|Chapter 1||The Bible and the Priest of Rome|
|Chapter 2||My First Schooldays at St. Thomas- The Monk and Celibacy|
|Chapter 3||The Confession of Children|
|Chapter 4||The Shepherd Whipped by His Sheep|
|Chapter 5||The Priest, Purgatory, and the Poor Widow's Cow|
|Chapter 6||Festivities in a Parsonage|
|Chapter 7||Preparation for the First Communion- Initiation to Idolatry|
|Chapter 8||The First Communion|
|Chapter 9||Intellectual Education in the Roman Catholic College|
|Chapter 10||Moral and Religious Instruction in the Roman Catholic Colleges|
|Chapter 11||Protestant Children in the Convents and Nunneries of Rome|
|Chapter 12||Rome and Education- Why does the Church of Rome hate the Common
Schools of the United States, and want to destroy them?-
Why does she object to the reading of the Bible in the Schools?
|Chapter 13||Theology of the Church of Rome: its Anti-Christian Character|
|Chapter 14||The Vow of Celibacy|
|Chapter 15||The Impurities of the Theology of Rome|
My father, Charles Chiniquy [pronounced, "Chi-ni-quay"], born in Quebec,
had studied in the Theological Seminary of that city, to prepare himself for the
priesthood. But a few days before making his vows, having been the witness of a great
iniquity in the high quarters of the church, he changed his mind, studied law, and
became a notary.
Married to Reine Perrault, daughter of Mitchel Perrault, in 1803 he settled at first in Kamoraska, where I was born on the 30th July, 1809.
About four or five years later my parents emigrated to Murray Bay. That place was then in its infancy, and no school had yet been established. My mother was, therefore, my first teacher.
Before leaving the Seminary of Quebec my father had received from one of the Superiors, as a token of his esteem, a beautiful French and Latin Bible. That Bible was the first book, after the A B C, in which I was taught to read. My mother selected the chapters which she considered the most interesting for me; and I read them every day with the greatest attention and pleasure. I was even so much pleased with several chapters, that I read them over and over again till I knew them by heart.
When eight or nine years of age, I had learned by heart the history of the creation and fall of man; the deluge; the sacrifice of Isaac; the history of Moses; the plagues of Egypt; the sublime hymn of Moses after crossing the Red Sea; the history of Samson; the most interesting events of the life of David; several Psalms; all the speeches and parables of Christ; and the whole history of the sufferings and death of our Saviour as narrated by John.
I had two brothers, Louis and Achille; the first about four, the second about eight years younger than myself. When they were sleeping or playing together, how many delicious hours I have spent by my mother's side, in reading to her the sublime pages of the divine book.
Sometimes she interrupted me to see if I understood what I read; and when my answers made her sure that I understood it, she used to kiss me and press me on her bosom as an expression of her joy.
One day, while I was reading the history of the sufferings of the Saviour, my young heart was so much impressed that I could hardly enunciate the words, and my voice trembled. My mother, perceiving my emotion, tried to say something on the love of Jesus for us, but she could not utter a word her voice was suffocated by her sobs. She leaned her head on my forehead, and I felt two streams of tears falling from her eyes on my cheeks. I could not contain myself any longer. I wept also; and my tears were mixed with hers. The holy book fell from my hands, and I threw myself into my dear mother's arms.
No human words can express what was felt in her soul and in mine in that most blessed hour! No! I will never forget that solemn hour, when my mother's heart was perfectly blended with mine at the feet of our dying Saviour. There was a real perfume from heaven in those my mother's tears which were flowing on me. It seemed then, as it does seem to me today, that there was a celestial harmony in the sound of her voice and in her sobs. Though more than half a century has passed since that solemn hour when Jesus, for the first time, revealed to me something of His suffering and of His love, my heart leaps with joy every time I think of it.
We were some distance from the church, and the roads, in the rainy days, were very bad. On the Sabbath days the neighbouring farmers, unable to go to church, were accustomed to gather at our house in the evening. Then my parents used to put me up on a large table in the midst of the assembly, and I delivered to those good people the most beautiful parts of the Old and New Testaments. The breathless attention, the applause of our guests, and may I tell it often the tears of joy which my mother tried in vain to conceal, supported my strength and gave me the courage I wanted, to speak when so young before so many people. When my parents saw that I was growing tired, my mother, who had a fine voice, sang some of the beautiful French hymns with which her memory was filled.
Several times, when the fine weather allowed me to go to church with my parents, the farmers would take me into their caleches (buggies) at the door of the temple, and request me to give them some chapter of the Gospel. With a most perfect attention they listened to the voice of the child, whom the Good Master had chosen to give them the bread which comes from heaven. More than once, I remember, that when the bell called us to the church, they expressed their regret that they could not hear more.
On one of the beautiful spring days of 1818 my father was writing in his office, and my mother was working with her needle, singing one of her favourite hymns, and I was at the door, playing and talking to a fine robin which I had so perfectly trained that he followed me wherever I went. All of a sudden I saw the priest coming near the gate. The sight of him sent a thrill of uneasiness through my whole frame. It was his first visit to our home.
The priest was a person below the common stature, and had an unpleasant appearance his shoulders were large and he was very corpulent; his hair was long and uncombed, and his double chin seemed to groan under the weight of his flabby cheeks.
I hastily ran to the door and whispered to my parents, "M. le Cur'e arrive ("Mr. Curate is coming"). The last sound was hardly out of my lips when the Rev. Mr. Courtois was at the door, and my father, shaking hands with him, gave him a welcome.
That priest was born in France, where he had a narrow escape, having been condemned to death under the bloody administration of Robespierre. He had found a refuge, with many other French priests, in England, whence he came to Quebec, and the bishop of that place had given him the charge of the parish of Murray Bay.
His conversation was animated and interesting for the first quarter of an hour. It was a real pleasure to hear him. But of a sudden his countenance changed as if a dark cloud had come over his mind, and he stopped talking. My parents had kept themselves on a respectful reserve with the priest. They seemed to have no other mind than to listen to him. The silence which followed was exceedingly unpleasant for all the parties. It looked like the heavy hour which precedes a storm. At length the priest, addressing my faith, said, "Mr. Chiniquy, is it true that you and your child read the Bible?"
"Yes, sir," was the quick reply, "my little boy and I read the Bible, and what is still better, he has learned by heart a great number of its most interesting chapters. If you will allow it, Mr. Curate, he will give you some of them."
"I did not come for that purpose," abruptly replied the priest; "but do you not know that you are forbidden by the holy Council of Trent to read the Bible in French."
"It makes very little difference to me whether I read the Bible in French, Greek, or Latin," answered my father, "for I understand these languages equally well."
"But are you ignorant of the fact that you cannot allow your child to read the Bible?" replied the priest.
"My wife directs her own child in the reading of the Bible, and I cannot see that we commit any sin by continuing to do in future what we have done till now in that matter."
"Mr. Chiniquy," rejoined the priest, "you have gone through a whole course of theology; you know the duties of a curate; you know it is my painful duty to come here, get the Bible from you and burn it."
My grandfather was a fearless Spanish sailor (our original name was Etchiniquia), and there was too much Spanish blood and pride in my father to hear such a sentence with patience in his own house. Quick as lightning he was on his feet. I pressed myself, trembling, near my mother, who trembled also.
At first I feared lest some very unfortunate and violent scene should occur; for my father's anger in that moment was really terrible.
But there was another thing which affected me. I feared lest the priest should lay his hands on my dear Bible, which was just before him on the table; for it was mine, as it had been given me the last year as a Christmas gift.
Fortunately, my father had subdued himself after the first moment of his anger. He was pacing the room with a double-quick step; his lips were pale and trembling, and he was muttering between his teeth words which were unintelligible to any one of us.
The priest was closely watching all my father's movements; his hands were convulsively pressing his heavy cane, and his face was giving the sure evidence of a too well-grounded terror. It was clear that the ambassador of Rome did not find himself infallibly sure of his position on the ground he had so foolishly chosen to take; since his last words he had remained as silent as a tomb.
At last, after having paced the room for a considerable time, my father suddenly stopped before the priest, and said, "Sir, is that all you have to say here."
"Yes, sir," said the trembling priest.
"Well, sir," added my father, "you know the door by which you entered my house: please take the same door and go away quickly."
The priest went out immediately. I felt an inexpressible joy when I saw that my Bible was safe. I ran to my father's neck, kissed and thanked him for his victory. And to pay him, in my childish way, I jumped upon the large table and recited, in my best style, the fight between David and Goliath. Of course, in my mind, my father was David and the priest of Rome was the giant whom the little stone from the brook had stricken down.
Thou knowest, O God, that it is to that Bible, read on my mother's knees, I owe, by thy infinite mercy, the knowledge of the truth to-day; that Bible had sent, to my young heart and intelligence, rays of light which all the sophisms and dark errors of Rome could never completely extinguish.
CHAPTER 2 Back to Top
In the month of June, 1818, my parents sent me to an excellent school at St. Thomas.
One of my mother's sisters resided there, who was the wife of an industrious miller
called Stephen Eschenbach. They had no children, and they received me as their own
The beautiful village of St. Thomas had already, at that time, a considerable population. The tow fine rivers which unite their rapid waters in its very midst before they fall into the magnificent basin from which they flow into the St. Lawrence, supplied the water-power for several mills and factories.
There was in the village a considerable trade in grain, flour and lumber. The fisheries were very profitable, and the game was abundant. Life was really pleasant and easy.
The families Tachez, Cazeault, Fournier, Dubord, Frechette, Tetu, Dupuis, Couillard, Duberges, which were among the most ancient and notable of Canada, were at the head of the intellectual and material movement of the place, and they were a real honour to the French Canadian name.
I met there with one of my ancestors on my mother's side whose name was F. Amour des Plaines. He was an old and brave soldier, and would sometimes show us the numerous wounds he had received in the battles in which he had fought for his country. Though nearly eighty years old, he sang to us the songs of the good old times with all the vivacity of a young man.
The school of Mr. Allen Jones, to which I had been sent, was worthy of its wide-spread reputation. I had never known any teacher who deserved more, or who enjoyed in a higher degree the respect and confidence of his pupils.
He was born in England, and belonged to one of the most respectable families there. He had received the best education which England could give to her sons. After having gone through a perfect course of study at home, he had gone to Paris, where he had also completed an academical course. He was perfectly master of the French and English languages. And it was not without good reasons that he was surrounded by a great number of scholars from every corner of Canada. The children of the best families of St. Thomas were, with me, attending the school of Mr. Jones. But as he was a Protestant, the priest was much opposed to him, and every effort was made by that priest to induce my relatives to take me away from that school and send me to the one under his care.
The name of the priest was Loranger. He had a swarthy countenance, and in person was lean and tall. His preaching had no attraction, and he was far from being popular among the intelligent part of the people of St. Thomas.
Dr. Tachez, whose high capacity afterwards brought him to the head of the Canadian Government, was the leading man of St. Thomas. Being united by the bonds of a sincere friendship with his nephew, L. Cazeault, who was afterwards placed at the head of the University of Laval, in Quebec, I had more opportunities of going to the house of Mr. Tachez, where my young friend was boarding.
In those days Dr. Tachez had no need of the influence of the priests, and he frequently gave vent to his supreme contempt for them. Once a week there was a meeting in his house of the principal citizens of St. Thomas, where the highest questions of history and religion were freely and warmly discussed; but the premises as well as the conclusions of these discussions were invariably adverse to the priests and religion of Rome, and too often to every form of Christianity.
Though these meetings had not entirely the character or exclusiveness of secret societies, they were secret to a great extent. My friend Cazeault was punctual in telling me the days and hours of the meetings, and I used to go with him to an adjoining room, from which we could hear everything without being suspected. From what I heard and saw in these meetings I most certainly would have been ruined, had not the Word of God, with which my mother had filled my young mind and heart, been my shield and strength. I was often struck with terror and filled with disgust at what I heard in those meetings. But what a strange and deplorable thing! My conscience was condemning me every time I listened to these impious discussions, while there was a strong craving in me to hear them that I could not resist.
There was then in St. Thomas a personage who was unique in his character. He never mixed with the society of the village, but was, nevertheless, the object of much respectful attention and inquiry from every one. He was one of the former monks of Canada, known under the name of Capucin or Recollets, whom the conquest of Canada by Great Britain had forced to leave their monastery. He was a clock-maker, and lived honourably by his trade. His little white house, in the very midst of the village, was the perfection of neatness.
Brother Mark, as he was called, was a remarkably well-built man; high stature, large and splendid shoulders, and the most beautiful hands I ever saw. His long black robe, tied around his waist by a white sash, was remarkable for its cleanliness. His life was really a solitary one, always alone with his sister, who kept his house.
Every day that the weather was propitious, Brother Mark spent a couple of hours in fishing, and I myself was exceedingly fond of that exercise, I used to meet him often along the banks of the beautiful rivers of St. Thomas.
His presence was always a good omen to me; for he was more expert than I in finding the best places for fishing. As soon as he found a place where the fish were abundant, he would make signs to me, or call me at the top of his voice, that I might share in his good luck. I appreciated his delicate attention to me, and repaid him with the marks of a sincere gratitude. The good monk had entirely conquered my young heart, and I cherished a sincere regard for him. He often invited me to his solitary but neat little home, and I never visited him without receiving some proofs of a sincere kindness. His good sister rivaled him in overwhelming me with such marks of attention and love as I could only expect from a dear mother.
There was a mixture of timidity and dignity in the manners of Brother Mark which I have found in on one else. He was fond of children; and nothing could be more graceful than his smile every time that he could see that I appreciated his kindness, and that I gave him any proof of my gratitude. But that smile, and any other expression of joy, were very transient. On a sudden he would change, and it was obvious that a mysterious cloud was passing over his heart.
The pope had released the monks of the monastery to which he belonged, from their vows of poverty and obedience. The consequence was that they could become independent, and even rich by their own industry. It was in their power to rise to a respectable position in the world by their honourable efforts. The pope had given them the permission they wanted, that they might earn an honest living. But what a strange and incredible folly to ask the permission of a pope to be allowed to live honourably on the fruits of one's own industry!
These poor monks, having been released from their vows of obedience, were no longer the slaves of a man; but were now permitted to go to heaven on the sole condition that they would obey the laws of God and the laws of their country! But into what a frightful abyss of degradation men must have fallen, to believe that they required a license from Rome for such a purpose. This is, nevertheless, the simple and naked truth. That excess of folly, and that supreme impiety and degradation are among the fundamental dogmas of Rome. The infallible pope assures the world that there is no possible salvation for any one who does not sincerely believe what he teaches in this matter.
But the pope who had so graciously relieved the Canadian monks from their vows of obedience and poverty, had been inflexible in reference to their vows of celibacy. From this there was no relief.
The honest desires of the good monk to live according to the laws of God, with a wife whom heaven might have given him, had become an impossibility the pope vetoed it.
The unfortunate monk was bound to believe that he would be for ever damned if he dared to accept as a gospel truth the Word of God which says:-
"Propter fornicationem autem, unusquisque uxorem suam habeat, unaquaque virum suum habeat. (Vulgate Bible of Rome.) Nevertheless to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." (I Cor. vii. 2.) That shining light which the world contains and which gives life to man, was entirely shut out from Brother Mark. He was not allowed to know that God himself had said, "It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him an help-meet for him" (Gen. ii. 18.) Brother Mark was endowed with such a loving heart! He could not be known without being loved; and he must have suffered much in that celibacy which his faith in the pope had imposed upon him.
Far away from the regions of light, truth and life, that soul, tied to the feet of the implacable modern Divinity, which the Romanists worship under the same name of Sovereign Pontiff, was trying in vain to annihilate and destroy the instincts and affections which God himself had implanted in him.
One day, as I was amusing myself, with a few other young friends, near the house of Brother Mark, suddenly we saw something covered with blood thrown from a window, and falling at a short distance from us. At the same instant we heard loud cries, evidently coming from the monk's house: "O my God! Have mercy upon me! Save me! I am lost!"
The sister of Brother Mark rushed out of doors and cried to some men who were passing by: "Come to our help! My poor brother is dying! For God's sake make haste, he is losing all his blood!"
I ran to the door, but the lady shut it abruptly and turned me out, saying, "We do not want children here."
I had a sincere affection for the good brother. He had invariably been so kind to me! I insisted, and respectfully requested to be allowed to enter. Though young and weak, it seemed that my friendly feelings towards the suffering brother would add to my strength, and enable me to be of some service. But my request was sternly rejected, and I had to go back to the street, among the crowd which was fast gathering. The singular mystery in which they were trying to wrap the poor monk, filled me with trouble and anxiety.
But that trouble was soon changed into an unspeakable confusion when I heard the convulsive laughing of the low people, and the shameful jokes of the crowd, after the doctor had told the nature of the wound which was causing the unfortunate man to bleed almost to death. I was struck with such horror that I fled away; I did not want to know any more of that tragedy. I had already known too much!
Poor Brother Mark had ceased to be a man he had become an eunuch!
O cruel and godless church of Rome! How many souls hast thou deceived and tortured! How many hearts hast thou broken with that celibacy which Satan alone could invent! This unfortunate victim of a most degrading religion, did not, however, die from his rash action: he soon recovered his usual health.
Having, meanwhile, ceased to visit him; some months later I was fishing along the river in a very solitary place. The fish were abundant and I was completely absorbed in catching them, when, on a sudden, I felt on my shoulder the gentle pressure of a hand. It was Brother Mark's.
I thought I would faint through the opposite sentiments of surprise, of pain and joy, which at the same time crossed my mind.
With an affectionate and trembling voice he said to me, "My dear child, why do you not any more come to see me?"
I did not dare to look at him after he had addressed me those words. I liked him on account of his acts of kindness to me. But the fatal hour when, in the street before the door, I had suffered so much on his account that fatal hour was on my heart as a mountain which I could not put away I could not answer him.
He then asked me again with the tone of a criminal who sues for mercy: "Why is it, my dear child, that you do not come any longer to see me? you know that I love you."
"Dear Brother Mark," I answered, "I will never forget your kindness to me. I will for ever be grateful to you! I wish that it would be in my power to continue, as formerly, to go and see you. But I cannot, and you ought to know the reason why I cannot."
I had pronounced these words with downcast eyes. I was a child, with the timidity and happy ignorance of a child. But the action of that unfortunate man had struck me with such a horror that I could not entertain the idea of visiting him any more.
He spent two or three minutes without saying a word, and without moving. But I heard his sobs and his cries, and his cries were those of despair and anguish, the like of which I have never heard since.
I could not contain myself any longer, I was suffocating with suppressed emotion, and I would have fallen insensible to the ground if two streams of tears had not burst from my eyes. Those tears did me good they did him good also they told him that I was still his friend.
He took me in his arms and pressed me to his bosom his tears were mixed with mine. But I could not speak the emotions of my heart were too much for my age. I sat on a damp and cold stone in order not to faint. He fell on his knees by my side.
Ah! if I were a painter I would make a most striking tableau of that scene. His eyes, swollen and red with weeping, were raised to heaven, his hand lifted up in the attitude of supplication: he was crying out with an accent which seemed as though it would break my heart -
"Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! que je suis malheureux!"
My God! My God! what a wretched man am I!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The twenty-five years that I have been a priest of Rome, have revealed to me the fact that the cries of desolation I heard that day, were but the echo of the cries of desolation which go out from almost every nunnery, every parsonage and every house where human beings are bound by the ties of Romish Celibacy.
God knows that I am a faithful witness of what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard, when I say to the multitudes which the Church of Rome has bewitched with her enchantments: Wherever there are nuns, monks and priests who live in forced violation of the ways which God had appointed for man to walk in, there are torrents of tears, there are desolated hearts, there are cries of anguish and despair which say in the words of brother Mark:
"Oh! que je suis malheureux!"
Oh! how miserable and wretched I am!
CHAPTER 3 Back to Top
No words can express to those who have never had any experience in the matter,
the consternation, anxiety and shame of a poor Romish child, when he hears, for the
first time, his priest saying from the pulpit, in a grave and solemn tone, "This
week, you will send your children to confession. Make them understand that this action
is one of the most important of their lives, and that for every one of them, it will
decide their eternal happiness or misery. Fathers and mothers, if, through your fault,
or his own, your child is guilty of a bad confession if he conceals his sins and
commences lying to the priest, who holds the place of God Himself, this sin is often
irreparable. The devil will take possession of his heart: he will become accustomed
to lie to his father confessor, or rather to Jesus Christ, of whom he is a representative.
His life will be a series of sacrileges; his death and eternity those of the reprobate.
Teach him, therefore, to examine thoroughly his actions, words and thoughts, in order
to confess without disguise."
I was in the church of St. Thomas when these words fell upon me like a thunderbolt.
I had often heard my mother say, when at home and my aunt since I had come to St. Thomas, that upon the first confession depended my eternal happiness or misery. That week was, therefore, to decide about my eternity.
Pale and dismayed, I left the church, and returned to the house of my relatives. I took my place at the table, but could not eat, so much was I troubled. I went to my room for the purpose of commencing my examination of conscience and to recall all my sinful actions, words, and thoughts. Although I was scarcely over ten years of age, this task was really overwhelming for me. I knelt down to pray to the Virgin Mary for help; but I was so much taken up with the fear of forgetting something, and of making a bad confession, that I muttered my prayers without the least attention to what I said. It became still worse when I commenced counting my sins. My memory became confused, my head grew dizzy; my heart beat with a rapidity which exhausted me, and my brow was covered with perspiration. After a considerable length of time spent in those painful efforts, I felt bordering on despair, from the fear that it was impossible for me to remember everything. The night following was almost a sleepless one; and when sleep did come, it could scarcely be called a sleep, but a suffocating delirium. In a frightful dream, I felt as if I had been cast into hell, for not having confessed all my sins to the priest. In the morning, I awoke, fatigued and prostrated by the phantoms of that terrible night. In similar troubles of mind were passed the three days which preceded my first confession. I had constantly before me the countenance of that stern priest who had never smiled upon me. He was present in my thoughts during the day, and in my dreams during the night, as the minister of an angry God, justly irritated against me on account of my sins. Forgiveness had indeed been promised to me, on condition of a good confession; but my place had also been shown to me in hell, if any confession was not as near perfection as possible. Now, my troubled conscience told me that there were ninety-nine chances against one, that my confession would be bad, whether by my own fault I forgot some sins, or I was without that contrition of which I had heard so much, but the nature and effects of which were a perfect chaos in my mind.
Thus it was that the cruel and perfidious Church of Rome took away from my young heart the good and merciful Jesus, whose love and compassion had caused me to shed tears of joy when I was beside my mother. The Saviour whom that church made me to worship, through fear, was not the Saviour who called little children unto Him, to bless them and take them in His arms. Her impious hands were soon to torture and defile my childish heart, and place me at the feet of a pale and severe looking man worthy representative of a pitiless God. I was made to tremble with terror at the footstool of an implacable divinity, while the gospel asked from me only tears of love and joy, shed at the feet of the incomparable Friend of sinners. At length came the day of confession; or rather of judgment and condemnation. I presented myself to the priest.
Mr. Loranger was no longer priest of St. Thomas. He had been succeeded by Mr. Beaubien, who did not favour our school any more than his predecessor. He had even taken upon himself to preach a sermon against the heretical school, by which we had been excessively wounded. His want of love for us, however, I must say, was fully reciprocated.
Mr. Beaubien had, then, the defect of lisping and stammering. This we often turned into ridicule, and one of my favourite amusements was to imitate him, which brought bursts of laughter from us all.
It had been necessary for me to examine myself upon the number of times I had mocked him. This circumstance was not calculated to make my confession easier, or more agreeable.
At last the dreaded moment came. I knelt at the side of my confessor. My whole frame trembled. I repeated the prayer preparatory to confession, scarcely knowing what I said, so much was I troubled by fear.
By the instructions which had been given us before confession, we had been made to believe that the priest was the true representative yes, almost the personification of Jesus Christ. The consequence was, that I believed my greatest sin had been that of mocking the priest. Having always been told that it was best to confess the greatest sin first, I commenced thus: "Father, I accuse myself of having mocked a priest."
Scarcely had I uttered these words, "mocked a priest," when this pretended representative of the humble Saviour, turning towards me, and looking in my face in order to know me better, asked abruptly, "What priest did you mock, my boy?" I would rather have chosen to cut out my tongue than to tell him to his face who it was. I therefore kept silent for a while. By my silence made him very nervous and almost angry. With a haughty tone of voice he said, "What priest did you take the liberty of thus mocking?"
I saw that I had to answer. Happily his haughtiness had made me firmer and bolder. I said, "Sir, you are the priest whom I mocked."
"But how many times did you take upon you to mock me, my boy?"
"I tried to find out," I answered, "but I never could."
