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' stand religious truth. It seems, in-
deed, but natural to suppose that grace
should operate on the imagination, and
thus counterwork the ^eductions by
which an evil power assails that facul-
ty — ^a form of temptation oflen, but
not consistently, insisted on by those
who scoff at visions. If this be
granted, then, as we can neither
measure the different degrees in which
grace is granted, and increased by
co-operation, nor ascertain the intel-
lectual shape and proportions of those
to whom it is accorded, who can affect
to determine to what extent that grace
may not suffice, in some cases, to
produce vision, even when accorded
mainly for other purposes ?

But this is not aU. The imagina-
tion does not act by itself; the other
faculties work along with it ; by them
also the vision is shaped in part ; and
as they are developed, directed, and
harmonized in a large measure by
gp-ace, in the same degree the vision
must, even when not miraculous, be
affected by a supernatural influence.
Once more: Grod works upon us
through his providence as well as
through his grace; and the color of
our thoughts is constantly the result of
some external trifle, apparently acci-
dental. A dream is modified by a
momentary sound; and a conclusion
may be shaped not without aid from a
flying gleam or the shadow of a cloud.
Our thoughts are " fearfully and won-
derfully made," partly for us and
partly by us, and through influences
internal and external, which we trace
but in part. We can draw a line be-
tween the visions which command our
acceptance and those which only in-
vite it ; but in dealing with the latter
class, it seems impossible to determine
a priori how far they may or may not
be accounted supernatural. It will
depend upon their evidence, their
consequences, their character, and the
character of those to whom they be-

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"But," the caviller will object,
** onassisted genius has visions of its
own." What then? Does that cir-
cumstance discredit all visions that
claim to be supernatural ? Far from
it; the visions of genius are elevated
by virtue. They are not only purified
thus, but edged with insight and en-
riched with wisdom. Has virtue,
then, nothing of the supernatural ? or
would Dante have "seen" as much
if, instead of following her voice, he
had followed that of the siren?
Again, simplicity of character, and
what Holy Scripture calls "the single
eye," have a close affinity with genius ;
for which reason the poor possess
many characteristics of it denied to
the rich — ^its honest apprehension of
great ideas, for instance, and the in-
spiration of good sense ; its power of
realizing the essential and of ignoring
the accidental; its freshness in im-
pressions and loyalty in sentiment
But simplicity is a divine gift. Above
all, faith communicates often what re-
sembles genius to persons who would
otherwise, perhaps, have narrow
minds and wavering hearts. It ap-
pears, then, that the whole of our
moral and spiritual being — ^which is of
course under supernatural influence —
admits of such a development as is
&vorable to genius, and may eminent-
ly promote that natural "vision"
which belongs to it. Education and
life may do the same. What dis-
perses the faculties over a vast field
of heterogeneous knowledge saps
genius ; what gives unity to Uie bemg
strengthens it. It evaporates in van-
ity ; it is deepened by humiUty. So-
ciety dissipates its energies and chills
th^m ; solitude concentrates and heats
them. Indulgence relaxes it ; sever-
ity invigorates it It is dazzled by
the importunate sunshine of the
present; its eyes grow wider in the
twilight of the past and the future.
All the circumstances, exterior and
interior, that favor genius are thus in-
directly connected with grace or with
providence. What, then, is not to be
thought in a case like that of St Grer-

trude, in which we find, not genius
trained on toward sanctity, but sanc-
tity enriched with genius ?

