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Religion in Society

Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1850
Art. V. - Solution de Grands Problemes, mise a la portee de tous les Esprits. Par l'Auteur de Platon-Polichinelle. Lyon.    1847.    4 tomes.    18mo.
At a period like the one in which we live, when the civil commotions which agitate the nations of the Old World, and the uneasiness which exists amongst the instructed of all classes and creeds in the New, offer to the mind of the Christian philos­opher strong indications of a conflict far more important than that of nation against nation, sect against sect, and subjects against their rulers, - when men are so apt to stand firmly in the position they assume, and to pronounce emphatically and to act energetically for the cause into whose scale they throw their influence, - it is extremely necessary for each one to under­stand clearly the programme, so to speak, by which he is to abide, or whose provisions he is to oppose. The irresolute, the wavering, the inconstant, of both sides, are those who render most difficult a mutually satisfactory understanding. While others find it a difficult task to define what principles such doubtful champions embody, they themselves feel the effects of drowsy carelessness incidental to one who knows not whence he came, or whither he is going.
The author of the celebrated work before us seems to have written especially for these victims of uncertainty, and while, by the brilliancy of his imagination, the rapidity of his argu­ment, the lucidness of his reasoning, and the earnestness of his conclusions, he interests them in the discussion, he gives proof of so much honesty, so much warmth, so much anxiety for their welfare, that they cannot but admire his sincerity and reciprocate his affection. Less profound than Moehler, less searching than Gioberti, less eloquent than Balmes, he partakes of the genius and solidity of each of these great writers, and is more popular than any of them. He does not exactly engage you in a profound study of the principles he defends, but gives you the quintessence of his own reflections upon them, with such power of illustration, such clearness of views, such brilliancy of wit, such varied and pleasing erudition, as to force you almost to consider as absurd and ridiculous what you thought it hard for him to prove simply false. He does not merely tell you the direction in which you are going, but points out to you the end at which you will arrive, using in the mean  time  rather your own   intellect  than  his, and adroitly enlisting your good sense and your good nature against your­self. We shall be highly pleased to see an English transla­tion of this admirable work, and we are sure that a first edi­tion of it will be speedily exhausted. In the mean time we recommend it earnestly to all who would possess a strong Catholic statement of principle in regard to matters not strictly connected with the solemn worship of the Church, and to those who wish to place in the hands of their Protestant friends a brief and conclusive answer to the many objections and doubts which a want of any fixed principle is apt to beget.
Our object in this article is, not to review it, but to offer some reflections upon a subject incidentally connected with it, and which daily becomes more and more important, - the relative position of religion and society. Our remarks are intended chiefly for our Catholic brethren, before whom we would place such doctrines of the Church and such passages of her history as may suffice clearly to explain the influence she rightfully claims to exercise on our social relations, and the only conditions on which society can reap the fruits of her heavenly guidance and protection. It is always a more pleas­ing task for us to illustrate and apply our own principles, than to attack the erroneous systems of those who have not the privilege of the infallible guidance of the Church. In this spirit we enter upon the subject of Religion in Society, the development of which is every day becoming a more impor­tant department of our Review.
When the Son of God came down from heaven and was made man, he did not simply assume human flesh as a garment which might screen the effulgent majesty of a Divine visitor, but, intimately uniting himself with humanity, he stood before the world a real and true man in soul, in body, in all save that which alone man received not from God, the guilt of ingrati­tude and rebellion. The fulness of his Divine nature dwelt in human nature, by means of whose outward form he lived and moved among men, condescending to fulfil various offices which mere human persons fulfil according to their various callings. These offices and callings which we so feebly and imperfectly perform, he in a perfect manner discharged for our encouragement and instruction. Hence it is that his example presents the perfect ideal of a holy priest, a faithful friend, a dutiful son, a kind master, an upright subject, an honest neighbour, a virtuous and useful citizen.
The Church, established by him to continue throughout all ages the mission which he discharged during his life upon earth, directs towards him the eyes of her children, and teaches even the most feeble and helpless of them to copy according to the best of their ability the perfections of his sinless character. Wherever their lot may be cast, whatever office or calling may have been apportioned to them by the hand of Providence, she teaches them to fulfil the duties of their station for the one great ultimate end of the glory of God and the salvation of their souls, - to fulfil them as nearly as possible in the man­ner Christ did when similarly engaged upon earth. These re­marks present three ideas to the mind, viz. the Candidate, the Guide, and the Exemplar, that is to say, the Christian, the Church, and the Redeemer. The Christian is to accom­plish the end for which he was created, the Church leads him onward towards its accomplishment, and Christ shows how it is to be accomplished.
