Project Canterbury The Catholic Faith and the Religious Situation New York: The Churchmen's Alliance, 1921.
5. The Full Catholic Faith the Need in the Present Unrest
George Craig Stewart, D.D., L.H.D.,
St. Luke's Church, Evanston, Ill.
NO argument is needed to establish the fact that the present world unrest invades every geographical zone and every area of human thought and life, both individual and social. The present unrest is universal. From Europe comes an S. O. S., to America, the anguished cry of great peoples who seem to hear the "galloping thud of the Angel of Death hastening down the corridor of Time." In the words of Mr. Lowes Dickenson, "Europe, caught in the net of the treaties, financially bankrupt, distracted by civil and international war, threatens to perish in anarchy." "We are nearer to this," he says, "than America realizes. It is a question of a few years, perhaps of a few months." He says this threatening anarchy is making its red way not only in Russia, but through Asia Minor, and Syria, and Mesopotamia, and Persia, and India, with the order built up in centuries and milleniums, disappearing in decades. In America, to quote from the President's inaugural address the other day, the world's travail has left us "involved in a delirium of expenditure, in expanded currency and credits, in unbalanced industry, unspeakable waste and disturbed relationships." The prevailing note in our life in America, as in the life abroad, is the hysterical note of the Jazz. In our ideals, political, industrial, commercial, domestic and even religious, we seem to be not marching ahead vigorously, effectively, but rather,— to borrow a word from our most modern popular idea of Terpsichorean art,—"doing the Toddle."
Faith is the need of the world to-day—faith in a moral universe which cannot be overturned by immoral men, faith in men as something other than super-beasts; faith in a God whose will marches steadily along overturning the devices of wicked men, bringing their counsels to nought, putting down the mighty from their seat, exalting the humble and meek, coercing even evil to ultimate good and hastening on the coming of His Kingdom on earth even as it is in heaven; faith in a Saviour who will not fail and who will not be discouraged until righteousness is established and the isles wait for His law.
Faith is vision. Faith is valor. Faith is patient. Faith is dauntless.
"Faith sees the best that glimmers through the worst;
Faith feels the sun is hid but for a night;
Faith spies the summer through the winter bud;
Faith tastes the fruit before the blossom fails,
Faith hears the lark within the songless egg,
Faith finds the fountain where they sighed, mirage."
"Faith," to use the Moffatt translation, "means we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see."
The Faith, however, that is adequate to meet a world unrest, must be a big faith, a faith with terms big enough and Catholic enough to envision all, to validate and sanction all our highest yearnings, to bring an authentic confidence and conviction to the whole man, to all sorts and conditions of men, to illuminate every department of human life and to fertilize and vitalize every area of individual and social conduct.
(1) There is already in the world such a faith, a faith tested and approved by those of every age and of every racial strain who have found in the Christian experience the sesame to peace. It is a Catholic Faith,—a faith common to all signed with the Cross, a faith that overleaps national boundaries, that knows no lines isothermal, that breaks down walls of racial partition, that loses nothing in international exchange, that suffers no discount by crossing a frontier either on the map or in the mind, that changes only that it may never change, that is solid because it is true, and majestic because it is divine, and vital because it is human, the Faith once for all delivered to the saints, the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Faith of His Body, of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, summed up in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.
That Faith is not, as so many people think, primarily a dogma. It is not a weight of ecclesiastical obiter dicta, it is not an accumulation of cold, dead formulae, thrust upon us by authority with a "Take this or be damned!" It is primarily a pragma, an experience from which has been distilled a belief. It is the autobiography of all Christian Life, it is a plain statement of what Christians,—all Christians,—have experienced and therefore tested everywhere, always, from the beginning. It is not copied from grave-stones of dead debates. It is warm with human lives who are living it. It is hot from the pressure it has given to-day to human action. If you cut any part of it, it bleeds.
I know the prejudice against creeds. "Give me," says many a man, "a religion, a Christianity without a creed, and I shall accept it. We are sick of creeds; what we want is the living Christ. We care nothing for your metaphysical speculations, your hair-splitting theological definitions, your elaborate credal shibboleths! We want:
'Not the Christ of your subtle creeds,
But the light of our hearts and homes,
Of our hopes and prayers and needs,—
The Brother of want and blame,
The Lover of women and men,
With a love that puts to shame
All passions of mortal ken'."