"You must tell me how many times; for to mock one's own priest is a great sin."
"It is impossible for me to give you the number of times," answered I.
"Well, my child, I will help your memory by asking you questions. Tell me the truth. Do you think you have mocked me ten times?"
"A great many times more, sir."
"Many more still."
"A hundred times?"
"Say five hundred times, and perhaps more," answered I.
"Why, my boy, do you spend all your time in mocking me?"
"Not all; but unfortunately I do it very often."
"Well may you say unfortunately; for so to mock your priest, who holds the place of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a great misfortune, and a great sin for you. But tell me, my little boy, what reason have you for mocking me thus?"
In my examinations of conscience I had not foreseen that I should be obliged to give the reasons for mocking the priest; and I was really thunderstruck by his questions. I dared not answer, and I remained for a long time dumb, from the shame that overpowered me. But with a harassing perseverance the priest insisted upon my telling why I had mocked him; telling me that I should be damned if I did not tell the whole truth. So I decided to speak, and said, "I mocked you for several things."
"What made you first mock me?" continued the priest.
"I laughed at you because you lisped. Among our pupils of our school, it often happens that we imitate your preaching to excite laughter."
"Have you often done that?"
"Almost every day,especially in our holidays, and since you preached against us."
"For what other reasons did you laugh at me, my little boy?"
For a long time I was silent. Every time I opened my mouth to speak courage failed me. However, the priest continuing to urge me, I said at last, "It is rumoured in town that you love girls; that you visit the Misses Richards every evening, and this often makes us laugh."
The poor priest was evidently overwhelmed by my answer, and ceased questioning me on this subject. Changing the conversation, he said:
"What are your other sins?"
I began to confess them in the order in which they came to my memory. But the feeling of shame which overpowered me in repeating all my sins to this man was a thousand times greater than that of having offended God. In reality this feeling of human shame which absorbed my thought nay, my whole being left no room for any religious feeling at all.
When I had confessed all the sins I could remember, the priest began to ask me the strangest questions on matters about which my pen must be silent. I replied, "Father, I do not understand what you ask me."
"I question you on the sixth commandment (seventh in the Bible). Confess all. You will go to hell, if through your fault you omit anything."
Thereupon he dragged my thoughts to regions which, thank God, had hitherto been unknown to me.
I answered him: "I do not understand you," or "I have never done these things."
Then, skillfully shifting to some secondary matter, he would soon slyly and cunningly come back to his favourite subject, namely, sins of licentiousness.
His questions were so unclean that I blushed, and felt sick with disgust and shame. More than once I had been, to my regret, in the company of bad boys; but not one of them had offended my moral nature so much as this priest had done. Not one of them had ever approached the shadow of the things from which that man tore the veil, and which he placed before the eye of my soul. In vain did I tell him that I was not guilty of such things; that I did not even understand what he asked me; he would not let me off. Like the vulture bent upon tearing the poor bird that falls into his claws, that cruel priest seemed determined to defile and ruin my heart.
At last he asked me a question in a form of expression so bad that I was really pained. I felt as if I had received a shock from an electric battery; a feeling of horror made me shudder. I was so filled with indignation that speaking loud enough to be heard by many, I told him: "Sir, I am very wicked; I have seen, heard and done many things which I regret; but I never was guilty of what you mention to me. My ears have never heard anything so wicked as what they have heard from your lips. Please do not ask me any more of those questions; do not teach me any more evil than I already know."
The remainder of my confession was short. The firmness of my voice had evidently frightened the priest, and made him blush. He stopped short and began to give me some good advice, which might have been useful to me if the deep wounds which his questions had inflicted upon my soul had not so absorbed my thoughts as to prevent me from giving attention to what he said.
He gave me a short penance and dismissed me.
I left the confessional irritated and confused. From the shame of what I had just heard from the mouth of that priest I dared not life my eyes from the ground. I went into a retired corner of the church to do my penance; that is, to recite the prayers he had indicated to me. I remained for a long time in church. I had need of a calm after the terrible trial through which I had just passed. But vainly sought I for rest. The shameful questions which had been asked me, the new world of iniquity into which I had been introduced, the impure phantoms by which my childish heart had been defiled, confused and troubled my mind so strangely that I began to weep bitterly.
Why those tears? Why that desolation? Wept I over my sins? Alas! I confess it was shame, my sins did not call forth these tears. And yet how many sins had I already committed, for which Jesus shed His precious blood. But I confess my sins were not the cause of my desolation. I was rather thinking of my mother, who had taken such good care of me, and who had so well succeeded in keeping away from my thoughts those impure forms of sin, the thoughts of which had just now defiled my heart. I said to myself, "Ah! if my mother had heard those questions; if she could see the evil thoughts which overwhelm me at this moment if she knew to what school she sent me when she advised me in her last letter to go to confession, how her tears would mingle with mine!" It seemed to me that my mother would love me not more that she would see written upon my brow the pollution with which that priest had profaned my soul.
Perhaps the feeling of pride was what made me weep. Or perhaps I wept because of a remnant of that feeling of original dignity whose traces had still been left in me. I felt so downcast by the disappointment of being removed farther from the Saviour by that confessional which had promised to bring me nearer to Him. God only knows what was the depth of my sorrow at feeling myself more defiled and more guilty after than before my confession.
I left the church only when forced to do so by the shades of night, and came to my uncle's house with that feeling of uneasiness caused by the consciousness of having done a bad action, and by the fear of being discovered.
Though this uncle, as well as most of the principal citizens of the village of St. Thomas, had the name of being a Roman Catholic, he yet did not believe a word of the doctrines of the Roman Church. He laughed at the priests, their masses, their purgatory, and especially their confession. He did not conceal that, when young, he had been scandalized by the words and actions of a priest in the confessional. He spoke to me jestingly. This increased my trouble and my grief. "Now," said he, "you will be a good boy. But if you have heard as many new things as I did the first time I went to confess, you are a very learned boy;" and he burst into laughter.
I blushed and remained silent. My aunt, who was a devoted Roman Catholic, said to me, "Your heart is relieved, is it not, since you confessed all your sins?" I gave her an evasive answer, but I could not conceal the sadness that overcame me. I thought I was the only one from whom the priest had asked those polluting questions. But great was my surprise, on the following day, when going to school I learned that my fellow pupils had not been happier than I had been. The only difference was, that instead of being grieved, they laughed at it. "Did the priest ask you such and such questions?" they would demand, laughing boisterously. I refused to reply, and said, "Are you not ashamed to speak of these things?"
"Ah! ah! how very scrupulous you are," continued they. "If it is not a sin for the priest to speak to us on these matters, how can it be a sin for us?" I stopped, confounded, not knowing what to say.
I soon perceived that even the young schoolgirls had not been less polluted and scandalized by the questions of the priest than the boys. Although keeping at a distance, such as to prevent us from hearing all they said, I could understand enough to convince me that they had been asked about the same questions. Some of them appeared indignant, while others laughed heartily.
I should be misunderstood where it supposed that I mean to convey the idea that this priest was more to blame than others, or that he did more than fulfill the duties of his ministry in asking these questions. Such, however, was my opinion at the time, and I detested that man with all my heart until I knew better. I had been unjust towards him, for this priest had only done his duty. He was only obeying the pope and his theologians. His being a priest of Rome was, therefore, less in crime than his misfortune. He was, as I have been myself, bound hand and foot at the feet of the greatest enemy that the holiness and truth of God have ever had on earth the pope.
The misfortune of Mr. Beaubien, like that of all the priests of Rome, was that of having bound himself by terrible oaths not to think for himself, or to use the light of his own reason.
Many Roman Catholics, even many Protestants, refuse to believe this. It is, notwithstanding, a sad truth. The priest of Rome is an automaton a machine which acts, thinks and speaks in matters of morals and of faith, only according to the order and the will of the pope and of his theologians.
Had Mr. Beaubien been left to himself, he was naturally too much of a gentleman to ask such questions. But no doubt he had read Liguori, Dens, Debreyne, authors approved by the pope, and he was obliged to take darkness for light, and vice for virtue.
CHAPTER 4 Back to Top
Shortly after the trial of auricular confession, my young friend, Louis Cazeault,
accosted me on a beautiful morning and said, "Do you know what happened last
"No," I answered. "What was the wonder?"
"You know that our priest spends almost all his evenings at Mr. Richard's house. Everybody thinks that he goes there for the sake of the two daughters. Well, in order to cure him of that disease, my uncle, Dr. Tache, and six others, masked, whipped him without mercy and he was coming back at eleven o'clock at night. It is already known by everyone in the village, and they split their sides with laughing."
My first feeling on hearing that news was one of joy. Ever since my first confession I felt angry every time I thought of that priest. His questions had so wounded me that I could not forgive him. I had enough self-control, however, to conceal my pleasure, and I answered my friend:
"You are telling me a wicked story; I can't believe a word of it."
"Well," said young Cazeault, "come at eight o'clock this evening to my uncle's. A secret meeting is to take place then. No doubt they will speak of the pill given to the priest last night. We shall place ourselves in our little room as usual and shall hear everything, our presence not being suspected. You may be sure that it will be interesting."
"I will go," I answered, "but I do not believe a word of that story."
I went to school at the usual hour. Most of the pupils had preceded me. Divided into groups of eight or ten, they were engaged in a most lively conversation. Bursts of convulsive laughter were heard from every corner. I could very well see that something uncommon had taken place in the village.
I approached several of these groups, and all received me with the question:
"Do you know that the priest was whipped last night as he was coming from the Misses Richards'?"
"That is a story invented for fun," said I. "You were not there to see him, were you? You therefore know nothing about it; for it anybody had whipped the priest he would not surely boast of it."
"But we heard his screams," answered many voices.
"What! was he then screaming out?" I asked.
"He shouted out at the top of his voice, `Help, help! Murder!'"
"But you were surely mistaken about the voice," said I. "It was not the priest who shouted, it was somebody else. I could never believe that anybody would whip a priest in such a crowded village."
"But," said several, "we ran to his help and we recognized the priest's voice. He is the only one who lisps in the village."
"And we saw him with our own eyes," said several.
The school bell put an end to this conversation. As soon as school was out I returned to the house of my relatives, not wishing to learn any more about this matter. Although I did not like this priest, yet I was much mortified by some remarks which the older pupils made about him.
But it was difficult not to hear any more. On my arrival home I found my uncle and aunt engaged in a very warm debate on the subject. My uncle wished to conceal the fact that he was among those who had whipped him. But he gave the details so precisely, he was so merry over the adventure, that it was easy to see that he had a hand in the plot. My aunt was indignant, and used the most energetic expressions to show her disapprobation.
That bitter debate annoyed me so that I did not stay long to hear it all. I withdrew to my study.
During the remainder of the day I changed my resolution many times about my going to the secret meeting in the evening. At one moment I would decide firmly not to go. My conscience told me that, as usual, things would be uttered which it was not good for me to her. I had refused to go to the two last meetings, and a silent voice, as it were, told me I had done well. Then a moment after I was tormented by the desire to know precisely what had taken place the evening before. The flagellation of a priest in the midst of a large village was a fact too worthy of note to fail to excite the curiosity of a child. Besides, my aversion to the priest, though I concealed it as well as I could, made me wish to know whether everything was true on the subject of the chastisement. But in the struggle between good and evil which took place in my mind during that day, the evil was finally to triumph. A quarter of an hour before the meeting my friend came to me and said:
"Make haste, the members of the association are coming."
At this call all my good resolutions vanished. I hushed the voice of my conscience, and a few minutes later I was placed in an angle of that little room, where for more than two hours I learned so many strange and scandalous things about the lives of the priests of Canada.
Dr. Tache presided. He opened the meeting in a low tone of voice. At the beginning of his discourse I had some difficulty to understand what he said. He spoke as one who feared to be overheard when disclosing a secret to a friend. But after a few preliminary sentences he forgot the rule of prudence which he had imposed upon himself, and spoke with energy and power.
Mr. Etienne Tache was naturally eloquent. He seemed to speak on no question except under the influence of the deepest conviction of its truth. His speech was passionate, and the tone of his voice clear and agreeable. His short and cutting sentences did not reach the ear only: they penetrated even the secret folds of the soul. He spoke in substance as follows:
"Gentlemen, I am happy to see you here more numerously than ever. The grave events of last night have, no doubt, decided many of you to attend debates which some began to forsake, but the importance of which, it seems to me, increases day by day.
"The question debated in our last meeting `The Priests' is one of life and death, not only for our young and beautiful Canada, but in a moral point of view it is a question of life and death for our families, and for every one of us in particular.
"There is, I know, only one opinion among us on the subject of priests; and I am glad that this opinion is not only that of all educated men in Canada, but also of learned France nay, of the whole world. The reign of the priest is the reign of ignorance, of corruption, and of the most barefaced immorality, under the mask of the most refined hypocrisy. The reign of the priest is the death of our schools; it is the degradation of our wives, the prostitution of our daughters; it is the reign of tyranny the loss of liberty.
"We have only one good school, I will not say in St. Thomas, but in all our county. This school in our midst is a great honour to our village. Now see the energy with which all the priests who come here work for the closing of that school. They use every means to destroy that focus of light which we have started with so much difficulty, and which we support by so many sacrifices.
"With the priest of Rome our children do not belong to us: he is their master. Let me explain. The priest honours us with the belief that the bodies, the flesh and bones of our children, are ours, and that our duty in consequence is to clothe and feed them. But the nobler and more sacred part, namely, the intellect, the heart, the soul, the priest claims as his own patrimony, his own property. The priest has the audacity to tell us that to him alone it belongs to enlighten those intelligences, to form those hearts, to fashion those souls as it may best suit him. He has the impudence to tell us that we are too silly or perverse to know our duties in this respect. We have not the right of choosing our school teachers. We have not the right to send a single ray of light into those intellects, or to give to those souls who hunger and thirst after truth a single crumb of that food prepared with so much wisdom and success by enlightened men of all ages.
"By the confessional the priests poison the springs of life in our children. They initiate them into such mysteries of iniquity as would terrify old galley slaves. By their questions they reveal to them secrets of a corruption such as carries its germs of death into the very marrow of their bones, and that from the earliest years of their infancy. Before I was fifteen years old I had learned more real blackguardism from the mouth of my confessor than I have learned ever since, in my studies and in my life as a physician for twenty years.
"A few days ago I questioned my little nephew, Louis Cazeault, upon what he had learned in his confession. He answered me ingenuously, and repeated things to me which I would be ashamed to utter in your presence, and which you, fathers of families, could not listen to without blushing. And just think, that not only of little boys are those questions asked, but also of our dear little girls. Are we not the most degraded of men if we do not set ourselves to work in order to break the iron yoke under which the priest keeps our dear country, and by means of which he keeps us, with our wives and children, at his feet like vile slaves.
"While speaking to you of the deleterious effects of the confessional upon our children, shall I forget its effects upon our wives and upon ourselves? Need I tell you that, for most women, the confessional is a rendezvous of coquetry and of love? Do you not feel as I do myself, that by means of the confessional the priest is more the master of the hearts of our wives than ourselves? Is not the priest the private and public confidant of our wives? Do not our wives go invariably to the feet of the priest, opening to him what is most sacred and intimate in the secrets of our lives as husbands and as fathers? The husband belongs no more to his wife as her guide through the dark and difficult paths of life: it is the priest! We are no more their friends and natural advisers. Their anxieties and their cares they do not confide to us. They do not expect from us the remedies for the miseries of this life. Towards the priest they turn their thoughts and desires. He has their entire and exclusive confidence. In a word, it is the priest who is the real husband of our wives! It is he who has the possession of their respect and of their hearts to a degree to which no one of us need ever aspire!
"Were the priest an angel, were he not made of flesh and bones just as we are, were not his organization absolutely the same as our own, then might we be indifferent to what might take place between him and our wives, whom he has at his feet, in his hands even more, in his heart. But what does my experience tell me, not only as a physician, but also as a citizen of St. Thomas? What does yours tell you? Our experience tells us that the priest, instead of being stronger, is weaker than we generally are with respect to women.
His sham vows of perfect chastity, far from rendering him more invulnerable to the arrows of Cupid, expose him to be made more easily the victim of that god, so small in form, but so dreadful a giant by the irresistible power of his weapons and the extent of his conquests.
"As a matter of fact, of the last four priest who came to St. Thomas, have not three seduced many of the wives and daughters of our most respectable families? And what security have we that the priest who is now with us does not walk in the same path? Is not the whole parish filled with indignation at the long nightly visits made by him to two girls whose dissolute morals are a secret to nobody? And when the priest does not respect himself, would we not be silly in continuing to give him that respect of which he himself knows he is unworthy?
"At out last meeting the opinions were divided at the beginning of the discussion. Many thought it would be well to speak to the bishop about the scandal caused by those nightly visits. But the majority judged that such steps would be useless, since the bishop would do one of two things, namely, he would either pay no attention to our just complaints, as has often been the case, or he would remove this priest, filling his place with one who would do no better. That majority, which became a unanimity, acceded to my thought of taking justice into our own hands. The priest is our servant. We pay him a large tithe. We have therefore claims upon him. He has abused us, and does so every day by his public neglect of the most elementary laws of morality. In visiting every night that house whose degradation is known to everybody, he gives to youth an example of perversity the effects of which no one can estimate.
"It had been unanimously decided that he should be whipped. Without my telling you by whom it was done, you may be assured that Mr. Beaubien's flagellation of last night will never be forgotten by him!
"Heaven grant that this brotherly correction be a lesson to teach all the priests of Canada that their golden reign is over, that the eyes of the people are opened, and that their domination is drawing to an end!"
This discourse was listened to with deep silence, and Dr. Tache saw by the applause that followed that his speech had been the expression of every one.
Next followed a gentleman named Dubord, who in substance spoke as follows:
"Mr. President, I was not among those who gave the priest the expression of public feeling with the energetic tongue of the whip. I wish I had been, however; I would heartily have co-operated in giving that lesson to the priest of Canada. Let me give my reason.
"My daughter who is twelve years old, went to confession as did the others a few weeks ago. It was against my will. I know by my own experience that of all actions confession is the most degrading in a person's life. I can imagine nothing so well calculated to destroy for every one's self-respect as the modern invention of the confessional. Now, what is a person without self-respect especially a woman? Without this all is lost to her for ever.
"In the confessional everything is corruption of the lowest grade.
"In the confessional, a girl's thoughts are polluted, her tongue is polluted, her heart is polluted yes, and forever polluted! Do I need to tell you this? You know it as well as I do. Though you are now all too intelligent to degrade yourselves at the feet of a priest, though it is long since you have been guilty of that meanness, not one of you have forgotten the lessons of corruption received, when young, in the confessional. Those lessons were engraved on your memory, your thoughts, your heart, and your souls like the scar left by the red-hot iron upon the brow of the slave, to remain a perpetual witness of his shame and servitude. The confessional is a place where one gets accustomed to hear, and repeat without a scruple, things which would cause even a prostitute to blush!
"Why are Roman Catholic nations inferior to nations belonging to Protestantism? Only in the confessional can the solution of that problem be found. And why are Roman Catholic nations degraded in proportion to their submission to the priest? It is because the oftener the individuals composing those nations go to confession, the more rapidly they sink in the scale of intelligence and morality. A terrible example of this I had in my own house.
"As I said a moment ago, I was against my daughter going to confession; but her poor mother, who is under the control of the priest, earnestly wanted her to go. Not to have a disagreeable scene in my house, I had to yield to the tears of my wife.
"On the day following that of her confession they believed I was absent; but I was in my office, with the door sufficiently open to allow me to hear what was said. My wife and daughter had the following conversation:
"`What makes you so thoughtful and sad, my dear Lucy, since you went to confession? It seems to me you should feel happier since you had the privilege of confession your sins.'
"Lucy made no answer.
"After a silence of two or three minutes her mother said:
"`Why do you weep, dear child? Are you ill?'
"Still no answer from the child.
"You may well suppose that I was all attention. I had my suspicions about the dreadful ordeal which had taken place. My heart throbbed with uneasiness and anger.
"After a short time my wife spoke to her child with sufficient firmness to force her to answer. In a trembling voice and half suppressed with sobs my dear little daughter answered:
"`Ah! mamma, if you knew what the priest asked me, and what he said to me in the confessional, you would be as sad as I am.'
"`But what did he say to you? He is a holy man. You surely did not understand him if you think he said anything to pain you.'
"`Dear mother,' as she threw herself into her mother's arms, `do not ask me to confess what the priest said! He told to me things so shameful that I cannot repeat them. But that which pains me most is the impossibility of banishing from my thoughts the hateful things which he has taught me. His impure words are like the leeches put upon the chest of my friend Louise they could not be removed without tearing the flesh. What must have been his opinion of me to ask such questions!'
"My child said no more, and began to sob again.
"After a short silence my wife rejoined:
"`I'll go to the priest. I'll tell him to beware how he speaks in the confessional. I have noticed myself that he goes too far with his questions. I, however thought that he was more prudent with children. After the lesson that I'll give him, be sure that you will have only to tell your sins, and that you will be no more troubled by his endless questions. I ask of you, however, never to speak of this to anybody, especially never let your poor father know anything about it; for he has little enough religion already, and this would leave him without any at all.'
"I could contain myself no longer. I rose and abruptly entered the parlour. My daughter threw herself, weeping, into my arms. My wife screamed with terror, and almost fell into a swoon. I said to my child:
"If you love me, put your hand on my heart and promise me that you'll never go to confession again. Fear God, my child; walk in His presence, for His eye seeth you everywhere. Remember that day and night He is ready to forgive us. Never place yourself again at the feet of a priest to be defiled and degraded by him!
"This my daughter promised me.
"When my wife had recovered from her surprise I said to her:
"Madam, for a long time the priest has been everything, and your husband nothing to you. There is a hidden and terrible power that governs your thoughts and affections as it governs your deeds-- it is the power of the priest. This you have often denied; but providence has decided to-day that this power should be for ever broken for you and for me. I want to be the ruler in my own house; and from this moment the power of the priest over you must cease, unless you prefer to leave my house for ever. The priest has reigned here too long! But now that I know he has stained and defiled the soul of my daughter, his empire must fall! Whenever you go and take your heart and secrets to the feet of the priest, be so kind as not to come back to the same house with me."
Three other discourses followed that of Mr. Dubord, all of which were pregnant with details and facts going to prove that the confessional was the principal cause of the deplorable demoralisation of St. Thomas.
If, in addition to all that, I could have mentioned before that association what I already know of the corrupting influences of that institution given to the world by centuries of darkness, certainly the determination of its members to make use of every means to abolish the usage would have been strengthened.
CHAPTER 5 Back to Top
The day following that of the meeting at which Mr. Tache had given his reasons
for boasting that he had whipped the priest, I wrote to my mother: "For God's
sake, come for me; I can stay here no longer. If you knew what my eyes have seen
and my ears have heard for some time past, you would not delay your coming a single
Indeed, such was the impression left upon me by that flagellation, and by the speeches which I had heard, that had it not been for the crossing of the St. Lawrence, I would have started for Murray Bay on the day after the secret meeting at which I had heard things that so terribly frightened me. How I regretted the happy and peaceful days spent with my mother in reading the beautiful chapters of the Bible, so well chosen by her to instruct and interest me! What a difference there was between our conversations after these readings, and the conversations I heard at St. Thomas!
Happily my parents' desire to see me again was as great as mine to go back to them. So that a few weeks later my mother came for me. She pressed me to her heart, and brought me back to the arms of my father.
I arrived at home on the 17th of July, 1821, and spent the afternoon and evening till late by my father's side. With what pleasure did he see me working difficult problems in algebra, and even in geometry! for under my teacher, Mr. Jones, I had really made rapid progress in those branches. More than once I noticed tears of joy in my father's eyes when, taking my slate, he saw that my calculations were correct. He also examined me in grammar. "What an admirable teacher this Mr. Jones must be," he would say, "to have advanced a child so much in the short space of fourteen months!"
How sweet to me, but how short, were those hours of happiness passed between my good mother and my father! We had family worship. I read the fifteenth chapter of Luke, the return of the prodigal son. My mother then sang a hymn of joy and gratitude, and I went to bed with my heart full of happiness to take the sweetest sleep of my life. But, O God! what an awful awakening Thou hadst prepared for me!
About four o'clock in the morning heartrending screams fell upon my ear. I recognized my mother's voice.
"What is the matter, dear mother?"
"Oh, my dear child, you have no more a father! He is dead!"
In saying these words she lost consciousness and fell on the floor!
While a friend who had passed the night with us gave her proper care, I hastened to my father's bed. I pressed him to my heart, I kissed him, I covered him with my tears, I moved his head, I pressed his hands, I tried to lift him up on his pillow: I could not believe that he was dead! It seemed to me that even if dead he would come back to life that God could not thus take my father away from me at the very moment when I had come back to him after so long an absence! I knelt to pray to God for the life of my father. But my tears and cries were useless. He was dead! He was already cold as ice!
