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other divines, who describe superstition as a vice opposed to religion in the way of excess."
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception naturally leads to further developments. One of them is thus stated.
"In 1677, Father Imperialis, superior of the Jesuits at Naples, made the discovery of a new phenomenon in the heaven of devotion. He obtained a brief from the pope for the erection of a new confraternity in honour of St. Anne, and he printed it under this fine title, 'Blessed Anna, Virgin, and Mother of the Mother of God,' pretending that St. Anne was a virgin, because the Mother of God, her daughter, being conceived without original sin, her mother must have conceived her miraculously. Another Jesuit of Naples printed a little book to justify this pretended virginity of St. Anne; and another, who was prefect of the congregation of Naples, exhorted, in a sermon, the faithful to communicate on the day of the feast of St. Anne, because, he said, 'we receive in the Eucharist the actual flesh of this saint.' But, unfortunately for these three Jesuits, the report of their new wonder so much alarmed the Inquisition of Naples, that it caused its speedy disappearance by censuring the opinion of Father Imperialis, the book, and the sermon. This little history only relates to my subject on account of the preacher exhorting the faithful to communicate on the feast of St. Anne, because we receive in the Eucharist the actual flesh of this saint,' which could not be done without supposing that on that day we should have that intention in communicating. But this intention was evidently superstitious, having only for its object a fantastic devotion, a false worship, a superfluous worship, and a vain observance."-p. 303.
A common practice in the Church of Rome is thus censured as superstitious.
"Communion for the dead, that is, that which is received with the view of relieving the souls in purgatory, has become frequent in these latter times amongst Christians who are not altogether well instructed in our mysteries. They persuade themselves that the souls in purgatory may be relieved, and even entirely delivered from their pains, by the force and virtue of the Sacrament of the Eucharist which they themselves receive. But if this opinion be not a delusion, it seems to be not far from it. It is not authorized by Scripture, councils, or tradition. It has no foundation in antiquity. The ancient fathers and masters of the spiritual life knew nothing of it. The Sacraments are the remedies of our sins and miseries, as the fathers and divines often call them, and consequently they can only help those who receive them, as remedies only can do good to those who take them. The Sacraments are instituted by God to give us sanctifying grace which excludes sin, and to help us to obtain from God the help of actual grace. The dead being unable to receive sanctifying grace, or to be helped to obtain from God the aid of actual grace, because life only puts us in this state, all
the communions of the living, whatever intention they may have to relieve their pains, do not help them. St. Thomas declares that if one
or more of the faithful receive the body of Jesus Christ, they do not receive any advantage or relief for those who do not receive it. He says decidedly that it is an error for the laity to receive for those who are in purgatory."-p. 310.
"There are in St. Gertrude, in Blosius, in the Life of St. Jane of the Cross, in the Life of Father Balthazar Alvarez, Jesuit, and perhaps in other books of the same kind, examples and revelations which are in favour of communion for the dead. But nothing certain can be concluded from these kinds of revelations, which have not been approved by the Church, and on which, as Cardinal Cajetan says, the doctrine of the Church does not depend; such are those which relate to purgatory, which are perhaps merely dreams, or trances, or delirium, or deceptions of the devil for the establishment of some new doctrine. It needs much light, discernment, and prudence, to distinguish true revelations from false; and we ought not to give blind credence to all those which are put forth, no matter where they come from, without previous examination. For this reason the Apostle St. John gives us this wise counsel: 'My well-Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try if the spirits are of God.' It is not easy to make this trial. For how is it to be done?' says St. Augustine. 'It would have been desired that St. John who has told us not to believe every spirit, but to try if the spirits are of God, had told us how we must try the spirits which are of God.'
"In fact, there are occasionally revelations which are contradictory to each other; and this adds to the difficulty of trying and acknowledging those which are of God, and those which are not so. For instance, on the subject of the conception of the Holy Virgin, there is one revelation of St. Bridget, which says, that it had been revealed to her that the mother of God was conceived without original sin, and another of St. Catherine of Sienna, who says that the contrary was revealed to her."-p. 315.
The mass of superstitions in the Church of Rome in reference to the Sacrament of the Eucharist is enormous. The following are specimens of the results and tendencies of the doctrines of Romanism on this subject.
