Thursday, July 13, 2006

A True Pro-Life Story About my Child, St Charity

Sancta Caritas (St Charity)


I am pleased you are reading this true account and it is my desire and hope that you will in some way be blessed as you read through it. We never really know when we arise each day, just exactly what God and life has in store for us. It’s usually just another day for us in our lives. We tend to already picture in our minds how this particular day will go for us. Little do we know or could we know that a particular day could have life changing results. Such was the case for my family and I on Tuesday, June 7th, 2005.

Hi! My name is Mel Waller and I would like to introduce you to my Catholic family. I have been Catholic since my conversion to the one, true Catholic Faith in 1982 after many years of research and study. I was married in 1989 to my wife Milagros (Mila) R Waller. In June of 1992, we were blessed with our first child, Melomi Joy R. Waller, followed by Angelica Marie R. Waller in 1994 and Alexandra Jean Waller in 1996.

Currently, I am home schooling my 3 girls. We attend the Latin Indult Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Basilica of St Francis Xavier in Dyersville, Iowa and when we are unable to make the 60 mile one way trip to Dyersville we attend the Novus Ordo Mass at St Andrew Church in Tennyson, Wisconsin. My wife works outside the home as an auditor and I sell new and used Catholic books online as well as publish (reprint) Catholic books from before 1960. It’s been a real blessing to be actively involved with my Catholic Faith in this way and to have the quality time with my children.

I know in my heart that God prepared me for the day when June 7th, 2005 would finally arrive. Just before Lent 2005, I began spiritual reading for a couple of hours each night and have continued that to the present day. Among the Catholic works which I read during this time or am still reading as I write this book are: Uniformity with God’s Will by St Alphonsus Liguori, Practice of Christian and Religious Perfection by Fr Alphonsus Rodriquez, Vera Sapentia or True Wisdom by Thomas A Kempis, Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, How to Converse Continually and Familiarly with God by St Alphonsus Liguori, Hell and It’s Torments by St Robert Bellarmine, The Soul of the Apostolate by Jean-Baptist Chautard, OCSO and others. All these Catholic writings along with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and prayer and devotions helped me by the grace of God to continue to transform my life, conforming my will more closely to God’s Will and fostering a better interior life than I have had heretofore.

I am in no way a perfect person or a perfect Catholic. Far from it, I see myself as a great sinner who, but by the grace of almighty God would be eternally lost. We are so blessed as Catholics. We have a rich treasury of spiritual wealth and assistance at our disposal that is basically free for the taking. Do we avail ourselves of these helps? We have first and foremost, the Seven Sacraments. We have countless prayers and devotions, sacramentals, religious items, 2000 years of Catholic writings and Church teachings, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and countless Saints for our role models among other things. Do we really understand the value and the blessings that all of these treasures have to offer?

The more I try to put into practice the spiritual wisdom I have learned, the more I realize just how much more I am lacking in my spiritual life. It really is a life long process. It shouldn’t end at Confirmation or some other point in our life, but should continue our entire lives. Our whole purpose on this earth is to know, love and serve the Lord and to spend eternity with Him and all the Saints and Angels in Heaven. This has to be our central focus in this life. Everything else revolves around this reality.

June 7th, 2005

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005, a day like any other, or is it? We just never really know what to expect from day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment. It seems like just another ordinary day. But in reality it is a day that will change my life and the lives of my family forever.

Tuesday and Wednesday are my wife’s “weekend”. She has decided she will take our 3 girls swimming with some friends of hers today. The Platteville swimming pool doesn’t open until 4:30 pm so until then they go visit some friends and do some shopping. I remain at home working with my Catholic book apostolate/business. At close to 6:30 pm, I get a phone call from Mila’s friend, Mona and Mona turns over the phone to Mila. She is distraught and crying and says she is at the hospital. Thoughts begin running through my head as I am wondering who has had to go to the hospital and what their condition is. I am at first, thinking that perhaps one of my girls had an accident in the swimming pool so I quickly ask what has happened. Mila explains how she had all of a sudden became dizzy and couldn’t move so they called the ambulance and had her transported to the new hospital in Platteville, WI from the swimming pool. She had only just arrived there and she had no idea what the problem was at this point. She needed me to come to Platteville and pick up the girls who were still at the swimming pool with her other friends.

I leave immediately for Platteville which is about a 20 minute drive from our home. I arrive at the swimming pool around 7 pm and the girls are waiting for me in the parking lot with my wife’s friends. They obviously know their mom has been taken to the hospital but they are doing well. They really don’t know what is wrong yet either. We arrive at the hospital and go to the receptionist for the emergency room. My wife is having tests done at the moment so we have to just sit and wait. Mona eventually comes out into the waiting area, but she doesn’t have any further information either as they await test results. She jokes that my wife is probably pregnant, but I honestly didn’t believe that was the cause. It had been a very hot and humid day and I was thinking more along the lines that it could have been heat stroke or some other heat related illness. I am finally able to go see and talk to Mila. She has no further information yet either. She asks me to take Mona back to the swimming pool so she can get her children and friends so they can go home as Mona had been brought to the hospital with Mila in the ambulance. So I agree and the girls and I take Mona back to the swimming pool and drop her off there. The girls and I then return to the hospital.

The girls and I are only in the hospital waiting area just a few minutes when the Dr comes out and wishes to speak to me alone. We go to another room and sit down. I am not prepared for what he is about to tell me or at least I certainly don’t feel prepared. In one breath, the Dr tells me I have a new child. Oh, what joy! I have longed for a 4th child ever since my 3rd daughter was born in December 1996 and the wait is finally over. But in the next breath the Dr is telling me I have lost or I will lose this very same child that had just caused my heart to leap a moment before. I am stunned. I don’t know what to say. I can only listen as he continues to explain the situation as they know it at that time.

It’s an ectopic pregnancy. The child is implanted in the fallopian tube. There is no chance of survival for the child. More testing is needed as there is the possibility that the tube has ruptured which would be life threatening to both mother and child. They are preparing to do an ultrasound for that purpose. There is discussion about our insurance coverage and whether we may have to go to Mercy Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa for surgery at some point. They’re going to look into that. I go back to the waiting area and explain to the girls what is happening and ask them to keep praying for their mom and now for their new sibling. We talk about what is happening. I am able to go talk to Mila while she waits to have her ultrasound. She asks me if the Dr has told me that she is pregnant and I tell her that he has explained everything so far. We talk a little while, then I have to go back to the waiting area. Time always seems to slow down in these kinds of situations as you are just looking for answers and the waiting seems to last forever.

Mila gets back to her room and I am able to see her again. The doctors come in and explain to us that the tube has ruptured and that she has been bleeding internally and they will need to operate as soon as possible. They will be performing a laparoscopy. It’s possible they may have to do a more invasive surgery, but they won’t know that until the surgery is already underway. They need to call in the doctor for the surgery and get prepped. Now that I know they are going into surgery soon, I raise the issue of being able to have the child baptized. I explained to them it is absolutely essential that I have our child baptized as soon as possible and that if necessary I could do the baptism myself. They are more than willing to work with me on this and that in itself is a relief, but the issue remains a very big concern for me. I tell them that I will try to contact a Catholic priest to see if we can find one who is available to come to the hospital. I talk to Mila some more and then I go and the receptionist calls a Catholic priest in Platteville for me to talk to.

I am able to talk with Fr Charles over the phone and I explain our situation to him and that sometime in the next few hours my wife will be having surgery and I would really like to have my child baptized. In discussing the issue, Father tries to explain how the Church’s teachings have changed regarding unbaptized children and that they all will go to heaven. I make it clear that I strongly disagree with what he says, but that this is not the time for that discussion and I simply wanted to have my child baptized. With that said, Father was more than willing to come to the hospital to do the baptism when we would be able to have access to the child. I will discuss the issue of baptism later in the book. After talking with Father, I let the Dr know that Father is willing to do the Baptism and I ask if they can help coordinate that. Then I go to talk to Mila again and let her know that a Catholic priest is willing to come and baptize the child. She wanted to be present and conscious for the baptism, but unfortunately that could be several hours after surgery and the child’s death and I believed we could not delay the baptism for that long of a period. The Church does not know how long the soul remains after a person has died and thus allows the sacrament of baptism in cases such as this, but we can not delay the baptism either and then risk it being to no avail. So it was agreed to perform the baptism at the earliest possible opportunity.

