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cated to the Blessed Trinity, was erected beside it; and it was in latter times considered of sufficient consequence to merit royal protection. When the unhappy separation of this country from the Church took place, the stream of pilgrims ceased to flow; but the charitable bequest was not alienated. A cruel law forbade the education of a Catholic clergy in this country; and it was wisely and piously determined by Pope Gregory XIII., that, if men came no longer from our island to renew their piety and fidelity at the tomb of the Apostles, the institution intended for their comfort should be employed in sending to them that which they could no longer come in person to take, through zealous and learned priests, who should imbibe the faith, or catch new fervour, from those sacred ashes. The hospital of English pilgrims was converted into a college for the education of ecclesiastics; many therein brought up have sealed the faith with their blood, on the scaffolds of this city; and now, in peaceful times, it remains a monument of English charity, dear to many,—to none more than to me,—and, at the same time, a record of the poverty and destitution of those for whose reception and relief it was originally erected.
Do I then mean to say, that during the middle ages, and later, no abuse took place in the practise of indulgences? Most certainly not. Flagrant and too frequent abuses, doubtless, occurred through the avarice, and rapacity, and impiety of men; especially when indulgence was granted to the contributors towards charitable or religious foundations, in the erection of which private motives too often mingle. But this I say,
that the Church felt and ever tried to remedy the evil. These abuses were most strongly condemned by Innocent III. in the Council of Lateran in 1139, by Innocent IV. in that of Lyons in 1245, and still more pointedly and energetically by Clement V. in the Council of Vienna, in 1311. The Council of Trent, by an ample decree, completely reformed the abuses which had subsequently crept in, and had been unfortunately used as a ground for Luther's separation from the Church.*
* Sess. xxv. Decret. de Indulg.
But even in those ages, the real force, and the requisite conditions, of indulgences were well understood, and by none better than by that most calumniated of all Pontiffs, Gregory VII. In a letter to the Bishop of Lincoln, he amply explains what are the dispositions with which alone participation can be hoped for, in the indulgence offered by the Church. We
may, indeed, be asked, why we retain a name so often misunderstood and misrepresented, and not rather substitute another that has no reference to practices now in desuetude? My brethren, to this I answer, that we are a people that love antiquity even in words. We are like the ancient Romans, who repaired and kept ever from destruction the cottage of Romulus, though it might appear useless and mean to the stranger that looked upon it. We call the offices of Holy Week Tenebre, or darkness, because the word reminds us of the times when the night was spent in mournful offices before God's altar; we retain the name of Baptism, which means immersion, though the rite is no longer performed by it. We cling to names that have their rise in the fervour and glory of the past; we are not easily driven from the recollections which hang even upon syllables; still less do we allow ourselves to be driven from them by the taunts and wishes of others, who seize upon them to attack and destroy the dogma which they convey. No other word could so completely express our doctrine, as this “ distinguished name,” to use the words of the Council of Trent.
III. After all that I have said, I need hardly revert to the common method of throwing ridicule on indulgences, by depreciating the works of piety or devotion to which they are attached. Surely did this accusation, even in its substance, hold good, the true inquiry would be, do Catholics, in consequence of such indulgences, perform less for God than their accusers, or than they themselves would perform, if such indulgences were not granted? I answer unhesitatingly–No. From what good work does an indulgence, granted at any festival, hinder us? What prayer less is said than by Protes
tants, or even than by Catholics at other times ?
