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Title: Sermons Of The Rev. Francis A. Baker - With A Memoir Of His Life
Author: Hewit, Rev. A. F.
Language: English
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  [Transcriber's Notes: This production was derived from
  https://archive.org/details/lifeofrevfrancis00hewi/page/n9]

{1}

  Sermons Of The

  Rev. Francis A. Baker,


  Priest Of The Congregation Of St. Paul.

  With A Memoir Of His Life


  BY

  Rev. A. F. Hewit.


  Fourth Edition.


  New York:
  Lawrence Kehoe, 145 Nassau Street.
  1867.

{2}

  Entered according to Act of Congress, In the year 1865

  By A. F. Hewit,
  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
  States for the Southern District of New York.


{3}


PREFACE.

------

In offering the Memoir and Sermons of this volume to the friends
of F. Baker, and to the public, propriety requires of me a few
words of explanation. The number of those who have been more or
less interested in the events touched upon in the sketch of his
life and labors is very great, and composed of many different
classes of persons in various places, and of more than one
religious communion. I cannot suppose that all of them will read
these pages, but it is likely that many will; and therefore a
word is due to those who are more particularly interested, as
well as to the general class of readers. I have to ask the
indulgence of all my readers for having interwoven so much of my
own history and my own reflections on the topics and events of
the period included within the limits of the narrative. They have
woven themselves in spontaneously, without any intention on my
part, and on account of the close connexion between myself and
the one whose career I have been describing; and I have been
unable to unravel them from the texture of the narrative without
breaking its threads.

{4}

I have simply transferred to paper that picture of the past, long
forgotten amid the occupations of an active life, which came up
again, unbidden and with great vividness, before the eye of
memory, during the hours while the remains of my brother and
dearest friend lay robed in violet, waiting for the last solemn
rites of the requiem to be fulfilled. If I have succeeded, I
cannot but think that the picture will have something of the same
interest for others that it has for myself. Those who knew and
loved the original, will, I hope, prize it for his sake; and
their own recollections will diffuse the coloring and animation
of life over that which in itself is but a pale and indistinct
sketch. For their sakes chiefly I have prepared it, so far as the
mere personal motive of perpetuating the memory of a revered and
beloved individual is concerned. But I have had a higher motive
as my chief reason for undertaking the task: a desire to promote
the glory of God, by preserving and extending the memory of the
graces and virtues with which He adorned one of His most faithful
children. I have wished to place before the world the example of
one of the most signal conversions to the Catholic faith which
has taken place in our country, as a lesson to all to imitate the
pure and disinterested devotion to truth and conscience which it
presents to them.

Let me not be misunderstood. I do not present the example of his
conversion, or that of the great number of persons of similar
character who have embraced the Catholic religion, as a proof
sufficient by itself of the truth of that religion.
{5}
I propose it as a specimen of many instances in which the power
of the Catholic religion to draw intelligent minds and upright
hearts to itself, and to inspire them with a pure and noble
spirit of self-sacrifice in the cause of God and humanity, is
exhibited. This is surely a sufficient motive for examining
carefully the reasons and evidences on which their submission to
the Church was grounded; and an incentive to seek for the truth,
with an equally sincere intention to embrace it, at whatever cost
or struggle it may demand.

It may appear to the casual reader that I have drawn in this
narrative an ideal portrait which exaggerates the reality. I do
not think I have done so; and I believe the most competent judges
will attest my strict fidelity to the truth of nature. If I have
represented my subject as a most perfect and beautiful character,
the model of a man, a Christian, and a priest of God, I have not
exceeded the sober judgment of the most impartial witnesses. A
Protestant Episcopal clergyman, of remarkable honesty and
generosity of nature, said of him to a Catholic friend: "You have
one perfect man among your converts." Another, a Catholic
clergyman, whose coolness of judgment and reticence of praise are
remarkable traits in his character, said, on hearing of his
decease: "The best priest in New York is dead." I have no doubt
that more than one would have been willing to give their own
lives in place of his, if he could have been saved by the
sacrifice.

In narrating events connected with F. Baker's varied career, I
have simply related those things of which I have had either
personal knowledge, or the evidence furnished by his own
correspondence with a very dear friend, aided by the information
which that friend has furnished me.
{6}
I have to thank this very kind and valued friend, the Rev. Dwight
E. Lyman, for the aid he has given me in this way, which has
increased so much the completeness and interest of the Memoir. I
am also indebted to another, still dearer to the departed, for
information concerning his early history and family.

I trust that those readers who are not members of the Catholic
communion, especially such as have been the friends of the
subject and the author of this memoir, will find nothing here to
jar unnecessarily upon their sentiments and feelings. Fidelity to
the deceased has required me not to conceal his conviction of the
exclusive truth and authority of the doctrine and communion of
the holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church. The same fidelity
would prevent me, if my own principles did not do so, from mixing
up with religious questions any thing savoring of personal
arrogance, or directed to the vindication of private feelings,
and retaliation upon individuals with whom religious conflicts
have brought us into collision. I wish those who still retain
their friendship for the dead, and whose minds will recur with
interest to scenes of this narrative, in which they were
concerned with him, to be assured of that lasting sentiment of
regard which he carried with him to the grave, and which survives
in the heart of the writer of these lines.

{7}

In the history of F. Baker's missionary career, I have endeavored
to select from the materials on hand such portions of the details
of particular missions as would make the nature of the work in
which he was engaged intelligible to all classes of readers,
without making the narrative too tedious and monotonous. I have
wished to present all the diverse aspects and all the salient
points of his missionary life, and to give as varied and
miscellaneous a collection of specimens from its records as
possible. From the necessity of the case, only a small number of
missions could be particularly noticed. Those which have been
passed by have not been slighted, however, as less worthy of
notice than the others, but omitted from the necessity of
selecting those most convenient for illustration of the theme in
hand. The statistics given, in regard to numbers, etc., in the
history of our missions, have all been taken from records
carefully made at the time, and based on an exact enumeration of
the communions given. I trust this volume will renew and keep
alive in the minds of those who took part in these holy scenes,
and who hung on the lips of the eloquent preacher of God's word
whose life and doctrine are contained in it, the memory of the
holy lessons of teaching and example by which he sought to lead
them to heaven.

Of the sermons contained in this volume, seventeen have been
reprinted from the four volumes of "Sermons by the Paulists,
1861-64;" and twelve published from MSS. Four of these are
mission sermons, selected from the complete series, as the most
suitable specimens of this species of discourse. The others are
parochial sermons, preached in the parish church of St. Paul the
Apostle, New York.
{8}
There still remain a considerable number of sermons, more or less
complete; but the confused and illegible state in which F. Baker
left his MSS. has made the task of reading and copying them very
laborious, and prevented any larger number from being prepared
for publication at the present time. I leave these Sermons, with
the Memoir of their author, to find their own way to those minds
and hearts which are prepared to receive them, and to do the good
for which they are destined by the providence of God. May we all
have the grace to imitate that high standard of Christian virtue
which they set before us, as true disciples of Jesus Christ our
Lord!

A. F. H.

St. Paul's Church, Fifty-ninth Street,
Advent, 1865.

{9}

CONTENTS

                                                        PAGE
Memoir.                                                   13

SERMON:
    I. The Necessity of Salvation (Mission Sermon)       209
   II. Mortal Sin (Mission Sermon)                       226
  III. The Particular Judgement (Mission Sermon)         239
   IV. Heaven (Mission Sermon)                           252
    V. The Duty of Growing in Christian Knowledge
       (First Sunday in Advent)                          263
   VI. The Mission of St. John the Baptist
       (Second Sunday in Advent)                         271
  VII. God's Desire to be Loved (Christmas Day)          282
 VIII. The Failure and Success of the Gospel
       (Sexagesima)                                      292
   IX. The Work of Life (Septuagesima)                   303
    X. The Church's Admonition to the Individual Soul
       (Ash-Wednesday)                                   312
   XI. The Negligent Christian (Third Sunday in Lent)    320
  XII. The Cross, the Measure of Sin (Passion Sunday)    329
 XIII. Divine Calls and Warnings (Lent)                  340
  XIV. The Tomb of Christ, the School of Comfort
       (Easter Sunday)                                   352
   XV. St. Mary Magdalene at the Sepulchre
       (Easter Sunday)                                   360
  XVI. The Preacher, the Organ of the Holy Ghost
       (Fourth Sunday after Easter)                      370
 XVII. The Two Wills in Man
       (Fourth Sunday after Easter)                      380
XVIII. The Intercession of the Blessed Virgin the
       Highest Power of Prayer
       (Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension)       391
  XIX. Mysteries in Religion (Trinity Sunday)            399
   XX. The Worth of the Soul
       (Third Sunday after Pentecost)                    408
  XXI. The Catholic's Certitude concerning the Way
       of Salvation (Fifth Sunday after Pentecost)       418

{10}

 XXII. The Presence of God
       (Fifth Sunday after Pentecost)                    429
XXIII. Keeping the Law not Impossible
       (Ninth Sunday after Pentecost)                    437
 XXIV. The Spirit of Sacrifice
       (Feast of St. Laurence)                           447
  XXV. Mary's Destiny a Type of Ours (Assumption)        456
 XXVI. Care for the Dead
       (Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost)                465
XXVII. Success the Reward of Merit
       (Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost)                475
XXVIII. The Mass the Highest Worship
        (Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost)            484
  XXIX. The Lessons of Autumn
        (Last Sunday after Pentecost)                    493


{11}

  MEMOIR.

{12}

{13}

  Memoir.


Francis A. Baker was born in Baltimore, March 30, 1820. The name
given him in baptism was Francis Asbury, after the Methodist
bishop of that name; but when he became a Catholic he changed it
to Francis Aloysius, in honor of St. Francis de Sales and St.
Aloysius, to both of whom he had a special devotion, and both of
whom he resembled in many striking points of character.

He was of mixed German and English descent, and combined the
characteristics of both races in his temperament of mind and
body. He had also some of the Irish and older American blood in
his veins. His paternal grandfather, William Baker, emigrated
from Germany at an early age to Baltimore, where he married a
young lady of Irish origin, and became a wealthy merchant. His
maternal grandfather, the Rev. John Dickens, was an Englishman, a
Methodist preacher, who resided chiefly in Philadelphia. His
grandmother was a native of Georgia. During the great
yellow-fever epidemic in Philadelphia, Mr. Dickens remained at
his post, and his wife fell a victim to the disease, with her
eldest daughter. His father was Dr. Samuel Baker, of Baltimore,
and his mother, Miss Sarah Dickens. Dr. Baker was an eminent
physician and medical lecturer, holding the honorable positions
of Professor of Materia Medica in the University of Maryland, and
President of the Baltimore Medico-Chirurgical Society.
{14}
There was a striking similarity in the character of Dr. Baker and
his son Francis. The writer of an obituary notice of the father,
in the _Baltimore Athenæum_, tells us that his early
preceptors admired "the balance of the faculties of his mind,"
and that "his classmates were attached to him for his integrity
and affectionate manners." In another passage, the same writer
would seem to be describing Francis Baker, to those who knew him
alone, and have never seen the original of the sketch. "The style
of conversation with which Dr. Baker interested his friends, his
patients, or the stranger, was marked with an unaffected
simplicity. Even when he was most fluent and communicative, no
one could suspect him of an ambition to shine. He spoke to give
utterance to pleasing and useful thoughts on science, religion,
and general topics, _as if his chief enjoyment was to diffuse
the charms of his own tranquillity_. In social intercourse,
his dignity was the natural attitude of his virtue. On the part
of the trifling it required but little discernment to perceive
the tacit warning that vulgar familiarity would find nothing
congenial in him. He never engrossed conversation, and seemed
always desirous of obtaining information by eliciting it from
others. Whether he listened or spoke, his countenance, receiving
impressions readily from his mind, was an expressive index of the
tone of his various emotions and thoughts. The conduct of Dr.
Baker as a physician, a Christian, and a citizen, was a mirror,
reflecting the beautiful image of goodness in so distinct a form
as to leave none to hesitate about the sincerity and purity of
his feelings. It therefore constantly reminded many of 'the
wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable,
gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.' The friendly sympathy
and anxiety which he evinced in the presence of human suffering
attached all classes of his patients to him, and he was very
happy in his benevolent tact at winning the affection of
children, even in their sickness."
{15}
Dr. Baker was a member of the Methodist Church, and an intimate
friend of the celebrated and eloquent preacher Summerfield. He
was not one, however, of the enthusiastic sort, but sober, quiet,
and reserved. He never went through any period of religious
excitement himself, or endeavored to practise on the
susceptibilities of his children. He said of himself, as one of
his intimate friends testifies, "that he did not know the period
when he became religious, so gradually was his life regulated by
the spiritual truths which enlightened his mind from childhood."
He had no hostile feelings toward the Catholic Church, and was a
great admirer and warm friend of the Sisters of Charity, many of
whom I have heard frequently speak of him in terms of the most
affectionate respect. His benevolence toward the poor was
unbounded, and he was in fact endeared to all classes of the
community, without exception, in Baltimore. Francis Baker had a
very great respect for his father, and was very fond of talking
of him to me, during the first period of our acquaintance, when
his early recollections were fresh and recent in his mind. Of his
mother he had but a faint remembrance, having been deprived of
her at the age of seven years. It is easy to judge of her
character, however, from that of her children, and of her sister,
who was a mother to her orphans from the time of her death until
her own life was ended among them. Mrs. Baker's brother, the Hon.
Asbury Dickens, is well known as having been for nearly half a
century the Secretary of the Senate of the United States, which
position he held until his death, which occurred at an advanced
age a few years since.

Dr. Baker had four sons and two daughters. Only one of them, Dr.
William George Baker, ever married, and he died without children:
so that Dr. Samuel Baker left not a single grandchild after him
to perpetuate his name or family--and of his children, one
daughter only survives.
{16}
Three of his sons were physicians of great promise, which they
did not live to fulfil. Francis was his third son, and the one
who most resembled him in character. Of his boyhood I know
little, except that his companions at school who grew up to
manhood, and preserved their acquaintance with him, were
extremely attached to him. One of them passed an evening and
night in our house, as the guest of F. Baker, but a few months
before his death, with great pleasure to both. I have also heard
some of the good Sisters of Charity speak of having known the
little Frank Baker as a boy, and mention the fact that he was
very fond of visiting them. I am sure that his childhood was an
extremely happy one until the period of his father's death. This
event took place in October, 1835, when Francis was in his
sixteenth year, and in the fiftieth year of Dr. Baker's life. It
was very sudden and unexpected, and threw a shadow of grief and
sadness over the future of his children, which was deepened by
the subsequent untimely decease of the two eldest sons, Samuel
and William.

Francis was entered at Princeton College soon after his father's
death, and graduated there with the class of 1839. I am not aware
that his college life had any remarkable incidents. He was not
ambitious of distinguishing himself, or inclined to apply himself
to very severe study. I believe, however, that his standing was
respectable, and his conduct regular and exemplary. He was not
decidedly religious in his early youth. Methodism had no
attraction for him, and the Calvinistic preaching at Princeton
was repugnant to his reason and feelings. Whatever religious
impressions he had in childhood were chiefly those produced by
the Catholic Church, whose services he was fond of attending; but
these were not deep or lasting. The early death of his father,
and the consequent responsibility and care thrown upon him as the
male head of the family, first caused him to reflect deeply, and
to seek for some decided religious rule of his own life and
conduct, and finally led him to join the Protestant Episcopal
communion, and to resolve to prepare himself for the ministry.
{17}
All the members of his family joined the same communion, and were
baptized with him, in St. Paul's Church, by the rector of the
parish, Dr. Wyatt. This event took place in 1841, or '42. Soon
afterward, Mr. Baker formed an acquaintance with a young man, a
candidate for orders and an inmate of the family of Dr.
Whittingham, the Bishop of Maryland, which was destined to ripen
into a most endearing and life-long friendship, and to have a
most important influence on his subsequent history. This
gentleman was Dwight Edwards Lyman, a son of the Rev. Dr. Lyman a
respectable Presbyterian minister, of the same age with Francis
Baker, and an ardent disciple of the school of John Henry Newman.
At the time of his baptism, Mr. Baker was only acquainted with
church principles as they were taught by Dr. Wyatt, who was an
old-fashioned High Churchman. The intercourse which he had with
Mr. Lyman was the principal occasion of introducing him to an
acquaintance with the Oxford movement, into which he very soon
entered with his whole mind and heart. In 1842, Mr. Lyman was
sent to St. James's College, near Hagerstown, where he remained
several years, receiving orders in the interval. During this
time, Mr. Baker kept up a frequent and most confidential
correspondence with him, which is full of liveliness and humor in
its earlier stages, but becomes more grave and serious as both
advanced nearer to the time of their ordination. It continued
during the entire period of their ministry in the Episcopal
Church, and during the whole subsequent life of Mr. Baker,
closing with a very playful letter written by the latter, a few
days before his last illness. In one of these letters, he
acknowledges his obligations to Mr. Lyman as the principal
instrument of making him acquainted with Catholic principles, in
these warm and affectionate words: "I do not know whether you are
aware of the advantage I derived from you in the earlier part of
our acquaintance, by reason of your greater familiarity with the
Catholic system as exhibited in the _Anglican_ Church.
{18}
The influence you exerted was of a kind of which I can hardly
suppose you to have been conscious; yet I am sure you will be
gratified to think it was effectual, as I believe, to fix me more
firmly in the system for which I had long entertained so profound
a reverence and affection. These are benefits which I cannot
forget, and which (if there were not other reasons of which I
need not speak) must always keep a place for you in the heart of
your unworthy friend."

The nature of the later correspondence between these two friends,
and their mutual influence on each other, will appear later in
this narrative. There are friendships which are formed in heaven,
and in looking back upon that which grew up between these two
young men of congenial spirit, and in which I was also a sharer
in a subordinate degree, I cannot but admire the benignant ways
of Divine Providence, by which those strands which afterward
bound our existence together so closely were first interwoven. I
had myself met Mr. Lyman, some years before this, and felt the
charm of his glowing and enthusiastic advocacy of principles
which were just beginning to germinate in my own mind. Soon after
Lyman's removal to Hagerstown, I made the acquaintance of Mr.
Baker, a circumstance which the latter mentions in his next
letter to his friend in these words, which I trust I may be
pardoned for quoting--

"The Bishop's family have a young man staying with them (Mr. H.),
a convert to the Church, and one, I believe, of great promise. He
was a Congregationalist minister, and Rev. Mr. B. read me a
letter from him, dated about a month ago, before his coming into
the Church, the tone of which was far more Catholic than that of
many (alas!) of those who have been partakers of the holy
treasures to be found only in her bosom. Mr. B. tells me that
Church principles are silently spreading in the North, among the
sects. In this place, I believe that a spirit has been raised
which one would hardly imagine on looking at the surface of
things, though that is troubled enough."

{19}

This letter was dated April 22, 1843.

I had just arrived in Baltimore, at the invitation of Dr.
Whittingham, the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, and
been received as a candidate for orders in his diocese. Mr.
Baker, who was also a candidate for orders, lived just opposite
the Bishops's residence, in Courtlandt street, and was pursuing
his theological studies in private. I lived in the Bishop's
house, and I think I met Mr. Baker there on the first evening of
my arrival. We were nearly of the same age, and soon found that
our tastes and opinions were very congenial to each other. Of
course, I returned his visit very soon, and I became at once very
intimate with his family. It was a charming place and a
delightful circle. Francis, as the eldest brother, was the head
of the house. His aunt, Miss Dickens, fulfilled the office of a
mother to her orphaned nephews and nieces with winning grace and
gentleness. A younger brother, Alfred, then about eighteen years
of age, was at home, pursuing his medical studies. Two sisters
completed the number of the family, all bound together in the
most devoted and tender love, all alike in that charm of
character which is combined from it fervent and genial spirit of
religion, amiability of temper, and a high-toned culture of mind
and manners, chastened and subdued by trial and sorrow. I must
not pass by entirely without mention another inmate of the
family, whose good-humored, joyous countenance was always the
first to greet me at the door--little Caroline, the last of the
family servants, who was manumitted as soon as she arrived at a
proper age, always devotedly attached to her young master, and
afterward one of the most eager and delighted spectators at his
ordination as a Catholic priest.

{20}

The house was one of those places where every article of
furniture and the entire spirit that pervades its arrangement
speaks eloquently of the past family history, and recalls the
memory of its departed members and departed scenes of domestic
happiness. Dr. Baker had left his children a competent but
moderate fortune, which was managed with the utmost prudence by
Francis, who possessed at twenty-one all the wisdom of a man of
fifty. There was nothing of the splendor and luxury of wealth to
be seen in the household, but a modest simplicity and propriety,
a home-like comfort, and that perfection of order and
arrangement, regulated by a pure and exquisite taste, which is
far more attractive. Mr. Baker's home was always the mirror of
his mind. In later years, when he lived in his own rectory,
although his family circle had lost two of its precious links,
the same charm pervaded every nook and corner of the home of the
survivors, the young and idolized pastor and his two sisters. His
study at St. Luke's rectory was the beau ideal of a clergyman's
sanctuary of study and prayer, after the Church of England model;
with something added, which betokened a more recluse and
sacerdotal spirit, and a more Catholic type of devotion. One
might have read in it Mr. Baker's character at a glance, and
might have divined that the inhabitant of that room was a perfect
gentleman, a man of the most pure intellectual tastes, a pastor
completely absorbed in the duties of his state, a recluse in his
life, and very Catholic in the tendencies and aspirations of his
soul.

Of Mr. Baker's family, only one sister has survived him. Alfred
Baker died first. Like his brother, he was a model of manly
beauty, although he did not in the least resemble him in form or
feature. Francis Baker, as all who ever saw him know, was
remarkably handsome. Those who only knew him after he reached
mature age, and remember him only as a priest, will associate
with his appearance chiefly that impress of sacerdotal dignity
and mildness, of placid, intellectual composure, of purity,
nobility, and benignity of character, which was engraven or
rather sculptured in his face and attitude.
{21}
Dressed in the proper costume, he might have been taken as a
living study for a Father of the Church, a holy hermit of the
desert, or a mediæval bishop. He was cast in an antique and
classic mould. There was not a trace of the man of modern times
or of the man of the world about him. His countenance and manner
in late years also bore traces of the fatiguing, laborious life
which he led, and the hard, rough work to which he was devoted.
On account of these things, and because he was so completely a
priest and a religious, one could scarcely think of admiring him
as a man. His portrait was never painted, and the photographs of
him which were taken were none of them very successful, and most
of them mere caricatures. An ambrotype in profile was taken at
Chicago for Mr. Healy the artist, which is admirable, and from
this the only good photographs have been taken; but the adequate
image of Father Baker, as he appeared at the altar, or when his
face was lit up in preaching the Divine word, will live only in
the memory of those who knew him. At the period of which I speak,
he had just attained the maturity of youthful and manly beauty,
which was heightened in its effect by his perfect dignity and
grace of manner. His brother Alfred was cast in a slighter mould,
and had an almost feminine loveliness of aspect, figure, and
character. He was as modest and pure as a young maiden, with far
more vivacity of feature and manner than his brother, and a more
vivid and playful temperament. There was nothing, however,
effeminate in his character or countenance. He was full of
talent, high-spirited, generous and chivalrous in his temper,
conscientious and blameless in his religious and moral conduct.
He graduated at the Catholic College of St. Mary's in Baltimore,
and was a great favorite of the late Archbishop Eccleston and
several others of the Catholic clergy. His High Church principles
had a strong dash of Catholicity in them, and he used often to
speak of the "ignominious name, Protestant," which is prefixed to
the designation of the Episcopal Church in this country.
{22}
He was a devoted admirer of Mr. Newman, and followed him, like so
many others, to the verge of the Catholic Church, but drew back,
startled and perplexed, when he passed over. Two or three years
after the time I am describing, he began the practice of his
profession, with brilliant prospects. The family removed to a
larger and more central residence, for his sake, near St. Paul's
Church, where Francis was Assistant Minister. All things seemed
to smile and promise fair, but this beautiful bud had a worm in
it. A slow and lingering but fatal attack of phthisis seized him,
just as he was beginning to succeed in his professional career.
His brother accompanied him to Bermuda, but the voyage was rather
an additional suffering than a benefit, and on the 9th of April,
1852, he died. It was Good Friday. He had prayed frequently that
he might die on that day, and before his departure, he called his
brother to him, made a general confession, desired him to
pronounce over him the form of absolution prescribed in the
English Prayer-Book, and received the communion of the Episcopal
Church. These acts were sacramentally valueless, but I trust,
without presuming to decide positively on a secret matter which
God alone can judge, that his intention was right before God, and
his error a mistake of judgment without perversity of will. His
brother afterward felt deeply solicitous lest he might have been
himself blamable for keeping him in the Episcopal communion, and
grieved that he had died out of the visible communion of the
Catholic Church. Still, as he was conscious of his own integrity
of purpose, he tranquillized his mind with the hope that his
brother had died in spiritual communion with the true Church and
in the charity of God, and endeavored to aid him, as far as he
was still within the reach of human assistance, by having many
masses offered for the repose of his soul.

Miss Dickens died a little before Alfred, and Elizabeth Baker
died some time after her brother became a Catholic, but before
his ordination.

{23}

I return now to the period when Mr. Baker and all these members
of his family were living a retired and happy life together in
the home on Courtlandt street. I remember this time with peculiar
pleasure. Mr. Baker, whom I always called Frank, as he was
usually called by his friends, partly from the peculiar affection
they felt for him, and also because of its appropriateness as an
epithet of his character, went every day with me once or twice to
prayers; and every day we walked together. When the peculiar,
tinkling bell of old St. Paul's, which will be remembered by many
a reader of these pages, gave notice of divine service there, we
resorted in company to that venerable and unique church. It was
spacious and ecclesiastical, though not regularly beautiful in
its architecture. A basso-relievo adorned its architrave, and a
bright gilded cross graced its tall tower. It had a handsome
altar of white marble, an object of our special pride and
devotion, with the usual reading-desk and pulpit rising behind
it. The pulpit was a light and graceful structure, surmounted by
a canopy which terminated in a cross, and having another cross
surrounded by a glory emblazoned on its ceiling, just over the
preacher's head. The door was in the rear of the pulpit, which
stood far out from the chancel wall, and in the door was a
beautiful transparency of the Ecce Homo, lighted from the chancel
window, which had an Ailanthus behind it, causing a pleasing
illusion in the mind of the beholder that the dirty brick
pavement of the court-yard was a pretty rural garden. The chancel
was large and imposing. An episcopal chair, surmounted by a
mitre, formed one of its conspicuous ornaments, and two seven
branched gilded gas-burners stood on the chancel rail, which were
lighted at Evening Prayer, or _Vespers_, as we were wont to
call it. In this church, the people all knelt with their backs to
the altar, and facing the great door, whereat a number of us,
being scandalized, determined to face about on all occasions and
kneel toward the altar, which we did rigidly and in the most
impressive manner, to the great annoyance of the rector, Dr.
Wyatt.
{24}
The _tout ensemble_ of St. Paul's Church, especially in the
dusk of evening, when the lamps were lit, was to a hasty glance
quite that of a Catholic church. Catholics very frequently came
in by mistake, and sometimes poor people knelt in the aisles and
began saying their prayers. Others inquired of the sexton at the
door if it was a Catholic church, and some persons occupying
seats near the door, who frequently heard his negative response
and his direction to the Cathedral, were led in consequence to
think, that if St. Paul's were not a Catholic church, they too
had best follow the sexton's direction and go to the Cathedral.
Besides the prayers on saints' days, Wednesdays, and Fridays, at
St. Paul's, there was a week-day communion service once a month.
Dr. Wyatt and his congregation were Church people after the type
of Bishop Hobart, disposed to sympathize in a great measure with
Dr. Pusey and the Oxford divines, but in great dread of
extravagant innovation. The parish was very large, and included
among its members a considerable portion of the _élite_ of
Baltimore society. Strange as it may seem, however, outside a
certain circle of sturdy High Church families, and especially
among the more worldly class, there was a prevailing sentiment
that true spiritual religion flourished more in the Methodist
than in the Episcopal Church.

Although the mitred chair stood in the chancel, St. Paul's was
not the bishop's cathedral, and he was not able to take in it
that position and perform those acts which he felt were the
proper prerogative of a bishop in the principal church of the
diocese. The bishops of the Episcopal Church in this country are
all in the same anomalous position, without cathedrals or
strictly episcopal churches, in which, according to canon law,
the see is properly located, having dependent parochial churches
affiliated to the mother Church.
{25}
They must either be rectors of parochial churches, by election of
the vestry, or simple parishioners of one of their own
subordinate presbyters, without the right of performing any
official act, or even sitting in the chancel, except on occasions
of convention, episcopal visitation, or something of the sort.
The Bishop of New York was even for many years an assistant
minister of Trinity Church. Bishop Whittingham was determined to
remedy this evil, as far as possible, by establishing a parish,
where his proper place would be conceded to him voluntarily by
the rector and vestry. Accordingly the Mount Calvary congregation
was formed, and began to worship in an old grain-warehouse. There
we had early Morning Prayers, and Evening Prayers on every day
when St. Paul's was closed; and thither might be seen wending
their way, rain or shine, the Bishop with a suite of young
ecclesiastics, gentlemen and ladies of the most respectable and
cultivated class, and numbers of the more devout people, who
found a real solace for their souls, amid the trials and labors
of life, in daily common prayer to God. A little after, a more
select room was obtained, decorated with a large black cross in
the end window, and finally a church was built. We always met a
great many of the Cathedral people, in the morning, going to and
from Mass, and they were quite astonished at our piety. I have
since learned that a number of them, observing the two young men
who seemed to them so different from Protestants in their ways,
began praying for us, and that a holy priest, F. Chakert, of St.
Alphonsus', who died a martyr to his zeal in New Orleans,
frequently said mass for our conversion.

In our frequent walks, Frank Baker and myself usually, by a tacit
consent, took the direction of some Catholic church. Baltimore
surpasses every other large town in the United States, except
perhaps St. Louis, in the relative number, and in the dignified,
imposing style of its Catholic churches and religious
institutions.
{26}
It is a very picturesque and beautiful city in itself, and one of
its most striking features is the exterior show of Catholicity
which it presents, from the conspicuous position of the numerous
Catholic edifices which are distributed through the principal
parts of the town; often crowning the summits of some of the high
eminences with which it abounds, so that they are distinctly
visible in all directions, and their bells resound loudly for a
great distance. Some of the Protestant churches also, haying our
ecclesiastical style of architecture, and being even surmounted
by the cross, fall into the picture as accessories, and add to
the impression which a stranger taking a _coup-d'oeil_ of
the city would receive. The Cathedral, a truly grand building,
though built in the Moresco style, and suggesting the idea of a
great mosque in an oriental city, which had been converted by
some conquering crusader into a Christian temple, with its great
dome and two towers, each of which is surmounted by a gilded
cross, queens it majestically over the whole city. It has the
finest possible situation, on very high ground, with a spacious
enclosure around it, and a modest, but very appropriate
archiepiscopal residence in the rear of the sanctuary, fronting
on Charles street, the principal street of the court end of the
town, a little below the chaste and graceful monument of white
marble erected to the memory of Washington. Near by, the
Redemptorist Church and Convent of St. Alphonsus, the Convent of
the Christian Brothers, the large and beautiful Convent and
garden of the Visitation Nuns, the Sisters' Orphan Asylum, and
the little chapel and religious house of the colored Sisters of
Providence, are clustered together within a very moderate area of
territory. Taking the Cathedral as a point of departure, you have
at the distance of about half a mile, in the most densely peopled
part of the town, St. Mary's Church, and the Seminary of St.
Sulpice, with its extensive gardens of many acres in extent. More
toward the suburbs, there are the Lazarist Church of the
Immaculate Conception, and the large Sisters' Hospital of Mount
Hope, with its extensive grounds.
{27}
In an opposite direction, not far from the Cathedral, is Loyola
College, to which adjoins the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius;
beyond these, St. John's, and still further, near the borders of
the town, the quaint and interesting St. James's Church of the
Redemptorists, with a German Convent of religious ladies. In
another direction, St. Vincent de Paul's is seen, with its high
massive tower, and in the same quarter of the town, the
Carmelites have a convent and chapel, the Redemptorists another
large church and convent, called St. Michael's, and there is also
the large and handsome parish church of St. Patrick, with its
high altar of green marble. Following the outer circle of the
city toward the harbor and fort, and returning to a point in line
with St. Alphonsus', we have the Church of the Holy Cross, St.
Joseph's, and St. Peter's, the latter of which has a congregation
composed in great measure of converts. The deep and heavy bell of
the Cathedral is repeatedly heard sending forth its booming notes
at different hours of the day, answered by St. Alphonsus' and St.
Vincent de Paul's, while the other bells take up the refrain in
the distance, and the smaller convent bells throw in from time to
time, at Angelus, Vespers, or Compline, their silvery, tinkling
notes. These Catholic sounds are heard at intervals from morning
till night, and the bells of some of the Protestant churches join
in also, on many days during the week, ringing for prayers. The
Catholic traditions of Baltimore and Maryland, interwoven with
their existence from the first; the memory of Charles Carroll of
Carrollton, of Archbishops Carroll and Eccleston, and of many
other distinguished Marylanders among the Catholic clergy, and,
lastly, the large Catholic population, and the wealth, education,
and social position of a large class of the members of the
Church, who have always mingled freely in society and
intermarried with Protestants, specially those of the Episcopal
Church--all these and other causes combine to make the Catholic
religion conspicuous and powerful in Baltimore, and to keep it
always confronting the adherents of other religions, whichever
way they turn.
{28}
It cannot be ignored or kept out of sight and mind. It must be
battled with or submitted to. Hence, Protestantism in Baltimore,
among the ultra-Protestant sects, has borne a character of
unusually intense and persistent hatred to the Catholic Church;
and a suppressed spirit of violence has pervaded the lower
orders, showing itself ordinarily by slight insults offered to
clergymen and religious, but occasionally bursting out in scenes
of riot and bloodshed, in which not merely the rabble took part,
but where gentlemen were also engaged, and men in high stations
lent their influence and protection to shield and encourage the
lawless violators of the peace.

A number of the Catholic churches here described have been built
since the year 1842. The general appearance of the city, however,
and the relative number of Catholic institutions, was the same.
It was a very interesting place to me from its novelty, and very
well known to my new friend and companion, Frank Baker. We
perambulated the town and reconnoitred all its environs,
penetrating into every nook and corner where there was the
smallest chance of finding something to be seen. The Catholic
churches underwent a repeated and thorough visitation and
scrutiny, by turns. An indefinable attraction drew us to those
sacred places, and made us linger and loiter in them without ever
growing weary. I know now what it was. It was the power of that
Sacred Presence which once drew the disciples and the multitudes
after it, when visibly seen, and which now attracts the soul by
its invisible charm in the Blessed Sacrament. We never went to
mass or to any Catholic service, because we were forbidden to do
so by the bishop. We never sought out any Catholic priests, or
encountered any, except twice by accident. We read no Catholic
books of controversy or devotion, never knelt to pray before the
altar, and did not know or suspect where we were going.
{29}
But the influence of grace was acting most powerfully during
those moments in which we were hanging about the altar, and
unconsciously drinking in its sacred influence. Our favorite
place was the chapel of St. Mary's College, and the Calvary
behind it, where the clergy of the Sulpitian Society are buried.
This is the sweetest Catholic shrine I have ever visited. The
Calvary was not open to visitors, but for some reason we were
never interfered with, although we went very often, and remained
by the hour. Perhaps our guardian angels knew the future, and led
us there unwittingly to ourselves. Our Lord foresaw it, if they
did not, and was thinking of the day when one of the two would be
there in company with all the clergy of the diocese in a
spiritual retreat, and the day when the other, in that same
chapel, would be consecrated to the service of the sanctuary.
[Footnote 1]

    [Footnote 1: Father Baker was ordained sub-deacon and deacon
    in that chapel, a few days before his ordination to the
    priesthood in the Cathedral.]

Many of those who participated in that retreat will recall the
recollection of it, on reading these pages.

Archbishop Kenrick, the sage of our American hierarchy and one of
its saints, that perfect model of a prelate according to the
ancient type of the purest Catholic times, the pattern of
ecclesiastical learning, Episcopal dignity and vigilance,
apostolic zeal, sacerdotal gentleness, and Christian humility,
reminding one of the character ascribed by historians to Pope
Benedict XIV., sat at the head of his venerable clergy in the
sanctuary during all the exercises. Of the clergymen present,
some had been forty years in the priesthood, and one at least was
ordained by Archbishop Carroll. Some are now bishops, or have
modestly declined the offered mitre. I was then a priest, and was
assisting F. Walworth in giving the retreat, and Mr. Baker was
but just received into the Church. He came to visit me at the
spot where we had passed so many pleasant hours in years gone by,
and to pay his respects to the excellent Sulpitians by whom his
brother had been educated, and to the other clergymen whose
brother and associate he aspired to become in due time.
{30}
He was welcomed most tenderly by the warm-hearted Sulpitians, and
greeted with an ardent interest and respect by the clergy and
young ecclesiastics who were gathered in that sacred retreat of
science and piety. Several of these good clergymen have since
spoken of that retreat, which so many circumstances combined to
make unusually pleasant, as among the most cherished
recollections of their lives. Since I have been betrayed into
this long digression by the associations connected with St.
Mary's Chapel, I will venture to add one other little incident,
of which I have been several times reminded by the venerable
President of Mount St. Mary's College. One afternoon, just at
sunset, the preacher concluded his discourse by a description of
the death of a holy priest, contrasting the glory of his
successfully accomplished ministry with that of the hero in the
merely secular and temporal order. At the peroration, the parting
beams of the sun irradiated a tall marble monument over the grave
of a well-known Sulpitian priest, behind the chancel window, in
full view of the audience, but unseen by the preacher, and gave
an illustration of his words most affecting and impressive to
those who witnessed it. It was emblematic, also, of that noble
life which was to be accomplished and brought to such a beautiful
close, within twelve short years, by that dear companion and
friend who was just then on the eve of leaving all to follow
Christ, and whose generous heart was swelling with the first
emotions of his divine vocation, long since secretly inspired
into him while haunting the blessed resting-place of those holy
priests. But I have anticipated what was yet in the unknown and
undreamed-of future, when we two ardent and enthusiastic youths
were yielding our imaginations to the poetic and religious charm
which was the precursor of more earnest and durable convictions.

{31}

St. Mary's was our favorite resort, but we were also impressed in
a different way by the austere and monastic aspect of St.
James's, where the Redemptorist Fathers, then newly established,
had their convent; and I remember that we often conversed about
that order with great curiosity and interest. We watched intently
the building of St. Alphonsus' Church, and wandered through the
sanctuary and sacristy and garden, and into the shop where the
lay-brothers and other artificers were at work, occasionally, to
our great delight, greeted by these good brothers, who probably
took us for priests, as we were then ordained and dressed in long
cassocks, with their salutation in German, _Gelobt sey Jesus
Christus_.

Another object of great interest to us was a monument to the
memory of a former pastor, in St. Patrick's Church, bearing the
simple and touching inscription:

    "To The Good De Moranville."

This unfeigned tribute of affection to the memory of a good and
holy priest did more in a few moments to efface from my mind the
effect of the calumnies I had heard from childhood against the
Catholic clergy, than a volume of controversy could have done.

Mr. Baker took me also to visit the monument erected to Sister
Ambrosia by the City of Baltimore. This lady, the daughter of the
venerable Mrs. Collins, who died at the age of nearly one hundred
years, and was one of those who welcomed Mr. Baker most warmly
into the Catholic Church, and the sister of the Very Rev. Mr.
Collins, of Cincinnati, was universally regarded as a saint, both
by Catholics and Protestants. She had been very intimate in Dr.
Baker's family, and attended his two elder sons during their last
illness. She fell herself a victim to her charity in attending
the sick in the hospitals, leaving the sweet fragrance of her
sanctity to linger in the memories of those who knew her. We
visited also the graves of those brothers of Mr. Baker whose
death had produced so great a change in his character and
prospects.
{32}
They were buried in a Methodist grave-yard, adjoining the
beautiful Green Mount Cemetery. Francis had erected a marble
tombstone to their memory, on which was carved a cross, and the
Catholic inscription, _Requiescant in pace_. When I returned
to Baltimore, after my ordination to the Catholic priesthood, I
revisited the spot, but found the cross and prayer had been
removed. When I had the opportunity of asking Mr. Baker for an
explanation of this, he informed me that he had removed them of
his own accord, because he thought it an indelicate intrusion on
the religious sentiments and feelings of those to whom the
burial-place belonged, to leave there a Catholic inscription.

Meanwhile we were studying and reading regularly. Bishop
Whittingham had a very fine and extensive library, and was
constantly supplied with the choicest books and periodicals of
the Anglo-Catholic party. The remarkable movement led by Dr.
Pusey and Mr. Newman was at its height. In this country we were
somewhat behindhand, and were following at some distance in the
wake of the most advanced English leaders, so that the later
developments rather took us by surprise. We were reading Mr.
Newman's earlier works, and only partly aware of the great change
taking place in himself and others. The accusation of Romanizing
was treated as a calumny, and we had no thought of any thing
except bringing our own Church up to what we thought to be the
Catholic level, and endeavoring to establish an intercommunion
between it and the Roman and Greek Churches through mutual
consultation and concession, and a return to the supposed state
of things "before the separation of East and West." At least this
is true of us in Maryland, whatever might have been the case with
a small number elsewhere. Probably the effort to make the
Protestant Episcopal Church take the attitude of being Catholic
was never made more earnestly and with better hope of success
than in Maryland.
{33}
The bishop headed the movement, and, besides the clergymen
already in his diocese who were ready to second him, he attracted
thither a number of young men who were devoted to his person and
who sympathized in his views. I have no wish to speak
disrespectfully or unkindly of Dr. Whittingham. He has always
been a most violent opponent of the Catholic Church, and he has
seen fit, like some others of the clergy of his peculiar stripe,
to break off all intercourse with those who have left his
communion to join it. I do not, however, attribute to him any
personal animosity as the motive for this, but merely a mistaken
religions zeal. He was always very kind and generous to his young
clergymen, strict and self-denying in his life, and laborious in
the fulfilment of his official duties. His vigorous
administration infused a new energy and activity into the
Episcopal Church in his diocese, and gave a powerful impetus to
what was called the "Catholic" movement. A periodical entitled
_The True Catholic, Reformed, Protestant, and Free_, was
established, under the care of Hugh Davey Evans, a learned lawyer
and very able theological disputant. A college, conducted by
young men trained at the celebrated St. Paul's College, Flushing,
by Dr. Muhlenberg, was founded at a beautiful and extensive old
country-seat, known as "Fountain Rock," near Hagerstown, and a
school, called "St. Timothy's Hall," near Baltimore. The bishop
and a large number of his clergy went about dressed in long
cassocks; altars, crosses, frequent services, ecclesiastical
forms and observances, and other outward signs and accompaniments
of an approximation to Catholic doctrines and rites, were to be
seen everywhere. The Protestant Episcopal Church was loudly
proclaimed to be the Catholic Church of the country, and, in a
word, the theory taught in the Oxford Tracts and in the earlier
writings of Mr. Newman was sought to be put in actual practice.
An unusual number of the clergy were unmarried men, and the
project of founding a monastic order was entertained by several.
{34}
Those were stirring times. Of course opposition was excited in
the bosom of the Episcopal Church. The Low Churchmen formed a
strong and active minority in the Convention, and did their
utmost to thwart the projects of the bishop. Very spicy debates
took place in consequence, and as there were very able and
distinguished men among the lay delegates, who brought all their
legal skill and forensic eloquence into play, the sessions of the
Convention were often intensely interesting and exciting. The
pulpit, the newspapers, and controversial pamphlets were employed
in the warfare by both sides, and the community generally,
outside of the Episcopal Church, were quite alive with interest
in the questions discussed.

We had a little society called the "Church Reading Society," of
which Mr. Evans was president, and Mr. Baker and myself were
members, where certain prayers for Catholic unity were offered,
and papers bearing on the topics which interested us were read by
the members in turn. The different seasons of the ecclesiastical
year were very strictly observed, especially Advent, Christmas,
Lent, and Holy Week. The English press was at that time pouring
forth a stream of books of devotion and sacred poetry, sermons
and spiritual instructions, borrowed or imitated from the
treasures of Catholic sacred literature. There was a tide setting
strongly backward toward the faith and practice of ancient times,
and we surrendered ourselves to its influence, without thinking
where it would eventually land us. We had no thought of ever
leaving the communion to which we belonged. Never, in any of our
conversations, did we even speak of such a thing as possible, or
call in question the legitimate claim of the authority, under
which we were living, to our obedience. We did not sympathize
with the bishop and the larger number of the clergymen of our
theological party in their sentiment of hostility and antipathy
to the Roman communion.
{35}
The common ground taken was that the Roman Catholic bishops in
England and the United States are schismatical intruders upon the
lawful jurisdiction of the English and Anglo-American bishops of
the Protestant succession. Bishop Whittingham maintained the
stronger ground that the Roman Church throughout the world is
schismatical and all but formally heretical. He retained the old
spirit of vehement dislike and opposition to the See of Rome and
every thing in the doctrine and policy of the church connected
with the Papal supremacy, which characterized the old divines of
the Church of England. He had in his mind an ideal of the
primitive Church, according to which he wished and hoped that a
Reformed Catholic Church should be reconstructed by the common
consent of all the bishops of the world, and which should absorb
into itself all the Christian sects. This idea is necessarily
common to all who profess to hold Catholic principles in the
Anglican communion. The profession of the doctrine of unity in
one, visible, Catholic Church, of itself qualifies the isolation
of any body of Christians from the great Christian family, as an
anomalous and irregular condition. A return to unity or union of
some kind must necessarily become an object of desire and effort.
So long as one maintains that the Anglican Church is essentially
Catholic, he must maintain also that the Roman Church is in some
way wrong in refusing to recognize it, and that the Greek Church
is likewise wrong in refusing to do so. Hence he must look on
some concessions to be made by both Churches as the necessary
condition of the reunion of Christendom. So far, all who profess
to be "Anglo-Catholics" must agree. But when the question
becomes, how much concession must be made to the Anglican
communion, or how much concession must be made by her, how far
the Greek Church, the Roman Church, or the Anglican Church have
erred; and upon what basis of doctrine and ecclesiastical polity
they are to be reformed or restored to union, the agreement is
ended.
{36}
Each individual attributes as much or as little error and
corruption to other Churches, or his own Church, as suits his own
notions. Each one, or each separate clique, has a peculiar ideal
of the true Catholic Church. One may regard the Anglican Church
as almost perfect, and wish to bring all Christendom to imitate
it. Another finds his beau ideal in the Greek Church. Another
regards his own Church as very defective, and the Roman Church as
the most perfect, desiring that the Holy See should only abate
just enough of its claims to let in Greeks without any
acknowledgment of their schismatic contumacy, and Anglicans
without giving up that they are in heresy and destitute of any
legitimate episcopacy.

It is impossible to draw any exact line of demarcation between
the adherents of these different views. At the same time, we may
say that, in a general sense, one class held the Anglican Church
as paramount in its claim of allegiance, and the Church Catholic
as subordinate; while the other held the Church Catholic to be
paramount, and the Anglican Church subordinate. With the first
class, Catholic principles and doctrines were taken hold of as a
means of strengthening and exalting the Protestant Episcopal
Church as such, and giving her a victory over the rest of
Christendom; with the other class, they were embraced in a spirit
of deep sympathy with universal Christendom, and with the view of
bringing back the Protestant world to the great Christian family.

The first class alone can be relied on as devoted adherents of
Anglicanism, and they only hold a strong polemical position
against the claim of the Roman See to unconditional submission.
The other class have their minds and their hearts open to all
Catholic influences. They advance continually nearer and nearer
in belief and sympathy to the great Catholic body, and great
numbers of them pass over to the Catholic communion. Hence we
find that almost all the bishops and dignitaries who have joined
in the Oxford Movement have belonged decidedly to the first
class, and have always tried to hold the second class in check.
{37}
The few who have belonged to the second class, such as Bishop
Ives and the Archdeacons Manning and Wilberforce, have eventually
found allegiance to the Anglican Church incompatible with the
paramount claims of the Church Catholic, and have openly
renounced it.

But while it is evident that the position of decided and
determined hostility to Rome is absolutely necessary, as Mr.
Newman long ago remarked, to High Church Anglicanism, it is
equally evident that it is the most narrow, inconsistent, and
inconsequent position taken by any class of Protestants. It cuts
them off from all real sympathy and community of feeling with the
great Catholic body; and although there may be a pretence of
sympathy with the Oriental Church, it is a mere pretence, and a
most illogical and baseless one. It cuts them off equally from
all the rest of Protestant Christendom. Yet, it is only the
Catholic and Greek Churches which offer a solid and substantial
basis for those doctrinal and hierarchical principles which make
their only distinctive character; and it is only the Protestant
portion of their Church, and its close intellectual, social,
political, moral, and religious alliance with the other
Protestant Churches, which gives them any standing, influence, or
power in the world. A man of liberal, enlarged, and Christian
temper of mind, cannot live in such narrow limits or breathe such
a confined air. He must have communion with something greater
than the Protestant Episcopal Church. If he regards the great
Catholic Church as essentially corrupt, he must sympathize with
the Protestant Reformation. If the ground which, as I shall
presently show, the High Church bishops maintain, is correct,
then the continental Protestants were bound to come out when they
did and form new churches. Where were they to get bishops? How
were they to preserve the continuity of organization and the
apostolic succession? The Church of England did not admonish them
of the necessity of doing so. She did not proffer them episcopal
ordination.
{38}
But she made common cause with them, and supported them in their
revolt, invited them over to England, and gave them places in the
English Church, sent delegates to their great Calvinistic Synod
of Dort, and in other ways lent them sanction and countenance,
without breathing a hint that she was a whit better than they.
Arguments from Scripture and ancient authors in favor of three
orders and a liturgy may be very solid and conclusive, but they
are also very petty and miserable when they are made the basis of
arrogant claims by those whose very existence sprang from the
assumption that the universal episcopate had betrayed its trust
and apostatized from the true doctrine of Christ. The learned
William Palmer has seen the necessity of justifying the attitude
of the continental Protestant Churches, and therefore concedes to
them, on the plea of necessity, valid ordination and a legitimate
constitution. An Anglican, who is a thorough and consistent
opponent of Rome, ought to take common ground with Protestants.
One who turns his back on Protestantism, and abjures the
Reformation, ought to make common cause with Rome and the
Catholic Church, even though he as yet holds the opinion that his
communion is a true and living branch of the Church of Christ.

It may seem strange to those who have never studied or
sympathized in the Oxford movement, that men who adopted certain
fundamental Catholic principles did not at once embrace the faith
and submit to the authority of the Catholic Church, but remained
a long time in the Episcopal communion, or even deliberately
chose it, after having passed their early life in some other
Protestant sect. This seems strange to those who have always been
Catholics, and equally strange to the majority of Protestants. So
much so, that we have been suspected, and by many fully believed
to have been all along concealed Roman Catholics, working in the
Episcopal Church for the purpose of "Romanizing" it.
{39}
A few days before I was received into the Catholic Church, a near
and venerable relative of mine said to me: "I am very glad you
have become a Catholic, for I can respect a sincere Roman
Catholic, but I cannot respect a Puseyite; you will now sail
under your true colors. When will H. B. (a cousin of mine, who is
an Episcopalian clergyman) do the same thing?"

The truth of the matter is, that we all had imbibed such an
intense prejudice from our early education against the Roman
Church, that we were appalled at the thought of joining her
communion. When certain Catholic truths began to dawn upon our
minds, it was indistinctly. To those who were bred in the
Anglican Church, it was the natural and obvious course to remain
there as long as their consciences would permit. To others, it
was natural to look for a resting-place in that communion of
which our own particular sects were only offshoots, with which
educated people of English descent are so familiar through the
history and literature of our native language, whose services
many of us had frequently attended from childhood, and where many
of us likewise had relatives and friends. It is a small matter to
go from one Protestant sect to another, in itself considered, and
it is no wonder that any orthodox Protestant should prefer the
Episcopal Church to any of the religious bodies which have
seceded from it. Besides this, there was a _via media_
offered to us by a great body of divines in the Episcopal Church,
between Rome on the one hand and Protestantism on the other,
which appeared to be exactly the thing we wanted. I acknowledge
that I was too easily allured by this specious pretence, and
failed to examine with due care the claims of the Church in
communion with the See of Rome to be the true and only Church of
Christ. I do not think Mr. Baker, notwithstanding that his
prejudices were far less than mine, ever gave the subject serious
and careful consideration, until long after he had become an
Episcopalian minister.
{40}
We knew too little, however, of the subject, to feel any
conscientious obligations in that direction. I can truly say that
I never for one moment deliberated on the question of becoming a
Catholic, even when I had the fear of death before my eyes, until
after I left Baltimore in the autumn of 1845. I never heard from
Mr. Baker, up to that time, a word which betrayed the existence
in his mind of any practical doubt about his duty in this
respect. The growth of Catholic principles in our minds was
gradual. By degrees, the mists of misrepresentation, prejudice,
and ignorance which obscured the Catholic Church and her
doctrines were dissipated and vanished. Our feelings of
veneration and love for the great Church of Christendom
increased. Still, as long as we were not convinced that actual
communion with the Church of Rome and submission to her supremacy
was necessary, _jure divino_, to the catholicity of any
local Church, we remained firm in our allegiance to the
ecclesiastical authority of our bishop. This is only an instance
of what was going on in the case of many both in England and the
United States. And it appears from this statement, that whereas
all the disciples of the Oxford movement began on essentially the
same ground, and that, one which implied strong and decisive
opposition to Rome, one portion of them progressed continually,
and another remained stationary or retrograded, thus producing
separation and division in the ranks. What I wish to show now is,
that those who progressed were logically compelled to do so by
the principles of the movement itself, and that those who
remained stationary, although they held a position which was
necessary to the maintenance of Anglicanism, were illogical and
inconsequent.

The advocates of the claim of the Church of England to be the
only legitimate and Catholic Church in England, and of the same
claim for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States,
were obliged to make out some case against the bishops of these
two countries who were under the jurisdiction of the Roman See
and who proclaimed themselves to be the only lawful and Catholic
bishops, sustained as they were in this claim by all the other
bishops of Western Christendom.
{41}
The possession of the titles and temporalities of the ancient
sees in England by the Established Church naturally suggested the
plausible pretext that the Church of England of to-day is the
legitimate successor of the Church of England before the
separation under Henry VIII. Hence, other bishops, exercising
episcopal functions within the dioceses of the bishops of the
Church of England, are schismatical intruders, and their
congregations are schismatical. The same principle was extended
to the United States, on the plea that the Bishop of London had
episcopal jurisdiction over the English colonies, and moreover
that the Protestant Episcopal bishops were first on the ground,
and had acquired possession before the "Romish" bishops, as they
chose to call them, came. Now this theory is forced to answer one
question: Are the bishops of France, Spain, &c., the legitimate
Catholic bishops of those countries, and is their communion the
true and only Catholic Church there, or not? Is this question
answered in the affirmative? Then, who are the Catholic bishops
in Canada, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Texas, and California?
Who went first to China and India? Are the Anglican bishops in
these places schismatical intruders or not? If not, why not? And
if not, why are Roman Catholic bishops schismatical intruders in
London and New-York? The Protestant Episcopal Churches of England
and the United States pay no attention whatever to any claim of
jurisdiction by the Catholic Church in any part of the world, but
seek to thrust themselves in and make converts wherever they can.
In order to justify this attitude, and at the same time to
profess Catholic principles, it is necessary to maintain that the
entire Roman communion is schismatical and heretical, and the
Protestant Episcopal Church is the true and only Catholic Church,
at least in Western Christendom.
{42}
This idea is the real _animus_ of the Protestant Episcopate,
and its highest expression is found in the opinion so common
among Protestants, and held even by Mr. Newman some years after
he commenced the Oxford Tracts, that the Pope is Antichrist. The
charges of the English bishops, especially those delivered after
the publication of the Oxford Tract No. 90, all breathe this
spirit. Bishop Elliott, of Georgia, in a sermon preached at the
consecration of the missionary bishops, Boone and Southgate, in
St. Peter's Church, Philadelphia, in 1843 or '44, spoke of the
Catholic missionaries as "dealing out death instead of life" to
the heathen. Bishop Whittingham held this view, and "Tridentine
Schismatic" was one of the appellations he gave to the Rev. Dr.
White, of Baltimore, in a pamphlet which he published against
that gentleman. In his Annual Address for 1846 he speaks of me
and other converts in the following language: "The lapse of
several prominent members of our English sister, and of one even
in our own little band, _into the defilements of the Romish
communion_, has but too far justified others in sounding the
note of alarm," &c.[Footnote 2] The language he made use of in
one of his addresses was such, that Mr. Baker, then one of his
presbyters, positively declined to read it for him in the
Convention, his own voice being too weak to do so. The Rev. A. C.
Coxe, now a bishop, published a poem on the occasion of the
ordination of the present Bishop of Newark to the diaconate, in
Rome, entitled "Hymn of the Priests, to lament one of their
number who has been sacrilegiously reordained a deacon, _after
abjuring the Catholic communion_, at Rome." In contrast with
this is the following, which was copied into the _True
Catholic_ for December, 1843. [Footnote 3]

    [Footnote 2: Journal of Convention of Maryland, 1846, p. 25.]

    [Footnote 3: Journal of Convention of Maryland, 1846, p. 383.]

{43}

  Conversion Of A Popish Priest To The Catholic Church At
  Chicester.

  The Cathedral, _Sunday, October_ 15.

  In residence, the Lord Bishop, the very Rev. the Dean, the Ven.
  Arch-deacon Webber, and the Rev. Charles Webber, can. res. We
  have to record this week one of the most interesting ceremonies
  ever performed within the walls of this sacred edifice, namely,
  the public admission of a clerical convert from the Church of
  Rome, into the bosom of the Holy Catholic Church in this
  country. The morning prayers were chanted by the Rev. J. P.
  Roberts, Sub-dean. The _Te Deum_ and _Jubilate_ was
  Boyce in A. At the ending of the Litany, the Bishop and the
  Dean proceeded to the altar, while the choir performed Weldon's
  _Sanctus_; after which (the penitent, Mr. Vignati, an
  Italian gentleman, who had been for two years a priest in the
  Romish Communion, standing without the rails) the bishop
  addressed the congregation in the following words:--

  "Dearly beloved, we are here met together for the reconciling
  of a penitent (lately of the Church of Rome) to the Established
  Church of England, as to a true and sound part of Christ's Holy
  Catholic Church. Now, that this weighty affair may have its due
  effect, let us, in the first place, humbly and devoutly pray to
  Almighty God for his blessing upon us in that pious and
  charitable office we are going about.

  "Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with Thy most gracious
  favor, and further us with Thy continual help, that in this,
  and all other our works begun, continued, and ended in Thee, we
  may glorify Thy holy name, and finally by Thy mercy obtain
  everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  "Almighty God, who showest to them that be in error the light
  of Thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way
  of righteousness, grant unto all them that are or shall be
  admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, that they
  may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession,
  and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same,
  through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

  Then was read a part of the 119th Psalm, from verses 161 to
  168, with the _Gloria Patri_.

  After which the dean read the following lesson from Luke
  xv.:--"Then drew near unto him the publicans and sinners for to
  hear Him; and the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, this
  man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this
  parable unto them, saying, What man of you having an hundred
  sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and
  nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost, until
  he find it? And when he hath found it he layeth it on his
  shoulders rejoicing; and when he cometh home he calleth
  together his friends and his neighbors, saying unto them,
  rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. I
  say unto you that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one
  sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just
  persons who need no repentance."

{44}

  After this the nine first verses of the 115th Psalm was sung by
  the choir. Then the bishop, sitting in his chair, spake to the
  penitent (who was kneeling) as follows:--

  Dear brother, I have good hope that you have well weighed and
  considered with yourself the great work you are come about
  before this time: but inasmuch as with the heart man believeth
  unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto
  salvation; that you may give the more honor to God, and that
  this present congregation of Christ here assembled may also
  understand your mind and will in these things, and that this
  your declaration may the more confirm you in your good
  resolutions, you shall answer plainly to those questions, which
  we, in the name of God, and of His Church, shall propose to you
  touching the same.

  Art thou thoroughly persuaded that those books of the Old and
  New Testament, which are received as Canonical Scriptures by
  this Church, contain sufficiently all doctrine requisite and
  necessary to eternal salvation through faith in Jesus
  Christ?--I am so persuaded.

  Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven
  and earth &c.--All this I steadfastly believe.

  Art thou truly sorrowful that thou hast not followed the way
  prescribed in these Scriptures for the direction of the faith
  and practice of a true disciple of Christ Jesus?--I am heartily
  sorry, and I hope for mercy through Christ Jesus.

  Dost thou embrace the truth of the Gospel in the love of it,
  and steadfastly resolve to live godly, righteously, and soberly
  in this present world, all the days of thy life?--I do so
  embrace it, and do so resolve, God being my helper.

  Dost thou earnestly desire to be received into the communion of
  this Church, as into a sound part of Christ's Holy Catholic
  Church?--This I earnestly desire.

  Dost thou renounce all the errors and superstitions of the
  present Romish Church, so far as they are come to thy
  knowledge?--I do, from my heart, renounce them all.

  Dost thou, in particular, renounce the twelve last Articles
  added in the Confession, commonly called "The Creed of Pope
  Pius IV.," after having read them, and duly considered
  them?_-_I do, upon mature deliberation, reject them all,
  as grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but rather repugnant
  to the Word of God.

  Wilt thou conform thyself to the Liturgy of the Church of
  England, as by law established, and be diligent in attending
  the prayers and other offices of the Church?--I will do so by
  the help of God.

{45}

  Then the bishop standing, said: "Almighty God, who hath given
  you a sense of your errors, and a will to do these things,
  grant also unto you the strength and power to perform the same,
  that He may accomplish His work, which He hath begun in you,
  through Jesus Christ. Amen."

  The Absolution.--Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who, of his
  great mercy, hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that
  with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto Him, have mercy
  upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm
  and strengthen you in all goodness, and bring you to
  everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  Then the bishop, taking him by the hand, said: "I, Ashurst
  Turner, Bishop of Chichester, do, upon this thy solemn
  profession and earnest request, receive thee into the Holy
  Communion of the Church of England, in the name of the Father,
  the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen."

  Then was said the Lord's Prayer, all kneeling, after which as
  follows:--O God of truth and love, we bless and magnify Thy
  holy name for Thy great mercy and goodness in bringing this Thy
  servant into the communion of this Church; give him, we beseech
  Thee, stability and perseverance in that faith, of which he
  hath, in the presence of God and of this congregation,
  witnessed a good confession. Suffer him not to be moved from it
  by any temptations of Satan, enticements of the world, scoffs
  of irreligious men, or the revilings of those still in error;
  but guard him by Thy grace against all these snares, and make
  him instrumental in turning others from the errors of their
  ways, to the saving of their souls from death, and the covering
  a multitude of sins. And in Thy good time, O Lord, bring, we
  pray Thee, into the way of truth all such as have erred and are
  deceived; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to Thy flock,
  that there may be one flock under one Shepherd, the Lord Jesus
  Christ, to Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all
  honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

  Then the bishop addressed the person admitted, saying: "Dear
  brother, seeing that you have, by the goodness of God,
  proceeded thus far, I must put you in mind that you take care
  to go on in that good way into which you are entered; and for
  your establishment and furtherance therein, that if you have
  not been confirmed, you endeavor to be so the next opportunity,
  and receive the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. And may
  God's Holy Spirit ever be with you. Amen. The peace of God,
  which passeth all understanding, keep your heart and mind by
  Christ Jesus. Amen."

{46}

  Thus ended this most interesting ceremony; after which the
  communion service went on, at which the bishop and dean
  officiated. Weldon's _Sanctus_, B. Brown's _Kyrie_,
  and Child's _Creed_ in G. The sermon was preached by the
  dean, from Luke 15th, ch. 4th, 5th, and 6th verses, of which we
  need not say much here, as we hope it will shortly be published
  by Mr. W. H. Mason, by permission of the dean, he having been
  requested so to do. Anthem, "O Lord, our
  Governor."--Kent.--_Church Intelligencer_.



The Roman Church is throughout the pages of the _True
Catholic_charged with idolatry, and in one passage which I had
marked, but cannot now find one reason given why Episcopalians
cannot attend Catholic services is, because by so doing they
participate in idolatry. On the other hand, Protestant ministers
are never required to make any such abjuration as the one above
cited, on being received into the English Church. The Church of
England formerly gave Archbishop Leighton episcopal ordination,
he being a Scottish Presbyterian minister, and the Crown gave him
jurisdiction in Scotland over the Presbyterian clergy and
congregations, without requiring any reordination or any new
profession of faith. So now, a German Lutheran minister
alternately with an English Episcopalian, is ordained for the
Jerusalem bishopric, with authority to receive under his care
both English and German ministers and congregations.

Now for the inconsistency. The same reasons which prove the
Church of Rome to be a schismatical, heretical, and apostate
Church, prove that the English Church was the same before the
Reformation, and that the Church of Christ had perished in
Western Christendom, except as represented by the Lollards,
Albigenses, Waldenses, and other precursors of the Protestants.
There was really no true, visible Catholic Church existing, from
which schismatics and heretics had separated, and to which they
could return. Hence, the modern Episcopal Church derived its
authority from no legitimate source in the past, and has really
started _de novo_, like the Protestant Churches of Europe.
This throws us back upon the theory of an invisible Church at
once, and breaks up the idea of Catholicity.

{47}

For the same reason, the Oriental Churches must be regarded as
schismatical and heretical. The Nestorians and Eutychians are
condemned by the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon, accepted by
our Anglicans. The Greek Church is identical in doctrine with the
Roman, except so far as the Papal supremacy is rejected by them.
It disowns and condemns the Anglican Church as emphatically as
does the Roman. Nevertheless, we find a number of the Protestant
bishops subscribing the following letter to the Patriarch of
Constantinople:--

  Letter To The Greek Patriarch.

  Binghamton N. Y., 1_st April_, 1844.

  _To the Editor of the True Catholic:_

  Dear Sir:_-_Having seen in print a copy, surreptitiously
  obtained, of the letter of our bishops, addressed to some of
  the Patriarchs in the East, I have thought it might be well to
  furnish an authentic copy, for permanent preservation in your
  valuable periodical, especially as it is a document of much
  importance. It is precisely as I myself, together with Mr.
  Southgate, presented it, _accompanied by a Greek
  translation_, to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who
  received it very graciously.
  Yours, very truly,
  J. J. Robertson.

  _To the Venerable and Right Reverend Father in_ GOD,
  _the Patriarch, of the Greek Church,
  resident at Constantinople_.

  January 2, 1841.

  The Episcopal Church of the United States of America, deriving
  its Episcopal power in regular succession from the holy
  Apostles, through the venerable Church of England, has long
  contemplated, with great spiritual sorrow, the divided and
  distracted condition of the Catholic Church of Christ
  throughout the world. This sad condition of things not only
  aids the cause of infidelity and irreligion, by furnishing
  evil-minded men with plausible arguments, not only encourages
  heresies and schisms in national branches of the Catholic
  Church, but is also a very serious impediment to the diffusion
  of Gospel truth among those who are still in the darkness of
  heathenism, or are subject to other false religions, or
  continue vainly to look for the coming of that Messiah, whose
  advent has already blessed the world.

{48}

  The arrogant assumptions of universal supremacy and
  infallibility, of the Papal head of the Latin Church, render
  the prospect of speedy friendly intercourse with him dark and
  discouraging. The Church in the United States of America,
  therefore, looking to the Triune GOD for His blessings upon its
  efforts for unity in the Body of Christ, turns with hope to the
  Patriarch of Constantinople, the spiritual head of the ancient
  and venerable Oriental Church.

  In this Church we have long felt a sincere interest. We have
  sympathized with her in the trials and persecution to which she
  has been subjected; we have prayed for her deliverance from all
  evils and mischiefs; and we have thanked her Divine HEAD that
  He has been pleased, amid all her sufferings, to maintain her
  allegiance to Him.

  In order to attempt the commencement of a friendly and
  Christian intercourse with the Oriental Church, the Church in
  the United States resolved to send two of its Presbyters, the
  Rev. J. J. Robertson, and the Rev. Horatio Southgate, to reside
  at Constantinople. These clergymen are directed to make
  inquiries regarding the existing state of the Church under the
  jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, and of the
  other Eastern Churches; to ascertain the relations they bear to
  each other, and the views they maintain in regard to the
  Apostolic Churches of Europe and America; to answer such
  inquiries as may be made of them in regard to the origin,
  constitution, and condition of the Church in the United States;
  and to do all in their power to conciliate the Christian love
  and regard of the Oriental Church toward its younger sister in
  the Western world.

  After some preliminary inquiries and study of the language,
  they will present themselves, with this epistle of introduction
  (by which they are cordially recommended to the Christian
  courtesies and kind offices of the bishops and clergy of the
  Oriental Church), to the Patriarch of Constantinople, inviting
  him to a friendly correspondence with the heads of the Church
  in the United States, explaining more fully the views and
  objects of the Church, and inquiring whether a mutual
  recognition of each other can be effected, as members of the
  Catholic Church of Christ, on the basis of the Holy Scriptures
  and the first Councils, including the Apostles' and Nicene
  Creeds, in order to a future efficient co-operation against
  Paganism, false religion, and Judaism.

  They will make it clearly understood that their Church has no
  ecclesiastical connection with the followers of Luther and
  Calvin, and takes no part in their plans or operations to
  diffuse the principles of their sects. They will propose to the
  Patriarch such aid as the Church in the United States can
  supply, in the advancement of Christian education, and in the
  promulgation of religious truth, always avoiding the points in
  which the two Churches still differ, and leaving the producing
  of a closer mutual conformity to the blessing of God, on the
  friendly correspondence of the respective heads of the
  Churches, or to a future General Council.

{49}

  Leaving a further development of these points to the oral
  communications of its delegates, and again recommending them to
  the Christian candor and affection of the Patriarch and clergy
  of the Oriental Church, and repeating the hearty desire and
  prayer of the bishops and clergy of the United States for their
  prosperity, we remain your brethren in Christ.

    Alexander Viets Griswold,
    of the Eastern Diocese, and senior of the American Church.

    Benjamin Tredwell Onderdonk, of New York.

    George Washington Doane, of New Jersey.

    Thomas Church Brownell, of Connecticut.

    Jackson Kemper, of Missouri, &c.

    William Rollinson Whittingham, of Maryland.

    Henry Ustick Onderdonk, of Pennsylvania.

At the recent visit of a Russian squadron to New York, the
Protestant Bishop of New York invited the chaplains of the
squadron to make use of one of his churches for the service of
the Greek Church, although the offer was declined. Subsequently,
Cossack priest, called Father Agapius, said to have letters from
the Archbishop of Athens, came to New York as a missionary to the
Greeks and Russians, and was accommodated with the use of two
Episcopal churches. It came out subsequently that he was in bad
standing in the Russian Church, and the members of the Greek
Church in New York disowned him, when he threw off the mask, and
published a letter where he avowed doctrines far from orthodox
according to the standards of the Greek Church. Nevertheless, it
was ostensibly as a regular priest of that Church that he was
invited to make use of the Episcopal churches; as such the
members of that church received him, and whatever changes or
omissions he may have made in his public services, they were
understood to be celebrated according to the Sclavonic and Greek
Liturgies. Thus, there is no escaping from the fact, that High
Mass according to the same rite used by Oriental Catholics as
well as schismatics, was authorized in the Episcopal Church in
New York, a great number of the clergy assisting.

{50}

The English Church bishops, beginning with the old English
Nonjurors, have been always anxious for the recognition of the
Greek prelates, and have made several attempts to gain it.

Soon after my ordination as deacon in the Episcopal Church, I was
invited by Bishop Southgate to accompany him to Constantinople on
a mission of this kind. The plan was to have a little
ecclesiastical establishment in Constantinople, consisting of a
bishop and a few priests and deacons. Although the bishop, who
had been for some years a travelling missionary in the East, was
married, he wished his clergy to be unmarried men, and selected
only such as his associates. There was to be a chapel, where all
the rites and ceremonies permitted by Anglican law were to be
celebrated with as much pomp as possible. Sermons in the Oriental
languages designed to attract the clergy and make a good
impression of our orthodoxy, were to be preached regularly. A
college and seminary for the instruction of young Oriental
ecclesiastics were to be opened, with a strict understanding that
they were not to be induced to leave their own communion.
Extracts from the works of the Greek Fathers, and translations
from Anglican divines, were to be published, with a view to bring
about mutual understanding and agreement between the different
Churches. Every thing was to be done to propitiate the Oriental
prelates and clergy, and to bring about their recognition of our
ecclesiastical legitimacy, and intercommunion between themselves
and us. The Missionary Committee, who were hostile to this plan,
would not confirm my appointment, regarding me as having too
strong a Catholic bias to be trusted. Another young deacon was
selected in my place, who had been known as a strong Puseyite,
but who publicly renounced his opinions before he left the
country, in a sermon, in which he came out as a strong
Evangelical.
{51}
The mission was never well supported, but after a few years, fell
through entirely, and the bishop is now a parish rector in New
York. During a visit to New York, which I made in company with
Bishops Whittingham and Southgate, at the time I was expecting to
accompany the latter on his mission, I called on a very
distinguished and learned presbyter, who was one of the ablest
and most influential leaders of the Oxford movement. He asked me
if we proposed to endeavor to change the doctrines of the Greek
Church. I replied, that certainly we did propose to discuss
several of these doctrines with the Greek prelates, and show them
that they were not doctrines appertaining to the Catholic faith,
but errors and additions made without authority. He inquired what
these doctrines were. I cannot recollect how many I specified,
but I am sure that the doctrine respecting the cultus of the
Blessed Virgin and saints was the principal one. He replied that
the doctrines I specified were established by just as good
authority as any others, and that it would be impossible for us
to convict the Greek Church of holding any erroneous doctrine.
His arguments made a great impression on my mind at the time, and
helped me forward toward the Catholic Church, although this
gentleman himself remained always a Protestant.

The efforts made to cultivate the friendship of the Greek Church
are very significant. Let it be observed, that the bishops who
signed the letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, both
distinctly repudiate the Reformation of Luther and Calvin, and
consent to waive all questions of difference between the Greek
and the Protestant Episcopal Churches, until they can be decided
by a _General Council_. This reduces the _gravamen_ of
the charges against Rome to the only point of difference which
exists between herself and the Greek Church; that is, to the
claim of supremacy of the Roman Pontiff.
{52}
This is, then, the sum and substance of the "_defilements of
the Romish Communion_." Here lies the whole _casus belli_
between the champions of Anglicanism and the Catholic Church.
There is no hope of reconciliation on equal terms with the See of
Rome and her vast communion. Therefore, a rival claim of
Catholicity must be set up, and supported by every possible
charge that can be made to tell against the mighty Church whose
Bishop claims the dignity and authority of successor to the
Prince of the Apostles. Hence the odious names of "Roman Schism,"
"Romanist," "Romish," "Tridentine Schism," "Popery," "Popish,"
and all the other party catch-words of corruption in doctrine,
bondage, tyranny, idolatry, etc., which are studiously employed,
in order to throw dust in the eyes of the simple and unwary.
Hence the effort to appropriate the name of Catholic, and to use
all the phraseology associated with it, in connection with the
Protestant Episcopal communion. Rome will not abate one jot or
tittle of her divine rights, or of the Catholic doctrine of which
she is the principal bulwark; and she will not treat the Church
of England as a branch of the Christian Church. Therefore a rival
must be set up against her, backed by the power and the prestige
of the English name, and, if possible, also by those of the
mighty Russian Empire and the ancient Eastern Church. The
Nonjurors proposed to the Eastern prelates sitting in the Synod
of Bethlehem, a plan for combining against Rome under an
ecclesiastical organization whose head should be the Patriarch of
Jerusalem. It was scornfully rejected, together with all their
other overtures. No doubt, if the Church of England and the
Episcopal Church of the United States could make a combination
with the Greek Church, on the basis of the Oriental standards of
doctrine, it would be the most formidable rival possible to the
Catholic Church. But such a union is impossible. The Providence
of God does not permit heresy and schism to assume the attitude
of Catholicity, but compels them to manifest their true character
by disintegration.
{53}
And here lies another mark of the inconsistency of the theory of
those who set up this claim of rival Catholicity against Rome.
The Protestant Episcopal Churches, as such, do not sanction and
assert in their public and official action the claim made for
them by a certain portion of their members. The utmost that can
be said of them is, that they affirm and exact episcopal
ordination as requisite to a complete conformity to the polity
established by the Apostles. They do not, however, assert, or
require their clergy to believe, the necessity of apostolic
succession to the being of a Church. Their standards are so
constructed as to afford a shelter and a warrant to those who
hold this and several other Catholic doctrines and principles.
These doctrines are not, however, officially put forward as a
term of communion, or a condition for ordination. The official
doctrine of a Church is limited to that which it exacts by
authority and under penalty of its teachers to hold and profess.
It comes down to the lowest level of doctrine, which its teachers
can hold, and still be reputed sound and orthodox clergymen. Now
a very low Protestantism is all that even High Church bishops can
exact from candidates for the priesthood or the episcopacy.
"Anglo-Catholic" doctrine is nothing but the tolerated opinion of
a certain party. Therefore, on these "Anglo-Catholic" principles,
and according to the doctrine and decisions of the Greek Church,
the Protestant Episcopal Church is schismatical and heretical,
because she enforces nothing by her authority beyond
Protestantism, which is heresy according to that standard of
doctrine which was universally acknowledged before the
"separation of the East and West," and accepted both by Greeks
and "Anglo-Catholics." According to those principles, then, which
would condemn the Roman Church of heresy and schism, all
Episcopal Churches in the world have fallen away from the unity
of faith established by our Lord, and the Catholic Church exists
no more.
{54}
Hence, even an "Anglo-Catholic," if he would not be driven into
the arms of pure Protestantism, and consort with those followers
of Luther and Calvin who are disowned by Bishop Griswold and his
associates, are forced to make common cause with Rome and her
Catholic communion.

The progressive portion of those who were engaged in the Oxford
movement saw and felt all this, and, therefore, in a strict
consistency with their Catholic principles, and by a logical
necessity, they advanced in a Romeward direction. It has been
necessary to make this long explanation in order to show how
matters stood at the time when Mr. Baker and myself were
connected with the ecclesiastical movement in Baltimore, under
Bishop Whittingham. The Oxford movement was then ten years old.
The celebrated Ninetieth Tract, in which Mr. Newman took the
ground that several Roman dogmas were permitted by the
Thirty-nine Articles, and that the Articles were to be explained
according to the Catholic sense of the general body of the
Universal Church, had been some time published, and the
controversy excited by it was nearly completed. Mr. Newman was
about resigning St. Mary's, and soon after went into retirement
at Littlemore. A great number of the ablest writers of his party
had advanced very far beyond the position taken by the earlier
Oxford Tracts, and by Palmer, Percival, Keble, and others, at the
outset. In the United States, the ordination of the Rev. Arthur
Carey had taken place, under circumstances of the most peculiar
character, which deserve a passing notice.

Arthur Carey was a young student of the New York Theological
Seminary, barely twenty years of age, of an English family, and
descended from several bishops of the English Church. He was a
youth of rare intellectual gifts and acquirements, as well as of
the most gentle and lovely character. Bishop Whittingham, who had
been his preceptor, said that he possessed the wisdom of a man of
fifty.
{55}
In some way, the suspicions of a number of the principal Low
Church rectors had been excited in regard to him, and he was
subjected to a most rigorous examination for orders, in which he
manifested his profound theological science and his brilliant
parts, together with a magnanimity of spirit which won for him a
wide-spread admiration, especially among all High Church
Episcopalians. In the course of his examination, he avowed the
most advanced opinions of the Oxford party, and expressed his
belief in the sound orthodoxy of the decrees of the Council of
Trent. He was violently attacked by some members of the examining
committee, and defended by others, the majority finally
recommending him for ordination. Bishop Onderdonk determined to
ordain him, and was proceeding in the ceremony of ordination,
when he was interrupted by two doctors of divinity in gowns, who
publicly protested against the ordination, and then left the
church. Bishop Whittingham urged him very strongly, after his
ordination, to come to his diocese, which he declined doing.
About this time, I read, in manuscript, a beautiful philosophical
essay on Transubstantiation, which he wrote, according to the
system of Leibniz, proving the futility of all the rational
arguments urged against it. The circumstances of his ordination
made him suddenly famous. He was assistant minister to Dr.
Seabury, at the Church of the Annunciation, and every Sunday his
sermons were reported for the secular papers, with minute
accounts of his appearance, and all his sayings and doings. This
publicity was insufferable to him; and in a letter of his, which
I saw, he said that it made life a burden to him. His
constitution was extremely delicate, and weakened by close
application to study. He was a boy in years, and unable to breast
the moral shock which he had received. He speedily sank into a
decline, and died at sea, off the Moro of Havana, whither he had
been sent for the benefit of his health, his body being committed
to the deep by his fellow-passengers, who were all strangers to
him, and one of whom read the Burial Service over his remains.
{56}
For a long time afterward, his poor father might be seen every
day standing on the Battery, and gazing wistfully out to sea,
with mournful thoughts, longing after the son whom he had lost.
There is something in the history of Arthur Carey assimilating it
to that of Richard Hurrell Froude. Each of them, in his sphere,
did more than any other to arrest the anti-Roman tendency of the
Oxford movement, and give it a Romeward direction. In Mr. Carey's
instance, it was not the mere effect of his own personal avowal
of holding Roman doctrine, but the protection given him in doing
so by the bishop of the principal diocese, the directors of the
General Seminary, and a large number of other bishops and
clergymen, which was significant. It was this which led to the
persecution of Bishop Onderdonk; and it was believed that a plan
was on foot for similar attacks on the other bishops who were
regarded as Puseyites.

The reader of these pages can now understand something of the
nature of those stirring and exciting times in the ecclesiastical
world in which Mr. Baker began his career, and of the events and
questions about which we were daily conversing together. Bishop
Whittingham approved of the principle of interpreting the
Articles laid down in the Ninetieth Tract. On this principle, I
gave my assent to them at my examination for orders, and could
not otherwise have assented to them with a safe conscience. The
ordination of Mr. Carey opened the way for us to go forward to
the full extent of holding all the doctrines of the Council of
Trent. The current of Oxford thought and literature was sweeping
us in that direction. We had full access to it, and felt its
power, although, as I have said, we were a good deal behind the
movement, and ignorant of many things which were taking place in
England. Mr. Baker was far in advance of me at the time our
friendship began. He never had that feeling of hostility to the
Roman Church with which so many were filled.
{57}
His early education, and the knowledge he had of Catholicity and
of the Catholic clergy and laity in Baltimore, preserved him from
that strong prejudice which I retained from the impressions of
childhood, and which he aided me greatly to overcome. Neither of
us ever looked on the Roman communion as heretical, schismatical,
or essentially corrupt. We adopted, at first, the prevalent idea
that it was in a schismatical position in England, and in those
parts of the United States where we supposed the Protestant
Episcopal Church had prior possession. We dropped this notion,
however, after a while; and I remember well that it was a friend
of ours, who was then and is now a minister of the Episcopal
Church, who drove it finally out of my head by solid and
unanswerable arguments. We could not agree with the bishop and
his party in their anti-Roman sentiments, and disliked the
offensive use of the terms "Romish" and "Romanist." We regarded
the Catholic Church as composed of three great branches--the
Latin, Greek, and Anglican--unhappily estranged from each other,
and all more or less to blame for the separation. We did not
believe in the supremacy of the Pope, in the full Catholic sense,
as constituting the e essential principle of Catholic unity, or
that communion with the Holy See was necessary to the very being
of a Church. We did, however, come to believe by degrees in a
certain Primacy, partly divine and partly ecclesiastical, as
necessary to order, and the means of preserving intercommunion
among all bishops. What we regarded as errors in Roman doctrine,
we looked upon as much less fundamental than those Protestant
errors which pervaded so extensively our own Church; we
considered them much in the same light with which Bishop Griswold
and his brethren regarded the peculiar doctrines of the Greek
Church, as matters to be tolerated, until all branches of the
Church could meet in a general council and make a final decision
upon all controversies. Considering the divided and anomalous
state of Christendom, we thought that both the Roman and Anglican
bishops had an equally legitimate jurisdiction over their
congregations, and that we were alike Catholics, and in real
communion with the Universal Church of all ages and nations.
{58}
We thought it to be the duty of each one to remain in the
communion where he had been baptized or ordained, and would have
dissuaded any Episcopalian from joining the Roman communion, or
any Roman Catholic from joining ours. I remember, one evening,
after hearing an account given with great glee by a young man of
the perversion of a Catholic, that Mr. Baker said, after the
person in question had gone, "What a miserable story that was
which M---- just related!" In my own little parish, there was an
Irish servant-girl, whom I married to a young Englishman, my
parishioner. I had no scruple in doing this, not reflecting that
I was the occasion of the girl committing a sin against her own
conscience. But when her mistress expressed great hopes of her
coming over to our Church, and I began to think she might apply
to me for confirmation, I carefully avoided encouraging the plan,
and considered seriously what I ought to do if any such case
should arise. Very strangely and inconsistently, Bishop
Whittingham used to confirm the occasional perverts that fell in
his way, although they had received Catholic confirmation. And
this increased my difficulty. For I regarded an act of that kind
as a sacrilege, and could not have been a party to it in any
case, unless I had thought it right, according to my overstrained
notions of obedience, to throw the whole responsibility on the
bishop. As I have often said, we never entertained the thought of
leaving our own Church. The conversation of those who talked
doubtfully on this point was always most disagreeable to us both,
although it was only in one or two instances that we fell in with
any such persons.

Toward our own bishop we were strictly obedient. His violent
antipathy to Rome and strong Anglican party spirit, joined with a
timid, politic course of action toward the Low Church,
ultra-Protestant party, prevented our giving him full and
unreserved confidence.
{59}
Mr. Baker had seldom the occasion of conversing much with him. I
was, however, constantly in his family, and very much in his
society. I confided in him as a man of integrity, a sincere and
generous friend, and a just and kind superior. But, from the
first, there was a barrier which I had not expected to full and
unreserved confidence, and a feeling that there was a secret and
fundamental difference in our apprehension of the ideas which are
contained in the forms of Catholic language. I have since
discovered what this difference was, and I see now that he really
believed in an invisible, ideal Catholic Church only, and in no
other outward, visible unity, except that which is completed in a
single bishop and congregation. This explains a remark made at
that time by my father, who is thoroughly acquainted with the
Protestant theology, on one of the bishop's essays; that, except
his doctrine of three orders in the ministry, he was a pure
Congregationalist. Mr. Newman, also, held the same view, until
quite a late period in his Anglican life, as appears from his
"Apologia." In Bishop Whittingham's own eyes, he was himself the
equivalent of the whole Catholic episcopate. Consequently, what
he and his colleagues and predecessors in the Anglican Church had
decreed had full Catholic authority, and was just as final and
authoritative as if the whole world had taken part in it. Hence
the assertion of a despotic, exclusive authority of the Anglican
Church, concentrated in his person, over everyone who
acknowledged his jurisdiction. He would not permit us to attend
any Catholic services, or read any Catholic books, as an ordinary
thing. I read the tract of Natalis Alexander on the Eucharist,
and the Life of St. Francis of Sales, in his library, before he
made his prohibition. Afterward, he gave me himself a volume of
Tirinus's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures; and these were the
only Catholic books I read while I was in his family. I was very
anxious to read Möhler's "Symbolism," but I did not; nor did I
read Ward's "Ideal of a Christian Church;" because he desired me
not to do so.
{60}
I even gave up using approved Anglican books of devotion in
church, because he expressed his disapprobation of using any
other book but the "Common Prayer." Mr. Baker was equally
obedient with myself at that time; although afterward, when he
was governed more by common-sense and a just sentiment of his own
rights, he read whatever he thought proper. It was Anglican books
which brought us onward toward the Catholic Church, and the
attempt to live up to and carry out Anglo-Catholic principles.
Those who are familiar with the Anglo-Catholic movement will
understand at once what these principles and doctrines were. But
for the information of others it may be proper to state them
distinctly, as they were understood by Mr. Baker, and others like
him, who approximated more or less toward the Catholic Church,
whether they eventually joined her communion or not:

  1. The visible unity of the Catholic Church.

  2. The final authority of the Church in deciding doctrine,
  and the authority of General Councils.

  3. The necessity of an Apostolic Succession, and the divine
  institution of the episcopate.

  4. Baptismal Regeneration and Sacramental Grace.

  5. The strictly sacerdotal character of the priesthood,
  including the power of consecrating, and of absolution.

  6. The Real Presence in the Eucharist.

  7. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist.

  8. The propriety of praying for the dead.

  9. The merit of voluntary chastity, poverty, and obedience,
  and of penitential works.

  10. The value of ceremonies in religion, and the sanctity
  of holy places and holy things.

{61}

However certain persons may modify and explain certain of these
doctrines, no one can deny that the general drift of the writings
of the Oxford or Anglo-Catholic school, together with that of the
writings of the ancient Fathers and of the earlier English
divines which are translated or republished by them, was to
create and strengthen a belief in these doctrines. They were
allowed to be tenable without infidelity to the Anglican Church,
by persons in authority and others, who were themselves lower and
more Protestant in their opinions. Now, I will take for a moment
the position of an Anglo-Catholic, and, upon the basis of the
principles I have just enunciated, I will prove that an attitude
of hostility to the Roman Church is wrong and absurd, and that
the only consistent and tenable ground is that now taken by the
Unionists, represented by the _Union Review_.

  "The Latin, Greek, and Anglican branches of the Catholic Church
  constitute but One Visible Church, though their unity is
  impaired and in part interrupted by mutual estrangement. As a
  member of the Anglican Church, I look upon the Greek Church as
  essentially sound and orthodox, and, if allowed to do so, would
  wish to receive the sacraments, or, if a clergyman, to
  officiate as such, in the churches of that Rite, if I happened
  to be in a place where it was established. I look upon the
  Latin Church, whose doctrine is the same with that of the Greek
  Church, with the single exception of the Papal Supremacy, in
  precisely the same light. Whatever I may think of the extent of
  power claimed by the Bishop of Rome, I must allow that, in a
  state of perfect intercommunion between all parts of the
  Church, the chief place in the Catholic hierarchy and the right
  of presidency in a general council belong to him. It is most
  desirable that the Greek and Anglican Churches should be
  restored again to communion with the Roman Church, and all
  controversies respecting doctrine be definitely settled.
  Meanwhile, the spirit of charity ought to be cultivated, and
  all possible means taken to remove prejudice and
  misunderstanding. In the present state of confusion and
  irregularity, the ancient canons respecting one bishop in a
  city cannot be considered as binding; and therefore Roman,
  Greek, and Anglican congregations, formed under the authority
  of bishops who are in regular communion with their own branch,
  are equally legitimate and Catholic, wherever they may be.
{62}
  The decisions of the particular national synods of the Anglican
  branch have no final authority, and are only binding so far as
  they declare the doctrines of the Universal Church. They are to
  be interpreted in the 'Catholic sense,' and are strictly
  obligatory only on those who have made a promise to maintain
  them, and upon those only in the sense in which they are
  imposed by authority, under censure. It is the Catholic Church,
  and not the Church of England or the Protestant Episcopal
  Church of the United States, of which I am a member by baptism,
  and therefore I have no duties to either of those
  ecclesiastical organizations, except such as arise out of their
  relation to the great Catholic body, and are compatible with
  the absolute allegiance I owe to its teaching and law's."

Such I conceive to be a statement of the only view an Anglican
can consistently take, unless he plants himself upon the common
Protestant ground. According to this, it is ridiculous for him to
abstain from going to Catholic services, reading Catholic books,
and cultivating the acquaintance of Catholic clergymen and
lay-people. The pretence of deposing or degrading clergymen,
because they pass to the communion of Rome, is an absurd and
impotent attempt at retaliation. What sin can there be in going
from St. Paul's Church, where the Mass is in English, celebrated
by a priest of the Anglican Rite, under the obedience of the
Catholic Bishop Whittingham, to the Cathedral, where the Mass is
in Latin, celebrated by a priest of the Latin Rite, under the
obedience of the Catholic Archbishop Spalding? How can there be
the guilt of apostasy involved in such an act? How can a person
"abjure the Catholic Communion" at Rome, by joining that which is
confessedly the principal branch of the Catholic Church?

{63}

A person who believes in this theory of branches may say it is
inexpedient and unwise for individuals to leave their particular
connection, that it perpetuates the estrangement, and that it is
better to wait for the time when the "English Branch" will be
reunited bodily to the parent tree. They cannot pretend, however,
that this is any thing more than a matter of private opinion. The
only legitimate means they have for keeping their adherents from
leaving them are argument and persuasion. It avails nothing to
say that if free access to Roman Catholic services and books,
and, in general, free intercourse with us is permitted, and the
charge of schism, violation of baptismal or ordination
obligations, &c., is abandoned, we shall gain over a great number
of their members. What of that? Those who adopt a theory are
bound to adhere to it. If this Anglo-Catholic theory has any
thing in it, it ought to be able to sustain the shock of a
collision. We have nothing but argument and persuasion on our
side. Why should their influence be dreaded? If Catholic
principles, sympathies, and practices gravitate toward Rome, let
them gravitate; it is a sign that the centre of gravity is there.
That the Oxford movement did gravitate toward Rome by its
original force is a plain fact, proved by the number, the
character, and the acts of those who have become converts to the
Catholic Church. Not that their testimony is a direct proof that
the Catholic Church is divine and infallible. This rests on
extrinsic, objective evidence. But it is a direct proof that the
pretence of the Catholicity of the Anglican communion cannot
furnish full and complete satisfaction to conscientious minds
that have imbibed Catholic principles. It professed to do so; but
it has failed. Those who still cling to it cannot deny that the
dissemination of their views generally produces in those who
embrace them, at some period of their mental history, a deep
misgiving respecting the safety of their position. This is not so
in the Catholic Church. Catholics, who retain a firm faith in the
principles of Catholicity, and endeavor to obey their
consciences, never have a misgiving that they are out of the
Church, or that there is any other church which has a better
claim to be regarded as the Catholic Church.
{64}
If human reason has any certitude, if the human mind is governed
by any fixed laws, if the concurrent judgments and convictions of
great numbers of the wisest and best men have any value, if there
is any such thing as logic, these considerations ought to have
weight.

But I am weary of chasing this Protean phantom of
Anglo-Catholicism through its shifting disguises, and its
labyrinthine mazes. And I gladly return to the theme of my
narrative.

Francis Baker was ordained deacon on the 16th of February, 1845,
and in the following August was appointed assistant minister of
St. Paul's Church. During the interval he was performing
occasional duty in assisting the rectors of different parishes in
Baltimore, under the bishop's direction. His first sermon was
preached in St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, on the Sunday afternoon
of his ordination day, which was the Second Sunday of Lent. On
the evening of the same day he preached at St. Peter's. His text
was taken from the I. Epist. John, iv. 4: "_And this is the
victory that overcometh the world, even our faith_." It was a
beautiful sermon, and perfectly Catholic in its doctrine and
tone. I regret that it is not extant, for I think that if it
were, it would be worthy of a place among the sermons published
in this volume. In it he extolled a life of virginity in glowing
language, as the means of a closer union with Christ; and its
whole scope was to present the lives of those who have renounced
the world, as models of the highest Christian perfection. I read
prayers for him that evening, and we walked home afterward
together. We separated in silence, neither of us expressing his
thoughts, but both seeming to feel a kind of blank and unwilling
sense of disappointment, as if dimly conscious that our
Catholicity was an unreal and imaginary thing. At St. Paul's
Church his eloquence took the congregation completely by
surprise.
{65}
His quiet, unassuming character had not prepared even his friends
to expect that he would manifest so much power as a preacher.
From this time his reputation was fixed at the highest point, and
he always sustained it. There were several very excellent
preachers in the Maryland Diocese, but I believe it was generally
admitted that Mr. Baker surpassed them all, and the most
intellectual and cultivated people ever looked upon his sermons
as affording to their minds and hearts one of the choicest
banquets they were capable of enjoying. I have never known a
young clergyman to be more generally and warmly admired and loved
than Mr. Baker. Nevertheless, applause and popularity did not
affect him in the least, and the pure mirror of his soul was
never tarnished by vanity and self-complacency. Even then, his
spontaneous desires and longings seemed to forecast the apostolic
vocation which was in store for him. He had an ardent desire for
a religious life, and was especially attracted by the character
and life of Nicholas Ferrar, and by the history of the little
religious community which he formed at Little-Gidding. In our
walks we often conversed about the practicability of establishing
a religious house which would give us the opportunity of working
among the neglected masses of the people, and looked about for
some suitable building for this purpose. There was a scheme
talked of for establishing a monastic and missionary institute on
the eastern shore of Maryland, and there were eight or ten
clergymen who would have been eager to join in the enterprise if
the bishop had been courageous enough to begin it. But the fear
of Low Churchmen prevailed, and nothing was ever done. We very
soon found that the work of "Catholicizing" the Episcopal Church
in Maryland got on very slowly and miserably, through the open
opposition of the Low Church party, and the dead, inert
resistance of the old High Church.
{66}
At an early period of Bishop Whittingham's administration, the
Rev. Henry V. D. Johns, rector of Christ Church, bade him open
defiance, and preserved that attitude until his death, many years
afterward. The bishop preached and published two remarkably
learned and able sermons on the priesthood, one of which was
preached at the institution of Mr. Johns. At the close of it he
exhorted the parishioners to receive their new rector as their
divinely-appointed teacher, and to submit to his instructions
with docility. The same night, Mr. Johns preached a sermon which
contained a violent attack on the bishop's doctrine, and made a
solemn declaration, sanctioned by an appeal to Heaven, that he
would evermore oppose that doctrine, and preach the contrary in
his pulpit. This was the signal for hostilities, and a sharp
controversy arose out of the affair, which was renewed from time
to time, as occasion offered. The bishop made one or two more
efforts to bring out his Reformed Catholicism in sermons or
charges, and then desisted, seeming to be more anxious to defend
himself against the charge of Popery than to attack
Protestantism. In regard to the outward ceremonial of religion,
the efforts made to improve it were equally feeble and abortive.
There was a miserable little church in an obscure street, called
St. Stephen's, with an altar something like a marble-topped
wash-stand, and some curtains covered with roughly-executed
symbols, such as mitres, chalices, keys, etc., where we played a
little at Catholics with so much success that a good old lady
said it was worse than the Cathedral. The opposition which was
excited by these innocent and absurd little ecclesiological
essays were such that the parish was nearly ruined, and the
rector in great alarm speedily banished all innovations, and
brought his chancel and his windows back to the old-fashioned
style. There was a little preaching in the surplice, a little
display of crosses, and a great deal of Catholic talk in private
circles, and very little else. The attempt to make the Protestant
Episcopal Church in Maryland exhibit herself as the Reformed
Catholic Church was a most signal failure.
{67}
The _True Catholic_ labored faithfully to defend Mr. Newman
from the charge of Romanizing until he actually joined the
Catholic Church, and then took to decrying him and other converts
as much as possible. It then took up Archdeacon Manning, H. W.
Wilberforce, and Marshall, loading its pages with extracts from
their writings, until all these gentlemen followed Mr. Newman's
example. What it did afterward, and whether it has survived until
the present time or not, I do not know. The cassocks were
silently and gradually dropped. Some of the young clergymen
married, and took to walking sedately in the old paths, and
others left the diocese. The few who could not unlearn or forget
the Catholic principles they had imbibed, retired into themselves
and kept quiet. And thus matters went back to their old condition
of a sort of uneasy compromise between High and Low Church, on
the basis of a common hostility to Rome.

