Fifty Years in the Church of Rome
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This page contains Chapters 11-15
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Table of Contents
Chapter 11 . . . Protestant Children in the Convents and Nunneries of Rome Chapter 12 . . . Rome and Education- Why does the Church of Rome hate the Common Schools of the United States, and want to destroy them?- Why does she object to the reading of the Bible in the Schools? Chapter 13 . . . Theology of the Church of Rome: its Anti-Christian Character Chapter 14 . . . The Vow of Celibacy Chapter 15 . . . The Impurities of the Theology of Rome
CHAPTER 11 - Protestant Children in the Convents and Nunneries of Rome
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We read in the history of Paganism that parents were often, in those dark ages, slaying their children upon the altars of their gods, to appease their wrath or obtain their favours. But we now see a strange thing. It is that of Christian parents forcing their children into the temples and to the very feet of the idols of Rome, under the fallacious notion of having them educated! While the Pagan parent destroyed only the temporal life of his child, the Christian parent, for the most part, destroys his eternal life. The Pagan was consistent: he believed in the almighty power and holiness of his gods; he sincerely thought that they ruled the world, and that they blessed both the victims and those who offered them. But where is the consistency of the Protestant who drags his child and offers him as a sacrifice on the altars of the Pope! Does he believe in his holiness or in his supreme and infallible power of governing the intelligence? Then why does he not go and throw himself at his feet and increase the number of his disciples? The Protestants who are guilty of this great wrong are wont to say, as an excuse, that the superiors of colleges and convents have assured them that their religious convictions would be respected, and that nothing should be said or done to take away or even shake the religion of their children.
Our first parents were not more cruelly deceived by the seductive words of the serpent than the Protestants are this day by the deceitful promises of the priests and nuns of Rome.
I had been myself the witness of the promise given by our superior to a judge of the State of New York, when, a few days later that same superior, the Rev. Mr. Leprohon, said to me: "You know some English, and this young man knows French enough to enable you to understand each other. Try to become his friend and to bring him over to our holy religion. His father is a most influential man in the United States, and that, his only son, is the heir of an immense fortune. Great results for the future of the Church in the neighbouring republic might follow his conversion."
I replied: "Have you forgotten the promise you have made to his father, never to say or do anything to shake or take away the religion of that young man?"
My superior smiled at my simplicity, and said: "When you shall have studied theology you will know that Protestantism is not a religion, but that it is the negation of religion. Protesting cannot be the basis of any doctrine. Thus, when I promised Judge Pike that the religious convictions of his child should be respected, and that I would not do anything to change his faith, I promised the easiest thing in the world, since I promised not to meddle with a thing which has no existence."
Convinced, or rather blinded by the reasoning of my superior, which is the reasoning of every superior of a college or nunnery, I set myself to work from that moment to make a good Roman Catholic of that young friend; and I would probably have succeeded had not a serious illness forced him, a few months after, to go home, where he died.
Protestants who may read these lines will, perhaps, be indignant against the deceit and knavery of the superior of the college of Nicolet. But I will say to those Protestants, It is not on that man, but on yourselves, that you must pour your contempt. The Rev. Mr. Leprohon was honest. He acted conformably to principles which he thought good and legitimate, and for which he would have cheerfully given the last drop of his blood. He sincerely believed that your Protestantism is a mere negation of all religion, worthy of the contempt of every true Christian. It was not the priest of Rome who was contemptible, dishonest and a traitor to his principles, but it was the Protestant who was false to his Gospel and to his own conscience by having his child educated by the servants of the Pope. Moreover, can we not truthfully say that the Protestant who wishes to have his children bred and educated by a Jesuit or a nun is a man of no religion? and that nothing is more ridiculous than to hear such a man begging respect for his religious principles! A man's ardent desire to have his religious convictions respected is best known by his respecting them himself.
The Protestant who drags his children to the feet of the priests of Rome is either a disguised infidel or a hypocrite. It is simply ridiculous for such a man to speak of his religious convictions or beg respect for them. His very humble position a the feet of a Jesuit or a nun, begging respect for his faith, is a sure testimony that he has none to lose. If he had any he would not be there, an humble and abject suppliant. He would take care to be where there could be no danger to his dear child's immortal soul.
When I was in the Church of Rome, we often spoke of the necessity of making superhuman efforts to attract young Protestants into our colleges and nunneries, as the shortest and only means of ruling the world before long. And as the mother has in her hands, still more than the father, the destinies of the family and of the world, we were determined to sacrifice everything in order to build nunneries all over the land, where the young girls, the future mothers of our country, would be moulded in our hands and educated according to our views.
Nobody can deny that this is supreme wisdom. Who will not admire the enormous sacrifices made by Romanists in order to surround the nunneries with so many attractions that it is difficult to refuse them preference above all other female scholastic establishments? One feels so well in the shade of these magnificent trees during the hot days of summer! It is so pleasant to live near this beautiful sheet of water, or the rapid current of that charming river, or to have constantly before one's eye the sublime spectacle of the sea! What a sweet perfume the flowers of that parterre diffuse around that pretty and peaceful convent! And, besides, who can withstand the almost angelic charms of the Lady Superior! How it does one good to be in the midst of those holy nuns, whose modesty, affable appearance and lovely smile present such a beautiful spectacle, that one would think of being at heaven's gate rather than in a world of desolation and sin!
O foolish man! Thou art always the same ever ready to be seduced by glittering appearances ever ready to suppress the voice of thy conscience at the first view of a deductive object!
One day I had embarked in the boat of a fisherman on the coast of one of those beautiful islands which the hand of God has placed at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In a few minutes the white sail, full-blown by the morning breeze, had carried us nearly a mile from the shore. There we dropped our anchor, and soon our lines, carried by the current, offered the deceitful bait to the fishes. But not one would come. One would have thought that the sprightly inhabitants of these limpid waters had acted in concert to despise us. In vain did we move our lines to and fro to attract the attention of the fishes; not one would come! We were tired. We lamented the prospect of losing our time, and of being laughed at by our friends on the shore who were waiting the result of our fishing to dine. Nearly one hour was spent in his manner, when the captain said, "Indeed, I will make the fishes come."
Opening a box, he took out handfuls of little pieces of finely-cut fishes and threw them broadcast on the water.
I was looking at him with curiosity, and I received with a feeling of unbelief the promise of seeing, in a few moments, more mackerel than I could pick up. These particles of fish, falling upon the water, scattered themselves in a thousand different ways. The rays of the sun, sporting among these numberless fragments, and thousands of scales, gave them a singular whiteness and brilliancy. They appeared like a thousand diamonds, full of movement and life, that sported and rolled themselves, running at each other, while rocking upon the waves.
As these innumerable little objects withdrew from us they looked like the milky way in the firmament. The rays of the sun continued to be reflected upon the scales of the fishes in the water, and to transform them into as many pearls, whose whiteness and splendor made an agreeable contrast with the deep green colour of the sea.
While looking at that spectacle, which was so new to me, I felt my line jerked out of my hands, and soon had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent mackerel lying at my feet. My companions were as fortunate as I was. The bait so generously thrown away had perfectly succeeded in bringing us not only hundreds, but thousands of fishes, and we caught as many of them as the boat could carry.
The Jesuits and the nuns are the Pope's cleverest fishermen, and the Protestants are the mackerel caught upon their baited hooks. Never fisherman knew better to prepare the perfidious bait than the nuns and Jesuits, and never were stupid fishes more easily caught than Protestants in general.
The priests of Rome themselves boast that more than half of the pupils of the nuns are the children of Protestants, and that seven-tenths of those Protestant children, sooner or later, become the firmest disciples and the true pillars of Popery in the United States. It is with that public and undeniable fact before them that the Jesuits have prophesied that before twenty-five years the Pope will rule that great republic; and if there is not a prompt change their prophecy will probably be accomplished.
"But," say many Protestants, "where can we get safer securities that the morals of our girls will be sheltered than in those convents? The faces of those good nuns, their angelic smiles, even their lips, from which seems to flow a perfume from heaven are not these the unfailing signs that nothing will taint the hearts of our dear children when they are under the care of those holy nuns?" Angelic smiles! Lips from which flow a perfume from heaven! Expressions of peace and holiness of the good nuns! Delusive allurements! Cruel deceptions! Mockery of comedy! Yes, all these angelic smiles, all these expressions of joy and happiness, are but allurements to deceive honest but too trusting men!
I believed myself for a long time that there was something true in all the display of peace and happiness which I saw reflected in the faces of a good number of nuns. But how soon my delusions passed away when I read with my own eyes, in a book of the secret rules of the convent, that one of their rules is always, especially in the presence of strangers, to have an appearance of joy and happiness, even when the soul is overwhelmed with grief and sorrow! The motives given to the nuns, for thus wearing a continual mask, is to secure the esteem and respect of the people, and to win more securely the young ladies to the convent!
All know the sad end of life of one of the most celebrated female comedians of the American Theatre. She had acted her part in the evening with a perfect success. She appeared so handsome, and so happy on the stage! Her voice was such a perfect harmony; her singing was so merry and lively with mirth! Two hours later she was a corpse! She had poisoned herself on leaving the theatre! For some time her heart was broken with grief which she could not bear.
Thus it is with the nun in her cell! forced to play a sacrilegious comedy to deceive the world and to bring new recruits to the monastery. And the Protestants, the disciples of the Gospel, the children of light, suffer themselves to be deceived by this impious comedy.
The poor nun's heart is often full of sorrow, and her soul is drowned in a sea of desolation; but she is obliged, under oath, always to appear gay! Unfortunate victim of the most cruel deception that has ever been invented, that poor daughter of Eve, deprived of all the happiness that heaven has given, tortured night and day by honest aspirations which she is told are unpardonable sins, she has not only to suppress in herself the few buds of happiness which God has left in her soul; but, what is more cruel, she is forced to appear happy in anguish of shame and of deception.
Ah! if the Protestants could know, as I do, how much the hearts of those nuns bleed, how much those poor victims of the Pope feel themselves wounded to death, how almost every one of them die at an early age, broken-hearted, instead of speaking of their happiness and holiness, they would weep at their profound misery. Instead of helping Satan to build up and maintain those sad dungeons by giving both their gold and their children, they would let them crumble into dust, and thus check the torrents of silent though bitter tears which those cells hide from our view.
I was traveling in 1851 over the vast prairies of Illinois in search of a spot which would suit us the best for the colony which I was about to found. One day my companions and myself found ourselves so wearied by the heat that we resolved to wait for the cool night in the shade of a few trees around a brook. The night was calm; there were no clouds in the sky, and the moon was beautiful. Like the sailor upon the sea, we had nothing but our compass to regulate our course on those beautiful and vast prairies. But the pen cannot express the emotions I felt while looking at that beautiful sky and those magnificent deserts opened to our view. We often came to sloughs which we thought deeper than they really were, and of which we would keep the side for fear of drowning our horses. Many a time did I get down from the carriage and stop to contemplate the wonders which those ponds presented to our view.
