Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bellarmine on Theological Virtues (3)

St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (+1621), Jesuit, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church, wrote Ars bene moriendi, the Art of Dying Well, in 1619AD. Today I present Chapter 3, On the Theological Virtues.

St. Robert Bellarmine (+1621AD)



IN the last chapter we showed, that no one can die a good death, without first dying to the world.
Now we shall point out what he must do who is dead to the world, in order that he may live to God; for in the first chapter we proved, that no man can die well, without having lived well. The essence ofa good life is laid down by St. Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy, in these words: " Now the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith." (chap, i.) The apostle was not ignorant of the answer our Lord gave to one who had asked Him: "What shall I do to possess eternal life ? " He answered, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." But the apostle wished to explain, in the fewest words, the end of the first commandment, on which the whole law, and the understanding of it, and its observance, and theway to eternal life, depend. At the same time he also wished to teach us, what are the virtues necessary to attain perfect justice, of which he had spoken in another place: "And now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greater of these is charity." (1 Epist. to Corinth, xiii. 13.) He says, therefore, the end of the precepts’ is Charity: that is, the end of all precepts, the observance of which is necessary for a good life, consists in charity.

Thus, he that loves God, fulfils all the precepts which relate to the first table of the law; and he that loves his neighbour, fulfils all the commands which relate to the second. This truth St. Paul teaches more clearly in his Epistle to the Romans: "He that loveth his neighbour, hath fulfilled the law. For, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet: And if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The love of our neighbour worketh no evil. Love, therefore, is the fulfilling of the law." (chap. xiii. 8, & c.)

From these words we can understand, that all the precepts which relate to the worship of God, are included in charity. For as the love of one neighbour towards another does not produce evil; so also the love of God cannot produce evil. Wherefore the fulfilling of the law, both as regards God and our
neighbour, is love. But what is the nature of true and perfect charity towards God and our neighbour? the same apostle declareth saying: "Charity, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and in unfeigned faith." In these words, by a "good conscience," we understand with St. Augustine, in his Preface to the xxxi. Psalm, the virtue of hope, which is one of the three theological virtues. Hope is called a "good conscience," because it springs from a good conscience, just the same as despair arises from an evil conscience; hence St. John saith: " Dearly beloved, if our heart do not reprehend us, we have confidence towards God."(I Epist. iii. 21.)

There are, therefore, three virtues, in which the perfection of the Christian law consists; charity from a pure heart, hope from a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. But as charity is first in the order of perfection, so in the order of generation, faith cometh first, according to the words of the apostle: "Now there remain, faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greater of these is charity."

Let us begin with faith, which is the first of all the virtues that exists in the heart of a justified man.
Not without reason, doth the apostle add " unfeigned" to faith. For faith begins justification, provided it be true and sincere, not false or feigned. The faith of heretics does not begin justification, because it is not true, but false; the faith of bad Catholics does not begin justification, because it is not sincere, but feigned. It is said to be feigned in two ways: when either we do not really believe, but only pretend to believe; or when we indeed believe, but do not live, as we believe we ought to do.
In both these ways it seems the words of St. Paul must be understood, in his Epistle to Titus: "They profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him." (chap. i. 16.) Thus also do the holy
fathers St. Jerome and St. Augustine, interpret these words of the apostle.

Now, from this first virtue of a just man, we may easily understand, how great must be the multitude of those who do not live well, and who therefore die ill. I pass by infidels, pagans, heretics, and atheists, who are completely ignorant of the Art of dying well. And amongst Catholics, how many are there who in words, " profess to know God, but in their works deny him?" Who acknowledge the mother of our Lord to be a virgin, and yet fear not to blaspheme her? Who praise prayer, fasting, almsdeeds, and other good works, and yet always indulge in the opposite vices ? I omit other things that are known to all. Let not those then boast that they possess “unfeigned” faith, who either do not believe what they pretend to believe, or else do not live as the Catholic Church commands them to do; and therefore they acknowledge by this conduct, that they have not yet begun to live well: nor can they hope to die happily, unless by the grace of God they learn the Art of living well.

Another virtue of a just man is hope, or "a good conscience," as St. Paul has taught us to call it. This virtue comes from faith, for he cannot hope in God who either does not know the true God, or does not believe Him to be powerful and merciful. But to excite and strengthen our faith, that so it may be called not merely hope, but even confidence, a good conscience is very necessary. For how can any one approach God, and ask favours from Him, when he is conscious of heaving committed sin, and of not having expiated it by true repentance ? Who asks a benefit from an enemy? Who can expect to be relieved by him, who he knows is incensed against him ?

Hear what the wise man thinks of the hope of the wicked: "The hope of the wicked is as dust, which is blown away with the wind, and as a thin froth which is dispersed by the storm: and a smoke that is scattered abroad by the wind; and as the remembrance of a guest of one day that passeth by."
(Wisdom v. 15.). Thus the wise man admonishes the wicked, that their hope is weak not strong; short not lasting; they may indeed, whilst they are alive, entertain some hopes, that some day they will repent and be reconciled to God: but when death overtakes them, unless the Almighty by a special grace move their heart, and inspire them with true sorrow, their hope will be changed into despair, and they will exclaim with the rest of the wicked: "Therefore we have erred from the way of truth, and the light of justice hath not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding hath not risen upon us. What hath pride profited us? or what advantage hath the boasting of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow," &c. (Wisdom v. 6 8.) Thus doth the wise man admonish us, that if we wish to live well and die well, we must not dare to remain in sin, even for one moment, nor allow ourselves to be deceived by a vain confidence, that we have as yet many years to live, and that time will be given to us for repentance.

