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The Saints of Servants of God

Brownson's Quarterly Review, April, 1849
Art. VI. - The Saints and Servants of God. 1. The Lives of the Companions of St. Philip Neri, the First Fathers of the Oratory. New York: Edward Dunigan. 1848. 12mo. pp. 336.
2.  The Life of the Venerable Father Claver, S. J., Apostle of the West Indies ; and Memoirs of the Religious Life of Cardinal Odeschalchi, S. J. New York : The same.  1849. 12mo.    pp.421.
We are happy to learn, that, contrary to an announcement made some months since, the series of Lives of the Saints and Servants of God, commenced by the Rev. F. W. Faber, or, as we should say, Father Wilfrid, is to be continued, and here­after under the direction and responsibility of the English Oratorians established at Maryvale, to which congregation Father Wilfrid, and those associated with him at St. Wilfrid's, are now attached. The English Oratorians are placed under Mr. New­man, as their Father Superior ; and we take this occasion to correct a false impression which some entertain with regard to our feelings towards this distinguished convert from Anglicanism. We have had no controversy with Mr. Newman person­ally, and have never found the least fault with any thing he has written since his conversion. The work of his which we re­viewed was written, and in great part printed, before he became a Catholic, while he was in transitu from error to truth ; and we censured it, not because we had any lack of confidence in him, but solely because those without, perhaps maliciously, and some few within, inconsiderately, insisted that we should receive it as a Catholic book, to which appeal might be made as author­ity on Catholic theology. For Mr. Newman personally, especially as the humble and devout Catholic, as the pious and laborious Catholic priest, and Superior of a religious congrega­tion, we have, and have had, no feelings which his warmest friends and most enthusiastic admirers could wish changed.
We regard the establishment of the Congregation of the Ora­tory in England as among the few consoling events of our times, and as promising great good to the cause of Catholicity in Great Britain, and consequently in our own country. A common origin, a common language, and, to a great extent, similar insti­tutions, manners, and customs, make us, and will long preserve us, and Great Britain, morally and intellectually, one people, and the conversion of the two countries must, in the main, go on pari passu. The great obstacle to the conversion of either is Anglo-Saxon pride, and especially pride of intellect. Contro­versy, however able, learned, conclusive, or judiciously man­aged, can effect little beyond protecting the weak among our­selves from the incursions of those without. It cannot reach the seat of the evil. The intellect must be humbled, and that can be humbled only through the heart, - only by making men feel their own moral weakness, their own sinfulness, and need of a Redeemer and Saviour. Our hopes for the conversion of England and of this country also arise, not from the number of converts, distinguished or undistinguished, who are almost daily returning to Catholic faith and unity, but from the increasing power, the deeper piety, the bolder tone, and greater spiritual energy, which we witness in the American and English Catholic population themselves. In some quarters we may, indeed, see a miserable namby-pambyism, a disposition to pare Catholicity down to its smallest possible dimensions, born of penal laws and a mistaken loyalty ; but, in general, Catholics are no longer afraid or ashamed to be Catholics in a large and generous sense, and to aspire to the highest and richest forms of Catholic life. This is, indeed, encouraging ; for when once our Catholic population is filled with the Catholic spirit, and becomes assiduous in the practice of Catholic piety, its prayers for the conversion of unbelievers and heretics will be heard, and God will grant any thing in answer to their devout and charitable requests.