I sympathize with that man. What he wants is the living Christ with whom he may live. And we all want Him and must have Him. That is the very centre of the Catholic faith, and all else in our Faith flows from the experience of "Christ in us the hope of Glory." But I must answer him,—Brother, would you say,—"Away with your astronomical creeds and give me the simple stars?" Would you banish botany to gain the flowers of the field? Would you denounce Newton's law for the sake of keeping your feet on the ground, or draw a deadly antithesis between the cold creed of monogamy and the warm comfort of a home? A religion without a creed is an anomaly and an impossibility. A faithless religion is,— well, "faithless." You slay the noun with the adjective. You let the blood of the subject with the murderous thrust of the modifier. Christianity without a definite, Catholic Faith would be, or rather would have been, a mere shudder of ephemeral emotion, a feeble and invertebrate movement within Judaism, unable to perpetuate itself and without a chance to weather the storms of the ages.
(2) I have claimed for this Faith the word Catholic. I have claimed that it is the panacea for the world unrest. Large claims are these, and now to substantiate them.
(a) What, after all, is the seat of the world's unrest? And I hear as from afar the trumpet voice of Thomas Carlyle,—"The trouble with our times is that men have forgotten God." Aye, and man is in a torment of unrest till he recover God, or, rather, till God recover him. Men may not realize it, but they are made for God nevertheless, and are restless till they rest in Him. It is contact with Him that they need. All the lines of their being run ravenously out seeking and searching and feeling after Him, who is the perfect Goodness and Beauty and Truth. Their souls are athirst for God, for the living God. When you are considering facts, you must, as Myall reminded Huxley, consider all the facts, and this hunger for God is the greatest, the most significant fact in the history of the race. It includes all your sciences, all your arts, all your philosophies, all your prayers, all your aspirations, all your ideals,—the stretch of the soul out into the Infinite to get hold of Reality itself. The Catholic Faith is not satisfied with asserting the existence of God, it does not propose to us as an object of faith a somewhat "not ourselves that makes for righteousness," a fountain of infinite energy, a blazing centre of eternal bliss, or a grey absolute, or a cosmic all-in-all. The Catholic Faith is that God is personal, with all that the word involves in human life, only raised to the nth power; that He is infinite intelligence, infinite will and infinite love. He is both transcendent and immanent; "above all, not as abstracted but as presiding over all; beneath all, not as abased but as sustaining all; within all, not as enclosed but filling all; without all, not as excluded, but enveloping all;" He is a social being having within Himself as God a triune mystery of fellowship so awful, so sublime that human thought can but come to the edge of the idea and catch a glimpse of glories no man is permitted to see, much less to utter.
(b) Unutterable, until—until the Son that is in the bosom of the Father, Himself reveals to us the heart of the life and love of God by being made flesh and dwelling among us. "In Him was life and the life was the light of men and the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not." "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus is God, not as a proposition at the end of an argument, but as the life of God made available for human needs. To know him is to know what God is like. To hear Him is to know what God is saying to us. To watch Him in His reaction to sin, to suffering and to death is to know what God cares about sin and suffering and death. And He, God in human nature, calls out to a restless world, "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest!"
Jesus! There is the center of the Catholic Faith. No one can fail to see that Christianity is Christ. Its chief festivals mark the great events in His earthly career; its symbol is the Cross on which He died; its initiatory rite is one of incorporation into Him; its supreme mystery is a sacrament of communion with Him; its secret peace and power is identification with Him. Who is He? What is He?
"Above the heroes, prophets, poets, saints,
In Thy great personality remote,
August and sadly smiling at our doubts,
Elusive, yet beside our thought alway,
Thou who art still the loneliest of men,
Thou paradox and potent mystery,
So hated and so loved,—Who art thou Christ?"
