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GENERAL CATHOLIC RECORD;
FROM DECEMBER 15th, 1849, TO JUNE 29th, 1850, INCLUSIVELY.
WILLIAM FRANCIS CLEARY,
AUTHOR OF "Two TREATISES ON THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH,” “LETTERS
AND SEVERAL OTHER POLEMICAL TRACTS.
“ Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est. Hoc est etenim vere proprieque
Catholicum.'--S. VINCENTIUS LIRINENSIS.-Comm. C. 3.
A DEDICATORY EPISTLE
UTILITY AND ADVANTAGES OF THE RELIGIOUS ORDERS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH;
Addressed most respectfully, by the Editor, to his good Father and friend,
KNOCKTOPHER, COUNTY OF KILKENNY, IRELAND.
persevering. They labour, especially in towns and cities, I begin my Epistle to you with the words of the as men worthy of their exalted vocation ; but unfortunately great Doctor St. Bernard, -" Quod ab illd (viz. Ecclesia) as the manners and habits of the two nations are very disdidici securus teneo.". What I have learned from the similar, it is not to be expected that in most instances they Church I securely hold. I wish to live and die an obe- can properly understand the Irish character, or that they dient child of our Holy Mother. At a very critical period should be able to apply such remedies for our reformation of my very chequered life, I was obliged to leave the be- and guidance as those who are identified with us in senti. loved land of my fathers, to seek a settlement in this ment and feeling. And this, as I understand it, will in a country, by the performance of duties which my Irish great measure account for that neglect of early education, pride would not permit me to perform at home. I came and for those scandals, for which we have unfortunately here without freight, but not without ballast. Money I become proverbial, through the corruption and turbulence, had done, but having received an early, good, religious and apathy, and rebellion of a few, comparatively speakeducation, I was fortified against the many violent temp- ing, who have been seduced by the infamous connections tations which beset my path in every direction. Human which they formed in the hour of temptation. Politics eloquence would be powerless to pourtray the awful im- and religion have been artfully blended together by designpressions which the demoralized state of society here made ing men, for the ruin of religion. Tom. Paine's " Age of upon my mind. I had visited the Continent four times, Reason” will be found on the same rage with the advocacy and had seen many countries. I was quite familiar with of what is called the principles of " Civil and Religious Minorca (one of the Balearic Islands) in the Mediter- Liberty.” A thirst for information has been satiated at the ranean Sea, and it was there I was taught reading, but it founts of irreligion, and, before they were aware, simple was through the medium of the Spanish language. The men found their faith undermined, their morals wrecked, islands of Sardinia, Corsica, and the cities of Cadiz, Seville, and alas! for the young, their education was totally neg. Barcelona in Spain, Lisbon in Portugal, Calais, Boulogne, lected. I speak from experience. I can positively assert Harre, Grenoble, Paris, Beauvais, Lyons, Toulon, &c. in that there are hundreds, who in 1831 were zealous CathoFrance, Switzerland, Genoa, Turin, Leghorn, Florence, lics, but who now are members of the various infidel Sienna, Viterbo, Rome, and other places in Italy, were associations which are to be found in every nook and corner well known to me, but nowhere had I discovered anything of this ill-fated land! Why hare things come to this? comparable to the horrible and disgusting demoralization There are many reasons to be assigned, some of which I which was spread through all the ramifications of society dare not write; for I should excite the prejudices of good in this land of Bibles and crime. This country has proved but mistaken men who entertain views different from mine, the ruin of many a young Irish Catholic, and by mixing and who have influence enough to crush persons moving much with society several have become victims of heresy, in my humble position. One thing is certain, namely, infidelity, or demoralization. The laws of the country too, that the re-establishment in this country of the Religious when I came here in 1831, were corrupt and demoralizing, Orders, upon a wide, extensive scale, would be the most and especially in relation to marriage. For although efficient remedy for the evils complained of. I shall there. matrimony might legally be contracted by two Catholics fore now proceed to treat of their utility and advantages, in their own Chorch at home, the contract ceased to be and at the conclusion I shall, in a very brief manner, write binding when parties emigrated to this country. I myself of our present