

' Hajar-el-mswttd.



Digitized by



Google



636 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

had covered their garments under the ir^ham^ the vestment of
prayer ; the muezzins were calling from the minarets. I watched
one — a young Child of the Prophet — as he seemed to swing in
his cradle high up on the yellow minaret, and shouted with a voice
like that of the Angel of Judgment, the invitation to evening
prayer. As he swayed to and fro in that lofly nest, his face seemed
lighted with a land of ecstatic solemnity, as it shone in the rays
of the declining day.

It was the perfection of prayer and reverence. The setting
sun, the long shadows, the face to the East, the silence, the
decorum, and the prophetic voice from the clouds. Alas ! I saw
a grave father thumping the young prophet on the back when he
descended ; and the young prophet winked with an expression :
" Didn't I do it well ? " Alas ! for the Prophet ! Alas ! for AUah,
Il-allah ! He was calling to a Yashtnak down there in the street!

LXXI.
On the other hand, I find the summit of reverence touched by
two extremes in Catholicity — ^the Cistercian, sitting with folded
hands before the oak-bound, brass-hefted Ordinal in the choir;
and the little Irish children in our convent schools at prayer.
The former is the culmination of religious dignity and reverence ;
the latter, of Christian simplicity and reverence. And it would be
difficult to say which of the two is more pleasing in Heaven's
sight. But, whether the heavy doors of the Kingdom would
swing open more lightly under the strong and vigorous push of
the Trappist, or the light, soft, timid touch of the child, one thing
is certain, that the Angels might claim kinship with either in that
supreme matter of reverence. And I suppose this is the reason
why, in the two most pathetic instances narrated in Holy Writ,
where the vengeance of God had to be averted from His people,
the priests of the Lord stood weeping in the one case between the
people and the altar ; and in the other, the prostrate figures of
little children strewed the sanctuary before the face of the Most
High.

LXXII.
Once upon a time, in the great city of Cairo, when the mar-
kets were full of busy merchants, and the narrow streets were



Digitized by



Google



FIRST BISHOP OF JERUSALEM AS A MODERN DOCTOR, 637

loaded with merchandise, a Dervish came in from the desert ; and
looking meekly around for a vacant space in the crowded mart, he
laid down his square of carpet, and knelt and prayed. He then
unfolded his garments, and placed on the carpet a tiny box, but
it contained a pearl of g^eat price. The passers-by laughed at
the poverty of his belongings, and the great merchants, who sold
spices and silks and unguents, turned around from time to time,
and jeered at the Dervish and his little paper box. No one came
to buy, nor ask his price ; and he remained all day, his head
silently bent in prayer. His thoughts were with Allah ! Late in
the evening, as the asses of the rich merchants passed by, laden
with costly goods, they came and sniffed at the little box that
hdd the rich pearl. Then lifting their heads in the air, they
brayed loudly : " It is not hay ! It is not hay! " And some grew
angry, and cried still louder : " Give us hay •! It is not hay ! " Now
the holy man said not a word. But when the sun had set, and
nearly all had departed, he took up his box, and hid it away in
the folds of his garments, and kneeling, he prayed. Then he
gathered up his square of carpet, and passed out into the desert,
saying in his heart : Blessed be Allah, Il-allah ! And afar on the
night-winds he heard the bray of the market-asses : ** It is not
hay ! It is not hay ! Give us hay ! "



THE FIRST BISHOP OF JERUSALEai AS A MODERN DOCTOR.

THE text-book from which the theologian learns the triple art
of pastoral healing — moral hygiene to prevent evils, anti-
dotes to cure them, and methods of surgical setting after serious
fiJls in which the bone structure is injured — ^that text is Gury, or
Konings, or Lehmkuhl, or Genicot, or Tanquerey, or Vives, the
last arrived on these American shores. They all borrow from St.
Thomas and from St. Alphonsus ; and these tell us what the
Church has prescribed in the canons and decrees of her Coun-
cils. But the Councils all refer us back to the New Testament
writings, from which the facts and proofs of Christian dogma and
discipline are drawn, testified to by the living tradition which has
been safely guarded by the Church.



