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The Church


Modern Society



Archbishop of St. Paul

Vol. I.





Saint Paul.

Whatever pecuniary profit is derived from the sale
of The Church and Modern Society is offered as a
gift to the Sisters of St. Joseph, of St. Paul, to aid them
in defraying the expenses of building their Academy
and College for the higher schooling of young women.
The price paid for The Church and Modern Society
will be a tribute, much less to the merits of the book,
than to the intelligent and self-sacrificing zeal of the
Sisters of St. Joseph during the last half century in the
cause of education and religion.

1 61 81 45



Introduction ^'^^

The Catholic Church and Civil Society 25

The Mission of Catholics in America 67

The Church and the Age io3

Human Progress ^33

Patriotism ■' ^59

American Citizenship 18.3

State Schools and Parish Schools 215

The Catholic Church and Liberal Education 233

Intemperance and Law 259

The Catholic Church and the Saloon 309

Charity in the Catholic Church 3^7

Social Purity 347

America in France 361

The Pontiff of the Age 397


With the view of giving at least an appearance of
unity in thought and design to this collection of lec-
tures and addresses, so dissimilar in theme and in
immediate purpose, I adopt for it the general title. The
Church and Modern Society. This may not be
entirely inappropriate. Such as they are, these lectures
and addresses may be said to be in a way illustrations
of various points of contact between the Church and
society, which the conditions of modern times make
possible, and which, it does seem, neither the friends
of the Church, nor those of society, can afford to pass
over with an unobservant eye.

To the Church the things of Heaven : to society the
the things of earth. As an abstract statement this
proposition is not incorrect. When, however, we come
down to practical life, we find it is no easy task to sep-
arate the interests and the work of the Church from
those of society. Frequently and necessarily the
Church and society stand upon the same ground and
deal with the same subject-matter.

The Church is, indeed, from Heaven, and its final
aim is Heaven. Yet, as we see her in her highest form,
embodied in the person of the Master Himself, she is
busied with many things, very terrestrial in their na-
ture, in which first sight reveals no reference to the
spiritual world, "And going, preach, saying, the king-
dom of God is at hand." Such was, it is true, Christ's
primary commission to His apostles : but He added ;



"Heal the sick, raise the dead to Hfe, cleanse the leper
and cast out devils." And as He bade His apostles do,
so He did. "He went about doing good." While the
message of the kingdom of God ceaselessly vibrated
from His lips, He allowed no kind of physical evil to
escape the touch of His merciful hand. His miracles
were acts of beneficence to the lame, the blind, the deaf,
the sorrow-stricken and the hungry. Nothing that was
of the welfare of man in this present life was alien to
His love and power.

And as the Church did, while her life was one with
that of the Master, so she did with unswerving fidelity
when He had withdrawn to Heaven, leaving still, how-
ever, His spirit as the life, the inspiration of her visible
organism. To bring souls to God, to save them for
eternity through the supernatural graces of the redemp-
tion, was avowedly her chief, her primary work : but
simultaneously with this there went always the work
of stripping, as far as it was possible, of ignorance and
pain, the natural life of humanity, and prompting it
by most efificient aid to ascents toward higher planes of
intellectual light and material well-being.

How deeply the Church was concerned always in
the complex relations of human life is manifest in the
annals of nations. The history of the work of the
Church is the history of civilization. She was not
content with the leavening influences which her
doctrines and her spiritual ministrations indirectly exer-
cised on society in virtue of their power to transform
the individual man : she adopted practical measures
which extended over every department of life, and were
adjusted to the varying needs and the changing circum-
stances of the time. Her ministers were "represent^-


tives, not of religion only and the claims of God, but
of moral order, of the rights of crnscience and the
sympathies of man, of the bonds of authority of human
society — the only trusted guides of life."* She molded
the legislation of peoples ; she promoted agriculture and
planted colonies and cities. She saved for future gene-
rations the learning of Athens and of Rome; she
founded schools and universities. She withstood
tyranny in king and feudal lord : she taught subjects to
respect authority legitimately exercised. She studded
the land with homes of charity where every human
misery could find alleviation. Her beneficent influence
was felt throughout the entire sphere of life and con-
duct; it blessed all the activities of humanity. She
proved, in manner most clear, that religion is, indeed,
profitable to all things, "having promise of the life that
now is, and of that which is to come."