All the splendours of the sky seemed brought down in those pure and limpid waters. The moon and the stars seemed to have left their places in the firmament to bathe themselves in those delightful lakelets. All the purest, the most beautiful things of the heavens seemed to come down to hide themselves in those tranquil waters as if in search of more peace and purity.
A few days later I was retracing my steps. It was day-time; and, following the same route, I was longing to get to my charming little lakes. But during the interval the heat had been great, the sun very hot, and my beautiful sheets of water had been dried up. My dear little lakes were nowhere to be seen.
And what did I find instead? Innumerable reptiles, with the most hideous forms and filthy colours! No brilliant start, no clear moon were there any more to charm my eyes. There was nothing left but thousands of little toads and snakes, at the sight of which I was filled with disgust and horror!
Protestants! when upon life's way you are tempted to admire the smiling lips and unstained faces of the Pope's nuns, please think of those charming lakes which I saw in the prairies of Illinois, and remember the innumerable reptiles and toads that swarm at the bottom of those deceitful waters.
When, by the light of Divine truth, Protestants see behind these perfect mockeries by which the nun conceals with so much care the hideous misery which devours her heart, they will understand the folly of having permitted themselves to be so easily deceived by appearances. Then they will bitterly weep for having sacrificed to that modern Paganism the future welfare of their children, of their families, and of their country!
"But," says one, "the education is so cheap in the nunnery." I answer, "The education in convents, were it twice cheaper than it is now, would still cost twice more than it is worth. It is in this circumstance that we can repeat and apply the old proverb, `Cheap things are always too highly paid for.'"
In the first place, the intellectual education in the nunnery is completely null. The great object of the Pope and the nuns is to captivate and destroy the intelligence.
The moral education is also of no account; for what kind of morality can a young girl receive from a nun who believes that she can live as she pleases as long as she likes it that nothing evil can come to her, neither in this life nor in the next, provided only she is devout to the Virgin Mary?
Let Protestants read the "Glories of Mary," by St. Liguori, a book which is in the hands of every nun and every priest, and they will understand what kind of morality is practiced and taught inside the walls of the Church of Rome. Yes; let them read the history of that lady who was so well represented at home by the Holy Virgin, that her husband did not perceive that she had been absent, and they will have some idea of what their children may learn in a convent.
CHAPTER 12 - Rome and Education
-Why does the Church of Rome hate the Common Schools of the United States, and want to destroy them?
- Why does she object to the reading of the Bible in the Schools?
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The word education is a beautiful word. It comes from the Latin educare, which means to raise up, to take from the lowest degrees to the highest spheres of knowledge. The object of education is, then, to feed, expand, raise, enlighten, and strengthen the intelligence.
We hear the Roman Catholic priests making use of that beautiful word education as often, in not oftener, than the Protestant. But that word "education" has a very different meaning among the followers of the Pope than among the disciples of the Gospel. And that difference, which the Protestants ignore, is the cause of the strange blunders they make every time they try to legislate on that question here, as well as in England or in Canada.
The meaning of the word education among Protestants is as far from the meaning of that same word among Roman Catholics as the southern pole is from the northern pole. When a Protestant speaks of education, that word is used and understood in its true sense. When he sends his little boy to a Protestant school, he honestly desires that he should be reared up in the spheres of knowledge as much as his intelligence will allow. When that little boy is going to school, he soon feels that he has been raised up to some extent, and he experiences a sincere joy, a noble pride, for this new, though at first very modest raising; but he naturally understands that this new and modest upheaval is only a stone to step on and raise himself to a higher degree of knowledge, and he quickly makes that second step with an unspeakable pleasure. When the son of a Protestant has acquired a little knowledge, he wants to acquire more. When he has learned what this means, he wants to know what that means also. Like the young eagle, he trims his wings for a higher flight, and turns his head upward to go farther up in the atmosphere of knowledge. A noble and mysterious ambition has suddenly seized his young soul. Then he begins to feel something of that unquenchable thirst for knowledge which God Himself has put in the breast of every child of Adam, a thirst of knowledge, however, which will never be perfectly realized except in heaven.
The object of education, then, is to enable man to fulfill that kingly mission of ruling, subduing the world, under the eyes of his Creator.
Let us remember that it is not from himself, nor from any angel, but it is from God Himself that man has received that sublime mission. Yes, it is God Himself who has implanted in the bosom of humanity the knowledge and aspirations of those splendid destinies which can be attained only by "Education."
What a glorious impulse is this that seizes hold of the newly-awakened mind, and leads the young intelligence to rise higher and pierce the clouds that hide from his gaze the splendours of knowledge that lay concealed beyond the gloom of this nether sphere! That impulse is a noble ambition; it is that part of humanity that assimilates itself to the likeness of the great Creator; that impulse which education has for its mission to direct in its onward and upward march, is one of the most precious gifts of God to man. Once more, the glorious mission of education is to foster these thirstings after knowledge and lead man to accomplish his high destiny.
It ought to be a duty with both Roman Catholics and Protestants to assist the pupil in his flight toward the regions of science and learning. But is it so? No. When you, Protestants, send you children to school, you put no fetters to their intelligence; they rise with fluttering wings day after day. Though their flight at first is slow and timid, how happy they feel at every new aspect of their intellectual horizon! How their hearts beat with an unspeakable joy when they begin to hear voices of applause and encouragement from every side saying to them, "Higher, higher, higher!" When they shake their young wings to take a still higher flight, who can express their joy when they distinctly hear again the voices of a beloved mother, of a dear father, of a venerable pastor, cheering them and saying, "Well done! Higher yet, my child, higher!"
Raising themselves with more confidence on their wings, they then soar still higher, in the midst of the unanimous concert of the voices of their whole country encouraging them to the highest flight. It is then that the young man feels his intellectual strength tenfold multiplied. He lifts himself on his eagle wings, with a renewed confidence and power, and soars up still higher, with his heart beating with a noble and holy joy. For from the south and north, from the east and west, the echoes bring to his ears the voices of the admiring multitudes "Rise higher, higher yet!"
He has now reached what he thought, at first, to be the highest regions of thought and knowledge: but he hears again the same stimulating cries from below, encouraging him to a still higher flight toward the loftiest dominion of knowledge and philosophy, till he enters the regions where lies the source of all truth, and light, and life. For he had also heard the voice of his God speaking through His Son Jesus Christ, crying, "Come unto Me! Fear Not! Come unto Me! I am the light, the way! Come to this higher region where the Father, with the Son and the Spirit, reign in endless light!"
Thus does the Protestant scholar, making use of his intelligence as the eagle of his wing, go on from weakness unto strength, from the timid flutter to the bold confident flight, from one degree to another still higher, from one region of knowledge to another still higher, till he loses himself in that ocean of light and truth and life which is God.
In the Protestant schools no fetters are put on the young eagle's wings; there is nothing to stop him in his progress, or paralyze his movements and upward flights. It is the contrary: he receives every kind of encouragement in his flight.
Thus it is that the only truly great nations in the world are Protestants! Thus it is the truly powerful nations in the world are Protestants! Thus it is that the only free nations in the world are Protestants! The Protestant nations are the only ones that acquit themselves like men in the arena of this world; Protestant nations only march as giants at the head of the civilized world. Everywhere they are the advanced guard in the ranks of progress, science and liberty, leaving far behind the unfortunate nations whose hands are tied by the ignominious iron chains of Popery.
After we have seen the Protestant scholar raising himself, on his eagle wings, to the highest spheres of intelligence, happiness, and light, and marching unimpeded toward his splendid destinies, let us turn our eyes toward the Roman Catholic student, and let us consider and pity him in the supreme degradation to which he is subjected.
That young Roman Catholic scholar is born with the same bright intelligence as the Protestant one; he is endowed by his Creator with the same powers of mind as his Protestant meighbour; he has the same impulses, the same noble aspirations implanted by the hand of God in his breast. He is sent to school apparently, like the Protestant boy, to receive what is called "Education." He at first understands that word in its true sense; he goes to school in the hope of being raised, elevated as high as his intelligence and his person efforts will allow. His heart beats with joy, when at once the first rays of light and knowledge come to him; he feels a holy, a noble pride at every new step he makes in his upward progress; he longs to learn more, he wants to rise higher; he also takes up his wings, like the young eagle, and soars up higher.
But here begin the disappointments and tribulations of the Roman Catholic student; for he is allowed to raise himself yes, but when he has raised himself high enough to be on a level with the big toes of the Pope he hears piercing, angry, threatening cries coming from every side "Stop! stop! Do not rise yourself higher than the toes of the Holy Pope!....Kiss those holy toes,....and stop your upward flight! Remember that the Pope is the only source of science, knowledge, and truth!....The knowledge of the Pope is the ultimate limit of learning and light to which humanity can attain....You are not allowed to know and believe what his Holiness does not know and believe. Stop! stop! Do not go an inch higher than the intellectual horizon of the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, in whom only is the plenitude of the true science which will save the world."
Some will perhaps answer me here: "Has not Rome produced great men in every department of science?" I answer, Yes; as I have once done before. Rome can show us a long list of names which shine among the brightest lights of the firmament of science and philosophy. She can show us her Copernicus, her Galileos, her Pascals, her Bossuets, her Lamenais, ect., ect. But it is at their risk and peril that those giants of intelligence have raised themselves into the highest regions of philosophy and science. It is in spite of Rome that those eagles have soared up above the damp and obscure horizon where the Pope offers his big toes to be kissed and worshipped as the ne plus ultra of human intelligence; and they have invariably been punished for their boldness.
On the 22 of June, 1663, Galileo was obliged to fall on his knees in order to escape the cruel death to which he was to be condemned by the order of the Pope; and he signed with his own hand the following retraction: "I abjure, curse, and detest the error and heresy of the motion of the earth," ect., ect.
That learned man had to degrade himself by swearing a most egregious lie, namely, that the earth does not move around the sun. Thus it is that the wings of that giant eagle of Rome were clipped by the scissors of the Pope. That mighty intelligence was bruised, fettered, and, as much as it was possible to the Church of Rome, degraded, silenced, and killed. But God would not allow that such a giant intellect should be entirely strangled by the bloody hands of that implacable enemy of light and truth the Pope. Sufficient strength and life had remained in Galileo to enable him to say, when rising up, "This will not prevent the earth from moving!"
