Presented at the Triennial Meeting of the Woman's Auxiliary to the National Church, Atlantic City, New Jersey
A THEME for classical tragedy might easily be found in the story of a man who died in poverty not knowing that he was heir to vast riches. He may even have known, but not actually realized the fact; he may have been too timid to avail himself of what was his, too lazy to make the necessary efforts to lay hold of and release it, or too uncertain of his possible use of it to make the attempt to make good his claim. There are many situations which to alter constitutes a minatory deterrent to effort. For riches may rest in title only, or in actual wealth beneath the soil which requires diligent and painstaking effort to reveal them and make them available, or even in sums of money laid up in the bank.
The which I offer you as a parable for us all today. Many attitudes and states of feelings combine in varying proportions in paralyzing her children from entering into their possession for use of the Church's resources. Tragedy marks the course of the Church's history, not so much in regard to mistakes made as in respect of the failure of courage to make mistakes. Tragedy marks the stages of the Church's life, in that her children have refused to grow up into a full and mature appreciation of their heritage: too content with the tried and familiar, to dare to apply in new ways the old life-powers, to refresh the old truths, to have the temerity to believe and act.
I invite your attention then to a consideration of the Resources of the Church in the face of our present problems. Of the dimensions of these problems we have been hearing with rapt attention. May I suggest what I propose to consider: first, the primary resources of the Church; then, her secondary resources; and finally a consideration of their application to the needs of men today.
THE primary resources of the Church come from the fact that the Church is Christ in the world. This is no metaphor or mere figure of speech, however moving. When St. Paul asserts that "we are one Body in Christ, and every one members one of another" (Rom. 12:5); that "just as the body is one and the members many, (though all the members are members of one body and are many: while the body be one), so also is Christ... . And the body is not one member but many members ... ye are Christ's body and members individually." (I Cor. 12:12, 14, 27), he is not indulging in oratory or in pious homiletics. The Incarnate Life is not a past but a present fact. The Church and the extension thereof are not equal to the sum of its human members. He (not men) is the constitutive principle of the Body, now as ever, through His Spirit. It is this axiomatic principle which first we must perceive: in considering the Church's resources, we can only begin by asking not what the Church has, but what she is. It is because of what she is that she has what she has. The Church equals Christ in the world.
Like Christ, the Church is both human and divine; both identified with creaturedom and yet aloof from it; both natural and supernatural; of both time and eternity; of both this world and of that. Ever to abrogate or obscure either aspect of her character is to violate her charter of incorporation: whether weakly to surrender her birthright, to forget her true quality, and to accommodate herself to this world, or sharply to withdraw from it into inaccessible remoteness, are alike betrayals of her very own nature. To be so close as completely to identify herself with the world, or to be so aloof as not to live within it, are both tragedies of disloyalty.
In so far as the Church is Christ operating in His world, she par takes of His threefold character as Prophet, Priest, and King. Her function is triple: to speak forth the will of God to the world and to be His interpreter; to mediate between mankind not yet reconciled, and God; and in God's name and power, to rule over regenerate man kind, in all provinces of human life. She is the vehicle and means of the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Eternal Priest on earth, and the enduring Prophet.
When we look about us there is apparent a grave discrepancy. Prophetic insight is not operative in any abounding measure. The priestly function of the Church in her ministry to individual souls has been revived in many quarters and parishes, but what of her priestly ministry to society at large? And, the timorous tentativeness of the claim to rule men is the merest hint and weak suggestion of the breath-taking claim inherent in the Church's vivification as Christ's Body. In days when it was hazardous in the extreme to do so, some seventeen centuries ago Tertullian told the world that it was constituted chiefly of draft-dodgers and escapists: he called them in the semi-slang of his vivid vernacular, "pagans," which connoted just these indictments, for (said he) you have repudiated or avoided ser vice with the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
It is not as if it were up to us to prove or make good the Church's claims. Nor is it up to us to acquire or seek to attain these things. They are already ours, or rather they do not belong to us half so much as we belong to them. We do not need to go forth to find this quality and character of our Church life: it is an endowment, gift, and present possession, if we but knew it. Weak and perverse we have been in the face of pressure to resign, to retract, conciliate, compromise, but it cannot be lost to mankind even where we may be unfaithful, for God gives it, and His gifts are always effective. We may lose, but Christ, never. Defeatism is treason. Lack of faith is loss to us. We may impede but we cannot defeat or destroy the power of God given unto men in His Church.
