in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
CHAPTER 8 Back to Contents
For the Roman Catholic child, how beautiful and yet how sad is the day of his first communion! How many joys and anxieties by turn rise in his soul when for the first time he is about to eat what he has been taught to believe to be his God! How many efforts has he to make, in order to destroy the manifest teachings of his own rational faculties! I confess with deep regret that I had almost destroyed my reason, in order to prepare myself for my first communion. Yes, I was almost exhausted when the day came that I had to eat what the priest has assured us was the true body, the true blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. I was about to eat Him, not in a symbolical or commemorative, but in a literal way. I was to eat His flesh, His bones, His hands, His feet, His head, His whole body! I had to believe this or be cast for ever into hell, while, all the time, my eyes, my hands, my mouth, my tongue, my reason told me that what I was eating was only bread!
Has there ever been, or will there ever be, a priest or a layman to believe what the Church of Rome teaches on this dreadful mystery of the Real Presence? Shall I say that I believed in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the communion? I believed in it as all those who are good Roman Catholics believe. I believed as a perfect idiot or a corpse believes. Whatever is essential to a reasonable act of faith had been destroyed in me on that point, as it is destroyed in every priest and layman in the Church of Rome. My reason as well as my external senses had been, as much as possible, sacrificed at the feet of that terrible modern god, the Pope! I had been guilty of the incredibility foolish act, of which all good Roman Catholics are guilty I had said to my intellectual faculties, and to all my senses, "Hush, you are liars! I had believed to this day that you had been given to me by God in order to enable me to walk in the dark paths of life, but, behold! the holy Pope teaches me that you are only instruments of the devil to deceive me!"
What is a man who resigns his intellectual liberty, and who cares not to believe in the testimony of his senses? Is he not acting the part of one who has no gift or power of intelligence? A good Roman Catholic must reach that point! That was my own condition on the day of my first communion.
When Jesus said, "If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin....If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father" (John xv.22,24). He showed that the sin of the Jews consisted in not having believed in what their eyes had seen and their ears had heard. But behold, the Pope says to Roman Catholics that they must not believe in what their hands undoubtedly handle and their eyes most clearly see! The Pope sets aside the testimony most approved by Jesus. The very witnesses invoked by the Son of God are ignominiously turned out of court by the Pope as false witnesses!
As the moment of taking the communion drew near, two feelings were at war in my mind, each struggling for victory. I rejoiced in the thought that I would soon have full possession of Jesus Christ, but at the same time I was troubled and humbled by the absurdity which I had to believe before receiving that sacrament. Though scarcely twelve years old, I had sufficiently accustomed myself to reflect on the profound darkness which covered that dogma. I had been also greatly in the habit of trusting my eyes, and I thought that I could easily distinguish between a small piece of bread and a full-grown man!
Besides, I extremely abhorred the idea of eating human flesh and drinking human blood, even when they assured me that they were the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ Himself. But what troubled me most was the idea of that God, who was represented to me as being so great, so glorious, so holy, being eaten by me like a piece of common bread! Terrible then was the struggle in my young heart, were joy and dread, trust and fear, faith and unbelief by turns had the upper hand.
While that secret struggle, known only to God and to myself, was going on, I had often to wipe off the cold perspiration which came on my brow. With all the strength of my soul I prayed to God and the Holy Virgin to be merciful unto me, to help, and give me sufficient strength and light to pass over these hours of anguish.
The Church of Rome is evidently the most skillful human machine the world has ever seen. Those who guide her in the dark paths which she follows are often men of deep thought. They understand how difficult it would be to get calm, honest and thinking minds to receive that monstrous dogma of the real corporal presence of Jesus Christ in the communion. They well foresaw the struggle which would take place even in the minds of children at the supreme moment when they would have to sacrifice their reason on the altar of Rome. In order to prevent those struggles, always so dangerous to the Church, nothing has been neglected to distract the mind and draw the attention to other subjects than that of the communion itself.
First, at the request of the parish priest, helped by the vanity of the parents themselves, the children are dressed as elegantly as possible. They young communicant is clothed in every way best calculated to flatter his own vanity also. The church building is pompously decorated. The charms of choice vocal and instrumental music form a part of the fete. The most odorous incense burns around the altar and ascends in a sweetsmelling cloud towards heaven. The whole parish is invited, and people come from every direction to enjoy a most beautiful spectacle. Priests from the neighbouring churches are called, in order to add to the solemnity of the day. The officiating priest is dressed in the most costly attire. This is the day on which silver and gold altar cloths are displayed before the eyes of the wondering spectators. Often a lighted wax taper is placed in the hand of each young communicant, which itself would be sufficient to draw his whole attention; for a single false motion would be sufficient to set fire to the clothes of his neighbour, or his own, a misfortune which has happened more than once in my presence.
Now, in the midst of that new and wonderful spectacle of singing Latin Psalms, not a word of which he understands; in view of gold and silver ornaments, which glitter everywhere before his dazzled eyes; busy with the holding of the lighted taper, which keeps him constantly in fear of being burned alive can the young communicant think for a moment of what he is about to do?
Poor child! his mind, ears, eyes, nostrils are so much taken up with those new, striking and wonderful things that, while his imagination is wandering from one object to another, the moment of communion arrives, without leaving him time to think of what he is about to do! He opens his mouth, and the priest puts upon his tongue a flat thin cake of unleavened bread, which either firmly sticks to his palate or otherwise melts in his mouth, soon to go down into his stomach just like the food he takes three times a day!
The first feeling of the child, then, is that of surprise at the thought that the Creator of heaven and earth, the upholder of the universe, the Saviour of the world, could so easily pass down his throat!
Now, follow those children to their homes after that great and monstrous comedy. See their gait! Listen to their conversation and their bursts of laughter! Study their manners, their coming in, their going out, their glances of satisfaction on their fine clothes, and the vanity which they manifest in return for the congratulations they receive on their fine dresses. Notice the lightness of their actions and conversation immediately after their communion, and tell me if you find anything indicating that they believed in the terrible dogma they have been taught.
No, they have not believed in it, neither will they ever do so with the firmness of faith which is accomplished by intelligence. The poor child thinks he believes, and he sincerely tries to do so. He believes in it as much as it is possible to believe in a most monstrous and ridiculous story, opposed to the simplest notions of truth and common sense. He believes as Roman Catholics believe. He believes as an idiot believes!!
That first communion has made of him, for the rest of his life, a real machine in the hands of the Pope. It is the first but most powerful link of that long chain of slavery which the priest and the Church pass around his neck. The Pope holds the end of that chain, and with it he will make his victim go right or left at his pleasure, in the same way that we govern the lower animals. If those children have made a good first communion they will be submissive to the Pope, according to the energetic word of Loyola. They will be in the hands of the traveler they will have no will, no thought of their own!
And if God does not work a miracle to bring them out from that bondage which is a thousand times worse than the Egyptian, they will remain in that state during the rest of their lives.
My soul has known the weight of those chains. It has felt the ignominy of that slavery! But the great Conqueror of souls has cast down a merciful eye upon me. He has broken my chains, and with His holy Word He has made me free.
May His name be for ever blessed.
CHAPTER 9 Back to Contents
I finished, at the College of Nicolet, in the month of August, 1829, my classical course of study which I had begun in 1822. I could easily have learned in three or four years what was taught in these seven years.
It took us three years to study the Latin grammar, when twelve months would have sufficed for all we learned of it. It is true that during that time we were taught some of the rudiments of the French grammar, with the elements of arithmetic and geography. But all this was so superficial, that our teachers often seemed more desirous to pass away our time than to enlarge our understandings.
I can say the same thing of the Belles Letters and of rhetoric, which we studied two years. A year of earnest study would have sufficed to learn what was taught us during these twenty-four months. As for the two years devoted to the study of logic, and of the subjects classed under the name of philosophy, it would not have been too long a time if those questions of philosophy had been honestly given us. But the student in the college of the Church of Rome is condemned to the torments of Tantalus. He has, indeed, the refreshing waters of Science put to his lips, but he is constantly prevented from tasting them. To enlarge and seriously cultivate the intelligence in a Roman Catholic college is a thing absolutely out of the question. More than that, all the efforts of the principals in their colleges and convents tend to prove to the pupil that his intelligence is his greatest and most dangerous enemy that it is like an untamable animal, which must constantly be kept in chains. Every day the scholar is told that his reason was not given him that he might be guided by it, but only that he may know the hand of the man by whom he must be guided. And that hand is none other than the Pope's. All the resources of language, all the most ingenious sophisms, all the passages of both the Fathers and the Holy Scriptures bearing on this question are arranged and perverted with inconceivable art to demonstrate to the pupil that his reason has no power to teach him anything else than that it must be subjected to the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, who is the only foundation of truth and light given by God to guide the intelligence and to enlighten and save the world.
Rome, in her colleges and convents, brings up, or raises up, the youth from their earliest years; but to what height does she permit the young man or woman to be raised? Never higher than the feet of the Pope!! As soon as his intelligence, guided by the Jesuit, has ascended to the feet of the Pope, it must remain there, prostrate itself and fall asleep.
The Pope! That is the great object towards which all the intelligence of the Roman Catholics must be converged. It is the sun of the world, the foundation and the only support of Christian knowledge and civilization.
What a privilege it is to be lazy, stupid, and sluggish in a college of Rome! How soon such an one gets to the summit of science, and becomes master of all knowledge. One needs only to kiss the feet of the Pope, and fall into a perfect slumber there! The Pope thinks for him! It is he (the Pope) who will tell him what he can and should think, and what he can and should believe!
I had arrived at that degree of perfection at the end of my studies, and J.B. Barthe, Esq., M.P.P., being editor of one of the principal papers of Montreal in 1844, could write in his paper when my "Manual of Temperance" was published: "Mr. Chiniquy has crowned his apostleship of temperance by that work, with that ardent and holy ambition of character of which he gave us so many tokens in his collegiate life, where we have been so many years the witness of his piety, when he was the model of his fellow-students, who had called him the Louis de Gonzague of Nicolet."
These words of the Montreal Member of Parliament mean only that, wishing to be saved as St. Louis de Gonzague, I had blindly tied myself to the feet of my superiors.
I had, as much as possible, extinguished all the enlightenments of my own mind to follow the reason and the will of my superiors. These compliments mean that I was walking like a blind man whom his guide holds by the hand.
Though my intelligence often revolted against the fables with which I was nurtured, I yet forced myself to accept them as gospel truths; and though I often rebelled against the ridiculous sophisms which were babbled to me as the only principles of truth and Christian philosophy, yet as often did I impose silence on my reason, and force it to submit to the falsehoods which I was obliged to take for God's truth! But, as I have just confessed it, notwithstanding my goodwill to submit to my superiors, there were times of terrible struggle in my soul, when all the powers of my mind seemed to revolt against the degrading fetters which I was forced to forge for myself.
