*** NOTE *** Below is the text of a small 64 page book on questions many people wonder about, I'm sure, but which answers are generally not easy to find. ______________________________________________________________________ "St. Therese, rich in faith; comforter of troubled hearts; example for every state, leading souls back to God - pray for us." Chapter One* HIS YOKE IS SWEET; HIS BURDEN LIGHT This booklet is being written under the patronage of St. Therese, the Little Flower. I shall make frequent reference to her. But even when I am not referring directly to her, I shall be writing of things which were realities to her and which I ask her to help us realize. At the outset let me tell you of a conversation I had with a young lady who came to me for advice. The young lady explained that she had recently met a friend of hers, a girl of twenty, second year in coll- ege, highly gifted, hungry for everything great and beautiful and sat- isfying; attractive, full of life, keen on sport-in fact, a typically modern girl. The two had attended the same convent school. Their con- versation drifted to religion. To the college girl her Catholic faith had become merely a memory; she no longer practiced it and no longer had any misgivings about abandoning it. She believes now in an imper- sonal God and in a fairly rigid code of morals such as any conscient- ious person would acknowledge. When her friend tried to reason with her she said: "I do not want to be reminded of things Catholic. I went through a kind of religious crisis once-a sort of longing for God, I suppose- but it passed off long ago. I don't think anymore about it now. I don't feel any need for religion. I don't want to be helped." "What did you say to that?" I asked my visitor. She said: "I told her it was her duty to examine the whole question carefully, not to just refuse to think of it-that she should not thus casually sever her connection with a spiritual world of such immensity -seperate so carelessly from the Catholic Church with such imposing traditions and such serious claims. I said to her, 'What if the Church is right and does bear a message to you from God? That is possible and you cannot just ignore such a possibility. Fight it if you like, but do not just pass it by as if it did not matter.' She listened and we went on arguing and we had other later conversations and I think she will probably give in if she is honest with herself and has sufficient courage." WHY DISTURB HER? "But, Father," my visitor continued, "before I go any further with my friend, I want to ask your advice about a difficulty of my own. Have I the right to try to convert this young lady? Why should I disturb her? She seemed content with her disbelief, although I imagine she'll miss her religion as she gets older. But my question is this: Why should we Catholics try to convert to catholicism decent people who are aiming high and are far finer specimens of humanity, healthier minded, more genuine than us Catholics? Like my friend, they have a code of morals and they make sacrifices to live up to it, even though it may not be as rigid as ours." I said: "Well, your question involves the whole problem of missionary activity, not only at home, but abroad wherever missionaries try to bring pagans out of their darkness into the light. Let us face the whole problem at once. This is what you mean, is it not: that God will save men who are outside the Church but are of good will and in good faith, and therefore why should we disturb them and try to convert them?" She agreed that such was indeed her meaning; and then I explained that we should not disturb them and indeed will not try to convert them, unless we have sufficient faith to be absolutely convinced, with our whole hearts and minds, that the world of the Catholic Church is such that we are justified under all circumstances in striving to bring into it all those who are outside, even if they are in good faith. We should not and will not attempt conversions until we have those strong convictions based on a knowledge and study of our relig- ion - until without the quiver of an eyelid we can uphold the view that membership in the Church of God is the best thing for anyone, and that it will inevitably mean immense happiness for him, the highest happiness possible on earth. Not only must we believe that but we must know why we believe it; and we have a perfect right to think about these matters. There are many Catholics who, when they left school and went out into the world, were perfectly sure of these things (the value of the Church for all men)- perfectly sure, until one fine day they caught themmselves envying those outside, envying the beggars at the gate, who do not envy is in the least and would laughingly beg to decline the privilege of joining us. Therefore we do well to inquire now into the problems contained in the conversation I have repeated.* BURDEN OR BOON? Let us therefore take up first this question: Is our religion a burd- en or a boon to the individual? Is it to be preferred, with all its restrictions, to the freedom of an unbeliever-like the college girl who lost her faith? Let it be said first that there is a sense in which our religion is a burden and a yoke. Our Lord said: "My yoke is sweet and My burden lig- ht," but He called it both a yoke and a burden. Let us not forget as we continue that He spoke of a burden and of a yoke. The human heart, until it knows by actual experience that His yoke is sweet, DOES ordinarily shrink from the yoke of God. Such a feeling comes to us all at times. We wonder and we fear what God will do with us if we give ourselves to Him. The poet Francis Thompson expresses that thought when he says, "Although I knew His love, yet was I sore adread lest having him I must have naught beside." He is afraid that the surrender of self to God would mean loss, not gain-afraid that having God, life would be hard and lonely. We have all felt or will feel that dread at times as we go through life. UNFOUNDED FEARS Such a fear is experienced only by those who have not surrendered to God. Those who have surrendered to Him have no such fears, for they know by valid, genuine experience that He fills the soul, satisfies it; that life with Him as a Friend is not dull or lonely but rich and peaceful. They know that His burden is light and His yoke sweet. But that is a conviction that springs from experience. Unfortunately no amount of argument can bring that conviction. The person who has not experienced the Friendship of Christ bears the same relation to the experienced friend of Christ as the child does to the grown man. What excites terror in a child the grown man laughs at. What the beginner in religion fears, the experienced and genuine foll- ower of Christ does not fear at all. To overcome such fears there fir- st must come surrender to Christ, surrender to His law. That is the price of learning that His yoke is sweet. "Taste and see," says the Scripture, "that the Lord is sweet" (Ps. 33,9). "Taste" means self- surrender, surrender to God. HOW TO ELIMINATE DOUBT There is involved here an old truth which will bear frequent repitit- ion - namely, LIVE YOUR FAITH AND YOU WILL HAVE NO DOUBTS ABOUT IT. But if you begin by not practicing what you believe, you will end by not believing. Let us return to our point: is our religion a burden, or is it to be preferred to the freedom of unbelief? One of the reasons why we have doubts concerning these questions, is that we see so many around us who are not Catholics and do not seem to mind it; who have no religion and do not seem to miss it-rather quite the reverse; they are glad they have no religion. Let us elaborate a little. We may not be troubled about any particul- ar article of faith, but perhaps we do doubt the power of our religion to make a full and complete personality out of the person who practi- ces it. Perhaps we think that Catholicism cannot build up today a cul- turally superior type of man. We are not satisfied with what we see about us. We fail to find the ideal Christian realized. We know that the Christian ideal is beautiful but we doubt the power of our religi- on to realize the ideal, because the devout Catholics around us and we ourselves fall far short of the ideal. Meanwhile there is growing up around us a paganism, that is not unat- tractive - on the contrary, it has more than a little beauty. We all know modern unbelievers who are splendid types of humanity, torn by no inward conflicts such as we have, sure of themselves, with no troubles of conscience or no conscience at all. Our sense of guilt is unknown to them. They know regret and shame but no contrition. And what perpl- exes us is that they seem to pass with the security of sleep-walkers through experiences which we call sins and of which they are apparent- ly quite unaware. EFFECTS OF SIN Are they as immune as they seem from the consequences of sin? Is it true that unbelievers, committing acts which we call sins, escape all consequences? No, that is not true, and a moment's thought will demon- strate its untruth. It is true that the results of sin do not always betray themselves on the surface. Even in the case of Catholics the results of sin are not always visible to the ordinary observer, but it is certain that God's laws inevitably avenge themselves if they are broken. For instance-no person lives who can drink to excess and yet escape unpleasant consequences. The law of temperance avenges itself. The body rebels against intemperance; it was not made to withstand ex- cess. Similarly, impurity avenges itself, as everybody knows. An im- pure person is never happy; he is always hungry. If God's laws are broken they avenge themselves, even upon unbelievers who may not know fully that they are breaking a law of God. Sin has its effects upon them, just as poison has its injurious effect upon one who does not know the scientific name of the poison and who cannot explain its che- mical properties. So with unbelievers-sin has its injurious effects even though they do not know the name which Christians give to their sin; even though they do not recognize it as sin. It poisons them just the same. But often the injurious results are outside the range of our observation. What IS true is that outside the Church, and inside too, souls that hunger for purity and virtue are becoming fewer and fewer; and it is true also that multitudes outside the Church are without the sense of sin that Catholics have, and therefore do not feel the same sense of guilt that we suffer. But whther they are to be envied by Catholics, whether their lives are happier, are questions to be answered in the next chapter. Chapter Two WHY DID GOD CREATE US? If we are honest we must admit that there are many very attractive unbelievers. We meet them every day. Some of them are not only attrac- tive but also good, solidly good. You have met non-Catholics of whom you have said: "That man or that woman is a saint." Has it ever struck you that such persons are actually necesary to us Catholics, in order that with their living example before us, we may see what we sometimes forget-namely, how rich and good our human nat- ure can be, how much solid worth and nobility there can be extracted from human nature WITHOUT any aid whatever from the strength-giving apparatus of Catholicism? But let us come to the very heart of the matter. What we want to know is: is it not enough to be a good non-Catholic like the saintly man or woman I mentioned, or like the good-living, attractive unbelievers we all know? Is it not enough? A WORK OF ART? That question leads us straight to the question in the little catech- ism: Why did God make you? Is the answer: He sent me here to make of myself a work of art? Or a perfectly balanced character? Or to mould myself into a cultured, attractive, refined human being whom everyone will admire, as one would a perfect work of art? Is the answer: God sent me here to contribute to the harmony of life and fit with perfect smoothness into my environment and into the social fabric of my fellow human beings? Is that what man is here for? Is that the final meaning of life? If it is-if ethical, intellectual, artistic, cultural perfection is the whole of life's purpose, then indeed we would have to admit that Catholics should do no proselytizing, that we should not try to bring back into the Church people like the college girl mentioned in our last chapter. No, in that case we would have no right to interfere. We would be obliged to leave them alone. Indeed in the supposition I have made, such attempts at convert-making would be sheer impertinence and presumption. What is more, such efforts would be an absurdity, for Catholics would then be setting themselves up to teach their superi- ors. Why should we insist on anyone taking our road when there are ma- ny other roads to ethical, intellectual and cultural perfection? If in the supposition I have made (that man's purpose here is to make him- self an admirable work of art), an unbeliever should come to us for guidance, we should exhort him to be true to his lights and let him go his way. But man was not sent here by God on so meagre a mission or for so puny a purpose. Since when has Catholicism been just a system of mor- als? Since when has our religion been merely a discipline for the building up of an attractive personality? UNIQUE CHARACTER OF CATHOLICISM Is it not because we ourselves have grossly and grotesquely misunder- stood our own position, that our unique possession has become so dist- orted? Have we ourselves not forgotten the tremendous import of our own God-given religion? And is not that the reason why, instead of be- ing bearers of a UNIQUE message, we condescend to compete with a mass of rivals in their own fields-manely, culture, ethical perfection, and personality-building? It is high time that we recalled what it really is that gives Cathol- icism its UNIQUE character-what it is that makes our religion incomp- arable and irreplaceable. The matter resolves itself into this one straightforward question: Has God given to men, to ALL men, not just a chosen few, a special message about our purpose in life-the purpose for which He created us? If God has given this message, then it must be proclaimed and we must proclaim it to all, however humanly perfect and attractive our friends may be BEFORE they receive that message. They-all-everyone must rece- ive that vitally important message because it has to do with something before which all other things pale into insignificance-namely: How does one stand before one's God? Let us suppose that many attractive non-Catholics worship, in a sen- se, a God who speaks to them out of the golden dawn or out of the star -spangled night - and so on, after the usual manner of such lyrical outpourings. They never tell us who this God is that they worship. To them He is not a Person. They never ask themselves the crucial questi- on which we ask ourselves: How do I stand before God; before God who has made His will known to me? Let us realize the immense distance that seperates the Catholic from one who does not believe in a personal God - the immeasurable distance that seperates a person who recognizes dimly the greatness of some im- personal God in nature, from the Catholic who believes in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - in the Son sent by the Father to teach men, and in the Holy Ghost sent by the Father to dwell in the souls of men. Moreover, if the personal, living God has spoken; if He has addressed man; if He demands from men a living reply; if