Our Roman Catholic Brethren

ONE thing can be said of our Roman Catholic brethren, and especially of our Roman Catholic sisters, without exciting controversy, — they begin early in the morning. St. Stephen’s, the largest Catholic church in New York, which will hold five thousand persons and seat four thousand, was filled to overflowing every morning of last November at five o’clock. That, however, was an extraordinary occasion. The first mass, as housekeepers are well aware, usually takes place at six o’clock, summer and winter ; and it was this that I attended on Sunday morning, December 8, 1867, one of the coldest mornings of that remarkably cold month.

It is not so easy a matter to wake at a certain hour before the dawn of day. One half, perhaps, of all the inhabitants of the earth, and two thirds of the grown people of the United States, get up in the winter months before daylight ; and yet a person unaccustomed to the feat will be utterly at a loss how to set about it. At five o’clock of a December morning it is as dark as it ever is. The most reckless milkman has not then begun his matutinal whoop, and the noise of the bakers’ carts is not heard in the streets. And if there should be a family in the middle of the block who keep chickens, there is no dependence to be placed upon the crowing of the cocks ; for they crow at all odd, irrational times both of night and day. Neither in the heavens above nor in the yards beneath, neither in the house nor in the street, is there any sign or sound by which a wakeful expectant can distinguish five o’clock from four, or three, or one. It is true, madam, as you remark, that there is such a thing as an alarm-clock. But who ever has one when it is wanted? People who get up at five every morning can do without; and those who get up at five once in five years, even if by any chance they should possess an alarm-clock, forget in the five years of disuse how the little fury is set so as to hold in all night and burst forth in frenzy at the moment required. This was my case. The alarm went off admirably an hour too late, and woke up the wrong person. It was only a most vociferous crowing of the cocks just now reviled as unreliable that caused me to suspect that possibly it might be time for me to strike a light and see how the alarm-clock was getting on. Our Roman Catholic brethren, in some way or ways unknown, habitually overcome this difficulty ; for fifty thousand of them, in New York alone, are frequently at church and on their knees before there are any audible or visible indications of the coming day.

It was a very cold and brilliant morning, — stars glittering, moon resplendent, pavement icy, roofs snowy, wind north-northwest, and, of course, cutting right into the faces of people bound up the Third Avenue. An empty car went rattling over the frozen-in rails with an astonishing noise, the conductor trotting alongside, and the miserable driver beating his breast with one hand and pounding the floor with one foot. The highly ornamental policeman on the first corner was singing to keep himself warm ; but, seeing a solitary wayfarer in a cloak scudding along on the ice, he conceived a suspicion of that untimely seeker after knowledge ; he paused in his song ; he stooped and eyed him closely, evidently unable to settle upon a rational explanation of his presence ; and only resumed his song when the suspected person was five houses off. There was scarcely any one astir to keep an adventurer in countenance, and I began to think it was all a delusion about the six-o’clock mass. At ten minutes to six, when I stood in front of the spacious St. Stephen’s Church in TwentyEighth Street, there seemed to be no one going in ; and, the vestibule being unhghted, I was confirmed in the impression that early mass did not take place on such cold mornings. To be quite sure of the fact, however, I did just go up the steps and push at the door. It yielded to pressure, and its opening disclosed a vast interior, dimly lighted at the altar end, where knelt or sat, scattered about one or two in pew, about a hundred women and ten men, all well muffled up in hoods, shawls, and overcoats, and breathing visibly. There was just light enough to see the new blue ceiling and its silver stars ; but the sexton was busy lighting the gas, and got on with his work about as fast as the church filled, That church extends through the block, and has two fronts. As six o’clock approached, female figures _ in increasing numbers crept silently in by several doors, all making the usual courtesy, and all kneeling as soon as they reached a pew. At last the lower part of the church was pretty well filled, and there were some people in the galleries; in all, about one thousand women and about one hundred men. Nearly all the women were servant-girls, and all of them were dressed properly and abundantly for such a morning. There was not a squalid or miserable-looking person present. Most of the men appeared to be grooms and coachmen, Among these occupants of the kitchen, the nursery, and the stable there were a few persons from the parlor, evidently of the class whom Voltaire speaks of with so much wrath and contempt as dévots et dévotes. There were two or three men near me who might or might not have been ecclesiastics or theological students ; upon the pale and luminous face of each was most legibly written, This man prays continually, and enjoys it.

There is a difference between Catholics and Protestants in this matter of praying. When a Protestant prays in public, he is apt to hide his face, and bend low in an awkward, uncomfortable attitude ; and, when he would pray in private, he retires into some secret place, where, if any one should catch him at it, he would blush like a guilty thing. It is not so with our Roman Catholic brethren. They kneel, it is true, but the body above the knees is bolt upright, and the face is never hidden; and, as if this were not enough, they make certain movements of the hand which distinctly announce their purpose to every beholder. The same freedom and boldness are observable in Catholic children when they say their nightly prayers. Your little Protestant buries its face in the bed, and whispers its prayer to the counterpane; but our small Catholic brethren and sisters kneel upright, make the sign of the cross, and are not in the least ashamed or disturbed if any one sees them. Another thing strikes a Protestant spectator of Catholic worship, — the whole congregation, without exception observe the etiquette of the occasion. When kneeling is in order, all kneel; when it is the etiquette to stand, all stand ; when the prayer-book says bow, every head is low. These two peculiarities are cause and effect. A Protestant child often has some reason to doubt whether saying its prayers is, after all, “the thing,” since it is aware that some of its most valued friends and relations do not say theirs. But among Catholics there is not the distinction (so familiar to us) between those who “ belong to the church ” and those who do not; still less the distinction (nearly as familiar in some communities) between believers and unbelievers. From the hour of baptism, every Catholic is a member of the church, and he is expected to behave as such. This is evidently one reason for that open, matter-of-course manner in which all the requirements of their religion are fulfilled. No one is ashamed of doing what is done by every one in the world whom he respects, and what he has himself been in the habit of doing from the time of his earliest recollection. A Catholic appears to be no more ashamed of saying Ids prayers than he is of eating his dinner, and he appears to think one quite as natural an action as the other.

On this cold morning the priest was not as punctual as the people. The congregation continued to increase till ten minutes past six; after which no sound was heard but the coughing of the chilled worshippers. It was not till seventeen minutes past six that the priest entered, accompanied by two slender, graceful boys, clad in long red robes, and walked to his place, and knelt before the altar. All present, except one poor heathen in the middle aisle, shuffled to their knees with a pleasant noise, and remained kneeling for some time. The silence was complete, and I waited to hear it broken by the sound of the priest’s voice. But not a sound came from his lips. He rose, he knelt, he ascended the steps of the altar, he came down again, he turned his back to the people, he turned his face to them, he changed from one side of the altar to the other, he made various gestures with his hands, —but he uttered not an audible word. The two graceful lads in crimson garb moved about him, and performed the usual services, and the people sat, stood, knelt, bowed, and crossed themselves in accordance with the ritual. But still not a word was spoken. At the usual time the collection was taken, to which few gave more than a cent, but to which every one gave a cent. A little later, the priest uttered the only words that were audible during the whole service. Standing on the left side of the altar, he said, in an agreeable, educated voice : “ The Society of the Holy Rosary will meet this afternoon after vespers. Prayers are requested for the repose of the souls of—”;then followed the names of three persons. The service was continued, and the silence was only broken again by the gong-like bell, which announced by a single stroke the most solemn acts of the mass, and which, toward the close of the service, summoned those to the altar who wished to commune. During the intense stillness which usually followed the sound of the bell, a low, eager whisper of prayer could occasionally be heard, and the whole assembly was lost in devotion. About twenty women and five men knelt round the altar to receive the communion. Soon after this had been administered some of the women began to hurry away, as if fearing the family at home might be ready for breakfast before breakfast would, be ready for them. At ten minutes to seven the priest put on his black cap, and withdrew ; and soon the congregation was in full retreat. But by this time another congregation was assembling for the seven-o'clock mass ; the people were pouring in at every door, and hurrying along all the adjacent streets towards the church. Seven o’clock being a much more convenient time than six, the church is usually filled at that hour; as it is, also, at the nine-o’clock mass. At halt past ten the grand mass of the day occurs, and no one who is in the habit of passing a Catholic church on Sunday mornings at that hour needs to be informed that the kneeling suppliants who cannot getin would make a tolerable congregation of themselves.

