The First Annual Catholic Congress: Essays and Papers
New Haven, Connecticut, November 3-5, 1925
Published by the Central Conference of Associated Catholic Priests, 1926.
Christian Problems in a
HON. THOMAS L. RAYMOND, LL.B.
Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
[Judge Raymond was unfortunately prevented by illness from being present at the Congress. His paper was read by Professor Chauncey B. Tinker, of Yale University.]
THERE is something tremendously stirring in a great gathering such as this, of those who call themselves Catholics, and who wish to testify before the world their belief in the Catholic Church; in having the great privilege of hearing Catholic truth expounded by priests who stand so eminently in our communion, and above all of meeting together in the great act of worship in that beautiful church nearby. It emphasizes for us all, no doubt, also, the Catholic character of our beloved Church, for many of us the Church of our fathers for many generations, and for many others the Church which under God's guidance and by His Grace they have adopted as their own.
We can not but feel with the deepest gratitude the great blessing God has bestowed upon us in preserving for us our Catholic character through all the turmoil and uncertainty of the age of reformation, and through all the years of spiritual blindness that followed that age, until we were re-awakened, and again made alive to our Catholic heritage by those saints of [49/50] our communion, Edward Bouverie Pusey, John Keble and the rest.
While we are truly grateful to Almighty God for these great blessings, we are at the same time mindful that we are compassed about with a vast world which does not know God, and which therefore, of course, does not know His Church; which is not privileged to feel the Presence of our Blessed Lord in its daily life, and which is being given over, with an increasing momentum, to the things of this world, and all the materialism and sordidness and ignorance that are of this world.
That this condition presents problems of grave moment to the individual Christian no one doubts; that it endangers our Christianity, our individual spiritual life in Christ, no one doubts. Of course, it cannot endanger the Church of Christ; for He has said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against that. It is Christ's Body, and, of course, that cannot be in danger. It is not alone of this world, but our dead are of it and the saints of God and His angels, and the danger is ours—and ours only—if in this time of our trial, in this time of our opportunity to be of Christ's Body during our earthly pilgrimage, we fail.
The problems are so many and so widespread, and meet us so ominously wherever we turn, that it is possible only to touch upon some of the most outstanding of them.
As members of Christ's Body we who live to-day, and are of it by our baptism, have this worldly part of it in our keeping in the same way that by God's grace all the generations since our Lord was on earth have had it successively in their keeping.
How are we keeping our trust?
 The Christian's duties are, no doubt, of three sorts: those relating to the body, to the mind, and to the spirit; the material, the intellectual and the spiritual, or ghostly, to use a good old English word, which our newer reformers consider obsolete and unmeaning.
We live today under conditions which have never before confronted the Church or its members as individuals. How we got to the place we find ourselves in is one of the problems, and to solve that requires a serious study of man's doings for many centuries past. We must face the world we are in with courage, and we must keep our faith whole and undefiled while so facing it; but it may throw light on our problem if we look back to causes a little.
Admitting the splendor and fortitude of the early Christians, and the tremendous spiritual importance of Christianity before the Middle Ages, I think we may assume that the Middle Ages, at their apex, at their finest point, at the time of St. Louis and St. Francis, of Godfrey of Boulogne, and St. Thomas Aquinas, of St. Bernard and Dante, present the finest picture of Christian life the world has seen.
That was indeed an age of Faith. It has been so beautifully described by Dr. Ralph Adams Cram, Henry Adams, Henry Osborne Taylor, Dr. Walsh, and many others that many of us are well aware of the beauty of its life, of its art, of its spiritual intensity. Of course it was, as the world will ever be, full of ignorance and cruelty and prejudice, but we must, I think, believe that man lived then generally under conditions more favorable to a Christian life than he has lived before or since.
We have overwhelming evidence of all of this in the superb art and literature which the age has bequeathed [51/52] to us, but above all, we have it in the spiritual intensity of an age in which God was supreme in all lives. The Middle Ages, inherited, as we have, the Church, the Body of Christ, and it was in their keeping for three hundred or more years, during which it was moulded and formed until it became the pattern of worship, devotion and obedience to Almighty God for all time.