Two days after he was buried. My mother was so overwhelmed with grief that she could not follow the funeral procession. I remained with her as her only earthly support. Poor mother! How many tears thou hast shed! What sobs came from thine afflicted heart in those days of supreme grief!
Though I was very young, I could understand the greatness of our loss, and I mingled my tears with those of my mother.
What pen can portray what takes place in the heart of a woman when God takes suddenly her husband away in the prime of his life, and leaves her alone, plunged in misery, with three small children, two of whom are even too young to know their loss! How long are the hours of the day for the poor widow who is left alone, and without means, among strangers! How painful the sleepless night to the heart which has lost everything! How empty a house is left by the eternal absence of him who was its master, support, and father! Every object in the house and every step she takes remind her of her loss and sinks the sword deeper which pierces her heart. Oh, how bitter are the tears which flow from her eyes when her youngest child, who as yet does not understand the mystery of death, throws himself into her arms and says: "Mamma, where is papa? Why does he not come back? I am lonely!"
My poor mother passed through those heartrending trials. I heard her sobs during the long hours of the day, and also during the longer hours of the night. Many times I have seen her fall upon her knees to implore God to be merciful to her and to her three unhappy orphans. I could do nothing then to comfort her, but love her, pray and weep with her!
Only a few days had elapsed after the burial of my father when I saw Mr. Courtois, the parish priest, coming to our house (he who had tried to take away our Bible from us). He had the reputation of being rich, and as we were poor and unhappy since my father's death, my first thought was that he had come to comfort and to help us. I could see that my mother had the same hopes. She welcomed him as an angel from heaven. The least gleam of hope is so sweet to one who is unhappy!
From his very first words, however, I could see that our hopes were not to be realized. He tried to be sympathetic, and even said something about the confidence that we should have in God, especially in times of trial; but his words were cold and dry.
Turning to me, he said:
"Do you continue to read the Bible, my little boy?"
"Yes, sir," answered I, with a voice trembling with anxiety, for I feared that he would make another effort to take away that treasure, and I had no longer a father to defend it.
Then, addressing my mother, he said:
"Madam, I told you that it was not right for you or your child to read that book."
My mother cast down her eyes, and answered only by the tears which ran down her cheeks.
That question was followed by a long silence, and the priest then continued:
"Madam, there is something due for the prayers which have been sung, and the services which you requested to be offered for the repose of your husband's soul. I will be very much obliged to you if you pay me that little debt."
"Mr. Courtis," answered my mother, "my husband left me nothing but debts. I have only the work of my own hands to procure a living for my three children, the eldest of whom is before you. For these little orphans' sake, if not for mine, do not take from us the little that is left."
"But, madam, you do not reflect. Your husband died suddenly and without any preparation; he is therefore in the flames of purgatory. If you want him to be delivered, you must necessarily unite your personal sacrifices to the prayers of the Church and the masses which we offer."
"As I said, my husband has left me absolutely without means, and it is impossible for me to give you any money," replied my mother.
"But, madam, your husband was for a long time the only notary of Mal Bay. He surely must have made much money. I can scarcely think that he has left you without any means to help him now that his desolation and sufferings are far greater than yours."
"My husband did indeed coin much money, but he spent still more. Thanks to God, we have not been in want while he lived. But lately he got this house built, and what is still due on it makes me fear that I will lose it. He also bought a piece of land not long ago, only half of which is paid and I will, therefore, probably not be able to keep it. Hence I may soon, with my poor orphans, be deprived of everything that is left us. In the meantime I hope, sir, that you are not a man to take away from us our last piece of bread."
"But, madam, the masses offered for the rest of your husband's soul must be paid for," answered the priest.
My mother covered her face with her handkerchief and wept.
As for me, I did not mingle my tears with hers this time. My feelings were not those of grief, but of anger and unspeakable horror. My eyes were fixed on the face of that man who tortured my mother's heart. I looked with tearless eyes upon the man who added to my mother's anguish, and made her weep more bitterly than ever. My hands were clenched, as if ready to strike. All my muscles trembled; my teeth chattered as if from intense cold. My greatest sorrow was my weakness in the presence of that big man, and my not being able to send him away from our house, and driving him far away from my mother.
I felt inclined to say to him: "Are you not ashamed, you who are so rich, to come to take away the last piece of bread from our mouths?" But my physical and moral strength were not sufficient to accomplish the task before me, and I was filled with regret and disappointment.
After a long silence, my mother raised her eyes, reddened with tears, towards the priest and said:
"Sir, you see that cow in the meadow, not far from our house? Her milk and the butter made from it form the principal part of my children's food. I hope you will not take her away from us. If, however, such a sacrifice must be made to deliver my poor husband's soul from purgatory, take her as payment of the masses to be offered to extinguish those devouring flames."
The priest instantly arose, saying, "Very well, madam," and went out.
Our eyes anxiously followed him; but instead of walking towards the little gate which was in front of the house, he directed his steps towards the meadow, and drove the cow before him in the direction of his home.
At that sight I screamed with despair: "Oh, my mother! he is taking our cow away! What will become of us?"
Lord Nairn had given us that splendid cow when it was three months old. Her mother had been brought from Scotland, and belonged to one of the best breeds of that country. I fed her with my own hands, and had often shared my bread with her. I loved her as a child always loves an animal which he has brought up himself. She seemed to understand and love me also. From whatever distance she could see me, she would run to me to receive my caresses, and whatever else I might have to give her. My mother herself milked her; and her rich milk was such delicious and substantial food for us.
My mother also cried out with grief as she saw the priest taking away the only means heaven had left her to feed her children.
Throwing myself into her arms, I asked her: "Why have you given away our cow? What will become of us? We shall surely die of hunger?"
"Dear child," she answered. "I did not think the priest would be so cruel as to take away the last resource which God had left us. Ah! if I had believed him to be so unmerciful I would never have spoken to him as I did. As you say, my dear child, what will become of us? But have you not often read to me in your Bible that God is the Father of the widow and the orphan? We shall pray to that God who is willing to be your father and mine: He will listen to us, and see our tears. Let us kneel down and ask Him to be merciful to us, and to give us back the support which the priest deprived us."
We both knelt down. She took my right hand with her left, and, lifting the other hand towards heaven, she offered a prayer to the God of mercies for her poor children such as I have never since heard. Her words were often choked by her sobs. But when she could not speak with her voice, she spoke with her burning eyes raised to heaven, and with her hand uplifted. I also prayed to God with her, and repeated her words, which were broken by my sobs.
When her prayer was ended she remained for a long time pale and trembling. Cold sweat was flowing on her face, and she fell on the floor. I thought she was going to die. I ran for cold water, which I gave her, saying: "Dear mother! Oh, do not leave me alone upon earth!" After drinking a few drops she felt better, and taking my hand, she put it to her trembling lips; then drawing me near her, and pressing me to her bosom, she said: "Dear child, if ever you become a priest, I ask of you never to be so hard-hearted towards poor widows as are the priests of today." When she said these words, I felt her burning tears falling upon my cheek.
The memory of these tears has never left me. I felt them constantly during the twenty-five years I spent in preaching the inconceivable superstitions of Rome.
I was not better, naturally, than many of the other priests. I believed, as they did, the impious fables of purgatory; and as well as they (I confess it to my shame), if I refused to take, or if I gave back the money of the poor, I accepted the money which the rich gave me for the masses I said to extinguish the flames of that fabulous place. But the remembrance of my mother's words and tears has kept me from being so cruel and unmerciful towards the poor widows as Romish priests are, for the most part, obliged to be.
When my heart, depraved by the false and impious doctrines of Rome, was tempted to take money from widows and orphans, under pretense of my long prayers, I then heard the voice of my mother, from the depth of her sepulchre, saying, "My dear child, do not be cruel towards poor widows and orphans, as are the priests of today." If, during the days of my priesthood at Quebec, at Beauport, and Kamarouska, I have given almost all that I had to feed and clothe the poor, especially the widows and orphans, it was not owing to my being better than others, but it was because my mother had spoken to me with words never to be forgotten. The Lord, I believe, had put into my mother's mouth those words, so simple but so full of eloquence and beauty, as one of His great mercies towards me. Those tears the hand of Rome has never been able to wipe off: those words of my mother the sophisms of Popery could not make me forget.
How long, O Lord, shall that insolent enemy of the gospel, the Church of Rome, be permitted to fatten herself upon the tears of the widow and of the orphan by means of that cruel and impious invention of paganism purgatory? Wilt Thou not be merciful unto so many nations which are still the victims of that great imposture? Oh, do remove the veil which covers the eyes of the priests and people of Rome, as Thou hast removed it from mine! Make them to understand that their hopes of purification must not rest on these fabulous fires, but only on the blood of the Lamb shed on Calvary to save the world.
CHAPTER 6 Back to Top
God had heard the poor widow's prayer. A few days after the priest had taken our
cow she received a letter from each of her two sisters, Genevieve and Catherine.
The former, who was married to Etienne Eschenbach, of St. Thomas, told her to sell all she had and come, with her children, to live with her.
"We have no family," she said, "and God has given us the good things of this life in abundance. We shall be happy to share them with you and your children."
The latter, married in Kamouraska to the Hon. Amaable Dionne wrote: "We have learned the sad news of your husband's death. We have lately lost our only son. We wish to fill the vacant place with Charles, your eldest. Send him to us. We shall bring him up as our own child, and before long he will be your support. In the meantime, sell by auction all you have, and go to St. Thomas with your two younger children. There Genevieve and myself will supply your wants."
In a few days all our furniture was sold. Unfortunately, though I had carefully concealed my cherished Bible, it disappeared. I could never discover what became of it. Had mother herself, frightened by the threats of the priest, relinquished that treasure? or had some of our relatives, believing it to be their duty, destroyed it? I do not know. I deeply felt that loss, which was then irreparable to me.
On the following day, in the midst of bitter tears and sobs, I bade farewell to my poor mother and young brothers. They went to St. Thomas on board a schooner, and I crossed in a sloop to Kamouraska.
My uncle and aunt Dionne welcomed me with every mark of the most sincere affection. Having soon made known to them that I wished to become a priest, I begun to study Latin under the direction of Rev. Mr. Morin, vicar of Kamouraska. That priest was esteemed to be a learned man. He was about forty or fifty years old, and had been priest of a parish in the district of Montreal. But, as is the case with the majority of priests, his vows of celibacy had not proved a sufficient guarantee against the charms of one of his beautiful parishioners. This had caused a great scandal. He consequently lost his position, and the bishop had sent him to Kamouraska, where his past conduct was not so generally known. He was very good to me, and I soon loved him with sincere affection.
One day, about the beginning of the year 1882, he called me aside and said:
"Mr. Varin (the parish priest) is in the habit of giving a great festival on his birthday. Now, the principal citizens of the village wish on that occasion to present him with a bouquet. I am appointed to write an address, and to choose some one to deliver it before the priest. You are the one whom I have chosen. What do you think of it?"
"But I am very young," I replied.
"Your youth will only give more interest to what we wish to say and do," said the priest.
"Well, I have no objection to do so, provided the piece be not too long, and that I have it sufficiently soon to learn it well."
It was already prepared. The time of delivering it soon came. The best society of Kamouraska, composed of about fifteen gentlemen and as many ladies, were assembled in the beautiful parlours of the parsonage. Mr. Varin was in their midst. Suddenly Squire Paschal Tache, the seigneur of the parish, and his lady entered the room, holding me by each hand, and placed me in the midst of the guests. My head was crowned with flowers, for I was to represent the angel of the parish, whom the people had chosen to give to their pastor the expression of public admiration and gratitude. When the address was finished, I presented to the priest the beautiful bouquet of symbolical flowers prepared by the ladies for the occasion.
Mr. Varin was a small but well-built man. His thin lips were ever ready to smile graciously. The remarkable whiteness of his skin was still heightened by the red colour of his cheeks. Intelligence and goodness beamed from his expressive black eyes. Nothing could be more amiable and gracious than his conversation during the first quarter of an hour passed in his company. He was passionately fond of these little fetes, and the charm of his manners could not be surpassed as the host of the evening.
He was moved to tears before hearing half of the address, and the eyes of many were moistened when the pastor, with a voice trembling and full of emotion, expressed his joy and gratitude at being so highly appreciated by his parishioners.
As soon as the happy pastor had expressed his thanks, the ladies sang two or three beautiful songs. The door of the dining-room was then opened, and we could see a long table laden with the most delicious meats and wines that Canada could offer.
I had never before been present at a priest's dinner. The honourable position given me at that little fete permitted me to see it in all its details, and nothing could equal the curiosity with which I sought to hear and see all that was said and done by thuds guests.
Besides Mr. Varin and his vicar, there were three other priests, who were artistically placed in the midst of the most beautiful ladies of the company. The ladies, after honouring us with their presence for an hour or so, left the table and retired to the drawing-room. Scarcely had the last lady disappeared when Mr. Varin rose and said:
"Gentlemen, let us drink to the health of these amiable ladies, whose presence has thrown so many charms over the first part of our little fete."
Following the example of Mr. Varin each guest filled and emptied his long wine glass in honour of the ladies.
Squire Tache then proposed "The health of the most venerable and beloved priest of Canada, the Rev. Mr. Varin." Again the glasses were filled and emptied, except mine; for I had been placed at he side of my uncle Dionne, who, sternly looking at me as soon as I had emptied my first glass, said: "If you drink another I will send you from the table. A little boy like you should not drink, but only touch the glass with his lips."
It would have been difficult to count the healths which were drank after the ladies had left us. After each health a song or a story was called for, several of which were followed by applause, shouts of joy, and convulsive laughter.
When my turn to propose a health came, I wished to be excused, but they would not exempt me. So I had to say about whose health I was most interested. I rose, and turning to Mr. Varin, I said, "Let us drink to the health of our Holy Father, the Pope."
Nobody had yet thought of our Holy Father the Pope, and the name, mentioned under such circumstances by a child, appeared so droll to the priests and their merry guests that they burst into laughter, stamped their feet, and shouted, "Bravo! bravo! To the health of the Pope!" Everyone stood up, and at the invitation of Mr. Varin, the glasses were filled and emptied as usual.
So many healths could not be drunk without their natural effect intoxication. The first that was overcome was a priest, Noel by name. He was a tall man, and a great drinker. I had noticed more than once, that instead of taking his wine glass he drank from a large tumbler. The first symptoms of his intoxication, instead of drawing sympathy from his friends, only increased their noisy bursts of laughter. He endeavored to take a bottle to fill his glass, but his hand shook, and the bottle, falling on the floor, was broken to pieces. Wishing to keep up his merriment he began to sing a Bacchic song, but could not finish. He dropped his head on the table, quite overcome, and trying to rise, he fell heavily upon his chair. While all this took place the other priests and all the guests looked at him, laughing loudly. At last, making a desperate effort, he rose, but after taking two or three steps, fell headlong on the floor. His two neighbours went to help him, but they were not in a condition to help him. Twice they rolled with him under the table. At length another, less affected by the fumes of wine, took him by the feet and dragged him into an adjoining room, where they left him.
This first scene seemed strange enough to me, for I had never before seen a priest intoxicated. But what astonished me most was the laughter of the other priests over that spectacle. Another scene, however, soon followed, which made me sadder. My young companion and friend, Achilles Tache, had not been warned, as I had, only to touch the wine with his lips. More than once he had emptied his glass. He also rolled upon the floor before the eyes of his father, who was too full of wine to help him. He cried aloud, "I am choking!" I tried to lift him up, but was not strong enough. I ran for his mother. She came, accompanied by another lady, but the vicar had carried him into another room, where he fell asleep after having thrown off the wine he had taken.
Poor Achilles! he was learning, in the house of his own priest, to take the first step of that life of debauchery and drunkenness which twelve or fifteen years later was to rob him of his manor, take from him his wife and children, and to make him fall a victim to the bloody hand of a murderer upon the solitary shores of Kamouraska!
This first and sad experience which I made of the real and intimate life of the Roman Catholic priest was so deeply engraved on my memory that I still remember with shame the bacchic song which that priest Morin had taught me, and which I sang on that occasion. It commenced with these Latin words: -
Ego, in arte Bacchi,
Decies pintum vini
I also remember one sung by Mr. Varin. Here it is: -
Savez-vous pourquoi, mes amis, (bis)
Nous sommes tous si rejouis? (bis)
Amis n'endoutez pas,
C'est qu'un repas
Qu' apprete sans facon,
Mangeons a la gamelle.
Vive le son, vive le son,
Mangeons a la gamelle,
Vive le son du flacon!
When the priests and their friends had sung, laughed, and drank for more than
an hour, Mr. Vain rose and said, "The ladies must not be left along all the
evening. Will not our joy and happiness be doubled if they are pleased to share them
This proposition was received with applause, and we passed into the drawing-room, where the ladies awaited us.
Several pieces of music, well executed, gave new life to this part of the entertainment. This resource, however, was soon exhausted. Besides, some of the ladies could well see that their husbands were half drunk, and they felt ashamed. Madam Tache could not conceal the grief she felt, caused by what had happened to her dear Achilles. Had she some presentiment, as may persons have, of the tears which she was to shed one day on his account? Was the vision of a mutilated and bloody corpse the corpse of her own drunken son fallen dead, under the blow of an assassin's dagger, before her eyes?
Mr. Varin feared nothing more than an interruption in those hours of lively pleasure, of which his life was full, and which took place in his parsonage.
"Well, well, ladies and gentlemen, let us entertain no dark thoughts of this evening, the happiest of my life. Let us play blind man's bluff."
"Let us play blind man's bluff!" was repeated by everybody.
On hearing this noise, the gentlemen who were half asleep by the fumes of wine seemed to awaken as if from a long dream. Young gentlemen clapped their hands; ladies, young and old, congratulated one another on the happy idea.
"But whose eyes shall be covered first?" asked the priest.
"Yours, Mr. Varin," cried all the ladies. "We look to you for the good example, and we shall follow it."
"The power and unanimity of the jury by which I am condemned cannot be resisted. I feel that there is no appeal. I must submit."
Immediately one of the ladies placed her nicely-perfumed handkerchief over the eyes of her priest, took him by the hand, led him to an angle of the room, and having pushed him gently with her delicate hand, said, "Mr. Blindman! Let everyone flee! Woe to him who is caught!"
There is nothing more curious and comical than to see a man walk when he is under the influence of wine, especially if he wishes nobody to notice it. How stiff and straight he keeps his legs! How varied and complicated, in order to keep his equilibrium, are his motions to right and left! Such was the position of priest Varin. He was not very drunk. Though he had taken a large quantity of wine he did not fall. He carried with wonderful courage the weight with which he was laden. The wine which he had drank would have intoxicated three ordinary men; but such was his capacity for drinking that he could still walk without falling. However, his condition was sadly betrayed by each step he took and by each word he spoke. Nothing, therefore, was more comical than the first steps of the poor priest in his efforts to lay hold of somebody in order to pass his band to him.
He would take one forward and two backward steps, and would then stagger to the right and to the left. Everybody laughed to tears. One after another they would all either pinch him or touch him gently on his hand, arm, or shoulder, and, passing rapidly off, would exclaim, "Run away!" The priest went to the right and then to the left, threw his arms suddenly now here and then there. His legs evidently bent under their burden; he panted, perspired, coughed, and everyone began to fear that the trial might be carried too far, and beyond propriety. But suddenly, by a happy turn he caught the arm of a lady who in teasing him had come too near. In vain the lady tries to escape. She struggles, turns round, but the priest's hand holds her firmly.
While holding his victim with his right hand he wishes to touch her head with his left, in order to know and name the pretty bird he has caught. But at that moment his legs gave way. He falls, and drags with him his beautiful parishioner. She turns upon him in order to escape, but he soon turns on her in order to hold her better.
All this, though the affair of a moment, was long enough to cause the ladies to blush and cover their faces. Never in all my life did I see anything so shameful as that scene. This ended the game.
Everyone felt ashamed. I make a mistake when I say everyone, because the men were almost all too intoxicated to blush. The priests also were either too drunk or too much accustomed to see such scenes to be ashamed.
On the following day every one of those priests celebrated mass, and ate what they called the body and blood, the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, just as if they had spent the previous evening in prayer and meditation on the laws of God! Mr. Varin was the arch-priest of the important part of the diocese of Quebec from La Riviere Ouelle to Gaspe.
Thus, O perfidious Church of Rome, thou deceivest the nations who follow thee, and ruinest even the priests whom thou makest thy slaves.
CHAPTER 7 Back to Top
Nothing can exceed the care with which Roman Catholic priests prepare children
for their first communion. Two and three months are set apart every year for that
purpose. All that time the children between ten and twelve years of age are obliged
to go to Church almost every day, not only to learn by heart their catechism, but
to hear the explanations of all its teachings.
The priest who instructed us was the Rev. Mr. Morin, whom I have already mentioned. He was exceedingly kind to children, and we respected and loved him sincerely. His instructions to us were somewhat long; but we liked to hear him, for he always had some new and interesting stories to give us.
The catechism taught as a preparation for our first communion was the foundation of the idolatries and superstitions which the Church of Rome gives as the religion of Christ. It is by means of that catechetical instruction that she obtains for the Pope and his representatives that profound respect, I might say adoration, which is the secret of her power and influence. With this catechism Rome corrupts the most sacred truths of the Gospel. It is there that Jesus is removed from the hearts for which He paid so great a price, and that Mary is put in His place. But the great iniquity of substituting Mary for Jesus is so skilfully concealed, it is given with colours so poetic and beautiful, and so well adapted to captivate human nature, that it is almost impossible for a poor child to escape the snare.
One day the priest said to me, "Stand up, my child, in order to answer the many important questions which I have to ask you."
I stood up.
"My child," he said, "when you had been guilty of some fault at home who was the first to punish you your father or your mother?"
After a few moments of hesitation I answered, "My father."
"You have answered correctly, my child," said the priest. "As a matter of fact, the father is almost always more impatient with his children, and more ready to punish them, than the mother."
"Now, my child, tell us who punished you most severely your father or your mother?"
"My father," I said, without hesitation.
"Still true, my child. The superior goodness of a kind mother is perceived even in the act of correction. Her blows are lighter than those of the father. Further, when you had deserved to be chastised, did not one sometimes come between you and your father's rod, taking it away from him and pacifying him?"
"Yes," I said; "mother did that very often, and saved me from severe punishment more than once."
"That is so, my child, not only for you, but for all your companions here. Have not your good mothers, my children, often saved you from your father's corrections even when you deserved it? Answer me."
"Yes, sir," they all answered.
"One question more. When your father was coming to whip you, did you not throw yourself into the arms of some one to escape?" "Yes, sir; when guilty of something, more than once, I threw myself into my mother's arms as soon as I saw my father coming to whip me. She begged pardon for me, and pleaded so well that I often escaped punishment."
"You have answered well," said the priest. Then turning to the children, he continued:
"You have a Father and a Mother in heaven, dear children. Your Father is Jesus, and your Mother is Mary. Do not forget that a mother's heart is always more tender and more prone to mercy than that of a father.
"Often you offend your Father by your sins; you make Him angry against you. What takes place in heaven then? Your Father in heaven takes His rod to punish you. He threatens to crush you down with His roaring thunder; He opens the gates of hell to cast you into it, and you would have been damned long ago had it not been for the loving Mother whom you have in heaven, who has disarmed your angry and irritated Father. When Jesus would punish you as you deserve, the good Virgin Mary hastens to Him and pacifies Him. She places herself between Him and you, and prevents Him from smiting you. She speaks in your favour, she asks for your pardon and she obtains it.
"Also, as young Chiniquy has told you, he often threw himself into the arms of his mother to escape punishment. She took his part, and pleaded so well that his father yielded and put away the rod. Thus, my children, when your conscience tells you that you are guilty, that Jesus is angry against you and that you have good reason to fear hell, hasten to Mary! Throw yourselves into the arms of that good mother; have recourse to her sovereign power over Jesus, and be assured that you will be saved through her!"
It is thus that the Pope and the priests of Rome have entirely disfigured and changed the holy religion of the Gospel! In the Church of Rome it is not Jesus, but Mary, who represents the infinite love and mercy of God for the sinner. The sinner is not advised or directed to place his hope in Jesus, but in Mary, for his escape from deserved chastisement! It is not Jesus, but Mary, who saves the sinner! Jesus is always bent on punishing sinners; Mary is always merciful to them!
The Church of Rome has thus fallen into idolatry: she rather trusts in Mary than in Jesus. She constantly invites sinners to turn their thoughts, their hopes, their affections, not to Jesus, but to Mary!
