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Etudes De Theologie

{from Brownson’s Quarterly Review for April, 1860}

             We have always the same old enemy to combat, but not always on the same battle-ground, nor with precisely the same weapons, the same tactics, or the same strategetics.  Each age has its own battle-ground, and its peculiar weapons and mode of warfare.  The fathers lived in the midst of a hostile world, when the battle with error was serious, earnest, and they fought bravely, as men who fight for life or death, for all that is near and dear to them, against real enemies, who also fought in earnest against them; and they came off conquerers, though by being slain, not by being slaying.  They were followed by the scholastics, who lived for the most part in the bosom of a normally Christian world, and who simply, in peace, gave lessons to be applied in war.  They did well and nobly the work they had to do; but the opponents they combated were seldom the opponents one meets in real life, and the battles they waged were, to a great extent, mimic battles, designed chiefly to train and discipline troops for real war when it should come.  Till the real war came, and the armies they disciplined were obliged to take the field against a real, living, and determined foe, their training, or discipline, was admirable and answered every purpose.  They made an admirable appearance on parade.  But there is in the whole scholastic discipline something artificial and real, and it has almost always been found inefficient when transported from the schools into real life.  It was admirable for tilt or joust, where the knights fought in sport, to show their skill and prowess for their ladie love, and were abliged to conform strickly to the rules of the lists; but we all know it broke down when it had to war in downright earnest with a Luther or a Calvin, and their flying artillery and irregular horse.

            We certainly do not mean to undervalue the labors, the logic, or the services of the scholastics from the eleventh to the sixteenth century.  There are few questions that they have not discussed, and well discussed; there are few truths in philosophy or in theology that they have not known, and, in one form or another, set forth and defended; and no man is, or can be, well qualified to engage in any of the controversies even of our day, who has not in some way availed himself of their labors.  Still their methods will not answer our purpose now; for now we have to meet, not mere amateur foes, or reply simply to objections of our own invention or statement.  It is true that there is scarcely an objection urged at any time against our religion that we cannot find stated in its strongest form, and refuted by our scholastic divines; But the objection is, for the most part, stated and refuted for the Catholic rather than for the non-Catholic mind.  The scholastics are, as controversialists, far more influential in keeping men who have the truth from going astray, than in recovering from error those who, unhappily, have yielded to its seductions.

            Moreover, the scholastics, as the name implies, thought, wrote, and discussed in the bosom of the schools for scholars, and to form scholastics.  In their times the people at large took little part in theological discussions, and theological controversy was left, as it should be, to the schools and professional theologians.  There was, then, no necessity of studying a popular manner, of laboring to catch the popular ear, and to arrest the popular attention.  Having only scholars to deal with, it sufficed to write for scholars only.  Authors could count on the public they addressed to read what they wrote, however elaborate or long might be their tracts or treatises.  But we have, in our times, to discuss the most difficult problems before a non-professional public, an ignorant, conceited, and impatient public, that takes no further interest in the grave questions we present than we can create by our writings themselves.  We have to create our own audience, and form our own public, before we can speak or write at our ease, or feel sure of being read or listened to.  The age is frivolous, and wants not only faith, but seriousness, earnestness, save in the trifles or in the accumulation of sensible goods.  Serious studies are in low repute, unless we find a partial exception in Germany.  In theology we study compendiums of conpendiums, and the illustrious cardinal archbishop of Rheims has felt it necessary to write a compendium of dogmatic and moral theology in French, for the benefit of the French clergy,- the French Revolution having left nearly a whole generation of Frenchmen to grow up without solid classical studies, literary culture, or mental discipline.

            Luther and Calvin brought the discussion of theological questions of the gravest magnitude out from the schools into the forum, and made the ignorant and unprofessional public, instead of scholars, the judges.  We may regret the fact, but we cannot unmake it.  If we refuse to address the people, we only leave the field free to the advocates of error.  We have suffered the enemy free to choose his own battle field, and we must now meet him there or nowhere.  In plain words, we have to defend today the Catholic cause in the public arena, before a light, frivolous, captious, and impatient audience.  We cannot do this by the scholastic methods- by long chains of syllogistic reasoning, elaborate treatises, or ponderous folios; for our treatises will not be read, and our dry, formal reasoning, however just and conclusive, will not be heeded.  We have to depend on the celerity of our movements, the sudden dash of our cavalry, and the rapid advance, discharge, and sure aim of our flying artillery, and our sharp-shooters armed with their Minie rifles, instead of heavy dragoons, or the solid columns of heavy armed and carefully drilled infantry.  We must fight an enemy always in motion, and that will not await a heavy charge.  Hence it is that we must drop the ponderous folio for the light octodecimo, the elaborate treatise for the brief essay of the quarterly, or the leading article of the daily or weekly.  The age is too fickle, too impatient, too much in a hurry, too incapable of sustained thought or serious application, to read books, unless light romances, or “sensational novels.”  Few are patient enough to read, even the newspapers, any thing more than the telegraphic dispatches.