that is all true, what discussion can there be about the value of an attractive pagan's life as compared with a Christian's life? The Christian is one to whom God in His goodness has spoken and who has given God some kind of reply. The pagan is one who does not know that God has spoken; and we must by all means deliver God's message to him so that he too may heed and re- ply. If a personal God has spoken, then a pagan life does not make sense; a Christian life is the only sane course to adopt. We know God has spoken. We know it as we know the letters of the al- phabet or the multiplication table, but the trouble is, we do not take God's message seriously enough. We go about wondering chiefly how we can extract some pleasure from the next week-end instead of wondering chiefly how we can give a practical answer every day and every week- end to the liiving God who created us and who has spoken to us and de- mands from us an answer in our daily conduct. THE PAGAN HAPPIER THAN THE CHRISTIAN? Now we are ready to admit, without any semblance of shame, that oth- ers often do excel catholics: excel them in cultural and artistic ach- ievements and even in ethics, i.e., in the natural virtues of honor, honesty, and truthfulness. That should not be so, of course, and we will return to that point later. But which is more important-ethical perfection or the personal binding of the soul to God? Who is better off, the unbeliever who is admired for his or her natural goodness, or the imperfect, uncultured Catholic into whose soul God has descended, mingling His Divine Life with the soul's human life and binding the sould to it's God? Show me the most perfect human personality you can point out and no matter how high it towers over the common level, I will point out that far above the shining summit of the most perfect human personality, there rises the holiness of God which cannot be reached by any human, natural means. No man, however perfect, can of himself, unhelped by God, climb until he reached the holiness of God. And yet God's holiness is within the easy reach of Catholics, for His holiness descends and He with it; or rather He elevates man to Himself and to His holiness. How? By grace-grace that comes to us in the Sac- raments. That elevation can never happen to an unbeliever, howsoever perfect; that is a height which he cannot reach until he receives the gift of faith. UNION WITH GOD Grace(the grace of the Sacraments)lifts the soul to heights unattain- able by any pagan, howsoever cultured; raises him to God. This grace Christ came to bestow. Christ came to teach that by surrender to Him every soul can reach God-every soul, not only the exceptional man, the cultured man, but everyone down to the last illiterate cripple. THAT is Catholicism. That is the cardinal point upon which everything turns. Personal communion with God-that is the unique privilege of Catholics. Since we know that personal union with God is possible only to those with faith in God, we can never believe that a pagan is bet- ter off than a Catholic, and we can never be satisfied that living souls are left without contact with their living God. That is the rea- son why the college girl should of course be invited by her friend to re-enter the Church of God and be reunited to her God; to Christ our Lord, whose glowing message filled the evening prayer of His life, and His evening prayer was this: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent." Let us not henceforth be so forgetful of our own unique, Catholic privileges as to envy pagans, or entrust them entirely to God, believ- ing that He may somehow save them. Let us do more than that - let us pray that they may receive the gift of faith and with it the possibil- ity of union with God here on earth; and let us help them to the faith when opportunity offers. And more than that, let us thank God for our own faith, acknowledge His gift, fall down before Him in earnest pray- er returning Him thanks for making us members of the One, Holy, Catho- lic and Apostolic Church of God. Chapter Three THE INCOMPLETE PAGAN We do not know, and no amount of guess-work will reveal, why God sho- ould single out Catholics for the unique privileges that are ours in the Sacraments; but nevertheless we know that He has chosen so to en- rich us and chosen us to do our best, by prayer and example and instr- uction, to bring others into His Church so that He may enrich them al- so. Before we turn to our next question, let me remark that we Catholics have a perfect right to speculate upon matters which concern our reli- gion and which, at times, tempt us to doubt the efficacy of membership in the Church. We have a right to discuss these things so that the fi- nal result will be an "I believe" based on insight and understanding- not an "I believe" because it says so in the catechism. That is the reason I invoked, on the first page of this pamphlet, the intercession of the Little Flower-"St. Therese, rich in Faith, pray for us." She herself, on earth, was severely tempted against faith, and will, if asked, most certainly assist those who are reading this booklet to strengthen their faith. So far, we have seen that the modern pagan, however attractive exter- nally, is in God's eyes an incomplete and unfinished product, a magni- ficent substructure which lacks a crown-a lamp without a light. In fact, those images do not go far enough, because they merely pict- ure a defect, a falling short of something; whereas the pagan has not only a defect; he fails utterly to attain the purpose for which God created him. He lacks the power (grace that comes to us through Bapt- ism and the other Sacraments) to attain the SUPERNATURAL goal which Christ came to bring all men. Whether, or to what extent, that is his fault is a point we are not now discussing. Neither are we discussing how far God will hold him responsible for what he lacks. The point is that his soul is not uni- ted to God. In his soul grace and the Holy Spirit do not dwell, and therefore his soul is not beautiful in God's sight. We do not condemn the pagan. We do not pretend to judge him. We sim- ply affirm that unfortunately he lacks that which God has given us, that which God intended for all men-the attainment of union with God through grace, through the Sacraments. Therefore we Catholics, if we understand the meaning of our unique privilege-the attainment of union with God in this world-will not get excited about any picture of the "splendid pagan," for we know what he lacks. We manifest a very meagre understanding of our religion and of God's plans for men if we say to ourselves: "Well, for some unknown reason God has chosen to be abundantly generous with Catholics, but there are other souls outside the Church who will be saved in spite of their lack of what God has generously given us." No, that may be true but we are not sure. That attitude kills all effort to make converts and to extend God's kingdom on earth. God expects our co-operation in the sa- ving of souls. That is the reason why there are priests, missionaries, lay people who support all missionary effort both at home and abroad- their goal is to save souls. That was why the Little Flower desired to be a missionary until the end of time-to save souls. How do we know whether a person outside the Churchmay not need just the generosity of our missionary effort in order to be saved? MAY WE DECLINE THE INVITATION? Let me put the matter in another way for the sake of emphasis. There are souls who seek God, who all their lives dream of meeting their Maker, and who finally find Catholicism and find in it what they sou- ght. If and when such souls meet Catholicism face to face, what does God require of them? Does He permit them to decline with thanks, to say, "No, I do not aspire to the heights. Let others attain union with You if they will. Let others climb the mountains, I prefer to remain in the valley"? Such a declination is like that of the peasant whom the emperor wish- ed to reward by giving him royalty and his daughter's hand in marr- iage. The peasant declined the honor, saying that he would rather re- main a peasant but that if the emperor really wished to do something for him, he'd be glad of a present of two more cows. The human soul may not, when confronted with Christ's invitation, thus refuse. It may not decline the honor, and this is beyond doubt a terrible compulsion. Salvation is a free gift of God, but it is a gift that may not be refused when it is offered; it is a gift that can be rejected only under pain of death. We Catholics are frequently offered invitations to a richer Catholic life, to a more intimate union with God, and it is dangerous to decl- ine these invitations. It is only human to fight against these invita- tions from God, only human to put up a desperate resistance. But if we are wise and good and sincere, we will decide to abandon all resist- ance, surrender to God's inspirations and accept His invitations. The struggle of the pagan against accepting Catholicism when he meets it is duplicated again and again in the life of a Catholic who struggles against accepting God's invitation to a more vigorous Catholic life. It is sometimes true that the struggle against God's grace is more terrible, more desperate, in a believer than in an unbeliever. It is even true that in a Catholic this struggle sometimes is so fierce pre- cisely because the Catholic knows that it is a life-and-death battle; that the issue will decide his life, his whole existence; that it is really a question of whether or not he shall let his religion pass forever out of his hands. And why do we struggle? Because we are "sore adread lest having Him we must have naught beside." We are afraid that we will lose something by surrendering to His invitations to more pra- yer, more Catholic reading, more visits to the Blessed Sacrament, more study of our religion, more frequent attendance at week-day Mass. We should not be thus afraid. Our fears are groundless. God will replace a thousandfold what we give up for Him. He will not be outdone in gen- erosity. "Taste and see that the Lord is sweet." "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." "Come to Me and I will refresh you." Let our resol- ution be to surrender generously to God's invitations to a more intim- ate union with Him, to a more vigorous, more DARING and more thorough practice of our religion. THE AT-HOME-WITH-SELF IDEAL Now let me answer an objection which was recently proposed to me. A non-Catholic desired to marry a Catholic girl, who would not marry him until he succeeded in acquiring some religious belief. Coming to con- sult me, he said that he objected to religion in general and to Cath- olicism in particular on these grounds: "I object to being dragged out of the natural order of things. I think religion makes aman something less than human, something less than a he-man. I do not want to be up- rooted and placed in a new field, no matter how superior the new field may be. My present world is at least home to me, and although I recog- nize, chiefly because of the example of the girl I want to marry, the sublimity and beauty of Catholicism, yet it is strange and foreign to me, different and cold and chilling. I prefer the freedom of my pres- ent unbelief." These were practically his exact words. I told him that I was glad to meet such frankness, that such honest outspokenness gave us an oppor- tunity to get somewhere; then we discussed his ideal, which might be called "the he-man" ideal, or "the harmony-with-self" or "at-home-with -self" ideal. After some discussion he admitted that his ideal had not brought him much happiness, had not by any means satisfied his longings. He furth- er admitted that his ideal was unattainable, that the natural man at home with himself does not exist, that it is a fairy-tale, a dream never realized. He had a fair knowledge of history and therefore ad- mitted that in every century certain men have cherished the dream of being at harmony with themselves without religion, and that their dream was never realized. I drew a picture of the he-man as contrasted with the Catholic ideal, and he admitted that the he-man ideal looked fairly sick alongside the other, and that, when it was analyzed, it was not a very imposing dream or a worthy goal of human desire. You can perceive the same truth if you analyze a certain type of lit- erature which is forever glorifying the "new generation"-the charming young people who are being brought up, the books say, on light and air and freedom. Freedom! Freedom to follow their instincts. Yes, it is all very nice to watch-for a time. But how woefully deceived are these young folk, how completely cut off from the pains and the consequent blessings that are proper to real men. How pitiful are their sorrows! How utterly blasted and crushed they are by pain when it comes! Those who have something worth while in them soon move on or rather up to a higher plane, where something more is demanded of them than just to present an agreeable and radiant exterior; and only when they have passed their test on that higher level do they become, and des- erve to be termed, "really fine specimens of humanity." "HOW CAN THEY DO IT?" And the others, the young people who remain on the lower level? When they enter life, as determined by the modern city or the modern uni- versity, they get dragged one way or another into misery, and often, very often, the misery is not only mental but also physical. There are no people more pitiable in the end than these young people who let themselves go and are guided by their instincts. I say "pitiable," not "disgusting," because to a genuine Catholic nosinner is disgusting. I have no patience with those Catholics who inquire in a superior manner "How can they do it?"-"How can they be so disgusting in their behav- ior?"