The infallible decree of the infallible Pope, Urban VIII, against the motion of the earth is signed by the Cardinals Felia, Guido, Desiderio, Antonio, Bellingero, and Fabriccioi. It says: "In the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, the plenitude of which resides in His Vicar, the Pope, that the proposition that the earth is not the centre of the world, and that it moves with a diurnal motion is absurd, philosophically false, and erroneous in faith."
What a glorious thing for the Pope of Rome to be infallible! He infallibly knows that the earth does not move around the sun! And what a blessed thing for the Roman Catholics to be governed and taught by such an infallible being. In consequence of that infallible decree, you will admire the following act of human submission of two celebrated Jesuit astronomers, Lesueur and Jacquier: "Newton assumes in his third book the hypothesis of the earth moving around the sun. The proposition of that author could not be explained, except through the same hypothesis: we have, therefore, been forced to act a character not our own. But we declare our entire submission to the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs of Rome against the motion of the earth." (Newton's "Principia," vol. iii., p.450.)
Here you see two learned Jesuits, who have written a very able work to prove that the earth moves around the sun; but, trembling at the thunders of the Vatican, which are roaring on their heads and threaten to kill them, they submit to the decrees of the Popes of Rome against the motion of the earth. These two learned Jesuits tell a most contemptible and ridiculous lie to save themselves from the implacable wrath of that great light-extinguisher whose throne is in the city of the seven hills.
Had the Newtons, the Franklins, the Fultons, the Morses been Romanists, their names would have been lost in the obscurity which is the natural heritage of the abject slaves of the Popes. Being told from their infancy that no one had any right to make use of his "private judgment," intelligence and conscience in the research of truth, they would have remained mute and motionless at the feet of the modern and terrible god of Rome, the Pope. But they were Protestants! In that great and glorious word "Protestant" is the secret of the marvelous discoveries with which they had read a book which told them that they were created in the image of God, and that that great God had sent His eternal Son Jesus to make them free from the bondage of man. They had read in that Protestant book (for the Bible is the most Protestant book in the world) that man had not only a conscience, but an intelligence to guide him; they had learned that that intelligence and conscience had no other master but God, no other guide but God, no other light but God. On the walls of their Protestant schools the Son of God had written the marvelous words: "Come unto Me; I am the Light, the Way, the Life."
But when the Protestant nations are marching with such giant strides to the conquest of the world, why is it that the Roman Catholic nations not only remain stationary, but give evidence of a decadence which is, day after day, more and more appalling and remediless? Go to their schools and give a moment of attention to the principles which are sown in the young intelligences of their unfortunate slaves, and you will have the key to tat sad mystery.
What is not only the first, but the daily school lesson taught to the Roman Catholic? Is it not that one of the greatest crimes which a man can commit is to follow his "private judgment?" which means that he has eyes, but cannot see; ears, but he cannot hear; and intelligence, but he cannot make use of it in the research of truth and light and knowledge, without danger of being eternally damned. His superiors which mean the priest and the Pope must see for him, hear for him, and think for him. Yes, the Roman Catholic is constantly told in his school that the most unpardonable and damnable crime is to make use of his own intelligence and follow his own private judgment in the research of truth. He is constantly reminded that man's own private judgment is his greatest enemy. Hence all his intellectual and conscientious efforts must be brought to fight down, silence, kill his "private judgment." It is by the judgment of his superiors the priest, the bishop and the pope that he must be guided in everything.
Now, what is a man who cannot make use of his "private personal judgment?" Is he not a slave, an idiot, an ass? And what is a nation composed of men who do not make use of their private personal judgment in the research of truth and happiness, if not a nation of brutes, slaves and contemptible idiots?
But as this will look like an exaggeration on my part, allow me to force the Church of Rome to come here and speak for herself. Please pay attention to what she has to say about the intellectual faculties of men. Here are the very words of the so-called Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Society:-
"As for holy obedience, this virtue must be perfect in every point in execution, in will, in intellect; doing which is enjoined with all celerity, spiritual joy and perseverance; persuading ourselves that everything is just, suppressing every repugnant thought and judgment of one's own in a certain obedience; and let every one persuade himself, that he who lives under obedience should be moved and directed, under Divine Providence, by his superior, just as if he were a corpse (perinde asi cadaver esset) which allows itself to be moved and led in every direction."
Some one will, perhaps, ask me what can be the object of the popes and the priests of Rome in degrading the Roman Catholics in such a strange way that they turn them into moral corpses? Why not let them live? The answer is a very easy one. The great, the only object of the thoughts and workings of the Pope and the priests is to raise themselves above the rest of the world. They want to be high! high above the heads not only of the common people, but of the kings and emperors of the world. They want to be not only as high, but higher than God. It is when speaking of the Pope that the Holy Ghost says: "He opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. ii.4). To attain their object, the priests have persuaded their millions and millions of slaves that they were mere corpses; that they must have no will, no conscience, no intelligence of their own, just "as corpses which allow themselves to be moved and led in any way, without any resistance." When this has been once gained, they have made a pyramid of all those motionless, inert corpses which is so high, that though its feet are on the earth, its top goes to the skies, in the very abode of the old divinities of the Pagan world, and putting themselves and their popes at the top of that marvelous pyramid, the priests say to the rest of the world: "Who among you are as high as we are? Who has ever been raised by God as a priest and a pope? Where are the kings and the emperors whose thrones are as elevated as ours? Are we not at the very top of humanity?" Yes! yes! I answer to the priests of Rome, you are high, very high indeed! No throne on earth has ever been so sublime, so exalted as yours. Since the days of the tower of Babel, the world has not seen such a huge fabric. Your throne is higher than anything we know. But it is a throne of corpses!!!
And if you want to know what other use is made of those millions and millions of corpses, I will tell it to you. There is no manure so rich as dead carcasses. Those millions of corpses serve to manure the gardens of the priests, the bishops and the popes, and make their cabbages grow. And what fine cabbages grow in the Pope's garden!
But that you may better understand the degrading tendencies of the principles which are as the fundamental stone of the moral and intellectual education of Rome, let me put before your eyes another extract of the Jesuit teachings, which I take again from the "Spiritual Exercises," as laid down by their founder, Ignatius Loyola: "That we may in all things attain the truth, that we may not err in anything, we ought ever to hold as a fixed principle that what I see white I believe to be black, if the superior authorities of the Church define it to be so."
You all know that it is the avowed desire of Rome to have public education in the hands of the Jesuits. She says everywhere that they are the best, the model teachers. Why so?
Because they more boldly and more successfully than any other of her teachers aim at the destruction of the intelligence and conscience of their pupils. Rome proclaims everywhere that the Jesuits are the most devoted, the most reliable of her teachers; and she is right, for when a man has been trained a sufficient time by them, the most perfectly becomes a moral corpse. His superiors can do what they please with him. When he knows that a thing is white as snow, he is ready to swear that it is black as ink if his superior tells him so. But some may be tempted to think of these degrading principles are exclusively taught by the Jesuits; that they are not the teachings of the Church, and that I do an injustice to the Roman Catholics when I give, as a general iniquity, what is the guilt of the Jesuits only. Listen to the words of that infallible Pope Gregory XVI., in his celebrated Encyclical of the 15th of August, 1832:"If the holy Church so requires, let us sacrifice our own opinions, our knowledge, our intelligence, the splendid dreams of our imagination, and the most sublime attainments of the human understanding."
It is when considering those anti-social principles of Rome that Mr. Gladstone wrote, not long ago: "No more cunning plot was ever devised against the freedom, the happiness and the virtue of mankind than Romanism." ("Letter to Earl Aberdeen.") Now, Protestants, do you begin to see the difference of the object of education between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic school? Do you begin to understand that there is as great a distance between the word "Education" among you, and the meaning of the same word in the Church of Rome, than between the southern and the northern poles! By education you mean to raise man to the highest sphere of manhood. Rome means to lower him below the most stupid brutes. By education you mean to teach man that he is a free agent, that liberty within the limits of the laws of God and of his country is a gift secured to every one; you want to impress every man with the noble thought that it is better to die a free man than to live a slave. Rome wants to teach that there is only one man who is free, the Pope, and that all the rest are born to be his abject slaves in thought, will and action.
Now, that you may still more understand to what a bottomless abyss of human degradation and moral depravity these anti-Christian and antisocial principles of Rome lead her poor blind slaves, read what Liguori says in his book "The Nun Sanctified": "The principal and most efficacious means of practicing obedience due to superiors, and of rendering it meritorious before God, is to consider that in obeying them we obey God Himself, and that by despising their commands we despise the authority of our Divine Master. When, thus, a religious receives a precept from her prelate, superior or confessor, she should immediately execute it, not only to please them but principally to please God, whose will is made known to her by their command. In obeying their command, in obeying their directions, she is more certainly obeying the will of God than if an angel came down from heaven to manifest His will to her. Bear this always in your mind, that the obedience which you practice to your superior is paid to God. If, then, you receive a command from one who holds the place of God, you should observe it with the same diligence as if it came from God Himself. Blessed Egidus used to say that it is more meritorious to obey man for the love of God than God Himself. It may be added that there is more certainty of doing the will of God by obedience to our superior than by obedience to Jesus Christ, should He appear in person and give His commands. St. Phillip de Neri used to say that religious shall be most certain of not having to render an account of the actions performed through obedience; for these the superiors only who commanded them shall be held accountable." The Lord said once to St. Catherine of Sienne, "Religious will not be obliged to render an account to me of what they do through obedience; for that I will demand an account from the superior. This doctrine is conformable to Sacred Scripture: `Behold, says the Lord, as clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hands, O Israel!' (Jeremiah xviii. 6.) A religious man must be in the hands of the superiors to be moulded as they will. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, What art Thou making? The Potter ought to answer `Be silent; it is not your business to inquire what I do, but to obey and to receive whatever form I please to give you.'"
I ask you, American Protestants, what would become of your fair country if you were blind enough to allow the Church of Rome to teach the children of the United States? What kind of men and women can come out of such schools? What future of shame, degradation, and slavery you prepare for your country if Rome does succeed in forcing you to support such schools? What kind of women would come out from the schools of nuns who would teach them that the highest pitch of perfection in a woman is when she obeys her superior, the priest, in everything he commands her! that your daughter will never be called to give an account to God for the actions she will have done to please and obey her superior, the priest, the bishop, or the Pope? That the affairs of her conscience will be arranged between God and that superior, and that she will never be asked why she had done this or that, when it will be to gratify the pleasures of the superior and obey his command that she has done it. Again, what kind of men and citizens will come out from the schools of those Jesuits who believe and teach that a man has attained the perfection of manhood only when he is a perfect spiritual corpse before his superior; when he obeys the priest with the perfection of a cadaver, that has neither life nor will in itself.