            Some learned and zealous members of the illustrious Society of Jesus seem to have been fully aware of these facts, and have, in consequence, established the publication before us, which was commenced as a serial, but is now continued as a quarterly periodical.  The earlier volumes, as the later numbers, are filled with separate articles on various theological, philosophical, and historical subjects, written with rare learning, deep earnestness, great force, in an excellent spirit, good taste, with clearness, beauty and elegance.  The four volumes before us are filled with important articles and essays on subjects of living and pressing interest, and are among the most valuable volumes, in religion to contemporary wants, any members of the society have to our knowledge produced since its restoration by Pius VII in 1814.  They indicate that in spite of what is lost by its suppression under Clement XIV, the society retains elements of its original life, and in the providence of God it is destined to recover its pristine glory, and render to our poor nineteenth century services that will not suffer by comparison with those it rendered to the sixteenth or the seventeenth.  There may be in the society certain old folgies who dwell among the tombs, with their eyes not only dim, but on the back side of their heads, and who can hope nothing for the world till is is restored to the state it was in before the French Revolution; but these need not disturb us.  Everywhere we find such men, and nowhere are they to be despised.  They serve as a necessary drag on the bolder, more adventurous, and more audacious spirits, who, if left to their own momentum, might run too fast and too far, and experience the fate of the giddy son of Phoebus, who undertook, for a day, to manage his father’s horses, and guide the chariot of the sun in its course.  But we find them in less proportion among the Jesuits than in any other religous order; and as a general thing, at least in France and our own country, the sons of St. Ignatius keep themselves better up with the times, are less wedded to routine, and more ready to adapt themselves, as far as lawful, to the age and country, than any other class equally numerous that can be named.

            Religious orders may sometimes insist too strenuously on their canonical rights, privileges, and exemptions to be always acceptable to every bishop in whose diocese they are established; but experience proves that they have for ages been of the greatest utility to the church.  Regulars have a freedom and independence that we can hardly expect from seculars.  Vowed to poverty and obedience, dead to the world and its pleasures, married to a celestial Spouse, and living only for the greater glory of God, they are in their normal state free to go wherever God commands, and to do whatever he prescribes.  Exempted from the cares of the world, freed from the responsibility of governing the church, they are free to devote themselves to the living interests of religion, in any time or place, without having to confer with flesh or blood, or reckoning with the flunkyism of the age, the cupidity and selfishness of the rich, or the ambition and caprices of the great.  The world can deprive them of nothing they have not begun by renouncing, and it can give them nothing which they have not already voluntarily trampled under their feet.  They have nothing to fear, and nothing to hope from men.  They are always free to attack the reigning evil of the times, to denounce popular sins, and to defend unpopular virtues.  They are in the highest and noblest sense of the word free-men, and do not need to tremble when the heathen rage and the kings of the earth imagine vain things.  Their portion is the Lord, and no power but their own will, can take it from them.  They do not fear to face the realities of the day, to call things by their right names, nor feel that when God sends a saint on earth to trouble the waters of the stagnant pool or to combat spiritual wickedness in high places as well as in low places, they must join the hue and cry against him, and continue to din in his ear that he is too rash, ruining everything by his imprudence, and that he should always observe the noble maxim: Quieta non movere.

            Among all the religious orders the Jesuits seem to us the freest and best adapted by their institute to the service of religion in all times and places, and under all circumstances.  Of course nobody dreams of substituting them for the secualar clergy who are provided for in the general constitution of the church.  The regular clergy have under the church, in some sense, the mission of the prophets under the old dispensation.  They do not supercede the secular priest, but they become his powerful auxiliary, and do what he sometimes neglects, fears, or is really unable to do.  But regarded in the light of auxiliaries, the Jesuits are able to render to religion  the most invaluable services.  Their institute binds them to no one line of duty; it gives them for their mission the special missions  of all the other orders, and permits them to be contemplative and mortified with the Trappists, erudite with the Benedictine, theologians and preachers with the Dominicans and Franciscans, educators for all classes, and missonaries to the heathen or to the lukewarm Christians who have hardly a name to live.  There is no Christian work,- no work either for God or humanity, for religion or civilization, to which they are not free to turn their hand.  All who study their institute must admire its comprehensiveness and its flexibility, and hardly any more than the constitution of the church herself, can it need alteration or amendment with the lapse of time and the mutations of human events.  We see not how the order can ever grow old or be out of date: nothing in its institute hinders it from preserving the freshness and bloom of perpetual youth.