It is on the principle we here express or imply that the Eng­lish Oratorians seem to us resolved to proceed.    They are nearly all converts from Anglicanism ; but it is worthy of re­mark, that, generally, they have been drawn to the Church through the force of her asceticism.    They were shaken in their heresy and schism, not by the study of Catholic dogmatics, or works of controversy, but by the influence, under God, of Cath­olic ascetic literature. They set out with an earnest desire to be holy men, - humble, devout Christians,-and they were obliged to look for the models of what they would be in another com­munion than their own.    They sighed for the Catholic life. They sought help from our spiritual works, and especially from the study of the lives of the Saints.   They soon perceived, that, as they could find examples of the saintly life only in the Cath­olic Church, it was idle to hope to imitate those examples out of her communion.   Anglicanism had no Saints, and the stream of holy life had ceased to flow in England at the Reformation. Anglicanism could not, then,be the Church of God, - could not introduce her children into " the communion of Saints." Their previous studies', their dispositions, and the motives which had brought them into the Church, peculiarly fitted them to exert, after their conversion, the kind of influence most needed by their countrymen and ours, by causing them to aspire to sanctity, - to be humble, devout, earnest Christians, rather than learned dogmatists or skilful controversialists.    They embraced Catho­licity under its aspect of sanctity, rather than under its as­pect of truth, -as it addressed itself to the heart and conscience, rather than simply as it addressed itself to the intellect.    Con­sequently, they must naturally labor to present it under that aspect, and as it appeals to the heart and conscience, which is the aspect under which it must always be most powerful to sub­due the pride of the intellect, and to make men lovers of the truth.
The English Oratorians could not better express their own Catholic feelings, or better serve the cause of Catholic truth, than by such a series of biographies of the Saints and Servants of God as was projected and commenced by Father Wilfrid. We do not want dogmatical works, we do not want controver­sial works ; for in either of those departments we are well supplied ; but all who read only the English language do want works adapted to the great body of the faithful, which shall at once interest their feelings, engage their attention, instruct them in the ethics of their religion, stimulate their Catholic practices, and excite and nourish their piely. Such works are the Lives of the Saints and Servants of God. They are more interesting than tales of fiction, more instructive to the people than simple didactic works, and are admitted to belong to the most profit­able species of spiritual reading. In reading them we gain more than is in the books themselves ; we gain the prayers and inter­cessions of the Saints whose lives we read. We are grateful, in behalf of our countrymen and of our children, that the good Fathers have directed their attention to supplying one of our greatest literary wants ; and we hope the Catholic public will duly appreciate and reward their noble and pious undertaking.
The two volumes before us contain, indeed, not the lives of canonized Saints, but exceedingly interesting biographies of saintly men. The first volume named is properly the pendant to the Life of St. Philip Neri, the founder of the Congregation of the Oratory.    We make an extract from the Preface : -
" Wonderful indeed is the variety of the saints of God ! . The reader will easily perceive a striking difference between the holiness portrayed in this volume and what has been exhibited in others. Not as though any comparison were to be instituted between them for the purpose of disparaging either. God forbid that we should have the miserable temerity to judge otherwise than with loving rev­erence of the diversities of graces, ministries, and operations which the Holy Ghost vouchsafes to work in the Church; for in the Lives of the Saints, as well as elsewhere, ' the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man unto profit,' while they behold Him ' divid­ing to every one according as He will.' One while, we see St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Philip's special devotee, flying through the air from altar to altar, from picture to picture, in Assisi, Fossom-brone, and Osimo, in strange, unearthly raptures, a continual object of the wise jealousy and vigilant discretion of the Holy Inquisition, and yet uniting with this marvellous life the most illustrious exam­ple of humble virtues, solid piety, and the punctilious sanctification of ordinary actions, and an eccentric playfulness and manner of speech, which seem as though they had been caught from his special devotion to-St. Philip. Another while, we behold the heroic virtues of the great St. Vincent of Paul, who, with some exaggeration, is said, like St. John the Baptist, hardly ever to have worked a miracle in his life, but whose life was his miracle, from the variety and great­ness of his charitable enterprises, and his union of interior recollection, poverty of spirit, and simplicity with outward duties which were enough to have overwhelmed any one but himself. Yet in both St. Joseph and St. Vincent ' one and the same Spirit worketh all these things,' dividing His ' prophecies, miracles, graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches,' separately or conjointly, according to His own good pleasure; and while one person is called to imitate this and another to imitate that, the effect of all upon the mind of a pious and believing reader is to make him cry out with St. Philip, ' O, who can tell the beauty of a soul in grace ?' and so to make him yearn with unutterable longings for the vision of Uncreated Beauty which shall constitute the ever­lasting bliss of the true disciples of the Cross.