THE Church's secondary resources consist of the accumulation of past experiences of the centuries. There is no problem of today--of man's relationship to others (in family, social, economic, political, racial or national life), or of his relationships to himself (his intellectual and emotional life), or of his relationships to God, which fails of having precedent and solution in the rich store of the Church's experience in history. Mere "experience," however, does not lead to wisdom: else my study-chair, which has heard much, would be wise in the accumulated experience of those who have sat and talked in it. It depends upon the experiencer--his capacities, awarenesses, power of assimilation and of growth--as to what is done with experience. A young man may be wise if he has truly assimilated what he has been taught and what he has learned: when we can learn from what we are taught, and are well taught, there is the possibility of wisdom.
And the Church is wise; she has been taught of God and of men, and has not refused to learn. She had an original endowment, but like the faithful steward, she has put it out to interest. Her original endowment was her task, her mission to all mankind. To say it again in a different way: the full Faith of the Church is threefold in its compass; for all of every man in all his relationships, in the home, society, business, politics; for all men, of whatever clime, race, time, or nation; for all of each man, in his every level and part of life, his emotions and his will, his mind and his aspirations.
What then has the Church learned by experience that is of priceless value for the present? We should not for a moment imagine that 'history repeats itself." It does not. But, adequately to cope with a new situation depends entirely on our past achievements in the art of meeting old situations. Let us look again at these three fields of relationships to understand what the Church has in the way of the re sources of experience.
I. There is, first of all, the field of man's relationships to man: marriage and the home; social, economic, political, national, and international life. How in the past has the Church dealt with the problems developed in this field?
(i.) Marriage and the Family. The Church was born into a world in which the standards of marriage, sex, life, children, and the home, were utterly at variance with her ideals. While heathen ways of looking at and living these relationships gave way slowly, they did give way. To what? First of all, on matters of marriage and the home: the Church was uncompromisingly for (a) Christian marriage, that is, a relationship freely contracted by two baptized believers, which endured so long as life lasted, with (b) due reference (as was always the case) to the social organism, the Church. Very early in our history St. Polycarp spoke of the submission to the Church of the proposed betrothal before it came to pass. A few latent and implicit principles it may be well to state, as the governing causes of Christian behavior. The Body of Christ was, for example, deemed of far more importance than the satisfactions and even the "happiness" of individuals. Again, for example, the Church was not afraid to be radically different, in fact, to an extent undreamed of today, the Christian's life was lived in a society apart. The Church did not abate one jot or tittle of its own ideals, demands, and standards. The new convert had to come out of and forsake his former manner of life, behavior, and standards, when he became a Christian. The whole attitude is about as different from that of modern Christianity as one can well conceive. Our modern discussions of the subject, with their remnants of prudery, their suffusions of mawkish sentimentality, their inordinate self-reference, and their deprecatory attitude to the clamor of men for self-satisfaction, "romance" and "happiness"--would then have been unthinkable. The Early Church had never heard of the pragmatic inquiry, Will it work? The Early Church demanded, rather than pleaded in a deprecatory fashion, for some modicum of obedience. Early Christian marriage ideals were very likely "successful" in practice, partly because so few people were concerned as to whether they would "work" or not. Marriage was thought to concern the whole Church, not solely the two persons involved. The contract was, like all others in the relations between man and man, based on the principle of respect for personality. This might be stated as: never to treat another as less than a person; or positively, always to treat every other human being as a person.