I shall never forget the day when, in the following terms, I expressed to my Professor of Philosophy, the Rev. Charles Harper, doubts which I had conceived concerning the absolute necessity of the inferior to submit his reason to his superior. "When I shall have completely bound myself to obey my superior, if he abuses his authority over me to deceive me by false doctrines, or if he commands me to do things which I consider wrong and dishonest, shall I not be lost if I obey him?"
He answered: "You will never have to give an account to God for the actions that you do by the order of your legitimate superiors. If they were to deceive you, being themselves deceived, they alone would be responsible for the error which you would have committed. Your sin would not be imputed to you as long as you follow the golden rule which is the base of all Christian philosophy and perfection humility and obedience!"
Little satisfied with that answer, when the lesson was over I expressed my reluctance to accept such principles to several of my fellow-students. Among them was Joseph Turcot, who died some years ago when, I think, he was Minister of Public Works in Canada.
He answered me: "The more I study what they call their principles of Christian philosophy and logic, the more I think that they intend to make asses of every one of us!"
On the following day I opened my heart to the venerable man who was our principal the Rev. Mr. Leprohon. I used to venerate him as a saint and to love him as a father. I frankly told him that I felt very reluctant in submitting myself to the crude principles which seemed to lead us into the most abject slavery, the slavery of our reason and intelligence. I wrote down his answer, which I give here:
"My dear Chiniquy, how did Adam and Eve lose themselves in the Garden of Eden, and how did they bring upon us all the deluge of evils by which we are overwhelmed? Is it not because they raised their miserable reason above that of God? They had the promise of eternal life if they had submitted their reason to that of their Supreme Master.They were lost on account of their rebelling against the authority, the reason of God. Thus it is today. All the evils, the errors, the crimes by which the world is over flooded come from the same revolt of the human will and reason against the will and reason of God. God reigns yet over a part of the world, the world of the elect, through the Pope, who controls the teachings of our infallible and holy Church. In submitting ourselves to God, who speaks to us through the Pope, we are saved. We walk in the paths of truth and holiness. But we would err, and infallibly perish, as soon as we put our reason above that of our superior, the Pope, speaking to us in person, or through some of our superiors who have received from him the authority to guide us."
"But," said I, "if my reason tells me that the Pope, or some of those other superiors who are put by him over me, are mistaken, and that they command me something wrong, would I not be guilty before God if I obey them?"
"You suppose a thing utterly impossible," answered Mr. Leprohon, "for the Pope and the bishops who are united to him have the promise of never failing in the faith. They cannot lead you into any errors, nor command you to believe or do something contrary to the teachings of the Gospel, God would not ask of you any account of an error committed when you are obeying your legitimate superior."
I had to content myself with that answer, which I put down word for word in my note-book. But in spite of my respectful silence, the Rev. Mr. Leprohon saw that I was yet uneasy and sad. In order to convince me of the orthodoxy of his doctrines, he instantly put into my hands the two works of De Maistre, "Le Pape" and "Les Soirees de St. Petersburgh," where I found the same doctrines supported. My superior was honest in his convictions. He sincerely believed in the sound philosophy and Christianity of his principles, for he had found them in these books approved by the "infallible Popes."
I will mention another occurrence to show the inconceivable intellectual degradation to which we had been dragged at the end of seven years of collegiate studies. About the year 1829 the curate of St. Anne de la Parade wrote to our principal, Rev. Mr. Leprohon, to ask the assistance of the prayers of all the students of the College of Nicolet in order to obtain the discontinuance of the following calamity: "For more than three weeks one of the most respectable farmers was in danger of losing all his horses from the effects of a sorcery! From morning, and during most of the night, repeated blows of whips and sticks were heard falling upon these poor horses, which were trembling, foaming and struggling! We can see nothing! The hand of the wizard remains invisible. Pray for us, that we may discover the monster, and that he may be punished as he deserves."
Such were the contents of the priest's letter; and as my superior sincerely believed in that fable I also believed it, as well as all the students of the college who had a true piety. On that shore of abject and degrading superstitions I had to land after sailing seven years in the bark called a college of the Church of Rome!
The intellectual part of the studies in a college of Rome, and it is the same in a convent, is therefore entirely worthless. Worse than that, the intelligence is dwarfed under the chains by which it is bound. If the intelligence does sometimes advance, it is in spite of the fetters placed upon it; it is only like some few noble ships which, through the extraordinary skill of their pilots, go ahead against wind and tide.
I know that the priests of Rome can show a certain number of intelligent men in every branch of science who have studied in their colleges. But these remarkable men had from the beginning secretly broken for themselves the chains with which their superiors had tried to bind them. For peace' sake they had outwardly followed the rules of the house, but they had secretly trampled under the feet of their noble souls the ignoble fetters which had been prepared for their understanding. True children of God and light, they had found the secret of remaining free even when in the dark cells of a dungeon!
Give me the names of the remarkable and intelligent men who have studied in a college of Rome, and have become real lights in the firmament of science, and I will prove that nine-tenths of them have been persecuted, excommunicated, tortured, some even put to death for having to think for themselves.
Galileo was a Roman Catholic, and he is surely one of the greatest men whom science claims as her most gifted sons. But was he not sent to a dungeon? Was he not publicly flogged by the hands of the executioner? Had he not to ask pardon from God and man for having dared to think differently from the Pope about the motion of the earth around the sun!
Copernicus was surely one of the greatest lights of his time, but was he not censured and excommunicated for his admirable scientific discoveries?
France does not know any greater genius among her most gifted sons than Pascal. He was a Catholic. But he lived and died excommunicated.
The Church of Rome boasts of Bossuet, the Bishop of Meaux, as one of the greatest men she ever had. Yes; but has not Veuillot, the editor of the Univers, who knows his man well, confessed and declared before the world that Bossuet was a disguised Protestant?
Where can we find a more amiable or learned writer than Montalembert, who has so faithfully and bravely fought the battle of the Church of Rome in France during more than a quarter of a century? But has he not publicly declared on his death-bed that that Church was an apostate and idolatrous Church from the day that she proclaimed the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope? Has he not virtually died an excommunicated man for having said with his last breath that the Pope was nothing else than a false god?
Those pupils of Roman Catholic colleges of whom sometimes the priests so imprudently boast, have gone out from the hands of their Jesuit teachers to proclaim their supreme contempt for the Roman Catholic priesthood and Papacy. They have been near enough to the priest to know him. They have seen with their own eyes that the priest of Rome is the most dangerous, the most implacable enemy of intelligence, progress and liberty; and if their arm be not paralyzed by cowardice, selfishness, or hypocrisy, those pupils of the colleges of Rome will be the first to denounce the priesthood of Rome and demolish her citadels.
Voltaire studied in a Roman Catholic college, and it was probably when at their school he nerved himself for the terrible battle he has fought against Rome. That Church will never recover from the blow which Voltaire has struck at her in France.
Cavour, in Italy, had studied in a Roman Catholic college also, and under that very roof it is more than probable that his noble intelligence had sworn to break the ignominious fetters with which Rome had enslaved his fair country. The most eloquent of the orators of Spain, Castelar, studied in a Roman Catholic college; but hear with what eloquence he denounces the tyranny, hypocrisy, selfishness and ignorance of the priests.
Papineau studied under the priests of Rome in their college at Montreal. From his earliest years that Eagle of Canada could see and know the priests of Rome as they are; he has weighed them in the balance; he has measured them; he has fathomed the dark recesses of their anti-social principles; he has felt his shoulders wounded and bleeding under the ignominious chains with which they dragged our dear Canada in the mire for nearly two centuries. Papineau was a pupil of the priests; and I have heard several priests boasting of that as a glorious thing. But the echoes of Canada are still repeating the thundering words with which Papineau denounced the priests as the most deadly enemies of the education and liberty of Canada! He was one of the first men of Canada to understand that there was no progress, no liberty possible for our beloved country so long as the priests would have the education of our people in their hands. The whole life of Papineau was a struggle to wrest Canada from their grasp. Everyone knows how he constantly branded them, without pity, during his life, and the whole world has been the witness of the supreme contempt with which he has refused their services, and turned them out at the solemn hour of his death!
When, in 1792, France wanted to be free, she understood that the priests of Rome were the greatest enemies of her liberties. She turned them out from her soil or hung them to her gibbets. If today that noble country of our ancestors is stumbling and struggling in her tears and her blood if she has fallen at the feet of her enemies if her valiant arm has been paralyzed, her sword broken, and her strong heart saddened above measure, is it not because she had most imprudently put herself again under the yoke of Rome?
Canada's children will continue to flee from the country of their birth so long as the priest of Rome holds the influence which is blasting everything that falls within his grasp, on this continent as well as in Europe; and the United States will soon see their most sacred institutions fall, one after the other, if the Americans continue to send their sons and daughters to the Jesuit colleges and nunneries.
When, in the warmest days of summer, you see a large swamp of stagnant and putrid water, you are sure that deadly miasma will spread around, that diseases of the most malignant character, poverty, sufferings of every kind, and death will soon devastate the unfortunate country; so, when you see Roman Catholic colleges and nunneries raising their haughty steeples over some commanding hills or in the midst of some beautiful valleys, you may confidently expect that the self-respect and the many virtues of the people will soon disappear intelligence, progress, prosperity will soon wane away, to be replaced by superstition, idleness, drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, ignorance, poverty and degradation of every kind. The colleges and nunneries are the high citadels from which the Pope darts his surest missiles against the rights and liberties of nations. The colleges and nunneries are the arsenals where the most deadly weapons are night and day prepared to fight and destroy the soldiers of liberty all over the world.
The colleges and nunneries of the priests are the secret places where the enemies of progress, equality and liberty are holding their councils and fomenting that great conspiracy the object of which is to enslave the world at the feet of the Pope.
The colleges and nunneries of Rome are the schools where the rising generations are taught that it is an impiety to follow the dictates of their own conscience, hear the voice of their intelligence, read the Word of God, and worship their Creator according to the rules laid down in the Gospel.
It is in the colleges and nunneries of Rome that men learn that they are created to obey the Pope in everything-- that the Bible must be burnt, and that liberty must be destroyed at any cost all over the world.
CHAPTER 10 Back to Contents
In order to understand what kind of moral education students in Roman Catholic colleges receive, one must only be told that from the beginning to the end they are surrounded by an atmosphere in which nothing but Paganism is breathed. The models of eloquence which we learned by heart were almost exclusively taken from Pagan literature. In the same manner Pagan models of wisdom, of honour, of chastity were offered to our admiration. Our minds were constantly fixed on the masterpieces which Paganism has left. The doors of our understanding were left open only to receive the rays of light which Paganism has shed on the world. Homer, Socrates, Lycurgus, Virgil, Horace, Cicero, Tacitus, Caesar, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Alexander, Lucretia, Regulus, Brutus, Jupiter, Venus, Minerva, Mars, Diana, ect., ect., crowded each other in our thoughts, to occupy them and be their models, examples and masters for ever.
