Exposure of Modernism and Vindication of its Condemnation by the Pope
By the Rev. Father Norbert Jones, C.R.L.
New York, Cincinnati, Chicago
Printers to the Holy Apostolic See
J. CANONICUS MOYES,
Die 12 Januarii, 1908.
This little work is an honest attempt to deal with the new heresy of Modernism, and make clear to the general reader the true inner nature of this quintessence of all heresies. Though there may be, and doubtless will be, many abler efforts in that direction than this humble one, the writer trusts it will contribute even in a small way to show up Modernism, and let the public know how deadly an error it is. If this object be achieved, the writer will feel that this labour has not been in vain.
The writer submits all he has written to the Supreme Authority of the Catholic and Roman Church, to which he yields a most unswerving and loyal obedience.
-- THE AUTHOR.
Modernism is Based Upon Agnostic and Pantheistic Philosophy, with a Spurious Catholic Label
Modernism Virtually Destructive of Christian Dogma, the Foundations of Belief, and the Unwritten Word of God---Divine Tradition
Modernism Condemned as Destructive of the Holy Scriptures, the Seven Sacraments, and the Catholic Church
Modernism is condemned because it is a Blasphemous Effort to Deform Christianity
I. Modernism is Based Upon Agnostic and Pantheist Philosophy, with a Spurious Catholic Label
One of the most important Encyclicals that, perhaps, for centuries has ever been given to the whole Catholic world by the Vicar of Jesus Christ is the one condemnatory of the errors of Modernism by the Holy Father Pope Pius X. This Encyclical, by its clear grasp of the subtle errors hitherto concealed from the unwary by Modernist writers, has quite spoilt their cleverly devised plot to destroy Catholicism -- nay, all Christian doctrines retained by non-Catholics -- by simply undermining them. One is not surprised at their discomfiture and chagrin, so evidenced by letters to the Times and other newspapers generally known for their partisan hostility to everything Roman. Their plot to destroy Catholicism is so ruthlessly exposed in the Encyclical. 'Hinc illae lachrymae!'*
The Papal Encyclical 'Pascendi,' of September 8, 1907, is a most timely warning of the existence of this dangerous heresy, destructive of all real and solid religion. It is a public exposure of its false tenets from their very first principles, and it is an authoritative condemnation of them by the visible head of Catholic Christendom -- a condemnation that, for all practical purposes, is final for all Catholics, so that none can bold Modernist doctrines and remain within the Catholic Church.
What, it may be asked, is Modernism? and what does the Holy Father condemn in that system? The Pope and the Catholic Church do not condemn modern truth, but Modernist error; not scientific research conducted in a truly scientific spirit in quest of truth, along the right lines, but false and so-called science, misnamed as Modernism, for its errors are not modern, but rather antiquated, most unoriginal. It is the old German false philosophy of Kant, taught a century and a half ago, borrowed and decked out in a Modernist dress, so therefore not modern at all. Modernism is not science any more than darkness is light or falsehood truth.
Science, despite what Modernist apologists may say to the contrary, is the greatest friend and ally of the Catholic Church. Not only have her gifted sons excelled in every branch of its wide field, and their labours been rewarded with her blessings, as true history bears witness, but the Church has repeatedly, in her great OEcumenical Councils of Trent and the Vatican, proclaimed against the obscurantist gainsayers the two God-given energies of man, freedom of will against Lutheran 'slave-will,' and the power of human reason to investigate not only natural truth, but the supernatural truth in its fundamental basis -- namely, the existence and power and wisdom of God against the errors of 'traditionalism' and 'blind faiths' (Rom. i.). She has by her supreme authority exalted the true rights of the human intellect, and opened up to it every path of knowledge, every field of exploration.
Modernism, as we will prove later, seeks to drag down human reason, exalted by the Church, and 'modernize' it into a sort of glorified sense. We will describe more clearly what is Modernism. It is a modern theory of explaining and defending the vital truths of faith and revelation on a basis of agnostic and almost pantheistic philosophy borrowed from ancient times, and thereby undermining the very foundations of Christianity. To properly understand the system we must, as the Holy Father's Encyclical says, grasp its false and unphilosophical basis. This will show at once to every unbiased mind how the whole system of Modernism that is based upon it is rotten to the core; how, instead of being scientific in any sense ancient or modern, it is more worthy of the name of 'Know-nothingism' -- a term well known among American Catholics as descriptive of a certain section of ultra-Protestantism. Of course, the Modernist claims the dignity of being a philosopher. He has his pet system of Kantian philosophy to build upon, which he wants people to think is original and modern, but it is neither.
On this Philosophy he founds his faith; by it he interprets all truth; it is the groundwork on which he explains all history, sacred or profane it is his guide in criticizing the Holy Scriptures the life and person of Christ, the Catholic Church and her doctrinal sacramenta, and disciplinary systems. Whatever he finds in Christianity at variance with his favourite system of Kantian Philosophy must be swept away as a corruption and disfigurement of Modernist 'truth,' so called.
Modernist Philosophy teaches that beyond the external objects of sense that surround us human reason has no Power nor right to pronounce upon truth. All that goes beyond them is called the unknown and unknowable. God is the Supreme Unknown and Unknowable God cannot be known by man, not even by means of the visible world He has created. All the Christian evidences relied upon in the past to prepare and dispose men's minds towards belief in Divine revelation are to be set aside as obsolete and out of date. Modernist agnostic science practically conducts God with honour to its frontiers, thanking Him for His provisional services in past times, which now it no longer requires within the realm of natural science.
Modernism would quite agree with the agnostic who wrote, saying: 'We can no more know anything about God by visible things than a squirrel can travel back to his native woods by merely revolving inside a cage.'
But, one may justly ask Modernists why, then, do you nevertheless believe in revelation, or profess so to do? Whence do you derive your faith? Faith comes from within man, he will answer not from without. And so does revelation. This the Modernist explains by his theory called 'vital immanence,' or sentiment, or the Divine element in man. Man has within his soul an impulse and tendency towards religious belief of some kind or other. When man follows up this impulse it begets faith, and this faith is the same thing as revelation. Like every other form of life existing in the world, so 'vital immanence' being a form of intellectual life, living and active, must undergo evolution and change, it must grow and develop; it cannot by its very nature, as being life, remain stationary Therefore, as faith and revelation change in man, so faith and revelation outside of man must also be liable to change. In other words, there must be a new and more up-to-date method of explaining and justifying man's belief in its dogmas.