I remember well the startling effect produced by the news of Mr.
Newman's conversion. Whatever his modesty may induce him to say
in disclaimer, he was the leader, the life, and the soul, of the
Oxford movement: his genius and character had acquired for him in
this country, as well as in England, a sway over a multitude of
minds such as is seldom possessed by any living man. The news of
his conversion was brought to Baltimore by Bishop Reynolds, of
Charleston, who had just arrived from Europe. I heard it from
Bishop Whittingham, one evening, after I had been to prayers in
St. Paul's. I passed him on the steps and went out, and heard him
say in a sorrowful tone, "Newman has gone." It went to my heart
as if I had heard of my father's death. I did not wish to speak
with anyone on the subject, for, although I was not prepared to
follow him, yet I could not speak harshly or lightly of the
decision of a man whose wisdom and goodness I venerated so
highly, or endure to hear the comments of others.
{68}
Mr. Baker and I had no opportunity to converse together very much
on this matter, or indeed on any other. Our separation was at
hand, under circumstances painful and trying to both. He was
confined to the chamber of his brother Alfred, who was
dangerously ill with the varioloid, and, of course, could neither
make or receive any visits. I was obliged to leave Baltimore a
few days after, for North Carolina, by the order of my physician.
I took a hurried farewell of Mr. Baker, at the door of his house,
with very little expectation, on either side, of ever meeting
again. He had assisted me very frequently in the duties of my
little parish in the suburbs, during several months of declining
health, and after my departure he continued to visit the
congregation and preach for them occasionally. It was during the
autumn of 1845 that I left Baltimore. At the close of the Holy
Week of 1846 I was received into the Catholic Church, at
Charleston, S. C., and in March, 1847, I was ordained priest by
the Right Rev. Dr. Reynolds, the bishop of the diocese.

Before leaving Edenton, N. C., where I resided during the
previous winter, I wrote to Mr. Baker to inform him of my
intention, and I continued to write to him occasionally,
receiving letters from him in return, for some months afterward.
The correspondence on his part soon became constrained and
formal, and at last was stopped at his request. For the three
years, immediately following my ordination, I saw or heard
nothing of him. I continued to hope for his conversion, and often
offered up the Holy Sacrifice for that intention. By degrees,
however, the thought of him passed away from my mind, and I
ceased to anticipate that the broken thread of our friendship
would ever be re-united. I supposed that he had become
permanently settled at some halting-place between Protestantism
and the Catholic Church, and would live and die contentedly in
his chosen position as an Episcopalian clergyman, forgetting his
earlier and nobler aspirations as among the dreams of youth.
{69}
For the history of his mind during this period, I am indebted to
the letters which he continued to write to the bosom friend who
has been already spoken of, and the information which that friend
has given me personally. I am also indebted to the same source,
chiefly, for the history of his progress toward Catholicity,
during the entire period of seven years which elapsed before his
reception into the Catholic Church. For, although I saw him
repeatedly during the last three years of this period, he was
extremely guarded and reserved in his language; and during our
common life together, as Catholics, afterward, I never asked him
for any detailed account--the subject having, in great measure,
lost its interest for us both.

I have reason to believe that at the time of my conversion he had
his misgivings, and indeed his first letters to me showed a
disposition on his part to enter into a free discussion of the
matter with me. He soon quieted these misgivings, however, and
determined to throw himself heart and soul into the work of
realizing Catholicity in his own Church. He even underwent a
reaction which awoke a feeling of hostility to the Roman Church,
and of anger against me, for having, as he expressed it, "spoiled
their plans." His good and true friend of past days, who had
continually encouraged and urged him on from the first to follow
boldly in the footsteps of those who led the advance of the
Oxford movement, would not, however, permit him to rest in this
state. He was determined himself not to shut his eyes to the
difficulties and perplexities of his position, and he would not
allow his friend to do it. He never ceased to unbosom freely all
his own doubts and disquietudes, to communicate the results of
his continual reading and reflection, and to stimulate his friend
to push on in the study of Catholic principles and doctrines
until he had reached a final and satisfactory result. Judging
from the letters of Mr. Baker which I have before me, I should
think that both his misgivings about his own position and his
bitter feelings toward the Roman Church gave place to a quiet
resolution of adhering to the position he had taken, before Mr.
Newman's conversion and that of others of lesser note had
startled his repose.
{70}
For two or three years his letters do not indicate a disquieted
mind, but are often full of hope for the prospects of the
Anglican communion. By degrees a change is manifest, and it is
easy to see the progress of a conviction slowly forcing itself
upon him that the Episcopal Church is essentially Protestant, and
all the efforts made to place her in a Catholic light and
attitude a mere illusion. The workings of a mind and heart
struggling with doubt and disquiet, weary of a hollow and unreal
system, weaned from all worldly hopes, detaching itself from all
earthly ties, and striving after the truth and after God, become
more and more manifest, until at last, after seven long years,
the result is reached. I have hesitated much before determining
to insert a portion of these letters in this narrative. Certain
motives of delicacy toward my departed friend and others would
incline me to withhold them. But their perusal has seemed to me
to exhibit so much more clearly than any narrative of mine could
do, the transparent purity of the heart from which they emanated,
and the wonderful workings of divine grace upon it, that I have
judged it best to prefer the profit of those who will read this
book to private feeling. Some of them, which are merely
descriptive, I have inserted, because there could be no reason
for withholding them, and they will give pleasure to the friends
of the writer, who value every thing which came from his pen. In
regard to others, which were private and confidential, I have
used the utmost caution to select only those portions which are
necessary to a full exhibition of the writer's gradual progress
to the Catholic Church.

I will first quote some extracts from the correspondence of an
earlier period, which show the first blossoms of the later
ripened fruit of Catholic faith and holiness in the pure and
upright soul of Francis Baker.

{71}


  From Francis A. Baker To Dwight E. Lyman.

  "Baltimore, _February_ 20, 1843.

  "My Dear Dwight:

  * * * * *

  "Of course you have seen the letter 'Quare Impedit.' Is it not
  very caustic? I cannot but think it defective in the
  non-expression of what the writer doubtless believed, the sense
  in which the Council of Trent's words as to 'immolation' are
  true. It does not sufficiently bring out the true and
  unfigurative sense in which the sacrifice on the altar is the
  same with the sacrifice on the cross.

  * * * * *

  "As I go on with my studies, my dear Dwight, I become more and
  more attracted to them, and, I hope, more and more of a
  Catholic. Indeed, I seem to myself to live in a different world
  from that around me, and to be _practical_ I find one of
  the most difficult attainments. But to be frank with you, in
  looking forward to the future, the situation of a parish priest
  seldom fills my mind. I almost always look to the monastic life
  in some of its modifications. It is true that on the score of
  fitness I have no right to look forward to such privileges; but
  from some circumstances which you will appreciate, my heart has
  been drawn more entirely from the world than most persons of my
  age. But the future belongs to God, and I must now prepare
  myself for the duties which seem pointed out to me. I have not
  spoken to anyone else of this long-cherished desire, and,
  indeed, there are at present insurmountable difficulties in the
  way; but I do not look upon it is as so visionary a scheme as I
  once did.

  * * * * *

  "Your brother told me of his intended repairs in his church. I
  am delighted to hear it. It will not be long, I hope, before
  such is the universal arrangement of our churches. Only one
  thing will be lacking (if he has a cross), the candlesticks. I
  have come to the conclusion that we have a perfect right to
  them, for they will come in by the Church common-law, as the
  surplice did.
{72}
  I do not suppose it would be proper for a priest to introduce
  them without his ordinary's sanction. I do wish a charge would
  come out recommending the Catholic usages. I don't give any
  weight to the cry of some about us, to wait for such things
  until Catholic doctrines are received. I cannot but think that
  such things would have a reflex influence on doctrine. While we
  are externally so identified with the Protestants, it will be
  hard to convince the world that we have any claims to antiquity
  or Catholicity. Pray use your influence to have a solid altar,
  and as large as may be."

  * * * * *

  "Baltimore, _June_ 9, 1843.
  "It was a great disappointment to me not seeing you here at the
  Convention, and there has been going on here so much of
  interest to you. The Roman Council you have heard all about, I
  am sure. I was not present, of course, at any of their services
  or meetings, nor did I see any of their processions, but from
  all I have heard, and from what I have seen at other times, I
  think it must have been a most glorious spectacle. I do not
  think I am fond of pageantry, but it must have been
  heart-stirring to see the Church coming out of the sanctuary
  which she has in her own bosom, and going forth to take
  possession of the world in the name of her ascended Lord.
  Imagine a band of sixteen venerable bishops, with surpliced
  acolytes and vested priests, with their lights and cross and
  crosier, all chanting in murmuring responses some old
  processional chant; the effect of the whole heightened by the
  brightness of a May sun reflected from many a golden stole and
  glittering mitre! I am sure the sight would have set you crazy.
  Indeed, I feared myself that it would present an unfortunate
  contrast with our neat, dress-coat clergy. But our own
  Convention had far more of an ecclesiastical appearance this
  year than it ever had before.
{73}
  The daily matins at six o'clock, the Litany at nine, and the
  full Mass service at twelve, all seemed as if we were suddenly
  transplanted into some other age of the church, when she
  understood and realized her heavenly mission better than in
  these later days. Every day after the reading of the Gospel,
  all joined in a solemn profession of the old Nicene faith; then
  the Holy Sacrifice was offered, and all were allowed to partake
  of the Holy Mysteries."

  * * * * *

  "Baltimore, _June_ 9, 1845. "When the ordination is
  appointed, if possible, I will let you know; and if you are
  disposed to treat me better than I did you, I should be truly
  glad to see you here on that occasion. At all events, my dear
  Dwight, do not forget to pray for me. I regret exceedingly that
  the advantage of the regular Ember season will be lost to me,
  for I feel in need of all the assistance which the united
  prayers of the Holy Church might be expected to procure. As
  soon after my ordination as may be, I wish to go to work in
  such a department as may be assigned me by the will of God and
  the direction of the bishop. I wish not 'to choose my way,' but
  as far as possible to submit to the direction of others, my
  superiors; for that I believe to be the very secret of
  ministerial influence. In my case, however, there can hardly be
  any trial of virtue in this course, for with such a bishop as
  God has placed over us, submission is no sacrifice. I have
  deliberately resolved to maintain a single life, and acquainted
  the bishop with my determination. I think he approved of my
  resolution, though he dissuaded me from taking a vow to that
  effect. Although I acquiesced in his advice, yet I shall
  consider myself from the date of my ordination pledged to
  preserve that state, by the grace of God. All this is strictly
  between ourselves, for I abhor to _talk_ about such
  things. I consider this a matter, in our Church at least, of
  strictly individual choice, and while I have no hesitation
  myself in adopting the course I have mentioned, I should
  despise myself and think but poorly of my own motives, if I
  should ever think less of another for exercising differently
  his Christian liberty."

  * * * * *

{74}

The foregoing extracts are taken from letters written before the
time of my leaving Baltimore, and of course, therefore, before
the thought of joining the Catholic Church had entered any of our
minds. Those which follow were written at various times during
the period of seven years, between 1846 and 1853, which was the
period of transition in Mr. Baker's mind, ending in his
conversion.

  "Baltimore, _July_ 9, 1846.
  "Every thing has been remarkably quiet in Baltimore for the
  last month. There seems to be nothing of the excitement that
  for a while prevailed on the subject of 'Roman tendencies' and
  'perversions.' I know not whether the 'Few Thoughts' of Mr. H.,
  which is just published here, and which I suppose you have
  seen, will awaken controversy; but should suppose not, from the
  occasion and nature of the publication, it being merely an
  explanation of his own course, and written immediately on the
  determination to take that course. I have heard the pamphlet
  spoken of as 'a weak production,' as 'doing Mr. H. no credit.'
  Are we not too apt to speak so of the work of an opponent? Of
  course the essay is not a learned and systematic argument, nor
  does it profess to be so; but it is (as it appears to me)
  honest, to the point, and well expressed. I speak this of the
  production: as an argument, it of course resolves into the
  great Roman plea of _Visible Unity_.

  "I understand that a Mr. ----, a presbyter of our Church, and
  alumnus of the General Theological Seminary, made his public
  abjuration of Protestantism in St. Mary's Chapel, on Sunday
  last. I suppose you have seen the account of ----'s defection.
  I was told, a few days ago, that ---- has made up his mind to
  'go;' but as it was a Roman Catholic who told me, I did not
  know but he might be misled.
{75}
  Do you know any thing about it? I received, a few days ago, a
  letter from H. It was merely a friendly letter, without
  controversy, describing his mode of life, written very
  cheerfully and kindly. It will give me pleasure to show it to
  you when you come to Baltimore to see me, to which visit I look
  forward with great pleasure. We will then talk about all these
  strange events and times, and on our thoughts and feelings
  concerning them. Adieu, adieu, my dear friend. Let us keep
  close to each other; but first, close to God, and in all things
  obedient to His will. Again adieu, my dear, good friend."



It is easy for one who knew intimately the writer of this letter
to see that his heart was sad and disquieted when he wrote it,
although he does not directly say so; especially from the unusual
warmth and tenderness of his expressions of attachment to his
friend. About two months after he wrote it, the time came for him
to pass his examination for priest's orders. The circumstances
under which his examination took place redoubled this disquiet,
and caused him to hesitate much about receiving ordination. In
the course of his examination, he was asked if he accepted the
Thirty-nine Articles. It appears that he was not able to accept
the reasoning of Tract No. 90, upon which he must have gone at
his ordination to the diaconate, and accordingly he replied
boldly that he rejected some of the Articles, and could not in
any way give his assent to them. I do not know how many of them
he qualified in this way; but I know that one of them was the
thirty-first, as to its second section: "Wherefore, the
Sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the
priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have
remission of pain and guilt, were blasphemous fables and
dangerous deceits;" and I think, that, another was the
twenty-second: "Of Purgatory," etc.
{76}
A discussion arose among his examiners upon the propriety of
passing him. The bishop endeavored to waive the whole question,
and succeeded in preventing his rejection. The rector of St.
Peter's, who was the chairman of the committee, and whose duty it
was to present the candidates, declined, however, to present Mr.
Baker, though, with a singular inconsistency, he privately urged
him to be ordained. Mr. Baker almost resolved to stop where he
was, and regretted afterward that he had not done so. He suffered
himself, however, to be overruled by the authority and persuasion
of the bishop, and as Dr. Wyatt also excused himself from taking
the responsibility of presenting him, he was presented by another
presbyter, and ordained on the 20th of September, 1846. His
health as well as his spirits were impaired by these troubles;
and, therefore, a short time afterward he made a trip to the
North, in order to recreate both body and mind, and with the hope
of driving away, by change of scene, the unpleasant thoughts
which haunted him. In this he was in a measure successful. He
appears to have made a resolute determination to throw himself
into his ministry, and to put away all doubt from his mind. He
went in search of all that was attractive and encouraging in his
own communion, and his letter, giving an account of his trip,
shows that his attachment to it was deepened and renewed by the
impression made on him by the beautiful churches, the tasteful
and decorous services, and the agreeable, intellectual men of
congenial spirit with himself, described by him in such a
pleasing style. It was after this journey that he wrote to me,
expressing a firm determination to adhere to his chosen position,
assigning for his chief reason the "signs of life" which he saw
in the Episcopal Church; and he soon after, as I have said,
dropped his correspondence with me, as one separated from him by
a barrier which was never to be passed over.

{77}

  "Baltimore, _November_ 10, 1846.
  "I enjoyed my visit to the North quite as much as your or my
  own expectations promised. I think the jaunt was in every way
  beneficial to me. I spent a week delightfully in New York,
  where a new world, as it were, of churches was opened to me,
  and had a most happy (what I call) _heart_ visit to Troy.
  But you will expect to hear particulars. To commence with the
  commencement, then, what shall I say of Trinity Church? In some
  respects it is far beyond my conceptions. The first impression
  was really overpowering. It was on Saturday morning, and but
  for a few minutes, and it seemed to me that both externally and
  internally the building was most majestic and beautiful. I next
  saw it on Sunday morning, to great advantage. It was communion
  day, and fourteen priests in their surplices were in attendance
  (the Convention having adjourned late the night before). The
  church was full, but very orderly--the music grave and
  fine--though I confess to you (pardon my ignorance and
  temerity) it was not exactly as I should have liked. It seemed
  to me to want _impressiveness_ or _expression_. It
  was neither soothing, nor, _to me_, very grand. Dr. ----
  preached. I never saw the Holy Communion celebrated and
  _administered_ in any church with so fine effect. The
  scene, when the choir was filled with the worshippers waiting
  for their turn to receive, was truly majestic. On that day I
  went away with a most agreeable impression. After I had been
  there, how ever, in the week, and especially as I became
  familiar with it, I was very conscious of the great defect and
  coldness of the chancel. The meanness of the altar is
  positively too bad; and the _unmeaningness_ of the heavy
  altar-screen is curious. The window is not just up my taste;
  but I do not think so badly of it as some do. On the whole, I
  think there can be no doubt that the chancel is a failure; but
  the nave is very fine, and the doorway, the organ-gallery, the
  organ, the tower, and the side-porches most beautiful.
{78}
  On the afternoon of the Sunday, I went to Grace Church,
  listened to the music---exquisite _of its kind_--saw the
  images!!! looked at the church, and examined the stained
  windows. I cannot agree with you about this building. Certainly
  it has some beauties. The external appearance is very fine, and
  the single figure of our Blessed Lord, in the east window,
  beautiful; but I must say that the whole of the interior
  presented to me a look of _finery_, and an absence of
  solemnity, most unpleasant in the sanctuary. The windows were
  simply distressing. It will seem very Protestant after this to
  say it, but still it is true, that the church looked very like
  a Roman Catholic Church to me; perhaps it would be truer to say
  _Romish_, for it seemed to me in keeping with some things
  we call by this name. I was disappointed in Grace Church; for I
  went prepared to like it, from your representation, and from my
  confidence in your taste.

  "Next in order of my seeing, but really, perhaps, first of all,
  is the Church of the Holy Communion. This is really a gem. I
  was there at evening prayer on a week-day, and I left with a
  grateful heart that it was granted me to worship there. I am
  not much of an architect, but the building seemed to me
  _perfect_. I at least had no fault to find with it. The
  services were read at the chancel rail. The canticles were
  chanted with the organ accompaniment. It was at once solemn and
  very beautiful. I said I had no fault to find. Perhaps that is
  too much. I do think there is an absence of warmth in the
  colors of the church, and of a certain grace and brightness
  about the chancel, which would be entirely obviated by
  substituting, instead of the present altar, a white or colored
  marble one of the same size, adorned with candlesticks and
  covered with a lace cloth. This, however, is to make it a
  _perfect_ church for my eye, and I am not at all sure that
  I am right.

{79}

  "I said Troy was the most agreeable place I had visited. You
  will not need to be told what it was which gave it this
  interest: the Church of the Holy Cross. Oh, how glorious that
  enterprise is! How perfectly devotional and elevating those
  services! I was made very, very happy by this visit. It seemed
  unearthly, and it seemed, too, a promise of better and holier
  days, a harbinger of returning glory to our depressed Church.
  Could you not introduce this service into the college. It is
  worth a very great effort. Nothing else can produce such an
  effect as the choral service. With the material you have, I
  should not think it would be impossible, and at nothing short
  of this ought you to stop. I formed a valuable acquaintance
  with, and had the pleasure of visiting all the clergy of the
  place, who are remarkably united, and who received me with
  Southern warmth and cordiality. I was at the Church of the Holy
  Cross as often as it was possible for me to be there, you may
  be sure, and left it at the last with real regret. I consider
  this visit alone fully repaid me for the journey."

  * * * * *

From this time there is not a trace of disquietude with his
position to be observed in his correspondence, until 1849. Under
date of February, 1847, he writes to his friend, who, as it
appears from his own declarations, was the only intimate friend
he had among his brother clergymen:

  "I still write now and then to H., but there is such a
  restriction on the freedom of thought and expression in
  speaking to him, that I have but very little interest in the
  correspondence; indeed I think it hardly likely long to
  continue; but from you there is no need or wish on my part to
  conceal any thing.

  * * * * *

  I _long_ to leave St. Paul's. I do not say this to anyone
  here, for nothing is gained of talking; but to you I say that I
  am obliged constantly to fall back on the reflection that,
  until some other way is opened, my duty lies here. It is not on
  account of any disagreeables in my position; but there are
  peculiar dangers and difficulties attending it, and I cannot
  help fearing constantly that my life is too easy and too soft
  to please God.
{80}
  Still I see not which way to move. I think I wish to submit
  myself entirely to the Divine Will. I hope it will not seem
  impertinent, dear Dwight, to express a hope that this coming
  Lent may be a season of strict discipline to us both. Oh, I
  need it! I cannot tell you how the sense of responsibility
  concerning the souls of others sometimes alarms me. I can say
  this to you, without hypocrisy, I trust. I need to be purged by
  penance very, very much, to be drawn away from pride and
  vain-glory, and slothfulness and self-will; these are my
  besetting sins; and to be stirred up to diligent study, to
  obedience, to humility, to labor, and to prayer. I pray that I
  may have the grace to fulfil the work which God has put in my
  heart to undertake this Lent, that He would draw me away from
  all things else, entirely to be united to Him. It would be a
  most pleasant thought that we were thus entering on this
  penitential season together."

The following extract from a letter of June 23, 1848, shows the
interest which the writer still felt in Mr. Newman:--

  "Is it not encouraging to see the stir that has been raised in
  England about Dr. Hampden's nomination? The secular papers all
  call the opposition a 'Tractarian Movement.' If they mean by
  this that none but Tractarians are engaged in it, it is
  palpably false; but in another sense it is certainly true. I
  see clearly in the whole matter the fruits of that movement,
  the greater earnestness and zeal for orthodoxy, _as such_,
  so different from what would have been exhibited a quarter of a
  century ago. And whom are we to thank for fixing the brand of
  heterodoxy upon this man; so that he cannot pass off his
  sophisms upon an unwary Church, but the great master to worn we
  once looked up, to whom God gave so clear a vision of the truth
  and so great a zeal to uphold it? This is the fruit of a seed
  sown by a hand now raised up against us, one of the many gifts
  by which we keep him and his great faculties in remembrance,
  though, alas! 'we now see him no more.'"

{81}

In one of these letters Mr. Baker speaks of his desire to leave
St. Paul's Church for some other field of labor. Nevertheless, he
remained there six years out of the eight years of his Protestant
ministry. In 1848 he received an invitation to the Church of St.
James the Less, a very beautiful and costly, though small church,
in the suburbs of Philadelphia, built after the style of the
English Benedictine abbey-churches, and fitted up after the
manner which delights the Anglo-Catholic heart. This invitation
he declined, at the request of his bishop, who was naturally loth
to part with him. A proposal was then made that he should found a
new parish; and this, I suppose, was the plan afterward carried
out at St. Luke's. This plan was postponed from time to time on
account of the precarious health of Alfred Baker. Meanwhile, he
devoted himself most assiduously to his private religious
exercises and to his ministerial labors. I have never known a
young clergyman more universally and warmly loved and admired
than he was among the people of his communion. He improved
sedulously his admirable gifts for preaching, and in a diocese
containing a number of excellent preachers, he attained and kept
the first rank. His fastidious taste and sense of propriety led
him soon to drop the long cassock, and every thing else in
outward dress and demeanor which had appeared singular in the
first years of his ministry. He avoided controversy and all
peculiarities of doctrine in his sermons, and confined himself
chiefly to those truths of religion and those practical points
which could be received without question by his hearers. Aside
from the pastoral intercourse which he had with his people, his
life was very retired. He had the ideal of the Catholic
priesthood always in view, and this encompassed his discharge of
ministerial duties with many practical difficulties. He felt this
particularly, as he has often said, in his visits to the sick and
dying, on account of the want of the proper sacraments, and the
want of a real and recognized sacerdotal relation.
{82}
He could not help feeling always that while theoretically he
regarded himself as a Catholic priest, in point of fact he was
but a Protestant minister, compelled to fall back on a system of
subjective pietism, based on Lutheran doctrine, to which he had
an invincible repugnance, and in which his hands were tied.

Meanwhile events were progressing in the English Church and
producing their reflex action in this country. On the one hand,
the Oxford movement was still going forward under new leaders,
and on the other, the Protestant character of the Anglican
Establishment and its American colony was exhibiting itself every
day more and more decisively. The first great wave that had
rolled toward Catholicity had cast up those who were foremost on
its crest on the Rock of Peter. Another wave was rolling forward
in the same direction, which was destined to bear on its summit
still more of those who floated on the great sea of doubt and
error to the same secure refuge. The first converts were given up
to obloquy, and their influence in every possible way lowered or
destroyed, by belittling their character, if that was possible,
or, if not, by inventing specious reasons to show that the course
they had taken was the result of some personal idiosyncrasy, and
not the just consequence of their Catholic principles. It was
stoutly asserted that the movement was not responsible for them,
and that it did not of itself lead to Rome. It began again afresh
with new men, new books, new projects. Again there was an
advanced party; and in due time this advanced party began to move
Romeward, denying as before that it would ever actually arrive at
Rome. Nevertheless, many of its members, some of very high
character and position, did eventually follow the earlier
converts over to the Catholic Church. Others, especially those
who were in stations of dignity and authority, began to recoil
and retract, and call back their followers to the safer ground of
the old High Church.
{83}
In this country there was a sad lack of earnestness and reality
on the part of the majority of those who had yielded themselves
to Oxford influences, and these influences were but faintly felt
by the laity. Mr. Baker was, however, deeply and sadly in
earnest. He had schooled himself into submission to his
_soi-disant_ Church and bishop, and resolutely determined to
believe that he could think, act, and live up to Catholic
doctrines and laws where he was. He had thrown himself anew into
Anglicanism, putting faith in its new leaders and the old ones
who remained, and confiding in the reality and success of their
efforts. Long and wearily he struggled to hold out in this
course, in spite of the daily increasing evidence that it was
delusive and hopeless. For long years he was tossed backward and
forward on the waves of doubt and uncertainty, sometimes almost
gaining a foothold on the Rock, and then dashed again backward
into the sea.

Most persons, whether they are Catholics or Protestants, will
wonder that Mr. Baker, having approached at first, by almost a
single bound, so near the very threshold of the Catholic Church,
should have waited and hesitated so long before taking the final
step over its border. Those who have not felt it can hardly
understand the strong spell by which the system so ably advocated
by the Oxford divines captivated many minds. To those who were
deeply imbued with certain Catholic prepossessions, and yet not
emancipated from the old hereditary prejudice against the Roman
Church, it offered a compromise which allowed them to cherish
their prepossessions and yet remain in the reformed Church, where
they were at home and among their friends, and free to select
some and reject other Catholic doctrines and usages, according to
their own private judgment and taste. It pretended to give them
"a Catholicity more Catholic, and an antiquity more ancient" than
those of the ancient, universal mother and mistress of churches
herself.
{84}
Once seduced by this specious pretence, there was no end to the
ingenious arguments, wire-drawn distinctions, fine-spun theories,
and plausible special pleading by which they were detained under
its influence. The theory has infinite variations, and a
flexibility which accommodates itself to every form of doctrine,
from the lowest tolerated in the Episcopal ministry to the
highest advocated in the _Union Review_. This influence on
the mind and conscience is a very injurious one, and tends to
disable them from reasoning and deciding, in a plain and direct
manner, on broad and general principles. Mr. Baker became aware
of this afterward, and regretted that he had permitted himself to
be swayed so much by the authority of others instead of following
the dictates of his own judgment and conscience. It is impossible
for me to say whether he was dilatory in following the
inspirations of divine grace or not. No one but God can certainly
judge how much time is necessary in any individual case for the
full maturing of the convictions into a distinct and undoubting
faith. One thing I can assert, however, with confidence, and I
believe that every one who reads the ensuing extracts from Mr.
Baker's letters will share the same conviction: that he never
deliberately quenched the light of the Divine Spirit, or refused
to follow it from any worldly and unworthy motives. He sought for
wisdom by study, prayer, and a pure life, and although he was
slow in arriving at a full determination, yet he made a continual
progress toward it; and when he reached it, he did not shrink
from any sacrifice which obedience to God and his conscience
required of him.

In a letter under the date of June 4, 1849, after speaking of the
probability of his leaving St. Paul's, and the uncertainty he was
in in regard to his future plans, which were interfered with by
the ill-health of his brother, he thus writes:

{85}

  "I missed you at the Convention; indeed, there are several
  reasons why I did not enjoy myself at that time. It seemed to
  me that there were but one or two with whom I had any real
  sympathy. There was very little done. The bishop could not be
  present on account of indisposition. K. read the bishop's
  charge. It was able, but _thoroughly_ and _strongly_
  Protestant. The position it took was perfectly unequivocal; and
  it places certain people, whose position before was
  sufficiently uncomfortable, in a most painful predicament. He
  shuts us up to the very sense of the Articles and Prayer-Book,
  _as understood by the Reformers;_ and tells those who
  cannot submit to this, who are willing not to _contradict_
  that sense, but do not _believe_ it, he tells them very
  plainly that they are obliged to leave a ministry for which
  they are no longer competent. The charge convinces me either
  that we have heretofore misunderstood the bishop, or that he
  has fixed himself upon a new platform. He now makes the
  Protestant element in our Church's teaching (which is certainly
  the most prominent one in her history) the most authoritative
  and controlling. It appears to me that he might as well have
  said at once that the Church of England was _founded_ at
  the Reformation. May God teach us what we ought to do."

I have been told by Mr. Baker that the bishop, on some occasion,
sent him his charge to look over, with the request that he would
read it for him at the Convention, and that he declined reading
it, on account of his strong objection to the doctrine it
contained. I suppose that this must have been the charge in
question. I find no other letter from this date until January 9,
1850, under which date he writes at length, and begins to unbosom
himself more freely than he had done before:

  "There was something in your last letter which was particularly
  refreshing to me. It seemed like old times, and brought an
  assurance of sympathy when I had begun deeply to feel the want
  of it. You say that my letter was not so full or like myself as
  some others. There was a reason why it was not so, and the same
  reason has delayed the answer to your last kind favor.
{86}
  I have had many painful and distressing thoughts, which I
  hardly knew how to express to any one; and it seemed a wrong
  and cruelty to grieve one's friends when every catholic-minded
  brother had so much to bear on his own account. Now that I have
  decided upon the course I will take, I can write more calmly,
  and with less risk of perplexing others. You will guess the
  cause of anxiety. My conviction of the truth and holiness of
  Catholic doctrines has not diminished since I saw you; my
  apprehension of what I hold is firmer and more distinct; my
  prejudice against some things which the Roman Church holds as
  catholic truths, but which we deny, has been shaken; and while
  this was enough to make my present position in some respects
  uncomfortable, the longing for a fuller measure of catholic
  privileges, the want of sympathy, the uncertainty, dissension,
  and mutability among us, and the awful greatness of the claims
  and promises of Rome, made me willing to entertain the thought
  of changing my ecclesiastical relations. On looking back upon
  this state of feeling, there was much that was wrong. I felt in
  many ways the results of past unfaithfulness; I was confused
  and perplexed; I was doubtful of my own sincerity. Sometimes
  every thing seemed uncertain to me. But whatever were the
  causes, and whatever the characteristics of my state of mind, I
  felt, upon a careful examination of myself that the only proper
  course for me to pursue was to institute a candid and diligent
  search into the claims of the Roman Church to be _the_
  Holy Catholic Church. All her claims seem to resolve themselves
  into that of the supremacy of the See of St. Peter, and I
  accordingly resolved to confine my investigations to that
  point. I communicated my determination to the bishop last week,
  and asked him whether I could continue to officiate while I was
  engaged in such a course. He thought I could and ought, and
  offered me every assistance in his power, in the way of books,
  advice, etc. He was wonderfully kind and forbearing, but firm
  in assuring me that investigation of the point would but end in
  conviction of the untenableness of the Roman claim.
{87}
  I have felt calmer since I acted thus, and propose to enter
  forthwith upon the study of this question, keeping it as clear
  as I can of exterior matters, and pushing it, if I may, to a
  decision. I need not, I know, ask of you the charity to
  continue your prayers for the Divine blessing and guidance to
  your perplexed friend."


  "_Tuesday Night_.
  "You will understand, from what I have been telling you of the
  thoughts which have occupied my mind for some time past, how
  the various events in the Church during the last few months
  have affected me. With regard to ----'s departure, I confess it
  was the deepest grief to me, and, in connection with other
  circumstances, did much to distress and unsettle me. It is one
  of the most afflicting things about the present controversies,
  these separations between friend and friend, between master and
  disciple; yet I know that even this is to be borne meekly and
  obediently, if we cannot see it to be our _imperative
  duty_ to follow those we have loved and lost; and now that I
  have undertaken in a rational way to satisfy myself on this
  point I can think more calmly of our isolation and bereavement.
  To return to more Protestant ground (I know that it does not
  suit unlearned people to say what they will do, but) I feel is
  impossible. My conviction of the truth of the system (in
  opposing and barking at which Protestantism has its life and
  occupation) continually increases; but I think I feel that if I
  could be persuaded that the Divine Will made it to be my duty
  to remain where I am, I could submit to all the difficulties
  and privations of our position uncomplainingly and even
  cheerfully.

  "Bishop Ives's movement, so far as it was intended to introduce
  the general practice of auricular confession, had my
  unrestrained sympathy. How far he meant to go in asserting its
  _necessity_, I confess myself unable to determine; but
  anyhow, I think he went farther than Protestant Episcopalianism
  will bear him out in going.
{88}
  It was an infinite relief to me when he came out as boldly as
  he did; and now that he has presented the subject anew to the
  Church, I feel assured that the Church will be obliged to meet
  the question. I confess I do not feel very hopeful as to the
  issue of the controversy, for it seems to me that nothing short
  of a miracle could dispose the mass of our people to the
  practice of confession. The High Churchmen will be as opposed
  to it as the Low Churchmen. Maryland will kick as much as Ohio.
  But _nous verrons_."

Some time after the date of this letter, Mr. Baker made a voyage
to Bermuda with his brother Alfred, who was now in a deep and
hopeless decline. He returned some time in the early part of the
ensuing summer. One day, either a little before or a little after
this voyage, I accidentally met him as I was out walking. I had
returned once more to Baltimore, and was making my novitiate at
the House attached to St. Alphonsus' Church. It was now nearly
five years since I had seen my former friend, and three since I
had received any letters from him. I was startled and pleased at
our unexpected rencontre, and at the light of friendship which I
saw in his face and eyes; but the pain of being separated from
him was renewed. Mr. Lyman came to see me, one day, during the
spring of 1850; and was much more frank and cordial in his manner
than Mr. Baker, who kept a close vail of reserve over his heart
until the last. I inquired of him particularly about Mr. Baker,
whether he had made any retrograde movement, &c. He replied that
he had rather advanced, and had become more spiritual in his
preaching, advised me to visit him, and on my objecting to this
on the ground that a visit might be intrusive and unwelcome,
assured me of the contrary. It was through his influence that
some degree of intercourse was from this time re-established
between Mr. Baker and myself. A subsequent letter of Mr. Baker
speaks of his visiting me, and also describes his visit to
Bermuda in the following terms. The letter is dated October 24,
1850:--

{89}

  "On my return from Bermuda, I found your kind and interesting
  letter, and felt grateful to you for the friendship which you
  have now continued to me for several years. I am sorry not to
  have seen you when you were in Baltimore, and in fact that was
  the only regret I felt on account of my absence from home at
  the time of the Convention. The Convention itself I have ceased
  to look forward to with any pleasure. The truth is, it always
  saddens me to mingle at all with the clergy promiscuously. I
  feel that there is so little sympathy between us, that the
  sense of loneliness is forced upon me more distinctly than when
  I keep to myself altogether. But I do not mean to write
  gloomily to a friend with whom I communicate so seldom, and
  indeed I do not _complain_ of the want of sympathy which I
  feel, or blame others for it. I know that the cause of it is in
  myself, and I acknowledge with gratitude the great degree of
  indulgence, kindness, and forbearance with which I have been
  universally treated.

  "I have felt happier lately, though I do not know why I should,
  for I cannot say that I have gained a satisfactory position;
  and when I think of dying, anxious thoughts come across me; but
  I have been pursuing (as my occupation allows me) my
  investigations into the question of the supremacy, and I wish
  to abide by the result, without being swayed by feeling one way
  or another. I have read Newman's Discourses since I received
  your letter. They are like all that he writes, thoughtful,
  earnest, holy, and deeply impressive; but I think they differ
  from his Parochial Sermons in having the appearance of more
  excited feeling, and in being more affectionate in their tone.
  He seems to write under a pressing anxiety to influence those
  he addresses, and he opens his heart more than he did of old. I
  think this accounts in part for an objection which I have heard
  brought against them, that they are not so strictly logical.
{90}
  He seems to me possessed with that proselyting spirit which has
  always appeared to me to be so divine a token about the Church
  of Rome, as if the constant reflection of his mind was, 'What
  shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and
  lose his own soul?'

  "I was deeply interested in the account of your visit to H. I
  too saw H., but only for a moment. We met on the road, and he
  stopped most kindly, and we had a minute's conversation. Of
  course there was nothing but commonplace. I know not how he
  felt, but I felt very sad.

  "You may imagine that I have looked with no little interest at
  the progress of ecclesiastical affairs in England. The
  secessions lately have made a tremendous excitement--more so, I
  really think, than those in 1845, perhaps on account of the
  'present distress.'

  "I have not much of interest to tell you about Bermuda. You
  know it is an English colony, and I saw there for the first
  time the workings of the English Church. In every thing except
  the Morning and Evening Prayer, I think we have the advantage,
  particularly excepting the latter. The clergy I found a
  hard-working set of men, frank and cordial, and very much
  interested and well informed in matters relating to our Church.
  The churches are very plain, but have a quiet, grave, soothing
  air about them, the clergy mostly 'High Church,' but not after
  our sort, and the people seemed to me to be almost entirely
  devoid of a Church tone and spirit, though not irreligious.
  Dissent is very rife, and, I fancy, influences even members of
  the Church. They have a noble-hearted bishop, Bishop Field,
  austere, self-denying, devout, hard-working, and charitable,
  and by his assistance they are building a very handsome church
  on the island; but I found that he was not popular, that even
  his mode of life was objected to: he was called a
  _Puseyite_. I did not preach while I was there, but I
  assisted several of the clergy at the services, and once at the
  holy communion, in which I found the omission of 'the oblation'
  to have a most painful effect upon my feelings.

{91}

  "I was very glad to get so full and gratifying account of your
  church. I do indeed congratulate you on its completion. I think
  you have done wonders, with so many difficulties, to succeed in
  so short a time, and I sincerely hope that you may find your
  zeal and labor repaid by an increase of your congregation, and
  of true devotion and earnestness among them. From your
  description of the church I thought it must be a very
  magnificent edifice, quite beyond York Minster and churches of
  that size; and to see so famous a building, and still more to
  see the kind, warm friend who ministers within it, would be so
  great a pleasure, that you must not be surprised if some old
  friends should some time make a pilgrimage there."


  "_January_ 27, 1851.
  "I often feel what a relief it would be to open one's heart,
  and to have the sympathy and counsel of a friend who can
  understand one's views and feelings. But it is impossible to do
  so by letter, because one shrinks from coolly writing down
  one's thoughts, which would be expressed without effort in the
  warmth and freedom of conversation. Since the receipt of your
  letter I saw H. I had determined not to seek him, but about the
  beginning of this month he called on me. He was kind, but the
  visit was not agreeable: it was _awkward_. I returned his
  visit last week, and enjoyed being in his society. I talked
  with him as guardedly as I could while using any degree of
  frankness and cordiality. I could not consent to postpone my
  visit to him, as I had reason to believe that his coming to see
  me was providential, to assist me in the matter in which I am
  laboring, viz., to ascertain the Catholic Church. I asked him
  several questions concerning the Papal supremacy, which he
  answered very readily and with great ability.
{92}
  He gave me some assistance in pursuing my inquiries, and I
  promised to see him again before long. I came away feeling
  better for having been with him, and with a heavy conviction on
  my mind how little share I had in the blessing of the pure in
  heart.

  "I find very little time to study. The duties which devolve
  upon me take so much of my attention, that I could find it in
  my heart to throw them up, were I not advised otherwise by the
  bishop. Besides, I know that it is only by humility and
  obedience and fidelity that we can arrive at the truth. O
  Dwight! again I ask your prayers in my behalf, especially for
  earnestness in seeking the truth, to make the holy vow, 'I will
  not climb up into my bed, nor suffer my eyelids to take any
  rest, until' I have an obedient spirit to obey God's will,
  _directly_ it is made known.

  "The course of Church matters is to me increasingly
  unsatisfactory. The anti-Papal movement has placed the Church
  of England on decidedly worse ground, if indeed it has not
  bound her to that decision, on rejecting which her Catholicity
  seems to be suspended. I do think that, after all that has
  happened, for bishops and people to be crying up the royal
  supremacy looks like accepting that supremacy to the full
  extent to which it has lately been claimed. What did you think
  of Mr. Bennett's course? To say the truth, I was not satisfied
  with his letters, though I felt a sympathy with the man. Pray
  can you tell me what ground there is for the assertion that
  Archdeacon Manning and Mr. Dodsworth have resigned and are on
  their way to Jerusalem?"

  * * * * *

Some time after this, Mr. Baker was appointed rector of the new
parish of St. Luke's, where he remained until he gave up the
Protestant ministry, that is, for about two years. During his
rectorship he removed to a pleasant residence near the site of
the church, and employed himself in building a tasteful Gothic
church, which he proposed to finish and decorate in accordance
with his own idea of ecclesiastical propriety.
{93}
It was only partially completed at the time he left it. His next
letter to Mr. Lyman, who was now progressing rapidly toward the
Catholic Church, and urging forward his slower footsteps, is
dated

  "_Tuesday in Holy Week, April_ 15, 1851.
  "I read your letter with a great deal of emotion, and was
  prompted to sit down and say a word in reply immediately; but
  as I have gone to St. Luke's, there were some duties devolving
  upon me which took up my time more than is usual with me. You
  may be assured of my sympathy in much that you feel and
  express. I do think that the statements of Allies's book are of
  a kind which ought to make a profound impression upon us, and
  which ought to modify very much the feelings with which we have
  been taught to regard the Roman communion; and I _do_
  think honestly that our Church is at present in a miserable
  condition, and that no good can come of denying it. As you say,
  it becomes at such a time a very solemn question, in view of
  eternity, _what we ought to do_. My dear Dwight, I think I
  am sincere when I say that to me the way of duty seems to take
  pains and make such an investigation as I can into the question
  upon which the claim of _authority_ rests, and to abide by
  the result: meanwhile to live in prayer and upon such catholic
  truth as we are permitted to hold, imploring God to take pity
  upon us, and to look upon his distracted people. H. recommended
  me a treatise on the supremacy by the brothers Ballerini, but I
  find that I do not read Latin with such facility as to reap the
  full benefit of the perusal of such a work at present. I have
  therefore taken up Kenrick on the Primacy. With regard to my
  duties as a minister, I have thought it right to be directed
  from without, and I was passive in accepting St. Luke's, which
  was strongly urged upon me. Surely we may hope that if we
  faithfully and devoutly, and in a spirit of humility and
  obedience, work with our intention constantly directed to God's
  glory and the salvation of souls, He will bless and guide us.
{94}
  It was a comfort to me to think you remembered me and my
  difficulties in your Lenten exercises, and I assure you that
  you have been constantly remembered by your perplexed friend. I
  feel afraid of myself and of my own heart--afraid of taking a
  wrong step, afraid on account of my past sins, afraid when I
  look forward to the judgment of our dear Lord; and you may be
  sure that I find prayer my greatest comfort, the belief in the
  intercession of our Blessed Mother and the saints in heaven, as
  well as in the value of the supplications of Christians on
  earth, a source of real strength. Pray for me, my dear friend,
  that I may be enabled sincerely to appeal to God and say that
  His Church is the first object of my heart, and that I may be
  diligent and studious and obedient to His grace and to
  conscience.

  "I see the English papers constantly, and they are full of
  interest. We know not what is before us; these are
  heart-stirring times, and we can but adore the counsel of God
  by which we were born in them, and anxiously seek to take the
  right course amid so many perplexities. I have recently read
  Dr. Pusey's letter to the Bishop of London. It is a very able
  letter, and one calculated to rouse the feelings of the
  Catholic-minded men in England. I confess it made me feel more
  hopeful.

  "If it is _our duty_ to remain where we are, it is a noble
  thing to be called to labor amid so many discouragements, and,
  surrounded by temptations, to keep the Catholic Faith whole and
  inviolate! Every day I feel a stronger repugnance to
  Protestantism, and a determination by God's help to carry out
  my principles consistently; but with regard to the Roman
  Catholic Church, I do not see how intellectually it can
  dispense with the theory of development, and I feel a strong
  suspicion of that theory. I went to see H. again, but he was in
  New York, and will not be back until after Easter.

{95}

  "I feel that I am in a difficult and dangerous situation, but I
  have the comfort of knowing that I have the advice of the
  bishop to do as I am doing; and if I can be sure of God's
  blessing, by watchfulness and strictness and faithfulness I may
  yet be happy. I have written confidentially, and all about
  myself, but you will forgive me. The bell rings for prayers.
  Good-by."


  "_August_ 4, 1851.
  "You will be anxious to know the impression made upon my mind
  by what I have been reading on the Roman Catholic question. On
  the whole, many difficulties that lay in the way have been
  removed, and the claims of the Roman See appear far more
  strongly supported by antiquity than I had ever dreamed of
  before. Kenrick's is, I think, a very strong book, although it
  has a very apologetic air; yet there was a great deal in it
  which seemed to me very forcible. But the book which made
  altogether the most decided impression on my mind was 'The
  Unity of the Episcopate.' The _principle_ of unity was
  there unfolded in a way that was new to me, and which I think
  does away with a whole class of passages (and they the
  strongest) which are usually alleged against the Papacy.

  * * * * *

  "I find my greatest want to be the want of earnestness and a
  spiritual mind. My dear Dwight, this is not cant. I want you to
  pray that God would not take his Holy Spirit from me. I desire
  above all things to be a Catholic, and I am resolved by God's
  help not to give up the present investigation until I am
  satisfied about my duty, which at present I am not, but very,
  very much harassed and perplexed. May God in his good time
  grant us both to see clearly the way we ought to take. I saw H.
  a few weeks ago, and had a pleasant interview. He thinks it
  possible that he will leave Baltimore in September. I have
  sometimes felt lately as if a _decision_ of the great
  question was not far off. Oh, that it may be a wise and true
  decision!"

{96}

A few weeks after writing this letter, Mr. Baker came very near
making a decision to give up his ministry and place himself under
the instruction of a Catholic priest. His conviction was not yet
fully matured, or his doubts quite removed, and the wisest course
would have been for him to have gone into a complete retirement
for a while, in order to complete his studies, and allow his mind
and conscience time to ripen into a decision. He communicated his
state of mind to the bishop, and was so far overruled by him as
to consent to wait a while longer, and postpone his decision. He
informs his friend of all that took place at this crisis, in a
long and deeply interesting letter of thirteen pages, from which
I shall only make a few extracts. It is dated November 11, 1851,
and is full of affection, of sadness, and of the tremulous
breathings of a sensitive, delicate conscience, deeply troubled
by anxiety and fear, almost ready to seek repose in the bosom of
the Church, but driven back by doubt to struggle yet longer with
adverse winds.

He says at the beginning of his letter:

  "First let me thank you again for your expressions of kindness
  and affection. I assure you I thank you for them, and feel that
  they, together with the friendship which has lasted so long,
  give you a claim on my confidence and love. Nor have I been
  unmindful of the claim, for I have constantly thought of you,
  and often invoked God's aid in your behalf; and if I have not
  written often, it is because I am myself in great perplexity,
  and feel the responsibility which attaches to every word,
  uttered at a time like this, on subjects which concern the
  salvation of ourselves and others also. This was my feeling
  when I last wrote. I felt as if I wanted a little
  _recollection_ before I could write as I wished on some
  points; and as I was then much occupied, I deferred writing
  fully until some other time. However, your letter to-day
  demands an immediate answer, and I proceed to give you an
  answer to your inquiries, and a faithful transcript of my
  feelings, and pray God that you may receive no injury from one
  who would do you good."

{97}

He states the result of his studies quite at length, summing it
up in these words, which I quote as an accurate index of the
degree of conviction he had at that time reached:

  "The result of my thought and reading last summer was to
  strengthen my impression that the claims of the Roman Catholic
  Church on the obedience of all Christians are divine. I cannot
  say I felt perfectly assured."

After describing his interview with the bishop, and informing his
friend that he had consented to _wait_, he says:

  "I think I agreed to this from the fear of offending God, and
  from that alone. As to the frown of the world, I do not think
  it decided me, for I had looked the consequences of the act
  full in the face, and had accepted them. I was the more ready
  to wait, because I could not say _I had no doubt_ of the
  propriety of secession."

The sequel of the letter and of its writer's history shows that
this doubt was not a rational doubt, but a morbid irresolution
and timidity of mind, which ought to have been disregarded.
Consequently, in giving way to it, he simply fell back into a
state in which he had just to go over again the same ground, and
this discouraged and disheartened him, as he frankly
acknowledges.

  "I felt a sense of relief, partly, I believe, from having
  opened my mind, and partly, I suspect, at finding that the
  sacrifice to which I had looked forward was not then demanded.
  But when I considered the matter, I saw that I was just where I
  was before, with the whole question before me and resting on my
  decision. From week to week I have been willing to postpone
  looking my position in the face, seeking to excuse myself to my
  conscience by the plea of the many unavoidable demands on my
  time and thoughts which a new parish and a church just
  commenced seem to make; although I feel that the danger of such
  a course is that I may sink into a worldly, indifferent thing,
  seeking in the praise of men a reward for my treachery to God.
{98}
  I have seen H. but once since I saw the bishop. The visit was
  more constrained, because I felt I ought not to betray my
  feelings; indeed, I would not go to see H. unless I were afraid
  of resisting some design which God may have formed for
  me--because the intercourse has not been of my seeking, and
  this appearance of deceit and double-dealing is dreadful to me,
  and makes me feel as if I were guilty.

  "I have not read any thing since my interview with the bishop.
  My plan is to wait and seriously consider what I ought to do. I
  need not tell you I am not happy. I am free from many of the
  annoyances which distress you, as I read no R. C. papers, and
  scarcely any of our own, and have no associate. I strive to
  live by the rule recommended by Dr. Pusey, and am almost as
  much isolated from Protestants as if there were none in our
  communion. I believe most firmly in the Sacrifice of the Mass,
  in the Real Presence, in the Veneration of Relics, in the
  Mediation of the Saints, and especially of St. Mary. I
  constantly beseech God to hear her supplications in my behalf,
  and only do not invoke her because I am not sure of the
  authority for doing so. I believe also in Purgatory. My
  difficulties are on the subject of Church authority and the
  Supremacy. My sympathy in doctrine, my reverence for the holy
  men who have gone out from us, _my strong prepossessions in
  favor of the Roman Catholic Church, which have never left me at
  any period of my life_, and the distress among us, all draw
  me to Rome; but the single question I ask myself (or strive to
  do so) is, whether any of these things ought to decide me, and
  whether the point of inquiry ought not to be--What is the
  Church? Partly on account of my position, and partly, dear
  Dwight, on account of grave deficiencies and sins in myself, I
  feel that I am full of inconsistencies, contradictions,
  apparent insincerities (perhaps real), presumptuous and fearful
  at the same time, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, not
  fully persuaded in my own mind, and not bending all my energies
  to become so.
{99}
  And now, my dear Dwight, I have only opened my heart to you,
  without at all thinking of the effect it would have upon you.
  Simply seeking, as in duty bound, to deal with you as a friend,
  I have let you somewhat into my heart--only somewhat, for I
  deeply feel that to a full understanding of my state of
  feeling, even in reference to this subject, it would be needful
  that I should kneel down and humbly confess (as it would be a
  comfort to do) all the many offenses in word and deed of a
  sinful and tangled life. I have humbled myself before you. I
  know not how it shall be hereafter between us, how differently
  you may soon look upon me from what you have been used to do;
  but, wherever you are, think of me as a sinner and a penitent,
  and as one who desires and needs your prayers.

  * * * * *

  "And now, my dear friend, I do not think of any thing else
  which I ought to say to you, but to reciprocate the earnest
  hope and the conviction that you express, that God Almighty may
  enable us _together_ to have an abode here in that Ark
  which He has set up as the place of safety and peace in a lost
  world, and may give us _together_ an entrance into His
  Presence forever. May He of His undeserved mercy grant it."

During the winter of 1851 and 1852, Mr. Baker was very much
occupied with church-building, and also with the cares and
anxieties of illness and death in his family, and his attention
was thus drawn away in a measure from himself and from the
question of the Church.

His next letter of interest was written in May, 1852,
communicating the intelligence of the death of his aunt and of
his brother:

  "I have no doubt that you have thought your kind and patient
  letter deserved an earlier answer, but I have been greatly and
  particularly occupied ever since I received it When it came,
  Aunt E. was very ill, and our anxiety about her continued to
  increase until she was taken from us on the 31st of January.
{100}
  Immediately after, dear Alfred began to decline rapidly, and
  after an interval of some weeks of great suffering on his part,
  and of watching and sadness on ours, he too was taken on the
  9th of April (Good Friday). You, who knew them both, and knew
  what place they held in our hearts, can imagine the greatness
  of the bereavement, and the depth of our suffering. God has
  supported us mercifully, and I heartily thank Him that I have
  so great a solace in thinking of the character of our dear
  departed ones; and it is at such times that I feel the
  consolatory nature of the doctrine of the communion of saints,
  and the comfort of the practice of praying for the dead. To
  you, who know so much of my feelings, I will not deny that the
  uncertainty which rests upon the question of the Church has
  disturbed the fixedness of my hope and faith during this
  sorrowful winter, but I have not been able to advance in its
  investigation. I now propose to resume my studies as regularly
  and as perseveringly as my duties will permit. You are much and
  often in my thoughts, and often do I wish that I could do by
  you the part of a faithful friend. You always have a part in my
  prayers, and it would be to me a great happiness to have the
  assurance one day that my friendship has not been without some
  benefit to you. I assure you I prize it, and I feel more
  strongly that I have more in common with you than with anyone
  else with whom I communicate. I have not the heart nor indeed
  the time to write more."



  "_September_ 15, 1852.
  "I came away from Columbia with many pleasant, affectionate
  thoughts about you, and grateful recollections of your
  kindness, and you have often been in my mind since my return.
  You will be glad to learn that my little jaunt was of decided
  service to me. I have been improving in health ever since my
  return, and now feel quite well. I suppose by this time you
  have been on to the North and have returned, and, like myself,
  are now quietly settled down to your duties.
{101}
  I found my sisters much benefited by their trip to the
  sea-shore, and our little household has again resumed its
  accustomed habits. I need not tell you, dear Dwight, how glad I
  shall be if you will consent to come on now and pay your
  promised visit. You might come at the beginning of the week,
  and I would go and take your Sunday duties (choose a Sunday
  when service is all day at Columbia), and then I would return
  on Monday to be with you at home another week. I cannot promise
  to do you good, but I can offer you, at least, what you will
  not receive elsewhere, true and affectionate sympathy. I do
  most deeply feel for you in your anxieties, and in much, in
  _very_ much, I feel with you. I felt when I was with you,
  my dear friend (now my only friend), as if the difference
  between us was this: that you had really come to _a
  conclusion_, while I was still of a fearful and divided
  mind. I felt as if there was something dishonorable and
  disgraceful in such a state of indecision, while there was an
  appearance of manliness in your boldness and determination, and
  I was ashamed of myself. Besides, I found myself sometimes
  taking the anti-Roman side in argument with you, and then I was
  vexed with myself for doing what I did nowhere else, and what I
  could not do heartily anywhere, and I seemed to myself
  insincere. I do not know whether you can understand me, but I
  want you to understand my feelings; for I do not want you to
  think I _am_ insincere, and I felt so much obliged to you
  when you told me that you said to H. that you did not think me
  so. I believe uncertainty often carries the appearance of
  insincerity; and uncertain I own myself to be, full of sadness,
  full of doubt. O Dwight, what is there in such a situation to
  make one remain in it, if one could conscientiously leave it?
  What could hinder me from being a Roman Catholic but for the
  fear of doing wrong? I assure you, that as regards this world I
  have not a hope or desire, and there is nothing earthly which I
  could not part with this night.
{102}
  Nothing seems to me worth living for but the knowledge of the
  truth and the love of God; and that position in which I feel I
  should be the happiest would be where I should be
  _certain_ what was truth, and could live a life hidden
  from the world with God. I feel concerned at finding myself
  writing so much about myself, and in such a strain; but I
  think, in reading over the letter, you will understand how I
  came to do it, and will pardon it.

  "I have been reading lately pretty systematically on the Roman
  question. De Maistre and Lacordaire I have finished, and will
  return them to you if you wish them. They are both
  philosophical rather than theological, and from that fact, as
  well as from the _French_ way in which they are written, I
  think they will be less influential with persons brought up in
  the school with you and me. I thought the remarks of De Maistre
  on the temporal power of the Popes not near so forcible as
  those in Brownson's Review. Thompson seems to me now, as he did
  before, a remarkably cogent and attractive writer. I have not
  finished his pamphlet as yet, but feel very much interested in
  it. I have procured Balmez, and Newman on Anglicanism, but have
  not yet read them. When I was in Philadelphia I saw Mr. ----.
  He called on Manning when he was in London, and had a very
  interesting interview. M. is about to publish another edition
  of his book on the Unity of the Church. I should indeed like to
  see it, or any thing else that Came from his hand.

  * * * * *

  "God bless you, my dear friend; write to me fully and freely as
  of old, and be sure of the affection of your friend,
     "F. A. B."

{103}

  "_Ash Wednesday_, 1853.
  * * *
  "The general tone of your letter, too, was sad, and that also
  fell in with my own feelings, for you may be sure that the
  stirring event of the last month has not been without a great
  effect on me, agitated as I was before by so many serious
  doubts. Well, _another_ has gone, and that the most
  eminent of the party with which you and I have been identified,
  and you and I remain asking still what we are to do! To me the
  question has been of late and is now one of absorbing and
  pressing importance, and yet I do not know how to answer it,
  and in my perplexity can do nothing but pray--pray, as I have
  done most earnestly, for direction from on high; and my
  comfort, dear Dwight, is to know that you also pray for me.
  What I want is the heart just to stand waiting God's bidding,
  and, when that is given, to act without delay or taking counsel
  with the flesh. I should so much like to see Bishop Ives's
  Reasons, which I suppose will in some way be published.

  * * *

  I received the first number of a newspaper from New York, the
  _Church Journal_ (which is most vociferously anti-Roman).
  ---- is one of the editors. By the way, ---- is also connected
  with this paper, and ----. I felt sorry to think of what a
  different spirit they once were; and yet, if the Church of Rome
  be not what she claims to be, the position of such men as
  Bishop Whittingham is the right one, and ours is untenable.
  However, I cannot but own that I have a drawing toward the
  Roman Catholic communion so strong that, if I were to be
  without it, I should feel as if I were not myself. I have not
  thought it right to go by this feeling, but it is very strong,
  and I confess I feel _envious_ of Bishop Ives, when I
  think of him in his new home--a feeling which I often have in
  reference to dear H., whom I loved and reverenced so truly. (By
  the way, H., I hear, is either at present in Baltimore, or is
  about coming here, to conduct a 'mission' in the Cathedral.) I
  often feel afraid, my dear Dwight, in writing on such subjects,
  of doing wrong in expressing my feelings and thoughts, and of
  doing you harm; but after all, it seems not improper for
  friends such as we are to speak without reserve, and perhaps I
  have done so too little.

{104}

  "I have been reading a good deal lately.

  * * *

  The articles on Cyprian (by Dr. Nevin) were indeed most
  masterly, and seemed to me to express the true doctrine of
  antiquity as to the primacy of the Roman See. They have caused
  a good deal of speculation on my part. I do not see how the
  writer can fail to become a Roman Catholic. I did not tell you
  what I thought of Newman's book; it was full of power, many
  most capital hits and brilliant passages, and, what is better,
  satisfactory explanations of difficulties. The eleventh lecture
  seemed to me the least successful, and I own, even after
  reading it, the position of the Greek Church, based on a
  theological theory not unlike that which is advocated by
  Anglo-Catholics, and much the same (as Brownson seems to think)
  with that held by many Roman Catholics, does seem to me a
  difficulty. Balmez, too, I have proceeded some way with, and am
  much interested in.

  "I thank you for Brownson very much. I have read the number you
  sent me, and it has set me to thinking. His positions are bold
  and require some reflection; and though I find in him the
  consistent expression of much that I think I always believed,
  yet he presents many new ideas to me.

  * * *

  "Adieu to-night, my dear Dwight. May the blessing of Heaven be
  with you."

This was the last of these sad epistles--these outbreathings of a
pure and noble, but troubled spirit, enveloped in the obscure
night of doubt, and seeking wearily for the light of truth. It
was written on the first day of Lent; and when that Lent had
passed by, the clouds of mist had lifted from around the soul of
Francis Baker, never to return. Before he wrote again to his dear
friend, the _coup de-grace_ had been given. The blow was
struck suddenly and effectually, and the news of it came
unexpectedly, with a startling and almost sunning effect upon his
friend, through the following brief and abrupt communication--

{105}

  "Baltimore, _April_ 5, 1853.
  "My Dear Dwight:--The decision is made: I have resigned my
  parish, and am about to place myself under instruction
  preparatory to my being received into the Catholic Church. I
  can write no more at present. May God help you.
    "Your affectionate friend,
    "Francis A. Baker."

This letter was followed by another, written three days after, in
reply to one from Mr. Lyman.

  "My Dear Dwight:--It _was_ cruel in me to write so
  briefly, but if you knew what a press of duty came upon me just
  at once, you would pity me, and indeed now I am in such a
  confusion, that it takes some courage to write a line. But, my
  dear friend, you have been so great a help to me, that it would
  be worse than heathen in me not to give you one word of
  explanation. I decided to submit to the Catholic Church last
  Sunday night, and gave in my resignation to the vestry on last
  Tuesday morning. I went to the archbishop, and to-morrow I make
  my profession in St. Alphonsus' Church, before only two
  witnesses, the least the rubric requires. This was in
  compliance with the advice of the Bishop, who did not think it
  well to give unnecessary publicity to the act. Plain and
  sufficient arguments had long enough been addressed to my mind,
  but my conversion at last I owe only to the grace of God. It
  was the gift of God through Prayers, and now I can say 'Nunc
  Dimittis'--for 'I believe, O God! all the Holy Truths which Thy
  Catholic Church proposes to our belief, because Thou, my God,
  hast revealed them all; and Thy Church has declared them. In
  this faith I desire to live, and in the same, by Thy holy
  grace, I am most firmly resolved to die. Amen.'

  * * *

  "I shall prepare for the sacraments next week, but beyond that,
  I have formed no plans.

{106}

  "My dear Dwight, I feel that I have too long resisted God's
  grace, and it will be one of the sins which I must now repent
  of. God by His merciful kindness did not suffer me to be
  abandoned, as, indeed, my resistance of His grace deserved, but
  kindly pleaded with me, and I am now at the threshold of the
  kingdom of God. Come with us, dear Dwight, come; God's time is
  the best time. May our Lord bless you and direct you. Yours
  affectionately,
    "Francis A. Baker."

This closes the correspondence of Mr. Baker with the dear and
valued friend of his youth and manhood, previous to his reception
into the Catholic Church; and I have postponed the continuation
of my narrative in order to complete my extracts from it, and
leave the writer to tell his own touching story to the end.

Mr. Baker's conversion was the logical sequence of his former
life, both intellectual and spiritual; it was the result of the
accumulating light of the eleven preceding years, concentrated
and brought to a focus upon the practical question of duty and
obligation. The particular events which immediately preceded it,
were like the stroke of the hammer on the mould of a bell,
already completely cast and finished beneath it, and waiting only
the shattering of its earthen shell to ring out with a clear and
musical sound. "_The just man is the accuser of himself_,"
and Mr. Baker, whose deep humility made him unconscious of his
own goodness, in the first vivid consciousness that the light
which had led him to the Catholic Church was the light of grace,
could no longer understand his past state of doubt, and
reproached himself for it, as a sinful resistance to God. It is
not necessary, however, to suppose that there was any thing
grievously culpable in that state of doubt and hesitation.

{107}

He was right in attributing his final decision to the efficacious
grace of the Holy Spirit. But this grace was only the last of a
long series of graces which had prepared him to receive it. It
did not change, but only perfected his habitual disposition of
mind. It produced a crisis and a transformation in his soul, but
it was one to which a long and gradual process had been
continually tending. It was not a miracle, or a sudden
revelation. Careful thought and reading, and the assiduous
cultivation of his spiritual faculties had brought him to the
apprehension of all the data of a rational judgment that the
Catholic Church is true. The apparently sudden moment of
deliberation and decision was but the successful effort of the
mind and will to come into the certain consciousness of the truth
already fairly proposed, and to determine to follow it. It was a
supernatural grace which made this effort successful, and
elevated the just conclusions of reason to the certitude of
faith. But it was not a grace which superseded reason or
dispensed with the reasonable grounds and evidences of an
intellectual judgment and the motives of a just determination.

Mr. Baker must have been drawing near to a decision during the
whole of Lent; for his mind was evidently more deeply and
earnestly bent on coming to it, when I saw him in Easter Week,
than ever. He called on me on the Friday evening of Easter week,
and his manner was much changed. His anxiety of mind broke
through the reserve he had heretofore maintained, and instead of
the guarded and self-controlled manner he had preserved in former
interviews, he was abrupt and outspoken. At the very outset, he
expressed his feeling that the question of difference between us
was one of vital importance, in regard to which one of us must be
deeply and dangerously in the wrong, and desired to discuss the
matter with me fully. I suppose his intention was to see me more
frequently than he had done, to open his mind more fully, and to
get from me all the help I could give him in making up his mind.
We had a pretty long conversation on theological points, without
going into the discussion of fundamental Catholic principles.
{108}
The truth is, Mr. Baker had already mastered these principles,
and was really settled in regard to every essential doctrine. He
had no need of further study, but merely of an effort to shake
off that kind of doubt which is a mental weakness, and
perpetually revolves difficulties and objections which ought not
to affect the judgment. The one particular point which we
discussed most was in reference to some passages in the writings
of St. Augustine concerning the doctrine of Purgatory--a doctrine
which he had clearly stated his belief in, two years before. I
answered his difficulty as well as I could at the time, promising
to examine the matter more fully the next day, and to give him a
written answer, which I accordingly did, but too late to be of
any service to him, as the sequel will show. I left him with a
strong impression that the crisis of his mind was at hand, and
for that reason engaged all the members of the community to pray
for him particularly. After leaving me, he called on a young lady
who was very ill, and had sent for him to visit her. This young
lady, who died happily in the bosom of the Catholic Church a few
weeks after, had already sent for one of the reverend gentlemen
of the Cathedral, and expressed to him her desire to become a
Catholic, but had consented, at the request of her family, to
have an interview with Mr. Baker before receiving the sacraments.
When he came to her bedside, she informed him of her state of
mind, and asked him if he had any satisfactory reason to allege
why she should not fulfil her wish to be received into the
Catholic Church before she died. He told her that he regretted
very much that she had chosen to consult with him on that point,
as there were reasons why he must decline giving her advice on
the subject. She conjured him to tell her distinctly what he
thought, and he again replied that he was not able to say any
thing to her on the subject. She looked at him earnestly, and
said, "I see how it is, Mr. Baker; you are in doubt yourself."
Without saying another word, he left the room and the house,
transpierced with a pain which he could neither endure nor
remove.
{109}
He turned his steps toward the Cathedral, and walked around it
several times, like one not knowing where to go, and then
returned to his home and his study to remain in solitude and
prayer, through several anxious days and sleepless nights. He was
now face to face with the certainty that he dare not promise to
anyone else security of salvation in the Episcopal Church. Yet,
he was a minister of that Church, and was trusting his own
salvation to it. To remain in such a position longer had become
impossible to a conscientious man like him. Nevertheless, he went
through the duties of Sunday, and again read prayers in his
church on the Monday and Tuesday mornings. He had been censured
for this, by some, as if he had acted a hypocritical part, but
most unjustly. Certainly, if he had asked my advice beforehand, I
should have told him that he had no right to do it. But the
reader of this narrative will see that his own conscience had
been frequently overruled on the question of exercising the
ministry in a state of doubt, and on Sunday he was still in this
state, undecided what to do. He did not actually give in his
resignation until after prayers on Tuesday morning, and any
candid person will surely admit that he was excusable, in the
agitation of the moment, for thinking that it was better to
fulfil the engagements he was under to his people until the last
moment, when these consisted merely in reciting a form of prayer
which is very good in itself, and contains nothing contrary to
Catholic doctrine.

On Tuesday, the 5th of April, Mr. Baker gave a letter of
resignation to the vestry of St. Luke's Church, called on Dr.
Wyatt, who was the administrator of the diocese during the
bishop's absence in Europe, and then went to see the archbishop.
When he was admitted to the presence of this venerable and
saintly prelate, he threw himself on his knees before him, and in
accents and words of the most profound humility made his
submission to the Catholic Church, and implored him to receive
him into her bosom.
{110}
The archbishop, who knew him well by sight and by reputation,
arose in haste from his chair to raise him from his knees, in a
few warm and affectionate words welcomed him to his embrace, and
begged him to be seated by his side and to calm himself. It was
with difficulty that he could induce him to do so, for the
barrier in his soul that had held it icebound for so long had
given way: a torrent of repressed emotions was swelling in his
bosom, and after a moment he burst into a flood of tears, the
gentle and good archbishop weeping with him from sympathy. After
a long and consoling conversation with the archbishop, he came
over to St. Alphonsus' Church, which is near the Cathedral, to
see me.

I was making a retreat that day, and was walking in the garden,
when a message was sent me by the rector to go to the parlor to
see Mr. Baker. As soon as he saw me, he said, abruptly, "I have
come to be one of you." I invited him inside the inclosure, and
he, fancying I misunderstood his words to imply that he was ready
to join our religious congregation, answered quickly, "I do not
mean that I wish to become a Redemptorist, but a Catholic." "I
understand that," I replied; "let us go to the oratory and recite
a Te Deum of thanksgiving." We did so, and then walked in the
garden together for a short time. The first time I ever saw an
expression of real joyfulness in his countenance was then. He was
always placid, but never, so far as I could see, joyous, before
he became a Catholic. To my great surprise, he chose me as his
confessor. I left the time of his reception to himself, and he
chose Saturday, the 9th of April, which was the anniversary of
the death of his brother Alfred. On Saturday morning, I said Mass
in the little chapel of the Orphan Asylum of the Sisters of
Charity. Father Hecker, who was present, on account of the
approaching mission, accompanied me to the chapel. After Mass,
Mr. Baker made his profession, according to the old form,
containing the full creed of Pius IV., and I received him into
the bosom of the Church.
{111}
No others were present besides the good Sisters and their little
children. He had been baptized by Dr. Wyatt, and the archbishop
decided that there was no reason whatever for his being
conditionally rebaptized. I performed the supplementary rites of
baptism, such as the anointing with holy oil and chrism, the
giving of the white garment and lighted candle, etc., at his own
request, in the sacristy of the Cathedral, after his sacramental
confession was completed. This sacred act was accomplished in the
archbishop's library. During the week after his reception, and on
the Third Sunday after Easter, April 17, he was confirmed in the
Cathedral by Archbishop Kenrick, and received his first communion
from his hand.

The conversion of Mr. Baker made a great sensation in Baltimore,
and wherever he was known. It was announced in the secular
papers, and for some weeks a lively controversy arising out of it
was kept up. It was the general topic of conversation in all
circles, Catholic and Protestant. The sorrow of his own
parishioners, of those who had loved and honored him so much
while he was connected with St. Paul's parish, and especially of
his more near and intimate friends, was very great. His own near
relatives, and a certain number of his intimate friends, never
were in the least alienated from him, but remained as closely
bound to him in affection as ever, while they and he lived. The
great majority of those who had been his admirers, and who had
listened with delight to his eloquent preaching, always retained
a great respect and esteem for him; and during his whole
subsequent life, he almost invariably won a regard from those of
the Protestant community who were acquainted with him, second
only to that of the Catholic people to whom he ministered. There
were some exceptions to this rule, however. A few persons wrote
to him in the most severe and reproachful terms. The usual
pitiable charge, that his religious change was caused by mental
derangement, was made by those whose wretched policy has always
been to counteract as much as possible the influence of
conversions to the Catholic Church by personal calumnies against
the converts.
{112}
He was sometimes openly insulted, and much more frequently
treated with coldness and neglect. Notwithstanding the respect
with which so many still regarded him in their hearts, he was
compelled to feel that he had become, in great measure, an alien
and a stranger in the community where he had been born and bred.
In a short time, his duty called him away from his native city,
and, somewhat later, from his own State, into a distant part of
the country. All the old associations of his early life were
broken up; he had no longer an earthly home; and until his death
he had, for the most part, no other ties and associations except
those which were created by his religious profession and his
sacerdotal office. Some six or seven persons were received into
the Church soon after his conversion, three or four of whom were
his parishioners; and some others may have been at a later period
partly influenced by his example. But none of his intimate and
particular friends were among the number, with the exception of
his old and bosom friend and associate in the ministry, Mr.
Lyman. His name and influence faded away, and were forgotten
among the things of the past; while he, having bidden farewell to
the world and taken up his cross, followed on after Christ,
toward the crown he was soon to win, and was lost to the view of
those among whom he had lived before, in the dust of the combat
and labor of an arduous and obscure missionary career.

It is not to be supposed that Mr. Baker could hesitate long as to
his vocation. He had in his youth dedicated himself to the
ministry of Christ, but had mistaken a false claimant of
delegated power to confer the character and mission of the
priesthood, for the true one. Nine years had been spent, not
uselessly; for the good example and eloquent instructions of a
wise and virtuous man are always salutary; and he had been slowly
preparing himself by the feeble light and imperfect grace which
he had for the perfect gifts of the Catholic sacraments.
{113}
He was now thirty-three years of age, in the full bloom of his
natural powers, with all his holy aspirations and purposes
ripened and perfected, with a thorough knowledge of Catholic
theology, excepting only its specially technical and professional
branches, with all the habits suited for a sacerdotal life fully
established. The only doubt of his vocation in his own mind was
one of humility, and when this was settled by the decision of his
confessor and of his bishop, his course was clear before him. He
might still have chosen to remain in his own home and family
while preparing for ordination. He might have remained in his
native city, or in the diocese, as a secular priest, secure of
the most honorable and agreeable position which the archbishop
could bestow upon him, where he could have enjoyed all those
domestic comforts and elegancies to which he was accustomed,
together with the society of the beloved members of his family
who still remained, without in any way interfering with his
proposed career as a devoted priest. He chose differently,
however, and from the promptings of his own soul, which
instinctively chose what was most perfect. My religious brethren
and myself used no solicitations to induce him to join us. His
original desire for the religious life gave him a bias toward the
regular clergy. What he saw of the little band of American
Redemptorists, and of the mission which was given at the
Cathedral, captivated his heart with a desire to become one of
their number. He thought of one thing only--what was the will of
God, and the most perfect way open to him to sanctify himself and
others in the priesthood. His mind was soon made up on this
point. He applied to the Father Provincial of the Redemptorists,
who received him without hesitation. He settled his affairs as
speedily as possible, and began his novitiate at once. As soon as
the proper time arrived, he divested himself of all his property
for the benefit of the surviving members of his family. His
library he gave to the congregation, by whom it was afterward
kindly restored to him, and is now in the possession of the
Paulists at New York.
{114}
His only aim and desire, from this time forward, was to acquire
the perfection of Christian and religious virtue. Forgetting all
that was behind, he pressed forward to those things which were
before, with a fixed aim and a steady, unfaltering step. He
dropped into the position of a novice and a student so easily,
and with such a perfectness of humility, that it seemed his
natural and obvious place to be among the youths and young men
who were with him. He was the favorite and companion of the
youngest among them, and, it is needless to say, the delight and
consolation of his superiors. After one year of novitiate and his
profession, he continued for two years more studying dogmatic and
moral theology, with the other accessories usually taught to
candidates for orders. During this time he lost his amiable and
excellent sister, Elizabeth Baker, to his great sorrow. Although
his ordination was postponed much longer than is usually the case
with men in his position, already so well prepared by their
previous intellectual and moral training for the priesthood, he
was not in the least impatient at the delay, and his long
preparation gave him the advantage that he was ready at once to
undertake all the most difficult and responsible duties of a
matured and experienced priest. Besides this, he acquired that
thorough and minute theoretical and practical knowledge of the
ceremonies of the Church, and of every thing relating to the
divine service of the altar and the sanctuary, for which he was
afterward distinguished. He came out of his long retirement a
workman thoroughly and completely furnished for his task, and
imbued through and through with the spirit of the Catholic
Church. I seldom saw him, and never exchanged letters with him,
during all this period, each of us being absorbed in his own
particular duties and occupations, at a distance from the other.
As the time of his ordination approached, we were both of us,
however, again in the same House, that of St. Alphonsus, in
Baltimore.
{115}
It was in the summer of 1856 that he finished his studies, and,
having some time before received the minor orders, began his
retreat preparatory to being admitted to the three holy orders.
During the retreat, his companion, F. Vogien, an amiable and holy
young religious--with him and the saintly prelate who ordained
them, now, I trust, in heaven--was full of dread and
apprehension, often weeping, and even entreating his superior to
postpone his ordination. With Father Baker it was otherwise.
While I was in the church, during the evening, employed in the
exercises of my own retreat, I often heard him singing the most
joyful of the ecclesiastical chants in the garden, and his
placid, pale face was lighted up with the radiant joy of a Soul
approaching to the consummation of its holiest and most cherished
wishes. He was ordained sub-deacon and deacon in St. Mary's
Chapel during the week before the Sunday fixed for his ordination
to the priesthood. On Sunday, September 21, 1856, he was ordained
priest by Archbishop Kenrick, in the Cathedral. The Archbishop
celebrated Pontifical Mass, the reverend gentlemen and
seminarists from St. Sulpice assisted, and the clergy were
present in considerable numbers, among them his old friend, Mr.
Lyman, already a priest. Everyone who knows what the Cathedral of
Baltimore is, and how the grand ceremonies of the Church are
performed in it, will understand how beautiful and inspiring was
the scene at Father Baker's ordination. The great church was
crowded to its utmost capacity, but it was by Catholics only,
drawn by the desire to see one who had sacrificed so much for
their own dear faith. Father Baker, as he knelt with his
companion at a priedieu, dressed in rich and beautiful white
vestments, after receiving the indelible character of the
priesthood, to offer up with the Archbishop the Holy Sacrifice of
the Mass, looked more like an angel than a man.
{116}
The holy and benignant prelate shed tears of joyful emotion when
he embraced him at the close of the ceremony, and there was never
a more delightful reunion than that which took place on that day,
when the clergy met at the archbishop's table, to participate in
the modest festivities of the episcopal mansion. A few days
after, Mr. Lyman, Father Baker, and Myself, celebrated a solemn
Votive Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Alphonsus' Church, for the
signal grace we had received, in being all brought to the
communion of the Holy Church and to her priesthood.

Here began the sacerdotal career, brief in time, but rich in
labors and results, of Father Baker. He remained in Baltimore a
few weeks, to celebrate his first Mass, and initiate himself in
quiet retirement into his new priestly life and functions. The
first fruit of his new priesthood was a convert to the Catholic
Church, a young widow lady of highly respectable family, who was
bred a Unitarian, and who had been waiting three years to be
received into the Church by Father Baker. He baptized her and her
two children, a few days after his own ordination. Soon after he
began the missionary career, in which the greatest part of his
subsequent life was employed.

It may not here be amiss to digress from the personal history of
Father Baker, long enough to give some account of the nature of
those missions in which he was henceforth to take so conspicuous
a part, and of their introduction into this country. In doing so,
I shall describe more particularly the method adopted in those
missions with which I have been myself connected, without
noticing any others which may differ in certain details; and this
will suffice to give a correct idea of all missions, so far as
their general spirit and scope is concerned.

Missions to the Catholic people have been in use for centuries in
various parts of Europe. They are generally given by the members
of religious congregations specially devoted to the work. The
missionaries are invited by the pastor of the parish, with the
sanction of the bishop of the diocese from whom they receive
their jurisdiction.
{117}
The exercises of the mission consist of a regular series of
sermons and instructions, continued for a number of days, and
sometimes for two weeks in succession, twice or oftener in the
day. The course of instructions, which is given at an early hour
of the morning, embraces familiar and plain but solid and
didactic expositions of the commandments, sacraments, and
practical Christian and moral duties. The course of sermons,
given at night, includes the great truths which relate to the
eternal destiny of man, which are presented in the most thorough
and exhaustive manner possible, and enforced with all the power
with which the preacher is endowed. Several of Father Baker's
mission sermons are included in the collection published in this
volume, and will serve to exhibit their peculiar style and
character. Frequently, the older children receive separate
instruction for about four days in succession, closing with a
general confession and communion. After the mission has continued
a few days, the confessionals are opened to the people, and
communion is given every morning to those who are prepared to
receive. At the close of the mission the altar is decorated with
flowers and lights, a baptismal font is erected, the people renew
their baptismal vows after an appropriate sermon has been
preached, and are dismissed with a parting benediction. The
sacrifice of the Mass is offered up several times every morning,
according to the number of priests present; and before the
evening sermon there is a short prefatory exercise, which, in the
Paulist Missions, consists of the explanation of an article of
the Creed, followed by the Litany of the Saints. After sermon,
the _Miserere_ or some other appropriate piece is sung, and
the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is given.

All this is very simple, consisting of nothing more than the
preaching of the Word of God, the administration of the
sacraments, and the performance of acts of worship and prayer, as
these are ordinarily practised in the regular routine of the
Catholic Church.
{118}
All that is peculiar and unusual consists in the adaptation of
the preaching and instructions to the end in view, and in the
daily continuity of the exercises. The object aimed at is to
present in one complete view all the principal truths of
religion, and all the essential practical rules for living
virtuously in conformity with those truths, and to do this in the
most comprehensive, forcible, and intelligible manner. The class
of persons for whose benefit missions are primarily intended is
that portion of the Catholic people least influenced by the
ordinary ministrations of the parochial clergy, although all
classes, even the best instructed and most regular, share in the
benefit. All necessary available means are used to awaken an
interest in the mission and to secure attendance. When this is
done, continuous daily listening to instruction and participation
in religious exercises prevents the impressions received from
passing away, the people become more and more interested and
absorbed, and are carried through a process of thought and
reflection upon all the most momentous truths and doctrines,
which is for them equivalent to a thorough education of the mind
and conscience. The general instructions given in public are
applied to the individual soul by the confessor in the tribunal
of penance, as the judge of guilty and the physician of diseased
and wounded consciences. Sin and guilt are washed away by
sacramental absolution from all who are sincerely penitent; their
souls, purified and restored to grace, are refreshed and
strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy
Eucharist, and the debt of temporal punishment due to the justice
of God is removed or lightened, in proportion to the intensity of
contrition and divine love excited in the soul by its own efforts
to secure the grace of God, through the indulgences conceded by
the supreme power of the Vicar of Christ.

{119}

The earlier sermons are directed to the end of fixing the mind on
the supreme importance of religion, and alarming the conscience
in regard to sin. Afterward, special vices are denounced,
particular dangers and temptations pointed out, those duties
which are most neglected are brought out into bold relief, and
every effort made to produce a thorough reformation of life.
Toward the close, the scope and aim of the sermons are to animate
and encourage the heart and will by appealing to the nobler
passions and the higher motives, to awaken confidence in God, to
portray the eternal rewards of virtue and point out the means of
perseverance. All that can impress the senses and imagination,
subdue the heart, convince the reason, and stimulate the will, is
brought to bear, in conjunction with the supernatural efficacy of
the word and sacraments of Christ, upon a people full of faith
and religious susceptibility, under the most favorable
circumstances for producing the greatest possible effect. Where
faith is impaired, the effect is not so certain, and slower and
more tedious means have to be adopted, with less hope of success,
to restore the dying root of all religion, or replant it where it
is completely dead. It is moreover certain, although it may not
be evident to those who are destitute of Catholic faith, that
there is an extraordinary grace of God accompanying the exercises
of the mission; and this was so plain to the mind of an earnest
Episcopalian clergyman in New England, on one occasion, that it
led him to study seriously the subject of the Catholic Church,
the result of which was that he became a Catholic, at a great
personal sacrifice.

Public retreats had been given from time to time in the United
States, by the Jesuits and others, before the series of
Redemptorist Missions was commenced. This series, which began at
St. Joseph's Church, New York, in April, 1851, was, however, the
first that was systematically and regularly carried on by a band
of missionaries especially devoted to the work. Since that time,
the number of missionaries, belonging to several distinct
congregations, has increased, and the missions have been
multiplied.
{120}
The principal merit of inaugurating this great and extensive work
belongs to F. Bernard Hafkenscheid, who was formerly the
Provincial of the Redemptorist Congregation in the United States.
F. Bernard, as he was always called, on account of his
unpronounceable patronymic, had been for twenty years the most
eloquent and successful preacher of missions in his native
country of Holland and the adjacent Low Countries. Born to the
possession of wealth and all its attendant advantages, but still
more blessed with a most thorough religious training and the
grace of early piety from his childhood, he received a finished
ecclesiastical education, which he completed at Rome, where he
was honored with the doctorate in theology. After his ordination,
he devoted himself to the religious and missionary life in the
Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, in which he speedily
became the most eminent of all their preachers in the Low
Countries. He was able to preach the word of God with fluency and
correctness in three languages, besides his native tongue:
French, German, and English. But it was only in the Dutch
language that he was able to exhibit the extraordinary powers of
eloquence with which he was endowed, and which made his name a
household word in every Catholic family in Holland. His picture
was to be seen in every house; the highest and lowest flocked
with equal eagerness to hear him, and, on one occasion, the king
himself came to the convent to testify his respect for his
apostolic character by a formal visit. His figure and countenance
were cast in a mould as large as that of his great and generous
soul, and his whole character and bearing were those of a man
born to lead and command others by his innate superiority, but to
command far more by the magnetic influence of a kind and noble
heart than by authority. Father Bernard brought with him to the
United States, in March, 1851, two American Redemptorists, who
had been stationed for some years in England, and had scarcely
landed in New York when he organized a band of missionaries, to
commence the English missions.
{121}
During nearly two years, he took personal charge of many of those
missions, working in the confessional from twelve to sixteen
hours every day, occasionally preaching when the ordinary
preacher broke down, and instructing the young, inexperienced
fathers most carefully in all the methods of giving sermons and
instructions, and otherwise conducting the exercises of the
mission in the best and most judicious manner. Father Bernard
received Father Baker into the congregation, but soon afterward
was recalled to Europe, where, after a long and laborious life
spent in the sacred warfare, he is resting in the quiet repose
and peace of religions seclusion. [Footnote 4]

    [Footnote 4: Since the above was written, the news has been
    received of the death of Father Bernard, from the effects of
    a fall while descending from the pulpit.]

The superior of the English Missions, in the absence of F.
Bernard, and after he ceased to direct them personally, was
another Father with an unpronounceable name, F. Alexander
Cvitcovicz, a Magyar, who was always called Father Alexander. It
would have been impossible to find a superior more completely
fitted for the position. Although he was even then past the
meridian of life, and had been in former times the
Superior-General of his Congregation in the United States, he
cheerfully took on himself the hardest labors of the missions. It
was not unusual for him to sit in his confessional for ten days
in succession, for fifteen or sixteen hours each day. He
instructed the little children who were preparing for the
sacraments, and sometimes gave some of the morning instructions,
but never preached any of the great sermons. In his government of
the fathers who were under him, he was gentleness, consideration,
and indulgence itself. In his own life and example, he presented
a pattern of the most perfect religious virtue, in its most
attractive form--without constraint, austerity, or moroseness,
and yet without relaxation from the most strict ascetic
principles.
{122}
He was a thoroughly accomplished and learned man in many branches
of secular and sacred science and in the fine arts; and in the
German language, which was as familiar to him as his native
language, he was among the best preachers of his order. He
designed and built the beautiful Church of St. Alphonsus, in
Baltimore, although he was never able to complete it according to
his own just and elegant taste. For such a man to take upon
himself the drudgery of laborious missions, aided, for the most
part, by young men in delicate health, incapable of enduring the
hardships of old, well-seasoned veterans, was indeed a trial of
his virtue. He undertook it, however, cheerfully, and we went
through several long and hard missionary campaigns under his
direction, until at last we left him, in the year 1854, in the
convent at New Orleans, worn out with labor, to exchange his
arduous missionary work for the lighter duties of the parish.
Father Alexander was succeeded in the office of Superior of
English Missions by Father Walworth, one of the American
Redemptorists, who accompanied Father Bernard from England, and
who continued in that office until, with several others, he was
released from his connection with the congregation by a brief of
the Holy Father, in order to form a new society of missionaries.

There has never been a finer field open to missions than the one
which is found in the Catholic population of the United States,
and seldom has there existed a greater need of them. The missions
of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, and
his companions, were confined to villages, hamlets, and outlying
districts, remote from episcopal cities and large towns. In his
rules he directs his children to labor in places of this sort,
because in Italy the most neglected and necessitous part of the
people is only to be found there. In this country it was not so.
The great need for missions lay in cities and large towns, where
dense masses of Catholics were gathered, and where churches,
clergy, and religious organizations of all kinds, were inadequate
to the spiritual wants of the people.
{123}
A large part of the missionary work which has been accomplished
has been, therefore, among those dense masses of the people in
our largest churches and congregations, penetrating to the lowest
strata, and bringing to bear a powerful religious influence upon
the most uninstructed and negligent classes of the people. Some
idea of the extent of this work may be gained from the fact that
the missions given by the corps which F. Bernard organized,
during seven years, from 1851 to 1858, were eighty-six in number,
with an aggregate of 166,000 communions. They have been carried
on on a similar scale, since that time, by the new Congregation
of St. Paul, and by members of several older religious societies;
so that, in the last seven years, the number of persons who have
participated in the benefits of missions is, probably, nearly
double the figures given above. There were other missions also
given, during the first period, besides those enumerated,
especially among Germans. It is, therefore, speaking within
bounds to estimate the number of persons who have received the
sacraments on missions, since 1851, at 500,000.

This is, however, much less than might have been done, if the
number of missionaries and the facilities for attending their
missions had been greater. Our Catholic population is a vast sea,
where the successors of the apostolic fishers of men may cast
their nets perpetually, without ever exhausting its abundance. In
large towns, the population is so fluctuating and so continually
increasing, that the work needs to be perpetually renewed at
short intervals. There are also immense difficulties in the way
of the poor people. The mass of them belong to the laboring
class, and are, therefore, obliged to come to church very early,
before their working hours, and again at night, after their work
is done. They have no leisure, and can with difficulty rescue
even the few hours necessary for listening to the instructions
they so much need. Hence, many of them can get only as it were by
snatches, here and there, a sermon or instruction during the
course. In factory towns the case is worse.
{124}
Were it not for the accommodation usually granted by the
overseers, in shortening the time, and giving leave of absence,
it would be impossible to give missions to the operatives in many
of our factory villages. Our modern system of society leaves out
of the account the wants of the soul and the duties of religion.
For many, there is even the hard necessity of working all night,
and all Sunday. It is, therefore, difficult enough for our poor
people to attend a mission well, when there is plenty of room for
them in the church, and a good chance of going to confession
without waiting longer than a few hours. Very frequently,
however, in our large and overcrowded parishes, the church will
not hold--even when crowded to suffocation--more than from
one-fourth to one-half of the parishioners. The church is
frequently filled two hours before the time of service. The
porch, the steps, the windows even, are crowded, and hundreds go
a way disappointed. It is easy to see what a drawback this is to
the success of a mission, which requires a continuous attendance
at all the sermons and instructions, and to the stillness and
order in the church which are necessary to enable all to hear
distinctly, and to reflect on what they hear. I have seen at
least four thousand persons congregated in the streets adjacent
to the New York Cathedral, besides the crowd inside.

Another difficulty lies in the vast number of penitents, and the
small number of confessors. On many missions, confined strictly
to one parish, there have been from four thousand to eight
thousand communions; and, of course, that number of confessions
to be heard within eleven days. At a recent mission of the
Redemptorists, in New York, there were eleven thousand
communions; and at one given a year or two ago, by the Jesuits,
twenty thousand. Ordinarily, the number of confessors has been
inadequate to the work. The people have thronged the chapel where
confessions were heard, from four o'clock in the morning until
night, often waiting an entire day, or even several days, before
they could get near a priest.
{125}
At five in the morning, each of us would see two long rows--one
of men and one of women--seated on benches, flanking his
confessional. At one o'clock he would leave the same unbroken
lines, to find them again at three, and to leave them in the
evening still undiminished. At the end of the mission there would
be still the same crowd waiting about the confessionals, and left
unheard, because the missionaries were unable to continue their
work any longer. More than one-half these people would be persons
who had not been at confession for five, ten, or twenty years,
and of these a great number had seldom been at church, and still
more rarely heard a sermon. Hundreds upon hundreds of adults, of
all ages, have received the sacraments for the first time upon
these missions, many of whom had to be taught the doctrines of
the Trinity and the Incarnation, with the other elementary
articles of the Creed. I have several times, at the close of a
mission, seen a row of grown-up boys seated before my
confessional, of that class who roam the streets, loiter about
the docks, and sleep out at night, unable to read, and scarcely
able to tell who made them, much less to answer the question, Who
is Jesus Christ? They had come to be instructed and prepared for
the sacraments, swept in by the tide which was moving the waters
all around them. Of course, they needed weeks of instruction and
of moral preparation, to rescue them from the abyss of ignorance
and vice in which they were submerged, and make them capable of
living like rational beings and Christians. With some of them, a
beginning may be made, and the germ of good planted in their
souls. But many have to be left as they come, because there is no
provision which can be made for their instruction. In a word, the
nets are so full of a multitude of fishes that they break, and
there are not workmen enough to drag them ashore. The work is too
overwhelming for the number and strength of those who are engaged
in it. In this respect, some missions which have been given in
the British provinces, have been the most complete and
satisfactory of any.
{126}
In St. Patrick's Church, Quebec, the vast size of the building
enabled all who desired to do so to find room. Nineteen
confessors were on duty, and others were appointed to instruct
converts or ignorant adult Catholics. All who wished to go to
confession were easily heard, without long waiting, or the
accumulation of a great crowd of wearied and eager penitents
pressing around the confessionals. It was the same in St. John's,
where the Archbishop of Halifax and a large body of clergymen
were hearing confessions constantly, although, even with this
powerful aid, the missionaries broke down under the labor of
preaching every day to six thousand or eight thousand persons in
the great Cathedral Church, which had just been opened for
service. In these places, however, the number of the people,
though great, had a limit which could be reached, and the
requisite number of priests were easily at the command of the
bishop. In the United States, however, the work is out of all
proportion to the number of priests who are either specially
devoted to missions or who can be called in to aid these in their
labors. The missionaries are too few to do the work alone, and
the parochial clergy are too much engaged in their own duties to
be able to give much of their time to additional works of
charity. If it were possible to give missions simultaneously in
all the churches of New York City, and if they could contain all
the people, it would be easy to collect one hundred thousand
Catholics together every night to hear the Word of God, and to
bring from one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand
to communion within fifteen days. In proportion to the
population, the same results would be produced everywhere in the
United States. It would require the labor of one hundred
missionaries, during eight years, to give missions thoroughly to
our entire Catholic population. At their commencement, however,
and for some years after, there were but six or eight, and there
are now, probably, not more than twenty priests continually
employed in this work.
{127}
The necessity for it is, nevertheless, quite as urgent as it ever
has been, and the benefit to be derived from it inconceivable.
There are the vast masses of people gathered in our great centers
of population, exposed to a thousand demoralizing influences, and
most inadequately supplied with the ordinary means of grace. All
that has been done for them hitherto, is but just sufficient to
develop the immense need there is for doing more, and the great
blessing that attends every effort to do it. Of course, the main
reliance of the Church is, and always must be, upon the bishops
and parochial clergy, and I have not had the slightest intention,
in any thing I have said, to exaggerate the importance of the
special work of missionaries. The episcopate and priesthood were
established by Jesus Christ Himself, and are absolutely essential
to the very existence of the Church. Religious congregations are
of ecclesiastical institution, and are only auxiliary to the
pastoral office. The multiplication of churches and of priests
engaged in parochial duties is the most pressing need, and in no
other way can the spiritual wants of the people be adequately
provided for. It will be long, however, before the bishops will
be able, even by the most strenuous exertions, to make the number
of churches and clergymen keep pace with the increase of the
population. Meanwhile, this lack of the ordinary means of grace
cannot be supplied except by missions; and even where these means
are amply provided, the subsidiary and extraordinary labors of
societies of priests devoted to special apostolic works are
necessary, in order to give their full efficacy to the
ministrations of the ordinary pastors.

Besides our great towns, and their dense mass of Catholic
population, there is another extensive field of missionary work,
which has of late years been successfully cultivated, and which
invites still further cultivation with a promise of a rich
harvest.
{128}
I refer to the numerous new parishes found in the smaller cities
and country towns and villages. Here a new phase of Catholic life
and growth has commenced. The population is becoming settled and
permanent. Catholics are making their way upward, acquiring real
and personal property, blending with the body of their
fellow-citizens, educating their children, and to a certain
extent themselves belong to the second generation of Catholic
emigrants from Europe, having been born and married in this
country. In many instances, one pastor has two or more of these
parishes to take care of. His time and thoughts are taken up with
church-building and a multitude of other necessary duties. The
country around is sprinkled over with Catholics, who have no
resident priest among them. There is a vast amount of work to be
done in instructing, confirming in the faith, bringing under
religious and moral influence, and establishing in solid piety
and morality, this interesting and hopeful class of Catholics.
Nowhere have the missions been so complete and satisfactory as in
parishes of this kind. The whole body of the people living in the
place where the church is, can attend the sermons and receive the
sacraments. Besides these, those living several miles away flock
to the church as regularly as if they lived in the same street;
and even from a great distance, numbers, who are usually deprived
of the religious advantages of the Church, perhaps even have
grown up without making their first communion, seize the
opportunity with eagerness to come to the mission and remain for
a few days, until they can be prepared to receive the sacraments
of life. In Massachusetts alone, where congregations of this kind
abound, the number of communions given in the Paulist Missions of
the last five years, without counting those given in Boston,
amounts to twenty-five thousand five hundred and thirty, on
seventeen distinct missions, giving an average of one thousand
three hundred and twenty-five to each congregation. These figures
are a correct index to the numbers of the Catholic population in
country towns throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York,
Pennsylvania, and other portions of the Northern States.