-the reference being to some form of conduct which to them is shocking. "How can they do it?" Whatever any man has done, another man can do. Whatever has happened that is sinful and vicious can happen to anyone of us. If we are good, it is because God gave us abundant grace. If He were to withdraw His grace, or if we were so to neglect our duty as to cause Him to withdraw His grace, we would descend to depths of sin as deep as any in history. If we were sufficiently int- elligent to realize our dependence on God, we would say when we hear of some shocking conduct, not "How can they do it?" but "There but for the grace of God would I be too, guilty of the same sin." Moreover, people who are prone to exclaim "How can they do it?" are very often the ones who, through temperament, or lack of opportunity, or selfishness, or lack of courage and intensity, could not be guilty of excesses if they tried. Let them refrain from condemning, because the sinners' self-condemnations, their own keen and constant realiza- tion of their failure to be true to their better selves, call for our charitable prayers rather than for our condemnation. Let us pray for them. And if we cannot understand excess in others, let us thank God that by reason of our temperament we are not tempted as are some oth- ers. Some people are tempted to shameful impurity and bloated drunken- ness, but the temptation of the "How can they do it?" people is to be smug and uncharitable: smug because they do not thank God for protect- ing them from the grosser temptations, and uncharitable because they judge and condemn others in spite of Our Lord's admonition, "Judge not lest ye be judged." THE POWERS OF DARKNESS The ideal of passing through life without struggle with self is un- true, crude, immature-and as a standard of life it is so impossible as to be comical. Two considerations show it is impossible. First, man does not dwell alone on an island. He lives with other human beings, and if he is human and normal, his contact with other human beings will often give him not only joy but sorrow, not only pleasure but suffering. For the least that we expect of a man is that he will share another's pain, especially if that other is dear to him. Secondly, every human being is exposed hourly, whether he wills it or not, whe- ther he is fully conscious of it or not, to a spiritual struggle of vast dimensions. He is the object of a struggle between the Powers of Darkness and God. Both strive to win him. "The Powers of Darkness!", I can hear someone say derisively. Do you doubt they exist? I used to be tempted to be dubious when I was younger. But I lived to meet the Powers of Darkness and the Prince of Darkness many times in souls. I am no longer tempted to doubt their existence. Perhaps there are some readers who have experienced what I mean. It is possible to sin so boldly, so knowingly, with full knowledge and full consent, so fre- quently and in such open rebellion against God, that into the soul there swarm all the forces of evil-all the Powers of Darkness, and the Prince of Darkness, so that the soul comes to hate good and hate vir- tue and hate God and express that hatred in blasphemy and often in blasphemous action. I know such souls-and when you pray, pray for them and thank God from your hearts that you have been so protected by Him that you never dreamed until now that such possession by Satan was possible in your day and in your midst. All the hatred of religion and of Christ and of Christ's Church is not to be found in Spain, where Christ's statues were smashed and His tabernacles opened and the Hosts therein scattered blasphemously to the four winds. No, you find some of that same hatred here in souls who, by constant sins of impurity, have admitted the Prince of Evil with all his cohorts. It is the old story: LIVE YOUR FAITH AND YOU WILL HAVE NO DOUBT ABOUT IT; but begin by not practicing what you believe and you will end by not believing at all. All one has to do to leave the door of the soul open to these Powers of darkness is to keep on sinning, disregarding God's warnings and inspirations; and if the sin is continued long enough there will come weakening of faith and then loss of faith, and finally the soul will turn of God and blame and hate God and the things of God. Even then the soul may be delivered by a merciful God from those Powers of Darkness. But have no doubt that they exist and inhabit souls today.** And if there is any reader who had detected in himself an incipient aversion for religious things for which he formerly had reverence, then for his soul's sake let him turn to God before he turns on God. There is need for prompt action or all will be lost. It is not without reason that in the prayers after Mass every day we say, "Cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the destruction of souls." Yes, whether he wills it or not, whether he is a subscriber to the harmony-with-self ideal or not, man is the object of a lifelong strug- gle between God who would save him and the Evil One who would destroy him. THE STUNTED PAGAN But to retrace our steps a bit. The conception of man as a splendid pagan, so entrancingly human and so alluringly natural-that conception stunts man; yes, stunts and dwarfs him. Physical life, the life of warm-blooded instinct, is only part of our nature as men; it is only one side of man. And the man who becomes wholly submerged in physical, instinctive life is only half a man. Let me not be understood to disparage or decry the human nature of man. Our humanity is good. But it must not be over emphasized, i.e., we must not forget that man also has a supernatural destiny, an immor- tal soul intended to live a life of union with God even in this world; that if a man misses that union with God, he is indeed stunted, incom- plete, only half a man. As we shall see later, in Christianity man achieves his full stature as man WITHOUT suffering any diminution of his humanity. The whole business of living a Christian life is to achieve a perfect balance between the spiritual and the physical - to be united to God and yet keep our feet on the ground. But the moment a man neglects or rather casts off union with God, he sinks back to the earth and there lies PRONE, no longer in his perfect state but in a state of arrested development. He is on the earth-all of him-whereas part of him belongs in the sky. There is so much of heaven and of hell possible for all of us even in this world that it is no wonder that Pascal said, "Man is much less and much more than man." Our business is on the one hand to scale the heights of union with God and on the other to avoid the abysses of sin. Chapter Four EVERY INCH A MAN AND EVERY INCH A CHRISTIAN In the last chapter we considered the natural man as opposed to the Christian man. Our discussion was abstract and philosophical. What I feel I ought to have done instead of talking in the abstract is to have led you, not to St. Francis of Assisi, not to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, not to St. Therese of Lisieux, not to St. Bernard and St. Augustine, but to this person and that person whom I know, who are living today in the flesh, and to have said to you: "See, there he stands, a Christian and a man; look at him; see for yourself how he is every inch aman and every inch a Christian." That would have stopped all talk about HUMAN nature being crippled and stunted by religion. We all know the splendid pagan, the splendid natural man, and we know that there is much that is noble and genuine in him. But I have seen and doubtless you have seen the splendid CHRISTIAN man. And therefore we say to those who glorify the natural man: "Wecan bear testimony to the reality, to the existence of the splendid Christian man. He is rare (as such superior specimens must always be), but he exists and in our day and not infrequently. We have seen him, and his beauty is not inferior to that of the other. Show us your own best type of rich and happy natural man and we will show you a Christian man who could not be distinguished from your own ideal image of the natural man -- could not be distinguished from him in all that concerns color, full- ness, richness of humanity, in vigor and elasticity, in tolerance and nobility, in red-bloodedness and vibrant vitality." I will go further and say that our Christian man SURPASSES your ideal natural man-oh, far surpasses him. His thinking is more honest, more mature, more penetrating; his insight is deeper and clearer; his hori- zon is wider, his preceptions keener and more sensitively responsive; his heart is braver and richer in inward forces. I am talking of men and women I have known. If there is a reader who has never met a religious man who is also a splendid human, natural man, then I say that you have missed something; and I say that you will not go far in life without meeting such a specimen, for to meet such men and women is an experience which, though rare, is inevitable to everyone who penetrates far enough into Christian life. Moreover, you can meet such a Christan in yourself if you will and if you have by nature a spendid humanity. How? By surrender to God and to God's grace, for God and His grace make splendid Christians what they are. If I may inject a personal note, let me say that the persons who from my boyhood blessed and enriched my life were such Christians, splendid specimens both of nature and of grace, losing nothing of their lovable HUMANNESS because of their religion, their humanity being shaped, for- med, elevated and developed by their religion so that they were every inch men and every inch Christians. I continue, thank God, to meet such splendid specimens of humanity and grace today among the lay peo- ple, men and women, and I constantly marvel at the richness of the natures of those I have in mind. Never have I found in irreligious men a single genuine value that splendid Christians did not also possess. Neither have I ever met a single splendid pagan (amongst the many that I have known) who surpassed in HUMAN excellence, Human, mark you, the Christians I have in mind. The latter were just as human, just as nat- ural, just as genuine (just as real, if you will); but their glorious humanity was raised and transfigured by a mysterious something lacking in the others, by an indescribable quality which no words can exactly portray but which we reverently try to express in the cryptic word "Christlike." There is in these men and women a very close but thorou- ghly human likeness to Christ. The greatest compliment a man could ever receive is to be called "Christlike," for it means that he is truly a man and yet his naturalness is glorified and elevated by God's grace, while he remains nevertheless a man with surpassing human beau- ty of nature. So the ideal of the splendid natural man is too pitiably modest, because it falsifies and stunts the summit of human possibilities by a whole dimension. Once when I explained this to a man, he confessed that his ideal of the natural man was undeniably low and that it sprang from a hunger for the imppossible-perfect harmony and peace in this world; but he said, "Father, I have met men and women without religion who had not only a human but also a certain spiritual beauty in your own sense. How do you explain the presence of spiritual beauty in a person with- out religion? OUR CHRISTIAN HERITAGE I told him that I too had met such people and that the explanation is this: No man living today, after twenty centuries of Christianity, can escape being influenced somewhat, howsoever little, by what I call "the Christian inheritance." The Christian influence exists in every man today, as a simple fact, as a part of his being; it has passed into his blood and instincts during the centuries of Christianity and such a past is not easily shaken off; it cannot be cast off in a day. It would be interesting if I had the time to trace the influence (sometimes disguised) of Christianity upon Ghandi in India, upon the Sadhus, even upon certain Jewish types. Since Christ came into the world, there has never been a world without Christ.. He entered into our world like a dye, the stain of which no amount of washing will re- move; like a drop of God's Blod which remains ineffaceably there. That thought is beautifully expressed in the following poem. In these lines the Church of Christ speaks to the soul and says: "I have been working on you for a thousand years and more. I have blessed all your fathers and mothers with the Cross. Pains and wounds have you cost me, And amid thorns have I freed your hands from the world. You have cost me loneliness, and much dark silence and many human lives. You have cost me blood and possessions, you have cost me the earth under my feet, a whole world you have cost me. Very fine has your texture become, soul of man, you have become like fine flax, which has been long in the spinning" Yes, no man today can escape the influence of his Christian inherit- ance, of the centuries of Christianity, and that is the reason why we meet people without religion who have nevertheless a touch and more than a touch of spiritual beauty. What will be the fate of these people? How will God treat them? That is a question no man can answer. Two things we know: (1) that God ex- pects us, when we can, to act as missionaries toward them; (2) that God is good and merciful and desires the salvation of all. For the rest, should we not leave the matter to God's wisdom and love, and not be like people who are always worrying about the fate of unbapt- ized children, as if they too could not be left to God's mercy and love?
Chapter Five WHY CATHOLICISM FAILS TO TRANSFORM MANY CATHOLICS Now we come to the discussion of a question that touches ua all. Sup- pose that I had a prospective convert to whom I had explained the dif- ference between the spledid pagan and the splendid Christian. Suppose that I had described the ideal Christian man as possessing everything that the splendid pagan has, all his vibrant vitality glorified and elevated a hundredfold by his religion-and suppose that after that, my prospective convert should say to me: Father, I admit that your description of the ideal Catholic is very beautiful. It appeals to everything fine in me. But what I want to ask is: Why are so many Catholics the exact opposite of your beautiful description of the ide- al Catholic? What of the rank and file of Catholics? Why is the ideal Catholic so rare? Why is the average Catholic a small, needy sort of person, so lacking in dignity and strength, in spite of the fact that he stands within the privileged circle of the Sacraments you have exp- lained to me-in spite of the fact that the one true image of man (Chr- ist) stands ever before his eyes?" What would be my answer? First, I would have to grant everything he said-it IS a tragedy and a sad one, one not to be got rid of by an ostrichlike policy of pretending to ignore it. I would have to admit that Catholic lay people, yes, Catholic priests and sisters and broth- ers, often are, in spite of their membership or rank in the Church of God, uncharitable, narrow, rigid, and that they often make a disagree- able and painful impression upon others. There is no doubt of it-many Catholics are characterized by prudery, vulgarity and an imperfect sense of honor, and are just what the prospective convert described them to be. So much I would first admit. But then, secondly, I would say: Although I grant everything you have said, and although these sad truths fill us Catholics with shame, st- ill from another point of view they fortify and strengthen our faith. Yes, actually, when I contemplate the spectacle of the membership in the Church of Christ (some few ideal Catholics but the majority imper- fect); when I contemplate that spectacle, it sometimes makes me want to fall down on my knees in reverent devotion. Someone will say: What can you possibly mean? This is too much. I can understand shame at the spectacle but not reverence." A SHAMEFUL AND GLORIOUS SPECTACLE But in a moment you WILL understand. I said, as I contemplate the spectacle sometimes I am filled with shame and sometimes with rever- ence. Let me explain both attitudes. First, why should the spectacle fill us with reverence? For this reason: to see how utterly Christ our Lord in His love delivered Himself up to men, to ALL men, when he founded His Church, and to see how truly heroic is the obedience of the Catholic Church to her Founder when she desires to take into her membership all men, all types of men. She dares to take upon herself the burden of human nature just as it is, to take into her fold, at God's orders, all manner of men. She dares to deliver herself up to the burden of carrying in her vast arms the masses, the multitude, the proletariat, all classes including the mob, the elite and the rifraff, the so-called upper and lower classes, the literate and illiterate, the cultured and the ignorant, the refined and the crude-and thus ex- pose herself to being misunderstood, expose herself to degradation and shame. How could the Church do otherwise and be the Church of Christ? "As the Father hath sent me I send you," Christ said. And to whom was He sent? To sinners. "I am come not to call the just but sinners" (Matt. 9:13), He said.So must His true Church