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WHAT IS THE NEED?
Warren C. Lilly, S.J.
It would be an immense advantage to you. It is the true religion. Christ founded it. He wants you to belong to it. He stands at the door and knocks, and you refuse Him admittance. You reject His religion, and thus close the door in His face. Catholic belief is professed by three hundred and fifty million (350,000,000) people. The Catholic religion alone retains the firm unwavering faith of vast millions in every nation, in all ages, and in every walk of life. Buddhist, Mohammedan and all others divide into numerous sects and soon evolve into other doctrines and practices remaining the same only in name.
You have no religion, or an inadequate religion. You need religion, a satisfactory religion. You need education, ability, refinement, reputation, culture, health, and etiquette. You have these. Much more do you need religion.
Take the best, the successful, the efficient religion. The essentials are easy to learn and the practice will bring you great peace of mind, and the indispensable certainty of an infallible guide.
Accept the tried, the well-established, the religion which is ancient in its principles and modern in its application. Prefer a supernatural faith, a God-made, a God-appointed unerring teacher. It is necessary and essential for your eternal welfare.
Religion of the Entire Man
The Catholic or World Religion suits all nations, all classes, all temperaments. It is divine in its teaching, practices and authority; but human in its members, in its appeal, and in its dealing with humanity. It is the right road, the safe way, the unfailing guide. It is the strongest religious force in the world. It is the original Christian religion, the fulfillment of Judaism and the spiritual powerhouse of the ages to come.
The Catholic Religion is artistic; the school of music, the conservatory of song and hymnody, a poetic, idealistic, heavenly religion. You will find it persuasive and encouraging in your own weakness and vacillation. It will comfort you in sorrow. It will give you an example when words and sermons fail. It will reform what requires reformation, correct defects and uproot vice. With the consolation of confession it will repair spiritual injuries, deter you from evil, build up character and bring peace to your home and virtue into your soul. It appeals to every good and lawful impulse. God made it so. He designed it to meet man's entire intellectual and moral nature.
A Sign to be Contradicted
The Catholic Religion is persecuted by the wicked and venerated by the good. She is reviled by the intolerant and admired by the fair-minded. She is hated by false prophets and deceitful leaders, but honoured by the upright and worthy. She is calumniated and maligned by the hypocritical and glorified by the honest. She is assailed by the powers of darkness, but exonerated by time and justice. The reason is: She is the bride of a crucified Saviour and the spouse of a risen Redeemer.
Stronghold of Right
She is the real and only rock of ages, the bulwark of law and order. Despite the false assumptions of her maligners, she is the guardian of science and the safeguard of morality. Against the enemies of mankind she is the preserver of the human race, the salvation of the unborn. She is the fidelity of husband and wife, the homebuilder, the hope and harmony of parents and children. She is the foundation of the family, and the backbone of the nation. These powers are not of man. They are not of priests or bishops. They are of God.
Go to the uttermost bounds of the earth; she is an all-nation faith, the true 'International. She is ever ancient, ever new. She is apostolic in her teaching, in her worship and her authority. Her history is the history of the civilized world. She preserved the remnants of Greek and Roman culture and civilized the barbarian hordes of Europe. She Christianizes wherever she is allowed entrance and even wins her way against opposition and persecution. Only God could do what she has done. God works through her.
Fibre of Our Civilization
The Catholic Church is the educator of the centuries. She taught wandering tribes of Europe to build a home and a city. She erected monasteries to train the destructive Hun and Vandal in agriculture and architecture. She refined the barbarous Frank and German with art and literature. She saved the culture and literature of Rome and Greece, and christianised them. She developed schools and colleges. She designed and founded the system of universities. Without her Europe and America would still be the battleground of migrating nations and savage Indian tribes. The masses would still be steeped in ignorance and superstition. The fanaticism of Hinduism and Mohammedanism would still be rampant not only in religion, but in health and education and even in medicine and hygiene. Charity, mercy, and other virtues, practiced even by pagans and unbelievers in Christian countries, would be unknown. Cruelty, degeneracy, and blood lust of Ancient Babylon and Rome would still stalk ruthlessly over the poor and the infirm. Womanhood and motherhood would still be what it was before the Virgin Mother and the Divine Child were given to the world. It would be slavery, silence, a veiled face, a solitary life, a degraded existence. This astonishing transformation of the world wrought by the Church is the most striking evidence of the supernatural. Others cannot compare with her because God was not with them. Numberless kingdoms and religions have disintegrated and are disintegrating. She goes on forever.
House of Paradoxes
The Church is a veritable temple of seeming inconsistencies. She is conservative, but not obstructive. Transient fads find no place with her. Genuine progress meets with her worldwide approval and encouragement. She has a powerful program of advancement without the hampering defect of absorbing useless vagaries.
Her decrees are opportune, but not premature. Her outlook is far-sighted though not opportunist. She is not seeking mere temporal advantage. She will not shave down a principle to save a kingdom. The principle will save other kingdoms and in the end reclaim the kingdom which she appeared to lose.
