"Reason and Faith," July, 1856 (A critique of the work by Abbe Collard)


The Abbe Collard has given us in this volume an elaborate work on a subject of the highest importance.  His style is lively, and his thought is unusually just.  His general design is excellent, and the method he pursues in treating his subject is scientific and felicitous.  The fault we find with his work is that it is too diffuse, and lacks condensation and vigor.  It, moreover, is not adapted to the wants of our country, however well it may be adapted to the wants of France; for it relies too much in its arguments on the concessions of the Rationalists,- concessions which mean little, and by which no Rationalist or non-Catholic will hold himself bond any further than it suits his purpose. 

Without intending any special reference to the Abbe Collard’s book, we must be permitted to say, in general, that we seldom light upon a modern popular work against non-Catholics that seems to us to come directly to the point, and to touch with a free, bold and firm hand, the precise difficulty, as it is conceived by the non-Catholic himself.  Even the Summa Contra Gentiles, of St. Thomas, perfectly conclusive as it is against all who reject the Church, is by no means adapted to the state of the non-Catholic mind of the age and country.  Very few non-Catholics are able to recognize their own objections in those stated and refuted by the Angelic Doctor.  The objections of non-Catholics are, we concede, in all times and places substantially the same; but he who treats them as the same will always fail, because they who entertain them do not perceive the identity.  They vary in their subjective forms with every individual, and unless met in those ever-varying forms, they are not practically met at all. 

Perhaps the defect of our popular controversial works is mainly owing to the fact that they treat the objections of non-Catholics too exclusively from a purely intellectual point of view.  The objections urged against us are never purely intellectual, and appear to those who entertain them to be mutilated when reduced to their strictly logical form.  They feel that something is omitted, that some shade of meaning is neglected, and that they are, by no means, in our statements what they are in their own minds.  This is because their objections are partly from the intellect, and partly from feeling,- partly objective, so to speak, and partly subjective, and our logical statements reproduce only the objective portion, and take no account of the subjective element.  All the real value of the objection, of course, is in what is objective, and when that is refuted all is refuted that logically needs refuting; and all that would be necessary, practically, if non-Catholics were always strictly logical.  But such is not the case.  They are rarely logical; they rarely understand that all truth is objective, and still more rarely reduce, in their own minds, their objections to distinct logical propositions.  They do not distinguish what is of feeling from what is of reason; and practically what is of feeling, what is purely subjective, has infinitely more weight with them than what is of pure reason, or can be objectively stated.  We are disposed, therefore, to attribute the failure of our popular controversial works, especially in out times and country, to the fact that they are too rigidly logical, or rely too much on the pure intellect, or scholastic analysis.  The rigid logical training given in our schools fits us to be acute and subtle disputants, but in some measure unfits us, unless men of original genius and rare ability, to address, with effect, the non-Catholic public.  A freer and broader, and a less rigid scholastic training, would render us more efficient.

The impression our controversial works make on the majority of non-Catholic readers is that our religion is purely objective,- addresses itself solely to the external senses or to the pure intellect, and has nothing for the heart, nothing for the soul, for the spiritual and deeper instincts of our nature.  They turn away from it as merely outward and showy, or as cold, dry and formal.  Of course nothing is more false than such an impression, but have we taken sufficient care to guard against it?  Do we sufficiently reflect on the unscholastic culture of modern non-Catholics, and their vast distance from medieval scholasticism?  We venerate the great scholastic doctors, and do all we can to induce people to study them, but scholasticism was never intended to be adopted in addressing the popular mind, and was cultivated in the schools, and only for the schools.  Out of the schools, with the people, a Doctor Eck stands no chance before a Doctor Martin Luther, who despises the schools, and speaks out from the impulses of his own rich but disorderly nature.  We have now, for the most part, to deal with people, to address the popular mind and the popular heart, and the more scholastic in form we are, the less practically efficient must we be.  Our disputes are now not confined to the schools,  nor to schoolmen; they are with men in the world, and of the world,- active, living men, that is, living men in their way; men not deficient in natural ability and acuteness, often possessing strong minds, brilliant genius, warm hearts, and great practical sagacity and experience, but unskilled in conventional or scholastic rules, and, indeed, despising them.  We cannot effect these men unless we speak to them from warm and gushing hearts, as well as from pure intellect, and project something of our own subjectivity as a response to theirs.  They regard less what we say than the tone and manner in which we say it; less what we address to their logical understanding than what we address to their sentiments and affections.  To affect them it is necessary to speak to them as men, as living men, not as abstractions.  The preacher is far more effectual with them than the controversialist, for he appeals to their feelings, their internal longings, and their nobler aspirations.

We cannot say that the Abbe Collard is too scholastic, too logical, but he is not strong and manly, and lacks vigor of thought and expression.  He is too much of a dilettante, and has not enough of downright earnestness.  He does not write with his whole heart and soul, and throw the whole energy of his being into his work.  He forgets that, Ernst ist das Leben, and mistakes a courtly polish, or a conventional politeness for the sweetness of Christian charity and the unction of the Spirit.  The great question of faith or no faith, of life and death, is no question on which to trifle, or to play off quaint conceits or petty phrases.  Plain truth, plainly spoken, from a heart that loves it, feels its worth, and is ready to die for it, is the only politeness it is lawful in such a matter to study or to practice.  Earnestness is not bitterness, nor is the clear, strong, direct and energetic utterance of the plain truth rudeness or discourteousness.  The great Fathers of the Church are never rude, never course, never bitter,- but they never hesitate to speak out the plain truth, in strong language, in tones of fearful energy.  And so men must speak, if they mean to leave their mark on their age, or aid the progress of truth and justice.