And what else could have been the action of the
Church, if she were to be loyal to truth and to justice,
loyal to her mission as the agent and representative
of God, the helper and savior of men?

The Church is the incarnation of divine love and
mercy, and, as such, she cannot but concern herself with
all things that make for the betterment of man, for the
happiness of man, wherever he is, in whatsoever rela-
tion he is found to exist. The voice from Heaven is
that we do -good to all men, even to the most unworthy,
and in this manner we be the children of the Father
who is in Heaven, "Who maketh His sun to rise upon
the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the
unjust." Nothing, then, that is of service to man,

*Dean Church: "The Beginning of the Middle Ages."


either as the individual or as the member of societv,
can be alien to the heart and the work of the Church.
Her Charity must be catholic, embracing all human
interests, compassionating and remedying every human
ill, blessing and furthering every human good. God is
the author of tlie natural as well as of the supernatural
order, and He cares for both. Over both, in the name
of God's love and mercy, the Church must extend her
maternal beneficence.

In doing this, she is only putting into practical
exemplification the principles of charity and of justice
which it is her direct mission to preach to the world.
The Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount, realized
among men, mean the earnest working of all the activi-
ties for good that lie latent in the human soul, the blot-
ting out of the innumerable woes, born of sin and of
captivity to passion, the blossoming in the individual
and in society of the high-born virtues that make the
earth the home of purity and of peace, that give to men
in sweet fruitage the blessings which their nature
craves for, in the enjoyment of which there is happi-
ness, so far as happiness belongs to this present life.
All these blessings human language sums up in the
word civilization. History is before us to show that
civilization advanced or receded as men's conduct was
near to, or distant from, the principles and precepts
embodied in the Gospel. Those principles and pre-
cepts the Church proclaims from her chairs of truth:
will she not, also, step into the fields of practical life,
and labor there to bring them into form, proving in this
manner to men that the earthly blessings they are
seeking flow from the divine verities which she
preaches ?


In caring for the temporal needs of humanity, the
Church contributes to the spiritual interests which
always remain the direct and primary object of her
divine mission. That misery and suffering, borne with
patience in submission to the will of Providence, be-
come a measure of supernatural merit, a means of self-
discipline and self-improvement, Christian faith puts
beyond doubt. We hold, of course, to the doctrine of
"Salutary Suffering," what a French writer terms "La
Bonne Souffrance.""* For this, however, there always
will be amplest room. Work as we may, succeed as
we may, the poor will not forsake us : the teardrop will
not cease to moisten the eyelid, nor sorrow to anguish
the heart. Suffering is the necessary sequence of hu-
manity's limitations : humanity will never be without it.
But to turn suffering to spiritual profit is the privilege
of saints. As a matter of fact, the many are not
capable of this elevation of soul ; rather are they driven
away from the higher life, and made insensible of it
by misery and pain.

Do not ignorance and lowliness of intellect close the
mind to the light of faith ? Does not poverty ex-
pose legions to sin and moral ruin ? Does not the de-
spair born of destitution and of pain beget a state of
soul utterly incompatible with the calm and the sweet-
ness of supernatural grace?

To what purpose is the Gospel announced in the ten-
ements and alley-ways of the slums, unless first we have
cleansed the atmosphere of poison, physical and moral,
and made the abject creatures that breathe it under-
stand that thev are men, and not animals? To what

♦Francois Coppee: "La Bonne Souffrance.


purpose is the language of the skies spoken to men that
are maddened with hunger or the incessant burdens
they must bear to sustain bodily life?