And Bernard Shaw replies: "He is the central superstition of Christianity." And Emerson replies: "He is the noxiously exaggerated hero of Christianity." And Nietzsche replies: "He is the despicably weak Saviour." And the German Modernist: "He is the pathetic failure of a young Jewish idealist and reformer." And Swinburne: "He is the pale Galilean and the world has grown grey with his breath." But to John, the Apostle, He is "the light and the life of men"; to Thomas, his friend, He is "my Lord and my God." To Paul: "all things are created through Him and unto Him. And He is before all things and by Him all things consist." Listen / to His own words: "Before Abraham was, I am; I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again I leave the world and go unto the Father. I and my Father are one. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." Was He a man? He was. A historic figure? Yes. A great teacher? Yes. But all attempted explanations of Him on the basis of ordinary human laws leave us intellectually bankrupt. He is the infinite expansion of the social consciousness, not of a race, but of all men. Every race has its own characteristics. Moses is Jewish; Confucius is Chinese of the Chinese; Aristotle is Greek through and through; Shakespeare is Anglo-Saxon; Goethe is German; Hugo is French; Emerson is American. Each carries with him his national tone and character. But Christ has "stretched the local and transient into the universal and eternal. We have only one man of such capacious dimensions that he keeps His stride from race to race, from century to century, clearing all national limitations, destroying prejudices rooted in the immemorial past, widening blind alleys of ignorance into endless highways of wisdom, deepening the flowing tides of good will among men, lifting the very gates of death off their hinges; and setting the jubilant feet of the race in the pathways that wind onward and upward into life eternal."
He is never out of date. His speech has in it the freshness of this morning. Science does not qualify it. Philosophy does not push it into the discard:
"All the peoples meet in Him,
And he makes the nations one,
Other splendors must grow dim,
In the light of Mary's Son."
He is unique in the perfectness of His human life. And yet He is the one great impenitent of all history. He is never faintly conscious of wrong doing. He says, with great simplicity "which of you convicteth me of sin?" Yet he leaves upon us the impression of a humility absolute, of a character untouched by the faintest shade of that self-esteem which tricks and deceives in self-appraisal.
(3) There are three great centres of human life where man's restlessness is created, where pain and anguish pierce and hurt and burn. One is the sense of guilt of sin, another is physical suffering, and the third is death. And the Catholic Faith meets all of these by providing contact with God, through Jesus Christ.
(a) There is a difference between evil and sin. Evil is the wrong in the world, whether we recognize it or not. Sin is the wrong that we recognize and feel. I know the euphemisms for sin. It is called "natural instinct" and "human weakness" and "self-expression" and "fate" and "bad luck," and "temperament," and so forth. But our deeper self knows that it is the free choice by a free life to do wrong. And the great solemn, awful tragedy of the race is just here. It is futile to try to account for the present restlessness of the world by talk of political mal-adjustments, of economic mal-adjustments, of social mal-adjustments and the like. To prophetic insight such explanations are as incomplete as that a man in New Orleans should account for the Mississippi river by saying that it came from Memphis, or that a man in Memphis should explain it by saying it came from St. Louis. They speak truly so far as they go, but they have not traced the river back to its original source. It really rises from many springs far up in the Rockies. And it is from the hidden ranges of our human life, insurmountable and obscure, from the inner thoughts and meditations of the human heart, from the elusive qualities of our spirits, and the emphases of our desires "flow down the resultant destinies of human kind." Sin is the greatest source of all our restlessness. It is the darkening of our eye, the destruction of our vision, the poison that hardens our spiritual arteries, the curse that robs the life of its song, the sag of character and the reversion to lower type. All great literature reflects the restlessness that sin creates:—Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, Faust, Les Miserables, Romola, the Scarlet Letter, the Seventh Chapter of Romans: "O, wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
"Me miserable! Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell,
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a heaven!"
The Catholic Faith has something to say to the restlessness of sin: "I believe in the forgiveness of sins!" Not that Jesus condones them or overlooks them, or conceals their effects, or overturns the moral laws of the universe. Far from that. God has a conscience, as man has, only infinitely more delicate and sharp and sensitive. And He has united His life to man. We are made in His image, and "in Him we live and move and have our being." And when we sin the pain reaches God and hurts and wounds, yes,—as Christianity says—crucifies Him. Every sin "crucifies the son of God afresh." But when the will freely turns back, changes its direction, it does not create forgiveness, any more than it creates the Love of God. It only appropriates what was there always. It only makes possible the healing flow of that which sin inhibited before. "If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous, and He is the propitiation." "I thought once," wrote a British Soldier, "that 'the two races facing each other, reviling each other even in their anguish, were as the two thieves on the cross, and that somewhere between them, if we could but see, was Christ on His Cross. For He is the conscience of God; and he is the conscience of the whole family of the less conscientious children of God; He is the unveiling for us of the Father's conscience; and He is the sin bearer of the world."