It may be said that the same Pagan writers, orators and heroes are studied, read and admired in Protestant colleges. But there the infallible antidote, the Bible, is given to the students. Just as nothing remains of the darkness of night after the splendid morning sun has arisen on the horizon, so nothing of the fallacies, superstitions and sophisms of Paganism can trouble or obscure the mind on which that light from heaven, the Word of God, comes every day with its millions of shining rays. How insignificant is the Poetry of Homer when compared with the sublime songs of Moses! How pale is the eloquence of Demosthenes, Cicero, Virgil, ect., when read after Job, David or Solomon! How quickly crumble down the theories which those haughty heathens of old wanted to raise over the intelligence of men when the thundering voice from Sinai is heard; when the incomparable songs of David, Solomon, Isaiah or Jeremiah are ravishing the soul which is listening to their celestial strains! It is a fact that Pagan eloquence and philosophy can be but very tasteless to men accustomed to be fed with the bread which comes down from heaven, whose souls are filled with the eloquence of God, and whose intelligence is fed with the philosophy of heaven.
But, alas! for me and my fellow-students in the college of Rome! No sun ever appeared on the horizon to dispel the night in which our intelligence was wrapped. The dark clouds with which Paganism had surrounded us were suffocating us, and no breath from heaven was allowed to come and dispel them. Moses with his incomparable legislation, David and Solomon with their divine poems, Job with his celestial philosophy, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Daniel with their sublime songs, Jesus Christ Himself with His soul-saving Gospel, as well as His apostles Peter, John, Jude, James and Paul these were all put in the Index! They had not the liberty to speak to us, and we were forbidden, absolutely forbidden, to read and hear them!
It is true that the Church of Rome, as an offset to that, gave us her principles, precepts, fables and legends that we might be attached to her, and that she might remain the mistress of our hearts. But these doctrines, practices, principles and fables seemed to us so evidently borrowed from Paganism they were so cold, so naked, so stripped of all true poetry, that if the Paganism of the ancients was not left absolute master of our affections, it still claimed a large part of our souls. To create in us a love for the Church of Rome our superiors depended greatly on the works of Chateaubriand. The "Genie du Christianisme" was the book of books to dispel all our doubts, and attach us to the Pope's religion. But this author, whose style is sometimes really beautiful, destroyed, by the weakness of his logic, the Christianity which he wanted to build up. We could easily see that Chateaubriand was not sincere, and his exaggerations were to many of us a sure indication that he did not believe in what he said. The works of De Maistre, the most important history-falsificator of France, were also put into our hands as a sure guide in philosophical and historical studies. The "Memoirs du Conte Valmont," with some authors of the same stamp, were much relied upon by our superiors to prove to us that the dogmas, precepts and practices of the Roman Catholic religion were brought from heaven.
It was certainly our desire as well as our interest to believe them. But how our faith was shaken, and how we felt troubled when Livy, Tacitus, Cicero, Virgil, Homer, ect., gave us the evidence that the greater part of these things had their root and their origin in Paganism.
For instance, our superiors had convinced us that scapulars, medals, holy water, ect., would be of great service to us in battling with the most dangerous temptations, as well as in avoiding the most common dangers of life. Consequently, we all had scapulars and medals, which we kept with the greatest respect, and even kissed morning and evening with affection, as if they were powerful instruments of the mercy of God to us. How great, then, was our confusion and disappointment when we discovered in the Greek and Latin historians that those scapulars and medals and statuettes were nothing but a remnant of Paganism, and that the worshipers of Jupiter, Minerva, Diana and Venus believed themselves also free, as we did, from all calamity when they carried them in honour of these divinities! The further we advanced in the study of Pagan antiquity, the more we were forced to believe that our religion, instead of being born at the foot of Calvary, was only a pale and awkward imitation of Paganism. The modern Pontifex Maximus (the Pope of Rome), who, as we were assured, was the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, resembled the "Pontifex Maximus" of the great republic and empire of Rome as much as two drops of water resemble each other. Had not our Pope preserved not only the name, but also the attributes, the pageantry, the pride, and even the garb of that high pagan priest? Was not the worship of the saints absolutely the same as the worship of the demigods of olden time? Was not our purgatory minutely described by Virgil? Were not our prayers to the Virgin and to the saints repeated, almost in the same words, by the worshipers who repeated them every day before the images which adorned our churches? Was not our holy water in use among the idolaters, and for the same purpose for which it was used among us?
We know by history the year in which the magnificent temple consecrated to all the gods, bearing the name of Pantheon, had been built at Rome. We were acquainted with the names of several of the sculptors who had carved the statues of the gods in that heathen temple, at whose feet the idolaters bowed respectfully, and words cannot express he shame we felt on learning that the Roman Catholics of our day, under the very eyes and with the sanction of the Pope, still prostrated themselves before the same idols, in the same temple, and to obtain the same favours!
When we asked each other the question, "What is the difference between the religion of heathen Rome and that of the Rome of today?" more than one student would answer: "The only difference is in the name. The idolatrous temples are the same: the idols have not left their places. Today, as formerly, the same incense burns in their honour? Nations are still prostrated at their feet to give them the same homage and to ask of them the same favours; but instead of calling this statue Jupiter, we call it Peter; and instead of calling that one Minerva or Venus, it is called St. Mary. It is the old idolatry coming to us under Christian names."
I earnestly desired to be an honest and sincere Roman Catholic. These impressions and thoughts distracted me greatly, inasmuch as I could find nothing in reason to diminish their force. Unfortunately many of the books placed in our hands by our superiors to confirm our faith, form our moral character, and sustain our piety and our confidence in the dogmas of the Church of Rome, had a frightful resemblance to the histories I had read of the gods and goddesses. The miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary often appeared to be only a reproduction of the tricks and deceits by which the priests of Jupiter, Venus, Minerva, ect., used to obtain their ends and grant the requests of their worshipers. Some of those miracles of the Virgin Mary equaled, if they did not surpass, in absurdity and immorality what mythology taught us among the most hideous accounts of the heathen gods and goddesses.
I could cite hundreds of such miracles which shocked my faith and caused me to blush in secret at the conclusion to which I was forced to come, in comparing the worship of ancient and modern Rome. I will only quote three of these modern miracles, which are found in one of the books the best approved by the Pope, entitled "The Glories of Mary."
First miracle. The great favour bestowed by the Holy Virgin upon a nun named Beatrix, of the Convent of Frontebraldo, show how merciful she is to sinners. This fact is related by Cesanus, and by Father Rho. This unfortunate nun, having been possessed by a criminal passion for a young man, determined to leave her convent and elope with him. She was the doorkeeper of the convent, and having placed the keys of the monastery at the feet of a statue of the Holy Virgin she boldly went out, and then led a life of prostitution during fifteen years in a far off place.
"One day, accidentally meeting the purveyor of her convent, and thinking she would not be recognized by him, she asked him news of Sister Beatrix.
"`I know her well,' answered this man; `she is a holy nun, and is mistress of the novices.'
"At these words Beatrix was confused; but to understand what it meant she changed her clothing, and going to the convent, enquired after Sister Beatrix.
"The Holy Virgin instantly appeared to her in the form of the statue at whose feet she had placed the keys at her departure. The Divine Mother spoke to her in this wise: `Know, Beatrix, that in order to preserve your honour I have taken your place and done your duty since you have left your convent. My daughter, return to God and be penitent, for my Son is still waiting for you. Try, by the holiness of your life, to preserve the good reputation which I have earned you.' Having thus spoken, the Holy Virgin disappeared. Beatrix reentered the monastery, donned her religious dress, and, grateful for the mercies of Mary, she led the life of a saint." ("Glories of Mary," chap. vi., sec. 2.)
Second miracle. Rev. Father Rierenberg relates that there existed in a city called Aragona a beautiful and noble girl by the name of Alexandra, whom two young men loved passionately. One day, maddened by the jealousy each one had of the other, they fought together, and both were killed. Their parents were so infuriated at the young girl, the author of these calamities, that they killed her, cut her head off, and threw her into a well. A few days after St. Dominic, passing by the place, was inspired to approach the well and to cry out, "Alexandra, come here!" The head of the deceased immediately placed itself upon the edge of the well, and entreated St. Dominic to hear its confession. Having heard it, the Saint gave her the communion in the presence of a great multitude of people, and then he commanded her to tell them why she had received so great a favour.
She answered that, though she was in a state of mortal sin when she was decapitated, yet as she had a habit of reciting the holy rosary, the Virgin had preserved her life.
The head, full of life, remained on the edge of the well two days before the eyes of a great many people, and then the soul went to purgatory. But fifteen days after this the soul of Alexandra appeared to St. Dominic, bright and beautiful as a star, and told him that one of the surest means of removing souls from purgatory was the recitation of the rosary in their favour. ("Glories of Mary," chap. viii., sec. 2)
Third miracle. "A servant of Mary one day went into one of her churches to pray, without telling her husband about it. Owing to a terrible storm she was prevented from returning home that night. Harassed by the fear that her husband would be angry, she implored Mary's help. But on returning home she found her husband full of kindness. After asking her husband a few questions on the subject she discovered that during that very night the Divine Mother had taken her form and features and had taken her place in all the affairs of the household! She informed her husband of the great miracle, and they both became very much devoted to the Holy Virgin." (Glories of Mary," Examples of Protection, 40.)
Persons who have never studied in a Roman Catholic college will hardly believe that such fables were told us as an appeal for us to become Christians. But, God knows, I tell the truth. Is not a profanation of a holy word to say that Christianity is the religion taught the students in Rome's colleges?
After reading the monstrous metamorphoses of the gods of Olympus, the student feels a profound pity for the nations who have lived so long in the darkness of Paganism. He cannot understand how so many millions of men were, for such a long time, deceived by such crude fables. With joy his thoughts are turned to the God of Calvary, there to receive light and life. He feels, as it were, a burning desire to nourish himself with the words of life, fallen from the lips of the "great victim." But here comes the priest of the college, who places himself between the student and Christ, and instead of allowing him to be nourished with the Bread of Life he offers him fables, husks with which to appease his hunger. Instead of allowing him to slake his thirst from the waters which flow from the fountains of eternal life, he offers him a corrupt beverage!
God alone knows what I have suffered during my studies to find myself absolutely deprived of the privilege of eating this bread of life His Holy Word!