position, and justify the part which I have have witnessed in too many instances the infamous effects taken in public matters. of such laws, when men who sailed from Ireland with good Rev. Father, it is worthy of observation that from the intentions, leaving their families at home in order to pro- moment of Christ's appearance amongst mankind, their cure employment here, became corrupted by wicked opinions with regard to Him were so divided, and their associations formed in an evil hour: they have been feelings so discordant, that, if we may so speak, none tempted to take shelter under the protection of antichris- adopted a middle opinion. His admirers exalted Him to tian laws, and have proceeded to contract what was called the stars, his enemies depressed Him to the abyss. Some a second marriage in the Churches of the Establishment; adored Him as the Son of God, others abhorred Him as a and when their lawful wives came here and took legal child of the devil. Some flocked to hear Him as a prophet, proceedings against their unfaithful partners, they could others rushed to seize him as a madman. Some wished to obtain no redress, they were treated as mere concubines, crown Him as a king, others conspired to stone Him as a and their innocent children were accounted bastards. criminal. Some proclaimed Him a saint, others stigmaThank God, these laws are now abolished, and this fruitful tized Him as a blasphemer. He was the love and delight source of crime has been banished from society. Unhap- of some, the scandal and horror of others. And, as St. pily the Irish people here are removed from those whole- John remarks, there was always great dissension among some restraints which in every district of their native land the people on his account; "and there was much murmurare beneficially imposed and most cordially submitted to, ing among the multitude concerning him.”. For some said except in some very rare instances. The Catholic clergy " He is a good man; and others said, No, but he seduceth in this country, as a body, are amiable, laborious, and I the people.” Let no person howerer be surprised at this.
Such (if we reflect attentively) has ever been the fate of snarl and howl, and pour out the loathsome venom of their all great things: to please no person partially—but to fury. Supposing, then, that you are trae Catholics, so far excite extreme love or extreme hatred. Whether it is should you be from harbouring malevolence or rancour of that the human mind is fond of opposition, and therefore any kind against the Religious Orders, that on the contrary unreservedly condemns whatever others unreservedly extol, you should hold them in the highest reneration, for they or whether it is that objects of great esteem are likewise hare mainly contributed to place the Church on that pin. objects of great envy, or whether it is, in fine, that ordi. nacle of splendour, glory, and majesty, on which you nary things are like a half-extinguished fire, which but bebold her to-day. At this moment she receives, as you slightly warms the chill, and scarcely incommodes the know, the homage of the most distant nations, and, rivalwarm-whereas great things are like a great Aame, which ling the dominion of the sun, she has children beyond the by the very same virtue invites the shivering to approach, limits of his track. But when, lost in admiration, I proand compels the warm to fly. But the fact being certain, ceed to inquire who has brought so many worlds to her how obvious is the reason why the Religious, of which you obedience, I find that they were monks-men who some. are an illustrious member, have always had the same for times struck out new paths in search of unknown worlds tune as Christ, their first Head! Among their members, to subdue to her sceptre. Tell me, I pray you, who con. they have had many illustrious men, and therefore it is not verted France to the faith ? St. Remigius; who converted strange that as they have had many devoted friends who Sueria ? St. Martin ; who Tessendria ? St. Lambert; who would draw the sword in their defence, so they should Ireland ? St. Patrick; who England ? St. Augustin; who have relentless persecutors who wage against them an Friesland ? St. Wilfrid ; who Germany? St. Boniface and eternal war. Should have, did I say? Is it not a fact St. Ludger; who Saxony ? St, Switbert and St. Willibrod ; that in this country, at this time, and perhaps amongst the who Bohemia ? St. Cyril and St. Methodius; who Dacia ? readers of the Illuminator, whilst I now. write-it is my St. Otho ; who the Vandals ? St. Nallino; who Pannonia, unfortunate lot to speak to men split up into two great who the Russians, the Lithuanians, the Moscovites, and, parties, one favourable, the other opposed to them. Do above all, the Poles ? St. Adalbert. These were all memnot imagine, however, that I