Having thus stated the end to be gained, who is to gain it, and how and by what guidance he is to gain it, the question most likely to arise is, How far does the vigilance of the Church, as by Christ commissioned, extend in eliciting this sublime spirit of imitation ? It extends to all time and place where God may be honored or offended, - to every soul that may be lost or saved, - to all men not sentenced already as belonging to heaven or to hell. These remarks contain the sum and substance of all the elucidations that may be required to place the formulary adopted as our subject - Religion in Society - in its true aspect. Many readers, however, will be apt to approach its solution from a more remote quarter, and to recall sayings quite common in our day, the truth or error of which lies back, so to speak, of the region in which we have practically opened our case. The sayings to which we allude as maxims which pass current in our day, would most likely suggest the following questions : - Has Religion any thing to do with Society ? Is Society bound to lake its principles from Religion ? Has Religion any right to interfere with Society, except in matters connected with the solemn worship of the Creator ? Does Religion, for instance, occupy herself with our business pursuits, our secular avocations, our temporal possessions, our politics, our bargains, our manners, our amuse­ments ? We can almost imagine some of our young friends who talk so loudly about the rights of the people, the temporal power of the Pope, the necessity of keeping the spiritual order and the political order distinct, the glories of liberty, the baseness of kings, &c, propounding these questions, and demand­ing no obscure or uncertain answer. And while we are in this mood, we cannot help imagining how different an answer the Spirit of the Age, if interrogated in the above mariner, would return to those youthful inquirers from what Catholic doctrine points out as the true one. A wonderful genius is this Spirit of the Age ! No matter how true or how much needed a maxim may be, one is reminded of the danger he in­curs in uttering it, by the awful warning that it is not in accord­ance with the Spirit of the Age. The Spirit of the Age knows all things, and has an opinion to express on all subjects, past, present, or future. It is a thousand pities that so learned a spirit can never be tangibly taken hold of and made to speak for himself. But, like certain other spirits, though always busy at work, he is never seen, and though quoted by everybody, never speaks himself. Still, as we do not bear him un­limited veneration, we take the liberty sometimes to bring him fairly before us, in the form we imagine his vague and unsettled nature would choose, were he to become visible. In these instances the great Genius presents himself adorned with a face very much like that of an ape, for his speech imitates wisdom and truth precisely as a monkey imitates a man. The body, half human and half Satanic, winds off in a serpentine manner, emblematic of the crookedness of his philosophy. On his head, in lieu of the Socratic bays, we discern a little Red Republican cap clashed slightly on one side, to make him look interesting ; under his arm he carries a wonderful diction­ary, compiled from the leading socialist, progressive, ultra-democratic, and Young-Ireland periodicals of the day. From this book of wisdom, the obliging Genius answers, without stop­ping to take breath, all the possible difficulties of every art, science, and creed, in a manner which would put all the gray-beard philosophy of olden times to the blush. Nothing is too high or too profound for him. Yet, to tell the truth, whenever he affirms a thing, we have a shrewd suspicion that he knows he ought to deny it, and whenever we hear him cry loudly for a measure as good, we feel pretty sure that secretly he under­stands it to be evil. What he says may often seem plausible enough, but we prefer to look at his professions more search-ingly, and discover what he means. Thus, for example, when he opens his dictionary at the word Liberty, and reads a bril­liant passage descriptive of its greatness and glory, we marvel at his keeping a serious face, and suspect that, were he to state honestly what he means, it would sound very much in this fashion ; - " Gentlemen, Liberty means leave for me to pick your pocket, and for you - not to complain." He turns over a leaf of his book, and tells us of the philosophy of his enlightened school. We translate his definition of philosophy, and it avers that philosophy is the art of proving that two and two, not unfrequently, make five ; that black in many cases looks exceedingly like white, and that persons who wish to preserve their countenances from being burnt by the sun ought to wear a thick veil, especially at twelve o'clock at night. Does the Genius speak of the upwardness of modern progress ? Then, to our understanding, he means that progress is a faithful imitation of the motion of a crab going clown hill. He des­cants upon the comforts of equality. Understood as he means it, no matter what he may say, equality consists in the very pleasant process of cutting oft' the heads of the tall men, and in pulling out the small men, as one might do a spy-glass, so that both become of a size. And when he searches his dictionary to give us the true meaning of his favorite word, Fraternity, his warm description of the peace which it produces puts us in mind of the famous Kilkenny cats, who fought until they had eaten each other up, all except the tips of their respective tails, which they wagged in token of defiance.
Guided by this key to the true meaning of the learned Genius of the Age, we look to him for an answer to the questions pro­posed higher up, and we have no doubt that his true view of the case would embody itself in solutions equivalent to the following. " Religion and society," he would say, " are two orders, one opposed to the other. Religion was made, of course, by the Almighty, - it begins at the altar, ends at the holy-water font at the door, and is bounded by the four walls of the church. The period of its duration is from Sunday morning until Sunday evening. Society was invented by the "Devil, and it rules the week from Monday morning until Satur­day night. Business, politics, and amusements are things that lie beyond the verge of morality, and the control of re­ligion. He who pretends to be religious anywhere hut inside of the church is a bigot, a hypocrite, a man of the Dark Ages ; and he who outside of the church suits his convenience by cunningly cheating, smoothly lying, -playing, in short, the con­fidence man, - is a smart man, - in fact, something of an hon­orable man, - and, in fact, (if he take care not to be found out,) he may be one of the most remarkable men of his age and country."
After this statement of the morality which passes current with this age of high-pressure progress, let us examine what the teaching of the Church is regarding Religion in Society. This section of our article is, properly speaking, the pivot upon which the whole discussion turns. Hence we must endeavour to render it clear and plain to the mind of every Catholic reader.
Man is a being fashioned in all his parts, and placed upon earth, by the hand of God. God created by a direct act of his power the soul of man, indirectly, according to the order of his wise Providence, the body of man. The part of man which makes him like unto his Creator is his soul. Now in his soul he has that power which is called will, or free-will. This free-will is the link which connects man with the moral order established by God.