Shall we preach purity to the child whoni we do not
wrest from impure surroundings? Shall we exhort to
sobriety the inebriate whom we do not guard against
the cruel pressure of the purveyors of intemperance?
Missionaries to the South Sea Islands, or to the wild
men of the Congo, first humanize, first civilize, at least
to some degree, before they attempt to christianize. And
is it not the fact in history that the Gospel spread itself
the more quickly where it was preceded by better phy-
sical and social conditions. With all its moral shortcom-
ings the city of Rome was a fairer field for the Chris-
tian apostleship than the mountain villages of Italy,
or the uncultured camps of the Goth or the Scythian.

In whatever time, in whatever place we work for
Christ and His Kingdom, the principle of action is the
same — to improve the natural life of man in or-
der to render him more readily receptive of the super-

Then, men are influenced by the natural ; and if they
are made to see that the surest power for the growth
and the exaltation of the natural springs from the su-
pernatural, they are impelled toward the supernatural
by love and gratitude. Let men understand and see
that the Church's ambition is to bring sunshine upon
the scenes of their earthly life, to dispel overhang-
ing clouds, to soften oppressive miseries, that
her teachings are harbingers of social peace and
security, as her precepts are the conditions of
individual w^ell-being: she has won their atten-
tion, and she may confidently unfold to them her


revelations of things higher and more hidden. That an
institution which gives no visible pledges of its power
for humanity's good is authorized to promise felicity in
an invisible world, men are loath to believe. They feel,
and rightly so, that the present life cannot be so sepa-
rate from the future that influences bearing upon the
one do not also bear upon the other: and they insist
that while promises are given of perfect happiness be-
}ond the grave, they now be put in the enjoyment of
some portion of it, as an omen of what is to come. All
this the Church is able to do : all this follows from
earnest acceptance of her principles and sincere adhe-
sion to her precepts. She holds truly in her hands the
promises of the present life as well as those of the
future. To make this fact clear, to demonstrate it by
indubitable evidences, should be the tireless ambition of
her ministers and her disciples, with whom, as the vis-
ible agents of her divine spirit, she must needs rest her
earthly destinies.

Never in her whole history was there opened to the
Church a fairer and more inviting field than there is
to-day to show what she can do for the peace and the
prosperity of the present life. This most wondrous age
of industrial development and of intellectual enlight-
enment has brought with it problems of momentous
importance. The bonds of society are relaxed; tradi-
tional principles and uses are losing their sacredness ;
perils hitherto unknown confront and affright human-
ity. Men are conscious, as never before, of their rights
in the social organism, and are determined, as never
before, to secure them. But in the battle for their rights
they forget often their duties. They have the ambitions


of giants, and they labor with the resolve of giants to
satisfy them. But, maddened in the battle, they are
tempted to set aside the laws of justice, to think solely
of self, and in the idolatry of self to trample ruthlessly
all else under foot. And thus there are the wars of
classes, the armies of anarchists, forerunners of those
of despots ; individual pride and sensuality clamor for
unbridled license ; the shrines of the families are dese-
crated ; the very walls of the social fabric are under-
mined and made to totter. It is beyond a doubt that
the forces, intellectual and physical, which modern de-
velopments create and foster, while they hold within
themselves mightiest potencies for good if properly
directed, are fearful menaces to humanity's holiest
interests if given over to the service of unchal-
lenged pride and passion. And pride and passion are
in the arena, seeking victory, emboldened for the strife
by the opportunities for victory which present con-
ditions seemingly lend to them. It is no wonder that the
prudent thinker takes alarm and anxiously asks whither
we are drifting.

The supreme need of the hour is strong principles of
order and of righteousness, and a strong organized
power to proclaim those principles and to enforce them
upon the consciences of men. Such strong principles
are found in the teachings of the Church : such organ-
ized power is found in the ministry of the Church.
What the Church is able to do, the history of her
many centuries is the witness.