Truth will and must grow and develop intrinsically. It is included in Nature's inexorable laws of evolution. But errors also will grow to obscure or disfigure it, and so it is with Christian truth and Catholic doctrine. Outside of man, however, are God and the miraculous and the mysterious elements of religion. What has Modernism to say about these? They may be true, but certainly they are not historically or scientifically true. They are quite the reverse. They must no longer be considered by scientific minds to have ever taken place. We really know nothing about them. They have come to us, not from outside, but from inside ourselves, individually and collectively considered. They are the results of the 'vital immanence' of men in times past and present.
In answer to this false philosophy of Modernism we set forth the contrary truth, from our Holy Father's lucid Encyclical, as standing out in bolder relief than ever by contrast.
1. Modernism, viewed from its unphilosophical foundations, is neither modern nor is it Catholic but the opposite of both. How can it be called modern when it is more like an ostrich decked out in peacock's feathers, and making gullible folk take it for a peacock? Kant's Philosophy is rather ancient, nearly two centuries old, and he borrowed his system from Celsus and Porphyry, long ages ago refuted by the learned philosophers of the Catholic Church. To take Immanuel Kant's system and hide it under new Modernist verbiage, may pass as original and clever to shallow minds, but to any tyro in philosophy it is neither original nor in any way a brilliant achievement. All that glitters is not gold. It is trading under a very spurious label. The label is excellent; none could be better than Catholicism. Modernism, however, has no more right to it than has Mohammedanism or Judaism to the term Christian. It resembles a piece of German silver bearing a spurious hall-mark, or, better still, it is like a certain number of Nonconformist clerics writing D.D. after their names until found out to have no right to the title, having obtained it at 'Bates' University.'
2. Whatever Modernists may say in depreciation of Scholastic philosophy, one thing is clear to those who know anything about it: if the miserable philosophy of Modernism be accepted, human reason is restricted to purely sensible phenomena, and declared essentially impotent to go beyond the things of sense. Scholastic philosophy, however, considers reason in the exalted place she occupies as superior to the senses, and able by her own light to prove the existence of God from created things; it can show also the spiritual nature of the soul and its existence after the death of the body. Though not professing to prove mysteries of faith by reason, it can by the principles of its philosophy, of their own nature immutably true, prove that mysteries are not contrary to reason. Scholastic philosophy, though in one sense medieval, is in another sense new, for it can meet successfully error, both ancient and modern. It holds the field to-day, and is likely so to do in the future. To change it for the miserable system called Modernist philosophy would be tantamount to throwing away all certitude in the sphere of reason and lapsing into the regions of agnosticisn and intellectual suicide. Modernists may sneer at Scholastic philosophy, but anyone that has studied it to any extent at all and contrasted it with Kant's vague system and his nebulous phrases borrowed by Modernism, will see that the sneer applies more truly to Modernist so-called 'modern thought.' The object of Scholastic Philosophy is intelligible enough 'The science of things through their ultimate causes, so far as such science is attainable by the LIGHT OF NATURE' (St. Thomas Aquinas).
3. We deny that God is unknown by the light of human reason. He is known by means of the visible things He has made. We set against Modernism the trenchant words of St. Paul to the Gentiles, which apply to their Modernist followers, in the paths of agnosticism. 'What is known of God is manifested in them. For the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: His eternal power also and His Divinity, so that they are inexcusable. Because when they knew God they did not glorify Him as God . . . but became vain in their thoughts . . . Professing themselves wise (Philosophers), they became fools' (Rom. i. 20, 21, 22).
4. God can never be excluded from the domain of science, so the Modernist dogma that science is atheistic is inadmissible. We can no more leave God out of the sciences than we can shut out the light of the sun from our earth. Every branch of science, directly or indirectly, manifests in its own way the Divine Mind that is its ultimate end. As the whole of Nature, so the science of Nature is like a stream flowing from God, the Ocean of all truth and of all knowledge. Science, then, is not atheistic, it cannot be successfully studied without final reference to God's place in it. 'Vain is the mind of man in which is not found the knowledge of God' (Wisdom).
5. As to the Modernist theory of the Divine in man, or, as they prefer to call it, 'vital immanence,' it is one of those very subtle half-truths which in reality are the greatest falsehoods. The 'immanence' of St. Paul is one thing, the Modernist 'vital immanence' is quite another. It is not only that God is in us, but we are also in God.**} God is present everywhere by His essence, presence and power, which is the same as saying -- (1) There is no place where He is not; (2) He is not inactive, but is always Preserving creation, 'upholding all things' (Colossians); besides, (3) He is continually creating anew. But He is absolutely distinct from all creatures whatsoever They are not a part of God in any way, for this would be pantheism. Then, again, it is quite true there is the mystic life of Christ living in the souls of men; there is the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in holy souls. But God and Christ and the Holy Spirit are essentially Divine in themselves, and infinitely distinct from the souls of Christian believers. What is Divine in man is only so in a purely created and participated sense, not in an absolute sense. It is a presence by means of grace, which is a created supernatural gift bestowed on the possessor, either making him holy or helping so to do, according as it takes the form of sanctifying or actual grace. This is not God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit; it is quite distinct from the Divine Being.
Faith comes from without, being a supernatural gift bestowed on man. Without this no man by any interior impulse or 'vital immanence' (!) could believe than he could see at all, any more without the organs of vision, or reason without an intellectual faculty. Revelation is absolutely distinct from faith, as the objects seen by man are distinct from the eyes that see them. Revelation is both the whole ensemble of Divine mysteries and supernatural realities existing in the supernatural works; and the Mind of God, unfolding or revealing or unveiling them to the mind of man, to believe in by means of the supernatural gift of faith. So much for the false theory of Modernism as a so-called philosophy. We may be assured that the Catholic Church will triumph over this newest and most subtle of heresies -- Modernism. Already the triumph is within measurable distance, for as the result of the Papal Encyclical, it is quite clear that Modernists as such have no longer any place in the Catholic Church. No longer can they teach their deadly errors from within. As long as they uphold Modernism they can neither be Catholics nor lawfully receive Catholic privileges. The voice of Blessed Peter, speaking through his successor Pope Pius X., has torn off the mask of Catholic under which Modernism has disguised itself so long and so badly.