Again, take the intimately related question of sex. The world into which the Church was born, grew, and flourished was on the whole dualistic. That is, it opposed matter with the spiritual and thought in so doing it enhanced and advanced the spiritual. Not so the Christianity of the Catholic Church. There was no sign of prudery, or of the salacious degradation of the physical. "Your bodies are the members of Christ" says St. Paul (I Cor. 6:15), and the place of sex-love was fully recognized, not as a forbidden sweet necessary for the continuance of the race, nor as an overmastering animal instinct to be satisfied without reserve. Again, we find the social reference, and the reference is to the Body of Christ.
Undoubtedly St. Paul was not in feeling pro-feminine, yet the very testimony that an obscure passage affords (viz. I Cor. 11:1-16), shows to what an extent Christianity liberated women and dignified their status. When St. Paul was exasperated with the ebullitions and unconventional extremes to which the long repressed sex gave expression, his very bewilderment (cf. vs. 16) demonstrates the fact that a new position for women had been already achieved. In principle St. Paul is stalwart for the mutual respect for personality which is the basic principle of all human relations according to Christianity.
(ii.) Society was in large measure transformed by the Church. Such an institution as slavery, for example, was first accepted as a fact in the real world (though denounced in principle), and then later condemned with effectiveness, and ultimately had to be given up. Never within the Fellowship did worldly standards and divisions gain admission. The only way this end could be secured was by the only means the Church adopted: to be aloof, different, and all-inclusive. I mean by the last to suggest a paradox: since the Church claimed the whole of man, it had to exclude all other loyalties. The organism called Christianity was in fact omnicompetent, and controlled all of life from the cradle to the grave. The Pagan Empire from its point of view rightly regarded the Church as a cancer in its own life, and did its best in vain to eradicate and destroy it. Then the time came when the Church had to take over the rule of that same secular society which had, in the days of heathenism, regarded it as a malignant growth threatening its very life.
The Church, as has been suggested, has never believed that a man can lift himself by his own bootstraps. In other words, to achieve change there must be leverage from without. To affect the world and to alter it, you cannot identify yourself with it. Even as our Lord, "thought equality with God a thing that He need not grasp for" (since it was His eternally and unalterably) "but humbled himself" and became man. "The Word made flesh" did not cease to be the Word. He remained what He had been in becoming other, and in so doing saved mankind. The Church had to keep herself uncontaminated, aloof, and apart; and having been so for centuries, when the time came could come closer to human society to reform and repristinate it. One effect of the Establishment of the Church by the State under Constantine and his successors was the setting up, apart from the ordinary life of the Church, of what is called The Religious Life. Society at large could only be regenerated by the Society of God. The society of mankind needed fertilization from the Society of Christ--His Church. Intimately in touch, yet aloof; related, yet detached; at one with, yet apart from--the Church gave her energies to the repristination of social ideals in the relations between man and man. One of the strange things is that social ideals, and to a great extent family ideals as well, were largely propagated by the Religious. From outside they could construe both aspects of life from the vantage ground of independent objectivity.
(iii.) So closely bound up with the social were the economic and political aspects of life, that all may really be considered together in a brief historical appraisal. From the earliest days, economic sin, i.e., covetousness and greed, was classed among the other mortal sins, like murder, adultery and idolatry. The Church's attention to economic matters, as well as to society at large, was as essential a part of her prophetic and royal function. As medieval life flowered under the Christian Empires of the East and the West, ecclesiastics were to the fore in the direction and control of economic principles and life. For example, there were the several important principles of the just price, the elimination of unjust competition, the condemnation of "usury," and the like.