Digitized by



Google



638 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW,

The study of Scripture is therefore the study of' our art of
instructing, educating, and saving souls. In it we find the prin-
ciples and illustrations for combating the real evils of all times and
all places — and therefore of our own time and country.

Why do we not make use of our heritage of Christian civil-
ization ? Is the influence of the priest who comes in the name of
Christ incapable of accomplishing to-day what it so readily
effected in past ages ? Is the glorious doctrine of the Gospel
to be forgotten at a time when we need its lessons more than
ever? Let us acknowledge that we make too little of the
words of divine wisdom, and waste our strength in sophistries
dictated by a worldly policy. If we preach the Catechism and
the Sacred Scriptures to which the liturgy of the Church invites
us; we shall train up a devout, faithful people; and a faithful
people will not be led into social trouble by anarchistic dema-
gogues.

The medical profession of our day has traced out the causes
and supplied remedies of many common diseases. When the pro-
fessor has succeeded in discovering the bacillus, the practitioner
finds a way to kill or expel it, and the patient escapes the plague
with its consequences. Our surgeons go a little farther. They
amputate, not the bacillus, but the organ causing the trouble. It
is said that certain authorities advocate as a precautionary measure
the excision of such organs as the appendix, even in healthy
people ; thus anticipating the danger of disease by removing the
seat in which it is apt to fasten itself. All this is well so far as it
is true.

Similarly radical methods are being adopted to banish from
society, by means of various new methods of pedagogy, *' the pes-
tilence of ignorance." which, as the progressive preacher tells us,
is the " hot-bed of superstition." Our colleges know how to
educate. They convert the sons and daughters of ancient lines
of dunces into regular prodigies, masters of sciences and arts,
inventors by scores, and virtuosos ; and what will not enter the
brain by the pedagogical method, may still be injected by hyp-
notic suggestion.

Thus disease of the body and disease of the mind are
being abolished, either by antiseptics, which destroy the micro-



Digitized by



Google



FIRST BISHOP OF JERUSALEM AS A MODERN DOCTOR. 639

organisms of disease, or by prophylactics, which keep the poison-
ous germs at a distance.

All this shows that we are great, and hence we ought to be
safe and contented. Nevertheless there are evidences that, with
all the glory that encompasses us round about, to the exclusion of
ills which flesh and spirit were supposed to be the legitimate heirs
of, we are not quite satisfied.

The New Diseases.
Some say that with the access of remedies against physical ail-
ments, there have come nerve-troubles, and a propensity to insanity,
and sterility ; that whilst we know how to ward off the old diseases,
we have got quite a host of new ones. So, too, with the spread of
educational facilities, crime in the domestic circle, and discontent,
selfishness, oppression of the minority, municipal fraud, excessive
freedom of speech in press and assembly, and a multitude of other
evils have grown up with astonishing rapidity and enlargement.
Sensible people complain of the monstrous imposition of faith curists
who, in spite of the progress of medical science, follow Mrs. Eddy's
shallow doctrine and allow children to suffer and die under the
plea that disease of the body is a mere notion of the mind. Even
more alarming, in view of what is being done to preserve life, is the
enormous spread of the practice of that other kind of infanticide
which prevents the complete development of human life before
any guardian can lodge a protest against this method of depopu-
lating God's earth. Aside of these evils there is the socialistic
burrowing and the anarchistic uprising against all authority, which
threaten the lives of legitimate rulers and of peacefully inclined
citizens, and which sow discord among the different classes of
the commonwealth. There are the monopolies of the wealthy, and
the oppression and opposition of the poor. There are the slanders
and scandals of an iniquitous press, teaching vice through the
criminal columns of the illustrated newspapers in a way which
enters and deluges the remotest confines of the land, and drowns
every germ of religious or moral Igrowth in the young who are
taught to read.

Advertised Remedies.
Against this horde of undeniable evils, swelling continually.