CHAPTER 13 - Theology of the Church of Rome: its Anti-Christian Character
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Talleyrand, one of the most celebrated Roman Catholic bishops of France, once said, "Language is the art of concealing one's thoughts." Never was there a truer expression, if it had reference to the awful deceptions practiced by the Church of Rome under the pompous name of "Theological studies."
Theology is the study of the knowledge of the laws of God. Nothing, then, is more noble than the study of theology. How solemn were my thoughts and elevated my aspirations when, in 1829, under the guidance of the Rev. Messrs. Rimbault and Leprohon, I commenced my theological coarse of study at Nicolet, which I was to end in 1833!
I supposed that my books of theology were to bring me nearer to my God by the more perfect knowledge I would acquire, in their study, of His holy will and His sacred laws. My hope was that they would be to my heart what the burning coal, brought by the angel of the Lord, was to the lips of the prophet of old.
The principal theologians which we had in our hands were "Les Conferences d'Anger," Bailly, Dens, St. Thomas, but above all Liguori, who has since been canonized. Never did I open one without offering up a fervent prayer to God and to the Virgin Mary for the light and grace of which I would be in need for myself and for the people whose pastor I was to become.
But how shall I relate my surprise when I discovered that, in order to accept the principles of the theologians which my Church gave me for guides I had to put away all principles of truth, of justice, of honour and holiness! What long and painful efforts it cost me to extinguish, one by one, the lights of truth and of reason kindled by the hand of my merciful God in my intelligence. For to study theology in the Church of Rome signifies to learn to speak falsely, to deceive, to commit robbery, to perjure one's self! It means how to commit sins without shame, it means to plunge the soul into every kind of iniquity and turpitude without remorse!
I know that Roman Catholics will bravely and squarely deny what I now say. I am aware also that a great many Protestants, too easily deceived by the fine whitewashing of the exterior walls of Rome, will refuse to believe me. Nevertheless they may rest assured it is true, and my proof will be irrefutable. The truth may be denied by many, but my witnesses cannot be contradicted by any one. My witnesses are even infallible. They are none other than the Roman Catholic theologians themselves, approved by infallible Popes! These very men who corrupted my heart, perverted my intelligence and poisoned my soul, as they have done with each and every priest of their Church, will be my witnesses, my only witnesses. I will just now forcibly bring them before the world to testify against themselves!
Liguori, in his treatise on oaths, Question 4, asks if it is allowable to use ambiguity, or equivocal words, to deceive the judge when under oath, and at no. 151 he answers: "These things being established, it is a certain and common opinion amongst all divines that for a just cause it is lawful to use equivocation in the propounded modes, and to confirm it (equivocation) with an oath.... Now a just cause is any honest end in order to preserve good things for the spirit, or useful things for the body."*
"The accused, or a witness not properly interrogated, can sear that he does not know a crime, which in reality he does know, by understanding that he does not know the crime, concerning which he can be legitimately enquired of, or that he does not know it so as to give evidence concerning it."**
When the crime is very secret and unknown to all, Liguori says the culprit or the witness must deny it under oath. "The same is true, if a witness on another ground is not bound to depose; for instance, if the crime appear to himself to be free from blame. Or if he knew a crime which he is bound to keep secret, when no scandal may have gone abroad." ***
"Make an exception in a trial where the crime is altogether concealed. For then he can, yea, the witness is bound to say that the accused did not commit the crime. And the same course the accused can adopt, if the proof be not complete, ect., because then the judge does not legitimately interrogate."****
Liguori asks himself, "Whether the accused legitimately interrogated, can deny a crime, even with an oath, if the confession of the crime would be attended with great disadvantage." The saint replies:"Elbel, ect., denies that he can, and indeed more probably because the accused is then bound for the general good to undergo the loss. But sufficiently probable Lugo, ect., with many others, say, that the accused, if in danger of death, or of prison, or of perpetual exile, the loss of property, the danger of the galleys, and such like, can deny the crime even with an oath (at least without great sin) by understanding that he did not commit it so that he is bound to confess it, only let there be a hope of avoiding the punishment." *
"He who hath sworn that he would keep a secret, does not sin against the oath by revealing that secret when he cannot conceal it without great loss to himself, or to another, because the promise of secrecy does not appear to bind, unless under this condition, if it does not injure me."
"He who hath sworn to a judge that he would speak what he knew, is not bound to reveal concealed things. The reason is manifest." **
Liguori says whether a woman, accused of the crime of adultery, which she has really committed, may deny it under oath? He answers: "She is able to assert equivocally that she did not break the bond of matrimony, which truly remains. And if sacramentally she confessed adultery, she can answer, `I am innocent of this crime,' because by confession it was taken away. So Card, who, however, here remarks that she cannot affirm it with an oath, because in asserting anything the probability of a deed suffices, but in swearing certainty is required. To this it is replied that in swearing moral certainty suffices, as we said above. Which moral certainty of the remission of sin can indeed be had, when any, morally well disposed, receives the sacrament of penance."***
Liguori maintains that one may commit a minor crime in order to avoid a greater crime. He says, "Hence Sanchez teaches, ect., that it is lawful to persuade a man, determined to slay some one, that he should commit theft or fornication." *
"Whether is it lawful for a servant to open the door for a harlot? Croix denies it, but more commonly Bus. ect., with others answer that it is lawful."
"Whether from fear of death, or of great loss, it may be lawful for a servant to stoop his shoulders, or to bring a ladder for his master ascending to commit fornication, to force open the door, and such like? Viva, ect., deny it, and others, because, as they say, such actions are never lawful, inasmuch as they are intrinsically evil. But Busemb, ect., speak the contrary, whose opinion, approved of by reason, appears to me the more probable."**
"But the salmanticenses say that a servant can, according to his own judgment, compensate himself for his labour, if he without doubt judge that he was deserving of a larger stipend. Which indeed appears sufficiently probable to me, and to other more modern learned men, if the servant, or any other hired person, be prudent, and capable of forming a correct judgment, and be certain concerning the justice of the compensation, all danger of mistake being removed." ***
"A poor man, absconding with goods for his support, can answer the judge that he has nothing. In like manner an heir who has concealed his goods without an inventory, if he is not bound to settle with his creditors from them, can say to a judge that he has not concealed anything in his own mind meaning those goods with which he is bound to satisfy his creditors." *
Liguori, in Dubium II., considers what may be the quantity of stolen property necessary to constitute mortal sin. He says:-
"There are various opinions concerning this matter. Navar too scrupulously has fixed the half of regalem, others with too great laxity have fixed ten aureos. Tol., ect., moderately have fixed two regales, although less might suffice, if it would be a serious loss."**
"Whether it be mortal sin to steal a small piece of a relic? There is no doubt but that in the district of Rome it is a mortal sin, since Clement VIII. and Paul V. have issued an excommunication against those who, the rectors of the churches being unwilling, steal some small relic: otherwise Croix probably says, ect., if any one should steal any small thing out of the district [of Rome], not deforming the relic itself nor diminishing its estimation; unless it may be some rare or remarkable relic, as for example, the holy cross, the hair of the Blessed Virgin, ect." ***
"If any one on an occasion should steal only a moderate sum either from one or more, not intending to acquire any notable sum, neither to injure his neighbour to a great extent by several thefts, he does not sin grievously, nor do these, taken together, constitute a mortal sin; however, after it may have amounted to a notable sum, by detaining it, he can commit mortal sin. But even this mortal sin may be avoided, if either then he be unable to restore, or have the intention of making restitution immediately, of those things which he then received."****
"This opinion of Bus. is most probable, viz., if many persons steal small quantities, that none of them commit grievous sin, although they may be mutually aware of their conduct, unless they do it by concert: also Habert, ect., hold this view; and this, although each should steal at the same time. The reason is, because then no one person is the cause of injury, which, per accidens, happens by the others to the master." *
Liguori, speaking of children who steal from their parents, says:"Salas, ect., say that a son does not commit grievous sin, who steals 20 or 30 aurei from a father possessing yearly 1500 aureos, and Lugo does not disprove of it. If the father be not tenacious, and the son have grown up and receive it for honest purposes. Less, ect., say that a son stealing two or three aureos from a rich father does not sin grievously; Bannez says that fifty aureos are required to constitute a grievous sin who steals from a rich father; but this opinion, Lug, ect., reject, unless perchance he is the son of a prince; in which case Holzm. consents."**
The theologians of Rome assure us that we may, and even that we must, conceal and disguise our faith.
"Notwithstanding, indeed although it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, nevertheless it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous and doubtful signs for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity of confessing. It is the common opinion."***
"Whence, if thus he may be able to deliver himself from a troublesome investigation, it is lawful (as Kon has it), for generally it is not true that he who is interrogated by public authority is publicly bound to profess the faith, unless when that is necessary, lest he may appear to those present to deny the faith."****
"When you are not asked concerning the faith, not only is it lawful, but often more conducive to the glory of God and the utility of your neighbour to cover the faith than to confess it; for example, if concealed among heretics you may accomplish a greater amount of good; or if, from the confession of the faith more of evil would follow for example, great trouble, death, the hostility of a tyrant, the peril of defection, if you should be tortured. Whence it is often rash to offer one's self willingly." * The Pope has the right to release from all oaths.
"As for an oath made for a good and legitimate object, it seems that there should be no power capable of annulling it. However, when it is for the good of the public, a matter which comes under the immediate jurisdiction of the Pope, who has the supreme power over the Church, the Pope has full power to release from that oath." (St. Thomas, Quest. 89, art. 9, vol. iv.)
The Roman Catholics have not only the right, but it is their duty to kill heretics.
"Excommunicatus privatur omni civili communicatione fidelium, ita ut ipsi non possit cum aliis, et si non sit toleratus, etiam aliis cum ipso non possint communicare; idque in casibus hoc versu comprehensis, Os, orare, communio, mensa negatur."
Translated: "Any man excommunicated is deprived of all civil communication with the faithful, in such a way that if he is not tolerated they can have no communication with him, as it is in the following verse, `It is forbidden to kiss him, pray with him, salute him, to eat or to do any business with him.'" (St. Liguori, vol. ix., page 62.)
"Quanquam heretici tolerandi non sunt ipso illorum demerito, usque tamen ad secundam correptionem expectandi sunt, ut ad sanam redeant ecclesiae fidem; qui vero post secundam correptionem in suo errore obstinati permanent, non modo excommunicationis sententia, sed etiam saecularibus principibus exterminandi tradendi sunt."
Translated: "Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them till, by a second admonition, they may be brought back to the faith of the Church. But those who, after a second admonition, remain obstinate in their errors must not only be excommunicated, but they must be delivered to the secular powers to be exterminated."