            We will not say that every member of this institute has been a saint; we will not say that any of its members have evered suffered their zeal for the salvation of souls to lead them to tolerate practices which cannot lawfully be tolerated, as in the case of the Chinese and Malabar rites; we will not say that individuals have not pushed too far and abused the principles on which St. Paul says he acted, of becoming all things to all men that he might gain some; but this much we can say and will say, that the errors, if any are to be charged to them, have leaned to virtue’s side.  The principle on which they, as a society, have always acted, is a sound one.  They have never become innovators in theology, dogmatic or moral, but they have always, within the limit of orthodoxy, taken the side of human liberty, and maintained for man all the freedom the law leaves him.  If they have erred, they have erred on the side of laxity, not on the side of rigorism, which is the safer error of the two.  The have never sought to make the law broader than the Lawgiver himself has made it.  They have never intentionally sacrificed any Catholic doctrine or principle to the exigences of time and place; but they have studied to leave each age and nation all its laws, institutions, customs, habits, manners, and usages not incompatible with Catholic faith and morals, and have labored to change no more in the private, domestic, or public life of a people than is absolutely required by the Christian law.  As far as they lawfully can, they always conform to the spirit of the times, to the tendencies of the age or country.  This spirit of conformity, or of accomodation, which prevents them from coming more than is necessary for salvation into collision with one’s own age or country, and which a very considerable class of our own Catholic population, if they could avoid abusing it, would do well to cultivate, has availed them much reproach, and given in the English language a bad sense to the word Jesuitical, a sense which is wholly undeserved.  But, on the other hand, the non-Catholic world pays to them the high compliment of calling every Catholic who takes a deep interest in religion, is zealous for its rights, and devoted to the independence and prosperity of the church, a Jesuit. Nothing could better prove the fidelity of the Jesuits to their Master, or better testify to the wisdom of their course and the utility of their services.

            We have had in these late years men of great abilities and vast erudition, laboring with true zeal for the interests of the church;  but we have had comparitively very few who have fully comprehended the wants of their age, or understood the best manner of meeting them.  In Great Britian and Ireland the attention of Catholics has very properly and very necessarily been directed to lacal questions between conflicting nationalities, conflicting political parties, and the church and a particular form of heresy, and therefore could not be engaged in the discussion of the broader and more general questions of the age.  Moreover, English and Irish Catholics have been but just relieved,- indeed, are hardly yet relieved,- from the crushing weight of an iniquitous system of penal laws, enacted by bigotry and the state policy, for the express purpose of brutalizing the Catholic population, and extirpating Catholicity from the British dominions.  They have had leisure and opportunity to consider only the questions which more immediately and more pressingly affected themselves.  In this country we have, so far as politics, law, the administration of government are concerned, ample freedom; but we have only recently had a Catholic public of much national consideration, and the English-speaking portion of our Catholic population being new-comers, and the majority from the less cultivated classes of the mother country, migrating hither primarily for the improvement of their worldly position and circumstances, have understood the importance and bearing only of such questions as they were familiar with in Great Britain and Ireland, and have been slow to learn that the greater part of those questions are out of place here, and that the larger portion of the intellectual strength we put forth has been put forth on questions that have and can have no significance in the United States, or the world at large.  Our Catholic population, formed of excellent materials, have not had the necessary preparation for entering into the great controversies with non-Catholics which the age demands.  Our clergy have been too few for the population, and overworked in attending to the immediate spiritual wants of their people, in administering the sacraments, in building churches, school-houses, colleges, hospitals, and asylums,- they have had little heart and less leisure to take part in any controversies not forced upon them by their daily routine of duties.  Yet there are unmistakable evidences that we are, and that at no distant day, to have in this country the most intellectually active Catholic population of the world; and that we are destined to take an important part even yet in the great controversies of the nineteenth century.  We have only to check our impatience, and wait for the young men now in our colleges to come forth and enter the field as laborers for God and humanity, to find our press,- the best supported Catholic press in the world,- laying aside its foreign aspect and character and becoming thoroughly Catholic instead of simply national, and the leader in all the great controversies of the day.  As the Old World sinks the New must rise.

            In Germany the real issues before the public are perhaps better understood and more scientifically met than anywhere else, but for the German mind only.  German Catholic literature is the most solid, the most erudite, the most vigorous literature of our times; but it is of recent growth, and but little known out of Germany.  Italy ought to be the leading Catholic nation of the world, but, cut up into a number of petty states, and disturbed by political and revolutionary passions, it is a scandal rather than a light to the age.  The Jesuits first at Naples, afterwards at Rome, have attempted to speak to the public through the pages of La Civilta Cattolica, but, after all, more in reference to the state of things in Italy than elsewhere.  The unsettled state of the peninsula, and the delicate position of the Holy See in relation to the temporal powers, Catholic and non-Catholic, the repressive policy adopted by Austria, Naples, and most of the Italian governments, and the fears and apprehensions produced by the revolutionary storm ready at any moment to burst forth, have cramped the freedom of the good fathers of the Civilta, and given to their periodical an air of timidity and restraint.  The writers are learned and able, but one feels in reading their essays that they are men of a past age, or, if living men of the present, men who dare not give, or who feel that it would not be prudent to give, free and full expression to their own inward life.  They move as men in chains, or men who feel that free movements are not permitted them.  After all, Rome, though the seat of authority, is not the centre of contemporary intellectual movements, and is no the place to which we are to look for the free and full development of Catholic journalism.  The world will look upon a Catholic periodical published at Rome as an official or semi-official publication, and will hold the pope responsible for its statements.  It will be consulted in order to ascertain the intentions of authority, and cited whenever it can be against the church, but any further it will not be regarded.  It becomes in all other respects as nugatory as all official organs usually are.