The great cathedrals of France bear witness to this, Chartres, Paris, Rheims, Amiens, beautiful shrines which seem themselves to be aspiring toward the Presence of God; buildings which completely and satisfyingly express the beautiful worship for which they were built; buildings created by the hand of man, by many men, each working in his individual art or craft; each moved to work by his own great religious emotion; each inspired to work by his own spiritual richness; each accomplishing his work by his own skill, his own imagination and yet contributing whether in masonry or stone carving, in stained glass or wood-work, in goldsmithing or the weaving of textiles, in painting or in iron work, to the creation of a single glorious work of art, perfectly harmonious in all its parts, and a full expression of the worship and love of Almighty God.
We have evidence of the great Christian character of that age in the condition of the free land-owner, gathering the fruits of his own labour, and fully protected in his rights in his land. It appears in the great gilds where the craftsmen were protected in their labour, where the standard of production was of the first importance, where honest and intelligent labour was made splendid in itself. We have evidence in self-respecting citizens dwelling in the free, self-governing towns and hamlets; we have evidence in the courage and Christian intensity of men who by the millions went to the [52/53] Holy Land to recover our Lord's tomb for Christianity. We have evidence of its tremendous spiritual energy in the enormous number of men and women in monastic orders, dwelling in community life in the abbey of the Benedictines and Cistercians, constantly striving to keep their rule of life austere, and constantly avoiding all idleness by work of all sorts, intellectual and artistic, and also humble and mean; in the hospitality which was the rule of the Orders, and above all in the constant prayer and praise of Almighty God in the daily Mass and in the recital of the breviary, at the canonical hours, by day and by night. We have evidence in the rise and growth and magnificent missionary work of the mendicant orders of Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites and Augustinians, living utterly simple and beautiful lives out in the world, bringing the faith to all in their daily life.
Not only have we all these phases of life so beautiful and so convincing of the Christian spirit of the age, but we have its literature, developing in subtlety and wisdom from the great stories of King Arthur, that perfect knight, and his Knights of the Table Round with that unfailing tone of nobility and chivalry and honour told by poets in France, in Germany and in England. We have the thrilling Song of Roland and the Story of the Cid, and we have the culmination of all medieval poetry in that epic of the Middle Ages of Dante, which synthesizes all the belief and thought and feeling of the age in a poem which must remain supreme as long as the world shall last.
And lastly, we have the schools and universities springing up all over Europe and their product, the great body of scholastic philosophy, so vital in making thought what it is to-day, so vast in its scope, so [53/54] sublime in its mission, culminating in that masterpiece of all philosophy: the "Summa Theologica" of that greatest of thinkers, St. Thomas Aquinas.
Certain writers, most interesting and somewhat convincing, arrive at the conclusion that, admitting all the beauty of the art and literature of the Middle Ages, they were, after all, an age of emotion and not of intellect; and that intellectual freedom and development do not appear until the rise of the Renaissance.
If the intellect had no part in rearing those miracles of engineering and construction, the Gothic Cathedrals, if intellect pure and supreme did not construct the "Summa Theologica," if intellect did not soar into the highest realms of poetic art in the "Divine Comedy," then we can do very well in this world without intellect, and many of us will never crave it.
The Renaissance pushed the age of faith aside, and the Renaissance, or pagan revival, was somewhat pushed aside itself by the Reformation, and both were rather pushed aside by the French Revolution; and everything has been pushed aside by the industrial revolution which has now, let us devoutly pray, reached its climax and done its worst; for if it have not yet done its worst, and if it must still go forward, man will again, by his own failure of mind, of spirit, and of body, fall into an age of darkness, more vast than any the world has yet known.
Man's intellect has constantly developed, and from the close of the Dark Ages, about the year of our Lord 1000, to the present day he has progressively become wiser in the things of the flesh, but not in the things of the spirit. When he reached a certain point he "Lost all that wisdom loses to be wise," [54/55] to use a line from that fine poet, Laurence Binyon.
He discovered many secrets of nature. Galileo, Newton, Harvey, and so on down the scientific line, made discovery after discovery, until it became fashionable to think that man was greater than God, and then it became fashionable to become "emancipated," and even to deny God's existence.