* 'Hence those tears.'
** Thou, O Lord, art in us' (Jeremias xiv.); 'In Him we live and move and have our being' (Acts xvii. 28).
II. Modernism Virtually Destructive of Christian Dogma, the Foundations of Belief, and the Unwritten Word of God --- Divine Tradition
The Modernist onslaught upon the Divine truths confided by Jesus to the Catholic Church is as striking a feature of this twentieth century as were the attacks of the so-called Reformers in the sixteenth on the authority of the Church. Protestantism in all its varieties is heresy, and so is Modernism, whether 'extreme wing' or 'moderate Modernism.' Its root principles are not only heresy, but Modernism is called by our Holy Father Pius X. the 'synthesis of all heresies.' Both Protestantism and Modernism are founded upon the abuse of private judgment and pride of intellect. Like the so-called Reformation man-made religions, Modernism has its dogmas and articles of faith. Its fundamental dogma is that the supernatural is an unbreathable atmosphere. The Catholic Church is considered to be wrong in wishing to breathe such an atmosphere. She would, it thinks, be far wiser to build all her claims on pure naturalism, mixed with 'vital immanence' She should give up her illusions that she is a Divine Church, and in future consider herself a merely human society, not immediately founded by the Son of God at all. But the Church of God will not take this foolish advice. She is supernatural and Divine in her origin and constitution, and so must always have recourse to supernatural means. Modernism is condemned because it virtually destroys Christian dogma by denying that the dogmas of faith are contained in the revelation made by the Holy Spirit to the Catholic Church and subsequently defined through the supreme authority of the same Ecclesia docens* (see p. 28). Once the Holy Spirit, speaking through the supreme magisterium** of the Church, defines a doctrine as de fide*** the dogma in question remains, both in se**** and in its external formula or terminology, unchanged and unchangeable, like God, Whose voice it communicates to us, in the shape of definite truth.
Modernism tells us quite the reverse. The Divine reality in which we believe must be sought inside the believer's soul. This reality is both an object of 'vital immanence' and the subject of the believer's affirmation of his inner belief, in the words of a formula or a statement. Is there anything existing outside the believer corresponding to both the 'vital immanence' and the statement of its nature inwards by him? No, answers Modernism. From a philosophic or a scientific or historical point of view it is unreal -- nay, false. Does the reality, then, exist at all? We do not know (agnosticism). Yet, as a believer, the reality in question may be true -- nay, existing in se, quite independent of the believer's concept of it. But on what grounds does he (the believer) pin his faith upon its truth? Only on his own individual experience. The believer possesses a kind of 'intuition' of the heart, which him imputs mediately into contact with the Divine reality of God; giving to him at the same time an absolute 'persuasion' of God's existence, and His beneficent action outside of man. This inner experience is greater than any other experience of any other objects whatsoever. If this theory be admitted, it would lead us into theism. According to it, every religion on the face of the earth is true. We could never dare to call any religion a false one. There would be no essential difference between any religion and the one true religion of the Catholic Church. Have not their adherents, just as much as Catholics, their inward religious experience and their outward affirmation of it? Both of these agree with each other. In what, then, do these other religions differ from Catholicism? Only in degree, but not in kind. Catholicism has more truth, is a more living faith and is more preeminently Christian; but the other creeds are not false, and there is no means in Modernist principles for so describing them. Who does not see that Modernism destroys not only the true dogmas of Our Catholic Faith, but makes them differ only in kind from those of other creeds? Our belief as Catholics rests on sure and firm, because Divine, foundations. It comes to us straight from the infallible Word of God -- both written and unwritten -- Scripture and Divine tradition. Through these Divine oracles God speaks to us, and we know it is God that speaks to us through the teaching, testimony, and authority of the Catholic Church.
Our belief, then, is not derived from a mere evolution of the consciences of men, from merely human and purely subjective constructions, made or spun by ourselves or others in our efforts to explain to ourselves our relations to God. Much less are the dogmatic statements of the subject-matter of our faith, defined through the assistance of the Holy Ghost, by the supreme authority of the Church, merely relative statements of what the masses have come to think, and given over to the Church to affix the seal of her approval, and make them into dogmas, which in course of time may have to be superannuated as obsolete, as men's inner sentiments about religion evolve and change. Modernism, in maintaining this false theory as to dogma and the origins of belief, so far from defending, in reality destroys both the one and the other.
The Divine and unwritten Word of God fares no better than Christian doctrine and belief at the hands of Modernism. What is the Modernist concept of Divine tradition, and in what way is it opposed to Catholic teaching on the subject? Modernism calls it 'the development of the inner religious experiences among the masses of the people, brought to maturity and kept continually active by means of propagandism, and finally taken up by the leaders of religious thought.' Should it live on and thrive and spread, it is true tradition; if, however, it withers and dies a natural death, it is false. Now, as there are so many different religions living and thriving and spreading to-day all over the world, and many of them very old religions, it must needs follow, according to Modernism, that they are all true and have Divine traditions! But who does not see the falsity -- nay, the blasphemy -- of such a theory? Tradition, as the Catholic Church has ever believed, and always will believe, is quite a different thing from what Modernism holds.
1. It has nothing to do with the people for its source. It comes not from them, but is presented to them by the Catholic-teaching Church, to accept and believe freely if they wish to belong to the true faith.
2. It comes from the Holy Ghost immediately to His infallible witness, teacher, and mouthpiece, the Supreme Magisterium of the Church. It is contained, not in the inner consciousness of fallible multitudes, and presented by them to the Church, but in the continual teaching voice of the Church, speaking through the successors of Peter and the united Episcopate in communion with them.
From the preceding it is clear how Modernism is destructive of the Catholic Faith. No wonder our Holy Father utters such a timely warning in his Encyclical against Modernism, telling Catholics to turn away from its poisonous pastures, and cling to the 'old theology' and the true Church, founded by Jesus Christ, to teach it to the end of time.
* Ecclesia docens -- i.e., 'the teaching Church.'