By means of that impious doctrine Rome deceives the intellects, seduces the hearts, and destroys the souls of the young for ever. Under the pretext of honouring the Virgin Mary, she insults her by outraging and misrepresenting her adorable Son.
Rome has brought back the idolatry of old paganism under a new name. She has replaced upon her altars the Jupiter Tonans of the Greeks and Romans, only she places upon his shoulders the mantle and she writes on the forehead of her idol the name of Jesus, in order the better to deceive the world!
CHAPTER 8 Back to Top
For the Roman Catholic child, how beautiful and yet how sad is the day of his
first communion! How many joys and anxieties by turn rise in his soul when for the
first time he is about to eat what he has been taught to believe to be his God! How
many efforts has he to make, in order to destroy the manifest teachings of his own
rational faculties! I confess with deep regret that I had almost destroyed my reason,
in order to prepare myself for my first communion. Yes, I was almost exhausted when
the day came that I had to eat what the priest has assured us was the true body,
the true blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. I was about to eat Him, not in
a symbolical or commemorative, but in a literal way. I was to eat His flesh, His
bones, His hands, His feet, His head, His whole body! I had to believe this or be
cast for ever into hell, while, all the time, my eyes, my hands, my mouth, my tongue,
my reason told me that what I was eating was only bread!
Has there ever been, or will there ever be, a priest or a layman to believe what the Church of Rome teaches on this dreadful mystery of the Real Presence? Shall I say that I believed in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the communion? I believed in it as all those who are good Roman Catholics believe. I believed as a perfect idiot or a corpse believes. Whatever is essential to a reasonable act of faith had been destroyed in me on that point, as it is destroyed in every priest and layman in the Church of Rome. My reason as well as my external senses had been, as much as possible, sacrificed at the feet of that terrible modern god, the Pope! I had been guilty of the incredibility foolish act, of which all good Roman Catholics are guilty I had said to my intellectual faculties, and to all my senses, "Hush, you are liars! I had believed to this day that you had been given to me by God in order to enable me to walk in the dark paths of life, but, behold! the holy Pope teaches me that you are only instruments of the devil to deceive me!"
What is a man who resigns his intellectual liberty, and who cares not to believe in the testimony of his senses? Is he not acting the part of one who has no gift or power of intelligence? A good Roman Catholic must reach that point! That was my own condition on the day of my first communion.
When Jesus said, "If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin; but now they have no cloke for their sin....If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father" (John xv.22,24). He showed that the sin of the Jews consisted in not having believed in what their eyes had seen and their ears had heard. But behold, the Pope says to Roman Catholics that they must not believe in what their hands undoubtedly handle and their eyes most clearly see! The Pope sets aside the testimony most approved by Jesus. The very witnesses invoked by the Son of God are ignominiously turned out of court by the Pope as false witnesses!
As the moment of taking the communion drew near, two feelings were at war in my mind, each struggling for victory. I rejoiced in the thought that I would soon have full possession of Jesus Christ, but at the same time I was troubled and humbled by the absurdity which I had to believe before receiving that sacrament. Though scarcely twelve years old, I had sufficiently accustomed myself to reflect on the profound darkness which covered that dogma. I had been also greatly in the habit of trusting my eyes, and I thought that I could easily distinguish between a small piece of bread and a full-grown man!
Besides, I extremely abhorred the idea of eating human flesh and drinking human blood, even when they assured me that they were the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ Himself. But what troubled me most was the idea of that God, who was represented to me as being so great, so glorious, so holy, being eaten by me like a piece of common bread! Terrible then was the struggle in my young heart, were joy and dread, trust and fear, faith and unbelief by turns had the upper hand.
While that secret struggle, known only to God and to myself, was going on, I had often to wipe off the cold perspiration which came on my brow. With all the strength of my soul I prayed to God and the Holy Virgin to be merciful unto me, to help, and give me sufficient strength and light to pass over these hours of anguish.
The Church of Rome is evidently the most skillful human machine the world has ever seen. Those who guide her in the dark paths which she follows are often men of deep thought. They understand how difficult it would be to get calm, honest and thinking minds to receive that monstrous dogma of the real corporal presence of Jesus Christ in the communion. They well foresaw the struggle which would take place even in the minds of children at the supreme moment when they would have to sacrifice their reason on the altar of Rome. In order to prevent those struggles, always so dangerous to the Church, nothing has been neglected to distract the mind and draw the attention to other subjects than that of the communion itself.
First, at the request of the parish priest, helped by the vanity of the parents themselves, the children are dressed as elegantly as possible. They young communicant is clothed in every way best calculated to flatter his own vanity also. The church building is pompously decorated. The charms of choice vocal and instrumental music form a part of the fete. The most odorous incense burns around the altar and ascends in a sweetsmelling cloud towards heaven. The whole parish is invited, and people come from every direction to enjoy a most beautiful spectacle. Priests from the neighbouring churches are called, in order to add to the solemnity of the day. The officiating priest is dressed in the most costly attire. This is the day on which silver and gold altar cloths are displayed before the eyes of the wondering spectators. Often a lighted wax taper is placed in the hand of each young communicant, which itself would be sufficient to draw his whole attention; for a single false motion would be sufficient to set fire to the clothes of his neighbour, or his own, a misfortune which has happened more than once in my presence.
Now, in the midst of that new and wonderful spectacle of singing Latin Psalms, not a word of which he understands; in view of gold and silver ornaments, which glitter everywhere before his dazzled eyes; busy with the holding of the lighted taper, which keeps him constantly in fear of being burned alive can the young communicant think for a moment of what he is about to do?
Poor child! his mind, ears, eyes, nostrils are so much taken up with those new, striking and wonderful things that, while his imagination is wandering from one object to another, the moment of communion arrives, without leaving him time to think of what he is about to do! He opens his mouth, and the priest puts upon his tongue a flat thin cake of unleavened bread, which either firmly sticks to his palate or otherwise melts in his mouth, soon to go down into his stomach just like the food he takes three times a day!
The first feeling of the child, then, is that of surprise at the thought that the Creator of heaven and earth, the upholder of the universe, the Saviour of the world, could so easily pass down his throat!
Now, follow those children to their homes after that great and monstrous comedy. See their gait! Listen to their conversation and their bursts of laughter! Study their manners, their coming in, their going out, their glances of satisfaction on their fine clothes, and the vanity which they manifest in return for the congratulations they receive on their fine dresses. Notice the lightness of their actions and conversation immediately after their communion, and tell me if you find anything indicating that they believed in the terrible dogma they have been taught.
No, they have not believed in it, neither will they ever do so with the firmness of faith which is accomplished by intelligence. The poor child thinks he believes, and he sincerely tries to do so. He believes in it as much as it is possible to believe in a most monstrous and ridiculous story, opposed to the simplest notions of truth and common sense. He believes as Roman Catholics believe. He believes as an idiot believes!!
That first communion has made of him, for the rest of his life, a real machine in the hands of the Pope. It is the first but most powerful link of that long chain of slavery which the priest and the Church pass around his neck. The Pope holds the end of that chain, and with it he will make his victim go right or left at his pleasure, in the same way that we govern the lower animals. If those children have made a good first communion they will be submissive to the Pope, according to the energetic word of Loyola. They will be in the hands of the traveler they will have no will, no thought of their own!
And if God does not work a miracle to bring them out from that bondage which is a thousand times worse than the Egyptian, they will remain in that state during the rest of their lives.
My soul has known the weight of those chains. It has felt the ignominy of that slavery! But the great Conqueror of souls has cast down a merciful eye upon me. He has broken my chains, and with His holy Word He has made me free.
May His name be for ever blessed.
CHAPTER 9 Back to Top
I finished, at the College of Nicolet, in the month of August, 1829, my classical
course of study which I had begun in 1822. I could easily have learned in three or
four years what was taught in these seven years.
It took us three years to study the Latin grammar, when twelve months would have sufficed for all we learned of it. It is true that during that time we were taught some of the rudiments of the French grammar, with the elements of arithmetic and geography. But all this was so superficial, that our teachers often seemed more desirous to pass away our time than to enlarge our understandings.
I can say the same thing of the Belles Letters and of rhetoric, which we studied two years. A year of earnest study would have sufficed to learn what was taught us during these twenty-four months. As for the two years devoted to the study of logic, and of the subjects classed under the name of philosophy, it would not have been too long a time if those questions of philosophy had been honestly given us. But the student in the college of the Church of Rome is condemned to the torments of Tantalus. He has, indeed, the refreshing waters of Science put to his lips, but he is constantly prevented from tasting them. To enlarge and seriously cultivate the intelligence in a Roman Catholic college is a thing absolutely out of the question. More than that, all the efforts of the principals in their colleges and convents tend to prove to the pupil that his intelligence is his greatest and most dangerous enemy that it is like an untamable animal, which must constantly be kept in chains. Every day the scholar is told that his reason was not given him that he might be guided by it, but only that he may know the hand of the man by whom he must be guided. And that hand is none other than the Pope's. All the resources of language, all the most ingenious sophisms, all the passages of both the Fathers and the Holy Scriptures bearing on this question are arranged and perverted with inconceivable art to demonstrate to the pupil that his reason has no power to teach him anything else than that it must be subjected to the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, who is the only foundation of truth and light given by God to guide the intelligence and to enlighten and save the world.
Rome, in her colleges and convents, brings up, or raises up, the youth from their earliest years; but to what height does she permit the young man or woman to be raised? Never higher than the feet of the Pope!! As soon as his intelligence, guided by the Jesuit, has ascended to the feet of the Pope, it must remain there, prostrate itself and fall asleep.
The Pope! That is the great object towards which all the intelligence of the Roman Catholics must be converged. It is the sun of the world, the foundation and the only support of Christian knowledge and civilization.
What a privilege it is to be lazy, stupid, and sluggish in a college of Rome! How soon such an one gets to the summit of science, and becomes master of all knowledge. One needs only to kiss the feet of the Pope, and fall into a perfect slumber there! The Pope thinks for him! It is he (the Pope) who will tell him what he can and should think, and what he can and should believe!
I had arrived at that degree of perfection at the end of my studies, and J.B. Barthe, Esq., M.P.P., being editor of one of the principal papers of Montreal in 1844, could write in his paper when my "Manual of Temperance" was published: "Mr. Chiniquy has crowned his apostleship of temperance by that work, with that ardent and holy ambition of character of which he gave us so many tokens in his collegiate life, where we have been so many years the witness of his piety, when he was the model of his fellow-students, who had called him the Louis de Gonzague of Nicolet."
These words of the Montreal Member of Parliament mean only that, wishing to be saved as St. Louis de Gonzague, I had blindly tied myself to the feet of my superiors.
I had, as much as possible, extinguished all the enlightenments of my own mind to follow the reason and the will of my superiors. These compliments mean that I was walking like a blind man whom his guide holds by the hand.
Though my intelligence often revolted against the fables with which I was nurtured, I yet forced myself to accept them as gospel truths; and though I often rebelled against the ridiculous sophisms which were babbled to me as the only principles of truth and Christian philosophy, yet as often did I impose silence on my reason, and force it to submit to the falsehoods which I was obliged to take for God's truth! But, as I have just confessed it, notwithstanding my goodwill to submit to my superiors, there were times of terrible struggle in my soul, when all the powers of my mind seemed to revolt against the degrading fetters which I was forced to forge for myself.
I shall never forget the day when, in the following terms, I expressed to my Professor of Philosophy, the Rev. Charles Harper, doubts which I had conceived concerning the absolute necessity of the inferior to submit his reason to his superior. "When I shall have completely bound myself to obey my superior, if he abuses his authority over me to deceive me by false doctrines, or if he commands me to do things which I consider wrong and dishonest, shall I not be lost if I obey him?"
He answered: "You will never have to give an account to God for the actions that you do by the order of your legitimate superiors. If they were to deceive you, being themselves deceived, they alone would be responsible for the error which you would have committed. Your sin would not be imputed to you as long as you follow the golden rule which is the base of all Christian philosophy and perfection humility and obedience!"
Little satisfied with that answer, when the lesson was over I expressed my reluctance to accept such principles to several of my fellow-students. Among them was Joseph Turcot, who died some years ago when, I think, he was Minister of Public Works in Canada.
He answered me: "The more I study what they call their principles of Christian philosophy and logic, the more I think that they intend to make asses of every one of us!"
On the following day I opened my heart to the venerable man who was our principal the Rev. Mr. Leprohon. I used to venerate him as a saint and to love him as a father. I frankly told him that I felt very reluctant in submitting myself to the crude principles which seemed to lead us into the most abject slavery, the slavery of our reason and intelligence. I wrote down his answer, which I give here:
"My dear Chiniquy, how did Adam and Eve lose themselves in the Garden of Eden, and how did they bring upon us all the deluge of evils by which we are overwhelmed? Is it not because they raised their miserable reason above that of God? They had the promise of eternal life if they had submitted their reason to that of their Supreme Master.They were lost on account of their rebelling against the authority, the reason of God. Thus it is today. All the evils, the errors, the crimes by which the world is over flooded come from the same revolt of the human will and reason against the will and reason of God. God reigns yet over a part of the world, the world of the elect, through the Pope, who controls the teachings of our infallible and holy Church. In submitting ourselves to God, who speaks to us through the Pope, we are saved. We walk in the paths of truth and holiness. But we would err, and infallibly perish, as soon as we put our reason above that of our superior, the Pope, speaking to us in person, or through some of our superiors who have received from him the authority to guide us."
"But," said I, "if my reason tells me that the Pope, or some of those other superiors who are put by him over me, are mistaken, and that they command me something wrong, would I not be guilty before God if I obey them?"
"You suppose a thing utterly impossible," answered Mr. Leprohon, "for the Pope and the bishops who are united to him have the promise of never failing in the faith. They cannot lead you into any errors, nor command you to believe or do something contrary to the teachings of the Gospel, God would not ask of you any account of an error committed when you are obeying your legitimate superior."
I had to content myself with that answer, which I put down word for word in my note-book. But in spite of my respectful silence, the Rev. Mr. Leprohon saw that I was yet uneasy and sad. In order to convince me of the orthodoxy of his doctrines, he instantly put into my hands the two works of De Maistre, "Le Pape" and "Les Soirees de St. Petersburgh," where I found the same doctrines supported. My superior was honest in his convictions. He sincerely believed in the sound philosophy and Christianity of his principles, for he had found them in these books approved by the "infallible Popes."
I will mention another occurrence to show the inconceivable intellectual degradation to which we had been dragged at the end of seven years of collegiate studies. About the year 1829 the curate of St. Anne de la Parade wrote to our principal, Rev. Mr. Leprohon, to ask the assistance of the prayers of all the students of the College of Nicolet in order to obtain the discontinuance of the following calamity: "For more than three weeks one of the most respectable farmers was in danger of losing all his horses from the effects of a sorcery! From morning, and during most of the night, repeated blows of whips and sticks were heard falling upon these poor horses, which were trembling, foaming and struggling! We can see nothing! The hand of the wizard remains invisible. Pray for us, that we may discover the monster, and that he may be punished as he deserves."
Such were the contents of the priest's letter; and as my superior sincerely believed in that fable I also believed it, as well as all the students of the college who had a true piety. On that shore of abject and degrading superstitions I had to land after sailing seven years in the bark called a college of the Church of Rome!
The intellectual part of the studies in a college of Rome, and it is the same in a convent, is therefore entirely worthless. Worse than that, the intelligence is dwarfed under the chains by which it is bound. If the intelligence does sometimes advance, it is in spite of the fetters placed upon it; it is only like some few noble ships which, through the extraordinary skill of their pilots, go ahead against wind and tide.
I know that the priests of Rome can show a certain number of intelligent men in every branch of science who have studied in their colleges. But these remarkable men had from the beginning secretly broken for themselves the chains with which their superiors had tried to bind them. For peace' sake they had outwardly followed the rules of the house, but they had secretly trampled under the feet of their noble souls the ignoble fetters which had been prepared for their understanding. True children of God and light, they had found the secret of remaining free even when in the dark cells of a dungeon!
Give me the names of the remarkable and intelligent men who have studied in a college of Rome, and have become real lights in the firmament of science, and I will prove that nine-tenths of them have been persecuted, excommunicated, tortured, some even put to death for having to think for themselves.
Galileo was a Roman Catholic, and he is surely one of the greatest men whom science claims as her most gifted sons. But was he not sent to a dungeon? Was he not publicly flogged by the hands of the executioner? Had he not to ask pardon from God and man for having dared to think differently from the Pope about the motion of the earth around the sun!
Copernicus was surely one of the greatest lights of his time, but was he not censured and excommunicated for his admirable scientific discoveries?
France does not know any greater genius among her most gifted sons than Pascal. He was a Catholic. But he lived and died excommunicated.
The Church of Rome boasts of Bossuet, the Bishop of Meaux, as one of the greatest men she ever had. Yes; but has not Veuillot, the editor of the Univers, who knows his man well, confessed and declared before the world that Bossuet was a disguised Protestant?
Where can we find a more amiable or learned writer than Montalembert, who has so faithfully and bravely fought the battle of the Church of Rome in France during more than a quarter of a century? But has he not publicly declared on his death-bed that that Church was an apostate and idolatrous Church from the day that she proclaimed the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope? Has he not virtually died an excommunicated man for having said with his last breath that the Pope was nothing else than a false god?
Those pupils of Roman Catholic colleges of whom sometimes the priests so imprudently boast, have gone out from the hands of their Jesuit teachers to proclaim their supreme contempt for the Roman Catholic priesthood and Papacy. They have been near enough to the priest to know him. They have seen with their own eyes that the priest of Rome is the most dangerous, the most implacable enemy of intelligence, progress and liberty; and if their arm be not paralyzed by cowardice, selfishness, or hypocrisy, those pupils of the colleges of Rome will be the first to denounce the priesthood of Rome and demolish her citadels.
Voltaire studied in a Roman Catholic college, and it was probably when at their school he nerved himself for the terrible battle he has fought against Rome. That Church will never recover from the blow which Voltaire has struck at her in France.
Cavour, in Italy, had studied in a Roman Catholic college also, and under that very roof it is more than probable that his noble intelligence had sworn to break the ignominious fetters with which Rome had enslaved his fair country. The most eloquent of the orators of Spain, Castelar, studied in a Roman Catholic college; but hear with what eloquence he denounces the tyranny, hypocrisy, selfishness and ignorance of the priests.
Papineau studied under the priests of Rome in their college at Montreal. From his earliest years that Eagle of Canada could see and know the priests of Rome as they are; he has weighed them in the balance; he has measured them; he has fathomed the dark recesses of their anti-social principles; he has felt his shoulders wounded and bleeding under the ignominious chains with which they dragged our dear Canada in the mire for nearly two centuries. Papineau was a pupil of the priests; and I have heard several priests boasting of that as a glorious thing. But the echoes of Canada are still repeating the thundering words with which Papineau denounced the priests as the most deadly enemies of the education and liberty of Canada! He was one of the first men of Canada to understand that there was no progress, no liberty possible for our beloved country so long as the priests would have the education of our people in their hands. The whole life of Papineau was a struggle to wrest Canada from their grasp. Everyone knows how he constantly branded them, without pity, during his life, and the whole world has been the witness of the supreme contempt with which he has refused their services, and turned them out at the solemn hour of his death!
When, in 1792, France wanted to be free, she understood that the priests of Rome were the greatest enemies of her liberties. She turned them out from her soil or hung them to her gibbets. If today that noble country of our ancestors is stumbling and struggling in her tears and her blood if she has fallen at the feet of her enemies if her valiant arm has been paralyzed, her sword broken, and her strong heart saddened above measure, is it not because she had most imprudently put herself again under the yoke of Rome?
Canada's children will continue to flee from the country of their birth so long as the priest of Rome holds the influence which is blasting everything that falls within his grasp, on this continent as well as in Europe; and the United States will soon see their most sacred institutions fall, one after the other, if the Americans continue to send their sons and daughters to the Jesuit colleges and nunneries.
When, in the warmest days of summer, you see a large swamp of stagnant and putrid water, you are sure that deadly miasma will spread around, that diseases of the most malignant character, poverty, sufferings of every kind, and death will soon devastate the unfortunate country; so, when you see Roman Catholic colleges and nunneries raising their haughty steeples over some commanding hills or in the midst of some beautiful valleys, you may confidently expect that the self-respect and the many virtues of the people will soon disappear intelligence, progress, prosperity will soon wane away, to be replaced by superstition, idleness, drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, ignorance, poverty and degradation of every kind. The colleges and nunneries are the high citadels from which the Pope darts his surest missiles against the rights and liberties of nations. The colleges and nunneries are the arsenals where the most deadly weapons are night and day prepared to fight and destroy the soldiers of liberty all over the world.
The colleges and nunneries of the priests are the secret places where the enemies of progress, equality and liberty are holding their councils and fomenting that great conspiracy the object of which is to enslave the world at the feet of the Pope.
The colleges and nunneries of Rome are the schools where the rising generations are taught that it is an impiety to follow the dictates of their own conscience, hear the voice of their intelligence, read the Word of God, and worship their Creator according to the rules laid down in the Gospel.
It is in the colleges and nunneries of Rome that men learn that they are created to obey the Pope in everything-- that the Bible must be burnt, and that liberty must be destroyed at any cost all over the world.
CHAPTER 10 Back to Top
In order to understand what kind of moral education students in Roman Catholic
colleges receive, one must only be told that from the beginning to the end they are
surrounded by an atmosphere in which nothing but Paganism is breathed. The models
of eloquence which we learned by heart were almost exclusively taken from Pagan literature.
In the same manner Pagan models of wisdom, of honour, of chastity were offered to
our admiration. Our minds were constantly fixed on the masterpieces which Paganism
has left. The doors of our understanding were left open only to receive the rays
of light which Paganism has shed on the world. Homer, Socrates, Lycurgus, Virgil,
Horace, Cicero, Tacitus, Caesar, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Alexander, Lucretia, Regulus,
Brutus, Jupiter, Venus, Minerva, Mars, Diana, ect., ect., crowded each other in our
thoughts, to occupy them and be their models, examples and masters for ever.
It may be said that the same Pagan writers, orators and heroes are studied, read and admired in Protestant colleges. But there the infallible antidote, the Bible, is given to the students. Just as nothing remains of the darkness of night after the splendid morning sun has arisen on the horizon, so nothing of the fallacies, superstitions and sophisms of Paganism can trouble or obscure the mind on which that light from heaven, the Word of God, comes every day with its millions of shining rays. How insignificant is the Poetry of Homer when compared with the sublime songs of Moses! How pale is the eloquence of Demosthenes, Cicero, Virgil, ect., when read after Job, David or Solomon! How quickly crumble down the theories which those haughty heathens of old wanted to raise over the intelligence of men when the thundering voice from Sinai is heard; when the incomparable songs of David, Solomon, Isaiah or Jeremiah are ravishing the soul which is listening to their celestial strains! It is a fact that Pagan eloquence and philosophy can be but very tasteless to men accustomed to be fed with the bread which comes down from heaven, whose souls are filled with the eloquence of God, and whose intelligence is fed with the philosophy of heaven.
But, alas! for me and my fellow-students in the college of Rome! No sun ever appeared on the horizon to dispel the night in which our intelligence was wrapped. The dark clouds with which Paganism had surrounded us were suffocating us, and no breath from heaven was allowed to come and dispel them. Moses with his incomparable legislation, David and Solomon with their divine poems, Job with his celestial philosophy, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Daniel with their sublime songs, Jesus Christ Himself with His soul-saving Gospel, as well as His apostles Peter, John, Jude, James and Paul these were all put in the Index! They had not the liberty to speak to us, and we were forbidden, absolutely forbidden, to read and hear them!
It is true that the Church of Rome, as an offset to that, gave us her principles, precepts, fables and legends that we might be attached to her, and that she might remain the mistress of our hearts. But these doctrines, practices, principles and fables seemed to us so evidently borrowed from Paganism they were so cold, so naked, so stripped of all true poetry, that if the Paganism of the ancients was not left absolute master of our affections, it still claimed a large part of our souls. To create in us a love for the Church of Rome our superiors depended greatly on the works of Chateaubriand. The "Genie du Christianisme" was the book of books to dispel all our doubts, and attach us to the Pope's religion. But this author, whose style is sometimes really beautiful, destroyed, by the weakness of his logic, the Christianity which he wanted to build up. We could easily see that Chateaubriand was not sincere, and his exaggerations were to many of us a sure indication that he did not believe in what he said. The works of De Maistre, the most important history-falsificator of France, were also put into our hands as a sure guide in philosophical and historical studies. The "Memoirs du Conte Valmont," with some authors of the same stamp, were much relied upon by our superiors to prove to us that the dogmas, precepts and practices of the Roman Catholic religion were brought from heaven.