This will is like a point upon which the law of God rests, as an ivory ball upon a smoothly polished marble table, which it touches only in one point. But as in this instance the whole weight of the ball rests upon the whole of the table, though touching it only at one point, so the whole weight of God's moral law rests upon the whole man, in every place and at every time, upon all his actions and relations. The reason of this is be­cause man as an intelligent being, a free agent, a responsible person, is governed only by this will, which is sometimes called the monarch of the soul. But this monarch of the soul is governed by the moral law of God made known to the intellect. To be brief, God rules the will, the will rules the whole human being. All the rules laid down for man's will by his God, and made known to him through reason, or conscience, or rev­elation, are united and organized under the term Religion. Whenever an act is produced by the will of man, it is either according to the order required by religion, or it is not. If it is, that act is a virtuous act ; if it is not, that act is not a virtu­ous act, but a vicious one. Virtue means the good use of free­will, vice the bad use of free-will. So that, in conclusion, you may search from Adam's first breath until the day of judg­ment, and you will find no act of human will indifferent in the face of religion, no act upon which it does not pass judg­ment, and register as a loss or a gain. Were an illustration desired to explain this universal influence of religion upon man and society, the world might be compared to a vast garden filled with every variety of flowers and plants, and religion to the light which illumines and vivifies them.    Were the comparison to be carried out more fully, we might remember how God first created the light, and then organized it in the resplendent orb of day, which he placed as Us centre and source, and to which he attached all its rays. In like manner he has centred and organized in a common focus and source, - in his Holy Church, - all the precepts of religion, its duties, its teachings, its moral and intellectual bearings upon man and society. From this glorious centre emanate the streams and floods of rich noonday light, which convey heat, color, and life to the gor­geous rose of the garden, the unspotted chalice of the virgin lily, and even cheer with a ray of comfort the modest violet in the bosom of the distant valley. This Church, appointed to be the inseparable companion and the faithful guardian of man, is a mother to him in his childhood, a teacher to him in youth, in manhood a friend, a guide in old age, until, when his tottering footsteps grow feebler and heavier as he approaches the end of his career, his eyes are closed, and he is wrapped in the mor­tuary shroud by the same fond parental hand which had rocked the cradle of his infancy. These principles, which are to be found in the catechism learned by every Catholic child, fur­nish a satisfactory answer to the questions proposed in the beginning of our article. They follow naturally from the maxim that God is the master of all. They merely assert that he is our master everywhere, that the Ten Commandments were made for the rich as well as for the poor, for the sage as well as for the ploughman, for the homestead as well as for the church, for the night as well as for the day, for the public as well as for the private individual, for old age as well as for youth.
Still, even such plain truths as these sound rather jarringly upon the ear of one reared under the tuition of this " enlight­ened nineteenth century." Many there are, who, without de­nying their truth, would laugh at one who were to utter them in a place of every-day resort. He would even be told, most probably, that he has no right to mix up religion and politics ; that spiritual matters are one thing, and temporal matters another ; that these things may do well enough for the pulpit, but that it is not good manners to speak of them among gentle­men and ladies. That the Church, or religion, which is the same thing, wants us to be good, of course, and to say our prayers once in a while, but that she does not want us to be bigoted, superstitious, unenlightened. Are not expressions similar to these used every day by people who pretend to be devoted to the faith, - ready even to die for it ?
But what in common honesty is the meaning of the assertion, that we must not mix up politics and religion, spirituals and temporals, civil matters and Church matters ? It either means that the sacred practices of religious worship must not be con­fused with secular pursuits, or that such pursuits are not subject to the control of the religious principle. If the first, let it go for what it is worth. For it amounts merely to saying that it is not the most appropriate time for a man to say his beads when he is taking his dinner, or that he ought not to read the newspaper in church, or that his children cannot say their prayers and study their catechism while they are playing at leap-frog, or singing Ethiopian melodies. If it mean the second, then it amounts to the exclusion of the Church and of God from every thing except religious worship, and is the fundamental principle of practical infidelity.
There is no act in life over which the principles of religion do not exercise their sway. In matters connected with God's worship, they exercise a direct and immediate sway. In mat­ters appertaining to politics, education, business, and amuse­ments, they exercise a sway which is indirect or mediate. In other words, they rule these avocations by maxims which are deductions from them, applications of them to matters some­what remote from the centre and source from which they part. As there can be no effect without a cause, no series without a beginning, no conclusion without premises, so there can be no principle of honor, of justice, of common sense, or of com­mon decency, if religion be taken away. All virtue depends upon religion as fully as religion itself depends upon the ex­istence of God. Even the conscience of the savage and of the unbeliever, when in some particular instance it prompts him to abstain from all acts of revenge or injustice, gives to the existence of religion the testimony of a soul naturally Christian, as far as it is naturally candid and honest. All truth is one, and religion is God's truth, the order of truth and goodness, upon which all other orders of individual and social action, and in so far as they are not criminal even unconsciously, depend. The manner in which the order of religion governs us in mat­ters not strictly religious is not, however, by interfering with us in their merely material elements. The Church does not, in civil and secular matters, exercise over us an importunate or tyrannical sway. She allows us, where we see no wrong, to go on freely and cheerfully, and according to the state of life in which Providence has placed us.    But she  requires of us that our will in these things shall be guided by an honest in­tention. She teaches us that our whole life, and every most minute action of our life must ultimately be referred to the end for which we were created, the service of Him who created us. It is a property of the will of man, that it never acts without a motive, an intention, an end in view. The partic­ular aim we have in each action refers to some other end to which it is subservient. Now the ultimate end of all our actions, and of all the motives from which we act in detail, must be the service of God, to whom we are indebted for the power of acting at all.
Religion, by keeping this ultimate end steadily before our eyes, sanctifies and exalts our merely secular pursuits. By this plea she holds us accountable even for an act in itself so* insig­nificant as an idle word. This intention, either by immediately preceding our actions, or by a happy frame of soul possessing habits of faith and virtue, and dedicating them to God in a gen­eral way, renders our slightest exertions deserving of being registered and rewarded in heaven. Who has not heard of the widow's mite, and of the glass of water given for God's sake to a thirsty brother ? These simple deeds gained the notice and commendation of Him who gives wisdom to little ones, and confounded the self-sufficient knowledge of the proud sages of the world. The standard by which the Christian is to measure the actions of men is thus established. He is not to look, as the admirers of merely human heroism, at the greater or less degree of energy such actions call forth, or at the intrepidity with which they are performed, or at the success with which they are crowned, but at the greater or less rela­tion they bear to the service of God and to life eternal.