I then asked Mila if she had any ideas for a name for our child. She didn’t and neither did I at the moment. I asked her if it would be alright for our 3 girls to perhaps choose the name. She thought that would be a good idea and so I went back out to the waiting area and asked the girls to choose a name. We were trying to come up with different names that were gender neutral. We got mentioning their names and in particular Melomi Joy’s name with Joy being one of the fruits of the Virtue of Charity. Faith, Hope and Charity were mentioned and Charity was selected as their name for the child. The third and greatest theological Virtue. In Latin it would be Caritas. It was fine by me and my wife also thought it was nice. So the child’s name would be Charity R. Waller.

A point brought up by my daughter Angelica after we had selected the child’s name was the issue of a funeral which I had not even given that a thought yet, but it certainly was a very important point as so often the unborn child is not treated with the dignity of a human person as they all should be and often may simply be discarded. So I found our Dr and made it clear in no uncertain terms that we wanted to be able to have our child. He informed me that Wisconsin State Law required that the child would have to go to Pathology after surgery and it would be a few days before we could get the child back, but they would ensure that everyone along the way knew we wanted our child back so that we could have a funeral Mass and have the child buried.

I called a good friend of my mom’s, Janet Stelpflug and informed her as to what was happening since she didn’t live too far from the hospital. It was around 9 pm by this point in time and she offered to come to the hospital to pick up the girls and take them home for the evening. My mom was living with us at the time so that wouldn’t be a problem. I was thankful Janet thought of the girls as that was something else I hadn’t considered yet and it might have been much later in the evening before I even thought about it. Sometimes its just hard to think when you have so many things coming at you all at once. You don’t even have time for the shock from the news to even wear off and things are constantly changing as the night progresses.

I inform Mila that Janet will be coming to pick up the girls so we decide to allow each girl to come in individually to talk with their mother one more time before they go home. The girls are holding up well. I don’t believe they understand just how serious my wife’s condition could be, but I certainly don’t want to press the issue any further either. By about 9:30 pm, Janet has arrived and she comes and visits with Mila and I. After a short while, the girls go with her so they can get home. I assure them I will call them before they get to bed and give them another update on how their mother is doing which I do at about 11 pm.

Between 10:00 and 10:30 pm, the doctors and anesthesiologist explain to us what the risks are of the surgery and everything they plan to do and also what they might have to do if there are any complications. We learn that there will be no birth or death certificate as Wisconsin state law requires the child to be at least 1 pound in weight. Our child was only a few weeks old and no where near that. Our child was about the size of the tip of your finger is all at this stage. Once the child would come back from pathology in a few days a funeral home would have to arrange to pick up the child. Again this was all because of WI state law. At 10:30 pm, they take my wife, and I follow along towards the surgery room where eventually I have to turn and go to the waiting area. Surprisingly this area of the hospital is virtually deserted. There isn’t a soul around.

I try to collect my thoughts and I begin to pray to God that He would guide the doctors in what they needed to do, that He would comfort and console my wife and our family and friends as word of this news would eventually filter out. I prayed that God would allow me the opportunity to have the child, Charity baptized, preferably by the priest and the God would ensure that we would be able to have a funeral Mass and burial without any difficulties. I thanked God for the precious gift of this child that He had bestowed upon us.

Then I began to realize of all the things I would not be able to do with Charity in this life and I was overwhelmed with emotion and sadness at this loss. I love children. I love my children and have always been willing to have as large a family as God would bless us with. It shouldn’t be about finances or abilities to care for more children. God will provide, but He isn’t going to provide what we need before we need it! No, we have to be faithful and trust in divine providence and the mercy and goodness of God. After about 10 minutes, I decided I would pray the Holy Rosary. I was going to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries as they have always been my favorite. In these mysteries Christ’s love is poured forth for our redemption. We should never forget nor take for granted what Christ and the Holy Trinity have done for us and continue to do for us. As I was praying along, I couldn’t remember the mysteries for each decade. It was like my brain was locked up. I finally just surrendered to the fact that I wasn’t going to remember the mysteries and I just prayed from the heart to God.

Time really seemed slow as I am waiting for word from the doctors or a nurse to come. Finally around 11:40 pm, a nurse came to the waiting room and we went to the lobby where the priest was supposed to be arriving. Fr Charles had just arrived and the nurse gave him the child and Father and I went to the hospital chapel where he baptized Charity R. Waller at 11:50 pm on June 7th, 2005. I thanked Father and told him I would be in contact with him. It wasn’t until about 1:30 am that a nurse came to get me to take me to my wife’s room where she was in and out of consciousness as the anesthesia slowly wore off. She seemed fine otherwise and I stayed with her through the night. Every so often she would talk to me and then she would drift back off to sleep. This continued most of the night.

By 7 am, she is fully alert and the doctors had told us they believed she would be released sometime in the afternoon if everything seemed fine. We decided that I should go home and get some rest and check on the girls and then come back to bring her home from the hospital later in the day which I do.

Since we are going to have to wait a few days for the child to be returned from the Pathologists, we really don’t have a date we can yet select for the funeral Mass. With the experience of my father’s death and funeral on July 4, 1996, I know I am going to take whatever time we need to prepare.

A number of issues have to be decided. The funeral Mass itself, where to bury the child, finding an appropriate coffin for the child…etc. These issues seem to revolve around where to bury the child as much as anything. Even though we attended the Latin Indult, we would not be able to Latin Funeral Mass and Dyersville, Ia is 60 miles away. I then realized where I would ideally like to see my child buried if at all possible and if we could obtain permission. I scheduled an appointment to talk to the priest. I honestly had a sense that I would be turned down, but we have to at least try and make the effort.

So finally I am sitting down talking with the priest where we sometimes attended the Novus Ordo Mass. I also was a member of the Knights of Columbus in this community although we lived in the next town 7 miles away. I explained to Father Leffler that we had lost Charity suddenly and that I desired for the child to be buried at Sts Andrew-Thomas cemetery. Then I began discussion by going back about 10 years in time while I was a member of the Knights of Columbus (K of C).

I talked about how I had suggested to the K of C, that it would be nice to establish a Memorial to the Unborn. It was an idea that had been considered before, but was cost prohibitive. It was and is something also that is done by many councils throughout the K of C as it is a very pro-life organization. I requested the opportunity to see if I would be able raise funds for a memorial and that I would report back to them. I also needed to get an estimate as to the cost of a possible memorial.

A nice memorial could be done for about $2000 to $2500. Within 3 days, I had pledges of about $800 and there was plenty of opportunity to successfully raise more money. I also began working on a design for the memorial to present at the next K of C council meeting. This would also allow me to fine tune the projected costs for the memorial. The project was approved at the next meeting and the K of C agreed they would have a dinner with proceeds to go towards the memorial. Within just a few short months, we were able to raise the necessary funds to make the memorial a reality. The parish cemetery donated the plot. The monument company donated the artwork on the stone. We were able to place the memorial in front of the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine where it would have a high profile in that area of the cemetery.

This led me up to asking Father if there was any possibility of having my child, Charity buried at the memorial. Father granted his permission and I must admit I was taken aback. I just wasn’t expecting for whatever reason to receive permission for this. Thanks be to God - Deo Gratias! If someone had told me 10 years earlier that my very own child would be buried at the Memorial to the Unborn that I had worked at establishing, I don’t know what I would have thought or if that thought would have stopped me from doing anything. God’s Providence in action!

Father will be gone the following week and gives me contact info so I can make arrangements with the priest who will be filling in for Father while he is away. Although God already knew the answer to this question, do you know who the priest was who would be filling in for Fr Leffler? It was Fr Charles! The very same priest who baptized Charity! The blessings I received through this time just kept pouring upon me.

I contacted a Bendorf Funeral Home in Platteville, WI to make arrangements to accept Charity once the hospital had received the child back from the Pathologists. They were most gracious and helpful and didn’t charge us anything for their assistance. There was no real preparation that was necessary once we received Charity back so I was able to pick the child up from Bendorf’s and take the child home to be with us until the funeral.