"It was formerly customary in certain places to carry the Holy Sacrament to the sick, that they might adore it, or merely to show it to them, when they could not receive it through illness. But this custom
has been expressly condemned by the Roman Ritual of Paul V. The same has been forbidden by some provincial and diocesan synods. It is well to remark the words of the Roman ritual and the others; that this might not be done 'under pretence of devotion, or for any other cause,' showing that it is not a true devotion to act thus, but an abuse -a false piety-a superstition-an undue worship and observance of sacred things (p. 349). The same must be said if, instead of showing the Eucharist to the sick and causing it to be adored by them, they
were made to kiss it. this.
The congregation of cardinals has forbidden
"In some provinces the judges occasionally require an oath in presence of the Sacrament, from persons who plead before them. The custom appears to me superstitious, for two reasons. One is, because, as Gerson teaches, it is superstitious to ascribe a supernatural virtue to things which are not authorized either by the Holy Scripture or Divine revelation to produce it. But it cannot be proved either by Holy Scripture, or Divine revelation, that the Holy Sacrament was instituted, to enable oaths to be taken on it. Besides, it is a presumptuous superstition to wish to do that which the holy fathers have not done, according to the expression of the canon Consuluisti.-p. 350.
"The same reasons which cause me to believe that there is superstition in causing persons to take oaths on the Eucharist, persuade me that there is not less superstition in employing this venerable Sacrament to appease winds, storms, hail, thunder, lightning, and all kind of tempests, by carrying the ciborium to the door of the church, and making signs of the cross with it, in the direction of the tempests. Yet this practice was formerly common in certain churches of France and Germany.
"I have examined at length, in the Treatise on the Exposition of the Holy Sacrament at the Altar,' whether the Eucharist ought to be carried to places on fire; and have shown by many reasons that it ought not to be done. Because it would be employing this adorable mystery as a remedy for all evils, according to popular caprice, and making, in some sort, God to do whatever we wished of Him; and because frequently the Holy Sacrament has been carried to fires, without the fire in any degree relaxing in its heat and activity, which has exposed the most terrible and august of mysteries to the contempt and ridicule of impious and depraved persons, and of heretics."—p. 358.
We now come to a very important branch of the subject. The doctrine of the Mass, as expounded by Romanists, is one of the chief sources of their superstitions. Take the following instances.
"ON SUPERSTITIONS IN MASSES.-In the ancient missals, numbers of votive masses and others are found, which, either not having been approved, or being forbidden, have not been inserted in the new missals; and if we inquire the reason of this omission, we shall see that it has been done because these masses contained superstitious prayers, or that they had not truth for their object and foundation; or because they were too numerous; or because they were of modern invention; or because they were accompanied by ceremonies and circumstances contrary to true piety. I place in this class the masses of St. Amator and St. Vincent; that of the Twelve Helpers; that of the Eternal Father; the Trentain of St. Gregory for the living and dead; those of Grace and the Five Wounds of our Saviour; of his passion; of the passion of his image; of his nails; of St. Veronica and St. Suaire; and num
bers of others; which seem to have some kind of superstition for these general reasons. 1. Because, not being found in the ancient sacramentaries, they ought to be regarded as contrary to the ancient practice of the Church, and consequently as novel; and novelty in matter of piety and rites is called by St. Bernard, 'the mother of temerity, the sister of superstition, the daughter of levity.' So that we may say, with the same St. Bernard, to the authors of these masses, that they are not more learned or devout than our fathers, and that it is a dangerous presumption to introduce into the Church things of which they had never thought, and which certainly would not have escaped them, if they had believed it desirable to establish them.
"2. The multiplication of masses supposes the multiplication of festivals. But there are already too many festivals in the Church; and we have shown in our Treatise on the 'Diminishing of Feasts' that it has long been a subject of complaint.
"3. Because the great number of masses gives occasion to multiply them to infinity."-p. 395.