Such a vain confidence hath deceived many, and will deceive many more, unless they wisely learn whilst they have time the Art of dying well. “There now remaineth charity, the third virtue, which is justly called the “queen of virtues;" with this no one can perish, without it no one can live, either in this life or in the next. But that alone is true charity which springs from a " pure heart: " it is "from God," as St. John saith; and also more clearly St. Paul, "The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us." (Epist. to Romans v. 5.) Charity is therefore said to come from a "pure heart," because it is not enkindled in an impure heart, but in one purified from its errors by faith, according to the words of the apostle Peter: "purifying their hearts by faith: " and by divine hope, it is also purified from the love and desire of earthly things. For as a fire cannot be enkindled in wood that is green or damp, but only in dry wood; so also the fire of charity requires a heart purified from earthly affections, and from a foolish confidence in its own strength.

From this explanation we can understand what is true charity, and what false and feigned. For should we delight to speak of God, and shed even tears at our prayers should we do many good works, give alms and often fast; but yet allow impure love to remain in our heart, or vain glory, or hatred to our neighbour, or any other of those vices that make our hearts depraved this is not true and divine charity, but only its shadow. With the greatest reason then does St. Paul, when speaking of true and perfect justice, not mention simply, faith, hope, and charity: but he adds, “Now the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith." This is the true Art of living and dying well, if we persevere till death in true and perfect charity.


I shall be presenting this work at length, but in chapter-length installments each Sunday. If you simply can't wait for the next chapter, or want to read it all at once, you can find the full text here:

Merry Christmas & live well!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bellarmine on Dying to the World (2)

St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (+1621), Jesuit, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church, wrote Ars bene moriendi, the Art of Dying Well, in 1619AD. Today I continue my presentation of this work, as I plan each Sunday, which now brings us to Chapter 2, On Death to the World.

St. Robert Bellarmine (+1621AD)



Now, that we may live well it is necessary, in the first place, that we die to the world before we die in the body. All they who live to the world are dead to God: we cannot in any way begin to live to God, unless we first die to the world. This truth is so plainly revealed in Holy Scripture, that it can be denied by no one but infidels and unbelievers. But, as in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall stand, I will quote the holy apostles, St. John, St. James, and St. .Paul, witnesses the more powerful, because in them the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Truth) plainly speaketh. Thus writes St. John the Evangelist: "The prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not anything," (chap. xiv. 30.) Here the devil is meant by " the prince of this world," who is the king of all the wicked: and by the "world" is understood the company of all sinners who love the world, and are loved by it.

A little lower the same Evangelist continues: "If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." And in another place: “I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me." Here Christ clearly tells us, that by the "world" those are meant, who, with their prince the devil, shall hear at the last day: " Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." St. John adds also in his Epistle: " Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof. But he that doth the will of God abideth for ever." (1 Epist. ii.)

Let us now hear how St. James speaks in his Epistle: " Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, becometh an enemy to God." (chap. iv. 4.)

Thus St. Paul, that vessel of election, speaketh; in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, writing to all the faithful, he says: “You must needs go out of this world ;" and in another place in the same Epistle: “But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord: that we be not condemned with this world." (chap. xi. 32.) Here we are clearly told, that the whole world will be condemned at the last day. But by the "world" is not meant heaven and earth, nor all those who live in it; but they only who love the world. The just and pious in whom reigneth the love of God, not the concupiscence of the flesh are indeed in the world, but not of the world: but the wicked are not only in the world, they are also of the world; and therefore not the love of God, but the "concupiscence of the flesh" reigneth in their heart, that is, luxury and the concupiscence of the eyes," which is avarice and "the pride of life," which is an esteem of themselves above others; and thus they imitate the arrogance and pride of the devil, not the humility and mildness of Jesus Christ.

Since, then, such is the truth, if we wish to learn the Art of dying well, it is our bounden and serious duty to go forth from the world, not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth: yea, to die to the world, and to exclaim with the Apostle, " The world is crucified to me, and I to the world." This business is no trifling matter, but one of the utmost difficulty and importance: for our Lord being asked, "Are they few that are saved?" replied, " Strive to enter by the narrow gate ;" and more clearly in St. Matthew doth He speak: “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!" (chap, vii.)

To live in the world, and to despise the pleasures of the world, is very difficult: to see beautiful objects, and not to love them; to taste sweet things, and not to be delighted with them; to despise honours, to court labours, willingly to occupy the lowest place, to yield the highest to all others in fine, to live in the flesh as if not having flesh, this seems rather to belong to angels than to men; and yet the apostle, writing to the Church of the Corinthians, in which nearly all lived with their wives, and who were therefore neither clerics, nor monks, nor anchorets, but, according to the expression now used, were seculars still, he thus addresses them: "This therefore I say, brethren, the time is short; it remaineth, that they also who have wives be as if they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as if they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as if they used it not, for the fashion of this world passeth away." (1 Corinth, vii. 29. & c.)

