Theology

The Catholic Church

I say mass at half-past six. We have a good library and I am enjoying my reading greatly, feeling that it is the Will of God that I should be where I am, and employed as I am. I am reading the Summa of St. Thomas with Passaglia, who is kind enough to give me his spare time. He is the ablest theologian I have met, and well read in German criticism, which is rare. I have read Perrone’s Compendium, and am reading Moral Theology, which among us expired with the Diidor Duhitantium. How much I wish you could be with me in Passaglia’s cell. It is to me a delight to have a living voice to answer the questions which past years have helped me to make. And I am truly thankful to find how, in the main, I have rightly kept to the end of the thread. If you can, get the works Passaglia has published — especially one on Grace, De Divinci Voluntatis partitione, etc.

Before God, dearest Robert, I can say that my whole reason is even more and more filled with conviction that the Catholic and Roman Church is the one only true fold of Jesus Christ, and that every other communion is both in heresy and in schism. (II manning’s letters to R. WILBERFORCE 27)

III. And where now is this Church? If only we would find it, if only we could know where the divine voice is to be heard, if only we could discover where this organ is, all controversy would be at an end. Men would beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; there would be no more jangling of words, no more clash of arguments, no more battle of reasons, no more conflict of intelligences, no more struggles of heated wills in the arena of religious animosity. All these things would
be extinct, and the weapons of spiritual warfare would be beaten into useful implements of tillage and of husbandry for the vineyard of the Lord. Where, then, is this Church to be found? There is one sure test by which we may find it. The Apostles were united with Peter. He was first among them. He was the head of all. They took no separate acts apart from him. They taught no other doctrine than the doctrine of Peter. They laid no other foundation. All their prerogatives they held in common with him. The keys of the kingdom of heaven which they hare were given first into Peter’s hands. They had stood by and heard from the lips of the Incarnate Word Himself, anointed by the Holy Ghost: ‘ Thou art Peter; and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and unto thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, it shall be bound in heaven.’ Peter then was their head; he was their chief in that Apostolic College which, on the day of Pentecost, was the organ of the Holy Ghost. Has he ever ceased to be so? Who stands in Peter’s place at this hour? Is there any successor to his authority? The whole world believed of old that Linus Bishop of Rome succeeded to Peter, when he ascended from the cross of martyrdom to the throne of his Lord; and to Linus, Cletus. Rome was the centre of that one universal Church of all nations then. This is undisputed; it is beyond controversy.

The untroubled page of history in those early days, to which some profess to appeal, attests the fact that St. Matthew xvi: 19. there was then hut one Church on earth. There was no second no other none like it, none heside it; and the centre and head of that Church was the centre and head of the Christian world. It was the city of Rome, and in that city of Rome the See of Rome, the apostolic throne on which sat the successors of the Chief of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. No one doubts this as to history in the past; but the
history of the past is supposed to lay no jurisdiction over our consciences now. Men treat history as an idle page, which they may read for their amusement, but refuse as a guide for their consciences. And yet it is indubitable that the one only Church of God, the circumference of which rested on the sunrise and the sunset, had a centre, and that centre was in Rome. Take it then as a mere matter of fact. The Divine Architect, in describing the circuit of His kingdom on earth, placed one foot of His compass in the city of Rome, and with the other traced a circumference which included the whole world. The annals of the Church in succession recognise the Bishop who sat in Peter’s seat as head among the
Bishops of the world. I need not wear away your time by citing testimonies. Any one who will take the page of history may read it. I raise no claim, as yet, to anything beyond the fact…
There follows also another truth, and it is an awful one, a truth which springs from the last so inseparably and by so strong a necessity, that I dare not pass it by. If, indeed, God the Holy Ghost bein the midst of us, and if it be God the Holy Ghost Who speaks to us through the one Holy Catholic and Roman Church, then it imposes its doctrines on the
consciences of men under pain of eternal death. It is under pain of eternal death to disbelieve that which God the Holy Ghost has revealed. To disbelieve what the Holy Ghost, through the Church of God, has taught, incurs the pain of eternal death for those
who with their eyes open reject it.” (Taken from the Sermon The Church, The Spirit, and The Word.)