" Wonderful indeed is God in His saints; and while the air is darkening with His judgments, and men's hearts are failing them because of the things that are coming upon the earth, how naturally does the Catholic turn to the records of His mercies and the consol­ing manifestations of His grace in the Lives of the Saints, not so much to bury himself in the interesting study, and thus selfishly for­get the heartbreaking work that is going on around him, as to give fresh nerve to his courage, to gain fresh incentives to intercessory prayer, and to see more clearly how the troubles of the Church and of its visible Head have been in all ages regarded by the good as so many additional calls, not to the common attainments of ordinary virtue, but to the rough roads and stony heights of arduous perfec­tion, and heroic faith, and an utter weaning from all created love. O Patria, Patria! may the exile cry, how fair is the vision of thy far-off fields! May I not even bless God for the misery and the wretchedness, for the darkness and the strife, for the treachery and the unkindliness, which only serve to keep my eye more steadfastly turned on thine eternal peace, to detach me from this joyless earth, and to awaken in me the sweetly venturous hope that even I may dare to follow by some one of the luminous tracks which the saint3 of God have left still glowing across this wilderness of trial ? Bless­ed are they who read in this temper, and who learn day by day to set a price upon one degree of sanctifying grace far above all the joys and honors and reputation of the world, - far, too, above the ful­filment of the schemes for the good of others for which they have fondly toiled, and, what is more, above the supernatural gifts and unearthly privileges of the wonder-workers of the Church, who gained those gifts by being zealous first of all for the better gifts of charity, - a charity that ever burned most brightly and most sweetly in submission and holy self-abjection.'1 - pp. xvi.-xx.
As a specimen of the interest to be found in this volume, we copy entire the Life of Father Agostino Manni, which we very much admire.
" Agostino Manni was born at Cantiano, in the Duchy of Urbino. In his early youth he applied himself eagerly to the study of letters, but somewhat neglected the fervent practices of a devout life ; being seduced by the attractions of the world into many of the faults of the thoughtless and the gay. It pleased Almighty God to rouse him from this state of tepidity by showing him one night in a dream a frightful abyss of flames, where the souls in purgatory were suffer­ing dreadful torments. Agostino was horror-struck at witnessing the terrible chastisement inflicted on those small faults of which he had hitherto thought so lightly. In his alarm he had recourse with filial confidence to Mary; he threw himself at her feet without delay, and made her an irreclaimable offering of his heart. In this moment of grace he bitterly repented of all his past indifference, and vigor­ously resolved upon a thorough change in his mode of life. With this good beginning he entered in all earnestness upon a virtuous course, and with the blessing of his most holy Mother he embraced the Institute of the Oratory, of which, as St. Philip used to say, our Lady was the Mother and the guide. Agostino begged the grace of loving God through the intercession of Mary, often repeating this little prayer in Italian verse : -
' Mary, deign my heart to move With thy pure and holy love.'
He experienced such happy effects from his confidence in our Bless­ed Lady, that he used to say, ' A soul that has a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin has the greatest blessing a mortal creature can enjoy.' It was his delight to collect from the Sacred Scriptures and from the Fathers all the various titles with which he could weave a garland to Mary's praise. With these he composed devout canti­cles, which he loved to repeat himself and to teach to others. He was in the habit of presenting, as it were, before the eyes of Mary all the nations of the earth ; and with a tender compassion for the many unfortunate creatures who were living, some in the darkness of infi­delity, others in the errors of heresy, and others again in the mire of their own sins, he would earnestly entreat her to implore for them of her only Son light and grace to free themselves from their misery, and to participate in the blessings of the incarnation. Some­times contemplating her with her Divine Son in her arms, he begged, by the sweet and tender love with which she caressed the Blessed Child, that she would deign to embrace all sinners, amongst whom the humble priest reckoned himself the most unworthy. He com­posed a chaplet of simple and touching ejaculations to Mary, which lie recited hirnself with great devotion, and taught to all his peni­tents. This little rosary was afterwards generally used by the pub­lic, and was printed with his other spiritual exercises. One of Agos-tino's favorite devotions was to place himself in the presence of God, and imagine himself at the point of death.    He used to repeat with devout attention the recommendation of a departing soul, and then he represented to himself his sweet Mother, whom he had so often invoked in life, assisting him by her powerful aid in this awful mo­ment of death. l Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.' He excited himself to a filial confidence in her; he remind­ed her, that, whilst she was the Mother of God, she was also the Mother and the advocate of sinners ; to her, he, said, was confided the administration of mercy, and to her he intrusted the interests of his soul, imploring her to receive his spirit in these words of Holy Church •. -
' O Mary Mother, full of grace, Mother of clemency and peace, Protect us from our evil foe, And bliss at death on us bestow.'