We say nothing here against the cultivation of gentleness and meekness, sweetness and love, or in disparagement of the threadbare admonition to the writer, or speaker, to study the suaviter in modo, as well as the fortiter in re.  Perhaps we admire as much as any man the union of gentleness and strength, and are as much opposed as any man can be to vituperation and abuse.  But we are grieved when we reflect how many a young enthusiasm has been damped, how many a noble genius has been blasted, how many a free, warm, loving heart has been crushed, or thrown back on itself to stagnate and die, by the mistimed admonitions of the wise and prudent, the sleek and timid, the tepid and cowardly, to be mild and gentle, meek and courteous, and to avoid giving free utterance to one’s living thoughts as they rise, in the burning words in which they naturally clothe themselves; nay, we are ourselves suffering from the withering effects of such admonitions, which have been dealt out to us without stint or measure by our own fastidious friends.  We have done nothing in comparison with what we might have done, if our friends had been willing to let us have our own way, and had not been so afraid of our offending our enemies of truth and virtue, as we were half indignant as well as half amused the other day, at a friendly critic in Le Correspondant, who seems unable to repeat often enough that we are rough, rude and savage in our forms of expression.  Out upon such fastidiousness!  Be men,- be men of earnest; be men of faith, hope, charity, and then speak out as living men in the strong natural tones of men who believe their religion is a matter of life and death.  The soft tones of the lute will never rouse an Epicurean are from its sensuality, and make it cry out, What shall I do to be saved?  They will only lull it to sleep, and to a sleep which is the sleep of death.  You must disturb the age if you would heal it; you must produce commotion in the soul before you can induce it to seek repose in truth, or peace in God.  We are inefficient because we are weak and tame, because we are hemmed in by the properties, and hampered by the petty conventionalities of an effeminate civilization.  We should rise above them when pleading the cause of God’s Church, when pleading the cause of immortal souls, and prove that the truth we would defend warms our own hearts, fires our own souls, and raises us above ourselves.

The Christian, filled with the charity of the Gospel, can never be rude, can never be bitter or vituperative, however direct, energetic, or outspoken he may be.  He has no need to be on his guard, or to speak under fear of the ferula of his master.  Be sure that your purpose is holy, your end is just; recollect the presence of God, your accountability to Him, and then speak as your own heart prompts.  The fitting words as well as the fitting thoughts will be given you.  It is not truth or love that seeks circumlocution and reticence, soft phrases and bland tones; it is error and craft.  Truth spurns all disguise, and love goes always to its end by the direct and shortest route.  Let our young writers – the old are past reform – lay this to heart; let them get their hearts right before God, fill them with the deep, earnest love of truth and goodness, and then let them speak as the spirit giveth utterance, fearing to offend God, indeed, but fearing nothing else, neither men nor conventionalities.  Then will they give us a fresh, living, original literature; then will they make their mark on the age, and have the glory of doing faithful service to truth and virtue.

The Abbe Collard, writing, as he appears to be, for those who reject Catholicity, seems to us to err by not taking sufficient pains to point out and recognize those elements of truth which are contained in the doctrines he opposes.  He labors with all his might to show their erroneousness, but he apparently forgets that non-Catholics embrace them, not for the sake of the errors, but for the sake of the truth mixed up with them.  The human intellect cannot embrace pure error, any more than the will can embrace pure evil.  The object of the will is good, and whenever one wills evil, it is under the relation of good, real or apparent; so the object of the intellect is truth, and the intellect assent to error only by virtue of the truth which it does not distinguish from it.  In all these socialistic, communistic, pantheistic, and other non-Catholic theories, there is an element of truth which accredits them, which alone endears them to their adherents, and which their adherents suppose we deny.  But we are Catholics, and hold all truth, in its unity and integrity.  The Church does and can exclude no truth, and, consequently, this truth which they have, and which is all they really assent to in their theories, we have and hold as well as they.  Prove anything to be true, and we are bound by our religion to accept it.  We should have been pleased, therefore, to find the Abbe Collard disentangling in the false theories he combats the element of truth they contain, and showing its place in Catholic doctrine.  Non-Catholics are sure of a truth in their theories, and they do not detect that truth in ordinary Catholic teaching, or distinguish it from the errors which, in their minds accompany it.  It is of no use to point out their errors so long as we leave them to suppose that we reject their truth.  Our first step should be to distinguish that truth, and show them that we do really hold it.

Modern infidelity is not, as so many suppose a reaction against Catholicity, but against Calvinistic or Jansenistic theology and morals, and, as against them, it is perfectly defensible.  It is a manly protest in behalf of human nature and human reason, which Calvinism theoretically annihilates.  It is a protest against a pretended religion that outrages common sense, and deprives man of his manhood; that denies his nature under pretence of magnifying revelation.  So far it is just, and is prompted by the irrepressible instincts of human nature.  Thus far they do and say nothing which we ourselves may not do or say.  Their error is not in asserting the rights of reason, or the dignity and worth of human nature, but in supposing that in doing so they assert something denied by Catholicity.  Human nature, since made by God, is and must be good, and cannot have been totally depraved and rendered a mass of corruption by the Fall.  In so far as the workmanship of God, it is as good today as it was when it came forth from the hands of its Maker.  Being and good – summum ens and summum bonum, as all the schoolmen, and all not Manichaeans teach, are identical.  All creatures have their being in God; in him live and move and are, so far as they are at all.  They exist only by participation of his being, and so far as they participate of good, and are good.  Their total corruption would be their total annihilation.  Even Satan himself, as a creature of God, in his essential or physical nature is good, that is, in so far as he participates of being, for, in so far, even he participates of God.  No creature of God can be evil in any other sense than in the abuse of his liberty or his moral faculties.  Man is not evil in his physical nature, in his essential existence or his natural faculties; he is and can be evil only by abusing his natural faculties, or using them for a wrong purpose.  Whover should maintain to the contrary would not only disparage nature, but dishonor God, its creator.

