Puslapio vaizdai

real thoughts has been carefully weeded. These are the conditions sometimes proposed to us, as those on which our publication will be encouraged. We may, indeed, be as severe as we like in showing that there is not a jot or scrap of truth in any of the enemies of Catholics ; that all who oppose us, or contend with us, are both morally reprobate and intellectually impotent. We have perfect liberty to make out, by a selection of garbled quotations, how all the sciences of the nineteenth century are ministering to their divine queen ; how geologians and physical philosophers are proving the order of creation as related by Moses; physiologists the descent of mankind from one couple; philologists the original unity and subsequent disrupture in human language; ethnographers in their progress are testifying more and more to that primeval division of mankind into three great races, as recorded by Moses; while any serious investigation of these sciences, made independently of the unauthoritative interpretations of Scripture, by which they have hitherto been controlled and confined in the Catholic schools, would be discouraged as tending to infuse doubts into the minds of innocent.Catholics, and to suggest speculation where faith now reigns. People, forsooth, to whom the pages of the Times, the Athenæum, and the Weekly Dispatch, with all their masterly infidelity, lie open, will be exposed to the danger of losing their faith if a Catholic speculates a little on questions of moral, intellectual, social, or physical philosophy,—if he directs his mind to any thing above writing nice stories, in illustration of the pleasantness and peace of the Catholic religion, and the naughty and disagreeable ends to which all non-Catholics arrive in this world and the next,—to any thing more honest than defending through thick and thin the governments of all tyrants that profess our religion, and proving by geometric scale,' that the interior of a Neapolitan prison is rather preferable to that of an English gaol. We only wish we saw our way clearly to be safe in speaking out in a manner still more after Dr. Brownson's heart.” Rumbler, Oct., p. 316.

There can be no doubt that this reply is keenly sarcastic, and in some measure contains its own refutation. We are not, however, surprised that it should have given offence to those, if such there were, against whom it was pointed. The editors did not intend their remarks to apply, and they could not justly apply, to the great body of Catholics in the United Kingdom ; but we presume, there' as well as here, there are some to whom they are not inapplicable,– very good people too in their way, very devout, and much more likely to save their souls than we are ours, who suppose that all the traditions of Catholics are traditions of faith, or at least no less sacred, and that to introduce any


novelty in our modes or methods of presenting or defending Catholic doctrine is to introduce novelty in doctrine itself. In the view of these good people to question the traditional replies to popular objections, or the historical, scientific, or philosophical statements of popular apologists, is to betray a proud, arrogant, innovating, and indeed an heretical spirit and tendency. These must have been deeply wounded by the sarcasms of the The Rambler. The Dublin Review, not usually on the side of those who are unduly wedded to the past, seems to have been stung by some of The Rambler's remarks, and seizing upon the unlucky allusion to "the little remnant of Catholic England,” and coupling it with the fact that the editors of the offending periodical are converts of not many years' standing, takes occasion to retort sarcasm for sarcasm, and to read them and converts in general, a severe, and even if a merited, certainly not a very palatable lesson. It rebukes them for their arrogance, exhorts them to humility, and reminds them of their very great inferiority in Catholic things to those who have sucked in Catholicity with their mother's milk. It accuses them of drawing a line between old Catholics and new converts, of disparaging the worth and services of those who have toiled from early morning and “ borne the burden and heat of the day," and of seeking to form a convert party. It even goes farther, and accuses the editors of The Rambler and their friends of standing aloof from the Catholic body, of refusing to throw themselves into the great current of Catholic action, and of conducting themselves as critics or speculators instead of hearty, loyal, and self-forgetting cooperators. All this is done with rare polish, unction, and suavity of manner ; but we are forced to add that, however polished or unctuous, it has given pain to not a few old Catholics, and awakened a feeling of wrong in the bosom of more than one convert.

Our readers know that we ourselves have taken great liberties with converts who have attempted to fly before they were fledged, and that we have gone as far as the estreme limits of truth and justice in our efforts to avoid exciting the slightest jealousy or distrust in the minds of those who have been Catholics from their infancy ; but with all respect for the writer in The Dublin Review, with whom in much he says we cordially sympathize, we must be piermitted to say, in all sincerity and loyalty, that he has in our poor judgment borne too hard upon a class of men who have the right to meet with encouragement rather than discouragement from those of their brethren who have never wandered into“ a far country,” and who have the happiness of owing their Catholicity, under God, to the faith and piety of their parents. We converts were indeed born and brought up in heresy and schism, but through the grace of God we have abjured heresy and schism, and followed our convictions into the Church, who has received us to her bosom as a true mother, and deigned to own us as her children. We see not wherein our merit is less than that of those who have had only to persevere in the way they were trained to go, or what greater right they have to boast over us than we have to boast over them. Neither of us, indeed,

. have any right to boast ; for in both cases the glory is due solely to Him who became man and died on the cross, that he might redeem us, purify us, and elevate us to union with God. We do not believe that it ever occurs to converts to place themselves in their own estimation above old Catholics. We look upon ourselves rather as the prodigal who has returned to his father's house, and has been unexpectedly and undeservedly received as a son. We are aware of the superiority of those who have welcomed us among them, and readily acknowledge it, in all that which can come only from long training and familiar habit. They are, as it were, native

, born citizens; we are only aliens recently naturalized, and we are far more likely to feel our inferiority, than to claim superiority, in Catholic things, to those who are to “the manner born.”