{129}

The missions hitherto given have been intended immediately for
the benefit of the Catholic people. Their incidental influence
upon the Protestant community ought not, however, to be
overlooked. Usually, our Catholic churches are so crowded by the
faithful, that it is at least unpleasant, if not almost
impossible for others to attend our sermons, especially on
occasions of great interest. Notwithstanding this obstacle,
thousands of Protestants have come at different times to hear the
mission sermons, and there have usually been several converts on
each large mission, sometimes as many as twenty, and on one
mission, that of Quebec, fifty. Hundreds have been received into
the Church, in this way, from all classes in society, among whom
were two clergymen holding respectable positions in the Episcopal
Church, which they gave up at a great worldly sacrifice. Besides
actual conversions, a great effect has been produced in removing
the prejudices and gaining the good-will of the community at
large. The secular papers have almost unanimously spoken
favorably of the missions. In many instances, the gentlemen and
ladies of the vicinity have sent the choicest flowers of their
gardens and hot-houses, to decorate the altar and baptismal font.
Not only laymen, but clergymen have often manifested a wish to
show kind and courteous attentions to the missionaries. Very
seldom has any thing unpleasant occurred, or any annoyance been
experienced--much less, indeed, than is encountered by
missionaries in some other parts of the world from nominal
Catholics. Employers have frequently lent their servants and
work-people the means of conveyance to the church, or exempted
them from a portion of their duties. It is impossible not to see
how rapidly and generally the prejudice against the Catholic
religion and the priesthood is melting away in this country. And
this seems to warrant the hope that the time may soon come, when
the faith may be preached to our separated brethren by means of
missions especially intended for them, with rich results.

{130}

The favorable impression already so widely produced upon those
who have heard Catholic missionaries preach, proves how much we
have to hope for in this direction. This has caused, in one
instance, which seems to demand some notice, an attempt to
obviate this effect, by representing our manner of preaching as
part of an artful plan of Rome, to deceive the minds of the
people by presenting only a portion of the Catholic doctrine
under plausible colors. After several missions had been given in
Cambridge and Boston, where many Protestants of intelligence
attended, and more would have willingly done so if there bad been
room for them, the rector of a Boston church, who was present
several times, preached and published a lecture, in which he
attempted to explain the real spirit and object of the Paulist
Congregation, by which the missions were given. The extent of the
impression made is proved by the following passage in a note to
the lecture:--

  "One does not take pleasure in accumulating proofs that the
  Papal superstition still retains its most deplorable features;
  but as long as Protestant minds are imposed upon by the
  superficial fallacy that it is parting with these features,
  because its public speakers deliver admirable discourses, it
  seems to be necessary. Undoubtedly, the order of Paulists, is
  at present a very efficient arm of the Romish service in this
  country. Men say, 'Whatever Hildebrand, and the Innocents, and
  Torquemada may have done or said, _such preaching as this is
  good for everybody_.'" [Footnote 5]

    [Footnote 5: The R. C. Principle: a "Price Lecture," &c.
    Boston. Dutton & Co. 1863 App., p. 39.]

On page 27 of the lecture, he says:

  "One of the latest developments in the policy of her
  propagandism is the establishment in this country, with
  head-quarters in our chief city, of a new missionary order.
{131}
  The Paulists are the itinerants and revivalists of that
  _shrewd mother of adaptabilities_, who, in becoming all
  things to all men and to all women, saw a chance in America for
  reaping, not so much in the field where her own fathers, like
  Marquette and Rasles, as where Whitfield and Maffit had sown."

Throughout the lecture, the aim of the author is to show that the
sound and practical preaching of the eternal truths of religion,
which he is forced himself to admire, and which was so much
admired by many others, is nothing but an illusive pretence,
which throws a deceitful halo over a system of superstitious
formalism.

I have not introduced this topic for the sake of a theological
argument, but merely in view of vindicating the reputation of F.
Baker, whose sermons at Cambridge made the principal impression
which the lecture was intended to obviate, and forestalling a
prejudice which might cast a shade over the discourses which are
published in this volume.

The author of this lecture, who has been my personal friend for
thirty years, and who wrote to me on the occasion of its
publication to express his hope that it might not interrupt our
friendship, and all the Protestants who may peruse these pages,
especially those who know me, will admit that I am both competent
to explain what Catholic doctrine is, and incapable of practising
any dissimulation on the subject. Those who knew F. Baker, or who
may learn to know him from reading this volume, will also
acknowledge that his high-toned mind was incapable of yielding to
any system of driveling superstition, and his chivalrous spirit
of descending to any system of artful deception by paltering with
words in a double sense. I ask them, therefore, not, to accept
Catholic doctrine as true on our authority, but simply to believe
that the testimony I give as to the doctrine we have embraced and
preached, and our views and intentions in giving missions, is
true; and that the doctrine, contained in the discourses of this
volume, is a veritable exposition of the true Catholic faith.

{132}

The missions were commenced and have been carried on for the
purpose of benefiting the Catholic people. The sermons and
instructions have been the same, in doctrine and practical aims,
with those which were given in Italy and other purely Catholic
countries for centuries past. The congregation of Paulists was
not established by any act of the hierarchy here, or of the
supreme authority at Rome. It was formed by F. Baker and three
other American converts, in consequence of certain unforeseen
circumstances, and without any previous deliberate plan, with a
simple approbation from an archbishop, and a mere recognition of
the validity of that approbation on the part of Rome. Not a word
of instruction or direction as to the manner of preaching, or the
end to be aimed at in our labors, has ever been given by
authority, but the movement has been the spontaneous act of the
few individuals who began it. It is our desire, as it must be
that of every Catholic priest, to bring as many persons as
possible to the Catholic faith and into the bosom of the Catholic
Church. We intend, therefore, to make use of all the means and
opportunities in our power to present the faith and the Church to
our non-Catholic countrymen, and to promote as much as possible
the conversion of the American people. The Catholic Church has
the mission to convert the whole world, and intends to fulfil it;
and any Catholic priest who does not endeavor to do his share of
the work, is recreant to the high obligations of his office. We
intend to do our part, however, in promoting this great end, not
by artifice or dissimulation, not by secret intrigues or plots,
by fraud or violence, by undermining or attacking the civil and
religious liberty enjoyed by all our citizens in common, but by
argument and persuasion, by exhibiting the Church in her beauty,
by prayer and good example, and by the grace of God: We have no
reserves in regard either to our doctrine or our intentions, no
esoteric and exoteric teaching. We present the Church and the
faith as they always have been, in all times and places, one,
universal, and immutable, in all their essential parts.
{133}
What the Church and her doctrine are is ascertainable by all who
will take pains to inform themselves, and it would be impossible
for us to conceal it if we were so disposed. All that we have to
fear on this head is ignorance of the real truth concerning our
principles, and the misrepresentation of them by those whose
knowledge of them is superficial. The author of this lecture is
one of this latter class, and has hastily and without due
examination put forth his own impressions of our doctrines and
practices, with which he is so completely unacquainted as not
even to perceive that there is any thing in them which requires
any careful study or thought.

He says, p. 28: "I have heard several of these mission sermons
preached. Most of them would undoubtedly be a _surprise_,
and an agreeable one, to Protestant ears. There was a sermon on
'future punishment,' without one allusion to Purgatory." The
sermon was on _Hell_, not on the whole subject of Future
Punishment. We follow the laws of logic and rhetoric in our
sermons, and confine ourselves strictly to the topic in hand;
excluding all irrelevant matter. Any one who is surprised at a
sermon like this, shows that he is entirely ignorant of the
published sermons of our great preachers. One who supposes that
the place of punishment for those Catholics who have sinned
grievously, and have not truly repented before death, is
Purgatory, is entirely ignorant of Catholic theology. "There was
a sermon on 'Mortal Sins,' with scarcely a reference to
absolution." For the same reason given above, that the preacher
stuck to his subject, and the instructions on the Sacrament of
Penance were given in the morning. "There was another, on the
'Close of Life,' which, from beginning to end, went to prove, in
language that must have scorched every conscience not seared that
listened to it--_contrary to all the common Protestant
impressions of Romish instruction_--that there is no efficacy
whatever in any or all of the Seven Sacraments _to save a
wicked Roman Catholic from perdition._"
{134}
Indeed! Then these common impressions are all incorrect. The
proposition which excites so much surprise is nothing but the
commonest truism, familiar to every child that has learned the
catechism. To admit, however, that the lecturer found himself to
have been always mistaken, and Protestants generally to have been
under the same mistake concerning Catholic teaching, would have
been fatal. He has no such intention. There is couched, under the
language of praise which he gives to the sermon, a concealed
accusation that the doctrine of the sermons does not really mean
what it seems, and that the old Protestant prejudice against
"Romish instruction" is, after all, correct. This concealed arrow
is launched in the next paragraph: "_Supposing the fundamental
falsehood, as a whole, to stand unchallenged_, hardly any
addresses can be conceived more admirably effective to a
practical and useful end in the lives of the people." That is to
say, there is a fundamental falsehood which destroys their
admirable effectiveness to a practical and useful end. The
lecturer is making out a case against us, and preparing an
indictment which shall destroy the good impression we have made
on Protestant hearers. He prepares the way by ridiculing the
ceremonies of Catholic worship.

"But at just that point not only all praise, but all sympathy
stops short. To say nothing of the dreary array of public
pantomime and incantation, sprinkling and fumigation, pasteboard
sanctities and materialistic adoration, which followed, and which
give one a sense of momentary mortification at being a spectator
at such a mixed piece of impiety and absurdity," &c.

The point at which the lecturer is aiming here clearly comes in
view. All that is spiritual in our sermons, and that seems to
inculcate a real and solid piety and virtue, is mere talk, or
like the one genuine watch which the mock auctioneer passes
around with his pinchbeck counterfeits, to deceive his dupes the
better.
{135}
After a show of pure, spiritual doctrine, to furnish "a surprise,
and an agreeable one, to Protestant ears," the poor Catholics are
imposed upon with a set of outward shows and a routine of
superstitious observances, which they are taught to believe will
act upon them by a kind of magic charm, and secure them from
receiving any damage to their souls and their future prospects
from their sins.

The religious services which the reverend lecturer witnessed on
the occasion referred to, consisted of the psalm _Miserere_,
chanted by the choir, the hymn _Tantum Ergo_, and the
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. What is designated by the
terms "pantomime and incantation" I am at a loss to conjecture.
The "fumigation" was the burning of incense, which was also had
at the High Mass recently celebrated in Trinity Chapel by F.
Agapius. I think, also, that I have read in the Old Testament
something about censers and incense having been prescribed by the
Almighty to be used in the "pantomimes and incantations" of the
Jewish ritual. "Pasteboard sanctities" puzzled me for a long
time. I suppose it refers to the pictures blessed at one of the
morning instructions, which the lecturer has confounded with the
evening sermon.

"There were yet, beyond all that, as one pondered, appalling
absences from the teaching, and more fearful elements included."
These strong epithets prepare us now to await the final and
telling blow. First, the "appalling absences" are specified. "Can
that be the true preaching of 'the Word' where the language of
that Word so seldom enters in?" The reader is requested to look
over a few of the sermons in this volume, and count the
scriptural texts. "Could that be the true preaching of 'Christ,
and Him crucified,' where any mention of the simple gospel story
was almost systematically shut out?" A mere _ad captandum_
objection. If the lecturer had heard the Creed explained
throughout, he would have heard the mystery of redemption
explained in its proper place. The reader is again referred to
the sermons of this volume for a more complete answer to this
aspersion.
{136}
Now Come the "more fearful elements." These are the merit of good
works, the scapular, indulgences, transubstantiation, auricular
confession, purgatory, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin and
Saints. The gist of the whole is contained in the following
sentence:--

"Every system must be judged by its weaknesses and its errors,
not merely by its better traits. They say in mechanics that the
strength of a complicated piece of machinery is equal only to the
strength of its weakest part. This is as true in a scheme of
justification as in dynamics. _Offer human nature, at its own
option, various ways of securing salvation_, and not more
certainly will water seek the lowest spot than men will settle
down to the inferior methods of escaping the pains of perdition."

What is the point of this observation? Evidently this: That we
propose one way of salvation, by a truly holy life; and another
way, in which, without the trouble of leading a holy life, one
may save himself by a few outward observances, a mere confession
of the lips, without contrition or amendment, reciting
indulgenced prayers, wearing the scapular, &c. Consequently, only
a few, who are of the nobler sort, will take the route of virtue
and spiritual religion, while the mass will go on indulging
themselves in all the sins to which they are inclined, and
compound for them on the easiest terms they can make. Now,
supposing this to be true, it recoils with all its force upon the
one who uttered it. The whole doctrine of his lecture denies all
merit to holiness and virtue, and ascribes justification solely
to the personal holiness and virtue of Christ, which is
appropriated by a naked act of faith. This is the Lutheran
doctrine, and there cannot be a lower spot for men to settle down
to, or an easier way for dispensing oneself from every thing that
is painful and self-denying in the religion of the Cross. The
author himself accuses (on p. 21 et seq.) nine-tenths of the New
England Protestants of having slid down to such a low point that
they are as bad as Romanists:--

{137}

"The first question put by about nine New Englanders out of ten,
when they are urged to any particular religious duty, is whether
it is necessary to their salvation, i.e. whether they shall be
paid for doing it. It is essentially a Romish question.

  * * *

Point to their censorious tongues, their narrow judgments, their
contempt of the Lord's poor, their unlovely temper, their social
and partisan prejudices, their mean dealings in business, their
physical and religious selfishness: they give you to understand
_that sometime since they got into the ark--why should they be
further converted?_" Why should they, indeed, according to
Luther and Calvin? Once obtain the imputation of the merits of
Christ, by faith, and you have a full absolution for both the
past, the present, and the future, without confession or penance;
you have an inalienable right to the fruits of redemption without
sacrifice or sacrament; you have a perfect righteousness and a
right to an eternal reward without good works or merits; you have
a plenary indulgence without even repeating "a prayer of six
lines," or attending a mission; and you will go to heaven, not on
the Saturday, but on the instant after your decease, without a
scapular. Even the few little things that we exact from our poor,
simple followers, as a price for heaven, are dispensed with.
"_Not more surely will water seek the lowest spot_, than men
will settle down to the inferior methods of escaping the pains of
perdition." Let the Catholic priest tell them that they must
profess the faith and enter the communion of the one true Church,
at whatever sacrifice of pride, position, property, or friends,
and they will find some inferior method of saving their souls and
keeping this world--if they can. Let him tell them that they must
confess every mortal sin, and they will settle down to some
inferior method of obtaining pardon--if they can find one.
{138}
Let him tell them that they must do penance, fast, abstain, give
alms, mortify their passions, keep the commandments, work out
their salvation, _and, if they would be perfect, sell all and
follow Christ_, like him whose doctrine the author attempts to
criticise, and they will settle down to some inferior method--if
they can persuade themselves that it is at their option to do so.

"What avails it," the lecturer goes on to say, "that the
preaching priest tells the congregation that sacraments and
saints will not save them, and omits to mention the confessional,
if the confessing priest tells them, as he does in this 'book'
which he puts into their hands, quoting from the 'Roman
Catechism,' that almost all the piety, holiness, and fear of God,
which, through the Divine mercy, are to be found in Christendom,
are owing to sacramental confession?" (Pp. 30, 31.) The priest
_does not omit_ to mention the confessional, but let this
pass. If there is any meaning in this query, it is, leaving aside
the question about the prayers of saints, that it is of no avail
to preach the necessity of inward renovation and holiness, if
"sacraments" are taught to be the necessary means of grace. Yet
the lecturer quotes, on p. 25, a Homily of the Church of England,
which says that we obtain "grace and remission, as well of our
original sin in baptism [what! saved by 'sprinkling?'] as of all
actual sin committed by us after our baptism, if we truly repent
and turn unfeignedly to Him again." The same Church of England
proposes also, at the option of human nature, along with the
method of repenting by yourself, without extrinsic aid, the
following "inferior method," by the confessional, which is pretty
strongly urged on the sick man, as the best of the two. "Here
shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of
his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty
matter. After which confession, the priest shall absolve him (if
he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort: Our Lord Jesus
Christ, Who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners
who truly repent and believe in Him, of his great mercy forgive
thee thine offences: And by His authority committed to me, _I
absolve thee from all thy sins_: In the Name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

{139}

Let us turn to the Catechism of the Church of England, and we
shall find a little more about "sacraments," and particularly the
Holy Communion.

  "Qu.--What meanest thou by this word _Sacrament?_
  A.--I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and
  spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ Himself,
  _as a means whereby we receive the same_, and a pledge to
  assure us thereof.

  Qu.--How many parts are there in a Sacrament?
  A.--Two: the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual
  grace.

  Qu.--What is the outward part or sign of the Lord's Supper?
  A.--Bread and wine, which the Lord bath commanded to be
  received.

  Qu.--What is the inward part, or thing signified?
  A.--The body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed
  taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper.

  Qu.--What are the benefits whereof we are partakers thereby?
  A.--The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the body
  and blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the bread and wine."

There are some "appalling absences from the teaching" of this
Catechism and "other more fearful elements included." There is
not a word about the gospel history in it, or justification by
faith only. It is all Creed, Commandments, and Sacraments. Change
"bread and wine" into "accidents of bread and wine," and you have
in an that I have quoted a mere repetition of the Catholic
Catechism. "What avails it," then, that the Episcopalian minister
tells his congregation that sacraments will not save them, when
he puts into their hands this catechism?  &c.

I cannot follow the lecturer through the whole bead-roll of his
enumeration of Catholic practices, which he has picked out of the
Mission Book and gathered up in a hasty perusal of other books of
devotion, or explain every thing. They are among the minor and
subordinate parts of the Catholic system, and are placed in their
proper relations to the more essential parts of it in Catholic
practice and instruction.
{140}
The lecturer has put them forward into a false perspective which
distorts every thing, in order to show that they practically
supplant the truth, the grace, and the morality of Christ; in
order to put in a preventer which shall effectually shut off all
access of our preaching of the great truths of religion to the
Protestant mind. He has skillfully chosen just the very practices
which are most misunderstood by Protestants, and most
objectionable in their view. The chief of these, and such as are
connected with Catholic dogmas, as Masses for the Dead, Devotion
to the Blessed Virgin and Saints, and Indulgences, will be found
fully explained in the sermons of this volume and the other
volumes published by the congregation of which their author was a
member, as well as in every Catholic manual. I single out,
therefore, only one, and that the very one which a non-Catholic
reader of the Mission Book would be most likely to stumble at,
viz. _The Scapular_.

The author says: "I open the 'Book of the Mission,' and I find,
intermixed with much that is better, such wretched directions as
that *** the wearing of 'the Virgin's Scapular' around the neck
(shall) guarantee the fulfilment of a promise made to one Simon
Stock, an English Carmelite friar, of six centuries ago, that
'whoso should die invested with it should be saved from eternal
fire.'" If this statement is to be taken in the sense of the
lecturer, as a real exposition of our belief, it is very strange
that we should not dispense with the confessional, as well as
with preaching repentance toward God, and a holy life, and
confine ourselves to the easier task of investing all Catholics
with the scapular. Nothing would be further necessary then,
except to keep the strings in good repair, and we might all of us
take our ease, eat, drink, and be merry, while this short life
lasts, secure of going to heaven at last. Human nature always
settles down to the lowest optional method of escaping perdition,
according to our author.
{141}
It is very singular, that after hearing our sermons on the
mission, and then stumbling upon this account of the scapular in
a book published under our own direction, he should not have
thought that there was some explanation of which it was
susceptible, which would give it a meaning in harmony with our
doctrine, and should not have asked for that explanation. I will
give it, however, unasked, lest it should seem that his objection
is unanswerable.

The scapular is a small article, made to imitate a part of the
religious habit, and worn as the badge of a pious confraternity
affiliated to the Carmelite Order. According to the proper and
ordinary use of it, it is conferred on persons intending to live
a devout life, as an exterior sign of their special consecration
to the service of God under the protection of the Blessed Virgin,
and of certain special graces which are given through the prayers
of the holy religious of Mount Carmel, to those who fulfil the
conditions faithfully. These conditions are, to observe a strict
chastity according to one's state, whether married or single, and
to perform certain acts of devotion. It is understood that in
order to be capable of receiving these graces, a person must take
care to live always in the love and fear of God, and avoid all
other mortal sins as well as those which are specifically
renounced by the reception of the religious habit. This implies a
diligent use of the means of grace, such as prayer and the
sacraments. The advantage attributed to membership in the
confraternity, and gained by fulfilling its conditions, is
merely, additional grace to assist one to live a Christian life,
and thus to escape perdition and gain heaven. The scapular is
only a symbol of this, and the only consolation a person who
wears it can receive from it at the hour of death is, that it is
to him a badge and emblem of the holy life he has led, and of the
promise of special grace in his last moments.
{142}
There is, besides this, the "Sabbatine Indulgence," as it is
called, by which it is generally held, as a matter, not of faith,
but of opinion, based on a private revelation, that a person may
obtain a remission of the punishment of temporal pain in the
other world, on the Saturday after his decease. Presupposing now
the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, and also the doctrine of
Indulgences, according to which no one can enter the first unless
he dies free from mortal sin, or obtain the second fully unless
he is free from every stain of sin, however small; there is
nothing in this pious belief prejudicial to strictness of piety
or virtue. In order to escape eternal perdition, one must truly
repent of every grievous sin. In order to be free from temporal
punishment, one must satisfy the divine justice for past sins
already remitted, and repent of all sins whatever, even the least
and most trivial. The soul can never enter heaven until its
holiness is consummated. Therefore the pious belief respecting
the Sabbatine Indulgence cannot, without contradicting Catholic
doctrine, mean more than this: that one who faithfully
accomplishes all that he promises on receiving the scapular, and
earnestly endeavors to purify himself from all mortal and venial
sin, may hope that the removal of the stains which his soul may
have at death will be accelerated by a special grace, and that,
if without this special grace he would still have some short time
to suffer, it may be remitted to him, or shortened, as God may
see fit.

The language of Catholic books, of devotion is often free and
unguarded, and therefore easily susceptible of misunderstanding
when taken out of its connection and pressed into a hard
literalness by those who do not understand the Catholic system in
its harmony. These books are written for Catholics, who are
supposed to be instructed, and to have the practical sense of
their religion which enables them to take up their meaning
rightly. It is also presupposed that pastors and confessors will
instruct and direct those under their charge in all matters
relating to practical religion, and guard them against hurtful
errors or mistakes in substituting minor and subsidiary practices
of devotion for solid piety and the fulfilment of the weightier
matters of the law.
{143}
Let anyone candidly examine into the spirit and scope of the
sermons contained in this volume, and into those of the Mission
Book, and he will see that those weightier matters are the ones
which are insisted on. These are urged and enforced as essential
with all possible earnestness; and how can it detract from the
force of these exhortations, that an occasional recommendation of
some particular devotions is also thrown in, which is like our
Lord's counsel not to leave undone the paying tithes of mint,
anise, and cummin?

Let it be remembered that the point is not now to prove the truth
of the Catholic doctrine respecting the sacraments or any
inferior rites, practices, or pious works. It is to refute the
charge that by these things we subvert sound morality, solid and
spiritual piety, and faith in Christ as the Author of grace and
justification. This charge is untrue, irrespective of the
question of the claim of the Catholic Church on faith and
obedience. The author of the "Price Lecture" has made it without
due study and examination, on the faith of the writers of the
Church he has recently joined, and into whose views he has thrown
himself by a voluntary effort, without waiting to mature the
results of his own theological principles. He is capable of
better things than this hasty and superficial lecture. Let him be
true to the dying declaration of the great Anglican divine which
he quotes with so much approbation (p. 6), "I die in the faith
and Church of Christ, as held before the separation of East and
West," and he will no longer be found in unworthy companionship
with the revilers of the Roman Church. How much more dignified
and noble is the position taken by such men as the great
philosopher Leibniz, in the past, and, in the present, by the
great statesman and champion of the truth of revelation and
Protestant orthodoxy, Guizot!
{144}
The latter does not hesitate to avow that he considers the cause
of which he is a champion essentially identical with that of the
Church of Rome. I agree with him, in the sense that the whole of
the Christian tradition which is found in the various Christian
bodies, and which constitutes the positive and objective creed
which they cling to, is all preserved in the Catholic Church. I
know the doctrine of Luther and Calvin, in which I was brought
up, thoroughly, and I can testify that the positive portion of
it, respecting the mystery of Redemption and the inward
sanctification of the Holy Spirit, I retain unchanged. I know
thoroughly, also, the Church principles of Reformed Episcopacy,
and I retain all these unchanged. I have found also all that true
and sound rationality, or respect for human reason and its
certain science, together with all that high estimate of the
moral virtues, which is professed by Unitarians, in Catholic
theology. I have never lost any thing or been required to
abdicate any thing which I had previously acquired in the
intellectual or spiritual life, by embracing Catholic doctrine
but have only added to it that which makes it more integral and
complete. The real question of discussion is about that which is
positive in the Roman Church, in addition to that which is common
to her and Protestant communions, and not about those more
primary articles of the Christian creed which form the basis of
all religion and Christianity. It is the question, whether the
Catholic Church is really the one, only Church, founded by Christ
on the Supremacy of St. Peter and his Apostolic See of Rome; and
is an infallible teacher in faith and morals. We do not ask other
Christians to admit this before they have examined the evidence,
or been convinced by its force. We ask them simply, _ad
interim_, to do us justice, to give us a fair hearing, to
observe the rules of honorable warfare in their controversies
with us, and to concede our rightful claims as Christians and as
free citizens.
{145}
Those bigoted leaders of religious factions and their great
"Fourth Estate" of unemployed clerical followers, whose
occupation of hanging around the skirts of our armies is gone,
and who seek to stir up a religious war, by representing
Catholics as the enemies of civil and religious liberty, and the
progress of the Church as dangerous to our political welfare, are
beyond all reason or remonstrance. Their plans are well
characterised in some of the secular papers, as more nefarious
than those of the men who plotted to burn the hotels of New York.
They would be better employed, and make a much more efficacious
war on infidelity, if they would give missions, establish
churches, and make other efforts for the instruction in some
principles of religion and morality of the half-million of
Protestants in the city of New York, and the other millions
elsewhere, who never enter a church-door. Those Protestants who
may read these pages will undoubtedly, for the most part, belong
to that large class who repudiate indignantly all sympathy with
men of this sort, and their schemes. And on such readers I rely
confidently to judge justly and generously the pure and noble
character and apostolic works of the subject of this Memoir, from
his life and from his own writings. I rely on them to believe my
testimony, that they will find in these a specimen of the genuine
character and doctrine of the Catholic priesthood, modelled after
the form proposed by the Church herself. I think they will give
their approbation and sympathy to all that is done by the
Catholic clergy to stem the vast and swelling torrent of impiety
and immorality which threatens our political and social fabric on
every side, and will acknowledge the service done to the state
and society, apart from the directly religious benefit to the
souls of men, by the only Church and body of clergy that has a
powerful sway over great masses of the population in our country.

This long digression will, I fear, have seemed tedious, and
irrelevant to the proper subject of this biographical narrative.
{146}
I have thought it necessary, however, as a background to my
portrait, to paint the missionary work from which the life of
Father Baker receives its principal value and significance. I
return now to resume the thread of his personal history, which I
left at the point where he was about to commence his public
sacerdotal and missionary career.

Father Baker came to the assistance of the little band who were
toiling in their arduous missionary labors, in November, 1856.
His first mission-sermon was preached in St. Patrick's Church,
Washington, D. C., on "The Necessity of Salvation." This sermon
was also the last one which he ever preached, at one of the
weekly services of Lent, in the parish church of St. Paul's, New
York.

The debut of Father Baker as a missionary is noticed at the
Records of the Missions in the following words, which were
written by the faithful friend who watched over his last moments.

  "The Rev. Father Baker, a convert from Episcopalianism, and
  most highly respected and beloved as a Protestant minister in
  Baltimore, had been just ordained, and came for the first time
  to assist at this mission. He preached the opening sermon,
  which gave great satisfaction to all who heard it, and a
  promise that he will hereafter be a truly apostolical
  missionary."

One pleasing little incident of this very interesting mission
was, that the President and his lady gathered and arranged a
beautiful bouquet of flowers, which were sent to decorate the
altar at the ceremony of the Dedication to the Blessed Virgin,
which took place near the close of the mission.

After the conclusion of this mission, Father Baker was sent by
his superior to Annapolis, to assist the rector of the House of
Novices located there (on one of the ancient manors of the
Carroll family, which had been given to the congregation by the
daughter of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton), in the care of the
little Catholic parish in that place.
{147}
The other missionaries went South, for a series of missions to be
given during the winter, and finding the work there too great for
their small band of four, telegraphed from Savannah to the
provincial, requesting him to send Father Baker to assist them.
In compliance with this request, Father Baker was sent on
immediately to Savannah, and took part in the mission given in
the cathedral, at that time under the care of the saintly and
apostolic Dr. Barry, then administrator, and afterward bishop of
the diocese. There was but little episcopal splendor to be seen
about the Savannah cathedral and residence at this time. Until
within a few years previously to the mission, Georgia had been
included in the diocese of Charleston. Dr. Gartland, the first
bishop, had procured a suitable residence for himself and his
clergy, and had purchased property with a view of erecting a
handsome cathedral. A short time after his consecration, Savannah
was visited by a destructive tornado, which destroyed the greater
part of the fine old trees which formed the principal ornament of
the place, otherwise injured the city very seriously, and
unroofed the bishop's house. The yellow fever broke out about the
same time, in a very virulent manner; and the bishop, as also
Bishop Barron, who came there to assist him, fell a victim to the
epidemic. These disasters, and the debts which pressed on the
congregation, put a stop for a time to all efforts to establish
matters on a suitable footing. After Dr. Barry's consecration,
the old church was refitted and furnished in a way to make it
quite respectable for the cathedral of a new diocese, and a
spacious mansion was purchased for the episcopal residence. But
at this time Dr. Barry was living, like a bishop _in partibus
infidelium_, in a small and poor frame dwelling-house,
containing only four or five rooms, and the clergy were putting
up, in the best way they could, with rooms over the sacristy of
the church. Just round the corner, an aged negro, with a long
white beard, who was a Methodist preacher, might be seen sitting
all the day long in the sun on a little stool, holding a cow by a
rope around her horns, while she nibbled the grass which grew
along the streets; and the old gentleman chatted with the
passers-by, or prepared his sermons for the next Sunday, highly
delighted at the friendly salutations which the fathers always
gave him as they passed by.
{148}
Every now and then a black nurse passed along the street,
carrying or wheeling the little white infant of her charge; or a
troop of negro boys and their young masters, playing together
with the utmost familiarity. The sunny, Southern atmosphere was
vocal with the merry, free-and-easy sounds of laughing, chatting
mirth, or work carried on like a play without much care or hurry,
so characteristic of a city in the far South. Savannah is a very
beautiful and picturesque place, where, at that time, Southern
life and manners could be seen at the greatest advantage; and the
novelty of the scene gave it a great zest to those of our number
who had not seen it before. The clergy were, most of them, old
veteran missionaries, brought to this country by the celebrated
Bishop England, full of rich and piquant anecdotes of their past
experience among the wild, sparsely-settled regions of Georgia
and the neighboring States, related with inimitable wit and
humor. [Footnote 6] The mission was still further enlivened by a
visit to Savannah from Archbishop Hughes, accompanied by his
amiable secretary, who were making a tour of recreation to
restore the archbishop's shattered health; and from Dr. Lynch,
soon after appointed to the see of Charleston.

    [Footnote 6: One of these good clergymen, the Rev. Peter
    Whelan, during the late civil war, remained a long time among
    our prisoners at Andersonville, and spent four hundred
    dollars in gold at one time in purchasing bread for their
    necessities.]

This mission was, however, no play-spell for the missionaries.
Besides the ordinary labor of preaching and hearing the
confessions of a multitude of people, it was necessary to search
out the people themselves, and bring them to church to hear the
sermons. At that time, the Southern towns received the
_débris_ of foreign emigration, and were filled during the
winter months by a loose floating population of Northern
laborers, who were without employment at home.
{149}
Hence, there was a larger proportion than elsewhere of the most
degenerate and demoralised class of Catholics, living in complete
neglect of their religious and moral duties, and beyond the reach
of the ordinary ministrations of the Church. Savannah has several
suburbs and purlieus, rejoicing in the names of Yammacraw,
Robertsville, and Old Fort, crowded with squalid hovels,
drinking-shops, sailors' boarding-houses, and dens of thieves and
smugglers, representing in a small way the scenes which Dickens
delights in describing. A mission in the cathedral might be given
ten times over, and the news of it never reach the denizens of
these places. Accordingly, the missionaries divided the several
districts between them, and undertook to beat up the quarters of
sin, vice, and misery, in the hope of rescuing some of these
forlorn and abandoned souls. It would hardly be safe for any one
but a Catholic priest to undertake such a work, especially in the
evening, and certainly no one else would have any hope of
success. The work was done, however, very thoroughly, and, in
consequence, the church was crowded by that class of persons who
were in most need of a mission, and who had never been reached
before. An immediate and extensive reformation was the result.
The grog-shops were deserted, which before were filled from
morning until late at night, the sound of cursing and quarrelling
was hushed, the darker deeds of sin ceased, and the great mass of
these poor, lost souls began to listen to the eternal truths, and
to seek for the way that would bring them back to God. Many,
engaged in dishonest practices, abandoned their unlawful traffic,
and made restitution of their ill-gotten gains. Great numbers of
those who had abandoned the sacraments, and even ceased going to
church, for ten, twenty, or thirty years, came with great fervor
and earnestness to confession. Some of the poor slaves also, as
well Methodists as those who were Catholics, attended eagerly on
the instructions of the mission.
{150}
One old Methodist negress was asked by her mistress, or some one
else who noticed her constant attendance, if she liked the
mission; to which she replied: "Oh, Lor! yes, missus; I'se bound
to be there, if I can get only one eye in, every time." Another
grown-up slave girl, who had never been baptized, was most
anxious to receive baptism, and induced her mistress to ask me to
baptize her. I was very reluctant to do it, fearing lest she
might not be sufficiently instructed and prepared in her moral
dispositions to begin a really Christian life, without a longer
probation; and therefore refused to baptize her during the
mission. After the last sermon she went nearly frantic, and made
loud exclamations that she wished to be taken out of the devil's
hands, and the father would not do it, but was going away,
leaving her in his power. Touched by her entreaties, and finding
that her mistress had taught her the rudiments of the catechism,
I instructed her for some days, and endeavored to impress upon
her mind especially, that if she wished for the graces of baptism
and the friendship of God, she must renounce all sin and live a
good and holy life. So fearful was she that she might sin, and
receive baptism unworthily, that for a day before her baptism she
would not speak a word to any person, not even her mistress. She
refused to speak even when she was asked about her sponsors and
her baptismal dress, and her whole demeanor at her baptism was
like that of one oppressed with the most intense sentiment of
religious awe, and of the sacredness of the promises she was
making to God. It is not to be supposed that every bad Catholic
was reformed, or that, of those who were really brought to a
resolution to mend their lives, all of them persevered. The
hydra-headed monster of vice is not killed by a blow, nor can we
hope ever to exterminate sin by any means, even those which have
a divine efficacy. It is a continual warfare which we have to
wage, by both spiritual and moral weapons, which the free will
can always resist.
{151}
God alone has coercive power over the spirit of man, and He will
not exert it to compel him to obey His law. Temptations to sin
ever beset the human will, especially in a corrupt, irreligious,
and immoral state of society. The Catholic Church is not intended
to be a society of saints who have already attained perfection,
but a training and reformatory school for the human race. It has
no means of charming or mesmerizing the human will into sanctity,
and its gracious influences do not supersede the struggle for
life which exists in the spiritual as in the natural world. It
has all the means of sanctifying the human race, and of elevating
men to the summit of possible human virtue, limited only by the
extent to which the free human will co-operates with grace. It
must actually produce these results on a great scale, in order to
prove that it is the Church; because God would not have created
it for this purpose, foreseeing its essential failure to fulfil
its work and attain its predestined end. It is easy enough to
show that the Church possesses this note of sanctity, correctly
understood in this way. But it is perfectly true also that the
free-will of man, by its failure and perversion, hinders the
Church to a vast extent from exhibiting its regenerating and
sanctifying power. Great numbers of individuals in the Catholic
Church live and act in contradiction to their faith, neglect or
abuse the means of grace, and dishonor religion by their conduct.
The only means which the Church has of contending with this evil,
and reclaiming these unworthy members from a sinful life, are
moral means, acting on the mind and conscience. Missions are
among the most powerful and efficacious of these means, and their
efficacy is shown, not in eradicating sin, or liberating human
nature from its intrinsic liability and propensity to sin, but in
checking and counteracting its violence, and reclaiming a great
number of individuals from its influence.
{152}
If they actually do this, if they have a perceptible influence in
reforming and renovating the demoralised portion of the Catholic
community, heightening the restraining power of faith and
conscience among the mass of the people, and producing many
permanent fruits in the increase of piety and morality, they are
successful, and their value is established. It is beyond a
question that they do this to an extent which can only be
understood by those who are engaged in them, or who have studied
their working on a grand scale.

To return to the Savannah mission. I had a good opportunity to
judge of its permanent fruits when, two years afterward, I
returned there, and went through the same quarters of the town
where we had gone to drum up the people to the mission, in making
a collection for the new congregation of St. Paul. Many of the
very poorest dwellings I found neat and orderly; the pious
pictures blessed during the mission hanging upon the walls; the
children clean and tidy; sometimes an old man sitting at the
door, reading the mission-book; the wives and mothers evidently
cheerful and contented, the best sign that their husbands were
sober and kind; the expressions of grateful remembrance of the
mission warm and frequent; the signs of moral improvement
everywhere, and the church crowded on Sunday.

It is not to be supposed that the body of the Catholic
congregation of Savannah were like this lowest class I have
described. I have dwelt more minutely on their condition, and the
good done among them, mainly because the small comparative size
of the place, and the thorough visitation which was made, brought
us into a more close contact with their miseries, and enabled us
to see more clearly what can be done to relieve them, than is
usually the case. I have wished to show what the hardest and most
repulsive part of the work of the missionary is, and to give a
true picture of the nature and efficacy of the means used to
raise up and reform and save the most demoralised class of the
Catholic population throughout the country, and especially in the
large towns, where this class is most numerous.
{153}
I wish, also, before resuming the particular narrative of F.
Baker's life, to show what was the work for which he left the
ease and elegance and attractive charm of his earlier position as
an Episcopalian clergyman, fulfilling the light duty of reading
prayers and preaching quiet, well-written, polished discourses
for the _élite_ of Baltimore society.

The mass of the people who were brought to the mission in
Savannah by the personal visits of the fathers had never been
seen in the church previously. They were the _débris_ that
the tide of emigration had deposited there, and many of them only
chance-residents of the town.

The ordinary church-going congregation contained, as usual, its
very large proportion of Easter communicants, with a smaller but
still numerous class of devout and fervent Catholics who
approached the sacraments frequently. The majority of them
belonged to the humbler walks of life, although there were a
considerable number whose position in worldly society was more
elevated.

F. Baker arrived in Savannah, when the mission was about half
over, and took his share in the labor of preaching and hearing
confessions. At the close of it, after a few days' rest, three of
the missionaries, of whom he was one, commenced a series of
missions in one part of the diocese, and the two others began
another which embraced the smaller parishes. The smaller band
went to Macon, Columbus, and Atlanta, rejoining their companions
subsequently at Charleston. As F. Baker went in another
direction, I shall confine myself to the narrative of the
missions in which he was engaged, and pass over the others,
merely pausing for a moment to notice a letter written by a
Protestant gentleman in Macon, to the _United States Catholic
Miscellany_, of Charleston, as an evidence of the impression
often made by missions upon the minds of candid and intelligent
Protestants. The letter is as follow's:--

{154}

  "In company with many of our most distinguished citizens, I
  have had the pleasure of hearing most of the sermons delivered,
  and witnessing the accompanying exercises connected with their
  mission, and but express the united and universal sentiment
  entertained, when I say that they were exceedingly interesting
  and instructive, and have served to dissipate many of the
  vulgar prejudices that hung like a mist upon the public mind,
  and, like a cold-damp, mildewed reason and honest judgment.
  Sufficient testimony of this result may be found in the fact
  that a number of Protestant gentlemen called upon Mr. Walworth
  yesterday, and urgently requested him to deliver one more
  sermon before his departure, which he consented to do this
  evening. I would send you a copy of the correspondence, but it
  would be too voluminous for the brevity of this letter; suffice
  it to say it was complimentary, no less in the act itself than
  in the manner in which the request was conveyed.

  "I must take this occasion of expressing my gratification at
  the result adverted to, for though I am not a member, nor ever
  have been, of the Catholic Church, its piety and religious
  principles--the purity, integrity, ability, learning, and
  eloquence of its teachers and preachers--the bright links of
  patience, endurance, and fidelity, by which it is held to the
  early ages of Christianity--its unity of action, consistency of
  precept and practice, and conformity of theory and doctrine, as
  well as the great lights of intellect that have shed lustre
  upon it in the past and present--men whose genius has elevated
  them above the gloom of dying centuries to overflow history
  with glory--these have commended the Catholic Church favorably
  to my judgment; and regarding its onward progress and
  increasing popularity with no jaundiced sectarian eye or
  jealous faction-spirit, but with the extension of civilization
  and Christianity--I feel the pressure of no petty, vulgar
  prejudice in wishing it, with all other Christian
  organizations, 'God speed;' and if this sentiment be in
  hostility with Protestantism, as for myself and it I say,
  'perish the connection'--'live' the enlightened liberality and
  intelligence of civilized and educated man.
    "Yours, very truly, etc.
    "Macon, _December_ 31, 1856."

{155}

From Savannah, F. Baker, with two companions, went to give a
mission in Augusta. On the pages of the Mission Records several
interesting incidents of this mission are related. On the first
Sunday morning of the mission, three gentlemen called on the
fathers, all of whom, it appeared, were converts. One of them was
called Dr. W. B., the second, his nephew, Dr. M., and the third
was the overseer of Dr. B.'s plantation. This Dr. B. had been
received into the Catholic Church some months previously, and had
entered a Catholic church for the first time that morning. He was
a man of fine and genteel appearance, with gray hair and a long,
black beard, an intelligent and educated physician. So great was
his excitement, and so wonderful did every thing which he saw
that may appear through the magnifying glass of his imagination,
that on his return home that night, at eleven o'clock, he awoke
his brother and made him get up and light a fire, that he might
relate the events of the day. As a sample of the proportion in
which he viewed the whole, it may suffice to say that he
described one of the fathers as seven and a-half feet high--at
least six inches taller than the Georgia giant. The brother
alluded to, also a physician and planter, made his appearance a
day or two later. He was quite an elderly gentleman, with an
intelligent countenance and a magnificent patriarchal beard. A
painter could not find a better head for an Apostle, or for one
of the ancient Bishops or Fathers of the Church than his. He was
a man with an intellect like Brownson's, and full of information.
He became a Catholic a few years ago from reading Brownson's
Review. Since that time he has been a great champion of the
Church, and, through his influence, his own family, his brother
and sister, his nephew and some others, have also been converted.
{156}
One of the latter was then residing in Dr. B.'s own family, and
was leading a most remarkably penitential life. This gentleman (a
Mr. S.), of high birth and education, was formerly a lawyer, and
a married man of large property. He was renowned for his courage,
and had fought with one of the most celebrated duellists of South
Carolina, named R. This gentleman lost his property and was
abandoned by his wife. About seven years before he had become a
Catholic, he lived for a considerable time with his brother, an
unprincipled and ferocious man, who scarcely allowed him a bare
pittance. He was dressed in rags, was barefooted, and lived on
bread which he baked himself.

After a few years, when Dr. B. had become a Catholic, and opened
a small chapel on his own plantation, Mr. S. appeared there one
day at Mass in his miserable plight. Dr. R. invited him to stay
with him, and gave him a small office to live in, and all other
things requisite for his comfort. Here he had been living ever
since, leading the life of a saint, and passing a great portion
of his time in reading Catholic books, especially Brownson's
Review, which he knew almost by heart. The Doctor said that the
only thing which could excite his anger, was to hear anyone speak
against Brownson, or contradict any thing he says. As an instance
of his penance, I will relate how, according to Dr. B.'s account,
he attempted to pass one Lent. He had been reading the Lives of
the Fathers of the Desert, and he endeavored to imitate their
example precisely and to the letter. His whole food consisted of
a small quantity of bread, and during the last three days he
wanted to fast entirely, but Dr. B. threatened that, if he did,
he would send a little negro for Father B., to excommunicate him.
He was wasted to a skeleton, and did not recover the effects of
his fasting for six months afterward.
{157}
On one occasion, Mr. S. found a poor, sick negro, with no one to
attend him, and not contented with waiting on him and taking care
of him, as he was constantly in the habit of doing for all the
sick within several miles' distance, he washed his feet, and, for
want of a towel, wiped them with his pocket-handkerchief. It was
necessary to watch him, lest he might give away his clothes to
the negroes and when he needed new clothes, they were put
secretly in his way, and the old ones removed.

Others in this neighborhood, who were not yet Catholics, were so
well disposed that they had their children baptized. Edgefield
and the country round about was formerly celebrated for the
lawless and violent character of the population, for the
frequency of murders, and for the bitter prejudice existing
against the Catholic Church; so much so, that a priest could not
obtain the Court-House to preach in. When the elder Dr. B. became
a Catholic, Dr. W. B. declared that he would burn up his wife and
children and his whole house before they should become Catholics,
and any priest who should chance to come near him. Another
gentleman, since a convert, said that, if one of his children
should become a Catholic, he would take him by the heels and dash
out his brains against a stone wall. Dr. M., when he went to
study medicine with his uncle, the elder Dr. B., made a vow that
he would never enter the chapel and never desert the faith of his
fathers; and his parents told him on leaving home that, if he
became a Catholic, he should never cross the Savannah River again
or see their faces. After some months, he became silent and
melancholy. For a while he concealed the cause, but at last, one
evening he told his aunt that he could hold out no longer, and
was a Catholic at heart. Shortly after receiving his medical
diploma, he determined to renounce the practice of medicine, and
has recently been ordained to the priesthood.

{158}

At Edgefield a lot of seven acres was purchased in the middle of
the town, for a church, to be built of brown stone, in the Gothic
style. Five gentlemen had already subscribed sixteen hundred
dollars for the church, and Father B. was collecting for the same
purpose. There was a general inclination throughout the whole
town to embrace the Catholic faith, and already there is a small
band of the best Catholics in the country there--souls that have
been led by the great God Himself, by the wonderful ways of His
most holy grace. Dr. B. has since died, and what has been the
fate of the little congregation, and of the beautiful church
which was commenced, during the troubles and miseries of the
civil war, I know not. They have not, however, hindered the
Catholics of Augusta from completing and paying for a large and
costly church, the successor of a very good and commodious
edifice of brick where the mission was given.

After leaving Augusta, we went to Savannah once more, and on the
29th of January went on board the little steamer Gen. Clinch,
which was afterward turned into a gunboat during the civil war,
to begin our voyage by the inland route to St. Augustine,
Florida. This inland route has some peculiar and picturesque
features. The steamer passes down the Savannah River, with its
banks lined with the green and gold orange trees, until, near the
mouth, it turns into its proper route, leading through a
succession of small sounds, connected by narrow, serpentine
rivers, where you seem to be sailing over the meadows, usually in
sight of the ocean, and quite often aground for some hours at a
time. The steamer was very small and very crowded, our progress
very leisurely and interrupted by several long stoppages, so that
our voyage was protracted for five days. It is seldom that a more
motley or singular and amusing group of passengers is collected
in a small cabin.
{159}
Besides the three Catholic priests, who were to the others the
greatest curiosities on board, we had an army lieutenant, since
then the commander of a _corps d'armée_ in the great civil
war, an old wizard who was consulting his familiar spirits
incessantly for the amusement or information of the passengers; a
plantation doctor, a wild young Arkansas lawyer of the
fire-eating type, a professor of mathematics, a crotchety,
good-humored New York farmer, with very peculiar religious
opinions, a young man who professed himself a universal sceptic,
two or three gentlemen of education and polished manners, who
were not at all singular, but appeared quite so in such an odd
assemblage; and some others in no way remarkable. The cramped
accommodations, the long voyage, and the usual _bonhommie_
which prevails on such occasions were well fitted to draw out all
the oddities and idiosyncrasies of the company. The spiritualist,
who was an uneducated and uncouth specimen of humanity, with a
great deal of native shrewdness, and a good-humored, loquacious
disposition, was the center of attraction. The professor and the
philosophical farmer engaged with him in a long and earnest
discussion of spiritualism, which ended in his exhibiting his
powers as a consulter of the spirits. Most of the passengers made
trial of his skill in this respect, although his performance was
the most patent of silly impostures, only amusing from its
absurdity. The professor tried him sorely by asking him a
question which seemed to have caused himself many an hour of
anxious and fruitless thought, and which he appeared to despair
of solving metaphysically: "Can God annihilate space?" The old
gentleman's spirit did not appear to have investigated this
question to his own complete satisfaction, for he gave him no
positive answer. He was silent for a moment, with a puzzled look,
evidently fearing a trap, and at last answered, "I don't know,
but I guess He could if He tried; He made it, and I guess He
could annihilate it." Just as the professor was going to retire
to his berth, the old man took revenge by telling him that he had
just been informed by the spirits that one of his children was
sick of scarlet fever. The wizard left the boat at Brunswick, but
as the conversation had taken a religious and philosophical turn
at first, it continued in that direction, the two individuals
before mentioned being the principal interlocutors.
{160}
We did not join much in it, as it was evidently distasteful to
several of the company, who wished to read quietly or converse on
ordinary topics. Before we parted, however, one of our number
took the opportunity which offered itself of having a little
pleasant and rational discussion with the professor and one or
two others, who were really intelligent and well-informed. On New
Year's Day we remained several hours at St. Mary's, Georgia,
where we found the mayor of the place to be a Catholic gentleman,
of Acadian descent, and were hospitably entertained at his house.
The boat passed the night at Fernandina, and the next day we went
out of the St. Mary's River, across a short and dangerous stretch
of ocean between a line of breakers and the shore, into the St.
John's, and up that romantic river, so full of historical
associations. Friday evening saw us befogged above Jacksonville,
and on Saturday morning we learned to our dismay that our captain
was going past our landing, and on to Pilatka, which would keep
us on board his miserable little craft until the next week, and
prevent the opening of the mission on the Sunday. Touching for a
few moments at Fleming's Island, we found friends at the little
dock, who were passing the winter on the island, and who informed
us that we could go from there that afternoon to our destination.
We debarked accordingly, our friend the professor in company with
us, and were refreshed with a good breakfast at the hotel where
our friends were lodging, and a stroll around the little island.
On the arrival of the steamer, the whole party went on board and
proceeded to Picolata, where we took stage-coaches for St.
Augustine, arriving there on Saturday evening. About halfway
between Picolata and St. Augustine there is a post-house, where,
in the last Florida War with the Seminole Indians, a party of
travelling actors were surprised and murdered by Indians, who
dressed themselves in their fantastic costumes, and in that guise
made a hostile demonstration in the neighborhood of St.
Augustine.

{161}

To Americans, this old town seems to have a vast antiquity,
claiming as it does the respectable age of three centuries. The
Catholic church here is almost as old as Protestantism, and a
brief of St. Pius V., in regard to some of the religious affairs
of this colony, is still extant. There are remnants of an old
wall in several places, and a large fortress built in Spanish
times, and called the castle of St. Marco, where you may yet see
the marks of the cannon-shot fired at the invasion of Oglethorpe
from Georgia. This fort might serve as a scene for the plot of a
new "Mysteries of Udolfo," it is so unlike any thing modern, and
so thoroughly Spanish and mediæval. It is not, however, of a sort
to make one regret the past. Its dark, damp casemates look like
prisons, especially one frightful dungeon, which is a cell within
a cell, without any embrasure, and admitting no light or air
except that which comes through the door opening into the outer
casemate. This was the cell of the greatest criminals. In one of
these casemates, Wildcat, the celebrated Indian chief, was once
confined with a companion. Although cruel and blood-thirsty,
Wildcat was a great warrior, and a man gifted with a high order
of genius, an orator, a poet, and a true cavalier of the forest.
On pretence of illness, he and his companion reduced their bulk
as much as possible by a low diet and purgative medicines, and by
the aid of a knife, which he had secreted and used as a spike by
thrusting it into the wall of soft concrete, with a rope
dexterously made from strips of his bed-clothes, he clambered to
the high and narrow embrasure, squeezed himself through, not
without scraping the skin from his breast, and let himself down
into the moat. His companion followed him, but fell to the
ground, breaking his leg. Nevertheless, Wildcat carried him off,
seized a stray mule, and escaped to his tribe in the forest.
{162}
After the conclusion of the war, he went to Mexico, where he
became the alcalde of an Indian village, and did his new country
essential service by leading a body of Indian warriors, armed
with Mississippi rifles, against a band of filibusters from the
United States. Osceola, the half-breed king of the Seminoles, who
was not only a hero, but a just and humane man, was also captured
near St. Augustine, by treachery and bad faith, and confined in
this fortress for a time, but afterward removed to Charleston,
where he died of a broken heart. The great mahogany
treasure-chest of Don Juan Menendez is still remaining in the
fortress, and in one of the casemates are remnants of a rude
stone altar and holy-water stoups, marking the site of a chapel.
The fortress is kept in good preservation by our Government, and
a noble sea-wall extends from it to the barracks at the other end
of the town, which are established in an ancient Franciscan
monastery. A great part of the old city is in ruins. The old
Spanish families left the country when it was ceded by Spain to
the United States, and the resident inhabitants are Minorcans,
negroes, and a small number of settlers from the other portions
of the United States. The Minorcans are descendants of a body of
colonists, brought to Florida under false pretences by an English
speculator, who enslaved them, and kept them for a long time in
that state before they became aware that there was any way of
escaping from it. When they did take courage to shake off the
yoke, they removed to the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, where
they retain their language, a dialect of the Spanish, with their
ancient, simple character and habits. The illustrious Spanish
names which some of them bear amused us greatly. Sanchez was the
proprietor of a line of slow coaches. Suarez had charge of F.
Madeore's farm, and Ximenes served Mass. The church is a large
Spanish structure, built, as are most of the houses, of soft
concrete formed from sea-shells. On a green in front of it stands
the only remaining monument, erected in commemoration of the
formation of the Spanish Constitution of 1814.
{163}
The tower has a chime of small bells, which are rung in a most
joyous, clashing style, according to the Spanish custom, for
festive occasions, and with a peculiarly plaintive peal for
deaths and funerals. The cemetery is called Tolomato, which was
the name of an Indian village formerly occupying its site. The
ruins of an ancient mission chapel are still to be seen there,
where F. Roger, a French Jesuit, was murdered by an apostate
Indian chief and his warriors. After killing F. Roger, the band
proceeded to another chapel, called Nuestra Señora de Leche,
where they found a priest just robed for Mass. He requested the
chief to allow him to say Mass, and his desire was granted, the
savages prostrating themselves with their faces to the ground
while he performed the holy function, lest the sight of him
should soften their hearts. After Mass he knelt at the foot of
the altar, and received a blow from the tomahawk which made him a
martyr.

Tolomato contains also the beautiful tomb erected by the Cubans
over the grave of the Rev. Dr. Varela, a learned, holy, and
patriotic priest, a native of the Island of Cuba, and a member of
the Spanish Cortes which established the Constitution. Banished
from his native country, where his memory has always been fondly
cherished, he passed the greater part of a long life as a
laborious parish priest in New York, and died in St. Augustine.
There is a beautiful chapel over his grave, with an altar of
marble and mahogany, and a heavy marble slab in the center of the
pavement, containing the simple but eloquent inscription: "_Al
Padre Varela los Cubanos_"-The Cubans to Father Varela.

The mission in St. Augustine absorbed the whole attention of the
Catholic population, who formed a large majority of the
inhabitants. Great numbers of them gathered to welcome the
fathers on their arrival, and whenever they went out they were
met and greeted by groups of these simple, warm-hearted people,
and followed by a troop of children, who live there in a
perpetual holiday.
{164}
There was scarcely any business or work done there at any time;
the climate and the fertility both of the land and water in the
means of subsistence furnishing the necessaries of life to the
poorer classes without much trouble. Most of these pass their
time in fishing, and even this occupation was intermitted, so
that on Friday there was not a fish to be found in the market.
The people seemed literally to have nothing whatever to do; the
fort and barracks were garrisoned by one soldier with his wife
and children; the government of the place was a sinecure; the
mails came only twice a week; behind the city lay the
interminable, uninhabited everglade; before it the Atlantic
Ocean, with its waters and breezes warmed by the Gulf Stream, and
unvisited by any sails to disturb its solitude, except at rare
intervals. Although it was midwinter, the weather was commonly as
pleasant and the sun as warm as it is in New England in the month
of June. I have never witnessed such a scene of dreamy, listless,
sunshiny indolence, where every thing seemed to combine to lull
the mind and senses into complete forgetfulness of the existence
of an active world. To the people, however, it was one of the
most exciting periods of their lives. The presence of several
strange priests, the continual sermons and religious exercises,
gave an unwonted air of life and activity to the precincts of the
old church, and roused them to an unusual animation. Drunkenness,
dishonesty, and the graver vices were almost unknown among them.

The negroes were found to be an extremely virtuous, innocent, and
docile class of people. Honest, sober, observant of the laws of
marriage, faithful and contented in their easy employments, which
seemed to suit their disposition very well, and in many cases not
only pious, but very intelligent, and exhibiting fine traits of
character, they were the best evidence we had yet seen of what
the Catholic religion can do for this oppressed and ill-used
race.
{165}
One of them, a pilot on one of the steamboats navigating the St.
John's River, impressed me as one of the most admirable men of
his class in life, for capacity and conscientious Christian
principle, I have ever met. Another, who was a freedman of the
celebrated John Randolph, and for many years his personal
attendant, was not only intelligent and well informed, but a
well-bred gentleman in his manners and appearance.

The most interesting incident of the mission was the conversion
of an ordnance sergeant of the regular army, who was in charge of
the fortress. This brave soldier had distinguished himself in the
Mexican war, by the recapture of a cannon which had been taken in
one of the battles by the Mexicans, and by his general character
for gallantry and fidelity to his duties. His wife and children
were Catholics, but he himself had lived until that time without
any religion. On New-Year's night, as he sat alone in the
barracks, after his family had retired, he began to think over
his past life, and resolved to begin at once to live for the
great end for which God had created him. He knelt down and said a
few prayers, to ask the grace and blessing of God on his good
resolutions. His prayers were heard, and during the mission he
was received into the Catholic Church and admitted to the
sacraments with all the signs of sincerity and fervor which were
to be expected from one of such a resolute and manly character. I
wish to mention one interesting circumstance which he related to
me, as showing the power of good example in men of high station
in the world. He told me that the first impression he received of
the truth and excellence of the Catholic religion, was received
from witnessing the admirable life of that accomplished Christian
gentleman and soldier, Captain Gareschè, to whose company he
belonged. Many readers will recall, as they read these records,
the admirable and glorious close of this officer's career on the
field of battle.
{166}
During the Western campaign of General Rosecrans,
Lieutenant-Colonel Garesché was his chief of staff. Before the
battle of Stone River, he received Holy Communion, and was
observed afterward alone under a tree, reading the "Imitation of
Christ." During the engagement, one of the fiercest and most
bloody of the civil war, he rode, by the side of his gallant
general, through a storm of shot and shell, and by his side he
fell, besprinkling his beloved commander with his blood, as he
sank upon the field to die, and yielded up his noble life to his
country and to God.

The labors of this mission were so light that it was more like
holiday than work for us. The presence of a number of very
agreeable and intelligent Catholic gentlemen and ladies, who were
visitors in the place, and some of whom were old friends, added
very much to the liveliness of the mission, and to our own
enjoyment of its peculiar attendant circumstances. One of these
was the Abbé Le Blond, a dear friend of ours and of all who knew
him, a priest of Montreal, who was gradually dying of
consumption, yet full of vivacity and activity, improving the
remnant of his days by his labors of love and zeal, and his works
of charity in different parts [of] the South where he passed his
winters. He died eventually in Rome. Another was Lieutenant
McDonald, of the British Royal Navy, and also, for some time
before leaving England, a captain in the Queen's Guards, a
Highland gentleman of a family that has always been true to the
faith, also since deceased.

The quiet city of St. Augustine, as well as all the other scenes
and places where we passed that winter on our missionary tour,
has since then been visited by the desolating breath of war.
Probably all is changed, and greater changes yet are coming with
the new issues of peace--changes which, there is reason to hope,
will advance both the religious and temporal welfare of the
people. Florida may yet become a populous State, and the handful
of Catholics in it swell into a number sufficient to make a
flourishing diocese.

{167}

Immediately after the close of the mission, F. Baker proceeded by
sea to Charleston where he met the other two missionaries who had
been at work in Georgia, and commenced a mission in the cathedral
of that city. His two companions were detained for a time in St.
Augustine by the sudden and severe illness of one of them, and
they went on a little later, returning by the same leisurely
route by which they came to Savannah, and thence to Charleston,
where the mission was already in progress.

Charleston possessed three Catholic churches, and its Catholic
population numbered from five to six thousand. All the
congregations were invited to the mission, and a large number of
them did attend from St. Mary's and St. Patrick's, together with
the whole body of the cathedral parish. The same work performed
by the missionaries in Savannah had been gone through in
Charleston, in scouring the lanes and alleys of the city to bring
up the stragglers, and the great cathedral was accordingly
crowded, morning and night. First of all, two hundred bright and
well-instructed children received communion in a body, and
afterward, through the course of the mission, three thousand
adults, among whom were twenty converts to the faith.

Father Baker never, during the whole course of his missionary
life, enjoyed any thing so much as this Southern tour, and
especially his stay at Charleston, the most delightful city of
the South. After the long seclusion of three years in a convent,
which had impaired his health and vigor, the recreation and
pleasure of such a trip wad most beneficial and delightful to
him. The work in which he was engaged, besides the higher
satisfaction which it gave to his zeal and charity, had also the
charm and excitement of novelty, without the pressure of too
arduous and excessive labor. At Charleston, he was already
prepared by his previous experience and practice to take a full
share in the principal sermons, and to give them that peculiar
tone and effect which is characteristic of mission sermons, and
makes them _sui generis_ among all others.
{168}
All the circumstances were calculated to call the noblest powers
of his mind and the warmest emotions of his heart into full play.
The cathedral was large, beautiful, and of a fine ecclesiastical
style in all its arrangements. The adjoining presbytery, which
had been built for a convent, and all the surroundings, were both
appropriate for the residence of a body of cathedral clergy and
pleasing to the eye of taste. The clergymen themselves, with
their distinguished head, afterward the bishop of the diocese,
were men of accomplished learning and genial character, whose
kindness and hospitality knew no bounds, and whose zeal made them
efficient fellow-laborers in the work of the mission. The
congregation itself had many features of unusual interest. Having
been long established, and carefully watched over, since the
illustrious Bishop England organized the diocese, containing a
large permanent population of various national descent and of all
classes of society, not a few of whom were converts from South
Carolina families, an unusually large number of intelligent young
men, trained up to a great extent under the care of the clergy,
and thus giving scope and affording a field for a man like F.
Baker to display his special gifts to the greatest advantage and
profit--it is not surprising that he should have called out, both
in his public discharge of duty and in private and social
intercourse, that same warm admiration which had followed him in
the former period of his life. In his sermons, he went far above
his former level, and began to develop that combination of the
best and most perfect elements of sacred eloquence, which, in the
estimation of the most impartial and competent judges, placed him
in the first rank of preachers. The present bishop of Charleston,
whose pre-eminent learning and high qualities of mind are well
known, pronounced one of F. Baker's discourses a perfect sermon,
and the best he had ever heard.
{169}
The Catholics of Charleston never saw Father Baker again; but
they never forgot him, and he never forgot them; for, during the
rest of his too short life, he recurred frequently to the
remembrance of that mission, which was so rich in the highest
kind of pleasure, as well as spiritual profit and blessing.

At that time, all was peace. Sumter was solitary and silent,
untenanted by a single soldier. Fort Moultrie and Sullivan's
Island, and the beautiful battery and the bay were calm and
peaceful, where, a few years later, all was black and angry with
the terrible thunder-storm of war. Blackened ruins are all that
remain of that beautiful cathedral and the pleasant home of the
clergy. Some of those clergymen have died in attending the sick
soldiers of the United States, and others are scattered in
different places. Many of those fine young men and bright boys
have left their bodies on the battle-field, or lost the bloom and
vigor of their youth in the unwholesome camp or hospital or
military prison. The good Sisters have been driven from one
shelter to another, by the terrible necessities of a desperate
warfare, whose miseries they have courageously striven to
alleviate by their heroic charity. Charleston has been desolated,
and the Church of Charleston has shared in the common ruin.
Nevertheless, there is every reason to hope that this temporary
period of desolation will be succeeded in due time by one more
auspicious for the solid and extensive progress of the Catholic
religion than any which has yet been seen, in that vast region
where the eloquent voice of Bishop England proclaimed the blessed
faith of the true and apostolic Church of Christ.

After the conclusion of the Charleston mission, F. Baker returned
to Annapolis, and remained there in charge of the little parish
attached to the convent, until the following September. One of
his companions, the invalid of St. Augustine, went to Cuba to
re-establish his health; and the other three, after giving
several other missions in New York State, returned also to summer
quarters.

{170}

The missionary labors in which F. Baker had been thus far
engaged, were, comparatively speaking, but a light and pleasant
prelude to the continuous and arduous missionary career of a
little more than seven years, which he commenced in the autumn of
1857. At the very outset he was obliged to make a decision of a
very grave and important matter, which resulted in a still more
complete separation from the scenes and associates of his past
life, and threw him more completely upon a pure and conscientious
devotion to his priestly duties for the sake of God alone, as his
only consolation in this world.

One of our number was at that time in Rome, for the purpose of
obtaining from the chief authority a settlement of certain
difficulties which had arisen, and which impeded the successful
and harmonious prosecution of the missions. The question was
finally settled by a separation of five American Redemptorists,
by a brief of the Holy Father, from their former congregation,
and the formation of the new Congregation of St. Paul, under
episcopal authority. F. Baker was for the first time informed of
the reasons for appealing to the decision of the Holy Father, at
the mission of St. James's Church, Newark, which commenced on the
26th of September, 1857. I have no intention of exposing the
history of the difference which arose between us and our former
religious superiors, or of making a criticism upon their conduct.
If the providence of God ordered events in such a way that a new
congregation should be formed for a special purpose, it is
nothing new or strange that men, having a different vocation, and
whose views and aims were cast in a different mould, should with
the most conscientious intentions, be unable to coincide in
judgment or act in concert. There is room in the Catholic Church
for every kind of religious organization, suiting all the
varieties of mind and character and circumstance.
{171}
If collisions and misunderstandings often come between those who
have the same great end in view, this is the result of human
infirmity, and only shows how imperfect and partial are human
wisdom and human virtue. All that I am concerned to show is, that
F. Baker did not swerve from his original purpose in choosing the
religious state. He had never been discontented with his state,
or with his superiors. He was still in the first fervor of his
vocation, and had just made a strict and exact retreat. He
deliberated for some weeks within his own mind, without saying or
doing any thing to commit himself to any particular line of
conduct. When he finally made up his mind to cast in his lot with
his missionary companions, and to abide with them the decision of
the Holy Father, it was solely in view of serving God and his
fellow-men in the most perfect manner. For the congregation where
he was trained to the religious and ecclesiastical state, he
always retained a sincere esteem and affection. He did not ask
the Pope for a dispensation from his vows in order to be relieved
from a burdensome obligation, but only on the condition that it
seemed best to him to terminate the difficulty which had arisen
in that way. When the dispensation was granted, he did not change
his life for a more easy one. He resisted a pressing solicitation
to return to Baltimore as a secular priest, and continued until
his death to labor in a missionary life, and to practise the
poverty, the obedience, the assiduity in prayer and meditation,
and the seclusion from the world, which belong to the religious
state. Let no one, therefore, who is disposed to yield to
temptations against his vocation, and to abandon the religious
state from weariness, tepidity, or any unworthy motive, think to
find any encouragement in the example of F. Baker; for his
austere, self-denying, and arduous life will give him only
rebuke, and not encouragement.

{172}

During the entire autumn and winter of this year, F. Baker and
his companions were occupied in a continuous course of large and
successful missions, in the parishes of St. James, Newark; Cold
Spring and Poughkeepsie, on the Hudson; St. John's, Utica, N. Y.;
Brandywine, Del.; Trenton, N. J.; Burlington, Brandon, East and
West Rutland, Vt.; Plattsburg, Saratoga, and Little Falls, New
York. With loyal hearts we continued to obey our superiors, and
fulfil our obligations as Redemptorists, until the supreme
authority in the Church released us by his decree. This decree
was issued on the 6th of March, 1858, and received by us on the
6th of April. After the Mission of Little Falls, F. Baker was
directed by the Provincial to return to Annapolis, and although
fatigued by the missions, and aware that his dispensation was on
the way, yet, true to the letter to his principle of obedience,
he obeyed at once. The other three missionaries passed the Holy
Week and Easter in the convent of New York, in Third street, and,
after receiving the official copy of the Papal decree, bade
farewell to the congregation where we had passed so many happy
years, and witnessed so many edifying examples of high virtue and
devoted zeal, to enter upon a new and untried undertaking.

Our first asylum was the home of Geo. V. Hecker, Esq., who kindly
gave up to our use a portion of his house as a little temporary
convent, where we remained some weeks, saying Mass in his
beautiful private chapel, which was completely furnished with
every thing necessary for that purpose. The Bishop of Newark had
made an arrangement to receive us under his jurisdiction, as soon
as our relation to our congregation was terminated, and faculties
from the diocese of New York were obtained from the archbishop.
We continued to follow our accustomed mode of life, and obey our
former Superior of the Missions. After a short time we gave a
mission at Watertown, in the diocese of Albany, and were not a
little encouraged by receiving, late on the Saturday evening
before the mission was opened, the special faculties which had
been obtained for each one of us at Rome, for giving the Papal
Benediction.
{173}
The grand and spacious church of this beautiful town, which is
worthy to be a cathedral from its size and architecture, was
crowded by the largest number of Protestants we had ever seen on
similar occasion, and a number of converts were received into the
Church. From Watertown we came to St. Bridget's Church in New
York, where we had one of our largest, most laborious, and most
fruitful missions. This was the first one of those heavy city
missions so frequent during our early career, at which F. Baker
had assisted, where the crowds of people were so overwhelming,
and the labor so excessive and exhausting. He went into his work
with a brave spirit and an untiring zeal, and scarcely allowed
himself even a breathing-spell. The love and admiration which the
warm-hearted people of this congregation acquired for him was
never diminished, and there was no one whom they ever after loved
so much to see revisiting their church. Before the close, F.
Hecker arrived from Rome, after a year's absence, bringing a
special benediction from the Holy Father upon our future labors,
and a warm commendatory letter from the Cardinal Prefect of the
Propaganda. At the end of the mission we found ourselves without
a home, and we remained so until the spring of the following
year, dependent for the most part on the hospitality of
individual friends among the clergy and laity for a temporary
shelter. For a short time we were obliged to take lodgings in an
ordinary respectable boarding-house in Thirteenth street, near
several churches and chapels, where we could say Mass every day,
without incommoding anyone. Our kind friend and generous patron,
Mr. Hecker, afterward gave up to us his whole house, while his
family were in the country; leaving his servants, and making
ample provision for furnishing us with every comfort in the most
hospitable style. During the summer, the "Congregation of
Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle" was organized, under
the approbation and authority of the archbishop; and arrangements
were commenced for the foundation of a religious house and
church, with a parochial charge annexed.
{174}
While we were occupying Mr. Hecker's house, two burglars entered
the building one night, through a window incautiously left open,
came into the room occupied by F. Baker and one of his
companions, and robbed them of their watches, which were
fortunately of small value, some articles of clothing, likewise
not very costly, and a trifling amount of loose change; but,
seeing two other men of no small stature in the adjoining room,
prudently decamped, without finding a number of costly articles
belonging to the chapel, although they had examined the drawer
where the albs and amices were kept. None of us were awakened,
and the first news we had of the midnight raid upon our territory
was given by F. Baker exclaiming that his coat had been stolen.
We laughed at him at first, but it was soon discovered that his
intelligence was correct, and that the next house had been
visited also by the robbers. This adventure gave occasion for a
great deal of mirth among ourselves, and many speculations as to
the probable results of an encounter with the robbers, in case we
had awakened, in which fatal consequences to the latter were
freely predicted. As usual in such cases, the police examined the
matter, gave very sagacious information as to the mode of
entrance and exit, and discovered no trace of the burglars
themselves. We were only too happy that the chalice and vestments
had not been carried off.

The burden which was assumed by our small community was a very
heavy one. It was necessary for us to continue the missions
without interruption, and at the same time to provide the means
of making a permanent foundation, which could not be done without
securing property, and erecting a church and religious house at a
cost of about $65,000. During this time of struggle for life, F.
Baker was one of the main stays of the missions, and one of the
most arduous and efficient of our number in working at the
collection of funds and the organization of the parish.
{175}
After a summer spent in this latter work, a course of missions
was commenced in September, the first of which was a heavy one,
in a congregation numbering 5,000 souls, at the cathedral of
Providence, in which we were all engaged. The next was a retreat
given to men alone, and specifically to the members of the
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, in the cathedral of New York. F.
Baker closed it with a magnificent sermon in his happiest vein,
on "The Standard of Christian Character for men in the world."
The following notice of the retreat, taken from the _Freeman's
Journal_, is more graphic than any that I can give, and I
therefore quote it entire, in place of describing it in my own
language:--

  "The retreat given by the band of Missionaries of St. Paul the
  Apostle to members of St. Vincent de Paul's Society, and other
  men of this city, closed on Sunday evening, the Rev. Father
  Baker preaching an admirable sermon on the characteristics of
  Christian perfection for men in the world. During the week that
  this retreat has continued, the number of men approaching the
  sacraments was about two thousand. The religious effects of the
  occasion will be great and permanent. But besides results that
  the Catholic faith leads to expect, St. Patrick's Cathedral
  has, the past week, presented a subject for thought and
  astonishment to the observing and reflecting man, though not a
  Catholic. What has gathered these crowds of busy, practical
  men? What keeps them kneeling, or standing quietly in solid
  masses, for an hour before the exercises commence? Most of
  these men rose from their beds at four o'clock, some as early
  as half-past three, and made long walks through the darkness to
  secure their standing-place in the church during the early
  instructions. They hear from the pulpit solid, distinct,
  earnest instructions in regard to what a man must believe, and
  in regard to what he must do to attain eternal life when this
  world is past. But whence comes this lively appreciation of
  truths beyond the reach of the senses, in the minds of men
  plunged all day long, and every day, in material occupations?
{176}
  Here are men of the class that, in communities not Catholic, do
  not suffer religion to interfere with their comfort--who like
  best to discuss the points of their religious profession after
  dinner, and to listen to sermons while seated in cushioned
  pews. What causes them thus to stand in the packed throng of
  the faithful, listening to the homely details of daily duties
  required of them, or kneeling on the hard floor, repeating with
  the multitude, in a loud voice, the prayers they learned in
  childhood? Then, these sons of humblest toil that kneel beside
  them. All the heat and excitement of the "revival" failed to
  bring any considerable number of the corresponding class of
  non-Catholics to the "prayer-meetings." The latter mentioned
  would say that they had to look out for their daily bread, and
  that the rich men at the prayer-meetings did not want them any
  way. Here they are at St. Patrick's, by five o'clock in the
  morning, and either they do without their breakfast, or it was
  dispatched an hour or more before. These various classes of
  men, having attended the exercises given by the Missionaries of
  St. Paul, during the week, stood crowded within St. Patrick's
  on Sunday evening. The parting instruction of the missionaries
  was to stir them, by all the courage and fervor and endurance
  that they had manifested during the retreat, to fix higher
  principles and firmer purposes for the guidance of their future
  life--to be faithful to every duty, to their families, to
  society, and to themselves--to be manly in their religious
  observances, and generous in sacrificing for their faith and
  for God every attachment that brings scandal on their religion
  or danger to their own virtue. At the close of the exercises by
  the missionaries, the Most Rev. Archbishop Hughes made some
  remarks to the vast congregation. He said he found no necessity
  of adding any thing to what the missionaries, according to the
  special objects of their calling, had done, to cause the truths
  most appropriate and necessary to sink into hearts so well
  prepared to receive and retain them.
{177}
  But the spectacle before him was one he could not let pass
  without some words expressive of his gratification. When a few
  Catholic young men first met in the archbishops's house to form
  the first Conference of St. Vincent de Paul, he had formed high
  anticipations of the good their association would do each other
  and the Catholic community at large. Here, to-night, he saw the
  realization of his hopes. When he reflected on the influence
  that must be exerted on the Catholic body, and on this great
  city--where, alas, there was no other religion capable of
  influencing and restraining men except the Catholic--by so
  great a company of men instructed in their religion, and
  fervent in its practice--he had the wish that such meetings for
  these exercises, might, at intervals, be repeated in all the
  Catholic churches in the city. He then thanked the missionaries
  for their labors--he knew they asked not thanks from men--but
  still it was due that he, in the name of those who had been
  benefited by their exercises, should thank them.

  "This retreat for men has been, in some respects, of especial
  interest, and has been highly successful; and, for the complete
  satisfaction that it has afforded, it must be said that nothing
  which discreet forethought and arrangement, or affectionate
  zeal and assiduity could effect, was left undone by the Very
  Rev. Mr. Starrs, V. G. and Rector of the Cathedral."

The third mission was given at the cathedral of Covington, when
the following circumstance occurred. A Protestant gentleman, who
was present one evening, had a phial of poison in his pocket,
with which he was fully determined to destroy his own life; but
the sermon of F. Baker on the Particular Judgment made such a
powerful impression on his mind that he threw away the poison and
disclosed to his friends what his desperate purpose had been.
From Covington, F. Hecker returned to New York, to attend to our
affairs there, and F. Baker with two companions went on a tour of
missions, which continued from November until Christmas, in the
State of Michigan.
{178}
The flourishing parishes located in the pretty villages of
Kalamazoo, Marshall, Jackson, and Ann Arbor, were the ones
visited. The last of these missions deserves a special notice,
which I extract from the "Records":--

  "The pastor of the church in Ann Arbor has two congregations
  under his charge, one at Ann Arbor, and the other at
  Northfield. The latter is the larger of the two, and it was
  earnestly desired that we should give them a separate mission.
  We were told that it was vain to expect them to come to the
  service at Ann Arbor, and, as they were already jealous of the
  Ann Arbor people, if we did not give them a mission of their
  own, their dissatisfaction would be increased, and we should do
  more harm than good by our visit. We on our part would have
  been willing to give them a double mission; but as there was no
  house near the Northfield church where the missionaries could
  lodge, it was decided to be impossible, and we concluded that
  one of the fathers should go out on Sunday and announce the
  mission to the Northfield people, and invite them to attend at
  Ann Arbor. The result proved the wisdom of the decision, for
  the people came in from the country in crowds, thus increasing
  the life and animation of the mission. The weather was mild and
  pleasant, the nights were bright and moonlit, and every morning
  and evening crowds of wagons were drawn up around the church,
  some from ten, some from fifteen, and some even from twenty
  miles off. The church was crowded by five o'clock in the
  morning, and the congregation, not content with assisting at
  one Mass and the Instruction, remained until late in the
  morning, when the Masses were all over. In the evening, the
  crowd was rendered still denser by the large representation of
  Protestants who attended. On the last night, the crowd was so
  great, that not only was the church packed in every part to its
  utmost capacity, but even the windows were filled with young
  men who had climbed up from without, and the trees around the
  church offered a perch for those who had to content themselves
  with a bird's-eye view of the scene."

{179}

I have noticed this mission more particularly, because this
Northfield congregation was a specimen of several Catholic
farming communities with which we came in contact on our
missions. The prosperity, happiness, and virtue which I have
found existing among this class of our people, induce me to
recommend most earnestly to all those who have at heart the
welfare of our Catholic Irish population, to promote in every way
their devoting themselves to agricultural pursuits in the
country. It would be a great blessing if the large towns could be
depleted of the surplus population with which they are
overcrowded, and the tide of immigration diverted from them, to
be distributed over our vast territory. This agricultural life is
incomparably more wholesome, more happy, and more favorable to
virtue and piety than the feverish, comfortless, and unnatural
existence to which the mass of the laboring class are condemned
in large cities. It is free from a thousand influences vitiating
both to the soul and the body, and, above all things, better for
the proper training of children. Our young men and women of
American origin are deserting this agricultural life, and leaving
vacant the fields of their fathers, to plunge into a more
exciting and adventurous life, which promises to satisfy more
speedily their desire for wealth. Let our young Irishmen, who
come here to find a better field for their strength and vigor
than they have at home, and those who have grown up here, but
find themselves unable to get a proper field for their industry
in the old and crowded settlements, come in and take their
places, leave the cities, shun the factory towns, and strike into
the open country. Sobriety, industry, and prudence, will secure
to every young man of this sort, in due time, the position of an
independent land-holder. There is a hidden treasure of wealth,
health, virtue, and happiness in the soil, which will richly
reward those who dig for it, and will also enrich both the
country and the Church.

{180}

I may also mention with pleasure, in connection with the Ann
Arbor Mission, my agreeable recollections of the polite
attentions we received from the president and gentlemen of the
University of Michigan. This is by no means a solitary instance
of courtesy extended to us in the Protestant community. In many
parts of the United States, we have received the most polite and
friendly attentions, and occasionally hospitable entertainment,
both from clergymen and laymen of different religious
denominations, as well as a general manifestation of respect and
good-will on the part of the community. Sometimes the mission has
excited ill-will, and obstacles have been thrown in the way of
domestics and other dependent persons attending it. But in many
other cases, not only has there been no interference, but every
facility has been given, by owners of factories, who have
shortened the time of work and given leave of absence, and by
masters and mistresses of families, who have excused their
servants from their ordinary work, and even furnished them with
conveyances, when they lived at a distance.

From Michigan, the missionaries returned to New York, and after
New Year's, being rejoined by Father Hecker, gave a mission in
St. Mary's Church, New Haven, a large and very flourishing
parish, which is, however, only one of three in the classic "City
of Elms;" where, thirty-five years ago, there was not a Catholic
to be found, except, perhaps, one or two serving-men in wealthy
families.

After this mission, I revisited several of the places where we
had given missions in South Carolina and Georgia, to solicit aid
for our infant community, which was given in a liberal and
generous manner, worthy of those warm-hearted Catholics, who, I
trust, will receive a similar return from their Northern
brethren, whenever they ask for it, to enable them to repair the
ruin which has been made among them by civil war.

{181}

During my absence, two missions were given by the other three
fathers--one at Princeton, where the church was broken down by
the throng, and whose young pastor has since joined our
community: another at Belleville, which has been so beautifully
described by the amiable pastor of that place, that I cannot
refrain from copying his sketch:--

  "At the above-mentioned place, the Rev. Fathers Hecker, Deshon,
  and Baker opened a mission, Sunday, February 13, which
  continued during a week, and closed on the evening of the
  Sunday following. To say that it was most successful, is too
  cold an expression; and to call it most impressive, beautiful,
  and triumphant, can give no adequate idea of its enchanting
  power. During the week of its continuance, the hill that is
  crowned by the graceful Church of St. Peter, with its tall
  steeple and gilded cross, marking the first of a series of
  eminences that rise higher and higher westward from the River
  Passaic, has almost realized Mount Thabor. The eager people of
  the country round had been beforehand preparing for the arrival
  of the missionaries, and no sooner did the good fathers come
  than the faithful people rose up in haste to meet them. Down
  they came, the children of old Roscommon and Mayo, from the
  romantic hills of Caldwell on the west, along the glades and
  woody slopes of Bloomfield, saluting, as they passed, their
  newly-built Church of 'Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.'
  Onward and upward, too, were hastening from the north and east,
  through Acquackanouck and Belleville, those who long ago left
  the Boyne and the Luir, the Liffey and Shannon, to cultivate
  the valley of the scarcely less beautiful Passaic. A thin,
  sparkling frost still lay upon the roads; and the crisping
  sounds of their hurrying feet, 'beautiful with glad tidings,'
  and their cheerfully ringing voices, far and near, were heard
  along the banks and over the drawbridge of that beautiful
  river--beautiful at half-past four in the balmy morning
  air--quivering under the hovering, waning moon, the deep-blue
  sky, and the twinkling stars.
{182}
  But the people of the valley have ascended the hill from whence
  the loud bell of St. Peter's steeple has been awakening the
  country for miles around with its clear and booming sounds.
  They meet their brethren from Bloomfield and Caldwell, and
  pause for a moment before the double flight of steps leading up
  to the portico of the church. Every window gleams with light.
  The organ and choir are intoning and singing the Litany of the
  Blessed Virgin Mary, 'Sancta Virgo Virginum,' Holy Virgin of
  Virgins, pray for us.' 'I thought I was before the bell,'
  exclaims a young woman, just come from several miles off, as
  she flits hastily through the doorway to be in time for Mass.
  But the priest, in his shining vestments, with his little
  surpliced attendants, is already at the altar; and, it being
  five o'clock, the first Mass of the morning has punctually
  begun. The weather, however, at two or three other intervals of
  the mission, was not quite so propitious, nor the roads so
  pleasant; for thaws and occasional rain had softened the latter
  to a disagreeable extent. But this mattered nothing to the
  seamless robe of the Faith, which is proof against all
  weathers; for St. Peter's was thronged morning and evening
  alike while the mission lasted. Many were the expedients
  resorted to by poor mothers, for trusty guardians to mind the
  little ones during their absence at church. In several
  instances, a mother would charge herself with the children of
  two or three others; or some kind-hearted Protestant would take
  this care upon her. But not unfrequently the little ones were
  deposited in the basement of the church; and it was interesting
  to see the German mother place her infant in the Irish-woman's
  arms, while she herself hastened up with the crowd to receive
  communion at the altar-rail--a crowd of old and young, dotted
  here and there with the Hollander, the German, the French, and
  the English or American Catholic.
{183}
  The morning instruction was usually given by Father Hecker,
  whose appearance and manner' were well calculated to cheer up
  the people, even to alacrity, under their daily difficulties of
  faithful attendance, late and early, on the mission-whether he
  related the anecdote of the old man, who, early in the morning,
  after most determined efforts to be faithful to the mission,
  vanquished the temptation of his warm bed, and finally
  succeeded in reaching the church in the teeth of a snow-storm,
  with inverted umbrella; or, when urging the duty of virtuous
  perseverance, he gave his celebrated allegory of the pike of
  the Mississippi, who, terrified one night by an unusual display
  of fireworks on its banks, vowed he would swallow no more
  little fishes, but afterward relapsed into his intemperate
  proclivities, and became worse than ever. In the evening,
  Father Deshon ended his most interesting instruction with the
  recitation of the Rosary, responded to aloud by the whole
  congregation. This was followed by Father Baker's sermon and
  the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Besides the
  overflowing attendance of the faithful, the knowledge of the
  missionaries themselves being Americans and converts from
  Protestantism, brought hundreds of Protestants of all classes
  nightly, many of whom were present at every sermon; and they
  were as sensibly moved even to tears and audible grief, by the
  power and holiness of the preacher's eloquence, as the
  Catholics themselves. But the last night's scene will long be
  remembered--the renewal of baptismal vows, with uplifted hands,
  by the entire assemblage, which the strongly-built church
  somehow or other contrived to accommodate, sitting and standing
  in the pews, passages, gallery, and sacristy, and close around
  the sanctuary, to the number of some thirteen or fourteen
  hundred. The interior of the church was but lately remodelled
  and decorated, and its pale rose-colored walls and ceiling were
  charmingly varied by their white ornamental centers and
  panelled mouldings.
{184}
  The statues of the Blessed Virgin and St. Peter at either side
  of the sanctuary rested on tasteful pedestals, which supported
  four lofty Corinthian columns and their pilasters. These pure
  white, fluted, and tapering columns, with their rich capitals
  and entablature, the altar, tabernacle, and almost life-size
  crucifix, the high-raised marble font and its pendent baptismal
  robe of snowy lace--all these, contrasted with the dark and
  lofty missionary cross, and the crucifixion winding scarf hung
  athwart it, became of an almost white and dazzling beauty, amid
  the innumerable lights, silver and gilded candelabra, and vases
  of a countless variety of natural flowers. It is a pleasing
  thought, that much of the plate alluded to was lent for the
  occasion by kind-hearted Protestants of the neighborhood, in
  whose estimation this mission has exalted the Catholic Church
  to a surprising degree. At the same time it may be said, that
  few or no places in the country are more remarkable than
  Belleville, N. J., for kind cordiality on the part of the
  Protestant community toward the Catholic. But the last scene,
  like a beautiful vision, is now over. The missionaries have
  given their blessing to the crowd, among whom is a Protestant
  young lady, who comes also to seek it before the carriage shall
  have borne them away. One convert was baptized on the morning
  of their departure. Another will be in a day or two hence. More
  are in reserve for this sacred rite. Upward of eleven hundred
  and thirty Catholics have received the Holy Eucharist; many of
  them old men, and many youths, who, but for the influence of
  the mission, would not have approached the sacraments for
  years--perhaps never. Young, wavering Catholics, already more
  than half lost to the faith, have been reclaimed and fortified.
  A. rich legacy of Catholic truth has been left to vanquish
  falsehood and error, which, in Belleville and its neighborhood,
  must cower for many a day before the memory of the Missionaries
  of St. Paul the Apostle." [Footnote 7]

    [Footnote 7: New York _Tablet_.]

{185}

On the 20th of March, 1859, a mission was opened in St. Patrick's
Church, Quebec, by the special invitation of the Administrator of
the diocese. It would be easy to fill pages with reminiscences of
this mission, given in a city so replete with interest of every
kind, and full of pleasant recollections. The mission was a very
large one; as we had seven thousand two hundred and fifty
communions, and fifty converts received into the Church. It was
peculiarly satisfactory, also, from the circumstance that the
church was large enough to contain all the people who desired to
get in, though it was densely crowded, and that the most abundant
facilities were furnished to all who wished to come to
confession--there being nineteen confessors, of whom fifteen were
clergymen of the diocese.

The soldiers of the garrison attend this church, where they have
on Sundays a special Mass and sermon from their chaplain. The
Thirty-ninth Regiment, of Crimean memory, was stationed there at
that time, and as many as were able to get leave, as well as a
number of Catholic soldiers from the artillery battalion and the
Canadian Rifles, attended the mission. Some of these Crimean
veterans made their first communion, and others came to
confession who had made their last confession before some one of
the great battles of the Crimea. One of them, who was unable to
get through the crowd after service, arrived after taps at his
barracks, for which he was sent by the sergeant to the
guard-house, and reported to the colonel the next morning.
Colonel Monroe, the same officer who commanded the regiment in
the Crimea, tore up the report and released the soldier from
custody, saying that it was a shame to punish a man for going to
the mission, which had done his regiment more good than any thing
else that ever happened in Quebec.

{186}

We had several invitations to give missions in the British
Provinces, which it was necessary to decline, and, after taking
leave of Quebec, where we had received such unbounded kindness
and attention, both from the clergy and laity, we gave our last
mission for the season in St. Peter's Church, Troy, then under
the care of Father Walworth. From Troy we returned to New York,
where a small house had been rented for our use, near the site of
our new religious house and church.

During the summer of 1859, the work of collecting funds, by
public contributions in churches, and private subscriptions, was
continued, and the building, which was to serve as a religious
house, was erected; a large portion of it being thrown into a
commodious and tolerably spacious chapel, which could be used as
a temporary parish church for some years, until circumstances
would warrant the erection of a permanent church edifice. The
corner-stone was laid by the archbishop, on Trinity Sunday, June
19, in presence of an immense concourse of people. On the 24th of
November, the Feast of St. John of the Cross, the house was
blessed by the superior of the congregation, and taken possession
of. The first Mass was said in it on the following day, in one of
the rooms arranged as a private chapel. On the first Sunday of
Advent, November 27, the chapel was blessed, and Solemn Mass
celebrated in it by the Vicar-General of the diocese; and from
this time commenced the double labors of both parochial and
missionary duty. An accession to our small number of one more
priest, Father Tillotson, who had been previously residing in
England as a member of the Birmingham Oratory, enabled us to do
this--an undertaking which would otherwise have been extremely
difficult. Three of our number, of whom F. Baker was generally
one, could now be spared for the missions, leaving two in charge
of the parish; and by relieving one another occasionally, the
labor was somewhat lightened. Within the next two years our
number was further increased by the accession of two others--one
of whom, F. Walworth, had been for a long time the superior of
our missionary band, and now rejoined it, after a short interval,
in which he had been fulfilling parochial duty as pastor of St.
Peter's Church, Troy.
{187}
Strengthened by these accessions, we were enabled, while our
number remained undiminished by death, and all were blessed with
the health and strength necessary to the performance of active
labor, to carry on a continuous course of missions during seven
years, dating from the time of our separate organization; and at
the same time to bestow abundant care and attention on our
continually increasing parish. Three of these missions were given
in the British Provinces--in the cathedral, of St. John's, N. B.,
Halifax, and Kingston, Canada, respectively; the remainder
chiefly in New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania,
with a small number in the Western States. The details already
given of previous missions are amply sufficient to give an idea
of the missionary life of F. Baker, and it would be wearisome to
continue them. These seven years, with the year immediately
preceding them, comprise the most laborious and most fruitful
portion of his too short priestly life. The number of missions
given in this period of seven years was seventy-nine, with an
aggregate of one hundred and sixty-six thousand communions, the
same number with that of the missions of the preceding seven
years. Father Baker assisted at sixty-four of these missions, and
at sixteen previously given, making a sum-total of eighty. The
number of converts from Protestantism registered is two hundred
and sixty-three, and the record is imperfect. Two of these were
Protestant clergymen--one the rector of the Episcopal Church in
Scranton, Pa.; the other, the principal of the High School in
Pittsfield, Mass.

It only remains now to say a few words of the virtues exhibited
by F. Baker, in his missionary, sacerdotal, and religious life.
Those high and noble virtues are best made known by a simple
record in his deeds, and by the utterance which he has himself
bequeathed in his own sermons, in which the lofty standard of
Christian perfection proposed to others is a simple reflection of
what he actually practised in his life.

{188}

Father Baker usually passed from seven to eight months of every
year in the labors of the missionary life, and in those labors,
as a member of a body of hard-working men, he was pre-eminent for
the assiduity and perseverance with which he devoted himself to
the most arduous and fatiguing occupations of his peculiar state.
He usually said Mass at five o'clock, after which he went to the
confessional till half-past seven. From nine until one, and from
three until half-past six, he was in his confessional, rarely
leaving it even for a moment. At half-past seven, on those
evenings when he was not to preach, he gave the instruction and
recited the prayers which preceded the principal sermon. A
considerable part of the remaining time was taken up by reciting
his office and other private religious duties, leaving but very
little for relaxation, and none whatever for exercise, unless it
was snatched at some brief interval, or required by the distance
of the church from the pastor's residence. During the first few
days of each mission, the confessionals were not opened, and the
preacher of the evening sermon was always freed from its labors
in the afternoon. Frequently, however, those first days were
devoted to a special mission given to the children of the
congregation; and F. Baker was always prompt and ready to fulfil
this duty, which he did in the most admirable manner, adapting
himself with a charming and winning grace and simplicity to the
tender age and understanding of the little ones, and reciting
with them beautiful forms of meditation and prayer, composed by
himself, during the whole time of the Mass at which they received
communion. The hardest part of the work of the mission, after the
confessions began, was continued during from five to eleven
successive days, according to the size of the congregation, and
requiring from ten to twelve hours of constant mental application
each day.
{189}
Besides this necessary and ordinary work, performed with the most
patient and unflagging assiduity, F. Baker often employed all the
remaining intervals of time--not taken up by meals and sleep--in
instructing adult Catholics who had never been prepared for the
sacraments, and in instructing and receiving converts. Wherever
there was any work of charity to be done, he undertook it
quietly, promptly, and cheerfully, always ready to spare others,
and willing to relieve them by assuming their duties when they
were exhausted or unwell, seldom asking to be relieved himself.
It was never necessary to remind F. Baker of his duty, much less
to give him any positive command. During a long course of
missions, in which I was superior, with F. Baker as my constant
companion and my associate in preaching the mission sermons, and
one other long-tried companion as the preacher of the
catechetical instructions, I remember, with peculiar
satisfaction, how perfect was the harmony with which we
co-operated with one another, without the least necessity of any
exercise of authority, or any disagreement of moment.

To understand fully how arduous was the work which F. Baker
performed, it must be considered that not only was his mind and
his whole moral nature taxed to the utmost by the continued
effort necessary in order to fulfil his duty as a preacher and
confessor, but that it was done under circumstances most
unfavorable to health, shut up in crowded, ill-ventilated rooms,
pressed upon by impatient throngs, forced to strain the vocal
organs to the utmost in large churches crowded with dense masses
of people, and often obliged to pass suddenly from an overheated
and stifling atmosphere into an intensely cold or damp air, and
always obliged to work, for several hours in the morning,
fasting. Such a life is a very severe strain upon one who has
only the ordinary American constitution, especially if his
temperament is delicate and unaccustomed to hardship in early
life. The amount of work which F. Baker performed was not equal
to that which many European missionaries are able to endure,
especially those who have an unusually robust constitution.
{190}
But it was greater than that which St. Alphonsus himself required
of the missionaries who were under his own personal direction.
The average duration of a career of continuous missionary labor
in Europe is only ten years, and it is therefore not surprising
that F. Baker was able to continue such constant and arduous
exertions, with the other duties which devolved on him during the
intervals of missions, for no longer a period than eight years.

At least as far back as the year 1861, he began to suffer from a
malady of the throat, and to find the effort of preaching
painful. Nevertheless, he continued to perform his full share of
this duty until within a year before his death. Occasionally it
would be necessary to relieve him of some of his sermons; and on
the last mission which we gave together, which was in St. James's
Church, Salem, Massachusetts, he asked to be relieved altogether
both from the sermons and the short instructions which precede
them. This mission was given during the month of January, 1865.
F. Baker assisted at two other missions after this, one at
Archbald, in Pennsylvania, and the other at Birmingham,
Connecticut, at each of which he preached four sermons. His last
mission sermon was preached, February 18, 1865, six weeks before
his death; which occurred on the last day of the next mission but
one, given at Clifton, Staten Island--twelve years from the time
of his receiving his first communion at the mission in the
Cathedral of Baltimore.

In the discharge of the duties allotted to him in the parish, F.
Baker labored with the same zeal and assiduity as he did in the
missions. He was particularly charged with the care of the altar
and the divine service in the church, for which his thoroughly
sacerdotal spirit, his exquisite taste, and his complete
acquaintance with the rubrics and the details of ecclesiastical
rites and ceremonies, gave him a special fitness.
{191}
He took unwearied pains and care in providing vestments and
ornaments, preserving the sanctuary and all appertaining to it in
order and neatness, decorating the church for great festivals,
training up the boys, who served at the altar, and directing the
manner of performing the divine offices. This minute and exact
attention to the beauty and propriety of the sacred ceremonies of
the Church, sprang from a deep, inward principle of devotion and
love to our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament, to His Blessed
Mother, to the saints, and to the mysteries of the Christian
Faith, symbolized by the outward forms of religion. In the
performance of his sacerdotal functions, he was a model of
dignity, grace, and piety. He loved his duties, and was
completely absorbed in his priestly office. The august Sacrifice
and Sacrament of the Altar was his life and joy; and there he
derived those graces and virtues which produced their choice and
precious fruits in his character and conduct.