Are we wrong in supposing that our popular controversialists do not feel sufficiently the importance of recognizing this true side of modern unbelief, and presenting in a strong light that aspect of Catholic doctrine, which accepts and harmonizes it with the Catholic doctrine of the Fall and of grace.  The impression of non-Catholics, not of the Calvinistic scheme, is, that the Church denies or denigrates nature to make way for grace, and reason to make way for revelation, or authority.  Every Catholic knows that such is not the fact with the Church, but does everyone feel the importance of showing to non-Catholics that it is not?  Indeed, even among Catholics we seem to ourselves to find, now and then, a slight Jansenistic tendency, which makes them afraid, that if they give to reason and nature their due, we shall practically encourage modern rationalism or naturalism, and strengthen the tendency, already too strong, to overlook the absolute need in which we all stand of grace and supernatural revelation.  Ought we to share this fear?  We should, indeed, always insist more earnestly on the truth, which is the more especially opposed to the dominant error of the age and country, but not, it seems to us, till we have analyzed that error, and disengaged and accepted the truth which has led to its adoption.  We would go, in our times, and especially in our country, where the old Calvinistic or Puritanical forms of Protestantism are losing their hold on the people, as far in our attempts to rehabilitate nature and natural reason,  as the truth permits.  We would give more prominence to the maxim, grace supposes nature, than is usually given it in our popular controversial works.  We would undeceive our rationalizing adversaries, and show them that, according to the Church, grace does not supersede nature,  or, in converting the soul, suppress any of its natural instincts; or reverse any one of its inherent laws.  Grace takes nature as its starting-point, leaves it all that it really is, free to do all that, without abusing itself it can do; and simply comes to it as a help, as an auxilium, blends in with its normal action, elevates it above itself, and enables it to do what unassisted it could not do, and to attain to an infinitely higher and more glorious destiny, than it could aspire to by its own strength alone.  It accept nature, supposes always its presence and activity,- supposes always its activity in the highest supernatural virtue and its activity from its own center, according to its own laws.  In the supernatural virtue of charity, impossible without grace, my nature is as present and as active, as in the natural virtue of philanthropy.  Nature, indeed, is not grace, and can never rise of itself to the supernatural order; but it is fitted to the reception of grace, and it is only under the influence of supernatural grace that it does or can attain to its full development and growth, even as nature.  In a certain sense, grace, in the present state, is necessary to complete nature, no less than to supernaturalize it.  Thus understood, the assertion of the insufficiency of nature, and the necessity of grace, in no sense degrades nature or deprives us of our manhood.

Is a man degraded, is his nature wronged, by acquiring through habit a facility of doing a thing which is difficult, nay, impossible to him who has not the habit?  Let a man who has never written a letter, attempt to form letters by writing, and he cannot do it.  What a difference between the man habituated to it, in felling a tree with an axe, and him who has never taken an axe in his hand!  We all know and understand the increased power or facility of doing a thing derived from habit; and none of us ever looks upon the acquisition of this power, or facility, as derogatory to nature.  Now grace is a habit, habitus, not acquired indeed, but supernaturally infused; yet in relation to our natural powers, though infused, it operates the same as any other habit, precisely the same as if acquired.  It blends with our natural powers, elevates them, and enables them to do what without it they could not do.  How can the simple fact, that it is an infused instead of an acquired habit, depress nature, or detract from our natural dignity and worth?  What is there in it, more than in an acquired habit, derogatory to our proper manhood?

Calvinistic theology denies reason to make was for revelation.  It does not explain to us that, God from the beginning having designed us for a supernatural beatitude, natural reason must needs be inadequate, both to comprehension and to the attainment of our destiny.  It forgets that even before the Fall man was constituted in justice, and possessed the integrity of his nature by supernatural gifts and graces, not by his natural powers and endowments alone.  Forgetting that the positive loss by the Fall was simply the loss of innocence, of the supernatural grace which elevated man, that is, supernatural justice, and the integrity of his nature, that is, exemption from disease and pain, and the subjection of the body to the soul, and the appetites and the propensities to reason, attached to that supernatural grace, and made dependent on its preservation, it maintains that man has lost his spiritual faculties, and became deprived of reason and free-will, incapable of thinking a good thought, or of performing a good deed, even in the natural as well as the supernatural order.  It thus degrades, really annihilates natural reason, and with it our natural moral faculty.  Jansenism does the same.  It annihilates nature, it destroys reason, and brings grace and revelation, not as an aid or help to reason and nature, but as a substitute for them.  It founds faith on skepticism, and science on faith, as do our exaggerated Traditionalists, recently condemned by the Holy See.  Men outside of the Catholic world, who have too much good sense to embrace such a theology, and concluding rashly that it is virtually, if not formally, held by all who maintain an authoritative supernatural revelation, feel that as reasonable men, as men who are prepared absolutely to stultify themselves, they must reject all revelation and fall back on natural reason alone, not as absolutely sufficient, but as the best and only light they have.