(iv.) Likewise the regeneration of the political order, in regard to which the Church both spoke and acted in medieval as in earlier times, showed to what an extent political life was capable of perceiving the Christian ideal. Men as a whole never completely lived it out, for human nature has not been so different in the various stages of its history. Principles and a program did, however, exist in those days. John of Salisbury, in his Polycraticus; St. Thomas of Aquinas and his continuator, writing on The Rule of Princes; Dante on the Divine Monarchy, and a host of smaller fry, clarified the ideal at the same time that they held as definitely to the real. In the past few centuries,--since, in fact, that grave disruption of the unity of things, and distortion of the place of the Church in the various aspects of man's life (which is one aspect of the Reformation),--a sinful and iniquitous self-abnegation and a vicious and false humility have exemplified the paralysis of the Church's function with reference to all these domains of life.
(v.) The earlier centuries of Christian life bred a true inter nationalism. This was in part an inheritance and in part an achievement. It is of the essence of genuine Christianity that it should transcend not only the barriers of time and circumstance, but also those of color, race, or nation. For the Church to abrogate her birthright of Pentecost to become the mouthpiece of a strident and assertive nationalism, or even the embodiment of a racial or national culture, constitutes a grave betrayal of her divine trust. Such actions (and all parts of the Church Catholic have been guilty) call for deepened penitence on our part. That penitence must elicit action: the proclamation of the truth that the full Faith of the Church is both inter- and super-racial, both inter- and super-national. Identification with the past must be compensated for by aloofness; too great intimacy. balanced by a new--because it is an old and achieved--freedom.
2. Christianity has always proclaimed the paramount obligation of one great allegiance--to God alone. Loyalty to Him is supreme over all other bonds and relationships. To compromise one iota of that independence from all beside Him, in utter dependence upon Him, is sacrilege and treason. For example, we have been gravely remiss in the realm of the restatement of the Christian Faith. Let us be clear and honest-minded, and let us call things by their right names. A theological "restatement," in common honesty, should be the stating over again of an old truth in new terms. To say something quite different from the old cannot by any stretch of the imagination be fairly called "restatement." It is absolutely necessary that there should be frequent restatement: be assured of that. But to disguise an entirely new statement as just another way of proclaiming an old truth is not honest.
It is important for us modern Christians to keep this principle clearly in view, no matter how keenly we realize the twofold quality of the tradition of Christian Truth. This double-sided character appears most clearly in the matter of (a) the unchanging Truth, and (b) the changing apprehension of that Truth. What has been revealed is eternally so; how we perceive it, what "new" truths may be brought out of the treasury of the "old," may change, under the guidance of the Spirit, from generation to generation. We must always keep in mind, to put this in another way, that what is give is not what is received; nor, for that matter, is what is received the same as that which is mediated. The generations of believers do--yes, must, make their contribution to the "Faith . . . once delivered," under the guidance of the Spirit sent to guide them into all the Truth.
What we need today is what has been so marvelously evinced in generations of the past: the courage and fearlessness in reinvestigation and genuine restatement, which is consistently loyal to the Spirit's guidance of our forefathers. Where reason and the intellect are con cerned, we have not been rationalistic and intellectual enough. Denials and repudiations, ready dismissals with an easy gesture, and the verdict of irrelevancy of what the past has held of value, are all so absurdly easy of achievement. As a balky mule can stubbornly refuse to go forward, the smallest-minded of us can easily say, "No." The real adventure, on the other hand, is the fearless quest of the orthodox believers' restatement of truth. The courage it takes to repudiate is very slight, as compared with his who says: "I believe."
3. Christianity in the past has concerned herself deeply with the problems of the individual. If at times the Church may have over emphasized his social relationships, i.e., his character and function as a member of The Society par excellence, she nevertheless has never failed to interest herself in him as an individual. When a young student today engages in preparation for legal, medical, or social work, he acquaints himself with the case system or method. This is, of course, nothing but the utilization under new disciplines and conditions of our much maligned old friend casuistry, which was the study of cases. It is a bit singular, and more than a bit ironic, that the ready verdict of frequent laxity, alleged by a more self-confident and ignorant generation, laid against some past decisions of casuists, is now being borne out by the recent Science of the New Psychology. In short, the best resources of their contemporary knowledge were utilized in the past towards the discernment of man's spiritual, intellectual and emotional needs, towards their satisfaction according to and under the will of God for him. The Church of the past continually brought out of her treasures "things new and old."