It is, however, to be remembered
that we in no degree disparage the
claim to a divine character possessed
by St Grertrude's visions in admitting
that some of them may not claim that
character. In one favored with such
high gifls, it iS not unphilosophical to
suppose that the natural qualities, as
well as supernatural graces, which
lend themselves to visions would prob-
ably exist in a marked decree. We
have no reason, indeed, to conclude
that the Hebrew prophets, to whom
visions were sent by God, never pos-
sessed, when not thus honored, any-
thing that resembled them — anything
beyond what belongs to ordinary men.
They, too, may have had unrecorded
visions of a lower type, in which the
loftiest of their thoughts and deepest
of their experiences became visible to
them ; and if so, they had probably
something ancillary to vision in their
natural faculties and habits, independ-
ently of their supernatural gifts.
Among the peculiar natural character-
istics of St. Gertrude may be reckon-
ed an extraordinary /»Vera/7»e«j of mind,
strangely ignited with a generalizing
power. She had a value for every-
thing as it was, as well as for the idea
it iucluded. There was a minuteness
as well as a largeness about her.
These qualities probably belonged to
that pellucid simplicity which kept her
all her life like a child. This child-
like instinct would of itself have con-
stantly stimulated her colloquies with
him who was the end of all her
thoughts. In the spiritual as in the
intellectual life, the powers seem aug-
mented through this dramatic process,
as though fidcundated from sources
not their own. The thoughts thus
originated seem to come half from the
mind with which the colloquy is held,
and half from native resources.

Let us now pass to another cavil.
Devotions such as those of St Ger-
trude have sometimes been censured
because they are fuU of love. There

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is here a strange confusion. Most
justly might dislike be felt for devo-
tions in which love is not supplement-
ed by a proportionate veneration.
Among the dissenting bodies devotions
of this sort are to be found, though we
should be sorry rudely to criticise
what implies religious affection, and is
a recoil from coldness. The fault is
not wholly theirs. An age may be so
characterized that it cannot be fer-
vent, even in its prayers, without be-
ing earthly ; but such an age is not
religious, and may not judge those that
were. In them reverence and love
are inseparable. Grod reigns in man's
heart through love and fear. True
devotion must, therefore, have at once
its fervid affection and its holy awe.
Thus much will be conceded. It does
not require much penetration to per-
ceive also that the more it habitually
possesses of awe, the more it admits
of love. If the expression of divine
resembles that of human affection,
this results by necessity from the pov-
erty of language. Those who object
to the use of the word " worship" in
connection with God's saints as well
as with God (though of course used in
a different sense) see nothing to sur-
prise them in the circumstance that
the terms '* love" and " honor*' possess
equally this double application. Yet
when expressions of real and zealous
love are addressed to Almighty God,
they are sometimes no less scandal-
ized than when worship (that is, honor
and veneration) is addressed in a sub-
ordinate sense to the saints ! In both
cases alike they labor under miscon-
ceptions which may easily be re-

To abolish the resemblance between
the expression of divine and human
affections, it would be necessary to
break down the whole of that glorious
constitution of life by which human
ties, far from being either arbitrary
things or but animal relations im-
proved upon, are types of divine ties.
The fatherhood in heaven is admitted
to be the antetype of human parent-
age; and the adoptive brotherhood

with Christ, the second Adam, to be the
antetype of the natural brotherhood.
Can any other principle prevail in the
case of that tie wliich is the fountain
whence the other domestic charities
flow ? Not in the judgment of those
who believe, with Sl Paul, that mar-
riage is a type of that union which
subsists between him and his Church.
If there be an analogy between divine
and human ties, so there must be be-
tween the love that goes along with
them and the blessedness that is in-
separable from love.

In such cavils as we have referred
to there is a latent error that belonged
to the earliest times. The caviller as-
sumes that an element of corruption
must needs exist in religious affections
•which betray any analogy to human
affections, whereas it is but a Mani-
chean philosophy which affirms the ne-
cessary existence of corruption in the
human relations themselves. Human
relations are not corrupt in themselves
either before or since the fall; but
human beings are corrupt and weak,
and do but little justice to those rela-
tions. Praise, both in heaven and on
earth, is held out to us in Holy Scrip-
ture as one of the rewards of virtue.
It may not be the less true, on that ac-
count, that few orators have listened
to the acclamations that follow a suc-
cessful speech without some alloy
of self-love. Possessions are allowa-
ble ; it may be, notwithstanding, that
few have had '^ all things" as though
they ^' had nothing." It is not in the
human relations that the evil exists
(for they retain the brightness left on
them by the hand tliat created them),
but in those who abuse them by ex-
cessive dependence on them, or by
disproportion. It is mainly a question
of due subordination. Where the
higher part of our being is ruled by the
lower, or where the lower works
apart from and in contempt of the
higher, there evil exists. Where the
opposite tfikes place — where a flame
enkindled in heaven feeds first upon
the spiritual heights of our being and
descends by due degrees through the

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imagination and the affections — ^there
the whole of our being works in a re-
stored unity, and there proportionate-
ly the senses are glorified bj the soul.
This has ever been the teaching of
that Church which encircles the whole
of human life with its girdle of sacra-
ments. It has naturally come to be
forgotten in those communities which
admit the legal substitution of divorce ,
and polygamy for the sanctity and in-
violability of Christian marriage.