Now these men fall, we concede, into a fatal error; but it is of no use to combat their error, unless we distinguish and accept their truth.  As against Calvinists or Jansenists, they are right: a religion that begins by a denial of reason, or, what is the same thing, by asserting its total corruption, condemns itself in advance, for it is incapable of being proved.  Whatever is provable, must be provable either by reason or to reason; and where there is no reason, there is and can be nothing provable.  Faith itself presupposes reason; and even when supernatural it is an act of reason, though of reason elevated and assisted by grace.  It is idle to bring arguments to prove either the fact of revelation or our need of a revelation, so long as we leave its rejectors to suppose that we deny or discredit reason.  It is necessary to begin by disabusing them; by showing unbelievers that we are not Calvinists; that with us, as grace supposes nature, so revelation supposes nature; and by frankly conceding to them that reason is their right, and that it is their duty, as well as their necessity, to reject whatever is unreasonable, or really repugnant to natural reason.  Revelation does not supersede reason, or abrogate a single one of its rights; and we are very free to say that if it did, we would reject it, and refuse to hear a single argument in its defense.  It is not that a man has less reason with revelation than he has without it, but that he has something more than reason, and something which even enlarges reason itself.  Revelation may bring to our apprehension what is above reason, but nothing that is contrary to reason; and anything purporting to be a revelation that is really repugnant to reason, is by that fact alone proved not to be a revelation of God.  But the fact that a doctrine is above reason, is not a proof that it is against reason: nothing is more certain than that reason herself asserts her own limitation, and that what she knows is by no means the measure of all that is or exists.  Man has, as Gioberti has well maintained, the faculty of sovrintelligenza, supe-intelligence, or a faculty, a mysterious faculty most assuredly, that takes note of the fact that there is more than we know, or by our natural facilities can know.  This faculty, which has its root in the soul’s sense of its own potentiality, is that within us which renders us capable of receiving a supernatural revelation, and cooperating with the grace given to enable us to believe it.  We concede that Catholic dogma contains mysteries which reason cannot comprehend; but we deny that in any one of these mysteries that is anything contrary to reason, or that reason can say is false, or cannot be.  We assert the insufficiency of reason alone for all the necessities of man; we assert its impotence in the supernatural order, strictly so called, but we assert its sufficiency and even its infallibility in its own order, when reasonably used, that is, when not warped by prejudice, or obscured by passion.   It is important to dwell on this fact; and we think our popular controversialists do not usually take sufficient pains to make it clear to the non-Catholic mind, and to defend reason itself.  Notwithstanding the rationalistic tendencies of our times, and perhaps because of them, the most fatal doubt of our age is, as Pere Gratry has well said, the doubt, not of revelation, but of reason itself; and the Catholic is called upon to defend reason, as the preamble to his defense of his Church.

Non-Catholics object to us, that we demand belief on authority; but this in reality is an objection in their minds, chiefly because they suppose we substitute authority for reason, and do not recognize in belief on authority, a real act of reason.  Nothing, of course, is more unreasonable than to substitute authority for reason, or to suppose that any authority can be a good ground of faith after reason is denied.  Faith is an assent of the intellect, as well as the consent of the will; and is, and must be, in order to be faith, an act of reason.  To deny reason is to deny both faith and the possibility of faith; and hence, without the act or the exercise of reason, there is an can be no act of faith.  The unbeliever sees this more or less clearly; and supposing that we, like Calvinists, assert authority only as a substitute for reason, he refuses to entertain any argument in behalf of the authority of the Church.  He set us down as offering, in the very outset, an affront to reason; for the very proposition of authority in matters of belief he looks upon as the denial of reason.  Here, again, we think our controversialists do not take sufficient pains to remove from the mind of the non-Catholic his prejudice against authority.  They present authority, as it seems, to non-Catholics, as an outward mechanical force, which has, and can have, no real relation to the interior acts of the understanding.  He cannot understand how such exterior force, or such external authority, can convince the reason, and call forth its interior assent.  Authority seems to him as addressed to the will only; and we are so constituted that we cannot believe at the simple command of the will.  The assent of the intellect is not voluntary, is not an act of the free-will; and it does not depend solely on our will to give it or to withhold it.  But we cannot, whatever our dispositions, believe that to which our intellect does not assent, or that of which our reason is not convinced.  Suppose our reason tells us one thing, and our Church commands us to believe another, how is it possible for us to believe the Church against our reason?  Certainly, in such a case, supposing reason does really teach one thing, and the Church its contradictory, we could not believe the Church, for no man does or can, on any conceivable authority, believe what contradicts reason, or for which he has not an authority satisfactory to reason: we deceive ourselves if we think we can, for the belief is always of that to which the intellect assents.  The intellect is not, and cannot be, false; and where there is error there is no intelligence, no intellectual act.  The light of reason is God; and reason when it really acts rests for its truth on the veracity of God, and cannot be deceived, unless God deceives it.  There is, then, and can be, no authority sufficient to accredit what is really contradictory even to natural reason.  In the case of the Church and reason coming in direct conflict occurred, or could occur, it would be fatal to her authority; and we could not rationally believe anything for the reason that she teaches it.  So much must be conceded to reason even in matters of revelation, or of Catholic faith.  The authority of the Church must be connected with reason, and shown to rest on that same Divine veracity on which reason itself rests, or else it is no sufficient authority for asserting or denying any proposition whatever.

All certainty comes from God; and in those erroneous propositions of which people pretend to be certain, it is only of the truth contained in them, and which they do not distinguish, that they really are certain.  In natural reason we are certain, because God is the light of reason, and we see the truth immediately in his light, which illumines the intellect- “the true light which enlighteneth every man coming into this world.”  But we attain though natural reason not all truth, and there is truth of a supernatural order.  Nothing prevents God, if he chooses, from revealing this supernatural truth immediately to chosen messengers, and mediately through them to all.  If he gives us full proof, that is, proof satisfactory to reason, that he has revealed it to them, and assures us that he takes care that they shall communicate it to us exactly as he has communicated it to them, we have precisely the same ground- the veracity of God- for believing it, that we have for believing any truth to which natural reason itself attains.  Suppose this supernatural revelation to be made to the Church; suppose that he is present with her, preserving her by his supernatural assistance from all error in apprehending or teaching it: then we should have for what she teaches, precisely the same Divine authority, the ground for all certainty, that we have for what natural reason itself teaches.  This is what we as Catholics allege; and it is only on the ground here supposed- the ground that the Church simply teaches what God teaches her, and that her claims to be the organ through which he teaches men those truths above natural reason are sufficiently accredited to natural reason, that we believe, or ask anyone to believe, anything she teaches.  Here there is no merely external authority acting upon us by an outward mechanical force, but a real light enlightening us interiorly, identically the very light which illumines us in natural reason itself.  Faith and reason, then, rest on the same fundamental principle; and in believing on the authority of the Church, I make an act of reason, as well as of faith.  There is, in the case supposed, no demand made to believe on a merely external authority, which is light for the intellect itself; for there is in principle and in fact the same light in the teaching of the Church, as in reason itself; and a light as intimately related to the soul in the one case as in the other.  Moreover, the external teaching of the Church has not only the internal relation with reason just described, but it has in the soul of the believer an internal supernatural authority that responds to its authority, and which holds it to a relation analogous to that which reason holds to the Divine Word or Light which enlightens it.  This is, in the first and highest sense, the habit of faith, a supernatural elevation of the creditive power of the soul, received in the Sacrament of baptism, that places it on the plane of the credible object; but is in a secondary, and a lower sense, an interior tradition common, in some degree, to all persons brought up in Christian countries, even though not baptized.  Reason, in Christian lands, has an elevation, a Christian sense, which brings it, in some degree, into relations with the teachings of the Church, and enables it, as it were, to forefeel them, and to receive them as the complement of itself, as the response to its wants and its aspirations.  In some sense, reason, in Chrisitan lands, even in men who regard themselves as unbelievers, is Christianized, and tends to Christian truth, to the doctrines of the Church.  You cannot converse five minutes with a non-Catholic, whether Protestant or infidel, without detecting in him the elements of Catholic thought; and whenever he speaks spontaneously, without reference to his heresy, or his unbelief, he talks like a Catholic.  It is thus that natural reason itself becomes infused with Catholic light, and the elements of revealed truth become impressed upon the intellect, and engraven upon the tablets of the heart.  Modern philanthropy is a phenomenon that could never have made its appearance in a pagan nation, and is only a feeble echo, often a travesty, of Christian charity.  Socialism could never have arisen with a people that had not been taught the doctrine of Christian brotherhood.  Proudhon proves in his infamous maxim, property is robbery, that he was born and bred in a Christian country.  His doctrine is the misconception and misapplication of the Christian doctrine, which declares the proprietor only a steward, and seeks to remedy by natural justice the evils which flow from the inequality of property, by charity and alms-deeds.