Just prior to this, I searched the internet trying to find where I could locate a child’s coffin. I found that the New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Ia had hand made wooden caskets made there by the Trappist Monks. I went there to look them over and they had 1 walnut infant casket in stock and I was able to get it with just a small down payment as we really didn’t have the funds. I was able to pay them back over the next couple of months, but they were so gracious to allow us to have the casket without full payment and it was the only one left in stock. So with that walnut casket, we picked up Charity and placed the child in the casket right away and went home. There I set up the casket in a make shift altar I had and it remained there until the funeral Mass. Each of the girls and I before the funeral selected items that we included in the casket. For my part, I wrote a letter to my child, Charity and it had to be the most difficult letter I have ever written. I never imagined the emotions that would flow from writing that letter to my child. I feel so blessed to have done so.

We decided to have basically a more private funeral Mass so with the exceptions of immediate family we didn’t make any one aware the funeral Mass. A few local parishioners turned out and some members of the local Knights of Columbus graciously assisted as pallbearers. Fr Charles even added some prayers in Latin for the Funeral Mass which was held on June 15th, 2005, my daughter Melomi Joy’s birthday.

There we were watching our child, Charity be buried and I couldn’t help but see Divine Providence in so many things that had occurred over the last week or so and even in the 10 years before when I first started working to have a Memorial to the Unborn where my very own unborn child was now being laid to rest. Charity (Caritas), Rest in Peace - Requiescat in Pace. St Charity, Pray for us! Amen Sancta Caritas, Ora Pro Nobis! Amen

I would like to add another followup note to this. We've been under serious financial constraints for some time and we were unable to afford to have Charity's name and date of death placed on the memorial. In Jan, 2006, after talking about this all with an online friend that I had the opportunity to meet, he suggested that he would send the necessary funds to have this done and in a short time, the check arrived to take care of this. I would once again like to take the opportunity to thank Fr Sam for his generosity. May God Bless you!

Without making judgments on anyone, in the weeks that followed it was interesting and sad to learn of children who were miscarried or who died before they could be born who were nameless, who may have never had a funeral, who are not acknowledged as having been part of a family, this, even among Catholics. There is one among many battles raging across the world today which are the pro-life issues we all face today. The battle for the lives of the unborn are one of them. Life begins at conception! It is a child, not a choice. And should be treated as a human being in every respect.

And its not too late to change things. An unnamed child that has been lost can still be given a name. Count them as part of your family always. I always make it a point to tell people I have 4 children. 3 on earth and one in heaven.

If in any way possible all unborn children who have died or been miscarried should be baptized. You as a parent can do it yourself if necessary. It is through the Sacrament of Baptism that Original Sin is washed away and we are made members of Christ’s Church, the Catholic Church. Please don’t assume that a child who is without actual sin will just automatically go to heaven. That is not a teaching of the Catholic Church despite what some members of the Church may claim. Baptism remains the only sure way that an unborn child or a young child will go to heaven if they should die. Catholic Doctrine, properly understood can not change.

It could be because of culture or how people use language that reality gets distorted in the progress. One thing, my girls and I have done is we now calculate our ages based on our approximate conception date, rather than our birthdays (which we still celebrate). When an average child is born it is already approx 9 months old and will be one year old in just 3 short months after being born. We need to acknowledge that and incorporate that into our own language. The pro-life vs. pro-choice war is as much about semantics or the words we use as anything else. We need to reclaim language and make it as specific and accurate as possible to drive home the truth.

As Catholics, a baptized child that has died before the age of reason whereby there are no actual sins that have been committed is now in heaven. We have our own personal Saints and we should avail ourselves of them. Who better to look out for you family than a Saint from your very own family! I pray to St Charity often. We include St Charity in our family rosary. I firmly believe St Charity has indeed been looking out for us and has assisted me on countless occasions. Deo Gratias!

Some seemingly contradictory laws. In Wisconsin, we were not allowed to have a birth certificate because the child was too young and not of sufficient weight. Yet, in order to get our child back from the hospital after the pathologists were finished, the child needed by state law to be handed over to a funeral home. For Federal tax purposes, we were able to claim the child on our Federal taxes and was reported as deceased.

I hope that you were somehow touched or blessed by this. It has forever changed my life. For those who may feel hurt or somehow feel guilty for whatever reason. Take your hurts to Christ. Do what you can to undo any damage that might have been done. Seek reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession if need be. Then forgive yourself! The one thing certain in this life is we will make our fair share of mistakes, but we can learn from our mistakes, shortcomings and even our sins and grow stronger in Christ and in our Catholic Faith. May God Bless you!

The End

Modernism by Cardinal Mercier 1912


Archbishop of Malines

Translated from the French by


BURNS & Oates *** B HERDER
28 Orchard St ******* 17 South Broadway
LONDON, W. **** St Louis, MO.




Modernism and Science


The Condemnation of Modernism


A Letter to the University of Madrid


Modernism and Science


Catholics and Neutrality.


Christians, priests, and even Bishops, too often drift in practice into a neutrality they would condemn in theory. It is indeed unquestionably true that neutrality is sometimes necessary. Problems of physics, chemistry, biology, and of social economy are never to be studied with the pre-conceived object of finding in them a confirmation of our religious beliefs.

To consider an object scientifically it must be mentally isolated if it is to be examined in all its bearings, and if its significance is to be grasped with precision and clearness.

Whenever the progress of thought (conditioned by the present division of labour) has called forth from the pêle-mêle of empiric observations a new science, it is because some man of genius has brought to light, from the disorderly mass in which others have been groping, a new aspect of a truth until then unperceived. The older scholastics called this distinct aspect, which is the object of a new science, the "formal" object of this science. Hence, to consider a science from any point of view other than that of its "formal" object, is to consider it with an attention divided between this object and some problem involving another principle, or between this object and apologetics; and to reason thus is to disregard the essence of scientific speculation, and recede from that progress that every seeker of truth should follow.


The Pope, in his Encyclical letter Pascendi Dominici Gregis, quite rightly reminds us that most recent writings on biblical criticism and the history of our Faith are due to a philosophical inspiration which certain seekers after truth have too blindly obeyed, and which had an a priori influence on their use of historical documents.

Those who feel most the point of this objection protest that they have honestly searched for truth without pre-supposing any system of philosophy in their scientific work. They forget a subtle distinction that the Holy Father has not overlooked: that is, that the intention which is known only to the supreme Judge, and will never be revealed until the last day, is one thing; and that the action that is subject to the judgment of authority and criticism, is another. One French critic, for example, studies and examines the Bible under the influence of Kant's teaching; another pious apologist unconsciously wears agnostic spectacles, as Molière's Jourdain spoke unconsciously in prose: like the Rector of a University, who was so fascinated by his system of Evolution, that he made it a scientific romance rather than a treatise on science.

Modernists have fed upon the philosophy of Kant and on agnosticism, and rashly assimilated English and German writings that are filled with infectious microbes. Victims of the contagion, they have had recourse to that fictitious remedy, "the philosophy of immanence," which only poisons and disintegrates the moral tissue. We do not blame Modernists who are in good faith for catching infection; but we are justified in requiring them not to reproach the physician of souls for his antiseptic precautions, but to thank him. This is the least that can be expected of those who value immunity from contagion.

Because they cannot see the bacillus of Immanence with the naked eye, they accuse the physician of making a false diagnosis. Imprudent men, read again, I beg you, the Riposta you have irreverently addressed to the Supreme Authority. In the first paragraph you try to prove at length that your criticism is independent of your philosophy. Look, farther on, at these significant admissions: "We accept," you say, "the criticism of pure reason made by Kant and Spencer, but our apologetics are an effort to rid ourselves of their agnosticism. Therefore, to scientific knowledge of phenomena and to philosophic knowledge that has for its object the interpretation of the universe, we oppose religious knowledge which consists in an actual experience of the divine which operates within us." This experience of the divine you describe thus: "It occurs in the most obscure depths of our inner consciousness, and gives us a special understanding of supernatural realities." Lastly, this is your conclusion: "It is true that our premises are drawn from the principles of Immanence because they all pre-suppose vital immanence"; but, you ask, "Is the principle of 'vital immanence' as noxious as the Encyclical supposes?" If this is not a priori reasoning, then there is no such thing.