That those who do not understand
the relation of human to divine ties
should not understand the devotions of
saints is far from strange. The ex-
pressions of the saints are bold be-
cause they are innocent. They have
no part in tiiat association of ideas
which takes refuge in prudery. The
language of St. Grertrnde is that of
one on whose brow the fillet had drop-
ped when she was a child, and who
had neither had any experience of
earthly love nor wished for any. It
is indeed the excellence of the domes-
tic ties that they are indirect channels
of conununication with heaven. But
in her case the communication was di-
rect and immediate — ^a clear flame ris-
ing straight from the altar of perpetual
sacrifice. The beautiful ascent of af-
fections from grade to grade along the
scale of life had in her been supersed-
ed by a yet diviner self-devotion. She
had ttot built upon the things that are
lawfiily within due measure, but upon
those counsels the rewards of which
are immeasurable. She had reaped
immortal love in the fields of mortifi-
cation. She had begun where others
end. She had found the union of
peace with joy. Had there been add-
ed to this whatever is best in the do-
mestic ties, it could to her have been
bot a rehearsal, in a lower though
blameless form, of affections which
she had already known in that highest
form in which alone they are capable
of being realized in heaven.

Expressions associated with human
affections are to be found in St. Ger-
tmde's devotions, because she had hu-
man affections. In the monastic re-

nunciation the inmost essence of them
is retained; for that essence, apart
from its outward accidents, is spirituaL
What is the meaning of the incarna-
tion, if Gk>d is not to be loved as man ?
To what purpose, without this, the
helpless childhood, the fields through
which he moved, the parables so home-
ly^ the miracles of healing, the access
given to sinners, the tears by the
grave of him whom he was about to
restore to life, the hunger and the
weariness, the reproach for sympathy"
withheld ? These domestic memories
of the Church are intended to give the
higher direction to human affections
before they have strayed into the low-
er, in order that the lower may receive
their interpretation from the higher.
Nothing is more wonderful than to see
the natuml passing into the supernat-
ural in actual Ufe ; nothing more in-
structive than to see this in devotions.
It is not the presence of a human ele-
ment in them, but the absence of a
divine element, that should be deplor-
ed. The natural may be shunned
where the supernatural is not realized.
It can only be realized through love ;
and love is perfected through self-sacri-
fiee, the strength and science of the

It is easy to distinguish between
devotions that are really too familiar
and those of the saints. The latter,
as has been remarked, are as full of
awe as of love. Their familiarity im-
plies the absence of a servile fear;
but everywhere that filial fear, the
seat of which is in the conscience, re-
veals itself. Again, if they regard our
Lord in his character of lover of souls,
they regard him proportionately in his
other characters, as brother and as
friend, as master and as Lord, as
creator and as judge. The manhood
in Christ is ever leading the heart on
to his divinity; and the incarnation,
as a picture of the divine character, is
the strongest preacher of Theism.
Again, the love that reveals itself in
them has no pettiness, no narrowness ;
it exults in the thought of that great
army of the elect, each member of

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which is equally the object of the div-
ine love, as a single drop reflects the
finnament no less than the ocean of
which it is a part. Once more: in
such devotions the thirst after the div-
ine purity is as strongly mark^ as
that for the divine tenderness ; and
death is ever welcome, that God may
be seen in the spirit.

