Imágenes de páginas

liever in the Christian doctrine. Now by what process does he attain a rational certitude of the truth of the revelation made by the lips of Christ?

In the first place, the human wisdom and virtue of our Lord are intelligible to him by the human nature common to both, and in proportion to his own personal wisdom and goodness. Having in himself, by virtue of his human nature, the essential type of human goodness, he is able to recognize the excellence of one in whom it is carried to its highest possible perfection. The human perfection visible in Jesus Christ predisposes him to believe his testimony. The testimony that Jesus Christ bears of himself is that he is the Son of God. This declaration includes two propositions. The chief term of the first proposition is "God." The chief term of the second proposition is "Jesus Christ." The first term includes all that can be understood by the light of reason concerning the Creator and his creative act. The second term includes all that can be apprehended by the light of faith concerning the interior relations of God, the incarnation of the Son, or Word, the entire supernatural order included in it, and the entire doctrine revealed by Christ. The idea expressed by the first term is already in the mind of the pagan, as the first and constitutive principle of his reaHis reflective consciousness of this idea and his ability to make a correct and complete explication of its contents are very imperfect. But when the distinct affirmation and explication of the idea of God are made to him by one who possesses a perfect knowledge of God, he has an immediate and certain perception of the truth of the conception thus acquired by his intelligence. God has already affirmed himself to his reason, and Christ, in affirming God to his intellect, Las only repeated and manifested by sensible images, and in distinct, unerring language, this original affirmation.

It is otherwise with the affirmation which Christ makes respecting the

second term. God does not affirm to his reason by the creative act the internal relations of Father and Son, completed by the third, or Holy Spirit, and therefore, although it is a necessary truth, and in itself intelligible as such, it is not intelligible as a necessary truth to his intellect. The incarnation, redemption, and other mysteries affirmed to him by Christ, are not in themselves necessary truths, but only necessary on the supposition that they have been decreed by God. The certitude of belief in all this second order of truths rests, therefore, entirely on the veracity of God, authenticating the affirmation of his own divine mission made by Jesus Christ. We must, therefore, suppose that this affirmation is made to the mind of the pagan with such clear and unmistakable evidence of the fact that the veracity of God is pledged to its truth, that it would be irrational to doubt it. Catholic doctrine also requires us to suppose that Christ imparts to him a supernatural grace, as the principle of a divine faith and a divine life based upon it. The nature and effect of this grace must be left for future consideration.

These truths received on the faith of the testimony of the Son of God by the pagan are not, however, entirely unintelligible to his natural reason. We can suppose our Lord removing his difficulties and misapprehensions, showing him that these truths do not contradict reason, but harmonize with it as far as it goes, and pointing out to him certain analogies in the natural order which render them partially apprehensible by his intellect. Thus, while his mind cannot penetrate into the substance of these mysteries, or grasp the intrinsic reason of them after the mode of natural knowledge, it can nevertheless see them indirectly, as reflected in the natural order, and by resemblance, and rests its undoubting belief of them on the revelation made by Jesus Christ, attested by the veracity of God.

In this supposed case, the pagan

has the Son of God actually before his eyes, and with his own ears can hear his words. This is the credible object. He is made inwardly certain that he is the Son of God by convincing evidence and the illustration of divine grace. This is the creditive subject, in contact with the credible object. It exemplifies the process by which God has instructed the human race from the beginning, a process carried on in the most perfect and successful manner in the instance we are about to examine of a child brought up in the Catholic Church.

The mind of the child has no prejudices and no imperfect conceptions derived from a perverted and defective instruction to be rectified. Its soul is in the normal and natural condition. The grace of faith is imparted to it in baptism, so that the rational faculties unfold under its elevating and strengthening influence with a full capacity to elicit the creditive act as soon as they are brought in contact with the credible object. This credible object, in the case of the child, as in that of the pagan, is Christ revealing himself and the Father. He reveals himself, however, not by his visible form to the eye, or his audible word to the ear, but by his mystical body the church, which is a continuation and amplification of his incarnation. The church is visible and audible to the child as soon as his faculties begin to open. At first this is only in an imperfect way, as Jesus Christ was at first only known in an imperfect way to the pagan above described. As he merely knew Christ at first as a man, and in a purely human way, so the child re ceives the instruction of his parents, teachers, and pastors, in whom the church is represented, in regard to the truths of faith, just as he does in regard to common matters. He begins with a human faith, founded in the trusting instincts of nature, which incline the young to believe and obey their superiors. As soon as his reason is capable of understanding the in