Gentlemen, it is just because the philosophy that forms our intellectual environment so easily influences our whole being that it is so important that the student and seeker after truth should be equipped with a sound philosophy. Yes, a philosophy that grips facts and holds fast to them when it is brought into play in the domain of metaphysics, where it soars to the absolute. The philosophy of Aristotle, developed and defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, has pre-eminently the characteristic of healthy, sound realism.

At first sight the interests of the Church would apparently incline her rather to the authority and the ideas of Plato, which make communion with the invisible more natural and easy; but as we are formed of body and soul, she perceived that we must live on earth, and that experience alone can provide us with our intellectual equipment. You, too, who are Professors of Theology, have had to practice the objective method more rigorously and to study facts more calmly than any one else, and thus you have preserved your "Alma Mater" from the snares of Modernism, while securing for her the advantages of modern methods. You have been a great example to those who have wrongly identified their philosophy with science, and to those timid souls who sit quietly in the chimney corner while others more courageous bravely run the risk of burning their fingers in bringing them hot chestnuts to be cracked.

Pioneers of science, be on your guard against the a-priorism of the one and against -- what shall I say? -- the excessive caution of the others.


Whatever superficial unbelievers who understand nothing of the certitude of our religious beliefs may say of it, it is undoubtedly true that, in proportion as the Christian's faith is sincere, in like measure is he or she free from the uncertainties that disturb the mind and paralyse the will.

The Catholic scientist is sure of the truth of his faith. Those who do not share his faith will perhaps say he is wrong: the fact remains that the Catholic is certain his faith does not deceive him, and that it cannot deceive him, and this certainty is fortified in proportion as his faith grows stronger. He is also certain, unquestionably certain, that the discovery of a new fact will never contradict his belief; therefore the Christian scientist who is disturbed as to the eventual future of science is lacking either in faith or in scientific knowledge, or in both.

The unbeliever, on the contrary, who has founded his philosophical and religious theories on the shifting sands of personal speculation or human authority, has no guarantee that they will not be destroyed by the next discovery. If his theories are sincere, so will be his desire to confirm them, his zeal to protect them, and hence all the stronger will be for him the a priori element that troubles the serenity of the scientific mind. And unbelievers, do not say that you have no system of philosophy; for every man who thinks has one, and I will not do you the injustice of believing that you will not allow yourselves to think.

I have recently glanced through the sometimes melancholy, and sometimes humorous, reflections of the English thinker, Harrison, who is intimately connected with the Positivist and Agnostic movement, latterly represented in England by Spencer, John Stuart Mill, Huxley, and Lewes. All these men, he observes, had their own religion. Have they not even defined the Unknowable?

The unknown multiplied by X, infinity, is the basis on which Spencer dares to say faith and science will be reconciled.

Oh! X, protect us, assist us, grant that we may become one with thee.

We will pass on, Gentlemen, repeating the words of St. Paul: Evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis. "They became vain in their thoughts." And by contrast we can better appreciate our privilege in possessing the certitude of faith.


I return to you, dear Professors of Theology, who valiantly follow the true path, digging each day your furrow, even though at the end of your career you will find you have only prepared the ground; leaving to those who come after you, not only to sow the seed of hope in your soil, but even to gather in the harvest. We look to you to point out the way of Religious science to the Catholics of Belgium and even beyond our frontiers.

In the Academic solemnities you walk at the head of the professional corps; the other faculties look to you: and the students in turn have their eyes fixed on their masters. All of you will continue to bear bravely and magnanimously the responsibility of example, for man is something more than a pure intelligence in the silence of the laboratory or the library, abstracting with labour a "formal object." In addition to the hours devoted to intellectual exercises, some time must be assigned to the harmonious development of all the powers of humanity, and of the still higher powers of the Christian soul. You would like to live to the full your Christian life: a life of piety, of charity, and of edification for Belgium and the Christian world! Moreover, your hearts have moral aspirations, and having received in baptism the principles of a superior life, Providence imposes upon you the law of acting in accordance with this belief.

You have also your duty to society, but the neutrality which scientific research imposes upon you would become culpable should you be so misled as to apply it to your practical life. To acquire science is not an end in itself. Duty ever comes before speculative reasoning; and the more a man increases his knowledge, the more is he responsible for his moral and social obligations, and for perceiving with pre-eminent clearness the true ideal of life. This ideal, Gentlemen, is none other than the one conceived for us by God; and we are proud to see how nobly our Professors have realised it.



The Condemnation of Modernism




On July 3rd, 1907, the Holy Father prepared a list of errors which, later, were grouped together under the name of Modernism, and condemned.

On the 8th of September following he addressed to the Catholic world an Encyclical of incomparable fulness, vigour, and clearness, in which he sets forth his reasons for condemning Modernism. Thank God! these errors, which have so far invaded France and Italy, attract few followers in Belgium. You have been preserved by the vigilance of your pastors, by an impartial scientific spirit, and by the Christian submission that animates the representatives of higher learning in your country.

Nevertheless, beloved brethren, I consider it a pastoral duty to bring to your knowledge this Pontifical Encyclical, which henceforth will be known in ecclesiastical history by its introductory Latin words: "Pascendi Domini gregis", or, more briefly, "Pascendi."

Since the Holy Father addresses his letter to each Church in particular, that is, to the Bishops, priests, and Catholic laity, it is his intention that each one should individually profit by the Encyclical. The importance of this document, moreover, gives it an historic value: hence, those who are interested in our Mother, the Church, should know, at least in substance, its meaning. It is a well-known fact that scarcely had the Pope spoken, or rather before he had spoken, and from the moment that the telegraphic agents heralded his coming announcement, the unbelieving press began to misrepresent it, and the newspapers and reviews hostile to the Church in our country neither published the text nor the general tenour of the Encyclical with fulness or frankness. But with an eagerness and a harmony of opinion that altogether explain their attitude, they quibbled over the word Modernism in the endeavour to convince their confiding readers that the Pope condemns modern thought, which in their ambiguous language signifies modern science and its methods.

This offensive and false impression of the Pope and his faithful followers has perhaps been shared by some amongst you, hence it is our earnest wish to remove this impression by explaining Modernism, and, in so doing, enlighten you as to the reasons that led to its condemnation by the Supreme Authority of the Church.


Modernism is not the modern expression of science, and consequently its condemnation is not the condemnation of science, of which we are so justly proud, nor the disapproval of its methods, which all Catholic scientists hold, and consider it an honour to teach and to practice.

Modernism consists essentially in affirming that the religious soul must draw from itself, from nothing but itself, the object and motive of its faith. It rejects all revelation imposed upon the conscience, and thus, as a necessary consequence, becomes the negation of the doctrinal authority of the Church established by Jesus Christ, and it denies, moreover, to the divinely constituted hierarchy the right to govern Christian society.

The better to understand the significance of this fundamental error, let us recall the teaching of the Catechism on the constitution and mission of the Catholic Church.

Christ did not represent Himself to the world as the head of a philosophy and uncertain of His teaching! He did not leave a modifiable system of opinions to the discussion of His disciples. On the contrary, strong in His divine wisdom and sovereign power, He pronounced, and imposed upon men the revealed word that assures eternal salvation, and indicated to them the unique way to attain it. He promulgated for them a code of morals, giving them certain helps without which it is impossible to put these precepts into practice. Grace, and the Sacraments which confer it upon us, or restore it to us, when, having sinned, we again find it through repentance, form together these helps, this economy of salvation. He instituted a Church, and as He had only a few years to dwell with us upon earth, He conferred His power upon His Apostles, and after them on their successors, the Pontiffs and Bishops. The Episcopate, in union with the Sovereign Pontiff, has then received and alone posesses the right to officially set forth and comment upon the doctrines revealed by Christ: and it and he alone are empowered to denounce with authority errors that are incompatible with its teachings. The Christian is he who confides in the authority of the Church and sincerely accepts the doctrines that she proposes to his faith. He who repudiates or questions her authority, and in consequence rejects one or more of the truths he is required to believe, excludes himself from the ecclesiastical fold.


The excommunication pronounced by the Pope against wilful Modernists, which adversaries characterise as an act of despotism, is simple and natural, and in it we see only a question of loyalty.