By these remarks, likewise, it is sufficiently explained how Religion does not interfere with us in a way to embarrass us, confuse our actions, or deaden our efficiency, but only to exalt and to sanctify our pursuits. She is no tyrant, but a fond mother, no disorganizer, but the most angelic of harmonizers. An ingenious mind has illustrated this varied influence of re­ligion by comparing the mere material actions we perform to the air breathed into a flute, and the influence of the principles of religion to the fingers of the artist, whose delicate touch har­monizes and modulates into notes of exquisite music the cur­rent of breath which of itself would only produce a monoto­nous or a disagreeable sound.
This simile illustrates at once the power which the religious principle possesses, and the absence of suddenness and violence in its diffusion through the veins and arteries of society. The steady and healthy life which Religion imparts is thus distin­guished from the workings of the various schemes and systems proposed in our day for the improvement of mankind, by men who, while refusing to submit to the guidance of her principles, would fain produce an equivalent to their admirable results. They begin their reforms at the pinnacle of the social pyramid, instead of toiling at its foundation. The object of their cul­ture is not man, but the metaphysical person of society, in its complex and abstract acceptation. The " harmony," the " progress," the " reform," of which they speak as means, are in fact only the ends to be obtained. What man is to do to become possessed of these advantages, they themselves are unable to say. Socialism, associationism, Fourierism, even taken in a mild and modified sense, practically suppose man and society to be already what they would make them. We find this singular inconsistency confessed by the advocates of those systems which seem to be the most inoffensive. The state to which they would bring mankind must be the state he exists in before they can work upon him at all.
It is not our object to follow out the reflections suggest­ed by these remarks, which we introduce only as an illus­tration of truth taken from the systems most opposed to truth. For let us be understood as giving no credit or countenance to these theories, however great may be our personal affection for many unfortunate individuals who de­vote talent and energy worthy of a belter cause to dreams, not only unsubstantial and idle, but deeply and fatally perni­cious. The Church docs not appeal to mankind with vague cries of progress and reform, the only effect of which is to destroy without rebuilding, but her light and life, spreading through the whole social body, produce in reality the golden results which the most amiable of our visionary innovators can only see faintly traced in the mists of an unattainable distance. If there be such a thing as a follower of contemporary social philanthropy outside of the Church who is sincere, what an object of compassion he affords to the contemplation of a Catholic philosopher ! He rises in the midst of his fellovv-blind-men to talk about what neither he nor they know the mean­ing of. He exerts the utmost of his ingenuity to prevent them, by his individual influence, from seeing the only light which can lead them safely on to better things.    Even though he may not wilfully employ means which he knows to be impious in bring­ing them to embrace his views, he is under the influence of an intellectual dishonesty, which urges him on to render his hear­ers morally and physically wretched, at the very moment when he would wish to make them happy.    Such orators will admire the order,  the beauty, the power,  of the Church, but see defects in her organization which in sober truth are only defects of their own diseased imagination.    They speak as if it were their business to put the Church right, forgetting that it is her business to put them right.    The authority which to the Cath­olic is a source of sweet consolation as well as of ever new and youthful vigor, they, under the  vitiating influence   of a crooked self-training, can  only look upon as  a burden and a hardship.    All the blessings which they invoke for the human family are offered to them by the Church, with a fulness which far transcends their- most  sublime aspirations ; but they are unable to see it, and labor even with might and main to prevent the very results which they seem most anxious to obtain.    But enough of theories outside of the Church, and which she con­demns as heresies.
Our remarks thus far may seem to deal more with principles than facts, more with the elements of religious society than the grand results which it exhibits. Yet the observations we have made go very far towards suggesting the idea of what society would be, were it such as the Church desires it to be. The Church is able, through the religious training she holds out to each man, to make the union of all as perfect as human so­ciety is capable of becoming. Where she stops short, it is only on account of the insufficiency of the materials upon which she is working. Let each one faithfully copy the prototype she points to, aided by the helps she communicates, and the earthly kingdom of Christ will resemble his heavenly kingdom. Such resemblance, however, is not to be obtained by the removal of physical evil. The removal of a portion of such evil will un­doubtedly be the result of a temperate, contented, virtuous Christian life. But the Church works with man as she finds him, and only wants to make him what he can really be. Where she can remove the afflictions which cross his path, she does so, and where this result is not to be obtained, she makes such afflictions work as part of her economy. She divests them of all moral guilt where they are stained by it, and then, as the natural philosopher produces light from inert and noisome matter, she extracts heavenly consolation from the clogs and inconveniences of life. Were there nothing to be borne with in this life, how many virtues would be unknown, how many brilliant examples lost, how much generous and ennobling ex­ertion unheard of! God permits the existence of physical evils, while he teaches the manner of turning them into gold. The modern philosopher, unacquainted with this heavenly alche­my, loses his time, and renders himself ridiculous, by attempt­ing the vain task of their total exclusion. The philosopher would fain empty out the font which he knows to be swollen by many a tear, but the poor man's ingenious systems prove to be like the vessels with which the Danaides were condemned to work by paganism, - pails without bottoms to them. Hence his results are in an inverse ratio to his labor, the latter almost infinite, the former equal - to zero.