As a preacher of the Divine Word, he excelled equally. His
parochial sermons were even superior to those which he preached
on the mission. He could prepare himself more quietly; the
exertion was not so tasking to his physical strength, and suited
better the tone of his mind, which made it more pleasing and easy
for him to fulfil these ordinary pastoral ministrations than to
address great crowds of people, on occasions requiring a more
vehement style of oratory. His published sermons will enable the
reader to judge of his merit as a preacher, although their effect
was greatly increased by the impression produced by his personal
appearance and attitude, and the charm of his voice and
intonations. One striking feature of his sermons was the
abundance and felicity of his quotations from Holy Scripture.
Frequent reading and meditation of the inspired books had
saturated his mind with their influence, and the apposite texts
which were suitable for his theme appeared to flow from his lips
without an effort. Another characteristic of his preaching was,
that it appealed almost exclusively to the reason, and through
the reason to the will and conscience.
{192}
His continual aim was to inculcate conscientiousness, obedience
to the law of God, the fulfilment of the great duties of life,
and a faithful correspondence to the divine grace. He never lost
sight of this great end in his missionary or parochial sermons,
but always directed his aim to bring sinners to a renunciation of
sin, and a fixed purpose of living always in the grace of God,
and to bring good Christians to a high standard of practical
perfection and solid virtue. For deep speculations in theology
and oratorical display, he had not the slightest inclination. He
never desired to preach on unusual occasions or topics, but, on
the contrary, had an unconquerable repugnance to appear in the
pulpit, except where the sole object was to preach the gospel
with apostolic simplicity, for the single end of the edification
of the people. He was not at all conscious of his own superiority
as a preacher, and never gave his sermons for publication without
reluctance, or from any other motive than deference to the
judgment of his superior and his brethren. He loved and sought
the shade from a true and profound humility, without the
slightest desire for applause or reputation. His manner was
earnest and grave; at times, when the subject and occasion
required it, even vehement; but equable and sustained throughout
his discourse, without rising to any sudden or powerful outbursts
of eloquence. On ordinary occasions it had a calm and persuasive
force; enlivened with a certain pure and lofty poetic sentiment,
which blended with the prevailing argumentative strain of his
thought, pleasing the imagination just enough to facilitate the
access of the truth he was teaching to the reason and conscience,
without weakening its power, or distracting the mind from the
main point. He never produced those startling effects upon his
audience which are sometimes witnessed during a mission, by an
appeal to their feelings; but he invariably made a profound
impression, which manifested itself in the deep and fixed
attention with which he held them chained and captivated from the
first to the last word he uttered.
{193}
His eloquence was like the still, strong current of a deep and
placid river, sometimes swollen in volume and force, and
sometimes subsiding to a more tranquil and gentle flow; but never
deviating from a straight course, and seldom rushing with the
violence of a torrent.

In his more intimate and personal relations with his penitents,
with the sick and afflicted whom he visited, or who came to him
for counsel, and with others who sought instruction, advice, or
sympathy from him as a priestly director, F. Baker was a faithful
copy of the charity and suavity of his special patron--St.
Francis de Sales. Pure and holy as he was himself, he was
compassionate and indulgent to the most frail and sinful souls;
and, without ever relaxing the uncompromising strictness of
Christian principle, or mitigating his severe denunciations of
sin, he was free from all rigorism toward the penitent who sought
to rise from his sins by his aid. This benignity and charity
attracted to him a great number of persons who were in peculiar
difficulties and troubles, some of whom had never had courage to
go to any one else. He spared no pains and trouble to help them,
and his patience was inexhaustible. With the sick and dying he
took unusual pains, visiting them frequently, and often aiding
them to receive the sacraments devoutly by reciting prayers with
them from some appropriate book of devotion. He reconciled a
number to the Church who had been drawn away from their religion,
and was particularly successful in bringing to the fold of Christ
those who were without. The tokens of affection, gratitude, and
sorrow which were given by great numbers at his death, were
proofs how much he had endeared himself to all with whom he came
in contact, and how irreparable they felt his loss to be.

{194}

Of F. Baker's religious character it would be difficult to say
much, in addition to the portraiture of him which has been given
in the foregoing sketch of his life. It presented no salient or
striking points to be seized on and particularly described. Its
great beauty consisted in its quiet, equable constancy and
harmony. He had that evenly balanced temperament ascribed to St.
Charles Borromeo by his biographers, and regarded as the most
favorable to virtue. He had no favorite books of devotion, no
special practices of piety or austerity, no inclination for the
study of the higher mystic theology, no unusual difficulties or
temptations, no deep mental struggles, no scruples, no marked
periods of spiritual crisis and change after his conversion to
the Catholic Church--nothing extraordinary, except an
extraordinary fidelity and constancy in ordinary duties and
exercises, and extraordinary conscientiousness and purity of
life. He was detached from the world, and from every selfish
passion; reserved to a remarkable degree, without the faintest
tinge of melancholy or moroseness; collected within himself and
in God at all times; serene and tranquil of spirit; simple,
abstemious, and exact in his habits; with his whole heart in his
convent, his cell, his duties, and his religious exercises.

The character of F. Baker was very much developed during the
later years of his life. That passive, quiescent disposition
which characterized him in his earlier career, gave place to
greater decision and energy. He acquired by action a more
self-poised and determined judgment, greater self-reliance, and a
more marked individuality. He was no longer swayed and led by the
opinions of others, except so far as duty required him to obey,
or his own reason was convinced. The almost feminine delicacy and
refinement which he had in youth was hardened into a robust and
manly vigor, as it is with a softly-nurtured young soldier after
a long campaign. He exhibited also a gayety of temper, a
liveliness in conversation, and often a rich and exuberant humor
and playfulness, especially in depicting the variety of strange
and amusing characters and scenes with which he came in contact
by mixing with all classes of men, which had remained completely
latent in his earlier character, before it was warmed and
expanded by the genial influence of the Catholic religion.
{195}
No one could have been a more delightful companion on the
mission, during the intervals of rest and relaxation, than he
was; and he entered into the enjoyment of the occasional
recreations thrown in his way in traveling with the zest of a
schoolboy on a holiday. For company he had no taste, and he could
not be induced to undertake any jaunt or excursion for mere
pleasure. During the summer months he would never go into the
country, even for the sake of recruiting his health, but remained
during the hottest months at home, where he found the truest
happiness, pursuing the even tenor of his ordinary occupations. A
beautiful character! A rare specimen of the most perfect human
nature, elevated and sanctified by divine grace, and clothed with
a bodily form which was the exact expression of the inhabiting
soul! To describe it is impossible. Those who knew it by personal
acquaintance will say, without exception, that the attempt I have
made is completely inadequate, and, like an unsuccessful
portrait, reproduces but a dim and indistinct image of the
original. I do not mean to say that F. Baker was a perfectly
faultless character, or that he was without sin. Of those faults,
however, which are apparent to human eyes in the exterior
conduct, he had but few, and those slight and venial.

Nothing now remains but to describe the closing scene of F.
Baker's life. I have already mentioned that his constitution had
shown symptoms of giving way under the fatigues of his missionary
labors. Nevertheless, he still continued in the constant and
active discharge of his priestly duties, and no solicitude in
regard to his health was felt by any of his brethren, with whom
these periods of physical infirmity wore an ordinary occurrence.
On one Sunday, a few weeks before his death, his strength failed
him while he was singing High Mass, and he was obliged to
continue it in a low voice.
{196}
He was also unable to continue the abstinence of Lent, and was
obliged to ask for a dispensation, which I believe never occurred
with him before. His appearance was pale and languid, and the
fulfilment of his duties evidently cost him an effort. We had
been accustomed to sing together two of the three parts of the
Passion on Palm Sunday, ever since the church had been opened;
but, in making arrangements for the services of the Holy Week for
this year, he remarked that we would be obliged to omit singing
the Passion as usual. He had marked himself, however, on the
schedule of offices which was posted up in the library, to preach
both on Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday. His last Sunday sermon
was preached on the Second Sunday of Lent, March 12. The subject
was "Heaven." The Wednesday evening following, he volunteered to
preach in the place of one of his brethren who was unwell, about
an hour before the service commenced, and left the supper-table
to prepare himself. He took for the emergency the sermon which he
had first preached as a missionary, on "The Necessity of
Salvation;" and this was the last regular discourse which he
delivered. On the following Sunday, after Vespers, he gave a
short conference to the Rosary Society; and after this his voice
was never heard again in exhortation or instruction. About this
time, there were several cases of typhus fever in the parish, and
F. Baker had in some way imbibed the poison, to which his
delicate state of health rendered him peculiarly susceptible. On
the Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 26, the first symptoms of
illness showed themselves. On the preceding evening he heard
confessions as usual, until about nine o'clock, after which he
came to the room of one of the fathers and made his own
confession, as he did habitually every week. The next morning he
said Mass for the last time, at half-past eight, for the children
of the Sunday-school. As I passed his door at half-past ten, to
go down to High Mass, he met me in the corridor, and remarked
that he felt too sick to go down to the sanctuary.
{197}
From this time he came no more again to the table or the
recreation of the community, but kept his room. Nothing was
thought of his indisposition, and it was by accident that his
physician, who dined that day with the community, saw him and
prescribed for him in the afternoon. The next day three of the
fathers left the house for a mission, and bade him good-by as
usual, without a thought of anxiety on either side. F. Baker
remained on Sunday and Monday in the same state, dressing himself
every morning, and sitting up at intervals, but usually lying on
the bed, and occupying himself about some matters of business. He
wrote several notes, and dictated others, some concerning the
articles he had ordered for the sanctuary, and others concerning
some sick persons or penitents for whom he had a special care.
During this time, no symptoms of typhus had appeared, but his
complaint appeared to be a slight attack of pneumonia. On Monday
evening he went down by himself to the bath-room and took a hot
bath, after which he kept his bed entirely. The superior of the
house, who was engaged in the mission on Staten Island, came
every day to visit him, and had already detected an incipient
tendency to delirium, which awakened in his mind an anxiety,
which, however, was not shared by anyone else. On Wednesday,
however, although he retained control over his faculties, his
brain began evidently to show a state of morbid excitability. He
remarked that the bells of the house had a strange sound, and
fancied that his breathing and pulsations were all set to a
regular rhythmical measure, and gave out musical sounds. When he
was alone and his eyes shut, he said that a brilliant array of
figures continually passed before him, and that he seemed to be
hurried away by a rapid motion like that of a railway carriage.
During that evening he was more decidedly wandering in his mind,
although he became quiet, and slept nearly all night. On Thursday
morning the poison of typhus had filled his brain completely, and
he lay in a dull, stupid state, unconscious of what was said to
him, and incapable of uttering a rational word.
{198}
This gave place after a time to a more violent form of delirium,
during which he talked incessantly in an incoherent manner, and
could with difficulty be kept in a quiet position or induced to
swallow any nourishment or medicine. On Friday morning the danger
of a fatal termination was evident, as the disease continued to
progress, and the symptoms of pneumonia were also aggravated. The
superior of the house was sent for, and came over in the
afternoon. Dr. Van Buren and Dr. Clarke, two of the most eminent
physicians in town, were called in for consultation by Dr. Hewit,
the attending physician, and information of F. Baker's illness
was sent to his sister, who came immediately from Baltimore to
see him. On Saturday evening the typhus fever had spent its
violence, reason returned, and from this time F. Baker remained
in a weak but tranquil state until his departure. He had been
removed from his own room to the library, a large and airy
apartment, where every thing about him was arranged in a neat,
orderly, and cheerful manner, and he was attended and carefully
watched night and day by his physician, his brethren, and his
nurse. The violence of his fever had prostrated his strength so
completely, that he was unable to resist the severe attack of
pneumonia which accompanied it, and which medical skill and care
were unable to subdue. The feeble vital force which still
remained gradually subsided during the next three days, under the
progress of this disease, although his friends continued to hope
against all appearances for his recovery, and seemed almost to
take it for granted that God would surely hear their prayers and
spare his life. During all this time he was rational and
collected, recognising all his friends, but unable to speak more
than a few brief sentences that were connected and intelligible.
He desired his sister to remain with him, and she did so during a
great portion of the time. He expressed his perfect willingness
and readiness to die, and made an effort to repeat audibly some
prayers, but without success.
{199}
He manifested his desire for absolution by signs, and it was
given to him, together with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, on
Sunday. On Tuesday, the Holy Viaticum, for which he had asked,
was given him, at about half-past ten in the morning. He received
it with perfect consciousness, and remained quiet, free from
pain, and without becoming perceptibly worse, until one. After
the fathers had gone down to dinner, he asked his nurse for his
cap, which was brought to him and placed in his hand. He then
asked for his habit, and said he would dress and go down to
dinner with the community. Soon after, a change was observed in
him by the watchful eye of the father who had been his bosom
friend during their common missionary career, and who had passed
so many hours of the day and night by his bedside during his
sickness with more than the devotion of a brother; and several of
his particular friends were sent for, that they might see him
once more before he died. The two fathers who were at home, his
physician, his only and beloved sister, a lady who had been his
chief aid in the care of the sanctuary, and another, who was one
of his converts, surrounded his bedside, where he lay, the
picture of placid repose and holy calm, quietly, gently, and
imperceptibly breathing his last, until four o'clock, when his
spirit passed away to God, without a struggle or a sign of agony,
leaving his countenance unruffled, and his form as composed as a
statue. Those who saw him after death have said that, about an
hour after his departure, his appearance was most beautiful, as
he lay just dressed in his sacerdotal vestments, his majestic and
finely chiselled brow and features as yet untouched by the finger
of decay. The vestments in which F. Baker was dressed had been
prepared by himself only three weeks before, that they might be
ready in case of the death of one of the community. His body was
placed in a metallic case, enclosed in a rosewood coffin, and
laid in state in the church.
{200}
These arrangements were not completed until late in the night,
and the people did not therefore begin to visit the sacred
remains until the next morning; from which time until the
sepulture, crowds of the faithful were coming to the church
during every hour, both of the day and the night. Requiem Masses
were said by all the priests in the house on Wednesday and
Thursday. The mission at Staten Island closed on Tuesday evening.
The fathers who were there were not made acquainted with the
extreme danger of F. Baker, and the intelligence of his death was
not sent to them until Wednesday morning, when their labors were
all completed. They returned home to find the body of their late
companion lying in the church, and the household and parish
overwhelmed with sorrow. Usually, in a religious community, the
death of a member is taken very much as the loss of a soldier is
regarded by his comrades, schooled as they are to control their
feelings, and to be ready at any moment to expose their lives in
the discharge of their duty. But in a small band like ours, which
had been through so many trials and vicissitudes in company, and
where all the members had been continually in the most constant
and intimate association with each other, it was impossible not
to feel in the deepest and keenest manner the loss of one of our
number, the first one called away during the fourteen years of a
missionary life. To an infant congregation like ours, the loss of
a priest like F. Baker was truly irreparable. Besides this, each
one felt that his loss as a friend and brother was a personal
grief equal to that of losing his nearest and dearest relative by
the tie of blood. This sorrow was shared by the whole parish, by
all his friends, and by the faithful everywhere in the parishes
where he had preached and labored. Many letters of sympathy and
condolence were sent from all quarters, and not Catholics only,
but numbers of others also, who had respected the virtues of the
holy Catholic priest, testified their regret at his death, and
their sympathy with our loss.
{201}
The Rev. Dr. Osgood, a distinguished Unitarian clergyman of New
York, sent a small painting representing a bouquet of various
kinds of lilies, as a memorial of respect, in the name of his
congregation, accompanied by a very kind note. Several other
Protestant clergymen were present at the funeral services; and,
indeed, the manifestations of respect for F. Baker's memory were
universal.

The funeral obsequies were of necessity accelerated more than his
friends would have desired, so that few from distant places were
able to attend them. A few intimate friends from Baltimore, and
some clergymen from places out of town, were, however, present; a
large number of the clergy of New York and its vicinity; and as
great a number of the faithful as the church could contain. The
funeral was on Thursday in Passion Week, April 6, two days after
the decease. The previous Thursday was F. Baker's birthday, and
the anniversary of his conversion to the Catholic Church also
occurred within the week of his death and burial. He had just
completed the forty-fifth year of his age, and was in the ninth
year of his priesthood. The following Sunday was the twelfth
anniversary of his formal reconciliation to the Church, in the
chapel of the Sisters' of Charity, in Baltimore. Early on
Thursday morning, four private Masses of Requiem were said for
the repose of his soul in the church. At the usual hour for High
Mass on Sundays, a solemn Mass of Requiem was celebrated by the
superior of the house, in presence of the Archbishop, who
performed the closing rite of absolution, and a short funeral
discourse was preached. The coffin was ornamented with the
sacerdotal vestments, the chalice, and the missionary crucifix of
the deceased, and covered with wreaths of flowers. The altar was
deeply draped in mourning, and F. Baker's confessional was also
similarly draped. Never did these exterior symbols indicate a
more sincere and universal sorrow on the part of all who
participated in them. It was a very difficult task to summon up
sufficient fortitude to perform these last sad rites.
{202}
The voice of the celebrant was interrupted by his tears; the
sub-deacon faltered as he sang the elevating and comforting words
of the Epistle; the choir-boys showed in their candid and
ingenuous faces their sorrow for the one who had trained them up
in the sanctuary; the choir, composed, not of professional
singers, but of members of the congregation, undertook their
solemn task with trembling; every countenance was sad and every
eye moistened, in the assemblage of the clergy who sat in
white-robed ranks nearest the sanctuary, and of the laity who
filled the church. I had the last duty of friendship to perform,
in preaching the funeral sermon; and the wish to do full justice
to F. Baker, and to satisfy the eager desire of all present to
hear something of his life, enabled me to fulfil this duty with
composure, and restrain the tide of emotion which I saw swelling
all around me, quieted only by the hallowing and tranquillizing
influence of the sacred rites of the Church, and the high,
celestial hope inspired by the contemplation of a life so noble
and a death so holy. The music was in the sweet, plaintive,
solemn style of the true ecclesiastical chant; all the means of
celebrating the holy rites of the obsequies had been prepared by
F. Baker's own pious and careful hand; his own spirit seemed to
hover over the spot, and a divine consolation stole gently over
all. Sad as it is, there is nothing so beautiful, so soothing, so
elevating to the soul, as the funeral of a holy priest, who has
achieved his course and attained the crown of his labors. Many of
those who were present remained for a long time after the service
was completed, and some were still found there unwilling to leave
the spot, at nightfall. The remains were taken from the church to
St. Patrick's Cathedral, escorted by a band of young men, and
followed by a train of carriages, and by others on foot, although
it rained heavily; the Vicar-General recited the concluding
prayers of the ritual; the coffin was placed in the episcopal
vault next to that of the late archbishop; a few wreaths of
flowers were placed upon it, the entrance was closed, and all
withdrew; leaving the earthly form of the departed to the silent
repose of the tomb.

{203}

For some days after, a portion of the mourning drapery was left
on the altar, and requiems continued to be offered by all the
priests of the community. Many Masses were also said by other
priests in various parts of the country, and prayers offered by
the people, although the common sentiment of all was, that the
one for whom they were offered was already among the blessed in
heaven. On Saturday evening, as we all went to our confessionals,
and a large congregation of people was assembled in the church,
preparing for their Easter duty, a peculiarly holy calm seemed to
pervade the spot. The people were hushed and still, unusually
intent upon their devotions. The penitents of F. Baker looked
with sadness upon the place where, just two weeks before, he had
sat for the last time in the tribunal of penance, and came
weeping to some one of the other fathers to request him to take
the direction of their consciences. It was a sad Holy Week; and a
difficult task to us, wearied with labor, and some with watching,
oppressed with a grief which time and repose had not yet
diminished, to fulfil the arduous duties of the season. Our
greatest consolation was in the sympathy manifested by our
people, and in the proof they gave of the love and gratitude
which our labors had awakened in their hearts. Easter Sunday
came; the altar was superbly decorated with the choicest flowers
of the season, the triumphant chant of the Church resounded as
usual; but all felt that the one whose presence in the sanctuary
and whose eloquent voice had given the day one of its greatest
charms, was gone forever; and besides, the gloom of the great
crime committed on Good Friday had overspread the whole nation,
and the drapery of universal mourning had turned the city into
one great necropolis.
{204}
The admirable pastoral letter of the archbishop on the
assassination of the President was read in all the churches,
giving eloquent expression to the indignation and grief which
oppressed all Christian and all honest and just hearts; and never
was there seen an Easter more sad and mournful, more like a day
of unusual humiliation and sorrow, than that Easter Sunday; which
had been anticipated as a day of peculiar joy and thanksgiving
for the cessation of bloody war and the restoration of peace.

It is in just such times as these, however, that we appreciate
most fully the strength and support which is given us by our holy
faith, the Divine Sacrament of the Altar, and the grace of God,
and that those who have given themselves to a religious life
learn the inestimable blessing of their vocation, which raises
them above all private and all public tribulation. A few days
brought back serenity and cheerfulness to our little community,
and we took new courage from the blessed death of our companion,
closing so beautifully his holy life, to resume quietly and
resolutely our ordinary duties, and to rely more completely on
the providence of God; trusting that we had gained an advocate in
heaven, and hoping to persevere like him to the end. His course
was short, and his reward speedily gained. What a happiness for
him that he listened to the voice of God; and, as his day was
declining to its close, though he knew it not, gathered up his
strength and courage to leave all and run that brief and swift
race, which in later years gained for him the brilliant and
unfading crown of a true and faithful priest of Jesus Christ, who
had brought thousands of souls into the way of justice; and had
practised himself that Christian perfection which he preached to
others!

There must be many young men equally gifted, and fitted to
accomplish an equally apostolic work, to whom God has given the
same vocation. What hidden consequences were involved in the
result of that struggle and deliberation which was the crisis of
grace in the life of Francis Baker! What a loss to himself and to
the Church of God, if he had proved cowardly and unfaithful! The
simple question before his mind was one of personal obedience to
the commandment of Christ to arise and follow Him.
{205}
But because of his obedience, God chose him to be the instrument
of an amount of good to others which would be sufficient to
enrich with merit a priesthood of fifty years. The immediate
fruits of his own labors in preaching the word of God and
administering His sacraments can never perish. The fruits of his
example and his teaching will, I trust, continue to multiply and
increase after his death in rich abundance. If the blessing of
God perpetuates and extends the congregation which he aided in
forming, and which, so far as we can see, could not have been
established without him, his character and spirit will be
perpetuated in those who will for all time venerate him as a
spiritual father, and imitate him as one of their most perfect
models. If he is to have no imitators and no successors, it will
be because God can find none among our choice and gifted youth,
who have enough of sincerity, generosity, and the spirit of
self-sacrifice, to obey the inspirations of His Divine Spirit,
and consecrate themselves to His glory and the good of their
fellow-men. The need is pressing, the career is glorious and
inviting, and the vocation of God will not be wanting. There is
no hope for religion, except in the multiplication of priests
animated with the apostolic spirit. If the example of Francis
Baker enkindles the spirit of emulation in some generous youthful
hearts; and encourages some timid, fearful souls who are
vacillating between the Church of God and the interests of this
world, to imitate his fidelity to the voice of conscience; the
end I have had in view will be accomplished. If not, it will
stand as a perpetual reproach to a frivolous and unworthy
generation, incapable of appreciating and imitating high
Christian virtue. And now I lay the last stone on this monument
of one who was once the friend and bosom companion of my youth;
afterwards my spiritual child; then my brother in the priesthood;
and who is now exalted to such a height above me that my eye and
my mind can no longer follow him.

{206}

{207}

    Sermons.

{208}

{209}

    Sermons.


    Sermon I.

  The Necessity Of Salvation.

  (Mission Sermon.)


  "Thou art careful, and art troubled about many things.
  But one thing is necessary."
    --St. Luke X. 41, 42.


If, my brethren, I should ask each one in this assembly what his
business is, I should probably receive a great variety of
answers. In so large a congregation as this, drawn as it is from
the heart of a rich and important city, there are undoubtedly
representatives of all the various avocations that grow out of
the requirements of social life; some merchants, some mechanics,
some laboring men. I should find some heirs of ease and opulence
side by side with homeless beggars. Some of you are heads of
families, while others are living under guardianship and
subjection; and in answer to my proposed question, you would give
me your various employments and states of life. You would tell me
that your business is to heal the sick, or to assist at the
administration of justice, or to teach, or to learn letters, or
to labor. The men would tell me that their occupation is at the
office, or the warehouse, or the shop, and the women would tell
me that theirs is at home by the family fireside. No! my
brethren, it is not so. This is not your business. Your words may
be true in the sense in which you use them, but there is a great
and real sense in which they are not true.
{210}
Trade, labor, study--these are not your employments. Your
avocations are not so varied as you think they are. Each one of
you has the same business. All men who have lived in the world
have had but one and the same business. And what is that? The
salvation of their souls. However varied your dispositions, your
condition in this world, your duties, the end of life is
absolutely one and the same to you all. Yes! wherever man is,
whatever his position, whatever his age, he has one business on
the earth, and only one--to save his soul. All other things may
be dispensed with, but this cannot be dispensed with. This is his
true, his necessary, his only duty. Do not think that I am
exaggerating things in making this assertion. Our Divine Saviour
Himself in the words of the text has taught us the same
lesson--"_Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled
about many things. But one thing is necessary_." And what that
one thing is, He has taught us, in those memorable words which He
uttered on another occasion--"_What shall it profit a man, if
he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a
man give in exchange for his soul?_" [Footnote 8] But what
then, you say; must every one go into a cloister, must everyone
who wishes to do his duty forsake the world, leave house and
parents, lands and possessions, and nourish his soul by continual
meditation and prayer? No! this is not our Lord's meaning. The
end of life is indeed the salvation of our souls, but we must
work this out by means of the daily employments appropriate to
our several conditions. We must prepare for the life to come by
the labors of the life that now is. We must bear our part in this
world, but we must do so, always, in subordination to eternity,
and thus we shall in some way fulfil the words of the
apostle--"_They that use this world, let them be as though they
used it not;_" [Footnote 9] that is, let them not use it in
the same way that the children of the world use it, or according
to the principles of the world.

  [Footnote 8: St. Mark viii. 36, 37]

  [Footnote 9: 1 Cor. vii. 31.]

{211}


This is enough for the salvation of most men. No one can be
excused from doing so much as this. The law of God imperatively
and under the highest sanctions requires this of everyone here
present. This is your duty to your souls. This is your only duty.
This done, all will be done. This neglected, all else will be in
vain. To prove this will be the theme of my present discourse.

I will make a remark in the outset: It is important for us to
bear in mind that the salvation of our souls is properly our
work. The grace of God is indeed necessary in order to will, and
to accomplish His good will, but without our co-operation, the
grace of God will not save us; accordingly, St. Paul, writing to
the Philippians, exhorts them to _work out their salvation_.
[Footnote 10]

    [Footnote 10: Philip. ii. 12.]

It is only little children, who die soon after baptism, and
persons equivalent to children, who are saved by a sovereign and
absolute act of divine power; with regard to all others, God has
made their eternal destiny dependent on their own actions. No one
of us will be saved merely because Christ died for us; or because
He founded the Catholic Church as the church of salvation, and
made us its members; or because He has instituted life-giving
sacraments; or because God is willing that all should be saved;
or because He gives His grace to us all; or because the Blessed
Virgin Mary has such power with God; or because the priest can
forgive sins. No one will be saved because he has had
inspirations of grace, good instruction, good desires, and good
purposes. Despite all this, one may be damned. For the Holy
Spirit has said distinctly and strongly, "Work out your own
salvation." It rests, then, with you to save your souls. The
grace of God is indeed necessary. You cannot be saved without the
death of Christ, or the sacraments of the Catholic Church, or the
gifts of the Holy Spirit, or the absolution of the priest, or the
patronage of Mary; but all these things are within your reach,
they are all in your power.
{212}
Now, at the time of the Holy Mission, they are offered to you
with especial liberality. God, on His part, has done, one may
almost say, all that He could do to make your work easy to you.
To make this an acceptable time, it only remains, then, that you
do your part. And this you can do. However great your
difficulties, however great your temptations, however strong your
passions, however importunate your evil companions, may be;
however deeply seated your bad habits; you can, each one can, by
the help which God is now willing to render him, save his soul.

From this first remark I pass to the immediate subject of my
discourse--the obligation of securing our salvation. As we can
save our souls, so we ought to do it. Nay, this is our only, our
all-engrossing duty; and I shall found my proof of it, my
brethren, on this plain rule of common sense and reason, that one
ought to bestow that degree of attention and care on any affair
which it deserves and requires. Everyone feels that it would be
an occupation unworthy of a man to spend his time in writing
letters in the sand, or in chasing butterflies from flower to
flower; because these occupations are in themselves vain and
profitless. Again, anyone would feel it unreasonable, in the
father of a family, to set out on a party of pleasure at the very
moment that his presence was necessary to arrest some disaster
that threatened his family: not because it was wrong in itself
for him to seek recreation, but because a higher obligation was
then urging. Now, applying these principles, on which everyone
acts in matters of daily life, to the matter in question; I say
that you are bound to give to the work of your salvation your
utmost care and attention, because the care of your souls
supremely deserves and urgently requires it.
{213}
Take in, my brethren, the whole scope of my proposition. There is
a work of great consequence before you. I do not speak as the
world speaks. The world tells you that your business here is to
get gain, to build a house, to rear a family, to leave a name, to
enjoy yourself. I say, no. Your business is to seek the grace of
God, and to keep it. The world says: seek friends, fall in with
the stream, court popularity, do as others do, act on the
principles which receive the sanction of the multitude, and a
little religion in addition to this will be no bad thing. I say,
no. Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice. Fathers,
mothers, sons and daughters, masters, servants, ye great ones and
ye humble ones of the earth, you are all engaged in the same
enterprise. God has intrusted to each one of you a soul. He has
intrusted it to _you_, not to another. You cannot devolve
the responsibility of it on another. That is your care on the
earth. Whatever cares of other things you may have, you cannot
neglect that one work, you cannot interrupt or postpone it, you
cannot put any thing in competition with it. If there is a
question between any temporal advantages, however great, or
suffering, however severe, on one side, and the salvation of your
soul on the other; you must renounce these benefits, embrace
those tortures. If you must consent to see your family die by
inches of starvation, or put your salvation in proximate and
certain jeopardy, you must see them starve first. I do not say
the case is likely to happen. God rarely allows men to be reduced
to such straits. But if the case should occur in the line of
duty, nay, if the alternative was presented, of converting the
whole world on one side, and avoiding a mortal sin on the other,
we must rather consult the welfare of our own souls than that of
others; and this not from selfishness, but because God has
intrusted to us our own souls, and not the souls of others.
{214}
And how do I establish my proposition? I waive, my brethren, my
right to appeal to your faith, to speak by the authority of
Christ, Who is infallible and supreme, and Who has a right to
challenge your absolute and instantaneous submission and
obedience. I postpone the consideration of that love which we owe
to our Maker, and which ought to make us prompt and willing to do
His will. I take my stand on the ground of reason and conscience,
and I appeal to you to say whether they do not sustain my
proposition. I make you the judges. It is your own case, it is
true, yet there are points in which even self-love cannot blind
our sense of faith; and I ask you whether the care of our soul's
salvation should not be our sovereign and supreme care in life,
if it be true that the interests of the soul surpass all others
in importance, and can not be secured without our continual and
earnest efforts. Your prompt and decided answer in the
affirmative leaves me nothing more to do than to establish the
fact that the salvation of your souls is in fact so important a
task. I will do so by proving three points: first, that our souls
are our most precious possession; second, that we are in great
danger of losing them; and third, that the loss of our souls is
the greatest of all losses, and is irreparable.

Our souls are our most precious possession. My brethren, we have
souls. When God created man He formed his body out of the slime
of the earth. It was as yet but a lifeless form, a beautiful
statue, but God breathed upon it and man became a living soul.
This soul, the spiritual substance which God breathed into the
body, was formed according to an eternal decree of the Blessed
Trinity, in resemblance to the Divine essence; that is, endowed
with a spiritual nature and possessed of understanding and free
will. "Let us make man to our image and likeness," said God; and
the sacred writer tells us "God created man to His own image;"
and, as if to give greater emphasis to so important an
announcement, he repeats, "To the image of God created He him."
[Footnote 11]

    [Footnote 11: Gen. i. 26.]

{215}

Man therefore is a compound being, consisting of a body and soul,
allied to the material world through the material body which he
possesses, and to the world above us, that is, to God and the
angels, through his soul. Now, the excellence of all creatures is
in proportion to the degree in which they partake of the
perfections of God, who is the Author of all being and all
goodness. All existing substances partake of His perfection in
some degree; if they do not show forth His moral attributes, at
least they reflect His omnipotence; and therefore Holy Scripture
calls on the fishes of the sea, the beasts of the earth, the
fowls of the air, the sun, moon, stars, earth, mountains and
hills, to join with angels and men in blessing God. But the
superiority of angels and souls over material creatures consists
in this, that they partake of the moral perfections of God: they
show us not only what God can do, but what He is. Like Him, they
are spiritual beings. "_Who makest Thy angels spirits and Thy
ministers a burning fire_," says the Psalmist. [Footnote 12]

    [Footnote 12: Ps. ciii. 4.]

They are not gross substances as our bodies are, but pure,
subtle, immaterial essences. They are immortal like Him--at least
so as that they can never die. They do not need food nor sleep.
They are not subject to decay, or old age, or death; they are
endowed with understanding and free will, to know many of the
things that God knows and to love what He loves; but, above all,
to know Him and love Him. Hence the value of the soul is really
immeasurable, and all the treasures of the earth are not to be
compared to it. Take the poorest slave on earth, the most
wretched inmate of the darkest prison, the most afflicted
sufferer whom disease has reduced to a mass of filth and
corruption, and that man's soul is more precious and more
glorious than the richest diadem of the greatest monarch; nay,
than all the treasures of the whole earth, with all the jewels
that are hid in the mines and caves under its surface.

{216}

Our Lord one day permitted St. Catherine of Sienna to see a human
soul, and as she gazed transported at its exceeding beauty, He
asked her if He had not had good reason to come down from heaven
to save such a glorious creature. The saint said the soul was so
beautiful that, if one could see it, one would be willing to
suffer all possible pains and torments for love of it. My
brethren, if, when you go to your homes, you should find in your
house an angel with his face as the appearance of lightning, his
eyes as a burning lamp, his body as a crystal, and his feet in
appearance like to glittering brass, what would you do? Would you
not, like St. John, fall down before his feet and adore him?
Would you not faint and fall before him, or if you were so
strengthened that you could look upon the glorious vision, would
you not gaze upon it with deep and loving awe? Well! such a being
you will find there, when you go home. It will go hence with you.
It will remain there as long as you remain there. It will come
away when you come away. This bright being of whom I speak is no
visitor in your house, it is an inmate, it rises with you in the
morning, accompanies you through the day, is present with you
when you eat, is with you in sickness and in health, in life and
in death. This bright and glorious being is yours--it is more
yours than any thing else in the world, it is the only thing in
the world that is really yours--it is yours; poverty cannot
strip you of it, death cannot tear it from you; eternity cannot
rob you of it. And this being is your soul, your precious,
spiritual, immortal soul. All things else will forsake you,
property, family, friends; but this will never forsake you. It is
yours. It is yours inalienably and for ever. Your greatest, your
only wealth and treasure. Oh, inestimable dignity! We are told of
some saints, who used to make an act of respect to everyone they
met, by way of saluting his guardian angel, and of others that
they bowed down before those whom they knew, by the spirit of
prophecy, would shed their blood for the faith.
{217}
But have we not cause enough to honor man, in the fact that he
has a soul, an immortal soul, a soul which shall one day see God?
Shall we not feel an ample respect for each other, my brethren,
when we think of what we are? Who could ever speak an impure word
before another if he thought of the dignity of a human soul? What
young man would ever dare to go to scenes where he would blush
that his mother or sister should be present, if he remembered
that he took his own soul along with him? Who would lie, or
cheat, or steal, if he thought of his soul? A great and
overpowering thought; how does it belittle all the pride and
ostentation of the external world! Come, my brethren, let us go
into the streets of this city and look around us. There are
stately buildings and proud equipages and gay and brilliant
shops--but what are all these to the concourse of human beings,
the crowds of immortal souls who are, day by day, making an
immortal destiny. There is the old man tottering along on his
stick, there is the little child on the way to school, there is
the rich lady with her jewels and costly fabrics, there is the
laborer with his spade setting out to his daily toil; and each
one has a soul, each one will live forever. Let us strive to take
in this great thought. The tide of human beings flows on from
morning to evening. New faces continually appear. They come and
go. We do not know their history, their destiny; but we know that
each one has a spiritual nature, is made to the image of God, is
possessed of a bright and glorious soul. We shall meet them
again. There will come a day when every one of the throng shall
meet again every other. New populations; shall come in the place
of those who now inhabit the world. The stones of the greatest
buildings shall be reduced to powder, nay, the world itself will
be reduced to ashes, and each soul that now lives in this city
will survive in its own individuality and immortality. There are
some, it is true, who do not seem as if they had souls.
{218}
There are women who have given themselves up to practices of
uncleanness by profession, and men who habitually wallow in
drunkenness and sensuality; and the conversation of such persons
is so horrid and obscene, their countenance so devoid of the
least trace of shame or self-respect, they seem from having
neglected their souls almost to have lost them. They seem really
to have become the brutes whose passions they have imitated. No!
even they have souls. They cannot be brutes if they would. They
are men, they are made to the image of God, and so they must ever
remain. A surgeon [Footnote 13] was once called to attend a man
who was afflicted with cancer.

    [Footnote 13: The surgeon alluded to was Dr. Baker, and a
    faithful portrait of the man was taken, which was preserved
    in the family.]

This terrible disease had affected one entire side of the face,
and had made in it the most dreadful ravages. The cheek was one
shapeless mass of putrid flesh; the nose undistinguishable from
the other features, the eye completely eaten out, and the bones
of the forehead perforated like a sponge; but on turning the face
of the man, the other side presented a wonderful contrast, being
in nowise affected, and showing no trace of sickness except an
excessive pallor. The countenance and features were of a noble
dignity and beauty, and strikingly like the expression ordinarily
observed in the pictures of our Blessed Lord. So it is with men's
souls. Sin has eaten deeply into them, has deprived them of
comeliness, has almost defaced the form they once had, has
blinded their minds and deprived them of the interior eye; but
still there remain traces of nobility, of the image of God. O
man, whoever thou art, however deeply sunk in sin; I care not
whether your body be as filthy as the dunghill or the sink, or
your heart be the prey of every passion and the slave of every
vice; you have a soul: you have indeed lost much, but you have
much remaining; you have that which is of more value than all
else in the world--that which is absolutely of more value than
all material things; and which to you is of more value than all
spiritual things, than all created things in earth and heaven.
{219}
You are great and noble and spiritual and immortal--you are
capable of virtue, happiness, and heaven--you are like God, you
resemble Him. His image is stamped upon you. And how little you
realize this! Alas, you will realize it at the hour of death.

But, secondly, we are in danger of losing our souls. To lose them
in the literal sense is of course impossible, for I have said
that they are immortal, and will remain with us forever. It would
be in some way a happiness to the wicked, if they could, in this
sense, lose their souls, for it would free them from the torment
of a miserable eternity. But that cannot be: the loss of our
souls of which we speak is the loss of God, who alone is the
sufficient and satisfying object of our affection. "Thou hast
made our souls for Thee," says St. Augustine, "and they are not
at peace until they rest in Thee." The loss of our souls is
occasioned by sin, which separates us from God, but it is not
final and irremediable until death overtakes us in this state of
estrangement. The danger of losing our souls, then, is the danger
of falling into mortal sin and dying in that state. Now, the
danger of sinning is, in the present course of God's providence,
inseparable from the possession of a soul. Free will is a high
prerogative, which, while it fits us for the highest state
possible, renders sin also possible. As soon as God created the
angels, a large part of them rebelled against Him, and were cast
out of heaven. As soon as He had made man, our first parents fell
and were cast out of Paradise. It is only a rational moral being
that can sin; because sin is the voluntary transgression of the
Divine law, and therefore cannot be committed by any creature but
one who has a will, that is, intellect and the power of choosing.
Almost all the material acts of sin which men commit are
committed by brutes also.
{220}
See the rage of the tiger, the thieving of the fox, the impurity
of the goat, the treachery of the adder, the gluttony of the
swine. But there are no sins in these brutes, because they have
mere blind instincts. Man, however, has reason and a will, and
therefore he is bound to control the instincts which he shares in
common with the brutes, and his failure to control these
constitutes sin. He has a soul which belongs to God, and of which
God is the sovereign, and his failure to control his passions is
rebellion against God, and pride. Further, as the possession of a
soul renders sin possible, so the proclivity to evil, which we
inherit from the fall, and the temptations of the world, render
it exceedingly probable. I do not know a more striking
illustration of this, than the fear which the saints have
ordinarily had about their salvation. Their sense of the value of
the soul; their deep knowledge of their own hearts, and of the
root of evil that was in them, the weakness of man without grace,
and the uncertainty of grace; have kept men of the greatest
sanctity, men who have wrought miracles, who have cast out
devils, who have raised the dead to life, always anxious about
their perseverance, always begging of God the grace never to to
allow them to commit a mortal sin. But if these reasons are
enough to make saints tremble, what reasons have not ordinary
Christians to fear! A chain of evil habits, unguarded intercourse
with men, the constant contact with the world, how fearfully do
they augment the risk of losing our souls, which all run
necessarily in this world. Why, listen to the conversation of ten
men, taken almost at random in this city; for half an hour walk
through the city, from one end to the other; and see if the
occasions of sin are not more frequent than can be uttered. This
is deeply felt by men of the world themselves. It makes them
despair. They say there is no possibility of saving their souls
in the world. They say it is all in vain to try--that sin meets
them at every step. It is not, of course, true that sin is
inevitable. If it were, it would not be sin. But it is true that
the atmosphere of the world is fearfully surcharged with evil.
{221}
There is many a home in this city, many a place of public resort,
many a den of secret iniquity, many a gaming-room, and
drinking-house, over which there is an inscription legible to the
angels, written in letters of fire, "The gate of hell." There are
many places where souls are sold daily and hourly, and oh, at
what a price! Thirty pieces of silver was the price offered for
our Redeemer, but the soul is often sold for one, indeed, often
for something still more miserable--for the gratification of an
impure passion, for the indulgence of revenge, for a day's
frolic. It is true the Evil One does not carry on his traffic
under its own name and openly--that it is well concealed under
specious pretences; but the danger is only so much the greater.
The occasions of sin are everywhere spread under our feet like
traps and snares, and encircling us on all sides like nets. But
even this is not the worst. The loss of God is not only possible
because of our free will, probable because of the corruption of
the world, but, in many cases, already certain. Men, on all
sides, have lost God, and need only an unforeseen death to make
certain the loss of their souls. Who can tell how many are living
in a state of mortal sin, month by month, day by day, year by
year? They go on securely, smilingly; externally all goes on
smoothly; they are successful and seemingly happy; they have
plans for many years to come; but a voice has spoken, "Thou fool,
this night shall they require thy soul of thee." Oh! how many
died in mortal sin last year, how many will die in mortal sin
next year! It needs only a little thing, a false step, a railway
accident, an attack of fever, a change in the weather, a fit of
apoplexy, and they are launched into eternity without warning and
without preparation--death sealing for perdition those whom it
finds deprived of the grace of God. Who, I say, can wonder at
this, when he looks around him, and sees how little the soul is
valued? O my God! it is enough to make the heart sick.
{222}
Let us take a Catholic family, for I will not take things at the
worst. A father has a family of children. He must send them to
school or college. He finds an institution which pleases him, and
he will tell you that his children are doing excellently, and
that the only drawback is that the school is Protestant or
infidel. Is not this to betray the souls of his own children?
Sunday comes: it is true that there is the obligation to hear
Mass, but some inducement offers itself to idleness or
dissipation, and no Mass is heard, because it is only the soul
which is injured by the omission. Monday comes: there is an
opportunity of making some little gain in an unlawful way. What
does it matter? We must get rich, and do like our neighbors. The
sons grow up in ignorance, and spend their time mostly at the
gaming-table or the place of carousal. The daughters grow up.
They must be led by their mother to every scene of folly and sin,
because the custom of society requires it. Easter comes: the
young people do not like to go to confession, and they add only
one sin more, to those with which their hearts are already
charged. And then the parents die, and the children come forward
to take their places, and to bring up their children in still
greater neglect and laxity. Thus Catholics are trained for the
world, and souls for hell; and if we take into the account the
graver forms of vice, and consider how many are entirely the
slaves of passion, we shall not wonder that there are so few that
shall be saved. One of the Fathers, speaking of the great
responsibility of the priesthood, dilates on the impossibility of
a priest's being saved without great exertion and watchfulness.
But if it be difficult for a priest to save his soul; what shall
I say of the laity, when I consider the prevailing habits of
Catholics. It hardly seems to me too strong to say, that to me it
would seem a miracle for any such one to be saved. How will men
attain that which they do not care for, to which they give no
thought? And so it is with the salvation of the soul. Who thinks
about it? Who takes any pains for it? Who makes any sacrifice for
it?
{223}
The soul is more precious than any thing else, and yet every
thing else is put before it. It is trampled on in business,
betrayed in friendships, choked by domestic cares, imprisoned in
the filthy bodies of the licentious, and, as it were, annihilated
in the drunkard. It is forgotten, neglected, outraged, despised,
ignored. It is not so much sold as thrown away. The body is cared
for with the most supreme solicitude. Every pain and ache is
relieved. Long journeys are undertaken to recover health that is
lost or only threatened. The most celebrated physicians are
sought after with eagerness. But the soul is allowed for weeks
and months and years to go on in a state of spiritual death.
Confession, prayer, the sacraments, means so easy, means truly
infallible in their efficacy, means within the reach of all, are
neglected, on pretences the most frivolous, without reason, and
almost without motive. "_Who will give water to my head, and a
fountain of tears to my eyes, and I will weep day and night for
the slain of the daughter of my people?_" [Footnote 14]

    [Footnote 14: Jer. ix. 1.]

The loss of our souls is the greatest of all evils, because it is
irremediable. I will not go into all that this point contains. It
is too great a subject for us at present. I will not dwell on all
that is meant by the loss of our souls, but I will consider it
simply as it is, the failure of reaching our end and destiny, and
as irreparable. And to help us to realize this, I will summon as
a witness one who was the first to come short of his destiny, the
devil. We do not know how long it was after the creation of the
angels that the devil sinned and fell; but certainly there was a
time when he was a pure, bright spirit, rejoicing in the
greatness of his endowments, and with a hope full of immortality.
But there came a moment of darkness. He sinned: he was judged: he
was cast from heaven, and he sank into hell. There he is now. He
is confined in chains and darkness. The tree has fallen; and as
it has fallen to the north or to the south, so must it lie
forever.
{224}
Other mistakes may be rectified, but this never. A loss in
business may be made good by greater exertions and prudence; a
broken-down constitution may be repaired by art and care; a lost
reputation may be recovered by integrity and consistency in
well-doing; earthly sorrow may be healed by time and other
objects; sin may be rooted out by penance; but the loss of the
soul is an evil complete and irreparable, and brings with it an
undying remorse. "_A tree hath hope: if it be cut down, it
groweth green again, and the bough thereof sprout. If its root be
old in the earth and its stock be dead in the dust, at the scent
of water it shall spring and bring forth leaves as when it was
first planted._" [Footnote 15] But man, when he shall be dead
and stripped and consumed, I pray you, where is he? The cry of
despair which the first lost soul uttered when he made the
terrible discovery that he was really lost, is still ringing in
the abodes of the damned, and the keenness of his misery is still
unabated. Ages shall go on, the last day shall come, and an
eternity shall follow it, and that cry of despair will still be
as thrilling, and that anguish as new and as irremediable.

    [Footnote 15: Job xiv. 7, 8, 9.]

As reasonable men, I have appealed to you: what is your decision?
What does reason, what does conscience, what does self-interest
say? You would not be listless if I were to speak to you of your
property, your health, your reputation, but now I speak to you of
your souls--your precious, immortal souls--your own, your
greatest good--a good that you are in danger of losing--the good
whose loss is overwhelming and irretrievable. They are in your
hands for life or for death. It is said that to one of the
heathen soothsayers, who was famed for his skill in discovering
hidden things, a person once came with a living bird in his hand,
and asked the seer to tell whether it was living or dead. The
inquirer intended to crush the bird with his hand if the wise man
should say it was living, and to let it fly if he should say it
was dead, and thus in either case to put the pretended magician
to shame.
{225}
But the soothsayer suspected the design, and answered: "The bird
is in your hand--to kill it or to let it live." So I answer you,
my brethren. Your souls are in your hands, to kill them or to let
them live. You can crush them in your grasp and smother their
convictions, or you can open your hand and let them fly forth in
freedom and gladness. Oh, have pity on your souls! Your souls are
yours. No one will be the loser by the loss of your souls but
yourselves. God will not be the less happy if you are damned; the
saints will not lose any of their happiness if you fail of your
salvation; the angels will be as light and blissful; the earth
will go on just the same as when you were on it; only you, you
yourselves will feel it, and you will feel it hopelessly. Ah,
then, take pity on your souls! You will one day wish that you had
done it. One of the courtiers of Francis the First of France,
when he was dying, said: "Oh! how many reams of paper have I
written in the service of my monarch! Oh! that I had only spent
one quarter of an hour in the service of my soul!" A quarter of
an hour! And you have days and weeks. Oh, then, once more I beg
you to take pity on your souls! If you have never before
seriously taken to heart your eternal interest, at least do so
now. Improve the time of this mission. It is the time of grace.
It may be to you the last call, the last opportunity. Make, then,
a good use of this time. Set aside the thought of other things,
and give yourself to this alone. Now you have an opportunity of
making your peace with God, and saving your soul. Think, now the
hour has come, foreseen by God from all eternity, when, answering
to the call of grace, I shall regain His favor, which, alas! I
have lost too long. What shall keep me back? See what is the
difficulty, and weigh it in the scales with your immortal soul.
Is confession difficult? A confession before the whole universe
will be more so. Is it hard to lose a little gain? It will be
more so to lose your soul.
{226}
Is it hard to break a tie of long standing? It will be hard to
break every tie, and to live in eternal desolation. Is it hard to
bear the remarks of companions? But how will you bear the taunts
and jeers of the devil and his angels? And those very companions
who have led you to hell will taunt you for your base compliance
to them. Let nothing, then, keep you back.

  * * *

(Peroration. according to the circumstances.)

----------------

  Sermon II.

  Mortal Sin.

  (Mission Sermon.)


  "Know thou, and see,
   that it is an evil and a bitter thing for thee,
   to have left the Lord thy God."
     --Jer. II. 19.


In the book of the prophet Ezechiel it is related that God showed
to the prophet in a vision the city of Jerusalem. It was all
stretched out before him in its greatness and in its beauty. The
magnificent temple was there, with its stones and spires
glittering in the sun; its streets were full of people,
prosperous and happy; a people who were in possession of the true
religion, who had been adopted by God as His children, and over
whom He had exercised a special protection. It was a beautiful
sight; beautiful to the eye, and well fitted to excite the most
religious emotions in the mind. But there was something that
checked these feelings of pleasure and delight. God permitted the
prophet to see the interior of that city. He unfolded before him
the secret abominations that were practised there.
{227}
He showed him the idolatries and impurities to which his chosen
people the Jews had delivered themselves up, and then in wrath
and indignation God complained of the people and said: "_The
iniquity of the house of Israel and of Juda is exceeding great;
and the land is filled with blood; and the city is filled with
perverseness, for they have said: The Lord hath forsaken the
earth, and the Lord seeth not_." [Footnote 16] Then the joy of
the prophet was turned in to sorrow.

    [Footnote 16: Ezechiel ix. 9.]

To-night, my brethren, a vision meets my eye hardly less
beautiful than that which met the eye of the prophet. How
beautiful a sight is this church and this congregation! This
church is raised to the honor of the true God. Its walls are
salvation and its gates praise. And this congregation, beautiful
as it is in the assemblage of a multitude of living, intelligent
beings--where I see the old man with his crown of silver hair,
the young man and the young woman in the freshness of their bloom
and youth--is much more so regarded as a Catholic congregation,
as professing the true faith. But tell me--for I cannot look into
your hearts as the prophet did--tell me, does God see, beneath
this beautiful, outward appearance, the abominations of iniquity?
Does God this night see in this church some heart that is in
mortal sin? Some Catholic who has renounced, if not his faith, at
least the practice of his faith? Some child of passion who has
swerved from the path of justice, lost his conscience and the
sense of sin, and given himself to the service of the devil? Are
there any here to-night in mortal sin? There may be. I will
confess, and you will not think me uncharitable in doing so, I
believe there are some. I know not how many, but from what I know
of the world, I believe there are some here, in this
congregation, whose consciences tell them they are in mortal sin.
Oh! then, let me tell them what they have done. Let me show them
what mortal sin is. Let me prove to them that it is an evil and a
bitter thing for them to have left the Lord their God. This is my
subject to-night. I will show you the dreadfulness of mortal sin:
first, from its nature; secondly, from its effects on the soul;
and thirdly, from its eternal consequences.

{228}

You know, my dear brethren, that we were created to love and
serve God in this life, and to be happy forever with Him in
heaven. God has given us this world, and our own nature, all that
we have or are; and He is willing that we should enjoy the world
and act out our nature. It is true, there are certain
restrictions which He has given us. These restrictions are
contained in His law, embodied in the ten commandments. In these
commandments God has circumscribed our liberty, has put limits to
what we may do; but I need not say that these limits have been so
fixed, not in order to abridge our happiness, but really to
increase it. So the case stands on God's part. But now, on our
part, we have an inclination to disregard the limits God has put
on our use of the world, and to place our happiness in the
creature. The world smiles before us, and we think this or that
enjoyment would make us happy. It may often happen that the very
enjoyment and comfort is one which God has forbidden; but no
matter, we are strongly inclined to seize it, nevertheless, and
to gratify our desire in spite of the prohibition. This
inclination is what is called concupiscence, and is sometimes
exceedingly strong, so that it is very difficult to resist it.
God has, however, always given us reason and faith, free will and
grace, to enable us to overcome it. This, then, being so, you see
that man stands between two claimants: the world on the one hand,
inviting him to follow his own corrupt inclinations; on the
other, God requiring him to restrain his passions by the rules of
virtue and religion. Now, what takes place under such
circumstances? Alas, my brethren, I will tell you what too often
takes place. I will tell you what takes place so commonly that
men take it for granted that it must be so--so commonly that the
majority of men cease to wonder at it--what happens every day,
every hour, every minute. It happens that men listen to the voice
of passion, renounce virtue and reason, stifle grace, and turn
away from God, to satisfy their desire for the creature. This is
what happens daily, hourly, momentarily; and this is mortal sin,
which is in its nature the greatest of all evils, considered in
its relation both to God and man, as I am about to show you in
this first part of my discourse.

{229}

Understand me, my brethren: the sin I am going to speak of is
_mortal_ sin. I do not say that every transgression of the
law of God is mortal. You know that it is not so. You know that
there some actions which men commit, which are forbidden, but by
which a man does not mean really to give up the friendship of
God--some sins which are not committed with full deliberation,
some sins in which the matter is very small, some sins which come
more from ignorance or frailty than from malice; and which God,
who sees things just as they are, does not regard as grievous. He
is displeased with them, but not mortally offended. He punishes
them, but not with the utter withdrawal of His favor. If He did,
who of us could be saved? But every sin in which the soul sees
clearly that she must choose between the friendship of God and
the gratification of unlawful passion--in which, with full
deliberation, in full defiance of any grave precept of God or the
Holy Church, she obeys the call of corrupt nature, every such sin
is mortal, that, is, grievously offends God and cuts off the soul
from His grace. Do you want to know what a mortal sin is? It is
an insult offered to God--Almighty God. One trembles to say it,
but so it is. Yes! if you have committed one mortal sin, you have
insulted Almighty God. And there is every thing in the act to
make the insult deep and deadly. The greatness of an insult is
measured by the comparative importance of the persons between
whom the offence passes. If one should come into the church and
strike the bishop on his throne, would you not feel more
indignant than if a common man in the street were the object of
the insult? You have heard how Pius the Sixth was insulted;
dragged about from place to place, until he died; and did you not
feel indignant that such outrages were committed on the person of
God's vicegerent?
{230}
Now, when you committed a mortal sin you insulted, not the
vicegerent of God, but God himself. You contemned His authority
and despised His greatness. Would you know Who it is Whom you
have offended? Look at that mountain trembling with earthquakes,
and breathing forth smoke and flame, hear the thunder roll around
its head, and see the lightning flash! Mark the people, how they
fall back affrighted and terrified! What is the cause of these
convulsions of nature, and this terror of the people? God is
speaking. He spake in Mount Sinai and the earth trembled before
Him; and it is His words then spoken that you have defied, O
sinner! Are you not afraid of His vengeance Whom you have
offended? Open the heavens and see the angels, thousands of
thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, prostrate before
Him. See all the saints adoring Him--the Blessed Virgin Mary
herself trembling before His greatness. And you insult Him! What
are you? A creature, a dependant, a slave. What would a master do
if his slave should strike him? And you, a servant, a slave, a
mere nothing, have not hesitated to raise your hand against
Almighty God!

And for what have you done all this? For the pleasure of sin. You
have preferred a vile, temporary gratification, to the favor of
Almighty God. When you sinned, there was on one side the beauty
of God, the beauty of perfection, the splendor of grace, the joy
of saints, peace of conscience, heaven; on the other there was
the false pleasure of sin. You weighed them in the balance one
with another, and, oh folly! in your estimation a moment's sin
outweighed God and heaven and eternity. This is what the Almighty
complains of in Holy Scripture: "_They violated me among my
people for a handful of barley and a piece of bread to kill souls
which should not die_." [Footnote 17]

    [Footnote 17: Ezech. xiii. 19.]

{231}

Oh! for how small a thing it is that you have been content to
lose God--a few dollars of unjust gain, human respect, the
gratification of revenge, a night's debauch, a half-hour's
indulgence of sinful thoughts, a forbidden word, an intoxicating
glass: for this you have thrown to the winds God and heaven. What
has He not done for you? He takes care of you and gives you all
you have. It is He who warms you by the sun, refreshes you by the
air, gladdens and nourishes you by the green field. It is He who
brought you through the dangerous time of childhood, Who led you
up through manhood, Who redeemed you by His blood, made you a
Catholic, and gave you your parents, friends, every blessing, and
the hope of heaven beyond this life, and you have grieved and
hated Him. See Jesus Christ before the Jews. He has spent His
life in doing them good. He has labored for them and is about to
die for them. And now they spit on Him, they buffet Him, they
crown Him with thorns and bow the knee in mockery before Him.
Nay, O sinner! thou art the Jew who did this. Thou by thy mortal
sin hast made him an object of scorn. Thou hast spit upon Him,
thou hast stabbed Him to the heart. Would you excuse a son from
the guilt of parricide who should strike a knife to his father's
heart, and should miss his aim? So, the sinner is no less guilty
of the crime against the life of God because God cannot die. If
God could die or cease to be, mortal sin is that which would kill
Him. You have aimed a blow at the life of your best benefactor,
of your God. And this is what passes in the world for a light
thing. This is what men laugh at and boast of over their cups.
This is what the world excuses, and takes for a matter of course;
yes, this is what even boys and girls, as they grow up, desire
not to be ignorant of--that they may know how to offend God. This
is sin, so easily committed and so often committed, so quickly
committed and so soon forgotten. Such it is in the sight of God
and the holy angels. O sinner! when you smile, often when you are
rejoicing over your wicked pleasure, the heavens are black
overhead, and God is angry, and the angel of vengeance stands at
your side with a glittering spear, that he may plunge it in your
heart.
{232}
While you are careless, heaven and earth are groaning over your
guilt. "_Wonder, O ye heavens, and be in amazement_," says
God by the prophet. "_My people have done two evils. They have
left me, the fountain of living water, and have digged out
cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." "Hear, O
heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken. I have
brought up children and exalted them, but they have despised me.
The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib, but
Israel hath not known me, and my people hath not understood. Woe
to the sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a wicked
seed, ungracious children: they have forsaken the Lord, they have
blasphemed the Holy one of Israel, they have gone away
backward_." [Footnote 18]

    [Footnote 18: Isai. i. 2, 3, 4.]

But in the second place, mortal sin is the greatest of all evils
as regards the sinner himself. Let us consider what are its
effects. Ah, my brethren, some of these effects are obvious
enough. We have not to go far to seek them. We know them
ourselves. What is the cause of much of the sickness that affects
our race? What but sin? What is it that has ruined so many
reputations, that once were fair and unblemished? What is it that
has destroyed the peace of so many families? It is sin. What is
it that makes so many young persons prematurely old, which steals
the bloom from the cheek and the lustre from the eye, and
gladness from the heart, and strength from the voice, and
elasticity from the gait? Ah! it is sin. Yes! the effects of sin
are visible and obvious to all around us, and these external
effects of sin are dreadful enough, but they are not so dreadful
as the internal effects, on which I purpose particularly to
dwell. Well, my brethren, I just said that the nature of a mortal
sin is to turn away from God to the creature.
{233}
Now, its effect is to kill the soul. There is a twofold life of
the soul. One is a natural life, and this it can never lose, not
even in hell, since it can never cease to be; and the other is
the life of grace. You know, my brethren, that in the heart of a
good Christian there dwells a wonderful quality, the gift of the
Holy Ghost, which we call grace. It is given first in baptism,
and resides habitually in the soul unless it is lost by mortal
sin. This it is which makes the soul acceptable to God, and
capable of pleasing Him, and of meriting heaven. This grace was
purchased for us by the blood of Jesus Christ, and is the most
precious gift of God. It ennobles, beautifies, elevates,
strengthens, and enlightens the soul in which it dwells: in a
word, it is the life of the soul. This grace abides in the soul
of every faithful Christian, the little child, the virtuous young
man and young woman, the old man and the matron, the rich and the
poor. Everyone who is in the state of friendship with God is
possessed of this grace. He may be poor, sick, weak in body,
disgusting as Lazarus was, but if he is the friend of God, his
soul is endowed with the gift of grace. Now, the moment that one
commits a mortal sin, the moment that a baptized Christian turns
away from God to the creature, that moment his soul is stripped
of this divine grace. The moment that a mortal sin is committed,
in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, that robe of grace
falls off from the soul and leaves it in its deformity and
weakness. It cannot be otherwise. "Can two walk together," says
Holy Scripture, "and not be agreed?" Can God remain united to the
soul which has cast Him off by an act of complete and formal
rebellion? Oh, no! God bears much with us, He retains His
friendship for us as long as He can, He restrains His displeasure
when we are weak and irresolute and tired in His service; yes,
when we a little turn our heads and hearts toward that world
which we have renounced, when we do things that, although wrong,
are not altogether so grievous as to amount to a renunciation of
His friendship: but once make a full choice between God and the
creature, and God's friendship is lost.
{234}
You cannot reject it and retain it at the same time. God sees
things exactly as they are: as you act toward Him, He will act
toward you. By mortal sin you renounce Him, and therefore He must
renounce you. How can I describe to you the change that takes
place in that moment? It has more resemblance to the degradation
of a priest than any thing else. If a priest commits certain
great crimes, the Church prescribes that he be solemnly degraded
from the priesthood; and nothing is more dreadful than the
ceremonial. He stands before the bishop, clad in his sacred
vestments, with alb and cincture, and maniple and stole, and with
the chalice in which he has been wont to consecrate the blood of
the Lord in his hands. Then when the sentence of degradation has
been pronounced, the chalice is taken out of his hands--he shall
offer the sacrifice of the Lord's body no more; the golden
chasuble is taken off his back, no more shall he bear the glory
of the priesthood; the stole is seized from off his neck--he has
lost the stole of immortality; the white alb is torn from him--
he has lost the beauty of innocence; and last of all, his hands,
on which at his ordination the holy oil was poured, are
scraped--he has lost the unction of the Holy Ghost. So it is in
the moment that one commits a mortal sin. The Holy Scripture
calls every Christian a king and a priest, because in his soul he
is noble and united to God; and the soul of the meanest Christian
is far more beautiful in God's sight than the grandest monarch,
dressed in his richest robes, is to our sight. Well, now, as soon
as a mortal sin is committed, and God departs, then the
degradation of the soul takes place. The devil tears away the
garment of justice, the splendor of beauty, the whiteness of
innocence, the robe of immortality, which make the soul worthy of
the companionship of angels, and the friendship of God. All, all
are gone. Oh, how abject and wretched is such a soul!
{235}
Oh I how quickly will this awful change go on, and even the poor
soul herself thinks not of it! And do not think this horrible
history is of rare occurrence. No! it takes place in every case
of mortal sin. Look at that young man. See, his air and bearing
show you that he knows something of the world, and that life has
no secrets for him. Still there was once a time when that young
man was innocent. He was a good Catholic child, his soul
glistened with the brightness of baptismal grace. God looked down
from heaven and smiled with pleasure; his guardian angel followed
him in watchfulness indeed, but with joy and hope. He had his
little trials, but what was it all--what was poverty or sickness
or disappointment? Was he not a Christian? Was he not a friend of
God, was not his soul beautiful in God's sight? Such he was; but
a day came, a dark and dreadful day, when a voice, a seducing
voice, spoke in the paradise of that heart: "_Rejoice,
therefore, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer
thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart,
and in the sight of thine eyes_." [Footnote 19]

    [Footnote 19: Eccles. xi. 9.]

He listened to that voice and he fell: he was a changed being, he
had committed his first mortal sin. Oh! if he could have seen the
angry frown of God, the sad and downcast look of his guardian
angel. Oh! if he could have heard the shriek of triumph that came
up from the devils in hell. "Thou art also wounded as well as we,
thou art become like unto us. Thy pride is brought down to hell.
Thy carcass is fallen down. [Footnote 20]

    [Footnote 20: Isai. xiv. 10, 11.]

But he hears nothing, he sees nothing, his brain is on fire, his
heart is burned by passion. The world opens to him her brilliant
pleasures, and he is perverted. His tastes and thoughts are all
corrupted. He does not like the sacraments any more, or Mass or
prayer; his delight is in haunts of dissipation, in drinking and
debauchery. He commits every mortal sin, and each deepens the
stains of his soul and increases his misery. Perhaps here and
there, for a while, he comes to confession, but he falls back.
{236}
He neglects his church, begins to curse and blaspheme holy
things, and then he is a wretched being, astray from God, with
God's curse upon him, the slave of the devil, the heir of hell,
fair indeed without; but look within--full of rottenness and
uncleanness. Oh, weep for him--"_Weep not for the dead,_"
says Holy Scripture, "_lament for him that goeth away, for he
shall not return again._" [Footnote 21]

    [Footnote 21: Jer. xxii. 10.]

Weep for that young man who has wandered away from his God. Weep
for that young woman who has stained her soul with mortal sin.
Weep for that old man who has let years go by in sin, and whose
sins are counted by the thousand. Weep not for your child who
leaves you to go to a distant land, but weep for him who is on
his way to the land of eternal night, where everlasting horror
inhabiteth. Weep for him who is on his way to hell. Is it not a
story to make one weep? The ruin of a soul! "_How is the gold
become dim, the fairest color is changed, the noble sons of Sion,
and they that were clothed with the best of gold, how are they
esteemed as earthen vessels, and the iniquity of the daughter of
my people is made greater than the sin of Sodom._" [Footnote 22]

    [Footnote 22: Lam. iv. 1, 2, 6.]

Once you were innocent, now you are guilty. Once you had a fair
chance of heaven, now heaven is closed to you. Once, perhaps, you
had rich merits laid up for heaven, you had gone through many
trials, you had borne many sufferings, had achieved many labors
of piety, and for each of them the good God, who never allows any
good work to go unrewarded, had added many a jewel to your crown;
but, alas! that crown is broken, those jewels scattered and
crushed, those merits lost. And what has done this. That mortal
sin! that rebellion against God, that sinful gratification, that
turning away from God and loss of grace which it brought with it.
Ah! my brethren, when I think of these things, when I think that
Christians are falling into sin, and, for a very trifle and a
nothing, losing the favor of God, I feel as if I wished all
preachers should go out to the whole world and cry out: "Know
thou and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing for thee to
have left the Lord thy God." I am not surprised that St. Ignatius
said he would be willing to do all he did for the prevention of
one mortal sin.

{237}

But, my brethren I have not as yet described the full effects of
mortal sin. It immediately makes us liable to the eternal
punishment of hell. That is what hell is made for. It is the
prison for mortal sin. Apostates from the faith, drunkards,
murderers, adulterers, the impure, the dishonest, the profane,
the impious, calumniators, and all sinners "shall have their
portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the
second death." The sentence of damnation is in the next life, but
damnation itself begins in this. Each one of us is a candidate
for heaven or hell, at this present moment. Hell is not something
which is assigned to us arbitrarily. We dig our own hell for
ourselves. When we first commit a mortal sin we open hell under
our feet, and every time we commit a fresh mortal sin we deepen
that hell. It may happen even that the sentence is passed in the
same instant that we sin. Many men die in the very act of sin.
The fallen angels, themselves, sank into hell the very instant
they committed mortal sin, and the instant they committed the
first mortal sin. You know, my brethren, that the angels were
created very beautiful and powerful. There were myriads and
myriads of them. They were as beautiful as Gabriel or Michael or
Raphael; and yet, as soon as they committed one mortal sin,
notwithstanding their glory, their beauty, their number, their
splendid intellects, their power, they were hurled from the
thrones of heaven; not only defaced, degraded, and dishonored by
the loss of sanctifying grace, but condemned to hell, chained in
everlasting darkness, waiting for the judgment of the great day.
If God dealt so with the angels, surely there is nothing unjust
in cutting off the days of a sinner in the very moment of sin.
{238}
Oh! my brethren, I will tell you what happens when one sins: the
devils come and claim this soul as their own: this poor soul
becomes the slave of the devil, the heir of hell and of
damnation. It is not for nothing, then, that conscience makes
such a terrible alarm in the soul when we commit a mortal sin.
Tell me, did you not at the moment you sinned hear a stern voice
speaking in the depths of your heart? Tell me, O my brethren, did
you not, when you were deeply plunged in sinful enjoyment, feel a
dreadful pang at your heart? Tell me, now that you stand in God's
holy presence, tell me now, is there not something within you
that tells you, you are ruined? What is that? Ah! that is the
beginning of the remorse of the damned. That is the sting of the
worm that shall never die. That is the shadow of thine eternal
doom in thy soul. It tells thee that thou art the child of the
devil; it tells thee that thou hast lost God, and that thou art
not fit for heaven, but art an heir of hell. And it tells thee
truly. If this moment thou wert to die, like Dives, thou wouldst
be buried in hell. And why? For a momentary gratification of
appetite? Is that what you will be punished for? No; but because,
for a momentary gratification of appetite, thou hast forsaken the
Lord thy God, broken His law, lost His grace. Thou hast made thy
choice. Thou hast chosen sin and not God, and death overtakes
thee before thou hast returned to God by penance, and thou art
lost; lost on account of thy sin, lost forever on account of thy
sin. Go down to the chambers of hell, ask Dives, ask Judas, ask
the fallen angels, ask each one who in that dark abode drags out
a long eternity; ask them what it is that brought them there, and
they will tell you, mortal sin. It is mortal sin that kindles
that flame, that feeds that fire, that makes them burn
unceasingly, and forever. Oh then, tell me! if you will not
listen to reason, to God, to the angels; will you not listen to
your companions lost?
{239}
Hearken to them as from their dark prison they cry out, "It is an
evil and a bitter thing to have left the Lord thy God."

Such, my brethren, is mortal sin. Such is one mortal sin. It does
not require many mortal sins to lose God's grace or incur
damnation. One is enough--one final deliberate rebellion against
God and his holy law.

* * *

  (Peroration, according to the circumstances.)


-----------------

    Sermon III.

    The Particular Judgment.

   (Mission Sermon.)


  "It is a dreadful thing
  to fall into the hands of the living God."
  --Heb. x. 31.


There is a moment, my brethren, in the history of each immortal
soul, which, of all others that precede or follow it, is the
fullest of experience: the moment after death. The moment of
death is indeed the decisive moment of our history. Then the
question is settled, once for all, whether we are to be happy or
miserable for all eternity; but, for the most part, we do not
know that decision. Many men die insensible. By far the larges
part of those I have seen die, have died insensible. And even
when the power of the mind remains to the last, it is extremely
difficult to form any true conception of that state of things
into which the soul is about to be ushered. It is difficult to
conceive aright beforehand of any thing to which we are
unaccustomed. Did it ever happen to you to visit a strange
country, and to form anticipations of what it would seem like,
and did not the reality falsify all your anticipations? Well, how
much more difficult to realize those things which the soul sees
immediately after death, and which are so much farther removed
from our former experience!
{240}
According to Catholic theology, immediately after death, the soul
appears in the presence of Jesus Christ to be judged--to receive
an unalterable sentence to heaven or to hell. If to hell, no
prayers can benefit it; if to heaven, it goes there immediately
or not, according to the degree of its goodness. But it is judged
unalterably to heaven or hell, the moment after death. And
Catholic theologians teach that this judgment takes place in the
very chamber of death itself. There, in that room, while they are
dressing the body for the grave, closing the eyes, bandaging the
mouth, arranging the limbs in order, that soul has already
learned the secrets of the eternal world. Naked and alone, it had
stood before its Judge, and heard its doom pronounced. To
everyone, no doubt, even to the most pious, to those who have
meditated on the truths of faith, there will be something
alarming in this moment; but, oh! what will it be to the sinful
Catholic? What will be the thoughts and feelings of that large
class of Catholics, now careless about their salvation, who are
obeying every impulse of passion, and breaking every commandment
of God? This, indeed, is a difficult question to answer. There is
but little in this world that can help us to portray the emotions
of the lost Catholic, the moment after death; but I will not on
this account desist from attempting to describe it. I will
consider your advantage rather than my own satisfaction, and
though I feel deeply that I shall not be able to describe the
scene I undertake in anything like the colors of truth, I will
undertake to do what I can.

First, then, following the soul beyond the limits of this world,
I see her overwhelmed with a _conviction_ of the reality and
truth of the objects of her faith. Now, in saying that this soul
obtains a conviction of the truths of faith, I do not mean to
suppose the case of one who has been a sceptic in this world. The
truth is, faith is so strong a principle in the heart of a
Catholic, that it is exceedingly difficult to put it out or shake
it.
{241}
And although it sometimes happens that a Catholic; from reading
bad books, or frequenting the society of those who blaspheme his
religion, or from becoming acquainted suddenly with some of the
difficulties which science seems to present to faith, and not
knowing the answer to them, or from the petty pride of seeming
wiser than his neighbors, and making objections which unlearned
Catholics cannot answer, may use the language of a sceptic; yet
such cases are very rare, and the scepticism is not very deep. A
little guidance from one who knows better, and a little humility
on the part of such an objector, will set all right. But there is
a kind of infidelity not so easily cured, and far more common
among Catholics--a practical infidelity, an insensibility and
indifference to the truths of faith. The truths of faith--I mean,
heaven and hell, God and the soul--are not seen by the eye--it
requires reflection to realize them; but the world, and the
objects which it presents, are visible and tangible. The former
are lost sight of, while the latter absorb all our thoughts. The
body clamors for necessities and pleasures, and the soul, and
things of eternity, are simply forgotten. It is almost the same
to many men as if there were no God, no eternity, no heaven, or
no hell. Really, one hardly sees in what the lives of many
Catholics would differ from what they are now if there were no
God, no heaven or hell. I do not mean to say that they have no
faith at all, for even the heathens have some faith; or that they
never think of God, for then they would be brutes; but that these
things have no real hold on their minds or influence over their
hearts. They never reflect. They stay away from the sacraments.
They do not listen to sermons. They have no correct idea at all
of the advantage they enjoy in being Catholics; in a word, they
break the commandments of God on the slightest temptation, are
children of this world and immersed in its cares and enjoyments.
Now, one of these men meets with a sudden death.
{242}
He goes out in the morning--perhaps he is a mechanic--and he
falls from a height. He is taken up and put in a litter hastily
made, and carried home. It is apparent that life is ebbing fast.
In a few minutes he becomes speechless. He has lost his sight.
Ah! does he breathe at all? It is hard to say. The doctor comes
in great haste. He feels his pulse, looks at him, and says, "It
is all over. He has received an injury in a vital part. He is
dead." Yes, he is dead. This morning he was alive and well, he
was making his plans, he was talking of the weather--now he is
dead. All his old thoughts and experience are all rolled back by
a new set of things that are forcing themselves on his vision. He
is dead. He died suddenly; but not without warning. Others have
died in his home before--he is not young. He has seen wife and
children die. It made him weep for a while; but he forgot it, and
now his turn is come--he is dead. I will not stop to notice the
grief of the friends he leaves behind. No; I will follow his
soul, as it enters eternity. The voice of his friends dies on his
ear--he begins to hear other voices. As he ceases to see the
people in his room he begins to see other objects. Who is that,
that is standing at the foot of his bed? A neighbor was standing
there but just now; but this is another form, a form beautiful,
indeed, but majestic and terrible. No; it is not anyone he has
ever seen before, and yet, he ought to know that face. He has
seen it before; it is the face his mother looked on as she was
dying-the face he had often seen in Catholic churches. Yes, it is
Jesus Christ. He knows it; it is the same, and yet, how
different! When he saw that face in pictures, it was crowned with
thorns; now it is crowned with a diadem of matchless glory. When
he saw that form in the church, it was naked, and hanging on the
Cross; now it is clothed with garments of regal magnificence.
Yes, it is Jesus Christ! and He is looking upon him with eyes of
fire. He turns to escape those eyes, and he sees there are other
figures in the scene.
{243}
There are two figures--one at the right hand, and one at the
left. Who are they? He ought to know them, for they know more of
him than anyone else--they have been his companions for life. One
is very beautiful--a being with golden locks and cloud-like
wings--that is his angel guardian; he looks sad now, for he has
nothing good to say. And the other is the black and hideous demon
of hell, that crouches at his side, full of hate and malice, and
triumph, too, for he has dogged the steps of this poor sinner
from youth to age, and now the time has come for him to seize his
prey. And now, as the sinner looks from one to another, the
meaning of it an breaks upon him. Conviction flashes upon his
mind. He may not have been an infidel before; but putting his
past feelings by the side of his present experience, it seems
almost as if he had been. Did it ever happen to you to be talking
quite unconcernedly, and all at once to find that others were
listening, before whom for worlds you would not have used such
unreserve. Well, to compare small things with great, something
like this will be the feeling of the sinner when the curtain of
time draws up, and shows him the realities of eternity. The whole
tide of his past thoughts and feelings will be arrested, and,
with a great check, rolled back before the new set of experiences
and sights that rush in on him. Oh! he will say, what is this
that I see and hear? Has Jesus Christ always been so near me?
Have my guardian angel and the demon that has tempted me been
always in this very room? Ah, yes! it is even so. I have been
living in a dream all my life, and pursuing shadows. It is true,
as I learned in the catechism, and as the Church taught me, I was
not made for the world or for sin, but for God. I had a soul, and
the end of my being was to love and serve my Maker. He has been
watching me all my days, and I have thought little of Him. I
heard of judgment, but I did not give heed to it, or I placed it
far off in the future; but now it is here at the door. There is
my Saviour, there my angel guardian, there the demon.
{244}
Once I heard of these things, now I see them with my eyes. Yes,
it is all true. The world did not seem to believe it, the world
forgot it; but the world was wrong. The poor and the simple were
right, after all, and the wise ones taken in their own
craftiness. Yes, Christianity is true, Catholicity is true; I
cannot doubt it, if I would, for there it stares me in the face!
O, overwhelming conviction! You have heard of the answer of a
self-denying old monk to a wild, licentious youth, who reproached
him with his folly in living so severe a life for the sake of a
hereafter he had never seen. "Father," said the youth, "how much
wiser I am than you, if there be no hereafter!" "Yes, my son,"
replied the aged man, "but how much more foolish, if there be!" O
fearful discovery, to come on one for the first time, with a
strong and deep impression, at the very threshold of eternity! O
miserable man! why did you not think of these things before? Why
did you rush into the presence of your Maker without forethought?
Now, for the first time, to think seriously, when there is no
longer freedom in thought, or merit in faith. O, the folly and
the misery!

But I must pass on, for these are but the beginning of sorrows.
The conviction, then, that the soul acquires in the first moment
of her experience in the other world is accompanied by a mortal
terror. Why is Jesus Christ there? Why are the angel and the
demon there? Ah! he knows well. It is to try him. Yes, he is to
be tried, and to be tried by an unerring judge--by Jesus Christ.
To be tried; and that is something he is not used to. He never
tried himself. He never examined his conscience. He was afraid to
do it, and if sometimes the thought of a hereafter intruded
itself into his mind, he banished it, and thought he would escape
somehow or other. Perhaps he built on the very name of Catholic,
or on the sacraments, as if they possessed a magical power, and
would change him at once, in the hour of death, from a sinner to
a saint.
{245}
Perhaps he thought that God would strike a balance between the
good and the evil that was in him, and pardon him for being as
wicked as he was because he was no worse. Perhaps he built simply
on the mercy of God. So far as he thought at all, he built his
hopes on some such foundation as this. He did not know how, but
he thought somehow he would get off. It is the old story.
Almighty God said to Eve: "In the day thou eatest thereof thou
shalt surely die." And Eve said to the serpent: "We may not eat
it, lest we die." And the serpent said: "Ye shall not surely
die." So it is; man's self-love reasons, and the devil denies.
But the time has come when the deceits of sin and the devil are
discovered. The sinner is to be tried. He stands as a culprit to
be judged. And by what law is he to be tried? By the ten
commandments, of which he has heard so often, and which he has
neglected so completely. God says: "Thou shalt not break My
commandments, and in the day thou breakest them thou shalt surely
die." God had said: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." He had
committed it. God had said: "Thou shalt not steal;" and he had
stolen. God had said: "Thou shalt keep holy the Sabbath day." He
had broken the Sunday and neglected the Sunday's Mass. God had
said: "Thou shalt do no murder;" and he had murdered his own soul
by drunkenness. He had grown bold in sin, and thought that God
had hidden away his face, and would never see it. And now he is
brought to trial. There is no hope that his transgressions
against the commandments can be hidden. The demon is there as his
accuser.

"I claim this soul as mine. Look at it; see if it does not belong
to me? Does it not look like me? Wilt thou take a soul like that
and place it in thy paradise?" At these words the sinner looks
down upon himself and sees his own soul. He has never seen it
before. Oh, what a sight! As a man is horror-struck the first
time he sees his blotched and bloated face after an attack of
small-pox, so is he horror-struck at the sight of his own soul.
{246}
Oh, how horribly ugly and defiled it is! What are those stains
upon his soul Ah! they are the stains of sin. Each one has left
its separate mark; and to look at that soul you might see its
history. There is the gangrene of lust, and the spot of anger,
and the tumor of pride, and the scale of avarice. Ah! how hideous
it is, and how horrible to think how it is changed, for it was
once like that beautiful angel that stands by its side, all
radiant with light and beauty. It has no resemblance now. The
words of the demon are true; it resembles him. But the accuser
goes on: "I claim this body as mine." He turns to the body, as it
lies in the bed: "I claim those eyes as mine, by the title of all
the lascivious looks they have given. I claim those hands as
mine, by the title of all the robberies and acts of violence they
have committed. I claim those feet as mine, because they were
swift to carry him to the place of forbidden pleasures, and slow
to go to the house of God. I claim these ears as mine, by the
title of all the detraction they have drunk in so greedily. I
claim this mouth as mine, by the title of all the blasphemies and
impurities it has uttered. See," says he, "this body is mine; it
bears my mark;" and as he speaks he points to a scar in the
forehead, the remnant of a wound received in a drunken affray in
a house of ill-fame. Surely he has said enough; but he is not
accustomed to be believed. He has now spoken the truth indeed,
because truth serves his purpose better than falsehood would have
done. But he knows he is a liar, and therefore needs
confirmation; so he goes on: "I have witnesses, if you want them.
Shall I bring them up?" Jesus Christ gives his permission. And
now see, at his word, a band of lost spirits come up from hell.
Oh! how pale and haggard they look, and how they glare on the
sinner as they fix on him a look of recognition. Who is that who
speaks to him first, and holds out her long withered fingers to
him, and says, with a horrid laugh: "I think you know me."
{247}
Oh! that is the poor girl he seduced. She says: "I followed thee
to ruin; it is fitting thou shouldst follow me to hell." But
there is another woman. Who is that? That is his poor wife; his
poor wife, who had to put up with all the cruelties and violence
he practised in his beastly drunkenness; who was led by want to
steal, and by despair to drunkenness. She looks upon him with a
blood-shot eye. "My husband," she says: "thou wert my tormentor
in time; I will be thy tormentor in eternity." But who are those
young people, that young man and young woman? Oh, they are his
eldest children, his boy and girl, of whom he took no care; who,
finding nothing but a hell at home, went out--the one to the
tavern and the gaming-room, the other to the ball and the dance
and the lonely place of assignation, and, after a short career of
dissipation, were both cut off in their sin. They meet him, and
now they say: "Father, thou didst pave the way of perdition for
us, and now we will cling to thee, and drag thee deeper, who art
at once the author of our life and of our destruction." Ah! has
not the demon made out his case? Can there be hope for one like
that? Are you not ready to condemn him yourselves to hell? But
wait--perhaps he did good penance. And the Judge, turning to the
angel guardian says: "My good and faithful servant, what has thou
to say in behalf of this soul, which was committed to thy
especial care?" The angel looks down upon the ground and sighs,
and answers, "Most just and holy Sovereign, alas! I have nothing
to say that can set aside the accusation Thou hast beard. All I
can do is to vindicate Thy justice and my fidelity. I have given
to the man all the graces Thou hast prepared for him. He was a
Catholic. He had the sacraments. He had warnings. He had faith.
He had many special graces. He had the mission; and I myself
often spoke to him in his heart, calling him to do penance, but
he never did do penance. He was careless in attendance at Mass.
{248}
He was seldom at the confessional, and when he did come he made
his confession without a sincere purpose of amendment, and soon
relapsed into his former sins, and at last he died without
penance. Therefore there is nothing left for me but to resign my
charge and to return the crown"--here the angel takes up a
beautiful crown--"to return the crown which Thou hadst made for
him, that Thou mayst place it on another brow." "Dost Thou not
hear," the demon once more cries out impatiently--"Dost thou not
hear what the angel says? Yes, this man is mine, has always been
mine. I did not create him, and yet he always served me. Thou
didst create him, and yet he has refused to obey Thee. I never
died for him, yet he has been my willing slave. Thou didst die
for him, and yet he has "blasphemed Thy name, broken Thy laws and
despised Thy promises. Thou didst allure him by kindness, but
wert not able to win his affection. I led him to hell, and found
him willing to follow. O Jesus, thou Son of the living God, if
Thou dost not give me this soul, there is neither truth in Thy
word nor justice in Thy awards." The demon speaks boldly, but
Jesus Christ suffers him to speak so, because he speaks truly;
and oh, with what terror does the poor sinner hear that truth!
But terror is not the only feeling that is to fill his heart.
Despair is to come in, to make his misery complete. He begins to
cry for mercy. "O God, mercy! have mercy, O Jesus Christ! Do not
let me perish whom Thou hast redeemed. I have had the faith; oh,
do not let me come to perdition! Only one quarter of an hour to
do penance!" Can Jesus Christ resist such an appeal? No, my
brethren, if there were a real disposition to do penance in the
heart. I will undertake to say that if the devils of hell were
willing to do penance, God would forgive them. But there is no
penance in the other world. There is only the desire to escape
punishment, not the desire to escape sin; and being out of the
order of the present providence of God, which leaves the will
free, there is no real conversion there.
{249}
Therefore Jesus Christ answers: "O wicked man, thy deeds condemn
thee. Thou callest for mercy, but it is too late. The time for
mercy is over! Mercy! thou hast shown no mercy to thyself, to thy
wife or children. Mercy! I have shown thee mercy all the days of
thy life. I sent thee my preachers, and thou didst refuse to
listen. There is no mercy now but justice--and therefore I
pronounce the everlasting sentence. I consign this man's soul to
hell, and his body to the resurrection of damnation." Did you
hear that howl? That was the devil's howl of triumph. Jesus
Christ is gone. The angel is gone; and the devil goes to the
body. They have not done washing it. He begins to wash too. What
is he doing. He is washing the forehead; for on that forehead,
the mark of Christ, the holy cross, was placed in baptism, and he
is washing it out, and with a brand from hell he places there his
own signet--the signet of perdition. And now the soul, feeling
the full extent of her misery, cries out: "I am damned. I am
damned! no hope more; not even Purgatory. Oh, I never thought it
would come to this; I did but do as the others. I was no worse
than my companions, and now I am lost. I that was a Catholic, I
that had always a good name, and was liked by my friends. And oh,
are the judgments of God so strict? What will become of my
companions whom I left on the earth, wild and reckless like my
self? Will they too follow me to this place of torment! Oh, why
did not the priest speak of this? Alas! he did, but I would not
hear. Alas, alas, it is too late now! Shall I never see Jesus
Christ again? Must I forever despair?" And a voice rises from the
walls of eternity with ten thousand reverberations: "Despair."
Can there be any thing more dreadful still? Yes, the sinner's cup
has one more ingredient of bitterness--remorse. You know what a
comfort it is to be able to say, "It was not my fault, I did what
I could." But the sinner will not have that comfort. On the
contrary, he will say, "I might have been saved. It is all true
which the angel said.
{250}
I was a Catholic, and had the means of salvation. I might have
been saved, saved easily, more easily than I was lost. I was
never happy; sin never made me happy. I sinned, and gained for
myself misery even in the other world. Fool that I was, I might
have done penance, and been happier after it, in time and in
eternity. How little God asked of me! I had the mission, if I had
but made it well. Oh, what trouble I took to be damned, and how
little was required of me to be saved! Yesterday, God was ready;
the sacraments were at hand, the church door open, the priest was
awaiting me; but now all is closed. Oh, if I had them now!" But
his complaints are silenced. An iron grasp is on his throat. The
demon has his black hand on his throat and chokes him; then he
puts his horrid arms around him, and hugs him as the anaconda
hugs her victims. He carries him swiftly through the air: down,
down they go--until at last they reach the gates of hell. They
creak upon their hinges, they open, the demon enters with his
prey, and casts it on the bed of flames prepared for it. Then a
yell is heard throughout those dismal regions: "One more Catholic
vocation thrown away, one more soul lost, one more devil in
hell."

Come, let us go back to that room where the corpse is laid out.
They have just finished preparing it for the grave, and all that
we have described has been taking place in that very room too,
and they have not known it. They have smoothed the body and laid
a white cloth over it; and they say, how natural it looks. It
wears the smile they remember it used to wear in youth, and that
poor soul they are talking of is damned. Jesus Christ has been
there, and adjudged it to hell. And this is going on every day.
Wherever death takes a man, there judgment meets him. Jesus
Christ meets men in all kinds of places.
{251}
You know how death met Baltassar. He was a drunkard, an
adulterer, a sacrilegious robber; and one night, when he was
drunk, and held a grand feast, surrounded by his concubines, and
with the vessels of God's house on his table, a hand appeared on
the wall and wrote this sentence: "Mene, Mene, Thecel, Phares;"
and that night he died. Yes! in the midst of their sin; in the
place where they go, Jesus Christ meets the soul, and condemns it
to hell. He meets it in the grogshop, where wild companions are
gathered together, and one of them falls to the ground, under the
blow of a companion, and dies. There upon that spot, with those
bad companions standing around, with the sound of blasphemy in
his ear, Jesus Christ, unseen, meets that soul and condemns it to
hell. Another is shot in the street, on his way to keep an
assignation, and then and there, in the street, Jesus Christ
meets him and condemns him to hell. One dies in the low hovel,
where squalid vice and misery have done all they could to
brutalise the inmates, and then and there Jesus Christ, in that
hovel, meets the soul and condemns it to hell. Another dies in a
bed covered with silken tapestry, and as he dies he sees the face
of Jesus Christ looking in through the silken curtains to
pronounce the sentence against him, who had made a god of this
world. Another dies in prison, and there in that cell where human
justice placed him, divine justice meets him, and in that prison
Jesus Christ meets him and condemns him to hell. Yes, wherever
death meets you, O sinner, there Jesus Christ will meet you, and
there he will condemn you. It may be tomorrow. It may be in the
very act of the commission of sin. It may be without any
opportunity of preparation, you will stand before an inflexible
and unerring Judge. Oh, then, do not delay now to propitiate Him
while you can. In that tribunal after death, there is no mercy
for the sinner; but there is another tribunal, which He has
established, where there is mercy--the tribunal of penance. There
the accuser is not the demon, but the sinner himself; and he is
not only his own accuser, but his own witness against himself.
There the angel guardian waits with joy, not with sorrow. There
Jesus Christ is present, but not in wrath.
{252}
There the sentence is, "I absolve thee from thy sin," not "I
condemn thee for thy sin." Oh, then, appeal from one tribunal to
the other. Appeal from Jesus Christ to Jesus Christ. Appeal from
Jesus Christ at the day of judgment to Jesus Christ in the
confessional. And if thou wouldst not be condemned by Him when
thou seest Him after death, be sure thou gettest a favorable
sentence from Him now in the Sacrament of Penance. "_Make an
agreement with thy adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way
with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge,
and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into
prison. Amen. I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence
till thou pay the last farthing._" [Footnote 23]

    [Footnote 23: St. Matt. v. 25.]

---------------------------

    Sermon IV.

    Heaven.

    (Mission Sermon.)


   "Rejoice and be exceeding glad,
   because your reward is very great in heaven."
   --St: Matt. v. 12.


Some of you may remember the joy with which, after a sea voyage,
you arrived at home. The voyage had been very long and wearisome.
You had suffered, perhaps had been in danger. At last you heard
the sailors cry "Land;" and after a while, your less practised
eye began to discern the blue hills of your native country. Oh,
how that sight revived you! How your sufferings and dangers were
all forgotten in the thought of the welcome that awaited you at
home!
{253}
Well, life is a voyage on the ocean of time; often a tempestuous,
always a dangerous voyage; and in order to animate our courage,
to cheer and console us, God has allowed us from time to time to
catch a glimpse by faith of our distant home of heaven. Let us
lift up our thoughts now to that happy land, the land that is
very far off, the land that is wide and quiet; the celestial
paradise, the home of the blessed, the city of God. I know that
we cannot gain any sufficient idea of it. I know that eye hath
not seen its beauty, ear hath not heard the story of it, neither
hath the heart of man conceived its image; but we must do as men
do with some costly jewel: turn it first on one side, then on
another, to catch its brilliancy; and if at the last we fall
down, blinded and dazzled by the splendors which meet us, we
shall in this way at least conceive something of the greatness of
those things which God has provided for those who love Him.

The Holy Scripture represents the pleasures of heaven in three
different lights: first, as Rest; second, as Joy; third, as
Glory. Let us, then, meditate upon them for a while, under each
one of these three aspects.

First, then, heaven is a place of rest, by which I understand the
absence of all those things which disturb us here. True, there is
happiness even in this life, but how unsatisfactory, how
fleeting! Here we are never far off from wretchedness, and never
long without trouble. You go into a great city: how rich and gay
every thing looks; what crowds of well-dressed people pass you!
Ah! in the next street there is the dismal hovel where poverty
hides its head, and the children cry for bread, and there is no
one to break it to them. You are strong and healthy, and it is a
strange, fierce joy for you on a cold day to struggle with the
buffetings of the wintry blast; but see, the rude wind that
kindles a glow on your cheek steals away the bloom from yonder
sick man, whose feeble step and sharpened features tell of
suffering and disease.
{254}
You have a happy family, and when you go home your children
clamber up on your knees, and your wife meets you with a smile of
affection. Alas! next door, the widow weeps the night long, and
there is none to comfort her, for the young man, the only son of
his mother, has been carried to his long home. And as if this
were not enough, as if sickness and poverty and death did not
cause misery enough in the world, men's passions, hate and envy,
lust, avarice, and pride, unite to make many a moment wretched
that might else have been happy. But in heaven these things shall
be no more. In heaven. there shall be complete and perfect rest.
The poor man will no more be forced to toil hardly and anxiously
to put bread in his children's mouths--to rise up early, and late
take rest; for there they shall not hunger nor thirst any more.
The sick man then shall leap as a hart; he shall run and not be
weary; he shall walk and not faint. The widow's tears shall be
dried, for husband and son shall be again restored to her. Oh,
what a day shall that be, when dear friends shall meet together,
never to part again, and God shall wipe all tears from their
eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away; when the bodies of
the saints, glorious and immortal, no longer subject to decay or
fatigue or death, clothed in light, shall enter the gates of the
celestial city, and shall have a right to the tree of life! And
there shall be no sin there, no gust of passion, no reproach of
conscience, no sting of temptation. In this life, says St.
Augustine, we have the liberty of being able not to sin, but in
heaven we shall have the higher liberty of not being able to sin.
Brother shall not rise up against brother, neither shall there be
war any more, for the former things are passed away. There shall
be no strife or hatred or envy; no wrong or oppression; no
unkindness or coldness; no falsehood or insincerity; but within a
perfect peace, and without an unalterable friendship between all
the inhabitants of this happy land, each rejoicing in the other's
happiness and glory. And there is no end to these joys of heaven.
{255}
Here our best pleasures are alloyed by their transitoriness; but
there, there is no fear for the future. No wave disturbs the
deep, clear sea of crystal that lies before the throne of God.
The angel has sworn that time shall be no longer, and the great
day of eternity has begun. O heavenly Jerusalem! O city of God!
which has no need of sun or moon to enlighten it, for there is no
night there! welcome haven of rest to the poor exiles of earth!
Blessed are they that shall enter thy gates of pearl and tread
thy streets of gold, for thou art the perfection of beauty and
the joy of the whole earth. In thy secure recesses the wicked
cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. "Blessed are they
that die in the Lord, for they rest from their labors. They shall
not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. My
people shall be all just; they shall inherit the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, to glorify me."

But though it is easier to describe heaven as a place of rest,
that is not the whole description of it. Heaven is also a place
of joy, and of joy the most complete, the most pure, the most
satisfying that the human heart can possess. Joy in seeing and
loving God, or, as it is called, in the Beatific Vision. This it
is in which consists essentially the Christian idea of heaven. I
say the Christian idea, for our faith teaches us to look forward
to a happiness very different from what we could have expected by
nature. Of course natural reason teaches us to look forward to a
future life, but it promises no other knowledge of God but such
as is possible to our own natural powers when fully developed.
But Christianity promises us a knowledge of God to which our
natural powers, however enlarged, could never aspire. It teaches
us that we shall see Him as He is--not only think about Him and
commune with Him and adore Him, but actually look upon His
unveiled Divinity, gaze upon Him face to face. It is not of our
Lord's glorified humanity that I speak.
{256}
That, too, we shall see, and that will be a sight of unspeakable
beauty and joy; but we shall see more: we shall look upon and
into the Divine Essence. Now to our natural powers this is
impossible. A blind man can know a great deal about the sun. He
may hear it described, he may reason about it, he may feel its
effects, but he cannot lift up his eyes to heaven and see it. So,
naturally speaking, we have not the faculty whereby to see God.
"_No man hath seen God at any time_," says St. John.
"_Whom no man hath seen, or can see, who inhabiteth the light
inaccessible_," says St. Paul.  [Footnote 24]

    [Footnote 24: St. John i. 18; I. Tim. vi. 16.]