By these words the apostle exhorts the faithful that, being encouraged by the hope of eternal happiness, they should be as little affected by earthly things as if they did not belong to them; that they should love their wives only with a moderated love, as if they had them not; that if they wept for the loss of children or of their goods, they should weep but little, as if they were not sorrowful; that if they rejoiced at their worldly honours or success, they should rejoice as if they had no occasion to rejoice that is, as if joy did not belong to them; that if they bought a house or field, they should be as little affected by it as if they did not possess it. In fine, the apostle orders us so to live in the world, as if we were strangers and pilgrims, not citizens. And this St. Peter more clearly teaches where he says: " Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul." (1 Epist. ii.) Thus the most glorious prince of the apostles wishes us, so to live in our own house and city as if we dwelt in another’s, being little solicitous whether there is abundance or scarcity of provisions. But he commands us, that we so abstain "from carnal desires which war against the soul;" for carnal desires do not easily arise when we see those things which do not belong to us. This, therefore, is the way to be in the world, and not of the world, which those do who, being dead to the world, live to God alone; and, therefore, such do not fear the death of the body, which brings them not harm but gain, according to the saying of the Apostle Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain." And how many, I ask, shall we find in our times, so dead to the world as already to have learnt to die to the flesh, and thus to secure their salvation ? I have certainly no doubt, that in the Catholic Church are to be found, not only in monasteries and amongst the clergy, but even in the world, many holy men, truly dead to the world, who have learned the Art of dying well. But it cannot be denied also, that many are to be found, not only not dead to the world, but ardently fond of it, and lovers of its pleasures, riches, and honours: these, unless they resolve to die to the world, and in reality do so, without doubt will die a bad death, and be condemned with the world, as the apostle saith. But perhaps the lovers of the world may reply, " It is very difficult to die to the world, whilst we are living in it; and to despise those good things which God has created for our enjoyment." To these words I answer, that God does not wish us entirely and absolutely to neglect or despise the riches and honours of this world. Abraham was an especial favourite with God; and yet he possessed great riches. David also, and Ezechias, and Josias, were most powerful kings; and at the same time most pleasing to God: the same may be said of many Christian kings and emperors. The good things of this life, therefore its riches, honours, and pleasures are not entirely forbidden to Christians, but only an immoderate love of them, which is named by St. John, " the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life."

Abraham certainly possessed great riches, but he not only made a moderate use of them, he was also most willing to dispose of them, when and how the Almighty willed. For he who spared not his only beloved son, how much more easily could he part with his riches, if God so wished ? Wherefore Abraham was rich, but he was richer in faith and charity; and therefore he was not of the world, but rather dead to it. The same may be said of other holy men, who, possessed of riches, power, and glory, and even kingdoms, were yet poor in spirit, dead to the world, and thus living to God alone, they learned perfectly the Art of dying well Wherefore, not abundance of riches, nor kingdoms, nor honours, make us to be of the world; but "the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which in one word is called cupidity, and is opposed to divine charity. If then we should begin, the grace of God inspiring us, to love God for His own sake and our neighbours for God s sake, we shall then not be of this world: and as our love increaseth, our cupidity will diminish; for charity cannot increase without the other diminishing. Thus, what appeared impossible to be done, when our passions reigned within us, " to live in this world as if we did not belong to it," will be made most easy when love resides in our heart. What is an insupportable burden to cupidity, is sweet and light to love.  As we said above, to die to the world is no light matter, but a business of the greatest difficulty and importance. Those find it most difficult who know not the power of God s grace, nor have tasted of the sweetness of His love, but are carnal, not having the Spirit: all carnal objects become insipid, when once we taste of the divine sweetness.

Wherefore, he who seriously desireth to learn the Art of dying well, on which his eternal salvation and all true happiness depend, must not defer quitting this world, and entirely dying to it: he cannot possibly live to the world and to God; he cannot enjoy earth and heaven.


I shall be presenting this work at length, but in chapter-length installments each Sunday. If you simply can't wait for the next chapter, or want to read it all at once, you can find the full text here:

Live well.

Live well!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

St. Robert Bellarmine on Dying Well (1)

Gaudete in Domino semper; iterum dico, gaudete!  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!  (Phil. 4:4, Introit for the Third Sunday of Advent)

St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (+1621), Jesuit, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church, wrote Ars bene moriendi, the Art of Dying Well, in 1619AD. Today, I continue my presentation of this work, as I plan each Sunday, which now brings us to Chapter 1, On Living Well to Die Well.

St. Robert Bellarmine (+1621AD)



I NOW commence the rules to be observed in the Art of dying well. This art I shall divide into two parts: in the first I shall speak of the precepts we must follow whilst in good health; in the other of those we should observe when we are dangerously ill, or near death’s door.

We shall first treat of those precepts that relate to virtue; and afterwards of those which relate to the sacraments: for, by these two we shall be especially enabled both to live well, and to die well. But the general rule, " that he who lives well, will die well," must be mentioned before all others: for since death is nothing more than the end of life, it is certain that all who live well to the end, die well; nor can he die ill, who hath never lived ill; as, on the other hand, he who hath never led a good life, cannot die a good death. The same thing is observable in many similar cases: for all that walk along the right path, are sure to arrive at the place of their destination; whilst, on the contrary, they who wander from it, will never arrive at their journey’s end.

They also who diligently apply to study, will soon become learned doctors; but they who do not, will be ignorant. But, perhaps, some one may mention, as an objection, the example of the good thief, who lived ill and yet died well. This was not the case; for that good thief led a holy life, and therefore died a holy death. But, even supposing he had spent the greater part of his days in wickedness, yet the other part of his life was spent so well, that he easily repented of his former sins, and gained the greatest graces. For, burning with the love of God, he openly defended our Saviour from the calumnies of His enemies; and filled with the same charity towards his neighbour, he rebuked and admonished his blaspheming companion, and endeavoured to convert him. He was yet alive when he thus addressed him, saying: “Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done no evil." (St. Luke xxiii. 40, 41.) Neither was he dead when, confessing and calling upon Christ, he uttered these noble words: "Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom."The good thief then appeared to "have been one of those who came last into the vineyard, and yet he received a reward greater than the first.

True, therefore, is the sentence, "He who lives well, dies well;" and, "He who lives ill, dies ill." We must acknowledge that it is a most dangerous thing to deter till death our conversion from sin to virtue: far more happy are they who begin to carry the yoke of the Lord "from their youth," as Jeremiah saith; and exceedingly blessed are those, " who were not defiled with women, and in whose mouth there was found no lie: for they are without spot before the throne of God. These were purchased from among men, the first-fruits to God and to the Lamb." (Apoc. xiv.4, 5.) Such were Jeremias, and St. John, "more than a prophet;" and above all, the Mother of our Lord, as well as many more whom God alone knoweth.

This first great truth now remains established, that a good death depends upon a good life.