What an economy is this! The parish of St. Stephen’s contains a Catholic population of twenty-five thousand, of whom twenty thousand, perhaps, are old enough and well enough to go to church. As the church will seat four thousand persons, all this multitude can hear mass every Sunday morning. As many as usually desire it can attend the vespers in the afternoon. The church, too, in the intervals of service, and during the week, stands hospitably open, and is usually fulfilling in some way the end of its erection. How different with our churches ! There is St. George’s, for example, the twin steeples of which are visible to the home-returning son of Gotham as soon as the Sound steamer has brought him past Blackwell’s Island. In that stately edifice half a million dollars have been invested, and it is in use only four hours a week. No more ; for the smaller occasional meetings are held in another building, — a chapel in the rear. Half a million dollars is a large sum of money, even in Wall Street, where it figures merely as part of the working capital of the country; but think what a sum it is when viewed as a portion of the small, sacred treasure set apart for the higher purposes of human nature ! And yet the building which has cost so much money stands there a dead and empty thing, except for four hours on Sunday ! Our Roman Catholic brethren manage these things better. When they have invested half a million in a building, they put that building to a use which justifies and returns the expenditure. Even their grand cathedrals are good investments ; since, besides being always open, always in use, always cheering and comforting their people, they are splendid illustrations of their religion to every passer-by, to every reader of books, and to every collector of engravings. Such edifices as St. Peter’s, the cathedrals of Milan and of Cologne, do actually cheer and exalt the solitary priest toiling on the outskirts of civilization. Lonely as he is, insignificant, perhaps despised and shunned, he feels that he has a property in those grandeurs, and that an indissoluble tie connects him with the system which created them, and which will one day erect a gorgeous temple upon the site of the shanty in which now he celebrates the rites of his church in the presence of a few railroad laborers.

While these successive multitudes have been gathering and dispersing something has been going on in the basement of St. Stephen’s, — a long, low room, extending from street to street, and fitted up for a children’s chapel and Sunday-school room. The Protestant reader, it is safe to say, has never attended a Catholic Sunday school, but he shall now have the pleasure of doing so. It ought to be a pleasure only to see two or three thousand children gathered together; but there is a particular reason why a Protestant should be pleased at a Catholic Sunday school. Imitation is the sincerest homage. The notion of the Sunday school is one of several which our Roman Catholic brethren have borrowed from us. This church, hoary and wrinkled with age, does not disdain to learn from the young and bustling churches to which it has given all they have. The Catholic Church, however, claims a share in the invention, since for many ages it has employed boys in the celebration of its worship, and has given those boys a certain training to enable them to fulfil their vocation. Still, the Sunday school, as now constituted, is essentially of Protestant origin. Indeed, the energetic and truly catholic superintendent of St. Stephen’s school, Mr. Thomas E. S. Dwyer, informed me, that, before beginning this school, he visited all the noted Sunday schools in New York, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish, and endeavored to get from each whatever he found in it suitable to his purpose.

The basement of St. Stephen’s, being three hundred feet long, fifty or sixty feet wide, and only about ten feet high, looks more like a section of an underground railroad than a room. It is so very low that, although abundantly provided with windows on both sides, it Is necessary always to light many jets of gas. In the ceiling is fixed part of the heating apparatus of the church, — a circumstance that does not tend to the purification of the atmosphere. At one end of this exceedingly long room is a small, plain altar, with the usual candles and other appurtenances ; and on one side of the room, about midway, is a large cabinet organ, with an enclosure about it for the choir of children who chant the responses and psalms of the mass. On the walls between each window are the showy pictures usually found in Catholic institutions. At nine o’clock, when I took ray seat in one of the pews of this long, low apartment, children with the reddest cheeks and the warmest comforters were thundering in, and diffusing themselves over the floor, — the girls taking one side of the room and the boys the other. When Mr. Dwyer began this school a few years ago, only two hundred children attended, — a mere handful in a Catholic parish, —but every teacher bound himself to visit each of his pupils once a month, and so endeavor to interest the people in the school. The effect was magical. Children came pouring in, until now the average attendance is two thousand, and there have been in the school at one session three thousand three hundred and forty.

The noise continued to increase till ten minutes past nine, when nearly every pew was filled, and the side extensions following the cruciform plan of the church were also crowded with the younger children seated upon benches, each bench having a teacher at one end. Meanwhile, the candles of the altar had been lighted, the choir had assembled, and the organ had been opened. A bell tinkles. A priest is at the altar, attended by two boys, who had come in unobserved amid the confusion. The bell rings again. Every child gets upon its knees, and every adult also, except the lonely heathen before mentioned. It was a truly affecting spectacle, — the rows of little boys, with a tall teacher at the head of each row, all kneeling in the candid, upright manner in which our Roman Catholic brethren always do kneel. There was still, however, a great noise of boys coming in and kneeling, and it was some minutes before there was any general approach to silence.

This mass, like the early one in the church, was performed without the priest’s uttering one audible word. The responses and the psalm-like portions of the mass were sung by the choir, which consisted of one man, one woman, and about twenty children, who sang very well, and very appropriate music. But in that low, crowded, noisy room the music had as much effect as if performed in a tunnel, or at the bottom of a large, deep well. Thus, as the priest said nothing, and the choir could not be understood, the children were thrown, as it were, upon their own resources ; and those resources, it must be owned, were insufficient. Many of the boys followed the service in their little prayer-books, and most of them refrained from conversation. There were always some, however, who kept up a sly whispering in the ears of their neighbors, and the countenances of a very large number were expressive of — nothing.

But what strains are these ? Old Hundred introduced into the mass ! Slightly altered, it is true, but unmistakably Old Hundred. And again : the children of the choir break into one of our most joyful tunes, which is sung in every Protestant church, on an average, once every Sunday the year round. Later in the mass the choir sang one of the regular Sunday-school airs, such as Mr. Root of Chicago composes, — similar in character to “ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” To think of Catholic children presuming to express their joyful emotions by the aid of Protestant music ! Congress, perhaps, will be petitioned next winter for an Inter-Denominational Copyright Law.

The supreme moment of the mass, announced by the ringing of the bell, is at the elevation of the host. Now, for the first time during the service, there was silence in the room ; and every head was bowed, while the priest said inaudibly, in Latin : “ Accept, O Holy Father, almighty, eternal God, this Immaculate Host, which I, thy unworthy servant, offer unto thee, my living and true God, for my innumerable sins, offences, and negligences, and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians, both living and dead, that it may be profitable for my own and for their salvation unto life eternal. Amen.”Soon after this solemnity, ten or fifteen children, from nine to eleven years of age, went to the altar and communed. All this army of children, except a very few under seven years of age, have been confirmed, and consequently are communicants. Many hundreds of them had been recently confirmed, — clad in white garments, adorned with flowers, accompanied by parents and friends, and surrounded by whatever is most expressive of joy and hope. In this easy and pleasant way our Roman Catholic brethren “join the church.” As we have already observed, there is not, among Catholics, anything of that distinction between those who “ belong to the church” and those who do not, which is so painful, and, as some of us think, so deeply demoralizing, a circumstance of American life. There are good Catholics and bad Catholics, devout Catholics and neglectful Catholics ; but all are Catholics ; all are members of the church ; all can at any moment resume neglected obligations without taking the public into their confidence. The attitude and condition of each soul is a secret known only to itself and to one other. Hence there is no such thing as a roll of members in a Catholic parish, and there are no formalities attending the transfer of a member to another parish. The poor emigrant is at home in the first church he comes to, and every priest is his father. This is one of the most important differences between our Roman Catholic brethren and ourselves ; and it is one which gives them a most telling advantage in this country among educated persons who love virtue and loathe the profession of it.