Thus did he constantly prepare for his final appearance before the judgment-seat of God. The sweet memory of his blessed Mother seemed to be his greatest consolation ¦, he never allowed a day to pass without making some pious remembrance of her, and he often exclaimed aloud, ' Comfort me, Mother of God !' Well might Agostino say,Venerunt mild omnia bona pariter cum ilia, - 'All good things have come to me with her'; for her benign assistance facilitated his progress in perfection, and she it was who renewed his fervor in a spiritual life.
"When Agostino first entered the Congregation, he could not under­stand how the holy father, under an exterior of so much simplicity, could conceal so exalted a sanctity. He afterwards confessed that he often felt an inward misgiving lest others should be scandalized by the ridiculous actions they saw the Saint perform. But when more fully enlightened by God, he clearly saw that this conduct re­sulted from the most perfect humility, which made St. Philip desire to attract nothing but contempt and to lose all credit for sanctity. He then comprehended the meaning of a maxim he had often heard from the lips of the man of God, that ' he who cannot bear the loss of his own honor and reputation will never advance in spiritual life.1 Another favorite saying of the Saint's was, that ' external per­fection, separated from the love of God and contempt of the world, is like a tree overburdened with leaves, which receives no nourish­ment from the root, and consequently in the heat of temptation falls to the ground.' St. Philip was far from leaving uncultivated the good dispositions of his disciple; he exercised him especially in all kinds of mortification ; and Agostino, alluding to the tact and skill of the holy father in mortifying both himself and others, thus writes of him : ' He had a thousand wonderful arts and inventions, by which he eradicated from the soul every vestige of self-will, and prepared therein an abode for the grace of God.'
" Agostino had a singular love and esteem for the holy exercise of prayer, and, meditating upon the blessed effects it produces in a soul, he used to say, ' Every thing depends upon thinking of God and praying to Him'; and, explaining himself, he added, ' While we pray, we amend our lives, we regulate our conduct, and we wash away all the stains of our souls; for the spirit of prayer suffers noth­ing sordid or impure to remain within us.' He was in the habit of beginning his meditation by placing himself in the presence of the Eternal Father. He then made acts of profound adoration and hu­mility, putting no trust in himself, but confiding with a simple faith in the goodness of God, and saying, ' Eternal Father, behold, I come before Thee, sent by Thy only Son, the Divine Object of Thy ever­lasting love, and the Source of all my hope. He it is who begs Thee to grant me this grace; I come in His Name, and I bring my credentials, written with His sacred Blood. Behold and read, for therein wilt Thou find that He bestows upon me His infinite merits. I have accepted them; in justice, therefore, Thou wilt not refuse me what I ask. He has given me all things; His merits are no longer His, for He has referred them all to me.' Agostino said, ' I have no fear of not obtaining my petitions, when I remember Thy promise of the Gospel,' " If you ask the Father any thing in My name, He will give it you." ' ' Still,' he added, ' we must be careful not to hinder the blessings of God by our own evil dispositions. And there is one obstacle to the merciful designs of God, against which we are little on our guard ; and that is a certain hardness of heart, which makes us omit to offer up prayers for our neighbour, and which causes our Lord (so to speak) to show a hardness of heart towards us.' He liked not to hear of persons seeking for spiritual sweet­ness in prayer; but he laid down as a rule, that our great object ought to be the overcoming of our passions, and therefore we should try to leave our meditation more patient and humble, more meek and gentle, than we went to it.' Comparing praying to fighting, he said, 'The soldier does not expect to feel pleasure when he fights, but he strives to conquer.' He quoted upon this subject the words of an eminent servant of God, who said, ' I have ever reputed and do repute it a great thing, to know how to abound in God; the rea­son is, because thus humility may be practised with much reverence. But a greater thing I have considered, and do consider, the know­ledge of abstaining from God ; the reason is, because faith is then exercised without further testimony, hope without expectation of re­ward, and charity without external signs of benevolence. This, in­deed, is to gather honey from the rock, and oil out of the hardest stone.' Since the numerous occupations of his calling did not per­mit Agostino to spend all the time he wished in actual prayer, the pious priest made use of all creatures as means to raise his soul to God. He animated himself in this beautiful practice, saying, ' My soul, by the help of small drops, you will at length arrive at the ocean of all good. Nevertheless, it