During the last years of my studies my superiors often confided to me the charge of the library. Once it happened that, as the students were taking a holiday, I remained alone in the college, and shutting myself up in the library I began to examine all the books. I was not a little surprised to discover that the books which were the most proper to instruct us stood on the catalogue of the library marked among the forbidden books. I felt an inexpressible shame on seeing with my own eyes that none but the most indifferent books were placed in our hands that we were permitted to read authors of the third rank only (if this expression is suitable to such whose only merit consisted in flattering the Popes, and in concealing or excusing their crimes). Several students more advanced than myself, had already made the observation to me, but I did not believe them. Self-love gave me the hope that I was as well educated as one could be at my age. Until then I had spurned the idea that, with the rest of the students, I was the victim of an incredible system of moral and intellectual blindness.
Among the forbidden books of the college I found a splendid Bible. It seemed to be of the same edition as the one whose perusal had made the hours pass away so pleasantly when I was at home with my mother. I seized it with the transports of a miser finding a lost treasure. I lifted it to my lips, and kissed it respectfully. I pressed it against my heart, as one embraces a friend from whom he has long been separated. This Bible brought back to my memory the most delightful hours of my life. I read in its divine pages till the scholars returned.
The next day Rev. Mr. Leprohon, our director, called me to his room during the recreation, and said: "You seem to be troubled, and very sad today. I noticed that you remained alone while the other scholars were enjoying themselves so well. Have you any cause of grief? or are you sick?"
I could not sufficiently express my love and respect for this venerable man. He was at the same time my friend and benefactor. For four years he and Rev. Mr. Brassard had been paying my board; for, owing to a misunderstanding between myself and my uncle Dionne, he had ceased to maintain me at college. By reading the Bible the previous day I had disobeyed my benefactor, Mr. Leprohon; for when he entrusted me with the care of the library he made me promise not to read the books in the forbidden catalogue.
It was painful to me to sadden him by acknowledging that I had broken my word of honour, but it pained me far more to deceive him by concealing the truth. I therefore answered him: "You are right in supposing that I am uneasy and sad. I confess there is one thing which perplexes me greatly among the rules that govern us. I never dared to speak to you about it: but as you wish to know the cause of my sadness, I will tell you. You have placed in our hands, not only to read, but to learn by heart, books which are, as you know, partly inspired by hell, and you forbid us to read the only book whose every word is sent from heaven! You permit us to read books dictated by the spirit of darkness and sin, and you make it a crime for us to read the only book written under the dictation of the Spirit of light and holiness. This conduct on your part, and on the part of all the superiors of the college, disturbs and scandalizes me! Shall I tell you, your dread of the Bible shakes my faith, and causes me to fear that we are going astray in our Church."
Mr. Leprohon answered me: "I have been the director of this college for more than twenty years, and I have never heard from the lips of any of the students such remarks and complaints as you are making to me today. Have you no fear of being the victim of a deception of the devil, in meddling with a question so strange and so new for a scholar whose only aim should be to obey his superiors?"
"It may be" said I, "that I am the first to speak to you in this manner, for it is very probable that I am the only student in this college who has read the Holy Bible in his youthful days. I have already told you there was a Bible in my father's house, which disappeared only after his death, though I never could know what became of it. I can assure you that the perusal of that admirable book has done me a good that is still felt. It is, therefore, because I know by a personal experience that there is no book in the world so good, and so proper to read, that I am extremely grieved, and even scandalized, by the dread you have of it. I acknowledge to you I spent the afternoon of yesterday in the library reading the Bible. I found things in it which made me weep for joy and happiness things that did more good to my soul and heart than all you have given me to read for six years. And I am so sad today because you approve of me when I read the words of the devil, and condemn me when I read the Word of God."
My superior answered: "Since you have read the Bible, you must know that there are things in it on matters of such a delicate nature that it is improper for a young man, and more so for a young lady, to read them."
"I understand," answered I; "but these delicate matters, of which you do not want God to speak a word to us, you know very well that Satan speaks to us about them day and night. Now, when Satan speaks about and attracts our thoughts towards an evil and criminal thing, it is always in order that we may like it and be lost. But when the God of purity speaks to us of evil things (of which it is pretty much impossible for men to be ignorant), He does it that we may hate and abhor them, and He gives us grace to avoid them. Well, then, since you cannot prevent the devil from whispering to us things so delicate and dangerous to seduce us, how dare you hinder God from speaking of the same things to shield us from their allurements? Besides, when my God desires to speak to me Himself on any question whatever, where is your right to obstruct His word on its way to my heart?"
Though Mr Leprohon's intelligence was as much wrapped up in the darkness of the Church of Rome as it could be, his heart had remained honest and true; and while I respected and loved him as my father, though differing from him in opinion, I knew he loved me as if I had been his own child. He was thunderstruck by my answer. He turned pale, and I saw tears about to flow from his eyes. He sighed deeply, and looked at me some time reflectingly, without answering. At last he said: "My dear Chiniquy, your answer and your arguments have a force that frightens me, and if I had no other but my own personal ideas to disprove them, I acknowledge I do not know how I would do it. But I have something better than my own weak thoughts. I have the thoughts of the Church, and of our Holy father the Pope. They forbid us to put the Bible in the hands of our students. This should suffice to put an end to your troubles. To obey his legitimate superiors in all things and everywhere is the rule a Christian scholar like you should follow; and if you have broken it yesterday, I hope it will be the last time that the child whom I love better than myself will cause me such pain."
On saying this he threw his arms around me, clasped me to his heart, and bathed my face in tears. I wept also. Yes, I wept abundantly.
But God knoweth, that through the regret of having grieved my benefactor and father caused me to shed tears at that moment, yet I wept much more on perceiving that I would no more be permitted to read His Holy Word.
If, therefore, I am asked what moral and religious education we received at college, I will ask in return, What religious education can we receive in an institution where seven years are spent without once being permitted to read the Gospel of God? The gods of the heathen spoke to us daily by their apostles and disciples Homer, Virgil, Pindar, Horace! and the God of the Christians had not permission to say a single word to us in that college!
Our religion, therefore, could be nothing by Paganism disguised under a Christian name. Christianity in a college or convent of Rome is such a strange mixture of heathenism and superstition, both ridiculous and childish, and of shocking fables, that the majority of those who have not entirely smothered the voice of reason cannot accept it. A few do, as I did, all in their power, and succeed to a certain extent, in believing only what the superior tell them to believe. They close their eyes and permit themselves to be led exactly as if they were blind, and a friendly hand were offering to guide them. But the greater number of students in Roman Catholic colleges cannot accept the bastard Christianity which Rome presents to them. Of course, during the studies they follow its rules, for the sake of peace; but they have hardly left college before they proceed to join and increase the ranks of the army of skeptics and infidels which overruns France, Spain, Italy and Canada which overruns, in fact, all the countries where Rome has the education of the people in her hands.
I must say, though with a sad heart, that moral and religious education in Roman Catholic colleges is worse and void, for from them has been excluded the only true standard of morals and religion, The Word of God!
CHAPTER 11 Back to Contents
We read in the history of Paganism that parents were often, in those dark ages, slaying their children upon the altars of their gods, to appease their wrath or obtain their favours. But we now see a strange thing. It is that of Christian parents forcing their children into the temples and to the very feet of the idols of Rome, under the fallacious notion of having them educated! While the Pagan parent destroyed only the temporal life of his child, the Christian parent, for the most part, destroys his eternal life. The Pagan was consistent: he believed in the almighty power and holiness of his gods; he sincerely thought that they ruled the world, and that they blessed both the victims and those who offered them. But where is the consistency of the Protestant who drags his child and offers him as a sacrifice on the altars of the Pope! Does he believe in his holiness or in his supreme and infallible power of governing the intelligence? Then why does he not go and throw himself at his feet and increase the number of his disciples? The Protestants who are guilty of this great wrong are wont to say, as an excuse, that the superiors of colleges and convents have assured them that their religious convictions would be respected, and that nothing should be said or done to take away or even shake the religion of their children.
Our first parents were not more cruelly deceived by the seductive words of the serpent than the Protestants are this day by the deceitful promises of the priests and nuns of Rome.
I had been myself the witness of the promise given by our superior to a judge of the State of New York, when, a few days later that same superior, the Rev. Mr. Leprohon, said to me: "You know some English, and this young man knows French enough to enable you to understand each other. Try to become his friend and to bring him over to our holy religion. His father is a most influential man in the United States, and that, his only son, is the heir of an immense fortune. Great results for the future of the Church in the neighbouring republic might follow his conversion."
I replied: "Have you forgotten the promise you have made to his father, never to say or do anything to shake or take away the religion of that young man?"
My superior smiled at my simplicity, and said: "When you shall have studied theology you will know that Protestantism is not a religion, but that it is the negation of religion. Protesting cannot be the basis of any doctrine. Thus, when I promised Judge Pike that the religious convictions of his child should be respected, and that I would not do anything to change his faith, I promised the easiest thing in the world, since I promised not to meddle with a thing which has no existence."
Convinced, or rather blinded by the reasoning of my superior, which is the reasoning of every superior of a college or nunnery, I set myself to work from that moment to make a good Roman Catholic of that young friend; and I would probably have succeeded had not a serious illness forced him, a few months after, to go home, where he died.
Protestants who may read these lines will, perhaps, be indignant against the deceit and knavery of the superior of the college of Nicolet. But I will say to those Protestants, It is not on that man, but on yourselves, that you must pour your contempt. The Rev. Mr. Leprohon was honest. He acted conformably to principles which he thought good and legitimate, and for which he would have cheerfully given the last drop of his blood. He sincerely believed that your Protestantism is a mere negation of all religion, worthy of the contempt of every true Christian. It was not the priest of Rome who was contemptible, dishonest and a traitor to his principles, but it was the Protestant who was false to his Gospel and to his own conscience by having his child educated by the servants of the Pope. Moreover, can we not truthfully say that the Protestant who wishes to have his children bred and educated by a Jesuit or a nun is a man of no religion? and that nothing is more ridiculous than to hear such a man begging respect for his religious principles! A man's ardent desire to have his religious convictions respected is best known by his respecting them himself.
The Protestant who drags his children to the feet of the priests of Rome is either a disguised infidel or a hypocrite. It is simply ridiculous for such a man to speak of his religious convictions or beg respect for them. His very humble position a the feet of a Jesuit or a nun, begging respect for his faith, is a sure testimony that he has none to lose. If he had any he would not be there, an humble and abject suppliant. He would take care to be where there could be no danger to his dear child's immortal soul.
When I was in the Church of Rome, we often spoke of the necessity of making superhuman efforts to attract young Protestants into our colleges and nunneries, as the shortest and only means of ruling the world before long. And as the mother has in her hands, still more than the father, the destinies of the family and of the world, we were determined to sacrifice everything in order to build nunneries all over the land, where the young girls, the future mothers of our country, would be moulded in our hands and educated according to our views.
Nobody can deny that this is supreme wisdom. Who will not admire the enormous sacrifices made by Romanists in order to surround the nunneries with so many attractions that it is difficult to refuse them preference above all other female scholastic establishments? One feels so well in the shade of these magnificent trees during the hot days of summer! It is so pleasant to live near this beautiful sheet of water, or the rapid current of that charming river, or to have constantly before one's eye the sublime spectacle of the sea! What a sweet perfume the flowers of that parterre diffuse around that pretty and peaceful convent! And, besides, who can withstand the almost angelic charms of the Lady Superior! How it does one good to be in the midst of those holy nuns, whose modesty, affable appearance and lovely smile present such a beautiful spectacle, that one would think of being at heaven's gate rather than in a world of desolation and sin!
O foolish man! Thou art always the same ever ready to be seduced by glittering appearances ever ready to suppress the voice of thy conscience at the first view of a deductive object!
One day I had embarked in the boat of a fisherman on the coast of one of those beautiful islands which the hand of God has placed at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In a few minutes the white sail, full-blown by the morning breeze, had carried us nearly a mile from the shore. There we dropped our anchor, and soon our lines, carried by the current, offered the deceitful bait to the fishes. But not one would come. One would have thought that the sprightly inhabitants of these limpid waters had acted in concert to despise us. In vain did we move our lines to and fro to attract the attention of the fishes; not one would come! We were tired. We lamented the prospect of losing our time, and of being laughed at by our friends on the shore who were waiting the result of our fishing to dine. Nearly one hour was spent in his manner, when the captain said, "Indeed, I will make the fishes come."
Opening a box, he took out handfuls of little pieces of finely-cut fishes and threw them broadcast on the water.
I was looking at him with curiosity, and I received with a feeling of unbelief the promise of seeing, in a few moments, more mackerel than I could pick up. These particles of fish, falling upon the water, scattered themselves in a thousand different ways. The rays of the sun, sporting among these numberless fragments, and thousands of scales, gave them a singular whiteness and brilliancy. They appeared like a thousand diamonds, full of movement and life, that sported and rolled themselves, running at each other, while rocking upon the waves.
As these innumerable little objects withdrew from us they looked like the milky way in the firmament. The rays of the sun continued to be reflected upon the scales of the fishes in the water, and to transform them into as many pearls, whose whiteness and splendor made an agreeable contrast with the deep green colour of the sea.
While looking at that spectacle, which was so new to me, I felt my line jerked out of my hands, and soon had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent mackerel lying at my feet. My companions were as fortunate as I was. The bait so generously thrown away had perfectly succeeded in bringing us not only hundreds, but thousands of fishes, and we caught as many of them as the boat could carry.
The Jesuits and the nuns are the Pope's cleverest fishermen, and the Protestants are the mackerel caught upon their baited hooks. Never fisherman knew better to prepare the perfidious bait than the nuns and Jesuits, and never were stupid fishes more easily caught than Protestants in general.
The priests of Rome themselves boast that more than half of the pupils of the nuns are the children of Protestants, and that seven-tenths of those Protestant children, sooner or later, become the firmest disciples and the true pillars of Popery in the United States. It is with that public and undeniable fact before them that the Jesuits have prophesied that before twenty-five years the Pope will rule that great republic; and if there is not a prompt change their prophecy will probably be accomplished.
"But," say many Protestants, "where can we get safer securities that the morals of our girls will be sheltered than in those convents? The faces of those good nuns, their angelic smiles, even their lips, from which seems to flow a perfume from heaven are not these the unfailing signs that nothing will taint the hearts of our dear children when they are under the care of those holy nuns?" Angelic smiles! Lips from which flow a perfume from heaven! Expressions of peace and holiness of the good nuns! Delusive allurements! Cruel deceptions! Mockery of comedy! Yes, all these angelic smiles, all these expressions of joy and happiness, are but allurements to deceive honest but too trusting men!
I believed myself for a long time that there was something true in all the display of peace and happiness which I saw reflected in the faces of a good number of nuns. But how soon my delusions passed away when I read with my own eyes, in a book of the secret rules of the convent, that one of their rules is always, especially in the presence of strangers, to have an appearance of joy and happiness, even when the soul is overwhelmed with grief and sorrow! The motives given to the nuns, for thus wearing a continual mask, is to secure the esteem and respect of the people, and to win more securely the young ladies to the convent!
All know the sad end of life of one of the most celebrated female comedians of the American Theatre. She had acted her part in the evening with a perfect success. She appeared so handsome, and so happy on the stage! Her voice was such a perfect harmony; her singing was so merry and lively with mirth! Two hours later she was a corpse! She had poisoned herself on leaving the theatre! For some time her heart was broken with grief which she could not bear.
Thus it is with the nun in her cell! forced to play a sacrilegious comedy to deceive the world and to bring new recruits to the monastery. And the Protestants, the disciples of the Gospel, the children of light, suffer themselves to be deceived by this impious comedy.
The poor nun's heart is often full of sorrow, and her soul is drowned in a sea of desolation; but she is obliged, under oath, always to appear gay! Unfortunate victim of the most cruel deception that has ever been invented, that poor daughter of Eve, deprived of all the happiness that heaven has given, tortured night and day by honest aspirations which she is told are unpardonable sins, she has not only to suppress in herself the few buds of happiness which God has left in her soul; but, what is more cruel, she is forced to appear happy in anguish of shame and of deception.
Ah! if the Protestants could know, as I do, how much the hearts of those nuns bleed, how much those poor victims of the Pope feel themselves wounded to death, how almost every one of them die at an early age, broken-hearted, instead of speaking of their happiness and holiness, they would weep at their profound misery. Instead of helping Satan to build up and maintain those sad dungeons by giving both their gold and their children, they would let them crumble into dust, and thus check the torrents of silent though bitter tears which those cells hide from our view.
I was traveling in 1851 over the vast prairies of Illinois in search of a spot which would suit us the best for the colony which I was about to found. One day my companions and myself found ourselves so wearied by the heat that we resolved to wait for the cool night in the shade of a few trees around a brook. The night was calm; there were no clouds in the sky, and the moon was beautiful. Like the sailor upon the sea, we had nothing but our compass to regulate our course on those beautiful and vast prairies. But the pen cannot express the emotions I felt while looking at that beautiful sky and those magnificent deserts opened to our view. We often came to sloughs which we thought deeper than they really were, and of which we would keep the side for fear of drowning our horses. Many a time did I get down from the carriage and stop to contemplate the wonders which those ponds presented to our view.
All the splendours of the sky seemed brought down in those pure and limpid waters. The moon and the stars seemed to have left their places in the firmament to bathe themselves in those delightful lakelets. All the purest, the most beautiful things of the heavens seemed to come down to hide themselves in those tranquil waters as if in search of more peace and purity.
A few days later I was retracing my steps. It was day-time; and, following the same route, I was longing to get to my charming little lakes. But during the interval the heat had been great, the sun very hot, and my beautiful sheets of water had been dried up. My dear little lakes were nowhere to be seen.
And what did I find instead? Innumerable reptiles, with the most hideous forms and filthy colours! No brilliant start, no clear moon were there any more to charm my eyes. There was nothing left but thousands of little toads and snakes, at the sight of which I was filled with disgust and horror!
Protestants! when upon life's way you are tempted to admire the smiling lips and unstained faces of the Pope's nuns, please think of those charming lakes which I saw in the prairies of Illinois, and remember the innumerable reptiles and toads that swarm at the bottom of those deceitful waters.
When, by the light of Divine truth, Protestants see behind these perfect mockeries by which the nun conceals with so much care the hideous misery which devours her heart, they will understand the folly of having permitted themselves to be so easily deceived by appearances. Then they will bitterly weep for having sacrificed to that modern Paganism the future welfare of their children, of their families, and of their country!
"But," says one, "the education is so cheap in the nunnery." I answer, "The education in convents, were it twice cheaper than it is now, would still cost twice more than it is worth. It is in this circumstance that we can repeat and apply the old proverb, `Cheap things are always too highly paid for.'"
In the first place, the intellectual education in the nunnery is completely null. The great object of the Pope and the nuns is to captivate and destroy the intelligence.
The moral education is also of no account; for what kind of morality can a young girl receive from a nun who believes that she can live as she pleases as long as she likes it that nothing evil can come to her, neither in this life nor in the next, provided only she is devout to the Virgin Mary?
Let Protestants read the "Glories of Mary," by St. Liguori, a book which is in the hands of every nun and every priest, and they will understand what kind of morality is practiced and taught inside the walls of the Church of Rome. Yes; let them read the history of that lady who was so well represented at home by the Holy Virgin, that her husband did not perceive that she had been absent, and they will have some idea of what their children may learn in a convent.
.CHAPTER 12 Back to Contents
The word education is a beautiful word. It comes from the Latin educare, which means to raise up, to take from the lowest degrees to the highest spheres of knowledge. The object of education is, then, to feed, expand, raise, enlighten, and strengthen the intelligence.
We hear the Roman Catholic priests making use of that beautiful word education as often, in not oftener, than the Protestant. But that word "education" has a very different meaning among the followers of the Pope than among the disciples of the Gospel. And that difference, which the Protestants ignore, is the cause of the strange blunders they make every time they try to legislate on that question here, as well as in England or in Canada.
The meaning of the word education among Protestants is as far from the meaning of that same word among Roman Catholics as the southern pole is from the northern pole. When a Protestant speaks of education, that word is used and understood in its true sense. When he sends his little boy to a Protestant school, he honestly desires that he should be reared up in the spheres of knowledge as much as his intelligence will allow. When that little boy is going to school, he soon feels that he has been raised up to some extent, and he experiences a sincere joy, a noble pride, for this new, though at first very modest raising; but he naturally understands that this new and modest upheaval is only a stone to step on and raise himself to a higher degree of knowledge, and he quickly makes that second step with an unspeakable pleasure. When the son of a Protestant has acquired a little knowledge, he wants to acquire more. When he has learned what this means, he wants to know what that means also. Like the young eagle, he trims his wings for a higher flight, and turns his head upward to go farther up in the atmosphere of knowledge. A noble and mysterious ambition has suddenly seized his young soul. Then he begins to feel something of that unquenchable thirst for knowledge which God Himself has put in the breast of every child of Adam, a thirst of knowledge, however, which will never be perfectly realized except in heaven.
The object of education, then, is to enable man to fulfill that kingly mission of ruling, subduing the world, under the eyes of his Creator.
Let us remember that it is not from himself, nor from any angel, but it is from God Himself that man has received that sublime mission. Yes, it is God Himself who has implanted in the bosom of humanity the knowledge and aspirations of those splendid destinies which can be attained only by "Education."