This Sunday-school mass lasted thirty-five minutes, at the end of which the priest put on his black cap and retired. A curtain was then drawn across the altar, which exempted all from the obligation of bending the knee on passing it. A furious uproar arose when the mass ended, caused by the gathering of the classes around the teachers and getting ready for the next exercise, which was catechism. For about half an hour the whole body of children were engaged in saying their lesson, and in hearing the comments of the teachers upon it; and as there were two thousand of them the noise was great. Nevertheless, there was very little intentional disorder, although the air was so agonizingly impure as to enhance tenfold the difficulty of keeping order, and of keeping in order. Windows were opened, but it was of no use ; the air never can be even tolerable in that basement when there are five hundred persons in it. After the catechism the superintendent mounted a platform in the midst of his flock, and reduced them to silence by the sound of his bell. Then he crossed himself, and said, “ In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen,” while all the children rose to their feet. He then said, “The Gospel for the day is,”— and read it to the children, all standing. He next said, “ Kneel ” ; and all knelt on both knees, with the body upright. He said a very short prayer (five or six short sentences), which the children repeated after him. The school was then dismissed.

Usually, however, they spend the last fifteen minutes in singing a fewr simple songs, set to easy, lively music. Dr. Cummings, who was the late pastor of this church, and was venerated in it, composed a Sunday-school hymnbook in the last years of his life. The reader, perhaps, may be curious to know what kind of hymns our Roman Catholic brethren teach their children to sing. Well, cut out of this book one tenth of its contents, in which the saints are invoked and a few Catholic peculiarities are referred to, and it would be found suitable to any Protestant Sunday-school. There is, for example, a “ Song of the Union,” which might very properly be sung in Faneuil Hall on the Fourth of July: —

“ Ere Peace and Freedom, hand in hand,
Went forth to bless this happy land,
And make it their abode,
It was the footstool of a throne ;
But now no sceptre here is known,
No King is feared but God.
“ Americans uprose in might.
And triumphed in th’ unequal fight,
For Union made them strong : —
Union ! the magic battle-cry,
That hurled the tyrant from on high,
And crushed his hireling throng!
“That word since then hath shone on high
In starry letters to the sky, —
It is our country’s name !
What impious hand shall rashly dare
Down from its lofty peak to tear
The banner of her fame ? ”

The same strain of patriotism is continued in the three other stanzas. There are many hymns such as the following, called “ A Child’s Hymn to his Guardian Angel,” which hovers over the line that divides poetry and superstition : —

“ How kind it is of yon to come,
Bright angel, from your starry home,
And watch by night and watch by dry
Beside a sinful child of clay !
How good and pure I ought to be,
Who always live so near to thee.
Beneath thine eyes the whole day round,
Where'er I tread is holy ground.
“And if I had my wish I would,
Dear angel mine ! be always good ;
This minute I would rather die
Than say bad words or tell a lie.
I always feel disposed this why,
Whene'er I kneel me down to pray ;
But I forget when church is o’er,
And am as naughty as before.
“ But I would love to fear the Lord,
And shum each sinful deed and word,
Not do the sin, then feel the force
Of bitter shame and keen remorse.
I wish to think of God and thee
Whenever pretty things I see,
Till every flower that gems the sod
Shall make me think of thee and God.”

Interspersed among such simple and innocent songs as this there are a few which Protestants disapprove : —

“ O Mary ! Mother Mary !
We place our trust in thee ;
Our faith shall never vary,
Though weak the flesh may be.
Too oft, with steps unwary,
From duty we have bent :
O Mary I Mother Mary !
Thou teach us to repent.”

But, on the other hand, there are no appeals to base terror, no horrid pictures of future hopeless torment. The only thing in the book that even calls to mind the fearful threats of eternal vengeance with which all children used to be terrified, degraded, and corrupted is a hopeful and sympathetic little hymn entitled “Purgatory” : —

“When gentle showers
Cool the parched beds,
Languishing flowers
Lift up their heads.
Christ’s precious merits,
Like gentle rain,
Soothe the good spirits
In their great pain.
“To the dim region,
Where dear ones mourn,
Love and religion
Bid us oft turn.
Prayer hath the power
To give them peace,
Speeding the hour
Of their release.”

Such are the exercises of a Catholic Sunday school: mass, thirty-five minutes ; catechism, about the same time ; singing, fifteen minutes ; the Gospel of the day read ; a prayer of five lines ; to which is occasionally added a short address by the pastor. The following summary of the Annual Report of this school for 1867 will interest some readers. The word “ Mission,” which occurs in it, signifies “revival,” or “protracted meeting,” concerning which something further may be said : —

Number of children on Register 2,346

Average attendance of children 1,607

Average number of children late 97

Number of teachers on Register 230

Average attendance of teachers 176

Average number of teachers late 9

Number of classes in Sunday school 210

Increase in the number of children on Register over 1866 762

I ncrease in the average attendance of children over 1866 427

Increase in the number of teachers on Register over 1866 62

Increase in the average attendance of teachers over 1866 31

Increase in the number of classes over 1866 54

Number of children at Festival, Jan. 13, 1867 3,000

Number of children at Festival, Oct. 27, 1867 3,434

Number of children to confession during Mission 2,900

Number of children who received communion during Mission 1,660

Number of children confirmed during Mission 1,530

Total number of visits to children during the year 4,973

Increase in the number of visits to children over 1866 436

THOS. E. S. DWYER, Sup't.


It is a beautiful thought, to gather the children of a community, for a short time — an hour and a half, no more—on Sunday morning, in some very inviting and perfectly salubrious place, where they shall enjoy themselves in singing songs and hymns, and hear something cheering and beneficial, and to join in any other exercises which the affectionate ingenuity of their elders may be able to devise. It is a lovely idea, and one which civilization, having once possessed, can never again let go. So far, the idea has been carried out imperfectly; and it will perhaps never be made the most of until the churches all give up the attempt to expound the universe, and settle down to their final grand vocation, — that of inculcating virtue, instructing ignorance, and cheering human life. This Sunday school of our Roman Catholic brethren will doubtless improve when its zealous and amiable teachers have better facilities and a better school-room. It has already an excellent feature : this one session of an hour and a half is, at once, church and Sunday school ; and nothing more is required of the children during all the rest of the day. There is no afternoon school, and the children are not expected nor advised to hear a second mass. Our Roman Catholic brethren never compel young children, over-schooled during the week, to attend Sunday school from nine to half past ten ; to remain in church, understanding nothing of what is said and done there, until past twelve; and then, after dinner, to endure both school and church again, happy if they escape them in the evening. Of all the contrivances for making children sicken at the thought of everything high and serious this is the masterpiece. Fortunately, it is now scarcely known, except in a few very remote and benighted places. The time is near at hand, when the great joy of the week to the children of the United States will be the hour and a half of the Sunday school. Often, when hearing Mr. Dickens read, the thought occurred to us: What a splendid exercise some such reading as this for a Sunday school ! Among a dozen teachers, surely there would always be one with a little natural aptitude for reading and personating, who would consent to go into training for a year or two, and then give all the children, every Sunday, half an hour of rapture, and an endless benefit, by reading something suitable.