These remarks show that any objection derived from the existence of physical evil does not destroy what we are anx­ious to have placed before the reader's mind, the ideal of Christian society. Once we class the fundamental principles involved in this subject in their legitimate order, the concep­tion of such an ideal is not difficult. By the proper formation of individuals, and the understanding that their aim is to be the fulfilment, in a perfect manner, of the duties of their re­spective positions, we see no insuperable obstacle in the for­mation of the family and the state. The system of religious society thus proposed requires no violent and sudden revulsion to correct what anomalies may now exist in the social frame­work,- unless, indeed, we treat of extreme and exceptional cases, which are to be met by extreme and exceptional reme­dies, rarely, if ever, to be applied by private individuals. In proposing this system, we offer nothing new. The remarks we have made are contained in the principle which, in some measure, has been the leading motto of our journal, - " Seek first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all other things shall be added unto you." Those who will admit no theory for the amelioration of society, from which God and his justice are not excluded, may smile at our simplicity. But we are very much mistaken if their mirth will be of long duration. The world, gentlemen of the modern schools, is beginning to grow weary of your high-sounding words, from which no decent result is obtained. Even your favorite pupil, " the people," must finally see that"you do nothing but lead them by the nose.    Perhaps it was as well that you should have your day, and try your hand for a while, to show how utterly incom­petent you are to effect what you  so boldly and brilliantly promised.    Even  the  people, stupid  as  you consider them, and reckless as they have shown themselves, must finally wish for something better than perpetual restlessness and excitement, attended only by failure and disappointment.    The substitution of the Red Republican cap for the monarch's crown, and of the liberty-pole for his sceptre,  may be a very pretty piece of melodramatic display.    But when it is attended by the other substitution of a stone for bread, and a scorpion for fish, the people must come to realize this much, at least, that your logic passes riot through the stomach to the brain, - a fatal truth for the  popularity of the new  guides.      The kings  and old leaders may have been too eager to devour their subjects, but the change insisted upon will not end merely in getting a new set of wolves in place of the old ones.   No, no !   We repeat it, what is to be corrected are the abuses existing in society, not the form of society itself; what is to be purified is the life-blood which courses through its veins.    If the remedy resorted to be only to lop off the head and the arms, or to draw the blood forth from its channel, the difficulty will only be made greater, and in nowise remedied, - for inanition is even worse than feverish strength.
Under the guidance of the Church, we should see ambition give way to generous and healthy emulation.   Political intrigue would find a corrective in the Christian virtue of prudence, exercised for the common weal.   Restless and grasping avarice would be superseded  by worthier motives, disinterested yet intense activity.    Just and enlightened authority would protect the rights, and nicely balance the relations, of the higher and the lower classes, and thus remove the suspicion and distrust which must ever render a community restless and unhappy. Each individual, and each union of individuals, would learn to be elevated, not by aspiring intemperately to a higher sphere, but by becoming each hour, and each day, less and less faulty, more and more perfect in its own.    The difference of interests and pursuits would introduce variety, without destroying har­mony.     For the wills  of  the various  individuals  would be sufficiently coordinate where each one cheerfully submits to the will of God.    Thus would humanity, not, indeed, according to the vain dream of socialist theorizers, make a heaven of this earth, but it would make such use of the means placed within its reach as to become fit for heaven.
This, briefly, is what is needed, and all this the Church is able to effect for the people who confide their welfare to her pro­tection, provided they be really and practically Catholics, - in fact and not merely in name. Has she not succeeded in this admirable work of elevating the individual in his sphere, with­out raising him out of his sphere ? Has she not succeeded in sanctifying every condition of life, every grade of society ? Has she not made the pursuits of each of her children a Chris­tian vocation, and prescribed for the aim of all Christian voca­tions the highest possible degree of perfection, even that of the Father who is in heaven ? Let us hear no more of the cant about the corruption or the weakness of nations called Catho­lic. Those nations, even in their decrepitude, exhibit signs of power and of life which their bitterest enemies cannot but envy and admire. These and all instances like unto these testify to the dignity of society as modelled and preserved by the Church. Where they have failed to be truly great, it is pre­cisely because they failed to follow her leadership, and, like the Jews of old, sought to imitate the fashions of the heathen. Thus even the downward tendencies of Catholic nations do honor indirectly to the Church, just as the upward efforts of uncatholics, by their unfinished and partial attempts in the absence of her assistance, testify in her favor. Where uncath-olic nations accomplish aught of good, it is in virtue of their Catholic traditions not totally lost, and where Catholic nations exhibit aught of evil, it is because of their adulterating their Catholic traditions with the uncatholic training of their neigh­bours.