WE have been hearing of the complex and chaotic world in which we live, and I invite your attention now to a consideration of the Church's resources with reference to its needs and problems.
What have the primary and the secondary resources of the Church to offer to a confused world today? First of all, the lessons of the past. There is, for example, the paradox of Jesus Himself in His qualities of remoteness and intimacy; aloofness and immediacy; dispassionateness and compassionateness; without illusions yet not disillusionment; human yet divine, and divine yet human; God and Man. Whatever else the Church must show herself to be to a troubled world is both such qualities as these: she is not removed from men and their problems, not indifferent and careless, not confined to her own peculiar concrete preoccupations: she must be interested and aware, passionately interested and acutely aware. Yet to help and serve she must also preserve an intactness and uncontamination--a genuine aloofness, and apartness, viewing the problems of the moment as from without. The world cannot be helped by the Church if the Church sinks herself into or succumbs to the world. Her complete independence is the only warrant and guarantee of her assistance to the world.
As prophet the Church must speak with authority, definiteness and decision. The prophet is on God's side against the world of men. Small wonder then if prophets are seldom popular, especially in their own countries. The same dominical precept has special relevance whenever a nationalized Church dare to follow the Spirit's guidance and speak out. The storm of abuse and resentment is in direct pro portion to the intimacy of that Church with the ways of its folk. The suppression of prophecy and the prophetic note in modern Christianity is one of the most ominous signs of the day. The courageous protests of the minority in Germany today--the Roman, and especially the Lutheran and Evangelisch clergy--are of special moment. But more yet is demanded. Prophets speak with the authority of God's own leading, with definiteness, and finality, even if their decisiveness be embodied in a conditional sentence. Where has the world today found such prophetic insight that it, even if in its resentment, lending but a reluctant ear, be reassured in the conviction that "God bath not left himself without witness"-- even in these our days? We may thank God that whatever sectarianism our own communion possesses has not obscured or precluded the leading that several of our distinguished hierarchy abroad have given the world. Thank God, and pray for more of the same!
As priest the Church exercises a mediatorial office in the world: as ambassador for Christ it begs man to be reconciled with God, (II. Cor. 5:20). Yet the Church should do still more. You to whom I now speak, share in the priesthood of Christ. Professional parsons are priests--yes, priests of the Body of Christ; but the basic priesthood resides in the whole of that Body, not in certain few individuals thereof. Realize and make effective that priesthood! A priest (a) has a sacrifice to offer, and (b) acts as a mediator between God and Man. The Sacrifice, once offered is ever being re-presented; the mediatorship once effected is ever being re-exerted. For to speak of Calvary in the past tense is to reduce our Lord's eternal act to the proportions of time; to re-enact it is to partake of its eternity. To act as if His mediatorial work were done and over is to fasten it to a past event in history. As has been well said of the Atonement: "What Christ did for us He must now do in us." Your and my act of faith in the atonement is manifested in our own share in that active atonement. Our dear Church must become alive to its privilege and obligation. The restoration of the Holy Sacrifice of the "Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ" (as the Holy Communion is described in the Book of Common Prayer) is an earnest of our share in the work of the priesthood. Further, read over the last paragraph of the Consecration Prayer of the Eucharist: "And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves," etc. We do have something to offer God--our dear Lord, whose members we are, and ourselves, as members of Him. We do penance for the sins of the world, which in part we share, and in part we are aloof from. The priestly office of the Church, exercised not nearly so much in fact as in theory, is a new act whereby reassurance may be given to mankind of an eternal and abiding fact in the relations between God and man.