Protestants who visit Catholic institutions for the first time, and converse with those who have charge of them, are surprised to find how little good Catholics differ from other good people. These teachers of the St. Stephen’s Sunday school, for example, their tone, manner, feeling, cast of countenance, remind you continually of Protestant persons engaged in the same calling. They are as candid and open as the day. They are as truly and entirely convinced of the truth of their religion as any Protestant ever was of his, and their habitual feeling towards Protestants is — compassion. They think their religion is altogether sweet and engaging, full of comfort and hope ; and they yearn to see all the world partaking of its joys and consolations. Just as we in our ignorance pity them, so do they in their ignorance pity us. The habitual feeling of good Catholics, with regard to their church and the rest of the world, was well and truly expressed by the late pastor of St. Stephen’s, Dr. Cummings : —

“ World of Grace ! mysterious Temple !
Holy, Apostolic, One !
Never changing, ever blessing
Every age and every zone ;
Church, sweet Mother ! may all nations
Know thee, love thee as of yore :
May thy children learn to prize thee,
Daily, hourty, more and more.”

Ignorant Catholics, of course, like ignorant Protestants, sometimes despise or hate those who differ from them on subjects which are far beyond all human comprehension. But the general feeling of our Roman Catholic brethren towards us is a tender and warm desire that we should immediately abandon our gloomy and abortive religion, and come back to the true fold, where all is cheerfulness, certainty, and love, — especially, certainty ! There is nothing they pity us so much for as the doubt and uncertainty in which they suppose many of us are living concerning fundamental articles of faith. A Catholic cannot doubt; for the instant he doubts he ceases to be a Catholic. His church is “ infallible ” ; hence his doctrine must be right. His priest is the director of his soul; he has but to obey his direction. Thus a good Catholic has intellectual satisfaction and peace of conscience both within his reach ; and he truly pities those who grope in mental darkness, and carry the burden of their sins, without the possibility of ever being quite sure they are forgiven. The priest says: “I absolve thee"; but it is on certain conditions named, with which a person can comply, and with which he can know he has complied.

There is an impression among Protestants that the Catholic priests are not believers in their own creed ; but that, being convinced of the necessity which exists in unformed minds of believing something absurd and fictitious, they recognize that necessity, and have organized superstition without sharing it. We sometimes hear Protestants parodying the ancient remark concerning the Roman augurs, and wondering whether two priests can ever look one another in the face without laughing. That there are Catholic statesmen and monarchs who take this view of the religion they profess is probable enough. Voltaire himself admitted, when his house had been robbed, that hell was an excellent thing to frighten thieves with, and he consigned to it the particular thieves in question most heartily. His friend, Frederick of Prussia, who was as thoroughgoing an unbeliever as himself, was in the habit of laughing at Voltaire’s zeal against the faith of Christendom ; and used to tell him, that, even if he could succeed in destroying that faith, which he could not, every ignorant mind would immediately attach itself to falsehoods still more extravagant and pernicious. At that day, too, there were not wanting in France abbés and bishops who passed their lives in deriding the church from which they derived their subsistence. But even then and there the vast majority of the working clergy were perfectly sincere and very laborious pastors, and gave the hungry peasant the greater part of the little comfort he enjoyed.

No candid person can associate much with the Catholic priests of the United States without becoming aware of the entireness and strength of their faith in the doctrines they teach, — without being convinced of their fidelity to the vows they have taken. Why remain priests if they have ceased to believe ? It is not the life a false man would choose in this country. What with the early masses, the great number of services, the daily and nightly calls to the bedside of the dying, the labor and anxiety of hearing confessions, the deprivation of domestic enjoyments, the poverty (the Archbishop of New York has but four thousand dollars a year and his house), and what with the social stigma which in some communities the very name of Catholic carries with it, — there are few vocations in which a fervent believer would find more joy. and in which a hypocrite would suffer so much weariness and disgust. In one sickly time, two years ago, an assistant priest of a populous New York parish was summoned sixty-five times in eight days to administer the communion to dying persons, and forty-five of those times were between sunset and sunrise. The salary of an assistant priest, in these dear times, is four hundred dollars a year, a room, and a portion of the fees he receives for marriages, baptisms, and masses for the dead, — the whole being a bare subsistence, averaging about eight hundred dollars a year. The pastor of a church receives six hundred dollars a year, a house, and a portion of the fees just mentioned. In a few very extensive city parishes the priest may get a little more money than he really needs ; but the great majority receive just enough for the three necessities,— food, clothes, and charity.

The manner in which our Roman Catholic brethren select and train their priests insures at least sincerity. It is a training which, in favorable cases, develops every noble trait of human nature except one, — the sceptical, question-asking faculty, to which all improvement, all progress, is due. Some of the sweetest, purest, and loveliest human beings on this earth are Roman Catholic priests. I have had the pleasure, once in my life, of conversing with an absolute gentleman : one in whom all the little vanities, all the little greedinesses, all the paltry fuss, worry, affectation, haste, and anxiety springing from imperfectly disciplined self-love, — all had been consumed; and the whole man was kind, serene, urbane, and utterly sincere. This perfect gentleman was a Roman Catholic bishop, who had spent thirty years of his life in the woods near Lake Superior, trying (and failing, as he frankly owned) to convert rascally Chippeways into tolerable human beings. “ I make pretty good Christians of some of them,” said he ; “but men? No: it is impossible.” But while I so highly rate this exquisite human being, I must remember that his task in life had been far easier than ours. The two grand difficulties of human life he never encountered, — the difficulty of earning his subsistence, and the difficulty of rearing a family. “ Thirteen year of temper in a palace,” says Doctor Marigold, “ would try the worst of you ; but thirteen year of temper in a cart would try the best of you.” The Catholic priest ought to be far gentler and sweeter than other men, since he has neither a cart to drive nor a temper to live with. It is also much easier to live in a grand, lofty, contemplative way, in the forest, than in New York or Chicago. A Catholic priest, indeed, would be much to blame if he failed to attain a high degree of serenity, moral refinement, and paternal dignity.

The training of priests is severe and long. They come to the altar to be ordained, with faces pallid and wasted by long fasting and late watching. Years before, when they were little boys in the Sunday school, they were noted for their docility, and their interest in all that related to the Church. The pastor marked them, observed them. As soon as they were old enough, they aspired to serve the priest at the altar ; and this ambition was, at length, after due trial and preparation, gratified, to the great delight and pride of parents and relations. A Protestant can hardly imagine the joy of Catholic parents at seeing their son ministering to the priest at the altar. Besides being a conspicuous reward for his good behavior, and a kind of guaranty of his future good conduct, it is also something done toward his eternal salvation. Our Roman Catholic brethren, abounding in faith as they are, scoff at the idea of being “justified by faith alone,” and feel themselves bound “ to work out their salvation.” The zealous lad, impelled partly by this motive, but chiefly by natural love of the self-denying and devoted, soon belongs to the select band of altar boys, who glory in assisting at the earliest mass, and in masses performed at midnight. The pastor converses with the parents, and if they consent, but cannot afford the expense of educating the boy for the priesthood, ways are found of aiding him through the preliminary studies. Those studies, — what are they ? Latin, Greek, theology, and whatever else cultivates the imagination and assists faith, without giving play to that best something in the best human minds which will not take things for granted, — which inquires, doubts, denies, reasons, and presses on to better ways of thinking. That most powerful instinct, too, which urges the young man, like the spring bird, to seek his mate, has to be extinguished or controlled; and to this end fasting, watching, and other painful mortifications are enjoined, increasing in intensity as the time draws near for the final and irrevocable act of renunciation. With pinched cheeks and sunken eyes, and souls on fire, the young men kneel to receive ordination, while all good Catholics who look upon the scene are filled with a feeling that would be compassion if it were not triumphant joy. “ We believe,” says a convert, who witnessed the ceremony lately, “ there were few dry eyes in that basement chapel when the long ceremony came to its close, when the last words of benediction had been given to the newly consecrated priests by the uplifted hands of the bishop ; and cold and selfish must have been the heart which did not linger to send up a fervent petition that God would give perseverance to those youthful and self-devoted laborers in his vineyard. But never shall we forget the zeal and eagerness with which the first mass of each new priest was attended, or how the crowd, men, women, children, pressed forward at its close to receive the benediction from those innocent and now sanctified palms. So precious is this first blessing from a newly ordained priest, that old priests and even bishops come eagerly forward, and bow their heads under the freshly anointed hands.”