"Quanquam heretici revertentes, semper recipiendi sint ad poenitentiam quoties cujque relapsi furint; non tamen semper sunt recipiendi et restituendi ad bonorum hujus vitae participation nem...recipiuntur ad poenitentiam...non tamen ut liberentur a sententia mortis."
Translated: "Though the heretics who repent must always be accepted to penance, as often as they have fallen, they must not in consequence of that always be permitted to enjoy the benefits of this life. When they fall again they are admitted to repent. But the sentence of death must not be removed." (St. Thomas, vol. iv., page 91.)
"Quum quis per sententiam denuntiatur propter apostasiam excommunicatus, ipso facto, ejus subditi a dominio et juramento fidelitatis ejus liberati sunt."
"When a man is excommunicated for his apostasy, it follows from that very fact that all those who are his subjects are released from the oath of allegiance by which they were bound to obey him." (St. Thomas, vol. iv., page 91.)
Every heretic and Protestant is condemned to death, and every oath of allegiance to a government which is Protestant or heretic is abrogated by the Council of Lateran, held in A.d. 1215. Here is the solemn decree and sentence of death, which has never been repealed, and which is still in force:
"We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy that exalts itself against the holy, orthodox and Catholic faith, condemning all heretics, by whatever name they may be known; for though their faces differ, they are tied together by their tails. Such as are condemned are to be delivered over to the existing secular powers, to receive due punishment. If laymen, their goods must be confiscated. If priests, they shall be first degraded from their respective orders, and their property applied to the use of the church in which they have officiated. Secular powers of all ranks and degrees are to be warned, induced, and, if necessary, compelled by ecclesiastical censure, to swear that they will exert themselves to the utmost in the defense of the faith, and extirpate all heretics denounced by the Church who shall be found in their territories. And whenever any person shall assume government, whether it be spiritual or temporal, he shall be bound to abide by this decree.
"If any temporal lord, after being admonished and required by the Church, shall neglect to clear his territory of heretical depravity, the metropolitan and the bishops of the province shall unite in excommunicating him. Should he remain contumacious for a whole year, the fact shall be signified to the Supreme Pontiff, who will declare his vassals released from their allegiance from that time, and will bestow the territory on Catholics to be occupied by them, on the condition of exterminating the heretics and preserving the said territory in the faith.
"Catholics who shall assume the cross for the extermination of heretics shall enjoy the same indulgences and be protected by the same privileges as are granted to those who go to the help of the Holy Land. We decree, further, that all who may have dealings with heretics, and especially such as receive, defend, or encourage them, shall be excommunicated. He shall not be eligible to any public office. He shall not be admitted as a witness. He shall neither have the power to bequeath his property by will, nor to succeed to any inheritance. He shall not bring any action against any person, but anyone can bring an action against him. Should he be a judge, his decision shall have no force, nor shall any cause be brought before him. Should he be an advocate, he shall not be allowed to plead. Should he be a lawyer, no instruments made by him shall be held valid, but shall be condemned with their author."
But why let my memory and my thoughts linger any longer in these frightful paths, where murderers, liars, perjurers and thieves are assured by the theologians of the Church of Rome that they can lie, steal, murder and perjure themselves as much as they like, without offending God, provided they commit those crimes according to certain rules approved by the Pope for the good of the Church!
I should have to write several large volumes were I to quote all the Roman Catholic doctors and theologians who approve of lying, of perjury, of adultery, theft and murder, for the greatest glory of God and the good of the Roman Church! But I have quoted enough for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
With such principles, is it a wonder that all the Roman Catholic nations, without a single exception, have declined so rapidly?
The great Legislator of the World, the only Saviour of nations, has said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
A nation can be great and strong only according to the truths which form the basis of her faith and life. "Truth" is the only bread which God gives to the nations that they may prosper and live. Deceitfulness, duplicity, perjury, adultery, theft, murder, are the deadly poisons which kill the nations.
Then, the more the priests of Rome, with their theology, are venerated and believed by the people, the sooner that people will decay and fall. "The more priests the more crimes," a profound thinker has said; for then the more hands will be at work to pull down the only sure foundations of society.
How can any man be sure of the honesty of his wife as long as a hundred thousand priests tell her that she may commit any sin with her neighbour in order to prevent him from doing something worse? or when she is assured that, though guilty of adultery, she can swear that she is pure as an angel!
What will it avail to teach the best principles of honour, decency and holiness to a young girl, when she is bound to go many times a year to a bachelor priest, who is bound in conscience to give her the most infamous lessons of depravity under the pretext of helping her to confess all her sins?
How will the rights of justice be secured, and how can the judges and the juries protect the innocent and punish the guilty, so long as the witnesses are told by one hundred thousand priests that they can conceal the truth, give equivocal answers, and even perjure themselves under a thousand pretexts?
What government, either monarchical or republican, can be sure of a lease of existence? how can they make their people walk with a firm step in the ways of light, progress, and liberty, as long as there is a dark power over them which has the right, at every hour of the day or night, to break and dissolve all the most sacred oaths of allegiance?
Armed with his theology, the priest of Rome has become the most dangerous and determined enemy of truth, justice, and liberty. He is the most formidable obstacle to every good Government, as he is, without being aware of it, the greatest enemy of God and man.
CHAPTER 14 - The Vow of Celibacy
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Were I to write all the ingenious tricks, pious lies, shameful stories called miracles, and sacrilegious perversions of the Word of God made use of by superiors of seminaries and nunneries to entice poor victims into the trap of perpetual celibacy, I should have to write ten large volumes, instead of a short chapter.
Sometimes the trials and obligations of married life are so exaggerated that they may frighten the strongest heart. At other times the joys, peace and privileges of celibacy are depicted with such brilliant colours that they fill the coldest mind with enthusiasm.
The Pope takes his victim to the top of a high mountain, and there shows him all the honours, praise, wealth, peace and joys of this world, united to the most glorious throne of heaven, and then tells him: "I will give you all those things if you fall at my feet, promise me an absolute submission, and swear never to marry in order to serve me better."
Who can refuse such glorious things? But before entirely shutting their eyes, so that they may not see the bottomless abyss into which they are to fall, the unfortunate victims sometimes have forebodings and presentiments of the terrible miseries which are in store for them. The voice of their conscience, intelligence and common sense has not always been so fully silenced as the superior desired.
At the very time when the tempter is whispering his lying promises into their ears, their Heavenly Father is speaking to them of the ceaseless trials, the shameful falls, the tedious days, the dreary nights, and the cruel and insufferable burdens which are concealed behind the walls where the sweet yoke of the good Master is exchanged for the burdens of heartless men and women.
As formerly, the human victims crowned with flowers, when dragged to the foot of the altar of their false gods, often cried out with alarm and struggled to escape from the bloody knife of the heathen priest, so at the approach of the fatal hour at which the impious vow is to be made, the young victims often feel their hearts fainting and filled with terror. With pale cheeks, trembling lips and cold-dropping sweat they ask their superiors, "Is it possible that our merciful God requires of us such a sacrifice?"
Oh! how the merciless priest of Rome then becomes eloquent in depicting celibacy as the only way to heaven, or in showing the eternal fires of hell ready to receive cowards and traitors who, after having put their hand to the plough of celibacy, look back! He speaks of the disappointment and sadness of so many dear friends, who expected better things of them. He points out to them their own shame when they will again be in a world which will have nothing for them but sneers for their want of perseverance and courage. He overwhelms them with a thousand pious lies about the miracles wrought by Christ in favour of his virgins and priests. He bewitches them by numerous texts of Scripture, which he brings as evident proof of the will of God in favour of their taking the vows of celibacy, though they have not the slightest reference to such vows.
The text of which the strangest abuses are made by the superiors to persuade the young people of both sexes to bind themselves by those shameful vows is Matthew xix. 12, 13, "For there are eunuchs which were born from their mother's womb; and there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men; and there are eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Upon one occasion our superior made a very pressing appeal to our religious feelings from this text, to induce us to make the vow of celibacy and become priests. But the address, though delivered with a great deal of zeal, seemed to us deficient in logic.
The next day was a day of rest (conge). The students in theology who were preparing themselves for the priesthood, with me, talked seriously of the singular arguments of the last address. It seemed to them that the conclusions could not in any way be drawn from the selected text, and therefore determined to respectfully present their objections and their views, which were also mine, to the superior; and I was chosen to speak for them all.
At the next conference, after respectfully asking and obtaining permission to express our objections with our own frank and plain sentiments, I spoke about as follows:
"Dear and venerable sir: You told us that the following words of Christ, `There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake,' show us evidently that we must make the vow of celibacy and make ourselves eunuchs if we want to become priests. Allow us to tell you respectfully, that it seems to us that the mind of our Saviour was very different from yours when He pronounced these words. In our humble opinion, the only object of the Son of God was to warn His disciples against one of the most damnable errors which were to endanger the very existence of nations. He was foretelling that there would be men so wicked and blind as to preach that the best way for men to go to heaven would be to make eunuchs of themselves. Allow us to draw your attention to the fact that in that speech Jesus Christ neither approves or disapproves of the idea of gaining a throne in heaven by becoming eunuchs. He leaves us to our common sense and to some clearer parts of Scripture to see whether or not He approves of those who would make eunuchs of themselves to gain a crown in heaven. Must we not interpret this text as we interpret what Jesus said to His apostles, `The time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service' (John xvi. 1,2).
Allow us to put these two texts fact to face:
"'There are eunuchs which have "'The time cometh that whosoever made themselves eunuchs for the killeth you will think that he kingdom of heaven's sake' doeth God service' (Matt. xix. 12,13.) (John xvi. l,2).
"Because our Saviour has said that there would be men who would think that they would please God (and of course gain a place in heaven) by killing His disciples, are we, therefore, allowed to conclude that it would be our duty to kill those who believe and follow Christ? Surely not!
"Well, it seems to us that we are not to believe that the best way to go to heaven is to make ourselves eunuchs, because our Saviour said that some men had got that criminal and foolish notion into their mind!
"Christian nations have always looked with horror upon those who have voluntarily become eunuchs. Common sense, as well as the Word of God, condemns those who thus destroy in their own bodies that which God in His wisdom gave them for the wisest and holiest purposes. Would it not, therefore, be a crime which every civilized and Christian nation would punish, to preach publicly and with success to the people that one of the surest ways for man to go to heaven would be to make himself a eunuch. How can we believe that our Saviour could ever sanction and such a practice?
"Moreover, if being eunuchs would make the way to heaven surer and more easy, would not God be unjust for depriving us of the privilege of being born eunuchs, and thus being made ripe fruits for heaven?