During the Renaissance man went through this process; but was it not inevitable that he should do so? Can the cause be laid entirely at the door of Florence, because Florence was the first to welcome pagan thought? Had not the scholastic doctors most carefully studied Aristotle? The Renaissance did not intend to overthrow the Age of Faith. It was the inevitable result of the inordinate desire for pagan culture and independent thought; but the mind of man was ripe for an age of great intellectual activity. Freedom of thought was nothing new in itself; there was quite as much freedom of thought, quite as great speculation as to cause and effects in nature, at the height of the Middle Ages by Roger Bacon and Raymond Lully, and many others, as at the height of the Renaissance, which was but a continuation of progressive speculation, each generation using what had gone before.
The Reformation, without intending to do so, resulted in the overthrow of the Age of Faith by trying to kill the Catholic ideal. It caused many to be separated from Christ's Body. The intellect of man protested against growing, unjustifiable, and cruel papal claims, and took the wrong steps to cure the disease. Man's intellect lost its moorings. Both Catholics and Protestants are responsible for the Reformation. It was another case of man's intellect following its natural instincts, and makes clear the meaning of the [55/56] words of our Blessed Lord: "Suppose ye I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three."
To my lay mind this means just what it says. The mind of man must run its course, and that course inevitably leads to division and doubt. If his mind had not developed toward reformation it would have lost its way on some other quest because it had lost its guidance.
But whatever the cause of the condition of the world to-day, we can not wipe out the influence of the Renaissance or the Reformation in man's development, and as Christians and as Catholics we must face the world as it has been passed down to us by God's providence.
This brings us to the fact that, whatever the causes, the problem of Christian living in a non-Christian world is the great overshadowing problem of modern life; but at the same time, closely related to it, and possibly an integral part of it, is the problem of beautiful living, and incident to that are the related problems arising from the absence of a desire for learning, a desire for skill, a desire for beauty, a desire for all the finer things of life generally prevalent throughout the world, and in all grades of society and types of mind, and, as Catholics, we know that all of this is the result of the increasing absence of God in our lives.
This is manifest in the feebleness of the Catholic life—its almost complete absence from the life of the average man and woman of to-day; but it can be demonstrated much more clearly for the mass of mankind [56/57] in the consequences of that feebleness in what we see about us in our everyday life.
Machinery controls the life of man to-day. His individual necessity for effort, physical, intellectual or spiritual, has become reduced to a minimum. This condition has come about with an increasing momentum. If we look back twenty years even, we find a far more simple life. Fifty years ago life was almost primitive in the simplicity of our manner of living. Think of that time! No electric lights, no telephones, no automobiles, no movies, no yellow journals, no radios, no iron and concrete buildings, no cold storage food, no trolley cars, no prohibition, no great monopolies, no great labour organizations. What a world to live in!
Can you realize the amount of physical and intellectual effort which men and women were then obliged to put into life compared to that required to-day? Lamps had to be filled and kept clean daily; letters had to be written, with all the learning and grace that were required in letter writing; the horse must be cared for, and the wagon-maker had his work, and the blacksmith was a part of life; every theatre in every city or hamlet must have its corps of actors, each expressing himself, each developing his personal expression in the art of the stage, a work now performed by one corps of actors for an audience of millions, and seen by that audience only in shadows and without the human presence, the human voice, or the human sympathy; fresh and wholesome food had to be provided because rotten food could not be preserved in enormous refrigerators until the demand for its use brought it out to become putrid at once; travel from place to place was leisurely and peaceful, and real occasion for it must justify eternal motion; the laws [57/58] permitted man and woman personal freedom in what they should eat or what they should drink; there was a chance for the little individual shop-keeper, for the hatter, the shoemaker, the furniture-maker, the tailor, each putting his individuality in his work, and each having the pride of creative expression, and the joys of making his living thereby; labor worked as individuals, for it was not necessary for its protection to mass itself against capital.