I shall be presenting this work at length, but in chapter-length installments each Sunday. If you simply can't wait for the next chapter, or want to read it all at once, you can find the full text here:

Live well.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

St. Robert Bellermine Preface

Populus Sion, ecce Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes. People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations. (Introit of the Second Sunday of Advent, from Isaiah 30:30)

Considering the name of this blog, it seems rather appropriate to present to the gentle reader the text of the work by St. Robert Bellarmine that inspired it. St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J. (+1621), Jesuit, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church, wrote Ars bene moriendi, the Art of Dying Well, in 1619AD. I begin today, with the Preface, and will present the work in chapter installments each Sunday.

St. Robert Bellarmine (+1621AD)

St. Robert Bellarmine, in this work, gives solid and challenging advice -- recalling for us that the moment of death is a pivotal one for us. Indeed, it can either be that moment that sees use enter into life eternal, making death something almost to be desired despite the physical evils of it, or else a thoroughly horrific moment, both of physical evil and the start of eternal punishment.

In the end, the best way to prepare for ones death, which comes to us all, is to live well. A life well led, for the love of God, is the best way to prepare for our inevitable death.

Enough from me, however, for today I present the preface of St. Robert from his Ars bene moriendi of 1619AD:



BEING now free from Public business and enabled to attend to myself, when in my usual retreat I consider, what is the reason why so very few endeavour to learn the "Art of dying Well," (which all men ought to know,) I can find no other cause than that mentioned by the Wise man: “The perverse are hard to be corrected, and the number of fools is infinite. (Ecclesiastes, i. 15) For what folly can be imagined greater than to neglect that Art, on which depend our highest and eternal interests; whilst on the other hand we learn with great labour, and practise with no less ardour, other almost innumerable arts, in order either to preserve or to increase perishable things?

Now every one will admit, that the “Art of dying Well" is the most important of all sciences; at least every one who seriously reflects, how after death we shall have to give an account to God of everything we did, spoke, or thought of, during our whole life, even of every idle word; and that the devil being our accuser, our conscience a witness, and God the Judge, a sentence of happiness or misery everlasting awaits us. We daily see, how when judgment is expected to be given, even on affairs of the slightest consequence, the interested party enjoy no rest, but consult at one time the lawyers, at another the solicitors, now the judges, and then their friends or relations. But in death when a "Cause" is pending before the Supreme Judge, connected with life or death eternal, often is the sinner compelled, when unprepared, oppressed by disease, and scarcely possessed of reason, to give an account of those things on which when in health, he had perhaps never once reflected. This is the reason why miserable mortals rush in crowds to hell; and as St. Peter saith, “If the just man shall scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1st of St. Peter, iv. 1

I have therefore considered it would be useful to exhort myself, in the first place, and then my Brethren, highly to esteem the "Art of dying Well." And if there be any who, as yet, have not acquired this Art from other learned teachers, I trust they will not despise, at least those Precepts which I have endeavoured to collect, from Holy Writ and the Ancient Fathers.

But before I treat of these Precepts, I think it useful to inquire into the nature of death; whether it is to be ranked among good or among evil things. Now if death be considered absolutely in itself, without doubt it must be called an evil, because that which is opposed to life we must admit cannot be good.

Moreover, as the Wise man saith: “God made not death, but by the envy of the devil, death came into the world."!Wisdom i. 11. verses 13 24. With these words St. Paul also agrees, when he saith:"Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death: and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned." Romans v. 12. If then God did not make death, certainly it cannot be good, because every thing which God hath made is good, according to the words of Moses: “And God saw all things that he had made, and they were very good."

But although death cannot be considered good in itself, yet the wisdom of God hath so seasoned it as it were, that from death many blessings arise. Hence David exclaims; "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints: " and the Church speaking of Christ saith: "Who by His death hath destroyed our death, and by His resurrection hath regained life." Now death that hath destroyed death and regained life, cannot but be very good: wherefore if every death cannot be called good, yet at least some may. Hence St. Ambrose did not hesitate to write a book entitled, "On the Advantages of Death;" in which treatise he clearly proves that death, although produced by sin, possesses its peculiar advantages.

There is also another reason which proves that death, although an evil in itself, can, by the grace of God, produce many blessings. For, first, there is this great blessing, that death puts an end to the numerous miseries of this life. Job thus eloquently complains of the evils of this our present state: "Man born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with many miseries. Who cometh forth like a flower and is destroyed, and fleeth as a shadow, and never continueth in the same state." Chap. iv

And Ecclesiastes saith: "I praised the dead rather than the living: and I judged him happier than them both, that is not yet born, nor hath seen the evils that are under the sun” Ecclesiasticus iv.verses 2, 3 likewise adds: " Great labour is created for all men, and a heavy yoke is upon the children of Adam, from the day of their coming out of their mother s womb, until the day of their burial intothe mother of all. (chap, xl.) The Apostle too complains of the miseries of this life: "Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Epistle to Romans, vii. 24.)

From these testimonies, therefore, of Holy Writ it is quite evident, that death possesses an advantage, in freeing us from the miseries of this life. But it also hath a still more excellent advantage, because it may become the gate from a prison to a Kingdom. This was revealed by our Lord to St. John the Evangelist, when for his faith he had been exiled into, the isle of Patmos: "And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me: Write, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours: for their works follow them." Apocalypse xiv. 13

Truly" blessed" is the death of the saints, which by the command of the Heavenly King frees the soul from the prison of the flesh, and conducts her to a celestial Kingdom; where just souls sweetly rest after all their labours, and for the reward of their good works, receive a crown of glory. To the souls in purgatory also, death brings no slight benefit, for it delivers them from the fear of death, and makes them certain of possessing one day, eternal Happiness. Even to wicked men themselves, death seems to be of some advantage; for in freeing them from the body, it prevents the measure of their punishment from increasing. On account of these excellent advantages, death to good men seems not horrible, but sweet; not terrible, but lovely. Hence St. Paul securely exclaims: "For to me, to live is Christ; and to die is gain having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ: " and his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, he saith: "We will not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have not hope” (iv. 12.)