"It seems to us that that text does not in any way require us to believe that an eunuch is nearer the kingdom of God than He who lives just according to the laws which God gave to man in the earthly paradise. If it was not good for man to be without his wife when he was so holy and strong as he was in the Garden of Eden, how can it be good now that he is so weak and sinful? "Our Saviour clearly shows that He finds no sanctifying power in the state of an eunuch, in His answer to the young man who asked Him, `Good Master, what must I do that I may have eternal life?" (Matt. xix. 16). Did the good Master answer him in the language we heard from you two days ago, namely, that the best way to have eternal life is to make yourself an eunuch make a solemn vow never to marry? No; but He said, `Keep the commandments!' But where is the commandment of God, in the Old or New Testament, to induce us to make such a vow as that of celibacy? The promise of a place in heaven is not attached in any way to the vow of celibacy. Christ has not a word about that doctrine.
"Allow us to respectfully ask, if the views concerning the vows of celibacy entertained by Christ had been like yours, is it possible that He would have forgotten to mention them when He answered the solemn question of that young man? Is it possible that He would not have said a single word about a thing which you have represented to us as being of such vital importance to those who sincerely desire to know what to do to be saved? Is it not strange that the Church should attach such an importance to that vow of celibacy, when we look in vain for such an ordinance in both the Old and New Testaments? How can we understand the reasons or the importance of such a strict and, we dare say, unnatural obligation in our day, when we know very well that the holy apostles themselves were living with their wives, and that the Saviour had not a word of rebuke for them on that account?"
This free expression of our common views on the vows of celibacy evidently took our superior by surprise. He answered me, with an accent of indignation which he could not suppress: "Is that all you have to say?"
"It is not quite all we have to say," I answered; "but before we go further we would be much gratified to receive from you the light we want on the difficulties which I have just stated."
"You have spoken as a true heretic," replied Mr. Leprohon, with an unusual vivacity; "and were it not for the hope which I entertain that you have said these things to receive the light you want than to present and support the heretical side of such an important question, I would at once denounce you to the bishop. You speak of the Holy Scriptures just as a Protestant would do. You appeal to them as the only source of Christian truth and knowledge. Have you forgotten that we have the holy traditions to guide us, the authority of which is equal to that of the Scriptures?
"You are correct when you say that we do not find any direct proof in the Bible to enforce the vows of celibacy upon those who desire to consecrate themselves to the service of the Church. But if we do not find the obligation of that vow in the Bible, we find it in the holy traditions of the Church.
"It is an article of faith that the vow of celibacy is ordered by Jesus Christ, through His Church. The ordinances of the Church, which are nothing but the ordinances of the Son of God, are clear on that subject, and bind our consciences just as the commandments of God upon Mount Sinai; for Christ has said, those who do not hear the Church must be looked upon as heathen and publicans. There is no salvation to those who do not submit their reason to the teachings of the Church.
"You are not required to understand all the reasons for the vow of celibacy; but you are bound to believe in its necessity and holiness, as the Church has pronounced her verdict upon that question. It is not your business to argue about those matters; but your duty is to obey the Church, as dutiful children obey a kind mother.
"But who can have any doubt about the necessity of the vows of celibacy, when we remember that Christ had ordered His apostles to separate themselves from their wives? a fact on which no doubt can remain after hearing St. Peter say to our Saviour, `Behold, we have forsaken all and follow Thee; what shall we have, therefore?' (Matt. xix. 27). Is not the priest the true representative of Christ on earth? In his ordination, is not the priest made the equal and in a sense the superior of Christ? for when he celebrates Mass he commands Christ, and that very Son of God is bound to obey! It is not in the power of Christ to resist the orders of the priest. He must come down from heaven every time the priest orders Him. The priest shuts Him up in the holy tabernacles or takes Him out of them, according to his own will.
"By becoming priests of the New Testament you will be raised to a dignity which is much above that of angels. From these sublime privileges flows the obligation to the priest to raise himself to a degree of holiness much above the level of the common people a holiness equal to that of the angels. Has not our Saviour, when speaking of the angels, said, `Neque nubent neque nubentur?' They marry not, nor are given in marriage. Surely, since the priests are the messengers and angels of God, on earth they must be clad with angelic holiness and purity.
"Does not Paul say that the state of virginity is superior to that of marriage? Does not that saying of the apostle show that the priest, whose hands every day touch the divine body and blood of Christ, must be chaste and pure, and must not be defiled by the duties of married life? That vow of celibacy is like a holy chain, which keeps us above the filth of this earth and ties us to heaven. Jesus Christ, through His Holy Church, commands that vow to His priests as the most efficacious remedy against the inclinations of our corrupt nature.
"According to the holy Fathers, the vow of celibacy is like a strong high tower, from the top of which we can fight our enemies, and be perfectly safe from their darts and weapons.
"I will be happy to answer you other objections, if you have any more," said Mr. Leprohon.
"We are much obliged to you for your answers," I replied, "and we will avail ourselves of your kindness to present you with some other observations.
"And, firstly, we thank you for having told us that we find nothing in the Word of God to support the vows of celibacy, and that it is only by the traditions of the Church that we can prove their necessity and holiness. It was our impression that you desired us to believe that the necessity of that vow was founded on the Holy Scriptures. If you allow it, we will discuss the traditions another time, and will confine ourselves today to the different texts to which you referred in favour of celibacy.
"When Peter says, `We have given up everything,' it seems to us that he had no intention of saying that he had for ever given up his wife by a vow. For St. Paul positively says, many years after, that Peter had his wife; that he was not only living with her in his own house, but was traveling with her when preaching the gospel. The words of Scripture are of such evidence on that subject that they can neither be obscured by any shrewd explanation nor by any tradition, however respectable it may appear.
"Though you know the words of Paul on that subject, you will allow us to read them: `Have we not power to eat and drink? have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?' (I Cor. ix. 4, 5). St. Peter saying `We have forsaken everything' could not then mean that he had made a vow of celibacy, and that he would never live with his wife as a married man. Evidently the words of Peter mean only that Jesus had the first place in his heart that everything else, even the dearest objects of his love, as father, mother, wife, were only secondary in his affections and thoughts.
"Your other text about the angels who do not marry, from which you infer the obligation and law on the vow of celibacy, does not seem to us to bear on that subject as much as you have told us. For, be kind enough to again read the text: `Jesus answered and said to them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in heaven' (Matt. xxii. 29, 30). You see that when our Saviour speaks of men who are like angels, and who do not marry, He takes care to observe that He speaks of the state of men after the resurrection. If the Church had the same rule for us that Christ mentioned for the angelic men to whom He refers, and would allow us to make a vow never to marry after the resurrection, we would not have the slightest objection to such a vow.
"You see that our Saviour speaks of a state of celibacy; but He does not intimate that that state is to begin on this side of the grave. Why does not our Church imitate and follow the teachings of our Saviour? Why does she enforce a state of celibacy before the resurrection, while Christ postpones the promulgation of this law till after that great day?
"Christ speaks of a perpetual celibacy only in heaven! On what authority, then, does our Church enforce that celibacy on this side of the grave, when we still carry our souls in earthly vessels?
"You tell us that the vow of celibacy is the best remedy against the inclinations of our corrupt nature; but do you not fear that your remedy makes war against the great one which God prepared in His wisdom? Do we not read in our own vulgate: `Propter fornicationem autem unus quisque uxorem snam habeat, et unaquaque virum suum'? "To avoid fornication let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband' (2 Cor. vii. 2).
"Is it not too strange, indeed, that God does tell us that the best remedy He had prepared against the inclinations of our corrupt nature is in the blessings of a holy marriage. `Let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.' But now our Church has found another remedy, which is more accordant to the dignity of man and the holiness of God, and that remedy is the vow of celibacy!"
The sound of my last words were still on my lips when our venerable superior, unable any longer to conceal his indignation, abruptly interrupted me, saying:
"I do exceedingly regret to have allowed you to go so far. This is not a Christian and humble discussion between young Levites and their superior, to receive from him the light they want. It is the exposition and defense of the most heretical doctrines I have ever heard. Are you ashamed, when you try to make us prefer your interpretation of the Holy Scriptures to that of the Church? Is it to you, or to His holy Church, that Christ promised the light of the Holy Ghost? It is you who have to teach the Church, or the Church who must teach you? Is it you who will govern and guide the Church, or the Church who will govern and guide you?
"My dear Chiniquy, if there is not a great and prompt change in you and in those whom you pretend to represent, I fear much for you all. You show a spirit of infidelity and revolt which frightens me. Just like Lucifer, you rebel against the Lord! Do you not fear to share the eternal pains of his rebellion?
"Whence have you taken the false and heretical notions you have, for instance, about the wives of the apostles? Do you not know that you are supporting a Protestant error, when you say that the apostles were living with their wives in the usual way of married people? It is true that Paul says that the apostles had women with them, and that they were even traveling with them. But the holy traditions of the Church tell us that those women were holy virgins, who were traveling with the apostles to serve and help them in different ways. They were ministering to their different wants washing their underclothes, preparing their meals, just like the housekeeper whom the priests have today. It is a Protestant impiety to think and speak otherwise.
"But only a word more, and I am done. If you accept the teaching of the Church, and submit yourselves as dutiful children to that most holy Mother, she will raise you to the dignity of the priesthood, a dignity much above kings and emperors in this world. If you serve her with fidelity, she will secure to you the respect and veneration of the whole world while you live, and procure your a crown of glory in heaven.
"But if you reject her doctrines, and persist in your rebellious views against one of the most holy dogmas; if you continue to listen to the voice of your own deceitful reason rather than to the voice of the Church, in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, you become heretics, apostates and Protestants; you will lead a dishonoured life in this world, and you will be lost for all eternity."
Our superior left us immediately after these fulminating words. Some of the theological students, after this exit, laughed heartily, and thanked me for having so bravely fought and gained so glorious a victory. Two of them, disgusted by the sophisms and logical absurdities of our superior, left the seminary a few days after. The rest, with me had not the moral courage to follow their example, but remained, stunned by the last words of our superior.
I went to my room and fell on my knees, with a torrent of tears falling from my eyes. I was really sorry for having wounded his feelings, but still more so for having dared for a moment to oppose my own feeble and fallible reason to the mighty and infallible intelligence of my Church!
At first it appeared to me that I was only combating, in a respectful way, against my old friend, Rev. Mr. Leprohon; but I had received it from his own lips that I had really fought against the Lord!
After spending a long and dark night of anguish and remorse, my first action, the next day, was to go to confession, and ask my confessor, with tears of regret, pardon for the sin I had committed and the scandal I had given.