Digitized by



Google



640 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

and threatening to engulf modem society like a monstrous tidal
wave, we are busy writing treatises and books, and devising
schemes of legislation which would help us forestall or evade the
inevitable destruction. These endless plannings to build up a
legislative bulwark against the encroaching rise of social revolu-
tion seem to be, if not idle — ^for they may ward off the destruc-
tive force at least for a time — ^yet lamentably inadequate. Indeed
they suggest no remedy when we consider the permanency of the
danger. They are, moreover, far less efficacious than the precau-
tions and plans that we already possess in very ancient codes.
I wish to direct attention to one of these, a digest of legislative
principles, and of recognized authority, which deals with the
proper way of averting these very social evils about which we
are troubled and concerning which we continually write and read.
As we are dealing with diseases of the social body I should call
this ancient codex

An Old Physician's Prescription.

It was written by a native Palestinian, who became the first
Bishop of Jerusalem, and it is well known as the Epistle of St
James. It is a sort of encyclical or pastoral letter addressed to
the converts from Judaism throughout the Asiatic provinces.
The early Fathers of the Church, who give testimony regarding
the inspired character of this letter, class it with the other writ-
ings called " Catholic Epistles " because of the universal applica-
tion of its teachings and exhortations. The writer speaks with
the authority of an Apostle ; and whatever we may hold regard-
ing the views of the later Biblical critics, who are divided as to
whether St. James knew enough or too little Greek, it is very well
known that the venerable first Bishop of Jerusalem, who wrote
the " Epistle,'* was respected among Jew and Gentile as **a just
man," and would never have found his death as a martyr among
his own people but for the jealous calumnies of the priests at the
Temple. In this he followed his Divine Master. What remains
undisputed is the fact that the lessons of this Epistle have been
for over eighteen centuries regarded as an expression of divine
wisdom. They are, even to those who see in our Lord only a
great and virtuous reformer, whose philosophy supersedes all the



Digitized by



Google



FIRST BISHOP OF JERUSALEM AS A MODERN DOCTOR. 641

wisdom of past ages, the truest interpretation of right living both
for the individual and for the congregate. Even when Luther,
finding the doctrine of the necessity of good works set forth as a
condition of right faith, wished to discard this E[ristle of St. James
as lacking the character of divine inspiration, the other so-called
" reformers " opposed him ; and the Epistle of St. James is to be
found in all the present-day Bibles, whether Catholic or Protes-
tant

Let us then open and read this letter of the saintly son of
Alpheus, the ** brother " of our Lord, whose very close associa-
tion with the Holy Family from childhood up must have given
him a special power of understanding and interpreting the spirit
of Christ ; and is not this spirit conceded by all who profess the
Christian &ith to be the panacea in truth, as it was meant to be,
of all our earthly ills ? The lamb and the lion would meet at
peace ; there would be no longer any pain or sorrow without such
compensating consolation and joy as to make the martyr's lot more
enviable than that of the conquering tyrant. " Bead qui lugent "
— Blessed are they that weep — ^the poor in spirit — they that suffer
persecution — the clean of heart

It is not a very long dissertation ; and yet it deals with all the
great questions and difficulties of modem social life, showing how
little, after all, the world changeth in its bent toward sin, and how
sin always brings the same retribution — reminders of the fact that
corruption and death are the fruit of transgression.

St James introduces his Epistle by referring to the sad condi-
tions of life under which the scattered children of Abraham are
laboring, as a trial of &ith. It is an established law of our present
position that we should be under various temptations by which
our fidelity and title to eternal happiness are to be tested. We
must therefore accept as a fundamental truth against which no
sane opposition is justly warranted, that

Ills as a Trial are a Profitable Necessity of our
Pilgrimage.

Now this trial is not to be regarded as a calamity. On the
contrary. As the soldier looks to victory in the hardship which
he undergoes, as the sorrow of a mother in labor is eventually



Digitized by



Google



642 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

turned to joy because a man is born into the world, so temporal
suffering becomes to the right-minded a guarantee of eventual
happiness. Hence, writes the Apostle, '' My brethren, count it all
joy when you shall fall into diverse temptations " ; — he styles the
trials " temptations," because they are in reality nothing else.

Now that which fosters and strengthens in us this view of life's
trials is our faith.