On the contrary, small as the work may be, while the desire is hopeless of restoring a more rigorous discipline, is it not better to exact that, which, if in no other way, by its necessary conditions, leads to what is valuable and salutary? For you, my Catholic brethren, know, that without a penitent confession of your sins, and the worthy participation of the blessed Eucharist, no indulgence is any thing worth. You know that the return of each season, when the Church holds out to you an indulgence, is a summons to your conscience to free itself from the burthen of its transgressions, and return to God by sincere repentance. You know, that were not this inducement presented to you, you might run on from month to month in thoughtless neglect, or unable to rouse your courage for the performance of such arduous duties. The alms which you then give, and the prayers which you recite, are thus sanctified by a purer conscience, and by the hopes of their being doubly acceptable to God, through the ordinances of his Church. And let me add, that one of these times of mercy is now approaching, and I entreat you, allow it not to pass by unheeded. Prepare for it with fervour-enter upon it with contrite devotion, and profit by the liberality with which the Spouse of Christ unlocks the treasure of his mercies to her faithful children. And thus shall the indulgence be, as it is intended, for your greater perfection in virtue, and the advancement of your eternal salvation.
CCTURE THE THIRTEENTH.
INVOCATION OF SAINTS: THEIR RELICS AND IMAGES.
LUKE i. 28. “ And the Angel being come in, said, Hail, full of grace, the Lord
is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women.” The words which I have quoted to you, my brethren, a 'e taken from the Gospel read in the festival of this day;-festival which, as its very name imports, commemorates tie great dignity bestowed on the mother of our blessed Redeer 1er, through a message communicated to her by an angel fron God;—a festival which stands registered in the calendar of every religious denomination, as a record and a monument of that belief which was once held by the forefathers of al., bit which now has become the exclusive property of one, and fir which that division of Christians is, more than for any
other reason, most frequently and most solemnly condemned. For I am minded, this evening, to treat of that honour and vene. ration which is paid by the Catholic Church to the Saints oi God,—and, beyond all others, to her whom we call the Queen of Saints, and venerate as the mother of the God of the Saints. I intend then to lay before you the grounds of our doctrina and practice, in regard to this matter, as also with regard to some others which naturally spring from it.
Nothing, my brethren, seems so congenial to human nature, as to look with veneration and respect on those who have gone before us, holding up to us distinguished examples of any qualities, which we venerate and esteem. Every nation has its heroes and its sages, whose conduct or teaching is proposed to succeeding generations as models for imitation. The human race itself, according to Holy Writ, had, in olden times, its giants, men of renown;—those who made greater strides than their successors in the paths of distinction, whether in things
* March 25. The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
earthly, or in those of a superior order; men whose fame seems the property of entire humanity, and whose memory
it has become a duty, discharged with affection, to cherish and preserve, as a public and common good, at once honourable and cheering to our nature.
But, alas! only in religion is it otherwise the case. It would seem as though many thought that the religion of Christ may be best exalted, by depreciating their glory, who were its highest ornaments;—by decrying their merits, who vere the brightest examples of virtue to the world; yea, and
ven by depressing below the level or standard of ordinary goodness, those great men who, preceding us here below in our belief, not only have left us the most perfect demonstration of its worth, but ensured us its inheritance by their sufferings, by their conduct, or by their writings. It jars most cruelly with all our natural affections, to see how such true heroes of the Church of God are not merely stripped of the extraordinary honours which we are inclined to pay them, but are actually treated with disrespect and contumely: how some should seem to think that the cause of religion can be advanced by representing them as frailer and more liable to sin than others, and ever descant, with a certain sort of gloating pleasure, on their falls and human imperfections.
Nay, it has been even assumed, that the cause of the Son !f God was to be promoted, and His mediatorship and honour exalted, by decrying the worth and dignity of her whom He chose to be His mother, and by striving to prove times He had been undutiful and unkind to her; for it has been asserted, that we ought not to show any affection or neverence for her,—on the blasphemous ground that in the exercise of even filial love towards her, our Saviour Himself was wanting!* Nor yet, my brethren, is this the worst fea
* It is the reason given by more sermons than one, against our devotion to the Blessed Virgin, that our Saviour treated her harshly, especially on two occasions : John ii. 4; Mat. xii. 48. This is not the place to enter into the argument on these passages, especially the first : for which I hope soon to find a fitting opportunity.