"All woes of all men sat upon Thy soul,
And all their wrongs were heavy on Thy head;
With all their wounds Thy heart was pierced and bled;
And in Thy spirit as in a mourning scroll
The world's huge sorrows were inscribed by roll.
All theirs on earth who serve and faint for bread,
All banished men's, all theirs in prison dead."
It was His kinship with them that took Him down into the uttermost darkness where He felt himself abandoned. "My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" The Catholic Faith proclaims as central not only Christ, but Christ crucified, Christ the Sin-bearer, "Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."
(b) And then there is the physical suffering. O, the restlessness and anguish in the world that comes from pain and disappointment and sorrow! The sweat of the brow, the sweat of the brain, the sweat of the heart! There is only one cure for that. And that is conscious contact with the infinite source of vigor and health and strength; conscious contact with the power that can flood the body and the mind with currents of healing, and can change the life from one of conscious inferiority to one of conscious superiority. It is this that makes St. Paul so tremendously powerful in spite of physical weakness. It is this that puts a song in St. Francis' mouth and brings happiness welling out of his heart while wedded to his Lady Poverty. It is this that brings music out of all of life's remainders, after the break has come; that wins the battle with what is left from a defeat. Going blind, Milton goes on to write his sublimest poetry, going deaf Beethoven goes to compose his superb sonatas; being reared in an Alms House, Henry M. Stanley goes on until a nation honors him with burial in Westminster Abbey. Jesus is not only forgiveness, but he is power, victory, triumph over weakness and incapacity and failure.
(c) And then there is the problem of death and the restlessness that comes from fear of it. The other day I had a debate with the President of the American Spiritualist Association upon the subject of Spiritism. Is that a panacea for the pathetic plaintive cry of the world "for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still?" Is it? One has only to read the literature of the cult; one has only to see the faces of its devotees; one has only to visit psychopathic wards and insane asylums to find that Spiritism and Occultism are but feeding and fostering the tortured restless craving of bereavement for assurance and light. They are on the wrong course. They seek communication with the dead. Jesus came to establish communion with God; not to re-assure our hearts by gathering us about Lazarus, but by gathering us to Himself who is the "Resurrection and the Life." His way, is the way, not of the seance, but of the Divine Supper, not of the cabinet but of the cup, not of spirits, but of spiritual communion with Him. The faith of Christianity is not the message of an esoteric cult, but the message of Easter Day, the promise of "the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."
(4) You will note that I have so far said not a word of the Holy Catholic Church and the Holy Spirit of Jesus, who makes that Church the effective medium of His pardon and grace, the effective embodiment and instrument of His life.
I have been emphasizing contact with God through Jesus Christ as the one certain cure of the restlessness arising from sin and sickness and fear. Now if God can and does forgive sins, how does he assure me of it? If he can and does communicate strength to the human body and blood, how can I confidently avail myself of these amazing gifts? If communion with Him does transcend communications with spirits, where and how is such communion available?
It is cruel to raise one's hopes by promises unless one can go on to point the definite way to their fulfillment.