is not well to taTry for the sake of rivulets that extend to this sea; stay not without whilst all the good you seek is within.' In this manner every thing he saw seem­ed to this man of God a ladder, as it were, to raise him to heaven. He used to exclaim, ' What pleasure is there in being a mere spec­tator of this marvellous world, if we do not recognize in it the Hand of the' Creator who formed it ?' In order to find God in all his works, he deemed two things especially necessary, namely, faith and love ; for by these two wings did he soar from the visible to the in­visible world. He constantly addressed this prayer to the Almighty: ' May each created object, O Lord, be to my eyes a glass, wherein 1 may behold Thy countenance, and be admonished of Thy pres­ence.' He made frequent use of ejaculatory prayers, and particu­larly esteemed those which had been composed by the Saints. ' Thus,' he said, ' every one may say, " I have in my mind a thought which was first conceived in the heart of a Saint." '
" From the blessed union which Agostino enjoyed with Almighty God he further derived a singular tenderness of heart towards his neighbour. He loved all with the affection of a brother ; and so great was his charity, that he seemed to enjoy the good of another no less than if it had been his own personal advantage. He himself remarked, that love and good-will are endowed by God with the peculiar power of rendering all things belonging to others our own, without depriving the possessors of them. It was edifying to be­hold how much he esteemed and considered even the least amongst his brethren. He looked upon the brothers of the Congregation as so many superiors. He always spoke to them with reverence and affection, and never showed the slightest sign of contempt towards any one. Thus did he apply the maxim of St. Philip, ' We should despise none but ourselves.' Earnestly desiring to see this spirit reign in the Congregation, Agostino sometimes tenderly reminded his brethren of the admirable conduct of their holy father, and of the sweetness of his manners, which were always gentle and affection­ate, even when exercising his disciples in the severest mortification. ' We all remember,' he said, ' with what simplicity and conde­scension our holy father governed us all; how he testified his love for us by often calling us to his room, causing us to play and sing with him, and never commanding us, but, like one of ourselves, rather praying and sweetly showing us what he desired we should do.' This sweetness of spirit so peculiarly distinguished F. Manni, that he was commonly called the Father Sweet Manna. And we may well believe that it was no less pleasing in the sight of God than it was marvellous to the eyes of men, since it was instrument­al in gaining many souls to Heaven. Agostino was assiduous in the confessional, and was ready to receive his penitents at all hours of the day.    He had a wonderful tact for accommodating himself to their several capacities, directing them to the attainment of the virtues they most needed, and recommending devotional exercises in proportion to their powers. When he found they were engaged in active occupations, he took especial care that their souls should not be idle before God. To all he advised frequent confession, and he taught them by wise and godly counsels how to make their con­fessions and communions with the greatest fruit to themselves. He constantly impressed upon them a filial devotion towards our sweet Lady, his own most loving and beloved Mother. For the use of his penitents he wrote many little books of devotion, by which he strove to enkindle the love of God in their hearts, and to instruct them in the practice of virtue. Agostino said that confessors ought to pos­sess in an eminent degree sanctity of life and sweetness of demean­our, because sanctity draws down the blessing of God, and then sweetness (without risk under the safeguard of holiness) attracts the love of their neighbour. It did not satisfy him merely to hear and absolve his penitents, but he thought it necessary to assist them, and in some degree to provide them with salutary remedies against their sins, and not to leave them until he saw their cure completed. He approved the practice of some confessors, who, whenever they heard some grievous sin, first made an internal act of contrition for the in­jury done to God, and afterwards with gentle admonitions exhorted the unhappy offender to a true penitence. Kindness of manner he deemed particularly requisite in treating with timid souls, in order by gentle means to discover and remedy the hidden wounds of their hearts. He conversed but little with women, and his usual advice to them was, to avoid vanity. He was not in the habit of visiting them in their houses, except in cases of serious illness, and then he always liked to have a companion with him. When he heard their confessions, he was careful to place himself so as to be seen by others at a distance. He imitated St. Philip in refusing to give alms at the confessional, for fear self-interest should in any way prejudice the sincerity of the sacrament.