These were the conditions only fifty years ago, and yet the Age of Faith was long past. The full force of its overthrow was slow in coming, but when once it gained its momentum with the age of machinery, we are stunned at the effect of its work on individual lives. Man himself begins to take on the qualities of a machine. He works by machinery, lives by it, amuses himself by it. To many minds to-day a serious problem is the increasing absence of any self-expression or individual genius in his work. In great factories he is placed at some machine and operates it turning out some small part of the object to be assembled later. He has no sense of creation, of originality. He is so much "labor," and takes his place as such with so much machinery, so much material, and so much product.
As one example, I often think of the stone cutters of the Middle Ages who worked on the great cathedrals. The sculpture there was all part of a great scheme, and the work of each individual man formed part of it, fell rightly into its place as part of the whole. That scheme formed a great book, a story of God and man, of man's salvation of the holy ones who had taken their part in the life of the Church. But in his own stone cutting he was free, he had no sculptor's [58/59] plaster casts from which to make mere copies; through his religion, his personal inspiration, his personal skill, he was able to make one of those wonderful saints many of whom still welcome us at the doors of the great cathedrals in Europe. Can it be denied that such original creation gave that man a joy of life, that it developed his mind and intellect, that it increased his skill and his art?
But to-day the man who is his equivalent in building merely makes an exact copy of an architect's plaster cast, and that is probably—certainly as to inspiration —a copy of something else. What chance for joy in life has this man, how can his mind and soul grow under such toil? And how much better off is he than the man who merely operates some machine and sees nothing of the results of his labor in the production of a shoe, a piece of textile, a hat, a chair, an automobile?
Selfishness, the spirit of competition, avarice and the growth of the acquisitive sense, all inevitable consequences of the absence of God in our lives, and the fruits of man's unguided intellectual progress, have been responsible for these results, and the way of the world is to hold in great reverence the magnate who, by fair means or foul, organizes a shoe factory that puts all small competitors out of business; to stand in awe and admiration before the financier whose genius can gather together hundreds of small concerns and create a mighty trust in which this "labor," this "man power," is reckoned along with steam power and electrical power. This is typical of the mental attitude of the day.
It is this phase of modern life that has alarmed churchmen, and directed their thoughts to the social [59/60] structure of the world to-day, and led some of them to the conclusion that some sort of social revolution must precede any great usefulness of the Church. Father Paul B. Bull and others, in a collection of essays entitled "The Return of Christendom," lays stress on the industrial situation to-day, on the relations between employer and employed, and their solution would seem to be a social revolution of some sort, in which primarily the "right of property," as we conceive it today, would be entirely abolished, by which the laborer would again have personal pride in his work and feel the joy of creation, and from which he would receive profits which would permit him to live under better conditions than he now does.
The part the Church is to play in bringing all this about is left rather in mist, but it is suggested that the clergy should not rest content in their work in the sanctuary and the home, but should go into the thick of the battle, into the workshop, as it is said, with our Lord's message of brotherhood. As one reads the essays in this book one is quite swept away with the picture presented of the return of Christendom.
However, can it be done in this way? Is it the Church's mission to stir up social revolution? Was it our Blessed Lord's way? Did He not take the world largely as He found it, and make His appeal to the minds and hearts of individual men? Did He not select twelve only to train up to carry His message to the world? Did He or His apostles attempt to revolutionize the Roman system of government? Did He not, impliedly certainly, accept the existing system of government when He said, "Render unto [60/61] Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's?"
No, it is not a Christian's problem to bring about social revolution. It is a Christian's duty to live in the world under our Lord's commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself." It is his duty to revolutionize first himself; to be an example to all mankind, whether he be employer or employed.
But he must live his Christian life in the world as he finds it about him. Except during the finest period of the Middle Ages I doubt if the Christian has ever lived in a Christian world. Certainly the early Christians were not only living in a non-Christian age, but they held their faith in the face of persecution the most cruel and fiendish, and under that terrible trial Christianity spread as it has never spread since.