Had I listened to the voices of my conscience, I certainly would have left the seminary that day; for they told me that I had confounded my superior and pulverized all his arguments. Reason and conscience told me that the vow of celibacy was a sin against logic, morality and God; that that vow could not be sustained by any argument from the Holy Scriptures, logic or common sense. But I was a most sincere Roman Catholic. I had therefore to fight a new battle against my conscience and intelligence, so as to subdue and silence them for ever! Many a time it was my hope, before this, to have succeeded in slaughtering them at the foot of the altar of my Church; but that day, far from being for ever silenced and buried, they had come out again with renewed force, to waken me from the terrible illusions in which I was living. Nevertheless, after a long and frightful battle, my hope was that they were perfectly subdued and buried under the feet of the holy Fathers, the learned theologians and the venerable popes, whose voice I was determined now to follow. I felt a real calm after that struggle. It was evidently the silence of death, although my confessor told me it was the peace of God. More than ever I determined to have no knowledge, no thought, no will, no light, no desires, no science but that which my Church would give me through my superior. I was fallible, she was infallible! I was a sinner, she was the immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ! I was weak, she had more power than the great waters of the ocean! I was but an atom, she was covering the world with her glory! What, therefore, could I have to fear in humbling myself at her feet, to live of her life, to be strong of her strength, wise of her wisdom, holy with her holiness? Had not my superior repeatedly told me that no error, no sin would be imputed to me as long as I obeyed my Church and walked in her ways?
With these sentiments of a most profound and perfect respect for my Church, I irrevocably consecrated myself to her services on the 4th of May, 1832, by making the vow of celibacy and accepting the office of sub-deacon.
CHAPTER 15 - The Impurities of the Theology of Rome
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"The mother of harlots and abominations." Rev. xvii. 5.
Constrained by the voice of my conscience to reveal the impurities of the theology of the Church of Rome, I feel, in doing so, a sentiment of inexpressible shame. They are of such a loathsome nature, that often they cannot be expressed in any living language.
However great may have been the corruptions in the theologies and priests of paganism, there is nothing in their records which can be compared with the depravity of those of the Church of Rome. Before the day on which the theology of Rome was inspired by Satan, the world had certainly witnessed many dark deeds; but vice had never been clothed with the mantle of theology: the most shameful forms of iniquity had never been publicly taught in the schools of the old pagan priest, under the pretext of saving the world. No! neither had the priests nor the idols been forced to attend meetings where the most degrading forms of iniquity were objects of the most minute study, and that under the pretext of glorifying God.
Let those who understand Latin read "The Priest, the Women, and the Confessional," and decide as to whether or not the sentiments therein contained are not enough to shock the feelings of the most depraved. And let it be remembered that all those abominations have to be studied, learned by heart and thoroughly understood by men who have to make a vow never to marry! For it is not till after his vow of celibacy that the student in theology is initiated into those mysteries of iniquity.
Has the world ever witnessed such a sacrilegious comedy? A young man about twenty years of age has been enticed to make a vow of perpetual celibacy, and the very next day the Church of Rome put under the eye of his soul the most infamous spectacle! She fills his memory with the most disgusting images! She tickles all his senses and pollutes his ears, not by imaginary representations, but by realities which would shock the most abandoned in vice!
For, let it be well understood, that it is absolutely impossible for one to study those questions of Roman Theology, and fathom those forms of iniquity without having his body as well as his mind plunged into a state the most degrading. Moreover, Rome does not even try to conceal the overwhelming power of this kind of teaching; she does not even attempt to make it a secret from the victims of her incomparable depravity, but bravely tells them that the study of those questions will act with an irresistible power upon their organs, and without a blush says, "that pollution must follow!!!"
But in order that the Church of Rome may more certainly destroy her victims, and that they may not escape from the abyss which she has dug under their feet, she tells them, "There is no sin for you in those pollutions!" (Dens, vol. i. p. 315.)
But Rome must bewitch so as the better to secure their destruction. She puts to their lips the cup of her enchantments, the more certainly to kill their souls, dethrones God from their consciences, and abrogates His eternal laws of holiness. What answer does Rome give to those who reproach her with the awful impurity of theology. "My theological works," she answers, "are all written in Latin; the people cannot read them. No evil, no scandal, therefore, can come from them!" But this answer is a miserable subterfuge. Is this not the public acknowledgment that her theology would be exceedingly injurious to the people if it were read and understood by them?
By saying, "My theological works are written in Latin, therefore the people cannot be defiled, as they do not understand them," Rome does acknowledge that these works would only act as a pestilence among the people, were they read and understood by them. But are not the one hundred thousand priests of Rome bound to explain in every known tongue, and present to the mind of every nation, the theology contained in those books? Are they not bound to make every polluting sentence in them flow into the ears, imaginations, hearts and minds of all the married and unmarried women whom Rome holds in her grasp?
I exaggerate nothing when I say that not fewer than half a million women every day are compelled to hear in their own language, almost every polluting sentence and impure notion of the diabolical sciences.
And here I challenge, most fearlessly, the Church of Rome to deny what I say, when I state that the daily average of women who go to confession to each priest, is ten. But let us reduce the number to five. Then the one hundred thousand priest who are scattered over the whole world, hear the confession of five hundred thousand women every day! Well, now, out of one hundred women who confess, there are at least ninety-nine whom the priest is bound in conscience to pollute, by questioning them on the matters mentioned in the Latin pages at the end of this chapter. How can one be surprised at the rapid downfall of the nations who are under the yoke of the Pope.
The public statistics of the European, as well of American nations, show that there is among Roman Catholics nearly double the amount of prostitution, bastardy, theft, perjury, and murder than is found among Protestant nations. Where must we, then, look for the cause of those stupendous facts, if not in the corrupt teachings of the theology of Rome. How can the Roman Catholic nations hope to raise themselves in the scale of Christian dignity and morality as long as there remain one hundred thousand priests in their midst, bound in conscience every day to pollute the minds and the hearts of their mothers, their wives and their daughters!
And here let me say, once for all, that I am not induced to speak as I do from any motive of contempt or unchristian feeling against the theological professors who have initiated me into those mysteries of iniquity. The Rev. Messrs. Raimbault and Leprohon were, and in my mind they still are, as respectable as men can be in the Church of Rome. As I have been myself, and as all the priests of Rome are, they were plunged without understanding it, into the abyss of the most stolid ignorance. They were crushed, as I was myself, under a yoke which bound their understanding to the dust, and polluted their hearts without measure. We were embarked together on a ship, the first appearance of which was really magnificent, but the bottom of which was irremediably rotten. Without the true Pilot on board we were left to perish on unknown shoals. Out of this sinking ship the hand of God alone, in His providence rescued me. I pity those friends of my youth, but despise them? hate them? No! Never! Never!
Every time out theological teachers gave us our lessons, it was evident that they blushed in the inmost part of their souls. Their consciences as honest men were evidently forbidding them, on the one hand, to open their mouths on such matters, while, on the other hand, as slaves and priests of the Pope, they were compelled to speak without reserve.
After our lessons in theology, we students used to be filled with such a sentiment of shame that sometimes we hardly dared to look at each other: and, when alone in our rooms, those horrible pictures were affecting our hearts, in spite of ourselves, as the rust affects and corrodes the hardest and purest steel. More than one of my fellow-students told me, with tears of shame and rage, that they regretted to have bound themselves by perpetual oaths to minister at the altars of the Church.
One day one of the students, called Desaulnier, who was sick in the same room with me, asked me: "Chiniquy, what do you think of the matters which are the objects of our present theological studies? Is it not a burning shame that we must allow our minds to be so polluted?"
"I cannot sufficiently tell you my feelings of disgust," I answered. "Had I known sooner that we were to be dragged over such a ground, I certainly never would have nailed my future to the banners under which we are irrevocably bound to live." "Do you know," said Desaulnier, "that I am determined never to consent to be ordained a priest; for when I think of the fact that the priest is bound to confer with women on all of these polluting matters, I feel an insurmountable disgust and shame."
"I am not less troubled," I replied. "My head aches and my heart sinks within me when I hear our theologians telling us that we will be in conscience bound to speak to females on these impure subjects. But sometimes this looks to me as if it were a bad dream, the impure phantoms of which will disappear at the first awakening. Our Church, which is so pure and holy that she can only be served by the spotless virgins, surely cannot compel us to pollute our lips, thoughts, souls, and even our bodies, by speaking to strange women on matters so defiling!"
"But we are near the hour at which the good Mr. Leprohon is in the habit of visiting us. Will you," I said, "promise to stand by me in what I will ask him on this subject? I hope to get from him a pledge that we will not be compelled to be polluted in the confessional by the women who will confess to us. The purity and holiness of our superior is of such a high character, that I am sure he has never said a word to females on those degrading matters. In spite of all the theologians, Mr. Leprohon will allow us to keep our tongues and our hearts, as well as our bodies, pure in the confessional."
"I have had the desire to speak to him upon this subject for some time," rejoined Desaulnier, "but my courage failed me every time I attempted to do so. I am glad, therefore, that you are to break the ice, and I will certainly support you, as I have a longing desire to know something more in regard to the mysteries of the confessional. If we are at liberty never to speak to women on these horrors, I will consent to serve the Church as a priest; but if not, I will never be a priest."
A few minutes after this our superior entered to kindly enquire how we had rested the night before. Having thanked him for his kindness, I opened the volumes of Dens and Liguori which were on our table, and, with a blush, putting my fingers on one of the infamous chapters referred to, I said to him:
"After God, you have the first place in my heart since my mother's death, and you know it. I take you, not only as my benefactor, but also, as it were, as my father and mother. You will therefore tell me all I want to know in these my hours of anxiety, through which God is pleased to make me pass. To follow your advice, not to say your commands, I have lately consented to receive the order of sub-deacon, and I have in consequence taken the vow of perpetual celibacy. But I will not conceal the fact from you, I had not a clear understanding of what I was doing; and Desaulnier has just stated to me, that until recently he had no more idea of the nature of that promise, nor of the difficulties which we now see ahead of us in our priestly life than I had.
"But Dens, Liguori and St. Thomas have given us notions quite new in regard to many things. They have directed our minds to the knowledge of the laws which are in us, as well as in every other child of Adam. They have, in a word, directed our minds into regions which were quite new and unexplored by us; and I dare say that every one of those whom we have known, whether in this house or elsewhere, who have made the same vow, could tell you the same tale.
"However, I do not speak for them; I speak only for myself and Desaulnier. For God's sake, please tell us if we will be bound in conscience to speak in the confessional, to the married and unmarried females, on such impure and defiling questions as are contained in the theologians before us?"
"Most undoubtedly," replied Rev. Mr. Leprohon; "because the learned and holy theologians whose writings are in your hands are positive on that question. It is absolutely necessary that you should question your female penitents on such matters; for, as a general thing, girls and married women are too timid to confess those sins, of which they are even more frequently guilty than men, therefore they must be helped by questioning them."