Clearly there must be some great change in us, something given to
us that does not belong to us as men, in order to enable us to
see God, and the Holy Scripture tells us what that change shall
be: "_We shall be like to Him, for we shall see Him as He
is_," says St. John. [Footnote 25]

    [Footnote 25: I. Ep. St. John iii. 2.]

We ourselves shall become divine and godlike. The human intellect
shall be marvellously strengthened by a gift which the Church
calls the light of glory, which shall enable us to look upon God
and live. We are told in Scripture that God walked in the garden
of Eden and talked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. This
high companionship was broken by the fall. Man was reduced to the
rank that essentially belonged to him, and was deprived of that
which had been accorded to him of grace. But by baptism he
acquires once more a right to that familiar intercourse with God,
and in heaven he enters upon its enjoyment. For this reason
heaven is called our fatherland. It is our lost inheritance
recovered. There we ourselves shall be the sons of God, and God
will be our Father. Think what is the relation of an affectionate
son to a good and wise father. What submission with
equality--what complete sympathy and community of interest--what
intimate communication of thought and feeling! So, O Christian
soul! shall it be between you and God. God will be your God, and
you will be His child.
{257}
Thou shalt dwell in His home, and all that He hath shall be
thine. "_All things are yours, the world, or life, or death, or
things present, or things to come; for all are yours, and you are
Christ's, and Christ is God's_." [Footnote 26]

    [Footnote 26: 1 Cor. iii 23.]

Yes, God himself shall be yours. You shall look around you and
see His towering altitudes, and count them as your own. You shall
look deep down into the depths of His wisdom and be wise as God
is. You shall find yourself upborne by His power and goodness,
enveloped by His glory, and adorned with His beauty. Oh! my
brethren, is not this joy? Tell me, tell me, young men, tell me,
children, tell me truly, one and all, what have been the happiest
moments of your life? Was it the moments you have spent in sin?
Was it the hour of some earthly success or triumph? Or was it not
rather at some hour when God was near to you, and you felt the
music of His voice and the perfume of His breath--some time when
you were praying, or when you had made a good confession or
communion, or when you were listening to a sermon? I know it was.
I know there are times when every man has felt the words of the
Psalmist: "_What have I in heaven? and besides Thee what do I
desire upon earth? Thou art the God of my heart, and the God that
is my portion forever._" [Footnote 27]

  [Footnote 27: Ps. lxxxii. 26.]

What are all the attainments of learned men to Him who is
all-wise? What are all the conceptions of genius to Him who is
all-beautiful, or the moral excellencies of good men to Him who
is all-holy? Yes, the thought of God is the source of the purest
and highest pleasure on earth. That thought has ravished the
saints with ecstasy, and made the martyrs laugh at their
torments. And if merely to think about God in this life can make
us so happy, what must it be to see Him in the life to come?
{258}
To know God and to love Him, to know Him as we are known by Him,
to love Him with our whole souls, to possess Him without the fear
of losing Him, to take part in His counsels, to enter into His
will, and to share in His blessedness--this is a joy, perfect and
supreme; and this is the joy of heaven. This is the joy offered
to you. This is all-satisfying. The soul can desire nothing more.
This is permanent, for heaven is eternal. This is always new, for
God is riches and beauty inexhaustible and infinite. Oh, my
brethren, do not envy those who were near our Lord's person when
He was upon earth. I know it is natural to do so. I know it is
natural to say, "If I could but have seen His face, or heard the
sound of His voice;" but no! yours is a still happier lot. Do not
envy Magdalene, who kissed His feet, nor St. John, on whose
breast He leaned, nor the Blessed Virgin, who bore Him in her
arms. Is it not permitted to the poorest and the weakest of you
to see Him, not in His humility, but in his glory--to converse
with Him and dwell with Him in the land of the living? Oh!
blessed are they that dwell in Thy house! The world passeth away,
and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth
forever. Blessed are they that hear the Word of God and do it!
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God! One would
have thought that this was enough. To be free from all the trials
and sufferings of this present life, and to enjoy the fullest
happiness a human soul is capable of--one would think that were
heaven enough, and that no more could be added. But the bounty of
God has added another element to the happiness of heaven. Heaven
is a place of glory--not of rest only, but of glory also. "Glory,
honor and peace," says the apostle, "to every man that doeth
well." Heaven is the place of God's glory, and it is also the
place of the glory of the saints. Even here the good are honored
--the really good. True, for a while they may be despised and
persecuted, but, in the long run, nothing is honored so much as
virtue.
{259}
During the lifetime of Nero and St. Paul, Nero was a powerful
emperor, praised and flattered by his courtiers, and St. Paul a
friendless and despised prisoner; now, Nero is abhorred as the
wicked tyrant, and St. Paul honored by all men as the saint and
hero. But this is not enough. In heaven the honor of the saints
will be magnificent. God himself will honor them. This is one
reason for the last judgement, that God may publicly give honor
to the good. "_Whosoever shall glorify me, him will I
glorify_," says the Almighty; [Footnote 28] and they who are
saved will be admitted to heaven with respect and solemnity, as
those whom the King delights to honor.

    [Footnote 28: 1 Ki. ii. 30.]

This is represented to us in the description of the last
judgment: "Then shall He turn to them on the right hand and say:
'Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for
you from the foundation of the world.'" See how He praises them.
See how He honors them and makes kings out of them. They are
astonished: it seems too much. They know not how they have
deserved it. But He insists upon it as their right. He repeats
the good actions they have done. "I was hungry and ye gave me
meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me to drink. I was naked and ye
clothed me." Do you hear this, my brethren? So will it be with
you when you stand before God to be judged. He will hold in His
hand a beautiful diadem of gold, and he will say: "This is for
thee." And thou shalt be amazed and shalt say: "No, Lord, this is
not for me. I am nothing but a laboring man. I am but a poor boy.
I am only a servant-girl. I am not the child of the rich and
great. No one ever made way for me in the street, or rose up when
I came into their company." But Christ shall say: "Nay! a prince
thou art, for thou hast done the deeds of a prince."
{260}
Then He will begin to mention them one by one--your kindness to
your old mother and father--your humble confession that it was so
difficult to make, and which you made so well--the time you
overcame that great temptation, and resolved, once for all, to be
virtuous--the occasion of sin you renounced--the prayers you
said in humility and sincerity--the sacrifices you made for your
faith--the true faith you kept with your husband or wife--the
patience you practised in pain or vexation. Then He will show you
your throne in heaven, so bright you will think it an apostle's,
or the Blessed Virgin Mary's, or that it belongs to God himself;
and then the tears of joy and surprise will drop from your eyes,
and your heart will be nigh bursting with confusion; but He will
smile upon you, and take you by the hand, and say: "Yes, thou
hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over
many things." Then He will give thee a certain jurisdiction, a
certain power of intercession; make thee an assessor in His high
court of heaven, and make thee to sit on a throne with Him,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And others shall honor thee.
The saints shall honor thee. The Blessed Virgin shall honor thee.
Now thou honorest her, so much at a distance from thee, and
callest her Lady; but then it shall be as it was when St. John
and the Blessed Virgin dwelt together in one home. Thou shalt
still honor her as the Mother of Jesus, and she shall honor thee
as His disciple. St. Peter and St. John and St. James and St.
Andrew shall honor thee. Now thou makest thy litanies to them;
but then it will be as it was when Peter and Thomas and Nathanael
and the sons of Zebedee were together, and Jesus came in the
midst and dined with them. The saints shall be one family with
thee. They will walk with thee, and sit with thee, and call thee
by name, and tell thee the secrets of Paradise. And the angels
shall honor thee. Now thou addressest thy angel guardian on
bended knee; but then he will say to thee: "See thou do it not; I
am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren, who have the
testimony of Jesus." And the Church on earth shall praise thee.
As long as time shall last, she shall make mention of thee as one
of those who rejoice with Christ in His glorious kingdom, and,
clothed in white, follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.
{261}
Yes, and the wicked and the devils shall honor thee. Now they may
affect to despise you--now they may persecute you and trouble
you; but then they will be forced to do you honor, and, groaning
within themselves for anguish of spirit, and amazed at the
suddenness of your unexpected salvation, shall say: _These are
they whom we had sometime in derision, and for a parable if
reproach. We fools esteemed their life madness and their end
without honor. Behold how they are numbered among the children of
God, and their lot is among the saints_." [Footnote 29]

    [Footnote 29: Wisd. v. 3, 4, 5.]

Such, my brethren, are the joys of heaven, or, rather, such is
the faintest and poorest idea of the joys of heaven. Men seek for
wealth as the means of defending themselves from the ills of
life, but there is perfect rest only in heaven. Men seek for
pleasure, but earthly joys are short and unsatisfactory; the
pleasures at God's right hand are for ever sure. Men seek for
honor, but the real honor comes from God alone. And these are
within the reach of each one of you. When Father Thomas of Jesus,
was dying in captivity, his friends came around his bedside, and
expressed their regret that he should die, away from his home,
and their hope that the King of Spain would even yet ransom him;
but the holy man replied: "I have a better country than Spain,
and the ransom has long been paid. That country is heaven, that
ransom is the blood of Christ." The Holy Church says: "When thou
hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the
kingdom of heaven to all believers." Yes! by the blood of Christ,
by the sacrament of baptism, the gates of heaven are opened
before us. The path is straight and plain. If by sin we have
strayed from it, by penance we have been recalled to it, and now
there is nothing to do but to advance and persevere, and heaven
is ours.
{262}
Will you draw back, Christian? Will you, by mortal sin, throw
away that immortal crown? No drunkard or adulterer, nothing that
is defiled, can enter there. There is only one road that leads to
heaven--the road of Christian obedience. Will you renounce your
birthright? Will you, by sin, take the course that leads you away
from your heavenly home? "Oh!" I hear you say, "I will choose
heaven." But, remember, heaven is to be won. "Heaven," says St.
Philip Neri, "is not for the slothful and cowardly." Strive then,
henceforth, for the rewards that are at God's right hand. Strive
to attain abundant merits for eternity. Remember that he that
soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he that soweth
plentifully shall reap plentifully. God is not unmindful of your
works and labor that proceedeth from love. Things so small as not
to be taken notice of, things that happen every day, add a new
glory to our mansions in heaven. With this aim, then, let us
henceforth work. "Oh, happy I," says St. Augustine, "and thrice
happy, if, after the dissolution of the body, I shall merit to
hear the songs that are sung in praise of the Eternal King, by
the inhabitants of the celestial city!" Happy I, if I myself
shall merit to sing those strains, and to stand before my Lord
and King, and to see Him in His glory, as he promised! "He that
loveth me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and
will manifest myself to him." "How amiable are thy tabernacles,
Thou Lord of Hosts! My soul hath a desire and a longing to enter
into the courts of the Lord." Grant me this, O Lord. Give and
withhold what Thou wilt. I do not ask length of days. I do not
ask for earthly honor and prosperity. I do not ask to be free
from care, or labor, or suffering. But this I do ask, O Lord:
when this life is over, shut not up my soul in hell, but let me
look on Thy face in the land of the living. Make me so to pass
through things temporal that I lose not the things eternal.
{263}
Hail, Heavenly Queen! our life, our sweetness, and our hope! to
Thee do we cry, poor, exiled children of Eve. Oh, then, from Thy
throne in heaven, lift upon us, who are struggling in this world,
those merciful eyes of Thine! and when this our exile is over,
show us the blessed fruit of Thy womb, JESUS!



  Note.--This was the last Sunday-Sermon which F. Baker preached,
  two weeks before he was seized with his last illness.

--------------------

    Sermon V.

    The Duty Of Growing In Christian Knowledge.


    (First Sunday in Advent.)


  "The first man knew not wisdom perfectly,
  no more shall the last find her out.
  For her thoughts are vaster than the sea,
  and her counsels deeper than the great ocean."
    --Eccles. XXIV. 38, 39.


I think we Catholics, when we lay claim to the possession of the
whole truth--the entire revelation imparted to the world from
Christ through the apostles--sometimes forget how small a share
of that truth each one of us possesses in particular. It is the
Church that the Holy Ghost leads into all truth, not individuals.
Each Catholic, who is sufficiently instructed, knows some truth;
he knows what is necessary to salvation; but there are many
things which he is totally ignorant of, many things concerning
which his conceptions are inadequate or distorted. Now if this be
so, it cannot but be useful to remember it, and I will,
therefore, this morning, show you how it must be so, and some of
the consequences which flow from it.

{264}

Each one's knowledge of truth must be more or less partial and
incomplete, because it varies with each one's capacity for
receiving truth. When God gave man reason, He conferred on him
the faculty of receiving truth; but the degree in which this or
that man is capable of receiving truth, depends upon the strength
and cultivation of his particular reason. The eye is the organ of
sight, but one man's eye is stronger and truer than another's.
Slight variations of color or form, wholly indistinguishable by
one man, are detected in a moment by another. So, one man's
reason is stronger than another's. What makes the difference, is,
of course, in part the diversity in natural endowments, but it is
not altogether due to this cause; it is due in great measure also
to cultivation. Moral dispositions, too, have a great deal to do
with it; and in the case of Christian truth, the grace of God
also exerts a special influence. The degrees in which these
various elements are found in particular cases, are so different,
that there is an almost infinite gradation in the measure in
which men are capable of receiving truth. No two men can receive
it in exactly the same degree. In all this congregation, where we
recite the same Creed and use the same prayers, there are,
perhaps, no two of us who mean by them precisely the same thing.
The intelligence of each one, his past history, his moral
dispositions, will determine how far the faith that is in him
corresponds to the faith that is without him--the faith as it is
in itself, the object of faith as it is in God. I can make what I
mean plain to you by an illustration. Let us suppose a beautiful
picture of the crucifixion, for instance, [is] put up in a public
gallery. Men of every kind enter and pass before it. There comes
a man who has never heard of Christ; he is ignorant and
uneducated. He looks up and sees the representation of extremest
human agony, mingled with superhuman dignity and patience. Some
ray enters his mind; he pauses, is startled then passes on. Now
there comes another, who is an anatomist, and he is arrested by
the skill with which the body is proportioned, and the play of
the muscles and nerves is exhibited. Every line is a study to
him, and he stops a good deal longer than the first.
{265}
Then there comes an artist, and he sees in the picture something
greater even. He takes in the genius of the conception, the
fitness of attitude and expression, the light and shade, the
tints of color, the difficulties overcome by art; and he comes
and sits before it, day after day, for hours, absorbed in the
study of its beauties. And another comes who is a poet, and to
him it brings back the scene of Calvary. In a moment he is far
away, and the sun is darkened, and the earth quakes, and there
are thunderings and lightnings, and once more the Holy City pours
forth its multitude to witness the death of Jesus. And then there
comes a sinner. Ah! that story of love and suffering! which tells
how God so loved the world, and gave His only-begotten Son, that
all who believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting
life. To him, that picture speaks of the horrors of sin, of
mercy, of heaven and hell, and thoughts are awakened by it which
lead him back to God. There hangs the picture, unaltered. It is
just what the artist made it, neither more nor less, yet see how
different it has been to different beholders.

Now, just so it is with the preaching of the truth. As we recite
the Creed, as we preach to you, Sunday after Sunday, the Creed
itself is indeed unchangeable, but it is a different thing to
each one of us who preach, and to each one of you who hear,
according to your intelligence, your past history, and your
present dispositions. How can it be otherwise? Does not the very
word, God, mean something different to us from what it does to a
saint? Do not the words Presence of God, mean something different
to you and me from what they did to St. Teresa, to whom the soul
of man appeared as a castle with seven chambers, each one more
sacred than the others, as you advanced into the interior, until
the innermost shrine was reached, where God and the soul were
joined together in a manner which human language knows not how to
utter?
{266}
Do you not see that the doctrine of the Incarnation is something
very different to us from what it was to St. Athanasius, who
spent his whole life in conflict for it, who endured years of
exile and calumny, the estrangement of friends, the suspicion
even of good men, rather than falter the least in fidelity to
that verity on which his soul had fed? Or the Real Presence--is
that not a different thing to the crowd who come to church and
kneel from custom, but hardly remember why, from what it was to
St. Thomas, who composed in honor of it the wonderful hymns
_Pange Lingua_ and _Lauda Sion_, or to St. Francis
Xavier, who spent nights in prayer, prostrate upon the platform
of the altar? Why, St. Thomas, who has so written of the
Christian faith that the Church has named him the angelical
doctor, threw down his pen in hopelessness of being able to
express the high knowledge of divine things which filled his
soul. And St. Paul confesses, in writing to the Hebrews, that
even in that primitive community, taught by apostles and living
in a perpetual call to martyrdom, there were some points of
Christian truth which he found himself unable to utter, "because
you are become weak to hear." [Footnote 30]

    [Footnote 30: Heb. v. 11.]

I know that you are Catholics, that you have the Apostles' Creed
by heart, that you believe in one God in Three Persons, in the
Incarnation and Death of the Second Person of the Blessed
Trinity, and in the two eternities before us; but neither you nor
I know what all this implies. Our knowledge is very imperfect: we
are but babes in Christ, lisping and stammering the Divine
alphabet--children, wetting our feet in the waves which dash on
the shore of the boundless ocean of truth.

It is good for us, as I have already said, to remember this, for
it gives us at once the true method of forming an estimate of
Christianity. A tree is known by its fruit, but it is by its best
fruit.
{267}
If you have a tree in your garden bearing only a small quantity
of very delicious fruit, you prize it highly and take great care
of it, though many of the blossoms fall off, and a great deal of
the fruit never ripens. So you must judge of the Catholic Church,
by its best and most perfect fruit, that is, by the men of great
wisdom and great virtue whom it produces, and not by its
imperfect members. Who is likely to be the best exponent and the
truest specimen of his religion, a man of prayer and study,
deeply versed in the Holy Scriptures and sacred learning, or one
of small capacity, little learning, and little prayer? Evidently,
the former; and yet how often do men take the contrary way of
judging of the teaching and spirit of the Church. They visit some
Catholic country, they see some instance of popular error,
ignorance, or disorder, and they say: "This is Catholicity." Or,
at home, they see or hear a Catholic do or say something which
gives them offence, and they exclaim: "That is your doctrine!"
"That is your religion!" Now, supposing the offence they take to
be justly taken, which is not always the case, what does it
prove? It may prove that the rulers of the Church have not done
their duty; but it may prove just the contrary, that they have
done their duty-that in spite of the obstacles of ignorance and
rudeness, they have succeeded in imparting to some darkened souls
enough knowledge to lead them to God, though it be the very least
that is sufficient for that purpose. But it does not show what
the doctrine of the Church really is as intelligently understood.
To find out this, you must look at men who are in the most
favorable circumstances for understanding it, and they are the
saints of God: St. Basil, St. Augustine, St. Francis of Sales,
St. Teresa. St. Vincent of Paul.

O my brethren! how can men turn away from Catholicity? I
understand how they can turn away from it as you and I express
it; how we can fail to remove their difficulties, or even put new
perplexity in their way. But how can they turn away from
Catholicity as it is expressed by the great saints of the Church?
{268 }
What a divine religion! What majesty, what sweetness, what
wisdom, what power! How it commands the homage of the world! What
a universal testimony it has in its favor, after all! Do you
know, my brethren, I believe men are far more in favor of
Catholicity than we suspect. I believe half the difficulties they
find in our religion are not in our religion at all, but in us;
in our ignorance, in our prejudices, in our short-sightedness and
narrow-heartedness. What renders the world without excuse is the
line of saints, the true witnesses to the genius and spirit of
the Catholic religion. And yet, even the saints themselves are
not the perfect exponents of the faith, for even the saints were
not altogether free from ignorance and error. To understand fully
the nobleness of the Christian faith, we should need the help of
inspiration itself. Did it never occur to you, my brethren, that
the expressions of the prophets and apostles in reference to the
light and grace brought by Jesus Christ into the world, were
extravagant? "_Behold, I will lay thy stones in order, and will
lay thy foundations with sapphires, and I will make thy bulwarks
of jasper: and thy gates of graven stones, and all thy borders if
desirable stones. All thy children shall be taught of the Lord:
and great shall be the peace of thy children." "Thou shalt no
more have the sun for thy light by day, neither shall the
brightness of the moon enlighten thee: but the Lord shall be unto
thee for an everlasting light, and thy God for thy glory_."
[Footnote 31]

    [Footnote 31: Isaiah liv. 11-13; lx. 19.]

Does the Catholic Church, as you understand it, come up to these
descriptions? Is Catholic truth, as you appropriate it, so high
and glorious a thing as this? No! And the reason is, that you are
straitened in yourselves. Your conceptions are so low, your
knowledge of the truth is so partial and limited that you do not
recognize the description when the Holy Ghost presents that truth
as it is in itself, as it is seen and known by God.

{269}

This thought leads us naturally to another; namely, that it is
the duty of each one of us to extend his knowledge of Christian
truth as far as possible. There is a story told of a foreign
gentleman visiting Rome, who went one day to St. Peter's Church,
and, after entering the vestibule, admired its noble proportions,
and returned home fully satisfied that he had seen the church
itself, which he had not even entered. So it is with many persons
who never pass beyond the vestibule of Christian knowledge. They
never enter the inner temple, or catch even a glimpse of its vast
heights and its dim distances, its receding aisles, its intricate
archings, its glory, its richness, and its mystery. O misery of
ignorance! which has ever been the heaviest curse of our race. O
Morning Star, harbinger of eternal truth, and Sun of Justice,
when wilt thou come to enlighten those that sit in darkness and
in the shadow of death! Alas! this is our grief, that the true
Light is come into the world, but our eyes are holden that we
cannot see it. Truths, the thought of which rapt the apostles
into ecstasy, truths which the angels desire to look into, are
published in our hearing, and awaken no aspiration, no stirring
in our hearts. We go away, to eat and drink, and work, and play.
O brethren! burst for yourselves these bonds of ignorance. Do not
say, I am not learned, I am not acute or profound, I cannot hope
to understand much. Remember that there were some servants to
whom one talent was given, who were called to account as well as
those who had ten. Do what you can. A pure heart, a blameless
life, and prayer, are great enlighteners. Read, listen, meditate,
obey. Ask of God to enlarge your knowledge, and to teach you what
it means to say you believe in Him. Ask of Jesus Christ to teach
you what it means to say that He was made man and died for us on
the cross; what it is to receive His body and blood; what is the
meaning of heaven and hell.
{270}
Awake thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light! He
will make you understand more and more what it is to be a
Christian. Often have I seen the fulfilment of this promise. I
have been at the bedside of poor people, who would be called rude
and illiterate, but to whose pure hearts and earnest prayers God
had imparted so clear a knowledge of the faith, that I have felt
in their humble rooms like Jacob when he awoke from sleep and
said: "Indeed the Lord is in this place." [Footnote 32]

    [Footnote 32: Gen. xxviii. 16.]

Men are talking about a Church of the future. They say the old
Church is decrepid, her theology is obsolete, she stimulates
thought no more. But we know better. The Church of the future is
the Church of the past. That Church is ever ancient and ever new.
Her truth is not exhausted. Men know not the half nor the
hundredth part of her hidden wisdom. O the victory! when men
shall understand this--when they shall come confessing to the
Holy Church, as the Queen of Saba did to Solomon: "_The report
is true, which I heard in my own country, concerning thy words
and concerning thy wisdom. And I did not believe them that told
me, till I came myself and saw with my own eyes, and have found
that the half hath not been told me; thy wisdom and thy works
exceed the fame which I heard. Blessed are thy men, and blessed
are thy servants who stand before thee always, and hear thy
wisdom_." [Footnote 33]

    [Footnote 33: III. Ki. x. 6-8.]

Yes! the history of the Church is not accomplished, her triumphs
are not yet all written. Why does she, Advent after Advent,
publish again the glowing predictions of the evangelical prophet,
but because she knows that they await a still more magnificent
fulfilment? Take courage--the cloud that rests on the people
shall be lifted off, and the burden taken away. The Ancient
Church "shall no more be called forsaken, nor her land desolate."
[Footnote 34]

    [Footnote 34: Is. lxii. 4.]

{271}

"_Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come,
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. And the Gentiles
shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy
rising. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall
wonder and be enlarged. And the children of them that afflict
thee shall come bowing down to thee, and all that slandered thee
shall worship the steps of thy feet, and shall call thee the city
of the Lord, the Sion of the Holy One of Israel_." [Footnote 35]

    [Footnote 35: Isai. lx. 1-14.]

--------------------

      Sermon VI.


  The Mission Of St. John the Baptist.

    (Second Sunday In Advent.)


  "This is he of whom it is written:
  Behold I send My messenger before Thy face,
  who shall prepare Thy way before Thee."
  --St. Matt. xi. 10.


The Scriptures of the Old Testament had foretold that a special
messenger should immediately precede the coming of the Messias,
whose duty would be to prepare men's hearts for His reception.
Now, our Lord in the text tells us that St. John the Baptist was
this messenger. It is for this reason that the Gospels read in
the Church for the season of Advent are so full of the sayings
and doings of this saint. In Advent the Church desires to prepare
us for the twofold coming of Christ--at His Nativity and at the
Last Judgment; and it is natural that she should avail herself of
the labors of one who was divinely appointed for the same
purpose. Accordingly, from Sunday to Sunday, during this season,
she bring St. John the Baptist from his cell in the desert, clad
in his rough garment, to preach to us Christians the same lessons
he preached to the Jewish people centuries ago.
{272}
It has seemed to me, then, that I could not better subserve the
intentions of the Church, than by considering this morning in
what the mission of St. John the Baptist as a preparation for
Christ's coming specially consisted, and what practical lessons
it suggests to us.

St. John the Baptist was of the priestly race, yet he never
exercised the office of a priest. He was not a prophet, at least
in the sense of one who foretells future events. He worked no
miracles. He had no ecclesiastical position. What was he then?
What was his office? How did he prepare men for the coming of
Christ? The Scriptures tell us what he was. He was a
"_Voice_" and a "_Cry_"--the cry of conscience, the
voice of man's immortal destiny. His mission was simple,
elementary, and universal. It went deeper than ecclesiastical or
ritual duties. It touched human probation to the very quick. He
dealt with the great question of salvation, protested vehemently
against sin, and published aloud that law of sanctity which is
written on every man's heart by the finger of God.

We have some remains of his sermons, from which we can learn his
style. "_Begin not to say_," so he speaks to the Jews,
"_we have Abraham to our father, for God is able to raise up of
these stones children to Abraham_." [Footnote 36]

    [Footnote 36: St. Luke iii. 8.]

See, how he sweeps away external privileges, and goes straight to
every man's conscience. "_The axe is laid now to the root of
the trees, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit
shall be cut down and cast into the fire_." Nothing but what
is internal, nothing but what is sound at the core, can bear the
scrutiny. He descends to the particulars of each man's state and
condition of life. The people came to him and asked him, "What
shall we do?" And he said: "_He that hath two coats, let him
impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat let him do
likewise_."
{273}
That was a short and pithy sermon! Then the officers of the
custom came and asked: "What shall _we_ do? And he answered:
"_Take nothing more than that which is appointed you_." Do
not rob or swindle. Do not use bribery or extortion. And the
soldiers asked him, saying: "And what shall _we_ do?" And he
said: "_Do violence to no man: neither calumniate any man; and
be content with your pay_."

Such was the preaching of St. John the Baptist, pointed, direct,
homely, practical: an echo of that trumpet-blast which once shook
the earth, when God gave the Ten Commandments out of the Mount.
And it did its work. Our Lord himself has testified to the
success of St. John's mission. It prepared men to believe in
Christ. It was the school which trained disciples for
Christianity. They that believed in St. John believed afterwards
in Christ. On one occasion the evangelist gives it as the
explanation why some believed and some rejected the words of
Jesus, that they had first believed or rejected the words of the
Baptist. "_All the people_," such is the language I refer
to, "_justified God, being baptized with, the baptism of John,
but the Pharisees and the lawyers despised the counsel of God
against themselves, being not baptized of him_." [Footnote 37]

    [Footnote 37: St. Luke vii. 29, 30.]

Nor is it difficult to explain how his preaching effected this
result. Christ came to save sinners. In point of fact, we know
that this is the reason why He has come into the world. He has
come to seek and save that which was lost. He has come to heal
the broken-hearted. He has come to give us a new law, higher and
holier than the old, yet easier by the brightness of His example,
and the graces He imparts. Now, unless a man feels the evil of
sin, unless he wants to keep the law, unless he feels an
interest, and a deep interest, in the question of his destiny, he
does not care for Christ.
{274}
True, our Lord has given to the understanding proofs of His
divine mission, so that belief in Him may be a reasonable act;
but until the conscience is stirred up, the understanding has no
motive for considering these proofs. To the carnal and careless
Jews, the announcement of Christ's coming was, I suppose, simply
uninteresting. In some points of view, indeed, they might have
welcomed Him. As a temporal prince and deliverer, His advent
would have been hailed by them, but salvation from sin was a
matter in which they felt no great concern. What did they want
with Christ? Why does He come at all to consciences which do not
crave rest, and wills that need no strength? What need of a
Saviour, if there is no sin to be shunned, no hell to be feared,
no heaven to be won, no great struggle between good and evil, no
eternity in peril?

But once let all this be fully understood. Let a man's conscience
be fully awakened. Let him realize his destiny, above and beyond
this world; let him appreciate the evil of sin that defeats his
destiny; let him, if the case be so, perceive how far out of the
way he has gone by his sins; and then how full of interest, how
full of meaning, becomes the exclamation of St. John, as he
points to Christ and says: "_Behold the Lamb of God, that
taketh away the sins of the world!_" Let a man's spiritual
nature be stirred within him; let him aspire to what is pure and
high; aim at regulating his passions; struggle, amid inordinate
desires and the importunities of creatures which encompass him
like a flood, toward the highest good and the most perfect
beauty; and, oh! with what music do these words of Christ fall on
his soul: "_Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn of
Me, and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is sweet,
and My burden is light._" [Footnote 38]

    [Footnote 38: St. Matt. xi. 29, 30.]

{275}

It seems too good to be true. He listens, and asks, "May I
believe this?" "Is there really a way through this world to
heaven? a sure, clear, easy way?" He finds that his understanding
not only allows, but compels him to believe in Christ: he is
happy; he believes; his faith is a conviction into which his
whole nature enters; it entwines itself with every fibre of his
soul.

The connection, then, between the preaching of the Baptist and
the coming of Christ was not a temporary one. It is essential and
necessary. St. John is still the forerunner of Christ. The
preaching of the commandments is ever the preparation for faith.
The awakening of a man's conscience is the measure of his
appreciation of Christ. Our Lord gives many graces to men without
their own co-operation. Many of the gifts of Providence, and the
first gifts in the order of grace, are so bestowed. But an
enlightened appreciation of Christianity, a personal conviction
of its truth, a real and deep attachment to it, will be always in
proportion to the thoroughness with which a man has sounded the
depths of his own heart, to the sincerity with which sin is hated
and feared, and holiness aspired after. Christ is never firmly
seated in the soul of man till he is enthroned on the conscience.
"_Unto you that fear My name, shall the Sun of Justice arise,
and health in his wings_." [Footnote 39]

    [Footnote 39: St. Matt. iv. 2.]

And, here, my brethren, in this law or fact which I stated, we
have the key to several practical questions of great importance.

{276}

Here we have, in great part at least, an explanation why
conversions to the Catholic Church are not more frequent than
they are. Surely the Catholic Church is prominent enough in the
eyes of men. From her church towers she cries aloud. In the
streets, at the opening of her gates, she utters her word,
saying: "_O children of men, how long will you love folly, and
the unwise hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof_." Her
antiquity, her unity, her universality, the sanctity of so many
of her children, are enough to arrest the attention of every
thoughtful man. But how few heed her voice! True, here and there,
there are souls who recognise in her the true teacher sent by
Christ, the guide of their souls, and submit themselves to her
safe and holy keeping. Altogether, they make a goodly company;
but how small in proportion to those who are left behind! It
reminds us of the words of the prophet: "_I will take one of a
city, and two of a family and bring you into Sion_." [Footnote 40]

    [Footnote 40: Jer. iii. 14.]

They come by ones and twos, and the mass remains behind. And what
does that mass think of the Catholic Church? Some are entirely
ignorant of her, almost as though she did not exist. Some have
wrong ideas about her, and hate her. Some know a good deal about
her doctrines, and are conversant with the proofs of them, and
argue about them, and criticise them. Some are favorably inclined
to her. Some patronise her. It was just so with Christ. To some
He was simply unknown, though He was in their midst. To some He
was an impostor and a blasphemer. To many He was an occasion of
dispute, some affirming Him to be a "good man," others saying,
"Nay, He deceiveth the people." To some He was an innovator on
the established religion, the religion of the respectable and
educated. To others, His mysteries were an offence, and the
severity of His doctrine a stumbling-block. Why is this? Why is
it always thus? Why are men so slow to be wise, and to be happy?
I do not wish, my brethren, to give too sweeping an answer. I
know there is such a thing as inculpable ignorance. I believe
there are many on their way to the Church who are not suspected
of it, and who, perhaps, do not suspect it themselves. I know
that God has His seasons of grace and providence. I know that
each human mind is different from every other, and has its own
law of working, its own way of arriving at conviction.
{277}
But after all such deductions, are there not very many of whom it
is a plain matter of fact to say that they _will_ not give
their attention to this subject? They may even have conscious
doubts on their minds, and live and die with these unattended to,
unresolved. It is a want of religious earnestness. Men do not
ask: "What shall I do to be saved?" Or at least, they do not give
to that question their supreme attention. They do not grapple
with their destiny. They are indifferent to it, or hopeless about
its solution. They let themselves float on, leaving the questions
of the future to decide themselves as they may, and live in the
pleasures and interests of the present.

Oh, fatal supineness! unworthy a rational being, defeating the
end of our creation, and entailing countless miseries here and
hereafter. Nothing can be hoped for from the world, till it
awakes from its lethargy of indifference. Men must be men before
you can make them Christians--serious, thoughtful earnest men,
before you have any reason for expecting them to become
Catholics. There is more hope of a conscientious bigot, than for
a man indifferent to his salvation. He, at least, is in earnest.
If his mind should become enlightened, if he should recognise the
Catholic Church as the divinely-appointed guide to that heaven
which he is seeking, there is reason to hope that he will avail
himself of her blessings. He will not make frivolous objections;
he will not stumble at the Sacrament of Confession, or catch at
every scandalous story of immorality on the part of a Catholic,
or quarrel with every minute ritual arrangement; but in a better,
higher, nobler spirit, in that spirit of obedience which so well
becomes a man, in that spirit of faith, in which man's reason
asserts most clearly its high character, by uniting itself to and
embracing the Reason of God, when he finds that the Church is the
guide to his immortal destiny, he "_will come bending to her,
and will worship the steps of her feet, and will call her the
City of the Lord, the Sion of the Holy One of Israel_."

{278}

And now, to turn our eyes within the Church, we can in the same
way account for those dreadful apostasies from the Catholic faith
which are here and there recorded in history. Mahometanism, which
in numbers is a rival to Catholicity, possesses some of the
fairest lands once owned by Christ. In modern times, one of the
most refined and enlightened nations of Christendom, in a moment
of frenzy, threw off the faith with which her history had been so
adorned, and professed Atheism. Now, how did these things happen?
Not of a sudden, or all at once. Men are not changed from
Christians into Turks or Infidels in an hour. There must have
been some secret moral history, which accounts for this wonderful
change. And so there was. Men became lax in their conduct. The
Catholicity they practised was not the Catholicity of Christ and
the Apostles. Public morals were conformed to the standard of
heathenism rather than that of the gospel--nay, sometimes
outraged as much the decencies of heathenism as the precepts of
Christ. It was the old story. St. John the Baptist imprisoned by
an adulterous king; St. John the Baptist, conspired against and
murdered by an ambitious queen; the head of St. John the Baptist,
eloquent and reproachful even in death, brought in to point the
jest and stimulate the revelry of a lascivious feast--this is but
a figure of the treatment which conscience has received in
Christian courts, and at the hands of Christian princes. Morality
and decency grew out of date, and were cast aside like
old-fashioned garments, and the restraints of the Law of God were
as feeble as cobwebs before the power of passion. Now, what else
could be the result of all this, but a disesteem of Christianity
itself? True, it might retain some hold upon men's minds for a
time. The fact that it was the religion of their ancestors, the
fact that they were baptized in it, the beauty of its ceremonies
and architecture, the soothing influence of its ordinances, the
services it has rendered to civilisation, might keep it standing
in its place for a time; but these considerations are not strong
enough to withstand the power of hell, when it is exerted in the
way of persecution, or a general apostasy.
{279}
"_Every plant that my Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall
be rooted up_," said Christ. [Footnote 41] It must be a
supernatural motive that binds us to our faith. Christ and the
Law cannot long remain divorced. A people without conscience will
soon be a people without faith; and a nation of triflers only
waits the occasion, to become a nation of apostates.

    [Footnote 41: St. Matt. xv. 13.]

It is not, then, without a special providence of God, that in
these later days the missionary orders of the Church have been
multiplied. In the sixteenth century the intellectual defence of
the faith was the Church's greatest need, and that was most
successfully accomplished. But there is needed something more to
uphold the falling fabric of modern society. Men need to be
reminded of the first principles of morality. And, therefore, a
St. Alphonsus appears in Naples, a St. Vincent of Paul in France;
missionary orders in every land go about teaching the people,
before it is too late, the very first and fundamental truths--the
doctrine of repentance and good works. Here, in every age, and
every country, is the real danger to faith. We speak often of the
dangers to faith in this country; and unquestionably we have our
special trials here. Some of our children are lost by neglect.
Some grow cold in the unfriendly atmosphere that surrounds them.
But the real danger to be dreaded is, that the love of the Church
herself should grow cold; that a wide-spread demoralisation
should take place among ourselves; that we should forget the
keeping of the Ten Commandments. This, indeed, would be the
prelude to our destruction. Practical morality makes a strong
Church; but let morality be forgotten, and the Church, while it
has a name to live, is dead.
{280}
And as a corpse long decomposed sometimes retains the human form
until it is exposed to the air, when it crumbles into dust; so a
dead Church will be blown to atoms and swept away, the first
strong blast that hell breathes against it.

And, in fine, by the light of the thought which I have been
endeavoring to present to you this morning, we see the means by
which we ought to make sure our personal union with Christ.
Christ is coming. He is coming at Christmas to unite Himself with
those whom He shall find prepared. He is coming again, and the
mountains shall melt before Him; for He is coming to judge the
world. "_Who shall stand to see Him? For He shall be as a
Refining Fire, and shall try the Sons of Levi as gold and
silver_." [Footnote 42]

    [Footnote 42: St. Matt. iii. 2, 3.]

How shall we abide His coming, my brethren I how shall we prepare
to meet Him? I know no other way than that which St. John the
Baptist recommended to the Jews--a true and solid conversion.
Whether a man has committed mortal sin or not, whether he is born
a Catholic or not, there comes upon him, if he is a true
Christian, some time in his life, a change which Catholic writers
call conversion. It may not be sudden. It may be all but
imperceptible. It may be more than once. But at least once, there
comes a time when religion becomes a matter of personal
conviction with him. He is different from what he was before. A
change has passed over him. He has awakened to his moral
accountability. His manhood is developed. His conscience is
aroused. And until that happens, you cannot count on him. He may
seem innocent and pious, but you cannot tell whether it will not
be "like the dew that passeth away in the morning." You cannot
say how he will act in temptation. You cannot reckon on what he
will be next year. Perhaps then he will draw sin "as with a
cart-rope."
{281}
The trouble with such men is not that they sin sometimes. Alas!
such is human frailty that a single fall would not dishearten us;
but the real misery is, that they have no _principle_ of not
sinning. They are not preparing for Christ's judgement. Their
contrition, such as it is, is intended to prepare them for
confession, not for eternity. See, then, what we want!

And this is what I understand by the _penance_ which St.
John the Baptist preached. He practised it himself. It is thought
that in St. John's case the use of reason was granted before
birth; and when as a babe he leaped in his mother's womb, it was
for conscious joy at the presence of his Lord and Saviour. And
since the Blessed Virgin and St. Elizabeth were cousins,
doubtless St. John and our Blessed Saviour knew each other as
children. It is more than probable that they used to play
together when they were boys, as the painters loved to represent
them. And oh! what an effect did the knowledge of Christ have on
St. John! It took the color out of earthly beauty, and the music
out of earthly joy. There was with him afterward one overpowering
desire--the desire of sanctity. He had seen a vision of heaven.
Not because he despised the world, but because a higher beauty
was opened to his soul, he went into the desert, and his meat was
locusts and wild honey. One aim he had: to purify his heart. One
thought: to prepare for heaven, and to help others also to
prepare.

Oh, let us heed his words and example. Let us follow him, if not
in the rigor of his fastings, at least in the sincerity of his
penance. Be converted, and turn to the Lord your God. There is no
other way of preparing for judgment. Remember what the Church
says to you at the Font: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the
commandments." Listen to what God Himself counsels, when
prophesying the terrors of the last day: "_Remember the law of
Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
the precepts and judgments_." [Footnote 43]

    [Footnote 43: St. Matt. iv. 4.]

{282}

The law commanded in Horeb--that eternal law of right, and
justice, and purity, and truth--examine yourself by this
standard; forsake every evil way and live a Christian life. Happy
are they who do so! Happy and secure shall they be in the evil
time. When the earth and heaven shall be shaken, and sea and land
give up their dead, and the Son of Man appear in the heavens, and
the Throne shall be set for judgment, then look up and lift up
your head, for your redemption draweth nigh. You have been true
to your conscience; you have believed in Christ; you have kept
His law; now to you belongs the promise, "_Then they that
feared the Lord spoke every man with his neighbor, and the Lord
gave ear, and heard it: and a book of remembrance was written
before the Lord for them that fear the Lord, and think on His
Name. And they shall be My special possession, saith the Lord of
Hosts, in the day that I do judgment: and I will spare them as a
man spareth his own son that serveth him_." [Footnote 44]

    [Footnote 44: St. Matt. iii. 16, 17.]

----------------------

         Sermon VII.


   God's Desire To Be Loved.

      (Christmas Day.)


  "Thou art beautiful above the sons of men:
  grace is poured abroad in Thy lips;
  therefore hath God blessed Thee forever.
  Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou most mighty.
  With Thy comeliness and Thy beauty,
  set out, proceed prosperously and reign."
  --Ps. xliv. 3-5.


The Church calls on us to-day to rejoice and be glad for the
Incarnation of the Son of God. With a celebration peculiar to
this Feast, she breaks the dead silence of the night with her
first Mass of joy.
{283}
She repeats it again as the east reddens with the dawn. And still
again, when the sun is shining in full day, she offers anew a
Mass of thanksgiving for a blessing which can never be
sufficiently praised and magnified. I have thought that I could
not better attune your hearts to all this gladness and gratitude
than by reminding you of one of the motives of the Incarnation.
Why did our Lord become man? and why did He become Man in the way
He did? I answer, out of His desire to be loved by us. There is a
love of benevolence, which is content simply with doing good
without asking a return. God has this love for us. Nature and
reason tell us so. "_He maketh His sun to rise on the good and
the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust_." [Footnote 45]

    [Footnote 45: St. Matt. v. 45.]

And there is another love, the love of friendship, which seeks to
be united to the object of its love. And the Incarnation shows us
that God has this kind of love for man. His love makes us lovable
in His eyes, and this again makes Him vehemently desire our love.
This will be my subject this morning--the Incarnation, an
evidence of God's desire to be loved by us.

And, first, observe, that there is no other reason given for the
Incarnation which sufficiently accounts for it in all its
circumstances. There are several reasons for the Incarnation. It
is the doctrine of many Catholic theologians that God would have
become man even if man had never sinned; that it was part of His
original plan in forming the creature thus to unite it to
Himself. Again, it is said that our Lord became Man in order to
make satisfaction for sin. And a third reason alleged for His
becoming man, is, that He might give us a perfect example. Now
all these reasons are true: but neither of them alone, nor all of
them together, entirely account for the Incarnation with all its
circumstances. Not the first, for even if God had predetermined
that His Son should become Man, irrespective of man's
transgression, certainly in that case He would not have come poor
and sorrowful, as He did.
{284}
The necessity of a satisfaction for sin accounts indeed for our
Lord's sufferings in part, but not altogether; for He suffered
far more than was necessary. Besides, it was not necessary for a
Divine Person to have suffered for us unless it had pleased God
to require a perfect satisfaction, which He was free to demand or
dispense with. The desire to give a good example may be suggested
as the explanation of our Lord's humiliation; but when we
consider a moment, we will see that though a good man really does
give a good example, he does very few, if any of his actions, for
the mere sake of giving it. There are many things, then, in our
Lord's becoming Man, and His life as Man, that need some further
reason. What is that reason? It is His great desire to be loved
by us. Suppose this, and every thing is clear. I do not mean to
say that this account of our Lord's Incarnation makes it any less
wonderful--it makes it more so--but it gives a motive for it
all. Suppose Him influenced by an intense desire to gain our
love, and then we see why He stooped so low, why He did so much
more than was necessary, why he was so lavish in
condescension--in a word, this is the explanation of what would
otherwise seem to be the _excess_ of His love.

Then, again, let us consider how our Lord's Incarnation is
adapted to win our love. When we see means perfectly adapted to
an end, we are apt to conclude that they were chosen in view of
that end. Now, our Lord's humiliation is in all its parts
wonderfully calculated to attract love.

His taking our nature is especially so. There is a wonderful
power in blood. To be of kin is a tie that survives all changes
and all times. Now, here our Lord makes Himself of kin to us, of
the same blood. He is no stranger, before whom we need feel at a
great distance, but our relation, of our flesh and blood.

{285}

And then as Man, He has clothed Himself with every thing that can
make Him attractive in the eyes of man. He makes His first
appearance in the world as an Infant, a beautiful Babe. How
attractive is a beautiful child! Men even of rugged natures are
softened by looking at it. A little child brings a flood of grace
and light into a house. Now, to-day, the Son of God is a Babe at
Bethlehem. He has the beauty of infancy, but there is also a
superadded beauty, a light playing on His features that is not of
earth, the light of Infinite Wisdom and Eternal Love. See, He
looks around and smiles, and stretches out His hands, as if
inviting us to caress Him.

In many children this beauty of infancy is evanescent, but in our
Lord it was the earnest of a grace and loveliness that followed
Him through life. It is evident that there was something most
attractive about our Lord to those who approached Him. As He grew
in stature He increased in favor, not only with God but with men.
When He had attained to manhood, He was such a one that children
willingly gathered around Him in the streets, and people stopped
to look at Him as He passed, and men's  minds were strangely
stirred in them as He spoke, and the thought came into women's
hearts, "How happy to be the mother of such a Son!" Who but He
knew how perfectly to mingle dignity with familiarity, zeal with
serenity, and austerity with compassion? Even at the distance of
time that we are from His earthly life, His words reach us like
the sweetest music. What other preacher can say the same words
again and again, and never make us weary? Whose tones are there
that linger in our ears like His, and come like a spell to our
hearts in times of temptation and sorrow? Why, even scoffers have
acknowledged this. The beauty and excellence of our Saviour's
character have wrung a eulogium from a celebrated opponent of
Christianity, and at least a momentary confession that its author
was Divine.

{286}

Then, to the attractions of His character, our Lord has added the
destitution of His circumstances, in order to gain our love. It
is natural for us to love any thing that is dependent on us. The
sick child that needs to be nursed, the helpless and depressed,
the poor that appeal to us, even the bird and the dog that look
to us for their food, come to have a place in our hearts. Now,
our Lord, at least even in this way to win us, has placed Himself
in a state of complete dependence on us. From the cradle to the
grave, and even beyond the grave, He appeals to man for the
supply of every want.

Think what it might have been. Think of the twelve legions of
angels that are impatient to come and minister to Him. But no! He
restrains them. For his swathing-bands, He will be a debtor to
Mary's care. For a habitation, He will put up with the stall of
the ox and the ass. The manger from which the cattle are fed
shall be His cradle. St. Joseph shall bear the expenses of his
early years; and when St. Joseph is gone, and He has begun His
ministry of preaching, Joanna and the other holy women shall
minister to Him of their substance. And at last, Magdalene shall
anoint His body for burial, and Joseph of Arimathea shall give
Him a winding-sheet and a grave.

I said He carried His poverty beyond the grave. And so He does.
For His churches, for the glory of His altars, for His priests,
for His sacraments, even for the bread and wine which shall serve
as veils for His presence, He depends on us, that out of love we
may minister to Him, and by ministering may love Him better.

And, further: while on the one hand our Lord thus appeals to our
affections by the poverty of His condition, on the other He
compels our love by the greatness of His sacrifices for us. In
His Sermon on the Mount, He bids us, "If any man force us to go
with him a mile, to go with him other two;" [Footnote 46] and
certainly it has been by this rule that He has acted toward us.

    [Footnote 46: St. Matt. v. 41.]

{287}

I have already said our Lord has done far more than was necessary
to redeem us. Why, in strictness of justice, He had ransomed us
before He was born. The very first act of love He made to His
Father, after His conception, was enough to redeem countless
worlds. But He did not then go back to His Father. He staid on
earth to do more for us. He would not leave any thing undone that
could be done. He would not leave a single member of His body, a
single power of His soul, that was not turned into a sacrifice
for us.

No doubt, if, at the birth of any child, we could foresee all it
would have to suffer during its life, there would be enough to
mingle sadness with our joy. But this child was preeminently a
child of sorrow; and Simeon, when he took Him up in his arms,
foresaw that the sad future would break His mother's heart. Yes,
that little Child is the willing victim of our sins. On that
little head the crown of thorns shall be placed. Those tiny hands
shall be pierced with nails. Those eyes shall weep. Those ears
shall be filled with reproach and blasphemy. That smooth cheek be
spit upon. That mouth be filled with vinegar and gall. And why
was all this? He Himself has told us: "And I, if I be lifted up
from the earth, will draw all things to Myself:" [Footnote 47]
That was the hope that urged Him on. That was the key to His
whole life. It was all an effort, a struggle, to gain our love.

    [Footnote 47: St. John xii. 32.]

And, once more: the _effect_ of the Incarnation has been
love. We read God's purposes in their fulfilment. We see what our
Lord intended in His humiliation, by looking at what it has
produced. There is no doubt that the love of God has been far
more general among men, and far more tender, since the
Incarnation.
{288}
Only compare St. Antony of Padua, fondling the Infant Jesus, with
Elias, covering his face with his mantle before the Lord in the
cave at Horeb. Compare the book of Job with the epistles of St.
Paul or St. John. God is in both books; but the Prophet sees Him
through a glass darkly: the Apostles "have seen and handled the
Word of Life." One of the most beautiful passages in the Old
Testament, and one which approaches the nearest to the New, is
the history of the martyrdom of the seven sons with their Mother
in the time of Judas Machabæus. But how this story pales before
the Acts of the Christian Martyrs! In these Jewish heroes we see,
indeed, faith in God, and remembrance of His promises, and hope
in the Resurrection; but how different is this from the glowing
language of an Ignatius, who claimed to carry Christ within him;
or of an Agnes, who claimed to be the Spouse of Christ, whom He
had betrothed with a ring, and adorned with bridal jewels!

Nor is it only in highly spiritual people, or highly gifted
people of any kind, that we see this Christian, personal love of
God. The poor, the dull, the ignorant cannot understand the
abstract arguments about God, but they can understand a crucifix,
they know the meaning of Bethlehem and Calvary. And many an old
woman, who knows little more, has learned enough to make her
happy, in the thought that "_God so loved the world as to give
His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not
perish, but may have life everlasting_." [Footnote 48]

    [Footnote 48: St. John iii. 16.]

Then there are children; some people complain that they find it
very hard to interest them in religion. I will tell you how to
succeed. Tell them the story of Joseph and Mary, and the Babe
lying in a manger. Tell them about the shepherds that were
watching their flocks by night, and the angels that came and
talked to them.
{289}
Tell them about the garden in which Jesus was betrayed, and the
cross on which he died, and you will see their little eyes open
wide with interest. I knew a boy who, when he read the story of
Peter's denial of our Lord, got up from his seat, and, with tears
in his eyes, exclaimed, "Oh, mother, what made Peter do that!"
And I have heard of a little boy who, when he was dying, called
his mother to his side, and told her that he had kept all the
money she had given him, in a little box, and when he was dead he
wanted her to take it and buy a coat for the Infant Jesus. I know
it was a strange, childish conceit; but it showed that our
Saviour had found His way to that little boy's heart; and sure I
am that when, in Paradise, he stood before the bright throne of
Christ, and heard from those divine lips the praise of his short
life, that legacy was not forgotten.

Yes; our Lord has found out the way to win hearts. He has
succeeded. The issue proves the wisdom of his plan. As heaven
fills up with saints flaming with love, He says, "Whence are
these? and who hath begotten them?" Then He remembers that they
are the fruit of the travail of His soul, that they were born to
Him at Bethlehem and Calvary, and He "is satisfied."

The truth is, we are not so sensible of this effect of the
Incarnation, because we are so familiar with it. We hardly
realize how meagre men's notions about God naturally are. Of
course, we know by reason the existence of God, and many of His
attributes; but without revelation, these are very indistinct. We
know that He is great and good and beautiful; but still there is
a gulf between us and Him. Partly, no doubt, this arises from our
sense of guilt. We fear God, because we have offended Him. But
there is a dread of God, and a sense of distance from Him, that
does not come from guilt. The most innocent feel it the keenest.
I know not why, but we dread Him because He is so spiritual. He
is so strange and mysterious.
{290}
We cannot think what He is like. We lose ourselves when we try to
think of Him. There are so many things in the world that frighten
us. We do not know how God feels toward us. We have a diffidence
in approaching Him which we cannot shake off. Now, all the while,
God is full of the most wonderful love to man. Heaven is not
enough for Him. Even with the angels, it is a wilderness because
man is absent. At last He resolves what He will do. He will lay
aside altogether that majesty which affrights man so much. "The
distance is too great," He says, "between Me and My creatures. I
Myself will become a creature. Man flies from Me. I will become
Man. Every thing loves its kind. I will make Myself like him. 'I
will draw him with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love.'
[Footnote 49]

  [Footnote 49: Osee xi. 4.]

I will tell him how the case stands--that I love him and desire
his love. I will tell him to love Me, not for his sake, but Mine;
and when I have made him understand this--when I have gained his
love; when I have healed his wound and made him happy--then I
will come back, and call on all the angels of heaven, and say,
'Rejoice with Me, for I have found the sheep that I had lost.'"

Such is the enterprise that our Lord enters on to-day. He comes
to tell you how He loves you, and how He desires your love.
"Behold, I bring to you glad tidings of great joy, and this shall
be the sign to you: you shall find the Infant wrapped in
swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger." It is a sign of
Humanity. It is a sign of Beauty. It is a sign of Humility. It is
a sign of Love. He speaks to you, not in words, but in actions.
The cold wind whistles in His cavern, but He will not have it
otherwise. David said: "_I will not enter into the tabernacle
of my home: I will not go up into my bed. I will not give sleep
to my eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, or rest to my temples,
until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God
of Jacob_." [Footnote 50]

    [Footnote 50: Isai. cxxxi. 3-5.]

{291}

So the new-born Saviour will not take any comfort till He has got
your love. He is waiting in the manger, and until you come and
take Him home, He will accept no other. The palaces of the world,
and all the jewels and the gold are His, but He will have none of
them. He wants to abide in your lowly house, and in your poor
heart. His head is full of dew, and His locks of the drops of the
night, and He knocks for you to open to Him. Oh, to-day, I do not
envy those who will not receive Him. I do not envy those who are
wandering about in error, and know not the true Bethlehem, the
_House of Bread_, the Holy Church of God. I do not envy the
disobedient Christian. I do not envy the indifferent man, for
whom Christ is born in vain. But I praise those who make it their
first care to keep themselves united to Jesus Christ. And most of
all, I praise those who strive to maintain a holy familiarity
with Jesus Christ; who by prayer, by communion, by self-denial,
by generous obedience, return their Saviour love for love.

O my brethren, why do we grovel on earth, when we might have our
conversation in heaven? Why do we set our hearts on creatures,
when we might have the Creator for our friend? Why do we follow
the Evil One, when He that is beautiful above the sons of men is
our Master and our Lord? Why are we so weak in temptation, so
despairing in trial, when we might have the peace and joy of the
children of God? What more can we want? God has given us the
Only-begotten Son, the Mighty God, the Wonderful Counsellor, the
Prince of Peace; and how shall He not with Him freely give us all
things? All we want is to recognize our happiness. When Jacob
woke from sleep, he said: "The Lord is in this place, and I knew
it not." So we do not realize how near God is to us. What is the
sound that reaches us to-day? It is the voice of the Beloved,
calling to us: "My love, My spouse, My undefiled!" Yes, my Lord,
I answer to Thy call. I enter to-day into the school of Thy Holy
Love.
{292 }
I make now the resolution that "_henceforth neither life nor
death, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able
to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord_." [Footnote 51]

    [Footnote 51: Romans viii. 39.]

----------------------


    Sermon VIII.


    The Failure And Success Of The Gospel.


    (Sexagesima.)


    "Saying these things he cried out:
    He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
    St. Luke  VIII. 8.


There is one measure by which, if our Lord's work were tried, it
might be pronounced a failure; and that is by the measure of
great immediate, visible results. The thought might come into our
mind, that it is strange our Lord was not more successful than He
was. He was the Son of God, no one ever spake as He did. He
conversed with a great number of men--in Jerusalem, in Judea, in
Galilee. He was always going about from place to place. He died
in the sight of a whole city. Yet what was the result of all? On
the Day of Pentecost, His disciples were gathered together in the
upper chamber, and they numbered, all told, one hundred and
twenty. So it is, likewise, with the Church. After all, what has
she done? Put her numbers at the highest. Say she has two hundred
millions of souls in her communion. What are they to the eight
hundred millions that inhabit the globe. [Footnote 52]

    [Footnote 52: Recent estimates of the population of the globe
    vary from 840,000,000, to 1,300,000,000, and of the number
    of Catholics from 160,000,000 to 208,000,000.
    Other Christians are about 130,000,000.]

{293}

And how many of her members are there who can be called Catholics
or Christians, only in a broad, external sense! Has Christianity,
then, accomplished the results that might have been looked for?
Is it not a failure?

I will attempt this morning to give some reasons showing that
Christianity is not a failure, although it has accomplished only
partial results. And the first remark I make is this: that
partial results belong to every thing human. Although
Christianity is a divine religion, by coming into the world it
became subject in many respects to the laws that govern human
things. To specify one, Christianity demands _attention_.
"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." Without attention,
Christianity will never produce its impression on our conduct.
Now, attention is a thing hard to get from men. It is one of the
greatest wants in the world, the want of attention. "_With
desolation is all the land made desolate_," says the Holy
Scripture, "_because there is none that considereth in the
heart_." [Footnote 53]

  [Footnote 53: Jer. xii. 11.]

We see examples of this on every side. Take the instance of young
men at college. After passing several years there, at a
considerable expense to their parents, professedly for the sake
of acquiring an education, a certain number of them know nothing
but the names of the things they have been studying. This is the
entire result of all they have heard or read, an acquisition of
some of the terms made use of in science. Others have gained some
confused and partial knowledge, which for practical purposes is
all but useless; while those who have acquired precise, accurate,
useful information, that is, who have gained any real science,
are few indeed. It is the same in business. Every trade and
profession is crowded with bunglers who do not know their own
business, because they have been too lazy to learn it, and who
grumble at the success of others who have not spared the pains
necessary to become masters.

{294}

So also it is in politics. We hear a great deal about the general
diffusion of intelligence in this country, and are told how the
sovereign people watch the actions of public men and call them to
account. Now, I suppose there is more wide-spread information on
public matters in this country than in any other in the world,
but what does it amount to after all? A great many read the
newspapers without passing any independent judgment on their
statements, while those who really shape political opinions and
action are but a small clique in each locality.

This being so, it ought not to surprise us that men give but
little attention to religion. If learning, business, politics,
things that touch our present interests so closely, can only to a
superficial extent engage the thoughts of men, will religion,
which relates chiefly to man's future welfare, be more
successful? In one sense, Christianity is as old as the world;
for there has been a continuous testimony to the truth from the
first, but it has never yet had a full hearing. How do men act
about religion? Some listen to its teaching only with their ears,
as a busy man in his office listens to a jew's-harp or a
band-organ on the street. So Gallio listened, who "cared for none
of these things." Some listen with their hearts, that is, with
attention enough to awaken a passing emotion or sentiment. So
Felix listened, when he trembled at St. Paul's preaching, and
promised to hear him again at a more convenient season. Only a
few listen with attentive ears and hearts and hands, the only
true way of listening, the way St. Paul listened, when he said,
"_Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?_" [Footnote 54]

    [Footnote 54: Acts ix. 6.]

When you say, then, that Christianity has produced but partial
results, you are but saying that men are frivolous and
thoughtless, that there are many who do not listen to religion,
or do not listen to it with earnestness and lay to heart its
practical lessons. "_Wisdom preacheth abroad; she uttereth her
voice in the streets; at the head of multitudes she crieth
out;_" but it is of no avail to the greater number,
"_because they have hated instruction, and received not the
fear if the Lord_." [Footnote 55]

    [Footnote 55: Proverbs i. 20, 21, 29]

{295}

Moreover, our Lord foresaw that the success of His gospel would
be but partial. We see this in the very passage from which the
text is taken. There is something melancholy in the way the
evangelist introduces the parable of the sower: "_And when a
very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of
the cities to Him, He spoke by a similitude: A sower went out to
sow his seed_," etc. This was the thought which the sight of a
very great multitude pressing around Him awoke in the mind of our
Lord: how small a part would really give heed to His words, or
really appreciate them: how in some hearts the word would be
trodden down, in others be choked or wither away; and this is the
secret of the energy with which He cried out at the end of the
parable, "_He that hath ears to hear, let him hear_." The
same thought comes out in the conversation which he had afterward
with His disciples, when they asked an explanation of the
parable: "_The heart of this people is grown gross; and with
their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they
have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and
hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should
be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes
because they see, and your ears because they hear_." [Footnote
56]

    [Footnote 56: St. Matt. xiii. 15, 16.]

Our Lord was as far as possible, then, from expecting that the
course of things would stand still, and all men comply instantly
with his preaching. Nor were His predictions respecting His
Church such as to warrant more sanguine expectations of her
success.
{296}
In His charge to His disciples, He let them know what they were
to expect: "_When you come into a house salute it, saying:
Peace be to this house. And if that house be worthy, your peace
shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall
return to you. And when they shall persecute you in this city,
flee into another_." [Footnote 57]

    [Footnote 57: St. Matt. x. 12, 13, 23.]

Nor were their trials to be altogether external. "_And then
shall many be scandalised, and shall betray one another, and
shall hate one another. And because iniquity hath abounded, the
charity of many shall wax cold_." [Footnote 58]

    [Footnote 58: Ib. xxiv. 10, 12.]

When, then, you say, See! in that country the Church has all but
died out; in that country faith is weak, and the most active
minds in it are estranged from religion; in that country scandals
abound; in that country there was a great apostasy; that other
was fruitful in heresies:--I reply, you are only verifying our
Lord's predictions; you are only saying what He said before the
event. If religion has not accomplished all that could be
desired, it has at least done what it promised.

Nor is this all. Not only did our Lord foresee that many would
reject His grace, but He acquiesced in it. His work is not a
failure, because He does not account it so. What though many
refuse to listen? They that will be saved, those of good will and
honest hearts, they will be saved, and that is enough. He saw of
the travail of His soul, and was satisfied. Our Lord shed His
blood for all men; He willed seriously the salvation of all men;
but since all will not be saved, He is content to give it for
those who will. He "is the Saviour of all men, _especially of
the faithful_." [Footnote 59]

    [Footnote 59: 1 Tim. iv. 10.]

When He came to Jerusalem to die, looking at the city, He wept to
think how many were there who knew not the time of their
visitation; but that did not deter Him from marching on to Mount
Calvary. When He foretold to St. Peter, before His passion, all
He was about to suffer, St. Peter, with mistaken affection,
begged Him to spare Himself. "Far be this from Thee."
{297}
How much more would he have dissuaded our Lord, if he could have
foreseen in how many cases these labors and sufferings would have
been fruitless. Would he not have said to Him, "O Lord! do not
suffer so much, turn away thy face from the smiter, and thy mouth
from gall. Do not crush Thy heart with cruel grief, or bathe Thy
body in a sweat of agony. The very men for whom Thou diest will
disbelieve Thee, or, believing, will disobey Thee.

Can we doubt to what effect our Saviour would have answered? "If
I be lifted up I will draw all men to Me, and all will not resist
Me. I shall see of the travail of My soul, and shall be
satisfied."

Or I can imagine that at the Last Supper, as our Lord was about
to institute the Blessed Sacrament of His body and blood, the
same warm-hearted disciple laying his hand on his Master's arm,
might have said, "Do not do it! Thou thinkest they cannot
withstand this proof of love. But, alas! they will pass by
unheeding. Thou wilt remain on the altars of Thy churches night
and day, but the multitude will not know Thee, or ask after Thee,
and they that do know Thee will insult Thee in Thy very gifts,
will treat Thee with disrespect, and receive Thee with dishonor."
But our Lord gently disregards his remonstrance, and having loved
His own who were in the world, loves them to the end, and for
them is contented to make Himself a perpetual prisoner of love.
Oh, my brethren, our statistics and our arithmetic are sadly at
fault when we are dealing with divine things. When Abraham went
to plead with Almighty God to spare Sodom, he began by asking as
a great matter that the city might be spared if fifty just men
were found in it, and the answer was prompt and free, "I will not
do it for fifty's sake." Somewhat emboldened, he came down by
degrees to ten, and received the same answer, but stopped there,
thinking that he could make no further demand on the mercy of
God. It is a thing we will never understand, how much God has the
heart of a father.
{298}
When news was brought to the patriarch Jacob, that Joseph, his
son, was yet living, all his woes and hardships were forgotten in
a moment, and he said: It is enough. Joseph, my son, is yet
alive." So, all the unkindness, disobedience, unbelief of men,
are compensated to the heart of Christ by the fervor of His true
children, His servants whom He hath chosen, His elect in whom His
soul delighteth. Weary on the cross, His fainting eye sees their
fidelity and their love, and His heart revives, and He says: "It
is enough." Christ accounts the fruits of His redemption great,
and they are great. This is our temptation, to undervalue the
good that is in the world. Evil is so obtrusive, that we are but
too apt to attribute to it a larger share in the world than it
really holds. How much of good, then, has been and is in the
world?  The Blessed Virgin, the Queen of Heaven, the perfect
fruit of Christ's redemption, once walked the earth, engaged in
lowly, every-day duties, like any maid or mother among us. Moses
and Elias and St. John the Baptist once lived our life here on
the earth; and the hundred and forty-four thousand who sing a new
song before the throne of God, and the great multitude that no
man can number out of all people and kindreds and tribes and
tongues, clothed in white and with palms in their hands. You talk
of failure! Why has not the sound of the gospel gone into all
lands, and its words to the end of the world? Have not empires
owned its sway, and kings come bending to seek its blessings?
Have not millions of martyrs loved it better than their lives?
Has not the solitary place been made glad by the hymns of its
anchorites, and the desert blossomed like a rose under their
toil? Is there a profession, or trade, or court, or country which
has not been sanctified by moral heroes who drew in their holy
inspirations from its lessons? And who can tell us the amount of
goodness in every-day life, to some extent necessarily hidden,
but of which we catch such unearthly glimpses, and which is the
practical fruit of its principles?
{299}
The virtuous families, the upright transactions, the glorious
sacrifices, the noble charities, the restraint of passion, the
interior purity, the patient perseverance! Listen to the
description which God Himself gives of the results of the gospel:

"_Who are these, that fly as clouds, and as doves to their
windows? For the islands wait for me, and the ships of the sea in
the beginning; that I may bring thy sons from afar; their silver
and their gold with them, to the name of the Lord thy God, and to
the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee. Iniquity
shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction in
thy borders; and salvation shall possess thy walls, and praise
thy gates. Thy sun shall go down no more, and thy moon shall not
decrease: for the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting
light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. And thy
people shall be all just; they shall inherit the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work if my hand, to glorify me.
The least shall become a thousand, and a little one a most strong
nation. I, the Lord, will suddenly do this thing in its
time_." [Footnote 60]

    [Footnote 60: Isai. lx. 8, 9, 18, 20, 21. 22.]

Now, this is the Catholic Church, as God saw it in the future,
and as He sees it now. These beautiful words are true in their
measure, of every diocese, of every parish, in our day. To-day,
as the Holy Church throughout the world flings open her doors and
rings her bells, and the crowd press in, in cities, in villages,
in country places, God recognizes thousands of his true
worshippers, who worship Him in spirit and in truth. We see and
know some of them, but only His all-seeing eye sees them all, and
only His omniscience, which foreknows the number of those who
shall be His by faith and good works, can measure the greatness
of the harvest of souls which He will reap at the end of the
world. The Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints.
{300}
The Last Judgment is the victory of Christ. Then again,
surrounded by the fruit of His passion, He may repeat the words
which He spoke at the close of His earthly ministry: "I have
glorified thee upon the earth. I have _finished the work_
which thou gavest me to do. Those whom thou gavest Me I have
kept, and none of them hath perished except the son of
perdition." [Footnote 61]

    [Footnote 61: St. John xvii. 4, 12.]

These thoughts point the way to two practical lessons, one
relating to our duty to others, the other relating to our duty to
ourselves.

We see here the spirit in which we ought to labor for the
conversion of others. There is certainly a great deal of good to
be done around us. How many in this country are out of the Ark of
safety, the Catholic Church of Christ! How many in her fold need
our efforts and labors to make them better! Why are we not more
active in laboring for them? We say it is of no use; we have
tried and failed. Those whose conversion we had most at heart
seem farther off from the truth than ever. It is no use hoping
for the conversion of those who are not Catholics; they are too
set in their ways. Many of those Catholics, too, who were doing
well as we hoped, have fallen off again, and we are weary of
laboring with so little success. Oh! what a mean spirit this is;
how unlike the spirit of Christ! How unlike the spirit of that
apostle who made himself all things to all men that he might save
_some_. You will put up with no failures. Christ and St.
Paul were content to meet with many failures for the sake of some
success. How unlike the spirit of St. Francis of Sales, who
labored so hard during so many discouraging years, for the
conversion of his misguided Swiss. Christ was rejected and
crucified by those whom He came to teach. The apostles were
despised and their names cast out as evil. And you will not labor
because you cannot have immediate and full success. But some
success you will meet with.
{301}
You may not convert the one you desire to convert, but you will
convert another. You may not succeed in the way or at the time
you look for, but you will succeed in some other way and at some
other time. There is nothing well done and charitably done for
the truth that falls to the ground. God's word does not return to
Him void, but accomplishes the thing whereunto He sent it. We
labor, and other men enter into our labors. But the good work is
done, and the fruits are garnered in heaven. Be of great hopes,
then. You, my brethren of the priesthood, dare to undertake great
things for the honor of our Lord and the extension of His
kingdom. Use every means that prudence and charity can suggest to
gain souls to Christ. In the morning sow your seed, and in the
evening withhold not your hand. Labor in season and out of
season. For Sion's sake hold not your hand, and for Jerusalem's
sake do not rest, until her justice come forth as a brightness,
and her salvation be lighted as a lamp! And you, my brethren of
the laity, labor each in your place, as far as may be given you,
in the same work. Blessing must come from labor, and reward from
Him who has promised that "they that instruct many to justice
shall shine as stars for all eternity." [Footnote 62]

    [Footnote 62: Dan. xii. 3.]

The other lesson we learn is one which teaches us how to guide
ourselves in a world of sin and scandal. It is no uncommon thing
for men to draw injury to their own souls from the disorders
around them, by making them a pretext for neglecting their own
salvation, or taking a low standard of duty. One says, there is a
man who does not attend to his religious duties, and makes out of
this an excuse for his own neglect. "What is that to thee? Follow
thou Me," is the answer of Christ. There is another who does go
to the sacraments, but whose life is disedifying. He is profane,
quarrelsome, untruthful, and artful.
{302}
Perhaps he is guilty of worse sins than these. "What is that to
thee?" is again the answer: "Follow thou _Me_. My love, My
life, my teaching is to be the rule of thy conduct, not the
doctrines of others." Oh! how this cuts the way open to a
solution of that question with which we sometimes vex ourselves.
Are there few or many that will be saved? There are few if few,
many if many. Few if few hear and obey, many if many hear and
obey. Wisdom crieth aloud, she uttereth her voice in the streets;
he that hath ears to hear, let him hear. One hears, lays up and
ponders in his heart, like Mary, what he hears, and becomes a
saint. Another hears as one who looks in a glass and immediately
forgets what he saw reflected in it. Here is the distinction
which produces election and reprobation, salvation and damnation.
This is the practical question for each one of us: To which of
these classes do I belong? This is the prayer which ought to be
our daily petition: Give me, O Lord, an understanding heart, to
know the things that belong to my peace, before they are forever
hid from my eyes. How great the misery of passing through life
slothful, careless, inattentive, and so losing the heavenly
wisdom we might learn! How great the happiness of keeping the
word in a good heart, and bringing forth fruit with patience!
Those who do this not only secure their salvation, but they
console Christ for all His cruel sufferings, for they constitute
the fruit of His Passion, the success of His Gospel, the crown of
Glory which He receives from the hand of His Father, the Royal
Diadem which He will wear for all eternity.

---------------------

{303}

     Sermon IX.

  The Work Of Life.

   (Septuagesima)


   "Why stand ye here all the day idle."
   --St. Matt. xx. 6.


The parable in to-day's Gospel is intended to describe the
invitations which God has given, from time to time in the history
of the world, to various races and peoples, to enter the true
Church and be saved. But it may be applied by analogy to His
dealings with each individual soul, and our Lord's question in
the text may be understood by each one of us as addressed
directly to himself. Taken in this sense, it affords instruction
and admonition, useful at all times, but more especially suitable
on this day, when the Church first strikes the keynote of those
stirring lessons of personal duty and accountability which are to
be the burden of her teachings through the coming season of Lent.

And, first, it reminds us of that solemn truth, that we have an
appointed work to do on earth. It is difficult for us not to be
sceptical sometimes on this point. Life is so short and
uncertain, man is so frail and erring, that it seems strange the
few years spent here on earth should exert any great influence on
our eternity. Some such feeling as this was at the bottom of the
old idea of heathen philosophy that God does not concern Himself
with the affairs of men, that we and our doings are of too little
consequence to occupy His attention. The book of Wisdom well
expresses this creed: "_For we are born, say they" (that is,
the unbelieving), "of nothing, and after this we shall be as if
we had not been; and our life shall pass away as the trace of a
cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, which is driven away by
the beams of the sun, and overpowered by the heat thereof. And
our name in time shall be forgotten: and no man shall have any
remembrance of our works._" [Footnote 63]

    [Footnote 63: Wisdom ii. 2-4.]

{304}

But such a view of life does not agree either with reason or
revelation. God, being Infinite Wisdom, must have an end in every
thing which He created. If it was not beneath Him to create, it
cannot be beneath Him to govern His creatures; and reason and
free will must have been given to His rational creatures to guide
them to their end. It is absurd to suppose a moral and
intellectual being without a law and a destiny. And revelation
confirms this decision of reason. It seems as if the Bible were
written, in great part, to dispel the notion that God is a mere
abstraction, and to exhibit Him to us as a personal God,
interfering in His creation, giving to each created thing its
place, and taking note of its operation. In the pages of
Scripture the world is not a chance world, where every thing is
doubt and confusion; but an orderly world, where every thing has
its place. It is a vineyard, into which laborers are sent to
gather the harvest. It is a house, in which each part has its
order and use. It is a body, in which each member shares the
common life, and contributes to it. It is a school, in which each
scholar is learning a special lesson. It is a kingdom, in which
citizen is bound to the other in relations of duty or authority.
Yes, God has left a wide field for the free exercise of human
choice and will. The pursuits of men, their studies, their
pleasures, may be infinitely varied at their will; but not to
have a mission from Heaven, not to have a work to do on earth,
not to be created by God with a special vocation--this is not
possible for man. He is too honorable and great. The image of
God, which is traced on his soul, is too deep and enduring; his
relation to God is too direct and immediate. No man can live unto
himself, and no man can die unto himself. Each man that comes
into the world is but an agent sent by God on a special embassy.
And each man that dies, but goes back to give an account of its
performance.

{305}

Do not accuse me of saddening and depressing you by thus covering
man's life, from the cradle to the grave, with the pall of
accountability. If God were a tyrant, if He reaped where He did
not sow, if He exacted what was beyond our strength, if His
service did not make us happy, if in His judgment of our actions
He did not take into account the circumstances of each one, his
opportunities, his ignorances, and even his frailties, then,
indeed, the thought of our accountability would be a dreadful and
depressing one. But while our Master and Judge is a God whose
compassion is as great as His power, whose service is our highest
satisfaction, who knows whereof we are made, and who in His
judgment remembers mercy, the thought that each one of us has an
appointed work to do is not only an incentive to duty, but the
secret of happiness. There is nothing pleasant in a life without
responsibility. Rest, indeed, is pleasant, but rest implies labor
that has gone before, and it is the labor that makes the rest
sweet. "_The sleep of a laboring man is sweet_," says the
Holy Scripture. But a life all rest, with nothing special to do,
without aim, without obligation, is a life without honor and
without peace. They who spend their time in rushing from one
amusement to another are commonly listless and wretched at heart,
and seek only to forget in excitement the weariness and
disappointment within. God has made the law, "In the sweat of thy
face thou shalt eat bread," medicinal as well as vindicative.
When, then, you tell me that this world is not my all; that I
have an immortal destiny, that life is a preparation for it; that
the infinite truth is mine to know, the infinite beauty mine to
possess; that I have a mission to fulfil; sin to conquer; duties
to perform; merits to acquire; an account to render; you tell me
that which indeed makes my conscience thrill with awe, but which,
at the same time, takes all the meanness, the emptiness, the
littleness out of life, covers it with glory, blends it with
heaven, expands the soul, and fills it with hope and joy.

{306}

O truth too little known! Religion is not meant to be only a
solace in affliction, a help in temptation, a refuge when the
world fails us. All these it is, but much more. It is the
business and employment of life. It is the task for which we were
born. It is the work for which our life is prolonged from day to
day. It is the consecration of my whole being to God. It is to
realize that wherever I am, whatever I do, I am the child of God,
doing His will, and extending His kingdom on earth. This is the
secret of life. This is the meaning of the world. This is God's
way of looking at the world. As He looks down from heaven, all
other distinctions among men vanish, distinctions of nationality,
differences of education, differences of station, and wealth, and
influence, and only one distinction remains--the distinction
between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth
God and him that serveth Him not. When we look at the world, it
dazzles us by its greatness, and overpowers us by its
multiplicity. It is so eager and restless. It is so importunate
and overbearing. Here is the secret which disenchants us from its
spell. The world is not for itself. It is not its own end. It is
but the field of human probation. It is but the theatre on which
men are exercising each day their highest faculty, the power of
free will. It is the scene of the great struggle between good and
evil, between heaven and hell, the battle that began when
"Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon
fought and his angels." [Footnote 64]

    [Footnote 64: Apoc. xii. 7]

Into this arena each generation has entered, one after another,
to show their valor. Once the saints of whom we read in the Bible
and the history of the Church were upon the earth, and it was
their turn, and heaven and earth were watching them. They did
their work well.
{307}
So penetrated were they with the great thought of eternity that
some of them, like Abraham, left home and kindred, and went out
not knowing whither they went; and others, like the martyrs, gave
their hearts' blood for a sacrifice. And there were others who
were not saints, for they were not called to deeds of heroism,
but they were good men, who in simplicity of heart fulfilled each
duty, and served God with clean hands and pure hearts. And
penitents have come in their turn. Once they were unwise, and the
world deceived them, and they followed their own will, but
afterward they turned to God, and redeemed their former sins by a
true penance, and died in the number of those who overcame the
Wicked One. And now it is our turn. There are many adversaries.
All things are ready. The herald has called our name. And as the
primitive martyrs, condemned to the wild beasts in the
amphitheatre, nerved themselves for the encounter by the thought
of the thousand spectators ranged around, so to animate our
courage let us give heed to the sympathizing witnesses who watch
our strife, and who cry to us from heaven and from earth: Be
valiant! Do battle for the right! Acquit you like men! Be strong!

And again, as our Lord's words in the text remind us that we have
an appointed work to do, they remind us also that we have an
allotted time to do it in. All men acknowledge that religion is a
thing to be attended to. But when? Some seem to think that it is
enough to attend to religion at Easter and Christmas, and that at
other times it may be left alone. Some at still more distant
intervals, when the time has been too long, and the number of
sins too great, and the burden on the conscience too heavy.
Others propose to attend to it in the leisure of old age, or just
before they leave this world. And very many imagine that, if a
man actually makes his peace with God at any time before he dies,
there is not much to be regretted. How different is God's
intention in this matter! "_Man goeth forth, to his work and to
his labor until the evening_." Think of a day-laborer.
{308}
He rises very early in the morning, in the winter, long before it
is light, and goes off to his work. He works all day until the
evening, pausing only at noon, when he seeks some hollow in the
rock, or the shelter of some overhanging shrub, to protect him
from the cold or the heat, while he eats his frugal dinner. Now,
it is after this pattern that God wishes us to work out our
salvation. The Christian should work from the morning till the
evening, from the beginning of life to the end of it. There is
not a day that God does not claim for his own. There is not an
hour over which He has resigned His sovereignty. A man who
perfectly fulfils his duty begins to serve God early in the
morning. In the morning of life, in early youth, when the
dewdrops sparkle in the sunshine, and the birds sing under the
leaves, and the flowers are in their fresh bloom and fragrance,
and every thing is full of keen enjoyment, there is a low, sweet
voice that speaks to the soul of the happy boy: "_My son, give
me thy heart_." And he heeds that voice. It is time for first
communion, and he has leave to go. He does not know fully the
meaning of the act. It is too great and deep. But he knows that
he is making [a] choice of God. He knows that God is very near
him, and he is very happy. By and by the time has come for
confirmation. The candidates stand before the bishop, and see,
that boy is among the number. He is changed from what he was. He
has grown to be a youth now. He is more thoughtful and reserved.
He knows now what temptation means; he has seen the shadow of
sin; he has caught the tones of the world's song of pleasure; but
he does not waver; he is bold and resolute for the right, and he
is come to fortify himself for the conflict of life by the
special grace of the Almighty. And now time goes on, and he
passes through the most dangerous part of life: he is a young
man, he goes into business, he marries. There are times of fierce
temptation, there are times when the objects of faith seem all to
fade away from his mind, there are times when it seems as if the
only good was the enjoyment of this world, but prayer and
vigilance and a fixed will carry him through, and he passes the
most critical period of life without any grievous stain on his
soul.
{309}
Thus passes the noonday of his life, and he comes to its decline.
It draweth toward evening. The shadows are getting long. The sun
and the light and the moon are growing dark, and the clouds
return after the rain. He is an old man and feeble, but there he
is with the same heart he gave to God in youth; he has never
recalled the offering. He has been true to his faith, true to his
promises, true to his conscience, and at the hour of death he can
sing his _Nunc dimittis_, and go to the judgment seat of
Christ humbly but confidently to claim the reward of a true and
faithful servant. Beautiful picture! Life to be envied! A life
spent with God, over which the devil has never had any real
power. But you tell me this is a mere fancy picture; no one lives
such a life. I tell you this is the life God intended you and I
should live. There have been men who have lived such lives,
though, indeed, they are not many. But the number is not so small
of those who approximate to it. Even suppose a man falls into
mortal sin, and more than once, all is not lost. Suppose him, in
some hour of temptation, to cast off his allegiance to God, and
in his discouragement to look upon a life of virtue as a dream;
yet, if such a one gathers up his manhood, if in humble
acknowledgment of his sin he returns with new courage to take his
place in the Christian race, such a man recovers not only the
friendship of God, but the merits of his past obedience. There is
a process of restoration in grace as well as in nature. Penance
has power to heal the wounds and knit over the gaps which sin has
made. What does the Holy Scripture say? "_I will restore to you
the years which the locust, and the canker-worm, and the mildew,
and the palmer-worm hath eaten._" [Footnote 65]

    [Footnote 65: Joel ii. 25.]

{310}

Many a man's life, which has not been without sin, has yet a
character of continuity and a uniform tending toward God. I
believe there are many who have this kind of perfection. They
cannot say, "I have not sinned," for they have had bitter
experience of their own frailty; but they can say, "I have
sinned, but I have not made sin a law to me. I have not allowed
myself in sin, or withdrawn myself from Thy obedience. I have not
gone backward from Thee. I have fallen, but I have risen again. O
Lord, Thou hast been my hope, even from my youth, from my youth
until now, until old age and gray hairs."

And now, my brethren, if we try our past lives and our present
conduct by the thought of the work we have to do on earth and the
persevering attention we ought to pay to it, do we not find
matter for alarm? and does not our Lord's question convey to us
the keenest reproach? "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Yes,
idle; that is the word. There is all the difference in the world
between committing a sin in the time of severe temptation, for
which we are afterward heartily sorry, and doing nothing for our
salvation. And is not this our crime, that we are idlers and
triflers in religion? What have our past lives been? What years
spent in neglect, or even in sin? What long periods of utter
forgetfulness of God? What loss of time? What excessive anxiety
about this world? What devotion to pleasure? And are we now
really doing any thing for heaven? Are we really redeeming the
past by a true penance? Are we diligent in prayer, watchful
against temptation, watchful of the company we keep, watchful of
the influence we exert, watchful over our tempers, watchful to
fulfil our duties, watchful against habits of sin? Are we living
the lives God intended us to live? Can we say, "I am fulfilling
the requirements of my conscience, in the standard which I
propose to myself?" Ah! is not this our misery, that we have left
off striving? that we are doing nothing, or at least nothing
serious and worthy of our salvation? "Why stand ye all the day
idle?" _All the day_. Time is going.
{311}
Time that might have made us holy, time that has sanctified so
many others who set Out with us in life, is gone, never to
return. The future is uncertain; how much of the day of life is
left to us we know not. And graces have been squandered. No
doubt, as long as we live we shall have sufficient grace to turn
to God, if we will; but we know not what we do, when we squander
those special graces which God gives us now and then through
life. The tender heart, the generous purpose that we had in
youth; the fervor of our first conversion; the kind warnings and
admonitions of friends long dead; these have all passed away. Oh,
what opportunities have we thrown away! What means of grace
misused! "Why stand ye all the day idle?" You cannot say, "No man
hath hired us." God has not left you to the light of natural
reason alone, to find out your destiny. In baptism He has plainly
marked out for you your work. And now in reproachful tones He
speaks to your conscience: "Creature of my hand, whom I made to
serve and glorify me; purchase of my blood, whom I bought to love
me; heir of heaven, for whose fidelity I have prepared an eternal
reward, why is it that you resist my will, withstand your own
conscience and reason, despise my blood, and throw away your own
happiness?"

But the words of Christ are not only a reproach, but an
invitation. "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" It is not,
then, too late. God does nothing in vain; and when He calls us to
His service, He pledges himself that the necessary graces shall
not be wanting, nor the promised reward fail. Church history is
full of beautiful instances of souls that, after long neglect,
recovered themselves by a fervent penance. Some even, who are
high in the Church's Calendar of Saints, had the neglect and sin
of years upon their consciences when they began. There is only
one unpardonable sin, and that is to put off conversion until it
is too late. As long as God calls, you can hearken and be saved.
To-day, then, once more He calls. To-day, once more the
trumpet-blast of penance sounds in your ears.
{312}
Another Lent is coming, a season of penance and prayer. Prepare
yourself for that holy season by examination of your conscience.
Refuse no longer to work in the Lord's vineyard. Offer no more
excuses; make no more delay. Work while it is called to-day, that
when the evening comes, and the Lord gives to the laborers their
hire, you may be found a faithful workman, "that needeth not to
be ashamed."

---------------------

    Sermon X.

  The Church's Admonition To The Individual Soul.


  (Ash Wednesday.)

  "Take heed to thyself."
  --1 Tim. iv. 16.


The services of the Church to-day are very impressive. The matter
of her teaching is not different from usual. The shortness of
life, the certainty of judgment, the necessity of faith and
repentance, are more or less the topics of her teaching at all
times of the year. But this teaching is ordinarily given to the
assembled congregation, to crowds, to multitudes. But to-day she
speaks to us as individuals. She summons us, one by one, young
and old, and, as we kneel before her, she says to us, while she
scatters dust on our foreheads, "Dust thou art, and unto dust
thou shalt return." It is in this individual and personal
character of her warning that I find its special significance and
impressiveness. There is no mistaking what she means. "Remember,
O man, that thou art dust, and unto dust shalt thou return." She
separates each one of us from all others, and gives her message
to him in particular. It is an emphatic mode of conveying St.
Paul's admonition to St. Timothy: "Take heed to thyself."

{313}

If we take only the sound of the words, it might seem that no
such admonition was necessary. For, in one sense, men attend to
themselves quite enough. But, in fact, there is more than one
self in a man. There is the self that is made up of our passions,
our failings and disgusts, our comforts and conveniences: this is
the self that speaks so loudly in the heart, and obtrudes itself
so disagreeably on others. This, when indulged, is what we call
selfishness, and this it is which it is one main object of
religion to repress. But there is another self in a man, his true
and noble self, that self which makes him an individual being,
which asserts itself most distinctly in that part of his soul
where it comes into closest contact with God, namely, his
conscience. And this self it is very possible for men to forget.
A man may be a priest and have the care of souls, and be employed
in preaching and administering the sacraments, or he may be a
bishop, and live an active life in governing his church, and yet
he may forget himself in this sense. St. Timothy was a bishop, a
sharer in apostolic character and apostolic gifts, and yet St.
Paul did not think it unnecessary to give him the warning of the
text. How must, then, a man forget himself whose occupation is
more secular? Tell me: those eager crowds one meets with in the
streets, hurrying hither and thither, do you think each one of
these realizes that in some sense there is no other in the world
but God and he? Or in a crowded church, on Sunday, when the
preacher, in God's name, is enforcing this duty, or denouncing
that vice, that woman sitting in the pew, that man standing in
the aisle, does he, does she realize that the words are spoken to
them individually, that it is a lesson they are to lay to
heart--to practise? No! I must say what I think, that there are
some who pass through life, from the cradle to the grave, almost
without ever once fully awakening to their own
self-consciousness; to their own individual existence, apart from
the world around them; and their own individual relations to God.
{314}
A man may even practise his religion, may know a great deal about
it, may talk about it, may listen to every word of the sermon in
the church, may say his night prayers, may even go through some
kind of a confession and communion, without fully awaking to
these things. Paradoxical as it may seem, I believe that there
are not a few men, who, of all persons in the world of whom they
have any knowledge, are on terms of the slightest and most
distant acquaintance with themselves.

And I will give you one proof that this is true. You know how
troubled many men are in sickness, or on a sleepless night, or in
times of great calamity. Some persons are greatly troubled in a
storm, when the thunder rolls over their heads, and the lightning
flashes in their eyes. Now, of course, nervousness, physical
causes, mental laws, and social considerations, may enter more or
less into the production of this uneasiness, but is there not
very often something deeper than any of these? Is it not
something that the man has done yesterday, or last week, or last
year, and that he has never set right; some unjust transaction,
some evil deed, some act of gross neglect of duty, some miserable
passion cherished, some impure words spoken, some cruelty or
shrinking from what is right, or falsehood, or mischief-making.
It is not a matter of imagination. It is not fancy, but fact. He
remembers but too well; he knows when it was done, and all the
consequences of it, every thing comes up distinctly. He shuts his
eyes, but he cannot shut it out. You know the clock ticks all day
long; amid the various cares of the day you do not hear it, but
oh, how distinct and loud it is at night when your ear catches
it. Did you ever have an aching tooth, which you could just
manage to bear during the excitement of the day, but which began
to throb and become intolerable when all was still at night, and
you had gone to bed? So the uneasiness I have denoted is a real
pain of the soul, which we manage to keep down and forget, or
deaden, during our seasons of business and enterprise, but in
hours of loneliness and danger makes itself felt.
{315}
And what does this show but that you do not attend to your real
self; that there is some dark corner of your heart in which you
fear to look. You keep the veil down, because you know there is a
skeleton behind it and you are afraid to look at it. And so you
go through life, playing a part, something that you are not, with
smiles on your lips and honeyed words in your mouth, laughing and
jesting, eating and drinking and sleeping, working and trading,
going in and out, paying visits and receiving them, seeking
admiration and flattering others, while all the while, deep down
in your soul, there is that nameless something, that grief like
lead in the bottom of your heart, that wound that you are afraid
to probe, or to uncover, or even to acknowledge.

And now, it is this deceitful way in which men deal with
themselves, this forgetfulness of themselves, that makes death
and judgment so terrible. Death brings out the individuality of
the soul in the most distinct light. Every thing that hides us
from ourselves shall then be removed, every veil and shred torn
away, and only ourselves shall remain. A well-known writer has
expressed this in a few short words: "I shall die alone;" and the
same thought is suggested by the language of the Gospel in
reference to the end of the world: "Two men shall be in the
field, one shall be taken and the other left. Two women shall be
grinding at the mill, one shall be taken and the other left." One
shall be taken, and he shall be taken alone--out of all the
surroundings which have enveloped him here like an atmosphere,
and into which he has been fitted like a long-worn garment. When
our first parents heard the voice of the Lord God calling to them
in the garden after the fall, they hid themselves, and Adam said:
"I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." So will it
be when the soul stands "before God in its nakedness, ashamed
because of its guilty self-consciousness.
{316}
So it was with the rich man in our Lord's parable. He lived like
the multitude. He had four brothers, and they were all alike.
They had heard the sermons of Moses and the Prophets, but little
did they think it all concerned them. But at last one of them
died, and then he woke up to himself. His life is all before him.
"Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things." That was the
story of it. He sees it all now: he sees what a glutton, what a
proud, hardhearted, avaricious man he had been; he sees what a
creature of sensuality and self-indulgence he is. Very different
is his judgment of himself now, from what it was when, in his
purple robes, he revelled in his banqueting-hall, the air heavy
with perfume, and the table flowing with silver and flowers, and
the slaves bringing in the costly dishes, while Lazarus, the
beggar, sat at his gates, full of sores, and hungering for the
crumbs that fell from his table. And so it will be with us:
awakened to a full consciousness that our relations to God are
the only reality. Stripped of all the circumstances that deceived
and misled and blinded us here; with conscience fully awakened,
with all the consequences of sin open before me and all its guilt
manifest; I shall be brought face to face with myself, with what
I am, with what I have been, with what I have done, with my sins,
and my self-will, and my pride. Yes, this is the real terror of
death and judgment. We think its fearfulness will be in the
frowning Judge, and the throne set amid thunder and lightnings.
Oh, no! the Judge does not frown, He is calm and serene. He sits
radiant in beauty and grace. "When these things begin to come to
pass," says the evangelist, speaking of the signs of the end of
the world, "then look up and lift up your heads, for your
redemption draweth nigh." No! Christ is not transported with
anger. He is always the same; but the way of His coming is
different as they to whom He comes are different. The object is
unchanged, but the medium through which we view it will be
different.
{317}
There shall be an apparition of terror to the wicked, but it will
not be Christ, it will be themselves. The face of Christ shall be
a mirror in which each man shall see himself. Young man, after
your career of vice and profligacy, you shall see yourself, the
moral leper that you are. There the extortioner, the fraudulent
merchant, shall see himself as he is, the unconvicted thief and
robber; there the unfaithful husband or wife shall see themselves
branded with the mark that tells their shame. The proud woman
shall see there the deep stains of her soul in all their
blackness, and her worldly, guilty heart, all laid bare. O sight
of piercing anguish! "O hills and mountains fall on us, and cover
us, and hide us from the wrath of God and of the Lamb." But no,
it is not from the wrath of God and of the Lamb, that we need to
be hidden, it is from ourselves. Which way I fly is hell, myself
am hell. A lost destiny, an existence bestowed in vain. A life
passed as a dream; capacities for happiness never used; graces
refused; time gone; opportunity lost; not merely a law broken, a
punishment inflicted; but I, myself, with my supernatural grace
and destiny--I, with all my lofty hopes and powers--I, ruined and
crushed forever: that is the hopeless, boundless misery. This is
the sore affliction of the guilty after death; and it is the
dread of this dismay that keeps thee trembling all thy life. But,
on the other hand, for a man to face himself, to excite himself
to a consciousness of his own individuality, and to a fulfilment
of his own personal obligation to God, is the way to a peaceful
and happy life. The Scripture uses a notable expression when
describing the return of the prodigal: "He came to himself;" and
in our ordinary language, when we wish to express the idea of a
man's seriously reflecting on his destiny and duty, we say he
enters into himself. These expressions are full of significance.
They teach us that something is to be done that no one can do for
us. Others can help us here, but each one for himself must make
his own individual and personal election sure.
{318}
Each must go down into his own heart, search out all the dark
corners, repent of its sins, resist its passions, direct its aims
and desires. It is not a work done in a day. It is sometimes a
difficult work. There are times in which it pierces to the very
quick of our sensitive being, but it is the real and only way to
true peace. And oh! it is true and living peace when the soul in
its deepest centre is anchored to God; when nothing is covered
over, nothing kept from His sight. There may be imperfections,
there may be sins and repentances, but there must be, when such a
course is habitual, a true and growing peace. Do not look abroad,
my brethren, for your happiness. It is to be found in yourselves.
Happy he who knows the meaning of that word: "My God and I." This
is to walk with God like Abraham. Of this man the Almighty says,
as he did of Jacob, "I have known thee by thy name." His
relations to God are not merely those general ones that grow out
of creation and redemption: to him God is his life, his very
being, the soul of his soul.

To-day, my brethren, if I have led your thoughts in the direction
I have wished, you see that each one of you has a great work to
do, that he must do himself. It will not do for you that you have
had a pious mother or a good wife. It is not enough that some one
around you, who lives near you, or sits near you in the church,
is a good Christian. It is not enough that you are a Catholic,
one of the vast body of believers in the world. Religion is a
personal, individual thing. All other men in the world may stand
or fall: that does not affect you. Each one of us has his own
independent position before God. If you are one of a family, if
you live in a house with others, or work in a room with many
companions, if you are one of a gang of laborers, or a clerk in
an office where many others are employed, or a scholar in a
school where there are many others of your age, there is a circle
around you that separates you from each one of your companions.
{319}
If you were to die to-night, your sentence would be different
from that of every other. It might be contrary to those of all
the others. They might be friends of God, and you His only enemy.
And the difference would be not from any outward cause, but from
yourself. "_I shall see God_," says the prophet, "_whom I
myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold and not another_."
[Footnote 66] And now, if your conscience tells you that there is
something unsatisfactory in your character, something sinful in
your conduct, it is for you to set it right, and to do it without
delay. It is the first duty of Lent. The forty days of grace and
penance are given for redeeming our sins and saving our souls.
What, then, should be each one's resolution? I will enter into
myself, not _we_ will do this, or I will do it if my friend
does, but _I, myself_, I will enter into myself. I will ask
myself what this strange, mysterious life of mine in earnest
means, and whether I am to-day advancing to my destiny. I will
break off my sins, and I will pray. It is in prayer that I shall
understand my duty. It is in God that I shall find myself. The
solemn words of the Church shall not be uttered in vain for me:
"Thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return." How many have
heard that warning and are now no more. The young have died, the
old, the pious, the careless, the rich, and the poor, and each
has gone to his own place, the place and portion fitted to his
deeds and his character. Perhaps it will not be very long before
these words will be verified in me. The Mass shall be said for
me, the holy water sprinkled over my lifeless form. What shall it
then profit me what others have said in my favor or against me? I
shall be simply what I am before God. "_What shall it profit a
man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" "I shall see
God, whom I myself shall see, and my eyes shall behold and not
another_."