** Magisterium = 'teaching authority.'
*** De fide = 'what is of faith.'
**** In se = 'in itself.'
Modernism Condemned as Destructive of the Holy Scriptures, the Seven Sacraments, and the Catholic Church
It is a wonderful sign of the beautiful unity of Catholicism that the Holy Father's Encyclical, so soon after its appearance, has been so cordially welcomed throughout the Catholic world. All the Catholic Bishops of the world, every school of theological science, all the priests, with only one or two exceptions out of thousands, have received the Encyclical not only with absolute submission and the deepest gratitude, but the Bishops all over the world promise to take effectual steps to stamp out Modernism within every diocese where it dares to show its head. It is one of the most consoling features of the present time, this beautiful manifestation of unbroken Catholic union and oneness. It is true there are many agnostics and unbelievers, and a few men -- a tiny sect -- called Modernists; but this has nothing to do with it. There are also millions of devoted Catholics in the world, and they are determined that Catholics they will be -- true and real ones -- loyal to our Holy Father Pius X. So insignificant is Modernism in England, Scotland, and Ireland, that it may well be considered a negligible quantity ; it is a vox praeterea nihil.*
The hour is long past for running successfully a new heresy. News travels more quickly by marconigram or telephone to and from Rome of all that is happening in the world of religious thought and action. The Church soon hears of any enemy at her gates, and goes forth to meet him before he has time to spread his poisonous errors and do harm to souls. Modernism teaches most destructive errors about the Holy Bible -- the dearest of treasures confided to the care of the Church.
1. As to its nature. Modernism says that the Holy Scriptures are but the outward expression of the religious sense (vital immanence again) of men. The men that wrote the Bible wrote in so many books the formulae or statements of their inward religious sense or feelings -- the same as every religious man has done in the past and will do in the future.
2 As to inspiration, Modernism asserts that inspiration used to be ascribed to the sacred writers of the Bible as something special and unique, but declares it is nothing of the kind. It is only a more intense, but not a different, religious impulse from what all men, past and present, have given them to write, or to verbally testify, to the interior faith of their hearts. The Modernist considers Bible inspirations as does the Socinian, as being the same as the inspiration of any poet or fervid religious speaker. The difference, if any, is not in kind, but only in degree. If this theory be true, our Holy Scriptures are not much different, but are of the same nature, as Shakespeare and Longfellow, and are not any more the Scriptures of God than the Koran of Mahomet.
The Catholic Church, however, condemns this horrid teaching. The Scriptures of Christianity are the Written Word of the Living God, speaking immediately through the men that wrote them. She teaches, moreover, that inspiration of Scripture is absolutely different in degree and kind from any other inspiration. It is quite unique. This inspiration implies an illumination of the judgment of the sacred writer by the impulse of the Holy Ghost, moving him to write, and conveying to him what God wants him to write; dictating to him sometimes even the very sense of the passage he is to write, and at other times giving him the very words in which he is to clothe the message. Therefore the Bible cannot be compared with any other book.
Modernism would strip the Bible of all the supernatural and miraculous element, which it would ascribe to the 'vital immanence,' the religious sentiment of Jesus Christ, added to and improved upon, and increased to abnormal dimensions, by the 'religious immanence' of believers ever since. All these are made up of accretions, many interpolations, far-fetched interpretations. Besides these, Modernism says that passages have been patched together which in reality have no connexion whatever with the subject-matter, but were put in now by one, now by another, enthusiastic believer! Already have Modernists applied these pernicious theories to destroy the Holy Bible.
The following are a few of their Modernist so-called Biblical criticisms, extracted from their writings, and rightly condemned in the Syllabus:
1. Those who hold God as the Author of the Bible show great simplicity and gross ignorance.
2. Inspiration only means the handing down of old doctrines under a new religious sense.
3. This inspiration does not extend to all the books, for errors are found in all their parts.
4. Nor must we interpret the Scriptures supernaturally, but only according to human documents and human judgment.
5. The parables of Jesus are only an artificial arrangement made up by the Evangelists and the early Christians.
6. St. John's Gospel is not true history; it is only St. John's pious meditations, devoid of all historical truth. He greatly exaggerates miracles. He is not a Gospel witness (!) to the real Christ, but only to the mystic Christ living in the soul of the faithful and of the Church.
7. Christ's Divinity cannot be proved from the Gospels. It has been woven into them later on by the religious impulses of believers. Nor did our Lord ever teach He was the Messiah, nor prove this by miracles.
8. The Christ of history is different and quite inferior to the Christ of faith.
9. The words 'Son of God' do not mean that Christ is the real and natural Son of God.
Here are samples of how Modernism has already applied its pernicious theories to destroy the Bible and all its supernatural teaching as to Christ, His work and His message.
Modernism virtually destroys the seven Sacraments. It teaches that they did not come to the Church directly and immediately from Christ. Whence, then, did the Church derive them? From Christ living in Christian believers. Christ lived and lives in them. When, therefore, they instituted the seven Sacraments it was Christ that did so, as living in them. Such a doctrine as this destroys the Sacramental system altogether. Besides, it is based on a most transparent fallacy. Man's personally religious life is not the Personal Divinity of God the Son. Any work of man, even though he be a great saint like St. Francis of Assisi, is not a personally Divine work. Were this so, every Church law, every religious action of the saints, every prayer they said, would all be works of Divine institution! Therefore it is evident that whatever men may do, however holy they may be, remains the work of men, and can never be the work of God. Grace may give the work supernatural merit, but it can never be called a work of Divine institution.
It is on the basis of this fallacy that Modernism virtually destroys the seven Sacraments. The Catholic Church teaches against this -- the contrary truth about them. Instituted by our Divine Lord, immediately and in person, they rest on Him alone for their origin, their existence, and their Divine efficacy, ex opere operato.** In none of these did man help Him; it was His work alone. Though men, invested with His sacred Priesthood, perform the outward sign, the inward graces, signified and given, come straight from Christ.
Modernism destroys virtually the Catholic Church by its false theory of her nature, origin, and work. This will appear more clearly by contrast between the Catholic and Modernist teachings on the Church. The Catholic Church both claims and proves her claim of having been founded over nineteen centuries ago by the Son of God immediately and in person. From Him alone she received her Divine charter and credentials. On the first Christian Pentecost after the Ascension of her Divine Founder, the Holy Ghost, which He promised that His Father and He would send, came down upon her, to remain with her for ever as her living soul and her Divine source of supernatural life and action. He came not to inspire but to assist the teaching body of pastors united with the Vicar of Jesus Christ and successor of St. Peter, in defending and explaining and unfolding more explicitly the doctrines of the faith. She has no right and possesses not the power to increase the doctrines in themselves. The development of doctrine is not 'an increase of the faith inside the Church, but an increase of the Church in her knowledge of all contained in the faith.'