It was certainly our desire as well as our interest to believe them. But how our faith was shaken, and how we felt troubled when Livy, Tacitus, Cicero, Virgil, Homer, ect., gave us the evidence that the greater part of these things had their root and their origin in Paganism.
For instance, our superiors had convinced us that scapulars, medals, holy water, ect., would be of great service to us in battling with the most dangerous temptations, as well as in avoiding the most common dangers of life. Consequently, we all had scapulars and medals, which we kept with the greatest respect, and even kissed morning and evening with affection, as if they were powerful instruments of the mercy of God to us. How great, then, was our confusion and disappointment when we discovered in the Greek and Latin historians that those scapulars and medals and statuettes were nothing but a remnant of Paganism, and that the worshipers of Jupiter, Minerva, Diana and Venus believed themselves also free, as we did, from all calamity when they carried them in honour of these divinities! The further we advanced in the study of Pagan antiquity, the more we were forced to believe that our religion, instead of being born at the foot of Calvary, was only a pale and awkward imitation of Paganism. The modern Pontifex Maximus (the Pope of Rome), who, as we were assured, was the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, resembled the "Pontifex Maximus" of the great republic and empire of Rome as much as two drops of water resemble each other. Had not our Pope preserved not only the name, but also the attributes, the pageantry, the pride, and even the garb of that high pagan priest? Was not the worship of the saints absolutely the same as the worship of the demigods of olden time? Was not our purgatory minutely described by Virgil? Were not our prayers to the Virgin and to the saints repeated, almost in the same words, by the worshipers who repeated them every day before the images which adorned our churches? Was not our holy water in use among the idolaters, and for the same purpose for which it was used among us?
We know by history the year in which the magnificent temple consecrated to all the gods, bearing the name of Pantheon, had been built at Rome. We were acquainted with the names of several of the sculptors who had carved the statues of the gods in that heathen temple, at whose feet the idolaters bowed respectfully, and words cannot express he shame we felt on learning that the Roman Catholics of our day, under the very eyes and with the sanction of the Pope, still prostrated themselves before the same idols, in the same temple, and to obtain the same favours!
When we asked each other the question, "What is the difference between the religion of heathen Rome and that of the Rome of today?" more than one student would answer: "The only difference is in the name. The idolatrous temples are the same: the idols have not left their places. Today, as formerly, the same incense burns in their honour? Nations are still prostrated at their feet to give them the same homage and to ask of them the same favours; but instead of calling this statue Jupiter, we call it Peter; and instead of calling that one Minerva or Venus, it is called St. Mary. It is the old idolatry coming to us under Christian names."
I earnestly desired to be an honest and sincere Roman Catholic. These impressions and thoughts distracted me greatly, inasmuch as I could find nothing in reason to diminish their force. Unfortunately many of the books placed in our hands by our superiors to confirm our faith, form our moral character, and sustain our piety and our confidence in the dogmas of the Church of Rome, had a frightful resemblance to the histories I had read of the gods and goddesses. The miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary often appeared to be only a reproduction of the tricks and deceits by which the priests of Jupiter, Venus, Minerva, ect., used to obtain their ends and grant the requests of their worshipers. Some of those miracles of the Virgin Mary equaled, if they did not surpass, in absurdity and immorality what mythology taught us among the most hideous accounts of the heathen gods and goddesses.
I could cite hundreds of such miracles which shocked my faith and caused me to blush in secret at the conclusion to which I was forced to come, in comparing the worship of ancient and modern Rome. I will only quote three of these modern miracles, which are found in one of the books the best approved by the Pope, entitled "The Glories of Mary."
First miracle. The great favour bestowed by the Holy Virgin upon a nun named Beatrix, of the Convent of Frontebraldo, show how merciful she is to sinners. This fact is related by Cesanus, and by Father Rho. This unfortunate nun, having been possessed by a criminal passion for a young man, determined to leave her convent and elope with him. She was the doorkeeper of the convent, and having placed the keys of the monastery at the feet of a statue of the Holy Virgin she boldly went out, and then led a life of prostitution during fifteen years in a far off place.
"One day, accidentally meeting the purveyor of her convent, and thinking she would not be recognized by him, she asked him news of Sister Beatrix.
"`I know her well,' answered this man; `she is a holy nun, and is mistress of the novices.'
"At these words Beatrix was confused; but to understand what it meant she changed her clothing, and going to the convent, enquired after Sister Beatrix.
"The Holy Virgin instantly appeared to her in the form of the statue at whose feet she had placed the keys at her departure. The Divine Mother spoke to her in this wise: `Know, Beatrix, that in order to preserve your honour I have taken your place and done your duty since you have left your convent. My daughter, return to God and be penitent, for my Son is still waiting for you. Try, by the holiness of your life, to preserve the good reputation which I have earned you.' Having thus spoken, the Holy Virgin disappeared. Beatrix reentered the monastery, donned her religious dress, and, grateful for the mercies of Mary, she led the life of a saint." ("Glories of Mary," chap. vi., sec. 2.)
Second miracle. Rev. Father Rierenberg relates that there existed in a city called Aragona a beautiful and noble girl by the name of Alexandra, whom two young men loved passionately. One day, maddened by the jealousy each one had of the other, they fought together, and both were killed. Their parents were so infuriated at the young girl, the author of these calamities, that they killed her, cut her head off, and threw her into a well. A few days after St. Dominic, passing by the place, was inspired to approach the well and to cry out, "Alexandra, come here!" The head of the deceased immediately placed itself upon the edge of the well, and entreated St. Dominic to hear its confession. Having heard it, the Saint gave her the communion in the presence of a great multitude of people, and then he commanded her to tell them why she had received so great a favour.
She answered that, though she was in a state of mortal sin when she was decapitated, yet as she had a habit of reciting the holy rosary, the Virgin had preserved her life.
The head, full of life, remained on the edge of the well two days before the eyes of a great many people, and then the soul went to purgatory. But fifteen days after this the soul of Alexandra appeared to St. Dominic, bright and beautiful as a star, and told him that one of the surest means of removing souls from purgatory was the recitation of the rosary in their favour. ("Glories of Mary," chap. viii., sec. 2)
Third miracle. "A servant of Mary one day went into one of her churches to pray, without telling her husband about it. Owing to a terrible storm she was prevented from returning home that night. Harassed by the fear that her husband would be angry, she implored Mary's help. But on returning home she found her husband full of kindness. After asking her husband a few questions on the subject she discovered that during that very night the Divine Mother had taken her form and features and had taken her place in all the affairs of the household! She informed her husband of the great miracle, and they both became very much devoted to the Holy Virgin." (Glories of Mary," Examples of Protection, 40.)
Persons who have never studied in a Roman Catholic college will hardly believe that such fables were told us as an appeal for us to become Christians. But, God knows, I tell the truth. Is not a profanation of a holy word to say that Christianity is the religion taught the students in Rome's colleges?
After reading the monstrous metamorphoses of the gods of Olympus, the student feels a profound pity for the nations who have lived so long in the darkness of Paganism. He cannot understand how so many millions of men were, for such a long time, deceived by such crude fables. With joy his thoughts are turned to the God of Calvary, there to receive light and life. He feels, as it were, a burning desire to nourish himself with the words of life, fallen from the lips of the "great victim." But here comes the priest of the college, who places himself between the student and Christ, and instead of allowing him to be nourished with the Bread of Life he offers him fables, husks with which to appease his hunger. Instead of allowing him to slake his thirst from the waters which flow from the fountains of eternal life, he offers him a corrupt beverage!
God alone knows what I have suffered during my studies to find myself absolutely deprived of the privilege of eating this bread of life His Holy Word!
During the last years of my studies my superiors often confided to me the charge of the library. Once it happened that, as the students were taking a holiday, I remained alone in the college, and shutting myself up in the library I began to examine all the books. I was not a little surprised to discover that the books which were the most proper to instruct us stood on the catalogue of the library marked among the forbidden books. I felt an inexpressible shame on seeing with my own eyes that none but the most indifferent books were placed in our hands that we were permitted to read authors of the third rank only (if this expression is suitable to such whose only merit consisted in flattering the Popes, and in concealing or excusing their crimes). Several students more advanced than myself, had already made the observation to me, but I did not believe them. Self-love gave me the hope that I was as well educated as one could be at my age. Until then I had spurned the idea that, with the rest of the students, I was the victim of an incredible system of moral and intellectual blindness.
Among the forbidden books of the college I found a splendid Bible. It seemed to be of the same edition as the one whose perusal had made the hours pass away so pleasantly when I was at home with my mother. I seized it with the transports of a miser finding a lost treasure. I lifted it to my lips, and kissed it respectfully. I pressed it against my heart, as one embraces a friend from whom he has long been separated. This Bible brought back to my memory the most delightful hours of my life. I read in its divine pages till the scholars returned.
The next day Rev. Mr. Leprohon, our director, called me to his room during the recreation, and said: "You seem to be troubled, and very sad today. I noticed that you remained alone while the other scholars were enjoying themselves so well. Have you any cause of grief? or are you sick?"
I could not sufficiently express my love and respect for this venerable man. He was at the same time my friend and benefactor. For four years he and Rev. Mr. Brassard had been paying my board; for, owing to a misunderstanding between myself and my uncle Dionne, he had ceased to maintain me at college. By reading the Bible the previous day I had disobeyed my benefactor, Mr. Leprohon; for when he entrusted me with the care of the library he made me promise not to read the books in the forbidden catalogue.
It was painful to me to sadden him by acknowledging that I had broken my word of honour, but it pained me far more to deceive him by concealing the truth. I therefore answered him: "You are right in supposing that I am uneasy and sad. I confess there is one thing which perplexes me greatly among the rules that govern us. I never dared to speak to you about it: but as you wish to know the cause of my sadness, I will tell you. You have placed in our hands, not only to read, but to learn by heart, books which are, as you know, partly inspired by hell, and you forbid us to read the only book whose every word is sent from heaven! You permit us to read books dictated by the spirit of darkness and sin, and you make it a crime for us to read the only book written under the dictation of the Spirit of light and holiness. This conduct on your part, and on the part of all the superiors of the college, disturbs and scandalizes me! Shall I tell you, your dread of the Bible shakes my faith, and causes me to fear that we are going astray in our Church."
Mr. Leprohon answered me: "I have been the director of this college for more than twenty years, and I have never heard from the lips of any of the students such remarks and complaints as you are making to me today. Have you no fear of being the victim of a deception of the devil, in meddling with a question so strange and so new for a scholar whose only aim should be to obey his superiors?"
"It may be" said I, "that I am the first to speak to you in this manner, for it is very probable that I am the only student in this college who has read the Holy Bible in his youthful days. I have already told you there was a Bible in my father's house, which disappeared only after his death, though I never could know what became of it. I can assure you that the perusal of that admirable book has done me a good that is still felt. It is, therefore, because I know by a personal experience that there is no book in the world so good, and so proper to read, that I am extremely grieved, and even scandalized, by the dread you have of it. I acknowledge to you I spent the afternoon of yesterday in the library reading the Bible. I found things in it which made me weep for joy and happiness things that did more good to my soul and heart than all you have given me to read for six years. And I am so sad today because you approve of me when I read the words of the devil, and condemn me when I read the Word of God."
My superior answered: "Since you have read the Bible, you must know that there are things in it on matters of such a delicate nature that it is improper for a young man, and more so for a young lady, to read them."
"I understand," answered I; "but these delicate matters, of which you do not want God to speak a word to us, you know very well that Satan speaks to us about them day and night. Now, when Satan speaks about and attracts our thoughts towards an evil and criminal thing, it is always in order that we may like it and be lost. But when the God of purity speaks to us of evil things (of which it is pretty much impossible for men to be ignorant), He does it that we may hate and abhor them, and He gives us grace to avoid them. Well, then, since you cannot prevent the devil from whispering to us things so delicate and dangerous to seduce us, how dare you hinder God from speaking of the same things to shield us from their allurements? Besides, when my God desires to speak to me Himself on any question whatever, where is your right to obstruct His word on its way to my heart?"
Though Mr Leprohon's intelligence was as much wrapped up in the darkness of the Church of Rome as it could be, his heart had remained honest and true; and while I respected and loved him as my father, though differing from him in opinion, I knew he loved me as if I had been his own child. He was thunderstruck by my answer. He turned pale, and I saw tears about to flow from his eyes. He sighed deeply, and looked at me some time reflectingly, without answering. At last he said: "My dear Chiniquy, your answer and your arguments have a force that frightens me, and if I had no other but my own personal ideas to disprove them, I acknowledge I do not know how I would do it. But I have something better than my own weak thoughts. I have the thoughts of the Church, and of our Holy father the Pope. They forbid us to put the Bible in the hands of our students. This should suffice to put an end to your troubles. To obey his legitimate superiors in all things and everywhere is the rule a Christian scholar like you should follow; and if you have broken it yesterday, I hope it will be the last time that the child whom I love better than myself will cause me such pain."
On saying this he threw his arms around me, clasped me to his heart, and bathed my face in tears. I wept also. Yes, I wept abundantly.
But God knoweth, that through the regret of having grieved my benefactor and father caused me to shed tears at that moment, yet I wept much more on perceiving that I would no more be permitted to read His Holy Word.
If, therefore, I am asked what moral and religious education we received at college, I will ask in return, What religious education can we receive in an institution where seven years are spent without once being permitted to read the Gospel of God? The gods of the heathen spoke to us daily by their apostles and disciples Homer, Virgil, Pindar, Horace! and the God of the Christians had not permission to say a single word to us in that college!
Our religion, therefore, could be nothing by Paganism disguised under a Christian name. Christianity in a college or convent of Rome is such a strange mixture of heathenism and superstition, both ridiculous and childish, and of shocking fables, that the majority of those who have not entirely smothered the voice of reason cannot accept it. A few do, as I did, all in their power, and succeed to a certain extent, in believing only what the superior tell them to believe. They close their eyes and permit themselves to be led exactly as if they were blind, and a friendly hand were offering to guide them. But the greater number of students in Roman Catholic colleges cannot accept the bastard Christianity which Rome presents to them. Of course, during the studies they follow its rules, for the sake of peace; but they have hardly left college before they proceed to join and increase the ranks of the army of skeptics and infidels which overruns France, Spain, Italy and Canada which overruns, in fact, all the countries where Rome has the education of the people in her hands.
I must say, though with a sad heart, that moral and religious education in Roman Catholic colleges is worse and void, for from them has been excluded the only true standard of morals and religion, The Word of God!
CHAPTER 11 Back to Top
We read in the history of Paganism that parents were often, in those dark ages,
slaying their children upon the altars of their gods, to appease their wrath or obtain
their favours. But we now see a strange thing. It is that of Christian parents forcing
their children into the temples and to the very feet of the idols of Rome, under
the fallacious notion of having them educated! While the Pagan parent destroyed only
the temporal life of his child, the Christian parent, for the most part, destroys
his eternal life. The Pagan was consistent: he believed in the almighty power and
holiness of his gods; he sincerely thought that they ruled the world, and that they
blessed both the victims and those who offered them. But where is the consistency
of the Protestant who drags his child and offers him as a sacrifice on the altars
of the Pope! Does he believe in his holiness or in his supreme and infallible power
of governing the intelligence? Then why does he not go and throw himself at his feet
and increase the number of his disciples? The Protestants who are guilty of this
great wrong are wont to say, as an excuse, that the superiors of colleges and convents
have assured them that their religious convictions would be respected, and that nothing
should be said or done to take away or even shake the religion of their children.
Our first parents were not more cruelly deceived by the seductive words of the serpent than the Protestants are this day by the deceitful promises of the priests and nuns of Rome.
I had been myself the witness of the promise given by our superior to a judge of the State of New York, when, a few days later that same superior, the Rev. Mr. Leprohon, said to me: "You know some English, and this young man knows French enough to enable you to understand each other. Try to become his friend and to bring him over to our holy religion. His father is a most influential man in the United States, and that, his only son, is the heir of an immense fortune. Great results for the future of the Church in the neighbouring republic might follow his conversion."
I replied: "Have you forgotten the promise you have made to his father, never to say or do anything to shake or take away the religion of that young man?"
My superior smiled at my simplicity, and said: "When you shall have studied theology you will know that Protestantism is not a religion, but that it is the negation of religion. Protesting cannot be the basis of any doctrine. Thus, when I promised Judge Pike that the religious convictions of his child should be respected, and that I would not do anything to change his faith, I promised the easiest thing in the world, since I promised not to meddle with a thing which has no existence."
Convinced, or rather blinded by the reasoning of my superior, which is the reasoning of every superior of a college or nunnery, I set myself to work from that moment to make a good Roman Catholic of that young friend; and I would probably have succeeded had not a serious illness forced him, a few months after, to go home, where he died.
Protestants who may read these lines will, perhaps, be indignant against the deceit and knavery of the superior of the college of Nicolet. But I will say to those Protestants, It is not on that man, but on yourselves, that you must pour your contempt. The Rev. Mr. Leprohon was honest. He acted conformably to principles which he thought good and legitimate, and for which he would have cheerfully given the last drop of his blood. He sincerely believed that your Protestantism is a mere negation of all religion, worthy of the contempt of every true Christian. It was not the priest of Rome who was contemptible, dishonest and a traitor to his principles, but it was the Protestant who was false to his Gospel and to his own conscience by having his child educated by the servants of the Pope. Moreover, can we not truthfully say that the Protestant who wishes to have his children bred and educated by a Jesuit or a nun is a man of no religion? and that nothing is more ridiculous than to hear such a man begging respect for his religious principles! A man's ardent desire to have his religious convictions respected is best known by his respecting them himself.
The Protestant who drags his children to the feet of the priests of Rome is either a disguised infidel or a hypocrite. It is simply ridiculous for such a man to speak of his religious convictions or beg respect for them. His very humble position a the feet of a Jesuit or a nun, begging respect for his faith, is a sure testimony that he has none to lose. If he had any he would not be there, an humble and abject suppliant. He would take care to be where there could be no danger to his dear child's immortal soul.
When I was in the Church of Rome, we often spoke of the necessity of making superhuman efforts to attract young Protestants into our colleges and nunneries, as the shortest and only means of ruling the world before long. And as the mother has in her hands, still more than the father, the destinies of the family and of the world, we were determined to sacrifice everything in order to build nunneries all over the land, where the young girls, the future mothers of our country, would be moulded in our hands and educated according to our views.
Nobody can deny that this is supreme wisdom. Who will not admire the enormous sacrifices made by Romanists in order to surround the nunneries with so many attractions that it is difficult to refuse them preference above all other female scholastic establishments? One feels so well in the shade of these magnificent trees during the hot days of summer! It is so pleasant to live near this beautiful sheet of water, or the rapid current of that charming river, or to have constantly before one's eye the sublime spectacle of the sea! What a sweet perfume the flowers of that parterre diffuse around that pretty and peaceful convent! And, besides, who can withstand the almost angelic charms of the Lady Superior! How it does one good to be in the midst of those holy nuns, whose modesty, affable appearance and lovely smile present such a beautiful spectacle, that one would think of being at heaven's gate rather than in a world of desolation and sin!
O foolish man! Thou art always the same ever ready to be seduced by glittering appearances ever ready to suppress the voice of thy conscience at the first view of a deductive object!
One day I had embarked in the boat of a fisherman on the coast of one of those beautiful islands which the hand of God has placed at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In a few minutes the white sail, full-blown by the morning breeze, had carried us nearly a mile from the shore. There we dropped our anchor, and soon our lines, carried by the current, offered the deceitful bait to the fishes. But not one would come. One would have thought that the sprightly inhabitants of these limpid waters had acted in concert to despise us. In vain did we move our lines to and fro to attract the attention of the fishes; not one would come! We were tired. We lamented the prospect of losing our time, and of being laughed at by our friends on the shore who were waiting the result of our fishing to dine. Nearly one hour was spent in his manner, when the captain said, "Indeed, I will make the fishes come."
Opening a box, he took out handfuls of little pieces of finely-cut fishes and threw them broadcast on the water.
I was looking at him with curiosity, and I received with a feeling of unbelief the promise of seeing, in a few moments, more mackerel than I could pick up. These particles of fish, falling upon the water, scattered themselves in a thousand different ways. The rays of the sun, sporting among these numberless fragments, and thousands of scales, gave them a singular whiteness and brilliancy. They appeared like a thousand diamonds, full of movement and life, that sported and rolled themselves, running at each other, while rocking upon the waves.
As these innumerable little objects withdrew from us they looked like the milky way in the firmament. The rays of the sun continued to be reflected upon the scales of the fishes in the water, and to transform them into as many pearls, whose whiteness and splendor made an agreeable contrast with the deep green colour of the sea.
While looking at that spectacle, which was so new to me, I felt my line jerked out of my hands, and soon had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent mackerel lying at my feet. My companions were as fortunate as I was. The bait so generously thrown away had perfectly succeeded in bringing us not only hundreds, but thousands of fishes, and we caught as many of them as the boat could carry.
The Jesuits and the nuns are the Pope's cleverest fishermen, and the Protestants are the mackerel caught upon their baited hooks. Never fisherman knew better to prepare the perfidious bait than the nuns and Jesuits, and never were stupid fishes more easily caught than Protestants in general.
The priests of Rome themselves boast that more than half of the pupils of the nuns are the children of Protestants, and that seven-tenths of those Protestant children, sooner or later, become the firmest disciples and the true pillars of Popery in the United States. It is with that public and undeniable fact before them that the Jesuits have prophesied that before twenty-five years the Pope will rule that great republic; and if there is not a prompt change their prophecy will probably be accomplished.
"But," say many Protestants, "where can we get safer securities that the morals of our girls will be sheltered than in those convents? The faces of those good nuns, their angelic smiles, even their lips, from which seems to flow a perfume from heaven are not these the unfailing signs that nothing will taint the hearts of our dear children when they are under the care of those holy nuns?" Angelic smiles! Lips from which flow a perfume from heaven! Expressions of peace and holiness of the good nuns! Delusive allurements! Cruel deceptions! Mockery of comedy! Yes, all these angelic smiles, all these expressions of joy and happiness, are but allurements to deceive honest but too trusting men!
I believed myself for a long time that there was something true in all the display of peace and happiness which I saw reflected in the faces of a good number of nuns. But how soon my delusions passed away when I read with my own eyes, in a book of the secret rules of the convent, that one of their rules is always, especially in the presence of strangers, to have an appearance of joy and happiness, even when the soul is overwhelmed with grief and sorrow! The motives given to the nuns, for thus wearing a continual mask, is to secure the esteem and respect of the people, and to win more securely the young ladies to the convent!
All know the sad end of life of one of the most celebrated female comedians of the American Theatre. She had acted her part in the evening with a perfect success. She appeared so handsome, and so happy on the stage! Her voice was such a perfect harmony; her singing was so merry and lively with mirth! Two hours later she was a corpse! She had poisoned herself on leaving the theatre! For some time her heart was broken with grief which she could not bear.
Thus it is with the nun in her cell! forced to play a sacrilegious comedy to deceive the world and to bring new recruits to the monastery. And the Protestants, the disciples of the Gospel, the children of light, suffer themselves to be deceived by this impious comedy.
The poor nun's heart is often full of sorrow, and her soul is drowned in a sea of desolation; but she is obliged, under oath, always to appear gay! Unfortunate victim of the most cruel deception that has ever been invented, that poor daughter of Eve, deprived of all the happiness that heaven has given, tortured night and day by honest aspirations which she is told are unpardonable sins, she has not only to suppress in herself the few buds of happiness which God has left in her soul; but, what is more cruel, she is forced to appear happy in anguish of shame and of deception.
Ah! if the Protestants could know, as I do, how much the hearts of those nuns bleed, how much those poor victims of the Pope feel themselves wounded to death, how almost every one of them die at an early age, broken-hearted, instead of speaking of their happiness and holiness, they would weep at their profound misery. Instead of helping Satan to build up and maintain those sad dungeons by giving both their gold and their children, they would let them crumble into dust, and thus check the torrents of silent though bitter tears which those cells hide from our view.
I was traveling in 1851 over the vast prairies of Illinois in search of a spot which would suit us the best for the colony which I was about to found. One day my companions and myself found ourselves so wearied by the heat that we resolved to wait for the cool night in the shade of a few trees around a brook. The night was calm; there were no clouds in the sky, and the moon was beautiful. Like the sailor upon the sea, we had nothing but our compass to regulate our course on those beautiful and vast prairies. But the pen cannot express the emotions I felt while looking at that beautiful sky and those magnificent deserts opened to our view. We often came to sloughs which we thought deeper than they really were, and of which we would keep the side for fear of drowning our horses. Many a time did I get down from the carriage and stop to contemplate the wonders which those ponds presented to our view.