What a glorious impulse is this that seizes hold of the newly-awakened mind, and leads the young intelligence to rise higher and pierce the clouds that hide from his gaze the splendours of knowledge that lay concealed beyond the gloom of this nether sphere! That impulse is a noble ambition; it is that part of humanity that assimilates itself to the likeness of the great Creator; that impulse which education has for its mission to direct in its onward and upward march, is one of the most precious gifts of God to man. Once more, the glorious mission of education is to foster these thirstings after knowledge and lead man to accomplish his high destiny.
It ought to be a duty with both Roman Catholics and Protestants to assist the pupil in his flight toward the regions of science and learning. But is it so? No. When you, Protestants, send you children to school, you put no fetters to their intelligence; they rise with fluttering wings day after day. Though their flight at first is slow and timid, how happy they feel at every new aspect of their intellectual horizon! How their hearts beat with an unspeakable joy when they begin to hear voices of applause and encouragement from every side saying to them, "Higher, higher, higher!" When they shake their young wings to take a still higher flight, who can express their joy when they distinctly hear again the voices of a beloved mother, of a dear father, of a venerable pastor, cheering them and saying, "Well done! Higher yet, my child, higher!"
Raising themselves with more confidence on their wings, they then soar still higher, in the midst of the unanimous concert of the voices of their whole country encouraging them to the highest flight. It is then that the young man feels his intellectual strength tenfold multiplied. He lifts himself on his eagle wings, with a renewed confidence and power, and soars up still higher, with his heart beating with a noble and holy joy. For from the south and north, from the east and west, the echoes bring to his ears the voices of the admiring multitudes "Rise higher, higher yet!"
He has now reached what he thought, at first, to be the highest regions of thought and knowledge: but he hears again the same stimulating cries from below, encouraging him to a still higher flight toward the loftiest dominion of knowledge and philosophy, till he enters the regions where lies the source of all truth, and light, and life. For he had also heard the voice of his God speaking through His Son Jesus Christ, crying, "Come unto Me! Fear Not! Come unto Me! I am the light, the way! Come to this higher region where the Father, with the Son and the Spirit, reign in endless light!"
Thus does the Protestant scholar, making use of his intelligence as the eagle of his wing, go on from weakness unto strength, from the timid flutter to the bold confident flight, from one degree to another still higher, from one region of knowledge to another still higher, till he loses himself in that ocean of light and truth and life which is God.
In the Protestant schools no fetters are put on the young eagle's wings; there is nothing to stop him in his progress, or paralyze his movements and upward flights. It is the contrary: he receives every kind of encouragement in his flight.
Thus it is that the only truly great nations in the world are Protestants! Thus it is the truly powerful nations in the world are Protestants! Thus it is that the only free nations in the world are Protestants! The Protestant nations are the only ones that acquit themselves like men in the arena of this world; Protestant nations only march as giants at the head of the civilized world. Everywhere they are the advanced guard in the ranks of progress, science and liberty, leaving far behind the unfortunate nations whose hands are tied by the ignominious iron chains of Popery.
After we have seen the Protestant scholar raising himself, on his eagle wings, to the highest spheres of intelligence, happiness, and light, and marching unimpeded toward his splendid destinies, let us turn our eyes toward the Roman Catholic student, and let us consider and pity him in the supreme degradation to which he is subjected.
That young Roman Catholic scholar is born with the same bright intelligence as the Protestant one; he is endowed by his Creator with the same powers of mind as his Protestant meighbour; he has the same impulses, the same noble aspirations implanted by the hand of God in his breast. He is sent to school apparently, like the Protestant boy, to receive what is called "Education." He at first understands that word in its true sense; he goes to school in the hope of being raised, elevated as high as his intelligence and his person efforts will allow. His heart beats with joy, when at once the first rays of light and knowledge come to him; he feels a holy, a noble pride at every new step he makes in his upward progress; he longs to learn more, he wants to rise higher; he also takes up his wings, like the young eagle, and soars up higher.
But here begin the disappointments and tribulations of the Roman Catholic student; for he is allowed to raise himself yes, but when he has raised himself high enough to be on a level with the big toes of the Pope he hears piercing, angry, threatening cries coming from every side "Stop! stop! Do not rise yourself higher than the toes of the Holy Pope!....Kiss those holy toes,....and stop your upward flight! Remember that the Pope is the only source of science, knowledge, and truth!....The knowledge of the Pope is the ultimate limit of learning and light to which humanity can attain....You are not allowed to know and believe what his Holiness does not know and believe. Stop! stop! Do not go an inch higher than the intellectual horizon of the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, in whom only is the plenitude of the true science which will save the world."
Some will perhaps answer me here: "Has not Rome produced great men in every department of science?" I answer, Yes; as I have once done before. Rome can show us a long list of names which shine among the brightest lights of the firmament of science and philosophy. She can show us her Copernicus, her Galileos, her Pascals, her Bossuets, her Lamenais, ect., ect. But it is at their risk and peril that those giants of intelligence have raised themselves into the highest regions of philosophy and science. It is in spite of Rome that those eagles have soared up above the damp and obscure horizon where the Pope offers his big toes to be kissed and worshipped as the ne plus ultra of human intelligence; and they have invariably been punished for their boldness.
On the 22 of June, 1663, Galileo was obliged to fall on his knees in order to escape the cruel death to which he was to be condemned by the order of the Pope; and he signed with his own hand the following retraction: "I abjure, curse, and detest the error and heresy of the motion of the earth," ect., ect.
That learned man had to degrade himself by swearing a most egregious lie, namely, that the earth does not move around the sun. Thus it is that the wings of that giant eagle of Rome were clipped by the scissors of the Pope. That mighty intelligence was bruised, fettered, and, as much as it was possible to the Church of Rome, degraded, silenced, and killed. But God would not allow that such a giant intellect should be entirely strangled by the bloody hands of that implacable enemy of light and truth the Pope. Sufficient strength and life had remained in Galileo to enable him to say, when rising up, "This will not prevent the earth from moving!"
The infallible decree of the infallible Pope, Urban VIII, against the motion of the earth is signed by the Cardinals Felia, Guido, Desiderio, Antonio, Bellingero, and Fabriccioi. It says: "In the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, the plenitude of which resides in His Vicar, the Pope, that the proposition that the earth is not the centre of the world, and that it moves with a diurnal motion is absurd, philosophically false, and erroneous in faith."
What a glorious thing for the Pope of Rome to be infallible! He infallibly knows that the earth does not move around the sun! And what a blessed thing for the Roman Catholics to be governed and taught by such an infallible being. In consequence of that infallible decree, you will admire the following act of human submission of two celebrated Jesuit astronomers, Lesueur and Jacquier: "Newton assumes in his third book the hypothesis of the earth moving around the sun. The proposition of that author could not be explained, except through the same hypothesis: we have, therefore, been forced to act a character not our own. But we declare our entire submission to the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs of Rome against the motion of the earth." (Newton's "Principia," vol. iii., p.450.)
Here you see two learned Jesuits, who have written a very able work to prove that the earth moves around the sun; but, trembling at the thunders of the Vatican, which are roaring on their heads and threaten to kill them, they submit to the decrees of the Popes of Rome against the motion of the earth. These two learned Jesuits tell a most contemptible and ridiculous lie to save themselves from the implacable wrath of that great light-extinguisher whose throne is in the city of the seven hills.
Had the Newtons, the Franklins, the Fultons, the Morses been Romanists, their names would have been lost in the obscurity which is the natural heritage of the abject slaves of the Popes. Being told from their infancy that no one had any right to make use of his "private judgment," intelligence and conscience in the research of truth, they would have remained mute and motionless at the feet of the modern and terrible god of Rome, the Pope. But they were Protestants! In that great and glorious word "Protestant" is the secret of the marvelous discoveries with which they had read a book which told them that they were created in the image of God, and that that great God had sent His eternal Son Jesus to make them free from the bondage of man. They had read in that Protestant book (for the Bible is the most Protestant book in the world) that man had not only a conscience, but an intelligence to guide him; they had learned that that intelligence and conscience had no other master but God, no other guide but God, no other light but God. On the walls of their Protestant schools the Son of God had written the marvelous words: "Come unto Me; I am the Light, the Way, the Life."
But when the Protestant nations are marching with such giant strides to the conquest of the world, why is it that the Roman Catholic nations not only remain stationary, but give evidence of a decadence which is, day after day, more and more appalling and remediless? Go to their schools and give a moment of attention to the principles which are sown in the young intelligences of their unfortunate slaves, and you will have the key to tat sad mystery.
What is not only the first, but the daily school lesson taught to the Roman Catholic? Is it not that one of the greatest crimes which a man can commit is to follow his "private judgment?" which means that he has eyes, but cannot see; ears, but he cannot hear; and intelligence, but he cannot make use of it in the research of truth and light and knowledge, without danger of being eternally damned. His superiors which mean the priest and the Pope must see for him, hear for him, and think for him. Yes, the Roman Catholic is constantly told in his school that the most unpardonable and damnable crime is to make use of his own intelligence and follow his own private judgment in the research of truth. He is constantly reminded that man's own private judgment is his greatest enemy. Hence all his intellectual and conscientious efforts must be brought to fight down, silence, kill his "private judgment." It is by the judgment of his superiors the priest, the bishop and the pope that he must be guided in everything.
Now, what is a man who cannot make use of his "private personal judgment?" Is he not a slave, an idiot, an ass? And what is a nation composed of men who do not make use of their private personal judgment in the research of truth and happiness, if not a nation of brutes, slaves and contemptible idiots?
But as this will look like an exaggeration on my part, allow me to force the Church of Rome to come here and speak for herself. Please pay attention to what she has to say about the intellectual faculties of men. Here are the very words of the so-called Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Society:-
"As for holy obedience, this virtue must be perfect in every point in execution, in will, in intellect; doing which is enjoined with all celerity, spiritual joy and perseverance; persuading ourselves that everything is just, suppressing every repugnant thought and judgment of one's own in a certain obedience; and let every one persuade himself, that he who lives under obedience should be moved and directed, under Divine Providence, by his superior, just as if he were a corpse (perinde asi cadaver esset) which allows itself to be moved and led in every direction."
Some one will, perhaps, ask me what can be the object of the popes and the priests of Rome in degrading the Roman Catholics in such a strange way that they turn them into moral corpses? Why not let them live? The answer is a very easy one. The great, the only object of the thoughts and workings of the Pope and the priests is to raise themselves above the rest of the world. They want to be high! high above the heads not only of the common people, but of the kings and emperors of the world. They want to be not only as high, but higher than God. It is when speaking of the Pope that the Holy Ghost says: "He opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. ii.4). To attain their object, the priests have persuaded their millions and millions of slaves that they were mere corpses; that they must have no will, no conscience, no intelligence of their own, just "as corpses which allow themselves to be moved and led in any way, without any resistance." When this has been once gained, they have made a pyramid of all those motionless, inert corpses which is so high, that though its feet are on the earth, its top goes to the skies, in the very abode of the old divinities of the Pagan world, and putting themselves and their popes at the top of that marvelous pyramid, the priests say to the rest of the world: "Who among you are as high as we are? Who has ever been raised by God as a priest and a pope? Where are the kings and the emperors whose thrones are as elevated as ours? Are we not at the very top of humanity?" Yes! yes! I answer to the priests of Rome, you are high, very high indeed! No throne on earth has ever been so sublime, so exalted as yours. Since the days of the tower of Babel, the world has not seen such a huge fabric. Your throne is higher than anything we know. But it is a throne of corpses!!!
