Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

“it being,” decides the rubric, “ against the truth of Christ's natural Body to be at one time in more places than one.” Very pat and neat Protestant philosophy, but fatally opposed to the Catholic philosophy whereby the Catholic theology of the Eucharist is shown to be neither fantastic nor illogical. Idolatry is a hard word; but the rubric-makers evidently intended to disclaim it for their Eucharists, and to insist upon it for the Eucharists of some other Church. What Church? Could any reasonable reader of the rubric doubt that it was levelled against the then current, and still current, teaching and practice of the Catholic Church, of which Fernando had been taught to think himself a member, whose belief as to the Eucharist had long constituted for Fernando the whole groundwork of supernatural life, the subjectmatter of highest prayer, the great bridge of spiritual intercourse between his soul and his soul's Master ?

What condescension even could be read into such a rubric, if words are ever to mean anything, to the doctrine which Fernando had, long long before his first communion, felt to be the central one of Christian faith and life? What adroitness of inter

[ocr errors]

pretation could save it from being a cold and harsh repudiation of that which to him seemed God's supreme gift to His Church?

CHAPTER XXIII

MISGIVINGS

If the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist be

idolatry to be abhorred of all faithful Christians,” then Fernando knew he was an idolater-like the saints, who had adored what he adored.

The accusation of idolatry did not worry him ; it was not a libel on him, but against the Catholic Church, and could not trouble his conscience ; the trouble was that it disclaimed the Catholic Church, and to be a Catholic he was quite determined ; it gibbeted a central, necessary article of his belief, and proclaimed that belief alien from the Church in which he found himself. If that doctrine were indeed alien from the Anglican Church, then must he, too, be alien from her.

For days after borrowing Hessy Thrush's books he read them at every available moment; always finding in them one thing—the picture of the church which was his own Church ; not a cryptogram, out of which the word Catholic might subtly be evolved, but the frank statement and repetition of it, not as an epithet of somewhat dubious meaning, but the sum and declaration of the whole faith he loved.

Whether it were in the saint's life he read, or in the exercises of the much later saints, in the treasury of prayers or in the expositions of Catholic Worship, he found the doctrines which made up his own belief underlie everything, illustrated by everything, and proclaimed everywhere, without hush or evasion ---not contraband, smuggled in, or obscurely hinted.

He had for years prayed for the dead ; and in all the Book of Common Prayer, in but one vague phrase had he ever been told there was even allowance of it ; “beseeching thee ” says a prayer in the order of the Burial of the Dead, " that it may please thee, of thy gracious goodness, shortly to accomplish the number of thine elect, and to hasten Thy Kingdom ; that we, with all those that are departed in the true faith of thy holy name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in thy eternal and everlasting glory ; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

A meagre illustration of the practice, if the practice of prayer for the dead be allowed, and the only illustration. Not, by any circumspect and dubious phrase, “patient ” of interpretation in the Catholic sense, but grammatically at least equally patient of an interpretation involving no admission of purgatory, or of souls still in a state where prayer might help them heavenward, did Fernando find illustrated in his Catholic books the truth he held as to the departed and the need wherein so many of them must still lie of the charity of prayer. Fernando himself felt the great need of better prayers for himself than his own, and for years he had begged them of God's great servants, the saints in bliss. In vain he had ransacked every remote corner, every cautious phrase, of his Book of Common Prayer, for even the palest reflex of such a belief, the most reticent admission of its mere lawfulness. There were “no bones about it” in the collection of ancient Catholic prayers called the

" Paradisus Animæ; there was no coyness of expression of the serene certainty that saints do

for sinners, and that sinners had best beseech the saints to add their entreaties to the sinners' own. If it be natural that they who feel the imperfection of their own prayer should desire

pray

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »