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Besides this daily repetition, in some seminaries there is a weekly review of the matter of a fortnight or a week. The whole hour of class is given to it; the professor does the questioning himself and the work is very hard. Long years of experience have demonstrated that it is more useful if the professor takes the burden of cross questioning on himself during this whole time than if he leaves the questioning to his pupils. He can now give cases on the fortnight's matter and he should have a great number of live ones on hand to stimulate their interest.
Of course every moment of this hour is precious and should be used for all its value. The pupil is on his mettle before the whole class. He must prove to all that he has a full grasp of his principles and can apply them. The professor can also add variety to this hour by making an imaginary confession and thus inducting his pupil into his after life's hard work.
Moreover, as teaching supposes an altogether peculiar relation between the professor and the pupil, ample opportunity should be given for private instruction. Hence with us an hour is appointed daily, during which free access may be had to the professor's room. The benefit of this custom is so enormous as to be simply incalculable. For a professor of Moral Theology it is likely to be the hardest of the day. The student receives at this time a guidance regarding his future work as confessor and father of souls that frequently can never be imparted during class. should be the pupil's hour. His after work "in the box" should ever bear the fruits of the encouragement and kindly counsel he then received.
Now comes the yearly examination. The student must satisfy the professor that he has mastered the theory and practice of the year's work. But for a month before the examination the class time is given to a review. Here again personal experience has proved that it is better for the professor to do the questioning. He can now give more intricate cases and insist on the interrelations of the various tracts. Besides the yearly examination there. is one known to us as the examination Ad audiendas. The pupil is supposed to be in the box. Any case may be given to him; and everything is taken into count in the vote; he must be able to hear confessions fructuose.
Cases of conscience are given every Saturday; and moreover a short time before the "Examen Ad Audiendas" the pupil is given a special opportunity. He comes, if he wishes, to the professor's room and there hears an imaginary confession; the professor criticising everything at the end; hearing the imaginary penitent himself, giving advice and acting as if in the confessional.
But these are only the dry bones of teaching Moral Theology. The sunlight and peace of God must enter into the preparation. The pupil is taught that his ministry is divine, that he must become weak to the weak, all things to all men; that the virtues of the Sacred Heart must be the blood in the veins of the priest's spiritual life. His work is preeminently a work of mercy. He must be taught all the industrial of a skilful guide of souls. In the class of Moral he must be taught the rules of the discernment of spirits, of Satan's dealing with different classes of men. He should learn the causes of the disquietude of souls and the means to disentangle them from Satan's snares.
Insistence should be laid on the need of prayer to obtain grace to dispose the indisposed and lead souls on to sanctity. He not only begets souls for God by absolving them from mortal sins, but also, like a good father, enriches them with the treasures of grace by drawing them on from virtue to virtue.
The professor of Moral must be an adept in diagnosing the evils of the day. He must know and teach the rules for thinking with the Church. The means the Church urges as being the best, he must teach his pupils. In our own day he should see that they become apostles of daily Communion.
Men formed thus will be the standard bearers in truth of our King, the guardians of the fire of the love of God burning in the hearts of men.
VERY REV. JOHN P. CHIDWICK, RECTOR OF ST. JOSEPH'S
The place which should be accorded to the teaching of homiletics in the curriculum of our seminaries must be considered, first, from the importance of the spoken word in the ministry of the priesthood; secondly, from the careful and arduous preparation which proficiency in the art of public speaking requires; and, thirdly, from the obligation which rests on every priest to preach the word of God effectively. The first part of my paper will treat of these three considerations; the second will suggest a method by which the art of sacred eloquence may be developed in our seminaries.
In the first place, what important end does the spoken word serve in the public ministry of our priesthood? Is it true that the power of the pulpit is on the wane; that sermons and instructions no longer attract; that our people, especially in large cities, seek short Masses, sans everything which is not necessary for the fulfillment of the obligation? If this be true, then have we come to a condition which should cause us serious alarm, and should make the study of sacred eloquence the more exigent and imperative.