^ Bat in these devotions," it is said,
** we trace the yearnings of a woman's
heart." And why not ? With what
'else is woman to love God ? May not
the devotion of a child be childlike,
and of a tnan be manly ? Why are
female affections alone to strain them-
selves into the unnatural, instead of
advancing to the supernatural? In
such sneers there is as little philosophy
as charity. The whole structure of
our being — ^together not only with all
its experiences, but with all its capac-
ities — is that which, yielding to divine
grace, constitutes the mould in which
our devotion is cast. It is not religion
alone, but everything — ^art, science,
whatever we take in — ^that is colored
by whatever is special to the faculties
or the dispositions of the recipient. Re-
ligion is the only thing that holds its
own in spite of such modification. It
does so on account of its absolute sim-
pleness. But it does much more than
hold its own. It is enriched. Relig-
ion is as manifold as it is simple.
The faculties and instincts of the mere
isolated individual are too narrow to
allow of his fully accepting the gifts
wMch it extends to us. But fortu-
nately our incapacities balance each
other ; the characteristics of religion
least appreciated by one being often
those which will most come home to
another. Not only individuals but
nations and ages, both by what they
have in common and by what they
have of unlike, unconsciously help to
make up the general store. Christi-
anity has become in one sense to each
of us what it was to an k Kempis as
well as what it was to an Aquinas ;
and why not also to what it was to a
Grertrude or a Theresa ? All things
subserve this vdst scheme. How

much we are enriched by those differ-
. ent aspects of religion presented to us
by the chief authentic architectures !
In the Gothic, which is mystic, sugges-
tive^ infinite, it is chiefly the spiritual-
ity of religion that is affirmed. In
the Roman basilica, orderly and mas-
sive, it is the " law'' that is insisted on.
In the Byzantine style, precious mar-
ble and beaming gold, and every de-
vice of rich color and fair form, preach
the inexhaustibility of Christian char-
' ity and the beauty of the Eden it re-
stores. These aspects of religion are
all in harmony with each other. The
mind that embraces them is not en-
deavoring to blend contradictions into
a common confusion, but to reunite
great ideas in the unity from which
Uiey started^ Still more is the mani-
fold vastness of religion illustrated by
those diversities of the religious sen-
timerU which result from diversities in
the human character.

All modem civilization rests on
reverence for woman, both in her vir-
ginal and maternal character; the
Mother of God, from whom that rev-
erence sprang, being in both these re-
lations alike its great type. In the
restored, as in the first humanity,
there is an Eve as well as an Adam ;
and it has been well remarked, that
among the indirect benefits derived
from this provision is the circumstance
that there thus exists a double cord,
by which the two great divisions of
the human family are drawn to the
contemplation of that true humanity.
From file beginning woman found her-
self at home in Christianity ; it was to
her a native country, in which she ful-
filled her happiest destinies, as pagan-
ism had been a foreign land, where
she lived in bondage and degradation.
In the days of martyrdom the virgins
took their place beside the youths
amid the wild beasts at the Coliseum.
In the days of contemplative monasti-
cism the convents of the nuns, no leas
than those of the monks, lifted their
snowy standards on high, and, by the
image of purity which they had there
exalted, rendered intel%ible the

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Christian idea of marriage — ^thus re-
freshing with ethereal breath those
charities of hat and hearth which
flourished in the vallejs far down. In
those convents, too, the scholastic
Yolnme, and the psalm sustained by
daj and night, proved that the serious
belonged to woman as well as the sofl
and bright. Since the devastations
of later times womanhood has won
a yet more conspicuous crown.
Through the active orders religion has
measured her strength with a world
which boasts that at last it is alive
and stirring. Bj nuns the sick have
been nursed, the aged tended, the
orphan reared, the rude instructed, the
savage I'eclaimed, the revolutionary
leader withstood, the revolutionary
mob reduced to a sane mind. There
are no better priests than those of
France ; yet they tell us that it has
been in no small part through the
Sisters of Charity that religion has
been restored in their land. In how
many an English alley is not the con-
vent the last hope of purity and faith?
On how many an Irish waste does not
the last crust come from it ?