It is but natural that converts should be inferior in that nice Catholic tact, and that quick and instinctive appreciation of Catholic things, which belong to those who have been reared in the Church, but, perhaps, they have, after all, some compensating advantages. They have a more intimate knowledge of the inner life of non-Catholics, and in general are better able to appreciate the obstacles which they find in the way of accepting the Church and submitting to her authority. Coming to Catholicity free from all the old secular traditions, habits, and associations of Catholics, they can more easily discriminate between what is of religion and what pertains only to the social life, nationality,

or secular habits, customs, and usages of Catholics. In the concrete life of Catholics in all ages and nations there is much inherited from their ancestors, which, if not antiCatholic, yet is no part of Catholicity, but which they do not always distinguish from their religion itself, and sometimes half confound with it. The Catholics of Great Britain and the United States are hardly more widely separated from their non-Catholic countrymen by their faith and worship, than they are by their associations, habits, customs, affections, and modes of thought and action, which are no necessary part of their religion, and are only accidentally connected with it. The convert, trained in a different world, is not wedded to these forms of secular life, and is able to distinguish them without effort from Catholicity. He can embrace Catholicity, so far as regards these, with less admixture of foreign elements, and attach himself more easily to it in its essential and universal character, free from the local habits, manners, and usages of an old Catholic population. This is some compensation, and places converts more nearly on a level with old Catholics than is sometimes supposed, though it, no doubt, leaves them still far inferior.

The convert, on being admitted into the Church and beginning to associate with his Catholic brethren, does not always find them in all respects what he in his fervor and inexperience had expected. He finds the Church altogether more than he promised himself, or had conceived it possible for her to be, but he finds, also, that, though in all which is strictly of religion, his sympathy with his Catholic brethren is full and entire, in other matters it is far from being perfect,-through his fault it may be as well as through theirs. He finds that they are wedded to many things to which he is a stranger, and must remain a stranger; that, in all save religion, he and they belong to different worlds, and have different habits, associations, and sympathies. Outside of religion he belongs to the modern world, speaks its language, thinks and reasons as a man of the nineteenth century, while they appear to live in what is to him a past age, have recollections, traditions, associations, which, though dear to them, have and can have no hold on him. If he allows himself to dwell on these, he is apt to form an undue estimate of the real sentiment and worth of the body into which he has been admitted. There is, with equal faith and piety on both sides, in matters not of religion, a real divergence between them, which not unfrequently leads to much misunderstanding and distrust on both sides. Each is more or less tenacious of his own world, each clings to his old habits, associations, traditions. The old Catholic feels that there is a difference, though he may not be able, in all cases, to explain its cause or its exact nature, and is disposed to think that something is lacking in the convert's faith or piety. To satisfy him, the convert must sympathize with him in what he has that is not of Catholicity, as well as in what is, fall back with him into that old world inherited from his Catholic ancestors, and thus become separated in all things in which he is separated from the actual world of to-day. He naturally wishes the convert to embrace not only the Catholic religion, but all the traditions of Catholics, and defend the civilization of Catholic ages and nations, and the conduct of Catholics in relation to religion and secular politics, with as much zeal and resoluteness as he defends Catholicity itself, although, in point of fact, to do so would require him to defend much that the Church has never approved, and much that she has never ceased to struggle against. The convert, if a fullgrown man, cannot do this

. He cheerfully takes the old faith, submits unreservedly to the old Church, but in what is not repugnant to faith or morals he sees not why he should change, or cease to be a man of his own times or of his own country. He is, unless of a very philosophic turn of mind, even offended by the old Catholic's unnecessary and in his view unreasonable attachment to the past, which was no better than the present, if indeed so good, to old methods, to old usages, no longer in harmony with the living thought of the age or country, and feels a vocation to emancipate his Catholic brethren from a bondage the Church does not impose, and which seems to him to crush out their manhood, and deprive them of all ability to serve effectively their Church in the presence of non-Catholics.

Certainly, there is here much misapprehension and exaggeration on both sides, and neither side is strictly just to the other. All old Catholics do not cling to the past : many of them are fully up with the times, and are men of their own age and nation; and converts are not always defi

« AnkstesnisTęsti »