            Say what we will, France is the country to which we must look for the final discussion of all great world-questions; not because she is profounder, more learned, more scientific, or more intelligent than Germany, or even Italy, but because she is more sympathetic, more communicative, and more popular.   She leads the fashions of the civilized world, and fashions for the mind as well as for the body.  She, better than any other nation, represents the spirit and tendencies of the age, for seh feels them more quickly and more vividly.  She is the centre of modern life, in its good and in its evil.  Her language is almost a universal language, and no literature can vie with hers in its diffusion and popularity.  Though the first military power of the day, she is more powerful by her language and literature, her fashions and her ideas, than by her arms.  Rome is the seat of the spiritual power, the mistress of faith and discipline, to whom we must look for guidance and support in our war against the errors and the evil tendencies of the times; but Paris is the seat of the secular power, the focus of all the good and the bad influences of the age, and whose placet is necessary to popularity.  Nothing is really published to the world, till it is published at Paris and in French.  We are, therefore, very thankful that the Etudes are written in French and issued from the French capital.  Things written in English or German, or rather concealed in these noble tongues, may now be brought to light, and placed before the reading public of all nations.

            There is another periodical, Le Correspondant, published at Paris, under the auspices of the illustrious Count de Montalembert, that has rendered and still is rendering valuable services to the Catholic cause, and which has strong claims on the gratitude of the Catholic public.  It has battled nobly against the Oscuranti, or old folgies, as we say in Hiberno-Engllish, and has labored, not without success, in preventing Catholic interests from being identified in the public mind with those of despotism, for which, as a matter of course, it has received the anathemas of that lay pope, and recent idol of unthinking Catholics, Louis Veuillot.  But it is devoted, principally, to the external interests of Catholicity, and to the consideration of its political, social, and literary relations; and however able, useful, and indispensable, it leaves ample margin to the good Jesuit fathers for their quarterly, devoted to the same general cause indeed, but more especially under its theological, philosophical, and historical relations, and, being so devoted, perhaps less likely to fall under the censure of the government.  Le Correspondant is conducted, chiefly, for seculars; the Etudes is conducted by religious and theologians by profession, and is addressed to the primarily to the religious and theological mind, though with liberal feelings, in a philosophical spirit, and popular style and manner.  If the succeeding numbers correspond, in learning, intelligence, life, and freedom, to those already used, it can hardly fail to supply a real want in Catholic periodical literature.

            This periodical commands our attention, because it is fully up to the highest level of contemporary polemics.  Its conductors are well aware that controversy has changed its ground, and that loose statements, calumnious charges, and unscientific objections urged by no-popery writers in our English-speaking world, and which some of us Catholics are busy refuting with statements hardly less loose, and arguments hardly less unscientific, are not now the grave things for the Catholic controversialist.  The real chiefs of the non-Catholic world scorn these petty cavils, coarse calumnies, and miserable sophistries of the Brownless, Sparrys, Dowlings, and Beechers, and even shrink from contact with those who call the pope “Anti-christ,” and the church, “the Whore of Babylon,” or “the Mystery of Iniquity;”  they, at least, affect to be liberal, fair, candid, and impartial.  In some respects, some of them really are so.  We owe to Protestant writers the explosion of the scandalous fable, not invented by Protestants, of a female pope, and the best vindication we have of that much calumniated pope, St. Gregory VII. ; and the Protestant Leo has been surpassed, in the fair and just defense of the popes, in their relations with the German emperors of the middle ages, by no Catholic author we happen to be acquainted with.  The higher class of non-Catholic writers of the day may have no more love for the church than have the vulgar no-popery writers, but they have more self-respect, and more regard for their own reputation.  They are men who really stand, in their several departments, at the head of the modern world.  They draw their objections from philosophy, science, and history, and aim to present only objections of real weight and solidity.  These are not men to be turned off with a joke, nor are their objections such as can be refuted by a sneer, or dismissed with a majestic wave of the hand.  Their objections, no doubt, are, in reality, as unfounded, and their arguments as inconclusive, as those insisted on by the small fry of no-popery writers, but they are evidently drawn from a high order of thought, and are far less discreditable to the understanding of those who urge them and of those against whom they are urged.