Sincere ! The sincerest believers in the world are our Roman Catholic brethren. Faith, like every other faculty or habit, grows strong by exercise. Every time a Catholic attends mass, he is required to perform the most tremendous act of faith ever attempted by the human mind since its creation. Whatever may be weak or wanting in Catholics, they abound in faith.

Our Roman Catholic brethren are acquiring so great an estate in the United States, and acquiring it so rapidly, that it becomes a matter of public concern how they get it, what they do with it, and, especially, what they will do with it by and by, when it shall have become the largest property held in the country by or for an organization. Other organizations usually live from hand to mouth; but, somehow, the Catholics always contrive to have a little money ahead, to invest for the future. The Catholic Church, seven tenths of whose members are exempt from the income tax because their income is under a thousand dollars a year, is a capitalist, and has the advantage over other organizations which a man has over his fellows who, besides earning his livelihood, has a thousand dollars to operate with. There are spots in the Western country, over which the prairie winds now sweep without obstruction, that will one day be the sites of great cities. Our Roman Catholic brethren mark those spots, and construct maps upon which, not existing towns alone are indicated, but probable towns also. A professor of one of our Western colleges saw, two years ago at Rome, a better map of the country west of the Mississippi than he ever saw at home ; upon which the line of the Pacific Railroad was traced, and every spot was dotted where a settlement would naturally gather, and a conjecture recorded as to its probable importance. Five hundred dollars judiciously invested in certain localities now will buy land which, in fifty years, or in twenty, maybe worth one hundred millions. Thirty-seven years ago the best thousand acres of the site of Chicago could have been bought for a dollar and a quarter an acre ; and there is one man now in Chicago who owns a lot worth twenty thousand dollars which he bought of the government for fifteen cents and five eighths. Now, there are in the Roman Catholic Church men whose business it is to turn such facts to the advantage of the church, and there is also a systematic provision of money for them to expend for the purpose.

Look at our island of Manhattan ! Sixty-seven years ago there were but one or two small Catholic churches upon it. It was not until 1808 that there was such a personage as a Roman Catholic bishop of New York. Run over the diocese now, and what do we find ? Churches, 88 ; chapels attached to institutions, 29 ; colleges and theological seminaries, 4 ; academies and select schools, 23 ; parochial schools, one to nearly every church ; charitable asylums and hospitals, 11 ; religious communities of men, 6 ; of women, 10. But this enumeration, as every NewYorker knows, conveys no idea of the facts. Everything which our Roman Catholic brethren buy or build is bought or built with two objects in view,—duration and growth. Hence massive structures, and plenty of land ! Wherever on this island, or on the lovely waters near it, you observe a spot upon which nature and circumstances have assembled every charm and every advantage, there the foresight and enterprise of this wonderful organization have placed, or are placing, something enormous and solid with a cross over it. The marble cathedral which is to contain ten thousand persons is going up on the precise spot on the Fifth Avenue which will be the very best for the purpose as long as the city stands. Yet, when that site was selected, several years ago, in the rocky wilds beyond the cattle-market, no one would have felt its value except a John Jacob Astor or a Roman Catholic Archbishop. This marvellous church so possesses itself of its members, that Catholic priests are as wise and acute and pushing for the church as the consummate man of business is for his own estate. Our excellent and zealous friends, the Paulist Fathers, when they planted themselves on the Ninth Avenue opposite Weehawken, bought a whole block ; and thus, for less money than one house-lot will be worth in five years, secured room enough for the expansion of their community and its operations for ten centuries! And there is the Convent of the Sacred Heart, in the upper part of the island, — the old Lorillard country-seat ; and the great establishments of the Sisters of Charity on the Hudson, where Edwin Forrest built his toy-castle, — were ever sites better chosen ? Mark, too, the extent of the grounds, the solidity of the buildings, and the forethought and good sense which have presided over all the arrangements.

All these things cost money, though bought and built with most admirable economy. Fifty million dollars’ worth of land and buildings the church probably owns in the diocese of New York ; one half of which, perhaps, it acquired by buying land when land was cheap, and keeping it till it has become dear. Protestants will not fail to note the wisdom of this, and to reflect upon the weakness and distracted inefficiency of our mode of doing business. But the question remains : How was the other half of this great estate accumulated in half a century by an organization drawing its revenues chiefly from mechanics, small store-keepers, laborers, and servant-girls ? Why, in the simplest way possible, and without laying a heavy burden on any one. The glory of the Catholic Church, as we all know, is, that it is the church of the poor ; and in this fact consists its strength, as well as its glory.

The unit of the Catholic Church is the parish. A certain number of parishes constitute the diocese, and a certain number of dioceses form an archdiocese ; but the beginning of everything is the parish. Just as a company of troops is at once a whole and a part, small in itself, but imaging in its organization the whole army, independent and yet subordinate, such is a parish to the Church Universal. It so happens that a new parish is now organizing in the city of New York, which includes the house in which this article is forming out of chaos ; and I can read from the front windows, stuck upon a lamp-post (in violation of an ordinance), a handbill which explains how it is done : —



“ The Most Reverend Archbishop McCloskey has appointed the undersigned to take charge of a new parish, which will extend from the east side of Fourth Avenue to the East River, and from the north side of Eighteenth Street to the south side of TwentyFourth Street.


Northwest corner of Second Avenue and Twenty - Ninth Street, will be opened on and after Sunday, Jan. 5th, 1868. for divine service.

“ On Sundays, at Eight o’clock.

“ High Mass, Nine o’clock.

“ On Holy Days of Obligation, Mass at Seven and at Nine.

“ On other days, Mass at Seven.

“ Sunday school will meet at the Hall on Sundays at Eight o’clock, A. M., and will continue one hour after Mass.

“At the Eight-o’clock Mass on Sundays, and at the Nine-o’clock Mass on Holy Days, a portion of the Hall will be reserved for children.

“ Confessions will be heard every Saturday, commencing at Four o'clock, P. M.

“ R. L. BURTSELL, D. D., Pastor.


Observe now the simplicity and efficiency of the system. St. Stephen’s parish, containing twenty-five thousand Catholic souls, had become too populous to be adequately served by one church ; and therefore this slice (a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide, containing, perhaps, ten thousand Catholics) is cut off from it to form a new parish. The archbishop looks about among his clergy for a priest fitted by nature and circumstances to organize a parish and provide for it suitable buildings. The priest selected feels himself honored by the appointment; it is promotion to him ; it is reward and stimulus. He comes to his new field unshackled, except by the general laws and usages of the Church. The same Church which tries and tests with such unrelenting severity the candidates for the priesthood trusts her priests with great freedom, great power, great responsibility, while supplying them with the most powerful motives to exertion. She supplies both kinds of motives, the noble and the commonplace. This priest has a church to build, schools to form, a parish to create. He has no wife : the Church is his spouse. He has no child : the Church is his HEIR ! Professional pride, esprit du corps, human ambition, and all the other ordinary motives to exertion, conspire in this man with benevolence and religion : since he firmly and entirely believes that the Roman Catholic Church is the sweetest, holiest, sublimest thing known to man, — his best consolation here, and his surest passport to happiness yonder.