"But have you not," I rejoined, "induced us to make an oath that we should always remain pure and undefiled? How is it then, that today you put us in such a position that it is almost impossibility for us to be true to our sacred promise? For the theologians are unanimous that those questions put by us to our female penitents, together with the recital of their secret sins, will act with such an irresistible power upon us that we will be polluted.
"Would it not be better for us to experience those things in the holy bonds of marriage, with our wives, and according to the laws of God, than in company and conversation with strange women? Because, if we are to believe the theologians which are in our hands, no priest not even you, my dear Mr. Leprohon can hear the confessions of women without being defiled."
Here Desaulnier interrupted me, and said: "My dear Mr. Leprohon, I concur in everything Chiniquy has just been telling you. Would we not be more chaste and pure by living with our lawful wives, than by daily exposing ourselves in the confessional in company of women whose presence will irresistibly drag us into the most shameful pit of impurity? I ask you, my dear sir, what will become of my vow of perfect and perpetual chastity, when the seducing presence of my neighbour's wife, or the enchanting words of his daughter, will have defiled me through the confessional. After all, I may be looked upon by the people as a chaste man; but what will I be in the eyes of God? The people may entertain the thought that I am a strong and honest man; but will I not be a broken reed? Will God not be the witness that the irresistible temptations which will have assailed me when hearing the secret sins of some sweet and tempting woman, will have deprived me of that glorious crown of chastity for which I have so dearly paid? Men will think that I am an angel of purity; but my own conscience will tell me that I am nothing but a skillful hypocrite. For according to all the theologians, the confessional is the tomb of the chastity of priests!! If I hear the confession of women, I will be like all other priests, in a tomb, well painted and gilded on the outside, but within full or corruption."
Francis Desaulnier, just as he had foretold me, refused to be a priest. He remained all his life in the orders of sub-deaconate, in the College of Nicolet, as a Professor of Philosophy. He was a man who seldom spoke in conversation, but thought very much. It seems to me that I still see him there, under that tall centenary tree, alone, during the long hours of intermission, and many long days during our holidays, while the rest of the students passed hither and thither, singing and playing, on the enchanting banks of the river of Nicolet.
He was a good logician and a profound mathematician; and although affable to everyone, he was not communicative. I was probably the only one to whom he opened his mind concerning the great questions of Christianity faith, history, the Church and her discipline. He repeatedly said to me: "I wish I had never opened a book of theology. Our theologians are without heart, soul or logic. Many of them approve of theft, lies and perjury; others drag us without a blush, into the most filthy pits of iniquity. Every one of them would like to make an assassin of every Catholic. According to their doctrine, Christ is nothing but a Corsican brigand, whose blood-thirsty disciples are bound to destroy all the heretics with fire and sword. Were we acting according to the principles of those theologians, we would slaughter all Protestants with the same coolness of blood as we would shoot down the wolf which crosses our path. With their hand still reddened with the blood of St. Bartholomew, they speak to us of charity, religion and God, as if there were neither of them in the world."
Desaulnier was looked upon as "un homme singulier" at Nicolet. He was really an exception to all the men in the seminary. For example: Though it was the usage and the law that ecclesiastics should receive the communion every month, and upon every great feast day of the Church, yet he would scarcely take the communion once a year. But let me return to the interview with our superior.
Desaulnier's fearless and energetic words had evidently made a very painful impression upon our superior. It was not a usual thing for His disciples in theology thus to take upon themselves to speak with such freedom as we both did on this occasion. He did not conceal his pain at what he called our unbecoming and unchristian attack upon some of the most holy ordinances of the Church; and after he had refuted Desaulnier in the best way he could, he turned to me and said: "My dear Chiniquy, I have repeatedly warned you against the habit you have of listening to your own frail reasoning, when you should only obey as a dutiful child. Were we to believe you, we would immediately set ourselves to work to reform the Church and abolish the confession of women to priests; we would throw all our theological books into the fire and have new one written, better adapted to your fancy. What does all this prove? Only one thing, and that is, that the devil of pride is tempting you as he has tempted all the so-called Reformers, and destroyed them as he would you. If you do not take care, you will become another Luther!
"The Theological books of St. Thomas, Liguori and Dens have been approved by the Church. How, therefore, do you not see the ridicule and danger of your position. On one side, then, I see all our holy popes, the two thousand Catholic bishops, all our learned theologians and priests, backed up by over two hundred millions of Roman Catholics drawn up as an innumerable army to fight the battles of the Lord; and on the other side what do I see? Nothing by my small, though very dear Chiniquy!
"How, then, is it that you do not fear, when with your weak reasoning you oppose the mighty reasoning and light of so many holy popes, and venerable bishops and learned theologians? Is it not just as absurd for you to try to reform the Church by your small reason, as it is for the grain of sand which is found at the foot of the great mountain to try to turn that mighty mountain out of its place? or for the small drop of water to attempt to throw the boundless ocean out of its bed, or try to oppose the running tides of the Polar seas?
"Believe me, and take my friendly advice," continued our superior, "before it is too late. Let the small grain of sand remain still at the foot of the majestic mountain; and let the humble drop of water consent to follow the irresistible currents of the boundless seas, and everything will be in order.
"All the good priests who have heard the confessions of women before us have been satisfied and have had their souls saved, even when their bodies were polluted; for those carnal pollutions are nothing but human miseries, which cannot defile a soul which desires to remain united to God. Are the rays of the sun defiled by coming down into the mud? No! The rays remain pure, and return spotless to the shining orb whence they came. So the heart of a good priest as I hope my dear Chiniquy will be will remain pure and holy in spite of the accidental and unavoidable defilement of the flesh.
"Apart from these things, in your ordination you will receive a special grace which will change you into another man; and the Virgin Mary, to whom you will constantly address yourself, will obtain for you a perfect purity from her Son.
"The defilement of the flesh spoken of by the theologians, and which, I confess, is unavoidable when hearing the confessions of women, must not trouble you; for they are not sinful, as Dens and Liguori assure us. (Dens. vol. i., pages 299, 300.)
"But enough on that subject. I forbid you to speak to me any more on those idle questions, and, as much as my authority is anything to you both, I forbid you to say a word more to each other on that matter!!"
It was my fond hope that my dear and so much venerated Mr. Leprohon would answer me with some good and reasonable arguments; but he, to my surprise, silenced the voice of our conscience by un coup d'etat.
Nevertheless, the idea of that miserable grain of sand which so ridiculously attempted to remove the stately mountain, and also of that all but imperceptible drop of water which attempted to oppose itself to the onward motion of the vast ocean, singularly struck and humbled me. I remained silent and confused, though not convinced.
This was not all. Those rays of the sun, which could not be defiled even when going down into the mud, after bewildering one by their glittering appearance, left my soul more in the dark than ever. I could not resist the presentiment that I was in the presence of an imposition, and of a glittering sophism. But I had neither sufficient learning, moral courage, nor grace from God clearly to see through that misty cloud and to expel it from my mind.
Almost every month of the ten years which I had passed in the seminary of Nicolet, priests of the district of Three Rivers and elsewhere were sent by the bishops to spend two or three weeks in doing penances for having bastards by their nieces, their housekeepers, or their fair penitents. Even not long before this conversation with our director, the curate of St. Francois, the Rev. Mr. Amiot, had in the very same week two children by two of his fair penitents, both of whom were sisters. One of those girls gave birth to her child at the parsonage the very night on which the bishop was on his episcopal visit to that parish. These public and undeniable facts were not much in harmony with those beautiful theories of our venerable director concerning the rays of the sun, which "remained pure and undefiled even when warming and vivifying the mud of our planet." The facts had frequently occurred to my mind while Mr. Leprohon was speaking, and I was tempted more than once to ask him respectfully if he really thought these "shining rays," the priests, had thus come into the mire, and would then return, like the rays of the sun, without taking back with them something of the mire in which they had been so strangely wallowing. But my respect for Mr. Leprohon sealed my lips.
When I returned to my room I fell on my knees to ask God to pardon me for having, for the moment, thought otherwise than the popes and theologians of Rome. I again felt angry with myself for having dared, for a single moment, to have arrayed my poor little and imperceptible grain of sand drop of water and personal and contemptible understanding against that sublime mountain of strength, that vast ocean of learning, and that immensely divine wisdom of the popes!
But, alas! I was not yet aware that when Jesus in His mercy sends into a perishing soul a single ray of His grace, that there is more light and wisdom in that soul than in all the popes and their theologians!
I was then taught what the real foundation of the Church of Rome is, and sincerely believed that to think for myself was a damnable impiety that to look and see with my own eyes, and understand with my own mind, was an unpardonable sin. To be saved I had to believe, not what I considered to be the truth, but what the popes told me to be the truth. I had to look and see every object of faith, just as every true Roman Catholic of today has to look and see the same, through the Pope's eyes or those of his theologians.
However absurd and impious this belief may be, yet it was mine, and it is also the belief of every true member of the Church of Rome today. The glorious light and grace of God could not possibly flow directly from Him to me; they had to pass through the Pope and his Church, which were my only mountain of strength and only ocean of light. It was, then, my firm belief that there was an impassable abyss between myself and God, and that the Pope and his Church were the only bridge by which I could have communication with Him. That stupendously high and most sublime mountain, the Pope, was between myself and God: and all that was allowed my poor soul was to raise itself and travel with great difficulty till it attained the foot of that holy mountain, the Pope, and, prostrating itself there in the dust, ask him to let me know what my yet distant God would have me to do. The promises of mercy, truth, light, and life were all vested in this great mountain, the Pope, from whom alone they could descend upon my poor soul!
Darkness, ignorance, uncertainty, and eternal loss were my lot, the very moment I ceased worshiping at the feet of the Pope! The God of Heaven was not my God; He was only the God of the Pope! The Saviour of the world was not my Saviour; He was only the Pope's. Therefore it was through the Pope only that I could receive Christ as my Saviour, and to the Pope alone had I to go to know the way, the truth, and the life of my soul!
God alone knows what a dark and terrible night I passed after this meeting! I had again to smother my conscience, dismantle my reason, and bring them all under the turpitudes of the theologies of Rome, which are so well calculated to keep the world fettered in ignorance and superstition.
But God saw the tears with which I bedewed my pillow that night. He heard the cry of my agonizing soul, and in His infinite love and mercy determined to come to my rescue, and save me. If He saw fit to leave me many years more in the slavery of Egypt, it was that I might better know the plagues of that land of darkness, and the iron chains which are there prepared for poor lost souls.
When the hour of my deliverance came, the Lord took me by the hand and helped me to cross the Red Sea. He brought me to the Land of Promise a land of peace, life, and joy which passeth all understanding.
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