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objection, as, for instance, if one should refuse to say a Hail Mary
now and then ; for this prayer has the highest possible sanction, both directly by the Church and by Catholic feeling and practice; and to ignore it could hardly mean anything but heresy on the part of the person so acting.
THE REMAINDER OF THE PROFESSION,
THE remainder of the profession is princi
pally occupied with matters which have already been discussed. I have already treated at some length of the great and decisive authority which we attach to the Scriptures, or the Bible, and the way in which we believe that this Word of God should be read and understood.
By the "Apostolic and Ecclesiastical Traditions" is understood the traditions which have come down to us, by word of mouth or by uninspired writings, with regard to the faith of the Church. That these are of value, and are recognized as being so in the Bible itself (II. Thess. ii. 14), where we read: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our
epistle.” Also (II. Tim. ii. 2) we find : “ And the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also.”
It is perfectly in accordance with reason, common sense, and the necessities of the case, to say nothing of the actual facts of history, that the teaching of the faith in the first few centuries should have been mainly oral, and that tradition should have been, as it actually was, the main guide of the faithful, especially during the ages of persecution. In later times we do not depend on it so much, as the Scriptures are so easily accessible, and the decisions of the Church so abundant.
The profession now proceeds to include generally the other matters of faith resting on the decrees of the Church, specially those made in the General Councils. Of these twenty-one are recognized, as follows; the places and dates are given:
1.-Nicæa or Nice I.,
9.-Rome (Lateran) I., 10.-Rome (Lateran) II., 11.-Rome (Lateran) III., 12.-Rome (Lateran) IV., 13.-Lyons I., 14.–Lyons II., 15.–Vienne, 16.-Constance, 17.-Basle, 18.-Florence, 19.-Rome (Lateran) V., 20.-Trent, 21.-Rome (Vatican),
1123 1139 1179 1215 1245 1274 13II 1417-18 1431 1439-45 1512-17 1545-63 1869–70
These councils were composed of bishops gathered from all parts of the Catholic world. All Catholic bishops are invited to such assemblies, and have a vote on the matters discussed. The last two are specially mentioned in the profession as treating of matters more controverted now by Christians in general. The Council of Trent was called on account of the Protestant Reformation; it defined the dogmas of faith which were impugned by the Protestants, and effected various reforms in the matter of Church discipline; there were corruptions and evil practices which had crept in, and really needed reformation ; and this true reformation of the Church was thus legitimately and quite thoroughly effected.
The Council of the Vatican was opened by Pius IX. on December 8, 1869; it was adjourned in the following year on account of the troubles of the times, which culminated in the seizure of Rome on September 20 of that year by the troops of Victor Emanuel, King of Italy. In this council various matters concerning the primitive truths of religion were defined against modern infidelity, and the infallibility of the Pope, as it has been explained above, was solemnly declared.
In assenting to and accepting the decrees of these councils, and therefore, also, specially on account of the decision just mentioned, the decrees of the Pope himself when he solemnly and formally teaches the faith to the Christian world, we simply make a logical and reasonable act. It is not necessary, in order to accept and believe what God teaches us by the means which He has established, that we should know precisely what it is that He teaches. We believe it beforehand, just in the same way, but with a far higher degree of certainty, as a jury believes in the testimony of a witness of unimpeachable character, before he opens his lips to give it.
It is, however, the desire of the Church that we and all the world should know just what our faith teaches us on every point. Our Divine Lord committed His doctrine to His dis
ciples secretly, but He instructed them to proclaim it publicly. “That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light,” said He; “and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the house-tops.”
This the apostles did ; and though for a time it became absolutely necessary, on account of persecution, to observe
secrecy (for Christ Himself had said, “ Give not that which is holy to dogs ; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you”'), such is not the case now. There is nothing which we need or wish to keep back of what we believe, either with regard to Catholic faith or practice; and in what follows I propose to explain some points which have not been spoken of in this profession.
Before proceeding to these, however, I wish to remark on some words which may give a false impression in the concluding sentence, in which it is said, “I detest and abjure every error, heresy, and sect.” By this is meant not that we detest any person who does not embrace our faith, or detest any sect in the sense that we hate the persons belonging to it; but that we detest heresy—that is, we hate the falsehood which is contrary to the truth, and also the spirit of denial of what one knows to be the truth, for that is heresy, properly so-called ;