Modernism denies all this. It calls the Catholic Church the product of the united Christian consciences and religious impulses of believers, on the often-quoted principle of 'vital immanence.' Christ, says Modernism, was the first Christian believer, who contributed a small share of this by bringing into the world a tiny germ of truth, and leaving it in the midst of Christian hearts, for Christians in turn to add their germ to it, and to develop the primitive Christ-germ. Thus in course of time Christian believers made the Church, or, rather, Christ living in them founded it. All that the Church now is, and all that she possesses, is the effect and result of the vital emanation of the universal Christian conscience, both past and present. Her authority is derived from the self-same source. And as she owes her very existence to this, so she owes her authority to it -- in fact, she is herself completely subject to and dependent upon her members for its exercise. Not only is the Church subject to her members, but in all things she is subject to the secular power. The Church and the State, having each a different end, must ever be strangers to each other. The Church has spiritual and the State temporal ends. The State is in no way subject to the Church. It is an obsolete doctrine of 'ultramontane obscurantism' (!) that the Church was established by God, the Author of the spiritual and supernatural, and that in her own purely spiritual affairs she is superior to the State.
This medieval doctrine, says Modernism, must be swept away. Separate and disestablish the Church from the State; disestablish all religion; separate the Catholic from the citizen. As a citizen, the Catholic has the right and duty to work for the State in any way he chooses, whether he does so according to Christian principles or quite contrary to them. All he has to consider is whether he is helping the State and the common good. If he is, he must not consider whether his conduct is according to Christian principles or the reverse. Expediency, not morality, must be his guide and norma of citizenship or statecraft. The Church has no right to prescribe for Catholics as citizens a line of Christian conduct to guide their Christian conscience as citizens. Every Christian mind must shrink in horror from such principles as these. Moreover, it is all most false and contrary to Christian faith and morals. The Church has every right to direct both the Christian man and the Christian citizen. The Church in her spiritual sphere is superior to every earthly power, however great.
The Modernist teaching to the contrary is condemned as heretical by our Holy Father, as his saintly predecessor Pius VI. condemned a similar theory nearly two centuries ago. It is abundantly manifest, therefore, that Modernism stands self-condemned. If it be true, then Christianity is false. The two systems are absolutely incompatible and destructive of each other. Modernism is anti-Scriptural, for it virtually denies the written word of God in the Bible. It is ambitious enough to offer us a Modernist Bible up to date, after having sent the original God-given Bible to Germany for 'alterations' and 'repairs.' Modernism is antisacramental, destructive of the whole nature of these Divine institutions. It destroys the true Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer, substituting a false Christ of its own invention. It falsifies the truth about the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ, both in herself and her relations to the State and to individuals. It not only lowers the dignity of our holy faith, as far as it is able, but degrades human reason to the level of the brutes, by making it into a kind of glorified sense.
No wonder the Catholic Church has condemned such a system as Modernism. When one sees so-called Christian journals like the Church Times virtually canonizing Modernism every week for the benefit of Anglican readers, one only wonders at the marvellous digestive powers its Anglican supporter must possess for every form of heresy, and ask ourselves, Is there any error under the sun the Church Times will not swallow provided that it be anti-Roman?
* 'A voice and nothing more.'
** By virtue of the work done by the Sacraments themselves.
Modernism is Condemned Because it is a Blasphemous Effort to Deform Christianity
Two recent signs of the grand triumph achieved by the Pope's Encyclical, condemning Modernism have occurred soon after its publication. There is a direct one from the cordial manner all the Catholic Bishops have received it; especially noteworthy is the beautiful letter on the subject, addressed to the Pope from all he Catholic Bishops and the Archbishops and priests of the Catholic Church in Ireland. An indirect one is afforded by the hatred and spiteful attitude of a couple of rather inferior Anglican weeklies, not much valued or well spoken of by the vast body of Anglicans, and which papers, if they continue to uphold as martyrs the Modernists, will overreach themselves and help many Anglicans who are disgusted with the support such Anglican weeklies give to every form of error and 'New Theologies' to leave the 'City of Confusion' and enter the Catholic Church. It is a sign most significant of the complete triumph of the Catholic Church over this 'New Theology' that such journals are so disturbed and betray such uncontrolled anger.
Modernism is a blasphemous attempt to deform Christianity. Modernists pose as reformers, but they are bogus ones -- i.e., deformers. Their work is more fitly called 'deformation.' There is no reformation in it. They are guilty before God of endeavouring, like many before their time, to start a new religion, completely different in every detail from the one true religion our Saviour made and left to endure till the end of the world. They have the impertinence and monstrous conceit of thinking and speaking as if God the Holy Ghost had been waiting for more than nineteen centuries for Modernist 'teachers' to appear on the scene, and tell Him how He should guide and teach and rule the Church. In fact, there is nothing within the whole range of Catholicism that these men do not wish to do away with. They evidently regard all the things contained in the Catholic Church as so much lumber, to be cast forth on to the scrap-heap, to make room for a brand-new and up-to-date Modernist 'religion,' diametrically opposed to the Catholic Creed, and completely in agreement and conformity with the 'inner sentiment' and 'vital immanence' of each and every deluded fanatic that chooses to evolve them from his inner consciousness -- in fact, a sort of Modernist 'home-spun' derived in principle from Kant, in Germany, and to be further 'modernized' as time goes on. But such a notion as this is not modern at all. It is very obsolete, and, like all previous efforts of the kind, doomed to utter failure, In the Old Testament there were Modernist deformers and disfigurers of God's true religion. Ten of the tribes of Israel, anxious to make a brand-new Church of their own devising, revolted against the ancient Church of Judah, set up by Almighty God. They revolted and became rebels, breaking away from the true House of David and the future Messiah, renouncing by their own act and deed the true promises of God. Roboam, the leader of that rebellion, was punished by God. His son was cut off soon after he had succeeded to his father's throne. Rebellion broke out in Roboam's family against Roboam. In the end his entire family and his very name were destroyed. So it has ever been, sooner or later, with all that rose up in rebellion against the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ, the true Son of David and God's Only-Begotten Son. They cut themselves off from the one true Faith and from its magnificent privileges and promises. Time, whose whirligig brings its revenges, gradually destroys them. First, they begin to quarrel and rebel against each other, and to form mutually hostile conventicles, and this in the end brings disintegration, corruption and death.