And if you want to know what other use is made of those millions and millions of corpses, I will tell it to you. There is no manure so rich as dead carcasses. Those millions of corpses serve to manure the gardens of the priests, the bishops and the popes, and make their cabbages grow. And what fine cabbages grow in the Pope's garden!
But that you may better understand the degrading tendencies of the principles which are as the fundamental stone of the moral and intellectual education of Rome, let me put before your eyes another extract of the Jesuit teachings, which I take again from the "Spiritual Exercises," as laid down by their founder, Ignatius Loyola: "That we may in all things attain the truth, that we may not err in anything, we ought ever to hold as a fixed principle that what I see white I believe to be black, if the superior authorities of the Church define it to be so."
You all know that it is the avowed desire of Rome to have public education in the hands of the Jesuits. She says everywhere that they are the best, the model teachers. Why so?
Because they more boldly and more successfully than any other of her teachers aim at the destruction of the intelligence and conscience of their pupils. Rome proclaims everywhere that the Jesuits are the most devoted, the most reliable of her teachers; and she is right, for when a man has been trained a sufficient time by them, the most perfectly becomes a moral corpse. His superiors can do what they please with him. When he knows that a thing is white as snow, he is ready to swear that it is black as ink if his superior tells him so. But some may be tempted to think of these degrading principles are exclusively taught by the Jesuits; that they are not the teachings of the Church, and that I do an injustice to the Roman Catholics when I give, as a general iniquity, what is the guilt of the Jesuits only. Listen to the words of that infallible Pope Gregory XVI., in his celebrated Encyclical of the 15th of August, 1832:"If the holy Church so requires, let us sacrifice our own opinions, our knowledge, our intelligence, the splendid dreams of our imagination, and the most sublime attainments of the human understanding."
It is when considering those anti-social principles of Rome that Mr. Gladstone wrote, not long ago: "No more cunning plot was ever devised against the freedom, the happiness and the virtue of mankind than Romanism." ("Letter to Earl Aberdeen.") Now, Protestants, do you begin to see the difference of the object of education between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic school? Do you begin to understand that there is as great a distance between the word "Education" among you, and the meaning of the same word in the Church of Rome, than between the southern and the northern poles! By education you mean to raise man to the highest sphere of manhood. Rome means to lower him below the most stupid brutes. By education you mean to teach man that he is a free agent, that liberty within the limits of the laws of God and of his country is a gift secured to every one; you want to impress every man with the noble thought that it is better to die a free man than to live a slave. Rome wants to teach that there is only one man who is free, the Pope, and that all the rest are born to be his abject slaves in thought, will and action.
Now, that you may still more understand to what a bottomless abyss of human degradation and moral depravity these anti-Christian and antisocial principles of Rome lead her poor blind slaves, read what Liguori says in his book "The Nun Sanctified": "The principal and most efficacious means of practicing obedience due to superiors, and of rendering it meritorious before God, is to consider that in obeying them we obey God Himself, and that by despising their commands we despise the authority of our Divine Master. When, thus, a religious receives a precept from her prelate, superior or confessor, she should immediately execute it, not only to please them but principally to please God, whose will is made known to her by their command. In obeying their command, in obeying their directions, she is more certainly obeying the will of God than if an angel came down from heaven to manifest His will to her. Bear this always in your mind, that the obedience which you practice to your superior is paid to God. If, then, you receive a command from one who holds the place of God, you should observe it with the same diligence as if it came from God Himself. Blessed Egidus used to say that it is more meritorious to obey man for the love of God than God Himself. It may be added that there is more certainty of doing the will of God by obedience to our superior than by obedience to Jesus Christ, should He appear in person and give His commands. St. Phillip de Neri used to say that religious shall be most certain of not having to render an account of the actions performed through obedience; for these the superiors only who commanded them shall be held accountable." The Lord said once to St. Catherine of Sienne, "Religious will not be obliged to render an account to me of what they do through obedience; for that I will demand an account from the superior. This doctrine is conformable to Sacred Scripture: `Behold, says the Lord, as clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hands, O Israel!' (Jeremiah xviii. 6.) A religious man must be in the hands of the superiors to be moulded as they will. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, What art Thou making? The Potter ought to answer `Be silent; it is not your business to inquire what I do, but to obey and to receive whatever form I please to give you.'"
I ask you, American Protestants, what would become of your fair country if you were blind enough to allow the Church of Rome to teach the children of the United States? What kind of men and women can come out of such schools? What future of shame, degradation, and slavery you prepare for your country if Rome does succeed in forcing you to support such schools? What kind of women would come out from the schools of nuns who would teach them that the highest pitch of perfection in a woman is when she obeys her superior, the priest, in everything he commands her! that your daughter will never be called to give an account to God for the actions she will have done to please and obey her superior, the priest, the bishop, or the Pope? That the affairs of her conscience will be arranged between God and that superior, and that she will never be asked why she had done this or that, when it will be to gratify the pleasures of the superior and obey his command that she has done it. Again, what kind of men and citizens will come out from the schools of those Jesuits who believe and teach that a man has attained the perfection of manhood only when he is a perfect spiritual corpse before his superior; when he obeys the priest with the perfection of a cadaver, that has neither life nor will in itself.
CHAPTER 13 Back to Contents
Talleyrand, one of the most celebrated Roman Catholic bishops of France, once said, "Language is the art of concealing one's thoughts." Never was there a truer expression, if it had reference to the awful deceptions practiced by the Church of Rome under the pompous name of "Theological studies."
Theology is the study of the knowledge of the laws of God. Nothing, then, is more noble than the study of theology. How solemn were my thoughts and elevated my aspirations when, in 1829, under the guidance of the Rev. Messrs. Rimbault and Leprohon, I commenced my theological coarse of study at Nicolet, which I was to end in 1833!
I supposed that my books of theology were to bring me nearer to my God by the more perfect knowledge I would acquire, in their study, of His holy will and His sacred laws. My hope was that they would be to my heart what the burning coal, brought by the angel of the Lord, was to the lips of the prophet of old.
The principal theologians which we had in our hands were "Les Conferences d'Anger," Bailly, Dens, St. Thomas, but above all Liguori, who has since been canonized. Never did I open one without offering up a fervent prayer to God and to the Virgin Mary for the light and grace of which I would be in need for myself and for the people whose pastor I was to become.
But how shall I relate my surprise when I discovered that, in order to accept the principles of the theologians which my Church gave me for guides I had to put away all principles of truth, of justice, of honour and holiness! What long and painful efforts it cost me to extinguish, one by one, the lights of truth and of reason kindled by the hand of my merciful God in my intelligence. For to study theology in the Church of Rome signifies to learn to speak falsely, to deceive, to commit robbery, to perjure one's self! It means how to commit sins without shame, it means to plunge the soul into every kind of iniquity and turpitude without remorse!
I know that Roman Catholics will bravely and squarely deny what I now say. I am aware also that a great many Protestants, too easily deceived by the fine whitewashing of the exterior walls of Rome, will refuse to believe me. Nevertheless they may rest assured it is true, and my proof will be irrefutable. The truth may be denied by many, but my witnesses cannot be contradicted by any one. My witnesses are even infallible. They are none other than the Roman Catholic theologians themselves, approved by infallible Popes! These very men who corrupted my heart, perverted my intelligence and poisoned my soul, as they have done with each and every priest of their Church, will be my witnesses, my only witnesses. I will just now forcibly bring them before the world to testify against themselves!
Liguori, in his treatise on oaths, Question 4, asks if it is allowable to use ambiguity, or equivocal words, to deceive the judge when under oath, and at no. 151 he answers: "These things being established, it is a certain and common opinion amongst all divines that for a just cause it is lawful to use equivocation in the propounded modes, and to confirm it (equivocation) with an oath.... Now a just cause is any honest end in order to preserve good things for the spirit, or useful things for the body."*
"The accused, or a witness not properly interrogated, can sear that he does not know a crime, which in reality he does know, by understanding that he does not know the crime, concerning which he can be legitimately enquired of, or that he does not know it so as to give evidence concerning it."**
When the crime is very secret and unknown to all, Liguori says the culprit or the witness must deny it under oath. "The same is true, if a witness on another ground is not bound to depose; for instance, if the crime appear to himself to be free from blame. Or if he knew a crime which he is bound to keep secret, when no scandal may have gone abroad." ***
"Make an exception in a trial where the crime is altogether concealed. For then he can, yea, the witness is bound to say that the accused did not commit the crime. And the same course the accused can adopt, if the proof be not complete, ect., because then the judge does not legitimately interrogate."****
Liguori asks himself, "Whether the accused legitimately interrogated, can deny a crime, even with an oath, if the confession of the crime would be attended with great disadvantage." The saint replies:"Elbel, ect., denies that he can, and indeed more probably because the accused is then bound for the general good to undergo the loss. But sufficiently probable Lugo, ect., with many others, say, that the accused, if in danger of death, or of prison, or of perpetual exile, the loss of property, the danger of the galleys, and such like, can deny the crime even with an oath (at least without great sin) by understanding that he did not commit it so that he is bound to confess it, only let there be a hope of avoiding the punishment." *
"He who hath sworn that he would keep a secret, does not sin against the oath by revealing that secret when he cannot conceal it without great loss to himself, or to another, because the promise of secrecy does not appear to bind, unless under this condition, if it does not injure me."
"He who hath sworn to a judge that he would speak what he knew, is not bound to reveal concealed things. The reason is manifest." **
Liguori says whether a woman, accused of the crime of adultery, which she has really committed, may deny it under oath? He answers: "She is able to assert equivocally that she did not break the bond of matrimony, which truly remains. And if sacramentally she confessed adultery, she can answer, `I am innocent of this crime,' because by confession it was taken away. So Card, who, however, here remarks that she cannot affirm it with an oath, because in asserting anything the probability of a deed suffices, but in swearing certainty is required. To this it is replied that in swearing moral certainty suffices, as we said above. Which moral certainty of the remission of sin can indeed be had, when any, morally well disposed, receives the sacrament of penance."***
Liguori maintains that one may commit a minor crime in order to avoid a greater crime. He says, "Hence Sanchez teaches, ect., that it is lawful to persuade a man, determined to slay some one, that he should commit theft or fornication." *
"Whether is it lawful for a servant to open the door for a harlot? Croix denies it, but more commonly Bus. ect., with others answer that it is lawful."