despair, because, as I promise bers of Monastic Orders, these were the men who courage. myself a favourable hearing from their friends, so do I ously succeeded the apostles in the laborious conquest of expect the same even from their enemies, convinced as I the universe, and won the glory of the apostleship by its am that their hostility arises rather from an error in the dangers and its fruits. But if those Orders, the principal understanding than from contumacivus malice in the will. object of whose institutions were contemplation, solitude, Give me, therefore, I implore you, your undivided atten- and silence, brought orer so many provinces to the faith, i tion, that you and my good readers may see I lay down leave it to my readers to judge wbat those have done whose nothing but what is reasonable. And that my readers profession have devoted them to the public good, as much may have the greater confidence in me, I beg most earnestly as to the work of their own salvation. Look at Ireland, that they will now carefully at end to what I am going to converted by St. Patrick, a canon regular; Tartary, that say. I have no pretensions to eloquence, I therefore re- owes so much to the disciples of St. Dominic; Persia, the nounce the studied precautions of oratorical art, Orators theatre of the labours of the sons of the great St. Francis. are generally accustomed to win the favour and enlist the I ask, is not the conquest of the New World, extensive as sympathies of their audience by artfully removing from it is, the glory of the mendicant friars? and if any honour themselves the suspicion of any special affection or private las redourded to the Church on receiving ambassadors interest in their cause, and by professing their pure bene from the remotest extremities of the earth, from Japan, volence & disinterested zeal, But far from me these precepts hitherto unknown, from Chiua, hitherto inaccessible, has unworthy of a candid soul. I, for my part, do most openly it not been procured by the labours of the Society of Jesus; proclaim, so that all may know it, that I am about to write which, though more recently established, and less widely on a subject on which I am all passion-all interest. I extended perhaps, has already equalled the glory of all intend to prove that all Religious, no matter of what Order, those more extended, more ancient, and very respectable are entitled to the greatest reverence. But I beg my Orders, which, like veteran armies, have been to the Jesuits reader to be on his guard, and to believe nothing but what an exhortation and an example of noble enterprise. I shall make him see with his eyes and feel with his hands. In the next place, Rev. Father, we have to consider that Let him pay no regard or respect to the weight of my
of whatever was eminent and glorious in the Church of authority, but weigh the strength of my arguments. This God, more is owing to persons selected from the cloister I certainly do require at his hands, that if my reasons than to any others. And in the first place it is certain when well considered satisfy him, he shall not persist in that of the eight principal doctors, four Greek and four prising them less because they come from the lips of an Latin, not less than six were religious. Three of the humble layman, than if he had heard them from the lips Greeks, Basil, Nazienzen, and Chrysostom; three of the of some writer of weight, and influence, and station in Latins, Gregory, Jerome, and Augustin Theology in all society.
its branches, whether dogmatic or moral, boasts no oracies Rev. Father, I have stated truly that I have heartily of greater fame than Peter Lombard, master of the sen. identified myself with this subject, but not from worldly or tences, Alensis the irrefragable, Albertus the great, St. family considerations. There have been nany priests, and Thomas the angelic, Egidius the firm, Ricardus the autho. there are still several, in my family. Two respectable ritative, Henricus the solemn, Alanus the universal, Scotus relatives of mine are on the English mission; others, one the subtle, Aureolus the eloquent, Herreus the acute, of whom is my nephew, are doing parochial duty in Ire- Mairon the illumined, Occam the ingenious, Bacon the land. But all my living relatives in the ministry are secu- resolnte, Ariminensis the authentic, Capreolo the solid, lars, and all who have died were seculars too. I never Dionysius the ecstatic, Victoria the incomparable, Suarez knew, neither did I ever hear, that any of my paternal or the profound, and Vasquez the powerful; and were not all maternal relatives had been members of any Religious these members of religious orders? Where has sound Order. My testimony, then, ought to carry greater weight Scripture found its most faithful interpreters? where canon in consequence of my having no other than a religious