Yes or no, do you believe in the divine authority of the Church? Do you accept outwardly and in the sincerity of your heart what in the name of Christ she commands? Do you consent to obey her? If so, she offers you her Sacraments, and undertakes to conduct you safely into the harbour of salvation. If not, then you deliberately sever the tie that unites you to her, and break the bond consecrated by her grace. Before God and your conscience you no longer belong to her: no longer remain in obstinate hyprocrisy a pretended member of her fold. You cannot honestly pass yourself off as one of her sons, and as she cannot be a party to hypocrisy and sacrilege, she bids you, if you force her to it, to leave her ranks.

Of course she only repudiates you so long as you wish it yourself. The day you deplore having strayed from the fold, and return to recognise loyally her authority, she receives you with clemency, and treats you in the same way as the father of the prodigal son, who welcomed with tenderness his repentant child.

Such, then, is the constitution of the Church.

The Catholic Episcopate, of which the Pope is the head, is the heir of the apostolic college that teaches the Faithful the authentic Christian revelation.

And as the life of the entire organism is centred in the head, which directs its actions and arranges with order all its movements, so the Pope assures unity to the teaching Church; and each time that one of the Faithful, even a Bishop, proclaims contrary doctrine, the Holy Father decides with Supreme Authority, and from that authority there is no appeal.

In fine, the entire question resolves itself into this: whenever a Christian is in doubt, he asks himself these two questions -- What must I believe now? And why must I believe it?

The reply is this: I believe the teaching of the Catholic Bishops who are in accord with the Pope, and I am forced to believe it, because the Episcopate in union with the Pope is the organ that transmits to the Faithful the revealed teaching of Jesus Christ. Let me say in passing that this organ of transmission is no other than tradition, which the believing Christian must loyally accept and follow. Hence the Modernism condemned by the Pope is the negation of the Church's teaching, a simple truth you learnt as a child when preparing for your First Communion.


The generating ideas of the Modernist doctrine first saw light in Protestant Germany. These ideas, however, became forthwith acclimatized in England, and several off-shoots have penetrated into the United States.

The spirit of Modernism has appeared in Catholic countries, where it manifests itself in the writings of certain authors who are forgetful of the traditions of the Church, and have shocked by the enormity of their errors loyal consciences faithful to their baptismal vows. This spirit has breathed over France, Italy has felt its blight, and some Catholics in England and Germany have suffered the infection. Belgium, happily, is one of the Catholic countries that has most successfully resisted its pernicious influence.

You understand, we make a difference between Modernist doctrines and the spirit that animates them. The doctrines disseminated in the philosophical, theological, exegetic and apologetic writings have been admirably systematized in the Encyclical Pascendi; and since it has been your privilege to escape their influence, it is hardly necessary to prove to you how completely these teachings are at variance with faith and sound philosophy.

But I dread even more for your souls the contagion of this spirit of Modernism, which is the outcome of Protestantism.

You know in what Protestantism consists. Luther questioned the right of the Church to teach the Christian world the revelations of Jesus Christ with authority. The Christian, he contends, is self-sufficient in his beliefs; he infers the elements of his faith from the Sacred Scriptures, which each man interprets directly under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. He does not admit the existence in the Church of a hierarchically-constituted authority which transmits faithfully to the world the revealed teaching, or that it has the right to interpret, or to claim to guard this teaching in its integrity.

This is the essential point in dispute between Catholicism and Protestantism. The Catholic contends that the faith of the Christian is communicated to the Faithful by an official organ of transmission: the Catholic Episcopate, and that faith is based on the acceptance of the authority of this organ. The Protestant says, on the contrary, that it is exclusively an affair of individual judgment based on the interpretation of the Bible. A Protestant Church is necessarily invisible, since it depends on the assumed agreement of individual consciences as to the meaning of Holy Scripture. Protestantism thus formulated was condemned by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, and the man does not exist who would dare to call himself a Protestant and think himself at the same time a Catholic.

But the spirit of Protestantism crept here and there into Catholic centres, and gave birth to conceptions wherein we find a mixture of sincere piety -- the religious instincts of a Catholic soul and the intellectual errors of Protestantism.

Frederick Paulsen, Professor at the Rational Protestant University at Berlin, speaking of the Encyclical Pascendi admits this strange fact. "It seems," he says, "that all the doctrines condemned by the Encyclical are of German origin, and yet there is hardly one theologian in Germany who defends Modernism in his own faculty of Theology."

This is most significant. But traces of the spirit of Protestantism in German University centres date further back than to-day.

When Pius IX called a General Council in 1869, a learned and well-known Catholic Professor at the University in Munich, Döllinger, who later openly fell away, writing à propos of the rôle of Bishops in these Councils, says: "The Bishops must be present at the Council to bear witness to the faith of their respective dioceses; and the definitions that result from the Council must be the expression of collective beliefs."

Here you have, beloved brethren, the accord of the individual conscience substituted for the direction of authority.


The most intelligent observer of the contemporary Modernist movement and the most expressive of its tendency, he who has seized its true significance and who is perhaps the most profoundly imbued with its spirit, is the English priest, Father Tyrrell.

In the numerous writings published by him in the last ten years there is much that is edifying, much for which we are deeply grateful to the author: but often in the spirit which animates these same pages there is the fundamental error of Döllinger, the real principle of Protestantism.

This, however, is not surprising, inasmuch as Father Tyrrell is a convert, and was educated under Protestant influences.

Tyrrell, who was intent only on the interior workings of the conscience, neglectful of dogmatic traditions and ecclesiastical history, zealous above all to hold in the bosom of the Church those of our own contemporaries whom the blustering assertions of unbelievers disconcert (those unbelievers who, sometimes in the name of natural science, sometimes in the name of historical criticism, endeavour to impose philosophic prejudices and hypercritical conjectures as conclusions drawn from science in conflict with our Faith), has, after the lapse of forty years, renewed an attack analogous to that of the apostate Döllinger.

Revelation, he says, is not a doctrinal deposit confided to the guardianship of the teaching Church of which the Faithful will receive the authentic interpretations at various times when an authoritative announcement is required; it is the collective life of religious souls, or, rather, of every person of good will who aspires to an ideal above the material ambitions of the egotist. The Saints of Christianity are the élite of this invisible society, this communion of Saints. While the Religious life follows unswervingly its course in the depths of the Christian conscience, "theological" beliefs work themselves out in the intelligence, express themselves in formulae commanded by the needs of the moment, but less conformed to the living reality of faith according as they are dogmatically defined. The authority of the Roman Catholic Church interprets the interior life of the Faithful, recapitulates the product of the universal conscience, and announces it in the form of a dogma. But the true inner religious life remains the supreme guide in matters of faith and dogma.

Moreover, the force of the intelligence being subject to a thousand fluctuations, the code of belief varies; the dogmas of the Church in turn change their sense, if not necessarily their expression, according to the successive generations to whom she speaks. Nevertheless the Catholic Church remains one, and is faithful to its Founder; for since the time of Christ the same spirit of religion and holiness animates the successive generations of the Christian world, and all meet on the common ground, which in the main is the sentiment of filial piety to Our Father in heaven, love for humanity, and a universal brotherhood.


Such, beloved brethren, is the soul of Modernism.

The leading idea of the system has been greatly influenced by the philosophy of Kant; a Protestant himself and author of a special theory in which the universal certitude of science is opposed to the exclusively personal certitude of religious sentiment. It has been without doubt this infatuation, as general as it is ill-considered, that attracts so many superior minds to apply arbitrarily and a priori to history, and especially to the history of the Holy Scriptures and our dogmatic beliefs, an hypothesis -- the hypothesis of evolution -- which, far from being a general law in the domain of human reasoning, has not been even proved in the limited field of the formation of animal and vegetable species. This idea in itself, which in the beginning inspired many generous champions of the Catholic apologetic school, and which later on plunged them into Modernism, is none other at bottom than Protestant individualism, which substitutes itself for the Catholic conception of a teaching authority established by Jesus Christ, and charged with the mission of informing us what we are obliged to believe under pain of eternal damnation.

This spirit is everywhere in the atmosphere, and for this reason, no doubt, the Pope, specially guided by Divine Providence, addresses to the whole world an Encyclical, the doctrinal tenor of which concerns, it seems, but a fraction of the Catholics of France, England, and Italy.

The doctrines condemned by the Encyclical horrified faithful Christians by their mere announcement. But in the tendencies of Modernism there must be something seductive which seems to attract even honest minds, true to the faith of their baptism. Whence comes, and in what consists the charm that renders Modernism so attractive to youth? We see two principal causes, and these are the two errors I hope to dissipate in the second part of my pastoral letter.


