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Catholics, in the Anglican Church. To them it is no trivial matter to be forced, with agonized reluctance to scan the office-book which is the most authoritative document of Catholicity they can claim, and find it failing them. Catholic faith has long ago become to them inevitable and indispensable-how if the Magna Charta of their Catholic liberties pronounce sentence of Protestant slavery? How if it ignores their essentials, and be brutally complacent to the phrases that condemn and malign those essentials ?

Many of them are content to fly for refuge to the sorry comfort of the theory that the prayer-book was a sort of bone of contention, off which the Protestantizing section of the Reformers bit off all they could of Catholicity, but on which, none the less, some scraps of it were left adhering, having by merciful providence escaped the Protestant tooth. Another rather bleak shelter they have to find in the position is that the prayer-book is a book of accommodation, where each party among its compilers had to give and take what necessity ruled : to satisfy the Protestantizing party it had to omit what the Catholic party would have greatly desired, and to insert much that was highly unwelcome to them.

so to

These theories were already known to Fernando when he read Hessy Thrush's books, and out of them he had extracted every grain of comfort they could yield. But certainly while reading the dead monk's books it did occur to him that there must be a surer comfort in belonging to a “branch" of the Church that had not to accommodate Catholic teaching to Protestant ears, and so state Catholic truth that a Protestant section within her gates might not recognise it for what it was. On the contrary it was obviously the way with that other “branch propound her Catholic doctrine that it could not possibly be mistaken for anything else, and to commit herself and all her children to it as sine quâ non; instead of leaving deftly concealed loopholes for Catholic tenets to creep in by, she openly built up any weak places where Protestant interpretations might enter. “ This,” Fernando perceived her saying, “is the Faith ; nothing short of it is the Faith, no conclusion contrary to any item of it can be allowed to be anything but false.”

suppose it all comes to this—that Fernando's reading of those four Catholic books, not chosen by himself, but brought as it were haphazard to his knowledge, and none of them polemical, gave him his first appreciation of the blank contrast between the

vagueness of Anglican Catholicity and the plain definiteness of Catholic Catholicity.

CHAPTER XXIV

SCHOOL AGAIN

MANY passages in Canon Oakley's book Fernando read aloud to his mother while she worked at wood-carving, and she listened with ready interest and candid appreciation. In her there were no prejudices against Catholicity to overcome—she never had any. Her attitude towards the Church had always been respectful, and free from the slightest desire to see or imagine faults in it. Born of parents who were as hostile to Catholicity as Irish Protestants know how to be, she herself was incapable of any such hostility. She seemed to be a Protestant only that she might have the privilege of becoming a Catholic ; but that was not to be just yet.

She listened, I say, to her son's reading of these Catholic books with pleasure and an honest satisfaction in finding explanation of things she had been sure needed only explanation to make them appear good and reasonable : but I do not think she was aware that it was a definite step in his conversion or in her own.

Was Fernando aware ?

Remembering so much, it may seem obvious that he must remember that. But he himself is not sure.

He is sure that it was a step onward, but is far from being able to say to what extent he realized it then. He had long since arrived at the point of knowing that to be a Catholic was for him a necessity of life ; he had not reached the point of recognizing that to be a Catholic he must become one, not by mere insistence to himself that he was one but by admission where he did not yet belong. That the Roman Catholic Church was Catholic he very well knew, but he still clung to the fond delusion that his own Church was Catholic too.

He was no longer always sure; there came stabs of uncertainty; but they were so sharply wounding that he could but parry them, as one does instinctively ward off blows that wound cruelly. And parried for the moment, they left not quite the old confidence, but a sort of working confidence.

His argument for his own Catholicity was, I suppose, that of many others. We believe what Catholics believe: he who holds the

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