            The Catholic who aspires to meet the real issues now before the educated and scientific public, has to prepare himself to meet not only the old theological objections, but objects drawn from philosophy, philology, ethnology, geology, history, the sciences, naturalism, and natural-supernaturalism, or natural mysticism.  If we look beyond the flashy no-popery literature of the day, penetrate beneath the surface and go to the root of the matter, we shall find that it is simply, as we have often asserted, Christianity no only as a supernatural revelation, but also as a supernatural order of life, we have now to defend, and to defend against men who are up to the level of their age in science and erudition, and who admit, at best, only the natural-supernatural order, and seek to explain all the phenomena of man’s religious life by means of what may justly be termed natural, as distinguished from Christian, mysticism.  In dong this, both charity and policy require us to begin with endeavors to recall to the unity of the church all those who are churchmen in principle, and really retain, though outside of the Catholic communion, a real belief in Christianity as a supernatural order of life, flowing, not merely from the eternal Word, but from the eternal Word made flesh.  Individuals among Protestants there may be found, who retain this belief, but no Protestant sect or communion, as such, retains it.  The Protestant world has broken with Christianity itself, and refuses to recognize or accept its fundamental and essential principle.  But such is not the case with the Russian or Greek Church.  The Russian church is schismatic, but not heretical.  It retains the great body of Christian doctrine in a Catholic sense, unless we accept its view of the papacy.  It does not deny the primacy of Peter, it only denies that it is of faith that the successor of Peter in the see of Rome is the supreme head and governor of the church; yet even here it concedes his right to preside in oecumenical councils, and that there can be no oecumenical council in which he does not preside, either in his person or by his legates.  While the Russians maintain that the supremacy of the pope is not of faith, they acknowledge, as we gather from Pere Gagarin, himself a Russian, and brought up in the Russian church, that they do not say that it is against faith, or that there has ever been a decision of the universal church against it.  We are glad, therefore, that the Etudes treats the Russian question as a primary question in our day, and regards the reconciliation of Russia with the Holy See as a matter that should engage the thoughts and the prayers of Christians throughout the world.  Fathers Gagarin, Verdiere, and Buck, give us most interesting and valuable essays on the Russian church, and dissipate many prejudices long entertained by the Latins against the Greeks.  They take up the question of the Russian church in an earnest and hopeful spirit, and with a full knowledge of its character and history.  They place the church in its true light, learnedly and ably defend its substantial orthodoxy, and refute the popular charges brought against it by Catholics who speak from ignorance and prejudice, rather than from knowledge and charity.  They show, however inexcusable is the eastern schism, and however fatal it may be, that all the blame is not on the side of the orientals.  The popes have always been just to the Greeks, but many of the Latin princes, bishops, and writers have always seemed to us, when we were reading the history of the unhappy schism, to have treated the orientals with a passion and bitterness, with a haughtiness and contempt, which but little comport with the Christian character.

            It is sometimes assumed that the Christians never were Catholics, that they were converted by missionaries from Constantinople after the schism had been effected.  We heard even many Catholics maintaining this during the Crimean war.  But this is a mistake, and Father Verdiere has proved that they were converted while the Greeks remained in communion with the Holy See, and that they were not only Catholics, but very good and zealous Catholics.  In point of fact, they did not separate from the apostolic see when the patriarch of Constantinople did, nor till long afterwards.  Indeed, the schism in Russia was hardly complete before the reign of Ivan the Terrible, and probably would have been healed near the close of the seventeenth century, but for the revolution, gotten up chiefly by the protestantizing archbishop of Moscow, that placed Peter the Great on the throne instead of the rightful heir.  Peter completed the subjection of the spiritual power, by establishing the Holy Synod of St. Petersburg, with a lay head, and did what he could to protestantize the Russian clergy, as Catherine II did what she could to infidelize and corrupt the Russian nobility, thinking thus to enlighten her people, advance civilization, and enhance the glory of her empire.  Still the mass of the Russian people have always held, and still hold fast the doctrine they received from their Catholic ancestors.  Even on the procession of the Holy Ghost they are orthodox, and agree with the Latins.  For they maintain that in denying that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and from the Son, they maintain that he only proceeds from a single principle, or by a single act or spiration of the divine being.  They are intent on asserting the singleness or unity of the Divinity, whose spiration is the Holy Ghost; the Latins agreeing with them in this seek, more especially, to mark the consubstantiality of the Son to the Father, and therefore that the divine nature form which the Holy Ghost proceeds is common to the Father and the Son, unbegotten in the Father, begotten in the Son.  It is not unlikely that the supposed differences of doctrine on the procession of the Holy Ghost, between the Greeks and the Latins, grew out of mutual misunderstanding.  The Latins were less philosophical than the Greeks, and when they heard the Greeks saying the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone, they concluded that the Greeks denied that the Son had any agency in his production; and the Greek, when he heard the Latin say the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, concluded that he meant to assert that he proceeded from the Son as a distinct principle from the Father, which would have been a heresy.  Still, the great controversy on this subject was occasioned by the insertion in the Symbol as left by the fathers of Constantinople, of the words Filioque.  These words seem to have been added primarily by officious Spanish and Gallican bishops, without the papal authority, in order to condemn the supposed error of the Greeks.  Pope St. Leo III refused to sanction their insertion by the Council of Frankfort, not on the ground that the doctrine was false, for he declared that to be true, but on the ground that the fathers of Constantinople for good reasons had omitted them, and to insert them would only give occasion to the clamors of the Greeks, and perhaps lead to a schism.  Subsequently, the insertion received the papal sanction, because circumstances had made it necessary, in order to avoid scandal and to save the true Catholic doctrine in the West.