"St. Vincent Ferrier says, that the masses of St. Amator, though good in themselves, are injured by its being thought that the souls of those for whom they are said, depart from purgatory after they have been said, which does not always happen (p. 396). I have not remarked that the mass of the 'Five Wounds' is approved any where. But if it be permitted to make and say a mass on the 'Five' principal 'Wounds' of Jesus Christ, why should it not be permitted to compose and say masses on all the other hurts that He received?
"The mass of the passion of the image of our Lord' is found in the Roman missal, printed at Venice, in 1513. At Berytus, in Syria, the Jews crucified an image of Christ, from which so prodigious a quantity of blood flowed, that the Churches of the East and West had abundance of it. Since there has been a Feast in commemoration of this in the Latin as well as in the Greek Church, a mass may well be made on it also. That which is in the Roman missal of Venice in 1513, besides having no approbation, tends to establish a superfluous worship; for if a mass be made on this image, masses may also be made on all the miraculous images of which similar stories are told.
"The mass of the 'nails' and 'spear' of our Lord is in some missals, but without approbation. We might make similar masses on the ' scourge,' thecords,' the 'sponge,' and every thing that served as an instrument of the passion of the Son of God. But it is easy to see that this would be going too far. Besides these relics are so uncertain, and have so little authenticity, that most of the churches which boast of possessing them, have them not; and thus masses of the nails and spear are said, which have not truth for their object.
"I say the same of masses of the tooth,' and some other relics of our Lord's body. The mass of the 'tooth' of our Lord concerns a false worship; for our Lord rose from the dead with all his teeth, and did not leave any on earth, having never lost any. This has been proved by Venerable Guibert."-p. 414.
"Although our Lord was only circumcised once, and consequently but one prepuce was cut off, it is said that there are four,-one at St. John Lateran, another at Charoux, the third at Antwerp, the fourth at Coulombs. I inquire now, which of these four does the mass of the prepuce, which is spoken of, refer to? The mass of the robe without of our Lord, appears somewhat more authorized than the preceding, for the Gospel testifies that our Lord had a robe without seam. But it may be asked, whether it has come down to us, and where it now is? Calvin believes that it is at Treves; and Boverus testifies that Felix, Archbishop of Treves, discovered it there. The authors who have made a catalogue of the relics at St. John Lateran, place there a tunic of our Lord. Calvin says there is one at St. Salvador, in Spain. The Benedictines of Argenteuil believe that they alone possess this tunic.
"The mass of the 'holy Suaire,' or winding sheet, has a true and lawful foundation; for it is certain that the dead body of our Lord was wound up in a linen cloth, and his head was covered with a separate towel. But it is uncertain whether this mass relates to the cloth with which the body of our Lord, or his head, was covered; as it speaks of the clothes of our Lord in general, it appears that it relates indifferently to both.
"St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke speak of one linen cloth; but St. John testifies that there were several. If there were several, it is easy to understand that there may be one at Turin, and another at Bezançon; but if there was only one, it cannot be at Turin and Bezançon, unless it were divided in two pieces. In fact it is not merely the head-cloth of the Son of God which is worshipped at Turin and Bezançon, but that which covered all his body; and I should rather believe that his headcloth was that which is called the Veronica, than that there was a woman, who, seeing our Lord wet with blood and sweat carrying his cross from Jerusalem to Calvary, presented Him a handkerchief, with which He wiped his face, and on which He impressed its image. For the Gospel of St. John speaks of the former cloth, but says nothing of the latter, of which, nevertheless, we have been told so many extraordinary and inconsistent things (p. 435), as we shall now see in examining the mass of St. Veronica.'
"I find, then, in the Missal of the Order of Mercy, a mass of 'the holy suaire,' in which I see nothing superstitious, except the preface, which is this:-'The mass of the holy linen cloth of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who frequently says it, shall never be blind.' For is it not a ridiculous superstition to say, that those who shall frequently say this mass, shall never be deprived of sight, shall never be blind? In order to say it frequently, one must see clearly, and not be blind, unless it be said by heart, as a blind priest, perhaps, might do. I should be glad to know from the author of this fine preface, how he has learnt that those who shall often say the mass of the 'Saint Suaire shall enjoy this rare and remarkable privilege? In what place of Holy Scripture is it recorded? What is the tradition? Where are the Councils and Fathers who have made mention of it?