law its most illustrious expounders ? where the spiritual predilection for those venerable and revered men who life its most experienced masters, if not in the cloister? either hate illustrated the annals of the Church by their Heresy is enraged on finding that as often as she has labours, or who still remain to do so. To my readers I attempted to renew tko battle, so often has she at length would say I write as if I were addressing true Catholics, been discomfited and compelled to retreat and lurk in the ardently zealous for the glorious exaltation of our holy abyss. But who amongst all were the most vigilant in Chutch; because, if you are not such, I confess you ought discovering it, the most courageous in opposing, and the to'hate nothing more cordially than the Monastic Orders- most successful in conquering it, if not the Religious Ordest? for they have been at all times the objects of the rage of And remark, I pray you, for it is most worthy of your beretics, who in their writings against them, like nad dogs attention, that whenever i now sect of heresy woso to
assail the Church, there arose on the other hand a new | learning or sanctity, which are, as it were, the two pillars family of religious to sustain the Church, like a sacred of the Church : if we consider learning, who amongst them militia held in reserve by Heaven for her defence. Thus was more celebrated than an Egidius, an Ostiensis, & with the Arians in the east sprung up two religious orders, Panormotanus, a Hugo, a Turrecremata, an Aareolus, a that of St. Anthony in Egypt, and that of St. Basil in Bessanan, a Cajetan, a Toletus, a Bellarmine, a Baronius, Cappadocia; and with the Arians in the west two others all of the Religious profession? And if we consider also, that of St. Augustin in Africa, and that of St. sanctity, I need only remark that, from the tenth centary, Benedict in Italy. Against the Eutychians arose the fol. the period at which that august senate began to rise nota. lowers of Seba the abbot, and against the Iconoclasts arose bly in esteem and anthority, there were not less than fifteen the disciples of abbot Jannicius. Inmediately after the Cardinals honoured as Saints, though all were not equally Grerk schism, to repair that loss, arose the orders of Cluni, generally known. Four of these were not of any Religions of Camaldole, of Vallombrosa ; and shortly after the Car-Order, namely, Allertus, Bishop of Lugi, and Berardus, thusians under St. Bruno, the Cistercians under St, Ber-Bishop of Mani, and two great Arelibishops of Milan. nard, and the Premonstratenses under S. Norbert, Galdinus and Charles Borromeo, nephew of Pius IV. But appeared to rejoice the Church agitated by the frightful all the others, certainly were Religinus, namely, Pete: tumult of the Nicolaites. What shall I say of the Domi | Damian, a Benedictine hermit, Anselm and liatthewy nicans and Franciscans? Is it not evident that they monks of Cluni, Stephen and Hogo, monks of Cistellas, repelled the furr of the Waldenses, the Albigenser, the Raymond Nonnatus, of the charitable order of the Hussites, the Flagellants, and a whole rabble of heretics Redemption of Captirrs, Thesaurus Barnard, Bishop of of every brood that had adulterated all truth and profane Parma, and Peter Igneus, monks of Vallombrosa, and all religion ? and, finally, have we not the authority of a finally, Bonarenture, the great pillar of the Franciscan pontifical decree, declaring that the order of the Society order, and Gicarino, the brilliant light of the Canons of Jesus was raised up to crush the arrogance of the Regular. The Vatican purple, therefore, has not faded Lutherans and Calvinists, who endeavour to rerive all the by its contact with sackcloth and serge. It would be ancient heresies--not indeed that we wish to institute impossible, in the space at my command, to even enumecomparisons between Orders and Orders--but that the rate the many renowned names of the Cardinals (and there victory may be more signal when such Goliahs are sub- were many hindheds)who belonged to religimus ordes dued by humble Darids. And certainly it is evident that from the beginning down to the time of tlie late Cardigal the discomfiture and destruction of heresies is more to be wicara, the far famed General of the Capuchins, whom I attributed to Religious than to any others; for whererer had once, in Rome, the honour of calling my Superior. heresy found no Religious, or succeeded in destroying them, But what shall I say of the Roman Pontif's ? perhaps the there she has always perverted, there she has conqnered, Religious could not figure amongst them with treputation there she has triumphed, and there she has erected her and glory. What think you, then, of a Gregory the Great, firmest throne, as is the case (alas ! how fatally) in Eng whose name alone is his panegyrie ? What of