            The Etudes shows very conclusively that the doctrine of the Russian church on purgatory, the future life, and other points on which it has by some been supposed to err, can very easily, by a little explanation, be reconciled with the Catholic doctrine, and indeed, that whatever differences there may be between the Russians and Catholics, aside from differences of communion, are differences not between the teaching of the Catholic Church and the official teaching of the Russian church, but rather differences between the opinions outside of faith held respectively by Catholics and the Russians.  Doubtless, among both Greeks and Latins, there are floating about many opinions, in regard to which they differ very greatly from each other.  We often insist on the distinction between Catholic tradition and the traditions of Catholics.  Among the Latins there are various notions about purgatory which are not of faith, and which the Greeks do not accept.  The Greeks do not believe that either the fire of purgatory or the fire of hell is material fire, and because they do not, many Latins imagine that they are unsound in the faith; but the Catholic Church nowhere teaches that the fire in either is material fire.  Prescind from both Latin and Greeks the differences there may be between them not of faith; restrict the question to what the church really and officially teaches, and it will be found that there is no difference between them but a difference of communion, or a hierarchical difference.  They are separated only by a simple schism, and all that is needed to reestablish union and restore unity is simply for the orientals to recognize the supremacy of Peter, and the authority of his successors in the see of Rome to feed, rule, and govern the church.

            There are, no doubt, many obstacles to the reunion of the Russian church, but there are none that we need regard as insuperable.  The first step towards their removal will, however, be to disabuse the Latins of their prejudices against the Greeks, and to convince them that the reunion is not to be despaired of.  How much or how little influence the writings of our learned fathers in the Etudes will have on the disunited Russians  we have no means of determining;  but we think they cannot fail to have a great and salutary influence on the Latins, in correcting many false notions they have imbibed against the Russians and the Greeks generally, and in producing more liberal, generous, and charitable feelings toward them.  The orientals, and especially the Russians, are more disposed to be religious, have more religious susceptibility, and are further removed from that chilling indifference and cold-hearted sceoticism of the West than are the populations of western Europe and America;  and it would be difficult to find a Catholic sovereign so truly observant of his religion as was the late emperor Nicholas I.  Aside from the sin of schism, in which he persisted, he was, under the religious point of view, as under many others, a model prince.  The Russian clergy are by no means that low and degraded class that ignorant and prejudiced travellers are too fond of representing them; and the Russian people have, as was proved in the Crimean war, most excellent dispositions.  Reunite them to the centre of unity, emancipate the Russian clergy from their subjection to the civil power, and give to the people a reasonable liberty, obtained not by destroying, but by developing their old institutions, and the Russians would be the finest and noblest people in Europe.

            The reunion of Russia, under a simply political point of view, is a most desirable measure.  It is necessary to preserve the proper balance of power in Europe, and to secure the recognition and maintenance of legitimate authority, and international law.  Great Britain has never been very scrupulous in regard to the rights of other nations, especially if feeble nations, and France is still less so.  The present imperial government makes war for an “idea” on whom it sees proper, shows no respect for international or any other right, and lends all its power and influence to sustain filibusterism on a grand scale.  The war against Austria, the wresting from her of the rich province Lombardy, the march of Prince Napoleon, with the fifth corps d’armee, through the duchies, and their annexation, perhaps, to Sardinia, the stirring up of the revolution in Romagna, and the advice recently given to the Holy Father, by the emperor of the French, to give up to the rebels the Aemilian province are only so many examples of sublime filibustering.  The principle on which they all rest for their justification is precisely the principle on which our own filibusters rest their justification for invading Cuba and Nicaragua, and the only difference we can discover between Louis Napoleon and William Walker is in the difference of the sphere in which they respectively operate, and the forces they have or have had respectively at their command.  William Walker, as well as the emperor of the French, made war for an “idea” and a genuine “Napoleonic idea” into the bargain.  Austria has been humbled, and is weakened by internal distractions; Germany is little more than a geographical expression.  With the adoption by France and Great Britain of the principle of Yankee filibusterism as the principle of their international policy, there is left no power but Russia with sufficient material force to readjust the balance, and to defend the rights either of sovereigns or nations.  Russia no longer in schism, uniting her material force to the power of the Holy See, would be able to restore order to demoralized Europe, reestablish the reign of law, and suppress the now gigantic filibustering or buccaneering carried on by the emperor of the French, and acquiesced in, if not aided, by Palmerston and Lord John Russell of England, and save European civilization from the barbarism which now threatens to engulf it.