embrace not only the just but also sinners. If you search for the just in her, she can point proudly to the legions of her saints in every century from St. Agnes down to St. Therese in our own day. And she can point to those less than sai- nts in every century, laymen and religious who have been and are Christlike in our own day. She can point to the thousands of regular, red-blooded girls and young men who fill the churches of New York City at the lunch hour every day, not perfect perhaps but keeping themselv- es unspotted from corruption and trying to be perfect, trying to be Christlike and succeeding as only a priest who has heard their confes- sions knows. Yes, if you search for the just in the Church you will find them tod- ay; and as for the power of the Church to produce perfectly balanced characters and the sanest holiness, read the lives of the legions of saints, and there you will find a partial answer to the question we are discussing. So much for the just. Now for the imperfect and the sinful. They must be present in the Church of God. Does it require any profound reasoning to perceive that truth? With whom did our Lord surround Himself? Did He surround Him- self with the elite of His day, with the philosophers and the wealthy and the cultured? He did not exclude them. Some of them, like Joseph of Arimathea, wer His friends; but generally the elite-the scribes and the doctors of the law, the Pharisees and the Sadducees-were his enem- ies. He invited them, He preached to them, but they rejected Him. With whom did He surround Himself? To whom did He chiefly minister? To sin- ners. Yes, to sinners. So much so that again and again He suffered the reproach that "He was the friend of publicans and sinners." "Why doth your master eat with publicans and sinners?" (Matt. 9:11) Such was the reproach suffered by our Lord by reason of His ministrations to sinn- ers. And such is and must be the reproach of the one true Church of Christ-namely, that she too harbors sinners in her fold. Is it not clear that if there is to be a Church of God, a Church of GOD, mark you, that Church must be for ALL? All are children of God; all are God's creatures; all were created by Him, redeemed by Him. Therefore if you see a Church which is not for all but only for a cho- sen few (like the Christian Science church which, by the way, is nei- ther Christian nor scientific, and which not only does not cater to the crowd but does not welcome the common people nor appeal to the commom people), is ther any avoiding the conclusion that such a church cannot be the Church of God, who is the Father of all? Moreover, our Lord gave His own descriptions of His Church. He comp- ared it to a net gathering bad fish as well as good; to a field in which there were weeds as well as good grain; to a banquet to which were invited not only the wealthy and the cultured but also beggars and the lame and the crippled from the highways and byways. Yes, there can be no doubt of the truth that the Church of God must be for all men, just and sinners. That is the reason I said that when I contemp- late the sinners and the imperfect within the Church of God, I am fil- led with reverence, for their presence tells me it is the Church of God, fulfilling her mission to all men and to all kinds of men. And therefore the spectacle of sinners in the Church should not weaken but rather strengthen our faith. THE CRUDE AND THE CULTURED There can be no doubt either that the true Church of God must contain not only the cultured but also the crude. Who composed the inner cir- cle of our Lord's closest friends? The refined and cultured were not excluded, as witness the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea, who provided the place of our Lord's burial, and Martha and Mary and Lazarus. But whom did he choose for His Apostles? Fishermen. And for the chief of His Apostles?-again a fisherman, Peter. And did their close association with Christ-daily, hourly companionship with Him-transform them into perfect men and loyal followers? Why, one of them betrayed Him (Judas) and another denied Him (Peter) and with the exception of John they all deserted Him in the hour of His need. Is it strange then, is it not rather to be expected, that His Church would duplicate His own exper- ience, and that just as daily association with Him did not transform His Apostles into perfect men, so membership in His Church, with all the intimate privileges which that membership involves, will not nec- essarily transform all Catholics into perfect specimens of nature or of grace? The Church of God MUST transform some into such perfect spe- cimens; it must possess the power of effecting such a transformation and elevation. But what our Lord Himself did not accomplish in ALL His followers we cannot expect the Church to achieve in ALL her members. But we inquire further: Why should this be so? It is a necessary con- sequence of the truth that the Church of God must exist for all. When I say it must exist for all, I mean, to give one instance only, it must exist not only for the brilliant but also for the dull. And one of the many reasons why there are Catholic churchgoers who remain nar- row and uncharitable and selfish is because many of them are unintell- igent. They are intellectually incapable of perceiving fully what their membership in the Church of God ought to do for them and in them and with them. The beautiful doctrine of love of neighbor, based as it is chiefly on the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, the though- tless do not fully understand. There are other doctrines too which have delighted the minds of the most gigantic intellects of every cen- tury which are only half-understood by the stupid. Ignorance explains why the Church of God does not transform many. But would you exclude the ignorant from the Church of God, the Father of all? No, they must be there. THE DEEP AND THE SHALLOW Similarly, there are people who are by nature light, frivolous and shallow. They never have taken life seriously; they are utterly incap- able of appreciating the finer things of life; they immerse themselves only in what is frothy and superficial. Would you expect that the re- ligion of Christ would take hold of them as it does the deep thinker? Such shallow people are incapable of a great, enduringly loyal HUMAN love; how then can they be capable of loving Christ as He has been loved down through the centuries by men who saw in Him not one far re- moved from them, but a living Person, One whom it was possible for them really to love? And again would you exclude the shallow and the artificial and the frivolous from the Church of God, the Father of all? No, there must be a place for them there also. What place? Both they and the ignorant find in the Church not as much as the thinker finds, whose brilliant mind is completely fascinated and satisfied by Catholic doctrines, but they find what God chiefly intends they should find: sufficient means to save their souls and, more than that, suffi- cient means to accomplish also what God intends for them in this life: union with Him. Does God actually seek union with the shallow and the stupid? Would He be God if He did not? He is the Father of all. Again therefore I say, I bow in wondering adoration when I view the spect- acle of the presence in the Church of the crude and the shallow and the stupid, for I tell myself, "These also are not neglected nor for- gotten by God. He loves these too! He actually desires union with them, His children! What infinite love; what infinite goodness!" When we grasp that truth we can bow in reverence, realizing that with God there is no "forgotten man." His Church must contain men forgotten by all except Him, neglected by all except Him. QUEER BAGGGAGE Now let us go deeper into the subject. That the true Church exists for all means that she allows and encourages everyone to set out on the road of her ideal (Christ's ideal) of perfection. She encourages everyone to set out on that road, even though he takes along with him the queerest baggage. What queer baggage? Stupidity and ignorance, which alone have been responsible for keeping so many of the undisc- erning from respecting piety. What other baggage? Bad taste, inner vulgarity, narrowness, fanaticism-and that baggage has kept many out of the Church, many more from respecting the Church. Why? Because they are not clever enough, nor perhaps humble enough to study and reason, as we have in this chapter, until they see that the Church of God must be for all. This problem of the presence in the Church of so many lame and crippled and imperfect and sinful, and the failure of the Church to transform them-this problem is not new; it has engaged the minds of the brilliant down through the centuries; and its solution, as ex- plained in these pages, is not new, but to be found in dozens of older books at the disposal of any Catholic who chooses to study his relig- ion. I said that, since the Church encourages EVERYONE to set out on the road of perfection, some must necessarily carry queer baggage. What other baggage is carried besides stupidity and fanaticism and the rest? What queer baggage do we all carry? Every single individual without exception carries the whole encumbrance of a nature not as yet purified, not as yet fully controlled, prone at times to error, betra- yal and disloyalty. Are we not all aware that we have not permitted God fully to work in His way with us as our religion teaches us we should? And for that shall we blame God, or our religion, or ourselv- es? Do we not all cherish dreams of living up to the high and beauti- ful ideal of conduct which our Church has held up to us from child- hood? And if we have failed to realize those dreams, may we not fairly expect to see all around us Catholics who like ourselves have not rea- lized their dreams? If we have to confess the same sins now that we had to confess ten or twenty years ago, and if we are lenient in our judgment of our failure, should we be surprised if other Catholics about us are not completely transformed by the religion of God? It is not that our relligion has failed us; we have failed our relig- ion. We know full well what great transformation would be accomplished in us if we would only do what we have been taught to do-for instance, get down on our knees for frequent prayer, make a thorough DAILY exam- ination of conscience, spend some time reading Catholic books which would develop in us a great love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sac- rament and a tender devotion to our Blessed Mother. But no, we neglect these things wwhich would bring out all that is noble and best in us and affect enormously our daily behavior and conversation. We neglect these things which we know would result in our religion dominating our daily lives and which would make of us shining examples which would attract others into the Church of God. We neglect these things and in- stead give our leisure time to the daily papers, to the radio, to idle gossip, to inane visiting, to pleasure-seeking, and to frothy novels. If that is true of us, need we be surprised that in other Catholics too we see not the failure of the Church to transform men but the fai- lure of men to allow the Church to transfer them? That is what Chest- erton meant when he said: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." Which of us does not know how much, how very much worse we would be WITHOUT the Church! How very much worse husbands and wives would you be were it not for the partial influence which you have allowed your membership in the Church to accomplish in you! Think back and see how much that is good in your past life, your conduct, in your choices and decisions, you owe to your Catholic training. We all owe much to the Church to which, through God's goodness, we belong. What is true of us is true of all those crude, imperfect Catholic churchgoers who so annoy us. How much worse would they be did they not permit the Church to influence them at least a little! Let us think of that when we are tempted to doubt the influence of the Church on its members. And let us remember too that there is accomplished in them, as in our- selves, by the Church much good that cannot be observed, any more than others could observe what the Church has accomplished in my soul or in yours. All that we have said so far ought to enable us to see something of what is meant by the equality of all men before God. That is a truth which it is most important to grasp-God is the Father of us all and we are all equal before Him; our souls, the souls of saints and sinners, cultured and crude, have equal value in His eyes. Before God no man has any claims, but neither is any man forgotten, neglected or disin- herited. God owes as much to the man of no gifts, to the man of infer- ior nature, as He does to his more gifted brother, and He gives as much to the one as to the other when they wish to come to Him, to ach- ieve union with Him. And if God opens the door of His Church to the less gifted man, He gives that inferior man access to all the preci- ous treasures of the Church even at the risk that, in coming into con- tact with what is precious, he may horribly distort it and bring it into ridicule by the travesty of his presentation; even at the risk that the world outside may take his travesty as the criterion of the Church's level and the measure of her capacity for the moulding of man. But that is, so to speak, the risk God takes in opening His Church to the inferior-to all. SHOP WINDOWS AND SCRUBWOMEN But let us not forget that very many of these apparently inferior people extract more good from the Church than many superior people. Many of these so-called inferiors who are a scandal to the aesthetic eyes of some Catholics and some outsiders, many who are of limited in- telligence, illiterate or semi-literate, are so transfigured and en- nobled by the Church that they lead a life which moves in the highest regions of the sublime, far above what we would expect, far above their own NATURAL "comprehension." In those high regions these men and women of inferior parts achieve works which are outside the range of ordinary observation, and are incredible unless you know them as their confessor knows them, or readd their lives; as for instance, the life of the celebrated Matthew Talbot. When you are visiting a New York church some time, observe closely some scrubwoman at silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and you will know what I mean. Very often we encounter a life of closest union with God on the part of men and women who are called "the common peo- ple"-and sometimes I think that these people are more impressive than the interesting converts with brilliant minds with whom we dress our shop windows. But we do not expect that non-Catholics or even many Catholics will see the living, compelling beauty and dignity which our religion does bring even to the poorest, most stricken, most destitute of illiterate people. Many of us are color-blind to this kind of beau- ty and see only barrenness and wreckage where we priests and confess- ors see (are forced to see) radiance and shining splendor. Many look on in pity and horror, whereas we look on in reverent envy of what God had done for these humble folk. We must not forget the many of low degree whose lives are illuminated and ennobled by our religion. The man of low degree often furnishes a better example of the educat- ive powers of Christianity than his superior does. Some will say: The former has much to gain and