There lived some time ago a certain holy lady, named Catherine Adorna, of Genoa; she was so inflamed with the love of Christ, that with the most ardent desires she wished to be " dissolved,” and to depart to her Beloved: hence, seized as it were with a love for death, she often praised it as most beautiful and most lovely, blaming it only for this that it fled from those who desired it, and was found by those who fled from it.

From these considerations then we may conclude, that death, as produced by sin, is an evil; but that, by the grace of Christ who condescended to suffer death for us, it hath become in many ways salutary, lovely, and to be desired."

I shall be presenting this work at length, but in chapter-length installments each Sunday. If you simply can't wait for the next chapter, or want to read it all at once, you can find the full text here:

Live well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

150th of the Battle of Chattanooga

File:Battle of Chattanooga Thulstrup.jpg
Battle of Chattanooga by Thulstrup.

We are in the midst of the 150th Anniversary of the crucial Union victory at Chattanooga, Tennessee in late 1863AD.  On 25 November, Grant's men overwhelmed those of Bragg along Missionary Ridge.

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Union General Grant (left) and Confederate General Bragg (right)

U.S. Grant having taken command of the Union forces in Tennessee from William Rosecrans, it was in late November that he put the army in motion and drove the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Braxton Bragg off the ridges south and east of the city.

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The Battle of Chattanooga, 24-25 November 1863[cf., Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

The battle involved the memorable battle in the clouds at Lookout Mountain (where US General Joseph Hooker reappears!), and the crucial victory on Missionary Ridge.

For more, you should note:
NPS Battle Description

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

Civil War Home (including ORs)

Live well!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rappahannock Station 150th

Sign for the Town of Remington, Virginia.  This Fauquier County Town was known as Rappahannock Station during the Civil War, and sits where the old Orange & Alexandria Railroad crosses the Rappahannock River.

Today, 7 November, is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Rappahannock Station (the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station according to some).  The battle was the last in the unfolding of the Bristoe Campaign.  Rappahannock Station is now known as the Town of Remington, in Fauquier County, Virginia.  Remington is one of three towns in Fauquier -- along with Warrenton and The Plains.

Robert E. Lee and his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia had withdrawn south of the Rappahannock River into Culpeper County, Virginia, but maintained a defensive line along the river to face the pursuing Union Army of the Potomac under George Meade.

Rappahannock Station Marker
Historical Marker for the battle at Remington, VA [cf.,]

Lee left a force on the north (Fauquier Co.) side of the river -- the Lousiana Tigers of CS General Harry Hays -- to block a Union crossing at Rappahannock Station (Modern Remington, where the Orange & Alexandria RR crosses the Rappahannock), and force the Union army to cross at Kelly's Ford to the South.  At that point, Lee would strike the fording Army of the Potomac.  It would not go as planned, even with three extra North Carolina regiments joining the Tigers.

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Left: CS General Harry Hays; Right: US General John Sedgwick

The Union VI Corps of US Major General John Sedgwick surprised the Confederate force defending Rappahannock Station that evening of 7 November and managed to capture 1,673 prisoners, with 400 Southerners swimming the river to escape -- and US Major General William French's III Corps captured another 300 Confederates at Kelly's Ford.  All this at a loss of 461 Union troops.

These setbacks convinced Lee to fall back beyond the Rapidan River into Orange County, Virginia, to spend the winter.  Meade would follow, and the armies would face down one another once more before the year of 1863 was spent -- this along the Mine Run.

Here is the NPS Battle Description:

Live well!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How to Play Cricket

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Australia v. South Africa Test Match on 26 December 2013.

The sport of Cricket is, to the average American, a complete and utter mystery.  Monty Python has pretty accurately encapsulated the American view of the sport:

In reality, Cricket is not that difficult to understand, and is an exciting cousin of our own sport of Baseball.

Like Baseball, the goal of Cricket is for the batting team to score runs, with a fielding/bowling [pitching] team attempting to prevent such scores.  Each team gets an opportunity to bat and score points in each innings.  Unlike Baseball, the number of innings depends on the particular adaptation of Cricket (some have two innings, while others only 1).  There are 11 players on each team.

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The typical Cricket pitch -- the part of the field where all of the bowling [pitching] and batting take place.

Unique is Cricket's arrangement where there are two batters on the field at once, though only one is actually receiving bowls [pitches] at a time.  The batter has two goals: to defend the "wicket" located behind him from being hit by a pitch, and to hit the ball so as to facilitate runs.

If a batter in Cricket hits the ball out of the playing field [a home run] that is worth 6 runs; if it lands in play and then exits the playing field [a ground rule double in Baseball] that is worth 4 runs; if he hits it in play, he only gets as many runs as he is able to switch places with the other batter in the field.  They switch places for one run per switch.

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The Wicket -- a target of bowlers [pitchers] and object of defense for batters.

A batter is out, most commonly, when the ball he has hit is caught [like Baseball], if the bowler hits the wicket behind him that he is defending, or if, while trying to switch places with the other batter on his team, the fielding team "tags" his wicket.  It is also possible for him to be out if he blocks the wicket with his leg or body, denying the bowler a clear attempt at hitting the wicket.

This video gives a good summary of some of these rules, and how you can be out:

The bowler [pitcher in American parlance] is allowed six pitches per "overs."  If his pitch is too high or wide, the batting team is automatically awarded a run for a "wide ball" or "no ball," and this does not count against the total of bowls in the over.  If it is in the "strike zone," shall we say, it counts, and the bowler gets six such pitches.  If they result in a run, and the batter switches place with his teammate also on the field -- so be it -- the bowler continues to pitch in the same direction and at whomever is there.  Likewise if a batter is out -- then the bowler "pitches" to his replacement.  After six fair pitches, the bowler has completed an "over," the action changes direction, and another bowler takes his place.  It is not legal for a bowler to bowl two overs in a row.