While it is a consummation devoutly prayed for by all Christians that the world shall become united in Christ's Body, and while our duty is to carry our Lord's gospel to all peoples, our Blessed Lord Himself has held out no hope to us that the whole world would receive His gospel. On the contrary, He predicts division, and persecution, and untold difficulties, for those who follow Him. This condition of the world as we see it to-day, therefore, is not unusual, not surprising, and should, if things were as they should be, cause no difficulty of itself to the Christian.
But we must all admit that the pagan character of the society in which we live, the extreme unimportance to most people of God Himself in their lives; the growing license in social relations and amusements; the importance to most people of merely [61/62] passing time without much caring how they pass it, accepting any offered amusement no matter what it be so long as it helps get through a day or a night; the increasing disregard of the sort of home one has, the continuous compacting of it and making it a mere place for lodging; the exaggerated use of mechanical amusements such as movies, phonographs, radios, which consume time, but relax the mind, and by relieving it of the necessity for thought gradually must tend to atrophy it,—all this encompassing the Christian and his children in their formative years, is having a telling effect on his manner of living, and a most serious effect on his faith and upon the intensity of his life, whether spiritual or intellectual.
This creates the problem for the Christian homemaker. What environment shall the home provide for those who live in it? Shall the finer things of the mind have place there in books and pictures and music, and shall it provide a refuge at times from the pagan world outside, giving its members the opportunity, so essential to the strengthening of the soul, for contemplation and thought in solitude? To go apart by one's self is necessary for us all. Our Blessed Lord, divine as He was, found it necessary in His own life on this earth. We all need more time to be alone.
In a land of political freedom we cannot ask that religion be taught in our public schools because of the great differences in religious belief. Nevertheless this presents a tremendous problem to the Christian parent. No wonder the Roman Catholics solve it by maintaining their own schools, where the faith takes its proper place in the curriculum. We may well take a leaf from their book in that regard. We should provide more and more of our own schools, where we [62/63] may be free to teach the faith of Christ to our young, and where the children will feel from infancy with intensity that they are part of Christ's Body, and that Christ should be all in all in our daily life, every day as well as for an hour or so on Sunday.
The maintenance of fine schools, increasing in number, with the influence of our Blessed Lord dominating them, would be far more useful than all sorts of weird uplift organizations, shower baths, basketball, and boxing bouts, constituting a mere bid of amusement to draw the youth in, and gradually tending as all such institutions do, to crystalize into hard, matter of fact institutionalism in which heart has no part, which always fail in accomplishing their object. Put the money in schools. Take the young, and make them Christians in a scholarly and beautiful environment.
The impact of the pagan world with its increasingly meaningless life is presenting a constant problem to those who feel deeply Christ's Presence in their lives. As I have said, man seeks solitude, at times he craves time and place for contemplation, and the absence of it tends to make us mechanical as the world is growing more and more mechanical about us.
In this year of grace, it may sound amazing coming from one deep in worldly affairs, but is not the monastic life a solution for some types of mind and soul? The confusion and paganism and materialism of the Dark Ages drove the finest minds of the world into monasteries, in fact it was in those times that the glorious St. Benedict wrote his great rule and founded the first Benedictine abbey, and that the more worldly man than he, Cassiodorus, followed his example and founded a monastery upon his ideas; and these places [63/64] not only proved havens where the spiritual life might be lived in its fulness, but had the practical worldly value of preserving the old culture of classic times for western civilization, and transmitting it to our own time.
If a St. Francis should appear in the Anglican communion, what a blessing it would be for mankind! The world is entirely too addicted to utilitarianism. The practical value of everything must be established in advance. The Idiot of Dostoyevsky is needed in this world. The imagination of William Blake is greater for our souls than all the intellectual processes we can invent. Let us not fear emotion, let us, or more of us, forget our material interests a little more, and follow our Lord's advice, and trust to our heavenly Father knowing our needs without our asking.
In the world of business and of politics and of finance, competition is the rule of life. The Christian must make his living, he must be in business and it were well that some of them were in politics. What is he to do? The game requires competition, it is the underlying principle of success and yet competition leads to unkindness, to unfairness, to cruelty and very often to crime. It rules the relations between employer and employed, it is responsible for the great monopolies, and for the degradation of labor. The business man and the politician, the banker, the employer, and the employee can only solve this by reading the Gospel message of our Blessed Lord, the message that carries the idea of brotherhood, and only by this great rule filling hearts and minds, only by example, can be solved this vast problem of making one's living in a Christian way.