All the splendours of the sky seemed brought down in those pure and limpid waters. The moon and the stars seemed to have left their places in the firmament to bathe themselves in those delightful lakelets. All the purest, the most beautiful things of the heavens seemed to come down to hide themselves in those tranquil waters as if in search of more peace and purity.
A few days later I was retracing my steps. It was day-time; and, following the same route, I was longing to get to my charming little lakes. But during the interval the heat had been great, the sun very hot, and my beautiful sheets of water had been dried up. My dear little lakes were nowhere to be seen.
And what did I find instead? Innumerable reptiles, with the most hideous forms and filthy colours! No brilliant start, no clear moon were there any more to charm my eyes. There was nothing left but thousands of little toads and snakes, at the sight of which I was filled with disgust and horror!
Protestants! when upon life's way you are tempted to admire the smiling lips and unstained faces of the Pope's nuns, please think of those charming lakes which I saw in the prairies of Illinois, and remember the innumerable reptiles and toads that swarm at the bottom of those deceitful waters.
When, by the light of Divine truth, Protestants see behind these perfect mockeries by which the nun conceals with so much care the hideous misery which devours her heart, they will understand the folly of having permitted themselves to be so easily deceived by appearances. Then they will bitterly weep for having sacrificed to that modern Paganism the future welfare of their children, of their families, and of their country!
"But," says one, "the education is so cheap in the nunnery." I answer, "The education in convents, were it twice cheaper than it is now, would still cost twice more than it is worth. It is in this circumstance that we can repeat and apply the old proverb, `Cheap things are always too highly paid for.'"
In the first place, the intellectual education in the nunnery is completely null. The great object of the Pope and the nuns is to captivate and destroy the intelligence.
The moral education is also of no account; for what kind of morality can a young girl receive from a nun who believes that she can live as she pleases as long as she likes it that nothing evil can come to her, neither in this life nor in the next, provided only she is devout to the Virgin Mary?
Let Protestants read the "Glories of Mary," by St. Liguori, a book which is in the hands of every nun and every priest, and they will understand what kind of morality is practiced and taught inside the walls of the Church of Rome. Yes; let them read the history of that lady who was so well represented at home by the Holy Virgin, that her husband did not perceive that she had been absent, and they will have some idea of what their children may learn in a convent.
CHAPTER 12 Back to Top
The word education is a beautiful word. It comes from the Latin educare, which
means to raise up, to take from the lowest degrees to the highest spheres of knowledge.
The object of education is, then, to feed, expand, raise, enlighten, and strengthen
We hear the Roman Catholic priests making use of that beautiful word education as often, in not oftener, than the Protestant. But that word "education" has a very different meaning among the followers of the Pope than among the disciples of the Gospel. And that difference, which the Protestants ignore, is the cause of the strange blunders they make every time they try to legislate on that question here, as well as in England or in Canada.
The meaning of the word education among Protestants is as far from the meaning of that same word among Roman Catholics as the southern pole is from the northern pole. When a Protestant speaks of education, that word is used and understood in its true sense. When he sends his little boy to a Protestant school, he honestly desires that he should be reared up in the spheres of knowledge as much as his intelligence will allow. When that little boy is going to school, he soon feels that he has been raised up to some extent, and he experiences a sincere joy, a noble pride, for this new, though at first very modest raising; but he naturally understands that this new and modest upheaval is only a stone to step on and raise himself to a higher degree of knowledge, and he quickly makes that second step with an unspeakable pleasure. When the son of a Protestant has acquired a little knowledge, he wants to acquire more. When he has learned what this means, he wants to know what that means also. Like the young eagle, he trims his wings for a higher flight, and turns his head upward to go farther up in the atmosphere of knowledge. A noble and mysterious ambition has suddenly seized his young soul. Then he begins to feel something of that unquenchable thirst for knowledge which God Himself has put in the breast of every child of Adam, a thirst of knowledge, however, which will never be perfectly realized except in heaven.
The object of education, then, is to enable man to fulfill that kingly mission of ruling, subduing the world, under the eyes of his Creator.
Let us remember that it is not from himself, nor from any angel, but it is from God Himself that man has received that sublime mission. Yes, it is God Himself who has implanted in the bosom of humanity the knowledge and aspirations of those splendid destinies which can be attained only by "Education."
What a glorious impulse is this that seizes hold of the newly-awakened mind, and leads the young intelligence to rise higher and pierce the clouds that hide from his gaze the splendours of knowledge that lay concealed beyond the gloom of this nether sphere! That impulse is a noble ambition; it is that part of humanity that assimilates itself to the likeness of the great Creator; that impulse which education has for its mission to direct in its onward and upward march, is one of the most precious gifts of God to man. Once more, the glorious mission of education is to foster these thirstings after knowledge and lead man to accomplish his high destiny.
It ought to be a duty with both Roman Catholics and Protestants to assist the pupil in his flight toward the regions of science and learning. But is it so? No. When you, Protestants, send you children to school, you put no fetters to their intelligence; they rise with fluttering wings day after day. Though their flight at first is slow and timid, how happy they feel at every new aspect of their intellectual horizon! How their hearts beat with an unspeakable joy when they begin to hear voices of applause and encouragement from every side saying to them, "Higher, higher, higher!" When they shake their young wings to take a still higher flight, who can express their joy when they distinctly hear again the voices of a beloved mother, of a dear father, of a venerable pastor, cheering them and saying, "Well done! Higher yet, my child, higher!"
Raising themselves with more confidence on their wings, they then soar still higher, in the midst of the unanimous concert of the voices of their whole country encouraging them to the highest flight. It is then that the young man feels his intellectual strength tenfold multiplied. He lifts himself on his eagle wings, with a renewed confidence and power, and soars up still higher, with his heart beating with a noble and holy joy. For from the south and north, from the east and west, the echoes bring to his ears the voices of the admiring multitudes "Rise higher, higher yet!"
He has now reached what he thought, at first, to be the highest regions of thought and knowledge: but he hears again the same stimulating cries from below, encouraging him to a still higher flight toward the loftiest dominion of knowledge and philosophy, till he enters the regions where lies the source of all truth, and light, and life. For he had also heard the voice of his God speaking through His Son Jesus Christ, crying, "Come unto Me! Fear Not! Come unto Me! I am the light, the way! Come to this higher region where the Father, with the Son and the Spirit, reign in endless light!"
Thus does the Protestant scholar, making use of his intelligence as the eagle of his wing, go on from weakness unto strength, from the timid flutter to the bold confident flight, from one degree to another still higher, from one region of knowledge to another still higher, till he loses himself in that ocean of light and truth and life which is God.
In the Protestant schools no fetters are put on the young eagle's wings; there is nothing to stop him in his progress, or paralyze his movements and upward flights. It is the contrary: he receives every kind of encouragement in his flight.
Thus it is that the only truly great nations in the world are Protestants! Thus it is the truly powerful nations in the world are Protestants! Thus it is that the only free nations in the world are Protestants! The Protestant nations are the only ones that acquit themselves like men in the arena of this world; Protestant nations only march as giants at the head of the civilized world. Everywhere they are the advanced guard in the ranks of progress, science and liberty, leaving far behind the unfortunate nations whose hands are tied by the ignominious iron chains of Popery.
After we have seen the Protestant scholar raising himself, on his eagle wings, to the highest spheres of intelligence, happiness, and light, and marching unimpeded toward his splendid destinies, let us turn our eyes toward the Roman Catholic student, and let us consider and pity him in the supreme degradation to which he is subjected.
That young Roman Catholic scholar is born with the same bright intelligence as the Protestant one; he is endowed by his Creator with the same powers of mind as his Protestant meighbour; he has the same impulses, the same noble aspirations implanted by the hand of God in his breast. He is sent to school apparently, like the Protestant boy, to receive what is called "Education." He at first understands that word in its true sense; he goes to school in the hope of being raised, elevated as high as his intelligence and his person efforts will allow. His heart beats with joy, when at once the first rays of light and knowledge come to him; he feels a holy, a noble pride at every new step he makes in his upward progress; he longs to learn more, he wants to rise higher; he also takes up his wings, like the young eagle, and soars up higher.
But here begin the disappointments and tribulations of the Roman Catholic student; for he is allowed to raise himself yes, but when he has raised himself high enough to be on a level with the big toes of the Pope he hears piercing, angry, threatening cries coming from every side "Stop! stop! Do not rise yourself higher than the toes of the Holy Pope!....Kiss those holy toes,....and stop your upward flight! Remember that the Pope is the only source of science, knowledge, and truth!....The knowledge of the Pope is the ultimate limit of learning and light to which humanity can attain....You are not allowed to know and believe what his Holiness does not know and believe. Stop! stop! Do not go an inch higher than the intellectual horizon of the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, in whom only is the plenitude of the true science which will save the world."
Some will perhaps answer me here: "Has not Rome produced great men in every department of science?" I answer, Yes; as I have once done before. Rome can show us a long list of names which shine among the brightest lights of the firmament of science and philosophy. She can show us her Copernicus, her Galileos, her Pascals, her Bossuets, her Lamenais, ect., ect. But it is at their risk and peril that those giants of intelligence have raised themselves into the highest regions of philosophy and science. It is in spite of Rome that those eagles have soared up above the damp and obscure horizon where the Pope offers his big toes to be kissed and worshipped as the ne plus ultra of human intelligence; and they have invariably been punished for their boldness.
On the 22 of June, 1663, Galileo was obliged to fall on his knees in order to escape the cruel death to which he was to be condemned by the order of the Pope; and he signed with his own hand the following retraction: "I abjure, curse, and detest the error and heresy of the motion of the earth," ect., ect.
That learned man had to degrade himself by swearing a most egregious lie, namely, that the earth does not move around the sun. Thus it is that the wings of that giant eagle of Rome were clipped by the scissors of the Pope. That mighty intelligence was bruised, fettered, and, as much as it was possible to the Church of Rome, degraded, silenced, and killed. But God would not allow that such a giant intellect should be entirely strangled by the bloody hands of that implacable enemy of light and truth the Pope. Sufficient strength and life had remained in Galileo to enable him to say, when rising up, "This will not prevent the earth from moving!"
The infallible decree of the infallible Pope, Urban VIII, against the motion of the earth is signed by the Cardinals Felia, Guido, Desiderio, Antonio, Bellingero, and Fabriccioi. It says: "In the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, the plenitude of which resides in His Vicar, the Pope, that the proposition that the earth is not the centre of the world, and that it moves with a diurnal motion is absurd, philosophically false, and erroneous in faith."
What a glorious thing for the Pope of Rome to be infallible! He infallibly knows that the earth does not move around the sun! And what a blessed thing for the Roman Catholics to be governed and taught by such an infallible being. In consequence of that infallible decree, you will admire the following act of human submission of two celebrated Jesuit astronomers, Lesueur and Jacquier: "Newton assumes in his third book the hypothesis of the earth moving around the sun. The proposition of that author could not be explained, except through the same hypothesis: we have, therefore, been forced to act a character not our own. But we declare our entire submission to the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs of Rome against the motion of the earth." (Newton's "Principia," vol. iii., p.450.)
Here you see two learned Jesuits, who have written a very able work to prove that the earth moves around the sun; but, trembling at the thunders of the Vatican, which are roaring on their heads and threaten to kill them, they submit to the decrees of the Popes of Rome against the motion of the earth. These two learned Jesuits tell a most contemptible and ridiculous lie to save themselves from the implacable wrath of that great light-extinguisher whose throne is in the city of the seven hills.
Had the Newtons, the Franklins, the Fultons, the Morses been Romanists, their names would have been lost in the obscurity which is the natural heritage of the abject slaves of the Popes. Being told from their infancy that no one had any right to make use of his "private judgment," intelligence and conscience in the research of truth, they would have remained mute and motionless at the feet of the modern and terrible god of Rome, the Pope. But they were Protestants! In that great and glorious word "Protestant" is the secret of the marvelous discoveries with which they had read a book which told them that they were created in the image of God, and that that great God had sent His eternal Son Jesus to make them free from the bondage of man. They had read in that Protestant book (for the Bible is the most Protestant book in the world) that man had not only a conscience, but an intelligence to guide him; they had learned that that intelligence and conscience had no other master but God, no other guide but God, no other light but God. On the walls of their Protestant schools the Son of God had written the marvelous words: "Come unto Me; I am the Light, the Way, the Life."
But when the Protestant nations are marching with such giant strides to the conquest of the world, why is it that the Roman Catholic nations not only remain stationary, but give evidence of a decadence which is, day after day, more and more appalling and remediless? Go to their schools and give a moment of attention to the principles which are sown in the young intelligences of their unfortunate slaves, and you will have the key to tat sad mystery.
What is not only the first, but the daily school lesson taught to the Roman Catholic? Is it not that one of the greatest crimes which a man can commit is to follow his "private judgment?" which means that he has eyes, but cannot see; ears, but he cannot hear; and intelligence, but he cannot make use of it in the research of truth and light and knowledge, without danger of being eternally damned. His superiors which mean the priest and the Pope must see for him, hear for him, and think for him. Yes, the Roman Catholic is constantly told in his school that the most unpardonable and damnable crime is to make use of his own intelligence and follow his own private judgment in the research of truth. He is constantly reminded that man's own private judgment is his greatest enemy. Hence all his intellectual and conscientious efforts must be brought to fight down, silence, kill his "private judgment." It is by the judgment of his superiors the priest, the bishop and the pope that he must be guided in everything.
Now, what is a man who cannot make use of his "private personal judgment?" Is he not a slave, an idiot, an ass? And what is a nation composed of men who do not make use of their private personal judgment in the research of truth and happiness, if not a nation of brutes, slaves and contemptible idiots?
But as this will look like an exaggeration on my part, allow me to force the Church of Rome to come here and speak for herself. Please pay attention to what she has to say about the intellectual faculties of men. Here are the very words of the so-called Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Society:-
"As for holy obedience, this virtue must be perfect in every point in execution, in will, in intellect; doing which is enjoined with all celerity, spiritual joy and perseverance; persuading ourselves that everything is just, suppressing every repugnant thought and judgment of one's own in a certain obedience; and let every one persuade himself, that he who lives under obedience should be moved and directed, under Divine Providence, by his superior, just as if he were a corpse (perinde asi cadaver esset) which allows itself to be moved and led in every direction."
Some one will, perhaps, ask me what can be the object of the popes and the priests of Rome in degrading the Roman Catholics in such a strange way that they turn them into moral corpses? Why not let them live? The answer is a very easy one. The great, the only object of the thoughts and workings of the Pope and the priests is to raise themselves above the rest of the world. They want to be high! high above the heads not only of the common people, but of the kings and emperors of the world. They want to be not only as high, but higher than God. It is when speaking of the Pope that the Holy Ghost says: "He opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. ii.4). To attain their object, the priests have persuaded their millions and millions of slaves that they were mere corpses; that they must have no will, no conscience, no intelligence of their own, just "as corpses which allow themselves to be moved and led in any way, without any resistance." When this has been once gained, they have made a pyramid of all those motionless, inert corpses which is so high, that though its feet are on the earth, its top goes to the skies, in the very abode of the old divinities of the Pagan world, and putting themselves and their popes at the top of that marvelous pyramid, the priests say to the rest of the world: "Who among you are as high as we are? Who has ever been raised by God as a priest and a pope? Where are the kings and the emperors whose thrones are as elevated as ours? Are we not at the very top of humanity?" Yes! yes! I answer to the priests of Rome, you are high, very high indeed! No throne on earth has ever been so sublime, so exalted as yours. Since the days of the tower of Babel, the world has not seen such a huge fabric. Your throne is higher than anything we know. But it is a throne of corpses!!!
And if you want to know what other use is made of those millions and millions of corpses, I will tell it to you. There is no manure so rich as dead carcasses. Those millions of corpses serve to manure the gardens of the priests, the bishops and the popes, and make their cabbages grow. And what fine cabbages grow in the Pope's garden!
But that you may better understand the degrading tendencies of the principles which are as the fundamental stone of the moral and intellectual education of Rome, let me put before your eyes another extract of the Jesuit teachings, which I take again from the "Spiritual Exercises," as laid down by their founder, Ignatius Loyola: "That we may in all things attain the truth, that we may not err in anything, we ought ever to hold as a fixed principle that what I see white I believe to be black, if the superior authorities of the Church define it to be so."
You all know that it is the avowed desire of Rome to have public education in the hands of the Jesuits. She says everywhere that they are the best, the model teachers. Why so?
Because they more boldly and more successfully than any other of her teachers aim at the destruction of the intelligence and conscience of their pupils. Rome proclaims everywhere that the Jesuits are the most devoted, the most reliable of her teachers; and she is right, for when a man has been trained a sufficient time by them, the most perfectly becomes a moral corpse. His superiors can do what they please with him. When he knows that a thing is white as snow, he is ready to swear that it is black as ink if his superior tells him so. But some may be tempted to think of these degrading principles are exclusively taught by the Jesuits; that they are not the teachings of the Church, and that I do an injustice to the Roman Catholics when I give, as a general iniquity, what is the guilt of the Jesuits only. Listen to the words of that infallible Pope Gregory XVI., in his celebrated Encyclical of the 15th of August, 1832:"If the holy Church so requires, let us sacrifice our own opinions, our knowledge, our intelligence, the splendid dreams of our imagination, and the most sublime attainments of the human understanding."
It is when considering those anti-social principles of Rome that Mr. Gladstone wrote, not long ago: "No more cunning plot was ever devised against the freedom, the happiness and the virtue of mankind than Romanism." ("Letter to Earl Aberdeen.") Now, Protestants, do you begin to see the difference of the object of education between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic school? Do you begin to understand that there is as great a distance between the word "Education" among you, and the meaning of the same word in the Church of Rome, than between the southern and the northern poles! By education you mean to raise man to the highest sphere of manhood. Rome means to lower him below the most stupid brutes. By education you mean to teach man that he is a free agent, that liberty within the limits of the laws of God and of his country is a gift secured to every one; you want to impress every man with the noble thought that it is better to die a free man than to live a slave. Rome wants to teach that there is only one man who is free, the Pope, and that all the rest are born to be his abject slaves in thought, will and action.
Now, that you may still more understand to what a bottomless abyss of human degradation and moral depravity these anti-Christian and antisocial principles of Rome lead her poor blind slaves, read what Liguori says in his book "The Nun Sanctified": "The principal and most efficacious means of practicing obedience due to superiors, and of rendering it meritorious before God, is to consider that in obeying them we obey God Himself, and that by despising their commands we despise the authority of our Divine Master. When, thus, a religious receives a precept from her prelate, superior or confessor, she should immediately execute it, not only to please them but principally to please God, whose will is made known to her by their command. In obeying their command, in obeying their directions, she is more certainly obeying the will of God than if an angel came down from heaven to manifest His will to her. Bear this always in your mind, that the obedience which you practice to your superior is paid to God. If, then, you receive a command from one who holds the place of God, you should observe it with the same diligence as if it came from God Himself. Blessed Egidus used to say that it is more meritorious to obey man for the love of God than God Himself. It may be added that there is more certainty of doing the will of God by obedience to our superior than by obedience to Jesus Christ, should He appear in person and give His commands. St. Phillip de Neri used to say that religious shall be most certain of not having to render an account of the actions performed through obedience; for these the superiors only who commanded them shall be held accountable." The Lord said once to St. Catherine of Sienne, "Religious will not be obliged to render an account to me of what they do through obedience; for that I will demand an account from the superior. This doctrine is conformable to Sacred Scripture: `Behold, says the Lord, as clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hands, O Israel!' (Jeremiah xviii. 6.) A religious man must be in the hands of the superiors to be moulded as they will. Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, What art Thou making? The Potter ought to answer `Be silent; it is not your business to inquire what I do, but to obey and to receive whatever form I please to give you.'"
I ask you, American Protestants, what would become of your fair country if you were blind enough to allow the Church of Rome to teach the children of the United States? What kind of men and women can come out of such schools? What future of shame, degradation, and slavery you prepare for your country if Rome does succeed in forcing you to support such schools? What kind of women would come out from the schools of nuns who would teach them that the highest pitch of perfection in a woman is when she obeys her superior, the priest, in everything he commands her! that your daughter will never be called to give an account to God for the actions she will have done to please and obey her superior, the priest, the bishop, or the Pope? That the affairs of her conscience will be arranged between God and that superior, and that she will never be asked why she had done this or that, when it will be to gratify the pleasures of the superior and obey his command that she has done it. Again, what kind of men and citizens will come out from the schools of those Jesuits who believe and teach that a man has attained the perfection of manhood only when he is a perfect spiritual corpse before his superior; when he obeys the priest with the perfection of a cadaver, that has neither life nor will in itself.
CHAPTER 13 Back to Top
Talleyrand, one of the most celebrated Roman Catholic bishops of France, once
said, "Language is the art of concealing one's thoughts." Never was there
a truer expression, if it had reference to the awful deceptions practiced by the
Church of Rome under the pompous name of "Theological studies."
Theology is the study of the knowledge of the laws of God. Nothing, then, is more noble than the study of theology. How solemn were my thoughts and elevated my aspirations when, in 1829, under the guidance of the Rev. Messrs. Rimbault and Leprohon, I commenced my theological coarse of study at Nicolet, which I was to end in 1833!
I supposed that my books of theology were to bring me nearer to my God by the more perfect knowledge I would acquire, in their study, of His holy will and His sacred laws. My hope was that they would be to my heart what the burning coal, brought by the angel of the Lord, was to the lips of the prophet of old.
The principal theologians which we had in our hands were "Les Conferences d'Anger," Bailly, Dens, St. Thomas, but above all Liguori, who has since been canonized. Never did I open one without offering up a fervent prayer to God and to the Virgin Mary for the light and grace of which I would be in need for myself and for the people whose pastor I was to become.
But how shall I relate my surprise when I discovered that, in order to accept the principles of the theologians which my Church gave me for guides I had to put away all principles of truth, of justice, of honour and holiness! What long and painful efforts it cost me to extinguish, one by one, the lights of truth and of reason kindled by the hand of my merciful God in my intelligence. For to study theology in the Church of Rome signifies to learn to speak falsely, to deceive, to commit robbery, to perjure one's self! It means how to commit sins without shame, it means to plunge the soul into every kind of iniquity and turpitude without remorse!
I know that Roman Catholics will bravely and squarely deny what I now say. I am aware also that a great many Protestants, too easily deceived by the fine whitewashing of the exterior walls of Rome, will refuse to believe me. Nevertheless they may rest assured it is true, and my proof will be irrefutable. The truth may be denied by many, but my witnesses cannot be contradicted by any one. My witnesses are even infallible. They are none other than the Roman Catholic theologians themselves, approved by infallible Popes! These very men who corrupted my heart, perverted my intelligence and poisoned my soul, as they have done with each and every priest of their Church, will be my witnesses, my only witnesses. I will just now forcibly bring them before the world to testify against themselves!
Liguori, in his treatise on oaths, Question 4, asks if it is allowable to use ambiguity, or equivocal words, to deceive the judge when under oath, and at no. 151 he answers: "These things being established, it is a certain and common opinion amongst all divines that for a just cause it is lawful to use equivocation in the propounded modes, and to confirm it (equivocation) with an oath.... Now a just cause is any honest end in order to preserve good things for the spirit, or useful things for the body."*
"The accused, or a witness not properly interrogated, can sear that he does not know a crime, which in reality he does know, by understanding that he does not know the crime, concerning which he can be legitimately enquired of, or that he does not know it so as to give evidence concerning it."**
When the crime is very secret and unknown to all, Liguori says the culprit or the witness must deny it under oath. "The same is true, if a witness on another ground is not bound to depose; for instance, if the crime appear to himself to be free from blame. Or if he knew a crime which he is bound to keep secret, when no scandal may have gone abroad." ***
"Make an exception in a trial where the crime is altogether concealed. For then he can, yea, the witness is bound to say that the accused did not commit the crime. And the same course the accused can adopt, if the proof be not complete, ect., because then the judge does not legitimately interrogate."****
Liguori asks himself, "Whether the accused legitimately interrogated, can deny a crime, even with an oath, if the confession of the crime would be attended with great disadvantage." The saint replies:"Elbel, ect., denies that he can, and indeed more probably because the accused is then bound for the general good to undergo the loss. But sufficiently probable Lugo, ect., with many others, say, that the accused, if in danger of death, or of prison, or of perpetual exile, the loss of property, the danger of the galleys, and such like, can deny the crime even with an oath (at least without great sin) by understanding that he did not commit it so that he is bound to confess it, only let there be a hope of avoiding the punishment." *
"He who hath sworn that he would keep a secret, does not sin against the oath by revealing that secret when he cannot conceal it without great loss to himself, or to another, because the promise of secrecy does not appear to bind, unless under this condition, if it does not injure me."