In some versions of Cricket, an innings is only over after 10 of the 11 members of the team is out, regardless of the number of overs (in test matches, for instance).  In other games, there is a limited number of overs per innings -- One Day International (ODI) matches, for instance, allow for 50 overs per innings.  In this case, the innings is over after 50 overs, or 10 outs -- whichever comes first.  Each team gets one innings at bat!

This video gives a grand overview of the game:

Live well!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Elections & Catholic Social Teaching

The County Election by George Caleb Bingham (1846AD).

Elections have long been a part of the American landscape -- long before the Revolution, actually.  Drawing upon the customs of England, with her House of Commons, many of the New World English colonies boasted elected assemblies.  The oldest, that of Virginia, dated to 1619AD, only a few years after the foundation of the colony in 1607.

On this day, 5 November 2013, the electors of Virginia and of New Jersey will choose their governor.  This blogger being a resident and elector in the Commonwealth of Virginia, he is also interested in the results of the elections for the House of Delegates (all 100 seats are up), Lt. Governor, and Attorney General.  Of course, there are a few scattered local elections around the country, as well, including in New York City.

For Virginia election results later this evening, you should check here:

For those wishing to do a little research into past, early American, elections, you should note this splendid site that has copious records of such events:

An interesting point of trivia on the matter of American elections -- during the 1800AD Presidential Election, when the Federalist John Adams of Massachusetts ran against Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, "Turnout in Virginia, 25 percent of the eligible electorate, was the highest yet for a presidential or congressional election and was higher than it would be for another thirty years." (From Old Dominion, New Commonwealth, pg. 156)  That was in an era where ownership of property, and being a white male, was required to vote.  So, it seems that low voter turnout is a tradition in the American Republic!

For the voter who is interested in the Art of Dying Well, however, elections are serious exercises with grave moral obligations attached.  Amongst the great variety of issues facing the politician, there are some that are matters of prudential judgment, but others are simply non-negotiable matters that, as such gross violations of the natural moral law, must be opposed by the faithful Catholic.  Catholics should take care to shun those candidates that would promote or support abortion, euthanasia, and same sex marriage, in particular.

Recent popes have been quite clear on these particular issues:
In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II reminds us:
"73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10).
In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it.""

Pope Benedict XVI, in a letter noting the great importance of protecting the traditional family, reinforces some of the fundamental principles that have to be remembered by the voter:
"In this regard, particular mention must be made of the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage. The Church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defense of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons...Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike."

Finally, especially those in the states voting specifically on same-sex marriage measures, do recall this statement from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith's Consideration, approved by John Paul II in 2003:
"When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral."

The full text is here:

Certainly, too, we should be aware of not only the grave obligation to oppose such evils in society, but we should also understand the general political and social ideals espoused by those that believe in Jesus Christ and are loyal to His Church.  To that end, Pope Leo XIII has on several occasions expounded on the Catholic social ideal with great clarity.

Pope Leo XIII.

Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) is certainly one of the most eloquent pontiffs of the modern age, and can be counted on for a clear and concise exposition of the Faith.

Considering today's election, now is a splendid time to note a couple selections of Leo's writings on subjects of a political and economic nature.  The selections that follow are from encyclical letters on the subjects of true Liberty, on the Origin of Civil Power, on the Christian Constitution of States, and on Capital and Labor.

Thus, Pope Leo XIII:

Libertas Praestantissimum (On Liberty), 1888

9. What has been said of the liberty of individuals is no less applicable to them when considered as bound together in civil society. For, what reason and the natural law do for individuals. that human law promulgated for their good, does for the citizens of States. Of the laws enacted by men, some are concerned with what is good or bad by its very nature; and they command men to follow after what is right and to shun what is wrong, adding at the same time a suitable sanction. But such laws by no means derive their origin from civil society, because, just as civil society did not create human nature, so neither can it be said to be the author of the good which befits human nature, or of the evil which is contrary to it. Laws come before men live together in society, and have their origin in the natural, and consequently in the eternal, law. The precepts, therefore, of the natural law, contained bodily in the laws of men, have not merely the force of human law, but they possess that higher and more august sanction which belongs to the law of nature and the eternal law. And within the sphere of this kind of laws the duty of the civil legislator is, mainly, to keep the community in obedience by the adoption of a common discipline and by putting restraint upon refractory and viciously inclined men, so that, deterred from evil, they may turn to what is good, or at any rate may avoid causing trouble and disturbance to the State. Now, there are other enactments of the civil authority, which do not follow directly, but somewhat remotely, from the natural law, and decide many points which the law of nature treats only in a general and indefinite way. For instance, though nature commands all to contribute to the public peace and prosperity, whatever belongs to the manner, and circumstances, and conditions under which such service is to be rendered must be determined by the wisdom of men and not by nature herself. It is in the constitution of these particular rules of life, suggested by reason and prudence, and put forth by competent authority, that human law, properly so called, consists, binding all citizens to work together for the attainment of the common end proposed to the community, and forbidding them to depart from this end, and, in so far as human law is in conformity with the dictates of nature, leading to what is good, and deterring from evil.