The problem of the unkindness and lack of the love [64/65] of man and the absence of the idea of brotherhood likewise affects our spiritual life. The world about us is full of others, of differing faith and differing practice. Many of these are Christians. Lincoln was a Methodist, and his soul was among the most beautiful Christian souls the world has known. Many are not even Christians, but live exemplary lives according to the light God has given them.
Catholics should not surrender one Catholic principle, or make one single compromise of their Catholicism. They should stand firmly for these things, and speak them out fearlessly and boldly, and never for self-interest keep silent upon them; and ignorance should be met with knowledge, prejudice with conviction, unkindness with charity. By this we shall not have it on our consciences that by unkindness and intolerance we have created stumbling blocks to the long prayed for reunion of all Christians in one great Catholic fold.
Our Lord has told us to carry His message to the world. He certainly did not justify enforcing it upon an unwilling world by persecution, or sneers, or ridicule of others. No, our fate is that we must be good neighbors of all about us. If misfortune keeps the light as we see it from some of our neighbors, remember that freedom, one of the pillars of God's throne, requires tolerance, and that intolerance is hateful, and has brought with it most of the ills from which the world has suffered.
Prejudice and intolerance breed ignorance, and it is one of a Christian's problems how to prevent ignorance. A too intolerant support of one side or the other is apt to produce statements by even the most highly educated, not only erroneous but harmful.
 Mr. Wickersham, once Attorney-General of the United States, an intellectual and professional leader, not only of his city, but in the country, and a foremost figure in the late General Convention of our Church, made one of these unfortunate statements in the heat of debate over the addition of some black letter Saints to our Calendar. In the "Herald-Tribune" there appeared the statement: "If a school boy had been asked to make up a list of names of those who had rendered great service to humanity, and had produced this list, in my opinion he would have been marked zero!" Such was George W. Wickersham's comment to-day upon the list of Saints prepared by the Prayer-Book Committee.
Let us see. Dill has written two volumes on Roman Society from Nero to the last century of the Western Empire. Mr. Dill is evidently not prejudiced by Christian views; he may even be what they call emancipated; yet these volumes, which are the most scholarly account extant of the transition of society from paganism to Christianity, team with the names of St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Jerome, all of whom will be found in the list. What they did and what they said and what they have left in writing, constitute the most important data of the period, their influence was overwhelming with emperors and statesmen, and their work in strengthening and advancing Christianity was of untold importance.
They form a vital part of the procession of civilization from any point of view, Christian or pagan. St. Ambrose brought an emperor to his knees in repentance; St. Augustine has stirred the human heart and soul from his own time to the present; St. Jerome was the [66/67] first to translate the Bible into Latin for use in the western world.
What have they done for humanity? Mr. Wickersham asks. In that list we also find St. Benedict who preserved civilization for the western world; St. Francis, who has stirred men and brought them to Christ since his mystic marriage to poverty, chastity and obedience over six hundred years ago; St. Gregory the Great, is in the list, and it was he who sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to England to convert the English people to the Christian faith, which he did; he is also in the list.
Does Mr. Wickersham consider the conversion of England to Christianity a great service to humanity or not? The answer would be interesting since he assumed a leading role at the General Convention of the Anglican Church in these United States. That provides a concrete illustration of this particular problem.
In this day when eminent scholars, blinded by the paganism and materialism of our age, are constantly subjecting Christianity to intellectual attacks, it behooves the Christian, and the Catholic especially, to arm himself for the intellectual fray. The battle must not be lost through default. There is an alarming ignorance prevalent, because in the case of most people the life of the times provides little opportunity for gathering knowledge. Only by knowing history, the causes and their effects that have determined the world's course in human life, can we find the secret of our present situation. Only knowledge will make clear to us what the Catholic religion is, what the Church is, what the Church stands for. Only by reading the Gospels or hearing them read can we know what our Blessed Lord's message was, and in [67/68] what way He prepares us to meet the problems of this world. The reading of His divine words affords an amazing commentary on the Christian's life of to-day.