Well, Jesus himself provided a way whereby He might be just as available to men and women of the twentieth century or the fortieth century as He was to the men and women of the first; just as accessible in North America or South Africa or Siberia as He was in Galilee or Judea. He ascended into Heaven only to descend in spiritual presence and power upon his apostles at Pentecost. His life is continued sacramentally. His spirit still inhabits a body; that mystical body is, as St. Paul never wearies in repeating, the Church,—"the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." It is Jesus ever contemporary. To enter it by Baptism is to be incorporated into Him; to come weary and heavy laden to her seeking peace is to come to Him;—it is His voice that speaks through the priest of the Church, saying to the penitent even as of old "Thy sins be forgiven thee; go and sin no more." They are His hands that reach out through the hands of the Bishop in blessing upon the head of the boy or girl coming to confirmation; it is His healing touch that is communicated to the sick through the Holy Unction of His Body, the Church; it is His voice that speaks at the altar the awful words "This is my Body; this is my Blood;" it is His life that is communicated to us in that supreme sacrament of His love, the Holy Communion wherein we "so eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and drink His blood that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body and our souls washed through His most precious blood and that we may evermore dwell in Him and He in us." Jesus is all in all, "the Way, the Truth and the Life;" and the sacraments of the Church are none other than the differentiated organs or foci of the Body, each with its own particular fitness for communicating the life of Jesus, the grace of Jesus, the creative, strengthening, pardoning, healing, nourishing, unifying, ordaining union with Jesus according to the human need.
That these adjectives are not chosen at random, let me for a moment identify each with a definite sacrament.
(a) Creative: Holy Baptism. The church properly calls it regeneration, a new birth, because being "born of water and of the Spirit," as the Master said, we "enter into the Kingdom of God." By Baptism we enter the Church—it is the only way of entrance. We are "received into Christ's Holy Church and be made living members of the same." In other words, we are Christianed or Christened; "we put off the old man and put on the new." We are in Baptism become "new creatures in Christ Jesus." We are given a Christian name and as by our first birth we became members of a family, citizens of a country, responsible sharers in the life of the race, so by the new birth we become members of another family or fellowship, citizens of a heavenly country and sharers in the life of the Beloved Community of Christ.
(b) Strengthening: Holy Confirmation. Hands are very mysterious appendages of the body; they are away out on the frontiers of it, most remote from the brain centre, but what amazing sacraments they are, let us say, of industry, of painting, of music, of authorship, but supremely of friendship and love! There is not one of us, I suppose, who would not seek the cure for restlessness and weakness, if only we could, by touching hands with the wonderful hands of Christ. There is not one of us probably who has not again and again found himself humming:
"I wish that His hands had been placed on my head, That His arms had been thrown around me."
Holy Confirmation is nothing short of this—that the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls does actually touch us with His human hands because the Bishop's hands are not only his but His. The gifts that come to us in Confirmation are just what we might expect from the hands of Jesus laid upon us,—"manifold gifts of grace; the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness, and the spirit of Thy holy fear."
(c) Pardoning: Holy Penance. If Jesus once forgave sins, He still does. If He once accompanied that forgiveness with human words of assurance, I may assume that He still does. If He said to His apostles "whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained," then I am not surprised to find in the service of His Body, the Church, that the Bishop the successor of the Apostles, says to the newly ordained priest "whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven, and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained." But, objects some one, can a man forgive sins? Ah, you misunderstand. It is the Son of Man who still "hath power on earth to forgive sins." The priest is but the organ of that mystical Body, the Church, which Jesus has made forever the social extension of His love and pardon and grace. It is
"The voice of Jesus that I hear:
His are the hands stretched out to draw me near;
And His the blood that doth for sin atone,
And sets me faultless there before His throne."
(d.) Healing: Holy Unction. To touch but the hem of the Saviour's garment brought healing to the woman with the issue of blood; to touch but some article identified with the bodies of His Apostles meant healing to those sick ones recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Today the many modern cults of healing witness to the restlessness and longing of the sick to have the Gospel of the Kingdom preached to them. Jesus once healed; why does He not heal now? He does! It is as true today as it was of old that grace goes out of Him through His Body to our bodies. And if the Church be his mystical Body, then there must be grace flowing from Him through her to the bodies as well as the souls of men. There is. On Maundy Thursday, the Bishops of the Church bless, as they have ever blessed, the Holy Oil for the anointing of the sick. It only remains for you and me to claim the promise of St. James, "If any be sick among you, let him send for the elders of the Church and let them anoint him with oil in the Name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have sins they shall be forgiven him."