10. From this it is manifest that the eternal law of God is the sole standard and rule of human liberty, not only in each individual man, but also in the community and civil society which men constitute when united. Therefore, the true liberty of human society does not consist in every man doing what he pleases, for this would simply end in turmoil and confusion, and bring on the overthrow of the State; but rather in this, that through the injunctions of the civil law all may more easily conform to the prescriptions of the eternal law. Likewise, the liberty of those who are in authority does not consist in the power to lay unreasonable and capricious commands upon their subjects, which would equally be criminal and would lead to the ruin of the commonwealth; but the binding force of human laws is in this, that they are to be regarded as applications of the eternal law, and incapable of sanctioning anything which is not contained in the eternal law, as in the principle of all law. Thus, St. Augustine most wisely says: "I think that you can see, at the same time, that there is nothing just and lawful in that temporal law, unless what men have gathered from this eternal law." If, then, by anyone in authority, something be sanctioned out of conformity with the principles of right reason, and consequently hurtful to the commonwealth, such an enactment can have no binding force of law, as being no rule of justice, but certain to lead men away from that good which is the very end of civil society.

30. Another liberty is widely advocated, namely, liberty of conscience. If by this is meant that everyone may, as he chooses, worship God or not, it is sufficiently refuted by the arguments already adduced. But it may also be taken to mean that every man in the State may follow the will of God and, from a consciousness of duty and free from every obstacle, obey His commands. This, indeed, is true liberty, a liberty worthy of the sons of God, which nobly maintains the dignity of man and is stronger than all violence or wrong -- a liberty which the Church has always desired and held most dear. This is the kind of liberty the Apostles claimed for themselves with intrepid constancy, which the apologists of Christianity confirmed by their writings, and which the martyrs in vast numbers consecrated by their blood. And deservedly so; for this Christian liberty bears witness to the absolute and most just dominion of God over man, and to the chief and supreme duty of man toward God. It has nothing in common with a seditious and rebellious mind; and in no tittle derogates from obedience to public authority; for the right to command and to require obedience exists only so far as it is in accordance with the authority of God, and is within the measure that He has laid down. But when anything is commanded which is plainly at variance with the will of God, there is a wide departure from this divinely constituted order, and at the same time a direct conflict with divine authority; therefore, it is right not to obey.

31. By the patrons of liberalism, however, who make the State absolute and omnipotent, and proclaim that man should live altogether independently of God, the liberty of which We speak, which goes hand in hand with virtue and religion, is not admitted; and whatever is done for its preservation is accounted an injury and an offense against the State. Indeed, if what they say were really true, there would be no tyranny, no matter how monstrous, which we should not be bound to endure and submit to.                                                      Full text at:

Diuturnum (On the Origin of Civil Power), 1881

19. This great modesty, this fixed determination to obey, was so well known that it could not be obscured by the calumny and malice of enemies. On this account, those who were going to plead in public before the emperors for any persons bearing the Christian name proved by this argument especially that it was unjust to enact laws against the Christians because they were in the sight of all men exemplary in their bearing according to the laws. Athenagoras thus confidently addresses Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus, his son: "You allow us, who commit no evil, yea, who demean ourselves the most piously and justly of all toward God and likewise toward your government, to be driven about, plundered and exiled." In like manner, Tertullian openly praises the Christians because they were the best and surest friends of all to the Empire: "The Christian is the enemy of no one, much less of the emperor, whom he knows to be appointed by God, and whom he must, therefore, of necessity love, reverence and honor, and wish to be preserved together with the whole Roman Empire." Nor did he hesitate to affirm that, within the limits of the Empire, the number of enemies was wont to diminish just in proportion as the number of Christians increased. There is also a remarkable testimony to the same point in the Epistle to Diognetus, which confirms the statement that the Christians at that period were not only in the habit of obeying the laws, but in every office they of their own accord did more, and more perfectly, than they were required to do by the laws. "Christians observe these things which have obtained the sanction of the law, and in the character of their lives they even go beyond the law."

20. The case, indeed, was different when they were ordered by the edicts of emperors and the threats of praetors to abandon the Christian faith or in any way fail in their duty. At these times, undoubtedly, they preferred to displease men rather than God. Yet, even under these circumstances, they were so far from doing anything seditious or despising the imperial majesty that they took it on themselves only to profess themselves Christians, and declare that they would not in any way alter their faith. But they had no thought of resistance, calmly and joyfully they went to the torture of the rack, in so much that the magnitude of the torments gave place to their magnitude of mind. During the same period the force of Christian principles was observed in like manner in the army. For it was a mark of a Christian soldier to combine the greatest fortitude with the greatest attention to military discipline, and to add to nobility of mind immovable fidelity towards his prince. But, if anything dishonorable was required of him, as, for instance, to break the laws of God, or to turn his sword against innocent disciples of Christ, then, indeed, he refused to execute the orders, yet in such wise that he would rather retire from the army and die for his religion than oppose the public authority by means of sedition and tumult.                                   Full text:





3. …Man's natural instinct moves him to live in civil society, for he cannot, if dwelling apart, provide himself with the necessary requirements of life, nor procure the means of developing his mental and moral faculties. Hence, it is divinely ordained that he should lead his life -- be it family, or civil -- with his fellow men, amongst whom alone his several wants can be adequately supplied. But, as no society can hold together unless some one be over all, directing all to strive earnestly for the common good, every body politic must have a ruling authority, and this authority, no less than society itself, has its source in nature, and has, consequently, God for its Author. Hence, it follows that all public power must proceed from God. For God alone is the true and supreme Lord of the world…

4. The right to rule is not necessarily, however, bound up with any special mode of government. It may take this or that form, provided only that it be of a nature of the government, rulers must ever bear in mind that God is the paramount ruler of the world, and must set Him before themselves as their exemplar and law in the administration of the State…