In union there is strength ; and yet when a thing is to be done, one man must do it. Our Roman Catholic brethren contrive to work at once, with the power of a union of two hundred millions of members, and with the efficient force which only an individual can wield. This priest of the unformed parish is as independent as the captain of a frigate on his own quarter-deck, who must ever keep an eye on the signals of the admiral’s ship, but who when the signal says Go in, lays his ship alongside, and carries on the action in his own way, subject only to the rules of the service. This priest, too, is not required to waste his force and the best of his time in writing brilliant sermons for the entertainment of a cloyed, fastidious congregation. His is healthier, manlier work. He has to do, at times, with contractors, masons, carpenters, architects. He is out of doors a good deal, watching the progress of buildings, upon the erection of which his heart is set, and the completion of which will gratify his pride as well as his benevolence, besides entitling him to consideration elsewhere. Seeing what a healthy and full life these Catholic priests lead, I no longer wonder to find them so round, contented, cheerful, and merry.

Our priest, as we see in the handbill, hires a hall, and begins. The enterprise is self-sustaining from the first day. His three masses on Sunday, his daily mass, his vesper services, his pewrents, his fees, bring in money enough for all expenses, and a surplus for the church which is to be erected. At every mass there is a collection. A building committee is formed ; subscriptionbooks are opened; fairs are held. In seven years, come to this new parish, and you shall see : 1. A large and handsome church ; 2. A good parsonage, next door to it; 3. A five or six story building adjoining for a parochial school, with two thousand children in it under the instruction of the Sisters of Charity and the Christian Brothers. This is no exaggeration ; for I am only stating here what has actually occurred in the next parish, — that of the Immaculate Conception, in East Fourteenth Street. Seven years ago, when Dr. Morrogh was appointed pastor of this parish, there was neither church, parsonage, nor school. He now has an excellent church, which he is about to enlarge, a sufficient parsonage, and an exceedingly spacious and handsome school-house, wherein, by the time these lines are read, he will have twenty-five hundred children. It is true that Dr. Morrogh possesses unusual executive ability; but, on the other hand, his church is in the heart of one of the tenement-house regions, and he probably has not a hundred men in his parish who ever have a hundred dollars all at once. Probably he can boast — and a proud boast it is for a Christian minister — that nine tenths of his flock are laboring men and domestic servants. And it is these poor people who have solaced themselves by paying for these buildings, which cannot have cost less than two hundred thousand dollars. Nor has it been a heavy burden to any one but the pastor. “ Many a night I have lain awake,” said he, “wondering where the money was to come from to go on with.” But for the people of the parish it was easy enough. Are there not fifteen thousand of them ? If each contributes ten cents a week, does it not come to seventy-eight thousand dollars a year ?

The regular revenues of a Catholic church in a city are numerous and large. Here is the Church of St. Stephen’s, for example ; let us endeavor to estimate its income : —

Six-o’clock mass on Sunday morning $10.00

Seven-o’clock mass 25.00

Nine-o’clock “ 25.00

Sunday-school collection 10.00

High mass at half past ten 40.00

Vespers 20.00

Six week-day masses, in all 25.00

Total weekly income $155.00

This is equal to $ 8,060 for a year. Add to this the rent of 600 pews, at an average of $75 each, and we have an annual revenue of $ 53,060. The pewrent, I believe, averages more than this ; although the pews stand open to every comer, except at high mass and vespers.

Such is the income. The expenses are not great: —

Pastor’s salary $600

Three assistant priests, in all 1,200

Sexton, not more than 1,000

Organist, probably 1,000

Choir, about 4,000

Fire and gas, possibly 1,000

Total expenses $8,800

This leaves an excess of income over expenditure of $42,260. This excess, except a small annual tax for the archbishop and the general interests of the diocese, is all expended in the parish. Upon most of these new city churches there is a debt which has to be provided for. If the parish is old enough to be out of debt, you may be sure it needs a new or an enlarged church, for which a fund is forming. If its church is sufficient, and the parsonage adequate, then you may expect to see the pastor directing the construction of a parochial school-house, large enough to draw off from the over-crowded public schools of the neighborhood the two thousand too many children on their rolls. Or, perhaps, there is connected with the church a religious community whose operations are expensive. Thus, by the unstimulated, quiet operation of the system, all our cities will be covered with costly Catholic structures, which will constantly increase in splendor and number. In some New England villages, and in several New England towns, the Catholic Church is already much the most solid, spacious, and ornate ecclesiastical edifice in the place. It must be so; for the poor, besides being more generous than the rich, are hundreds of times more numerous, and their pennies flow in a continuous stream. Nor do they confine their gifts to copper coin. “ An Irish housemaid,” says a paragraph just afloat, “has given a stained-glass window to the Catholic Church at Concord, New Hampshire.” Nothing more credible. Two servant-girls, in this very house where I am now writing, educated their brother for the priesthood, — keeping on, year after year, spending nothing for their personal gratification, literally nothing, but sustaining him respectably, until one ecstatic day they went off in their Sunday clothes, their two faces radiant with joy, to see him ordained. Having accomplished this work, they next saved the sum requisite ($ 250 each) for their honorable admission into a laborious religious order, in which they now are. And yet the self-indulgent Parlor has the insolence to think itself morally superior to the self-denying Kitchen. The Recording Angel, if there is such a book-keeper, has something to enter to the credit of the Kitchen much oftener, probably, than he has to that of the apartments above it.

But we are talking of the financial system of the church. The archbishop, as before observed, draws a small sum annually from each parish ; he also derives something from the revenues of the cathedral; and he controls the large fund arising from the sale of lots in the Catholic cemeteries, —all of which are the property of the diocese. Our Roman Catholic brethren decidedly prefer to be buried in cemeteries of their own. No strict Catholic will bury a member of his family in Greenwood or Mount Auburn, for he does not feel that God Almighty’s ground is quite good enough for his bones to moulder in until a bishop has said a few words over it. We must pardon him this harmless foible, in consideration of our own similar weaknesses. The fact remains, however, that the income of the cemeteries adds something considerable to the central fund of the diocese, which is applied to objects of diocesan importance. We may illustrate the working of this part of the system by showing how the new cathedral in the city of New York was started, how it has been continued, and how it is to be carried on to completion. This edifice will probably cost two millions of dollars. It would cost ten millions if it were to be built by the city government.

When Archbishop Hughes made up his mind, about ten years ago, that the time had come for beginning a cathedral that would be worthy of the chief city of the Union, the debt upon the old cathedral had not been extinguished, the cemetery fund was almost consumed in enlarging and improving the cemeteries themselves, and the archbishop was dependent for his mere maintenance upon the product of the tax upon the parishes. No matter; the time had come for beginning; and every New-Yorker now sees how perfectly the commencement of the enterprise was timed. But there was no money. If it had been a Protestant enterprise, this fact would have presented a slight impediment. It is only our Roman Catholic brethren who can undertake two-million-dollar cathedrals without having any money. The archbishop caused a circular letter to be written, announcing His design, and requesting the person addressed to contribute toward it one thousand dollars. A copy of this letter, signed by the archbishop, was sent to every Catholic in the diocese known to be rich enough to afford himself the luxury of giving away a thousand dollars. A similar letter, also signed by the archbishop, was addressed to every Catholic who could be supposed capable of giving five hundred dollars; and another letter to many who could be rationally expected to give two hundred and fifty dollars; each of whom was invited to confer upon himself the pleasure and advantage of giving the sum mentioned in the epistle addressed to him. Such requests are never made without due consideration, and they are seldom refused. Nor is the church too particular as to whose money it shall accept. I have before me a Catholic subscription paper, on which may be read : —

Charles O’Conor $250.00

John Morrissey 500.00

All is fish that comes to the church’s net. By this expedient the archbishop raised three hundred thousand dollars, — enough to buy the land, lay the foundation, and carry up the walls a few feet About the time the war broke out the money was gone, and it was highly convenient to stop. The orphans and the widows of the war were a heavy charge upon all the city parishes. The ordinary collections at Christmas and Easter (sacred to the orphan in all Catholic churches) were utterly insufficient, and the people were called upon for further aid, which of course they gave most liberally. It was obviously not a time to be building marble cathedrals for posterity, and so the walls were carefully boarded over. The war being ended, the new archbishop issued a requisition, calling upon each pastor of a parish for a contribution to the cathedral fund, and allowing him a certain time in which to collect it. Work upon the building has been resumed, and will probably go on until it is completed ; for the old cathedral is out of debt, and the cemetery fund is now productive.