    [Footnote 66: Job xix. 27.]

NOTE--This appears to be the last sermon which F. Baker wrote. It
was preached on the evening of the Ash-Wednesday before his death
as the first of the Lenten Course of Sermons.

------------------------------------------

{320}

          Sermon XI.


    The Negligent Christian.


      (Third Sunday In Lent.)


  "He that is not with Me is against Me;
  and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth."
  --St. Luke XI. 23.


There are many seeds planted in the ground that never come up.
There is a great deal of fruit on the trees that never comes to
ripeness. So among Christians there is a great deal of good that
always remains incomplete and inadequate. Who of us has not seen
such? Who of us does not know such? They have some faith, some
religion, but they bring no fruit to perfection. Now, what is the
blight that destroys all their goodness? It is sloth, negligence,
tepidity, call it what you will. Religion influences them, but
does not control them. They do not reject it, but they do not
obey it, at least consistently and in principle. They are languid
Christians. They are not the worst, but they are not good. They
seek with eagerness the pleasures of the world, and make no
conscience of avoiding smaller sins, even when wilful and
deliberate. They neglect the means of grace, prayer, sermons, and
sacraments, with but little scruple, or approach them carelessly.
They allow themselves a close familiarity with evil, dally with
temptation, and now and then fall into mortal sin. So they go
through life, conscious that they are living an unsatisfactory
life, but making no vigorous efforts to better it. It is of such
men that I would speak this morning; and I propose to show how
displeasing this negligence of our salvation is to God, and how
dangerous it is to ourselves.

{321}

The negligent Christian displeases God because he does not fulfil
the end for which he was created. What is the end for which God
created us? Certainly it is not for ourselves, for before God
created us we were not, and could not have been the end for which
He made us. He must have made us for Himself, for His glory. Yes,
this is the end for which He does every thing, for Himself. From
the very fact that we are created, our end must be to love and
serve God. We are bound, then, to love and serve God, and we are
bound to do it with perfection and alacrity. What kind of
creature is that which renders to God a reluctant and imperfect
service? Suppose a king were to appoint a day to receive the
homage of his subjects, and while he was holding his court, and
one after another was coming forward to kiss his hand or bend the
knee, some one, ill-attired, and with slovenly demeanor, should
approach and offer a heedless reverence. Would it not be taken as
an act of contempt and an offence? Now, God is our King, and He
holds a levee every morning and invites the creation to renew its
homage. The world puts on its best array. The sun comes forth as
a bridegroom out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a giant to run
his course. The mountains and hills clothe themselves in blue,
and the trees put on their robes of green. The birds sing, and
the waters move and sparkle. Holy and humble men of heart rise
from their beds to enter on their daily course of duty and of
prayer, while within the veil the spirits of the just and the ten
thousand times ten thousand angels bow before the Throne of Him
that lives forever. And now in this great Act of Praise, this
ceaseless sacrifice that creation is offering to its Maker, there
comes in the negligent Christian, cold, distracted, and
unprepared to take his part. He does not kneel down to pray. He
goes to work without a blessing. He does not think of God. Nay,
in His very presence says and does unseemly things. Oh! is he not
a blot on the scene? Is not his presence an offence?
{322}
In the Old Testament, God complains of the Jewish priests because
they brought to Him the halt and the blind and the sick for
sacrifice. He says: "Offer it now to thy prince, will _he_
be pleased with it, or will _he_ regard thy face?" [Footnote 67]

    [Footnote 67: Mal. i. 8.]

So in like manner, negligent Christian, God complains of you. You
bring to Him a "lame sacrifice," those feet of thine that stumble
so often in the way of justice; a "blind" and "sick sacrifice,"
that heart of thine, so fond of the world and so weak in the love
of God.

Yes, God requires of us all fervor and perfection--of each one of
us. It is a great mistake to suppose that perfection is required
only of priests or religious; it is required of every one. We are
not all required to seek perfection in the same way. The married
seek it in one way, the unmarried in another. The man of business
seeks it one way, the recluse in another. But everyone is
required to seek it in such way as accords with his state in
life. "That is a faithful servant," says St. Gregory, "who
preserves every day, to the end of his life, an inexhaustible
fervor, and who never ceases to add fire to fire, ardor to ardor,
desire to desire, and zeal to zeal." Our own hearts tell us this
when they are really under the influence of the Spirit of God.
Take a man at his first conversion, either to the faith or to a
good life, and how fervent he is! It is not enough for him to
come to Mass always on a Sunday, he will come now and then on a
week-day. It is not enough for him to keep from what is sinful,
he will not allow himself all that is innocent. He does not think
of bargaining with God. This is his thought--that God is All, and
he is a creature, and that God deserves his best, his all.
By-and-by, alas! as he becomes unfaithful, another spirit comes
over him. He asks: "Is this binding under mortal sin? That duty
is irksome; is it a great matter if I omit it now and then?" God
tells us what he thinks of such a man in the parable of the
Talents.
{323}
When the Lord came to reckon with his servants, he that had
received one talent came and said, "_Lord, I know that thou art
a hard man, thou reapest where thou hast not sown, and gatherest
where thou hast not strewed. And being afraid, I went and hid thy
talent in the earth_." And his Lord in answer said to him:
"_Thou wicked and slothful servant! thou knewest that I reap
where I sow not and gather where I have not strewed. Thou
oughtest therefore to have committed my money to the bankers, and
at my coming I should have received my own with usury. Cast ye
the unprofitable servant into exterior darkness_." [Footnote 68]

    [Footnote 68: St. Matt. xxv. 24.]

Again, if fervor in our duties is due to God as our Creator, it
is none the less due to Christ as our Redeemer. Oh, how strong
are the words of St. Paul: "_The love of Christ presseth us;
judging this, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And
Christ died for all, that they also that live may not now live to
themselves but to Him who died for them_." [Footnote 69]

  [Footnote 69: II. Cor. v. 14.]

You see what his idea was--that the love of Christ was a debt
that could never be paid, that it was a claim on us that pressed
continually, and was never satisfied. And surely it is so. When
we think at all, we must all acknowledge that it is so. Who is
Christ? the Son of God, the Splendor of His Father's Glory, and
the Image of His Substance. Who are we? lost sinners. And for us
"He did not abhor the Virgin's womb." He did not refuse "to bear
our infirmities, and carry our sorrows." He gave His body to the
smiters, and turned not away from those that rebuked Him and spat
upon Him. He gave His blood [as] a ransom for many, and laid down
His life for sin. Was there ever love like this? While gratitude
lives among men, what shall be the return given to Christ by
those whom He has redeemed? Is the return we are actually making
such as He deserves?
{324}
Was it for this that He died, that we should not commit _quite
so many_ mortal sins? Was it for this that He hung on the
cross, that _only now and then_ we should omit some
important duty? Was it for this that He sweat those great drops
of blood, that we should live a slothful and irreligous life? O
my brethren, when I see how men are living; when I look at some
Christians, and see how when Easter comes round it is an even
chance whether they go to their duties or not; when I see them on
Sunday stay away from Mass so lightly, or listen to the word of
God so carelessly; when I see them omit most important duties
toward their families; when I see how freely they expose
themselves to temptation, and how easily they yield to it; when I
see how slow they are to prayer, how cold, sluggish, sensual and
worldly they are; above all, when I hear them give for an answer,
when they are questioned about these things, so indifferently,
"_I neglected it_," I ask myself, Did these men ever hear of
Christ? Do they know in whose name they are baptized? Did they
ever look at a crucifix, or read the story of the Passion? Alas!
yes, they have seen and heard and read, and have taken their
side, if not with Judas in his deceitful kiss, or the soldiers in
their mockery, with the crowd of careless men who passed by,
regardless and hard-hearted. But let these men know that their
Saviour sees and resents their neglect. "_Because thou art
lukewarm_," He says, "_and neither cold nor hot, I will
begin to vomit thee out of my mouth_." [Footnote 70] His soul
loathes the slothful and half-hearted. Yes, slothful Christian,
far different will be the estimate thou wilt make of thy life
when thou comest to die, from what thou makest now. Then that
negligence of thine, of which thou makest so little, will seem
the crime it really is; and bitter will be the account thou shalt
render of it to Christ thy Judge.

   [Footnote 70: Apoc. iii. 16.]

{325}

But if it be not enough to rouse us from our torpor, to think
that we are offending God, let us reflect how great is the danger
which we are bringing on our own souls. A negligent Christian is
in very great danger of being lost. I said just now that he falls
into mortal sins now and then. It is hardly possible it should be
otherwise. One will certainly fall into mortal sin if he does not
take pains to avoid it. We all have within us concupiscence, or a
tendency to love the creature with a disordered love, and this
tendency is much increased in most men by actual sins of their
past lives. Now, this principle acts as a weight on the will,
always dragging it down to the earth. Fervent men make allowance
for this. They aim higher than it is necessary to reach. They
leave a margin for failures, weakness, and surprise. They build
out-works to guard the approaches to the citadel. But with the
negligent Christian it is the contrary of all this. Unreflecting,
unguarded, unfortified by prayer, in his own weakness, and with
his strong bent to evil, he must meet the immediate and direct
temptations to mortal sin which befall him in his daily life. Is
not his fall certain? Not to speak of very strong temptations
which can only be overcome by a special grace, which grace God
has not promised to grant except to the faithful soul--even
ordinary temptations are too much for such a man. He falls into
mortal sin almost without resistance.

And what is also to be taken into the account is, that the
difference between mortal and venial sin is often a mere question
of more or less. So much is a mortal sin: so much is not. The
line is often very difficult, nay, impossible to be drawn, even
by a theologian. Now, who can tell us in practice when we have
arrived at the limit of venial sin, when we have passed beyond it
and are in mortal sin? Will not a careless, thoughtless man, such
as I have described, will he not be certain sometimes to go over
the fatal line? Yes, my brethren, negligent Christians commit
mortal sins. They commit mortal sins almost without knowing it.
They commit mortal sins oftener than they imagine.
{326}
Without opposing religion, without abandoning themselves to a
reprobate life, just by neglecting God and their duties, they
fall into grievous sins; bad habits multiply upon them apace,
their passions grow stronger, grace grows weaker, their good
resolutions less frequent and less hopeful, until they are near
to spiritual ruin. The wise man gives us in a striking picture
the description of such a soul: "_I passed by the field of the
slothful man and by the vineyard of the foolish man: And behold,
it was all filled with nettles, and thorns had covered the face
thereof: and the stone wall was broken down, which when I had
seen, I laid it up in my heart, and by the example I received
instruction. Thou will sleep a little, said I: thou will slumber
a little: thou will fold thy hands a little to rest: And poverty
shall come upon thee as one that runneth, and want as an armed
man_." [Footnote 71]

    [Footnote 71: Proverbs xxiv. 30.]

And what is to secure you from dying in such a state? Our Lord
says, "_If the master of the house had known in what hour the
thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have
suffered his house to be broken open_." [Footnote 72]

    [Footnote 72: Matt. xxiv. 43.]

But he knew not, and so in the dead of night, when deep sleep
falleth on man, the thief came. And so it is with death. It comes
like a thief in the night. Death is almost always sudden.
Sometimes it comes without any warning at all. A man is sent into
eternity in a moment, without time to utter a prayer. Sometimes
it comes after sickness, but sickness does not always prepare for
death. The sick man says: "Oh, it is nothing; I shall soon be
well." His friends say the same. If he gets worse the priest is
sent for; he would like to receive the sacraments. But too often
he has not yet looked Death in the face, he has not heard the
dreadful truths he has to tell, he is much as he was in life,
slothful and negligent. And after the priest is gone, when he is
alone, at midnight, that comes to pass of which he has thought so
little.
{327}
Death enters the room, and with his icy hand unlocks the prison
of the body, whispering to the soul with awful voice, "Arise, and
come to judgment." O my brethren, how dreadful, if at that hour
you find yourself unready! If like the foolish virgins you are
forced to cry: "Our lamps are gone out." "_Cursed is he that
doeth the work of the Lord negligently_," [Footnote 73] saith
the Holy Scripture. The work of the Lord is the work of our
salvation. That is the work of our life, the work for which we
are created, and he, who through negligence leaves this work
undone, shall hear at the last that dreadful sentence: "Depart ye
cursed."

    [Footnote 73:  Jer. xlviii. 10.]

We come back, then, to this truth, that the only way to secure
our salvation is to be not slothful in that business, but fervent
in spirit, serving the Lord. Salvation is a serious work. We are
not sufficiently aware of this. We seem somehow to have got in
the belief that the way of life is not strait, and the gate not
narrow. Certainly we feel very differently about our salvation
from what our fathers in the Catholic Church felt. How many have
gone out into the desert and denied themselves rest and food, and
scourged themselves to blood! How many have devoted themselves to
perpetual silence! How many have willingly given up wealth and
friends and kindred! How many, even their own lives! Will you
tell me they were but seeking a _more perfect_ life? they
were but following the counsels of perfection, which a man is
free to embrace or decline? I tell you they were seeking their
_salvation_. They were afraid of the judgment to come, and
were trying to prepare for it. "Whatever I do," says St. Jerome,
"I always hear the dreadful sound of the last trumpet: 'Arise, ye
dead, and come to judgment.'" Now, can salvation be a work so
serious to them and so trivial for us? Grant that yon are not
bound to do precisely what they did, are you at liberty to do
nothing?
{328}
If you are not bound to a perpetual fast, are you at liberty to
darken your mind and inflame your passions by immoderate
drinking? If yon are not required to walk with downcast eyes and
to observe perpetual silence, are you free to gaze on every
dangerous object, and to speak words of profanity, falsehood,
impurity, or slander? If you are not required to flee from your
homes, are you not required to forsake the occasions of sin? If
you are not called to forego all innocent pleasures, are you
exempt from every sort of self-denial? If no rule obliges you to
spend the night in prayer, are you not obliged to pray often?
Yes, it was the desire to place their salvation in security that
led our fathers into the desert. Surely, we have to work out our
salvation with fear and trembling, who remain behind in a world
which they left as too dangerous, and have to contend with
passions which they felt wellnigh too strong for them. We must be
what they were. "_The time is short: it remaineth that they who
have wives be as those who have not; and they who weep as they
who weep not; and they who rejoice as they who rejoice not; and
they who buy as they who possess not; and they who use this world
as if they used it not; for the figure of this world passeth
away_." [Footnote 74]

    [Footnote 74: I. Cor. vii. 29, 30.]

My brethren, then be earnest in the work of your salvation. While
we have time let us do good, and abound in the work of the Lord.
Serve the Lord with a perfect heart. He deserves our very best.
Our own happiness, too, will be secured by it, for He says:
"_Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, and you shall find
rest to your souls_." [Footnote 75] And to the fervent: "_An
entrance shall be ministered abundantly into the everlasting
kingdom of Jesus Christ_." [Footnote 76]

    [Footnote 75: Matt. xi. 29.]

    [Footnote 76: II. Pet. i. 11.]

{329}

This is my desire for you, to see you fervent Christians. I would
like to know that you are anxious to assist at the Holy Mass on
week-days as well as on Sundays. I would like to know that you
pray morning and evening. I would like to believe that you speak
with God often as the day goes on. I would like to know that you
are watchful over your lips for fear of giving offence with your
tongue; that you are prompt to reject the first temptations to
evil; that you are exact in the fulfilment of your duties; that
you are careful in confession, and devout at communion--in a
word, that you are living a life of watchfulness against the
coming of Christ to judgment. This includes all. This is what our
Saviour enjoined on us: "_Take heed; watch and pray; for you
know not when the Lord of the house cometh: at even, or at
midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning. Lest coming of a
sudden, He find you sleeping_." [Footnote 77]

    [Footnote 77: St. Mark xiii. 35.]

-------------------------------------

         Sermon XII.


   The Cross, The Measure of Sin.

       (Passion Sunday)

  "For my thoughts are not as your thoughts;
  nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
  For as the heavens are exalted above the earth,
  so are my ways exalted above your ways,
  and my thoughts above your thoughts."
    --Isa. LV., 8, 9.


To-day, my brethren, is the beginning of Passion-tide, the most
solemn part of the season of Lent. The two weeks between now and
Easter are set apart especially for the remembrance of the
sufferings of Christ. Therefore the Church assumes the most
sombre apparel, and speaks in the saddest tone. The actual
recital of the Passion, the following of our Blessed Saviour step
by step in His career of woe, she reserves for the last three
days of this sorrowful fortnight.
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In this, the earlier part of it, her aim is rather to suggest
some thoughts which lead the way to Calvary, and prepare the mind
for the great event that happened there. I shall then be saying
what is suitable to the season, and at the same time directing
your minds to what I regard as one of the most useful reflections
connected with this subject, by asking you this morning to
consider the sufferings of Christ as a revelation of the evil of
sin.

But, it may be asked, does man need a revelation on this point?
Is not the natural reason and the natural conscience sufficient
to tell us that sin is wrong? Undoubtedly a man naturally knows
that sin is an evil, and without this knowledge, indeed, he would
be incapable of committing sin, since in any action a man is only
guilty of the evil which his conscience apprehends. But this
natural perception of sin is more or less confused and
indistinct. Our Saviour on the cross prayed for His murderers in
these words: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they
do." He did not mean that they were ignorant that they were doing
wrong, for then they could have needed no forgiveness, but that
they did not realize the full atrocity of the deed. They were
acting guiltily indeed, but inadvertently and blindly: And the
same may be said of very many sinners. Sin is for the most part a
leap in the dark. A man knows he is doing a dangerous thing, but
he does not realize the full danger. He does not take in the full
scope of his action, nor its complete consequences. St. Paul
speaks of the deceitfulness of sin, and the expression describes
very well the source of that disappointment and unhappiness which
often overtakes the transgressor when he finds himself involved
in difficulties from which it is all but impossible to extricate
himself and sorrows which he never anticipated. It is the old
story. Sin "_beginneth pleasantly, but in the end it will bite
like a snake and will spread abroad poison like a serpent_."
[Footnote 78] Oh! how many are there who are finding this true in
their own experience every day.

    [Footnote 78: Prov. xxiii. 31, 32.]

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Tell me, my brethren, do you think that young persons who
contract habits of sin that undermine their health know all they
are bringing on themselves--the weakness of body, the feebleness
of mind, the early decay, the shame, the remorse, the impotence
of will, the tyranny of passion, the broken vows and resolutions,
the hopelessness, the fear--perhaps the premature disease and
death? No, all this was not in their thoughts at first. These are
the bitter lessons which the youth has learned in the school of
sin. He has not found out what he was doing till it was all but
too late. Or that married woman who has stepped aside from the
path of virtue, did she realize what she was doing? Did she think
of the plighted faith broken; did she think of the horrible guilt
of the adulteress, of the agony, the remorse, the deceit, the
falsehood, the trembling fear of her whole future life; did she
realize the moment when her guilt would be detected, the fury of
her wronged husband, her family dishonored, her children torn
from her embrace, her name infamous, herself forlorn and ruined?
Oh, no! these things she did not realize. There was indeed, on
the day when she committed the dreadful crime, a dark and fearful
form in her path, that raised its hands in warning, and frowned a
frown of dreadful menace. It was the awful form of conscience,
but she turned away from the sight, and shut her ear to the
words, and heard not half the message. And so the dreadful
consequences of her sin have come upon her almost as if there had
been no warning. Or that drunkard, when he was a handsome young
man, with a bright eye and a light step, and was neatly dressed,
and was succeeding in his business; when he first began to
tipple, did he realize that he would soon be a diseased, bloated,
dirty vagabond; that his children would be half naked, and his
wife half starved; or that he would spend the last cent in his
pocket, or the last rag on his back, in the vain effort to allay
that thirst for drink which is almost as unquenchable as the fire
of hell?
{332}
No, he little foresaw it, and if it had been told him, he would
have said with Hasael, the Syrian captain, when Elisha showed him
the abominations he was about to commit, "What, am I a dog, that
I should do such things?" Or that thief, when he yielded to the
glittering temptation, and made himself rich for a while with
dishonest riches, did he then see before him the deeper poverty
that was to follow; the loss of all that makes a man's heart glow
and his life happy; the lies that he must tell, the subterfuges
he must resort to, the horrible detection, the loss of situation,
the public trial, the imprisonment? No. Of course these were all
daily in his thoughts, for they were part of the risk he knew he
was running; but so little did he bring them home to himself, and
the suffering he was to endure, that when they came it seemed
almost hard, as if a wholly unlooked-for calamity had overtaken
him. So it is. Wherever we look it is the same thing. Men imagine
sin to be a less evil than it really is. It is so easy to commit
it, it is so soon done, the temptation so strong, that it does
not seem as if such very bad consequences would come of it. So it
is done, and the bitter consequences come. It seems as if the lie
that Satan told to Eve in the garden, when he tempted her to eat
the forbidden fruit, "Thou shalt not surely die," still echoes
through the world and bewitches men's ears so that they always
underrate the guilt and punishment of sin; and although the lie
has been exposed a thousand times, although in their own bitter
experience men find its falsehood, yet they do not grow wiser,
they still go on thoughtless, insensible to their greatest danger
and their greatest evil, and when they stand on the shore of
time, and hear God threatening eternal punishment hereafter to
the sinner, they still set aside the warning with the same fatal
insensibility.
{333}
If they are not Catholics, they deny or doubt the existence of
hell; if they are Catholics, they think somehow they will escape
it.

Oh, my brethren, before you allow yourselves to act on this
estimate of sin, so prevalent in the world, ask yourselves how it
accords with God's estimate of sin. That is the true standard.
God is Truth. He sees things as they are, and every thing is just
what He considers it. He is our Judge, and it will not save us
when we stand on trial at His bar to tell Him that we have
rejected His standard and taken our own. What, then, is God's
estimate of sin? Look at the Cross, and you have the answer. Let
me for a moment carry you back to the scene and time of the
Crucifixion. It is the eve of a great festival in the city of
Jerusalem. It is the Parasceve, or Preparation of the Passover.
On this day the Jews were required, each family by itself, to
kill a lamb and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
They were required to eat it standing, with loins girded, and
with staves in their hands, because this feast was in memory of
the sudden deliverance of their fathers from the bondage of
Egypt, when God smote the first-born of the Egyptians with death,
passed over the houses of the Israelites, and conducted them
miraculously through the waters of the Red Sea. It was a great
feast among the Jews, and always collected together a great
multitude of strangers in the holy city. But on this occasion a
new excitement was added to the interest of the holy city, for
there was a public execution on Mount Calvary, and turbaned
priests, and Pharisees with broad fringes on their garments, and
scribes and doctors of the law, mingled in the throng of
mechanics and laborers, and women and children, who hastened to
the spot. The day is dark, but as you draw near the Mount, you
see, high up in the air, the bodies of men crucified; and sitting
on the ground, or standing in groups, talking and disputing among
themselves, or watching in silence with folded arms, are gathered
a vast multitude of spectators.

{334}

What is there in this execution thus to gather together all
classes of the people? The punishment of crucifixion was
inflicted only on slaves or malefactors of the worst kind, and
two of the three that are hanging there are vulgar and infamous
offenders. What is it, then, that gives such interest to this
scene? It is He who hangs upon that cross, at whose feet three
sorrowing women kneel. Read the title, it will tell you who He
is. "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." Yes, this is Jesus,
the merciful and kind; He who went about doing good, healing all
manner of sickness, and delivering all that were possessed with
the devil; He who spoke words of truth and love. This is Jesus,
the King of the Jews, whom a thousand prophecies fulfilled in him
and a thousand miracles performed by Him pointed out as the
promised Messias: Jesus, whom the Eternal Father, by a voice from
heaven, had acknowledged as His own Son. "This is my beloved Son
in whom I am well pleased." Why is this? Why is it that the just
man perisheth? The apostle tells us: "Christ must _needs_
have suffered." He was the true Paschal Lamb that must die that
we might go free. He was the victim of our sins. Pilate and Herod
and the Jews were but the instruments by which all the
consequences of our sins fell upon Him who came to bear them.
"_Surely He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows;
and we have thought Him, as it were, a leper, and as one struck
by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He
was bruised for our sins. The chastisement of our peace was upon
Him, and by His bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray, everyone hath turned aside into his own way, and the
Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all_." [Footnote 79]

    [Footnote 79: Isia. liii. 4, 5, 6.]

{335}

Yes, every sin of every kind received its special reparation in
the sufferings of Christ. His mouth is filled with vinegar and
gall to atone for our luxury. His ear is filled with revilings to
expiate the greediness with which we have drunk in poisonous
flattery. His eyes languish because ours have been lofty, and His
hands and feet are pierced with nails because ours have been the
instruments of sin. He suffered death because we deserved it. He
was accursed, because we had made ourselves liable to the curse
of God, and hell had its hour of triumph over Him, because we had
made ourselves its children. Nor was it our Lord's body alone
that suffered. It would be a great mistake to suppose that His
sacrifice was merely external. The chief part of man is his soul.
St. Leo says that our Lord on the cross appeared as a penitent.
It was not only that He suffered for the sins of men, but it was
as if He had committed them. The horror of them filled His soul;
sorrow for the outrage they had done to the Majesty and Holiness
of God consumed Him. "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto
death," He said. Afterward the evangelist says He began to be
very heavy, and it was sinners that on the cross made Him bow His
head and give up the ghost. He was not killed. His enemies did
not take His life. The flood of sorrow for sin came into His
soul, and overwhelmed Him. It was too much. His heart was broken.
Oh, the weight of that sorrow! He bowed His head and gave up the
ghost. Then sin was expiated. Then the work of man's atonement
was completed. At last man had done adequate penance. At last
sorrow for sin had reached its just proportion as an offence
against God.

Here, I say, we have a revelation of the evil of sin. God does
nothing in vain: His works are as full of wisdom as they are of
power. Since, therefore, Christ died for sin, the cross of Christ
is the measure of sin.
{336}
"From the consideration of the remedy," says St. Bernard, "learn,
O my soul, the greatness of thy danger. Thou wast in error, and
behold the Son of the Virgin is sent, the Son of the Most High
God is ordered to be slain, that my wounds may be healed by the
precious balsam of His blood. See, O man, how grievous were thy
wounds, for which, in the order of Divine wisdom, it was
necessary that the lamb Christ should be wounded. If they had not
been unto death, and unto eternal death, never would the Son of
God have died for them. The cross of Christ is not only an altar
of sacrifice, but a pulpit of instruction. From that pulpit,
lifted up on high, Jesus Christ preaches a lesson to the whole
world." The burden of the lesson is the evil of sin. "The law was
given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." And
yet, my brethren, the law was published afresh by Jesus Christ.
Mount Calvary but repeats the message of Mount Sinai--nay,
repeats it with more power. Here, indeed, God does not speak in
thunders and lightnings, as He did there, but He speaks in the
still small voice of the suffering Saviour. Oh, what meaning is
there in those sad eyes as they bend down upon us! Oh, what power
in those gentle words He utters! He does not say, "Thou shalt not
commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false
witness." No. He cries to a guilty people, a people who have
already broken the law, and He says to them: "See what you have
done. See My thorn-crowned head. See My hands and feet. Look at
Me whom you have pierced. Is it a light thing that could have
reduced Me to such a state of woe? Is it a light thing that could
have bound Me to this cross? Me, the Creator of all things, to
whom you owe all life and liberty? Who by My word and touch have
so often healed the sick and released them that were bound to
Satan. They say of Me, 'He saved others, Himself He cannot save.'
And they say truly. Here must I hang. Not the Jews have nailed Me
to this cross, but My love, and thy sins. Yes, see in My
sufferings your sin displayed. See in the penalty I pay the
punishment you have deserved. See your guilt in My sorrow. Look
at Me, and see what sin is in the presence of the All Holy God!"

{337}

Can any thing show more than this what a mysterious evil sin is,
that it is an offence against God, an assault upon His throne, an
attack upon His life, an evil all but infinite? All the other
expressions of the evil of sin, the cries of misery which it has
wrung from its victims, the warnings which natural reason has
uttered against it, the tender lamentations with which the saints
have bewailed it, the penalties with which God has threatened to
visit it, all pale before the announcement that God sent His Son
into the world to die for it. I do not wonder that, as the
evangelist tells us, the multitudes who came together at the
sight of our Saviour's crucifixion returned smiting their
breasts. Oh, what an awakening of stupefied consciences there
must have been that day! How many, who came out in the morning
careless and thoughtless, went back to the city with anxious
hearts, with a secret grief and fear within they had never felt
before. I suppose that even the scribes and Pharisees, who had
plotted our Saviour's death, felt, for the moment at least, a
guilty fear. Why, even Judas, when he saw what he had done,
repented, and went and hanged himself saying: "I have sinned in
that I have betrayed the innocent blood." And this book of the
Passion has been ever since the source from which penitents have
drawn their best motives for conversion, and saints their
strongest impulses to perfection. Here, on the cross, is the root
of that uncompromising and awful doctrine about sin--the
doctrine, I mean, that sin is in no case whatever to be allowed,
that even the smallest sin for the greatest result can never be
permitted; that it is an evil far greater than can be spoken or
imagined; that it must never be trifled with, or made light of;
that it is to be shunned with the greatest horror, and avoided,
if need be, even at the cost of our life--which has always been
so essential a part of Christianity.

{338}

And now, my brethren, it is because men forget the cross, because
their minds no longer move on a Christian basis, that they make
light of sin. There is a tendency in our day to do so. Crime--men
acknowledge that, an offence against law, an offence against good
order. Vice--they acknowledge that, a hurtful and excessive
indulgence of passion; but _sin_, a creature's offence
against God, that they think impossible. "What! can I, a frail
creature," say they, "ignorant and passionate, can I do an injury
to God? I err by excess or defect in my conduct; I bring evil on
myself it is true; but what difference can that make to the
Supreme Being? Can He be very much displeased at my follies? Will
His serene Majesty in heaven be affected because I on this earth
am carried too far by passions? Can He care what my religious
belief is? or will He separate Himself from me eternally because
I have happened to violate some law?" Such language is an echo of
heathenism, and heathenism not of the best kind, for some
heathens have had a doctrine about sin which approached very near
to the Christian doctrine. It is moreover, a degrading doctrine;
for, while it leaves a man his intellect and animal nature, it
takes away his conscience. What is that conscience within us but
a witness that God does concern Himself about us--that my heart
is His throne, and that my everlasting destiny is union with Him.
"Every one that is born of God," says the apostle, "doth not
commit sin, for he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Not
that sin is a physical impossibility with him, but it is in
contradiction to his regenerate nature. In order, then, to soothe
yourself into the belief that sin is not so very bad, that God
cannot be very angry with you for it, you have got to tear
conscience from your heart, you have got to give up the good
gift, and the powers of the world to come, which came upon you at
your baptism; and you have to give up all the brightest hopes of
Christianity for the life hereafter. Nay, more, you have got to
deny the cross, to deny our Lord's divinity, to deny His
sufferings for sin, and thus to render yourself without faith as
well as without conscience.
{339}
I conclude with the affectionate exhortation of St. John the
Apostle. "_My children, these things I write to you that ye sin
not." "All unrighteousness is sin_." Every breach of the moral
law is a failure in that homage, that obedience, that service we
owe to God. It is a direct offence against God. It is a thing
exceedingly to be feared and dreaded. A wrong word spoken or a
wrong action done has consequences which go far and wide. Do not
say, you have sinned, but have done harm to no one. You have done
harm to God, and you have certainly done harm to yourself. Do not
sin. Do not commit mortal or venial sin. Do not make light of
sin. Do not abide in sin. If you are in sin now, remember at this
holy time to repent and turn back to God: and if your conscience
tells you that you are now in the friendship of God, oh, let it
be all your care to avoid sin. Fly from the face of sin. Fly from
the approach of sin. Avoid the occasions of sin. Watch against
sin, and pray continually, not to be led into sin: and when your
hour of trial comes, when some strong temptation assails you,
then be ready to say, as the prophet Joseph, "What! shall I do
this wicked thing, and offend against God?" This is that fear of
God which is the beginning of wisdom. This is the happiness of
which the Psalmist spoke: "_Blessed is the man that hath not
walked in the council of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of
sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence; but his will is in
the law of the Lord, and on His law he shall meditate day and
night. And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the
running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in due season.
And his leaf shall not fall off; and all, whatsoever he shall do,
shall prosper._" [Footnote 80]

    [Footnote 80: Ps. i. 1-3.]

--------------------------------

{340}

          Sermon XIII.


    Divine Calls And Warnings.


      (A Sermon For Lent.)


  "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found,
  call upon Him while He is near."
     --Isai. LV. 6.


The Wise Man tells us that "_all things have their season, and
in their times all things pass under heaven_." [Footnote 81]
Certainly, it is so in the natural world. There is a time for the
birds to migrate. "_The kite in the air knows her time, the
turtle and the swallow and the stork observe the time of their
coming_." [Footnote 82]

    [Footnote 81: Eccl. iii. 1.]

    [Footnote 82: Jer. viii. 7.]

There is a time for seeds and shrubs to grow. Seed-time and
harvest do not fail. There is a busy time and a slack time in the
world of commerce. There is a time for education, a time when the
mind is inquisitive and the memory retentive, and it is easy to
acquire knowledge; and another time, when the powers of the mind,
like the limbs of the body, seem to grow stiff and rigid, and can
be employed only with difficulty. But does this law reach also to
the supernatural world? Has the grace of God also its seasons and
its times? I believe it has; and it is to this fact, so important
in its bearing on our salvation, that I wish now to direct your
attention.

But you may ask me what I mean by saying that the grace of God
has its special times and seasons. Are not all times alike to
God? Is not God always ready to save the sinner, and to bestow
the graces necessary to his salvation? Undoubtedly He is. We,
Catholics, believe that God gives to every man living sufficient
grace, that is, He gives him the grace to pray; and if he prays,
God is ready to give him other and higher graces, which will
carry him on to salvation; but, ordinarily speaking, men do not
use this common grace, unless some special and particular grace
is given which excites them to do so.
{341}
Now, it is of these special graces of which I speak, when I say
that they have their times and their seasons. I refer to those
Divine Calls and Warnings, those Providences, those sacred
inspirations, which stir the heart beneath its surface, and bring
it, for a time at least, in conscious contact with the Infinite
and Eternal. These, I say, come and go. They have a law of their
own. We cannot have them all the time. We cannot appoint a time,
and say we will have them to-morrow, or next year. They are like
the wind that blows; we hear the sound of it, but we cannot tell
whence it comes and whither it goes. They are like the lightning,
that shines from the east even unto the west. They come suddenly,
and dart a flash of light upon our path, then they are gone. They
are like the visit of Christ to the two disciples at Emmaus: as
soon as their hearts began to burn within them, and they
discovered who it was that talked with them, He vanished out of
their sight.

Certainly there are proofs enough that such is the law of God's
dealings with the soul. If we look back at our own lives, do we
not see that we have had our special times when Christ visited
us? our times of grace? red-letter days in the calendar of our
life? I know God's grace acts secretly; and oftentimes when we
are under the strongest influence of grace, we are least
conscious of it. But when the time is past and over, and we look
back upon it, we can see that there was a Divine influence upon
us, especially if we have corresponded to it. I think each one of
us, if he looks back upon the past, will see clearly the times
when he has been under the impulse of some unusual movement of
the mind, the result of some special grace of God. Perhaps it
came in the shape of some great affliction. You had a happy home.
{342}
The purest of earthly joys was yours--domestic happiness, perfect
sympathy in gladness and in sorrow. But death entered your abode,
and the loving voice was silenced, and the kindly eye was closed.
And in that deep grief, in that darkness and loneliness Christ
spoke to your sinking heart, saying, "Fear not;" and you came
forth out of that affliction with a new strength, with purer
aims, with a quietness and peace of heart which only suffering
can give.

Or, perhaps, the crisis in your history was your attendance on a
"mission." You had lived in neglect of religion, almost complete.
Confession was a bugbear to you. Years of sin and forgetfulness
of God had hardened your conscience. But suddenly all was
changed. You seemed a new man. Your faith was illuminated with a
new brilliancy. Sin had a new horror. The string of your tongue
was loosed, and oh, with what ease, with what fidelity and
exactness, you made that dreaded confession! What comfort you
derived from it! and with what energy and determination did you
enter on the duties of a Christian life!

Or, it might have been in less striking ways that grace did its
work. It may have been a book, a word, an interior inspiration,
some of the seasons of the holy Church, holy communion, some of
the lesser changes of life, a fit of sickness, a violent
temptation: these may have been the instruments which God made
use of, from time to time, to convey special graces to your soul.
Sometimes the aim of these graces was to arouse you out of some
deeply-seated habit of sin; sometimes to draw your heart away
from the world to heaven; sometimes it was a call to prayer;
sometimes a warning of danger: in fine, for some purpose bearing
on your salvation, there they are, those visits of grace in your
past life, as distinct and unmistakable as any other part of your
history. When we read the Bible story of such saints as Abraham,
Moses, and Elias, what strikes us as most wonderful and most
beautiful is the familiarity in which they lived with God, how
God drew near to them and spoke to them.
{343}
Now, such passages have a parallel in the history of each one of
us. There are times in our lives, and not a few such times, when
God draws near to the soul, when He confronts it, makes special
demands upon it, addresses it no longer in general, but
particularly and individually; when He says to the soul, Go and
do this, Do not do that, as unmistakably as when He said to
Abraham: "_Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred,
and out of thy father's house, and come into the land which I
shall show thee_." [Footnote 83]

    [Footnote 83: Gen. xii. 1.]

And if this be so, the mode in which we receive these divine
communications must have a great deal to do with our guilt or
innocence before God. We read in the Book of Judges, that on a
certain occasion an angel of the Lord appeared to Manne and his
wife, with a message from on high. He appeared to them in a human
shape, and spoke with a human voice, and they did not know that
he was an angel. It was not until they saw him ascend to heaven
in the flame from the altar that they understood that they had
been talking with one of the heavenly host. Then they said:
"_We shall certainly die because we have seen God!_"
[Footnote 84]

    [Footnote 84: Judges xiii. 22.]

Now, there is a sense in which this exclamation is neither
superstitious nor strange, as the expression, that is, of their
anxiety lest in their ignorance they might have treated their
heavenly visitor in some unseemly way. O my brethren, it is no
light thing for God to draw near to a human soul. It is no light
thing for Him to speak to us. When He speaks we cannot be as if
He had not spoken. "His word shall not return to Him void." The
relation between the Creator and the creature is such, that the
moment He speaks our position is altered. When He calls we must
either follow or refuse to follow; there is no neutrality
possible.

{344}

Oh, what a thought, that if indeed God has spoken to us often in
our past lives, if He has given us special calls and warnings, we
must often have resisted Him! There are many of us, I fear, who
have altogether too little conscience on this subject. A man
comes to confession after an absence of several years. He
confesses his more prominent sins against the divine
commandments, but perhaps he does not even mention his failure to
perform each year his Easter duty. And if the confessor calls his
attention to it, he has nothing to say but, "Oh, yes, I neglected
that." You see, he does not realize at all that God has been
calling him from year to year, has met him again and again, and
exhorted him to repent, and he has refused.

Another man hears a sermon which thoroughly awakens his
conscience. He sees in the clearest light the danger of his
besetting sin. His conscience is stirred, he almost resolves to
break off his sin, but he does not quite come to the point, he
postpones his conversion, and, after a little, dismisses the
subject from his mind. Now here again, you see, is a distinct
resistance to grace. The man has not only continued in sin, but
has continued in sin in spite of God's warning.

Again, a person, free from the grosser forms of sin, has some
radical fault of character; some fault which is apparent to
everyone but himself; a deep obstinacy; a dangerous levity; an
inveterate slothfulness; an overbearing temper; a domineering
spirit--faults which are the source of innumerable
difficulties--and he is plainly warned of these faults, but
refuses to acknowledge them, strengthens himself in his
self-deception, and clings to these faults as if they were a
necessary part of his character. What is he doing, but
frustrating the designs of God, despising His reproof, and
rejecting the grace which was meant to make him so much better,
so much happier, so much more useful?

{345}

Resisted grace! What is that but to withstand God to His face,
and to say: _I will not serve?_ To resist grace, what is
that but to despise the precious Blood of Christ. To obtain for
us those graces, the Blood of Christ and all His sufferings were
given, and without them we should have been left in our sins and
miseries; and so to refuse these graces is to make light of
Christ's most bitter Death and Passion. To resist grace, what is
that but to refuse glory. For each grace of God has a
corresponding degree of glory attached to it; and, if we refuse
the one, we reject the other. The truth is, we forget too much
God's personal agency in our salvation. We are on earth, and God
is far away in heaven. He has indeed left us His Law, and He is
coming to judge us at the last day, but He is not now a present,
watchful, living, speaking God to us. We forget that "_He is
not far from every one of us_." We forget that He is about our
path, and about our bed; that He watches us with the eagerness
and tenderness of a mother for her child; that He intensely
desires our salvation; that He pleads with us, warns us, calls to
us, stretches out His Hand to us all the day long. It is nothing
that He Himself tells us He stands at the door and knocks; it is
nothing that He calls to us from without, saying: "_Open to Me,
My love, for my head is wet with dew, and My locks with the drops
of the night;_" we open not; we heed Him not; we hear Him not.
Oh! I believe, at the Judgment Day, many a man will be appalled
to see how he has treated Christ. In the description which our
Lord has given us of that day, He tells us that the wicked shall
say, in answer to His reproofs: "_When saw we Thee hungry or
thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did
not minister to Thee?_" So, I believe, many will say: "O Lord,
when did we refuse to hear Thee? When did we shut our hearts to
Thy grace?" And He will answer: "When, at the voice of My
preacher, you refused to forsake that sin; when, at the
invitation of My Church, you refused to repent and amend; when,
at the call of My Spirit, you refused to awake from your sloth,
and follow after that perfection I demanded of you. In rejecting
My agents, you have rejected Me. It was I; I, your God and your
Saviour; I, your End and Reward, who walked with you on your way
through life, who opened to you the Scriptures, and sought to
enter in and tarry with you."

{346}

And, again, as resistance to grace is a special sin in itself,
and a special matter about which we must render an account to
God, so, when persisted in, it is the sure road to final
impenitence and reprobation. Let me bring before your mind some
of our Lord's emphatic teaching on this point.

Toward the latter part of our Lord's life, in preaching to His
disciples on a certain occasion, He used this parable: "A certain
man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking
fruit on it and found none. And he said to the tiller of the
vineyard: Behold, these three years I came seeking fruit on this
fig-tree, and I find none. Cut it down therefore; why doth it
take up the ground? But he answering, said to him: Lord, let it
alone this year also, until I dig about it and dung it. And if
happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut
it down." [Footnote 85]

    [Footnote 85: St. Luke xiii. 6-9.]

The same lesson which in this parable Christ conveyed to the ear,
He addressed, about the same time, by a striking action, to the
eye. As He was going from Bethany to Jerusalem, He saw a fig-tree
by the wayside. "_And he came to it, and found nothing but
leaves only, and He said to it: May no fruit grow on thee
henceforward forever. And immediately the fig-tree withered away.
And the disciples seeing it, wondered, saying: How is it
presently withered away?_" [Footnote 86]

    [Footnote 86: St. Matt. xxi. 19.]

The apostles could not fail to connect this action with the
parable quoted above, and to understand them both as referring to
the rejection of the Jewish people. For three years He preached
to that people, warned them, and instructed them. Then, at last,
when they refused to listen to Him, He withdrew from them His
presence, grace, and blessing, and left them to the consequences
of their unbelief and hardness of heart; left them to "wither
away."
{347}
Listen to His lamentation over that guilty city. It is Palm
Sunday. He is coming to the city in triumph. The crowds are
shouting hosannas. At last, in His journey He comes to the Mount
of Olives, whence the Holy City is full before His view. He looks
at it; He thinks of all He has done to warn that people and
convert them; He thinks of the ill success He has met with; He
knows that he is going there for the last time, and that in a few
days they will fill up the measure of their sins by nailing him
to the cross; and, as he looked upon it, He wept over it, and
said: "_If thou hadst known, and that in this thy day, the
things that are for thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy
eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall
cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten
thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy
children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a
stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the time of thy
visitation_." [Footnote 87] Behold the end! a people resisting
grace, until at last grace forsakes them, and they are left to
their own impenitence and hardness of heart! And behold the
fearful image of a soul which has resisted grace, until its final
reprobation!

    [Footnote 87: St. Luke xix. 41-44.]

Yes, my brethren, this is but the fearful image of what passes in
many a soul. What does the Holy Scripture say? "_The man that
with a stiff neck despiseth him that reproveth him shall suddenly
be destroyed; and health shall not follow him._" [Footnote 88]

    [Footnote 88: Prov. xxix. 1.]

God does not desire the death of the wicked. God never entirely
ceases to strive with man. God never leaves a man altogether
destitute of grace. But then God is not bound to impart special
graces; and when He finds that these graces are uniformly
rejected, when he meets only a hardened heart and a will
obstinately bent on evil, He withholds them, or gives them less
frequently. Meanwhile bad habits increase; sins multiply; the
root of sin in the heart becomes deeper and stronger: years pass
on in sin, and at last death comes. What kind of a death
naturally follows such a life?
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What kind of death often, in point of fact, follows such a life?
I will tell you: an impenitent death; the death of the reprobate
and the lost. Perhaps the man dies a sudden death. He may die in
his bed, but die a sudden death for all that; for he may die out
of his senses, and unable to do any thing whatever toward making
his peace with God. Or, he may die in daring rebellion against
God. It is possible for men to die so. It is possible for a man
who has a deep enmity in his heart to refuse to give it up at the
last hour; and it does happen. It is possible for a man who has
dishonest wealth in his possession to clutch it even while his
fingers are cold and blue in the last agony; and that does
happen. It is possible for a man who has lived in shameful sins
of unchastity to refuse to dismiss the partner of his guilt,
though in five minutes his soul will be in hell; and that too has
happened. Or, a man may die in despair. The devil may bring the
fearful catalogue of his sins before his mind, in all their
blackness and enormity; the remembrance of bad confessions and
broken resolutions may paralyze his will; and the dreadful record
of communions made in sacrilege may complete the temptation, and
the poor soul turn away from the crucifix, turn away from the
priest, and die pouring forth the ravings of despair.

Or, on the contrary, he may die in presumption, in self-deceit.
He may indeed go through the form of a confession, may receive
the sacraments, and cheat himself into thinking it is all right,
and be all the time a hypocrite, turning from his sins, not
because he hates them, but because he can no longer enjoy them;
and may receive the absolution of the priest only to hear it
reversed the moment he gets into the presence of the unerring
Judge, before whom are open all the secrets of the heart.

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Death in some such form is, I say, the natural end of neglect of
divine calls and warnings; and such a death is, in point of fact,
not unfrequently the actual end of such a course. "_For_,"
says the apostle, "_the earth that drinketh in the rain, which
cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs useful for them by
whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. But that which
bríngeth forth thorns and briers, is rejected, and very near to a
curse, whose end is to be burnt_." [Footnote 89]

    [Footnote 89: Heb. vi. 7, 8.]

And, O my brethren, if this is so, you who are putting off your
conversion, putting off your return to God, to what a risk are
you exposing your salvation! You say you will go to your
confession at some other time. You are young; you imagine it will
be easier in coming years; you think your passions will be
weaker, your temptations less. But you are deceiving yourselves.
You are counting on that which you do not know will ever be
yours. You cannot promise yourself another year. How many who
were here a year ago are now numbered with the dead! some of them
as young as you are, and who a year ago felt as you do now. You
count on special graces, and you have no right to count on them.
You are deceiving yourselves, my brethren, you are deceiving
yourselves. The freeness and abundance of grace, the
_cheapness_ of grace, if I may so express myself, deceives
you. God invites, and seems to plead and to beseech you to be
saved, and you think it will always be so. You think a time is
coming when God will save you in spite of yourselves. You know
that you are not now on the road to heaven, you know that you are
living in sin, but you think somehow God will interfere and make
it right. We are told in the gospel that there was at Jerusalem a
pool, around which usually lay a great multitude of sick and
afflicted people, waiting for the moving of the water; for an
angel came down at certain times and troubled the water, and
whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was
healed.
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So it is with slothful, negligent, procrastinating Christians.
They lie in their sins, waiting for some aid which will raise
them to their feet, and make them whole without any effort of
their own. Vain hope! They will die in their sins. "_You shall
seek me_," said Christ, "_and you shall die in your
sins_." [Footnote 90]

    [Footnote 90: St. John viii. 21.]

These fearful words are addressed to you, O despiser of God's
grace; to you, O young man, who deferrest conversion; to you,
lover of pleasure, who will not break with your idols; to you, O
drunkard, who will not throw away the intoxicating glass; to you,
O avaricious man, who are getting rich by fraud or by the blood
of souls. "_You shall die in your sins_." That is the end to
which you are tending. As you have despised God, so He will
despise you. You shall seek Him, but you shall not find Him. You
shall call upon Him, but He will not hearken. At your dying hour,
every thing will fail you. Prayer will die on your lips, unused
to pray. Your mind, so long accustomed to love sin, will find it
hard to turn from it with true contrition. The priest, ah! the
priest cannot save you. He can only help you, can only give you
the consolations of religion if you are rightly disposed. And how
can you dispose yourself at that dreadful hour, when your mind is
filled with a fearful looking for of judgment, when all your
sins, and all the graces you have rejected, rise up before your
guilty conscience? Oh! meet this danger. Do not run this risk.
Resist no longer the grace of God. Behold, now once more God
calls you to His fear. Behold, the days have come "to do penance,
and to redeem your sins." God by His Holy Church makes you
another offer. "_Turn unto me, and I will turn unto you_,"
saith the Lord. "_Let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he
will have mercy on him_." [Footnote 91] "_To-day, then, if
you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts_." Resolve to
prepare for your Easter confession. If you came last Easter and
have persevered, bless God, and come now. If you have fallen
away, see where the error was, and learn a deeper humility, and
make a stronger purpose, and come again.

    [Footnote 91: Isai. lv. 7.]

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And, oh if you have stayed away in former years, and are
purposing to stay away this Easter, too--or if you are too
negligent to have formed any purpose; if you are just floating
on, heedless and careless, then know, that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment, that the severest part of your
account will be for graces resisted and rejected; and that you
are preparing for yourselves the retribution threatened in those
dreadful words: "_Because I called and you refused: I stretched
out My Hand; and there was none that regarded. You have despised
all my counsel, and have neglected my reproofs. I also will laugh
in your destruction: and will mock, when that shall come upon you
which you feared. When sudden calamity shall fall upon you, and
destruction as a tempest shall be at hand: when tribulation and
distress shall come upon you: Then they shall call upon Me, and I
will not hear: they shall rise in the morning, and shall not find
Me: Because they hated instruction, and received not the fear of
the Lord, nor consented to My counsel, but despised all My
reproof. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and
shall be filled with their own devices_." [Footnote 92]

    [Footnote 92: Prov. i. 24-31.]

----------------------------------

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          Sermon XIV.

      The Tomb Of Christ,
    The School Of Comfort.

      (Easter Sunday.)


   "Jesus saith to her:
   Woman why weepest thou?
   Whom seekest thou?"
     St. John xx. 15.


How full of tenderness are these words! They were spoken on the
first Easter Day. This weeping woman was Mary Magdalene, she that
had been a great sinner, and was converted, and loved our Lord so
much. She had been at His Cross: she is now at His Tomb, with her
spices and ointments to anoint His body. But our Lord's body was
not in the grave. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is open, and
He is not there. And yet He is not far away. Risen from the dead
to a new and mysterious life, He hovers about the garden, and
draws near to her as she approaches the sepulchre. At the
outburst of her grief on finding the sepulchre empty, He breaks
silence. "_Woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?_"
These are the first words our Lord spoke after His Resurrection.
They are the same words that were used by the angel a little
before. They seem to be the antiphon, the key-note which Heaven
has given us to guide our Easter thoughts. No tears on Easter
Day. Nay, no tears any more of the bitter, hopeless kind, for
Christ is Risen. St. Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Christ
represents Humanity sitting in the region and shadow of death.
Now to-day Christ comes forward, and speaks comfortable words to
the human race. "_Why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?_" He
challenges us. "I, thy risen Saviour," He seems to say, "am thy
consoler. What grief is there that I have not removed?" And is it
so? Are all our real sorrows removed or alleviated by the
resurrection of Christ? Yes; heavenly messengers have appeared
bringing good tidings. Christ is risen.
{353}
"The stroke of our wound is healed. "_To them that sat in the
region of the shadow of death, light is sprung up." "The
Day-Spring from on high hath visited us._" The earth feels
herself to be lightened of her darkness, and in every church in
Christendom the cry is again and again repeated: "_Alleluia:
Praise the Lord_."

It would be too long to attempt to show how every human sorrow
can gather consolation from the Resurrection of Christ. All I can
hope to do this morning is to show how the three heaviest
troubles of our race--doubt, guilt, and bereavement--find their
relief in that event.

I call doubt, guilt, and bereavement the heaviest woes of man. In
regard to the first, religious doubt, many of you have had no
experience. Brought up in the Catholic Church, with her teaching
always sounding in your ears, you have never known what it was to
have real doubts about religious truth. But there are others who
have known that anguish by experience. The soul of man thirsts
for truth. Deep in every man's soul is a desire for God. It may
be stifled, it may be silenced for a time by passion, but there
it is, that stretching forth to the Fountain of Goodness and
Beauty, that longing to know Him and His will. In generous souls,
in souls that are conscious of their dignity, the finding of
truth is an indispensable necessity. The search for truth is an
occupation that must be pursued with whatever pain and trouble,
and until it be found life is really insupportable. O my
brethren, I do believe that there are souls around us who hunger
for truth as a famishing man hungers for food. They labor and
toil harder than any day-laborer. They are like men exploring a
dark and many-chambered mine. They go with stooping head, and the
sweat rolls off their foreheads, and their feet stumble, and with
their dim light they can see but a little way before them, and
they are in danger of losing their way.
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No doubt they learn something; for God is everywhere; God is in
our hearts, and in Nature, and in men, and in books, and in the
past, and we cannot look for Him anywhere without finding His
footprints; but we want more than this. We want God to speak to
us. We sigh for the lost happiness of Eden, where God walked with
our first parents in "the cool of the day." This is what men
need. They need God to _reveal_ Himself to them, to give
them certainty in religious truth, at least on the most important
points. Everywhere men have been seeking this. "_Oh that God
would rend the heavens and come down!_" [Footnote 93]

    [Footnote 93: Isaias lxiv. 1.]

This is the cry of humanity, that God would speak to us and make
us hear His voice. And they have sought for this voice. They have
strained their ears to listen to it. They have sought it of the
moon and stars as they moved through the heavens by night; they
have sought it in the whispers of the grove; they have sought it
at the lips of men of science and pretended religious teachers.
But they have met in such sources only with disappointment or
deceit. And yet that voice has always been in the world. It spoke
at first feebly and low, but louder and louder as time went on,
until Jesus Christ came and "spake as never man spake." He
claimed to be the Son of God, taught us clearly about God and our
destiny, promised His unfailing protection to His Church in
transmitting His doctrine to all generations, and confirmed the
truth, both of His Teaching and Promises, by rising from the dead
according to His Word. To Him, therefore, belongs the glorious
title: "_The Faithful and True Witness, the First-Begotten of
the Dead._" [Footnote 94]

    [Footnote 94: Apoc. i. 5.]

Eighteen hundred years have passed away, but His Word has lost
none of its authority, and now this morning we can say, as to
every point of the Catholic creed, with as much certainty as on
the morning of the Resurrection the Apostles felt in regard to
all the words of Christ--"_I believe_." O glorious privilege
of a Catholic! "_Rejoice_," says the prophet, "_and be
glad in the Lord, O children of Sion, because He hath given to
you a Teacher of Justice_." [Footnote 95]

    [Footnote 95: Joel ii. 23.]

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Obedient to this inspired injunction, the Church requires the
Creed to be sung at her great solemnities. It is not enough to
recite it. No; it must be sung, sung in full chorus, accompanied
with instruments of music. And fitting it is and right. Worship
would be incomplete without it. Litanies and hymns are the means
by which the heart does homage to God; but CREDO, "_I
believe_," that is the intellect's cry of joy at its
emancipation from the bondage of doubt. Oh, how mistaken are
those who imagine that the articles of the Creed are like fetters
on the mind. On the contrary, they are to us the evidences of
that liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. We reject
temptations against faith, as attacks on our happiness. We feel
that to doubt the doctrine of faith would be to doubt the Son of
God, and to doubt Him would be to discredit our own soul. Be
firm, then, my brethren in faith. Remember that faith is part of
your birthright and privilege as Christians. The Sepulchre of
Christ is the gate to the Palace of Truth. See, the door is open.
The stone is rolled away. Oh, enter and be blest. With Thomas
look at His wounded side and say, "_My Lord and my God!_"
With Magdalene fall at His feet and call Him "_Master_."
Listen to His words and doubt no more. "_Being no more
children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of
doctrine, but holding the truth in charity, in all things grow up
in Him who is the Head, Christ_." [Footnote 96]

    [Footnote 96: Eph. iv. 14.]

Again, as doubt is the bondage of the intellect, so guilt is the
burden of the conscience. Who can give peace to a soul that has
sinned? The prophet Micheas well describes the anxiety of such a
soul. "_What shall I offer to the Lord that is worthy?
Wherewith shall I kneel before the High God? Shall I offer
holocausts unto Him, and calves of a year old? Will He be
appeased with thousands of rams? Shall I give my first-born for
my wickedness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?_"
[Footnote 97]

    [Footnote 97: Mich. vi. 6.]

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Now, must we for ever go on in this uncertainty? Shall we never,
after we have sinned, have again the assurance that we are
pardoned? Must we go trembling all our days, and be
terror-stricken at the hour of death? Are we left to our own
fancyings and feelings to decide whether we are pardoned or not?
Shall we never _hear_ that sweet consoling word: "_Go in
peace, thy sins are forgiven thee?_" Yes, Christ is risen. He
is come from the grave "with healing in His wings." He is come as
a conqueror, with the trophies of victory. Hear what He says of
Himself: "_I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I live
forever, and have the keys of Hell and Death_." [Footnote 98]

  [Footnote 98: Apoc. i. 18.]

He has come back from the grave with the keys of Hell in His
hand. While He was yet among men He had promised to give those
keys to St. Peter and the Apostles, but it was only after His
death, by which He had merited our pardon, and after His
Resurrection, by which His Father had attested His acceptance of
the Ransom, that He proceeded solemnly to deliver them. "_Now
when it was late_," says St. John, "_that same day_"
(Easter day) "_Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to
them: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent Me, I also send
you. When He had said this, He breathed on them: and He said to
them, Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose sins you shall forgive, they
are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are
retained_." [Footnote 99]

    [Footnote 99: St. John xx. 19.]

Do you hear this, O sinner? He offers you pardon, and He assures
you of it. All He asks of you is a true sorrow; all He asks is a
fervent and true purpose to offend Him no more. Come, confessing
your sins; come, forsaking them, and He has promised that His
priest shall declare to you, in His name: "I absolve thee from
thy sins."
{357}
He has promised to ratify the sentence in heaven. Can you doubt
His power? Can you doubt His truth? No: He has risen for our
justification. "_What shall we say then to these things? If God
be for us, who shall be against us? Who shall lay anything to the
charge of the elect of God? It is God that justifieth. Who is he
that shall condemn? It is Christ that died, yea also Who is risen
again_." [Footnote 100]

    [Footnote 100: Rom. viii. 33.]

Do not look on us, the ministers of His grace, weak and frail as
we are. Look at the Saviour. Look at Him dying on the cross, a
ransom for our sins. Look at Him, rising from the dead on the
third day, having accomplished a complete victory over our
spiritual enemies, and bringing to us life and pardon. See Him in
His divine power, instituting sacraments by which that life and
pardon might be communicated to us. Believe His word, trust His
merits, have recourse to His sacraments, and thus, "_being
justified by faith have once more peace with God, and rejoice
again in hope of the Glory of God_." [Footnote 101]

    [Footnote 101: Rom. v. 1.]

Come, forgiven sinner, lift up your head, for God hath cleansed
you. Be happy: be a Christian: be a man once more, for you are
clothed again in the garments of innocence and sanctity. It is no
incomplete and grudging pardon He has given you. Though your sins
"were as scarlet," they are now as "white as snow;" though they
were "red like crimson," they are "as white as wool." "He hath
cast your sins into the bottom of the sea." They shall never be
mentioned to you again. He has even restored to you again the
merits you had acquired in days of innocence, and lost again by
sin. He has "_restored to you the years which the locust and
the caterpillar and the mildew and the palmer-worm hath
eaten_." [Footnote 102] Let, then, gratitude fill your heart,
let joy be written on your face, and let holy resolves for the
future correspond to the mercy you have received.

    [Footnote 102: Joel ii. 25.]

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Yes, my brethren, Christ at His Sepulchre satisfies the intellect
and heals the conscience--and He also silences another cry of
human woe. It is that of which the prophet spoke when he said:
"_A voice was heard of lamentation, of mourning and weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children and refused to be comforted,
because they are not_." [Footnote 103]

    [Footnote 103: Jer. xxxi. 15.]

Oh! it is hard to see one we love die, but is it not harder to
our sensitive nature to bury them? That makes us feel what we
have lost. Reason tells us that the soul is immortal, but we need
something more for our comfort. The heart asks, "What is to
become of the body that I loved so much?" Talk of the lifeless
and speechless corpse. It is not lifeless and speechless to me.
Those cold lips smile the old smile on me, and whisper in my ear
a thousand words of kindness. And oh, to part with that! To lose
even that sad comfort! To have the body of the dead taken away
from us, is not that a grief? Such was Mary Magdalene's sorrow.
"_They have taken away my Lord out of the Sepulchre, and I know
not where they have laid Him_." [Footnote 104]

    [Footnote 104: St. John xx. 2.]

She could bear any thing but that. She had borne up at our Lord's
death. It was a bitter thing, but then she stood at the foot of
the cross on which He hung, and she could look up at Him and see
Him. She had borne up on Friday evening, for then she was busy
preparing her spices and ointments. She had borne up on Saturday,
for she was thinking all day of her visit to the grave next
morning. But on Sunday, to go and find His body gone--never
again to look upon those lips that had spoken peace to her soul;
never again to kiss with affection those sacred feet,--oh, this
was too much. And Mary stood at the Sepulchre weeping. But lo!
what voice is that which speaks: "_Woman, why weepest
thou?_" It is the voice of Jesus himself, of Jesus whom she
mourns. Himself, flesh and blood, the very Jesus whom she had
known and loved.
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So, my brethren, as you weep at the graves of your friends, those
very friends stand near you and say, "Why weepest thou?" Weep not
for me. Weep not for me, childless mother! Weep not for me, my
orphan child! Weep not for me, my sorrowing friend! Leave my body
awhile in the grave. It is not dead but sleeps. "_For I know
that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall arise out of
the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skin and in my
flesh I shall see my God: Whom I myself shall see, and my eyes
shall behold, and not another's_." [Footnote 105]

    [Footnote 105: Job xix. 25.]

Touch me not yet: wait awhile, and you shall see my hands and
feet, that it is I myself. "_For as in Adam all die, so also in
Christ all shall be made alive. But every one in his own order;
the first fruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have
believed in His coming_." [Footnote 106]

    [Footnote 106: I. Cor. xv. 22.]

Strange it is that our comfort and joy should come out of the
grave. But so it is. By the resurrection of Christ all our woes
are healed. Our new life springs from the sepulchre of Christ.
Christ is risen  we believe. Christ is risen; we are pardoned.
Christ is risen; death loses its power to separate Christians.
Mourn then no longer, my brethren, it is Easter. Believe, and
rejoice. Forsake your sins, and rejoice. Bury your dead in
Christ, and rejoice in hope. The former things are passed away;
all things are become new. "_The winter is now passed; the rain
is over and gone. The flowers have appeared; the time of pruning
is come; the voice of the dove is heard in our land_."
[Footnote 107]

    [Footnote 107: Cant. ii. 11, 12.]

It is Easter. This is that day "which the Lord hath made." This
is the Lord's Passover. The Red Sea is crossed: we are delivered
out of Egypt, and are marching to the promised land. It is
Easter. Mary has been at the sepulchre early this morning and has
seen the Saviour. Jesus has appeared in the midst of the
disciples, saying, "Peace be with you." Some have known Him in
breaking of bread. To some He has drawn near as they walked along
and discoursed together. Some that were sad He has comforted. How
has it been with each of you?
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Has this day been a day of joy to you? Has it awakened you to new
life, new hopes, new aspirations? or does it find you cold, dead
to spiritual things, perhaps not even in the grace of God, and in
love with your sins! Oh, at least now awake to the hopes and
desires of a Christian. "_The day is far spent; it draweth
toward evening_." Let not this glorious feast depart and leave
you as you are. While angels and the Son of God are abroad on the
earth, scattering grace and consolation, do not you alone remain
unblest. Claim your privileges as a Christian, and, risen with
Christ in baptism, seek those things that are above, where Christ
sitteth at the right hand of God.

And you, faithful souls who have done your duty, who have found
in this Feast a joy and comfort that passes understanding, know
that the gladness of Easter is but an earnest of another day, the
great day of eternity, which will open on the morning of
resurrection, and which knows no evening; which has no need of
the sun, for God is the light thereof; when God shall wipe away
all tears; and death shall be no more; and sorrow and sighing
shall flee away.

--------------------------

                 Sermon XV.


    St. Mary Magdalene at the Sepulchre.


             (Easter Sunday. [Footnote 108])

    [Footnote 108: The substance of this sermon
    is from St. Thomas of Villanova.]


  "But He rising early the first day of the week,
  appeared first to Mary Magdalene."
    --St. Mark XVI. 9.

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St. Mary Magdalene may be called the Saint of the Resurrection.
She is intimately associated with that event in the pages of the
Scriptures, and in the minds of Christians. Indeed, the Gospel
account of the Resurrection embraces an almost continuous record
of the actions of this holy woman from the Crucifixion until
Easter day; and I have thought that in tracing that record this
morning, while I am presenting to you the great mystery of
to-day's celebration, I shall at the same time be pointing out to
you the means of obtaining those graces which our risen Lord has
come to impart. St. Mary Magdalene's history for these three days
is a history of love. Every thing she does, every thing she says,
is a proof of her love for our Lord. And the distinguishing
favors our Lord bestowed on her are a pledge of what we may look
for to-day, if we imitate her love.

First, then, we are told, that when our Lord was taken down from
the cross, and laid in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, she
went "and saw how the body was laid." One might have thought it
would have satisfied her to stand by the cross, through those
fearful hours, till it was an over, and then to have returned
home. No; love will see the last. She will follow on to the
grave. It is true the dead bodies of our friends feel not our
kindness, but still we want them treated with tenderness and
care. So Mary follows the corpse to the burial, and, when it is
laid in the sepulchre, she looks in to see how it is laid. Not a
superficial look: no, an earnest scrutinizing gaze. She sees how
the drooping head lays on its stony pillow, and how the pierced
hands and feet are disposed. She makes a picture of it all in her
own mind, and "then returns to the city to prepare spices and
ointments." Now, there was no need at all of this. Nicodemus had
come, as soon as Pilate had given the disciples possession of our
Lord's body, and brought "a mixture of myrrh and aloes, a hundred
pounds weight." But Mary does not care for that. Others may do
what good works they choose, but she will not be cheated of hers.
And what she does she will do prodigally, too. It was her way.
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You remember how, at the house of Simon, she brought her
alabaster box of ointment, and broke it, and scattered it over
the feet of Jesus, so that the whole house was filled with the
perfume; and how Judas found fault with her, saying, "This
ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred pence,
and given to the poor." Our Lord attempted then to excuse her
extravagance, saying, "She hath done this against the day of MY
burial." No, she would do it then, and she would do it at His
burial, too. Nicodemus and "the holy women" may bring as much as
they like, but she will do her part. Precious and costly shall
her offering be as she can make it, not because He needs it, but
because her heart is straitened to express its love. It is her
pleasure to spend and be spent for Him whom she loved; and all
she can do is too little.

But while Mary's love was impulsive and generous, it was
obedient. "She rested on the Sabbath day, according to the
commandment." Here is a test of true love. We want to do
something very much; we think the motive is good; but there comes
a providential obstacle in the way. We cannot do it just now. We
cannot do it just in the way we want. And too often our love is
not pure enough for this test. We murmur and complain, and commit
a thousand disobediences, and show how much self-love had to do
with our undertakings. It was not so with this holy woman. She
waited all the Sabbath day. It was God's command. The seventh day
was kept by the Jews with a ceremonial strictness that forbade
all work; and she would keep the commandment to the letter. So
not a step would she take on the Sabbath, not even to the
Saviour's grave. I am sure that Sabbath was a long one to her.
Never was time's foot so heavy. Never did the hours go so slow.
Never were the sacred services so tedious. A thousand times she
goes to the window to see if the shadows were getting long, and
each time it seems to her that the sun is standing still. O
loving heart! loving in what she did not do, as well as in what
she did. She will not take liberties with her conscience.
{363}
She will not be officious or intrusive. She will not please
herself on pretence of doing something for God. And so, though
her heart is at the sepulchre all day, though she yearns to go
thither, not a foot will she stir, not a hand will she lift, till
she knows that the fitting time is come. Her love was that
_orderly charity_ of which the Holy Scripture speaks.
[Footnote 109]

    [Footnote 109: Cant. ii. 4.]

But the longest day has an end, and the end of that Sabbath at
last arrived. The sun sinks beneath the horizon. The evening
sacrifice is over. Darkness falls upon the temple aisles, and the
last worshipper departs. By degrees the streets of Jerusalem
become silent and deserted. It is night, a glorious night; for
the full paschal moon pours down its floods of light upon the
holy city. And now the good woman, laden with her ointments and
spices, sets out for the sepulchre. Alone, or only with a feeble
woman like herself, she goes out late at night, and whither? To a
garden outside the city, where a band of soldiers keep watch over
a grave, closed with a great stone, and sealed with the seal of
state. Is she not afraid? Docs she not run a thousand risks? Even
supposing she reaches the place in safety, will she be permitted
to approach the grave? Who will roll the stone from the door? Who
will dare to break the seal? O holy boldness of love! which, when
a duty is to be done, asks no questions, and knows no
difficulties. O love! stronger than death, despising torments and
casting out fear! Here is the wisdom of the saints. Here is the
secret of all the great things that have been done for God. There
is a higher wisdom and a higher prudence than the wisdom and the
prudence of this world. There is a trust in God which is ever
regarded as daring and enthusiastic, but which God justifies, and
men themselves are forced at last to applaud.

{364}

Such were the sentiments with which St. Mary Magdalene went to
the sepulchre. But here a new circumstance demands our attention.
She set out, we are told, "while it was yet dark." It was night,
the dead of night, when she left her house, and she did not reach
the sepulchre till "the sun was risen." How did this happen? The
place in which our Lord was crucified was, as the evangelist tell
us, "near the city." And, one reason why Pilate suffered the
disciples to lay our Lord's body in Joseph's tomb was, because it
was close to the place of crucifixion, and the body could be laid
there before the Passover began. What, then, delayed St. Mary
Magdalene so long? What is the meaning of this? so prompt and
eager in setting out, so tardy in arriving? Love, again, my
brethren, is the explanation. She had to pass through the city.
Her road was what is called the "Way of Sorrows," which Jesus
took when He was led to Calvary, and along which she had followed
Him on Good Friday. How could she go fast? Every step brought its
own memories. There was the house of Caiaphas. There the
judgment-hall of Pilate. There the balcony at which Jesus had
been presented to the crowd, clad in a purple robe and crowned
with thorns. There stood the pillar at which He had been
scourged, and there was the spot at which he had fallen under the
weight of His cross, and it was given to Simon of Cyrene to
carry. No, her course was a pilgrimage. Each step was a holy
station, at which she stopped awhile to pray and call to mind the
events of that dreadful morning. And when she came to Calvary,
where the cross was still standing, and threw herself on the
ground to kiss the sod still wet with the Saviour's Blood, the
hours pass by unheeded, for Jesus hangs there again, and Mary,
His mother, is by her side, and each tender word, each look of
sorrow is again repeated. Love meditates. Love lingers in the
footsteps of its beloved, and the shortest, sweetest hours it
finds on earth are hours of prayer. What wonder, then, that Mary
kneels, embracing the foot of the cross, in perfect forgetfulness
of all else besides, until, as she raises her eyes to cast an
adoring glance, she sees that the cross is gilded by the red
gleam of the coming Easter sun--that it is already day. Thus
recalled to herself, she kisses that sacred tree for the last
time, tears herself from it, and hurries off to fulfil the work
she had in hand.

{365}

And she arrived at the sepulchre just in time, or rather God was
there to meet her to reward her love. For the moment she arrived,
"there was a great earthquake, and an angel of the Lord descended
from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
And his countenance was like lightning and his raiment as snow.
And for fear of him the guards were struck with terror, and
became as dead men. And the angel, answering, said to the woman:
'Fear not you, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come and see the
place where the Lord was laid. And go quickly, tell his disciples
that He is risen, and behold, He will go before you into Galilee.
And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great
joy, running to tell his disciples.' [Footnote 110]

    [Footnote 110: St. Matt. xxviii. 2-8.]

See her running from the sepulchre as fast as she had so lately
run to it; for love easily changes its employment at the voice of
its beloved. She had come to anoint the body of Jesus; there is
no need of that now, for Jesus is alive; but still there is
something to do for Jesus--to tell His disciples. Peter, James,
John, and the other disciples are at home, sorrowful and fearful.
He whom they loved and trusted is no more; and they, whither
shall they go? Besides this, there was an additional sorrow. They
had forsaken their good Master in the day of His distress; Peter
had even denied with an oath that he knew Him; and they now sat
depressed and anxious in that upper chamber in which so lately
they had eaten the Passover with Him. But He is alive! and Mary
knows it! Shall she wait to see Him?
{366}
No, she must go _quickly_ and tell His disciples. "This
commandment have we from God, that He that loveth God, love his
brother also." [Footnote 111]

    [Footnote 111: I. St. John iv. 21.]

And Mary leaves the sepulchre, leaves Christ, to go and carry the
joyful news to His afflicted brethren. With nimble feet, with
eager countenance, she returns to the city, seeks out the
well-known house, and appears in the midst of the sorrowing
group, with the exclamation: "Jesus is alive! He is risen from
the dead!"

Alas! poor Magdalene! "Her words seemed to them as an idle tale."
To us, familiar with the doctrine and proofs of our Lord's
Resurrection, it is wonderful how slow the apostles were to
believe it. No doubt, their slowness to believe is a benefit to
us, because it was the occasion of multiplying the proofs.
Perhaps, too, it was not unnatural; for faith does not come all
at once. There is often a period between doubt and faith, a
period of inconsistency; in which one is at one moment all
Christian, and at another believes nothing. Certainly it was so
with the apostles on Easter Day, and Mary Magdalene seems to have
shared their infirmity. The apostles, as soon as they had heard
the news that Christ has risen, set out for the sepulchre. When
they came to the place, they found indeed the grave open, and the
linen cloths, in which the Lord's body had been wrapped, lying in
it, and the guard gone; but Him they saw not. Mary Magdalene
accompanied them, and when she saw neither the Lord Himself, nor
the angel who had spoken to her, and when she saw the incredulous
looks of the disciples, she herself began to doubt. But though
her faith was weak, her love was strong; and she stood at the
door of the sepulchre, weeping. At least she will not give up the
idea of finding the Lord's body, and carrying out her first
intention of embalming it. So she stands at the sepulchre, and
looks in.
{367}
She had looked in many times already; she had every corner of it
by heart; but she looks in again. She will see the place where
the Lord lay, if she cannot see Himself: and lo! this time she
sees a new sight. There are two angels, in white, sitting, one at
the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had
lain. Angels again! but this time not angels of fear, with a
terrible countenance, as the first had been, but angels of
comfort and peace. And they spoke to her: "Woman, why weepest
thou? Why dost thou seek the living among the dead?" One would
have thought it was something to see an angel, and hear his
voice: but this good woman makes very little of it. No angel will
satisfy her now. "They have taken away my Lord," she replies,
"and I know not where they have laid Him." Is not this grief
enough to have lost a Lord, a Friend, a Saviour, such as Jesus
was, and not even to have so much as His lifeless body left on
which to lavish her endearments. O my brethren, no created thing
can satisfy the soul. I say not, though we had all the treasures
of earth, but though we had all the treasures of heaven; though
angels and saints were ours; though we had visions and
revelations; yet all would be nothing if we had not God. Heaven
would be hell without Him, and at the very gate of Paradise the
soul would weep and say, "They have taken away my Lord."

But at this point a new actor appears on the scene. A man
approaches, and addresses Magdelene in the same words that the
angels had used: "Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?"
She takes him for the gardener, and suddenly a suspicion seizing
her that he might know something of the treasure she had lost,
turned upon him and said: "Sir, if thou hast borne Him away, tell
me where thou hast laid Him; and I will take Him away." She does
not answer his question. She does not tell him whom she is
seeking. For, as St. Bernard observes, "Love imagines everyone is
as full of the object of its love as it is itself;" and so she
says: "If thou hast borne _Him_ away, tell me where thou
hast laid _Him_, and I will take _Him_ away."
{368}
No need to mention His Name. All things knew it. The sun
publishes it. It is written on the leaves. The wind utters it. It
is the Name that is above every name--the Name at which every
knee must bow. "Tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will go
and carry Him away." What, you! a weak woman! Can you carry away
a heavy corpse? Yes, she can; and they that doubt it do not know
how strong love is, how great a weight it can carry, what hard
things it can do, and how it makes a man do what is above nature,
or, rather, how, with faith and grace, it brings out the power
that is in these human hearts of ours, and awakens their latent
energies.

And now Jesus can restrain Himself no longer; for Jesus it is who
now speaks with her. She had charged Him with taking away the
Sacred Body, and she was right. He it was who had taken it from
the grave. "I have power to lay it down," said He, "and I have
power to take it up again. [Footnote 112]

    [Footnote 112: St. John x. 18.]

Yes, it was Jesus. He had seen her tears, listened to her
complaint, watched her efforts, and now the time had come when He
would disclose Himself to her. He said to her: "Mary!" Oh! what
voice is that? What sweet and tender memories it wakes up! The
home of Bethany, the banqueting-hall of Simon, Mount Calvary, all
are brought before her. She turns and looks keenly at the
speaker, and one look is enough. It is He, the same--the very
same who spoke pardon and peace to her soul, when first, a guilty
woman, she had washed His feet with her tears. It is Jesus. He
lives again. And, with her accustomed salutation, she kneels
before Him, and says: "Rabboni!" which is to say, Master!

{369}

How much is expressed in this brief interview. "Mary!" It is a
word of gentle reproach. Mary, dost thou not remember My
words--My promise--that I would rise again? Mary,--dost thou not
believe My angels, bearing testimony to My Resurrection? Mary,
whose brother Lazarus I have raised from the grave, dost thou not
think that I am as powerful to rise from the dead as to restore
life to others? "_Mary!_" It is a term of affection. As much
as to say: I am risen; but I am still thy friend. I do not forget
the past, and now, on this glorious morning of My Resurrection, I
tell thee that I know thee by thy name, and love thee with the
same love with which I loved thee in the days of My sorrow'. And,
"_Master!_" is her fitting reply. "Master of my heart, whom
only I have loved!" "Master of my faith, whom now' I acknowledge
as indeed risen from the dead!" "Master, whose Truth and Power I
have been so slow to understand!" "Master, whom all my future
life shall honor and obey!" O happy Magdalene! Her search is
ended. Her tears are dried. O joy beyond all thought! She has
seen Him, and talked with Him!

O my brethren, need I say more? Has not St. Magdalene preached an
Easter sermon? Love is the way to keep this feast. Love is the
way to faith and joy. It is the way to faith, for our Lord says:
"If any man shall do the will of God he shall know of the
doctrine, whether it is of God." [Footnote 113]

    [Footnote 113: St. John vii. 17.]

It is said of Magdalene that she loved much because she was
pardoned much; I say she believed much because she loved much.
And love is the way to joy. Who are they that are truly happy on
this day? They who with Magdalene have sought Jesus; they who by
a true confession and a devout communion have united themselves
to the risen Saviour, and conversed with him in sweet
familiarity. For to them our Lord speaks and says: "Fear not, I
have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. I am the Lord, thy
Saviour, thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. Behold My hands
and feet, that it is I Myself! Fear not, Israel my chosen, and
Jacob mine elect, for I am He that liveth and was dead, and have
the keys of hell and death. And behold! I am alive for ever
more!"

-----------------------------

{370}

              Sermon XVI.

  The Preacher, The Organ Of The Holy Ghost.

      (Fourth Sunday After Easter.)

  "When He the Spirit of Truth shall come,
  He will lead you into all truth."
    St. John XVI. 13.


I need hardly say that the words "_all truth_" in this
promise mean all truth relating to our salvation. It is no part
of our Lord's plan to teach us the truths of natural science. He
leaves us to discover these by our own intelligence. He comes to
teach us faith and morals--what we are to believe, and what we
are to do, in order to be saved. He did this while He was on
earth by His conversations with His disciples, and by His public
sermons to the Jews; but He promised that this work should be
carried on after His death more extensively and systematically.
Thus, in the words of the text: "When He the Spirit of Truth
shall come He will lead you into all truth." [Footnote 114] And
again: "_The Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will
send in My name, He will teach you all things and will bring all
things to your mind whatsoever I shall have said to
you_."[Footnote 115] It cannot but be a matter of interest to
inquire in what manner this promise has been fulfilled.

    [Footnote 114: St. John xvi. 13.]

    [Footnote 115: St. John xiv. 26.]

I answer, the Holy Ghost leads us into all truth necessary to our
salvation by the public preaching of the Word of God. If we
examine our Lord's words attentively, we shall be led to the
conclusion that the ministry of the Holy Ghost to which He
alludes is a public ministry. His own ministry was a public one,
and in promising that the Holy Ghost should carry it on and
complete it, He leads us to anticipate that the ministry of the
Holy Ghost would also be public.
{371}
And His own subsequent language shows that this is really so, and
acquaints us with the way in which this ministry is to be
exercised. Just before our Lord's Ascension He met the Apostles
on a mountain in Galilee, and said to them: "_All power is
given to Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach
all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all
days, even to the consummation of the world_." [Footnote 116]
August and extensive as this commission was, it did not by itself
qualify the Apostles for their great work. They were to wait in
Jerusalem "till they were endued with power from on high." This
"power" was the Holy Ghost which actually did descend on them at
the feast of Pentecost. Here we find a company of men
commissioned by Christ to teach the world in His name, and
empowered by the Holy Ghost for that purpose. We find these men
afterward everywhere claiming to be the organs of the Holy Ghost.
Thus, at the council of Jerusalem, they did not hesitate to
publish their decrees with this preface: "_It hath seemed good
to the Holy Ghost and to us_." [Footnote 117] And St. Paul
tells the bishops of Ephesus, that they were placed over the
Church "_by the Holy Ghost_." [Footnote 118]

    [Footnote 116: St. Matt. xxviii. 18-20.]

    [Footnote 117: Acts xv. 28.]

    [Footnote 118: Acts xx. 28.]

Now, who does not see here the realization and fulfilment of the
great promise of Christ which I have quoted as my text? That
teaching of the Holy Ghost which was to follow His, which was to
bring all things to remembrance which He had said, which was to
abide forever, and which was to make known all necessary truth,
was the teaching of the Apostles and their successors. It is the
teaching of the Holy Ghost, because the Holy Ghost moves them to
preach, furnishes them with the rule of their doctrine, and gives
them their warrant and authority. In this sense it is that our
Lord's promise is to be understood. It is a promise that reaches
to all time.
{372}
It concerns us here and now. It assures us that at this day, far
removed as we are from the times of Christ, across so many
centuries, the Holy Ghost through the agency of the Church still
brings to us the echoes of His words. He does this in the most
solemn and authoritative way by those great decisions of the
Church to which He sets the seal of His Infallibility; but he
does it in less solemnity, less authoritatively, but more
frequently, by the preaching of each individual priest. It is for
this end that the priest is ordained. He is consecrated and set
apart, not merely to say Mass, not merely to receive the
confessions of penitent sinners and absolve them, but to publish
the Word of God; and He is empowered by the Holy Ghost for this
very purpose. The Christian preacher is no mere lecturer, but an
authorized agent and messenger of God, to deliver to the people
the will of God. It is chiefly by the ordinance of preaching, in
its various forms, that the Holy Ghost carries on the work of
instructing men's faith, and regulating their morals.

And here, I think, is to be found the real answer to a
misconception of our principles so common among Protestants. It
is very commonly said and believed that the Catholic Church
wishes to keep the people in ignorance of the Scriptures. Now,
this is not true. The Church does not wish to keep the Scriptures
from the people. On the contrary, in all cases in which they are
likely to prove beneficial she approves and encourages their use;
but she does not regard the reading of the Scriptures as the
necessary, or even as the ordinary mode of familiarizing the
people with the Word of God. Thousands have gone to heaven who
never read one page of the Bible. St. Irenæus instances whole
nations who professed and practised Christianity in entire
ignorance of the Divine Records. How many people in every
generation are unable to read. Now, God has not made a twofold
system of salvation; one for the ignorant and one for the
educated.
{373}
No: according to the Catholic idea, for rich and poor, for
learned and unlearned alike, there is one way of truth--the
living voice of the preacher. This is God's way. This is the
Voice of the Holy Ghost. This is the publication of the Word of
God. This is the sword of the Spirit. The decree has never been
revoked: "_The priest's lips shall keep knowledge; and the
people shall seek the law at his mouth; because he is the
messenger of the Lord of Hosts_." [Footnote 119]

    [Footnote 119: Mal. ii. 7.]

But an objection may be drawn against this high view of the
ordinance of preaching, from the infirmities of the preacher
himself. It may be said: You tell us that the Holy Ghost speaks
by the voice of the preacher, yet the preacher is but a fallible
man, ignorant of many things, liable to be deceived himself, not
free from passions which may affect his judgment. May he not
falsify his message? May He not dishonor it? I do not deny the
fact on which this objection is founded. Undoubtedly, the
preacher may be unfaithful in the delivery of his message. In the
Catholic Church, however, the watchfulness of discipline, and the
general acquaintance on the part of the people with the standards
of faith and practice, will prevent any very serious error
finding its way into the public teaching of the priest. Who
supposes, for instance, that any Catholic congregation would
tolerate from the pulpit a denial of Transubstantiation, or the
true Divinity of our Lord, or the necessity of good works? But
within a certain limit, no doubt, there may be much imperfection
in the preacher, much that detracts from the purity, the majesty,
and the dignity of the Word of God. What then? I affirm,
nevertheless, that preaching is the great instrument of the Holy
Ghost for the conversion of souls. Strange, that we should start
back at every new manifestation of a law that goes all through
Christianity, and even through all the arrangements of the
natural world.
{374}
In every department of human life, God makes man His
representative--man fallible and weak. The judge on the bench
represents God's Wisdom and Equity, though his decisions are
often far enough from that Divine pattern. The magistrate
represents God's authority, though in his hands that authority is
sometimes made the warrant for tyranny and oppression. So, in
like manner, the preacher represents the Holy Ghost, though he
does not always represent Him worthily either in manner or
matter.

It is part of a plan. He who chooses man, sinful like ourselves,
and encompassed with infirmities, to convey His pardon to the
guilty, chooses as the organ of the Eternal Wisdom, "_holy,
one, manifold, subtle, eloquent, undefiled, having all power,
overseeing all things, the Brightness of Eternal Light, the
unspotted mirror of God's Majesty_ [Footnote 120] --man, with
stammering lips, with a feeble intellect and an impure heart.

    [Footnote 120: Wisd. vii. 22-26.]

And there is a reason in this plan. When the Church goes out to
evangelize a new and strange people, she seeks, as soon as
possible, to secure some of the natives to aid her in her work,
who know the speech, and the manners, and the habits of thought,
of those with whom they have to deal. No doubt her old, tried
missionaries could furnish an instruction which would be more
complete in itself, but the words of the neophyte will be better
understood and received. So God, when He speaks to man, chooses
as His instrument one who understands the dialect of earth. An
angel would be a messenger answering better to His dignity, but
less to our necessities; so He considers our welfare alone, and
passes by Raphael, "who is one of the daily angels," and Michael,
"who is one of the chief princes," and Gabriel, who is the
_strength of God_, and chooses Moses, who was "slow of
speech," and Jeremias, who was diffident as a child, and Amos,
who was but a herdsman, following the flock--to utter His will to
man.
{375}
The human alloy in the Divine Word, no doubt, makes it less
accurate, but it makes it more easily understood. Oh! it is a
mercy of God thus to disguise Himself and dilute His word. The
children of Israel said to Moses: "_Speak thou to us, and we
will hear. Let not the Lord speak any more to us, lest we
die_." [Footnote 121] Who could look upon the Lord and live?
Who could listen to His voice in its untempered majesty and not
be afraid? "_The word of God is more penetrating than any
two-edged sword, reaching unto the division of the soul and the
spirit, of the joints also, and the marrow_." [Footnote 122]

    [Footnote 121: Exod. xx. 19.]

    [Footnote 122: Heb. iv. 12.]

Do not be displeased, then, because God has sent to thee a
messenger like thyself, one who speaks thy language, who shares
thy ignorance and thy frailties; pardon him, forgive him his
defects, strain your ear to detect in his lowly language some
notes of that great message of Eternal Truth and Infinite Love,
the story so old yet ever new--the love of Christ, the will of
God, the end of man, grace, holiness, and eternity, those things
on which depend our happiness here and our salvation hereafter.

But here I feel as if I ought to add a word or two of
explanation. When I say that the Holy Ghost teaches by the voice
of the preacher, I do not mean to assert that He teaches in no
other way. A very great part of the preacher's message consists
of truths which are already written by the finger of God on every
man's natural conscience. A preacher is not required to make us
understand that it is wrong to break the precepts of the moral
law. Natural reason, the light that enlighteneth every man that
comes into this world, tells us that. I could not but be struck
the other day, as I passed two young men in the street, at
hearing the honest protest with which one of them met the
sophistry in which his companion was evidently trying to
indoctrinate him: "What!" said he, "you don't mean to say it
isn't a sin to get drunk!"
{376}
Indeed, it is seldom that men justify themselves for actions that
are plainly wrong. They are still too full of the Holy Ghost for
that. Passion corrupts their will, but does not always darken
their understanding. They know the right while they pursue the
wrong. But this circumstance does not make the office of the
preacher unnecessary; by no means. On the contrary, it is from
this that the preacher derives a great part of his power. What he
says finds an echo in the hearts of his hearers. One of the
strongest things that St. Paul said in his defence before Agrippa
was the appeal: "_King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I
know that thou believest_." [Footnote 123]

    [Footnote 123: Acts xxvi. 27.]

And so when the preacher is speaking before a congregation, of
justice, of temperance, of judgment to come, do you know what it
is that gives him such boldness and daring? My brethren, I will
tell you a secret. Perhaps you may sometimes have felt surprise
when you have heard us, who have so many reasons for feeling
diffident before you, so keen in denouncing your sins, so
vehement in urging you to your duties. Are we not afraid of
wounding your pride, of alienating your affections? No: it is in
your hearts that we have our strength. We would not dare to speak
so unless we knew that we had a powerful ally in your
hearts--your better nature, your reason, your conscience, the
divinity that is within you. It is the greatest mistake in the
world to suppose that it is unnecessary to tell people what they
know already. Half the good advice that is given in the world
consists of the most commonplace and familiar truths, but will
anyone say for that reason that it is useless? No: the fact is,
it is a great help to hear our own convictions uttered outside of
us. A man believes more, is more conscious of his belief, his
belief becomes more distinct, more serviceable, when he hears it
from another's lips.
{377}
What a mercy of God it is, then, in a world like this, where
there are so many temptations, where there are so many evil
examples, so much to draw off the mind from God, where it is so
easy to obscure the line between right and wrong, that there
should be an authoritative voice lifted up from time to time in
warning! What a mercy, in those dreadful moments when the
conflict rages high between passion and principle, and the soul,
weary of the strife, is on the point of surrender, to be
re-enforced by God Almighty's aid--to hear His voice amid the
strife, saying: "_This is the way; walk ye in it!_"
[Footnote 124]

    [Footnote 124: Isaiah xxx. 21.]

And then it must be remembered, too, that there is much of the
preacher's message that is not known to man's natural reason,
consisting of mysteries deep and high, which at the best can be
known only in part; and it is apparent how much it must depend on
the preacher's office to keep these mysteries in men's minds, and
to secure for them a place in men's intelligence and affections.
The Christian Faith has always, from the beginning, been
surrounded by adversaries who have attacked it, now on one side,
now on another. We are apt to think it our peculiar misfortune to
hear continually the doctrines of our faith disputed; but in fact
such has been, more or less, the trial of each generation of
Christian believers. Now, amid such ceaseless controversies, what
means has our Lord left to protect and defend His people from
doubt and error? The ministry of preaching. Therefore, says the
Holy Scripture: "_Some He gave to be Apostles, and some
prophets, and others evangelists, and others pastors and
teachers, that we may not now be children, tossed to and fro, and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, in the wickedness of
men, in craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive._"
[Footnote 125]

     [Footnote 125: Eph. xi. 11-14.]

{378}

It is the office of the preacher to declare Christian doctrine,
to defend and explain it, to show its consistency and excellence,
to answer objections against it, and thus to add to the power of
hereditary faith the force of personal conviction. The Church has
always understood this, and therefore, whenever a new heresy
arises, she sends out a new phalanx of preachers to confront it
by good and sound doctrine. And the enemies of the Church have
always understood it, and therefore, in times of persecution,
when they wished to deal the Christian faith a deadly blow, they
sought in the first place, by the murder of bishop and priest, to
silence the voice of the teacher. It was one of the last woes
threatened against Jerusalem that the people should seek in vain
for a vision of the prophet, and that the law should perish from
the priests; [Footnote 126] and when in the Christian Church
there shall be heard no more the message of truth, when there
shall be no more reproof, no more instruction in justice, the
iniquity shall come in like a flood; then shall be the
abomination of desolation, and the time of Antichrist.

    [Footnote 126: Ezech. vii. 26.]

Great, then, my brethren, is the dignity of preaching. It is God
speaking on Mount Sinai. It is Jesus preaching on the Mount. It
is the Divine Sower scattering the seeds of truth and virtue. The
Holy Ghost has not left the world. In every Christian church, at
every Mass, the day of Pentecost is renewed. See, the priest has
clothed himself to celebrate the unbloody sacrifice. He has
ascended the altar. Already the clouds of incense hang over the
mercy-seat, and hymns of praise ascend;--but he stops, he turns
to the people. Why does he interrupt the Mass? Has he seen a
vision? Has an angel spoken to him, as of old to the prophet
Zacharias? Yes, he has seen a vision. He has heard a voice. A
fire is in his heart. A living coal hath touched his lips, the
Breath of the Spirit hath passed over him, and he speaks as he is
moved by the Holy Ghost. Listen to him, for he is a prophet. He
speaks to thee from God. What is thy misery? What is thy sorrow?
What is thy trial?
{379}
Now thou shalt find relief. Are you in doubt about religious
truth? Listen, and you shall find the answer to those doubts. Are
you sorely tempted to sin? Now God will give you an oracle to
strengthen you. Are you distressed and suffering? Have you a
secret sorrow? Now you shall receive an answer of comfort. Do you
wish to know how to advance in God's love? Now the way shall be
made plain before your face. O blessed truth! God has not left
Himself without a witness. The world is not to have it all its
own way. The teachings of Satan are not to go on all the week
uncontradicted. The dream of the heathen, that there are sacred
spots on earth whence Divine Oracles issue, is fulfilled. The
Chair of Truth is set up for the enlightenment of the nations.
"_The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;
to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death light is
sprung up." "The earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea_." [Footnote 127]

    [Footnote 127: Isaias ix. 2, 19.]

This subject suggests some very practical reflections. I am not
unmindful that some of them concern the preacher himself. I do
not forget that the thought of the high dignity of his office
calls for the greatest purity of purpose and diligence of
preparation; but while I remember this, suffer me also to remind
you of your duty in listening to the preacher. St. Paul praises
the Thessalonians because they listened to his words, not as the
words of man, but as the _words of God_. In the sense in
which the teaching of an uninspired man can be so designated,
have you thus listened to the preacher's words? Has it been a
task to you to listen to the sermon? Have you sought only to be
amused? Have you been critical and captious? Or, acknowledging
the truth you have heard, have you been careless about putting it
in practice? Oh, how much the preaching of God's word might
profit us, if we brought the right dispositions to the hearing of
it!
{380}
If we came to Church, eager to know more of God, with a single
heart desirous to nourish our souls with His Truth, what progress
we should make! A single sermon has before now converted men. St.
Anthony, hearing but a single text, embraced a saintly life. If
we had such dispositions, if each Sunday found us diligent
hearers of God's Word, anxious to get some new thoughts about
Him, some new motive to love Him, some new practical lesson, some
new help against sin, it would not be long before the effect
would be visible in us all. We should make progress in the
knowledge of our religion. The devil and the world would assail
us in vain. Scandals and sins would become rare. Heavenly virtues
would spring up. Piety would become strong and manly. And that
which the prophet describes would be fulfilled: "_The Lord will
fill thy soul with brightness. And thou shalt be like a
well-watered garden, and like a fountain of water, whose waters
shall not fail_." [Footnote 128]

    [Footnote 128: Isaias lviii. 2.]

------------------------------

            Sermon XVII.


        The Two Wills In Man

    (Fourth Sunday After Easter.)


    "The spirit indeed is willing,
    but the flesh is weak."
      --St. Matt. XXVI. 41.


The word "flesh" here does not mean the body, but the lower or
sensitive part of the soul in which the fleshly appetites reside.
Our Lord is warning St. Peter of the necessity of prayer in order
to meet the temptation which was coming upon him, and He tells
him not to trust to the willingness of his spirit, that is, his
good intentions and resolutions, because he had an inferior
nature which might easily be excited to evil, and which in the
hour of temptation might, without a special grace of God, drag
his will into sin.
{381}
What our Lord is declaring, then, is the fact attested by
universal experience, that there are in the heart of man two
conflicting principles--inordinate passion on one side, and
reason and grace on the other. This truth, though so well known,
touches our happiness and salvation too closely not to possess at
all times an interest and importance for each one of us; and I
propose, therefore, to make it the subject of my remarks this
morning.