The unbelieving Press loudly proclaims that the Pope, in condemning Modernism, puts himself in opposition to progress, and denies to Catholics the right to advance with the age. Deceived by this falsehood, which certain Catholics have imprudently believed, many right-minded and honest souls, until now faithful to the Church, waver, become discouraged, and imagine without reason that they cannot obey their Christian consciences and at the same time serve the cause of scientific progress.

It seems clearly my duty to reply to these calumnious accusations of a hostile press in an announcement addressed specially to the clergy, extracts from which they can make use of at their own discretion for the benefit of the Faithful. It is imperative, however, to convince men of good will in Belgium that, in being with the Pope against Modernism, they are not less with the times in promoting progress and in honouring Science.

Thanks be to God, the Belgian Catholics have escaped these Modernist heresies. The representatives of philosophical and theological teaching in our University, those in our free branches of studies, and those also in the Seminaries and Religious Congregations, have unanimously and spontaneously given weight to this declaration in a document signed by each one of them, in which they state that the Pope, by his courageous Encyclical, has saved the Faith and protected Science.

And these same signatories, have they not the right to proudly face their accusers, in the name of the Catholic institutions they represent, and to demand of them: What, then, is the science that we have not served, and that we will not serve, as well, if not better, than you? Do our Professors fear to be compared with yours? The pupils we educate, pitted by public competition against yours, do they not always carry off the honours?

The strength of conviction and the sincerity of love is tested by sacrifice. You know, perhaps, the liberality of the unbeliever in behalf of Science. This is true, and I rejoice in the fact, but I ask you without fear to compare it with the lavish generosity of millions of Catholic Belgians for all branches of learning.


The second error -- an error which takes advantage of the spirit of Modernism to infect the youth of our day, and sometimes also to draw away the masses -- is the unconscious confusion of the constitution of the Catholic Church with the political organizations of modern society.

Under the Parliamentary system, each citizen is supposed to have a voice in the direction of public affairs: the revolutionary theories circulated by Rousseau, and adopted in the declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, have disseminated in the masses a mistaken idea that the directing authority of the country is made up of the collective individual wills of the people; the representatives of power are thus considered delegates, whose exclusive rôle it is to interpret and turn to account the opinions and will of their constituents.

It is this conception of power that Döllinger wished to apply to the Bishops assembled in the Vatican Council. Later on, Father Tyrrell applied it to the Bishops as well as the faithful ecclesiastics or laics of the Christian community, reserving only to the Bishops and even to the supreme authority of the Pope the right to put on record and to proclaim authentically what the dispersed members of the Christian family, nay, even what religious communities have thought, loved, and felt.

This analogy is false: civil society, following a natural law, is born of the union and co-operation of the wills of the members that compose it. But the supernatural society of the Church is essentially positive and external, and must be accepted by its members as it was organized by its divine Founder, and to Christ alone belongs the right to dictate to us His will.

Listen to the Son of God, made Man, giving His Apostles His sovereign and indefeasible instructions: "Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature." "He that believeth, and, is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." The Evangelist St. Mark, who quotes these words in the last page of his Gospel, concludes as follows: "And the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere; the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed." Hence the Bishops continue the apostolic mission, and the Faithful must listen, believe, and obey their teaching under pain of eternal damnation. "If he will not hear the Church," says our Lord, "let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican," that is like unto a man without faith. "Amen, I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed in heaven."


Hold fast, dear Christians, to the cornerstone of your faith. Confide in your Bishop, who himself is supported by the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Bishops, the immediate representative of the Son of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Protect with vigilance the treasure of your faith, without which nothing will profit you for eternity.

Perfect your religious instruction.

It is an astonishing fact that in proportion as the youth grows to manhood, he considers it almost a question of honour to develop his physical forces, to increase the measure of his knowledge, to strengthen his judgment, enrich his experience, to polish his language and refine his style, and better inform himself on the march of events. Man has at heart the perfection of his profession, and is there a lawyer, magistrate, doctor, or merchant who would not blush if forced to admit at forty that for the last twenty years he had added nothing to his store of knowledge?

And is it not a fact that if Catholics of twenty, thirty and forty years of age were interrogated, they would have to confess that since their First Communion they had not studied their religion, and perhaps have even now forgotten what they then learned?

In these troubled times I understand the conquests of unbelief, and I deplore them; but what seems more difficult to explain is that a believing, intelligent man, conscious of the value of that rare gift of Faith, is content to ignore what he believes, why he believes it, and what the solemn vows of baptism pledged him to, towards God and his neighbour.

Every well educated man should have in his library a Catechism, if not to learn by heart, at least to study the text. The one most highly recommended is the Catechism of the Council of Trent, an admirable work in its clearness, precision and method, in which by the order of the Fathers of the Council of Trent, a commission of distinguished theologians was charged to condense the substance of faith and morals and the institutions of Christianity.

To instruct himself in the reasons for his belief the well-informed Catholic should have, beside his Catechism, a manual of the dogmatic teachings of the Church, and the principal Pontifical Encyclicals addressed to our generation, those of Leo XIII, of glorious memory, and the Encyclicals of Pius X.

All Catholics should have in their households, if not the integral text of the Bible, at least the New Testament, that is, the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. And they should have, moreover, a history of the Church and an apologetical treatise.

But to keep alive and nourish his piety every Christian should possess a Roman Missal, and a treatise on the liturgy that will explain the ceremonies of the Mass and the principal manifestations of religious worship in the Church.

The Imitation of Christ, Bossuet's Meditations on the Gospels, and The Introduction to a Devout Life, by St. Francis of Sales, and, in addition to these, several lives of the Saints that represent to us the practical application of the teaching of the Gospel: these books form together at a very modest outlay the minimum religious library of a Christian family. Every family, however humble, ought to have several books of piety.

I have sometimes glanced at the libraries of friends following liberal careers, and noticed books of science, of literature, and profane history; but how often one searches in vain for any religious literature. Is it then surprising that minds so poorly equipped are easily taken in by an audaciously formulated objection: they are then horrified, and appeal to apologetics for help.

Apologetics have without doubt their place in the Church, and oppose a defence to every attack. When one is ill the physician is called in, but hygiene is more potent than the doctor. Study for choice the statements and proofs of Catholic doctrine, penetrate yourself with its teachings and meditate on them, get to know the history of the Church, and learn her apostolic labours.


Watch and pray! By the integrity of your life, by the purity of your morals, and by the humble confession of your dependence on God and your need of His merciful Providence, banish the interested motives for unbelief, and then will disappear, as mists before the sun, the doubts that rise in the soul and obscure the horizon. And if at times on some special point a doubt should trouble your conscience, have recourse to some enlightened man: the explanation he will give you will be adapted to your mentality and to your peculiar state of soul at that moment; and will be more efficacious than replies indiscriminately addressed to a large crowd of listeners or readers.

None of us, dearly beloved brethren, sufficiently appreciates the gift of Faith. Man is so made that he takes no account of what has definitely become part of his constitution. You have sight, hearing, good lungs, and a sound heart; and do you often thank God for these blessings? Ah! if you were menaced with blindness, loss of hearing, tuberculosis or paralysis, how much greater would be your appreciation of the blessings that you seem on the point of losing, and how spontaneous would be your gratitude when you had recovered your sense of security.

The Protestant nations are sick, and for four centuries the leaven of free interpretation has been working in them: observe with what painful anxiety religious souls are being torn asunder by the thousand and one sects between whose conflicting claims they cannot come to a decision.

And it is just when devout Protestants are attacked by liberalism and tossed about by doubts, and appeal in despair to authority for help, crying: "Save us, O Lord, or we perish!" that the Modernists would do away with the Chief who makes us the envy of our separated brethren, and invite us to renew an experiment that four lamentable centuries proclaim a failure.

No, beloved brethren, we will have nothing to do with such a painful experiment. More closely than ever will we hold to the Vicar of Christ.

"I have a great mystery to preach to you," said Bossuet; "the mystery of the unity of the Church." United within by the Holy Spirit, she has still a common tie in her exterior Communion, and must remain united by a government wherein the authority of Christ is represented. This union guards unity, and under the seal of ecclesiastical government unity of mind is preserved.