(e.) Nourishing: Holy Communion. And what shall we say of this supreme social act of the mystical Body of Christ wherein it is built up and nourished in its several parts by the communication of His own spiritual Body and Blood? "There is but one thing necessary," cries Amiel, "and that is to possess God!" How can man, himself a sacrament, with an' "outward and visible" and an "inward and spiritual," lay hold upon God, who is Spirit, except God be incarnate in a body? And how again shall man lay hold upon the Incarnate, really to possess Him, unless He come by way of a sacrament, which shall have an outward and visible sign, as well as an inward spiritual res or reality?
To quote the Catechism of the Church—
"What is the outward part or sign of the Lord's Supper?" "Bread and wine, which the Lord hath commanded to be received."
"What is the inward part or thing signified?" "The Body and Blood of Christ, which are spiritually taken and received by the faithful in the Lord's Supper."
"What are the benefits whereof we are partakers thereby?" "The strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ, as our bodies are by the Bread and Wine."
Read the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John; then read the account of the Institution of the Holy Communion in the twenty-second Chapter of St. Luke's Gospel; then turn to St. Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, the eleventh chapter, and read verses twenty-three to thirty; then turn to the history of the Church from the beginning to find the great, central dominant focus of worship and of fellowship; then turn to your own Church and realize that He is still reaching out to meet you and identify His life with yours, to feed you, to strengthen and refresh you with His own life and to do all this not to you coming alone, but coming as one of a fellowship, of the Body which as a whole derives all its life from Him.
Alan Seeger, the gallant young American who gave his life at Belloy en Santerre, wrote lines that are famous on his "Rendezvous with Death." Let me paraphrase it, with lines on the Christian's rendezvous with Life:
I have a rendezvous with Life,
Within the Blessed Sacrament;—
When over me the priest is bent,
And Jesus comes, amazing fair,
I have a rendezvous with Life,
For he has promised to be there.
"I know I am not worthy thus,
To take his life mysterious;
My sins are higher than a hill,
His love is deeper than the sea,—
And so in my communion still,
I find His Mercy healeth me,
And I to my pledged word am true;
I will not fail that rendezvous!
(f) Unifying: Holy Matrimony. "An honorable estate," says our marriage service, "instituted of God in the time of man's innocency signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and His Church." Here again the full Catholic Faith faces the restlessness of men with sure, sane, sensitive insistence upon the sanctities of life. The unit of society is not the individual, but the family. Whatever the situation be or may be in Ireland, all law and order in human life depends upon Home Rule. The permanency of the home, the unity of the home, the sanctity of the home finds its supreme guarantee in the Catholic teaching of the indissolubility of Christian marriage: "the twain become one flesh;" the marriage vows are made by the contracting parties, each to the other, before the altar of God, and in the presence of His minister, whose blessing is invoked. The vows are those of mutual love and fidelity "until death do us part;" and the Church prays that the contracting parties, "may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together and live according to God's laws."
Upon the "superstition of divorce," as Mr. Chesterton calls it, no comment is needed here. What I do stress is the sacramental character of marriage,—the mystical union effected, which St. Paul dignifies and exalts by using it as a type of the mystical union of Christ with His Church.
(g) Ordaining: Holy Orders. As for Orders, this again is not magic, but a mystery; not dark sorcery, but a luminous sacrament whereby a man is authoritatively set apart not from the Body but within the Body of Christ, to mediate the message of Our Lord to men, and to mediate as well His divine, life-giving power; to be a "faithful dispenser of the Word of God and of His Holy Sacraments."
(5) This is a day of wide-spread social consciousness. Much of our restlessness arises from a quickened social conscience, from a new emphasis upon social inter-dependence, from a new sense of social obligations. To these social demands comes the Catholic Faith with its noble teaching of the Body of Christ. The life of Christ is embodied in the whole company of His disciples. The Church is today, as it has been throughout the ages, the one great world wide democracy: it is the one great international brotherhood; it is the one great reminder that salvation is not an individual thing but a social thing. The prayer of the Church is "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name." The confession of the Church is "We have erred and strayed from Thy paths like lost sheep." She is the Body of Christ still incarnate. And every part of that Body is sensitive to whatever happens in any other part. It is a body compact and knitted together. It is not national but super-national. It is not local but universal. It is not even earthly, but a communion of saints out of the flesh as well as in the flesh. And it is not satisfied, as Jesus cannot be satisfied, until the redemption of the whole race has been accomplished. The world is indeed webbed into one fabric, and in the great contacts revealed today as never before, lie terrifying possibilities of strife and endless war, or the noble possibilities of realizing fraternity and love and mutual service within the Body of Christ. The League of Nations is a noble effort toward internationalism, but the Church, the Body of Christ, far transcends it, because it is not a league or federation of human groups, but a great spiritual unity of faith, of experience, of growth, of action, of life in Jesus.