It is upon this truth as a pivot that the Apostle's instruction
and admonition to the converts turn. He bids them seize this
gift of faith which turns temptation into hope : '' Knowing that the
trying of your £uth worketh patience." In the thought of St
James, as in reality, faith and wisdom are one quality of soul. It
is the light emanating from the Divine Sun, at once illuminating
and warming. As such, man must draw it to himself by prayer.
" If any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth
to all men abundantly — ^and it shall be given him ; but let him
ask in faith, nothing wavering." This twin thought forms the
prologue, the introduction to the letter. In various ways it is
repeated in the first chapter : '* Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation, for when he has been proved, he shall receive the
crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love Him."
Do not err, therefore, dearest brethren, "every best gift, and
every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of
Lights with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration."
This trust and confidence in God's Fatherhood is not, however,
made fruitful by a mere passive endurance of the accidents of life
alone. In truth we cannot sustain the hardships of earthly trial,
unless by a restraining of those inclinations to which the weight
of our corrupt nature draws us. The religion of Christ differs
from the stoicism of the Pagan philosophers which taught them
to endure the inevitable without complaint ; but which also robbed
them of the pleasures of hope. The realization of that pleasure
demands

The Panacea of a Living Faith.

And the insistence upon the proper qualities of a living
faith forms the principal theme of the Apostle's exhortation, inas-
much as through them life is rendered endurable, nay even happy,



Digitized by



Google



FIRST BISHOP OF JERUSALEM AS A MODERN DOCTOR. 643

amid diverse trials. Conformity to this preordained plan of human
life constitutes the law and guarantee of true liberty; and " he that
hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued
therein — this man shall be blessed in his deed."

The Apostle St. James reminds us that faith cometh through
receiving the words of the Gospel, as St. Paul assures us : " Faith
cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" * In
truth this whole Epistle is a commentary, an explanation of the
teaching of St Paul in his letter addressed to the Romans. He
warns them not to misunderstand the doctrine of the Apostle of
the Gentiles, who insists upon faith in Christ as the essential
requisite of salvation.

This Faith Comes to Us by Hearing.

It is dear that the gift of faith received in our Baptism as a
germ capable of growth, must be fostered and nourished. St.
James tells us that this k done by listening to God's word.
" With meekness," he writes, " receive the ingrafted word, which
is able to save your souls." * Note the expression, " with meek-
ness." Perhaps, the preacher who speaks to us is not to our
liking. His voice and manner lack the persuasive faculty that
would attract us ; his reasoning fails to convince, not because truth
is wanting in his argument, but because the accidental defects of
his personality strike our sensitive and critical view, and repel us.
We will not listen, from motives similar to those which prevent
us from yielding to reasons that are in themselves convincing, at
times when we are irritated. The fault is largely in our attitude.
At all events, it should not turn us from the truth itself, which may
be found, if not clearly in the preacher's inadequate diction, surely
in the reading of the inspired text.

Here is one reason why Catholics who possess the faculty and
the leisure for self-culture should, thoughtfully and reverently,
study the Bible. It will furnish them with the right point of view,
and, as in the case of this Epistle of St. James, about which we
here treat, show them the remedies, the antidote against the evils
that afflict modem society.

* Rom. 10 : 17.

* Chap. 1 : 21.



Digitized by



Google



644 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

Malaria — ^An Evil Press.

Among the primary sources of the most serious evils that
afiect modem society, is the propaganda of crime, which is made
by •the daily advertising given it in the sensational press — the
newspapers and the cheap popular prints forced upon the atten-
tion of the public at every point of concourse. The malice of a
lying tongue is multiplied a millionfold by a central press asso-
ciation that is governed by policy, or by partisan spirit, or by the
mere wish to gratify idle curiosity by the creation of fictitious
news. Against this St. James preaches with undisguised severity
when he condenms the evils of the tongue. " Behold the tongue
is a fire, a world of iniquity — ^it defileth the whole body, and in-
flameth the wheel of our nativity, being set on fire by hell." He
calls it a fire that inflameth the wheel of our nativity, as if to say
that it gives swift currency to all the evil propensities of our cor-
rupt nature. " The tongue," he says, later on, " is an unquiet
evil, full of deadly poison. By it, we bless God and the Father,
and by it we curse men, who are made after the likeness of God."

As the poisonous press continually infects the social atmos-
phere with its pestilential exhalations, it cannot but be that the



Online LibraryCatholic University of AmericaAmerican ecclesiastical review, Volume 27 → online text (page 71 of 78)