The part of woman in Christianity
might have been anticipated. For
it she is strengthened even by all that
makes her weak elsewhere. In the
Christian scheme the law of/ strength
is found in the words, " When I am
weak, then I am strong." It is a
creaturely, not self-asserting strength ;
it is not godlike, but consists in de-
pendence on God. <^ In proportion as
self is obliterated, a Divine Presence
takes its place, which could otherwise
no more inhabit there than the music
which belongs to the hollow shell
could proceed from the solid rock. To
woman, who in all the conditions of
life occupies the place of the second-
ary or satellite, the attainment of
this selflessness is perhaps more easy
than to man. Obedience is the natu-
ral precursor of faith ; and to those
whose hands are clean the clearer
vision is granted. Moreover, religion
is mainly of the heart ; and in woman
the heart occupies a larger relative

place than in man. Paganism, with
the instinct of a clown, addressed but
what was superficial in womanhood,
and elicited but what was alluring
and ignoble. Christianity addressed
it at its depths, and elicited the true,
the tender, and the spiritual. The
one flattered, but with a coarse caress ;
the other controlled, but with a touch
of air-like sofbiess. In pagan times
woman was a chaplet of faded flow-
ers on a festive board; in Christian,
it became a ^sealed fountain," by
which every flower, from the violet to
the amaranth, might grow. Even the
chosen people had forgotten her
claims; — ^but "from the beginning it
was not so." Christianity reaffirmed
them ; it could do no less. It ad-
dresses distinctively what is feminine
in man, as well as what is manly. It
challenges, at its flrst* entrance, the
passive, the susceptive, the recipient
in our nature; and it ignores, as it
is ignored by, the self-asserting and
the self-included.

That which Christianity claims for
woman is but the readjustment of a
balance which, when all merit was
measured by the test of bodily or
intellectual strength, had no longer
preserved its impartiahty. Milton's

" He for Qod only : she for God In him,"

is more in harmony with the Moham-
medan, or at least the Ox*iental, than
with the Christian scheme of thought.
It is as represented both by its strong-
er and its gefltler half, that man's race
pays its true tribute to the great Crea-
tor. The modem poet gives us his
ideal of man in the form of a pro-
phecy :

*' Yet in the long years llkor must they grow :
The man he more of woman— she of man.***

Singularly enough, this ideal of hu-
manity was fulfilled long since in
the conventual life. The true nun
has left behind the weakness of her


♦ Tennyson^B "Princess.**

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sex. The acceptance of her vocation,
implying the renunciation of the tried
for the untried, the seen for the un-
seen, is the highest known form of
courage —

^* A soft and tender heroine
Vowed to severer discipline."*

Her vow is irrevocable; and thus
free-will, the infinite in our nature,
stands finally pledged to the ** better
part" In her life of mortification,
and her indifference to worldly opinion,
she reaches the utmost to which forti-
tude may aspire ; yet she perfects
in herself also the characteristic vir-
tues of woman — ^love, humility, obedi-

The true monk also, while more
of a man than other men, includes
more of the virtues that belong least
often to man. It is pre-eminently the
soul within him that has received its
utmost development, and become the
expression of his being. The highest
ideal of the antique world, mens sana
in corpore sano, implied, not the
subordination of the body to the mind,
and of both to the soul, but the equal
development of the former two, the
soul being left wholly out of account
Such a formula, it is true, rises above
that of the mere Epicurean, who
' subordinates the mind to the body,
and makes pleasure the chief good.
It leaves, however, no place for the
spiritiJaL By the change which Chris-
tianity introduced, virtues which pa-
ganism overlooked or despised became
the predominant elements in man's be-
ing. Purity, patience, and humility
bear to Christian morals a relation
analogous to tliat which faith, hope,
and charity bear to theology. The
former, like the latter, triad of virtues
will ever present to the rationalist the
character of mysticism, because they
rest upon mysteries — ^that is, upon
realities out of our sight, and hidden
in the divine character. The earthly
basis upon which they are sometimes
placed by defenders that belong to the

♦ Wordsworth's " Ode to Enterprise/*

Utilitarian school is as incapable of
supporting them as the film of ice
that covers a lake would be of sup-
porting the mountains close by. These
are Christian virtues exclusively, and
it was to perfect them that the con-
vents which nurtured saints were call-
ed into existence.

We know the hideous picture of
monastic life with which a morbid
imagination sometimes amuses or
frightens itself. Let us frankly con-

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