'All heresies die like flowers in May.
They rise and wither and fall.
Their glories have been that blazed to the skies.
They have been, and that is all.
But here is the grand old Roman See,
The ruins of earth among,
Young with the youth of its early prime,
With the strength of Peter strong.'*
The Church lives on, in spite of them. She passes along on her heavenward way through all the ages unto the end of time. 'I have seen,' she says, 'my enemies lifted up like the cedars of Libanus. And behold, I passed by, and they were not. I looked for them, but their place was no longer found' (Ps. xxxvi. 35, 36).
Let us see what is the Modernist 'up-to-date' conception of the Church as they want it to be. It is one based on the new and so-called philosophy of agnostics and pantheists, with a 'New Theology' of the Holborn-Viaduct-City-Temple-Dr.- Campbell pattern. There are to be new dogmas, with Modernist Bible and Scripture, Catechism, worship, and Modernist 'Sacraments.' There is to be new authority in the Church, and on this head, it seems, everything is to be turned upside down. The cart must go before the horse; the horse's tail must come first and the head last. Christian morality must also be 'reformed' (!) to fit in with Modernist ideals.
All the active virtues are to be deemed holier than the passive Christian virtues. Active life is to be considered better than contemplative life; ambition and pushfulness are to be far better and much holier than humility and the hidden life taught by the example of the Divine Nazarene. Here is deformation indeed with a vengeance. Now we may ask, Who are these Modernist innovators who presume to put everybody right except themselves, and lecture their superiors and their betters?
1. One thing is quite certain. The Pope, in his immortal Encyclical 'Pascendi,' shows to the world that these men have no claim to the monopoly of brains. There are thousands of learned men, scientific men, within the Catholic Church and loyal to Christ's Vicar, quite ready and able to meet them and expose their very clumsy and very unscientific system.
2. These Modernists are in themselves a small body of men trying to join hands with agnostics and rationalists, and to permeate Catholicism as far as they can with their pernicious and truth-destroying principles.
3. What is their precise aim and object, as evidenced by their writings? They wish to make out that the dogmas of the Catholic Church are capable of being changed and as liable to 'modernization' as the shifting doctrines and system of Protestantism.
4. Who sent these Modernist so-called reformers, and whence do they derive their authority? it may well be asked, seeing they are a mere handful of men. No one sent them; they sent and appointed themselves. 'How, then, shall they preach unless they be sent?' (Rom. x. 15).
5. Their concept of so-called reform of God's Church gives the lie to Jesus, her Divine Founder, Who promised she would never teach error, and Who both promised and sent the Spirit of Infallible and Unchangeable Truth to be her perpetual Guide.
6. Then, the very lives of these misguided men prove they are not of the nature of which true reformers are made. They are swayed by pride and obstinacy, allied with ignorance. Humility and obedience are not their striking characteristics. Every heresiarch began by lecturing the recognized leaders of God's Church. This was one of the traits of Luther's character, but his life and conduct showed how sadly he needed reformation within his own miserable soul. So, again, was it with Jansenius, and some of his deluded followers bore the name of being 'pure as angels, but proud as devils.'
So Modernists are no exception to their prototypes. Vaunting themselves as the moral and intellectual superiors of God's priests and Bishops, and even of Christ's Vicar, Pope Pius X., they contend that the Catholic ideal and practice of Christian living is not good enough for them. It must be levelled up ('levelled down' would be a better term) to their Modernist ideals.
Here are a few things out of many that they want to alter in Catholic authority and morality:
1. Allow laymen and simple priests to do the work of Bishops, to help them in ruling the Church.
2. Let priests be permitted to give up their holy and consecrated lives of special purity and sacredness, and let them live like ordinary men.
What, we may ask, would be the result if this deformation of Modernism were realized? Why, there would be no Catholic Church, no real Christ, no authentic Christian Creed left; all would be 'modernized' -- Divine authority would be replaced by individualism. We would have lay Bishops wearing the mitre and wielding the crozier beside real Bishops. There would be a new Modernist Bible, and the old one would be cast forth as obsolete and purely mythical. In the end no sane man, using his reason, would believe in anything at all -- in the end would logically follow pure atheism.
Away, then, with this Modernist absurdity. It is a delusion and a snare, a modern phase of the delusions of proud minds rebelling against lawful authority, and refusing to believe the truth as God taught it and the Church of God proposes to our belief.
A certain Anglican weekly in a recent 'review' of Modernism sneered at the defences of Catholic Christianity, calling it 'medieval armour.' It invites us to cast it aside, as being useless against modern bullets, and to put on, instead, the Modernist brand-new armour. We refuse to do so for obvious and plain reasons. It is not real steel; it is not even a good imitation of that strong metal. It more resembles a suit of cardboard that could easily be pierced and destroyed by agnostic and atheistic weapons. Then, it is 'made in Germany' on a Kantian model, and made very badly and ill-fitting. We prefer the old armour, ancient yet new, medieval yet at the same time as true and trusty to-day. What was good enough in St. Paul's day -- the Modernists, in their writings, do not like St. Paul -- is good enough for us: 'Put ye on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and to stand firmly. Gird your loins round about with truth' (not Modernist falsehood). 'Have ye on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all things, take up the shield of the faith, and put on the helmet of salvation, and take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God' (Eph. vi. 11 seq.).
This is the old armour. It is older than medieval, and can never get rusty, become obsolete, or wear out. Made by God, it has fought many a successful battle and won many a noble triumph. 'This is the victory that overcame the world, even our faith' (James v). We refuse, then, to throw away this God-made armour of the Christian and Catholic soldier of the Cross, for the miserable makeshift, the ragged vesture that Modernists want to make us believe is armour.