nothing to lose whereas the latter has much at stake and much to lose, just as the slaves of ancient Rome be- came Christians more easily than their masters, even though the latter became Christians too. But let it be said in reply, that for the infe- rior and the superior, for the slave as well as for his master, the stakes are precisely the same-each stands to lose the same thing- namely, self-and each stands to gain the same thing-namely, God; union with God. THE SHAMEFUL SIDE OF THE SPECTACLE I have said all there is to be said in defense of the presence in the Church of the sinful, the uncharitable, the narrow, and the unattract- ive whom, in spite of their churchgoing, the Church fails to trans- form. But there is still much that I would not try to justify or def- end; still much to which we cannot be resigned; still much that is bad that positively ought not to be found in the Church of God. That there are sinners in the Church of God intended for all men is a truth which does strengthen our faith, but if we are true and right-thinking Cath- olics their presence also fills us with shame, deep and burning shame. We feel and rightly feel that we ought to be able to point out more examples of the splendid, ideal Catholic, every inch a Christian and every inch a man. The truth that the true Church of God must be the Church of the mass- es is a partial but not a complete answer. Why? Because too often the uncharitableness of the churchgoing Catholic, his pettiness and self- ishness and smugness is not just the baggage of the pilgrim on the road to perfection; no, often these qualities are the distinguishing mark of the veteran Catholic, the trademark of the finished product. That we must admit. There is no justifying, no excuse for it, and to it we may not resign ourselves without gross treachery to the cause of Christ. We must not excuse it but condemn it and condemn it roundly, whether it is found in ourselves or in our fellow Catholics. There is no defense for the presence in the Church of God of veterans who are not developed to their full stature, who are not able to walk erect, who go about stifled, bent crooked and disabled, not bearing honorable scars of battle, but characterized by visible weakness which shows that they never bore the banner of their faith and never went into battle against their faults. Such Catholics are a laughing stock to our enemies and a cause of burning shame to the Church. More than that, they are an OPEN AND BLEEDING WOUND IN THE BODY OF THE CHURCH, and were it not an immortal body it would certainly have bled to death by now. "THOU ART THE MAN!" Who are these Catholic people whose lives constitute an open wound in the body of the Church? If any one of my readers has produced upon non-Catholics by his conduct and conversation the impression that Catholics are no better and perhaps a little worse than non-Catholics, then I say to you: "Thou art the man. You are amongst those who const- itute the open wound in the body of Christ." And if I or any priest have ever given cause to catholics or non-Catholics to have less resp- ect for the Church of Christ, then we can likewise say to ourselves: "Thou art the man." Everyone, priest or layman, who does not DARE TO LIVE his religion, who in his spiritual life does not rise above what is small and triv- ial, above what is commonplace and comfortable, who remains contented- ly on the same level as those outside the Church who have not the Mass and the Sacraments-every such person is a cause of shame to the Church and can accuse himself, saying "Thou art the man." We Catholics who do not DARE TO LIVE our faith are the ones who give material to the enemies of the Church for their searing, scathing criticism of Catholicism. We are to blame if those who might otherwise be attracted to Catholicism indict and pillory our Church, for they cannot be expected to perceive their error in attributing the cause of our failure to our religion itself rather than to our failure to live our religion. The Little Flower, in our time, sets an example of what we could and should be. I have set forth, in many volumes, how, in a small way, we can imitate her and imitate Christ and become Christlike. From the reading of such books we learn to DARE TO LIVE OUR FAITH, to summon the courage to climb out of mediocrity or worse, to be dissat- isfied with ourselves if we lead a life in which there is only a mini- mum of Christian effort, to be dissatisfied with a sweet, emotional, wishful existence in which we merely dream of being real Catholics. The tame, pretty-pretty, unadventurous, effortless, comfortable Catho- lic life which most of us lead is a life that is diseased at the core and lives on a lie, and is its own speedy avenger; for it brings no such happiness as comes to the one who DARES TO LIVE HIS FAITH. Such a diseased, anaemic Catholicism destroys itsef, perishes of its own ana- emia, condemns itself to a continuous process of degeneration. It does not produce men, but caricatures. It makes no appeal whatever to what is best in us nor to what is best in anyone else. It does not satisfy those noble impulses that ask to be seized in a firm, bold grip and exploited for great and noble ends. Anaemic Catholicism caters to what is petty and cowardly in us, not to those brave impulses which, if we let them have their way, would give us the courage to DARE TO LIVE our faith and live it fully and abundantly and happily. If anyone today sees in the Catholic Church, especially in Europe, a deformed, decayed body, then the blame is to be placed flatly on the shoulders of Catholics themselves, priests and people, who are leading anaemic Catholic lives instead of DARING TO LIVE THEIR FAITH. We sho- uld DARE TO LIVE our faith so fully that when people meet us they meet the souls of Christianity and, because of our Christlike example, en- ter the Church of God. THE CATHOLIC'S GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY Lest anyone should think that I have drawn a despairing picture of the Church today, let me make to you my confession of faith in the Church: "This body of the Church of God is immortal and bears upon it at all times, even today, the sign of resurrection. Catholicism is on the threshold of persecution and of new birth. The world is breaking down around us but the world is not finished, nor played out, nor is the Church of God. Both the world and the Church are being renewed once more. The world which rejected Christ and is no longer capable of Christianity is breaking up, collapsing, and a new dawn is at hand. In that new day the world, which will come out of chaos, will be open again to penetration by the Church of God. There are at our very door possibilities of a Catholicism such as we would never have dared to dream in normal times. Our Catholic watchword these days should be: 'March on, on; keep marching, Catholic men and women, for you are needed today as never before; march on because the dawn of a new day for your Church is at hand.'" I ask those who are reading this book, as well as the young lady who hesitated to bring her college friend back into the Church: "Can any- thing be finer than to lead a brave young spirit to this bold advent- ure - the attempt to conquer the modern world for the Church of God? Can anything be finer than to guide eager steps to the coming dawn?" Let us have an end to complaints about inferior types predominating in the Church today-let us have an end to them because each and every one of us possesses the cure, the remedy. The remedy is that WE DARE TO LIVE OUR FAITH. Let us see to it then that fine, upstanding warri- ors rally to the banner of the Church of God, and that these fine, up- standing warriors are ourselves, you and me. By our own individual, personal efforts let us see to it that piety is not confined to the small and weak and sickly; that Catholicism is not merely the life-line of the weary and distressed, the soft pillow of all who find life too much for them. Let us, by our individual eff- orts, make Catholicism the great adventure of the strong, the heroic exploit to which we will bring as much daring and as much courage as others bring to bold and hazardous adventure. May God, who blesses the brave, help each of us to DARE TO LIVE OUR FAITH. May the Little Flower, who herself DARED TO LIVE, teach us to do likewise, and ob- tain for us the great grace of doing our full, brave duty to our Lord, whom we all love, and to His Church, which we all love too. All of our discussion, so far, about the natural man and the splen- did Christian, and the inferior types in the Church of God, is the discoursing of strangers and pilgrims who believe and hope but who do not yet love. In the closing chapters of this booklet, it remains for us to discourse as men and women who believe and hope and LOVE, as men and women who are not strangers debating on the threshold to acqu- ire courage to enter the Church, but as men and women who have entered and who therefore have had some experience of the truth of our Lord's words: "My yoke is sweet and My burden light." Therefore we turn next to the consideration of love for our Lord. Chapter Six THE LOVE WHICH SMOOTHS OUR WAY The suggestion that we ourselves supply the need in the Church for brave and stalwart Catholics who dare to live their religion was based, you remember, on this consideration: that it is not only our opportunity but our plain duty, to allow our Catholicism to shine att- ractively out of our lives, our conduct and our conversation. But conduct based merely on a sense of duty is hard. It is the most toilsome and the slowest way to God. It is neither the best nor the most pleasant way. The easiest and pleasantest path to Him is the way of love. Therefore, in order that our future days may be illumined by the love of God, let us discuss and study something of God's love as it is revealed in the saints in general and in the Little Flower in particular. From our study I am sure we will all glean enough to make our path to God more pleasant, and to convince us that love makes His burden light and His yoke sweet. Let us at the outset correct the more important misconceptions of the saints who are so little understood even by many Catholics. One of the most prevalent errors concerning the saints is that their holiness destroys their humanity, i.e., that to be holy a saint must cease to be human, must destroy everything that is human and natural in him. That is not true. The very opposite is true. Sainthood is pos- sible only for one who is intensely human. That statement will become clear as we proceed, but let me repeat it: sainthood is possible only for one who, like the Little Flower, is intensely human. In the Little Flower her glorious humanness, so tender, so passion- ately loving, was not destroyed by her holiness. One cannot seperate the flesh-and-blood Little Flower from the saint. The saint was the NATURAL Little Flower raised to the highest degree. She was the human Little Flower and more-the human Little Flower raised to the utmost possibility of her being. There are two things we can do with our human nature. We can elevate it or we can drag it down. We can stretch it up to the very utmost and glorious limits of its possibilities, or we can drag it down to a level on which it becomes more animal than human. Did you ever see the wreck of a man or a woman in whom there had been splendid qualities all destroyed by slavery to drink or impurity or both, so that the person became more animal than man? If you did, then you know what I mean by the opposite extreme-the elevation of human nature to the highest possible degree, so that the person reaches a point at which his human nature is so completed, so perfected that, remaning human, he is more Christlike than merely human. NO SAINT EVER COVETOUS OR COLD Most of us are not human enough to be saints. Holiness needs a deep, healthy, natural ground if it is to take root and bear fruit. Before we can spiritualize, there must first be something to spiritualize-a splendid humanity. Now what does all this theory mean? It means in plain language that to be a saint a person must have a great capacity for human love. I use the word love, of course, in its best sense. I am not speaking of lust or even of sensual love. There are relations between human beings that are base, furtuive and besmirched, but to call such relations "love" is a shocking misuse of the word. What is love in the best sense? It admits of many definitions but a satisfactory one is this: love means a capacity for self-giving and a great love means a great, an extraordinary capacity for self-giving, for self-donation. Here again I am speaking of the giving of self in the best sense, not of the giving of sensual love. Sensual love is selfish because it seeks its own satisfaction. So that when I say that love means a capacity for the giving of self, I use self-giving in the best sense, and I say that sainthood means the very same thing, namely, a great capac- ity for self-giving, for the giving of oneself to God. But you will not find in any saint a capacity for the giving of oneself to God un- less there was first a capacity for the giving of oneself to one's friends and dear ones. Let us apply all this to the Little Flower. What was the very essence of her humanity, of her human nature? It was that she was humanly speaking, a great lover, with an extraordinary capacity for loving. Even as a little girl she loved her father and mother and sisters with no ordinary love but passionately. Hers was a supremely generous heart with an incomparable capacity for self-giving. It was upon that found- ation that her holiness was built. If she were by nature cold, there would be no foundation for holiness in her; she would never have bec- ome a saint. A person has to have a NATURAL capacity for self-giving or that person will never reach the point at which the person surren- ders self completely to God. Perhaps I ought to further illustrate this point from the life of the Little Flower. Our little saint was, as a girl and as a Sister, from the beginning to the end of her life, entirely human-burningly, hungr- ily, tenderly human. If you have read her life you are acquainted with these extraordinary qualities in her even as a girl: her almost unrestrained yearning for warmth, nearness and caresses. You know the very human pain her seperation from her idolized father cost her when she entered the convent. She tells us all about it in her "Autobiogr- aphy." Her love knew all the pain of parting and seperation, all the anguished longing for reunion, all the loneliness that springs from a hunger for caresses which she sacrificed, knew she was sacrificing, and was glad to sacrifice, when she entered the convent. You all know, too, how happy beyond the average capacity for happiness she was when she denied herself those caresses and turned her love to God, into the closest and happiest and most constant union with Him. Yet even after that intimate union with Him was attained, she still had room in her great heart for all those whom she loved on earth. You remember the picture she gives us of herself mounting the convent staircase past her sister Pauline's door. She loved Pauline as few sisters have ever been loved; and the Little Flower had to cling to the bannister to keep herself from entering her sister's room for a visit at a time when the convent rule forbade visits and yet you know how happy she was in the sacrifice she made. The apparent contradict- ion between happiness and the denial of her instincts I