The Church, however, is not unable to exhibit a great peo­ple, by whom her teachings have been fully understood and perfectly carried out in every possible state and condition of society. Her history presents us with a vast army of saints, whose lives were passed, not in any hidden or secret place, but in broad daylight, under the eyes of her enemies as well as her friends and followers. This array of individuals made perfect by her tutorship does not consist in a few, uncertain names. It is composed of persons belonging to every rank, from the pope and the emperor to the hewer of wood and the drawer of water. It is not confined to any particular shore, but num­bers people of all ages and sexes from every tribe and tongue of the earth. The only professions excluded from this exalted company are those which, being decidedly bad in themselves, cannot contribute to the honor or the advantage of humanity.    But members once belonging to such professions are en­rolled by the Church among her saints ; for it was necessary she should explain the transition by which, from being her opponents, men  could become princes of her court.    In numbers this cloud of witnesses to the power of the Church is immense, for it does not merely include the saints properly so called on ac­count of their solemn canonization, but all who were like them, whether canonized or not.    Of the latter there are millions whose names are known only in heaven.    Every saintly per­sonage raised to the honor of the altar speaks not only for him­self, but represents the countless numbers who, by his example, his zeal, and his prayers, were brought to lead a truly Christian life.    And where can an assembly be found more noble, more diversified, more harmonious, which confers more honor upon the whole human family ?    Whoever has been led to look with admiration upon any peculiar character will find it here exhib­ited in its fullest bloom.    Whoever loves to read of the traits of high-minded generosity evinced-by any one age or nation will find them here exalted, and unalloyed by the faults which elsewhere accompany  them.    Whoever is more pleased  in observing the delicate and gentle workings of a well-attem­pered disposition will find them here represented in their sweet­est and loveliest aspect, unaccompanied by frailty, and illumined by the reflex of light from heaven.    No history exists of higher interest to all mankind, with the exception of the history of Him who was not simply true man, but true God.    Do you admire the excellence of the military character ?    There you can contemplate military heroism elevated to the rank of Chris­tian virtue in the Roman officers St. Sebastian and St. Mau­ritius.    Does your taste lead you to admire the splendor of a noble lineage when accompanied by honorable deeds ?    Ob­serve them both united in the Spanish prince, St. Hermenegild, the Hungarian duke, St. Wenceslaus, the Italian baron,  St. Andrew Corsini.    Or observe them still more august on ac­count of the outward dignity of their persons in the Saints Chad, Canute, Edmund, Stephen, and Louis, who were kings, or in St. Henry, who was an  emperor.    Not only are popes and priests offered to the imitation of the Christian, as fitting mod­els of perfection, but saints from every class of society are recorded in the glorious annals of the Church.    The Saints Margaret, and Elizabeth of Portugal, were queens ; Monica, and  Frances of Rome, were the widows of two private citi­zens.    St. Ambrose was a magistrate, St. Ivo of Brittany a lawyer, St. Homobonus a merchant, Saints Cosmos and Damian physicians. Even the most humble walks of life have had their Christian heroes. For example, St. Isidore was a farm­er, St. Paschal Baylon a shepherd, St. Alexius a servant, St. Crispin a shoemaker, St. Blandina and St. Vita were servant-maids. Even pursuits in themselves indifferent were made the means of giving honor to God in a perfect manner. Hence we have our blessed Bartholomew, and Angelo da Fie-sole, who were artists, and St. Paulinus of Nola, who was a poet. The majesty-loving Roman and the ingenious Athenian were admitted as candidates for the highest honor of Chris­tendom, as well as the Israelite and the Egyptian. The high­born matron of Madrid and Naples is seen with the soft Sar­acen girl become a convert to Christianity. The sturdy English yeoman and the silk-clad Japanese, the Spanish knight and the Irish student, the German count and the French man-at-arms, all, all have in the history of the saints the example of some one of their own country, age, and call­ing, who has walked in the road of perfection even to the threshold of the kingdom of God. Some of these holy per­sonages lived in solitary retirement, while others moved amid scenes of business and excitement. Some were pioneers of civilization and religion amid the thick forests of the North and the frozen seas of the South ; others were furrowed with honorable scars while facing the enemy of God and country upon the battle-field. When we are asked to point out some proof of what the Church can do for civilization, all these instances of her sublime and heroic influence crowd before our mind. And when the name of some one is requested, who has devoted himself to the extension of civilization under the guid­ance of the Church, and thereby really done honor to human­ity, all her saints present themselves to our view as a vast army engaged in building up the empire of Christian society. When did this great army begin its march ? Where was its forward-most rank first descried as it advanced ? It took its move from the supper hall at Jerusalem, on the memorable day of Pente­cost. Preceded by the standard of the Cross, it pushed its legions into the fastnesses of heathenism. It was met by stal­wart arms, and proud hearts resolved to stop its advance, -• but in the encounter it was victorious. It halted before the heathen temple. The tongue of the heathen priest was para­lyzed, and his lips were struck dumb, while his idol quaked upon its basis, and fell crumbling to the ground.   Amid the smoke of the silver censer, the aspersion of pure water made holy by prayer, and the joyful peal of the choral anthem, the Christian conquerors consecrated the temple to the honor of the true Author of life and death. The era of religious civilization was inaugurated and its great mission begun.
What was the offspring of man's genius, religion preserved, as belonging to her already, but condemned and rejected what came from his errors or his passions.