The Christian is too weak-kneed in the presence of science. Because God reveals His great secrets of nature slowly and painfully to humble and patient scientists, has always seemed to me an amazing reason for denying God's existence. The Christian should not worry about these discoveries; rather should he rejoice in them. God gave us our minds to use. The matters which come to our intelligence from proofs visible and intelligible, constitute one phase of our wisdom; but wisdom in Divine Truths revealed to man by God Himself is quite another phase of it. We give our assent to matters of divine revelation by the operation of our wills, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, but we cannot prove them by scientific tests. We cannot prove much else. Even in this practical day, let us open our hearts to God's truth and fear not. Speculation upon the truth of scientific facts is fruitful; but divine truths revealed through our hearts and our most trustworthy emotions can not be tested by scientific measurements for no answer will come that way, and no peace will reward the quest.
Christians, and especially Catholics of our own communion, are distressed and disturbed by the utterances of Bishops not in sympathy with the Catholic movement, who seemingly strive for a Church which shall be simply protestant and utilitarian, and who view with suspicion and dislike those of us who firmly believe in the Catholicity of the Anglican communion, and strive to provide the Catholic life through its agency; and they are equally distressed and often, I fear, their Christianity is put to the test by agnostic [68/69] priests who turn their churches into music halls or pagan lecture rooms.
Such Bishops and priests can not harm the Church for, as I have said, the Church is Christ's Body, and beyond their power of destruction. They can and do injure Christians, and hamper beyond repair the work of the Church. But one might as well say that it harms the sun if we close our shutters to it, and refuse to bathe in its health-giving rays, as to say that such Bishops and priests can harm the Church. The Church is Christ's Body and a blessed gift to mankind, and sad as these things make us, they should not for a second cause doubt of the Church or weaken our Christianity. Rather, it seems to me, should they spur us to greater effort to provide the Catholic life for all, for that is the Church's mission.
My point is that the Church is not on trial. She is not to be judged by the number or character of her members. That is our responsibility as Christians. That is even more the responsibility of her clergy. A priest should be expert in Christ's truth, and should realize that he is not expert in business, in industrial matters, in politics. Our Lord went into temples and synagogues and homes; but mostly into fields where lilies bloom, or into mountains where God's voice may be heard. He did not confront Caesar on his throne, He did not attack the existing system of industry which bore the blot of slavery. He did not preach to reform Jewish politics. He spoke always and only to the hearts and minds of men. He ignored the world and the things of this world and preached the gospel of the inner life, the life with God, and sought to draw men from this world to God. Priests are His ministers; why should they do more? I shall [69/70] be charged with having a narrow view of the Church's mission. But I shall disregard the charge. I want the Church to offer itself to the whole world, I want it to fill the hearts and minds of all men with God and His righteousness, and by doing this, and only by doing this, do I believe the world can be saved. Do that, and business and industry, and politics and citizenship and the home and the school and the theatre will right themselves.
The great duty of the Church especially in this crisis of human life, and what a great many churchmen seem to overlook, is continually to emphasize the spiritual side of life in all its beauty. In this way it will hold those it now has, and add many others to itself. We should remember that the material comforts of life are amply provided by worldly agencies of divers sorts. There are innumerable community centers, Y. M. C. A.'s, Y. W. C. A.'s, Associated Charities, Community Chests, hospitals, refuge houses for all sorts of poor and unfortunate, maintained by public and private aid. Fine as these institutions are, they are intended to aid in ethical, economic and social welfare work only. Most of them tend towards, mere routine, and lose by degrees the personal touch and the human heart which are so essential to all such work.
The Church herself for years has maintained all these things in one form or another under her own patronage, and it has seemed to me the tendency has been to secularize them in order to bring more numbers in without offending them with religious ideas, or frightening them away with fear of attempted conversion or otherwise. This is a mistake. The Church's mission is to carry on the Catholic life, and provide [70/71] it for all. This is her end and her aim. This is an age of organized welfare work; but such work is secular. The thing the age lacks is the great spiritual force which we have found was so universal in the Middle Ages. President Coolidge in a great and inspiring speech to the Congregationalists a short time ago, in analyzing the conditions of today, reached the conclusion that "without faith all that we have of an enlightened civilization can not endure." The people, he believes, must have religion, or laws are passed in vain; they must have religion or all our institutional work to improve morals and manners is in vain.