The archbishop, be it observed, is the almost absolute ruler of the priests of his province. He places them, removes them, suspends them, according to his own good will and pleasure, subject to the laws and usages of the church. There is no appeal against his decisions, except to Rome ; and this resource is seldom within the compass of a priest. Rome is far away, and a priest appealing against the judgment of his superior must have a very good case or a very good friend, in order to obtain a favorable judgment. But, on the other hand, a dignitary of the church is severely and long tested before promotion, and he is practically elected by the very men whom he is afterwards to govern. Soon after the death of an archbishop, the higher clergy of the province assemble to express their preferences with regard to his successor. They send three names to Rome. Opposite the first name is written, Dignus, worthy. Opposite the second, Dignior, worthier. Opposite the third name is written, Dignissimus, most worthy. The office is almost invariably assigned to the person whom his brethren thus indicate as their choice. The instances are rare in which an American prelate has abused his power over the clergy, and I believe no priest has yet applied to Rome for the redress of a grievance.

Among our Roman Catholic brethren the instinct of organizing and co-operating is wonderfully developed. I have before me a list, not complete, of the Catholic orders, which contains the names of two hundred and fifty-one varieties, each of which is an expression and a permanent gratification of the desire of some benevolent soul. One example : Two hundred and fifty years ago, a French priest, named Vincent de Paul, was requested by a lady of his flock to call the attention of the congregation to the case of a destitute family lying sick a mile from the town. He did so, and with such effect that the poor people were supplied with food in profusion, so that much of it was spoiled before they could consume it. This priest, being one of those men whom every event instructs, was led to reflect upon the need there was in every large town of having the benign impulses regulated, and the gifts of the benevolent husbanded, so that none of them should be wasted, and the supply should never be exhausted. The result of his meditations we behold in the order of the Sisters of Charity, which all the world approves, and will ever approve. But this was not all the good arising from Father Vincent’s reflections. To-day nearly every Catholic parish in large towns, in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia, has within it a society called a “ Conference of St. Vincent de Paul,” the object of which is the systematic and judicious relief of the poor of the parish. These societies form one vast system of charity ; each conference reporting to a diocesan centre, each diocese reporting to a national centre, and each nation to the Head Centre of the organization, — a cardinal residing at Paris. From him again, as the blood pulses back from the heart to the extremities, a quarterly report is sent to every corner of Christendom, which reaches every individual member of each conference. Any reader curious to know the practical working of the system can gratify his desire by expending ten cents at any Catholic bookstore, where he can buy the “ Rules of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”

Then there is the “ Propaganda,” or, as we should term it, the missionary system. This, too, is an organization which embraces the whole world, and to the funds of which tens of millions of Catholics contribute. Each member of the organization gives one cent a week toward the extension of the domain of the Church. In every ten members there is one person who is authorized to receive the weekly coppers, and pay the dime over to an individual who is the centre of ten tens. By the time the money reaches his hands it has become a dollar, and he hands the dollar to one who receives for ten of these ten tens. We have now rolled up the sum to ten dollars, which is paid to the head of ten of the hundred tens ; and so it goes on swelling until it reaches the chief of the propaganda, another cardinal, who lives at Lyons. He, in turn, sends to the societies a report of the grand result, which, by a system of handing from one ten to another, is made to reach every giver of a weekly cent. Thus is the money raised which sustains the Church beyond the bounds of Christendom, and buys the sites of churches where as yet there is no human habitation.

There is no end to the charities of our Roman Catholic brethren and sisters, and all that they do in this way is done with the efficiency and power of a disciplined organization. An admirable case in point is that of a community in Paris, which consists of an equal number of blind and seeing sisters. In each cell there is one of each ; and it is part of the occupation of the sister who can see to aid, wait upon, and read to the sister who is blind. It does the heart good merely to know that such a sweet device as this has ever been conceived. There Is a little book published in Paris (and we ought to have such in our cities) which contains a catalogue and brief account of all the charitable organizations there, — Manuel des Œuvres et Institutions de Charité. Publié par Ordre de Mgr. l'Archevêque, &c. It contains a description of one hundred and ninety-two benevolent societies and systems. Any one would be puzzled to think of a malady, misfortune, deprivation, or peril for which there does not exist in Catholic Paris some organized remedy, mitigation, or prevention. The mere enumeration would exhaust all my remaining space, and I can only mention a few. There are societies for aiding mothers before, during, and after confinement ; some of which give indoor, others out-door aid ; some bearing the whole charge, others part; some aiding mothers themselves to form a fund against the time, and others insuring the required aid, whenever needed, in return for the payment of a small sum periodically. There are societies for the preservation and assistance of every conceivable description of needy children, —lost children, abandoned children, neglected children, destitute children, bad children, blind, deaf and dumb, and crippled children ; children subject to fits, convalescent children, children whose mothers have to go out to work, children who want to be apprenticed and cannot pay the required premium, children who have no one to teach them their catechism ; orphan children in asylums, orphan children living with relatives, orphan children in places, orphan children adopted, Polish orphans, Jewish orphans. Besides special hospitals for almost every kind of curable and incurable maladies, there are asylums for every description of disabled persons, — the blind, the deaf and dumb, the crippled, the aged, the imbecile, the incompetent of all kinds and degrees. And this vast system of charity is carried on by our Roman Catholic brethren and sisters, and most of the work is done by persons dedicated for life to the service of the afflicted, and trained to discharge their vocation in the best manner.

It is interesting to observe how each part of the Catholic system, besides promoting the general object, works in special harmony with special aims. Example : it is the wish, it is the fixed intention, of our Roman Catholic brethren to have a free school in every parish in the United States sufficient for the accommodation of all the Catholic children resident in the parish. In the diocese of New York there are sixty-one of these parochial schools, in which about twenty-five thousand pupils are taught, greatly to the relief of the cruelly crowded public schools. The religious instruction given in these schools consists of a lesson in the catechism, the saying of a few short Catholic prayers, the reading of the Gospel for the day, and an occasional exhortation; the whole occupying, on an average, twenty minutes a day. But it is not for the sake of the direct religious instruction that the pastors are so desirous of having parochial schools. There are several orders in the church which are devoted to the work of instruction, — the Christian Brothers, some of the Sisters of Charity, the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, and many more. It is from these orders that the teachers of the parochial schools are drawn ; and it is the Catholicizing effect, upon the minds of the children, of these still, self-contained, cheerful persons that the pastors chiefly value. There is a marvellous economy, too, in the system ; for these pious sisters and devoted brothers only require the necessaries of life. Dr. Morrogh pays into the treasury of the Sisters of Charity two hundred dollars per annum for each sister employed in his school ! The sisters live at the house of their order in Fifteenth Street, and go forth every morning to the schools to spend a laborious day in instructing ignorance, returning at noon and at night to their religious home. It will cost Dr. Morrogh about eight thousand dollars to sustain his school, possibly ten thousand. It would cost the city of New York eighteen thousand dollars. It happened to be a snowy day oil which I visited this school, and no one went home to dinner. But when dinner time came, an apparatus containing a hot dinner for the sisters was brought round to them from their home near by, and they all sat down together in a nice little room to enjoy it, with the musical accompaniment of twelve hundred romping girls.

Surely there is something admirable and imitable in all this.

Of course there is shadow to be put into the picture. This amazing organization, or system of organizations, is the accumulated practical wisdom of many thousand years ; but it is the work of imperfect human beings, and partakes of their imperfection. “ There is a provision in nature,” says Goethe, “ to prevent trees from growing up into the sky.” Else, Commodore Vanderbilt would own all the railroads, and we should all turn Catholics immediately. Every Protestant knows, or thinks he knows, precisely what the defect is which prevents this interesting tree from growing up into the sky, and spreading its branches over the whole earth. I think I know. I think it is because there is not a sufficient provision in it for adapting its doctrine to the advancing mind of the race. Perhaps, however, it is the modernized mind that is in fault

Our Roman Catholic brethren, for example, firmly believe that miracles are daily wrought among them. They inform me, that the most noted miracle yet performed in the United States occurred in the city of Washington on the 10th of March, 1824. Bishop England, of Charleston, who ranked very high in the estimation of his brethren, investigated this miracle, published an account of it, and appended to his narrative the affidavits of thirty-seven persons, all of whom testified to the miraculous nature of the event. Mrs. Ann Mattingly, widow, aged thirty-four, residing with her brother, the Mayor of Washington, had been afflicted for six years with a hard and painful tumor in the lower part of the left breast, which four of the leading physicians of the citypronounced incurable, and for which they prescribed only palliative applications and medicines. She suffered all that a woman could suffer and live,— vomitings of blood, intense chills, pain almost insupportable, a most distressing cough, until she was reduced to a skeleton, and lay at death’s door. From long lying in bed, her shoulders and back were ulcerated to such a degree that it was torture to her to have her linen changed or to move in bed. In the filth year of her illness the tidings began to be spread abroad in America of the wonderiul cures wrought in Europe through the prayers of a certain Prince Hohenlohe, a venerated priest of the Catholic Church ; and some of the friends of the afflicted lady besought her to make known her sufferings to this holy man, and beg his intercession in her behalf. The pastor of her church, with the consent of the Archbishop of Baltimore, wrote to the princely priest, — as many others did in all parts of the world, — asking his prayers for this lady’s recovery. The priest ascertained, however, that the Prince Hohenlohe had already made known his intentions with regard to all sick persons out of Europe who desired his prayers. He would pray for such on the tenth day of every month at nine o’clock in the morning, and he called upon all who wished to enjoy the benefit of his intercession to fulfil certain conditions. They must have faith in the efficacy of prayers ; they must repent anew and deeply of their sins ; they must form an immovable purpose to lead an exemplary life ; they must perform a Novena, or nine days’ devotion, in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus ; they must confess, do penance, and receive the sacrament; and, finally, on the appointed day, the tenth of any month, at nine A. M., they must unite in prayers with the prince, far away on the other side of the ocean.

With all these conditions Mrs. Ann Mattingly complied. The priest of her church, two hundred of her friends and fellow-Catholics, as well as some other sick persons, shared in the Novena, and the archbishop of the province “graciously promised to join in prayer with them on the appointed day, ioth of March instant.” The Novena was begun on the first day of March, 1824, so that it might end on the tenth. As there is a difference of six hours between the time at Washington and at the place in Germany where the prince lived, the priest appointed the hour of three in the morning for the last solemn act of supplication, and so notified all the families and persons concernedAt nine In the evening before, Mrs. Mattingly, who apparently had not many hours to live, confessed, and received absolution. At two in the morning, the priest who was in special charge of the Novena said mass in the church, and carried thence the sacrament to the afflicted lady’s room, where he arrived about half past two. She was then so low and so incessantly tormented by a cough, that the priest was apprehensive she would die before she had communed. The sacrament, however, was administered, and it cost the lady a painful effort of six minutes to swallow it. The solemn ceremony being ended, the priest wrapped up the sacred vessels and implements, gave the usual blessing to the kneeling family (five in number, all of whom swear to these and the following statements), and was making his last adoration of the host before leaving, when he heard a deep sigh issuing from the direction of the bed. He turned, and behold, — a miracle! Mrs. Mattingly sat up, stretched her arms forward, clasped her hands, and said, in a clear, though weak voice, “ Lord Jesus, what have I done to deserve so great a favor ? ” Sobs and shrieks burst from the persons present. The priest rose from his knees, and hastened to the bedside. She raised his hand. “ Ghostly father,” she cried, “ what can I do to acknowledge such a blessing ? ” “ Glory be to God ! ” he exclaimed ; “ we may say so. O, what a clay for us ! ” On being asked to tell what she felt, she said, “ Not the least pain left.”

She went on to say, that, being overcome by her sufferings, and in expectation of immediate death, she had said to herself, “ Lord Jesus, thy will be done ! ” and at that instant she was completely relieved from all her pains. “ I wish to get up,” she cried joyfully, “ and give thanks to God on my knees ” ; and so she did, and remained kneeling for fifteen minutes without fatigue. She walked ; she dressed herself ; she came down to breakfast ; she ate heartily, and remained up all day, receiving the visits of friends and strangers, who came in crowds to see her. Every trace of the tumor was gone ! The ulcers upon her back had vanished, and left no scar; and, what was strangest of all, the matter which those ulcers had discharged had all disappeared, both from the bed-clothes and from her own night-dress ! ! Upon this last point Bishop England is emphatic. “ I am perfectly convinced,” he says, “that, were I disposed to collect the testimony relating thereto, it would appear to the satisfaction of every unbiased, impartial, and judicious reader, unquestionable, that as miraculous a change took place in the state of the clothing of the bed and of the body as there did in the state of the body itself.”

This assertion of the excellent Bishop is safe, because upon such subjects no reader is unbiased, no reader is Impartial.

This narrative illustrates a very important difference between our Roman Catholic brethren and ourselves. A good Catholic, no matter what his rank or culture, believes in such things without an effort. It was not necessary for the faith of Catholics that Bishop England should gather such a mass of testimony. Three good witnesses would have sufficed quite as well as three dozen. But no amount or quality of testimony could convince a Protestant mind that Mrs. Mattingly’s tumor was cured miraculously, and her linen miraculously cleansed. For my part, if the President and VicePresident, if the whole Cabinet, both houses of Congress, and the judges of the Supreme Court, had all sworn that they saw this thing done, and I myself had seen it, — nay, if the tumor had been on my own body, and had seemed to myself to be suddenly healed, — still I should think it more probable that all those witnesses, including myself, were mistaken, than that such a miracle had been performed. Such is the incredulity of a modernized mind, especially if that modernized mind has occasionally served on a jury, and so learned the value of human testimony.

How different with Catholics ! “ Why ! ” says Father Hecker, “ we do not worship a dead God ! Where is the improbability? No one doubts God’s ability to heal his faithful servants ; why should we find it so hard to believe that he does so ? Protestants usually admit that miracles were once performed, and they still use language in their prayers which implies an expectation of miraculous aid. We Catholics have a living practical faith in Providence, which you Protestants think you have, and have not. And where is your authority for saying that, during a certain period of the world’s history, miracles were wrought, but that there came a moment when they ceased to be wrought ? Why is it rational to believe in a miracle which occurred Anno Domini 32, but wholly irrational to believe in one wrought Anno Domini 1868 ?”

These are not the precise words of the able and devoted Superior of the Paulists, but such are some of his ideas. I did not, do not, cannot answer his questions. My office is merely that of reporter, and, with the permission of the gentle reader, I will continue my report in a future number of this magazine. I have yet to relate the special measures now on foot for the conversion of us all, and the grounds upon which our Roman Catholic brethren rest their confident expectation of being in another generation or two the dominant church of the United States.