struction given him, he is able to discover the strong probability of its truth. He sees this dimly at first, but more and more clearly as his mind unfolds, and the conception of the Catholic Church comes before it more distinctly. Some will admit that even a probability furnishes a sufficient motive for eliciting an act of perfect faith. This is the doctrine of Cardinal de Lugo, and it has been more recently propounded by that extremely acute and brilliant writer, Dr. John Henry Newman. According to their theory, the undoubting firmness of the act of faith is caused by an imperate act of the will determining the intellect to adhere firmly to the doctrine proposed, as revealed by God. There are many, however, who will not be satisfied with this, and we acknowledge that we are of the number. appears to us that the mind must have indubitable certitude that God has revealed the truth in order to a perfect act of faith. Therefore we believe that the mind of the child proceeds from the first apprehension of the probability that God has revealed the doctrines of faith to a certitude of the fact, and that, until it reaches that point, its faith is a human faith, or an inchoate faith, merely. The ground and nature of that certitude will be discussed hereafter. In the meantime, it is sufficient to remark that the child or other ignorant person apprehends the very same ground of certitude in faith with the mature and cducated adult, only more implicitly and obscurely, and with less power to reflect on his own acts. Just as the child has the same certainty of facts in the natural order with an adult, so it has the same certainty of facts in the supernatural order. When we have once established the proper ground of human faith in testimony in general, and of the certitude of our rational judgments, we have no need of a particular application to the case of

Since the above was written the author has

seen reason to suspect that he misunderstood Dr. Newman. The point will be more fully dis


children. It is plain enough that, so soon as their rational powers are sufficiently developed, they must act according to this universal law. So in regard to faith. When we have established in general its constitutive principles, it is plain that the mind of the child, just as soon as it is capable of eliciting an act of faith, must do it according to these principles.

The length of time, and the number of preparatory acts requisite, before the mind of a child is fully capable of eliciting a perfect act of faith, cannot be accurately determined, and may vary indefinitely. It may require years, months, or only a few weeks, days, or hours. Whenever it does elicit this perfect act, the intelligible basis of the creditive act may be expressed by the formula, Christus creat ecclesiam. In the church, which is the work of Christ and his medium or instrument for manifesting himself, the person and the doctrine of Christ are disclosed. In the first term of the formula, Christus, is included another proposition, viz., Christus est Filius Dei. Finally, in the last term of the second proposition is included a third, Deus est creator mundi. The whole may be combined into one formula, which is only the first one explicated, Christus, Filius Dei, qui est creator mundi, creat ecclesiam. § In this formula we have the synthesis of reason and faith, of philosophy and theology, of nature and grace. It is the formula of the natural and supernatural worlds, or rather of the natural universe, elevated into a supernatural order and directed to a supernatural end. In the order of instruction, Ecclesia comes first, as the medium of teaching correct conceptions concerning God, Christ, and the relations in which they stand toward the human race. These conceptions may be communicated in

Christ creates the Church. + Christ is the Son of God. God is the creator of the world.

Christ, the Son of God, who is the creator of the world, creates the Church.

positive instruction in any order that is convenient. When they are arranged in their proper logical relation, the first in order is Deus creat mundum, including all our rational knowledge concerning God. The second is Christus est Filius Dei, which discloses God in a relation above our natural cognition, revealing himself in his Son, as the supernatural author and the term of final beat


Lastly comes Christus creat ecclesiam, in which the church, at first simply a medium for communicating the conceptions of God and Christ, is reflexively considered and explained, embracing all the means and institutions ordained by Christ for the instruction and sanctification of the human race, in order to the attainment of its final end. In the conception of God the Creator, we have the natural or intelligible order and the rational basis of revelation. In the conception of the Son, or Word, we have the super-intelligible order in its connection with the intel

ligible, in which alone we can apprehend it. God reveals himself and his purposes by his Word, and we believe on the sole ground of his veracity. The remaining conceptions are but the complement of the second.

All this is expressed in the Apostles' Creed. In the first place, by its very nature, it is a symbol of instruction, presupposing a teacher. The same is expressed in the first word, "Credo," explicitly declaring the credence given to a message sent from God. The first article is a confession of God the Father, followed by the confession of the Son and the Holy Ghost. After this comes "Sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam," with the other articles depending on it, and lastly the ultimate term of all the relations of God to man, expressed in the words" Vitam æternam."

Having described the actual attitude of the mind toward the Creed at the time when its reasoning faculty is developed, and the method by which in

struction in religious doctrines is communicated to it, we will go over these doctrines in detail, in order to explain and verify them singly and as

a whole. The doctrine first in order is that which relates to God, and this will accordingly be first treated of, in the ensuing number.