If the poor after six days of exhausting toil and often of sorrow, no longer look to the word of God at Sunday Mass for comfort and consolation; if the young surrounded by temptation at work and recreation, no longer regard with serious attention the warnings, advice, promises and rewards of the Holy Gospel; if our workingmen beset with disturbing questions, cynically put to them by socialistic and infidel fellow-craftsmen, no longer look to the Sunday sermon to set at rest their doubts and cheer them in their trials; if parents do not care to be advised and counseled from the altar; if the exposition of the saving doctrines and beautiful practices of our holy Faith are not appreciated by our people; if the sweet, sympathetic and comforting life and the
divine personality of our Blessed Savior have lost their power to hold and charm the hearts of His children; if preaching upon the love and mercy and providence of God has grown tiresome to our congregations; then, if the fault lie with the people, priests must be awakened from the dream of complacency with which they regard their people's devotion, as this condition would seem to indicate that their devotion is losing its depth and that they are not far from the parting of the ways between fervor and indifference, perhaps, between faith and unbelief.
But who will say that the fault lies with the people? Who will attribute to them the coldness of faith which their indifference to sermons would seem to indicate? Who will question for a moment the strength and fervor of the faith which has raised glorious monuments of worship to God throughout our land, has buttressed them with substantial and well equipped schools, and at a sacrifice which commands the admiration of all rightminded citizens of our country? The question of salvation is most imminent with the people, the beauty and truth of their religion are their pride and cheering comfort, their love of our Blessed Lord crowds our Masses and our communion rails. Their faith is unquestionably strong, practical, ardent and enthusiastic. Then, if they have lost their taste for sermons and instructions, where shall we place the blame?
We cannot offer an example, as they do who claim that there is a woeful decline in public oratory in our day, and state as a reason that the newspaper and the magazines have become the people's forum, and editors and writers are now the public's teachers and leaders. Our people will never take their religion from the printed sheet whose author they do not know, and the inspiration of whose statements may be easily influenced by prejudices and selfish interests. A marvelous circulation is not claimed by any of the Catholic papers or periodicals. Our people will always look to the pulpit for their religion, to the lips of him who has been charged with the office and empowered with the authority to teach in the name of Christ, who has been promised in his teaching office the especial divine assistance of the Holy Ghost and who stands before God's people as the mouthpiece of His holy Church. More than this, our people look upon us not only as the
preachers, but as the witnesses of Christ, men who have seen and felt His presence, who are aglow with all that concerns Him who make Him their life's study and devotion, who live Him in the daily duties and sacrifices of their lives, and our utterances are for them the living dogmas of our Faith. Then whence their growing indifference to our sermons and instructions?
Speaking of the decline of public oratory in our day, a writer in the Forum has this to say of the oratory of the pulpit: "Comparative pulpit oratory, if such a phrase be allowable, furnishes striking proof that the subject and the occasion, more than all else, inspire the speaker and determine the character and place among oratorical efforts of what he utters. The great theme of the pulpit orator and its vital importance to every listener, remain ever the same, though change shall overtake all else in the lives. of men. It waits for no felicitous occasion or universal emergency, but is always present and imminent, claiming precedence of all else that can appeal to conscience or judgment. The genius of the speaker is at all times challenged to its utmost in the presentation of the truth it embodies, and is the measure of his rank among those to whom it is committed to promulgate their real significance. Whatever failure, therefore, in maintaining the high rank pulpit oratory had in the past, can with truth be fastened upon the present day, must be laid in large measure at the door of the speaker himself and little of it can be traced to any other source." The writer's expression, "pulpit oratory," is to be understood as including all pulpit utterances having for their end the influencing of our people's lives by the preaching of the sacred truths of religion. He says that the soul is yet receptive, the seed has not lost its properties-the relations between the people and the eternal truths of religion are not yet severedthe reason why a harvest is not reaped is due to the sower.
And may we not ask ourselves, if we fall under the censure of these words: Is it due to our want of proper preparation for the art of pulpit speaking that our people are tiring of sermons? Is it due to a want of that immediate preparation before ascending the pulpit which should manifest our reverence for the word of God, the importance which we attach to it as a means of grace, and should bespeak our love and zeal for the salvation of