The duty of the Church is to show herself as what she
is — the source of salvation to men in their present as
well as in their future life. The words of Leo, the
Pontiff of the age, have r.o uncertain sound : "Is it not


because society has lost sight of the principles of re-
ligion that it is now shaken to its foundations? To
recall those principles, and to apply them earnestly, is
the one means of establishing society on a safe basis,
and of securing peace, order and prosperity.''*

And let it not be said that society will not hearken to
the teachings of the Church and welcome her co-opera-
tion. Society is conscious of its maladies. It is sincere,
too, in its search of remedies. Whencesoever salvation
is promised, thither does it gladly go. Already thought-
ful men call openly upon the Church for aid. They see
that she is the only constructive power that remains ;
they recognize that she can effect what arms and legis-
lation cannot accomplish ; they are hopeful that she
will renew to-day her good deeds of yesterday and save
society as oft of yore she saved it. There are still, in-
deed, those who see the Church in a most unfavorable
light, believing her to be the enemy of modern society
and of its legitimate aspirations and hopes. Strange
this is ; but strange, too, were the calumnies sent forth
in the last few hundred years, especially in English-
speaking countries, against the Church and her most
cherished principles ; and strange is the enduring force
of prejudice which such calumnies have fostered. For
ages she was in the van of progress, and yet she is
looked upon as the promoter of inertia and the ally of
reactionary movements ; she rescued human dignity
from lowliness and contempt, and stood with all her
authority and all her energies between the oppressor
and the oppressed, and yet she is called the foe of
liberty; she taught Europe, covering the lands with
schools and universities, and turning her cathedrals and

♦Letter on Internaiional Conference on Labor, beld in Berlin.


her monasteries into so many asylums of art and of
learning, and yet she is styled the enemy of knowledge;
she consecrated the rights of legitimate rule, and yet
she is regarded with suspicion as a peril to the stability
of government and of social order. But as things are
to-day, it will be the Church's own fault if misrep-
resentations of her principles and her mission, and
blind prejudice, the unfortunate survival of the cal-
umnies of past days, continue to endure. Even
they who are her bitter opponents will listen to her
if she speaks the language of order and of liberty,
of justice and of charity, of intellectual enlightenment
and of social progress ; even they will greet her with
gratitude if they see her actively at work bringing
into visible form, in truest and best sense, those deep
longings of the soul which humanity cannot but wor-
ship, though it has often but vague ideas of their true
meaning, and is taught by harsh experience that it
knows not of itself how to satisfy them.

Secularism and unbelief, wise in their ways, teach a
lesson to the Church. They have divined the needs of
the times, and they cease not to make professions of
their willingness and ability to place humanity upon
the planes toward which its awakened consciousness
seems to propel it. Through professions of this kind
they gain no mediocre victories. In matter of fact, it is
mere pretension on their part. Secularism and unbelief
have naught but negations to dispose of : and surely in
negations there exists no vivifying, uplifting power.
Principles alone move the soul, and beget thought and
action : principles alone have produced in the past, and
can produce in the future, the moral and social regene-
ration of humanitv. Nevertheless, men are so intensely


bent on possessing the realities which are covered by
the watchwords of the fray, that wheresoever those
watchwords are spoken, thither they hurriedly rush,
without waiting to ask whether or no there is substance
behind the noisy clamors. Too often secularisna and
unbelief alone are heard, and to them the crowds turn
for salvation. Secularism and unbelief but usurp the
language which is the Church's own, which her prin-
ciples and her saving graces authorize her alone to
speak, which the history of civilization has awarded to
her alone as an imprescriptible possession. Can the
Church afford to have her treasures stolen from her
hands and made over to the service of her adversaries
in the warfare that is pressing upon her? She owes
it to herself, she owes it to humanity tore-echo through
the modern world the battle-cries of victory, which be-
speakherhistoric triumphs, working, meanwhile, most
earnestly to prove to all observers that with her
such battle-cries are the symbols of living realities.