The unity of Christian Faith is safe only in the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church is only stable on the Chair of Peter.

"We will turn then," said St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, at the end of the second century, "to the most ancient of the Churches, known to all as the Church founded and constituted at Rome by the two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul: we will prove that the traditions held by the Apostles, and the Faith they announced to men, have come to us by the regular succession of Bishops: and it will be a subject of confusion for all those who, either from vanity, blindness or bad feeling, take in without discrimination all sorts of opinions that may happen to appeal to them; for such is the superiority of the pre-eminence of the Church of Rome, that all the Churches, that is to say, the Faithful the world over, must be in accord with her, and the Faithful, wherever they may come from, will find intact in her the traditions of the Apostles."



A Letter to the University of Madrid on the occasion of its Inauguration



October 27th, 1909

GENTLEMEN, --- The date of the inauguration of your Catholic University recalls one of the most delightful moments of my life. It was at the end of October, 1882, when the Sovereign Pontiff, Leo XIII, decided to create in the University of Louvain a Chair of Thomist philosophy. For more than a quarter of a century traditional prejudice oppressed the faculties of Theology and Philosophy of the University. Kant's criticism of pure reason, of which few authors other than those in Belgium and France had made an original study, imposed upon too timid believers and thinkers, who were not in touch with the great mediaeval traditions, a vague feeling of rational weakness.

They mistrusted human reason, and rather than venture on personal research they resigned themselves in desperation to profess with Kant that speculative reason is incapable of proving with certitude the existence of a God, and also the foundation of a superior order of metaphysical, moral and religious truths; and they thought, moreover, to silence their consciences by believing that Christian faith abundantly makes up for the shortcomings of philosophy.

This is the capital error!

Man is a subject in whom reason comes first. Neither faith, that reason has not previously justified, nor an individual or social morality supported exclusively by instinct or feeling, can be validly and firmly imposed upon the human conscience. Sooner or later it will be evident that those who have worked against speculative reason have given pledges to scepticism.

The times have changed, Gentlemen, since 1882, in the sense that Christian revelation, in which the theologians and philosophers of the schools of Bonald, La Mennais, Ventura Ubaghs, Laforet sought refuge, is more and more unknown in the greater number of state Universities. Yet the times are not really changed; for the negative conclusions of the speculations of Kant weigh more heavily than ever upon those who in the most brilliant University centres give themselves to higher culture.

But now that the revelation of Christ has disappeared from the University horizon, the aspirations of the moral conscience, the need of an ideal, the law of joint responsibility between the individual and the community, and the need for action, offer the sole apparent city of refuge that remains indestructible on the summits of thought. Whence comes this demand of generous men whose voices plea throughout Germany and France, the Anglo-Saxon nations and Italy, this demand for "the moral ideal"? And we solemnly assemble to-day, Gentlemen, to substitute for this dream the real God, the God of Truth, in the temple of the Catholic University of Madrid. You understand that morality does not suffice for a being whose ruling quality is reason. And morality itself is but a tributary of truth, and consequently the predominating solicitude of him who is conscious of his rôle must be to accord to reason the first place in his thoughts, his desires, and in the expansion of his activities in the search for truth.

You give, then, a prominent place in your programme -- and in this you are right -- to Jurisprudence, politics, and sociology; but immediately after the place of honour that, as Christians, you reserve to the profouud study of your religion, you accord privileged rank to the study of speculative reason, Estudio superior de filosofia. Thus, Gentlemen, you do not fashion men of sentiment, destined to become to-morrow the prey of dilettantism, lost forces for the progress of civilisation, but you inspire your disciples with the worship of truth for itself, the disinterested worship of objective truth, no matter in what historical, philosophical, or scientific domain she offers herself to the consideration of the thinker.

Seek first the kingdom of God, said our Saviour in the Gospel, and all else will be added thereunto. I tell you also to seek humbly in the footsteps of your divine Master: seek, above all, truth, luminous convictions, the vigour of the intelligence; and the rest, that is morality, strong resolutions, strength of character, and consequently the way of happiness and unselfish devotion, useful to your neighbour and Christian society, will be your honour and your recompense.

I will be with you in my thoughts and in my heart next Saturday, regretting extremely that the absorbing occupations of my pastoral ministry deprive me of the joy and satisfaction that the spectacle of your splendid initiative would have afforded me.

May Providence bless your young Academy! May you, penetrated with sentiments of the responsibilities that you assume to-day to your noble country, to the neighbouring nations that contemplate you with confident admiration, show in the future in spite of the objects that may cumber your path, as much courage as you have to-day given proof of generosity.

Your great Saint Teresa said -- and I remember recalling these words to my audience at the inauguration of a course of philosophy at the University of Louvain -- "In the conduct of an enterprise that conscience counsels or commands, there is only one thing to fear -- that is, fear."

Weigh anchor, Gentlemen, unfurl your sails, take the helm, and under the safeguard of your Christian faith steer with confidence away from the reefs, your eyes ever on the star of eternal truth.


We hope you enjoyed that book found in its entirety here and on our web site:

A Treatise on Purgatory by St Catherine of Genoa 1858

The Treatise on Purgatory
St Catherine of Genoa

Translated from the Original Italian

With a preface by
The Very Rev. H. E. Manning, D.D.
Provost of Westminster

BURNS AND LAMBERT, 17 Portman Street,
AND 63 Paternoster Row



The Treatise of St Catherine of Genoa on Purgatory has never, it seems been as yet rendered into English. The present translation, therefore, which is both faithful and excellent in language, will be most acceptable to those whom this wonderful book has hitherto been closed.

Although our Lord, by His apostle, has forbidden to women the public ministry of teaching in His Church, He has nevertheless reserved for them a great and resplendent office in the edification of His mystical Body. The lights and inspirations bestowed upon them, according to the words of the prophet Joel,--"In the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophecy;...and upon My servants and upon my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit,"--are among the prerogatives bestowed upon the Church by the day of Pentecost. And their dignity is among the glories of the Mother of God, whose daughters and handmaids they are.

Two of the great festivalls of the Catholic Church had their origin in the illumination of humble and unlearned women. The Feast of Corpus Christi was the offspring of the devotion of the Blessed Juliana of Retinne; the Feast of the Sacred Heart of that of the Blessed Margaret Mary: to St Catherine of Sienna our Lord vouchsafed the honour of calling back again the Sovereign Pontiff from the splendid banishment of Avignon to the throne of the Apostolic See; to St Teresa the special gift of illumination, to teach the ways of union with Himself in prayer; to Blessed Angela of Foligno the eighteen degrees of compunction, and His own five poverties; and to St Catherine of Genoa an insight and perception of the state of Purgatory, which seem like the utterances of one immersed in its expiation of love.

Benedict XIV, tells us, in his work on the Beatification and Canonization of Saints, that the works of St Catherine of Genoa were examined and approved by the theologians of Paris: intending, no doubt, the examination by the Sorbonne in 1666, by direction of the Archbishop of Paris; and again by the Sacred congregation in the cause of her canonization.* The source from which she drew the sweet and consoling illumination set forth in the following pages, on the mysterious sufferings and bliss of purgatory, was a life of continued pain and of ardent consuming love; of perpetual expiation, and of absolute conformity to the will of God. And of this she says: "This way of purgation which I see in the souls in purgatory, I feel in my own mind, chiefly in the last two years; day by day I feel and see it more clearly. I see my soul to be standing in the body as in a purgatory....All the things I have hitherto said I see and touch: but I can find no fit words to express as fully as I desire to say it; and what I have said I feel to be working spiritually within me, and therefore I have said it."**

The Saint was born in Genoa, in 1447, of the family of Fieschi. Her parents married her to Giuliano Adorno, of a noble Genoese house. After his death she served the sick in the Great Hospital, where her body, still perfect and visible, is venerated over the high altar in the choir of the religious which is attached to the wards, and looks down upon the external Church; and her memory is blessed among the saints as the Seraph of Genoa.

All Souls Day, 1858 H.E.M.

* Ben. XIV. de Beat. et Can. Sanct. lib. ii. e. xxvi. 2.
** Trattato del Purgatorio, c. xvii.

A Treatise on Purgatory


The Saint shows how she understood Purgatory from the divine fire which she felt within herself, and in what manner the souls there are both happy and tormented

Chapter I.