            It is, moreover, only through Russia that we can hope for the final extinction of the Ottoman empire, and the rivival of the Christian East.  France, for the time being at least, has deserted the cause of Christian civilization, which she so nobly sustained in the earlier crusades.  She has become the ally of the Turks, and she and Great Britain, with the culpable connivance of Austria, for which Austria is now receiving merited chastisement, waged an anti-Christian and wholly unprovoked war against Russia for the support of the chief against Islam, Ottoman barbarism, and the oppression of the Christian populations of the East, and to prevent those populations from aspiring to their rightful national freedom and independence.  Russia alone continues the crusades, and defends the cross against the crescent, and against the policy and frequently armed opposition of nearly all the Catholic and Protestant powers of Europe, ready always to postpone the spiritual for the temporal.  Russia is a power Christendom cannot spare, and her support of the Christian cause in the East against the Turk and the policy of the West, will yet, we hope, avail her the grace of reunion with the Holy See.  Even as a schismatic power she is a grand support of Christian civilization in the East, always betrayed by imperial France, though never by really Catholic France, whose liberal contributions and heroic missionaries keep alive and sustain the hopes of eastern Christendom and religion.  But when she is once reconciled to the Holy See, no power could prevent her from taking possession of the throne of Constantinople, expelling the Turks, and reviving the eastern Christian empired, to which she has some legitimate claims as heir of the Byzantine emperors, recognized in former times as such by the sovereign pontiffs, who on that ground urged her to join in the war against the Ottoman power.  History shows us that in the steady march of Russia upon Constantinople, if following her ambition, she has also been following a policy marked out and urged by the spiritual chief of Christendom.  If her establishment at Constantinople, as a schismatic power there, in the view of the sovereign pontiff, were a benefit to Christendom, what would not her establishment then be as a Christian power?  It would, humanly speaking, be of the greatest conceivable service to the cause of religion and civilization.  It would not only balance the West, providing so widely false to the church of God and the civilization she has fostered, but it would open the way to the conversion and civilization of the whole Asiatic world.  We are strong in our convictions that this is in the designs of Providence.  As one nation proves false to its mission, Providence usually rejects it and gives its mission to another.  As the West fails, the East will come to its rescue.  The Russians have been prejudiced against the Latins, but these prejudices are not invincible, and the true interests of Russia as a leading political power, as well as of Christendom, require her union with the Holy See.  The mass of the Russian people, we think it fair to presume, are only materially, not formally schismatics; and we saw in the Crimean war that the Russian soldiers, wounded and prisoners in the hands of the allies, did not hesitate to receive the last sacrament from Catholic priests.  There would be little opposition, on their part, to the reunion, if consented to by the tsar and the Russian clergy.  The clergy ought not to oppose it, for it is the only way in which they can secure the spiritual independence of their church, now oppressed by the civil power; and the tsar himself, though he might be reluctant to resign the spiritual power usurped by his predecessors, would yet find his interest in it, for it probably would be the most effectual means of preventing the revolution which is now preparing in his empire, and must soon break out with remorseless fury.  As soon as the party struggling for the independence of the church,- and they are very numerous in the bosom of the church herself, as well as outside of her communion, - once make common cause with the Jacobinical secret societies, with which the whole land is all covered over, a revolution not less radical nor less destructive than the old French revolution will be sure to break out, and put an end to the Romanoffs.  The surest way for the tsar to arrest this catastrophe, alike fatal to the throne and to the altar, is reconciliation with Rome, which would secure the spiritual independence of the church, and bring to his support the blessing of Heaven.  It is better for him to give up his spiritual power than it is to lose both it and his temporal power.   

            The great objection the Russian clergy and the people appear to have to this reconciliation, is their fear that it would be only a prelude to the substitution of the Latin rite for their present Greek rite.  But this fear, created in past times by the Poles, is unfounded.  The Greek rite is as old, as legitimate, and as sacred as the Latin; and the popes give every possible assurance that it shall not be disturbed.  The Greek rite is more gorgeous, and in several respects more beautiful than the Latin, and far better suited to the oriental mind.  Nor is any change in discipline, save the restoration of the old discipline of the Greek Church, broken down by the interference of the civil power, to be apprehended.  The terms of reunion were foxed by the Council of Florence, and will not be departed from, at least to the prejudice of the Russians.  Most of the fear of the Russians on this point are due to the efforts of the Poles, when they had the ascendency in Russia, to force them not only to accept a reunion with Rome, but also to adapt the Latin rite.  The poles have much to answer for in the continuance of the Russian schism, and they still do much to prevent the reconciliation.  We do not wish to speak harshly of unhappy Poland, and by no means of the Polish Catholics.  We in no sense whatever defend or excuse Russia, Austria, and Prussia in blotting out the kingdom of Poland from the map of Europe; but if Poland has suffered gross injustice from Russia, Russia had previously received grievous wrongs from her, and it is never through Polish influence that Russia can be reconciled to the Holy See.  The less the Poles, save by their prayers, mingle in the matter, the better.  There are too many old and deep national animosities on both sides for them to be able to mingle in the question with advantage.  The influences that will weigh with the Russians must come from other quarters.  The Poles have done too much, and are still doing too much, to blacken the Russian character, and to render it odious to the civilized world, to be able to exert any influence on the Russians favorable to Catholicity.  The movement for reunion cannot commence in Poland, but must commence in the bosom of the Russian church herself, aided by the prayers and sympathies of the Latins,- with the tsar and the Russian clergy.  All that we Latins can do, aside from our prayers, is to dissipate prejudices, to direct the Catholic mind to the true issues between the Latins and the Greeks, and to assure the Russian schismatics that we understand truly their case, and are disposed to treat it with justice, candor, and Christian charity.