New recruits were added to the great army as it advanced, and its splendid organization unfolded itself more and more to cover its outstretching and expanding ranks. A conspicuous place was needed for the seat of its chief leader, and a tent was pitched for Peter upon the grave of the Caesars. Schools were needed where its youthful warriors might be trained, in virtue and wisdom, to wear their accoutrements with more pleas­ing grace, and, driving away the babbling sophists of the Porch and the Academy, it opened the text-book of Christian doctrine in Antioch, Athens, and Byzantium. Did a fertile and prom­ising country unfold itself to the view ? Then, as the inhabit­ants gradually fell in with the higher discipline of Christian life, their every-day avocations were cared for, and brought to work harmoniously under the control of the new wisdom that diffused itself abroad. The towers of the convent rose on the gentle slope of some smiling hill-side, the corridors of the monastery stretched along on either side of the village church, and the tiller of the soil was taught to mingle with the song that be­guiled his hours of repose the praises of the Most High, in the words of the Prophet and Psalmist. All worked for good. What was found already of proper material was consecrated to high and holy purposes. But as the bands of the elect spread far and wide, enkindling in the breasts of men of every tribe and tongue the new fire brought from heaven, new sources of power and confidence were discovered by its light. Un­known vistas of glory opened to the right and left, and forms of beauty and joy moved in their brilliant aisles, unseen hitherto by the eye of man. Regenerate nature, and the dignity which it acquired, not only accompanied the Christian to the foot of the altar, but went abroad with him and inspired him with sub­lime recollections and sweetest hopes, even amid the scenes of merely mortal life. The mind had learned to ascend higher and higher, and the heart to beat and dilate more fervently and more freely, until to be a hero became habitual to the Chris­tian.    The painter and the sculptor had become Catholic, not only in their act of faith, but in the whole man, and the world that surrounded him was elevated to the consortship of Divine na­ture.    They resumed again the brush and the chisel, but cared no longer for the subjects  those plastic implements once dis­coursed.      The  canvas,  as  it  unrolled, no   longer exhibited dreamy incentives to degrading lust, but was made holy by the love-speaking features of the Virgin of Virgins, that look from their radiant field  now  bent in adoration at the birth of the Promised One, now veiled by the shadow of grief at the loss of the Beloved, now joyful again at his triumphant return from bell and the tomb.    The spotless marble refused to be moulded into the zoneless figure of Grecian voluptuousness, and sprang into the majestic outline of the prophet, or bent to the attitude and  assumed   the  heaven-turned  look  of  the dying martyr. Inspired by the  subject glowing into life under his hand, the artist rose to a holy enthusiasm, and gave back again to his subject the  rapturous  eloquence which uttered its delight from the depths of his own heart.     The poet and the musician still sang, but the angels in whose company religion had taught him to think melted  heavenly  notes into  the stream  of  melody which gushed from his lips, or steeped the chords of his con­secrated lyre.    The architect still built, but no longer with the vulgar purpose of inducing the soulless multitude to flatter and praise bis selfish pride.    He conceived  the mighty design of calling into existence a structure whose mystic grandeur could bring the thoughtless Christian to feel spontaneously that be was in the  house and  before  the  presence of the  Almighty, and which might force the unbeliever to kneel and pray in self-defi­ance at his shrine.    Frequently would he lay down his pencil upon  the  unfinished  plan, and pray, - and prayer would turn into fire, and the fire expanding his throbbing heart, lifting bis mind  above  itself, and quickening bis   imagination  with  the acuteness and rapidity of lightning, he would grasp his pencil and dare to sketch in a moment of prophet-like fervor the no­ble vision of his soul, - the vast conception of a pile whose every stone had a tongue to speak of heaven, whose majestic outline would command the breathless admiration of a thousand years.    Say you thus of the traveller who no longer limited bis desires to the gold and gems of Araby and Golconda, but traded in immortal souls which he purchased for heaven.   And if, for a moment, as he stemmed the surge which rose upon his path across the wintry ocean, its deafening roar made his heart begin to fail, buoyed up by his heroic devotion, be smote his breast and blushed at hesitating to do for God at least as much as the adventurous merchant could accomplish for the love of earthly treasure.
These are a few of the flowers which the army of the saints scattered along the path which led them toward their home in heaven. These are some of the fruits which the saints and those who are like unto them bring forth, because they realize the fact that the true dignity and true happiness of man are cen­tred in religion. This, in other words, is a leaf taken at ran­dom from the history of the Church as a civilizer. Brief and desultory though they be, they sufficiently show how religion, though destined ultimately only to invigilate the eternal welfare of man, consults indirectly his temporal advantages, and, while raising his soul towards heaven, elevates his whole being to the highest perfection it is capable of attaining upon earth.
But let us not lose sight of the brilliant panorama wherein we viewed the great army of the saints passing along, in the fulfilment of their noble mission. We saw them start from the Apostolic supper-hall at Jerusalem, upon the eventful day of the coming of the Paraclete, - the day on which was inaugu­rated the Christian era. We spoke of their trials and their success as they spread abroad over the whole face of the earth. Let us now contemplate the vision of unequalled splendor and grandeur which will embody the fulness of time, and the clos­ing scene of their mortal career.
When the last day of the world shall dawn, and the last saint shall have imprinted the latest footstep of his march upon earth, the glorious army of all the representatives of the true dignity of regenerate humanity will meet together in triumph in the Valley of Judgment. He who was first beheld in the form of a little child in the manger of Bethlehem, and latest on the hard bed of the Cross upon Calvary, will be seen by all men in the valley of Jehosaphat at the right hand of his Divine Father. He will fill the throne of judgment, and preside over the tri­umph of his elect. Behold them as they spread out in brilliant array, clothed in robes of gladness, and adorned by light from above ! Let those who accuse the Church as being the enemy of true greatness of soul, - those who ask what nation has been made perfect by religious civilization, - those who long for a society free from blemish, - behold this evidence of the power of the Church in elevating humanity of every tribe and tongue, of every age and condition, of every century and coun­try.    Where could an assembly of nobler heroes, a cloud of stronger witnesses, be found, to complete the ideal  of perfect society ?