Since these lectures were written Modernists have been trying to make out that the Pope, in condemning Modernism, virtually condemns Newman's writings. It has, however, been shown that what Newman wrote is quite different to what Modernists try to read into his works. Newman, in his 'Development,' declares war against the theory of intrinsic development of dogma. Newman was loyal and submissive to the Church, and one of her most gifted and saintly men. It is easy for Modernists to misrepresent Newman's Catholic writings now he is dead, but were he alive, he would be the very first to submit to the Papal Encyclical and disown Modernist principles. One has only to contrast Newman's writings on development with the Modernist theory on the subject to see how absolutely opposed they are to each other. Modernism is doomed, like all other heresies of past times, to wither and die under the blighting exposure and condemnation of the Catholic Church.
* Adapted, with apologies, from 'The Song for the Pope.'
Scholastic Philosophy Versus the Modernist So-called Philosophy
Modernism is very bad philosophy indeed. The Pope's Encyclical has ruthlessly exposed its unscientific speculations in the field of philosophy, tinged as it is -- nay, permeated -- with scepticism and doubt as to truth, and lowering the noble faculty of reason with which God has endowed man, that by its light he may find the truth. As so much is written nowadays in certain Anglican papers in praise of Modernist philosophy, as being up-to-date, and in disparagement of the Catholic system of scholastic philosophy, as being medieval and obsolete, or obscurantist, this article is a comparison of the two rival systems, or philosophies. (1) Scholasticism holds the field still, and is not antiquated at all; (2) Modernism, on the other hand, is not the 'philosophy of modern progress and enlightenment.' The shibboleths or party cries of Modernism are about as valueless as the electioneering catchwords used to gain the votes of the gullible crowd at election times. When we hear Modernists prating so much about 'our superior science of modern progress,' it reminds us of the false mottoes on many an election poster: 'Vote for Miller and the big loaf!' 'Don't vote for Chinese slavery by voting for Tomkins!' 'Down with capital!' It is only the ignorant and unreflecting individual that is deceived by such claptrap. Let us examine and see for ourselves, then, and ask: what is the Scholastic system which Leo XIII. and our present Holy Father wish to be studied in Catholic Universities and seminaries? It is called 'the system of science which searches for knowledge of things through their ultimate causes, so far as such science can be attained by the light of reason and created things.' All the experimental sciences deal with principles borrowed from other cognate sciences; philosophy, in the system of Scholasticism, borrows from no other science. It deals with first principles in their widest aspect, such as 'being' in itself; or as connected with our reason, as truth; or as related to our will, when it is called 'moral being,' or 'good.' It deals with the underlying substances of things in being, which it distinguishes from their exterior qualities; with quantity, and space, and time. It tests the solid criteria of truth which it offers to us, and proves their soundness and reliability, refuting false criteria offered by opposing systems; it then considers the world as created, and then discusses man, his body and soul, and senses and faculties, finally proceeding to the ultimate Cause of all being -- namely, God, Whom it proves by reason to exist, and to be one and almighty from the visible creation, arguing from effects to their ultimate Cause -- that is to say, a Cause that is behind and beyond other causes, and from Whom 'all things live, and move, and have their being.' This philosophy leaves all the experimental sciences alone; its principles underlie all of them. Nay, it welcomes all the results achieved by them, which it interprets and uses to illustrate truth, and refutes erroneous conclusions and false principles of so-called science.
Modernists tell us that Scholasticism is medieval, suited to the so-called 'dark ages,' but obsolete and useless for 'modern progress.' That it existed in medieval times is true enough, but so did Christianity; but it is not medieval in origin. Its root principles are as old as human reason itself, comprising those axioms and propositions that are, and must always be, immutably true, just like the first principles of Euclid. Hence Aristotle founds his system on principles as old as human reason. Its foundations date from the days of Plato and his disciple Aristotle, who lived and taught them over 300 years before the Christian era. The term 'Scholastic philosophy' came to be given to it in medieval times, not to denote its origin, but its elaboration and systematic arrangement by the great doctor St. Thomas Aquinas. From the early Christian times Christian philosophy arose. The Fathers of the Church selected from some of the heathen philosophies those sane principles that flowed out from man's rational nature, created by God, and used them to illustrate Divine truths. In so doing, so far from lowering the loftiest standard of Christian wisdom, they elevated and exalted pagan philosophy.
St. Justin found in the second century in the philosophy of his day an acknowledgment of Christian mysteries, and a rational basis to prepare men's minds towards belief. St. Clement of Alexandria, in the brilliant schools of that city, quotes from Aristotle's teacher, Plato, a passage in which he is said to have some knowledge of the Son of God, and declares how his philosophy is 'a friendly power which, partly from the light that enlighteneth every man . . . leads men towards Christ.' St. Augustine of Hippo, the most illustrious doctor of the Church, was well versed in Aristotle's philosophy, which he often used to explain and illustrate and defend the Faith. His famous disputations with Manicheans and Donatists are bristling not only with his true principles, but he uses also syllogisms, closely reasoned out, in refutation of their sophisms. Hence he is called 'the true founder of Christian philosophy' ('Liberatore,' vol i., p. 13, Inst. Philos., Naples, 1875 ed.).
The roots of Scholastic philosophy, then, are not medieval; they existed centuries before. It is, to speak more accurately, ancient, medieval, and it is also modern. This is its peculiar advantage that it can be adapted to modern just as much as it was formerly to medieval and early Christian thoughts. What, however, is the Modernist so-called 'philosophy of modern progress'? Why, there is nothing at all original about it from top to bottom. It is simply, as the most superficial analysis of it will show, the obsolete and effete system of a German philosopher, named Immanuel Kant, who invented it in the beginning of the eighteenth century at Konigsberg, to compromise in the hopeless effort to reconcile Christianity with Rationalism and Positivism. Kant's system unites agnosticism with an element called transcendentalism, which is the exact likeness of the Modernist amalgamation of agnosticism and immanence. The names are slightly altered, but the thing is the same article, 'made in Germany.' Let us compare them together, and we shall see they are not only unphilosophical twins, but a par nobile fratrum.* Kant taught that we have no real and objective knowledge of anything that is beyond the ken of the senses (Phenomena). We have, however, an interior rational faculty for investigating our sense-perceptions, by investing them with qualities and dimensions, comparing them, and classifying them, etc.; but all these things cannot be proved to exist outside the intellect itself. Armed with these 'mental categories,' as Kant calls them, and which he enumerates as quantity, quality, relation, and mode, with many subdivisions of each and redundancy of repetitions, the mind, as it were, transforms the objects present to the senses, by means of these mental categories, existing in the mind alone. Of the reality of these we have no real knowledge. They are beyond us, these mental syntheses a priori and we cannot prove them. So God is unknown to human reason, since He is not, and cannot be, an object of sense.