Now every Christian knows that there is formed in us an internal Christian sense, a sort of Catholic instinct, which responds to the external authority of the Church, and serves, in some sort, as an internal authority, that of the Christian reason and conscience.  This internal authority is greater in proportion as we live nearer to God, who instructs us by interior inspirations and illuminations, as well as by the exterior teachings of the Church.  The false mystics and pietists have exaggerated this interior tradition of the faith, and these illuminations of the spirit, and, as in the case of the Quakers, have pretended that they are sufficient without the external.  They have, therefore, rejected the external altogether, and run into all manner of enthusiasms.  This has, no doubt, led our controversialists to lay the principal stress on the external tradition and authority.  In doing so, they have, we are inclined to believe, led many non-Catholics to conclude that we do not recognize this interior light and authority at all, and that we assert only the outward.  But this is a great mistake, as every knows who is acquainted with our ascetic writings, especially with the writings of the Catholic mystics.

We think it desirable that our popular controversialists should recognize more distinctly this internal authority, this interior tradition of the faith, which responds to what we may call the mystic element of the soul.  This mystic element is integral in every soul, and can never be safely neglected.  It seems to predominate in the German, and is in him the source of many fatal errors.  It is not so strong in the Anglo-American, yet he has it, and cannot be made to embrace a religion which does not appeal to it, and meet its demands.  His strongest prejudice against the Church grows out of his supposition that she neglects this element of the soul, and has nothing to satisfy it.  He imagines, how falsely every Catholic knows, that the Church places God at an infinite distance from the heart, and recognizes no intercourse between him and the soul, except through an outward sensible medium.  If we seek the conversion of our countrymen, we must undeceive him, and show him that precisely the reverse is the fact.  The Church is not something interposed between the soul and God.  It does not separate them; it brings them together, and is a medium of the closest union and intimacy between them.  The Church, if you will, is the outward sign of the interior union, the ladder by which God descends to the soul, and the soul ascends to God.  The Church is in all respects simply sacramental; and every sacrament signifies the thing of which it is the sign.  In every sacrament it is the Holy Ghost that enters the soul, and dwells in it.  The Christian is the temple of God,- a temple which God deigns to inhabit, and to fill with his glory, as was shadowed forth in the cloud that filled the holy of holies of the old Jewish temple.  It is with this indwelling God, the Holy Ghost within us, that the Christian soul communes, and by silent, interior communing finds light for the understanding, and inspiration for the will.  Here is ample food for the mystic appetite of the soul; and it is easy to show our non-Catholic countrymen, that they find all their mystic wants superabundantly supplied by our holy religion.

We have made these remarks, not precisely as applicable to the Abbe Collard’s book, which we have read with much pleasure, and esteem very highly, but for their bearing on what is just now the great work pressing upon our Catholic zeal and charity,- the conversion of our non-Catholic countrymen.  As yet this work has hardly been attempted; and, unhappily, too many of us have regraded it as well-nigh hopeless.   The Holy Father has spoken on this subject, and called upon our bishops and clergy, and through them upon all the faithful, to make strenuous exertions to convert the American people to that faith without which it is impossible to please God.  It is our duty, as good Catholics and as specially devoted to the Holy See, to respond with our best endeavors to the call of the Successor of Peter; and in our remarks we have simply aimed to throw out some suggestions which may not be without their utility in reference to it.  We do not for ourselves, in the least, share the feeling so frequently expressed by Catholics, that the American people cannot be converted; and we believe that their conversion is comparatively easy, if Catholics themselves do their duty.

The American people are, no doubt, prejudiced against Catholicity, are fearfully indifferent to all religion, and strongly devoted to mammon; but not more so than were many nations that have been, notwithstanding, converted, and elevated to the first rank among Christian nations.  Before despairing of their conversion we should undertake it,- before we pronounce their prejudice invincible, we should do our best to remove them; and before denying them the capacity to appreciate and accept Catholic truth, we should present that truth in a manner suited to their understanding.  As yet we have studied rather to preserve those who are already Catholics, than to make converts of those who are non-Catholics.  We say not this, as implying a censure or a reproach, but simply as a reason why we should not be too ready to conclude that the American people cannot be converted, and that it is useless to labor to convert them.