In the first place, then, what is the source and nature of the
conflict thus indicated by our Lord? Whence does it arise? How
does it come to pass that there are those two principles within
us? How does it happen that every child of man finds himself
drawn, more or less, two contrary ways, toward virtue and toward
vice, toward God and toward the devil, toward Heaven and to-ward
Hell? The answer commonly given is, that this conflict we feel
within us comes from the fall, that it is the fruit of original
sin. But the fall, according to the Catholic doctrine, introduced
no new principle into our nature, infused no poison into it, and
deprived it of none of its essential elements. We must look
farther back, then, than the fall for the radical source of this
conflict; and we find it in the very essential constitution of
our nature. Man, in his very nature, is twofold. He is created
and finite, yet he has a divine and eternal destiny. He has a
body and a soul, and therefore he must have all the passions
which are necessary to his animal and sensible life, as well as
the intellectual and moral powers which are necessary to his
spiritual life. Here, then, we have, in the very idea of man's
nature, the possibility of a conflict. We have two different
principles, which it is conceivable might come into collision.
Man's appetites and passions, no less than his reason, are given
to him by God, are good, are necessary, but since his appetites
and passions are blind principles, it is conceivable that they
_might_ demand gratifications which would not be in
accordance with his reason and spiritual nature.
{382}
As human nature was at first constituted by the Almighty, any
actual collision between these parts was prevented by a gift,
which is called "the gift of integrity," a gift which was no
essential part of our nature, but was conferred on it by mere
grace, and which bound together the various powers of the soul in
a wondrous harmony, so that the movements of passion were always
in submission to reason. When Adam sinned, this grace was
withdrawn from him; and since it was no necessary part of our
nature, since it was given of mere grace, it was withdrawn from
the whole human race. Hence men now find in themselves an actual
conflict between the higher and lower parts of the soul. In a
complicated piece of machinery, if a bolt or belt is broken that
bound it together, the parts clash. Each part may in itself
remain unchanged, but it no longer acts harmoniously with the
other parts. So in fallen man, the bolt that braced the soul
together is broken, and the powers of the soul clash together.
The passions, the will, the reason, all, in themselves, remain as
they were, undepraved; but they are no longer in harmony
together, and man finds himself weakened by an intestine
conflict. This, together with the loss of supernatural grace and
a supernatural destiny, is the evil which, according to Catholic
theology, accrued to man by the fall.

This conflict, then, which we find within us; this clamor of the
lower nature against the higher; this propensity of the passions
to rebel against reason--in other words, this proneness to sin,
which is the universal experience of humanity, does not prove
that we have lost any constituent part of our nature, that there
is any thing positively vicious in us, nor does it prove that we
are hateful to God. It proves, indeed, that we are not divine,
that we are not angels, that we are not in the condition of human
nature before Adam's transgression; it proves that a source of
weakness, inherent in our nature, has been developed by the fall,
that we need grace; but it gives not the slightest reason for
supposing that our manhood has been wrecked, that the will is not
free, that the reason of man has been extinguished, or that the
passions are not in themselves good, and have not their
legitimate sphere and exercise.
{383}
So true is this, that this propensity to sin remains even in the
baptized. Baptism does a great deal for a man. It takes away
original sin, by supplying that justifying grace which our race
forfeited in Adam. It restores to man his supernatural destiny.
In the language of the Council of Trent, it renders the
newly-baptized "innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved
of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ, so that
there is nothing whatever to retard his entrance into heaven."
But there is one thing it does not do. It does not remove the
propensity of the passions to rebel. And the Council uses this
fact--that concupiscence remains in the baptized--to prove that
concupiscence, or the propensity to evil, cannot itself be sin;
and enforces its conclusion by the seal of its infallibility and
the warrant of its censures, saying: "If anyone is of the
contrary sentiment" (that is, declares that the incentive to sin,
which remains in the baptized, hath in it the true and proper
nature of sin), "let him be anathema." [Footnote 129]

    [Footnote 129: Sess. V. Decree on Original Sin.]

Thus, Christianity explains the origin of this conflict in the
human heart, in a manner agreeable to reason and human
experience. But it does more. It reveals to us the purpose of
this conflict. Why does our Lord leave us subject to this strife?
The same holy Council I have quoted already, answers distinctly;
this incentive to sin is left in the soul "_to be wrestled
with_." The state of the case is this: The passions desire to
be gratified without waiting for the sanction of reason,
sometimes even in defiance of reason. Morally speaking, this is
no evil. The passions are but blind instincts; it is the province
of the will to restrain them in their proper limits, and to help
her in this work she has reason and the grace of God.
{384}
If she fails to do her work, then she sins. Whenever sin is
committed, it is the will that commits it. It is only the will
that can sin. The sin lies not in the inordinate desire, but in
the will's not resisting that desire. The will is the viceroy of
God in the heart, appointed to keep that kingdom in peace. And
herein lies the root of Christian morality, the secret of
sanctification, and the essence of human probation. We speak of
outward actions of sin; but all sin goes back to the will. There
was the treason. "_Out of the heart_," says our Blessed
Lord, "_proceed murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,
false testimonies, blasphemies_." [Footnote 130]

    [Footnote 130: St. Matt. xv. 19.]

Each black deed is done in the secret chamber of the heart before
the hand proceeds to execute it. Each false, impure, and
blasphemous word is whispered first by the will before the lips
utter it. Yes, man's heart is the battle-field. There is the
scene of action. We speak sometimes of a man's being alone or
being idle: why, a man is never alone; never idle. He may,
indeed, be silent, his hands may be still, no one may be near
him; but in that kingdom within great events are going on all the
time. Angels and saints are there. The armies of Heaven and the
armies of Hell meet there. Attack and repulse, parley and
defiance, truce and surrender, stratagem and treason, victory and
defeat--are things of daily occurrence there.

Of course, this is all very well known, very simple, very
elementary, but yet there are some who never seem to understand
it. They do not understand it who confound temptation with sin.
This is a mistake often made, and by those too who ought to know
better. If a man feels a strong inclination to evil, if an evil
thought passes through his mind, or a doubt against the faith
assails him, immediately he imagines that he has fallen under
God's displeasure.
{385}
To state such an error is to refute it. Never, my brethren, fall
in to this mistake. No: between temptation and sin there lies all
that gulf that separates Heaven from Hell. Let the devil fill
your mind with the most horrid thoughts, let all your lower
nature be in rebellion, let you have temptations to unbelief, to
despair, to blasphemy; yet if that queenly will of yours keeps
her place, if she stand steadfast and immovable, not only have
you not sinned, but you are purer, more spiritual, more full of
faith and reverence than if you had had no such trial. When St.
Agnes was before the heathen judge, he ordered her to be sent to
the stews and thrown among harlots, but she answered: "I shall
come out of that place virgin as I entered it." Yes, all the
powers of earth and hell cannot make a resolute soul commit a
single sin. It is said that the walls of that house of
prostitution, to which the holy maiden was condemned, still
stand, and form the walls of a church dedicated in her honor--a
visible proof how the soul, faithful to itself and God, turns the
very means and instruments of its temptations into trophies of
its most magnificent victories.

Nor do those understand the nature of the Christian conflict who
make strong passions the pretext for the neglect of religious
duties. There are such. Their hearts are too tumultuous, their
passions too strong, their virtue too weak, their circumstances
too difficult; and they must wait till they become more composed,
calmer, more devout, until religion becomes more natural to them.
Error, dangerous as common! I tell you, Christianity takes hold
of every man just as he is, and just where he is, and claims him.
No doubt, a quiet temper, a tranquil disposition, a devout
spirit, are valuable gifts, but the root of religion does not lie
in them, but in the will. That is it. God never intended religion
to be confined to the passive and gentle, and to be neglected by
the strong and impulsive. You, young man of pleasure; you, man of
business and enterprise; you, proud and worldly man; you,
passionate woman, with your wild and wayward nature, God, this
day, here and now challenges you: "Why are you not working with
Me, and for Me? Why are you not religious?"
{386}
"Me!" you say, "it is impossible. I am sensual and avaricious, I
am selfish and revengeful, I am full of hatred and jealousy, I am
worldly to the heart's core." No matter: you know what is right;
are you willing to do it? "Oh! I cannot. I do not love God. My
heart is cold." No matter: are you willing to serve God with a
cold heart? That is the question. "I cannot, I cannot. I have no
faith. I cannot pray. I have not a particle of spirituality.
Religion is wearisome to me, and strange. It is as much as I can
do to stay through a High Mass." No matter, I say once more. Do
you want to have faith? Are you willing to practise what you do
believe? Then if you are, begin your work here and now. You
cannot be of so rough a nature that Christ will reject you. No
matter who you are and what you are, no matter what your trials
have been, and what your past life, if you are a man, with a
human heart, with human reason and a human will, Christ calls you
by your name, and points out a way that will lead you to peace
and heaven.

But least of all do they understand the nature of the Christian
life, who make temptation an apology for sin; who excuse
themselves for a wrong action by simply saying, "I was tempted."
Far be it from me, my brethren, to undervalue the danger of
temptation, or to forget the frailty of the human heart, or to
lack compassion for the fallen; but it is one thing to fall and
bewail one's fall, and another to make the temptation all but a
justification of the fall. And are there not some who do this?
who do not seek temptation, but invariably yield to it when it
comes across them? who only steal when some trifle falls in their
way; who only curse when they are angry; who only neglect Mass
when they feel lazy and self-indulgent; and are always sober and
chaste except when the occasion invites to libertinism and
intemperance?
{387}
What! is this Christianity? To abstain from sin as long as we
have no particular inclination to commit it, and to fall into it
as soon as we have! O miserable man, O miserable woman, go and
learn the very first principles of the doctrine of Christ. Go to
the Font of Baptism, and ask why you renounced Satan, and
promised to keep God's commandments. Go to the Bible and learn
why Christ died, and what is the duty of His followers.
Temptations come upon you in order that you may resist them. You
are subject to gusts of anger, in order that you may become meek.
You are tempted to unchastity, in order that you may become pure.
You are tempted against faith, that you may learn to believe.
That you are tempted, is precisely the reason that you should not
yield; for it shows that your hour is come, and the question is
whether you will belong to Christ or Satan.

Yes, my brethren, our conflict is for the trial of our virtue. It
is a universal law of humanity. It was so even in the garden of
Eden. In the fields of Paradise, where the trees were in their
fresh verdure, and the air breathed a perpetual spring, and all
things spoke of innocence and peace, there Adam had to meet this
trial. And each child of man since then has met it in his turn.
And Christians must meet it too. In the sheltered sanctuary of
the Church, where we have so many privileges, so much to
strengthen and gladden us, even there each one must abide the
test. As the Canaanite was left in the promised land, to keep the
children of Israel in vigilance and activity, so the sting of the
flesh, the power of our inferior nature, is left in the baptized,
to school us in virtue, to make us men, to make us Christians, to
make us saints. This is the foundation principle of religion. He
who has learnt this, has found out the riddle of life.

{388}

And now, my brethren, that I have explained to you the source of
the conflict that we feel within us, and the purpose it is
designed to answer, you will see what the result of it must be,
how it issues in the two eternities that are before us. "_He
that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap
corruption; but he that soweth in the Spirit, of the Spirit shall
reap life everlasting_." [Footnote 131]

    [Footnote 131: Gal. vi. 8.]

The Judgment Day is but the revelation of the faithfulness or
unfaithfulness of each one of us in the struggle to which he has
been called. Every act, every choice we make, tells for that
great account. The day will declare it. Then the secret of each
man's heart shall be revealed, and how that battle in his heart
has been fought. Oh, what a spectacle must this world present to
the angels who look down upon the solemn strife that is going on
here below! There is a man who has ceased to strive. No longer
making any resistance, he is led on wholly and completely by his
inferior nature. The slave of sin, he hardly feels the conflict
in his soul, but it is because the voice of reason and the voice
of grace have been so long resisted that they have become almost
silent. And there are others who have given up the pure strife,
but not so determinedly, not so completely. Occasionally they
have better moments, regrets for the good they have forsaken, but
still they float on with the careless world. And there is the
young girl taking her first step on the downward road, looking
back to the father's house she is leaving, reluctant, but
consenting. Then there is the penitent, who has fallen but risen
again; who has learned wariness from his fall, and new confidence
in God from His mercy and goodness, and who is striving by
penance and prayer to make up what he has lost. And there is the
man with feeble will, ever sinning and ever lamenting his sin,
divided between good and evil, with too much conscience to give
free reins to his passions, and too little to master them
completely. And there is the soul severely tried, still
struggling but almost overwhelmed, and out of the depths calling
upon God the Holy and True, "_Incline unto mine aid, O
God_."
{389}
And there is the soul strong in virtue, strong in a thousand
victories, which stands unmoved amid temptations, like the
deep-rooted tree in a storm, or like the rock beaten by the
waves. Oh, yes, in the sight of the angels, this world is full of
interest. There is nothing here trivial and common-place. What
prophecies of the future must they not read! What saints do they
see, ripening for Heaven! What sinners rushing madly to Hell!
What unlooked-for falls! What unexpected conversions! What hidden
sins, unsuspected by the world! Now they must rejoice, and now
they must weep. Now they tremble over some soul in danger, and
now they exult because the danger is over. So it is now; but when
the end shall come, then fear and hope shall be no more, the
conflict will be ended, the books shall be opened, and the
secrets of the heart published to the universe. The struggle of
life will be past, only its results will remain--two separate
bands, one on either side of the Judge, the good and the wicked,
those who have been true to their conscience, to reason, to
grace, and those who have not.

Well, then, we will strive manfully against sin. There are untold
capacities in us for good and evil. God said to Rebecca: "_Two
nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be divided out of
thy womb, and one people shall overcome the other_." [Footnote 132]

    [Footnote 132: Gen. xxv. 23.]

So, my brethren, in each heart there are two powers struggling
for the mastery--the Spirit and the Flesh. There are two sets of
offspring struggling for the birth--"the works of the flesh,
which are immodesty, uncleanliness, fornication, enmities, wrath,
envies, emulations, quarrels, murders, drunkenness, revellings;
and the works of the spirit, which are love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, faith, modesty, continence, chastity." It is
for the will, with and under God's grace, to say which of these
shall overcome the other.
{390}
Do you say that I put too much on the will? that the will is too
weak to decide this fearful contest? O brethren, the will is not
weak. On the side of God, and with the help of God, it is
irresistible. Look at the martyrs' will. Did it not carry them
through fire and sword? Did it not enable them to meet death with
joy? This is our mistake, we do not know our strength. We know
our weakness, but we do not know our strength. We think God is to
help us, independently of ourselves, and not through ourselves.
But this is not so, God helps us by strengthening our will, by
enlightening our reason, by directing our conscience. We cannot
distinguish between what God does and what we do in any act. The
two act together. Therefore, I say, you have it in your power to
resist sin, you have it in your power to become saints. No matter
though your evil dispositions have been increased by past sins,
you can overcome evil habits, and be what God wills you to be.
Only do not be contented with a superficial religion, a religion
of feelings, and frames, and sensible consolations. Go down deep,
go down to the will. Let the sword of the LORD probe till it
pierces even "to the division of the soul and the spirit," the
point at which our higher and lower natures meet each other. Make
your religion not a sham, but a reality. School yourself for
heaven. Day by day fight the good fight of faith, and thus merit
at last to die like a holy man at whose death St. Vincent of Paul
assisted: "He is gone to heaven," said the saint, speaking of M.
Sillery, "like a monarch going to take possession of his kingdom,
with a strength, a confidence, a peace, a meekness, which cannot
be expressed."

---------------------------

{391}

     Sermon  XVIII.


  The Intercession Of The Blessed Virgin
     The Highest Power Of Prayer.

  (Sunday Within the Octave of the Ascension.)


  "If you remain in me, and my words remain in you,
  ye shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done to you."
    --John xv. 7.


There is perhaps no Catholic doctrine which meets with more
objection among those outside the Church, than our devotion to
the Blessed Virgin. Expressions of love to her, of hope in her
intercession, which seem to us perfectly natural, which come from
our hearts spontaneously, when they are most under the influence
of Christian and holy principles, seem to them altogether at
variance with Christianity. I do not believe that this comes
always from prejudice, and a spirit of opposition on their part.
It comes often, I am persuaded, from not understanding us. There
is a link in our minds which connects this practice with other
Christian doctrines, and this link is wanting in theirs; and
therefore acts of devotion of this kind seem to them arbitrary
and useless, an excrescence on Christianity, and even alien to
its spirit. If this is the case, it cannot but be a duty and
charity for us to explain, as far as possible, what is in the
mind of a Catholic when he prays to the Blessed Virgin; and I
shall accordingly attempt to do so this morning. Perhaps while we
are thus removing a stumbling-block out of some erring brother's
way, we shall be at the same time rendering our own ideas on this
doctrine clearer, and its practice more intelligent.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, then, to a Catholic, represents the
power of intercessory prayer in its highest form and degree.

{392}

I believe there are very few persons, indeed, who realize at all
the power which is attributed to intercessory prayer in the Bible
and in Christianity. The Apostles frequently exhort the
Christians to whom they are writing to pray for them. They
enjoined it upon them as a duty to pray for one another. What
does this mean? Had not St. Paul and St. Peter influence enough
with Heaven to carry their wants directly to the throne of grace?
Was not the way of access to God open and easy for every one? Did
God require to be reminded of the woes and wants of any child of
man, by the sympathizing cries of his fellow-creatures? Was not
God's own heart as large as theirs? Could any thing He had made
escape His knowledge, or any sorrow fail to awaken His
compassion? Or, if it did, was the intercession of Christ
insufficient that any other had to be called in to supplicate?
No, certainly. None of these suppositions are true. God's
goodness and knowledge are infinite. He needs not to be told what
is in man. He loves the work of His hands. The meanest and the
poorest are in the light of His Providence. Christ's merits are
infinite and universal. But after all, there stands the fact.
Intercessory prayer is an ordinance of God. It is a duty to pray
for others, and it is useful to have others pray for us. You may
call it a mystery if you like. To me, it does not seem so very
wonderful. No man lives to himself. We are not the only
Christians. Many others walk alongside of us on the road to
Heaven. Many are ahead of us. Many have already reached their
term. Shall there be no sympathy between us? Is that principle so
deeply seated in our nature to have no play in Christianity? Are
we to have no interest, no feeling for each other? Or, is that
sympathy to be a barren sentiment, and to have no results? God,
in religion, makes use of and commands this kindness and
sympathy. He makes use of it to bind all men together in a bond
of love. In order to [do] this, He makes it a law that we shall
pray for one another, and suspends His gifts upon its execution.
{393}
It is, then, to meet that nature that He has framed--it is to
exalt that nature craving for sympathy--it is to give rein to
charity--it is to make us always sensible and mindful of that
great human family to which we belong--it is for these reasons,
I conceive, that God has instituted the ordinance of intercessory
prayer. But, explain it as you will, the fact cannot be denied.
It is an appointment of God, and an appointment of great
efficacy. It plays a large part in the history of the Bible.
Elias was a man subject to like passions with us, and he prayed
earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not for three
years and six months; and he prayed again, and the heavens gave
rain. Abraham prayed for Abimelech, and God healed him. When
Moses prayed for the Israelites suffering under the fire with
which God had visited them for their sins, the fire was quenched.
In the prophet Ezechiel, God speaks as if he could not act
without this intercession--as if it were really a necessary
condition for the bestowal of His graces. "_I sought among them
for a man_," he says, "_that might stand in the gap before
me, in favor of the land, that I might not destroy it, and I
found none_." [Footnote 133] St. James even seems to make
salvation depend on intercessory prayer. "_Pray for one
another_," is his language, "_that ye may be saved_."
[Footnote 134]

    [Footnote 133: Ezechiel xxii. 30.]

    [Footnote 134: St. James v. 16.]

These are but a sample of the many Scriptural proofs that might
be brought to show that intercessory prayer is an ordinance of
God. It is one of the forms in which the goodness of God and the
merits of Christ flow over upon us. By it we obtain graces from
God much more easily than we could without it. And we obtain by
it special graces, which we would not be likely to obtain at all
without it. In this sense, perhaps, St. James meant to imply that
it was necessary to our salvation. Not that it was a matter of
precept to ask the prayers of this or that particular person, but
that their intercession might be the condition of our obtaining
graces without which our salvation would be a work of great
difficulty.

{394}

But this is not all that the Scriptures tell us about
intercessory prayer. They not only declare its wonderful power,
but they make known to us that the efficacy of intercessory
prayer depends on the goodness and merit before God of the one
who offers it. I do not mean that no one should pray for another
unless he is very holy. By no means. No matter how great a sinner
a man may be, it is a good thing for him to pray for others, and
the mercy and compassion of God, I am sure, never turn away from
such a petition. But then, in such a case, it is mercy and
compassion which moves God to hear the prayer. In the case of a
good man praying for another, there is a sort of claim that he
should be heard. Not an absolute claim, by which he can demand
any thing for another, as of right, but a claim of fitness, a
claim as if between friend and friend, a claim on God's bounty
and generosity, which will not allow Him to turn a deaf ear to
one who is faithfully striving to serve Him. The passages of
inspiration which express this are very clear and very strong.
"_The continual prayer of a just man availeth much_."
[Footnote 135] There it is the prayer of a righteous man that has
this efficacy. And to this agree the words of our Lord: "_If ye
remain in me, and my words remain in you, ye shall ask whatever
ye will, and it shall be done unto you_." [Footnote 136] Could
words express more clearly that the power of intercessory prayer
is in direct proportion to the closeness of the union which we
maintain with God? And St. John reiterates the same principle
when he says: "_Whatsoever we shall ask we shall receive of
Him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that
are pleasing in His sight_." [Footnote 137]

    [Footnote 135: St. James v. 15.]

    [Footnote 136: John xv. 7.]

    [Footnote 137: I. St. John iii. 22.]

God's dealings, as recorded in the Bible, are in exact accordance
with this rule. At the prayer of Abraham, God desisted from His
purpose of destroying Sodom, because Abraham was God's friend.
When the three friends of Job had displeased God by their wrong
judgments and unjust suspicions, God commanded them to go to
_His servant Job_, and he would pray for them, and
_him_ He would accept.
{395}
And in the prophet Ezechiel, when the Almighty would express, in
the strongest possible manner, the fact that His anger was
enkindled against a people and a city; that nothing, however
strong, should stay its effects, He says: "_And if these three
men, Noe, Daniel and Job, shall be in it, they shall deliver
their own souls only by their justice_." [Footnote 138]

    [Footnote 138: Ezechiel xiv. 14.]

As if to say: "Notwithstanding the intercession and merit of
these great saints, even though they were all combined in favor
of that one city, they should not avail to make Me spare such
wickedness. What must be the wickedness that can force Me to
withstand the power of such an appeal?"

Here, then, we have two things clearly taught in Holy Scripture.
One is that intercessory prayer is an ordinance of God of great
power and utility. The other is, that the degree of power this
prayer has in any particular case depends on the merit of him who
offers it. Who, then, shall be the favored child of man, the
favored saint, who shall exercise this power in the fullest
degree? Of whom it can be said literally, "Whatever thou askest
of Me I will do it," because the condition of union with God is
perfectly fulfilled? Who shall this be whom Holy Scripture thus
clothes with this tremendous power, if it be not the Blessed
Virgin Mary? My brethren, our belief in the surpassing sanctity
of the Blessed Virgin is no fancy of later times. It goes back to
the very beginning of Christianity. St. Ambrose wrote her praises
as he had learned them from those who had received them from
apostolic men. Grave, austere men, as far as possible removed
from any thing like fancy religion or sentimentality, men who had
suffered for the name of Christ, and even faced death in its
defence, employed their art and care to coin words which might
express the virtue and purity and exceeding sanctity of the
Virgin Mary, as they had learned it from their forefathers.
{396}
And in the most ancient writings of the Church, in the Canon of
the Mass, when the priest recalls by name the glorious army of
Christian heroes who had gone before, always in the first place
she is mentioned, the all-glorious, undefiled, immaculate Mary,
Mother of God, and ever Virgin. This being so, is not her power
of intercession fixed beyond dispute? Does not Scripture itself
fashion out for her the glorious throne on which the Catholic
Church places her? Did any remain in Christ as she did? Did His
words ever so abide in any heart as in hers? Suppose a Christian
who lived in the times of the Apostles, before the Blessed Virgin
had gone to her rest, when she was just dying; suppose such a one
sorely tried and tempted within and without; suppose him anxious
about his salvation, distrustful of his own petitions, fearful of
the coming storms of persecution; and suppose him in this state
of mind to have read that passage of St. James, "The continual
prayer of a just man availeth much," what more natural than that
he should have said to himself, "I will go to ask the prayers of
the dear Mother of Christ. I will ask her to use her power and
influence with her Divine Son in behalf of a frail wanderer like
me." And when he came into her presence and knelt before her, and
kissed her hand and made his plea, and looked up to her and saw
that sweet grave smile, and heard her say, "Yes, my child, when I
stand in the presence of my Royal Son, and He holds out to me the
golden sceptre, and says to me, what wilt thou? what is thy
request? then I will remember thee!" Oh! how light his heart! Oh,
how strong his soul! what a charm against sadness! what a
fortress in temptation! Mary prays for me in heaven to Christ her
Son! And is there any thing in this joy and confidence which
reason or Christianity would condemn? If so, it must be either
that intercessory prayer is not the power the Scriptures say it
is, or that Mary is not the saint the Church considers her. Why,
even Protestants have gone as far as this.
{397}
Protestants who have made the primitive form of Christianity
their study and profess to accept it as their rule, as, for
example, High-Church Episcopalians, have distinctly acknowledged
in the seventeenth century, and in our own day, that the saints
in heaven do intercede for us, and that this was the primitive
doctrine of Christianity. Why, then, find fault with us for
invoking the saints, and say we ought only to ask God to hear
their prayers for us, as if invocation on our part were not the
correlative of intercession on theirs; as if it could be right to
ask a saint to pray for us the moment before he died, and wrong
the moment after; as if there could be any moral difference
before God between a direct and an indirect supplication for the
benefit of their prayers in heaven?

Such, my brethren, is our idea when we address the Blessed Virgin
for aid. It is not that we cannot go directly to God. It is not
that God is not the nearest to us, and at all times accessible.
It is not that, sinful as we are, we may not go with our miseries
into the very presence of the Almighty. It is not that prayer to
God is not the best of all prayers. It is not that we put the
Blessed Virgin in the place of God. O cruel charge! It is not
that we derogate from the merits of Christ. O strange
misconception! But it is this--we believe in intercessory prayer.
We believe that man may help his brother. We believe that
Christianity is a human and a social relation; we believe that
heaven is very near this earth--oh, how much nearer than ever we
believed! and that in Christ we are in communion with an
innumerable company of angels, and the Church of the First-born.
We believe that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God
over the good deeds done on earth, and that the litanies of the
saints ascend over one sinner and his deeds. And we believe that
this power of intercessory prayer culminates in the Blessed
Virgin. We believe that she is the "one undefiled," whose way has
been always in the law of the Lord. We believe that before the
foundations of the earth were laid, or ever the earth and the sea
were made, she was foreknown by the Almighty, spotless in purity,
matchless in virtue.
{398}
We believe that she was the flower of humanity, the fairest type
of Christianity---and we believe, therefore, that God is as good
as His word, and whatever she asks of Him, He gives it to her.
This is the doctrine on which we found our devotion to the
Blessed Virgin. Take our strongest language. It means no more
than this: "Pray for me." You may amplify as you will, but from
the necessity of the case every thing we say comes to that. Put
prayer for the Blessed Virgin, suppose prayer personified in her,
and you have the key to the Catholic doctrine on this subject.
Strong things are said of the power of the Blessed Virgin, but so
are strong things said in Holy Scripture and by holy men of the
power of prayer. Whatever can be said of prayer, can be said of
her. Cease, then, to misunderstand us. Acknowledge that we are
but obeying Christ in praying to the Blessed Virgin. And if you
will still find fault, find fault, not with us, but with God, who
has instituted intercessory prayer and given such power to men.

And for you, my brethren, let these thoughts strengthen you in
your confidence in the powerful intercession of the Mother of
God. Our work is too severe, our difficulties are too great, for
us to neglect any help God has offered us. There are many
adversaries. The world, with all its seductions, passes in array
before us. Why should we shut our eyes to the hosts of heaven
that march unseen by our side? Why should we stay outside when we
are invited to the marriage supper, and Jesus and His disciples
are there, and Mary, pleader for heavy hearts, saying, "They have
no wine;" and at her prayer Jesus gives them that wine that
maketh glad the heart of man with the abundance of His grace and
love? I have been glad to see you these bright May mornings
around the altar. Persevere more and more. Your labor of love is
not in vain. God's words cannot fail. His gifts are without
repentance. Mary's power of intercession is as fresh this day as
it was when her prayer made the miraculous wine to gush forth at
the wedding feast; and until some one shall arise more blessed,
more holy, nearer to Christ than she, it will remain as it is
now, the highest and the most efficacious of all forms of prayer
in heaven or on earth.

-----------------------------

{399}

        Sermon XIX.

   Mysteries In Religion

     (Trinity Sunday.)


  "Oh, the depths of the riches
  of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
  How incomprehensible are His judgments,
  and how unsearchable are His ways!"
    --Rom. XI. 33.


The word _revelation_ means the discovery of something that
was not known before, or the making clear something that was
obscure. Now, with this idea in our mind, it may excite surprise
to find how much the Christian Revelation abounds in mysteries.
By mysteries, I understand truths which are imperfectly
comprehended. A doctrine which contradicts reason is not a
mystery it is nonsense. A doctrine which is wholly unintelligible
is not a mystery: it is simply unmeaning, and cannot be the
object of any intellectual act on our part. But a doctrine which
is in part comprehended, and in part not, is a mystery. Now, in
Christianity we meet such mysteries on every side. The Sacraments
are mysteries. Grace is a mystery. The Person of Christ is a
mystery. And above all, the great doctrine we commemorate to-day
is a mystery. To-day is the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity.
To-day we call to mind that wonderful Relationship which exists
in God, eternal and necessary, by which, in the undivided Unity
of His Essence, there are three distinct modes of subsistence,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
{400}
It seems, then, not unfitting on this day to give you some
reasons why you should acquiesce in that mysteriousness of
Christian doctrine, which is certainly one of its marked
characteristics, and which has been urged against it as a serious
objection.

And, first, I observe that mysteries are _necessary_
attendants on religion. There can be no revelation without them.
There can indeed be no knowledge without them. To a little child
the earth is a plane of no great extent, and the stars are
colored lamps hung in the canopy of the night. But as he grows
older, he learns that the earth is very big, and that the stars
are very far off, and that there are many systems of worlds above
us; and now how many questions press themselves upon his mind!
What is the history of this universe? How old is the earth which
we inhabit? Are the stars inhabited? Science with the hard
earnings of human thought and labor gives him some little
satisfaction, but for every question that she sets at rest there
are many new ones that she raises, and at last in every
department there comes a point where she gropes, and loses her
way, and stops altogether. If you light a candle in a large room
it casts a bright light on the table you are sitting at, and on
the pages of the book you are reading, but gives only a dim light
in the distance. You see that there are pictures on the walls,
but you cannot discover their subjects. You see there are books
on the shelves, but you cannot read their titles. When the room
was quite dark you did not know that they were there at all, and
now you know them only imperfectly. So every light which
knowledge kindles brings out a new set of mysteries or
half-knowledges. For this reason it is that a man of true science
is apt to be modest in his language. Your loud-talking
philosopher, who has no difficulties, has but a very narrow scope
of thought and vision. He is clear because he is shallow. But a
highly educated man _knows_ that there are a great many
things he is ignorant of, and so his language is modified and
qualified.
{401}
I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who used to say, that in his
scientific investigations he seemed to himself like a child
gathering pebbles on the sea-shore. It was his vast attainments
that made him sensible that Truth is as boundless as the sea. And
when scientific men forget this; when they forget how much they
are ignorant of; when they are boastful, over-positive, or
inconsiderate in their statements, how applicable to them becomes
the reproof which the Almighty addressed to Job: "_Where wast
thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? tell Me if thou
hast understanding. Upon what are its bases grounded? or who laid
the corner-stone thereof? By what way is light spread, and heat
divided on the earth? Who is the father of the rain, or who hath
begotten the drops of dew? Dost thou know the order of heaven,
and canst thou set down the reason thereof on the earth? Tell Me,
if thou knowest these things_."

And this holds good just as well in regard to religious
knowledge. Reason teaches us that there is a God, and it tells
something of His Nature; but it speaks to us about Him only in
riddles. God is immutable, and yet He is perfectly free: who
shall reconcile these together? God is infinite, infinite in
Essence, infinite in all His Attributes--try to comprehend
infinitude if you can. Again, what a mystery there is in the
creation of this world! What a mystery in the union of spirit and
matter! Everywhere mystery is the necessary accompaniment of
knowledge; and the more we know, the more mysteries will we have.
If, then, God reveals to us any thing about Himself additional to
that which reason can ascertain, mystery must still be the
consequence. The wider the view, the more indistinct and shadowy
the outline.
{402}
It is revealed to us that in God, without injury to His
Simplicity, there is a Threefold Relationship--that the Father,
contemplating Himself from all eternity, has conceived a perfect
Image of Himself, and that this Image is His Son, and that the
Father and the Son have loved each other from all eternity, and
that this Love is the Holy Ghost--that thus the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost are Three distinct, eternal, necessary
Subsistences. Do not be surprised at this. Here is nothing
contradictory to reason. True, it is wonderful. True, you cannot
pierce it through and through. It is full of darkness. No matter.
You know, when the moon comes out from behind a cloud, how sharp
and well-defined the shadows become. So these darknesses of
doctrine come because the light is brighter. Men talk of the
_simple doctrines_ of the gospel. There are no such things.
The gospel, as a scheme of doctrine at least, is a mystery. St.
Paul called it so, and so it is. It is a mystery because it
reveals so much. If we did not know that God is both One in
substance and Three in the mode of subsistence, our difficulties
would be less, but so would our knowledge. Well does the prophet
exclaim: "_Verily, Thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel,
the Savior!_" [Footnote 139]

    [Footnote 139: Isai. xlv. 15.]

What, the _God of Israel_ a hidden God! Did He not manifest
Himself to the patriarchs? Did he not speak face to face with
Moses? Yes, but He is all the more hidden, the more He has
manifested Himself. It cannot be otherwise. God yearns to make
Himself known to man, but He cannot. The secret is too deep and
high. Language is too weak. Thought too slow. Reason too narrow.
The very means He takes to reveal Himself conceal Him. Clouds and
darkness gather around Mount Sinai as He descends upon it. The
Flesh in which He was "manifested" to men serves as a veil to His
Divinity. No, we cannot find out the Almighty to perfection. The
time will come in heaven when by the Light of Glory our
intellects shall be marvellously strengthened, and we shall see
Him "as He is"--but now we see as through a glass darkly.
{403}
Our utmost happiness here is that of Moses, to be hidden in the
rock, while the Almighty passes by and lifts His Hand that we may
see a ray of His Glory. Do not complain if the ray dazzles thy
feeble sight, but receive each glimpse of that Eternal Truth and
Beauty thankfully, and give heed unto it, "_as unto a light
shining in a dark place_."

But, further, mysteries are not only necessary attendants on
revelation, they are really sources of advantage to us. In order
to make this clear, I must remind you that Faith is one of the
conditions of our acceptance with God. There was a time when men
laid too much stress on faith and made light of works; then the
Church had to define that works are necessary, and that there is
no salvation without them. Now the contrary error is afloat. Men
say: "Be moral," "Be religious in a general way, and it is no
matter what a man believes." Now, this is an error as great and
as dangerous as the other. "_Abraham believed God, and it was
reputed to him unto justice._" [Footnote 140] The apostles
believed Christ, and were praised for it. On the other hand,
those who disbelieved are reproved as being guilty of a mortal
fault. "_The heart of this people is grown gross: and with
their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes they
have shut: lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and
hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should
be converted, and I should heal them_." [Footnote 141]

    [Footnote 140: Rom. iv. 3.]

    [Footnote 141: St. Matt. xiii 15.]

In like manner, when our Lord took leave of unbelieving
Jerusalem, He wept over it. Now, why is this? What is there, in
the act of believing or disbelieving, that is of a moral nature,
that deserves praise or blame? Is not faith an act purely
intellectual? I reply, faith is an act partly intellectual,
partly moral. The intellect demands proof that a particular
doctrine has been revealed by God, but, when that is once
ascertained, faith accepts the doctrine, not because it is
perfectly clear in itself, but because God reveals it.
{404}
Clearly, there enter into such an act many elements of
morality--our reverence for God, our desire to do His Will, our
humility and docility. You know it is an honor to a man for one
to believe in his word, and especially for one to make ventures
on the faith of his word. Just so, to make ventures on God's word
is a generous, devout, and noble act. Now, it is the
mysteriousness of Christian doctrine that gives faith this
generous character--or rather, that makes faith possible. The
obscurity of the revelation throws the weight on the authority of
the Revealer. It is mystery which gives life to faith. A man is
not said to _believe_ a thing he sees. "_Blessed are
they_," said our Blessed Lord, "_that have not seen, and yet
have believed_." [Footnote 142]

    [Footnote 142: St. John xx. 29.]

There are certain flowers that require the shade to bloom.
Constant sunshine burns them up. So Faith requires the shadow of
mystery. It thrives under difficulties. Abraham's faith was so
admirable, because he considered not his own decrepitude, nor
Sarah's barrenness, but believed he should have a son at the time
appointed by the Almighty. The faith of the apostles was so
pleasing to Christ because they accepted His call so readily.
They might have stopped to ask a thousand questions, but they
rose up without delay and followed Him.

You see, then, what I meant when I said that mysteries are of
advantage to us. They enter into our probation. They are the
occasion of our practising the noble virtue of faith. They are a
test of moral character. Nay more, by calling into action the
best principles of our nature they exalt our character. You know
how it is in the world when some new and great social question is
started--how everyone is affected by it. The indolent take their
opinions about it from others. The prejudiced and interested
judge of it according to prejudice and interest.
{405}
Men of principle decide it on grounds of morality. But everyone's
position is in some way changed by it. So it is with the gospel.
Its preaching throws men into new attitudes. "_The Cross of
Christ is to them that perish foolishness, but to them that are
saved it is the power of God._" [Footnote 143] The proud and
the perverse stumble at this stumbling-stone, but men of "good
will," the humble, and the loving, find it a precious
corner-stone on which their faith has a solid foundation, and on
which they are built up to everlasting life. So it was in the
time of Christ. After our Lord had been preaching for some time,
He inquired of the apostles into the effects of His preaching:
"Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?" And they said: "_Some
say that thou art John the Baptist, and others Elias, and others
Jeremias, or one of the prophets_." "_But whom do you say
that I am?_" [Footnote 144] --and Faith, undaunted by
difficulties, answers by the mouth of St. Peter: "_Thou art
Christ, the Son of the living God_." On another occasion,
after He had performed the miracle of the multiplication of the
loaves, as we read in St. John's Gospel, He taught the people the
doctrine of the Real Presence in Holy Communion: "_Unless you
eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall
not have life in you._" [Footnote 145] Now, what happened?
Many were offended and walked with Him no more. It was too great
a mystery. "_How can this man give us his flesh to eat?_"
they said. And our Lord turned to His disciples and said--it
seems to me I can see His anxious countenance, and hear His tones
of sorrow as He asks the question--"_Will you also go
away?_" And again Peter answered on behalf of all: "_To whom
shall we go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life_." As much as
to say, "Thou art the Truth; no mystery at Thy mouth can deter
us."

    [Footnote 143: I. Cor. i. 18.]

    [Footnote 144: St. Matt. xvi. 13.]

    [Footnote 145: St. John vi. 54.]

{406}

So it has been, also, throughout the history of the Church. What
are all the heresies that have arisen but the scandal which the
world has taken at the Christian mysteries, and what are all the
decisions of the Church but acts of loyalty and submission to Him
who is "the Faithful and True Witness"?

And the same thing is going on in our day. "_Wisdom preacheth
abroad: she uttereth her voice in the streets_." [Footnote 146]
The Catholic Church publishes those startling doctrines
which have come down to her from the beginning, which have been
held everywhere and by all--the principality of the Roman See,
the Power of Forgiveness of Sins, the necessity of Penance, the
grace of the Sacraments--and what is the result? The children of
wisdom, they whose hearts are tender, enter her sacred fold and
are blessed. But many listen and say: "It is all very well, if we
could believe it. If we could believe it! And is it, then, not
credible? Has not God given His revelation complete credibility?
Can we not believe Jesus Christ? "_God, Who in times past spoke
to the father's by the prophets, hath in these days spoken unto
us by His Son_." [Footnote 147] "_No one knoweth the Father
but the Son and He to whom the Son will reveal Him_."
[Footnote 148]

    [Footnote 146: Prov. i. 20.]

    [Footnote 147: Heb. i. 1, 2.]

    [Footnote 148: Matt. xi. 27.]

Jesus Christ has spoken. Miracles and prophecy attest His Truth
and Authority. Can you, then, innocently refuse to listen?
"_Surely they will reverence my son_," was the language of
the father in the parable; will not God the Father Almighty look
for an equal submission to His Eternal and Coequal Son? Can He
speak, and you go on as if He had not spoken? Can you pick and
choose among His doctrines, and take up one and reject another?
No, to turn back, to stand still, to falter, is a crime. The
trumpet has sounded: men are marshalling themselves for the
valley of decision. Oh, take your part with the generation of
faithful men, the true children of Abraham, who have "attested by
their seal that God is true." Have courage to believe. Plunge
into the waters with St. Peter, for it is Christ that is
beckoning you on. To believe is an act of duty--of fidelity to
your own intelligence, of generosity and devotion to God.
{407}
"_Without faith it is not possible to please God_."
[Footnote 149] Faith is the door to all supernatural blessings.
There is a whole world that exists not to a man that has not
faith. Faith enlarges our thoughts, opens our hearts, elevates us
above ourselves and multiplies a thousand-fold our happiness. Why
do men grope in darkness? Why do they remain in ignorance, when
by one generous resolve, one courageous act of faith, an act so
noble, so meritorious, they might enter into that Glorious Temple
of Truth that has come down out of heaven to man, might enter and
dwell therein, and their hearts wonder and be enlarged? Happy
those who can say with the Psalmist: "_Thy testimonies are
wonderful; therefore hath my soul sought them_." [Footnote
150] They are wonderful--they rest for their evidence on Thy Word
and Thy Truth, therefore I believe them and love them, for to
believe Thee is my first duty and my highest wisdom.

    [Footnote 149: Heb. xi. 6.]

    [Footnote 150: Ps. cxviii 129.]

Let not, then, the mysteries of our holy religion disturb us, my
brethren, but rather let them make us rejoice. For what are they
but the evidences of the greatness of our religion? They do not
repel, they attract us. We believe them on the authority of God,
and we esteem it both a duty and a delight to do so. Neither are
they all dark in themselves. Nay, they are only dark from excess
of light. Each one of them has much that addresses itself to our
understanding, much that enlists our affections. The angels in
heaven worship the Trinity with devoutest adoration. "_I saw
the Seraphim_," says the prophet, "_and they covered their
faces and cried: Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts!_"
[Footnote 151]

    [Footnote 151: Isai. vi. 3.]

Incessantly sings the Church on earth: "Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost." There have been saints
who so dwelt upon all that Faith teaches us of God, that they had
to go by themselves, in quiet places, for their hearts were all
but breaking with the sweet but awful sense of His Majesty.
{408}
Let us, too, learn to love these mysteries and meditate on them.
We live in the midst of great realities. "_You are come to
Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, and to
the Church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, and to
God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made
perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Testament_."
[Footnote 152]

    [Footnote 152: Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24.]

Day by day, let it be our endeavor to pierce into these holy
truths more and more, that at last, like Moses, our countenances
may reflect some portion of their beauty and brightness, that
continually "_beholding the glory of the Lord we may be
transformed into the same image from glory to glory_."
[Footnote 153]

    [Footnote 153: II Cor. iii. 18.]

-------------------------------

          Sermon XX.

     The Worth Of The Soul.

  (Third Sunday After Pentecost.)


  "There shall be joy before the angels of God
  over one sinner doing penance."
    St. Luke xv. 10.


This is what theologians call an _accidental_ joy. The
essential joy of heaven consists in the perfect knowledge and
love of God, and is unchangeable and eternal; but the accidental
joy of heaven springs from the knowledge of those events in time
which display the goodness and greatness of God. The first of
these events was the creation itself, when the hand of God spread
the carpet of the earth, and stretched the curtains of the
heavens.
{409}
Then "_the morning stars praised Him together, and all the sons
of God made a joyful melody_." [Footnote 154]

    [Footnote 154: Job xxxviii 7.]

After this the great historic events of the world have been
successively the burden of the angelic songs--the unfolding of
the plan of Redemption, the birth of Christ, the triumphs of the
Church. But lo! of a sudden these lofty strains are stopped.
There is silence for a moment, and then the golden harps take up
a new and tenderer theme. What is it that has happened? What is
the event that can interrupt the great harmonies of Heaven, and
furnish the Angels with a new song? In some corner of the earth,
in some secret chamber, in some confessional, on some sickbed, in
some dark prison, a sinner is doing penance. He prays, whose
mouth had been full of cursings. He weeps, who had made a mock at
sin. The slave of Satan and of Hell turns back to God and
Heaven--and that is the reason of this unusual joy. It is not
that a recovered sinner is really of more account than one who
has never fallen, but his recovery from danger is the occasion of
expressing that esteem and love for the souls of men which always
fills the heart of God and the Angels. Therefore, as that
contrite cry reaches heaven, the Angels are silent, for they know
that there is no music in the ear of God like that. And then,
when God has ratified the absolving words of the priest, and
restored the contrite sinner to His favor, they cast themselves
before the throne, and break forth into loud swelling strains of
ecstasy and triumph, while He Himself smiles His sympathy and
joy. O my brethren, what a revelation this is! A revelation of
the value of the soul. There are great rejoicings on earth when a
battle is won, or upon the occasion of the visit of some great
statesman or warrior, or when some great commercial enterprise is
successful, but these things do not cause joy in Heaven. The
conversion of one soul--it may be a child, or a young man, or an
old woman--the conversion of one soul, that it is that makes a
gala day in Heaven.
{410}
Now, God sees every thing just as it is, and if there are such
rejoicings in Heaven when a soul is won, what must be the value
of a soul! Let us confess the truth, we have not thought enough
of the value of a soul. We have thought too much of the world, of
its pleasures, of its profits, of its honors, but too little of
our own souls. We have not thought of them as God thinks of them.
Let us, then, strive to exalt our ideas, by considering some of
the reasons why we should put a high value on our souls.

In the first place, we should value a human soul, because it is
in itself superior to any thing else in the world. The whole
world, indeed, with every thing in it, is good, for God made it.
But He proceeded in a very different manner in the creation of
the material world from what He did when He made the soul. He
made the world, the trees, the rivers, the lights of heaven, the
living creatures on the earth, by the mere word of his power.
"_God said, Be light made. And light was made_." [Footnote 155]

    [Footnote 155: Gen. i. 3.]

And God said, "_Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and
the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind. And it was so_."
[Footnote 156] But when He made the soul, the Scriptures tell us,
"_He breathed into the face of man and he became a living
soul_." [Footnote 157]

    [Footnote 156: Gen. i. 12.]

    [Footnote 157: Gen. i. 26.]

By this action we are to understand that God communicated to man
a nature kindred to his own divinity. The Holy Ghost, the Third
Person of the Blessed Trinity, is the uncreated Spirit of God,
eternally breathing forth and proceeding from the Father and the
Son; and God, when He breathed into the face of man, signified
that He imparted to man a created spirit kindred to his own
eternal Spirit. The Holy Scriptures, indeed, expressly tell us
that such was the case: "_Let us make man to our image and our
likeness_." [Footnote 158]

    [Footnote 158: Gen. i. 26, 27.]

{411}

This likeness consisted in the possession of understanding and
free will, the power of knowledge and love--the two great
attributes of God himself. You are, then, my brethren, endowed
with a soul which raises you immeasurably above God's material
creation. You have a soul made after God's image. This is the
source of your power. The two things go together in Holy
Scripture. "_Let us make man to our image and likeness; and let
him have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the
air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping
creature that moveth upon the earth_." [Footnote 159] In the
state of original innocence, no doubt, this dominion was more
perfect, but even now it exists in a great degree. "_Every kind
of beast, and of birds, and of serpents, and of the rest, is
tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind_." [Footnote 160]

    [Footnote 159: Gen. ii. 7.]

    [Footnote 160: St. James iii. 7.]

See how a little boy can drive a horse. See how a dog obeys his
master's eye and voice. See how even lions and tigers become
submissive to their keepers. And the elements, often wilder than
ferocious beasts, are obedient to you. The fire warms you and
cooks for you, and carries you when you want to travel for
business or pleasure. The wind fans the sails of your vessels,
and the waters make a path for them under your feet. Even the
lightning leaps and exults to do your bidding and to be the
messenger of your will. Thus every thing falls down before you
and does you homage, and proclaims you lord and master. What is
the reason that every thing thus honors you? It is on account of
the soul that is in you--the power of reason and will--the
godlike nature with which you are endowed.

Yes, and your soul is the source of your beauty, too. In what
consists the beauty of a man? Is it a mere regularity of form and
feature? Do you judge of a man as you do of a horse or a dog?
{412}
No; the most exquisitely chiselled features do not interest you,
until you see intelligence light up the eye, and charity
irradiate the countenance--then you are captivated. A man may be
a perfect model of grace in his movements without exciting you,
but when he becomes warm with inspirations of wisdom and virtue,
when his words flow, his eye sparkles, his breast heaves, his
whole frame becomes alive with the emotions of his soul, then it
is you are carried away, you are ready almost to fall down and
worship. What is the reason that Christian art has so far
surpassed heathen art? that the Madonna is so far more beautiful
than the Venus de Medicis? It is because the heathens portrayed
mere natural beauty; the Christians portrayed the beauty of the
soul. And if the soul is so beautiful in the little rays that
escape from the body, what must it be in itself? God has divided
his universe into several orders, and we find the lowest in a
superior order higher than the highest in the inferior order. The
soul, then, is more beautiful than any thing material. "_She is
more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the
stars: being compared with the light she is found before it_."
[Footnote 161]

    [Footnote 161: Wisdom vii. 29.]

O my brethren, do not admire men for their form, or their dress,
or their grace, but admire then for the soul that is in them, for
that is the true source of their beauty.

It is also the secret of their destiny. God did not give you this
great gift to be idle. He gave it for a worthy end. He gave
understanding that you might know Him, and free will that you
might love Him; and this is the true destiny of man. You were not
made to toil here for a few days, and then to perish. You were
made to know God, to be the friend of God, the companion of God,
to think of God, to converse with God, to be united to God here,
and then to enjoy God hereafter forever. Once more, then, I say,
do not admire a man for his wealth, or his appearance, or his
learning. Do not ask whether he is poor or rich, ignorant or
learned, from what nation he springs, whether he lives in a cabin
or palace.
{413}
Let it be enough that he is a man, possessed of understanding and
free will, spiritual and immortal, with a soul and an eternal
destiny. That is enough. Bow down before him with respect. Yes,
respect yourselves--not for your birth, or your station, or your
wealth, but for your manhood. "_Let not the wise man glory in
his wisdom, and let not the strong man glory in his strength, and
let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that
glorieth glory in this, that_ HE UNDERSTANDETH AND KNOWETH
ME." [Footnote 162] Yes, my brethren, this is your true dignity,
the soul that is in you--the soul, that makes you capable of
knowing and loving God.

    [Footnote 162: Jer. ix. 23, 24.]

And yet, there is another reason why you should value your souls,
besides their intrinsic excellence--I mean, the great things that
have been done for them. Do you ask me what has been done for
your souls? I ask you to look above you, and around you, and
under you. Oh, how fair the earth is! See these rivers and hills!
Look on the green grass! Behold the blue vault of heaven! Well,
this is the palace God has prepared for your abode; nay, not for
your abode--your dwelling-place is beyond the skies, where
"_the light of the moon is as the light of the sun, and the
light of the sun seven-fold, as the light if seven
days_,"--but for the place of your sojourn. This earth was
made for you; and, as your destiny is eternal, therefore the
earth must have been made to subserve your eternal destiny. Why
does the sun rise in the morning, and go down at night? It is for
you--for your soul. Why do summer and winter, seed-time and
harvest, return so regularly? It is for you, and your salvation.
The earth is for the elect. When the elect shall be completed,
the earth, having done its work, will be destroyed. This is the
end to which, in God's design, all things are tending. God does
not look at the world, or its history, as we do.
{414}
We say: "Here such a great battle was fought;" "there such a
celebrated man was born;" "in this epoch such an empire took its
rise, such a dynasty came to an end." But God says: "Here it was
a little child died after baptism, and went straight to heaven;"
"there it was I recovered that gifted soul, which had wandered
away into error and sin, but which afterward became so great in
sanctity;" "in such an age it was that I lost that great nation
which fell away from the faith, and in such another, by the
preaching of My missionary, I won whole peoples from heathenism."
I know we shrink from this in half unbelief: When it is brought
home to us that this little earth is the centre of God's
counsels, and our souls of the universe, we are amazed and
offended. But so it is. "_All things work together unto good to
them that love God_." [Footnote 163] All things; not blindly,
but by the overruling Providence of Him who made them for this
end.

    [Footnote 163: Rom. viii. 28.]

Do you ask me what has been done for your souls? I answer, the
Church has been established for them. Look at the Church, and see
how many are her officers and members--Bishops, Priests,
Levites, Teachers, Students. All are yours--all are for you. For
you the Pope sits on his throne; for you Bishops rule their Sees;
for you the Priest goes up to the altar; for you the Teacher
takes his chair, and the Student grows pale in the search for
science. That the Apostolic commission might come down to you,
St. Peter and St. Linus and Cletus ordained Bishops in the
churches. That the true doctrine of Christ might come down to you
uncorrupted, the Fathers of the Church gathered in council, at
Nice, and Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and Trent. That you might hear
of the glad tidings of Christ, St. Paul and St. Patrick labored
and died. For you, for each one of you, as if there were no
other, the great machinery of grace, if I may express myself so
coarsely, goes on.

{415}

Do you ask what has been done for your souls? Angels and
Archangels, and Thrones and Dominions, and Principalities and
Powers--all the hosts of Heaven--have labored for them. "_Are
they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for those who
shall receive the inheritance of salvation?_" [Footnote 164]

    [Footnote 164: Heb. i 14.]

For you the whole Court of Heaven is interested, and one bright
particular Angel is commissioned to be your guardian. For you St.
Gabriel flew on his message of joy to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and St. Michael, the standard-bearer, waits at the gate of death.

Do you ask what has been done for your souls? From all eternity
God has thought of them, the means of salvation have been
determined on, the chain of graces arranged. And the Son of God
has worked for them. Galilee, and Judea, and Calvary were the
scenes of His labors on earth, and on His mediatorial throne in
heaven He carries on still His unceasing labors in our behalf.
And the Holy Ghost has worked. He spake by the Prophets, and on
the day of Pentecost He came to take up His abode in the Church,
never to be overcome by error, or grieved away by sin, to vivify
the Sacraments, and to enlighten the hearts of the faithful by
the preaching of the Gospel and His own holy inspirations.

Why, who are you, my brethren? The woman at Endor, when she had
pierced the disguise of Saul, and knew that she was talking with
a king, was afraid, and "_said with a loud voice: 'Why hast
thou deceived me, for thou art Saul?_'" [Footnote 165]

    [Footnote 165: I. Kings xxviii. 12.]

    [Transcribers Note: The correct reference is I. Samuel
    xxviii. 12.]

So, I ask you, who are you? I look upon your faces, and I see
nothing to make me afraid; but faith tears away the disguise, and
I see each one of you radiant with light, a true prince, and an
heir of heaven. I look above, and see Heaven open and the Angels
of God ascending and descending on errands of which you are the
object.
{416}
I look higher yet, and I see God the Father watching you with
anxiety, and the Son offering his blood for you, and the Holy
Ghost pleading with you, and the Saints and Angels, some with
folded hands supplicating for you, and others pointing with
outstretched finger to the glorious throne reserved in Heaven for
you.

Have you, my brethren, so regarded yourselves? Have you valued
that soul of yours? Have you kept it as your most sacred
treasure? Is it now safe and secure? Oh, how carefully do men
keep a treasure they value highly! Kings spend many thousand
dollars yearly just to take care of a few jewels. The crown
jewels of England are kept, as you know, in the Tower. It is a
heavy fortress, guarded by soldiers who are always on watch. At
each door and avenue there is an armed sentinel. The jewels
themselves are kept in glass cases, and visitors are not allowed
to touch them. And all this pains and outlay to take care of a
few stones that have come down to the Queen by descent, or been
taken from her enemies! And that precious soul of yours, before
which all the wealth of the world is but worthless dross with
what care have you kept that? Alas! every door has been left
open. No guard has been at your eyes to keep out evil looks. No
guard at your ears to keep out the whispers of temptation. No
guard at your lips to stop the way to the profane or filthy word.
Nay, not only have you kept up no guard, but you have carried
your soul where soul-thieves congregate. The Holy Scripture says:
"_A net is spread in vain before the eyes of a bird_."
[Footnote 166]

    [Footnote 166: Provo i. 17.]

Yes, the birds and beasts are cunning enough to avoid an open
snare; but you go rashly into dangers that are apparent to all
but you. Sinners lie in wait for you. They say, in the language
of Scripture: "_Come, let us lie in wait for blood; let us hide
snares for the innocent without cause. Let us swallow him up
alive like hell, and whole as one that goeth down into the
pit_"--and you trust yourself in their power. Oh, fly from
them!
{417}
Consider the treasure you carry. "_What shall it profit a man
to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?_" Will you sin
against your own soul? you that are made after God's likeness;
you that are princely and of noble rank, will you defile that
image, and degrade yourselves to a level with the brutes that
perish?

But there are others whose offence is of another kind. They let
their salvation go by sheer neglect. If a man plants a seed, he
must water it, or it will not grow. So the soul needs the dew of
God's grace; and prayer and the sacraments are the channels of
God's grace. Yet how men neglect the Sacraments! Even at Easter,
when we are obliged to receive them, some absent themselves. It
has been a matter of the keenest pain to us to miss some members
of this congregation during the late Paschal season. You say, you
have nothing on your conscience, and it is not necessary to go to
confession. But is it not necessary to go to communion? Will you
venture to deprive yourselves of that food of which, unless ye
eat, the Saviour has said, "_Ye have no life in you?_" Or;
you have a sad story to tell. You have fallen into mortal sin,
and you are afraid to come. But do you think we have none of the
charity of the Angels? Only convert truly, for it is a true
conversion that gives the Angels joy, and we can give you the
promise that Thomas à Kempis puts into the mouth of Him whose
place we fill: "How often soever a man truly repents and comes to
Me for grace and pardon, as I live, saith the Lord, who desireth
not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted
and live, I will not remember his sins any more, but all shall be
pardoned him."

And to you, my brethren, who, during the Easter season just past,
have recovered the grace of God, I have a word of advice to give
in conclusion. Keep your souls with all diligence. Keep your
souls; that is your chief, your only care. Keep them by fleeing
from the occasions of sin.
{418}
Keep them by overcoming habitual sins. Nourish them by prayer and
the sacraments. How great a disgrace, that all the irrational
world should do the will of God, and you, the rulers of the
world, should not do it! "_The kite in the air hath known her
time; the turtle, and the swallow, and the stork have observed
the time of their coming; but my people have not known the
judgment of the Lord_." [Footnote 167]

    [Footnote 167: Jer. viii. 7.]

How great an evil it is in a state when an unworthy ruler is at
its head. The people mourn and languish, and at last rebel. So,
when a man neglects the end for which he was made, the whole
creation cries out against him. The stones under his feet cry
out. The air he breathes, the food he eats, protest against the
abuse he makes of them. Balaam's ass rebuked the madness of the
prophet; so, when you live in sin, the very beasts cry out: "If
we had souls, we would not be as you. Now we serve God blindly,
and of necessity; but if we had souls, it would be our pride and
happiness to give Him our willing service." All things praise the
Lord;--"showers and dew;" "fire and heat;" "mountains and hills;"
"seas and rivers;" "beasts and cattle." O sons of men, make not a
discord in the universal harmony! Receive not your souls in vain!
Serve God; "praise Him and exalt Him forever."

-------------------------------

             Sermon XXI.

    The Catholic's Certitude Concerning
         The Way Of Salvation.

     (Fifth Sunday After Pentecost.)


   "I know whom I have believed, and I am certain
   that He is able to keep that which I have committed
   to Him against that day."
     --II. Tim. I. 12.


No one can deny that this sentiment of the Apostle is a very
comfortable one. To be confident of salvation is surely an
excellent and desirable thing. But the question with many will
be, is it possible to attain it?
{419}
Now, there is one sense in which we cannot have a security of our
salvation. We cannot have personally an infallible assurance that
we are now and shall always continue in the grace of God, and
shall at last taste the joys of heaven. Our free-will forbids
such an assurance, and neither our happiness nor the attributes
of God demand it. But there is another sense in which a man may
be said to have a security of his salvation, viz.: that he has
within his reach, beyond all doubt, the proper and necessary
means for attaining that end; for if the means are certain, it is
plain that in the use of those means he may acquire a moral
certainty that he is doing those things which God requires of
him, and a well-grounded hope of everlasting life. Such a
security it would seem a man ought to be able to attain. Without
it the service of God must be slavish. There can be no free and
generous service where there is not confidence. When one is
travelling at night on a road he is ignorant of, he goes slow, he
falters; but in the broad daylight, in a road he is sure of, he
walks with a free, bold step. So in religion, if we have no
security that we are right, we can never do much for God. Man is
not an abject being; he is erect; he looks up to heaven; he seems
to face his Maker and to demand from Him to know the terms on
which he stands toward Him. A confidence, then, at least of being
able to secure our salvation, must be within our reach. The only
question is, how is it to be attained? I answer, the Catholic has
within his reach the security of his salvation, and he alone.

In order to show this to you, I must remind you of what I mean by
salvation. Put out of your minds that childish idea that
salvation is an external, arbitrary reward, given to some men
when they die, and denied to others, as a father gives a book or
a plaything to an obedient child, and refuses it to a
disobedient. Salvation is union with God. We are made for God.
That is our high destiny. In God are our life and happiness; and
out of God our death and ruin.
{420}
Salvation is our union with God for all eternity, and, in order
to be united to God for all eternity, we must be united to Him
here. Our salvation must begin here. Now, we are united to God
when our intelligence is united to His intelligence by the
knowledge of His truth, and our will united to His will by the
practice of His love. When I affirm, then, that the Catholic
alone has the means of attaining a security of salvation, I mean
that he alone has the certain means of coming to the knowledge of
His truth, and the practice of His will.

I say _the certain means of coming to the knowledge of His
truth_, for it is one thing to have a certain knowledge of a
thing, and another to have only some ideas about it. We see this
difference when we contrast the language of a man who is master
of a science with that of one who has only vague notions about
it. One possesses his knowledge--knows what he knows--can make
use of it; while the other is embarrassed the moment he attempts
to use his knowledge--is uncertain whether he is right or
wrong--is driven to guesses and conjectures. In the same way, in
religion, it is one thing to have convictions more or less
deep--opinions more or less probable, to be acquainted with its
history and able to talk about it--and quite another to have
certainty in religion, to know that one is right. This is the
assurance I claim as the special possession of the Catholic.
There can be no doubt that Catholics do, in point of fact, show a
much deeper conviction of the truth of their religion than
Protestants. This is a matter of common observation, and the
proofs of it are on every side. Officers who come back from the
army tell how struck they have been with the fact that the
Catholic soldiers believe their religion and carry it with them
to the camp. Proselyting societies make frequent confession of
the difficulty they find in undermining the faith even of
ignorant and needy Catholics. Those who have experience at
death-beds, know that faith is found sometimes surviving almost
every other good principle, and making a return to God possible.
{421}
Those who are familiar with the history of the Church know that
this faith is strong enough to bear the severest tests which can
be applied to it; that it has often led men to despise what the
world most esteems--wealth, pleasures, honor; that it sends the
missionary to heathen countries without a regret for the home and
the native land he leaves behind him; that, in fine, it has often
led men in times past, and still at this day leads them joyfully
to the rack, the stake, and the scaffold. Now, whence comes this
deep and fixed certainty in religion? Is it a mere prejudice that
melts before investigation? Is it a stupid fanaticism? Or has it
a reasonable basis, and are its foundations deep in the laws of
the human mind? I answer, Catholics have this undoubting
conviction on the principle of faith in an infallible authority.
There are but two principles of Christian belief, when we come to
the bottom of the matter. One is the Protestant principle, viz.:
that each one is to settle his faith for himself, by a study of
the clear records of Christianity. The other is the Catholic
principle, viz.: that each one is to receive his faith from an
infallible authority. I feel as if I ought to pause here for a
while to explain to you what is meant by this principle, for
there exists in regard to it in some minds a misconception which
does us the grossest injustice. Some persons imagine that our
creed is manufactured for us by the Pope and the Bishops; that
whatever they may think right and good they may decree, and
forthwith we are bound to believe it. But this is an enormous
mistake. The authority to which I submit myself is something far
more august. It lies behind Pope and Bishop, and they must bow to
it as well as I. The Pope and the Bishops are the organs of this
authority, not its sources. When we speak of learning from an
infallible authority, we mean that a man is to find out the truth
by putting his intelligence in communication with that living
stream of truth that flows down through the channel of tradition,
that living word of God, that public preaching of the truth in
the true Church, begun by the Apostles, carried on by their
successors, confessed by so many people, recorded in so many
monuments, adorned by so many sacrifices, attested by so many
miracles.
{422}
Unquestionably, this was the mode in which men were expected to
learn the truth in apostolic days. It would not have been of the
least avail for a man to have said to the Apostles that his
convictions differed from theirs. He would have been instantly
regarded as in error. "We are of God," says St. John; "he that is
of God, heareth _us_; he that is not of God, heareth not us.
_By this_ shall ye know the spirit of truth, and the spirit
of error." [Footnote 168]

    [Footnote 168: I St. John iv. 6.]

Nor is there the least intimation in the New Testament that this
principle was to be departed from after the death of the
Apostles. On the contrary, we find that the Apostles ordained
others, and communicated to them their doctrine and authority,
that they might go on and preach just as they had done. And we
find in the early Church that whenever a dispute arose about
doctrine it was settled on the same principle, viz.: by an appeal
to the tradition of the churches that had been founded by the
Apostles. Thus, when a heresy arose in the second century,
Tertullian confronts it by bidding them compare their doctrine
with that of the Apostolic Churches: "If thou art in Achaia," he
says, "thou hast Corinth; if thou art near Macedonia, thou hast
Philippi; if thou art in Italy, thou hast Rome. Happy Church! to
which the Apostles bequeathed not only their blood, but all their
doctrines. See what _she_ has learned, see what _she_
has taught." [Footnote 169]

    [Footnote 169: Adv. Præscr. Hær. n. 32-6.]

Such is the principle on which the Catholic Church acts to this
day. Now, while the Protestant principle of private judgment in
its own nature cannot lead to certainty, while in point of fact
it has led only to endless dispute, until in our own day it has
ended by bringing those Divine Records, which it began by
exalting so highly, into doubt and contempt; the Catholic
principle, which, I have stated, is the principle of tradition,
is adapted to give a complete and a reasonable certainty and
assurance.
{423}
The reasons why this public tradition of the living Church has
this power are manifold. They are in part natural, and in part
supernatural--universal consent, internal consistency, Divine
Attestation, the Warrant and Promise of Christ; all of which are
so well summed up by St. Augustine, in that famous letter of his
to the Manichees: "I am kept in the Catholic Church," he says,
"by the consent of peoples and nations. By an authority begun
with miracles, nourished by hope, increased by charity, confirmed
by antiquity. By the succession of priests from the chair of St.
Peter the Apostle--to whom our Lord after His resurrection gave
His sheep to be fed--down to the present Bishop. In fine, by that
very name of _Catholic_, which this Church alone has held
possession of; so that though heretics would fain have called
themselves Catholics, yet to the inquiry of a stranger, 'Where is
the meeting of the Catholic Church held?' no one of them would
dare to point to his own basilica." [Footnote 170]

    [Footnote 170: Con. Ep. Manich. i. 5. 6.]

The conviction which such considerations produce is so deep that
a Catholic rests in it with the most undoubting certainty. He can
bear to look into his belief, to examine its grounds; he feels it
is a venerable belief. He says it is impossible that God would
allow error to wear so many marks of truth. To imagine it, would
be to impugn _His_ Truth, _His_ Justice, _His_
Power, _His_ Goodness. And therefore, our belief in the
Catholic religion is only another form of our belief in God. The
foundation of that belief is deep and abiding, for it is the
Eternal Throne of God. That desire for truth which is implanted
in man's nature is not, then, given only to be baffled and
disappointed--here is its fulfilment. Man is not raised to a
participation in Christ of the Divine Nature, to be left in doubt
of the most essential truths.
{424}
To the Catholic are fulfilled those pleasant words of Christ:
"_I will not now call you servants, for the servant knoweth not
what his Lord doeth; but have called you friends, because all
things, whatsoever I have heard from my Father, I have made known
to you_." [Footnote 171]

    [Footnote 171: St. John xv. 15.]

But some one may make an objection to my doctrine that certainty
about truth is the result only of the Catholic principle of
faith, and say: "You do not mean to assert that Protestants have
no faith at all?" A Protestant may say to me: "I acknowledge that
we have among us a great deal of disunion, and a great deal of
doubt, but after all there are some things that are believed by
some of us, that are believed without doubt, and you will not
deny it." No, I will not deny it. I am glad to think that it is
true. But how did you come by that belief? You did not come by it
on the principle of Protestantism. The truth is, that principle
never has been, and never can be carried out. Thank God, it is
so. Utter unbelief would be the consequence. You have a child--a
child that you love dearly. Will you wait, as your Protestantism
requires you to do, till he is grown up, for him to form his
religious convictions? No; if you love him, you will not. Your
heart will teach you a better wisdom. You will tell him about
God, you will tell him Who Christ is, and what He has done for
him. You will tell him these things not doubtingly, not as if he
was to suspend his judgment on them, but as true, and as to be
believed then and there. And as he looks up at you out of his
trusting eyes, he believes you. But how does he believe you? On
the principle of a Protestant, or a Catholic? On the principle of
private judgment, or on faith in an infallible authority? Surely
it is as a Catholic he believes? You represent to him the Great
Teacher, and his childish soul, in listening to you, hears the
voice of God, performs a great act of religion, and does his
first act of homage to Truth. His nature prompts him to believe
you. Perhaps he is baptized, and then there is a grace in his
heart which secretly inclines him the more to credit you, and he
believes without doubting. He is a Catholic.
{425}
Yes, my brethren, there is many a child of Protestant parents who
is a Catholic--a Catholic, that is, in all but the name, and the
fulness of instruction, and the richness of privilege. He may
grow up in this way, perhaps continue all his life in this
childish faith and trust. I will not say it may not be so. But
let his reason fully awaken. Let him honestly go down to the
foundation of his faith and see on what it rests, and then let
him remain a Protestant, and retain his undoubting assurance if
he can. He cannot--a crisis in his history has come. The sun has
arisen with its living heat. The flower begins to wither. It must
be transplanted or it will die. One of three things will happen:
either the man, finding that he has not learned all that the
Great Teacher has revealed, will go on to accept the rest and
will become a Catholic; or he will learn to doubt what he has
received already and become a sceptic; or he will stick to the
creed he has received from his fathers or picked up for himself,
and doggedly refuse to add to it, thus rendering himself at the
same moment amenable in the Court of Reason for unreasonableness
in what he holds, and in the Court of Faith for unbelief in what
he rejects. So true it is that all the faith there is in the
world is naturally allied to Catholicity. If men were perfectly
reasonable and consistent, there would be only two parties in the
religious world. Protestantism would disappear. On the one side
would be faith, certainty, Catholicity; on the other, doubt and
unbelief.

Nor is this all. The Catholic has not only a certain means of
arriving at the knowledge of God's Faith, but he has also the
sure means of knowing what he is bound to _do_ in order to
[obtain] salvation. Christianity is a supernatural religion, and
therefore it suggests many questions to which natural reason
cannot give the answer. By what means can I be united to Christ?
Suppose I am in mortal sin, how can I be forgiven?
{426}
What are the precise obligations binding on me as a Christian?
Now, how distinctly, how promptly were such questions answered in
the time of the Apostles! When St. Paul came to Ananias to know
what he was to do, the answer was given to him: "Arise, and be
baptized, and wash away thy sins." In the same way in the
Catholic Church of this day, when a convert asks the same
question, he gets the same answer: Seek in faith and repentance
the cleansing of baptism, and thou shalt be joined unto Christ.
Dost thou wish to know the life thou must practise? It is written
in the ten commandments and the precepts of the Church. Dost thou
wish to know where thou wilt gain strength to keep these laws? In
prayer and the sacraments. The Church tells you how many there
are, what is their efficacy, and the conditions of their saving
operation. Art thou in sin after baptism? Dost thou ask the way
back to God? The Church tells thee that sorrow for sin is the way
back, and that this sorrow, when it is completed by confession,
and accepted by the absolution of the priest, has a sacramental
efficacy. So precise are the answers of Catholicity to the
important practical questions of Christianity; and the authority
which, I have already said, attaches to her words, gives ease and
certainty to the conscience. But how different is all this in
Protestantism! How various the answers given to these questions
by the different sects! Nay, how contradictory sometimes the
answers given in the same sect! It would be odious to go into
particulars on this subject, but I say what I know when I affirm
that an intelligent Protestant cannot have faith in his Church,
if he would; he may adopt a set of opinions and associate with
those who hold them, but he cannot have faith in his Church as a
Church. It is not long since an intelligent member of one of the
most enlightened Protestant denominations told me that the
members of that Church did not seem to be satisfied with it, only
they did not know whether there was any other Church in the world
that would satisfy them.
{427}
I say what I know when I affirm that there are young children in
Protestant Churches who weep because they are told that God hates
them, and they do not know how to gain His love. That there are
numbers of young men, full of generous and noble thoughts and
impulses, who are utterly destitute of any fixed Christian
belief; who say they would like to believe, but they cannot. That
there are multitudes and multitudes who die in this land, who die
without one single Christian act, and many who submit at their
last hour to take part in such acts at the request of friends,
and on the chance that there may be some good in them. That there
are some who openly lament that they were not born Catholics,
that they might have had faith; some who rise in the night to cry
to God out of the hopeless darkness that surrounds them; some
who, in despair of seeing God with an intelligent faith, take up
a substitute, the best of all, it is true, but still very
insufficient--works of benevolence and philanthropy, and the
beauties of a merely moral life; some who would welcome death
itself if it would but remove their agony of doubt.

I do not say these things, my Protestant friends, if any such are
present, to mock your miseries. Far from it. I know you too well.
I love you too much. I say these things to lead you to truth and
peace. I call to you struggling with the waves, from the rock
whereon our feet have found a resting-place. I speak to you to
the same effect as Christ spoke to the woman at the well of
Jacob, who was a member of the schismatical Samaritan Church. You
worship you know not what. We know what we worship; for salvation
is of the Jews. You know not what you worship. Your religion is
at the best one of doubt and uncertainty. We know what we
worship. We are certain we are right, for salvation is of us. We
are the Israelites. To us belongeth the adoption of children, and
the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the
service of God, and the promises.
{428}
This is the mountain of the Lord established in the last days on
the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, into which
the nations flow. O you who know not this home of peace, God did
not make you to be as you are, to be tossed to and fro and
carried about with every wind of doctrine, to follow blind
guides, to give your money for that which is not bread, and your
labor for that which satisfieth not. No, come with us and be
happy. Come with us and be blessed. Come, let us go the mountain
of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will
teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for the law
shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem. Incline your ear unto me and you shall live--the life
of faith--the life of certainty and hope. You shall go out with
joy and be led forth with peace. Instead of the shrub shall come
up the fir tree: and instead of the nettle shall come up the
myrtle tree. All nature shall sympathise in your happiness. The
mountains and hills shall break forth into singing before you,
and all the trees of the country shall clap their hands.

And you, my dear Catholics, be not indifferent to the graces God
has given you, nor slothful in their use. You have it your power
to make sure your salvation. About the means there is no
uncertainty. They are infallible. It is of the Catholic Church
that the prophet spoke when he said: "_A path shall be there,
and a way, and it shall be called a holy way, and this shall be
unto you a straight way, so that even fools shall not err
therein_." [Footnote 172] And again: "_This saith the Lord
God: I will lay a stone in the foundation of Sion, a tried stone,
a corner-stone, a precious stone, founded in the foundation_."
[Footnote 173]

    [Footnote 172: Isai. xxxv. 8.]

    [Footnote 173: Ibid. xxviii. 16.]

{429}

A way to heaven in this dark, uncertain world! a straight, a
sure, a certain way! A rock under our feet under this swelling
sea! O my brethren, what blessings are these! Let them not be in
vain. Be not found at the last day with your lights gone out! The
just shall live by faith. Live by yours. Do you wish to advance
in a good life? Your faith tells you how. Does sin wage a war
against you? Your faith tells you how to meet the combat. Are you
in sin? Your faith tells you how to be forgiven. Correspond,
then, honestly with this faith, and you may enjoy a firm hope of
heaven, a hope not based on excited feelings, not claiming to be
a direct inspiration from on high, but a reasonable hope, that
will stay by you in adversity, and support you at the hour of
death. Claim, then, your privilege. Assert the freedom wherewith
Christ has made you free. Be not troubled or anxious all your
days. Do your part, act up to your Catholic conscience, then lift
up your heads, eat your bread with joy, and let your garments be
always white, for God now accepteth your works. In this is the
love of God perfected in us, that we may have confidence in the
day of judgment. "_Wherefore, be ye steadfast, unmovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labor is not in vain in the Lord_." [Footnote 174]

    [Footnote 174: I. Cor. xv. 58.]

----------------------------------

              Sermon XXII.

          The Presence Of God.

     (Fifth Sunday After Pentecost.)


  "Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.
  How terrible is this place;
  this is no other than the house of God and the gate of heaven."
    --Gen XVIII. 16,17.


These words were spoken by the Patriarch Jacob when he was
journeying to Syria to visit his uncle. He had stopped for the
night at a place which was afterward called Bethel, and as he lay
on the ground with a stone for his pillow, the Lord appeared to
him in a vision, and blessed him, and foretold his future
greatness and increase.
{430}
Then, penetrated with a sense of the nearness and greatness of
God, with whom he had been conversing, he rose up and exclaimed:
"Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." And
trembling, he said: "How terrible is this place; this is no other
than the house of God, and the gate of heaven." Now, my brethren,
we may make every morning and every night a similar declaration.
Wherever we are, we may say: "Indeed the Lord is in this place."
Every spot on earth, on which a man tarries for a moment, becomes
the house of God, and the gate of heaven. You understand what I
mean. I am speaking of the omnipresence of God. Reason and faith
both proclaim to us this great truth of the universal presence of
God. He is present by His immensity to all creatures in the
universe, whether living or inanimate. When God created the
world, He did not leave it to itself. He sustains it by His
presence and power, and it is in Him that we live and move and
have our being. He is present to our intellectual and moral being
as the light of reason and the object of the will, for without
Him there would be no rational or moral life. He is present with
us also as the source of that supernatural life which begins in
baptism and ends in the uncreated vision of the Blessed Trinity
in heaven. "He that loveth Me, shall be loved by My Father; and I
will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. * * * And My
Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make an
abode with him." [Footnote 175]

    [Footnote 175: St. John xiv. 21, 23.]

O my brethren, what a piercing thought is this of the presence of
God, if we did but realize it! Think for a moment of the doctrine
of the real presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We
believe that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, with His deity,
His soul, His flesh and blood, is present in the holy sacrament
of the altar. What consequences this doctrine has!
{431}
The whole Catholic ritual, the ceremonies of worship, the respect
paid to churches, the bowing of the knees, the incense, the
lights, the music--all flow from this. In the early ages, during
the times of persecution, it was customary for Christians to take
home with them the Blessed Sacrament, that they might communicate
themselves in case of necessity. Imagine that such were the
custom now. Imagine you were to take away with you, this day, as
you left the church, and carry to your homes, the sacred host
which is kept in the tabernacle. How silently would you go along
the streets! With what care would you seek out a place for our
Saviour's body to repose in! With what care would you go about
your home as long as He remained your guest! How would your heart
thrill as you reflected, on a awaking in the morning, that indeed
the Lamb of God, once crucified for you, was now a dweller in
your own home! Yet, if such were the case, if the Blessed
Sacrament were actually kept in your houses and in your rooms,
God would not be any more present to you than He is now. He is
indeed present in a different manner in the Blessed Eucharist.
That sacramental presence, that sweet, precious, consoling
presence of the body once broken, and the blood once shed for us,
is confined to the sacramental species. But the presence of the
deity, the real presence of God, is just as much outside as it is
inside the church; just as much with us when we are at home as
when we are at Mass. Not if His footstep shook the heavens and
the earth, as it will on the Last Day when He comes to judgment,
would God be one whit closer to us or more present to us than He
is now to everyone of us, every day, and everywhere. Even sin
cannot separate us from God. We sometimes say that mortal sin
separates a man from God. As a figure of speech, implying the
loss of God's grace and friendship which sin occasions, this
language may pass, but taken literally it is untrue. A man can
never be separated from God. That would be annihilation. Even
when we are in sin, even when we are committing sin, God is with
us and in us, the soul of our soul, the life of our life.
{432}
Yes, here is a bond that can never be broken. Never can we escape
that awful presence--never for a moment, here or hereafter. We
shall not be more in God's presence in heaven or less in hell
than we are now at this moment. God is not a God afar off up in
heaven. He is here. This whole universe is only God's shadow.
Every thing that is attests, not only God's creating power, but
His living presence. He is in the flames and in the light, and in
the pastures, in the air, in the ground, in the body, and in the
soul, in the head, in the eye, in the ear, and in the heart. He
is in us, and we are in Him, bathed in His presence as in an
ocean, breathing in it as in an atmosphere. This is what the
Psalmist expresses so beautifully: "_Whither shall I go from
Thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy face? If I ascend
into heaven, thou art there; if I descend into hell, thou art
present; if I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in
the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall Thy hand
lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. And I said: Perhaps
darkness shall cover me; and night shall be light in my
pleasures. But darkness shall not be dark to thee; and night
shall be light as the day; the darkness thereof, and the light
thereof, are alike to Thee_." [Footnote 176]

    [Footnote 176: Ps. cxxviii. 7-12.]

If we thought more frequently of this, how many sins should we
avoid! When a man is going to commit a crime, he takes
precautions against discovery. He seeks out a secret place. He
chooses a fitting hour. Vain precautions! There is no secret
place on earth, no lonely spot, no time of darkness. There is a
proverb among men that "walls have ears," and the counsel of the
wise man is, "_Detract not the king, no, not in thy thought;
and speak not evil of the rich man in thy private chamber;
because even the birds of the air will carry the voice; and he
that hath wings will tell what thou hast said_." [Footnote 177]

    [Footnote 177: Eccles. x. 20.]

{433}

What is it that has impressed on men this universal fear of
detection? Is it not an unconscious acknowledgment of the
presence of God? Yes, we cannot shut the door against Him. We
cannot leave Him out. We cannot draw the blind before His eye.
"_The eyes of the Lord in every place behold the good and the
evil." [Footnote 178] "Before that Philip called thee, when thou
wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee,_" [Footnote 179] said our
Lord to Nathanael.

    [Footnote 178: Prov. xv. 3.]

    [Footnote 179: St. John i. 48.]

I wish you thought more of this; I am sure it would save you from
many a sin. I have read of a holy man who, on hearing a person
say that circumstances were favorable to the commission of a
shameful sin, because no one was present, exclaimed: "What! are
you not ashamed to do that before the living God which you would
be ashamed to do before a man like yourself?" Even the eye of a
dog has restrained men from the commission of crime--how much
more ought the eye of God! Listen to the language you hear as you
pass through the streets. The sacred names of God and Jesus
Christ, how they are bandied about! Would men speak so, if they
realized that God and Christ were then and there present? Would
they insult God to His face? Suppose our Saviour were to appear
to one of these men as he was pouring out his oaths and
blasphemies, in the guise in which He was as He journeyed to
Calvary to die for man, with sorrow in His eye, and sweat and
blood on His forehead, with weak and faltering steps, and lips
mute, but full of appealing love and agony; would he still go on
with his dreadful oaths? No! The knee would be bent, the head
would be bowed, and the very ground on which He walked would be
regarded with reverent awe. Why so? Merely because he saw Him
with his bodily eyes? Would it not be the same, if he were to
close His eyes, and yet be aware of His presence? And is He not
present to you as truly as if you saw Him, hearing each
imprecation and blasphemy which you utter?
{434}
Oh, spare Him! spare those sacred ears; spare His majesty and His
goodness, and cease to profane His holy name. Tertullian,
speaking of the early Christians, says they talked as those who
believed that God was listening. Let the thought of God's
presence be deeply graven on your soul, and it will teach you to
use the language of a Christian--at least it will cure you of
blasphemy.

It will cure you also of another sin of the tongue: that is of
falsehood. Lying implies a virtual denial of God's presence, as
well as blasphemy. When you lie, you forget the there is One who
know's the truth--who is Himself the Eternal Truth; and you act
as if He knew not, or would be a party to your fraud. Every lie
is, in this respect, like the lie of Ananias and Sapphira--a lie
to God.

Oh! how much must God be displeased by all the sins He witnesses.
It is said of righteous Lot, that from day to day he vexed his
righteous soul at all the sins which he witnessed in Sodom, where
he dwelt. How must the Holy God be vexed every day at all the
dark deeds, the injustices, the impurities, the falsehoods, the
deceits, the treacheries, the cruelties, to which men compel Him
to be a witness! Is it not a necessity that Christ should come
with ten thousand of His saints to take vengeance on the ungodly!
Would it not seem, otherwise, that God made Himself a party to
our sins by keeping silence? "_These things hast thou
done_," says the Almighty, "_and I was silent. Thou
thoughtest unjustly that I shall be like to thee: but I will
reprove thee, and set before thy face_." [Footnote 180]

    [Footnote 180: Ps. xlix. 21.]

David committed adultery in secret; but God declared to him that
He would punish him before all Israel, and in the sight of the
sun. So the Judgment Day will bring to light every secret thing,
and manifest, in the sight of all, those hidden sins which have
been committed in the presence and with the full knowledge of
God.
{435}
They have never been hidden from God, and the disclosures of the
Last Day are only the Presence and the Knowledge of God asserting
and manifesting themselves to men. The thought of God, and of His
Omnipresence, is thus the greatest preservative against sin.

But this is not all. The thought of God's perpetual and universal
presence is our greatest strength and consolation. What a comfort
it would be to have a friend, who loved us truly, who was most
sincerely desirous of our welfare and happiness, who was very
wise and able to help us in difficulties, never variable or
capricious, but always true and faithful and trustworthy! The
possession of such a friend will go as far as any thing earthly
can go to make one perfectly happy. Now, each one of us really
has such a friend. Such a friend? Ah! far better, far wiser, far
more loving--even the good God! God, in the Holy Scriptures,
represents the soul of man as a garden, in which it is His
delight to walk about. What an idea this gives us of the
familiarity a man may have with God. Why do not men take
advantage of this loving condescension? Why do they not converse
with God? Why do they not think of Him? The face of Moses shone
after he had been talking to God on Mount Sinai, and our
countenance would be light and joyous if we dwelt more in God's
presence. Oh, to think of it! When we walk in the streets, when
we sit down and rise up, there is one ever at our side--no, not
at our side; but in us--our very life and being; God, the
Beautiful and Good. God, Who made the heavens and the earth; the
God of our fathers. God, Who has been the comfort and stay of the
just in all ages, Who talked with Abraham, and went before the
children of Israel in a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by
night. God, Who gave manna from heaven, Who spoke by the
prophets, and in the still, small voice on Mount Horeb; Who awoke
Samuel, as he lay sleeping in his little crib in the priest's
chamber, and chose David, the youth, fair and of a ruddy
countenance, to be the prince of His people; and who, in these
last days, hath revealed Himself in His Only Begotten Son, full
of grace and truth.

{436}

He it is Who is with you and me, even from our youth unto this
day. O thou who art afflicted, tossed with tempests and not
comforted, what dost thou want?--what wouldst thou have? The
Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath thee are the
everlasting arms. Thou hast but to open thy soul, and floods of
comfort and strength will pour into thee. Art thou weak? He is
thy Strength. Art thou sad and lonely? He is thy Consoler. Art
thou guilty? He is thy Redeemer--the God ready to pardon. Does
the world allure thee? His Beauty will make its attractions pale.
Is thy heart weary and inconstant? He is unfailing and
unchanging. O source of strength, too much slighted! O happiness,
too often blindly rejected! In the presence of God there is
pleasure and life. "_They that hope in the Lord shall renew
their strength; they shall take wings as eagles; they shall run
and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." "For He is a
covert from the wind, a hiding-place from the storm, as rivers of
waters in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary
land_." [Footnote 181]

    [Footnote 181: Isai. xl. 31; xxxii. 2.]

Learn, then, my brethren, to keep yourselves in the presence of
God. To forget God, what is it, but to plunge ourselves into sin
and misery. To remember God, what is it, but to be strong and
happy. "Walk before Me, and be thou perfect," said God to
Abraham. That is the secret of perfection, the way to heaven. It
is not necessary to go out of your own mind. It is not necessary
to lift the eye to heaven, or bend the knee. Closer than the
union of soul and body is the union between God and thee.
{437}
Quicker than thought is the communion between thy soul and its
Maker. "_Thou shalt cry_," says the Almighty, "_and I will
say: Here I am--yea, even before thy call, I will hear, and even
while thou art yet speaking I will answer_." [Footnote 182]

    [Footnote 182: Isai. lviii. 9; lxv. 24.]

Practise, then, attention to the presence of God. I do not speak
so much now of daily prayers, and of your devotions in the
church. But when you are abroad in the busy world, or in your
homes, accustom yourselves from time to time to think of God.
Complicated pieces of machinery require the care of an overseer
from time to time, lest they get out of gear. So we must think of
God from time to time during the day, and keep the powers of our
soul in harmony with the will of God, lest they fall into
disorder, and the work of life be hindered. It is not a work of
very great difficulty. The chief difficulty lies in its
simplicity. It is so much easier to pray than we think, that
oftentimes we have already prayed when we are perplexing
ourselves how to pray, and busying ourselves with preparing to
pray. God is in us, in the very centre of our soul. He knows its
most secret thoughts, and thus a simple act of the will is enough
to bring us into communion with Him. To realize this is to be men
of prayer, to be as happy as it is possible for us to be in this
life, and to begin here that contemplation of God which will
constitute our everlasting beatitude in heaven.

-----------------------------------------

        Sermon XXIII.

    Keeping The Law Not Impossible.

    (Ninth Sunday After Pentecost.)


  "I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me."
    --Phil. VI. 13.


If I am not mistaken, a very great number of the sins that men
commit, are committed through hopelessness. The pleasures of sin
are by no means unmixed. Indeed, sin is a hard master; and all
who practise it find it so.
{438}
I never met a man who said it was a good thing, or that it made
him happy. On the contrary, all lament it, and say that it makes
them miserable. Why, then, do they commit it? Very often, I am
persuaded, because they think they have no power to resist it.
They feel in themselves strong passions; they have yielded to
them in times past, they see that others yield to them, and so
they come to think it impossible not to yield to them. The law of
God is too difficult, they say. It is impossible to keep it. It
may do for priests or nuns who are cut off from the world, or for
women, or for the old, or for children, but for us who mix in the
world, whose blood is warm, and whose passions are strong, it is
too high and pure. It is all very well to talk about; it is all
very well to hold up a high standard to us, but you must not
expect us to attain it. The utmost that you can expect of us is
to stop sinning, now and then, and make the proper
acknowledgments to God by going to confession; but actually to
try not to sin, to keep on endeavoring not to sin at any time, or
under any circumstances, that is impossible, or at least so
extremely difficult that, practically speaking, it is impossible.
Are there none of you, my brethren, who recognise this as the
secret language of your hearts? Is there not an impression in
your minds that the law of God is too strict, or at least that it
is too strict for you, and that you cannot keep it? If so, do not
harbor it. It is a fatal error. No; it is not impossible to keep
God's law. It is not impossible to keep from mortal sin. It is, I
admit, impossible to keep from every venial sin, though even here
we can do a great deal, if we try. Such is the frailty of human
nature that even the best men, as time goes on, fall into some
slight faults, only the Blessed Virgin having been able, as we
believe, to pass a whole life without even in the smallest thing
offending God. But it is possible for all of us to keep from
mortal sin, at all times and under all circumstances. This, I
think, you will acknowledge when you consider the character of
God, the nature of God's law, and the power of God's grace which
is promised to us.

{439}

I say the character of God is a pledge of our ability to keep
from mortal sin. God requires us to be free from mortal sin, and
He requires it under the severest penalties, and therefore it
must be possible for us. You may say, "God requires us to be free
from venial sin too, and yet you have just said we cannot avoid
every venial sin." But the case is far different. A venial sin
does not separate us from God, and does not receive extreme
punishment from Him--nay, those venial sins which even good men
commit, and which are only in small part voluntary, are very
easily forgiven--but a mortal sin cuts us off entirely from God,
and deserves eternal punishment. You know, one mortal sin is
enough to damn a man--one single sin of drunkenness, for
instance, or impurity; a cherished hatred, a false oath, or an
act of grave injustice. One such sin is sufficient to sink a man
in hell, and although we know very little in particular of the
torments of hell, we have every reason to believe that they are
most bitter, and we know that they are eternal. Now, can it be
thought that a being of justice and goodness, as we know God to
be, would inflict so extreme a punishment for an offence which
was unavoidable, or could only be avoided with the utmost
difficulty? Holy Scripture sends us to an earthly parent for an
example of that tenderness and affection which we are to expect
from our Heavenly Father. "_If you, being evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father
who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask Him_."
[Footnote 183]

    [Footnote 183: St. Matt. vii. 11.]

What would be the thought of an earthly father who laid upon his
son a command which it was all but impossible for him to comply
with, and then punished him with the utmost rigor for not
fulfilling it?
{440}
You would not call that man a father, but a tyrant; a tyrant like
Pharaoh, who would not give straw to the children of Israel, and
yet set taskmasters over them to exact of them the full measure
of bricks as when straw had been given them. Why, if you were
going along the street and saw a man whipping unmercifully an
overloaded horse, you would not bear it patiently. And would you
attribute conduct so disgraceful among men to our Father in
heaven? God forbid! Far be such a thought from us! It is not so.
We must not think it. At least we cannot think it as long as we
remain Catholics; for when the earlier Protestants proclaimed the
shocking doctrine that though God punished men for disobeying his
law, man was really unable to obey it, the Church branded the
doctrine as a heresy to be abhorred of all men, as most false in
itself, and most injurious to God. No; God loves his creatures
far more than we conceive of: He does not desire the death of a
sinner. He wills truly the salvation of all men. His goodness and
mercy, His truth and justice, are all so many infallible
guarantees of our ability to keep His law. He would not have
given us His law unless He had meant us to keep it. He would not
punish us so severely for breaking it, unless our breaking it was
an act of deliberate, wilful, determined rebellion.

But there is another source from which I draw the conclusion that
it is possible to keep the law of God--from the nature of the law
itself. The law of God is of such a nature that, for the most
part, in order to commit mortal sin, it is necessary to do or to
leave undone some external act, which of its own nature it is
entirely in our power to do or not to do. For instance, the law
says, "_Thou shalt not steal;_" now, to steal, you have got
to put your hand into your neighbor's pocket. The law says:
"_Thou shalt do no murder;_" to murder, you must stretch out
your hand against your neighbor's life. Nay, it requires
ordinarily several external actions before a mortal sin is
consummated. Thus the thief has his precautions to take, and his
plans to lay.
{441}
The drunkard has to seek the occasion. He seeks the grogshop.
Every step he takes is a separate act. When he gets there, it is
not the first glass that makes him drunk. He drinks again and
again, and it is only after all these different and repeated
actions that he falls into the mortal sin of drunkenness. Now,
here you see are external acts--acts in which the hand, the foot,
the lips, are concerned, and which, therefore, it is perfectly in
our power to do or to let alone. This requires no proof, but
admits of a striking illustration. You have heard of the great
sufferings of the martyrs; how some of them were stoned to death,
others flayed alive, others crucified, others torn to pieces by
wild beasts, others burned to death. Now, what was it all about?
You answer, "They suffered because they would not deny Christ."
Very well; but how were they required to deny Christ? "What was
it they were required to do? I will tell you. Sometimes they were
required to take a few grains of incense and throw it on the
altar of Jupiter; that would have been enough to have saved them
from their sufferings. They need not have said, 'I renounce
Christ;" only to have taken the incense would have been
sufficient. Sometimes they were required to tread on the cross.
Sometimes to swear by the genius of the Roman emperor; that was
all. And the fire was kindled to make them do these things; but
they would not. The flames leaped upon them, but not a foot would
they lift from the ground. Their hands were burnt to the bone,
but no incense would they touch. The marrow of their bones melted
in the heat, and forced from them a cry of agony, but the name of
the emperor's tutelary genius did not pass their lips. Now, will
you tell me that you cannot help doing what the martyrs would not
do to save them from death? They had a fire before them and a
scourge behind them, and they refused; and you say you cannot
help yourself when you are under no external violence whatever!
They died rather than lift a hand to do a forbidden thing; have
you not the same power over your hand that they had?
{442}
They died rather than utter a sinful word; have you not as much
power over your tongue as they? Indeed you have, for you control
both one and the other whenever you will. I say there is no
sinner whose conduct does not show that his actions are perfectly
in his own power. The thief waits for the night to carry on his
trade; during the day he is honest enough. The greatest libertine
knows how to behave himself in the presence of a high-born and
virtuous female. And even that vice which men say it is most
difficult of all to restrain when once the habit is
formed--profane swearing--you know how to restrain it when you
will, for even the heaviest curser and swearer ceases from his
oaths before the priest, or any other friend whom he greatly
respects. Now, if you can stop cursing before the priest, why can
you not before your wife and children? If you can be chaste in
the presence of a virtuous female, why can you not be chaste
everywhere? If you can be honest when the eye of man is on you,
why can you not be honest when no eye sees you but that of God?

"But," someone may say, "there is a class of sins to which the
remarks you have made do not apply, that is, sins of thought. You
must admit that they are of such a nature that it is all but
impossible not to commit them." No, I do not admit it. I
acknowledge that sins of thought are more difficult to guard
against than sins of action; but I do not acknowledge that it is
impossible to guard against them. To prove this, I have only to
remind you that an evil thought is no sin until we give
_consent_ to it. To keep always free from evil thoughts may
be impossible, because the imagination is in its nature so
volatile, that but few men have it in control; but, though it be
not possible to restrain the imagination, it is always possible
to restrain the will. In order for the will to consent to evil it
is necessary both to _know_ and to _choose_, and
therefore from the nature of the thing one can never fall into
sin either inevitably or unawares.
{443}
And besides, the will has a powerful ally in the conscience,
whose province it is to keep us from sin and to reproach us when
we do sin--so that it is scarcely possible, for one who
habitually tries to keep free from mortal sin, to fall into it
without his conscience giving a distinct and unmistakable report.
And this is so certain that spiritual writers say that a person
of good life and tender conscience, who is distressed with the
uncertainty whether or no he has given consent to an evil
temptation, ought to banish that anxiety altogether and to be
sure that he has not consented. But suppose these evil
temptations are importunate, and remain in the soul even when we
resist them, and try to turn from them? No matter. They do not
become sins on that account; nay, they become the occasion of
acts of great virtue. It is related in the life of St. Catharine
of Sienna that on one occasion that pure virgin's soul was
assailed by the most horrible temptations of the devil. They
lasted for a long time, and after the conflict our Saviour
appeared to her with a serene countenance. "O my Divine Spouse,"
she said, "where wast thou when I was enduring these conflicts?"
"In thy soul," he replied. "What, with all these filthy
abominations?" "Yes, they were displeasing and painful to thee;
this therefore was thy merit, and thy victory was owing to My
presence." So that we see even here, where the danger is
greatest, the law of God exacts of us nothing but what in its own
nature is in our power to do or not to do.