will explain later. Similarly, if you know her life, you know how very human, how very natural was her reaction to her father's illness-to the stroke of par- alysis which affected first his body and then his mind, and then, aft- er what must have been to the Little Flower endlessly long days, res- ulted in his death. Her grief was as unbounded and passionate as was her love. She was simply submerged in a sea of sorrow. And have you not felt how loveable she is in the comfortless abandon and misery of her woe? In recalling the Little Flower on the staircase and on the occasion of her father's death, I wanted to show you how human Therese the saint was, and if you study her, you will realize how much more human feeling, how much more flesh and blood passionateness she had, in the human sphere than most of us would dare to have, even if we could. Now that we have understood that sainthood must have as a foundation an intense humanity and a great capacity for love and self-giving, and now that we have perceived that his or her human nature is not de- stroyed, we are ready to penetrate further into the nature of holiness and understand the saints more clearly. Their human nature and their natural capacity to love is not destroy- ed but is diverted to and occupied with God. That brings us to the most correct definition of a saint: a saint is a friend of God. Those are simple words and yet they are freighted with meaning. They give us the key to the understanding of a saint. We have reached the very heart of the matter under discussion. THE SAINT, A FRIEND OF GOD A saint is a friend of God. A saint is one who is in the relation of a friend to God, and God is in the relation of a Friend TO HIM. It is a special, personal, intimate and vital relartionship, very different from that of the ordinary God-fearing and God-seeking believer. A fri- end of God! The term includes a whole range of meanings from the most vapid convention to the most tremendous intimacy. When we say a saint is a friend of God we use the word "friend" in its fullest and richest significance, as denoting something altogether exceptional and preci- ous. Friendship in our sense then is nothing less than love. The saint therefore (to alter the wording of the definition) is a person whose relationship to God is personal love. To the saint, God is not an abstraction, not a something that is unimportant and matter-of-course--no, to the saint God is something real-or better THE Reality. To the saint God is in no sense some Thing but some One; not It, but He; no, notmerely He but Thou. We all beli- eve in a personal God; we wish to love Him and to serve Him; but the saints' love of God is different. We wish to love Him but the wish bears little fruit. In the saint the wish flowers and bears fruit. When we see the love of the saints like a rose-tree in a splendor of luxuriant blossom, our courage begins to fail. We tell ourselves, a good will, a wish to love God, suffices. And that is true. Thank God, it is true, for it would be a poor lookout for most of us if God requ- ired more of us than that we should try, as best we can, painfully and stumblingly, to do His Will. But if we are to be content with just doing God's Will (which is all he requires of most of us, although there are some souls who are call- ed to love Him greatly), we must at the very least realize that our attitude is not the only right attitude. We must realize that there is another attitude, that of the saints who actually do love God as real- ly as they love their human friends. As a matter of fact the Little Flower loved God as truly, as genuinely, as passionately as she did her father and her sisters. So let us fix in our minds the difference between the saint's love of God and the ordinary Christian's love of God. For a saint is God's gift to us, a letter written to us, a letter we are meant to read. True, we can serve God loyally without the great love of the saints, but their way is the happiest-not as slow and toilsome as our way; and we ought therefore to make their way ours as far as we can. SERVANTS BUT NOT FRIENDS There are Christians who do perseveringly serve God as loyal subjects serve their king, but they would never dream of entering into the Kin- g's presence. They would draw back in confusion at the hint of a con- fidential talk, and still more at the hint of a caress or an embrace. There are many Christians who are content to remain outside the King's presence all their lives, on guard as it were, and to them God is a reality but never Friend, never the Beloved One. Their love for God is a very beautiful thing, strong as life and faithful to death, but it is not the love of the friend. On the other hand, the saint is the friend of God. Perhaps when we see the saints' great human love, like the love of the Little Flower for her father or sisters, and when we realize that she had the same warm love for God, then we realize what our love of God is NOT. Then for the first time we see the appalling difference between the living fire, the capacity to do and to suffer and to give-the difference bet- ween that and the pettiness and chilliness and satisfied ease of our love for God. If you have grasped the definition of a saint (one who is in love with God), then what formerly was unintelligible in the character of the saints will become clear to you and not seem unnatural or untrue. Before I knew that a saint was one who is in love with God, I read of St. Aloysius who had to be ordered by his confessor to turn his thou- ghts away from God because his weak body could not bear the continual strain. I shook my head and was tempted to doubt that the report was reliable; and if it was, I thought it was unnatural, and that St. Alo- ysius must hve been a strange specimen. But when I learned that a sai- nt is a friend of God, in love with God, I understood that incident in the life of St. Aloysius and understood to why the Little Flower decl- ared that she was determined that no loving wife would ever do more for her husband in love and thoughtfulness and sacrifice than she would for our Lord. She was in love with our Lord; He was her Spouse and Friend. Chapter Seven PUZZLES IN THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS We have said that our definition of a saint-one who is in love with God-would be the key to our understanding of much that has hitherto been puzzling in the lives of the saints. Have you ever been perplexed by the humility of the saints? Have you ever shrugged your shoulders doubtfully when you read of some saint who declared himself a great sinner, although there was no grievous sin in his life? Have you ever read with great impatience of some sai- nt's consuming remorse for sins which scarcely seem sins to us; or of the saint's lifelong tears over a mistake which seems to us so natural and not worth worrying about; or of the saint's profound conviction of personal unworthiness when the world is already on its knees in rever- ence before that saint? Has not such humility often seemed to you pre- tense, forced, affected humbug, or even a form of crooked vanity? Let us apply our key to the problem: the saint is one who is in love with God. Look at some human lovers. How unworthy some of them feel of the love that is given them! Men have come to me for advice because they felt so unworthy of the women who gave their love to them. And because they felt they were not worthy, their undeserved love showed up their defects and faults in a light more glaring than all the re- proofs of their enemies. Well, if a man can feel so unworthy of a woman's love, what will be his humility when he perceives with the whole of his startled soul this tremendous fact: that GOD wishes to be his Friend - that he is God's friend and, more incredible still, that God is his Friend? Can the man do otherwise then than remain tremblingly aware of his infin- ite unworthiness? Can he do otherwise than adore in utter humility a choice that he can never, never understand? Why of course his faults will then appear mountainous to him. That is why the humility of the saints is so alert, for they know that our Lord has taken the very no- thing that they are and laid His kiss upon it and make it His friend. How cold is the philosophical humility of those who recognize their littleness before the great God of the universe when it is compared with the warm glowing humility of the lover, of the saint! There is nothing affected, nothing forced, nothing of pretense about the sense of unworthiness that characterizes the saints. Yet their humility has nothing of the inferiority complex about it; it is very calm and fear- less, for the saints know, when they think of their faults, that in spite of those faults, God loves them. They know that He fulfills that best of all definitions of a friend: "He knows all about them and loves them just the same." And every one of us can say the same thing of our Lord when we recall His willingness to come to us in Holy Comm- union: He knows all about us but loves us just the same. So much for the humility of the saints which, because we forget that they were friends of God, we judge to be unreal, wheras it is genuine and now intelligible. Let us turn now to another widely misunderstood feature of the lives of the saints, a feature which the Little Flower displays with except- ional intensity, namely, sacrifice. What does sacrifice mean in the lives of the saints? What is its true interpretation and explanation? "HOW HORRIBLE!" We see the saints sacrificing all we most value, every earthly good in human experience: property, wealth, marriage, home, family, every- thing; and so completely, so extravagantly! Flinging away these goods with both hands! We see them fasting, scourging their bodies. And if we do not understand what I am about to explain, we may be inclined to turn away from such sacrifices shocked and dismayed as at something distorted and unnatural, as at some pathological self-mutilation. "How horrible!" some exclaim. Even the word "sacrifice" stirs uneasy fears in some, as if something fanatical and cruel lurked behind it. In some everything that is young and strong and shining struggles against the very idea of such sacrifices. Others think that their own nature must be corrupt, because they hunger for those things which the saint so splendidly shuts out of his life. Both these criticisms of the sacrifices of the saints are immature and shallow, unfounded and untrue, and based on this error: in both cases the critics look upon the sacrifice of the saint as a negation, as a compulsion, and as a refusal of life. We shall see that the sac- rifice of the saints is none of these things. A third error, often found amongst Catholics, is to look only at the pain which accompanies sacrifice and to exagggerate the pain; or, worse, to believe that God takes pleasure in man's self-inflicted mis- ery. Let us now rid ourselves of these errors and acquire the correct not- ion of sacrifice instead of turning it into something unnatural and ignoble. It is not sufficient merely to approve sacrifice as a spiritual and mental discipline to train a strong will and to achieve an iron self- control which will fashion our natural instincts into pliable instru- ments for the spirit's use. Sacrifice has this purpose and it is a very important and valuable one, but there is more, very much more to it than that. To understand sacrifice we must first remember that sacrifice is a gift to God. When you give a gift, you must of course deprive yourself of the gift; you cannot give it and keep it; you must renounce instead of keeping and that renunciation must often be felt as painful. But the pain is the most unimportant feature in your eyes. You do not give for the purpose of hurting yourself. Why do you give? To please the receiver. Ah, there's the point to remember: you give to please the receiver, your friend. You do not notice much the pain your gift costs you; much less are you proud of the pain. No, you are thinking of the pleasure the gift will give your friend. Just think of the absurdity of a man who wanted to give only to feel the loss of his gift, and who knew that his friend's only pleasure in receiving it was his knowledge of the pain it gave the donor. Absurd. And yet we dare to think of God like that! We should be ashanmed to have harbored such an idea of God. If He were that kind of being, no one could love Him. SYMBOLS OF LOVE To return to our point: a sacrifice is a gift to God. Let us turn to the human scene for a comparison. You want to give a very special gift to a very special friend. You want to give yourself as far as God per- mits. You want to say to him: "Here I am; take me; make use of me; consume me." But you cannot say that very well in so many words. So what do you do? You take a "thing," something that he can use and you fill it brimful with your love and your longing to be of use and you give it to your friend. Don't you see? It is as though you said: "This is myself. Be me, gift, take my place!" The thing you give them assumes a double meaning; it no longer means just itself but you, the giver. It has become a symbol, a symbol of your love. That is exactly what the saint does, what any one of us does when we offer a sacrifice to God. God is the saint's friend and because the saint cannot give himself, he looks around for something give God as a symbol of his love for God and he finds he has nothing to give, for his property he has already given and his right to a home and family and so on. But he MUST-he is driven by an innner necessity, the neces- sity of his love-find something to express his love; and so he fasts, or scourges himself or seeks some humiliation or some discomfort; and around that fasting, or scourging or humiliation or discomfort he wra- ps his love for God and says to God: "This I give You as a symbol of my love. Please accept it as an expression of my love." Is there any- thing fanatical about that? Contrariwise is it not beautiful, sublime? And God? God is not concerned about the pain any more than the saint is concerned about it. But God is good enough to accept the gift-not because of the pain, which was almost unnoticed, but because of the love of which the sacrifice was an expression. Does God require this of any saint? NO, THE SAINT REQUIRES IT OF HIM- SELF. The saint is driven by the inner necessity of his love to expr- ess his love for God. Again let us go to the world of men for a para- llel case. The saint requires sacrifice of himself because he is a lover, a young lover, an ardent lover who thinks he must continually draw his sweetheart's attention to himself and his love, so that she may have no doubts of it or of him. So he expresses his love again and again by letters, by gifts, by attentions. He experiences a tireless urge to keep up such tokens, for the message is never fully expressed. So he gives tirelessly, each time more madly, if you like, and he recks nothing of the labor and pain his gifts cause him. On the cont- rary, he exults and leaps as he proves his love, for he can say to himself: "I've achieved that too for your sake." She would be a queer sort if she were not pleased with such love. Now raise all this from the finite and narrow human sphere into a life with God and this is what sacrifice to God means: it is a letter, a token, a symbol of love from the saint to God. All the love of the saint's heart he puts into his gift and presents it joyfully with open hands to God, his Friend, with but one request: that God will accept it, that it will find favor in God's