We not only have not made any exertions to convert the non-Catholic portion of our countrymen, but we have done much to confirm their prejudices against us and our Church.  We have hardly presented them the Church as Catholic.  Accidental circumstances have made it appear to them chiefly as the national church of a foreign immigration.  In parts of the country where the prejudices against Catholicity are the strongest, it has seemed, to be Celtic rather than Catholic; and Americans have felt, that to become Catholics, they must become Celts, and make common cause with every class of Irish agitators, who treat Catholic America as if it were simply a province of Ireland.  A considerable portion of our Catholic population have brought with them their old prejudices of race, national animosities, and bitter passions, and make our country the arena for fighting out their old hereditary feuds.  Our so-called Catholic journals are little else than Irish newspapers, and appeal rather to Irish than to Catholic interests and sympathies.  Some of them teem with abuse of Americans, and are filled with diatribes against the race from which the majority of non-Catholic Americans claim to have sprung.  Their tone and temper are foreign; and their whole tendency is to make an American feel, that, practically, the Church in this country is the church of a foreign colony, and by no means Catholic.  All this may be very natural, and very easily explained to the Catholic who is willing to pardon almost any thing to a people that has stood firm by the faith during three centuries of martyrdom, but everyone must see that it is better fitted to repel Americans from the Church, than to attract them to it; especially when they find the foreignism which offends them defended by a portion of the clergy, and apparently opposed by none; and carried even into politics, and made, or attempted to be made, the turning point in our elections.  We must present the Catholic Church to the American people as the Church of God,- not as a Saxon or a Celtic church,- before we can judge safely of their dispositions towards Catholicity.  But, as this is a matter which more immediately concerns the clergy, we forbear to enlarge upon it.

We have not always been just to our non-Catholic countrymen; and we sometimes infer their hostile feelings to Catholics and Catholicity from acts for which it hardly becomes us to censure them.  Great allowance must be made for an impoverished people suddenly transplanted from one country to another.  Many things are excusable in them that would not be in a people settled in their old homes; and it is by no means in our heart to speak harshly of any class of our Catholic brethren; but we must say, that we sometimes complain of Americans, when we should rather commend their good intentions and consistency.  We are often severe on them for making the public schools unfavorable to our religion, and for their pertinacity in getting possession of our children and bringing them up Protestants.  But if we controlled the public schools, as they do, we can hardly think that we should make them less favorable to Protestantism than they do to Catholicity.  If we neglect our children, and, by our improvidence or intemperance, leave them without a moral and religious education, are we to blame Protestants for not being contented to see them grow up rowdies, and become the vicious population of our towns, or because they do not see fit to take them and bring them up in the Catholic religion?  How can we blame them, if in view of our improvidence, drunkenness, quarrelling, heedlessness, and neglect of the ordinary duties of parents, they are led to doubt the practical efficacy of our religion, and to smile incredulously when we tell them that Catholicity is necessary to save the liberty and morals of the country?

There is no use in our trying to conceal that quite too large a portion of the vicious population of our cities have been born of Catholic parents, and themselves been baptized by the Catholic priest.  The fact is glaring and well known.  The Catholic wards of our cities can hardly be called model wards,- wards with which the police are unfamiliar.  It is very well to charge this upon the British Government, upon the poverty of the immigrants, or the Protestant atmosphere of the country; but no small part of it is chargeable to Catholics themselves. No boasting, no pompous declamation, can exonerate us from the charge of gross neglect of duty.  We have not, as a body, set the non-Catholic community the example of those high-toned virtues, those lofty and sterling morals, which are the birthright of a Catholic people; and we have a terrible account one day to give to our righteous Judge.  God will demand of us the souls of those children we have suffered to be lost, and the souls too, of those non-Catholic Americans who, but for the scandals, would have embraced the faith and been saved.  We must do our duty, be Catholics, and live like Catholics, before we can blame the American people for their hostility to us.  We must remove scandals from amongst ourselves, and prove by our lives the immense superiority of our religion,- that our religion does not make us morally imbecile, but strong and manly, honest and sober, virtuous and intelligent,- before we can hope to remove the prejudices of non-Catholics.  Faith is a good thing, but faith without works will not save us, or convert the world.  We must be up and doing, and not fold our hands in inglorious ease, or shameful sloth, leaving things to take their course, and saying, by way of salvo to our consciences, that they have always gone on very much as they are going, and always will continue so.  Certainly, they always will, if we do nothing to prevent it.

But, notwithstanding the much we have done to confirm the prejudices of the non-Catholic American, and the little we have done to remove them, we are led to believe from our own observations, that the hostility of our countrymen to Catholicity is by no means so great as some of our Catholic friends pretend.  They seem to have been for more deeply impressed by the conservative principles of the Church, the solid worth, the devoted piety, the ardent charity, and deifying lives of a large number of Catholics in the country, than by the scandals to which we have referred. They seem to have remembered that our Lord said, “Scandals must come, but woe unto him by whom they come.”  They know that the great body, even of Irish Catholics, those who best know and practice their religion, are not agitators, demagogues, nor under the control of the agitators and demagogues; and that, however strong may be their attachment to their native land, their attachment to their religion is stronger, and they conduct themselves as peaceful, sober, loyal, American citizens, and add not a little to the wealth, the virtue, and the respectability of the country.  They see that they look upon this as their country, as their home, identify themselves with it, their interests with its interests, and are careful to train up their children in good habits, to be good Catholics, and good citizens.  They excuse, in a liberal way, what offends them in a portion of the Catholic population, and set it down, not to Catholicity, but to the anomalous state of things which has long prevailed in the country from which they have escaped.  The American people, in fact, have rather a fondness for the Irish, and a tenderness of feeling towards them which they have not, and never will have, towards the English.  The Irish commit a terrible mistake when they attribute to Americans of English origin the feelings towards the Irish race usually entertained, or assumed to be entertained, by Englishmen.  They have, and always have had, a sympathy for the Irish that has made them overlook in them faults which they would overlook in no other people.  They are ready to excuse their faults for their sufferings, and the wrongs they have received from a Protestant government, and to give them full credit for their noble qualities, genuine piety, and solid virtue.