5. They, therefore, who rule should rule with evenhanded justice, not as masters, but rather as fathers, for the rule of God over man is most just, and is tempered always with a father's kindness. Government should, moreover, be administered for the well-being of the citizens, because they who govern others possess authority solely for the welfare of the State. Furthermore, the civil power must not be subservient to the advantage of any one individual or of some few persons, inasmuch as it was established for the common good of all. But, if those who are in authority rule unjustly, if they govern overbearingly or arrogantly, and if their measures prove hurtful to the people, they must remember that the Almighty will one day bring them to account, the more strictly in proportion to the sacredness of their office and preeminence of their dignity. "The mighty shall be mightily tormented." Then, truly, will the majesty of the law meet with the dutiful and willing homage of the people, when they are convinced that their rulers hold authority from God, and feel that it is a matter of justice and duty to obey them, and to show them reverence and fealty, united to a love not unlike that which children show their parents. "Let every soul be subject to higher powers." To despise legitimate authority, in whomsoever vested, is unlawful, as a rebellion against the divine will, and whoever resists that, rushes willfully to destruction. "He that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist, purchase to themselves damnation."  To cast aside obedience, and by popular violence to incite to revolt, is therefore treason, not against man only, but against God.

6. As a consequence, the State, constituted as it is, is clearly bound to act up to the manifold and weighty duties linking it to God, by the public profession of religion. Nature and reason, which command every individual devoutly to worship God in holiness, because we belong to Him and must return to Him, since from Him we came, bind also the civil community by a like law. For, men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose ever bounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings. Since, then, no one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its teaching and practice-not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion -- it is a public crime to act as though there were no God. So, too, is it a sin for the State not to have care for religion as a something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of many forms of religion to adopt that one which chimes in with the fancy; for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will. All who rule, therefore, would hold in honor the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favor religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety. This is the bounden duty of rulers to the people over whom they rule. For one and all are we destined by our birth and adoption to enjoy, when this frail and fleeting life is ended, a supreme and final good in heaven, and to the attainment of this every endeavor should be directed. Since, then, upon this depends the full and perfect happiness of mankind, the securing of this end should be of all imaginable interests the most urgent. Hence, civil society, established for the common welfare, should not only safeguard the wellbeing of the community, but have also at heart the interests of its individual members, in such mode as not in any way to hinder, but in every manner to render as easy as may be, the possession of that highest and unchangeable good for which all should seek. Wherefore, for this purpose, care must especially be taken to preserve unharmed and unimpeded the religion whereof the practice is the link connecting man with God.

25. The authority of God is passed over in silence, just as if there were no God; or as if He cared nothing for human society; or as if men, whether in their individual capacity or bound together in social relations, owed nothing to God; or as if there could be a government of which the whole origin and power and authority did not reside in God Himself. Thus, as is evident, a State becomes nothing but a multitude which is its own master and ruler. And since the people is declared to contain within itself the spring-head of all rights and of all power, it follows that the State does not consider itself bound by any kind of duty toward God. Moreover. it believes that it is not obliged to make public profession of any religion…

31. The sovereignty of the people, however, and this without any reference to God, is held to reside in the multitude; which is doubtless a doctrine exceedingly well calculated to flatter and to inflame many passions, but which lacks all reasonable proof, and all power of insuring public safety and preserving order. Indeed, from the prevalence of this teaching, things have come to such a pass that may hold as an axiom of civil jurisprudence that seditions may be rightfully fostered. For the opinion prevails that princes are nothing more than delegates chosen to carry out the will of the people; whence it necessarily follows that all things are as changeable as the will of the people, so that risk of public disturbance is ever hanging over our heads.

To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points cannot all be equally probable, equally good, and equally acceptable to God.

32. So, too, the liberty of thinking, and of publishing, whatsoever each one likes, without any hindrance, is not in itself an advantage over which society can wisely rejoice. On the contrary, it is the fountain-head and origin of many evils. Liberty is a power perfecting man, and hence should have truth and goodness for its object…

36. This, then, is the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the constitution and government of the State. By the words and decrees just cited, if judged dispassionately, no one of the several forms of government is in itself condemned, inasmuch as none of them contains anything contrary to Catholic doctrine, and all of them are capable, if wisely and justly managed, to insure the welfare of the State. Neither is it blameworthy in itself, in any manner, for the people to have a share greater or less, in the government: for at certain times, and under certain laws, such participation may not only be of benefit to the citizens, but may even be of obligation. Nor is there any reason why any one should accuse the Church of being wanting in gentleness of action or largeness of view, or of being opposed to real and lawful liberty. The Church, indeed, deems it unlawful to place the various forms of divine worship on the same footing as the true religion, but does not, on that account, condemn those rulers who, for the sake of securing some great good or of hindering some great evil, allow patiently custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of religion having its place in the State. And, in fact, the Church is wont to take earnest heed that no one shall be forced to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, for, as St. Augustine wisely reminds us, "Man cannot believe otherwise than of his own will."






4. To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.

41. From this follows the obligation of the cessation from work and labor on Sundays and certain holy days. The rest from labor is not to be understood as mere giving way to idleness; much less must it be an occasion for spending money and for vicious indulgence, as many would have it to be; but it should be rest from labor, hallowed by religion. Rest (combined with religious observances) disposes man to forget for a while the business of his everyday life, to turn his thoughts to things heavenly, and to the worship which he so strictly owes to the eternal Godhead. It is this, above all, which is the reason and motive of Sunday rest; a rest sanctioned by God's great law of the Ancient Covenant -- "Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day,'' and taught to the world by His own mysterious "rest" after the creation of man: "He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”

45. Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice. In these and similar questions, however -- such as, for example, the hours of labor in different trades, the sanitary precautions to be observed in factories and workshops, etc. -- in order to supersede undue interference on the part of the State, especially as circumstances, times, and localities differ so widely, it is advisable that recourse be had to societies or boards such as We shall mention presently, or to some other mode of safeguarding the interests of the wage-earners; the State being appealed to, should circumstances require, for its sanction and protection.

46. If a workman's wages be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income. Nature itself would urge him to this. We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.



Live, and vote, well!