The Church possesses also the Kingly office of Christ. "The kingdoms of this world," proclaimed the author of what one of its most recent commentators called the Statesman's Handbook, "are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). Afar off is this consummation. But Christ has already purchased to Himself an universal Church. Wherever His Spirit is, there He already reigns. His Church is the evincement of His authority, a fellowship in which the Writ of the King of kings runs. By the conquest of His colossal humility all this world is His. By the joyful conquest of our own following of Him the cause of the King of kings will triumph. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. 12: 11). The kingly conquest is yet to be achieved in our generation by us whom St. Peter calls "a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, a royal priesthood" (I. Peter 2:5,9). What of the grave discrepancy between theory and fact, between alleged claim and possible achievement?
Bear with me, therefore, while I pass in review some of the problems of human relationships which we have received as of the past. We have distinguished three chief aspects of these relatednesses--of man to men; of man to God; of man to himself. It is true, of course, obviously enough to Churchwomen, that we may not exhaust the meaning of Christianity by describing it as if it were a unique relationship, and hence a way of behavior, as between God, on the one hand, and me, on the other. Bifocal Christianity is incomplete. Essential historic Christianity is trifocal. God to man; man to men; man to himself. Let us order our consideration in this series: the relatedness of man to men; of man to God; of man to himself. What treasures new and old can be poured out to the poverty-stricken modern world?
FOR the modern family the Church proposes the ideal of the Christian household. Marriage is not a civil contract. It is not an experiment. It is to be contracted between two believers who have a common basis of faith and aspiration, and of that love which is spiritual maturity. "Love" will not mean only the passion of physical desire, though that should not be absent, nor the sentimental quality of enjoyment of emotions and feelings, as a satisfactory end in itself. Love will mean the freedom to and the achievement of a constant and consistent outgoing of the self to the loved one. It will not be self-seeking, or acquisitive. It joyously welcomes sacrifice. It has no fears. It will not be dictated to by any voice save God's.
For those to whom this knowledge has not come, who may have missed their way, violated conventions either in ignorance or in the ill-adjusted preparation for the home that characterizes so much of our life today, whether nominally Christian or not, there will be compassionate understanding, charity, and active help. The art of family life of the Christian home it is the peculiar office of the Church to impart.
May I inject a few comments and suggestions? (1) It is not fair to hold people to a contract that they had no intention of making. (2) It is not just to demand of men and women what, without grace in His Church, they are not able to perform. (3) It is not right to deny the opportunity for repentance and amendment to those who, whether in newborn repentance or knowledge, beg that privilege. (4) Every instance of the survival of Manichaeistic heresy on the matter of sex and sex relations demands understanding consideration. It is high time that the place of the art of love in marriage be no longer regarded as a kind of ecclesiastical pariah, but in frank recognition of the need of its dissemination, some specific teaching of the art of Christian marriage be made available. (5) Pursuant to the measured weight of the Lambeth statement, our own Church should offer still further guidance in the matter of what is called "Birth Control." Neither the doctrinaire verdict of theorists whether celibate or otherwise, or the undisciplined hysteria of the hedonists offers proper guidance to modern-minded Christians.
Fear, as John assures us, is the opposite of "perfect love which casts out fear" (I. John 4:18). It is not hate but fear (which, as a matter of fact, begets hate) that blocks the free-running course of love between man and man, or men and God. Marriage in the Christian Sacrament should be a contract between equals: to marry solely out of need vitiates the quality of contribution to the fine art of effecting that Sacrament. When a man looks to his wife-to-be as a combining of the offices of economical housekeeper, hostess, mother of his children, and mistress; or when a woman looks to her husband-to-be as "provider," solver of domestic problems, satisfactory love-mate, and father-substitute, the whole relationship between the man and woman about to be married is vitiated and degraded. Why? Because each is taking the other at less than the Christian evaluation, which is, in sum, a relationship between personalities and a relationship between two equal personalities. Ever to treat any human being as less than a human person is of the essence of sin.