" Like all the holy men of whom we have written, Agostino had a great tenderness for the poor of Christ. He was in the habit of relieving them every day, more or less, according to his means; and when his money was all spent, he frequently gave away his clothes. He recommended to others this practice of daily alms-giving, say­ing that it was better to give a little day by day, than a great deal all at once, for we thus preserve in our hearts a love for this evan­gelical virtue, and perform (so to speak) a kind of ejaculatory alms. He taught those who had nothing to give away to say, at least in their hearts, when looking on the poor, ' May God, who nourishes the birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, relieve thee also in thy need.'
" F. Manni was for many years confessor to the fathers of the Congregation, and it is not easy to describe the zeal and prudence he displayed in this capacity.    He was hardly chosen for this office, when he at once made up his mind that he had no longer any time to call his own.    During the day he received all who came, even per­sons "who did not belong to the institute, and in the night he never suffered himself to be refused to any one.    He seemed almost as much concerned for the faults of others as if they were his own, and he undertook, himself, to make atonement for them.    He watched over each penitent as if he had only that single soul to care for •, and with all this incessant cave and labor, he considered that he did nothing at all.    He remembered the toils of St. Philip, and he used to say, ' I have seen more done than I can ever hope to do.'    Agos-tino was much esteemed for his prudence and discernment in the direction of souls, and upon this account Pope Paul V. employed him in order to discern the spirit of Fra Bartolommeo da Salustio, a reformed Franciscan.    F. Manni carefully fulfilled this delicate commission, bearing in mind that not so much as a suspicion of evil should rest upon a religious person.    He therefore desired that Fra Bartolommeo, who was very severe in his mode of life, should dis­continue his great austerities, such as his hair-shirts, chains, &c, saying, as he took off the chain which the holy monk had been wearing, 4 Bind thyself not with chains of iron, but rather with the chains of Christ.'    He added, ' Father Salustio, it would be better to desist from all singularity, and to resemble the rest of the com­munity, by sleeping upon a straw bed, wearing sandals, and eating the same food as the others do.'   Then hearing that he was in the habit of composing little spiritual works, he desired him to write something in his presence.    The father with great simplicity imme­diately took up his pen, made the sign of the cross on it, and blessed himself with it, as he was accustomed to do whenever he wrote, and thus began his composition: -
? God's holy Will on earth to do,
Thine own will to forego, To care nought for the praise of men,
Nor blush at what is low : If thou wilt climb the mount of love,
For foes and scorners pray, Pray likewise that the Will of God
Be done in thee alway.'
