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of this is, that where the Sacrament of Penance is impossible, it is held that this takes its place; but here, as for Penance itself, it is not considered to liave any effect unless the sinner has interiorly made an act of true sorrow or repentance, which is necessarily accompanied by the purpose of abandoning sin for the future.
In short, we do not hold that the sacraments have the effect of converting sinners or restoring them to the state of grace and the favor of God without their own co-operation by a thorough and hearty repentance.
But, it may be asked, what is the use of these sacraments which confer the pardon of sin if they require repentance also ?. With regard to Baptism, I will say now that it takes away original sin, which has been already explained, even from infants, and from idiots who have always been incapable of making a rational act; and furthermore that it is by Baptism that we become Christians and capable of receiving the other sacraments, which are offered only to the baptized. There is, however, more to be said on this matter; and it will be said when I come to speak more specially about the subject of confession, later on.
TVERYBODY knows that Catholics believe
in purgatory, but few outside the Church seem to have a clear notion of what we mean by it. Many apparently think that we believe that all Catholics are saved, but that they all, except perhaps the priests, have to go to purgatory, out of which the priest will get them by his prayers, or by ceremonies of some sort, if he is only paid enough money for doing so.
Now try to put yourself in our place for a moinent. Think how you would feel if we made these sweeping charges against you. Is it possible that any one who recognizes the principles of morality, and who has common sense, could believe that a inan or woman can be saved by simply professing the Catholic faith? I am sorry to say that it is a matter of history that Luther and the original Protestants who followed him did hold that we are saved by faith alone, and that the more we sin, the more we glorify this saving faith; and this idea, nominally, exists at the present day among those who have inherited the first creeds of the Reformation. But still all practically acknowl
edge that to give proof of being a Christian indeed, one should live a good life; that this is the natural result of saving faith. And Catholics have always held this more formally and distinctly, teaching, as the Bible teaches, that nothing defiled can enter heaven ; and hence, of course, that if a Catholic, no matter how strong his faith may be, commits mortal sin, and dies without sincerely repenting of it, he goes infallibly to hell. The principal practical difference between us and you is that we are more strict as to what constitutes mortal or grievous sin ; for instance, we believe that to give way, even internally, to a lustful imagination or desire, is a grievous sin, deserving of hell for all eternity.
It is plain, then, that we cannot believe that all Catholics are saved; for unfortunately it is 11ot only too probable, but even we may say certain, that many of them are suddenly cut off in sin, or die without truly repenting and purposing to amend it.
And think of the grossness of the charge that your notions involve against your fellow-citi
How would you feel if you were a priest, and were told that you undertook to get every one for whom application was made out of purgatory (whatever that may be) for a money consideration, and that (as is often said) you worked on the feelings of poor and ignorant
people, perhaps even preaching what you did not yourself believe, in order to extort money from them?
Try at least to remember that a priest is not a mysterious being, evolved somehow out of the depths of what you call the dark ages; but that he is a man of at any rate a fairly decent character in society, against whom grave charges of immorality in general are seldom established; and see if it is quite fair to accuse him without any real proof of intolerable meanness, tyranny, and imposition such as this would be. And if you are not acquainted with any priests, and have a general idea, such as unfortunately those of our "Anglo-Saxon race, so called, are rather apt to have, that foreigners are capable of all sorts of villany, and that priests are mostly foreigners, or Irishmen at any rate, I would suggest to you that not a few of them are, like the writer of these pages, as much of what you would call pure American descent and family as you are yourself, and have perhaps been as strong Protestants as you are now.
Then try to give up all this nonsense, handed down to you from the dark ages of ignorance about the Catholic faith in which your fathers lived, and just listen to a little truth about it from one who has had ideas like yours, but now knows what he is talking about.
Well, then, the fact is, that we believe that
the Catholic who loves God and his neighbor is saved, and that the Catholic who commits a grievous sin, and dies without true repentance, is damned. But we believe that Catholics who are saved, and are sure therefore of heaven in the end, do not necessarily enter on it immediately. For there are sins which are not grievous or mortal. Such sins we call venial. I hardly think you would seriously believe that a boy who stole an apple from an orchard or from a grocery store would be condemned to hell for it; on the other hand, you do believe that a murderer or an adulterer dying impenitent would, no matter if he did have faith in Christ. For dying impenitent would meaiỉ that he did not care about the offence to God in his murder or adultery, and was ready to commit more if it suited his convenience. This distinction between mortal and venial sins is then simply common sense. Of course we cannot always decide whether a sin is mortal or venial, but that there is a difference between the two is plain.
Now, it is on account of these venial sins that we believe most of those who are saved do not enter heaven iminediately. For though they are venial or comparatively easy to be forgiven (for that is what the word venial' means), still they are sins, and they defile the soul; and as we have seen, nothing defiled can enter