"He who hath sworn to a judge that he would speak what he knew, is not bound to reveal concealed things. The reason is manifest." **
Liguori says whether a woman, accused of the crime of adultery, which she has really committed, may deny it under oath? He answers: "She is able to assert equivocally that she did not break the bond of matrimony, which truly remains. And if sacramentally she confessed adultery, she can answer, `I am innocent of this crime,' because by confession it was taken away. So Card, who, however, here remarks that she cannot affirm it with an oath, because in asserting anything the probability of a deed suffices, but in swearing certainty is required. To this it is replied that in swearing moral certainty suffices, as we said above. Which moral certainty of the remission of sin can indeed be had, when any, morally well disposed, receives the sacrament of penance."***
Liguori maintains that one may commit a minor crime in order to avoid a greater crime. He says, "Hence Sanchez teaches, ect., that it is lawful to persuade a man, determined to slay some one, that he should commit theft or fornication." *
"Whether is it lawful for a servant to open the door for a harlot? Croix denies it, but more commonly Bus. ect., with others answer that it is lawful."
"Whether from fear of death, or of great loss, it may be lawful for a servant to stoop his shoulders, or to bring a ladder for his master ascending to commit fornication, to force open the door, and such like? Viva, ect., deny it, and others, because, as they say, such actions are never lawful, inasmuch as they are intrinsically evil. But Busemb, ect., speak the contrary, whose opinion, approved of by reason, appears to me the more probable."**
"But the salmanticenses say that a servant can, according to his own judgment, compensate himself for his labour, if he without doubt judge that he was deserving of a larger stipend. Which indeed appears sufficiently probable to me, and to other more modern learned men, if the servant, or any other hired person, be prudent, and capable of forming a correct judgment, and be certain concerning the justice of the compensation, all danger of mistake being removed." ***
"A poor man, absconding with goods for his support, can answer the judge that he has nothing. In like manner an heir who has concealed his goods without an inventory, if he is not bound to settle with his creditors from them, can say to a judge that he has not concealed anything in his own mind meaning those goods with which he is bound to satisfy his creditors." *
Liguori, in Dubium II., considers what may be the quantity of stolen property necessary to constitute mortal sin. He says:-
"There are various opinions concerning this matter. Navar too scrupulously has fixed the half of regalem, others with too great laxity have fixed ten aureos. Tol., ect., moderately have fixed two regales, although less might suffice, if it would be a serious loss."**
"Whether it be mortal sin to steal a small piece of a relic? There is no doubt but that in the district of Rome it is a mortal sin, since Clement VIII. and Paul V. have issued an excommunication against those who, the rectors of the churches being unwilling, steal some small relic: otherwise Croix probably says, ect., if any one should steal any small thing out of the district [of Rome], not deforming the relic itself nor diminishing its estimation; unless it may be some rare or remarkable relic, as for example, the holy cross, the hair of the Blessed Virgin, ect." ***
"If any one on an occasion should steal only a moderate sum either from one or more, not intending to acquire any notable sum, neither to injure his neighbour to a great extent by several thefts, he does not sin grievously, nor do these, taken together, constitute a mortal sin; however, after it may have amounted to a notable sum, by detaining it, he can commit mortal sin. But even this mortal sin may be avoided, if either then he be unable to restore, or have the intention of making restitution immediately, of those things which he then received."****
"This opinion of Bus. is most probable, viz., if many persons steal small quantities, that none of them commit grievous sin, although they may be mutually aware of their conduct, unless they do it by concert: also Habert, ect., hold this view; and this, although each should steal at the same time. The reason is, because then no one person is the cause of injury, which, per accidens, happens by the others to the master." *
Liguori, speaking of children who steal from their parents, says:"Salas, ect., say that a son does not commit grievous sin, who steals 20 or 30 aurei from a father possessing yearly 1500 aureos, and Lugo does not disprove of it. If the father be not tenacious, and the son have grown up and receive it for honest purposes. Less, ect., say that a son stealing two or three aureos from a rich father does not sin grievously; Bannez says that fifty aureos are required to constitute a grievous sin who steals from a rich father; but this opinion, Lug, ect., reject, unless perchance he is the son of a prince; in which case Holzm. consents."**
The theologians of Rome assure us that we may, and even that we must, conceal and disguise our faith.
"Notwithstanding, indeed although it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, nevertheless it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous and doubtful signs for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity of confessing. It is the common opinion."***
"Whence, if thus he may be able to deliver himself from a troublesome investigation, it is lawful (as Kon has it), for generally it is not true that he who is interrogated by public authority is publicly bound to profess the faith, unless when that is necessary, lest he may appear to those present to deny the faith."****
"When you are not asked concerning the faith, not only is it lawful, but often more conducive to the glory of God and the utility of your neighbour to cover the faith than to confess it; for example, if concealed among heretics you may accomplish a greater amount of good; or if, from the confession of the faith more of evil would follow for example, great trouble, death, the hostility of a tyrant, the peril of defection, if you should be tortured. Whence it is often rash to offer one's self willingly." * The Pope has the right to release from all oaths.
"As for an oath made for a good and legitimate object, it seems that there should be no power capable of annulling it. However, when it is for the good of the public, a matter which comes under the immediate jurisdiction of the Pope, who has the supreme power over the Church, the Pope has full power to release from that oath." (St. Thomas, Quest. 89, art. 9, vol. iv.)
The Roman Catholics have not only the right, but it is their duty to kill heretics.
"Excommunicatus privatur omni civili communicatione fidelium, ita ut ipsi non possit cum aliis, et si non sit toleratus, etiam aliis cum ipso non possint communicare; idque in casibus hoc versu comprehensis, Os, orare, communio, mensa negatur."
Translated: "Any man excommunicated is deprived of all civil communication with the faithful, in such a way that if he is not tolerated they can have no communication with him, as it is in the following verse, `It is forbidden to kiss him, pray with him, salute him, to eat or to do any business with him.'" (St. Liguori, vol. ix., page 62.)
"Quanquam heretici tolerandi non sunt ipso illorum demerito, usque tamen ad secundam correptionem expectandi sunt, ut ad sanam redeant ecclesiae fidem; qui vero post secundam correptionem in suo errore obstinati permanent, non modo excommunicationis sententia, sed etiam saecularibus principibus exterminandi tradendi sunt."
Translated: "Though heretics must not be tolerated because they deserve it, we must bear with them till, by a second admonition, they may be brought back to the faith of the Church. But those who, after a second admonition, remain obstinate in their errors must not only be excommunicated, but they must be delivered to the secular powers to be exterminated."
"Quanquam heretici revertentes, semper recipiendi sint ad poenitentiam quoties cujque relapsi furint; non tamen semper sunt recipiendi et restituendi ad bonorum hujus vitae participation nem...recipiuntur ad poenitentiam...non tamen ut liberentur a sententia mortis."
Translated: "Though the heretics who repent must always be accepted to penance, as often as they have fallen, they must not in consequence of that always be permitted to enjoy the benefits of this life. When they fall again they are admitted to repent. But the sentence of death must not be removed." (St. Thomas, vol. iv., page 91.)
"Quum quis per sententiam denuntiatur propter apostasiam excommunicatus, ipso facto, ejus subditi a dominio et juramento fidelitatis ejus liberati sunt."
"When a man is excommunicated for his apostasy, it follows from that very fact that all those who are his subjects are released from the oath of allegiance by which they were bound to obey him." (St. Thomas, vol. iv., page 91.)
Every heretic and Protestant is condemned to death, and every oath of allegiance to a government which is Protestant or heretic is abrogated by the Council of Lateran, held in A.d. 1215. Here is the solemn decree and sentence of death, which has never been repealed, and which is still in force:
"We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy that exalts itself against the holy, orthodox and Catholic faith, condemning all heretics, by whatever name they may be known; for though their faces differ, they are tied together by their tails. Such as are condemned are to be delivered over to the existing secular powers, to receive due punishment. If laymen, their goods must be confiscated. If priests, they shall be first degraded from their respective orders, and their property applied to the use of the church in which they have officiated. Secular powers of all ranks and degrees are to be warned, induced, and, if necessary, compelled by ecclesiastical censure, to swear that they will exert themselves to the utmost in the defense of the faith, and extirpate all heretics denounced by the Church who shall be found in their territories. And whenever any person shall assume government, whether it be spiritual or temporal, he shall be bound to abide by this decree.
"If any temporal lord, after being admonished and required by the Church, shall neglect to clear his territory of heretical depravity, the metropolitan and the bishops of the province shall unite in excommunicating him. Should he remain contumacious for a whole year, the fact shall be signified to the Supreme Pontiff, who will declare his vassals released from their allegiance from that time, and will bestow the territory on Catholics to be occupied by them, on the condition of exterminating the heretics and preserving the said territory in the faith.
"Catholics who shall assume the cross for the extermination of heretics shall enjoy the same indulgences and be protected by the same privileges as are granted to those who go to the help of the Holy Land. We decree, further, that all who may have dealings with heretics, and especially such as receive, defend, or encourage them, shall be excommunicated. He shall not be eligible to any public office. He shall not be admitted as a witness. He shall neither have the power to bequeath his property by will, nor to succeed to any inheritance. He shall not bring any action against any person, but anyone can bring an action against him. Should he be a judge, his decision shall have no force, nor shall any cause be brought before him. Should he be an advocate, he shall not be allowed to plead. Should he be a lawyer, no instruments made by him shall be held valid, but shall be condemned with their author."
But why let my memory and my thoughts linger any longer in these frightful paths, where murderers, liars, perjurers and thieves are assured by the theologians of the Church of Rome that they can lie, steal, murder and perjure themselves as much as they like, without offending God, provided they commit those crimes according to certain rules approved by the Pope for the good of the Church!
I should have to write several large volumes were I to quote all the Roman Catholic doctors and theologians who approve of lying, of perjury, of adultery, theft and murder, for the greatest glory of God and the good of the Roman Church! But I have quoted enough for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
With such principles, is it a wonder that all the Roman Catholic nations, without a single exception, have declined so rapidly?
The great Legislator of the World, the only Saviour of nations, has said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
A nation can be great and strong only according to the truths which form the basis of her faith and life. "Truth" is the only bread which God gives to the nations that they may prosper and live. Deceitfulness, duplicity, perjury, adultery, theft, murder, are the deadly poisons which kill the nations.
Then, the more the priests of Rome, with their theology, are venerated and believed by the people, the sooner that people will decay and fall. "The more priests the more crimes," a profound thinker has said; for then the more hands will be at work to pull down the only sure foundations of society.
How can any man be sure of the honesty of his wife as long as a hundred thousand priests tell her that she may commit any sin with her neighbour in order to prevent him from doing something worse? or when she is assured that, though guilty of adultery, she can swear that she is pure as an angel!
What will it avail to teach the best principles of honour, decency and holiness to a young girl, when she is bound to go many times a year to a bachelor priest, who is bound in conscience to give her the most infamous lessons of depravity under the pretext of helping her to confess all her sins?
How will the rights of justice be secured, and how can the judges and the juries protect the innocent and punish the guilty, so long as the witnesses are told by one hundred thousand priests that they can conceal the truth, give equivocal answers, and even perjure themselves under a thousand pretexts?
What government, either monarchical or republican, can be sure of a lease of existence? how can they make their people walk with a firm step in the ways of light, progress, and liberty, as long as there is a dark power over them which has the right, at every hour of the day or night, to break and dissolve all the most sacred oaths of allegiance?
Armed with his theology, the priest of Rome has become the most dangerous and determined enemy of truth, justice, and liberty. He is the most formidable obstacle to every good Government, as he is, without being aware of it, the greatest enemy of God and man.
CHAPTER 14 Back to Top
Were I to write all the ingenious tricks, pious lies, shameful stories called
miracles, and sacrilegious perversions of the Word of God made use of by superiors
of seminaries and nunneries to entice poor victims into the trap of perpetual celibacy,
I should have to write ten large volumes, instead of a short chapter.
Sometimes the trials and obligations of married life are so exaggerated that they may frighten the strongest heart. At other times the joys, peace and privileges of celibacy are depicted with such brilliant colours that they fill the coldest mind with enthusiasm.
The Pope takes his victim to the top of a high mountain, and there shows him all the honours, praise, wealth, peace and joys of this world, united to the most glorious throne of heaven, and then tells him: "I will give you all those things if you fall at my feet, promise me an absolute submission, and swear never to marry in order to serve me better."
Who can refuse such glorious things? But before entirely shutting their eyes, so that they may not see the bottomless abyss into which they are to fall, the unfortunate victims sometimes have forebodings and presentiments of the terrible miseries which are in store for them. The voice of their conscience, intelligence and common sense has not always been so fully silenced as the superior desired.
At the very time when the tempter is whispering his lying promises into their ears, their Heavenly Father is speaking to them of the ceaseless trials, the shameful falls, the tedious days, the dreary nights, and the cruel and insufferable burdens which are concealed behind the walls where the sweet yoke of the good Master is exchanged for the burdens of heartless men and women.
As formerly, the human victims crowned with flowers, when dragged to the foot of the altar of their false gods, often cried out with alarm and struggled to escape from the bloody knife of the heathen priest, so at the approach of the fatal hour at which the impious vow is to be made, the young victims often feel their hearts fainting and filled with terror. With pale cheeks, trembling lips and cold-dropping sweat they ask their superiors, "Is it possible that our merciful God requires of us such a sacrifice?"
Oh! how the merciless priest of Rome then becomes eloquent in depicting celibacy as the only way to heaven, or in showing the eternal fires of hell ready to receive cowards and traitors who, after having put their hand to the plough of celibacy, look back! He speaks of the disappointment and sadness of so many dear friends, who expected better things of them. He points out to them their own shame when they will again be in a world which will have nothing for them but sneers for their want of perseverance and courage. He overwhelms them with a thousand pious lies about the miracles wrought by Christ in favour of his virgins and priests. He bewitches them by numerous texts of Scripture, which he brings as evident proof of the will of God in favour of their taking the vows of celibacy, though they have not the slightest reference to such vows.
The text of which the strangest abuses are made by the superiors to persuade the young people of both sexes to bind themselves by those shameful vows is Matthew xix. 12, 13, "For there are eunuchs which were born from their mother's womb; and there are some eunuchs which were made eunuchs of men; and there are eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Upon one occasion our superior made a very pressing appeal to our religious feelings from this text, to induce us to make the vow of celibacy and become priests. But the address, though delivered with a great deal of zeal, seemed to us deficient in logic.
The next day was a day of rest (conge). The students in theology who were preparing themselves for the priesthood, with me, talked seriously of the singular arguments of the last address. It seemed to them that the conclusions could not in any way be drawn from the selected text, and therefore determined to respectfully present their objections and their views, which were also mine, to the superior; and I was chosen to speak for them all.
At the next conference, after respectfully asking and obtaining permission to express our objections with our own frank and plain sentiments, I spoke about as follows:
"Dear and venerable sir: You told us that the following words of Christ, `There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake,' show us evidently that we must make the vow of celibacy and make ourselves eunuchs if we want to become priests. Allow us to tell you respectfully, that it seems to us that the mind of our Saviour was very different from yours when He pronounced these words. In our humble opinion, the only object of the Son of God was to warn His disciples against one of the most damnable errors which were to endanger the very existence of nations. He was foretelling that there would be men so wicked and blind as to preach that the best way for men to go to heaven would be to make eunuchs of themselves. Allow us to draw your attention to the fact that in that speech Jesus Christ neither approves or disapproves of the idea of gaining a throne in heaven by becoming eunuchs. He leaves us to our common sense and to some clearer parts of Scripture to see whether or not He approves of those who would make eunuchs of themselves to gain a crown in heaven. Must we not interpret this text as we interpret what Jesus said to His apostles, `The time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service' (John xvi. 1,2).
Allow us to put these two texts fact to face:
"'There are eunuchs which have "'The time cometh that whosoever made themselves eunuchs for the killeth you will think that he kingdom of heaven's sake' doeth God service' (Matt. xix. 12,13.) (John xvi. l,2).
"Because our Saviour has said that there would be men who would think that they would please God (and of course gain a place in heaven) by killing His disciples, are we, therefore, allowed to conclude that it would be our duty to kill those who believe and follow Christ? Surely not!
"Well, it seems to us that we are not to believe that the best way to go to heaven is to make ourselves eunuchs, because our Saviour said that some men had got that criminal and foolish notion into their mind!
"Christian nations have always looked with horror upon those who have voluntarily become eunuchs. Common sense, as well as the Word of God, condemns those who thus destroy in their own bodies that which God in His wisdom gave them for the wisest and holiest purposes. Would it not, therefore, be a crime which every civilized and Christian nation would punish, to preach publicly and with success to the people that one of the surest ways for man to go to heaven would be to make himself a eunuch. How can we believe that our Saviour could ever sanction and such a practice?
"Moreover, if being eunuchs would make the way to heaven surer and more easy, would not God be unjust for depriving us of the privilege of being born eunuchs, and thus being made ripe fruits for heaven?
"It seems to us that that text does not in any way require us to believe that an eunuch is nearer the kingdom of God than He who lives just according to the laws which God gave to man in the earthly paradise. If it was not good for man to be without his wife when he was so holy and strong as he was in the Garden of Eden, how can it be good now that he is so weak and sinful? "Our Saviour clearly shows that He finds no sanctifying power in the state of an eunuch, in His answer to the young man who asked Him, `Good Master, what must I do that I may have eternal life?" (Matt. xix. 16). Did the good Master answer him in the language we heard from you two days ago, namely, that the best way to have eternal life is to make yourself an eunuch make a solemn vow never to marry? No; but He said, `Keep the commandments!' But where is the commandment of God, in the Old or New Testament, to induce us to make such a vow as that of celibacy? The promise of a place in heaven is not attached in any way to the vow of celibacy. Christ has not a word about that doctrine.
"Allow us to respectfully ask, if the views concerning the vows of celibacy entertained by Christ had been like yours, is it possible that He would have forgotten to mention them when He answered the solemn question of that young man? Is it possible that He would not have said a single word about a thing which you have represented to us as being of such vital importance to those who sincerely desire to know what to do to be saved? Is it not strange that the Church should attach such an importance to that vow of celibacy, when we look in vain for such an ordinance in both the Old and New Testaments? How can we understand the reasons or the importance of such a strict and, we dare say, unnatural obligation in our day, when we know very well that the holy apostles themselves were living with their wives, and that the Saviour had not a word of rebuke for them on that account?"
This free expression of our common views on the vows of celibacy evidently took our superior by surprise. He answered me, with an accent of indignation which he could not suppress: "Is that all you have to say?"
"It is not quite all we have to say," I answered; "but before we go further we would be much gratified to receive from you the light we want on the difficulties which I have just stated."
"You have spoken as a true heretic," replied Mr. Leprohon, with an unusual vivacity; "and were it not for the hope which I entertain that you have said these things to receive the light you want than to present and support the heretical side of such an important question, I would at once denounce you to the bishop. You speak of the Holy Scriptures just as a Protestant would do. You appeal to them as the only source of Christian truth and knowledge. Have you forgotten that we have the holy traditions to guide us, the authority of which is equal to that of the Scriptures?
"You are correct when you say that we do not find any direct proof in the Bible to enforce the vows of celibacy upon those who desire to consecrate themselves to the service of the Church. But if we do not find the obligation of that vow in the Bible, we find it in the holy traditions of the Church.
"It is an article of faith that the vow of celibacy is ordered by Jesus Christ, through His Church. The ordinances of the Church, which are nothing but the ordinances of the Son of God, are clear on that subject, and bind our consciences just as the commandments of God upon Mount Sinai; for Christ has said, those who do not hear the Church must be looked upon as heathen and publicans. There is no salvation to those who do not submit their reason to the teachings of the Church.
"You are not required to understand all the reasons for the vow of celibacy; but you are bound to believe in its necessity and holiness, as the Church has pronounced her verdict upon that question. It is not your business to argue about those matters; but your duty is to obey the Church, as dutiful children obey a kind mother.
"But who can have any doubt about the necessity of the vows of celibacy, when we remember that Christ had ordered His apostles to separate themselves from their wives? a fact on which no doubt can remain after hearing St. Peter say to our Saviour, `Behold, we have forsaken all and follow Thee; what shall we have, therefore?' (Matt. xix. 27). Is not the priest the true representative of Christ on earth? In his ordination, is not the priest made the equal and in a sense the superior of Christ? for when he celebrates Mass he commands Christ, and that very Son of God is bound to obey! It is not in the power of Christ to resist the orders of the priest. He must come down from heaven every time the priest orders Him. The priest shuts Him up in the holy tabernacles or takes Him out of them, according to his own will.
"By becoming priests of the New Testament you will be raised to a dignity which is much above that of angels. From these sublime privileges flows the obligation to the priest to raise himself to a degree of holiness much above the level of the common people a holiness equal to that of the angels. Has not our Saviour, when speaking of the angels, said, `Neque nubent neque nubentur?' They marry not, nor are given in marriage. Surely, since the priests are the messengers and angels of God, on earth they must be clad with angelic holiness and purity.
"Does not Paul say that the state of virginity is superior to that of marriage? Does not that saying of the apostle show that the priest, whose hands every day touch the divine body and blood of Christ, must be chaste and pure, and must not be defiled by the duties of married life? That vow of celibacy is like a holy chain, which keeps us above the filth of this earth and ties us to heaven. Jesus Christ, through His Holy Church, commands that vow to His priests as the most efficacious remedy against the inclinations of our corrupt nature.
"According to the holy Fathers, the vow of celibacy is like a strong high tower, from the top of which we can fight our enemies, and be perfectly safe from their darts and weapons.
"I will be happy to answer you other objections, if you have any more," said Mr. Leprohon.
"We are much obliged to you for your answers," I replied, "and we will avail ourselves of your kindness to present you with some other observations.
"And, firstly, we thank you for having told us that we find nothing in the Word of God to support the vows of celibacy, and that it is only by the traditions of the Church that we can prove their necessity and holiness. It was our impression that you desired us to believe that the necessity of that vow was founded on the Holy Scriptures. If you allow it, we will discuss the traditions another time, and will confine ourselves today to the different texts to which you referred in favour of celibacy.
"When Peter says, `We have given up everything,' it seems to us that he had no intention of saying that he had for ever given up his wife by a vow. For St. Paul positively says, many years after, that Peter had his wife; that he was not only living with her in his own house, but was traveling with her when preaching the gospel. The words of Scripture are of such evidence on that subject that they can neither be obscured by any shrewd explanation nor by any tradition, however respectable it may appear.
"Though you know the words of Paul on that subject, you will allow us to read them: `Have we not power to eat and drink? have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?' (I Cor. ix. 4, 5). St. Peter saying `We have forsaken everything' could not then mean that he had made a vow of celibacy, and that he would never live with his wife as a married man. Evidently the words of Peter mean only that Jesus had the first place in his heart that everything else, even the dearest objects of his love, as father, mother, wife, were only secondary in his affections and thoughts.
"Your other text about the angels who do not marry, from which you infer the obligation and law on the vow of celibacy, does not seem to us to bear on that subject as much as you have told us. For, be kind enough to again read the text: `Jesus answered and said to them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in heaven' (Matt. xxii. 29, 30). You see that when our Saviour speaks of men who are like angels, and who do not marry, He takes care to observe that He speaks of the state of men after the resurrection. If the Church had the same rule for us that Christ mentioned for the angelic men to whom He refers, and would allow us to make a vow never to marry after the resurrection, we would not have the slightest objection to such a vow.
"You see that our Saviour speaks of a state of celibacy; but He does not intimate that that state is to begin on this side of the grave. Why does not our Church imitate and follow the teachings of our Saviour? Why does she enforce a state of celibacy before the resurrection, while Christ postpones the promulgation of this law till after that great day?
"Christ speaks of a perpetual celibacy only in heaven! On what authority, then, does our Church enforce that celibacy on this side of the grave, when we still carry our souls in earthly vessels?
"You tell us that the vow of celibacy is the best remedy against the inclinations of our corrupt nature; but do you not fear that your remedy makes war against the great one which God prepared in His wisdom? Do we not read in our own vulgate: `Propter fornicationem autem unus quisque uxorem snam habeat, et unaquaque virum suum'? "To avoid fornication let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband' (2 Cor. vii. 2).
"Is it not too strange, indeed, that God does tell us that the best remedy He had prepared against the inclinations of our corrupt nature is in the blessings of a holy marriage. `Let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.' But now our Church has found another remedy, which is more accordant to the dignity of man and the holiness of God, and that remedy is the vow of celibacy!"