This holy soul, yet in the flesh, found herself placed in the purgatory of God's burning love, which consumed and purified her from whatever she had to purify, in order that after passing out of this life she might enter at once into the immediate presence of God her Beloved. By means of this furnace of love she understood how the souls of the faithful are placed in purgatory to get rid of all the rust and stain of sin that in this life was left unpurged. As she, plunged in the divine furnace of purifying love, was united to the object of her love, and satisfied with all that He wrought in her, so she understood it to be with the souls in purgatory, and said:

The angels in purgatory, as far as I can understand the matter, cannot but choose to be there; and this by God's ordinance, who has justly decreed it so. They cannot reflect within themselves and say, "I have done such and such sins, for which I deserve to be here," nor can they say, "Would that I had not done them, that now I might go to paradise;" nor yet say, "That soul is going out before me;" nor, "I shall go out before him." They can remember nothing of themselves or others, whether good or evil, which might increase the pain they continually endure; they are so completely satisfied with what God has ordained for them, that He should be doing all that pleases Him, that they are incapable of thinking of themselves even in the midst of their greatest sufferings. They behold only the goodness of God, whose mercy is so great in bringing men to Himself, that they cannot see any thing that may affect them, whether good or bad; if they could, they would not be in pure charity. They do not know that their sufferings are for the sake of their sins, nor can they keep in view the sins themselves;* for in doing so there would be an act of imperfection, which could have no place where there can be no longer any possibility of actually sinning. (* See Appendix A.)

Once, in passing out of this life, they perceive why they have their purgatory; but never afterwards, otherwise self would come in. Abiding, then, in charity, and not being able to deviate therefrom by any real defect, they have no will, no desire, nothing but the will of pure love; they are in that fire of purgatory by the appointment of God, which is all one with pure love; and they cannot in any thing turn aside from it, because, as they can no more merit, so they can no more sin.


Chapter II.


I do not believe it would be possible to find any joy comparable to that of a soul in purgatory, except the joy of the blessed in paradise,---a joy which goes on increasing day by day, as God more and more flows in upon the soul, which He does abundantly in proportion as every hindrance to His entrance is consumed away. The hindrance** is the rust of sin; the fire consumes the rust, and thus the soul goes on laying itself open to the Divine inflowing. (** See Appendix B.)

It is as with a covered object. The object cannot respond to the rays of the sun, not because the sun ceases to shine,---for it shines without intermission,---but because the covering intervenes. Let the covering be destroyed, again the object will be exposed to the sun, and will answer to the rays which beat against it in proportion as the work of destruction advances. Thus the souls are covered by a rust---that is, sin---which is gradually consumed away by the fire of purgatory; the more it is consumed, the more they respond to God their true Sun; their happiness increases as the rust falls off, and lays them open to the Divine ray; and so their happiness grows greater as their impediment grows less, till the time is accomplished. The pain, however, does not diminish, but only the time of remaining in that pain. As far as their will is concerned, these souls cannot acknowledge the pain as such, so completely are they satisfied with the ordinance of God, so entirely is their will one with it in pure charity. On the other hand, they suffer a torment so extreme, that no tongue could describe it, no intellect could form the least idea of it, if God had not made it known by special grace; which idea, however, God's grace has shown my soul; but I cannot find words to express it with my tongue, yet the sight of it has never left my mind. I will describe it as best I can: they will understand it whose intellect the Lord shall vouchsafe to open.


Chapter III.


All the pains of purgatory take their rise from sin, original or actual. God created the soul perfectly pure and free from every spot of sin, with a certain instinctive tendency to find its blessedness in Him. From this tendency it is drawn away by original sin, and still more by the addition of actual sin; and the farther off it gets, the more wicked it becomes, because it is less in conformity with God.

Things are good only so far as they participate in God. To irrational creatures God communicates Himself, without fail, as He wills, and as He has determined; to the rational soul more or less, as according He finds it purified from the impediment of sin; so that, when a soul is approaching to that state of first purity and innocence which it had when created, the instinctive desire of seeking happiness in God develops itself, and goes on increasing through the fire of love, which draws it to its end with such impetuosity and vehemence, that any obstacle seems intolerable, and the more clear its vision, the more extreme its pain.

Now because the souls in purgatory are without the guilt of sin, there is nothing to stand between God and them except the punishment which keeps them back, and prevents this instinct from attaining its perfection; and from their keenly perceiving of what moment it is to be hindered even in the least degree, and yet that justice most strictly demands a hindrance, there springs up within them a fire like that of hell. They have not the guilt of sin; and it is this latter which constitutes the malignant will of the damned, who are excluded from sharing in the goodness of God, and therefore remain in that hopeless malignity of will by which they oppose the will of God.


Chapter IV.


From what has been said, it is clear that the guilt of sin consists in the perverse opposition of the will to the will of God, and that so long as the will continues thus evilly perverse the guilt will continue. For those, then, in hell, who have departed this life with an evil will, there is no remission of sin, neither can be, because there can be no more change of will. In passing out of this life the soul is fixed for good or evil, according to its deliberate purpose at the time; as it is written, "Where I shall find thee (that is, at the hour of death, with a will either to sin or sorry for sin and penitent), there will I judge thee:" and this judgment is final; because after death the will can never again be free, but must remain fixed in the condition in which it was found at the moment of death. The souls in hell having been found at the moment of death with a will to sin, have with them an infinite degree of guilt; and the punishment they suffer, though less than they deserve, is yet, so far as it exists, endless. But the souls in purgatory have only the punishment for sin, and not its guilt; for the guilt was effaced at the moment of death, in that they were found then deploring their sins and penitent for having offended the Divine Goodness: so their unishment has alimit, and goes on diminishing in duration as has been said.

O misery above every misery! and so much the greater because men in their blindness consider it so little.

The punishment of the damned is not, indeed, infinite in amount; for the sweet goodness of God sheds the rays of His mercy even in hell. A man who has died in mortal sin deserves a punishment infinite in pain and infinite in duration; but God in His mercy has made it infinite only in duration, and has limited the amount of pain. He might most justly have given them a far greater punishment than He has.

O how perilous is a sin committed through malice! for hardly does a man repent of it; and not repenting, his guilt remains, and will remain, so long as there is any affection for the sin committed, or any purpose of committing it afresh.


Chapter V.


The souls in purgatory having their wills perfectly conformed to the will of God, and hence partaking of His goodness, remain satisfied with their condition, which is one of entire freedom from the guilt of sin. For when they passed out of this life, penitent, with all their sins confessed and resolved to sin no more, God straightway pardoned them; and now they are as pure as when they were created; the rust of sin alone is left, and this they get rid of by the punishment of fire. Cleansed thus from all sin, and united in will to God, they see God clearly according to the degree of light He imparts to them; they are conscious too what a thing it is for them to enjoy God, that for this very end souls were created. Again, there is in them a conformity of will so uniting them to God, so drawing them to Him through that natural instinct whereby God is, as it were, bound up with the soul, that no description, no figure, no example can give a clear idea of it as it is actually felt and apprehended by in ward consciousness; nevertheless I will mention something like it which suggests itself to me.

****The Rest of the Treatise on Purgatory can be found in its entirety at:

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bringing Catholic Classics to Life!

Welcome to my Traditional Catholic Books Blog! I'm Mel Waller, founder and owner of St Athanasius Press . We bring out of print Catholic Classics back into print so we can put good solid Catholic books back into people's hands.

This Blog's purpose is many fold. One it is to inform you of the books we have available. I will also let you know where you can obtain Traditional Catholic Books from other publishers. I hope to actually publish on this blog articles, short stories, pamphlets, prayers and works of devotion that have been out of print at no cost to you. Although any Catholic apostolate/business has to earn an income to provide for one's family, our main goal will always be to provide solid Catholic content to any and all.

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Here are some short prayers in English and Latin and can be copied for personal use only:

To the King of ages, immortal and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen

Regi saeculorum immortali et invisibili, soli Deo honor et gloria in saecula saeculorum. Amen

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts: the heavens and the earth are full of Thy Glory.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth: pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.

These are taken from the unedited 1957 softcover edition of The Raccolta which can be purchased from St Athanasius Press or the hardcover edition can be obtained from Loreto Publications.

May God Bless you always!

In Christ, Mel Waller

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