Now, this obsolete system Modernism has plagiarized, and given it new Modernist terms. But beneath the thin covering of this vague verbiage we can see the real thing. It is Kant redivivus. The Modernist talks of reason being unable to know anything except the things of sense. Outside these nothing is scientifically, philosophically, or historically real. Any notions we may possess over and above, as to God or other matters pertaining to faith and the supernatural, we evolve or spin for ourselves from within ourselves by the continual exercise of a wonderful faculty which they call 'vital immanence.' This evolves and improves for us both faith and revelation in every detail, and the Church in time makes some of the collective results of this process into dogma, liable to variations. What a miserable simulacrum of philosophy this! They call it 'modern thought,' in keeping with the 'progress of the human intellect.' 'Modernist nonsense' would be a better description. It is neither real thought nor intellectual progress. Its agnostic basis is a confession of ignorance, while its immanent aspect leads inevitably to pantheism. It is no compliment to the noble faculty of reason, given man to seek and find intellectual certitude, to lower its dignity and power, as Modernism does to the position of a superior sense, and unable to rise from visible things to the knowledge of their Creator. Indeed, this system differs from the Scholastic system of Catholic philosophy as light from darkness and ignorance from wisdom.
Modernist writers make satirical and sneering allusions to the terms used in the Scholastic philosophy. Now, surely the same might be done in regard to the technical language of all the experimental sciences, to medicine and law. They employ, and rightly employ, technical terms which, though not of classical purity, are most expressive of meaning conveyed to those studying these subjects. Surely Scholasticism has as much right to employ its terms as any other science or art, especially since, like them, they are founded on reality and express intellectual truths. Again, the syllogistic method may be crude, but it possesses many great advantages. It condenses reasoning processes from solid principles to their inevitable conclusions, leaving no loophole for sophistry. We do not see, then, any foundation for this. Modernist ridicule. Yet, strange and inconsistent for Modernism, it does not hesitate to coin new terms of its own, not only couched in very pedantic and inflated language, but expressive not of realities, but only inanities and sheer nonsense. So we have 'vital immanence' and 'vital emanations'; 'inner sentiments' and 'soul 'impulses'; 'inward manifestations of the Divine in man,' and what they call 'the faith content' and 'prophetic utterance.' All these mean utter nonsense in the sense Modernism gives to them. Though these Modernists deride unjustly Scholastic syllogisms and methods of dialectics, they use a spurious kind of logic of their own, known to real philosophy as sophistry. Indeed, there is nothing in all their process of reasoning out their system that could with any propriety be called logic.
We will contrast, in conclusion, the Scholastic concept of the position of philosophy to faith with that given to both by Modernism, with the object of showing how the former system gives each its honoured place, while the latter reverses them, turning them upside down. Catholic Scholastic philosophy makes human science the handmaid to Divine revelation, for the obvious reason that it deals with truths of a higher order than those of human reason, and because of the greater certitude, possessed by Divine authority, for believing in revealed truths than belongs to any evidence of created reason. Human reason is not omniscient; its very existence and any light it possesses come from a higher Intelligence. Hence it refuses to allow Rationalists to put human reason and human science as superior to Divine authority and revealed truth.
This subjection of science and reason to God's revealed religion, so far from depriving man of true liberty, wonderfully safeguards it from being captivated by error. True freedom, intellectual and moral, can only coexist with due obedience to superior authority; otherwise we have licence and anarchy. True freedom is only violated by subjecting man to an exterior power that has no right or claim to his faith or obedience; but God has a right to the subjection unto Himself of all His rational creatures.
Scholastic philosophy considers that it is only consistent with common sense that fallible reason should obey God's infallible mind, manifested to our faith by revelation; that human scientific speculations, which, on account of human infirmity, may be mixed with error, none of our speculations being infallible, should be helped and have light thrown upon them from revealed truths, which can never be false, as being the teaching of an infallible God. Man is left free to hold true principles of philosophy, and may explore, and search, and investigate the whole order of Nature. Yet he must so search within his rightly proportioned limits as not to contradict the higher truths of Divine faith that come from God.
Science, then, cannot be opposed to true progress or true freedom of intellect. It is only opposed to false liberty, leading to anarchy in religion. and scepticism. Such is the Catholic teaching, defended and illustrated by Scholastic principles, which are sufficient of themselves to answer the contrary false teaching of Modernism on these subjects of science and religion. Science and faith, according to Modernist 'philosophy,' are independent of each other in everything, and sometimes are opposed; faith is subject to science, and human reason is supreme and free in all its judgments about God and religion. Just the contrary is the truth: 'In matters of religion it is the duty of philosophy, not to command, but to serve; not to prescribe what is to be believed, but to embrace what God wishes us to believe, with reasonable obedience; not to search the depths of the mysteries of God, but to venerate them devoutly and humbly' (Pius IX., letter to the Bishop of Breslau, June, 1857).
From what has been already observed it is clear that Scholastic philosophy is so far from being effete and antiquated that it is the true and most solid philosophy of the time in which we live. It has been vindicated from the unfounded and unjust charges levelled at it by ignorant minds of men that only prove they know nothing about the object they are attacking. By a comparison of Scholastic philosophy with Modernist sophistry, miscalled science, we have seen how, while Scholastic philosophy stands its ground, and is destined to endure, as a valuable aid to faith, Modernism is so transparently unscientific and illogical that it can never claim the allegiance of any serious thinking mind.
There can be no comparison between St. Thomas Aquinas and Immanuel Kant, between the logical system of Aristotle elaborated by the giant intellects of the Catholic Church and the farrago of nonsense and vague nebulosities derived by Kant from the ancient atheists and pantheists Celsus and Pyrrhus, which rusty armour Modernists have tried to refurbish and dignify with the undeserved label of 'modern philosophy.' Modernism is quite a different thing from being modern and up-to-date.
* 'Noble brothers, and almost twins to one another.'