The opportunity has come to the Church to make
clear to the world that her olden spirit still remains,
that she is still the Church of ages, youthful in heart
and strong of arm. that far from fearing the dawnmg
of the new century, she hails it with more than ordi-
nary delight, as its problems and conflicts but bring
to her occasions to pour out in an unwonted manner
the riches of her divine life and to embellish with new
glories the reign of Christ over men and nations. It
behooves the minister and the soldier of the Church
not to allow this opportunity to pass unheeded.

That the language to be spoken by the minister of
the Church is. first and above all other, that of the


supernatural life, that the place to be known by him is,
first and above all other, the sanctuary, no one may
doubt, no one may dispute. If I make at all reference
to this fundamental principle of sacerdotal life, it is
only in order to put upon it strongest emphasis, so
that even a momentary forgetfulness of it be im-

Christ was the messenger of the supernatural : and
so is the priest. The supernatural is the vital need
of humanity : for the sake of the supernatural the Word
was made man, and the priesthood was instituted. The
priest, failing in the work of the supernatural, fails in
his God-given mission, and whatever else he does must
be as the sounding brass and the tinkling cymbal. In-
deed, his special power for good in the region of the
natural is born of the supernatural — of its truths and
its graces : the less he belongs to the supernatural, the
less he benefits humanity even in the natural.

Assuredly, I do not detract an iota from the priest's
duty to the supernatural when I invite him to busy
himself w^ith questions that seem to be primarily of the
region of the natural, and in the pursuit of those ques-
tions to step at times beyond the frontier of the sanctu-
ary. In doing this, I am but obeying the behests of
the supernatural and serving the interests of the sanc-

In addition, then, to the truths that are strictly those
of the supernatural order and of the revelation of
Christ, or, rather, in the legitimate extension and appli-
cation of those truths, I would place upon the lips of the
priest such themes as bear more directly upon human
life in the natural order and connect with it the super-
natural, shedding upon it the radiance of the super-


natural, purifying it of dross, elevating it tO' higher
planes, rendering it worthier of God, Who is its Mas-
ter, and worthier of man, who is the creature and the
child of God.

It is, perhaps, a question whether in the pulpit
enough is said about social and civic matters, whether
the individual Christian is bidden sufficiently to go out-
side of his own self, to consider his relations with his
fellow-men in the several spheres of their mutual inter-
action and apprehend fully the obligations as well as
the rights that come to him from such relations. How
much there is that might be said by the Christian
preacher, with great benefit to his immediate hearers
and to the general community, on the moral law which
underlies practical politics, on the religious aspect of
patriotism, on the duties of the citizen to bear gener-
ously his share of public burdens and public responsi-
bilities! Are not the intricate problems of capital and
labor, of social charity and social justice, most appro-
priate and profitable themes for the divinely appointed
teacher of Christian truth and love? And how suitable
to the sanctuary, the shrine of virtue and of purity,
would be the frequent and indignant denunciation, not
only of intemperance, of dishonesty in business, of
vicious inmioral living, but, also, of the agencies and
legal tolerances that encourage and promote such evils !
The tendency in the pulpit, it would seem, has been to
limit its field to the individual soul, as if the soul did
live alone and only for itself, while, as a matter of
fact, it is entangled in a hundred networks of most
complex relations, the perils of which are its perils, the
purification and elevation of which must ever be both
the cause and the effect of its personal sanctification.



And, furthermore, in behalf of those sacred interests
of the individual and of society, I would have the priest
— always under guidance of Christian prudence and dis-
creet zeal — tread ground outside the pulpit, outside the
sanctuary. Prudence, indeed, is needed : extreme cau-
tion is to be taken that the dignity of the sacred ministry
be safeguarded, that the principles of holy faith be
held aloof from all possible peril of being misunder-
stood or exposed to sacrifice. In this regard there
must be on every occasion jealous vigilance. But, this
counsel given, I would gladly see the priest stand upon
every platform, and mingle with every assembly, where
by word or act he may serve his fellow-man and ad-
vance the reign of God through the betterment and

Online LibraryJohn IrelandThe church and modern society; lectures and addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 26)