The only agency we Anglican Catholics know of to bring the world back to faith, to supply this spiritual force in modern life, to solve the problems arising from home life, from citizenship, from business life, from political life, from industrial life, is the Church. The great Act of Worship, the Mass, is the supreme expression of a personal religion, the great Act of Faith; and it is the duty of the Church to bring as many souls to partake of this great privilege as possible as a first step towards the solution of the problems of the day, of emphasizing the vast importance of this spiritual life as a bulwark against the material life of the world; in other words to re-create an Age of Faith.
And here we come to the practical questions of how the clergy can take the message of our Lord to the world as the successors of His Apostle, and recreate an Age of Faith. It may be done by the influence of the Church's worship; but then the question arises how to induce the world to participate in that. The answer is given by our Blessed Lord in a command to His Apostles, "Go ye into all the world [71/72] and preach the Gospel to every creature." Preaching is the answer,—forceful, effective, compelling, heart-moving. Every great revival in our communion, in the Roman communion, and in all bodies of Christians, has been accomplished by preaching.
With all deference to our clergy, our preaching as a rule, is not of an order to set souls afire with a burning ardor for Christ, and the reason is obvious. The manifold duties of the parish priest in most cases leave him little or no time or energy to prepare himself properly for that great function and, moreover, the Catholic party, both here and in England, has deliberately minimized the importance of preaching. The Dominicans led a great revival in the Thirteenth Century, and their very name signifies how they did it,—the Order of Preachers. The Jesuits were intensively trained, and led the great revival accompanying the Catholic Reaction of the Sixteenth Century. The Oxford leaders carried on their great revivals in this way; of recent years marvelous work has been done by the Paulist Fathers through preaching, thousands of Protestants flocking to hear them; the eloquent and influential preachers of the Cowley Fathers and the Holy Cross Fathers are working wonders as trained preachers, understanding through training how to move the minds and hearts of men and women as few parish priests can.
The Church's course is clear. There should be religious orders of preachers especially trained, and large enough in numbers to meet the crisis in which we find the world to-day. They should live lives free from all parochial or home duties, and should go through the land carrying Christ's gospel and His Church wherever a hearing can be had. What a new [72/73] revival this would be, how it would once more set the Church afire with new life! Is it not our duty to see that some such tremendous world-moving force is started? It is the only way I can think of by which the world can be redeemed; it is following the august precedent of the Church; it is the only way in which souls may be brought back to God, and by which the Christian can be shown the solution of all these problems arising from living in a non-Christian world.
Let us all look forward to the day, and continually ask God that our hope may be fulfilled, when in every community the great dominating building will be the Church of Christ, when that great Church will be the center of all spiritual life in that community, when the only great expression of devotion and love of Almighty God will be a general participation by all in the great act of worship ordained by our Lord Himself, when all churches will be open at all times, and continually filled with faithful Christians seeing there the peace and the comfort and the joy which come from the gracious Presence of our Lord in the blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
Whether this can be achieved or not, let it be the great end and aim of our Christian lives. We can not return to the Middle Ages. The world is much older and too wise in worldly things to do so; but we can look back to them, as a great period of burning faith and devotion, and contrasting them with our own age, learn wherein we may well take deep lessons from them. I have tried to point out that while they were the age of Faith, at the same time man developed intellectually with marvelous speed; that there was a beauty of life and of art which we lack to-day because we so tremendously over-emphasize [73/74] the utilitarian and the material side of life; and that from all this we learn the lesson that it is for Catholic-minded men and women, and especially for Catholic-minded clergy to bring the world back, not to the Middle Ages, but to another age of Faith, built on the foundations of life as we see it about us, and then, and then only, shall we realize our hope and our prayer that God and His Righteousness shall once more rule the world through the minds and hearts of men.