a Gregory land, once the Lyceum of wisdom, now the den and sink the Second, who deprived the Emperor Leo of the empire, of every Glthy error. But let us proceed. By whon were and compelled him to retire shamefully to the east? What those lay confraternities that diffuse such blessings through of a Gregory the Seventh, who also deposed the wicked onr cities, by whom were they founded but by the two Henry, and made him a suppliant suitor at his feet ? What great orders of friars; by St. Dominic, who foundled that of an Agathio, who emancipated the Popes from the of the Rosary, and by St. Bonaventure who founded that homage which they paid the emiperors for consecration? of the Banner ? Who consecrated themselves by the most What of au Urban the Second, whose zeal nobly rescued solemn obligations for the redemption of captives? Who the Holy Land from the yoke of the Saracens? What af devoted themselves by indissoluble rows to the service of a Leo the Fourth, in reverence for whom even proud, the sick ? and who make it their duty at all times to apply haughty Englant spontaneously made herself a tributary themselves most ardently to teach, to confess, to preacli
, of the Charch? What of an Alexander the Third? What to chaut the psalms; to pray, if not those very Religious, of a Paschal the Second P What of a Pius the Fifth r' and in whom this sacred repose is now charged as a crime lvy what of so manr others, more than fifty in nuinber, who the children of error, and by the worshippers of Mammon though not an eminently distinguished for learning and io the Catholic body.
sanctity, or nobie enterprize, as those already mentioned. But what argoment more evidently prores the immense vet were nearly so, and not even one of them standscharged good done by the Religious, than a consideration of the irith those faults or irregularities in morals, and that ample privileges granted to them by the Holy See, the feebleness in government, which are imputed to a few exemptions, the graces, the faculties, the rich endowments, other Pontiffe of those digordered times. I cannot lut slip the magnificent monasteries, and the highest testimony of this opportunity of remarking, that the Franciscan order honour in having many of their members raised to the Girst has giren fire Popes to the Church, namely, Nicholas IV., diguities, dignities which they not only did not seek (as Alexander V., Sixtus IV., Sixtus V., and Clement XIV., was often the custom), but which they either refused with well known by his family name Ganganelli. St. Benedict tears or eren avoided by flight? Are not all these proufs XT., Pius II. Pius III St. Pius V., Benedict XIII, and the most conrincing, and declarations the most expressive, sereral others, were members of the Dominican Order. that the Church has never had ministers more indefatigable, There have been several Popes, beginning with St. Gregory more faithful, or perhaps more efficient than the Religious? the Great, of the Benedictine order. In our own timis So that, to speak my mind plainly, I do not know whether there have been two, namely, the meek and saintly conthose dignities conferred more honour on the Religious, fessor Pius VII., whose mother became a nun, and the than the Religious on the dignities. One thing, however, late holy anů venerable Pontiff, Gregory XVI., fis certain, that if we consider the ecelesiastical offices even In addressing either you, Rev. Father, or my readers, I of the very highest order, we shall find thrat seldom have am not soliciting the attention of persons on whom, were they been discharged with greater innocence, or with, I inclined to do so, I could pass tinsel for gold, or fiction greater zea), than when they were in the hands of men for truth, and even thongh the nature of the charge which 'raised from the obscurity of the cloister. And first, with I have taken upon myself, and the sacredness of the subjects regard to Bishops, this is clear; for, among them few about which I write, could not deter me from lying on a (especially from the time religious orders arose) were found matter of so much moment, yet should I be deterred by outside the cloister, all qualifications considered, to equal the fact that amongst my readers are men versed in all a Basil, a Gregory of Nyssa, a Chrysostom, a Nazienzen, branches of learning, sacred and profane, with whom an Epiphanius, an Augustin, a Fulgentius, a Martin, a assurance alone could not stamp currency on falsehoods. Patrick, a Malachyan Anselm, an Antoninus, and very What think you, then, "Rev. Father-can any man charge many others, who exchanged a monastic cowl for a Ponti- me with Inaccuracy in any of these propositions which I dical mitres sa Then im Cardinale, if we consider either ) haro advanced are they not clear, palpable, indubitabler
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