The like should hold for our attitude toward children. We have heard much of discipline in education, and rightly. It is vastly and utterly necessary, at least as a preparation to cope with the actual world in which, as a matter of fact, we must learn to want what we get rather than to get what we want. This is true. But in the selfish self indulgence of many parents, who find it the easiest way to indulge the child and induce illusions which subsequent experience will inevitably discredit, whether in the matter of "spoiling" children, or in over-disciplining them, the same evil tendency becomes manifest: to deal with any human beings, even our own offspring, at less than the human level of respect for personality is to sin against God, against them, and against ourselves.
In the complicated social and economic chaos in which we live, what guidance can we expect from the Church? The same canon must present, first of all: when employers think of their employees as "hands"; when social workers regard the people whom they try to help as "cases"; yes, when doctors, lawyers, and priests consider their clients as either "cases," "jobs," or "appointments," they are both showing and perpetuating a vicious degradation of the ideal of human relationships. Mind you, in innumerable instances it is utterly necessary to preserve that needed objectivity, without which emotion will be intermingled with judgment and feelings with wisdom, but to fail to deal with any human being as a unity is not only unscientific, not only futile and ineffective, but it is both invalid, untrue, void and vicious. Only the Church can restore balance: can inject the needed correctives to over-sympathy in inspiring objectivity; can balance the chilly aloofness of the scientific expert, in his dispassionateness, with the Compassion which is not of man but of God.
The Church must say, for no one else says it, to mankind: "Think with your head and not with your heart!" Stop emotionalizing your judgments: see the facts clearly, and without regard either to self depreciation, self-vaunting, or self-reference. The ruthlessness of the procedure will prove inevitably unpopular. No other voice is being raised in these days to lodge an appeal to human intelligence, to investigate, examine, analyze, and estimate the factors and causes of our present situation. The Church is enthroned not in the earthlies but in the heavenlies; she is as much above Capitalism as above Socialism, Communism, or Fascism. Social, political, and economic questions she must urge mankind to face, not to dodge; to seek, not shirk their answers; to cope with, not to run away from them. The Church has outlived the heydays of many social and economic organizations of human life: the Pagan Roman omnicompetent State; the iniquitous slave society; the barbarisms of many a transition epoch; the feudalism of the Middle Ages; the ghastliness of the nascent nationalism and individualism of the Renaissance; the Revolution of the Reformation; also the Industrial, the American, the French and many another-- "Revolution": these are incidents in the history of her experience. She has long since learned that when men fail to face facts they make futile the finest faculties they possess. She must see, and make us see, that beyond the present facts are final truths, aims, motives, and mainsprings for endeavor, which she alone can proclaim. In the troublous times in which we live, equanimity, fearlessness, honest courage, and a high faith are the unique contributions she can make to the needs of men.
2. But, after all, men need God most of all. It is, as the Catechism puts it, "our duty to God" which is of supreme importance. As a deservedly popular preacher has put it, many modern Americans think of God as the 'Cosmic Bell-hop." So long as men are allowed comfortably to rest in their tenderly-cherished notions that God exists for them and not that they exist for God, there will be fundamental maladjustment. What I may happen to think of God is not half so important as what God thinks of me. To get this idea home will involve a violent wrench. All the education you and I have been exposed to, makes, as the ancient Greek puts it, "man the measure of all things." This is utter nonsense. He is not. It is God who alone is the measure of all things, including man. This man-centered world, largely a world of delusion and self-illusion, must be told how wrongly centered it is. If is off-centered, which is another way of saying, eccentric.
When, for example, we with such plausibility claim the right to whittle down what God has revealed to us, to the dimensions of our present comprehension; when we try to assess God (think of the absurdity of it!) to pass Him under the bar of our own judgment; when we look at this Universe, His Universe, to the end of saying whether or not we can approve of it; when we reduce the terms of the given to the weakness of our present rational powers of taking, then, I say we are violently wrong. Life is not like that. God is not like that. Our experience is not like that! It is so utterly silly and futile, so completely wide of the mark!