But if you wish another proof of your ability to keep God's law,
I allege the _power of His grace_. I can imagine an objector
saying: "You have not touched the real difficulty, after all. The
difficulty is not on God's side; no doubt. He is good and holy.
Neither are the requirements of his law so very hard. The
difficulty is in us. We are fallen by nature. We have sinned
after baptism. We are so weak, so frail, that to us continued
observance of the divine commandments is impossible." No, my
brethren, neither is this true.
{444}
It is not true from the mouth of any man; least of all from the
mouth of a Christian. "No temptation," says the Apostle, "_hath
taken hold of you but Such as is human: And God is faithful, who
will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able;
but will also with the temptation make a way of escape that you
may be able to bear it_." [Footnote 184]

    [Footnote 184: I Cor. x. 13.]

The weakest and frailest are strong enough with God's grace, and
this grace He is ready to give to those that need it. At all
times and in all places He has been ready to give His grace to
them that need it, but especially is this true under the gospel.
The Holy Scriptures make this the distinguishing characteristic
of the times of the gospel, that they shall abound in grace.
"_Take courage, and fear not_," the prophet says, in
anticipation of the time when Christ should come in the flesh,
"_Behold, God will come and save you. Then shall the eyes of
the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then
shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb
shall be free; for waters are broken out of the desert, and
streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land shall
become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water_."
[Footnote 185] Such was the promise, hundreds of years before
Christ, of a time of peace, of happiness and grace; and when our
Lord was come, He published that the good time had indeed
arrived: "_The spirit of the Lord hath anointed me to preach
the gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the contrite of
heart. To preach deliverance to the captive, and sight to the
blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the
acceptable year of the Lord_." [Footnote 186]

  [Footnote 185: Is. xxxv. 4-7.]

  [Footnote 186: St. Luke iV. 18, 19.]

Yes, the great time has come; the cool of the day; the evening of
the world; the time when labor is light and reward abundant. O my
brethren, you know not what a privilege it is to be a Christian!
You enter a church. You see a priest in his confessional. A
penitent is kneeling at his feet.
{445}
The sight makes but little impression on you, for you are
accustomed to it, but this is that "_fountain_" promised by
the prophet "_to the house of David and to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, for the washing of the sinner;_" a fountain that
flows from the Saviour's side, and not only cleanses, but
strengthens and makes alive. You pass an altar. The priest is
giving communion. Stop! it is the Lord himself! the bread of
angels! the wine of virgins! the food "_whereof if a man eat he
shall live forever_." And not only in the church do you find
grace; it follows you home. You shut your door behind you, and
your Father in heaven waits to hear and grant your prayer. Nay,
at all times God is with you, for you are the temple of God, and
He sits on the throne of your heart to scatter His grace on you
whenever and wherever you ask Him. Do not say, then, Christian,
that you are unable to do what God requires of you. It is a sin
of black ingratitude to say so. Even if it were impossible for
others to keep the law of God, it is not for you. He hath not
done to every nation as he hath done to you. When the patriarch
Jacob was dying, he blessed all his children, but his richest
blessing was for Joseph. So God has blessed all the children of
His hand, but you, Christian, are the Joseph whom He hath loved
more than all His other sons. To others He hath given of "_dew
dew of heaven_," and "_the fatness of the earth_," but
you "_He hath blessed with all spiritual blessings in
Christ_."

Away, then, with the notion that obedience to the commandments of
God is impracticable--a notion dishonorable to God and to
ourselves. It is possible to keep free from mortal sin--for
all--at all times, under all temptations. Nay, I will say more.
It is, on the whole, easier to live a life of Christian
obedience, than a life of sin. I say "on the whole," for I do not
deny that here and there, in particular cases, it is harder to do
right than wrong; but taking life all through, one who restrains
his passions will have less trouble than one who indulges them.
{446}
Heroic actions are not required of us every day. In order to be a
Christian, it is not necessary to be always high-strung and
enthusiastic. It is not necessary to be a devotee, to adopt set
and precise ways, to take up with hypocrisy and cant--in a word,
to be unmanly. It is just, for the most part, the most matter of
fact, the most practical, the most simple and straight-forward
thing in the world. It is to be a man of principle. It is to have
a serious, abiding purpose to do our duty. It is to be full of
courage; not the courage of the braggart, but the courage of the
soldier--the courage that thrives under opposition, and survives
defeat, the courage that takes the means to secure
success--vigilance, humility, steadfastness, and prayer. Before
this, all difficulties vanish, and this is what we want most of
all. It is amazing how little courage there is in the world. We
are like the servant of Eliseus, the prophet, who, when he awoke
in the morning, and saw the great army that had been sent by the
King of Syria to take his master, said, "_Alas, alas, alas, my
lord; what shall we do!_" But Eliseus showed him another
army--the army of angels ranged on the mountain, with chariots of
fire and horses of fire, ready to fight for the servants of God,
and he said, "_Fear not: for there are more with us than with
them_." [Footnote 187]

    [Footnote 187: IV. Kings vi. 15-17.]

Why should we fear? Christianity is no new thing. The path of
Christian obedience is not an untried path. Thousands have trod
it and are now enjoying their reward. God, and the angels, and
the saints, are on our side. And there are multitudes of faithful
souls in the word who are fighting the good fight, and keeping
their souls unsullied. We cannot distinguish them now, but one
day we shall know them. Oh! let us join them. Yes, we will make
our resolution now. Others may guide themselves by pleasure or
expediency; we will adopt the language of the Psalmist: "_Thy
Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my paths_."
[Footnote 188]

  [Footnote 188:  Ps. cxviii. 105.]

{447}

We will be Christians, not in name, but in deed. Not for a time
only, but always. One thought shall cheer us in sadness and nerve
us in weakness, "_I have sworn and am determined to keep the
judgments of Thy justice_." [Footnote 189]

    [Footnote 189: Ibid. 106.]

---------------------------------

            Sermon XXIV.

     The Spirit Of Sacrifice..

  (For The Feast Of St. Laurence, Martyr.)


  "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
  that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,
  holy, pleasing to God, your reasonable service."
     --Rom. XVII. 1.


There is, my brethren, among many men who practise Christian
duties to a certain extent, one remarkable want. I will call it
the want of the Spirit of Sacrifice. Compare such men with any of
the saints, and you will see at once what I mean. One saint may
differ a great deal from another, but this is common to them
all--a vivid sentiment of God's greatness and Sovereignty, of His
right to do with us what He wills, and a willing and reverent
recognition of that right. Now the defective Christianity to
which I allude lacks this spirit altogether. It differs from the
Christianity of the saints not only in degree but in kind. Not
only does it fail to produce _as many_ sacrifices as the
saints made for God, but the idea of Sacrifice is completely
strange and foreign to it. It bargains about the commandments of
God, and, when any commandment is difficult, postpones
fulfilment, or refuses it altogether. To prevent any of you from
being content with so imperfect and unsatisfactory a sort of
religion, I will give you this morning some reasons why you
should aim to serve God in the spirit of sacrifice.

{448}

First, then, I assert that the spirit of sacrifice is necessary.
God requires it of us. On this point I think some people make a
mistake. They seem to think that a willingness to make sacrifices
for God is one of the ornamental or heroic parts of religion, and
that everyday people are not required to have it. But this is not
so. The Spirit of Sacrifice is required of everyone. I infer this
from the fact that an external sacrificial worship is necessary.
It is frequently said that there is no religion without a
sacrifice. And this is true. There never has been, nor indeed
could there be, a true religion without having some external act
of sacrificial worship. But why is this necessary? Not simply
because we are sinners and need propitiation, for some
theologians have thought that sacrifices would have been
necessary, though man had never sinned. What religion requires a
sacrifice for, is this--to express our sense of God's supreme
Sovereignty. In a Sacrifice there is something offered to God and
destroyed, thus signifying that God is the Author of Life and
Death, our Creator, our Ruler, our Supreme Judge. The excellence
of the Christian Sacrifice--the Sacrifice of the Mass--consists
in this, that the victim offered is a living, reasonable, Divine
Victim, even the Son of God Incarnate, Who by His Life and Death
rendered most worthy homage to the Divine Majesty, and still in
every Mass, continually, offers it anew.

This, then, is what the Mass is given us for, and this is why we
are required to assist at the Mass, that we may in a perfect and
worthy manner recognize God's Sovereignty and our dependence on
Him. When we assist at Mass, the meaning of our action, if put
into words, would be something like this: "I acknowledge Thee, O
God, for my Sovereign Lord, and the Supreme Disposer of my Life
and Death, and because I am not able worthily to express Thy
Greatness, I beg of Thee to accept, as if it were my own, all the
submission with which Thy Son honored Thee on the Cross, and now
again honors Thee in this Holy Sacrifice."
{449}
Now, it cannot be imagined that we are required to make this
profession to God without at the same time being required to have
in our hearts that sentiment of God's greatness and sovereignty
which we express with our lips. Our Lord did not come to suffer
and die, and give His life [as] a sacrifice to the Father, to
dispense us from the obligation of worshipping God ourselves, but
to give to our worship a perfect example and a higher
acceptability. Without our worship the Mass is incomplete. On our
Lord's part, indeed, the Sacrifice of the Mass is always
efficacious, for He is present wherever it is celebrated; but on
our part it is empty and unmeaning if no one really fears God,
submits unreservedly to Him, is willing to do all He commands,
and acknowledges that all that could be done for Him is too
little. A worship of Sacrifice implies a life of sacrifice. This
is beautifully illustrated in the life of St. Laurence, whose
Martyrdom we celebrate to-day.

St. Laurence was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome in
the third century of the Christian era. As deacon, it was his
office to serve the Mass of St. Xystus, who was at that time
Pope. "When the persecution broke out under the Emperor Valerius,
St. Xystus was seized and carried off to martyrdom. As he was on
his way, St. Laurence followed him weeping and saying: "Father
where are you going without your son? Whither are you going, O
holy priest, without your deacon? You were not wont to offer
sacrifice without me your minister, wherein have I displeased
you? Have you found me wanting to my duty? Try me now and see
whether you have made choice of an unfit minister for dispensing
the Blood of the Lord." And St. Xystus replied: "I do not leave
you, my son, but a greater trial and a more glorious victory are
reserved for you who are stout and in the vigor of youth. We are
spared on account of our weakness and old age. You shall follow
me in three days." And, in fact, three days after, St. Laurence
was burnt to death, his faith rendering him joyful, even mirthful
in his sufferings.

{450}

Now, I do not look on this conversation as poetry. Times of
affliction are not times when men look around for fine ways of
expressing themselves. At such times words come straight from the
heart. I see, then, in the words of St. Laurence the sentiments
with which he was accustomed to assist at Mass. As he knelt at
the foot of the altar at which the Pope was celebrating, clothed
in the beautiful dress of a deacon, his soul was filled with the
thoughts of God's greatness and goodness, and along with the
offering of the heavenly Victim, he used to offer to God his
fervent desire to do something to honor the Divine Majesty, the
color sometimes mounting high in his youthful cheek as he thought
how joyfully he would yield his own heart's blood as a sacrifice,
if the occasion should offer. Martyrdom to him was but a natural
completion of Mass. It was but the realisation of his habitual
worship.

In the early history of the city of St. Augustine, in Florida, it
is related that a priest, who was attacked by a party of Indians,
asked permission to say Mass before he died. This was granted
him, and the savages waited quietly till the Mass was ended. Then
the priest knelt on the altar steps and received the death-blow
from his murderers. With what sentiments must that priest have
said Mass! with what devotion! with what reverence! with what
self-oblation! So, I suppose St. Laurence, and St. Xystus, and
the Christians of the old time were accustomed always to assist
at Mass, with the greatest desire to honor God, the most complete
spirit of self-sacrifice. Now, I do not say we are all bound to
be as holy as these great saints. I do not even say we are bound
to desire martyrdom; but I do say there is not one kind of
Christianity for the saints and another for ordinary Christians;
one kind, all self-denial for them, and another kind, all
self-indulgence, for us.
{451}
I say God is to us what He is to the saints--our Creator and our
Sovereign; and He demands of us the worship of creatures and
subjects--the worship of _sacrifice_--a willingness to do
all He demands of us now, and a readiness to do greater things
the moment that He makes it known to us that such is His Will.

How many difficulties, my brethren, such a spirit takes out of
the way of Christian obedience! It cuts off at One blow all our
struggles with the decrees of God's providence. How much of our
misery comes from murmurings against the providence of God! One
is suffering under sickness and pain, another is overwhelmed with
reverses and afflictions, another is irritated by continual
temptations. No one can deny that these are severe trials; but
see how the spirit of sacrifice disposes of them. It says to the
sick man, to the suffering man, what Isaac said to his father
Abraham on the mountain: "See, here is fire and wood, but where
is the victim for a burnt offering? Here are the materials for a
beautiful act of sacrifice. It wants only a meek heart for a
victim, and love to light the flame, to turn the sickbed, the
house of mourning, the soul agitated by temptation, into an altar
of the purest worship, and the language of complaint into the
liturgy of praise. Again: it sometimes happens that a man gets
involved in relations of business or friendship, or becomes
addicted to some indulgence, which threaten to ruin his soul, and
he is required to renounce them, to give up the intimacy, to
change his business, to deny himself that indulgence. The command
of God is distinct and peremptory: "_If thy hand or thy foot
scandalize thee, cut it off and cast it from thee. And if thy eye
scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee_."
[Footnote 190]

    [Footnote 190: St. Matt. xviii. 8.]

{452}

How does he receive it? He says: "It is too hard." Too hard! And
is it, then, only God for whom we are unwilling to do any thing
hard? We must make sacrifices of some sort in life, and heavy
ones, too. We cannot get rid of the necessity of making them, do
what we will. The world requires them of us. Our families require
them. Our health requires them. Our pleasure requires them. Nay,
our very sins require them. And what we do willingly for the
world, for our families, for our health, our pleasure, our sins,
shall we refuse to do for the great and good God? for Christ our
Saviour, who did not refuse the Cross to give us an example of
the obedience we owe His Father?

Or take another example: A person who is not a Catholic finds
much that is reasonable in Catholic doctrine, but makes a great
stumbling-block of confession; or even a Catholic gets a dread of
it, and stays away for years and years from the sacraments of the
Church. Now, of course, in such cases it is only charitable to
show that the difficulty of confession is very much magnified,
and that, like many other things that frighten us, it loses its
terror when we approach it; but, to say the truth, I always feel
something like shame when I hear one trying to prove to such
persons that confession is easy; partly because I know he cannot
succeed perfectly, since confession is of its own nature arduous,
and in particular cases may be very difficult; but chiefly,
because I cannot help thinking if God Himself were to answer
them, it would be in the few strong words He has used in the Holy
Scripture: "_Be still: and know that I am God_." [Footnote 191]
A creature must not parley with his maker, a sinner with his
Judge.

    [Footnote 191: Ps. xlv. 11.]

{453}

Yes: we shrink from the very mention of sacrifice, yet it is the
spirit of sacrifice that makes all our duties easy. No doubt it
is our privilege to reason about the commandments of God; and we
shall often see, what we know is always the case, that they are
full of wisdom and goodness; but we need in practice some
principle that is ready at hand always to be used in every time
of trial, in every difficulty, and that is the Spirit of
Sacrifice, a profound reverence for God, an unquestioning
conviction of His absolute right to dispose of us as He will.
Abraham had this spirit, and therefore faltered not a moment when
the command came to sacrifice his son Isaac. Moses had it, and
therefore "_when he was grown up, refused to be called the son
of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer persecution with
the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a
time_." [Footnote 192]

    [Footnote 192: Heb. xi. 24.]

The Christian saints have had it, and therefore they trampled on
every repugnance, every attachment, when it came in the way of
their perfection. And this principle is the life of the great
religious and charitable orders of the Church. These institutions
are a mystery to Protestants. Soon after the "Little Sisters of
the Poor" were established in London, a Protestant writer, in one
of the periodicals of the day, described a visit he had made to
their establishment, and after giving a most interesting account
of the self-denying labors of the community, he says he was
curious to trace the feelings that actuated these ladies in
devoting themselves to duties so apt to be repulsive to their
class. He supposed that benevolence was the impulse most
concerned, but, on questioning the Sisters, found that this was
not the case, but that the basis of their action was a principle
of self-renunciation for Christ's sake. To him such a motive had
in it something strange and unnatural; but, really, this is
always the sustaining principle of all high religious action.
Every thing fails sooner or later but the spirit of sacrifice.
This is the spirit that does great things for God, that cuts down
the mountains in our road to heaven and fills up the valleys,
making straight paths for our feet.

{454}

And how pleasing is such a spirit to God! Even among men such a
spirit is highly esteemed. Who does not admire a generous,
self-sacrificing man? In a family, who is so much loved as the
one whose thoughts are all for others? Where are such tears shed
as over the fresh grave of a self-forgetful friend? What makes
the character of a mother so beautiful but the trait of
self-sacrifice? And so before God there is nothing so beautiful
as the spirit of Sacrifice. A religion which does not centre in
itself, but which centres in God, that is His delight. There is
nothing abject in such a spirit. To serve God is to reign. God
knows our nature, and He requires of us nothing but what gives to
our whole being its highest harmony. The man who has the spirit
of sacrifice is a royal man. How beautiful, my brethren, is an
altar! Every thing connected in our minds with an altar is
beautiful. When we think of an altar, we think of sweet flowers
and burning lights, and smoking incense, and a meek victim, and
worship, music, and prayer. So, in the heart where the spirit or
Sacrifice reigns, there are sweet flowers of piety, and flaming
zeal, and the silent victim of a heart that struggles not, and
the incense of prayer, and the harmonies of joy and praise. Oh,
if there is a sacred place on earth, a home of peace, a shrine, a
holy of holies, a place where heaven and earth are nearest, where
God descends and takes up His abode, it is in the heart of the
man who is penetrated through and through with the sense of God's
greatness, and who walks before Him in reverence and continual
worship.

My brethren, I covet for you such a spirit. I do not always find
it among Catholics. I remember, some years ago, when collecting
for a charitable object, I called on a man who was engaged in a
large business, and asked for a contribution. He said, Oh yes, he
thought highly of the undertaking, and wished to give a generous
donation, say one hundred dollars. When I called for it at the
appointed time, he asked me if I did not want any goods in his
line.
{455}
They were articles of luxury, such as very few persons have
occasion for, and I told him, no. Then he mentioned a rich
gentleman with whom I happened to be acquainted, and asked me to
secure for him his custom, intimating that this donation of one
hundred dollars depended on my success. Now I do not know that
this person was at all sensible of acting an unworthy part, but I
think you must all feel that this was very far from the spirit in
which one ought to give any thing to God; and yet, my brethren,
inferior motives enter too much and too often into our religious
actions. Selfishness mingles too much with our piety. Oh, how
diluted, how paltry and feeble is our religion, compared with
that of other times! David refused the site for an altar that
Areuna offered him as a gift, saying: "_Nay but I will buy it
of thee at a price; and will not offer to the Lord my God
holocausts free cost_." [Footnote 193]

    [Footnote 193: 2 Kings xxiv. 24.]

Magdalene took a box of spikenard ointment, because it was the
most precious thing she had, and very costly, and broke the box,
and poured it wastefully on the Saviour's head. [Footnote 194]

    [Footnote 194: St. Matt. xxvi. 7.]

Those who have examined the cathedrals of Europe that were built
in the Middle Ages, tell us that away up on the outside of the
roof, there is found carving as rich, as beautiful, and as
elaborate as that on the parts in full sight. A human eye would
hardly see it once a year; no matter: it was done for the eye of
God and the angels. Oh that you had such a spirit! I want you to
think more of God. I want you to fear Him more deeply, and to
love Him far, far more fervently. O my brethren, is the service
you are rendering Him at all worthy of Him? Look at the earth and
sky that He has made; look at the glorious Throne of Light from
which He sways the universe, look at the Cross, look into your
own hearts, and answer. "Holy things are for the Holy." "_Great
is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." [Footnote 195] "O Lord
God Almighty, just and true, who shall not fear Thee and magnify
Thy Name!_" [Footnote 196] "_As the eyes of servants are on
the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of a handmaid are on
the hands of her mistress, so our eyes are unto Thee, O Lord our
God, Thou that dwellest in the heavens._" [Footnote 197]

    [Footnote 195: Psalm xlvii. 1.]

    [Footnote 196: Apoc. xv. 3.]

    [Footnote 197: Psalm cxxii. 2.]

------------------------------------

{456}

           Sermon XXV.

    Mary's Destiny A Type Of Ours.

    (The Feast Of The Assumption.)


  "Mary hath chosen the best part,
  which shall not be taken away from her."
  --St. Luke x. 42.


To-day is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To-day she
entered into the enjoyment of heaven. The trials and troubles of
life are over. The time of banishment is ended. She closes her
eyes on this world, and opens them to the vision of God. She is
exalted to-day above the choirs of angels to the heavenly
kingdom, and takes her seat at the right hand of her Son. I do
not mean to attempt any description of her glory in heaven. I am
sure whatever I could say would fall far short, not only of the
reality, but of your own glowing thoughts about her. Who is there
that needs to be told that the Blessed Virgin is splendid in
sanctity, dazzling in beauty, and exalted in power? But, my
brethren, it is possible to contemplate the Blessed Virgin in
such a way as to put her at too great a distance from us. It is
possible to conceive of her glory in heaven as flowing entirely
from her dignity as Mother of God, and therefore to suppose it
altogether unattainable by us; and, as a consequence of this, to
regard her with feelings full of admiration indeed, but almost as
deficient in sympathy as if she were of another nature from us.
{457}
Now, this is to rob ourselves of so ennobling and encouraging a
part of our privilege as Christians, and at the same time to take
away from our devotion to the Blessed Virgin an element so useful
and important, that I have determined, on this her glorious
Feast, to remind you that our destiny and the destiny of Mary are
substantially the same.

And the first proof I offer of this is, that the glory of the
Blessed Virgin in heaven is _not_ owing to her character as
Mother of God, but to her correspondence to grace--to her good
works--to her love of God--in a word, to her fidelity as a
Christian. This is certain, for it is the Catholic doctrine that
the Blessed Virgin, like every other saint, gained heaven only as
the reward of merit. Now, she could not merit it by becoming the
Mother of God. Her being the Mother of God is indeed a most
august dignity, but there is no merit in it. It is a dignity
conferred on her by the absolute decree of God, just as He
resolved to confer angelic nature on angels, or human nature on
men. It is no doubt a great happiness and glory for us to be men,
and not brutes, but there is no merit in it; so there is honor
but no merit in the Blessed Virgin's being the Mother of God.
Now, if she did not merit heaven by becoming the Mother of God,
how did she merit it? for it is of faith that heaven is the
reward of merit. I answer, by her life on earth. It was not as
the Mother of God that she won heaven, but as Mary, the daughter
of Joachim, the wife of Joseph, the mother of Jesus. It is
impossible to read the Gospels without seeing how careful our
Lord was to make us understand this. He seems to have been
afraid, all along, that the splendor of that character of Mother
of God would eclipse the woman and the saint.

{458}

Thus once when He was preaching, a woman in the crowd, hearing
his words of wisdom, and, perhaps, piercing the veil of his
humanity, and thinking what a blessed thing it must be to be the
mother of such a son, exclaimed: "_Blessed is the womb that
bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck,_" [Footnote 198]
but He answered immediately: "_Yea rather, blessed are they who
hear the word of God and keep it_." No one doubts that the
Blessed Virgin did hear the Word of God, and keep it. So our
Lord's words are as much as to say: "You praise my mother for
being my mother; what I praise her for is her sanctity." In the
same way, when they came to Him on another occasion, when there
was a great throng about Him and said, "_Behold, thy mother and
thy brethren stand without, seeking thee_," He answered,
"_Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And stretching
forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother
and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father who
is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother_.
[Footnote 199]

    [Footnote 198: St. Luke xi. 27.]

    [Footnote 199: St. Matt. xii. 48.]

External advantages, however great, even to be related to the Son
of God, are as nothing in his sight, compared to that in which
all may have a part--obedience to his Father's will. Perhaps,
also, this is the explanation of his language at the marriage of
Cana in Galilee. When the wine failed, and his mother came to Him
and asked Him to exert his Divine power to supply the want, He
said: "_Woman, what hast thou to do with me? My time is not yet
come_." [Footnote 200]

    [Footnote 200: St. John ii. 4 (Archbishop Kenrick's
    translation).]

He does not allow her request on the score of her maternal
authority, but what He refuses on this ground He grants to her
virtue and holiness, for He immediately proceeds to perform the
miracle she asked for, though, as He said, his time was not yet
come. So, too, on the cross He commends the Blessed Virgin to St.
John's care, not under the high title of Mother, but the lowly
one of woman. "_Woman, behold thy Son_." [Footnote 201]

    [Footnote 201:  St. John xix. 26.]

Now, why was this? Did not our Lord love his Mother? Was He not
disposed to be obedient to her as his mother? Certainly; but it
was for our sakes He spoke thus.
{459}
In private, at Nazareth, we are told, he was "subject to her,"
but on these great public occasions, when crowds were gathered
around Him to hear Him preach, when He hung on the Cross, and a
world was looking on, He put out of view her maternal grandeur,
in compassion to us, lest there should be too great a distance
between her and us, and we should lose the force of her example.
He wished us to understand that Mary, high as she was, was a
woman, and in the same order of grace and providence with us. We
might have said: "Oh, the Blessed Virgin obtains what she asks
for on easy terms. She has but to ask and it is done. She enters
heaven as the son of a nobleman comes into his father's estate,
by the mere title of blood and lineage." But no: our Saviour
says: "_To sit on my right hand is not mine to give you, but to
them for whom it is prepared by my Father_." [Footnote 202]

    [Footnote 202: St. Matt. xx. 23.]

It is not a matter of favor and arbitrary appointment; not even
my Mother gains her glory in that way. She must comply with the
terms on which my Father promises heaven to men, and therefore
the Church applies to her words spoken of another Mary: "_Mary
hath chosen the best part; therefore it shall not be taken away
from her._" Oh, blessed truth! Mary is one of us. Her destiny,
high as it is, is a human destiny. And she reached it in a human
fashion. She built that splendid throne of hers in heaven with
care and labor while she was on the earth. She laid the
foundation of it in her childhood, when her feet trod the Temple
aisles. She reared its pillars when with faith, purity, and
obedience unequalled, she received the message of the archangel.
And her daily life at Bethlehem, Egypt, and Nazareth, her holy,
loving ways with Joseph and with Jesus, her perfect fulfilment of
God's law, her interior fervent acts of prayer, covered it with
gold and ivory.

{460}

Then, when the blind world was going on its way of folly; while
one King Herod was deluging villages in blood, and another
steeping his soul in the guilt of incest, and of the blood of the
Son of God; while the multitude were doubting, and Scribes and
Pharisees disputing about Christ, the lowly Jewish maiden, with
no other secret but love and prayer, was preparing for herself
that bright mansion in Heaven wherein she now dwells, rejoicing
eternally with her Son. Oh, happy news! One, at least, of our
race has perfectly fulfilled her destiny. Here we can gain some
idea of what God created us for. Here is the destiny that awaits
man when original sin does not mar it; when co-operation with
grace and unswerving perseverance secure it. The Jews were proud
of Judith. They said: "_Thou art the glory of Jerusalem; thou
art the joy of Israel; thou art the honor of our people._" So
we may say of Mary: "O Mary, thou art the pride of our race. In
thee the design of God in our creation has been perfectly
attained. In thee the redemption of Christ has had its perfect
fruit. Mankind conceives new hopes from thy success." Christ,
indeed, has entered into glory; but Christ was God. Mary is
purely human, and Mary has succeeded. Why tarry we here in the
bondage of Egypt? Mary has crossed the Red Sea, and has taken a
timbrel in her hand and sings her thanksgiving unto God. True it
is that she is fleet of foot, and we are all halt and weak; but
even she needed the grace of God, and the same grace is offered
to us, that we may run and not faint. Listen to her song of
triumph. She does not set herself above us, but claims kindred
with us, and bids us hope for the same grace which she has
received. "_My soul doth magnify the Lord, for he hath exalted
the humble, and hath filled the hungry with good things. And his
mercy is from generation to generation to them that fear
Him_."

{461}

Another proof that the destiny of the Blessed Virgin is
substantially the same with ours, is the fact that the same
expressions are used to describe her glory and ours. Sometimes
those who are not Catholics, when they hear what high words we
use of the Blessed Virgin, are scandalized; but we use almost no
words of the Blessed Virgin that may not, in their measure, be
applied to other saints. It is true that the Blessed Virgin has
some gifts and graces in which she stands alone--as her character
of Mother of God, and her Immaculate Conception--but, as I said
before, these are dignities and ornaments conferred on her, and
are not the source of her essential happiness in heaven. In other
respects, her glory is shared by all the saints. Thus, Mary is
called "Queen of Heaven;" but are not all the blessed called in
Holy Scripture, "_kings and priests unto God?_" [Footnote 203]
Is she said to sit at the "King's right hand?" and are not
we too promised a place at his right hand, and to "_sit on
thrones?_" [Footnote 204] Is she called the "Morning Star?"
and does not St. Paul, speaking of all the saints, say, "_star
differeth from star in glory?_" [Footnote 205] Is she called a
"Mediatrix of Prayer" and is it not said of every just man, that
his "_continual prayer availeth much?_" [Footnote 206] Is
she called the "Spouse of God?" and does not the Almighty,
addressing every faithful soul, say, "_My love, my dove, my
undefiled?_" [Footnote 207] Is she called the "Daughter of the
Most High?" and are not we too called the "_Sons of God?_"
[Footnote 208]

    [Footnote 203: Apoc. i. 6.]

    [Footnote 204: Apoc. iii. 21.]

    [Footnote 205: I Cor. xv. 41.]

    [Footnote 206: St. James v. 16.]

    [Footnote 207: Can. v. 2.]

    [Footnote 208: I St. John iii. 2.]



The glory of the Blessed Virgin, then, differs from that of the
other saints in degree, but not in kind. She is not separated
from them, but is one of them. She goes before them. She is the
most perfect of them. But she is one of them. And for this
reason, the glory of the Blessed Virgin gives us the best
conception of the magnificence of our destiny. When a botanist
wishes to describe a flower, he selects the most perfect
specimen.
{462}
When an anatomist draws a model of the human frame, he makes it
faultless. So we, to gain the truest idea of our destiny, must
lift up our eyes to the Blessed Virgin on her heavenly throne,
and say: "Oh! my soul, see for what thou art created." Think of
this, my brethren, as often as you kneel before her image, or
meditate on her greatness. You cannot be what she is, but you can
be like her. She is a creature like you. She is a human being
like you. She is a Christian like you. And her joy, her beauty,
her glory, her wealth, her knowledge, her power--nay, even the
mighty efficacy of her intercession--are only what, in their
measure, God offers to you. "_Glory, honor, and peace to EVERY
ONE that worketh good; for there is no respect of persons with
God_." [Footnote 209]

    [Footnote 209: Rom. ii. 10.]

If these things be so, what greatness it gives to human life.
Perhaps, if you had lived in the times of the Blessed Virgin
Mary, you would never have noticed her; or if you had known her
by sight, what would she have seemed to you but a good little
Jewish girl, lowly and retiring in her manners and appearance?
or, later in life, a poor young woman thrust away, with her
husband, from a crowded inn, or fleeing by night with an infant
child or, still later, the mother of a condemned malefactor,
watching his sufferings in the crowd. Herod did not know her, and
the nobles of Jerusalem were ignorant of her. She was not one of
the friends of the queen's dancing daughters. Even the rustics of
the village of Bethlehem looked down on her. She carried no
servants about with her, and had no palace to live in. But Faith
tells us of angel visits, of union with God, of heavenly
goodness, and an immortal crown. So, in like manner, how our life
becomes grand and dignified when it is lighted up by faith! You
know there are porcelain pictures, which in the hand are rough
and unmeaning, but held up to the light reveal the most beautiful
scenes and figures; so our common, ordinary life, rough and
unmeaning as it often seems, when enlightened by faith becomes
all divine.
{463}
There is a little girl who learns her lessons and obeys her
parents, and tells the truth, and shuns every thing that is
wicked; why, as that little girl kneels down to pray, I see a
bright angel drawing near to her, and he smiles on her and says:
"_Hail! Blessed art thou: the Lord is with thee_." That
young man who, by a sincere conversion, has thrown off the
slavery of sin, and regained once more the grace of God--"what is
his heart but another cave of Bethlehem, in which Christ is born,
and around which angels sing: "_Glory to God in the highest, on
earth, peace to men of good will_." That Christian family,
where daily prayers are offered, and instruction and good example
are given, and mutual fidelity is observed between the
members--what is it but the Holy House of Nazareth?--the Home of
Jesus? Yes, good Christian, do not be cast down because you are
poor, or because you suffer, or because your opportunities of
doing good are limited; live the life of a Christian, and you are
living Mary's life on earth. We have not, indeed, Mary's perfect
sinlessness, but we have the graces of baptism, by which we may
vanquish sin. We have not, as she had, the visible presence of
our Lord, but we have Him invisibly in our hearts, and
sacramentally in the Holy Communion. We are not "full of grace,"
as she was, but we have grace without limit promised to us in
answer to prayer. Let us assert the privileges of our
birth-right. We belong to the new creation. Angels claim kindred
with us. God is our Father. Heaven is our home. We are the
children of the saints--yes, of her who is the greatest of the
saints. Let us follow her footsteps, that one day we may come to
our Assumption, the glory of which surpassed even the power of
St. John to utter. "_Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of
God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that
when He shall appear we shall be like Him, because we shall see
Him as He is_." [Footnote 210]

    [Footnote 210: St. John iii. 2.]

{464}

Every thing depends an our co-operating with grace. How did the
Blessed Virgin arrive at such glory? By corresponding to every
grace. See her at her Annunciation. The angel comes and tells her
of the grace God has prepared for her. If she had not believed,
if she had not assented, what would have come of it? Why, she
would have lost for all eternity the glory attached to that
grace. But she did not refuse. She was ready for the grace when
it was offered. She said: "_Fiat_," "_Be it done to me
according to thy word_." Oh, how much hung on that
_Fiat!_ an eternal glory in heaven. So it is with us. There
are moments in our lives big with the issues of our future. God's
purposes concerning the soul have a certain order. He gives one
grace; if we correspond to that He gives another; if we do not
correspond, we lose those that depended on it; sometimes, even,
we lose our salvation altogether. This is the key of your
destiny--fidelity to grace. You have an inspiration from God: He
speaks to your soul. Oh, listen to Him, and obey Him! To one He
says: "Abandon, O sinner, your evil life, and turn to Me with all
your heart." "_Now is the accepted time, now is the day of
salvation!_" To another, who is already in His grace, He sends
inspirations to a more perfect life, a life of higher prayer and
more uninterrupted recollection. Another, by the sweet
attractions of His grace, He draws away from home and kindred to
serve Him as a Sister of Charity by the bed of suffering; or as a
nun, to live with Him in stillness and contemplation; or as a
priest, to win souls for heaven. Oh, speak the word that Mary
spoke: "_Be it done to me according to thy word_." Are you
in sin? Convert without delay. Are you leading a tepid, imperfect
life? Gird your loins to watchfulness and prayer.
{465}
Do you feel in yourselves a vocation to a religious or sacerdotal
life? Rise up and obey without delay. Tomorrow may be too late.
The grace may be forfeited forever. Why stand we all the day
idle? Heaven is filling up. Each generation sends a new company
to the heavenly host. Time is going. The great business of life
remains unaccomplished. By our baptism we have been made children
of God and heirs of heaven. Labor we, therefore, to enter into
that rest. Mary, dear Mother, lift up thy voice for us in heaven,
that we, following thy footsteps, may one day share thy glory,
and with thee praise forever God the Father. Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

-----------------------------------

           Sermon XXVI.

        Care For The Dead.

 (Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost.)


  "And when He came nigh to the gate of the city,
  behold a dead man was carried out."
    --St. Luke VII. 12.


It is not at the gate of Naim only that such a procession might
be met. From every city "dead men are carried out to the
grave"--nay, from every house. Death knocks alike at the palace
and the cabin. It is only a question of time with him. Sooner or
later he comes to all. Yes, my brethren, a day will come to each
home in this parish when a piece of black crape at the door will
tell the world that death has been there. Within there will be
stillness and sadness, and in some darkened chamber, wrapt in a
winding sheet, will lie the cold and lifeless form of some
beloved member of your family--a father or mother; a wife or
husband; a brother or sister; a son or daughter. After a little
while even that will be taken away from you.
{466}
The time of the funeral will come. The mourners will go about the
streets, and the dead will be buried out of your sight. I do not
speak of this to make you sad. On the contrary, what I am going
to say will, I know, be a source, the only real source, of
comfort to you in the loss of your friends. I wish to remind you
of your duties to the dead. Christianity does not permit us to
bid farewell forever to our departed friends. Death, it tells us,
does not sever the bond of duty and love between us and them. We
still have duties toward them, and in the performance of those
duties, while we are doing good to the dead, we are procuring for
ourselves the best solace. What are those duties?

First: To give back the dead resignedly to God. It is not wrong
to weep for the dead. It is not wrong, for we cannot help it. It
is as impossible not to feel pain at such a separation as it
would be not to suffer when the surgeon's knife is cutting off an
arm or a leg; and, what nature demands, God does not forbid.
Therefore the Holy Scripture says: "_My son, shed tears over
the dead; and begin to lament as if thou hadst suffered some
great harm_." [Footnote 211]

    [Footnote 211: Eccles. xxxviii. 16.]

Do you think that poor widow of whom the Gospel speaks to-day
could help weeping? She had known sorrow before, but then she had
one support, a dear and only son. He was a good lad. Every body
knew and loved him. But now he too is gone. It is strange that he
should go and she be left behind, but so it is: there lies his
body on the bier, and she is following him to the grave. See her
as she goes along in her coarse black dress, bent with age and
sorrow. Can you blame her for weeping, as she looks, for the last
time, on that dear form? At least, Jesus did not blame her. He
looked at her, and He sorrowed with her. He was moved with
compassion.
{467}
It is not wrong, then, to weep for the dead, but we must moderate
our grief, banish every rebellious thought from our heart, and
mingle resignation with our sorrow. The Office which the Church
sings over the dead is made up in great part of joyful psalms and
anthems. After this pattern ought to be the sorrow of a Christian
family, a sorrow that is not violent and noisy, a sorrow that
does not pass the bounds of decency, a sorrow, I may say, mingled
with joy. How different it is in some families! You come near a
house and you hear shrieks the most appalling. You go in and find
a woman abandoning herself to the most noisy and violent grief.
Her language is little short of blasphemy. She refuses any
comfort. She is weeping over a dead husband. Perhaps in life she
loved him none too well. Perhaps she made his life bitter enough
to him, and often prayed that some harm might happen to him, and
that she might see him dead. And now she does see him dead. She
will never curse him again, and he will never anger her again. He
is dead; and now she breaks out into the most frantic grief, and
alarms the neighborhood. She cries; she calls upon God; she
throws herself on the corpse. At the funeral her conduct is still
more wild and disordered. Now, what is all this? I will not say
it is hypocritical, but I say it is brutish. It is not to act as
a reasonable being, much less as a Christian. This is the way
with some women. The only time they ever show any love to their
husbands is when they are dead. Let them be: such grief will not
last long. Wait awhile; before her husband's body has well got
cold in the ground she will be looking around for another match.

Do not imitate such unchristian conduct. When Death enters your
house, do not forget that you are a Christian. Do not
_indulge_ your grief. Call to your aid the principles of
your faith. You are sad and lonely. Well, is it not better to
feel that this life is a state of exile? You have lost your
protector. And has not God promised to protect the orphan? You
have lost such a _good_ friend, such a bright example.
{468}
Well, ought you not, then, to rejoice at his safe departure? The
early Christians used to carry flowers to the grave, and sing
hymns of joy because the toils of a Christian warrior were ended,
and he had entered into rest. Hear what the Church sings:
"_Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord_." Will you weep
because one you love is taken away from sin, from temptation,
from the trouble to come? Will you grieve because he has secured
for himself the Blissful and Eternal Vision of God? But you have
no confidence that he _was_ good, that he did die in the
grace of God. Suppose you are uncertain on that point, is there
any thing better than to go with your doubts and fears before the
Holy God, and while you offer to Him your trembling prayers for
the departed, to adore His Providence and say: "The Lord gave,
and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the Name of the Lord."
[Footnote 212]

    [Footnote 212: Job i. 27.]

Dry up your tears, then, O bereaved Christian. "Make mourning for
the dead for a day or two," [Footnote 213] says the Holy
Scripture. That is, do not abandon yourself to grief. Do not
think, because your friend is gone, that God is gone, and Christ
is gone, and duty gone. Do not call on others more than is
necessary. Resume your ordinary duties as soon as possible--and
in these duties you will find the relief which God Himself has
provided for our sadness, and His Grace will accompany you in the
performance of them.

    [Footnote 213: Ecc. xxxviii. 18.]

Another duty to the dead is to perform scrupulously, as far as
possible, their last directions. When the patriarch Jacob was
dying, he called his son Joseph to his side, and said to him:
"_Thou shalt show me this kindness and truth, not to bury me in
Egypt, but I will sleep with my fathers, and thou shalt take me
away out of this land, and bury me in the burying-place of my
ancestors_." [Footnote 214]

    [Footnote 214: Gen. xlvii. 30.]

{469}

It was not of itself a very important request; it was, moreover,
an inconvenient one. Yet see how promptly and carefully it was
complied with. As soon as the days of mourning for Jacob were
ended, Joseph went to Pharao and said: "_My father made me
swear to him, saying, Thou shalt bury me in my sepulchre which I
have digged for myself in the land of Canaan. So I will go and
bury my father and return. And Pharao said to him, Go up and bury
thy father. And they buried him in the land of Canaan, in the
double cave which Abraham bought for a burying-place_."
[Footnote 215]

    [Footnote 215: Gen. 1, 4, 5, 13.]

Would that the same piety were always seen among us! A mother
dies: the last wishes that she expresses to her children are that
they should be true to their holy faith and earnest in seeking
the salvation of their souls, and she sends a message to an
absent son, which will not reach him in his distant home till
long after she is gone, begging him to be faithful and regular in
his duties as a Christian. A father dies, and tells his son of a
debt, strictly due in justice, but of which there is no record,
and where he will find the money to pay it. A poor girl dies, and
confides to some one, whom she thinks her friend, the little
earnings of her hard labor, asking that it may be sent to her old
mother in Ireland. Are these wishes executed? Are these children
faithful Catholics? Is that boy, the object of a mother's dying
tears and prayers, regular at the sacraments? Has that debt been
paid? Did the sad news of the daughter's death go out to the poor
mother in the old country, softened with the evidence of that
daughter's piety and love? or was the money retained and
squandered? What! are you not afraid to add to the sin of
irreligion and injustice the crime of breaking faith with the
dead? Hear what God says in the Holy Scripture: "_The voice of
thy brother's blood crieth to Me from the earth_." [Footnote 216]

    [Footnote 216: Gen. iv. 10.]


{470}

The dead have got a voice, then--a voice that cries to God, that
cries for vengeance against those who injure them. Pay, then, thy
debts to the dead. Redeem the promise thou hast made to the
dying. Fulfil thy duties as an executor or administrator with
fidelity and justice. Be exact. It is a dead man thou art dealing
with. Do not say, he is dead and cannot speak. Hear what the Law
of God saith: "_Thou shalt not speak evil of the deaf, nor put
a stumbling block before the blind: but thou shalt fear the Lord
thy God, because I am the Lord_." [Footnote 217] Do you
understand? God hears for those who cannot hear, He speaks for
those who cannot speak; and if thou makest the dead thy enemy,
thou hast the Living and Eternal God for a Foe.

    [Footnote 217: Levit. xix. 14.]

Another part of our duty to the dead is to treat their bodies
with respect, and to give them decent burial. We do this for two
reasons: for what they have been, and what they are to be. Their
bodies have been the casket which held their souls, and we love
their bodies for what their souls have been to God and to us. We
love the eye that looked upon us with affection, the mouth that
spoke to us words of truth and kindness, we love the ear that
listened to our sorrows, and the hand that soothed and blessed
us. We love that body which was the soul's instrument here in her
works of piety and Christian charity. And we love that body for
what it shall be. We see it as it will be when it springs from
the grave on the morning of the Resurrection, sparkling with
light, beautiful and immortal. And this is why we follow the dead
to the grave. We go with them as we go part of the way home with
a cherished guest. We go with them in token that the love that
united us is not severed by death, but that we are still joined
to them in hope and charity. Oh yes, it is right. Let the body be
laid out decently; the limbs composed; the eyes closed for their
long sleep. And when the time of burial comes, let all the
ceremonies of the Holy Church lend their aid.
{471}
Walk slow; let the priest in surplice and stole go before; light
the candles and hold the cross aloft; sing the sweet and solemn
chant; carry the body to the church and lay it before the Altar
of God; bring incense and holy water, and let there be High Mass
for the repose of the soul. Fitting ceremonies! "Beautiful and
touching rites! chosen with a heavenly still to comfort the
mourner and to honor the dead. But alas! alas! how do we see this
duty to the dead sometimes fulfilled! A Catholic is dead. It is
true there are candles and holy water, but where are the pious
prayers? The neighbors are gathered together, but it is not to
pray. The glasses and the pipes speak of a different kind of
meeting. Yes, they have come there, there to that chamber, the
Court of Death and the Threshold of Eternity, to hold a drunken
wake. The night wears on with stories, sometimes even obscene and
filthy, and as liquor does its work, curses and blasphemies
mingle with the noisy, senseless cries and yells of drunken men.
Are these orgies meant to insult the dead? Do these revellers
wish to make us believe that their departed friend was, body and
soul, the child of Hell as much as they? So the wake is kept, and
now for the funeral. The man died early in the week, but of
course he must be buried on Sunday. Sunday is the worst day of
the week for a funeral, because it is the day appointed for the
public worship of God, and it is wrong to draw men away from the
church on that day without necessity, yet a funeral must by all
means be on a Sunday. And why? Because a greater crowd can be got
together on that day, and the object is to have a crowd, and to
make people say, such a one had a _decent funeral_. The
family are poor, nevertheless a large number of carriages are
hired, and filled with a set of people who regard the whole thing
as a picnic or excursion. Some of them have already "taken a
drop," and so little sense of religion have they left, that
sometimes at the grave itself, sometimes in returning from it,
they raise brawls and riots that bring disgrace and contempt at
once on the man they have buried and the faith they profess.
{472}
Do you call this a decent funeral?" I say it is a sin. A sin of
pride and ostentation. A sin of scandal and excess. A sin of
robbery and cruelty--of robbery and cruelty toward the poor
children from whose hungry mouths and naked backs are taken the
extravagant expenses of this ambitious display. How much better
to have a small funeral! a funeral remarkable for nothing but its
modesty and simplicity, to which only the few are called who knew
the dead and loved him, who follow him to his long home with
serious thoughts, like thinking men and Christians, remembering
that before long they must go with him into the grave and lie
down beside him, and who return home to remember his soul before
God as often as they kneel down to pray.

And this brings me, in the last place, to speak of the duty of
praying for the dead. It is a most consoling privilege of our
holy faith. Death indeed fixes our eternal condition irrevocably.
"_If the tree fall to the south or to the north, in what place
soever it shall fall, there shall it be_." [Footnote 218]

    [Footnote 218: Eccles. xi. 3.]

But the good do not always enter heaven immediately. If the sharp
process by which God purifies His children on earth has not
wrought its full effect, it must be carried on for a while longer
in that hidden receptacle in which faithful souls await their
summons to the presence of God. And during this period our
prayers in their behalf are of great avail. No part of our
religion has more undeniable proofs of its antiquity. As far back
as the fourth century of the Christian era, St. Cyril testifies
that it was the custom "to pray for those who had departed this
life, believing it to be a great assistance to those souls for
whom prayers are offered while the Holy and Tremendous Sacrifice
is going on." [Footnote 219]

    [Footnote 219: St. Cyril, Cat., lect. v., n. 9.]

{473}

The tombstones of the early Christians attest the same practice,
and St. Augustine, speaking not as a doctor, but recording a
chapter of his own history, lets us into the innermost feelings
of the Church of his day on this subject. In his Confessions he
tells us that his mother St. Monica, shortly before her death,
looked at him and said: "Lay this body anywhere, be not concerned
about that, only I beg of you, that wheresoever you be, you make
remembrance of me at the Lord's Altar." And the saint goes on to
tell how he fulfilled this request, how after her death the
"Sacrifice of our Ransom" was offered for her, and how fervently
he continued to pray for her. But his own words are best: "Though
my mother lived in such a manner that Thy Name is much praised in
her faith and manners, yet * * * I entreat Thee, O God of my
heart, for her sins. Hear me, I beseech Thee, through that cure
of our wounds that hung upon the Tree, and that sitting now at
Thy Right Hand maketh intercession for us. I know that she did
mercifully, and from her heart forgave to her debtors their
trespasses; do Thou likewise forgive to her her debts, if she
hath also contracted any in those many years she lived after the
saving water. Forgive them, O Lord, forgive them. * * * Let no
one separate her from Thy protection. Let not the lion and the
dragon either by force or fraud interpose himself. Let her rest
in peace, together with her husband; and do Thou inspire Thy
servants that as many as shall read this may remember at Thy
Altar Thy handmaid Monica, with Patricius her husband."
[Footnote 220]

    [Footnote 220: St. Augustine's, Confessions, book ix., c.
    13.]

Are we as faithful to pray for our departed friends, and to get
prayers said for them? They wait the time of their deliverance
with painful longing. They cannot hasten it themselves. They
cannot merit. Their hands are tied. They are at our mercy. The
Church indeed prays for these in her litanies, her offices, and
her Masses, but how little do we, their friends and relations,
pray for them.
{474}
The patriarch Joseph, when he foretold to Pharao's butler, his
fellow prisoner, his speedy restoration to honor, said to him:
"_Only remember me when it shall be well with thee, and do me
this kindness to put Pharao in mind to take me out of this
prison_." [Footnote 221]

    [Footnote 221: Gen. xl. 14.]

But the butler, when things prospered with him, forgot his
friend. So we forget our friends in the prison of Purgatory. They
linger looking for help from us, and it comes not. Oh, pray for
the dead. Death does not sever them from hope, from prayer, or
from the power of Christ. Did not Martha say to our Lord in
reference to her brother Lazarus, who was already dead: "_I
know that even NOW whatsoever thou wilt ask of God (in his
behalf) He will give it thee!_" [Footnote 222]

    [Footnote 222: St. John xi. 22.]

Yes, Christ's mercy and Christ's Bounty reach even to the regions
of the shadow of death. Christ has in His hands gifts even for
the dead--gifts of Consolation, of Refreshment, of Quiet, and of
Rest. Ask those gifts for those you love. With the widow of Naim
carry your dead to the Saviour, let your tears and prayers in
their behalf meet His Compassionate Ear and Eye, and He will
speak to the dead: "Young man, I say to thee Arise." And the dead
shall hear His voice, and shall rise up, not yet to the
Resurrection of the Body, not yet to be "delivered to his
Master," but to the company of the Angels, to the spirits of the
Just, to the home of God, where they shall be "_before the
Throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His Temple, and He
that sitteth on the Throne shall dwell over them. And they shall
not hunger nor thirst any more; neither shall the sun fall on
them, nor any heat_." [Footnote 223]

    [Footnote 223: Apoc. vii. 15, 16.]

{475}

I have endeavored to-day, my brethren, to speak for the dead.
They cannot speak for themselves, but they live, and feel, and
think. And sure I am that, if they could speak, their words would
not be in substance very different from what I have spoken. They
would say: "I want no costly monument. I want no splendid
funeral. Still less do I wish that God should be offended on my
account. I ask a remembrance mingled with affection and
resignation, the rites of the Holy Church, a quiet grave, and now
and then a fervent, earnest prayer. And I will not forget you in
my prison of hope. I will pray for you, and oh! when the morning
comes, and my happy soul is called to Heaven, my first
intercession at the throne of God shall be for you, whom I loved
so well in life, and who hast not left off thy kindness to the
dead.

-------------------------------

           Sermon XXVII.

    Success The Reward Of Merit.

 (Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost.)


    "What things a man shall sow,
    them also shall he reap."
      --Gal. VI. 8.


To judge by the complaints which we hear continually around us,
we might conclude that the commonest thing in the world is for
men to fail in their undertakings. Now, I admit that it is a very
common thing indeed for men to fail in obtaining what they
_desire_. There are many men who have some darling object of
ambition which they cannot reach. But I do not think it is a very
frequent thing for men to fail in attaining an end which they
steadily aim at, and which they take the proper means to attain.
I believe the rule is the other way. I believe success is the
ordinary result of well-directed endeavor. I know indeed that the
Holy Scriptures tell us that "_the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches
to the learned, nor favor to the skilful: but time and chance is
all_." [Footnote 224]

    [Footnote 224: Eccles. ix. 11.]

{476}

But surely all that this means is that the providence of God, for
its own purposes, _sometimes_ interferes to thwart the
best-concerted measures, and to crown feeble attempts with
unexpected success. The race is not always to the swift, but
ordinarily it is. The battle is not always to the strong, but
when it is not, it is an exception to the rule. The rule is, that
success commonly attends the employment of proper and judicious
means. The experience of life proves that this is true. Let us
look around and see if it is not so.

We will look first at the business world. Here at first sight a
succession of the most surprising changes meets our eye. Men that
were rich a few years ago are now poor. Men that then were poor
are now rich. The servant and his master have changed places. If
you return to the city after a few years' absence you will find
the same handsome houses lining our avenues, but the occupants of
many of them will be changed. The same gay carriages roll along
the street, but there is always a new set of people riding in
them, and they that used to ride now go afoot. What wonder is it
that men have imagined Fortune to be blindfold[ed], and the ups
and downs of life the chance revolutions of her wheel? But when
we look closer, we see this is not the case. For the most part
each fall and each success has had an adequate history. There has
been a rigid bond of cause and effect. It is only a metaphor when
we say that riches have wings. Gold and silver, and real estate,
and most kinds of personal property, are solid and substantial,
and do not melt away in a night. So, on the other hand, fortunes
are not made by accident. The rich man becomes rich by aiming at
it and striving for it. He does not need any extraordinary genius
perhaps, but he bends his talents, such as they are, to the task.
He rises early, he is constantly at his place of business, he
keeps himself informed of all its details, he thinks about it.
When a favorable opening comes, he takes advantage of it.
{477}
When a reverse comes, he is not discouraged by it. Other men
would be discouraged, but he is not. Perhaps he is in middle
life, perhaps he has a growing family, but he looks out for a
fresh field of enterprise, and begins anew to battle with the
world, and he becomes rich again. His success is owing in part,
if you will, to favorable circumstances, but largely to his own
energy and industry. These were the conditions, without which no
amount of mere external advantages would have insured success.

Again, if we look to the world of Literature and Art, we find the
same thing. Disappointed authors and artists often talk as if
they were the victims of the world's stupidity or malice; as if
men were unable or unwilling to appreciate them. Now, I know it
is said that such things have been. There have been men of rare
promise, but of a sensitive nature, who have been crushed by
coldness and neglect, or by the hard and unfair criticism with
which their first attempts were met. But this is far from being a
common thing. The world likes to be amused and pleased. It is
really interested in having something to praise. This being so,
how is it possible for a man of real merit to remain long
unrecognized? Who can imagine that the great masterpieces of
painting, or the great poems that have come down to us from the
past, _could_ have failed to excite the admiration of men?
In fact, human judgment, when you take its suffrages over wide
tracts and through the lapse of ages, is all but infallible. In a
particular place it may be warped by passion; in a particular
time it may conform to an artificial standard; but give it time
and room, and it is sure with unerring accuracy to detect the
beautiful and true. It is as far as possible, then, from being
the case that celebrated authors or celebrated artists have
become great by accident. There may have been favorable
circumstances. There were undoubtedly great gifts of nature; but
there was also deep study and painful, persevering toil.
{478}
I have been told that the manuscripts of a distinguished English
poet show so many erasures that hardly a line remains unaltered.
The great cathedrals of Europe were the fruit of life-long labor.
And these are but instances of a general rule. When we go into
the workshops in which some of the beautiful articles of
merchandise are manufactured, we see a great fire and hear the
clank of machinery, and men are hurrying to and fro, stained with
dust and sweat. Now, something like this has been going on to
give birth to these beautiful creations in Letters and Arts which
have delighted the world. There has been a great fire in the
furnace of the brain, and each faculty of the mind has toiled to
do its part, and there have been many blows with the pen, the
pencil, or the chisel, until the beautiful conception is
complete. Such men were successful because they deserved it. The
approbation of the world did not create their success, it only
recognized it.

I will take one more example of the rule I am
illustrating--personal character, reputation. I believe, as a
general rule, it is pretty nearly what we deserve. We reap what
we sow. People think of us pretty much as we really are. I am not
unmindful of the occasional success of hypocrites, nor of the
instances, happily not very frequent, of innocent persons
overwhelmed by a load of unjust accusation and calumny. Again, I
know that when people are angry with us they sometimes say
spiteful things which they do not mean, and when they wish to
flatter us they say things more complimentary, but just as false.
But notwithstanding all this, I affirm that the judgments which
people who know us form of us are very nearly correct. Indeed it
must be so, for we cannot disguise ourselves altogether, or for a
long time. We cannot always wear a mask. An ignorant, ill-bred
man may go to a tailor's and dress himself out in fashionable
clothes, but the first word he speaks, and the first movement he
makes will betray his want of education.
{479}
So, while we are trying to pass ourselves off for something else
than what we are, to a keen observer our habitual thoughts and
character will pierce through and discover our true selves. Even
what our enemies say about us, when they say what they think, is
very likely to be true. Men have no need to invent bad things
about us. We have all got faults enough. They have only to seize
these, exaggerate them a little, caricature them, separate them
from what is good in us, and they will make a picture bad enough,
but not too bad to be recognized as ours. Their description of us
is like a photographic likeness. It takes away the bloom from the
cheek, and the brightness from the eye, and the rich tints from
the hair. It notes down each imperfection, each frown and wrinkle
and crookedness of feature, and there it is, a hard, severe, but
not an untrue likeness. In fact, my brethren, one of the last
things I would advise any man to attempt would be to try to seem
something he is not. He is almost sure to be unsuccessful. There
is a law in the world too strong for him--the law of justice and
truth, the law that binds together actions and their
consequences, the law that attaches honor to what is good and
right, and contempt to what is base and false.

Thus we see on every side illustrations of the rule that our
success is in proportion to our merit. We sow what we reap. Much
more is this true in regard to religion. You have observed that
hitherto I have been obliged to make some qualifications, to make
some exceptions in each of the instances I have brought forward.
God may prevent our becoming rich, however legitimately we may
labor for it, because He sees that riches would not be good for
us. Or He may allow our talents to remain unappreciated, and our
name to be covered with obloquy, in order to drive us to seek His
Eternal Praise. But in religion our labors are sure to meet with
success. There is absolutely no exception. Our success will be
infallibly in proportion to our endeavors, neither more or less.
{480}
You know, my brethren, that a doctrine may be familiar to us, but
may not always make the same impression on us. We may hear it
many times and assent to it, but on some special occasion, it may
enter our mind with such force, take such a lively hold of our
imagination and heart that it seems new to us. This is what we
call _coming home to us_. Now, I remember an occasion when
the doctrine I have just stated thus came home to me. It was on
hearing the words of St. Alphonsus: "With that degree of love to
God that we possess when we leave this world, and no more, will
we pass our eternity." Any thing more startling and awakening I
do not remember ever to have heard. Not the thought of the pains
of hell, or the horrors of sin, or the bliss of paradise, ever
seemed to me so loud a call for action. All of heaven that we
shall ever see, we acquire here. Perhaps you too, my brethren,
have not realized this sufficiently. The truth is, I think many
men act in regard to religion as children and weak-minded persons
do in regard to the things of this world--they build "castles in
the air." This is a very favorite occupation with some people.
They spend hours and even days in it. It is a cheap amusement,
and they who follow it do not usually stint themselves in the
warmth and color of their pictures. The only difficulty is, to
fix a limit to their imaginary splendors. They imagine themselves
very rich, worth, say fifty thousand, or a hundred thousand, or
five hundred thousand dollars, with beautiful houses and
furniture, and all the elegancies of life. Or they imagine
themselves very famous, with a reputation as wide as the world,
and admiring crowds shouting their praises wherever they go. Now
something like this, equally silly and unsubstantial, passes in
the minds of many Christians in regard to their hereafter. They
imagine that, somehow, one of these days, they will find
themselves caught up to the third heaven, borne by angels to the
throne of God, crowned with a jewelled crown, seated on a golden
throne, with palms in their hands, to sing forever the song of
the redeemed.
{481}
They may be now in mortal sin, they may be in the habit of mortal
sin; they may be the slaves of passion, drunkards, impure,
dishonest; they may be unwilling to renounce the dangerous
occasions of sin; or they may not be so bad as this: they may
belong to that class who have their periodic spells of sin and
devotion, and are saints or sinners according to the time of the
year you take them; or they may belong to a still milder type of
ungodliness, those who are negligent and cold-hearted, with a
host of venial sins about them, and at intervals, now and then, a
mortal sin--no matter: somehow or other, by some kind of a
contrivance, all--the relapsed sinner and the habitual sinner,
the drunkard, the impure, the dishonest and the profane, the
worldly and tepid, the prayerless and presumptuous--all are going
to heaven. O miserable delusion! Does the Bible teach us this?
When it speaks of a "way" to heaven, does it not mean that all
must walk in that way to reach there? When it tells us that "the
Judge standeth at the door," does it not mean, to judge us by our
actions! Which of the saints was ever wafted to heaven in this
passive way? Ah! the apostle tells us, "they were valiant in
fight," they fought with the wild beasts of their passions, and
put to flight the armies of hell. No: it is an enemy that hath
sown among you this Calvinistic poison--yes, this worse than
Calvinistic poison, for the Calvinists did but assert that a few
elect were saved by a foregone decree, while this practically
extends it to every one. Do not believe it. "_What a man soweth
that shall he reap_." "_He that soweth to the flesh shall of
the flesh reap corruption, and, he that soweth to the Spirit
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting_." [Footnote 225]

    [Footnote 225: Gal. vi. 8.]

{482}

Our days are like a weaver's shuttle, and, as they quickly come
and go, they weave the web of our destiny. Each step we take is a
step in one of the two paths that fill up the whole field of
human probation. Ask the Psalmist who of us shall see heaven, and
he will answer you, "_Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle,
or who shall rest on Thy holy hill? he that has clean hands and a
pure heart_." [Footnote 226]

    [Footnote 226: Ps. xiv. 1; xxiii. 4.]

Ask the Gospel, Who is that servant whom his Lord at His coming
will approve? and it answers: "_Even he whose loins are girt
about, and whose lights are burning, as a man that waits for his
Lord_." [Footnote 227]

    [Footnote 227: St. Luke xii. 35, 36.]

Would you know who, at the end of the world, shall reap a rich
harvest? "_They that sow in tears_"--in the holy tears of
compunction, of the love of God, and of the desire of heaven--
"_shall reap in joy. And he that now goeth on his way weeping
and bearing good seed, shall come again with joy, and bring his
sheaves with him_." [Footnote 228]

    [Footnote 228: Ps. cxxv. 5, 6, 7.]

Let us pause a moment before we conclude to try ourselves by this
doctrine. "All the rivers run into the sea;" so all our lives are
carrying us on to eternity. Should our lives be cut off at this
moment, of what kind of texture would they be found? "_In those
days_," says the prophet, "_Israel shall come, they shall
make haste and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to
Sion, their faces thitherward_." [Footnote 229]

    [Footnote 229: Jer. i. 4, 5.]

Are our faces, my brethren, turned toward the heavenly city? Are
we hastening thither, acknowledging ourselves strangers and
pilgrims on the earth? These careless confessions, these
heartless prayers, these darling sins, these aimless lives, this
tepidity, this indifference and procrastination in spiritual
things, what do they indicate? We look at the sky to judge of the
weather. We read the newspapers to find out the condition of the
country. We watch our symptoms to ascertain the state of our
health. Ah! there are indications far more important, to which we
ought to take heed.
{483}
Indications of salvation or reprobation, symptoms of spiritual
health or decay, earnests of heaven or hell, marks of Christ or
Satan. You remember the story of the old monk who was observed to
weep as he sat watching the people going into church, and, being
asked the reason, said he saw a man enter, followed by a black
demon, who seemed to claim him as his own. So, if we could look
into the spiritual world, we should see some men attended by
angels who have come to "minister to them as heirs of salvation,"
while others are surrounded by evil spirits, "come to torment
them before their time." Yes, eternity does not wait for the last
day. It presses upon us now and here. Each day is a Judgment Day.
Each evening, as it falls, finds us gathered at Christ's right
hand, driven to His left, or wavering between the two. Why do we
not take our place at once, where we shall wish to be found at
our Saviour's coming? It is not very long since death took from
among us a convert to our holy faith, [Footnote 230] whose life
had been rich in good works, who had been a mother to the orphan,
and a sister to the outcast and abandoned; and a priest, who
visited her on her last illness, told me that he had said to her:
"If God were now to raise you up and restore you to health, I
would not know how to give you any other advice, than to resume
your good works at that point where sickness compelled you to
leave them off." Beautiful testimony to a holy life! Cut the
thread wherever you will, it is all gold. Stop the Christian
where you will, he is on his way to heaven. Be such a life ours.
I have said each day is a Judgment Day: let each day merit the
approval of Christ. Let our life be a constant preparation for
Eternity, remembering that the only heaven the Christian religion
offers us, is a heaven that is won by our labors here.

    [Footnote 230: Mrs. Geo. Ripley.]

-------------------------------

{484}

             Sermon XXVIII.

      The Mass The Highest Worship.

  (Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost.)


  "What shall I offer to the Lord that is worthy?
   Wherewith shall I kneel before the High God?"
     --Mich. VI.6.


Such is the question which mankind have been asking from the
creation of the world. God is so high, so great, so good, so
beautiful. He made us. He created us by His Word, and we hang
upon His Breath. How shall we worship Him? How shall we express
the thoughts of Him that fill our souls? Alas! the words of the
lips, the postures of the body, are all inadequate. What shall we
do? Shall we, like Cain, gather the fairest fruits and flowers,
and bring the basket before the Lord? Or, like Abel, shall we
take the firstlings of our flocks, and slay them in His honor?
Shall we dress an altar, and pile upon it the smoking victims?
Shall we make our children pass through the fire in His Name? Or,
like the Indian devotee, shall we throw ourselves under the
wheels of the car that carries the image of the Divinity? Such
have been the ways in which men have tried to express their
devotion to God, but all have been either insufficient or vain.
Man's thoughts about God have found no fitting expression. A fire
has burned in his heart which no words can utter. Now here, as in
so many other ways, Christianity comes to our aid, and places
within our reach a perfect and all-sufficient mode of expressing
our devotion, a perfect worship. Do you ask me to what I allude?
I answer, to the Sacrifice of the Mass.

{485}

Let me remind you what the Sacrifice of the Mass is. We Catholics
believe that in the Mass Jesus Christ offers His real Body and
Blood, under the species of bread and wine, to His Eternal
Father, in remembrance of His Death on the Cross. Our Lord's
Death on the Cross was in itself complete, and all-sufficient for
the purpose for which it was undergone, and need not, indeed
could not, be repeated; but His Priestly Office was not exhausted
by that offering. In the language of Scripture: "_He ever
liveth to make intercession for us_." [Footnote 231] And,
"_He is a Priest forever_." [Footnote 232]

    [Footnote 231: Heb. vii. 25.]

    [Footnote 232: Ps. cix. 4.]

In what, then, does our Lord's Priesthood since His Crucifixion
consist? In heaven, it consists in presenting Himself to His
Father directly and immediately, to plead the merits of His Death
and Passion in our behalf; but on earth it consists in
representing that Death and Passion in the mystical action which
we call the Eucharistic Sacrifice or the Mass; thus fulfilling
the words of the prophet in reference to our Lord: "_Thou art a
Priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec_." [Footnote 233]

    [Footnote 233: Ibid.]

The offering, then, which takes place in the Mass is the very
same that was made on Calvary, only it is made in a different
manner. On the Cross, that offering was made in a direct and
absolute manner, it was a bloody Sacrifice; in the Mass, it is
made in a mystical and commemorative way, without blood, without
suffering, without death. Therefore, in order to understand what
takes place in the Mass, we must go back to the Cross. What was
it that took place on the Cross? You answer, perhaps, Christ shed
His Blood there for the remission of sins. True: the Blood of
Christ was the material cause of our Redemption, but that which
gave the Blood of Christ its value, that, indeed, which made it a
Sacrifice, was the interior dispositions of the Soul of Christ.
The Blood of Christ, taken as a mere material thing, could never
have effected our reconciliation. What does the Scripture say?
"_Sacrifice and oblation Thou didst not desire. Burnt-offerings
and sin-offerings Thou didst not require. Then I said: Lo, I come
to do Thy will O God!_" [Footnote 234]

    [Footnote 234: Ps. xxxix. 7, 8.]

{486}

It was by the _obedience_ of Christ, an obedience practised
through His whole life, but of which His Death and Passion were
the fullest expression, that Christ, as our elder brother,
repaired our disobedience. While our Lord was hanging on the
Cross, He exercised every Divine virtue which the soul of man can
exercise. He loved. He prayed. He praised. He gave thanks. He
supplicated. He made acts of adoration and resignation. In one
word, He performed the most perfect act of _worship_.

Well, it is just the same in the Mass. It would be the greatest
mistake to think of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Mass as a
sort of dead offering. It is living, and offered by the living
Christ. Christ is the Priest of the Mass as well as the victim.
It is Christ who celebrates the Mass, and He celebrates it with a
warm and living Heart, the same Heart with which He worshipped
the Father on Mount Calvary. It is this that makes the Mass what
it is. If it were not for this, the Mass would be a carnal
sacrifice, infinitely superior, indeed, to those of the Old Law,
but of the same order. It is this which makes the Sacrifice of
the Mass a reasonable service, a Spiritual Sacrifice.

And now you are prepared to understand my assertion that the Mass
supplies the want of the human soul for an adequate mode of
approaching God. As a creature before its Creator, you are
oppressed with your own inability to worship Him worthily. Do you
want a better worship than that which His Eternal Son offers? In
the Mass, the Son of God in His Human Nature worships the Father
for us. He prays for us; asks pardon for us; gives thanks for us;
adores for us. As He is perfect man, He expresses every human
feeling; as He is perfect God, His utterances have a complete
perfection, an infinite acceptableness. Thus, when we offer Mass,
we worship the Father with Christ's worship. It seems to me that
the Catholic can have a certain kind of pride in this.
{487}
He may say, "I know I am weak and as nothing before God, yet I
possess a treasure that is worthy to offer Him, I have a prayer
to present to Him all-perfect and all-powerful, the prayer of His
Only-Begotten Son in whom He is well pleased."

Nor is this all. Christ worships the Father for us in the Mass,
not to excuse us from worshipping, but to help us to worship. You
remember how, the night before our Saviour died, He took with Him
Peter and James and John, and going into the garden of
Gethsemane, He said to them, "Tarry ye here, while I go and pray
yonder." And how, being removed from them about a stone's cast,
He began to pray very earnestly, so that He was in an agony, and
the drops of blood fell from His body to the ground; and how He
went to them from time to time to urge them to watch and pray
along with Him. The weight of all human sorrows was then upon His
soul. He was presenting the necessities of the whole human race
to His Father, but He would have the apostles, weary as they
were, borne down by suffering and fatigue, to join their feeble
prayers with His. So, in the Holy Mass, He is withdrawn from us a
little distance, making intercessions for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered, and He would have us kneel about the temple
aisles, adding our poor prayers to His. Our prayers, by being
united to His, obtain not only a higher acceptance, but a higher
significance. Our obscure aspirations He interprets. What we know
not how to ask for, or even to think of, He supplies. What we ask
for in broken accents, He puts into glowing words. What we ask
for in error and ignorance, He deciphers in wisdom and love. And
thus our prayers, as they pass through His Heart, become
transfigured and divine.

Oh, what a gift is the Holy Mass! How full an utterance has
Humanity found therein for all its woes, its aspirations, its
hopes, its affections! How completely is the distance bridged
over that separated the creature and the Creator!
{488}
It was to the Mass that our Lord alluded in His conversation with
the woman of Samaria. You remember the incident. The Samaritans
were a schismatical sect. They had separated from the Jews, had
built a temple on Mount Gerazin, in opposition to the temple of
the Jews at Jerusalem, and there they offered sacrifices. Now,
this Samaritan woman, when our Lord had entered into conversation
with her, put to Him the question which was then in controversy.
Which was the right temple? Which was the acceptable sacrifice?
Which was the place where men ought to worship--Mount Gerazin; or
Mount Sion? And how does our Lord answer her? "_Woman, believe
Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain nor
yet in Jerusalem adore the Father. The hour cometh and now is,
when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in Spirit and
in Truth_." [Footnote 235]

    [Footnote 235: St. John iv. 22, 23.]

The time is coming when a new Sacrifice, a new worship, shall be
established, a worship of Spirit and Truth, a worship that shall
put to rest the controversy between Samaria and Jerusalem, for it
shall be offered in every place. What is that sacrifice? What is
that worship? The prophet had foretold it long before: "_From
the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof, My Name is
great among the Gentiles, and IN EVERY PLACE THERE IS SACRIFICE,
and there is offered to My Name A CLEAN OBLATION_." [Footnote 236]

    [Footnote 236: Mal. ii. 11.]

And the whole tradition of the Christian Church, from the very
first, tells us that this _clean oblation_ is no other than
the Eucharistic Sacrifice, a worship of "Truth," if the presence
of Christ can make it true; and of "Spirit," if the Heart of
Christ can make it spiritual; a worship that meets all man's
wants and befits all God's attributes.

{489}

With this conception of the Mass in your minds, you see at once
the explanation of some of the ceremonies attending its
celebration which seem to Protestants strange and senseless. A
Protestant enters a Catholic Church during the time of Mass. The
Priest is at the Altar. You cannot hear what he says, he speaks
so low and rapidly; and perhaps it would do you no good if you
could, for he speaks in Latin; and you say: "What mummery!" "What
superstition!" "What an unmeaning service!" But stop awhile. Take
our view of the Mass, and see if our custom is so strange. We
believe that there is an invisible Priest at the Mass, Christ,
the Son of the Living God, Who offers Himself to His Father for
us. You know it is related in the Old Testament, that on one day
in the year the Jewish High-Priest used to enter into the Holy of
Holies, which was separated from the temple by a veil, and there
in secrecy perform the rites of expiation, while the people
prayed in silence without. So it is at the Mass. You see the
Priest lift up the Host before the people. Well, that is the
white veil that hides the Holy of Holies from our eyes. Within,
our Lord and Saviour mediates with the Father in our behalf. Oh,
be still! Speak low! Let not the priest at the altar raise his
voice, lest he drown the whispers from that inner shrine. What
need for me to know the very words the priest is using? I know
what he is doing. I know that this is the hour of grace. Earth
has disappeared from me. Heaven is open before me. I am in the
presence of God, and I am praying to Him in my own words, and
after my own fashion. I am pouring out my joys before Him, or
opening to Him the plague of my own heart.

Yes, the Catholic Church has solved the problem of worship. She
has a service which unites all the necessary conditions for the
public worship of God--a common service, in which all can join;
an external service, which takes place before our eyes, which is
celebrated with offerings which we ourselves supply, and by a
Priest taken from among ourselves; an attractive service; and yet
a service perfectly spiritual.
{490}
The Catholic does not come to church to hear a man pour forth an
_extempore_ prayer, and be forced to follow him through all
the moods and feelings of his own mind; nor to join in a set form
of prayer, which, however beautiful and well arranged, must, from
the very nature of the case, fail to express the varying wants
and feelings of the different members of the congregation; but he
comes to join, after his own fashion, in Christ's own prayer. At
the Catholic Altar there is the most complete liberty, the
greatest variety, combined with the most perfect unity.

Come, then, children, come to Mass, and bring your merry hearts
with you. Come, you that are young and happy, and rejoice before
the Lord. Come, you that are old and weary, and tell your
loneliness to God. Come, you that are sorely tempted, and ask the
help of Heaven. Come, you that have sinned, and weep between the
porch and the altar. Come, you that are bereaved, and pour out
here your tears. Come, you that are sick, or anxious, or unhappy,
and complain to God. Come, you that are prosperous and
successful, and give thanks. Christ will sympathize with you. He
will rejoice with you, and He will mourn with you. He will gather
up your prayers. He will join to them His own Almighty
supplications, and that concert of prayer shall enter heaven,
louder than the music of angelic choirs, sweeter than the voice
of those who sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, more piercing
than the cry of the living creatures who rest not day or night,
and more powerful and prevailing than the intercession of the
Blessed Virgin and all the saints of Paradise together. The Mass
a formalism! The Mass an unmeaning service! Why, it is the most
beautiful, the most spiritual, the most sublime, the most
satisfying worship which the heart of man can even conceive.

{491}

And here, too, in this idea of the Mass, we have the answer to
another perplexity of Protestants. They cannot understand why we
make such a point of attending Mass. They see us go to Mass in
all weathers. They see us so particular not to be late at Mass.
They see us on Sunday, not sauntering leisurely, as if we were
going to a lecture-room, but pressing on with a certain
eagerness, as if we had some great business in hand; and they ask
what it all means. Is it not superstition? Do we not, like the
Pharisees, give an undue value to outward observances? May we not
worship God at home just as well? Ah! if it were really only an
outward observance. But there is just the difference. There
stands one among us whom you know not. We believe that the
Saviour is with us, and you do not. We believe this with a
certain, simple faith. Come to our churches, and look at our
people, the poorest and most ignorant, and see if we do not. It
is written on their faces. They may not know how to express
themselves, but this is in their hearts. You think we come to
Mass because the Church is so strict in requiring us to do so;
but the true state of the case is that the law of the Church is
so strict because Christ is present in the Mass. You think it is
the pomp and glitter of our altars that draws the crowd. Little
you know of human nature if you think it can long be held by such
things alone. No, we adorn our altars because we believe Christ
is present. This is our faith. It is no new thing with us. It is
as old as Christianity. It was the comfort of the Christians in
the catacombs. It was the glory of St. Basil and St. Ambrose and
St. Augustine. It was the meaning of all the glory and
magnificence of the Middle Ages. And it is our stay and support
in this nineteenth century of knowledge, labor, and disquiet.
Yes, strip our altars, leave us only the Corn and the Vine, and a
Rock for our altar, and we will worship with posture as lowly and
hearts as loving as in the grandest cathedral. Let persecution
rise; let us be driven from our churches; we will say Mass in the
woods and caverns, as the early Christians did. We know that God
is everywhere. We know that Nature is His Temple, wherein pure
hearts can find Him and adore Him; but we know that it is in the
Holy Mass alone that He offers Himself to His Father as "the Lamb
that was slain."
{492}
How can we forego that sweet and solemn action? How can we
deprive ourselves of that heavenly consolation! _The sparrow
hath found her an house and the turtle a nest where she may lay
her young, even thy altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my
God!_ Man's heart has found a home and resting-place in this
vale of tears. To us the altar is the vestibule of heaven, and
the Host its open door.

Yes, and to us the words of the prophet, when he calls the reign
of Antichrist "_the abomination of desolation_," because the
Daily Sacrifice shall then be taken away, has a peculiar fitness.
It is our delight now to think that, as the sun in its course
brings daylight to each successive spot on earth, it ever finds
some priest girding himself to go up to the Holy Altar; that thus
the earth is belted, from the rising of the sun unto the going
down of the same, with a chain of Masses; that as the din of the
world commences each day, the groan of the oppressed, the cry of
the fearful and troubled, the boast of sin and pride, the wail of
sorrow--the voice of Christ ascends at the same time to heaven,
supplicating for pardon and peace. But oh! when there shall be no
Mass any more, when the sun shall rise only to show that the
altar has been torn down, the priests banished, the lights put
out; that will be a day of calamity, of darkness and sorrow. Then
the beasts will groan, and the cattle low. Then will men's hearts
wither for fear. Then will the heavens overhead be brass, and the
earth under foot iron, because the corn has languished, the vine
no longer yields its fruit. The tie between earth and heaven is
broken; _sacrifice and libation are cut off from the House of
God_.

Such be our thoughts, my dear brethren, about the Holy Mass. I
have alluded to the efforts which mankind have made to offer a
worthy offering to God, sometimes to the extent, even, of
sacrificing their own lives and their children.
{493}
While we abhor these excesses, let us not forget the earnestness
which inspired their misguided devotion. And we, to whom God has
given a perfect worship, a worship not cruel, but beautiful,
inviting, consoling, satisfying, shall we be less devout in
offering it? No! come to Mass, and come to pray. When the Lord
drew near to Elias on the mount, the prophet wrapped his face in
his mantle; so when we come to Mass, let us wrap our souls in a
holy recollection of spirit. Remember what is going on. Now pray;
now praise; now ask forgiveness; now rest before God in quiet
love. So will the Mass be a marvellous comfort and refreshment to
you. You know the smell of the incense lingers about the sacred
vestments worn at the altar long after the service is over; so
your souls shall carry away with them as you leave the church a
celestial fragrance, a breath of the odors of Paradise, the token
that you have received a blessing from Him whose "fingers drop
with sweet-smelling myrrh."

-----------------------------

          Sermon XXIX.

     The Lessons Of Autumn.

  (Last Sunday After Pentecost.)

  "All flesh is grass,
  and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field.
  The grass is withered and the flower is fallen."
      --Isaias XL. 6, 7.


It is but a few weeks since you were told that the natural world
has lessons of deep spiritual importance to teach us. Our Lord,
as we see in the Gospel, sometimes drew the text of His discourse
from the flowers of the field, sometimes from the birds of the
air; and it must be evident to any reflecting mind that this was
not done as a mere exercise of fancy on His part, but was the
Divine Interpretation of these messages of love which from the
beginning He had commissioned Nature to tell us. Nature, then, is
really _intended_ by God to be our Teacher. It is my purpose
this morning, to direct your thoughts to one part of its
teaching--that is, the spiritual instruction suggested to us by
the season of Autumn.

{494}

Here, in the Church, where we have always the same doctrines, and
the same worship, we might forget how all things without are full
of change and decay, were it not that the Church uses Nature as a
handmaid, and calls her within the sanctuary to adorn the Altar
with her gifts. We miss today the flowers that have been so
plentiful all summer, and this tells us what is going on without.
The crown of flowers which the Spring brought forth to grace our
Easter festival, and which were the truest type of the
Resurrection, which made that feast so joyful, have all perished.
The rose of Whitsuntide, the floral wealth of Corpus Christi, the
white lily of midsummer, have all gone their way. "The glory of
Lebanon is departed; the beauty of Carmel and Sharon." In the
garden and the field, where so lately there was every kind of
fruit and flower that is pleasant to the eye and sweet to the
smell or taste--there are now but a few dried leaves, and the
skeletons of trees and shrubs shaking and rattling in the wind.
Nothing green is left except "the fir-tree and the box-tree and
the pine-tree together," patiently enduring cold and snow so as
to be on hand when the Holy Night comes round, and the Heavenly
Babe is born, to make his humble home glad and beautiful with
their green wreaths and branches. The birds that peopled the
woods and made them merry with their music have gone south,
leaving their summer home silent and desolate. The days are
short. Clouds flit across the sky. The air is strong and keen,
and men shut it out and make all warm and snug within. Yes, the
little time that has elapsed, since we began to number our
Sundays from Easter, has been a full cycle of being in the
vegetable world. Spring has given place to summer, and summer to
autumn. Seed-time and harvest have followed each other, and now
the dreary winter has commenced. "The grass is withered and the
flower is fallen.

{495}

And what does all this mean to us? I am sure all of you
understand it well. This season speaks to us in tones that reach
every human heart. It tells us that we are dying. It is strange
how slow we are to realize this. I look around this church, and I
see many dressed in the dark garments that tell they are mourning
for the dead. In what house, indeed, is the family unbroken?
Where is there not a vacant seat at the table? Who of us has not
lost a friend? And yet we rarely think that we too are soon to
follow them. Now, God wishes us to think of this. He tells us of
it by our reason, He tells us of it by our vacant hearths and
homes; He tells us of it by sermons, and by His word, but, not
content with this, He makes the natural world, heir with us of
the sentence of mortality, a monitor to us of this great truth.
"_Day unto day uttereth speech if it, and night unto night
sheweth knowledge of it_." [Footnote 237]

    [Footnote 237: Ps xviii. 3.]

But at certain seasons He tells us of it more distinctly and in a
greater variety of ways. Would you know what the Autumn teaches?
Hear the Holy Ghost, Himself interpret it: "_The voice said,
cry; and I said, what shall I cry? All Flesh is grass and all the
glory thereof as the flower of the field: the grass is withered
and the flower is fallen_." [Footnote 238] "_In the morning
man shall grow up like the grass; in the evening he shall fall,
grow dry and wither_." [Footnote 239] "_Man born of a woman,
liveth for a short time, and is filled with many miseries. He
cometh forth as a flower and is destroyed; he fleeth as a shadow
and never continueth in the same state_." [Footnote 240]

    [Footnote 238: Isaias xl. 6, 7.]

    [Footnote 239: Ps. lxxxix. 6.]

    [Footnote 240: Job xiv. 1, 2.]

Oh, do not require God always to speak to you in a voice of
thunder: listen to Him when He speaks gently. Open your eyes and
ears, and receive instruction from the sights and sounds of
Nature. We are dying: the sighing winds tell us so.
{496}
We are dying: the falling leaf tells us how Death will soon
_have power over us as a leaf carried away by the wind, and
pursue us as a dry straw_." [Footnote 241] We are dying: the
harvest-man is discharged, so "_our days are like the days of
an hireling, and the end of labor draweth nigh_." [Footnote 242]
We are dying: the short days tell us that to us "_the sun
and the light and the moon and the stars will soon be
darkened_."[Footnote 243]

    [Footnote 241: Job xiii. 25.]

    [Footnote 242: Job vii. 1.]

    [Footnote 243: Eccles. xii. 2.]

We are dying: the earth hath already wrapped itself in its
winding-sheet of snow, to foretell to us the time when, stiff and
cold, we shall be dressed for the grave. We are _all_ dying.
Are you young? Well, the young are dying. Life is but a lingering
death. _As soon as we are born, we began to draw to our
end_. Every path in life leads straight to the grave. Are you
old? are you sick? Ah! then, there is a voice within you which
repeats the warning from without. You are not as strong and well
as you once were. Time was you felt within you a fount of health
and strength that defied danger and despised precaution. What a
strange, fierce joy it was for you to struggle with the
buffetings of the wintry blast! But, somehow, you know not how,
either it was an accident or an imprudence, there came over you
now and then a pain, a cough, a strange weariness, and the raw
wind steals away from your cheek the bloom which once it
imparted, and sends a chill to your heart. What does it mean? I
will tell you. It is the shadow of mortality. You are dying. Men
do not realize this. They do not realize it of themselves, and
they do not realize it of others. Death is always a surprise and
an accident. It is one of the things in the world on which men do
not count.

It is something which has nothing to do with us until the doctor
stands over us, and says we have but a few days or a few hours to
live. We speak of the dead with pity, as if they were the victims
of some unlucky chance which we had escaped. This ought not to be
so. "_It is appointed for man once to die_." [Footnote 244]

    [Footnote 244: Heb. ix. 27.]

{497}

Because we are living, therefore we must die. Adam in Paradise
might have escaped death if he would, but since Adam's sin and
our loss of integrity, the sentence of death has passed upon all.
There is no reflection which a man can make more certainly true
than this: I must die. The time is fixed. There shall come to me
a day that knows no setting, a night that knows no dawn. The
lights shall be lit in the church; the pall spread over the bier;
the priest singing Mass at the altar. My body shall lie under
that pall, and my name be mentioned in that Mass. From the church
my body shall be carried to the grave, and my soul be happy or
miserable according to the deeds it hath done on earth. I do not
know _when_ I shall die. Youth is no protection against
death. Health is no protection against death. I do not know
_where_ I shall die. No corner of the earth can hide me from
His summons. I do not know _how_ I shall die, whether at
home, among my friends, with the rites of the Church, with my
reason, with a quiet mind--or abroad, or suddenly, or without the
last sacraments, or with a heavy load of sin on my soul, or in a
state of insensibility. All these things are uncertain; this only
is certain, that I must die--that I must die, that _my_ turn
shall come; and others shall speak of me as I speak now of those
already dead.

But some of you may say, why tell us this? Life is short at the
best, why vex ourselves with thinking of that which we cannot
prevent. We have got many projects in hand, many pleasures in
prospect, and we do not want to paralyze our energies and sadden
our days by meditating always on death. No, my brethren, I do not
ask you to think of death in order to paralyze your energies, but
to direct them aright; not to sadden your days, but to make them
calm and tranquil. I know that a celebrated modern writer has
made it a matter of reproach against Christianity that it sends
men to learn the solemn lessons of the grave.
{498}
But surely this reproach is unreasonable. It cannot be denied
that men do die. The earth has already many times seen an entire
generation of her inhabitants pass away. There are many more
sleeping in the ground than live on its surface. Now, if this be
so, if death is an inevitable fact in our history, and a fact on
which much depends--if this life is not all, but after this life
there is an Eternity dependent on our conduct here, it is plain
that reason requires us to think of death, and he is foolish who
forgets it. Besides, the thought of death is enjoined upon us by
the Almighty, as a sure means of salvation: "_In all thy works
remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin_." [Footnote 245]

    [Footnote 245: Eccles. vii. 36.]

And I will say more. The thought of death really contributes to
our comfort, because it is the only way of getting rid of the
fear of death. Suppose you do refuse to listen to the warnings
which Death suggests, are you therefore free from anxiety? Is
there no trouble in your conscience? Is there nothing frightful
to you in a sleepless night, or a sickbed? would you hear with
equanimity that you had a hopeless disease? No, it is the coward
that will not think of death, who "_all his life through fear
of death is subject to slavery_." Act like a man. Face this
King of Terrors, and you disarm him. His countenance is stern,
but his words are kind and friendly. Listen to him, and you will
find that he can relax his grim features and smile upon you; and
there is nothing can give you such comfort, as for death to come
to you with a smiling face. The sting of death is sin: be careful
to avoid sin, and then at his coming you can exclaim: "O death,
where is thy victory! O death, where is thy sting!" [Footnote 246]

    [Footnote 246: I. Cor. xv. 55.]

{499}

Oh, it is a shame and a disgrace that Christians think so little
about death. Why, death is our best friend and our wisest
counsellor. A London anatomist once placed over his
dissecting-rooms this inscription: "_Hic mors juvat succurrere
vitæ;_" "Here death helps to succor life." You see the
meaning. The physician takes a dead body and studies it, spends
days and nights over it, repulsive as it is, in order to learn
the secrets of the living frame and how to minister to its
complaints. So let the Christian look at death and learn from it
how to keep his soul in health, how to secure its everlasting
life. It is nothing very terrible that death has to tell us now.
The time will come, if we refuse to hear him now, when his words
will be terrible; but now, though solemn, though calculated to
make us serious and thoughtful, they need not make us gloomy. He
says, you have a great work to do, and little time to do it
in--time enough, but none to spare. He says to the young: Look at
me, look into my face, and see the value of beauty and of
pleasure. He says to the proud: Come and see how kings and
beggars lie side by side in my dominion. He says to the covetous:
Come, open a grave, and see what a man carries away with him when
he dies. And he says to all, you must die alone; what you are,
what you have made yourself, so must you appear before God, to
receive a just and final sentence. This is the sermon of Death,
that he has been preaching from the beginning. It never grows
old. It has converted more sinners than all missionaries and
preachers by any other means. It has made more saints, induced
more to embrace a religious life, sent more souls to heaven than
any other sermon ever did. Oh! Death is a great preacher. There
is no answer to his reasonings, no escape from his appeal. He
speaks not, but his silence is eloquent. He makes no gestures,
but that motionless arm of his is more expressive than the most
impassioned action. There is a story told of a certain man named
Guerricus, which shows how powerfully death preaches. This man
was a Christian, but one who loved the world too well, and one
evening he strayed into a church when the monks were singing
matins.
{500}
The hour, the place, all invited to reflection, and as he stood
and listened, one of the monks came forth, and in a loud, clear
voice sang the lesson of the day. It was as follows: "_And all
the time that Adam lived, came to nine hundred and thirty years,
and he died. And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and
seven years, and all the years of Seth were nine hundred and
twelve years, and he died. And Enos begat Cainan. And all the
years of Enos were nine hundred and five years, and he died. And
all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years, and he
died_." [Footnote 247]

  [Footnote 247: Gen. v. 5.]

So it came at the end of every period, the same melancholy
cadence, _Et mortuus est_, "and he died." The words rang in
the ear of Guerricus. "So then," said he, "that is the end of
all. The longest life ends with that record--_and he died_.
So it will one day be said of me." And with this reflection on
his mind, he went away and distributed his wealth to the poor,
commenced a life of mortification and prayer, and began in good
earnest to prepare to die. Happy those who after this example are
led by the thought of death to enter on a really devout life!
They will not be confounded in the evil day. They will not be
afraid of any evil tidings. When the great prophet Elias was
about to leave this world, the sons of the prophets came to tell
Eliseus of it as a piece of afflicting news, saying: "_Dost
thou know that the Lord will take away thy master from thee
to-day?_" [Footnote 248] And he said: "_Yes, I know it, hold
your peace._" So when the good Christian's last hour comes on,
and sorrowing friends approach his bed to break it to him that he
is dying, he can say, Yes, I know it. It is no news to me. I have
long known it. I have expected it. _Dying_, you say. "So
then," I can exclaim with St. Teresa, "the hour is come!" the
hour I have so long been waiting for, the hour I have labored
for, the hour that is to end my exile here, and unite me for ever
to my Saviour and my God!

    [Footnote 248: I. Kings ii. 3.]

{501}

I tried just now to describe to you the desolation that is now
spread over the face of Nature; but a few weeks ago the scene was
quite different. The fields were laden with a golden harvest, and
the husbandman was gathering it in with joy. He knew that winter
was coming, and he prepared for it. In the morning he sowed his
seed, and in the evening he withheld not his hand. He labored in
the chill, uncertain spring, and in the hot days of summer, and
when autumn came, he gathered his fruits into the garner, safe
from the frosts of winter. So he who thinks of death makes the
most of the spring-time of life, takes care in his youth to plant
in his heart the seeds of piety, and to tear up the weeds of
vice, guards his soul in the storms of temptation, labors
untiringly through the heat and burden of life, and, when his
last hour arrives, lies down in peace, confident that he shall
enter into those fruits of righteousness which, by patient
continuance in well-doing, he has laid up for the time to come.

I commend these thoughts to you all, my brethren; but there are
some among you to whom I commend them especially, those, namely,
who are to die soon. When the captains of Israel were assembled
together at Ramoth-Galaad, the messenger of Eliseus appeared in
their midst and said, "_I have a message to thee, O
prince._" And they answered, "_To which one of us all?_"
[Footnote 249] So I feel this morning as if I had a message to
some of you in particular, though I do not know who they are. The
message is that which Jeremias the prophet sent to Hananias:
"_Thus saith the Lord, this year shalt thou die_." [Footnote 250]

    [Footnote 249: IV. Kings ix. 5.]

    [Footnote 250: Jer. xxviii. 16.]

{502}

How many of those who were alive a year ago are now dead! How
many of those who listen to me now will be dead before another
year rolls round! Now, to these persons it is a question of the
most pressing urgency, "Am I now as I would wish to be when I
die? When Death comes, it will not wait because you are laden
with sins or unprepared. It will not wait for you to send for the
priest or finish your confession, or to receive absolution. At
the moment that sentence is given, you must yield up your soul,
in whatever state it is. Now, then, is the time to put your house
in order. Perhaps you are not a Catholic. You are lingering
outside the Church, with misgivings in your heart that only in
her fold you can secure your salvation. Will those misgivings
help you to die easily? Will those ingenious and far-fetched
arguments, by which you fortify yourself against conviction now,
give that peace to your soul, which the broad, strong, plain
evidence of the Faith imparts to the soul of a Catholic? Would
you not like, as you go out of this world, to step on the firm
rock of Peter? To go hence "with the sign of faith," with the
blessing of the Mother of Saints upon you, and the grace of her
sacraments within your heart?

Or, you are a Catholic, but a careless one. You have the load of
years of sin on your conscience. When you come to die, will you
not wish to have those sins blotted out? Will you then forego as
you do now those absolving words which our Lord has promised to
ratify in heaven? Will you trust all to the uncertain chance of
confession in that hour, or to a doubtful contrition?

Or it is a cloud of venial sins--a veil of worldliness, and
selfishness, and unfaithfulness, of omissions and neglects, that
darkens your soul. Do you wish to die with that veil not taken
away? Do you wish to go before God as careless and as sensual as
you are now? Are you spending your time as you would wish to
spend the last year of your life? Oh! be diligent. The night
cometh. Work while it is day. "_Whatsoever thy hand is able to
do, do it earnestly; for neither work, nor reason, nor wisdom,
nor knowledge shall be in the land of the dead whither thou art
hastening_." [Footnote 251]

    [Footnote 251: Eccles. ix. 10.]

Receive instruction. Be not of the number of those who have
foolishly thrown away their salvation.

{503}

There are stories of men's passing through grave-yards on dark
and stormy nights, and hearing dismal sounds, as of a restless
and unhappy soul complaining of its torments. You say it is the
wind. Suppose it is: may not the wind be speaking for the dead?
Is not the earth for the elect? Does not Nature sympathize with
man? Does not every creature groan and travail for our
redemption? [Footnote 252] Did not the prophet call upon the
fir-trees and the oaks to "howl" for the destruction of
Jerusalem! [Footnote 253]

    [Footnote 252: Rom. ix. 22.]

    [Footnote 253: Zacb. xi. 2.]

Did not the sun hide its face at the crucifixon of our Lord, and
the earth tremble under His Cross? And when He comes to judgment
will not the stars fall from the sky and the heavens be parted as
a scroll? Is not, then, that instinct of humanity right which has
understood the fearful sounds and sights of Nature as Divine
utterances--pictures and voices of a woe that is unspeakable and
indescribable. There is a bird in South America with a cry so
melancholy that it is called _The Lost Soul_. And Nature,
that speaks there to the hearts of men by that dismal cry, tells
the same story to us by the storm at sea, and the moaning and
sighing and shrieking of the wind on a winter's night. What
aileth thee, O sea, tossed and driven with the waves? Let the
Scriptures answer. "_The voice of the Lord is upon the waters,
the God of majesty hath thundered, the Lord is upon many
waters_." [Footnote 254]

    [Footnote 254: Ps. xxviii. 3:]

Why does the winter come upon us with desolation and storm? Let
the Holy Scripture answer again: "_The vineyard is confounded,
and the fig-tree hath languished. The pomegranate-tree, and the
palm-tree, and the apple-tree, and all the trees of the field
shalt wither because joy is withdrawn from the children of
men._" [Footnote 255]

    [Footnote 255: Joel i. 12.]

{504}

Yes, there are sad things in nature because there is death and
reprobation among men. The days grow short out of sorrow for the
lost children of God, and the wintry heavens "are black with
clouds, and winds, and rain," because to many "_the harvest is
past, the summer is ended, and they are not saved_."
[Footnote 256]

    [Footnote 256: Jer. viii. 20.]

-----------------------------

            THE END


{505}

  Various Works By The Paulist Fathers.

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