I know that there is a tendency to interpret the social teaching Of the Church in a variety of ways. But after all, her work is not so much to dig trenches in this domain or that of the social order; her main concern is to supply the spiritual stream of the life of God into all parts of the social order. The Church's paramount duty is that of fertilizing and fructifying by the wide and generous flow of her spiritual ministries. "The Church's paramount duty is not to stir men to a number of endeavors, however useful, but to bring to men God, their Saviour, and their Captain in the saving of the world."
There is a great movement going forward for Church unity, for realizing again the oneness of the Body of Christ. We, of this historic part of the Catholic Church are in the van of that movement. We must be patient; we must be fair, and honest, and charitable, and above all, faithful —full of faith. To quote from a distinguished Presbyterian minister, Protestant "Christians of every denomination are more and more realizing that they must be ready to surrender personal preferences, even when these are entwined with hallowed traditions, to bring themselves under a reasonable ecclesiastical discipline, and to accord fellow-Christians a larger consideration and sympathy, in order to attain that corporate Christian action which is essential if the world is to be reshaped after the mind of Christ. We long for a Church truly Catholic in its inclusion of every life ruled by the Master's spirit." The Catholic Church does not live to perpetuate herself merely; she is in the world to be the hands and feet, the heart, and the mind and the helpfulness of Christ. From her side flows the water of baptism, and the blood that cleanses from all sin. Her voice is still lifted up to proclaim forgiveness of sins to the sinner; her arms stretch out, even as the arms of Christ, calling the weary and heavy laden to come to Him; and her ministries of help go out to the sick, the ignorant and the oppressed and needy everywhere.
Sir Bartle Frere, it is said, was coming to visit a Scotch home; the master of the household, sending a servant to meet him, sought for some description by which the visitor might easily be recognized. "When the train comes in," said the host to the servant, "you will see a tall gentleman, helping somebody." That, in parable, is the Christian ideal. Over these sixty generations, one figure has towered, from the fascination and dominance of whose personality, mankind can never escape. Height and helpfulness in Him were perfectly combined. And the world has come to recognize His Spirit, living again on earth, whenever there appears spiritual altitude blending with lowly service—a tall gentleman, helping somebody. That height and that "stoop to serve," are the dominant notes that must ever mark His Body, the Church.
After all, the restlessness of today is full of hope. It is the restlessness of the springtime. In nature every tree in discontent is making buds and leaves, and every blade of grass is atremble with impatient life. It is the restlessness of passing winter and the oncoming miracle of spring. Not otherwise the restlessness of today speaks of the longings of men for better things. Hopes are alive. Men desperately dissatisfied are reaching out for the new day. "Songs before sunrise" are heard. On every hand there is a wistful and ready hearing for the Catholic Faith. The great tide goes over the world making for a revival of religion and a renewed interest in spiritual things. Will the Church come up to it?
Part of this striving that is in the world is the breath of Heaven, stirring consciences, quickening inquiry, provoking to dreams of a new Heaven and a new Earth. "O, that the armies of God were arrayed! O, joy of the onset!" Will Christianity lose its opportunity? Will the Church fail in this day of its supreme chance? Or will it arise and gird itself and go with fresh vigor out to the world proclaiming the Faith of the Fathers and of the Mothers too? Each one of us must answer. We rose to answer when the nation called; so will we surely rise at the call of God. We went out to make the world "safe for democracy." But we know that democracy will never be safe until that safety is found in the Saviour: until a restless, troubled wearied race finds in Him "the author of peace and lover of concord in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom," and by whom being defended from fear of our enemies, we may pass our time in rest and quietness and enjoy that peace—which the world can neither give nor ever take away.