Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

spirit, of course, is Professor Robertson's spirit, the spirit of Protestantism. Modern Christians, he is sure, are not going to accept sacramentarian Christianity, but it is not yet necessary for them to throw S. Paul overboard.

The controversy has reappeared more recently in an article by Maurice Jones on Pauline Criticism in the Present Day. (July, 1917). This contains a summary of the question which may be quoted: "One very interesting result of this type of criticism is that it is now becoming very generally recognized that S. Paul was a thorough-going Sacramentalist. A great Presbyterian scholar like Sir William Ramsay accepts this view, and a very remarkable article appeared in the Expositor of November, 1916, by Professor H. T. Andrews of Aberdeen, in which he declared himself a complete convert to the opinion that for S. Paul the ordinances of Baptism and the Eucharist were sacraments in the complete sense of that term and not mere symbols, as is held by most Presbyterians and by a large section of the Protestant world. Whether this is a matter for gratification or not depends whether we believe, with the advanced critic, that S. Paul's sacramentalism was due to the influence of the Mystery Religion upon him or whether we hold to the view that it was inherent in the religion of Christ and the Apostles." This, it seems to me, states the issue admirably.

This paper has dealt chiefly with the Epistles. That was inevitable, because it is about S. Paul that the controversy ragesor, we may rather say, has raged, for it would seem to be ending with decisive victory for the sacramentarians. With the Gospels the case is not so clear. It must be admitted that the problem is more difficult, because the data are not so numerous or so positive. Hence there is less agreement among scholars. In fact it may fairly be said that there is no agreement, on this as on many points, for modern critics may always be counted upon to disagree with each other as violently and acrimoniously as they disagree with the Church. But from the welter of conflicting opinions concerning the sacraments in the Gospels certain conclusions are emerging. Goguel, for example, in his very radical treatment of the early history of the Eucharist, admits that in S. Mark and the Synoptic tradition the account of the Last Sup

per is clearly that of the institution of a rite or sacrament. The idea of communion, he asserts, far from being absent in the Johannine writings, is more prominent there than in the synoptic narrative. In a note on S. John VI. he says that in general Catholic exegesis and that of the critical school adopts the Eucharistic interpretation, while conservative Protestants reject it. The same is true, I think, of Baptism in S. John III. Liberal critics insist, of course, that this sacramental teaching in S. John's Gospel represents a later stage in Christian thought, but, as in the case of S. Paul, they admit that the New Testament teaches Catholic doctrine concerning the sacraments.

The recognition of this fact, even by unwilling witnesses, is something, it seems to me, in which Catholic Churchmen may well rejoice. The issue is gradually being made clear. Thinking men must choose between the rationalistic critic and the Church. Protestant compromise is growing increasingly difficult. As regards the sacraments and the New Testament, men may take both or neither, but not one. As regards our Lord, they may either accept Him or reject Him. But if they accept Him they must submit to the Church He founded, believe her doctrine and live her life. And that doctrine and that life are now, as always, sacramental.

A nation fighting to keep the world safe for democracy must in character and action be true to democracy. Racial strife, class antagonism, impurity and intemperance wreck civil liberty. Before we can conquer injustice and inhumanity in others, we must first overcome them in ourselves. Our guilt in these respects we must acknowledge with shame. We expect of our soldiers and sailors concentration of thought and action, selfdiscipline, courage and serenity under stress. We can demand no less in ourselves. In humility and sincerity we must live by the principles for which we fight. National character gives thrust and force to the national army. The war with all its suffering and loss may prove a blessing if it rouses us from indifference to religion, to spiritual concerns and moral issues, which threatens our very life.

The Pastoral Letter of the Bishops.

Monasticism and the Word Crisis

L

BY RALPH ADAMS CRAM, LITT.D., LL.D.

IKE all the manifestations of natural forces, like the pulsing of the life-blood, like life itself, history is a system of vast vibrations, systole and diastole beating eternally, but with nodes that are separated not by fractional seconds, but by intervals of five centuries. From the day of the Incarnation, back through Europe, Asia, Africa, until chronology merges in myth and tradition, and on, even to this day, and so forward until the End, this enormous vibration controls and conditions man, and he plays his part on the rise, the crest or the descent of the wave, helpless to change its course or to avert its fall.