In order to try him still further, Agostino now forbade him to say mass, to assist at the Divine Office, or to continue any of his usual exercises of devotion. He thus endeavoured to discover whether this man of God was really free from all reprehensible attachment to these duties, or if, on the contrary, he retained some little vestige of self-love, some lingering trust in these spiritual helps, instead of confiding purely in God. To his prohibitions he did not fail to add harsh corrections, and severe reproofs for the scandal his past life had given, declaring him unworthy to be ranked amongst the servants of God. Fra Bartolommeo submitted to the trial with the most perfect humility, meekness, and obedience ; he quitted with equal readiness his corporal penances and his mental exercises, and pre­served withal a constant peace and serenity of countenance. F. Agostino at last was fully satisfied ; and now, having performed the task required of him by the Vicar of Christ, he thought it right to testify his own feelings of esteem and admiration towards the hum­ble servant of God. One day, therefore, after giving him leave to pursue his customary pious exercises, he suddenly prostrated himself at his feet, and, taking the cord with which Salustio was girdled, he placed it round his own neck, and then implored pardon for all the unkindness he had been forced to show him. F. Salustio, hardly able to bear the sight of another thus humbled before him, replied in sorrowful accents, ' Ah ! father, you little know what a demon is hidden beneath this habit!' Our good priest gave an account to the Pope of the solid virtue of Fra Bartolommeo, and begged the for­giveness of his Holiness for all the faults which, in order to obey him, he had committed against this innocent and saintly monk. The Pope was rejoiced at the relation, and he replied, that there was no need of asking forgiveness, since all that had passed had been an occasion of merit for both.
" F. Agostino had a singular talent for preaching the word of God with that simplicity of style with which it ought always to be deliv­ered. This he had acquired at his own cost. For, once, after he had preached a learned discourse in a somewhat pompous manner, St. Philip (as is related in the Life of the holy father) desired him to repeat it so many times, that his hearers used to say of him, 1 This is the father who only knows one sermon.' Agostino used to say that the whole science of preaching consists in first realizing the subject thoroughly to one's self, adding,' I can never expect to make others feel what I have not felt myself.' He prepared himself for the pulpit by the diligent study of the Holy Scriptures and the Fath­ers, and his favorite works were the Collations of Cassian, and the writings of St. John Climacus. Conformably to the practice of the institute, he was accustomed to relate pious examples from the Lives of the Saints, and he generally quoted them from the Lives of the Fathers or the Ecclesiastical Annals. The study of the Annals, a work which had taken its rise in the Congregation, he particularly recommended to the members of the Oratory. After employing a sufficient time in study, he placed himself before God as one wholly unprepared, and waited for the Divine Goodness to inspire him with what he was to say. By this means he acknowledged that he had received considerable light from God, both in his words and ideas. He deplored the little fruit produced by sermons, and said that this was principally caused by the preacher seeking his own praise rather than the salvation of souls, and thus losing all the merit of his labor for the sake of a passing breeze of human glory ; like the clerk of a rich merchant, as he himself expressed it, who, though daily counting out money for others, has his own purse empty. St. Philip, he said, instituted the daily expositions of the word of God in the Oratory, instead of the mortifications and rigorous duties of other religious orders, because this Divine word, preached with earnest­ness, and listened to with reverence, suffices to sanctify the world. Hence he implied that this holy exercise ought to be as powerful an instrument for the sanctification of Oratorians as the practices of a religious life are for the perfection of monks. Those who are un­ceasingly occupied in preaching and praying not only sow .the good seed in others, but also reap an abundant harvest themselves. He affirmed that preaching served as a powerful stimulant to the soul; for if the conscience did not feel what the tongue uttered, who would not dread to hear the words, ' Why teachest thou to others what thou hast not learned thyself ?' He thought that St. Philip could have left his children no richer patrimony than the continual minis­tration of the word of God, since they must always experience a kind of necessity to become themselves what they strove to render others. It pleased Almighty God to let Agostino witness the copi­ous fruits of his daily sermons ; for many sinners, touched by his earnest words, abandoned the evil courses to which they had been scandalously addicted, and, placing themselves under his spiritual direction, made rapid progress in sanctity, Others entirely quitted the world and embraced a religious life, and it was observed that those who, guided by him, entered some pious institute, generally be­came men of eminent virtue. By the Divine Goodness F. Manni was also instrumental in the conversion of Jews and heretics, num­bers of whom he conducted