sight. And God of course accepts it and blesses it; for if God can see and reward the DUMB love deep hidden at the bottom of the soul, how much more does he bless the love that is expressed in sacrifice. Notice that just as the young lover experiences the urge ever to devise new ways of proving himself to his beloved, ways and means that the beloved by no means demands; so God does not require the sacrifices of the saints. But He of course accepts them and blesses them because He understands, as we perhaps do not, the inner necessity which drives the saint to express his love for God, which is as genuine and ardent and real as that of any man's love for woman. SAINTS UNHAPPY? Are the saints made unhappy by their sacrifices? Is it true to call their sacrifices self-inflicted misery? On the contrary, the sacrifi- ces of the saints are the sources of their happiness, for it is happ- ier to give than to receive, and a sacrifice is a gift to God. Of course sometimes with the saints, as with ordinary people, a sac- rifice is preceded by a struggle. One love may be in opposition to an- other. For instance, the Little Flower's love of her father, which urged her to remain with him, was in a sense in opposition to her love for God, which drew her to the life of sacrifice in a Carmelite conv- ent. When two such loves are almost equally strong, a person is well- nigh torn in two by the conflict. But when one love, the love of God, begins to grow in him, its growth is so powerful, so forceful, so lux- uriant that it simply thrusts the OTHER IMPERIOUSLY ASIDE. In such a case, and this is always the case with the saints, the choice is fin- ally made without struggle, without conflict. The power of the love of God is overwhelmingly victorious, winning the whole being to its side. The person concerned hardly sees or knows that he loses anything by it. He does not count what he leaves behind. This has been happening since the world began in the purely human sphere, as when man leaves father and mother to cleave to one woman; leaves wife and children to fight for country. The same thing happens when an exile renounces his fatherland for the sake of an ideal (or when a martyr gives his life for his religion). We do not find these things surprising; we admire the enthusiasm of people who make such sacrifices. We know that their choice was based on their greater love, and that any other choice would have brought them misery, and that they are not regretful or unhappy because of their sacrifice. There- fore ought we not to admire also the enthusiasm of the saints which leads them to make sacrifices in their love for their God? In human love a point is sometimes reached that makes everything out- side it seem UNIMPORTANT: PARENTS, HOME, REPUTATION, DANGER-all alike equally unimportant. Anything and everything is risked insanely, if you will, and lost WITHOUT REGRET as though unworthy of a thought. Incredible as it may seem, this same point may be reached and is rea- ched in man's love for God. That is the reason we see the saints mak- ing their sacrifices with smiles and songs. The Little Flower tells us that one evening as she was helping an old, complaining, invalid sister to traverse the dark and gloomy con- vent cloister, "there suddenly fell on my ears the harmonious strains of distant music. A picture rose before me of a richly furnished room, brillianly lighted and decorated, and full of elegantly dressed young girls conversing together as is the way of the world. Then I turned to the poor invalid; instead of sweet music, I heard her complaints; in- stead of rich gilding I saw the bare brick walls of our cloister, scarcely visible in the dim, flickering light. The contrast thrilled me, and our Lord so illumined my soul with the rays of His truth, in the light of which the pleasures of the world are but darkness, that not for a thousand years of such worldly delights would I have have bartered the ten minutes spent in my act of charity." She would not have exchanged her life of sacrifice for a thousand years of all the delights the world could offer. Is there any remain- ing doubt that the saints were happy in their sacrifices?
Chapter Eight SHARING CHRIST'S LIFE So far, in the study of the saints, we have explained that a capacity for love is the indispensable natural foundation for holiness. Such a capacity is found in every saint. It assumes many colors and tones, different in man and women and varying with age and race, but it is never absent. The saint's biographies display every sort of psycholo- gical background; but none was ever cold. Coldness of heart is no more the way to God than any other cowardice. We have explained too that the sacrifices of the saints are gifts of love to God, candles which they gladsomely keep burning before the face of God, their Friend. Concerning this last point, someone may interpose this objection: I can understand now why the saints can give as gifts to God precious things, as when they sacrifice home and family and seperate themselves from dear ones for the love of God. These are indeed beautiful sacri- fices. But why do the saints also SEARCH for things that are ugly and painful and humiliating? For instance, why are they eager to strip themselves not only of all comforts but of all but the barest necess- ities in the way of food and clothing and possessions; and why are they apparently so much in love with suffering and pain that they do not merely ENDURE what God sends but also SEEK suffering and pain? The answer is that the saints really love our Lord "like a human be- ing." Human love is a mirror in which we see what the saints' love of God is and what our love of God might be. And what is one characteris- tic of the love bewtween human friends? If you have a friend, do you not desire to enter into his life, to share his life? Do you not wish not to be better off than he is? Have you never stood longingly watch- ing a suffering which seemed to enclose your friend like a wall and seemed so to shut you out that you wished you could share it? Have you never actually said to a friend: "I wish I could bear it for you"? Have you ever heard the story of the blind man's mother who sat for hours beside her blind son with her eyes shut in the bright light of a summer day-shut why? That she might not be better off than her son. Well, then, recall that the saints love our Lord "like a human being" and because His whole life was a life of suffering and poverty, they want to share His life; they wish not to be better off than He. Hence their thirst for poverty and pain and suffering. It is a thirst born of their love for Him, alove which, like that of the blind man's moth- er, desires not to be better off than He. This is very similar to what we all do when suffering comes to us; we Christians endure a headache and "offer it up," thinking of our Lord's crown of thorns. We endure thirst, thinking of His thirst upon the cross. But the saints, being greater lovers of our Saviour than we are, are not content to endure what He SENDS, but are impelled by the- ir love to SEARCH for suffering which will make them more like Him and bring them a sense of nearness to Him. The miserable food, clothing, and lodging which they choose, their rough work, their obedience-all this is a sharing of our Lord's poor, wandering life, a blessed compa- nionship with Him, a penetration of His experience. That is the secret of the search of the saints for suffering, the secret too of their boundless love for the poor, of the sick and of souls; the secret of their willingness to offer their sacrifices for sinners because Christ their Friend died to save them. Are their sacrifices not just what we would expect from lovers of Christ with an extraordinary capacity for love and self-giving? Is it not true that the wonder is, not that they did so much for Him but that they did not do more in the burning ardor of their love? SINNERS WHO COULD BE SAINTS Yes, the saints are great lovers-and here is a truth that will give comfort to many: a gift for loving, a capacity for love is a dangerous gift, for it may lead the possessor away from God as well as to God. But even he to whom this gift has brought destruction, even he who has been swept away from God on a tide of illicit love, was nearer to the possibility of being a saint than the cold, exemplary Christian who has had no no experience of the dangers to which the other has succum- bed and who knows nothing either of the stormy upward sweep of the soul to God. I say that this truth is comforting, because if their is any reader who has been given by God a great capacity for love and who has so far abused that gift, be assured that you, you the bold and da- ring sinner, have in you the possibilities of holiness, the seeds of sanctity; and you must divert and redirect your love to God and armor yourself against your illicit love and root it out, or your end will be like Satan's. There is in these words both a threat and a golden promise: a golden promise that if you DO BREAK with your illicit love, God will take you to Himself as His friend in no ordinary manner. He will embrace you as warmly and permit you to come to Him in as close ties of glorious, satisfying friendship with Him as He embraces and permits His saints to come to Him; for like the saints you were given a great capacity to love-to love Him. So to such souls I say "Courage." Do not be discouraged by the bold- ness and frequency of your past sins, for you are made in such a way that you can be just as bold and intense in your love for God. To the others, whose nature are more mild, who are unacquainted with the storms that can sweep over and devastate a man like an avalanche, I say: "Never exclaim 'How can they?', when you see some extremely reckless sinner. Rather pray for him, for he needs prayers because he, unlike you, has a nature so intense that he must either rise to heigh- ts of love of God that would make you dizzy or fall to depths that would shock your very soul. When you see such a one in the depths, pray that he may be able to rise again to the heights." Prayer for sinners is one of the characteristics of the genuine Christian; one of the characteristics of the Little Flower and of all the saints; and if we cannot imitate their reckless sacrifices for God, there is no one who cannot imitate them in their frequent prayer for sinners, for the dying, prayer for the grace of a happy death for sinners as well as for themselves. Chapter Nine LOVE OF NEIGHBOR, PART AND PARCEL OF THE FRIENDSHIP OF CHRIST Just as at the beginning of this pamphlet, so at its close we turn to St. Therese, under whose patronage this booklet is being written. In the last chapter we spoke of the sacrifices of the saints and of their love for souls, for the souls of sinners particularly. The saints, be- ing friends of our Lord, loved and prized and made sacrifices to save the souls for whom our Lord died. But among all the saints who were remarkable for their love and prayers and sacrifices for souls, the Little Flower stands pre-eminent. Like all the saints she had an ext- raordinarily vast capacity for love, for self-donation, and she gave her love without stint and gave her whole self to the work of saving souls. In fact, not being able to do as much as she desired for souls while she was on earth, she begged and obtained fron our Lord the pri- vilege of "spending her heaven doing good upon earth"-doing good to souls. "I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth," she said. "I shall return to make Love loved." That is her mission, how well she fulfills it! Doubtless she is a star which shines in the heights of heaven and from afar lights up the way, but she is also the eagle which, sighting his prey from above the mountain peaks, swoops down, seizes it and bears it aloft. From her high place of honor she looks down upon all, seeking souls whom she can make her prey and whom she can seize and bring to God. She descends to sinners. No sinner on earth repels or disgusts her, howsoever low and vile he may be. She cries out to these souls of sinners: "The love of God, which is my lot, shall be yours also, if you wish. For," she says, "if I draw nigh to God with love and trust, it is not because I have kept from mortal sin. Were my con- science laden with every imaginable crime, I would not have one whit less confidence; heartbroken and repentant, I would throw myself into my Saviour's arms. He loves the prodigal son; I know His words addres- sed to Magdalen, to the adulterous woman and to her of Samaria. Who could make me afraid? I know His mercy and His love; I know that once I had thrown myself in His arms, all my numberless sins would disapp- ear in an instant like drops of water cast into a furnace." She descends to doubters, descends to those darkened regions of un- certainty and unbelief, searching sincere souls, for there are many such there. Into their dark night she, she who on earth had been so severely tempted against faith, lets fall a ray of celestial light. She descends to sensualists and cowards and to the ardent; to the hum- ble; she descends to all, to souls who call her and to many who do not call her. It is thus then that she spends her heaven, catching souls in her net of love, fascinating them by her sweetness and purity. The mission of St. Therese, then, is clear. It is to put into action the words of our Saviour: "I am come to cast fire on the earth and what will I but that it be kindled?" (Luke 12:49). The mission of St. Therese is to enkindle in our hearts the fire of divine love. These considerations bring us back to our remaining topic: the expla- nation of the Christian "love of neighbor," especially in the lives of the saints. Having spoken at length of the love of GOD, our treatise would not be complete if we did not reflect also upon love of NEIGH- BOR. Sometimes the question is asked: Does not love of neighbor, love of our fellow-men, flower more beautifully among Socialists and the fin- est type of Jew and similar groups than among devout Christians? Indeed it looks that way sometimes. There is a basis for such an opi- nion. But nevertheless it is the opinion of those who do not think deeply, the opinion of shallow, superficial thinkers, as we shall pre- sently perceive. Let us analyze the actual truth. There is such a thing as a natural capacity for love of one's neigh- bor, a capacity for sympathy. There is a certain sensitiveness of soul in some people, belonging to their very nature, which makes them alm- ost as acutely aware of another's suffering's as of their own. In fact some such sensitiveness sleeps at the bottom of us all (as when tears come to the eyes at the movies over the plight of the hero or heroine depicted on the screen). This sensitiveness can be awakened and nour- ished by non-Christian influences, by Buddhism, Socialism, or by any humanitarian faith. This entirely NATURAL disposition is deceptively like the Christian "love of neighbor." It produces the reformer, the philanthropist, the Communist, all of whom we may assume are nobly concerned with other men's suffering. NO ONE TO CARE This love of man for man's sake must necessarily be stronger in the camps of unbelievers than amongst Christians, for since they are with- out God, how terribly important they are to one another-much more than we can ever be to one another because we live not only with one anoth- er but also with God. To unbelievers this globe, like a rudderless ship drifting over the ocean, is roaming through space with none to guide it and none to care. Its