The fable of evolution, the delusion of continuous progress, the dream of the final perfectibility of man on earth, break down and die under the hard light of universal catastrophe, vanishing with all the other illusions of modernism that have made that catastrophe not a ghastly accident but an expiation and a potential redemption, while blinding the world to its implacable approach. For the individual there may be progress, but the rise from birth to maturity is followed by declension to the grave. For the community or the state there may be progress, but the upward sweep of the elan vital curves at last, in its brief trajectory, to merge against in the inert mass through which it sprung, and the jungles of Asia, the sands of African deserts, the forests of Europe hide the forgotten shards of universal civilizations whose names are words only, and whose deeds are of the dust that buries their monuments. For mankind itself, there may be progress, out of periodical misery and oblivion, upward to honour and dignity and worth and power, but always the parabola traces its dying fall, and this spurt of progress lasts not five centuries, beyond which term nothing may pass without failure, extinction, and supersession.

History is a series of resurrections, for the rhythm of change is invariable. Each epoch of five hundred years follows the same monotonous course, though made distinctive by new variations. Since the Christian Era Imperial Rome has risen and

disappeared "under the drums and tramplings of four conquests." The Eastern Empire has succeeded, with the first congeries of Christian states in the West, Mediaevalism has burst like a new day on Europe, to go to its end five centuries later as our own epoch began its astounding career. The Birth of Christ, the years 500, 1,000 1,500 are nodal points when all that had been ceased and new things came into being: before the year 2,000, now but two generations away, modern civilization will have passed and a new era have taken its place. Already the whirlwind of destruction has overtaken it and for more than three years it has suffered the first of the assaults that will in the end make it one with Babylon and with Nineveh.

We are today in the midst of just such a grinding collapse as that which overtook Rome, and the empire of Charlemagne, and the Christian Commonwealths of the Middle Ages, and we shall escape no more than they. Neither scientific accomplishment nor efficiency, neither Parliamentary government nor industrialism, neither wealth nor self-confidence, neither pacifism nor neutrality can save us, for we have reached the crest of folly that crowns achievement, and beyond lies the shuddering fall into the trough of the heaving sea. But the wave, if it falls, rises again, and history, if it shouts its warning, whispers also its hope. If night follows day, day follows night, and since Christ came we have not only the hope but the way. And the way has never changed in essence though it has varied widely in its manifestations. As Rome fell, St. Benedict of Nursia rose above the welter of ruin to save what might be saved and to build society anew. As the first Holy Roman Empire broke down in ruin, St. Odo of Cluny in his turn saved something from the wreck, began the new era of Christian civilization in the North, and gave it to St. Robert of Solesmes who transformed it by Cistercianism into a thing of unexampled nobility, and fixed forever the standard type of Christian society. When at last this also began to decline, its time having arrived, a sudden new life swept through the moribund orders-Benedictine, Cistercian, Dominican-making them once more constructive and regenerative agencies, while by means of an entirely novel version of the monastic method, St.

Ignatius Loyola stopped the progress of devouring heresy and concentrated in centres of tremendous dynamic force the shattered and dislocated elements of Catholic Christianity, that they might engender the Counter-reformation and preserve fundamental Christianity until better days.

So in the first years of the VIth century, the last years of the Xth century, and the first years of the XVIth century, at intervals of approximately five hundred years, just at the nodal point where one era was dying in dishonour, another rising in power, came a new outpouring of monastic fervour to save and to recreate. In the year 927 St. Odo promulgated the reformed Rule of the Order of Cluny, and the Dark Ages came to an end within sixty years, to give place to Christian civilization. One thousand years from then will bring us to the year 1927, but we need not wait for then, for the assurance that God has again been merciful and given the world a new hope, for nearly fifty years ago came the first evidences of the new life, and now the death of civilization seals the early assurance, and everywhere may be seen the stirrings of the Holy Spirit leading men once more into this earthly army of God.

For it is the consecrated Religious Life that has been the divine agency for the saving of the world at all its moments of most critical peril, and if you will study the phenomena of periodic degeneration, and the spirit and method of monasticism, you will see that this must inevitably be so. As each era of the World reaches its fulfillment, it suddenly festers into five cancerous sores: wealth and luxury, lust and licentiousness, wilfullness and individualism, leading in the end to anarchy, envy, and egotism, and finally the idleness of the parasite. You will find most of these, in varying measure, in the last years of Rome, of the Carolingian Empire and the Eastern Empire, of the epoch of Mediaevelism; and you will find them all, and without measure, in the last years of the XIXth and the elapsed years of the XXth century.

Now against them the Religious Life has set the three great evangelical councils of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, adding to them two other principles of equal value, viz. brotherhood and

« AnteriorContinuar »