to the true way of salvation, treating them always with the most profound humility and unwearied charity. u As to his manner of life, it was in all respects similar to that of the rest of the Congregation. He carefully eschewed the least sin­gularity, well knowing, that, by resembling the community, virtue shines less in the eyes of men, but is infinitely more precious before God. He insisted greatly upon preserving the true spirit of pen­ance, and, explaining its importance, he observed, ' Where there is no mortification, there can be no genuine virtue. Our holy father, in order that his children should acquire this spirit, exercised them in continual exterior mortification, and always desired to see them humbled and abased.' Agostino observed his institute with rigorous exactness, saying that ' the sons of St. Philip possess but few rules, in order that perfection of observance may compensate for deficien­cy of number.' During meals he practised a continual mortifica­tion, all the more meritorious by being rarely perceptible. He de­prived himself of some part of every dish that came to table, and he used to say that these little acts of self-denial accustom the soul to bridle the senses. He resisted every inclination to avidity in eating, and never tasted any tiling out of meals. He disliked wasting either his words or his thoughts upon eatables. He said, with St. Philip, that the temperance and sobriety prescribed for the ordinary meals of the community were sufficient to compensate for the more rigor­ous fasts and abstinences which were not commanded by the rule. Two things, he added, are to be borne in mind, namely, sobriety and cleanliness. F. Manni always joined in the usual recreations after dinner and supper, and he was wont to contribute in no small degree to the general cheerfulness. He loved to see all meet together in those joyous hours, and in this he resembled the holy father who never allowed his children to absent themselves under pretext of greater quiet and retirement elsewhere, nor would he permit the universal gayety to be disturbed by any appearance of sadness. Speaking of the manner of recreation, he said that it should be ac­companied by moderation and a modest cheerfulness, so that, spring­ing from a holy source, it might be in itself good.
" He detested idleness, and all the time he did not give to prayer and works of charity he employed in study, taking, however, espe­cial care that his studies should be according to the spirit of his vo­cation, and should tend to his own and his neighbour's profit. He displayed a singular charity towards the sick, and delighted in visit­ing the hospitals. He desired to see this pious practice observed by all the fathers and brothers of the Oratory, saying that St. Philip used to call it a short road to perfection. He asserted that many of the brothers declared, that by visiting the hospitals they had re­ceived the grace of chastity from God. His favorite hospital was that of the mendicants on the Sistine Bridge, where he especially loved to converse with two of the inmates, M. Angelo and M. Bar-tolommeo, both of them poor in worldly substance, but rich in the gifts of God, as is related in their Lives, published in 1671. They considered themselves greatly benefited by the advice and spiritual guidance of Agostino. When they heard of his death, they exclaim­ed, ' F. Agostino was an angel of God to us poor creatures; truly he was an apostle and a saint!' The same title was given him by the servant of God, Glicenio Landriani, one of the regular clerks of the Pious Schools, who frequented the spiritual exercises of the Ora­tory, and whose Life was published in 1694. He rendered every possible assistance to his penitents when sick, and, as he was ever most devout to our Lady, he used often to throw himself at Mary's feet, and beg her to be their infirmarian, and to obtain for them either restoration to health, or the grace to profit by their sufferings. But with tenfold earnestness did he implore her assistance for them when they approached their last awful passage to eternity, that their death might be precious in the sight of God.
"It seemed natural that one, who had begun his life under the auspices of this heavenly Mother, should likewise end it under her blessed protection. And so it was with Father Agostino Manni. He had endured for many years a painful asthma, and now he was at last confined to his bed. He had recourse with his wonted faith and confidence to our sweet Lady, and he placed the interests of his soul in her tender hands. In these devout sentiments, after re­ceiving the last sacraments with the greatest devotion, he placidly gave up his soul to God, November 29th, 1618. He was seventy-one years of age, having spent forty in the Congregation of the Oratory, and eighteen under the discipline of St. Philip." - pp. 173-191.
The second volume named contains the life of a devoted Jesuit Father, who labored among the negroes of the West In­dies, and the memoirs of Cardinal Odeschalchi, while he be­longed to the Society of Jesus. Both are full of interest, and especially at this time, when so many are disposed to forget the eminent services rendered to religion by the great and holy men of the Society,
We hope soon to return to this series of publications, and to speak more at length on its general character, and on some of the topics it suggests for the meditation of the devout Catholic. We have at present only space to commend the entire series to our Catholic community.