"Whether from fear of death, or of great loss, it may be lawful for a servant to stoop his shoulders, or to bring a ladder for his master ascending to commit fornication, to force open the door, and such like? Viva, ect., deny it, and others, because, as they say, such actions are never lawful, inasmuch as they are intrinsically evil. But Busemb, ect., speak the contrary, whose opinion, approved of by reason, appears to me the more probable."**
"But the salmanticenses say that a servant can, according to his own judgment, compensate himself for his labour, if he without doubt judge that he was deserving of a larger stipend. Which indeed appears sufficiently probable to me, and to other more modern learned men, if the servant, or any other hired person, be prudent, and capable of forming a correct judgment, and be certain concerning the justice of the compensation, all danger of mistake being removed." ***
"A poor man, absconding with goods for his support, can answer the judge that he has nothing. In like manner an heir who has concealed his goods without an inventory, if he is not bound to settle with his creditors from them, can say to a judge that he has not concealed anything in his own mind meaning those goods with which he is bound to satisfy his creditors." *
Liguori, in Dubium II., considers what may be the quantity of stolen property necessary to constitute mortal sin. He says:-
"There are various opinions concerning this matter. Navar too scrupulously has fixed the half of regalem, others with too great laxity have fixed ten aureos. Tol., ect., moderately have fixed two regales, although less might suffice, if it would be a serious loss."**
"Whether it be mortal sin to steal a small piece of a relic? There is no doubt but that in the district of Rome it is a mortal sin, since Clement VIII. and Paul V. have issued an excommunication against those who, the rectors of the churches being unwilling, steal some small relic: otherwise Croix probably says, ect., if any one should steal any small thing out of the district [of Rome], not deforming the relic itself nor diminishing its estimation; unless it may be some rare or remarkable relic, as for example, the holy cross, the hair of the Blessed Virgin, ect." ***
"If any one on an occasion should steal only a moderate sum either from one or more, not intending to acquire any notable sum, neither to injure his neighbour to a great extent by several thefts, he does not sin grievously, nor do these, taken together, constitute a mortal sin; however, after it may have amounted to a notable sum, by detaining it, he can commit mortal sin. But even this mortal sin may be avoided, if either then he be unable to restore, or have the intention of making restitution immediately, of those things which he then received."****
"This opinion of Bus. is most probable, viz., if many persons steal small quantities, that none of them commit grievous sin, although they may be mutually aware of their conduct, unless they do it by concert: also Habert, ect., hold this view; and this, although each should steal at the same time. The reason is, because then no one person is the cause of injury, which, per accidens, happens by the others to the master." *
Liguori, speaking of children who steal from their parents, says:"Salas, ect., say that a son does not commit grievous sin, who steals 20 or 30 aurei from a father possessing yearly 1500 aureos, and Lugo does not disprove of it. If the father be not tenacious, and the son have grown up and receive it for honest purposes. Less, ect., say that a son stealing two or three aureos from a rich father does not sin grievously; Bannez says that fifty aureos are required to constitute a grievous sin who steals from a rich father; but this opinion, Lug, ect., reject, unless perchance he is the son of a prince; in which case Holzm. consents."**
The theologians of Rome assure us that we may, and even that we must, conceal and disguise our faith.
"Notwithstanding, indeed although it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, nevertheless it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous and doubtful signs for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity of confessing. It is the common opinion."***
"Whence, if thus he may be able to deliver himself from a troublesome investigation, it is lawful (as Kon has it), for generally it is not true that he who is interrogated by public authority is publicly bound to profess the faith, unless when that is necessary, lest he may appear to those present to deny the faith."****
"When you are not asked concerning the faith, not only is it lawful, but often more conducive to the glory of God and the utility of your neighbour to cover the faith than to confess it; for example, if concealed among heretics you may accomplish a greater amount of good; or if, from the confession of the faith more of evil would follow for example, great trouble, death, the hostility of a tyrant, the peril of defection, if you should be tortured. Whence it is often rash to offer one's self willingly." * The Pope has the right to release from all oaths.
"As for an oath made for a good and legitimate object, it seems that there should be no power capable of annulling it. However, when it is for the good of the public, a matter which comes under the immediate jurisdiction of the Pope, who has the supreme power over the Church, the Pope has full power to release from that oath." (St. Thomas, Quest. 89, art. 9, vol. iv.)
The Roman Catholics have not only the right, but it is their duty to kill heretics.
"Excommunicatus privatur omni civili communicatione fidelium, ita ut ipsi non possit cum aliis, et si non sit toleratus, etiam aliis cum ipso non possint communicare; idque in casibus hoc versu comprehensis, Os, orare, communio, mensa negatur."
Translated: "Any man excommunicated is deprived of all civil communication with the faithful, in such a way that if he is not tolerated they can have no communication with him, as it is in the following verse, `It is forbidden to kiss him, pray with him, salute him, to eat or to do any business with him.'" (St. Liguori, vol. ix., page 62.)
"Quanquam heretici tolerandi non sunt ipso illorum demerito, usque tamen ad secundam correptionem expectandi sunt, ut ad sanam redeant ecclesiae fidem; qui vero post secundam correptionem in suo errore obstinati permanent, non modo excommunicationis sententia, sed etiam saecularibus principibus exterminandi tradendi sunt."
Translated: "Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them till, by a second admonition, they may be brought back to the faith of the Church. But those who, after a second admonition, remain obstinate in their errors must not only be excommunicated, but they must be delivered to the secular powers to be exterminated."
"Quanquam heretici revertentes, semper recipiendi sint ad poenitentiam quoties cujque relapsi furint; non tamen semper sunt recipiendi et restituendi ad bonorum hujus vitae participation nem...recipiuntur ad poenitentiam...non tamen ut liberentur a sententia mortis."
Translated: "Though the heretics who repent must always be accepted to penance, as often as they have fallen, they must not in consequence of that always be permitted to enjoy the benefits of this life. When they fall again they are admitted to repent. But the sentence of death must not be removed." (St. Thomas, vol. iv., page 91.)
"Quum quis per sententiam denuntiatur propter apostasiam excommunicatus, ipso facto, ejus subditi a dominio et juramento fidelitatis ejus liberati sunt."
"When a man is excommunicated for his apostasy, it follows from that very fact that all those who are his subjects are released from the oath of allegiance by which they were bound to obey him." (St. Thomas, vol. iv., page 91.)
Every heretic and Protestant is condemned to death, and every oath of allegiance to a government which is Protestant or heretic is abrogated by the Council of Lateran, held in A.d. 1215. Here is the solemn decree and sentence of death, which has never been repealed, and which is still in force:
"We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy that exalts itself against the holy, orthodox and Catholic faith, condemning all heretics, by whatever name they may be known; for though their faces differ, they are tied together by their tails. Such as are condemned are to be delivered over to the existing secular powers, to receive due punishment. If laymen, their goods must be confiscated. If priests, they shall be first degraded from their respective orders, and their property applied to the use of the church in which they have officiated. Secular powers of all ranks and degrees are to be warned, induced, and, if necessary, compelled by ecclesiastical censure, to swear that they will exert themselves to the utmost in the defense of the faith, and extirpate all heretics denounced by the Church who shall be found in their territories. And whenever any person shall assume government, whether it be spiritual or temporal, he shall be bound to abide by this decree.
"If any temporal lord, after being admonished and required by the Church, shall neglect to clear his territory of heretical depravity, the metropolitan and the bishops of the province shall unite in excommunicating him. Should he remain contumacious for a whole year, the fact shall be signified to the Supreme Pontiff, who will declare his vassals released from their allegiance from that time, and will bestow the territory on Catholics to be occupied by them, on the condition of exterminating the heretics and preserving the said territory in the faith.
"Catholics who shall assume the cross for the extermination of heretics shall enjoy the same indulgences and be protected by the same privileges as are granted to those who go to the help of the Holy Land. We decree, further, that all who may have dealings with heretics, and especially such as receive, defend, or encourage them, shall be excommunicated. He shall not be eligible to any public office. He shall not be admitted as a witness. He shall neither have the power to bequeath his property by will, nor to succeed to any inheritance. He shall not bring any action against any person, but anyone can bring an action against him. Should he be a judge, his decision shall have no force, nor shall any cause be brought before him. Should he be an advocate, he shall not be allowed to plead. Should he be a lawyer, no instruments made by him shall be held valid, but shall be condemned with their author."
But why let my memory and my thoughts linger any longer in these frightful paths, where murderers, liars, perjurers and thieves are assured by the theologians of the Church of Rome that they can lie, steal, murder and perjure themselves as much as they like, without offending God, provided they commit those crimes according to certain rules approved by the Pope for the good of the Church!
I should have to write several large volumes were I to quote all the Roman Catholic doctors and theologians who approve of lying, of perjury, of adultery, theft and murder, for the greatest glory of God and the good of the Roman Church! But I have quoted enough for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
With such principles, is it a wonder that all the Roman Catholic nations, without a single exception, have declined so rapidly?
The great Legislator of the World, the only Saviour of nations, has said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
A nation can be great and strong only according to the truths which form the basis of her faith and life. "Truth" is the only bread which God gives to the nations that they may prosper and live. Deceitfulness, duplicity, perjury, adultery, theft, murder, are the deadly poisons which kill the nations.
Then, the more the priests of Rome, with their theology, are venerated and believed by the people, the sooner that people will decay and fall. "The more priests the more crimes," a profound thinker has said; for then the more hands will be at work to pull down the only sure foundations of society.
How can any man be sure of the honesty of his wife as long as a hundred thousand priests tell her that she may commit any sin with her neighbour in order to prevent him from doing something worse? or when she is assured that, though guilty of adultery, she can swear that she is pure as an angel!
What will it avail to teach the best principles of honour, decency and holiness to a young girl, when she is bound to go many times a year to a bachelor priest, who is bound in conscience to give her the most infamous lessons of depravity under the pretext of helping her to confess all her sins?
How will the rights of justice be secured, and how can the judges and the juries protect the innocent and punish the guilty, so long as the witnesses are told by one hundred thousand priests that they can conceal the truth, give equivocal answers, and even perjure themselves under a thousand pretexts?
What government, either monarchical or republican, can be sure of a lease of existence? how can they make their people walk with a firm step in the ways of light, progress, and liberty, as long as there is a dark power over them which has the right, at every hour of the day or night, to break and dissolve all the most sacred oaths of allegiance?
Armed with his theology, the priest of Rome has become the most dangerous and determined enemy of truth, justice, and liberty. He is the most formidable obstacle to every good Government, as he is, without being aware of it, the greatest enemy of God and man.
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Continue to Chapter 14