            But we cannot pursue the subject any further at present.  We hope, however, to be able to return to it at an early day.  It is a question of the very highest interest alike to religion and civilization.  The two great conquests now most important to religion and to civilization, are the conversion of Russia and the United States.  These are the only two really growing states now existing, and the only two that really suffice for themselves, and are able to live and expand independently of the weakness of other nations.  They do not depend for their existence or their progress on either their diplomacy or their alliances.  The reconciliation of Russia with the Holy See would reestablish the reign of law in Europe, and secure the conversion and civilization of Asia; the conversion of the United States would secure the triumph of religion and its attendant civilization on this continent.  To the reconciliation of these two young, growing and already great nations, it seems to us, should be directed the labors and prayers, and the most ardent zeal of all who love the Lord our God, and seek the glory of the church, his body.  And yet to this the mass of Catholics seem to us to have been, and to be even yet, fearfully indifferent.  In the reconciliation of Russia, the good Jesuit fathers can hardly fail by their Etudes to awaken a lively interest which will be of great service; but for the conversion of this country nothing appears to be doing.  The subject is hardly thought of.  There is even a feeling, not seldom expressed in words, among our Catholic population, that Americans, Yankees especially, cannot be converted, as if Christ died not for them as well as for others; and we are quite sure that the less the Catholic publicist, who wishes to stand well with his religious brethren, says about it, the better.  As a body, we have no hope of converting American non-Catholics, and make not the slightest effort in that direction.  We think it quite enough for us to be permitted to retain and practice our religion for ourselves, in peace and quietness.  If there is any one thing among us that will bring a blight on the church, in our country, it is our lack of apostolic zeal, and our indifference to the salvation of our non-Catholic neighbors and fellow citizens.  The Holy Father has written to us and admonished us again and again, but all to little purpose.  Our Catholic youth seem more likely to turn their backs on their mother church, than the non-Catholic American youth are to turn their faces toward her.  We throw away our advantages, and trust to immigration from abroad to keep up our numbers.  Nothing, we fear, will arouse us to a sense of our duty, unite us, and quicken either our zeal or our charity, but another and a more threatening Know-nothing movement.  We are too prosperous, and are contracting the vices of prosperity.  A little adversity, a little real persecution, would reinvigorate us, renew our zeal, expand our charity, and hasten the conversion of the country.

            After the Russian question, that of rationalism, under its various modern forms, seems to hold the first rank with the writers in the Etudes.  Father Daniel opens the discussion of this subject in the first volume, with a very able article on Rationalistic Exegesis, and is followed in the succeeding volumes by Father Sariot, with a learned and admirably written essay on The Respect and Contempt of Contemporary Philosophy for the Catholic Church; by Father St. Frechon, in a searching criticism of Ernest Renan and Anti-Christian Exegesis, and by Father Matignon in two profoundly philosophical articles on The Supernatural in Face of Modern Rationalism,- these last, we presume, to be followed by others.  The aim of the rationalistic exegesis and criticism is, in the first place, to reduce the authority of the sacred Scriptures to that of ancient and, in general, trustworthy human documents, and by explanations to divest the teaching of the sacred text of all supernatural character, and present Christianity as a simple system of human philosophy.  They who now boast of criticism and exegesis, do not accept the name of rationalists, and even claim to be Christians, while resolving the evangelical history into a pious myth, and denying not only the Incarnation, but all supernatural revelation.  Religion, with them, is in all nations and ages substantially the same, and is the product not of reasoning, not of supernatural illumination, but of human spontaneity,- a system thoroughly examined and refuted in our earlier volumes, in various articles on transcendentalism.  The fathers prove themselves more than a match for the ablest and most learned of the French and German transcendentalists, and expose their conceit, their ignorance, their sciolism, their lofty pretensions, with a keeness and delicacy of wit, a felicity of exposition, a force of reason, and a wealth of learning that leave us nothing to desire.  In these articles, th