population, like that ship's crew, is welded together by a common doom, wholly abandoned to each other and dependent solely on each other. Their plight MUST arouse the protect- ive instinct of strong natures. That is the reason Communists denounce injustice and oppression so passionately and so bitterly. But this love of man for man's sake is very different from the broth- erly love of Christianity which is love of man FOR GOD'S SAKE. Let me contrast for you the bitterness of the one with the tenderness of the other. Let us see what happens to the natural capacity for sympathy toward our fellows, when that capacity is illumined, deepened, eleva- ted by Christianity-when it is, in a word, baptized. In the first place Christianity does not regard kindness as a natural gift which some do and some do not happen to possess. No, Christianity makes love of fellow-men a general inescapable DUTY FOR ALL. Christi- anity has forced millions who have by nature no benevolence to pract- ice benevolence as a matter of duty and conscience. What desolation there would have been down through the centuries, and would be now, if everything were removed which springs solely from this DUTIFUL love of neighbor. Now we approach the heart of the matter. The driving impulse of Chr- istian love of neighbor springs not from a sense of the loneliness of men on a rudderless ship with no God to care or to guide-no, it spr- ings from something far more sublime. It streams from the overflowing fount of the Christian's love for Christ. He said: "As long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me." The Christian knows that in serving his fellow-men and bestowing kindness upon them, he is serving Christ, who died for all, who is the Brother of all. Now watch this love of neighbor blossom in the genuine Chrsitian, in the saint or near saint. The Christian, or if you will, let us say the ideal Christian, the saint, bestows kindness upon his neighbor not as upon an "object of charity," but as upon a personal friend. Yes, actu- ally-as upon a personal friend! It is with the warm love of personal friendship that the saint ministers to the sick, the leprous, the poor, the afflicted. Why with the warm love of personal friendship? Is there anything forced or strained in their assuming the role of perso- nal friends towards their fellow-men? Not in the least, as will appear if we again look into our mirror, the analogy of human friendship. A FRIEND SENT BY GOD Suppose that a friend of yours sends you someone he loves, to be your friend and ward. You are to take the place of that distant friend, lend him your time and strength, your hands and eyes and voice, so that THROUGH YOU, or as it were IN YOU, he can care for this other. Would not such a request, placing such a trust in you, be a gift, an honor, a pleasure? Would it be an "impersonal" task to you? Would the stranger remain a stranger? Would he not be welcomed familiarly for your friend's sake and himself become your friend? The saint feels like that toward all men. All men, it seems to the saint, were sent to him by God. God bids the saint stand in His stead to them: "Love one another as I have loved you." Therefore the saint receives every man with open heart, with entire trust, and with eager delight, because to the saint every man is sent by God as in the exam- ple I gave: a friend sends a friend to a friend. What an honor it is that God should thus entrust to us His other fri- ends! This honor the saint realizes, and therefore the saint welcomes the friends of God. Friendship is not a rare gift in the life of a saint. The saint's secret is to see every person as God sees him, as God's friend. The saint really sees his fellow-men with the eyes of God. God sees no one as a stranger; to God no one is a stranger; but everyone a friend. Therefore the saint does not ask who is "worthy" or "unworthy" BEFORE he loves. St. Elizabeth mourns with her whole heart over the poverty or malformation of a child of God; bends with mother- ly concern over the sick and crippled without disgust or fear, for this one too was worth God's choice to create him and no other in his place. That is the reason why saints like St. Francis not only bound up but kissed the leper's wounds (and by the way, he first had to con- quer his own unspeakable horror of lepers). That is the reason why the Little Flower, brought up in the most delicately refined surroundings, reserved her sweetest smiles and kindest words and deeds for those sisters in the convent who had no such refinement as she. "Is he a human being?" the saint asks. "Then he is a friend of God and a friend of mine." That is what makes Chritian love so humble, so pure, so sweet and reverent towards the recipient without the least shadow of offensive, wounding condescension. Such love for a neighbor few of us have, for the love of the saint for his neighbor is the full genuine, human love of a human heart. Such a love we lesser beings re- serve for one or a few. But, the saints love EVERY Man with the love which we give, at most, to a few. Behold in that truth why the Little Flower so loves each one of us, each human soul, that she begged God to let her spend her heaven doing good to us upon earth. She looks upon each one of us as her friend be- cause each one of us is a friend of her Friend. She bestows upon each one of us the fulness of her great capacity for human love. We, the worst and best of us, can develop for her the most genuine friendship- indeed that friendship already exists on her part; it remains only for us to accept and return the friendship she already has for us. OUR FIRST REQUESTS Therefore, what shall we ask of her as we close this pamphlet? What shall we ask today of our little friend who desires so ardently to spend her heaven doing good to each of us? Let us ask first for an in- crease of faith. May she who was so rich in faith obtain for us from God the grace to banish our smallest doubts and to believe that IF WE LIVE OUR FAITH, WE WILL HAVE NO DOUBTS ABOUT IT. May she by her pray- ers obtain that we may, each one of us, set forth courageously to be stalwart followers of Christ, that we may DARE TO LIVE OUR FAITH VIG- OROUSLY: shaking off all anaemia; no longer cherishing any misgivings about the happiness the practice of our religion will bring to us; no longer fearing that life will be dull if we break with sin, but belie- ving that experience will prove that our Lord's yoke is sweet and His burden light; no longer concentrating upon criticism of those whom our religion fails to transform because they do not practice it, but rath- er concentrating on OUR opportunity of closing up the wound in the boby of the Church by our own brave, vigorous Catholic lives. Those are the graces for which we ask our little friend first: faith, cour- age, DARING, bravery, determination, vigor in the practice of the rel- igion we all love. OUR FINAL REQUEST But if that is what we ask first, what shall be our final request of her? Surely you have it in mind before I articulate it. Will we not ask her, the friend of God, to help us also to become friends of God? We have in this pamphet studied at great length what the saint, the friend of God, is. Surely we all desire to acquire some of the saint's capacity for giving-giving ourselves, our time, our energy more gener- ously to God. Surely we all desire to experience in our own weak way the Friendship of Christ, as all the saints, and the Little Flower particularly, experienced His Friendship. Let us ask her, then, to in- spire us no longer to remain aloof from Him, no longer to fear Him, no longer to shrink from His presence, but to dare to aspire to His car- ess and to His embrace, to dare to aspire to His intimate Friendship. For where will you find a friend such as He? Where will you find a friend who will go on loving you, even if you are cold to him, and who, even if you offend him, will run after you and restore you to his friendship? He fulfills that most accurate definition of a friend-He knows all about you and loves you just the same. How true that is of our Lord! That is Christ's love for each one of us, a perfect love, beyond all human love. That is what He will be to anyone who seeks His friendship, a perfect Friend, a Friend who never failed and will never fail us. Never will His Friendship wear out, as many human friendships do. His Friendship, as you will learn in life's evening, if you do not know it now, will outlast and outlive all others. He will never get out of patience with us, never tire of us, but our welcome from Him is always certain. He is the Friend of friends. Yes, that is the grace of graces whicch we ask of the Little Flower; the grace of the permanent Friendship of Christ. "Whatsoever I cannot tell you here on earth," she said, "I will make you UNDERSTAND from the heights of heaven." Dear little saint, fulfill now in all of us that promise. Make us understand that the greatest need we have is the Friendship of our Lord. Make us UNDERSTAND that, when all is said and done, in life as in death, nothing matters, nothing counts, except the love of God; that everything else may be lacking to us, but if we possess His love, then in reality we lack nothing. For this love of God, in which you lived and in which you died, give us hunger; for it, give us thirst. Dear little saint, masterpiece of divine love, place in our hearts today that rose of the Friendship of Christ. In and of that love grant that we may live, and in and of that love grant that we may die.
SUPPLEMENT The following questions answered by Father Dolan in the QUESTION BOX during the September, 1938, novena are considerd important enough to be included here. Q. What is the remedy if a Catholic suffers from the "What's the use?" attitude? ANSWER: The "What's the use?" attitude springs fron discour- agement. Some effort has been made, possibly great effort, at spirit- ual improvement and because there were relapses and not discernibly rapid progress, the person concerned lost courage and said, "What's the use?" Obviously the remedy is renewed courage. Realize that that attitude never built the Union Pacific railroad. It never built anyth- ing, never accomplished anything. To remain in that attitude, a dist- inctly unhappy state, is suicidal. It is asking for defeat just as he or she asks for defeat who says: "I could never be that good, or good at this or that." TRY. You never know what God will help you accomp- lish. The normal human being may be inclined to say, "What's the use?" but he soon snaps out of it. So the answer is: Summon new courage and pray for courage. Dare to live. Q. What is the remedy if a Catholic is completely discouraged because the Sacraments and prayer have apparently failed in his case? ANSWER: The fault is never with the Sacraments or prayer but rather with ourselves. Perhaps we cannot find the fault, but usually if we are honest and thorough in self-examination, we will find it. When we do discover the fault, we must summon the courage to continue our bat- tle. However, if we cannot find what is amiss with us after a thorough and honest self-examination, the thing to do is to have a talk with a priest, preferably outside the confessional. Many of our Catholic peo- ple do not often seek a conference with an understanding priest. They should. They will derive great benefit from it; the priest can give you more time than he ordinarily could in the confessional, and he will keep what you tell him as confidential and secret as he would if you spoke to him in the confessional. We priests here at the Shrine, I included, are always at your disposal. Our time is yours. Do not fear to interrupt study or writing or other work, beause we are always glad to be interrupted if we can be of direct help to any soul. Q. What is the remdy if a person has become so attached to sin that he fears that he will never detach himself from it and dreads to make the attempt? ANSWER: Obviously, courage is the answer here, too. Dare to make the attempt. To acquire such courage, prayer is the first requis- ite-prayer from the heart-prayer in your own words to our Lord and our Blessed Mother, the refuge of sinners. As for faering that you will never detach yourself from it, DO leave that to God. What St. Paul says is true of all of us: "Of myself I can do nothing but I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me." Pray to the Little Flower for her great virtue, confidence in God. He MUST give you the grace to detach yourself from sin, no matter how long-standing the attachment is, providing you take the first step, which is prayer in your own words for the courage to make the attempt. Q. I have been completely convinced that our religion is to be prefer- red, with all its restrictions, to unbelief. But is there no eliminat- ing from one's life the constant struggle against evil or against what is not sinful but less noble-a struggle from which I at least am sel- dom free? ANSWER: That struggle is part of life, of everyone's life. It cannot be eliminated. It exists even in the life of a saint, becau- se if it were effortless to sacrifice this ot that for God, it would not be a sacrifice. It IS possible to eliminate most of the struggle, that is, to render it, although painful, a source of joy. LOVE of God does just that. The more love we have for Him the less violent our conflict will be and the more joy our victory will bring. The reason why temptations to sin, or temptations to lead less than a vigorous Catholic life, never entirely cease, is twofold: (1) This life is a time of probation. If there were no temptation, there would be no test. (2) Christianity means the death of self, and man will al- ways in some measure struggle against this death of self. I did not say that the struggle against serious sin continues all one's life-no, I refer to the conflict between the lesser and the hig- her good, betwen the natural and the supernatural, between man and God. That conflict between the lesser and the higher good cannot be removed. Let us not try to deny it nor to evade it, but let us calmly face it and bravely and humbly bear it, realizing that the highest happiness possible in this world comes from victory in this inevitable struggle. Q. What is the cure if you resent some combination of circumstances in your past life which causes you to blame God or fate for what you are? ANSWER: I can understand and sympathize with this attitude, but of co- urse I cannot approve of it. An unfortunate species of self-deception is its basis. In the first place, there is no such thing as fate, un- less the word "fate" is understood as God's Providence. Secondly, please believe that whatever God permits to happen to us, is, in the long run, for our own best interests. He draws good out of evil; He provides that even from the ashes of our sins we rise phoenixlike to greater friendship for Him. *****NOTE: There were a few more questions & answers in the Supplement section, but I lost the last couple pages. However, the text of the booklet, and the questions here cover the topic well enough.
Footnotes Chapter 1 *The nine chapters of this pamphlet correspond roughly to nine sermons delivered by Father Dolan at the Eastern Shrine of the Little Flower in Englewood, N.J., in September, 1938. *The subject-matter of "Dare to Live!" was suggested and inspired by two books by Ida Coudenhove, "The Nature of Sanctity" and "The Burden of Belief", both published by Sheed and Ward (New York). Many passages from those magnificent volumes have been incorporated although seldom verbatim. (Author's note.)