Her viewpoint is fair-minded, but not compromising. She concedes freedom to all to their own conscientious beliefs and practices, and yet she will not admit that they are true or right if they conflict with her God-revealed worship. Truth and falsehood are not the same. Virtue and vice are not interchangeable. God does not approve any form of worship except His own. The Church is tolerant, but not unprincipled. She has nothing in common whatever with Mohammedan compulsory religion. All are physically free to believe as they choose; and yet she will not admit that they are morally free to believe false doctrines or practice unauthorized forms of worship.
Her authority is peremptory and yet she has no militia or police. She is obeyed as God is obeyed. Her commands are the commands of God. She receives more intimate and more exact obedience than the governments of the world.
Her worship is reverent, but not empty pageantry, Her stately sacrifice, her frequent sacraments are vitalized with floods of intense spiritual energies. Even those not of her fold come in numbers to her houses of prayer and find there an environment immeasurably more conducive to piety and devotion than their own edifices of religion. God is present with her as He is with no other.
She has a program of patriotism, but not of politics. When the call to the defence of their country is sounded, her sons respond in ranks and regiments. In politics, however, she is not involved. Her religious interests more than occupy her time and ability. While denominations meddle and flounder in corrupt political and fanatical legislation, she goes on untrammeled and uncontaminated in her glorious march of religious and spiritual triumph.
Her laws are strict, but not extreme. She insists on Sunday worship and Friday abstinence. These regulations define and support the laws of God. She does not sanction blue laws, Puritanical Sundays, nor the innumerable imprudent man-made restrictions which have destroyed the denominations. The Spirit of God is her fortitude and prudence.
Her sons and daughters are zealous, but not fanatic. They lead the way with lives of temperance, chastity and prayer instead of legislating people into abstinence and church-going. Her conduct is sane and sensible, but not lukewarm. She forgives the repentant sinner, but does not condone his sin.
If a couple insist on entering into an adulterous union, she excommunicates them. She has nothing in common with those so called Christian organizations who pretend to follow Christ and yet give official and church sanctions to matrimonial unions which they know to be condemned by Christ Himself. Thus the denominations shoulder and sanction the sins of their unworthy members.
They surrender to the spirit of this world and the power of darkness. In defiance of Christ they sanction and approve the wicked and adulterous unions of divorcees. In utter disregard of the God-given natural law, some of the largest and most influential denominations advocate, through the propaganda of so-called 'birth control, few births and less control, unnatural sex perversions, family abortion, national suicide and race extinction. They bring about the desolation of their own homes. They blot out their name and family. They draw down the blight and curse of God on the nation unborn, the race unconceived. God has preserved His religion from sanctioning these unnatural vices. This divine wisdom and discretion of the Church is a new sign and testimony in the eyes of the wise that the Holy Spirit guides her decisions and rules her policy. Follow her. Leave these unfaithful, unworthy religions.
The Adequate Faith
The life of the Church is penitential, but not gloomy. During Lent she robes in purple, and yet her penance is not depressing. At Easter she is adorned with the vesture of joy and glory, and yet there is no frivolity or impropriety about her service.
In the hour of mourning she assuages the grief and changes it into hope. She raises her hands in prayer and power with God for the departed. She fills the grief-stricken with consolation and resignation. They do not sorrow as those who have no hope. For the dead who are in Christ shall rise again and all shall meet to be happy together with the Lord forever.
Others are sadly silent about the fate of their departed. They are falsely taught that when the grave has closed over their dear dead, they can do no more. They turn away hopelessly from these loved ones while they still need their prayers and long for their spiritual assistance.
You will find her communicants fervent and devout, prayerful and religious. She is in herself a complete revelation. Her systern is an adequate mode of life. It is satisfactory in every detail; consoling in affliction and efficient in need. She is the mother of innumerable virgins; the strength of martyrs. She develops saints in every walk of life; her sacraments are the source of sanctity, her training the power of sacrifice, her charity is a fountain of unselfishness and self-forgetfulness.
She has worked out and organized a vast institutional system of homes for the aged. the poor, the orphan and the infirm. She supplies them with saintly devoted nuns, one hundred thousand in the United States alone, who devote themselves and sacrifice their lives for Christ and His least brethren. Man-made religions emulate and imitate her to some extent, but to the heroism of the convent life they fail to attain.
She is the essence of conviction. Her soul is fidelity to principle. She has a stable, reliable philosophy. Her faith is reasonable; her life practical. Again these superhuman qualities can be explained only by the workings of God in her.
The World Enigma
Strange as it may seem, she is both the lover of the poor and the hope of the rich; the friend of labour and the mentor of capital; the enemy of sin and the refuge of the sinner. She is the teacher of youth and the reformation of the wicked; the mother of orphans and the angel of old-age.
She professes freedom, not license; temperance, not prohibition; moderation, not excess. In her scheme of development necessity is not virtue, constraint is not self-control. She offers religious education in the place of lobby and legislation.
She is the Body of Christ, the Bride of Heaven, the Vision of God, the gateway to eternal life.
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