The American people show their good dispositions, also, by the liberality with which they, in general, treat Catholics.  We know no American society in which a Catholic gentleman, whether priest or layman, Irish or American, will not be received and treated as a gentleman.  We have travelled in all parts of the Union, since our conversion, and have mingled in all classes of American society, and have never found our religion in our way, or seen a man insulted because he was a Catholic.  We have been uniformly treated with civility and all the personal respect to which we could lay any claim.  We have heard our religion spoken of, and we have conversed with many respecting it; but it has never been our misfortune to hear it reviled by the company we were in.  In railroad cars, in steamboats, on the rivers and lakes, on the sea and the land, we have heard nothing said that we could not hear with great good humor, or which we could construe into an intentional insult to Catholics.  The only instance in which our religion has been intentionally insulted in our presence, occurred in our own office, when we so far forgot ourselves as to knock the insulter down.

We have rarely fallen into conversation with an intelligent stranger or fellow-traveler, who did not express more or less regard for the Church, and intimate his persuasion that if Almighty God had founded his visible church, and has one now on the earth, it is the Church of Rome.  Many and many is the man who has said to us, that if he believed in any religion, he would be a Catholic.  We have found, generally, a great desire among people of all classes to learn something of our religion, and to have its principles and usages explained.  They have always seemed to listen to us with pleasure, perhaps with more pleasure, because we were able to speak to them in their own language, without a foreign accent.  But be that as it may, we have found them, for the most part, eager to learn, and listening with attention and respect, especially for the last four or five years.  Now this may not be much; but we certainly regard it as indicating a favorable disposition, rather than otherwise, towards our religion.

In our country, the people are practically supreme, and the majority are non-Catholic; yet it must be confessed that in no country is the Church so free as she is with us, and no where have Catholics, as such, fewer vexations and annoyances.  Here our religion is independent, and the bishops and clergy are absolutely free to discharge their spiritual functions in their own way, according to the law and discipline of the Church.  Even the recent Concordat of the Holy See with Austria does not secure them as perfect freedom as they have here.  The state does not in the least interfere with them; and if citizens attempt to abridge their liberty, they can call in the law to protect them and to punish the aggressor.  Here is no Minister of State to issue his mandate to our Archbishop, and tell him he is not to order a Te Deum till permitted or requested by the Government.  He is his own judge in such matters, and is free to do whatever is in accordance with the letter and spirit of his Church.  The bishops may assemble in council, provincial or plenary, when they please, or when required by the Head of Church, pass such canons as they judge proper for the spiritual government of the faithful, create new dioceses, and recommend to vacant sees without let or hindrance from the state, without even its notice.  Where else are they so free and independent?  How is it possible for them to be more free or independent?  And does this say nothing for the good dispositions of the non-Catholic American people, and the salutary tendency of our republican institutions?

It is true that there have been some annoyances and vexations, and now and then a riot or a mob.  But these are caused, in most instances, perhaps in all, by considerations distinct from hostility to us as Catholics, or even Catholics of foreign origin and manners.  Most of the hostility we encounter is occasioned by our conduct as politicians, rather than as Catholics.  In so far as our bishops and clergy are understood to keep aloof from politics, and to confine themselves to their spiritual functions, no public hostility is manifested towards them.   The American people, undoubtedly, are strongly opposed to our forming in the country “a Catholic party in politics,” but not more opposed than they were to forming “a Christian party in politics,” suggested some years ago by Dr. Ezra Stiles Ely, and favored by Theodore Frelinghuysen, and other prominent Presbyterians.  A Presbyterian party in politics would be equally opposed.  They are not altogether wrong in this.  There should be no Catholic party in politics in a country like ours; and nothing would be more fatal to Catholic interests than the formation of such a party since it would bring the Church here under the control of the politicians, and make her their slave.  The Church has already suffered, and is still suffering, here from the politicians, and the Know-Nothing movement has done her far more good than evil.  The connection of the Church in Ireland with politics, and the influence exerted on bishops and priests by politicians, has been one of the most serious evils to Catholic Ireland; and every lover of Catholicity must pray for the success of Dr. Cullen, the Papal Legate, in his effort to disconnect the Church in that island from politics, and emancipate it from the control of the Dublin agitators.  The Church is and can be in this country of no political party.  She teaches her children to be honest, loyal citizens, to love their country, to make themselves acquainted with its interests, to learn their duties, and, with the fear of God before their eyes, to vote as simple American citizens, for such party or such candidate as their own judgments tell them is best.  They are free citizens, and may give their suffrages according to their own choice, honestly and conscientiously formed.  They do her wrong if they attempt to implicate her in their political preferences, or to bring her authority to bear on any political election.  The madness in this respect of some of our demagogues who want to trade with what they call “the Irish vote,” or “the Catholic vote,” has created a suspicion in many minds that she enters as an element into our elections, because many people suppose Catholics never act but by the dictation of advice of their priests.  We need not be surprised if the conduct of our demagogues has made it believed that we act as a political party, or that on that account we encounter a determined opposition.

The riots and mobs which have been excited against us, have, in most instances, been the work of foreigners, not of Americans.  They have all been done in violation of law, but they have been neither numerous nor frequent.  When the Angel Gabriel was blowing his trumpet among us, and Ned Buntline was organizing his Guard of Liberty in several of the States, we apprehended serious danger, and manifested some alarm.  Our expressions at the time were caught up by some of our friends out of the United States, and made to mean far more than was ever intended by us.  But the mobs soon subsided, and the law resumed its sway, and we are not aware that at this moment Catholics are more exposed to violence than any other class of American citizens.  The mobs found no countenance in the general sentiment of the American people, and could not flourish.  Besides, we never heard of a country where no violence was ever offered to the laws,- where there were no local and temporary outbreaks of popular passion.  The history of our country will show that they have been less frequent and less destructive with us than in any other country.  The Know-Nothing violence here has never equaled the Orange violence in Ireland, or even in Canada; and we have had no outbreak to compare with the Gordon riots in England, or even the outburst of passion which led to the enacting of the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill by the British Parliament.  Such things are so rare with us that when they do occur they make a deep impression upon us, as spots on the sun, or thunder from a cloudless sky.  The Know-Nothing party itself seems to have escaped the control of the parsons, and to have fallen under that of the politicians, and is no longer especially dangerous to us as Catholics.  It has spent its fury, and the distinction we have been abused for having drawn between Catholicity and foreignism has operated, as we supposed it would, to shield both foreigners and Catholics.