See first the choir of Apostles, preceded by Peter and Paul. What was the work they accomplished ? They changed the legislation and civil usages of the world, - hurled paganism from the altar and the throne, - first made men un­derstand they were brethren, and cast the broad foundations of the moral order. Near to them is the choir of martyrs, with crowns on their brows, and palms in their hands, first of whom Stephen fell, in the morning of life, under the persecutor's sword. They taught by example that man has but one Mas­ter, - that there is something more precious than life, - that he who will enter the field of battle for conscience' sake may be silenced, scourged, mutilated, crushed, and still be victori­ous ! Then follow the venerable confessors of the faith, whose life the proud world smiled at as an infatuation. They took their stand at various posts, and toiled incessantly, it were difficult to say, whether more to save their own souls, or those of their brethren. Some of them were holy pontiffs and doc­tors, on whose lips was opened a fountain of wisdom, to elevate the mind of the faithful, and confound the audacity of the heretic and blasphemer. Some, again, were venerable monks and hermits, who made vocal the mountain height and the woody glade with the praises of the Most High, and caused the barren wilderness to bloom as a garden of plenty. Or did they select for the field of their labors the hospital and the gal­ley, - the study-hall of youth, -• the distant home of the rude barbarian ? Everywhere following the path of the apostle and the martyr, they cultivated the good seed previously sown, and watered it with their blood ; they penetrated the masses, and while humbling the proud, the rich, and the powerful, they ele­vated the soul of the serf and the plebeian, and equally to each distributed the word of life and the sacramental food, the sour­ces of Christian fortitude and perseverance. Nor is the more gentle and less constant portion of humanity forgotten in this triumphal pageant. Woman will on that great day bear testi­mony to the dignity of society sanctified by religion, for her representative will be the noblest specimen of humanity not personally united with the Godhead. If, in the consideration of the influence of religion on society, we have omitted to signalize what it has clone for woman, ample justice is done and the fulness of so pleasing a theme summed up in one magic name,-that of our loveliest of exemplars,  our sweetest of mothers, our noblest of queens, - MARY !    Paganism, by making of woman an idol or a slave, destroyed both her use­fulness and her dignity.   Christianity made her all in usefulness, but not a slave ; all in dignity, but not a goddess.    How little inferior to the angels are those myriads of sainted females who, on  the great day of triumph, form the crown of the Virgin Mother!    The lilies they bear in their hands are emblems of the spotless purity of their souls, the roses with which they are crowned were purpled by the blood of their innocent heai'ts, freely poured out as the price of constancy in the faith.    Let him who delights in examining the tests of highly cultivated civilization try to understand how great must be the depth and healthiness of that society where the influence of woman is characterized by such   angelic perfection.     Israel foreshad­owed the Church, and the Church foreshadows heaven.    And as the Synagogue in her palmy days, while making her children as fully as possible Christians, or preparing them to be so, transcended   all human  schemes   of improvement,   thus  the Church, while rendering the children committed to her care as fit subjects  as possible for heaven, renders their society as much like that of the heavenly kingdom as it can possibly be­come.     Here closes our ideal of Catholic society, were it pure and unalloyed, as it ought to be.
O, why will many who are gifted with loving hearts and aspiring souls, and who still speak of happiness for man, refuse to study the secret of that happiness which the Church locks not up in her bosom, but dispenses with the rest of her royal treasures ?    Why will they waste their time and wear out their spirit in  chasing  flitting phantoms, which,  like  the  evening mist, glitter for a moment in the rays of the setting sun, but, turning from one fantastic shape to another, pass away and are seen no more ?    Unhappy, thrice unhappy men ! who, in the abundance of their learning, know less than the lisping child who only half understands the prayer he is taught to con.    But the loss is theirs, and not the loss of the Church.    He who opposes her may succeed for a time in preventing his fellow-sufferers from receiving her soothing care ; but let him look to history, and learn the fate of those systems of nationality from which she and the God who  speaks through her alone were excluded.    Let him see how she was then, and how still she remains, while they are only remembered in the dream of the poet, or the schoolboy's tale.
When, on the eve of the banquet of death, she spoke words of serious warning to the citizen of Solyma, he laughed at her sanctity as folly, and her wisdom as a maniac's dream. But when the angel of Judah took his departure from the dese­crated temple, and the national life of the Jewish people was buried beneath its ruins, the Church moved in the vigor of youth at the foot of Mount Olivet and Thabor Hill. The proud Roman, in the days of his greatness, heard her voice, which flattered not the powerful and the wealthy, with disdain, and drove her to breathe her prayer beneath his feet, down amid the sepulchral gloom of the crypt and the catacomb. But where the Tarpeian Rock, once crowned with gilded palaces and glittering fanes, reared its rugged summit again in silence and desolation to the sky, she sat upon the ruins spread around its base, and mourned over the blindness of those who had fallen to rise no more. She spoke in the Areopagus to the Athenian sage of the God unknown to him, and the only one known to her, and he rejected her doctrine as strange. But she still published that doctrine upon the shores of the iEgean, when nothing remained in the temple of Minerva but the ill-omened owl, and the bat flitted in day-time through the desert halls of the Athenian's pride. Byzantium acknowledged her power, and kissed the hem of her royal garment, and rose to be as queen among the cities of the East. It rejected her sway, and scorned to bow to her sceptre, and sunk to be the slave of the barbarian invader. But the steam of her censer continued still to spread in sweetness around, when the son of a robber of the desert sat upon the throne of the Constantines, and the voice of the turbaned muezzin resounded through the air which once thrilled at the peal of festive music that greeted the advance of the Greek emperor's triumphal car. He who made republican France his foolstool, and changed the sceptres of European monarchs as playthings from hand to hand, would not receive from an aged pontiff the crown of Charlemagne and St. Louis, and placed it himself proudly upon his brow ; but the Church whom he sought to make his handmaid, and whose High Priest he confined in a prisoner's cell, in the per­son of that aged pontiff, amid the joyful hosanna of all nations, sat again upon the throne of the world, when the self-crowned universal monarch was entombed upon the beach of a desert island, by the hand of a foreign jailer.
Of the triumphs of Mother Church, and of Religion in So­ciety, no more. May we that have known her love her with still increasing devotion.    May those who love her not begin to understand tlie wonders that exist in their very midst. Let those who are not for her, however, hear in mind, that, whether they oppose her, or pretend to extend to her their patronage, as she cheered the hearts of the great and good centuries be­fore they and their vain systems were born, so will she lead new generations henvenvvard ages on ages after they and their vain systems are remembered no more.