“The history of mankind is the history of successive dynasties. Like shadows they have come and passed away; they have each one contained the principle of its own dissolution. Not one of them was intrinsically changeless and incorruptible. The Church of Jesus Christ, from its foundation to this hour, continues incorruptible in itself. The worldly accidents around it are human, and cleave to it like the dust to our feet. As the light of heaven is changeless, incorruptible, unsoiled in its purity, though it looks upon all the corruptions of the earth, so is the Church of God in the world; and as the Presence of our Divine Lord in the Blessed Sacrament abides in its immutable sanctity in the midst of the sins of men, so the Church of Jesus Christ abides incorruptibly the same, the sins and corruptions’ of those who visibly belong to it notwithstanding.” (Taken From the Fourfold Sovereignty of God)

As the hammer welds the iron into a closer mass, so the indissoluble unity of the Catholic Church is, by persecution, tested, confirmed, and revealed. For eighteen centuries the mystical vine has stood, a living tree, rising in its stature, spreading in its reach, unfolding its leaves, multiplying its fruits, showing its imperishable vitality in every branch and in every spray. (From Towards Evening)

The Real Presence
It seems to me a duty of conscience as well as of plain reason to learn the Catholic terminology as I would the signs of Algebra or the Russian vowels, before we attempt to appreciate them. I say this all the more, because I am convinced that the Catholic
doctrine of the Real Presence is alone in harmony with reason and revelation, with Scriptures and philosophy; and I think no one can read St. Thomas and Vasquez without coming in the end to that conclusion. (Letter to Robert Wilberforce 1852)

The Blessed Virgin Mary

The devotion, or worship, as we say in our Old English speech, to the Blessed Virgin which the Catholic Church teaches to her children, may be best defined in these words: it is the love and veneration which was paid to her by her Divine Son and His disciples, and such as we should have borne to her if we had been on earth with them ; and it is also the love and veneration we shall bear to her next after her Divine Son, when through grace we see Him in His kingdom.

In no point do we go beyond the devotion of the disciples to Mary; in no point did the devotion of the disciples fall short of ours. No one, not even the Saints of the Church, not even S. Bernard, S. Bonaventure, S. Alphonsus, loved or venerated the Blessed Virgin with a love so tender, a veneration so profound, as S. Peter, S. James, and S. John. (Extracts from His Work)

No language can be conceived more ardent or absolute than that in which the earliest records of Christianity, the liturgies, and the early Fathers speak of the Blessed Mother of our Lord. Spotless, sinless, thrice-holy, holier than the seraphim, holiest next after God, — these are the familiar descriptions of her sanctity.

Bear in mind these three things: (1) First, that the Author and Founder of the devotion to the Mother of God is Jesus Himself. (2) Secondly, that the chief promoters of it were the apostles and disciples of our Lord. (3) Thirdly, that in nothing do we go beyond them. (From Towards Evening)

Mary stands at the right hand of her Son, Who stands at the right hand of His Father; and the right hand of her Son is almighty. And the prayers of His Blessed Mother never fail. They never fail, because she never asks amiss; they never fail, because she knows the Will of her Divine Son. The Immaculate Heart of Mary intimately knows the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

As the worship we pay the Blessed Virgin is infinitely less than the Divine worship which is due to God only, but immensely greater than the worship we pay to all the Saints for the Saints are innumerable, but the Mother of God is one and as the throne on which she sits is lower by infinite space than the throne of God, but higher by an immensity than all the thrones in the heavenly court, so the gift of piety offers to her continually a love and adoration which is beyond all that we pay or is due to all the Saints.

The will fell by the unbelief of Eve, the first virgin, and was restored through the faith of Mary, the second Virgin. The first Eve listened to the tempter, and fell; the second Eve listened to the angel, and believed.

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