The very violence of our no-popery ministers, and their extraordinary efforts to inflame the old Protestant prejudices against us, prove, if rightly viewed, the good dispositions of the American people. These ministers are not such fools as to fear that the foreign Catholic immigration will take possession of the country and curtail the freedom of Protestants.  What they fear is, the Catholic tendency of their own Protestant congregations.  They see that Protestantism is daily losing its hold on the American people, that the candidates offering themselves for the Protestant ministry are yearly diminishing at an alarming rate, that the Protestant congregations are dwindling, and the “Revival” machinery is nearly worn out; that many of the best minds and purest hearts in the country are going over to Rome, and multitudes are falling back on nature, and becoming disgusted with all sectarian religion.  They feel that Protestantism is declining, and that as it declines the Church must gain, for the American people are not a people to remain long without a religion of some sort.  They see that the American people are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the only alternative for a reasoning man is, either Catholicity or No-religion.  Here is the secret of the No-popery violence, and of these spasmodic efforts made by the ministers to put off the day of their dissolution, the day when Protestantism shall of the way of all the earth, and Catholicity shall take its place.  We should find in them a ground of hope, not of discouragement.

The fact that the Anglo-Americans are not debarred by any inherent vice of their race from becoming Catholics is established by their number of converts already made from all ranks and classes of the American people.  These converts are more numerous than is commonly imagined, and, together with their families, already make up a considerable item in the Catholic population of the country. Some of them are among the most active, devout and influential members of our Catholic community.  Among these are men of the Anglo-Saxon, or English race.  We met the other day a convert, who is a lineal descendant of the famous Bishop Barlow, and another who was a lineal descendant of John Rogers, who was burnt at Smithfield in Queen Mary’s reign, and was followed by his “wife and nine small children, with one at her breast.”  These prove that the race,  with the grace of God, is not incapable of conversion; and we know no reason for supposing God is not as ready to bestow his grace for the conversion of a Saxon as of a Celt.  These converts, too, have been made without any efforts on our part.  What then might have been the harvest of souls had we made those efforts for the conversion of the American people, which we might have made, and which were made for the conversion of nations in the early ages of the Church!

We do not and cannot entertain the notion that the American people are beyond the reach of Catholic truth and Catholic love.  We will not believe it.  Such a notion is unjust alike to them and to our holy religion.  God excludes no race from his love; and his grace, as his sun, shines upon all.  Where is our confidence in truth and sanctity?  The Lord’s ear is not deafened that he cannot hear, nor his hand shortened that he cannot save.   Neither his power not his grace is exhausted.  He still lives; and lives here as well as in old Europe, or in old Ireland, and is as near the Saxon as the Celt, the American as the European.  The conversion of America is not so great a work as was the re-conversion of Gaul by St. Columbanus and his Irish monks, or the conversion of pagan Germany by St. Boniface and his Anglo-Saxon fellow-laborers.  It took three hundred years of persevering labor to convert the German conquerors of Rome; but at length they were converted, and the great majority of the Germanic race are still Catholics.  A fourth of that time would suffice to convert the American people.  God is as ready to assist the holy missionary today as he was in the sixth, seventh, or eighth century, and it is the fault of Catholics if a single people remains estranged from the household of God.  It is our indolence, our prejudice, our faint-heatedness, our want of apostolic zeal, our lack of true missionary heroism, that makes us despair of the work.  We sit down in our towns as did the bishops and clergy of Gaul in the sixth century, attending simply to those who adhered to the faith, without once attempting to convert the non-Catholics, pagans and heretics, who held and ruled the country, till roused to missionary zeal and activity by the migration of St. Columbanus and his colonies of Irish monks.  Why cannot Ireland send us another St. Columbanus, another St. Gall, and England another St. Boniface?  We need them.  What we want are saints, holy men, whose vocation it is to devote themselves to gathering those without into the fold, under the one Shepherd.  They will come if we pray for them, and prove ourselves worthy to have them.  O, would that we felt as we should what a glorious field to the apostolic missionary is open to in this country!  Would that we could see all Catholics in the country with one heart praying for its conversion!  Would that we could inspire them with the hope that animates us, and make them feel the worth of these immortal souls, now out of the ark of safety, and ready to be submerged in the waters of the deluge!  O God, thou canst make them feel it, and inspire them with hope; deign to do it, and this beautiful land will be consecrated to thy worship, and this American people, so richly endowed by nature, will taste the riches of they love, and be reckoned among thy devout worshippers.

Entertaining a strong desire for the conversion of our non-Catholic countrymen, and believing the time has arrived when it becomes the duty of Catholics, in obedience to the admonition of the Holy Father, to present the claims of our religion more especially to their consideration, we have ventured to call attention to that mode of presenting it, which seems to us best adapted to the present state of their understanding, and to the actual wants of their hearts.  We have wished to indicate the importance of taking our point of departure in the truths they have, and not in those which they have not.  The Protestant Archbishop Whately undertook to refute Catholicity by showing that its several doctrines have their root in our fallen nature; we would show that they all have a basis in the human intellect and human heart, or, rather, respond to the wants alike of both fallen and unfallen nature, as a method, not of refuting, but of establishing them.  So presented, not as doctrines of reason and nature, but as meeting the wants of reason and nature, and elevating man into the region of the supernatural, they will be joyfully accepted by the great body of the American people.