The sound of my last words were still on my lips when our venerable superior, unable any longer to conceal his indignation, abruptly interrupted me, saying:
"I do exceedingly regret to have allowed you to go so far. This is not a Christian and humble discussion between young Levites and their superior, to receive from him the light they want. It is the exposition and defense of the most heretical doctrines I have ever heard. Are you ashamed, when you try to make us prefer your interpretation of the Holy Scriptures to that of the Church? Is it to you, or to His holy Church, that Christ promised the light of the Holy Ghost? It is you who have to teach the Church, or the Church who must teach you? Is it you who will govern and guide the Church, or the Church who will govern and guide you?
"My dear Chiniquy, if there is not a great and prompt change in you and in those whom you pretend to represent, I fear much for you all. You show a spirit of infidelity and revolt which frightens me. Just like Lucifer, you rebel against the Lord! Do you not fear to share the eternal pains of his rebellion?
"Whence have you taken the false and heretical notions you have, for instance, about the wives of the apostles? Do you not know that you are supporting a Protestant error, when you say that the apostles were living with their wives in the usual way of married people? It is true that Paul says that the apostles had women with them, and that they were even traveling with them. But the holy traditions of the Church tell us that those women were holy virgins, who were traveling with the apostles to serve and help them in different ways. They were ministering to their different wants washing their underclothes, preparing their meals, just like the housekeeper whom the priests have today. It is a Protestant impiety to think and speak otherwise.
"But only a word more, and I am done. If you accept the teaching of the Church, and submit yourselves as dutiful children to that most holy Mother, she will raise you to the dignity of the priesthood, a dignity much above kings and emperors in this world. If you serve her with fidelity, she will secure to you the respect and veneration of the whole world while you live, and procure your a crown of glory in heaven.
"But if you reject her doctrines, and persist in your rebellious views against one of the most holy dogmas; if you continue to listen to the voice of your own deceitful reason rather than to the voice of the Church, in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, you become heretics, apostates and Protestants; you will lead a dishonoured life in this world, and you will be lost for all eternity."
Our superior left us immediately after these fulminating words. Some of the theological students, after this exit, laughed heartily, and thanked me for having so bravely fought and gained so glorious a victory. Two of them, disgusted by the sophisms and logical absurdities of our superior, left the seminary a few days after. The rest, with me had not the moral courage to follow their example, but remained, stunned by the last words of our superior.
I went to my room and fell on my knees, with a torrent of tears falling from my eyes. I was really sorry for having wounded his feelings, but still more so for having dared for a moment to oppose my own feeble and fallible reason to the mighty and infallible intelligence of my Church!
At first it appeared to me that I was only combating, in a respectful way, against my old friend, Rev. Mr. Leprohon; but I had received it from his own lips that I had really fought against the Lord!
After spending a long and dark night of anguish and remorse, my first action, the next day, was to go to confession, and ask my confessor, with tears of regret, pardon for the sin I had committed and the scandal I had given.
Had I listened to the voices of my conscience, I certainly would have left the seminary that day; for they told me that I had confounded my superior and pulverized all his arguments. Reason and conscience told me that the vow of celibacy was a sin against logic, morality and God; that that vow could not be sustained by any argument from the Holy Scriptures, logic or common sense. But I was a most sincere Roman Catholic. I had therefore to fight a new battle against my conscience and intelligence, so as to subdue and silence them for ever! Many a time it was my hope, before this, to have succeeded in slaughtering them at the foot of the altar of my Church; but that day, far from being for ever silenced and buried, they had come out again with renewed force, to waken me from the terrible illusions in which I was living. Nevertheless, after a long and frightful battle, my hope was that they were perfectly subdued and buried under the feet of the holy Fathers, the learned theologians and the venerable popes, whose voice I was determined now to follow. I felt a real calm after that struggle. It was evidently the silence of death, although my confessor told me it was the peace of God. More than ever I determined to have no knowledge, no thought, no will, no light, no desires, no science but that which my Church would give me through my superior. I was fallible, she was infallible! I was a sinner, she was the immaculate spouse of Jesus Christ! I was weak, she had more power than the great waters of the ocean! I was but an atom, she was covering the world with her glory! What, therefore, could I have to fear in humbling myself at her feet, to live of her life, to be strong of her strength, wise of her wisdom, holy with her holiness? Had not my superior repeatedly told me that no error, no sin would be imputed to me as long as I obeyed my Church and walked in her ways?
With these sentiments of a most profound and perfect respect for my Church, I irrevocably consecrated myself to her services on the 4th of May, 1832, by making the vow of celibacy and accepting the office of sub-deacon.
CHAPTER 15 Back to Top
"The mother of harlots and abominations." Rev. xvii. 5.
Constrained by the voice of my conscience to reveal the impurities of the theology
of the Church of Rome, I feel, in doing so, a sentiment of inexpressible shame. They
are of such a loathsome nature, that often they cannot be expressed in any living
However great may have been the corruptions in the theologies and priests of paganism, there is nothing in their records which can be compared with the depravity of those of the Church of Rome. Before the day on which the theology of Rome was inspired by Satan, the world had certainly witnessed many dark deeds; but vice had never been clothed with the mantle of theology: the most shameful forms of iniquity had never been publicly taught in the schools of the old pagan priest, under the pretext of saving the world. No! neither had the priests nor the idols been forced to attend meetings where the most degrading forms of iniquity were objects of the most minute study, and that under the pretext of glorifying God.
Let those who understand Latin read "The Priest, the Women, and the Confessional," and decide as to whether or not the sentiments therein contained are not enough to shock the feelings of the most depraved. And let it be remembered that all those abominations have to be studied, learned by heart and thoroughly understood by men who have to make a vow never to marry! For it is not till after his vow of celibacy that the student in theology is initiated into those mysteries of iniquity.
Has the world ever witnessed such a sacrilegious comedy? A young man about twenty years of age has been enticed to make a vow of perpetual celibacy, and the very next day the Church of Rome put under the eye of his soul the most infamous spectacle! She fills his memory with the most disgusting images! She tickles all his senses and pollutes his ears, not by imaginary representations, but by realities which would shock the most abandoned in vice!
For, let it be well understood, that it is absolutely impossible for one to study those questions of Roman Theology, and fathom those forms of iniquity without having his body as well as his mind plunged into a state the most degrading. Moreover, Rome does not even try to conceal the overwhelming power of this kind of teaching; she does not even attempt to make it a secret from the victims of her incomparable depravity, but bravely tells them that the study of those questions will act with an irresistible power upon their organs, and without a blush says, "that pollution must follow!!!"
But in order that the Church of Rome may more certainly destroy her victims, and that they may not escape from the abyss which she has dug under their feet, she tells them, "There is no sin for you in those pollutions!" (Dens, vol. i. p. 315.)
But Rome must bewitch so as the better to secure their destruction. She puts to their lips the cup of her enchantments, the more certainly to kill their souls, dethrones God from their consciences, and abrogates His eternal laws of holiness. What answer does Rome give to those who reproach her with the awful impurity of theology. "My theological works," she answers, "are all written in Latin; the people cannot read them. No evil, no scandal, therefore, can come from them!" But this answer is a miserable subterfuge. Is this not the public acknowledgment that her theology would be exceedingly injurious to the people if it were read and understood by them?
By saying, "My theological works are written in Latin, therefore the people cannot be defiled, as they do not understand them," Rome does acknowledge that these works would only act as a pestilence among the people, were they read and understood by them. But are not the one hundred thousand priests of Rome bound to explain in every known tongue, and present to the mind of every nation, the theology contained in those books? Are they not bound to make every polluting sentence in them flow into the ears, imaginations, hearts and minds of all the married and unmarried women whom Rome holds in her grasp?
I exaggerate nothing when I say that not fewer than half a million women every day are compelled to hear in their own language, almost every polluting sentence and impure notion of the diabolical sciences.
And here I challenge, most fearlessly, the Church of Rome to deny what I say, when I state that the daily average of women who go to confession to each priest, is ten. But let us reduce the number to five. Then the one hundred thousand priest who are scattered over the whole world, hear the confession of five hundred thousand women every day! Well, now, out of one hundred women who confess, there are at least ninety-nine whom the priest is bound in conscience to pollute, by questioning them on the matters mentioned in the Latin pages at the end of this chapter. How can one be surprised at the rapid downfall of the nations who are under the yoke of the Pope.
The public statistics of the European, as well of American nations, show that there is among Roman Catholics nearly double the amount of prostitution, bastardy, theft, perjury, and murder than is found among Protestant nations. Where must we, then, look for the cause of those stupendous facts, if not in the corrupt teachings of the theology of Rome. How can the Roman Catholic nations hope to raise themselves in the scale of Christian dignity and morality as long as there remain one hundred thousand priests in their midst, bound in conscience every day to pollute the minds and the hearts of their mothers, their wives and their daughters!
And here let me say, once for all, that I am not induced to speak as I do from any motive of contempt or unchristian feeling against the theological professors who have initiated me into those mysteries of iniquity. The Rev. Messrs. Raimbault and Leprohon were, and in my mind they still are, as respectable as men can be in the Church of Rome. As I have been myself, and as all the priests of Rome are, they were plunged without understanding it, into the abyss of the most stolid ignorance. They were crushed, as I was myself, under a yoke which bound their understanding to the dust, and polluted their hearts without measure. We were embarked together on a ship, the first appearance of which was really magnificent, but the bottom of which was irremediably rotten. Without the true Pilot on board we were left to perish on unknown shoals. Out of this sinking ship the hand of God alone, in His providence rescued me. I pity those friends of my youth, but despise them? hate them? No! Never! Never!
Every time out theological teachers gave us our lessons, it was evident that they blushed in the inmost part of their souls. Their consciences as honest men were evidently forbidding them, on the one hand, to open their mouths on such matters, while, on the other hand, as slaves and priests of the Pope, they were compelled to speak without reserve.
After our lessons in theology, we students used to be filled with such a sentiment of shame that sometimes we hardly dared to look at each other: and, when alone in our rooms, those horrible pictures were affecting our hearts, in spite of ourselves, as the rust affects and corrodes the hardest and purest steel. More than one of my fellow-students told me, with tears of shame and rage, that they regretted to have bound themselves by perpetual oaths to minister at the altars of the Church.
One day one of the students, called Desaulnier, who was sick in the same room with me, asked me: "Chiniquy, what do you think of the matters which are the objects of our present theological studies? Is it not a burning shame that we must allow our minds to be so polluted?"
"I cannot sufficiently tell you my feelings of disgust," I answered. "Had I known sooner that we were to be dragged over such a ground, I certainly never would have nailed my future to the banners under which we are irrevocably bound to live." "Do you know," said Desaulnier, "that I am determined never to consent to be ordained a priest; for when I think of the fact that the priest is bound to confer with women on all of these polluting matters, I feel an insurmountable disgust and shame."
"I am not less troubled," I replied. "My head aches and my heart sinks within me when I hear our theologians telling us that we will be in conscience bound to speak to females on these impure subjects. But sometimes this looks to me as if it were a bad dream, the impure phantoms of which will disappear at the first awakening. Our Church, which is so pure and holy that she can only be served by the spotless virgins, surely cannot compel us to pollute our lips, thoughts, souls, and even our bodies, by speaking to strange women on matters so defiling!"
"But we are near the hour at which the good Mr. Leprohon is in the habit of visiting us. Will you," I said, "promise to stand by me in what I will ask him on this subject? I hope to get from him a pledge that we will not be compelled to be polluted in the confessional by the women who will confess to us. The purity and holiness of our superior is of such a high character, that I am sure he has never said a word to females on those degrading matters. In spite of all the theologians, Mr. Leprohon will allow us to keep our tongues and our hearts, as well as our bodies, pure in the confessional."
"I have had the desire to speak to him upon this subject for some time," rejoined Desaulnier, "but my courage failed me every time I attempted to do so. I am glad, therefore, that you are to break the ice, and I will certainly support you, as I have a longing desire to know something more in regard to the mysteries of the confessional. If we are at liberty never to speak to women on these horrors, I will consent to serve the Church as a priest; but if not, I will never be a priest."
A few minutes after this our superior entered to kindly enquire how we had rested the night before. Having thanked him for his kindness, I opened the volumes of Dens and Liguori which were on our table, and, with a blush, putting my fingers on one of the infamous chapters referred to, I said to him:
"After God, you have the first place in my heart since my mother's death, and you know it. I take you, not only as my benefactor, but also, as it were, as my father and mother. You will therefore tell me all I want to know in these my hours of anxiety, through which God is pleased to make me pass. To follow your advice, not to say your commands, I have lately consented to receive the order of sub-deacon, and I have in consequence taken the vow of perpetual celibacy. But I will not conceal the fact from you, I had not a clear understanding of what I was doing; and Desaulnier has just stated to me, that until recently he had no more idea of the nature of that promise, nor of the difficulties which we now see ahead of us in our priestly life than I had.
"But Dens, Liguori and St. Thomas have given us notions quite new in regard to many things. They have directed our minds to the knowledge of the laws which are in us, as well as in every other child of Adam. They have, in a word, directed our minds into regions which were quite new and unexplored by us; and I dare say that every one of those whom we have known, whether in this house or elsewhere, who have made the same vow, could tell you the same tale.
"However, I do not speak for them; I speak only for myself and Desaulnier. For God's sake, please tell us if we will be bound in conscience to speak in the confessional, to the married and unmarried females, on such impure and defiling questions as are contained in the theologians before us?"
"Most undoubtedly," replied Rev. Mr. Leprohon; "because the learned and holy theologians whose writings are in your hands are positive on that question. It is absolutely necessary that you should question your female penitents on such matters; for, as a general thing, girls and married women are too timid to confess those sins, of which they are even more frequently guilty than men, therefore they must be helped by questioning them."
"But have you not," I rejoined, "induced us to make an oath that we should always remain pure and undefiled? How is it then, that today you put us in such a position that it is almost impossibility for us to be true to our sacred promise? For the theologians are unanimous that those questions put by us to our female penitents, together with the recital of their secret sins, will act with such an irresistible power upon us that we will be polluted.
"Would it not be better for us to experience those things in the holy bonds of marriage, with our wives, and according to the laws of God, than in company and conversation with strange women? Because, if we are to believe the theologians which are in our hands, no priest not even you, my dear Mr. Leprohon can hear the confessions of women without being defiled."
Here Desaulnier interrupted me, and said: "My dear Mr. Leprohon, I concur in everything Chiniquy has just been telling you. Would we not be more chaste and pure by living with our lawful wives, than by daily exposing ourselves in the confessional in company of women whose presence will irresistibly drag us into the most shameful pit of impurity? I ask you, my dear sir, what will become of my vow of perfect and perpetual chastity, when the seducing presence of my neighbour's wife, or the enchanting words of his daughter, will have defiled me through the confessional. After all, I may be looked upon by the people as a chaste man; but what will I be in the eyes of God? The people may entertain the thought that I am a strong and honest man; but will I not be a broken reed? Will God not be the witness that the irresistible temptations which will have assailed me when hearing the secret sins of some sweet and tempting woman, will have deprived me of that glorious crown of chastity for which I have so dearly paid? Men will think that I am an angel of purity; but my own conscience will tell me that I am nothing but a skillful hypocrite. For according to all the theologians, the confessional is the tomb of the chastity of priests!! If I hear the confession of women, I will be like all other priests, in a tomb, well painted and gilded on the outside, but within full or corruption."
Francis Desaulnier, just as he had foretold me, refused to be a priest. He remained all his life in the orders of sub-deaconate, in the College of Nicolet, as a Professor of Philosophy. He was a man who seldom spoke in conversation, but thought very much. It seems to me that I still see him there, under that tall centenary tree, alone, during the long hours of intermission, and many long days during our holidays, while the rest of the students passed hither and thither, singing and playing, on the enchanting banks of the river of Nicolet.
He was a good logician and a profound mathematician; and although affable to everyone, he was not communicative. I was probably the only one to whom he opened his mind concerning the great questions of Christianity faith, history, the Church and her discipline. He repeatedly said to me: "I wish I had never opened a book of theology. Our theologians are without heart, soul or logic. Many of them approve of theft, lies and perjury; others drag us without a blush, into the most filthy pits of iniquity. Every one of them would like to make an assassin of every Catholic. According to their doctrine, Christ is nothing but a Corsican brigand, whose blood-thirsty disciples are bound to destroy all the heretics with fire and sword. Were we acting according to the principles of those theologians, we would slaughter all Protestants with the same coolness of blood as we would shoot down the wolf which crosses our path. With their hand still reddened with the blood of St. Bartholomew, they speak to us of charity, religion and God, as if there were neither of them in the world."
Desaulnier was looked upon as "un homme singulier" at Nicolet. He was really an exception to all the men in the seminary. For example: Though it was the usage and the law that ecclesiastics should receive the communion every month, and upon every great feast day of the Church, yet he would scarcely take the communion once a year. But let me return to the interview with our superior.
Desaulnier's fearless and energetic words had evidently made a very painful impression upon our superior. It was not a usual thing for His disciples in theology thus to take upon themselves to speak with such freedom as we both did on this occasion. He did not conceal his pain at what he called our unbecoming and unchristian attack upon some of the most holy ordinances of the Church; and after he had refuted Desaulnier in the best way he could, he turned to me and said: "My dear Chiniquy, I have repeatedly warned you against the habit you have of listening to your own frail reasoning, when you should only obey as a dutiful child. Were we to believe you, we would immediately set ourselves to work to reform the Church and abolish the confession of women to priests; we would throw all our theological books into the fire and have new one written, better adapted to your fancy. What does all this prove? Only one thing, and that is, that the devil of pride is tempting you as he has tempted all the so-called Reformers, and destroyed them as he would you. If you do not take care, you will become another Luther!
"The Theological books of St. Thomas, Liguori and Dens have been approved by the Church. How, therefore, do you not see the ridicule and danger of your position. On one side, then, I see all our holy popes, the two thousand Catholic bishops, all our learned theologians and priests, backed up by over two hundred millions of Roman Catholics drawn up as an innumerable army to fight the battles of the Lord; and on the other side what do I see? Nothing by my small, though very dear Chiniquy!
"How, then, is it that you do not fear, when with your weak reasoning you oppose the mighty reasoning and light of so many holy popes, and venerable bishops and learned theologians? Is it not just as absurd for you to try to reform the Church by your small reason, as it is for the grain of sand which is found at the foot of the great mountain to try to turn that mighty mountain out of its place? or for the small drop of water to attempt to throw the boundless ocean out of its bed, or try to oppose the running tides of the Polar seas?
"Believe me, and take my friendly advice," continued our superior, "before it is too late. Let the small grain of sand remain still at the foot of the majestic mountain; and let the humble drop of water consent to follow the irresistible currents of the boundless seas, and everything will be in order.
"All the good priests who have heard the confessions of women before us have been satisfied and have had their souls saved, even when their bodies were polluted; for those carnal pollutions are nothing but human miseries, which cannot defile a soul which desires to remain united to God. Are the rays of the sun defiled by coming down into the mud? No! The rays remain pure, and return spotless to the shining orb whence they came. So the heart of a good priest as I hope my dear Chiniquy will be will remain pure and holy in spite of the accidental and unavoidable defilement of the flesh.
"Apart from these things, in your ordination you will receive a special grace which will change you into another man; and the Virgin Mary, to whom you will constantly address yourself, will obtain for you a perfect purity from her Son.
"The defilement of the flesh spoken of by the theologians, and which, I confess, is unavoidable when hearing the confessions of women, must not trouble you; for they are not sinful, as Dens and Liguori assure us. (Dens. vol. i., pages 299, 300.)
"But enough on that subject. I forbid you to speak to me any more on those idle questions, and, as much as my authority is anything to you both, I forbid you to say a word more to each other on that matter!!"
It was my fond hope that my dear and so much venerated Mr. Leprohon would answer me with some good and reasonable arguments; but he, to my surprise, silenced the voice of our conscience by un coup d'etat.
Nevertheless, the idea of that miserable grain of sand which so ridiculously attempted to remove the stately mountain, and also of that all but imperceptible drop of water which attempted to oppose itself to the onward motion of the vast ocean, singularly struck and humbled me. I remained silent and confused, though not convinced.
This was not all. Those rays of the sun, which could not be defiled even when going down into the mud, after bewildering one by their glittering appearance, left my soul more in the dark than ever. I could not resist the presentiment that I was in the presence of an imposition, and of a glittering sophism. But I had neither sufficient learning, moral courage, nor grace from God clearly to see through that misty cloud and to expel it from my mind.
Almost every month of the ten years which I had passed in the seminary of Nicolet, priests of the district of Three Rivers and elsewhere were sent by the bishops to spend two or three weeks in doing penances for having bastards by their nieces, their housekeepers, or their fair penitents. Even not long before this conversation with our director, the curate of St. Francois, the Rev. Mr. Amiot, had in the very same week two children by two of his fair penitents, both of whom were sisters. One of those girls gave birth to her child at the parsonage the very night on which the bishop was on his episcopal visit to that parish. These public and undeniable facts were not much in harmony with those beautiful theories of our venerable director concerning the rays of the sun, which "remained pure and undefiled even when warming and vivifying the mud of our planet." The facts had frequently occurred to my mind while Mr. Leprohon was speaking, and I was tempted more than once to ask him respectfully if he really thought these "shining rays," the priests, had thus come into the mire, and would then return, like the rays of the sun, without taking back with them something of the mire in which they had been so strangely wallowing. But my respect for Mr. Leprohon sealed my lips.
When I returned to my room I fell on my knees to ask God to pardon me for having, for the moment, thought otherwise than the popes and theologians of Rome. I again felt angry with myself for having dared, for a single moment, to have arrayed my poor little and imperceptible grain of sand drop of water and personal and contemptible understanding against that sublime mountain of strength, that vast ocean of learning, and that immensely divine wisdom of the popes!
But, alas! I was not yet aware that when Jesus in His mercy sends into a perishing soul a single ray of His grace, that there is more light and wisdom in that soul than in all the popes and their theologians!
I was then taught what the real foundation of the Church of Rome is, and sincerely believed that to think for myself was a damnable impiety that to look and see with my own eyes, and understand with my own mind, was an unpardonable sin. To be saved I had to believe, not what I considered to be the truth, but what the popes told me to be the truth. I had to look and see every object of faith, just as every true Roman Catholic of today has to look and see the same, through the Pope's eyes or those of his theologians.
However absurd and impious this belief may be, yet it was mine, and it is also the belief of every true member of the Church of Rome today. The glorious light and grace of God could not possibly flow directly from Him to me; they had to pass through the Pope and his Church, which were my only mountain of strength and only ocean of light. It was, then, my firm belief that there was an impassable abyss between myself and God, and that the Pope and his Church were the only bridge by which I could have communication with Him. That stupendously high and most sublime mountain, the Pope, was between myself and God: and all that was allowed my poor soul was to raise itself and travel with great difficulty till it attained the foot of that holy mountain, the Pope, and, prostrating itself there in the dust, ask him to let me know what my yet distant God would have me to do. The promises of mercy, truth, light, and life were all vested in this great mountain, the Pope, from whom alone they could descend upon my poor soul!
Darkness, ignorance, uncertainty, and eternal loss were my lot, the very moment I ceased worshiping at the feet of the Pope! The God of Heaven was not my God; He was only the God of the Pope! The Saviour of the world was not my Saviour; He was only the Pope's. Therefore it was through the Pope only that I could receive Christ as my Saviour, and to the Pope alone had I to go to know the way, the truth, and the life of my soul!
God alone knows what a dark and terrible night I passed after this meeting! I had again to smother my conscience, dismantle my reason, and bring them all under the turpitudes of the theologies of Rome, which are so well calculated to keep the world fettered in ignorance and superstition.
But God saw the tears with which I bedewed my pillow that night. He heard the cry of my agonizing soul, and in His infinite love and mercy determined to come to my rescue, and save me. If He saw fit to leave me many years more in the slavery of Egypt, it was that I might better know the plagues of that land of darkness, and the iron chains which are there prepared for poor lost souls.
When the hour of my deliverance came, the Lord took me by the hand and helped me to cross the Red Sea. He brought me to the Land of Promise a land of peace, life, and joy which passeth all understanding.
Page 73 - 78 [All Latin]
Introduction ---New Window
CHAPTERS 1-15 of page 1 (this page)
CHAPTERS 16-31 of page 2 ---New Window
CHAPTERS 32-45 of page 3 ---New Window
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In the Book of Revelation, we find a description
of Babylon the Great (17:1-18), her final destruction (18:1-24), and the rejoicing
in Heaven at the judgment of the Great Whore (19:1-4)... Antichrist turns against
Babylon the Great 8-9 days prior to the End of the Tribulation Week... "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her
sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation
18:4). This most important
message of God to those who would be preserved from Divine Destruction is to COME
OUT OF BABYLON NOW.
End of Series.
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