As to the other side, faith is not credulity. There is no merit attached to blind obedience, to the servile act of self-abnegation whereby one abrogates, dis-esteems, disavows, and destroys a God-given attitude--that of right reason and clear thinking. As our Lord said in effect years ago to the Pharisees, you are not legal enough: "except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees," etc., (St. Matt. 5:20), so He says to us: "You boast of reason, but you do not carry it far enough. You make much of your intellectual judgments, but you do not burst through the walls within which alone you allow them play." The best use of our reason, in short, is the least we can give to the service of our Faith: a free, fear less, and faith-inspired reason, independent and courageous and untrammeled--but, loyal and serene and secure at the same time. As Father Waggett once said, "An unreasoned gospel means an ungospeled reason," so every resource of the mind of every believer must be brought to bear on the things of the Faith, not solely in the matter of defence--though that is needed--nor of offence--though that may be the more bitterly needed, but in the matter of re-appreciation and re-pristination the need for which, to our generation, surpasses both the others. God must be the center and organizing principle of all life, social, economic, political, and national, as well as spiritual and intellectual.
3. Not only is this principle true with regard to man's relation ships in the twofold direction of his fellowmen, and his God, but its validity with reference to the complex world of man's own soul needs to be proclaimed by His Church. The symbols of our modern science may be found in two instruments, the telescope and the microscope. The former makes a far-off world small enough for its tremendous vastness to be known to us; the latter makes the minute world great enough for us to perceive it. It is even so with the soul of man. It is both a macrocosm and a microcosm: a world of relationships within the confines of a personality, and this personality in turn is a kind of summary of the whole spiritual and emotional history of the race, The New Psychology, rejecting the excesses of extremists and materialistic theorists, has much of great value to teach us about the problems of the personality, about its depressions, its maladjustments, its inner frictions which block efficient effort, and its capacities for attaining a conspicuously Christian ideal, that of spiritual maturity, and of the natural means of achieving it. When we break a leg, or develop an infection, we do not go to a priest but to a physician. So now we are beginning to realize that affections may be broken and inhibited, and emotions can become infected, and we need psychiatric help. For the purely scientific investigation and removal of the causes of psychic and emotional disorders the believer needs the specialist; for, however, the motive and value ends of life, the aim and purpose side of effortfulness, the natural man needs religion--to give meaning and point to the adventure of living. Above all, the witness of the Church must repeatedly be borne to the truth--so clearly put by a distinguished woman writer on mysticism--that life may be harmonized on too low a level." Religion and the Church only can justify the claim that a harmonious adjustment of the personality to reality must ultimately--yes, fundamentally--include God, as the Ultimate Reality. All adjustments of any smaller caliber will fail of achieving harmony, for as St. Augustine put it, "Thou hast created us for Thee, and the heart of m remains ill at ease until it comes to rest in Thee."
I HAVE been talking to you frankly and possibly at too great length of the reflections I have been making on the matter of the Church's Resources in the face of our modern problems. I bid you then in conclusion, first, renew and deepen faith: the whole basis of our best and finest relatednesses, with God, man and self rest upon faith. Unless I can say, I believe, and venture, risk and hazard much, I impede and paralyze all fruitful and dynamic possibilities within these relationships. Secondly, I bespeak a new and deeper penitence, a creative penitence that makes possible a new vision, that sees with clear ness, steadily and fearlessly, that is strong enough to be humble, not so tremblingly fearful that it must be proud. Thirdly, I bespeak the best efforts of intelligence, study, and the labor of the mind. So much of the modern expression of Christianity is intellectually contemptible, that a great work--as consecrated and as self-sacrificing as that of any other profoundly spiritual act--must be undertaken by the children of the Church, that her resources may be both revealed and made known, and then released in abundant measure. Lastly, in her treasures there are things new and old. Neither the newness of the new must shock us, nor the oldness of the old be allowed to bore us. For the new, after all, is but a living unfolding of the old, and the old is eternally fresh and new. The glory of our Faith is its perennially fresh vitality. The spontaneous novelty of it comes from the wellsprings of eternal life in the age-long Heart of God.