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I? I thought I was in the United States of America. But that cannot be. This can be no other than Spain, Portugal, or Italy. And what century is this? I always thought that I lived in the glorious nineteenth. But I must have made a mistake of nine at the
least. This surely must be the tenth century; the darkest of the dark ages-seculum tenebricosum, as the church historians call it—the midnight of time! this day the Prelates
-in this city-celebrated the solemn office for the repose, &c.
Just then it occurred to me that I might have read the paragraph incorrectly. So I resumed the paper; but still it read the same. Then I threw it down, and I sat and thought: Well now, this is a strange thing, an extraordinary piece of business-praying for the repose
of deceased saints !-and those, too, prelates of the only true church-and prelates eminent for their virtues and services”-dead a year, or thereabouts, and yet not at rest !—and this by confession of their own church! What must become of the less renowned Catholics, if the very best of their bishops are tossing. and burning in purgatory a year after having sacrificed their lives in the service of God and their fellow-creatures; and need solemn offices said for the repose of their souls? I always thought that rest to the soul ensued immediately on the exercise of faith. Paul says, we which have believed, do enter into rest;" and
come unto me, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn of me and ye shall find rest unto your souls." I always supposed it meant that they should find the rest as soon as they came; and not after a long life, and a long purgatorial period subsequent to that. But above all, I had got the
impression that, if never before, yet in the grave, good men find rest. I must have contracted that belief, I suppose, by reading what St. John says, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest,” &c. or possibly I got it from that other passage, “there the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.” But it seems I am wrong. Here are two bishops dead, yet not at rest! If what St. John says is true, here is a dilemma. Either those bishops did not die in the Lord, or they are at rest. Will the prelates say that they did not die in the Lord ? I suspect not. Then they must believe that they are at rest. And if so, why celebrate the solemn office for their repose ?
Hoping it may not be a mortal sin, (if it be only venial, I will risk it,) I would ask how the Catholics know that these bishops of theirs are not at rest? Who told them so? Where did they learn it? It seems to me a slander on those men. Bishop Fenwick enjoyed an enviable reputation for goodness. I have often heard him spoken of by Protestants in terms of high commendation; and the article quoted speaks of "the virtues and services” of both. And now, after they have been dead so long, to tell the world that they are not at rest, and that their repose must be prayed for! If Protestants had dared to suggest such a thing about them, we should never have heard the last of it.
But it seems not only a slander on those men, but also a reflection on Christ. How imperfectly, according to the Catholics, he must have done his work ! that even those esteemed his most devoted servants must lie, and toss, and burn, nobody knows how long, 'after death, before the efficacy of his atonement will allow of their being taken to heaven! And where is the fulfillment of his promise, “Come unto me and I will give you rest. Ye shall find rest to your souls ?” According to the prelates, &c. these bishops have not found it yet.
I would dare ask another question. How is it that the priests and prelates can tell with so much accuracy how long a soul remains in purgatory before it is released ? How do they know just when to stop praying? I will not insinuate that they pray as long as the money holds out, and no longer; for in the case of the bishops, I suppose they freely give their prayers. I could not help thinking, if they did go first to purgatory, yet they may not be there so long as this. A year is a long time to be in purgatory. Hours pass slowly away while one is burning. O, is this a part of Christianity? Can it be? What an unsatisfactory religion, which will not allow its most eminent examples, its most virtuous votaries, to have repose even in the grave ! Credat qui vult, non ego.
45. Canonizing Saints.
I was a good deal struck the other day in reading, in a Baltimore paper, the following notice : On Monday, the 17th of March, St. Patrick's day, a solemn High Mass will be sung in St. Patrick's church, Fell's Point, and the panegyric of the Saint will be
delivered.” It suggested some thoughts which I beg leave to communicate.
Why should the 17th of March be called St. Patrick's day? How is it his day more than yours or mine ? What property had he in it more than others ? He died on that day, it is true. But was he the only one that died on that day. Many thousands must have died on the same day. Does a man's dying on a particular day make it his ? Ah, but he was a saint. How is that ascertained? Who saw his heart? I hope he was a good man, and a renewed person. But I think we ought to be cautious how we so positively pronounce our fellow creatures saints. Especially should Catholics, since even Peter himself, though, as they affirm, infallible, did not express himself so confidently, for he says in his first epistle, 5th chap. and 12th verse, of Silvanus, "a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose.”
But what if he was a saint; every real Christian is a saint. If any one doubts this, let him consult any part of the New Testament. I trust there were many saints on earth at that time ; and I doubt not that other saints died on that day as well as Patrick. I object altogether to the day being called his. I have no idea that the 365th portion of every year belongs peculiarly to St. Patrick. I have no notion of this parceling out the year among the saints, and calling one day St. Patrick's, and another St. Cecilia's, and so on. At this rate we shall have the whole year appropriated to dead saints.
Ah, but you forget that Patrick was canonized. The church made him a saint, and appropriated that day to him. But I have not much opinion of these
canonized saints—the saints of human manufacture. I like the sanctified ones better. Our Protestant saints are
“God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” But granting the 17th of March to be St. Patrick's day, why is it kept? What have we to do with it, who live so long after ? Patrick died in 493, and here in the 19th century they are keeping his day! I think it is time to have done grieving for the death of St. Patrick, now that he has been dead more than 1300 years, and especially when he died at the good old age of 120. Really, I think it is time that even the Irish Catholics had wiped up their tears for him. Tears! why, they do not keep the day in lamentation for him, but in honor and praise of him. High mass is to be sung, as it appears by the advertisement. Now singing expresses praise—and his panegyric is to be pronounced. It is wonderful what a disposition there is among the Catholics to multiply the objects of their religious honor. O that they were but satisfied to praise the Lord that made heaven and earth! But no
- they must have creatures to do homage unto-angels; and saints of their own making; and above all, the blessed Virgin, our heavenly mother," as some of them call her. It would really seem as if they had rather pay respect to any other being than God! They cannot be satisfied with the mediation of Jesus. They must have creatures to mediate and intercede for them. They are always doing things, and keeping days in honor of the saints. How much they talk about tutelar saints and guardian angels. It would appear as if they had rather be under the care of any other beings than God!
Now the idea of still eulogizing, panegyrizing, and