The musings and meandering thoughts of a crotchety old man as he observes life in the world and in a small, rural town in South East Nebraska. My Pledge-Nulla dies sine linea-Not a day with out a line.
Church of Jesus! that wast promised by him to the earth during the days of his mortal life; that camest forth from his sacred Side when wounded by the Spear upon the Cross; that wast organized and perfected by him during the last days of his sojourn here below—we lovingly greet thee as our Mother; Thou art the Spouse of our Redeemer, and it is through thee that we were born to him. It is thou that gavest us life by baptism; it is thou that givest us the Word, which enlightens us; it is thou that ministerest to us the helps whereby we are led, through our earthly pilgrimage, to heaven; it is thou that governest us, in the spiritual order, by thy holy ordinances.
Under thy maternal care, we are safe; we have nothing to fear. What can error do against us? Thou art the pillar and ground of the truth! (1 Timothy 3:15) What effect can the revolutions of our earthly habitation have upon us? We know that if everything else should fail us, thou wilt ever be with us. It was during these very days, which precede the Ascension, that our Lord Jesus said to his Apostles, and through them, to their successors: Behold! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matthew 28:20)
What a promise of duration was not this! If we consult the history of these last eighteen hundred years, it will tell us that this promise has never once been broken. The gates of hell have risen up against thee innumerable times; but they have never prevailed against thee, no, not for one single moment!
And thus it is, O Church! that being founded on Christ thy Spouse, thou givest us a share in thine own divine immutability! Established as we are in thee there is not a truth, which the eye of our faith cannot see; there is not a blessing which, despite our weakness, we may not make our own; there is no object shown us by hope which we may not attain. Thou holdest us in thine arms; and from the height whereto thou raisest us, we see the mysteries of time and the secrets of eternity. Our eye admiringly follows thee, whether we consider thee as militant on earth, suffering in thy dear ones who are in the temporary state of expiation, or triumphant in heaven. Thou art with us in our exile, and already art thou, in millions of thy children, heiress of the eternal kingdom. Keep us near thee, nay, within thee, O thou our Mother, who art the beloved Spouse of our Lord! To whom shall we go but to thee? Is it not to thee, and to thee alone, that he has entrusted the words of eternal life?
How much they are to be pitied, O Church! who do not know thee! And yet, if they are seeking God with all their heart, they will, one day, know thee. How much they are to be pitied, who once knew thee, and afterwards, in their pride and ingratitude, denied thee! And yet, no one ever fell into such misery unless he first voluntarily shut his eyes against the light that was within him. How much they are to be pitied, who know thee and still live enjoying what thou givest thy children, and who yet take side with thine enemies in insulting and betraying thee! They are men whose character is shallowness of mind; they speak their opinions as though they were oracles; they have contracted the flippant effrontery of our age: and to hear them speak of thee, one would suppose that they look on thee as a human institution, which they may approve or blame according to their humor.
Instead of revering whatsoever thou hast taught regarding thyself and thy rights; instead of revering what thou hast ordained, regulated, and practiced; these Catholics, whose sympathies are all with thine enemies, would have thee conform thy teachings and conduct with the so-called Progress of the times. The whole world is given to thee as thine inheritance; and yet these insolent children would have thee be content with what they think proper to assign to thee. Thou, the Mother of mankind, must be under their wise care! It is from them, thou must, henceforth, learn how best to fulfill thy mission! Godless men, adorers of what they called the rights of man, a century back, to expel thee from political life, which up till then thou hadst kept in harmony with its Divine Master. These men have left disciples, who would have thee withdraw from everything that regards the outward world and look on as a mere stranger. Thou must no longer exercise the rights given thee by the Son of God over both soul and body; this royalty of thine is out of date, and thou must be satisfied to enjoy the liberty which, in virtue of the law of Progress, is granted alike to error and to truth. The wise and powerful ones of this world are discussing the question of dethroning, now after a thousand years’ reign, the Vicar of thy Spouse; and instead of resenting such a project with holy indignation, as tending to the destruction of the last bulwark of Christendom—there are many among us who approve of it, and this on principles which are, it is true, in favor with rationalistic politicians, but which are formally condemned by thy teachings, thy acts, nay, by thy very existence. How short sighted are such Catholics as these, who hope to make thee acceptable to the world by giving thee the semblance of a human institution! The world is too shrewd: it knows thee to be essentially supernatural, and this is what it can never tolerate.
Wiser and more Christian by far are they who, detesting such profane theories, have, like devoted Maccabees, drawn the sword against thine enemies, O Church of Christ! and even in an age like this, when faith has grown weak, have so well understood their Christian duty as to die in thy defense, and by so dying, to win the crown of martyrdom. Yes, it is our duty to confess thee: to disguise thee is to belie thee. Thou art one of the articles of our Creed: “I believe the holy Catholic Church.” Thou hast been known these eighteen hundred years; and shall men now pretend that thou must conform to the world’s capricious views? This cannot be. Jesus made thee be like himself—a sign of contradiction: (Luke 2:34) and as such we must receive thee. We must listen to thy protestations against false principles and practices, and not attempt to remodel thee. Only God has power to give his Church a form other than that he has already given her.
Blessed are they who share thy lot, dear Church of our Redeemer! in these unchristian times, thou art unpopular. Thou wast so in ages long gone by, when men could not become thy children, save at the risk of being despised. It is the same now, and we are resolved to espouse thy cause. We confess thee to be our Mother, inaccessible to the changes of this world. Whether honored or persecuted, thou continuest thy mission here below. Thus will it be, until the time comes when this earth, which was created to be thy kingdom, shall see thee ascend to heaven, and flee from a world which will deserve the severest chastisements of God’s anger, because of its having despised and rejected thee.
In honor of the Divine Spouse of our Mother, let us sing this Paschal canticle, taken from the ancient Missals of Flanders.
Let the whole earth sing Alleluia! and, by its prayers and hymns, celebrate the Paschal solemnity.
Let the young troop share in the common joy; it comes, white as snow, from the sacred font, having been rescued from the waters of the stream of hell.
Let us, too, string our harps to tune;
And sing, whilst going through the many-varied modes, with voices sweet and ringing.
For Jesus, the meek Lamb, has become the Victim of our salvation, and has carried the Wood of his Cross.
He suffered Death, that we might have eternal life.
He deigned to drink the bitter cup of gall.
He permitted himself to be cruelly wounded with the Nails and Spear.
Having thus suffered for our sins, which he took upon himself, he descended into the depths below.
He broke the sword of the old enemy, and brought back, in power and triumph, the richest trophies.
He conquered Death; his Soul was reunited to his Body; and this is the Day of his glorious Resurrection.
Therefore, let us sing to him our lays of joy.
Life everlasting has been restored to us and heaven’s bright gate thrown open to us by him.