From The Dublin University Magazine



As Glastonbury Abbey was one of the chief ornaments of the Benedictine Order; as that order was one of the greatest influences, next to Christianity itself, ever brought to bear upon humanity; as the founder of that order and sole compiler of the rule upon which it was based must have been a legislator, a leader, a great, wise, and good man, such as the world seldom sees, one who, unaided, without example or precedent, compiled a code which has ruled millions of beings and made them a motivepower in the history of humanity; as the work done by that order has left traces in every country in Europe -lives and acts now in the literature, arts, sciences, and social life of nearly every civilized community-it becomes imperatively necessary that we should at this point investigate these three matters-the man, the rule, and the work:-the man, St. Benedict, from whose brain issued the idea of monastic organization; the rule by which it was worked, which contains a system of legislation as comprehensive as the gradually compiled laws of centuries of growth; and the work done by those who were subject to its power, followed out its spirit, lived under its influence, and carried it into every country where the gospel was preached.

* Authorities. Acta Sanctorum Butler's

Lives of the Saints; Gregory's Dialogues Mabillon Acta Sanct.; Ord; Benedicti; Zeigel bauer's Hist. Rei Liter.; Fosbrooke and Dug


Far away in olden times, at the close of the fifth century, when the gorgeous splendor of the Roman day was waning and the shades of that long, dark night of the middle ages were closing in upon the earth; just at that period when, as if impelled by some instinct or led by some mysterious hand, there came pouring down from the wilds of Scandinavia hordes of ferocious barbarians who threatened, as they rolled on like a dark flood, to obliterate all traces of civilization in Europe-when the martial spirit of the Roman rapidly degenerating into the venal valor of the mercenary-when the western empire had fallen, after being the tragic theatre of scenes to which there is no parallel in the history of mankind-when men, aghast at human crime and writhing under the persecutions of those whom history has branded as the "Scourge of God," sought in vain for some shelter against their kind-when human nature, after that struggle between refined corruption and barbarian ruthlessness, lay awaiting the night of troubles which was to fall upon it as a long penance for human crimejust at this critical period in the world's history appeared the man who was destined to rescue from the general destruction of Roman life the elements of a future civilization; to provide an asylum to which art might flee with her choicest treasures, where science might labor in safety, where

learning might perpetuate and multiply its stores, where the oracles of religion might rest secure, and where man might retire from the woe and wickedness of a world given up to destruction, live out his life in quiet, and make his peace with his God.

That man was St. Benedict, who was born of noble parents about the year 480, at Norcia, a town in the Duchy of Spoleto; his father's name was Eutropius, his grandfather's Justinian. Although the glory of Rome was on the decline, her schools were still crowded with young disciples of all nations, and to Rome the future saint was sent to study literature and science. The poets of this declining age have left behind them a graphic picture of the profligacy and dissipation of Roman life-the nobles had given themselves up to voluptuous and enervating pleasures, the martial spirit which had once found vent in deeds with whose fame the world has ever since rung, had degenerated into the softer bravery which dares the milder dangers of a love intrigue, or into the tipsy valor loudest in the midnight brawl. The sons of those heroes who in their youth had gone out into the world, subdued kingdoms, and had been drawn by captive monarchs through the streets of Rome in triumph, now squandered the wealth and disgraced the name of their fathers over the dice-box and the drinking cup. Roman society was corrupt to its core, the leaders were sinking into the imbecility of licentiousness, the people were following their steps with that impet uosity so characteristic of a demoralized populace, whilst far up in the rude, bleak North the barbarian, with the keen instinct of the wild beast, sat watching from his lonely wilds the tottering towers of Roman glory -the decaying energies of the emasculated giant until the moment came when he sallied forth and with one hardy blow shattered the mighty fabric, and laid the victors of the

world in abject slavery at his feet. Into this society came the youthful Benedict, with all the fresh innocence of rustic purity, and a soul already yearning after the great mysteries of religion; admitted into the wild revelry of student life, that prototype of modern Bohemianism, he was at once disgusted with the general profligacy around him. The instincts of his youthful purity sickened at the fetid life of Rome, but in his case time, instead of reconciling him to the ways of his fellows, and transforming, as it so often does, the trembling horror of natural innocence. into the wild intrepidity of reckless license, only strengthened his disgust for what he saw, and the timid, thoughtful, pensive student shrank from the noisy revelry, and sought shelter among his books.

About this time, too, the idea of penitential seclusion was prevalent in the West, stimulated by the writings and opinions of St. Augustine and St. Jerome. It has been suggested that the doctrine of asceticism was founded upon the words of Christ, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take

up his cross and follow me."* St. Gregory himself dwells with peculiar emphasis upon this passage, which he expounds thus, "Let us listen to what he said in this passage-let him who will follow me deny himself; in another place it is said that we should forego our possessions; here it is said that we should deny ourselves, and perhaps it is not laborious to a man to relinquish his possessions, but it is very laborious to relinquish himself. For it is a light thing to abandon what one has, but a much greater thing to abandon what one is."† Fired by the notion of self-mortification imparted to these words of Christ by their own material interpretation, these men forsook the world and retired to caves, rocks, forests, anywhere out of sight of

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »