It is much that they should be well grounded in those elements of doctrine which they can learn in their school-days. It is much more if they carry out with them a living interest in the subject and care to watch the current of the Church’s thought in the encyclicals that are addressed to the faithful, the pastorals of Bishops, the works of Catholic writers which, are more and more within the reach of all, in the great events of the Church’s life, and in the talk of those who are able to speak from first-hand knowledge and experience. It is most of all fundamental that they should have an attitude of mind that is worthy of their faith; one that is not nervous or apologetic for the Church, not anxious about the Pope lest he should “interfere too much,” nor frightened of what the world may say. They should have an unperturbed conviction that the Church will have the last word in any controversy, and that she has nothing to be alarmed at, though all the battalions of newest thought should be set in array against her; they should be lovingly proud of the Church, and keep their belief in her at all times joyous, assured, and unafraid.
Theology is not for them, neither required nor obtainable, though some have been found enterprising enough to undertake to read the Summa, and naive enough to suppose that they would be theologians at the end of it, and even at the outset ready to exchange ideas with Doctors of Divinity on efficacious grace, and to have “views” on the authorship of the Sacred Writings. Such aspirations either come to an untimely end by an awakening sense of proportion, or remain as monuments to the efforts of those “less wise,” or in some unfortunate cases the mind loses its balance and is led into error.
“Thirsting to be more than mortal,
I was even less than clay.”
Let us, if we can, keep the bolder spirits on the level of what is congruous, where the wealth that is within their reach will not be exhausted in their lifetime, and where they may excel without offence and without inviting either condemnation or ridicule. The sense of fitness is a saving instinct in this as in 1 every other department of life. When it is present, first principles come home like intuitions to the mind, where it is absent they seem to take no hold at all, and the understanding that should supply for the right instinct makes slow and laborious way if it ever enters at all.
To know the relation in which one stands to any department of knowledge is, in that department, “the beginning of wisdom”. The great Christian Basilicas furnish a parallel in the material order. They are the house of God and the home and possession of every member of the Church militant without distinction of age or rank or learning. But they are not the same to each. Every one brings his own understanding and faith and insight, and the great Church is to him what he has capacity to understand and to receive. The great majority of worshippers could not draw a