Paradoxes of Catholicism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 122 pages of information about Paradoxes of Catholicism.

What, then, is the reconciliation of the Paradox?  In what sense can it be possible that the effect of the Personality of the Prince of Peace, and therefore the effect of His Church, in spite of their claims to be the friends of peace, should be not peace, but the sword?

III.  Now (1) the Catholic Church is a Human Society.  She is constituted, that is to say, of human beings; she depends, humanly speaking, upon human circumstances; she can be assaulted, weakened, and disarmed by human enemies.  She dwells in the midst of human society, and it is with human society that she has to deal.

Now if she were not human—­if she were merely a Divine Society, a far-off city in the heavens, a future distant ideal to which human society is approximating, there would be no conflict at all.  She would never meet in a face-to-face shock the passions and antagonisms of men; she could suppress, now and again, her Counsels of Perfection, her calls to a higher life, if it were not that these are vital and present principles which she is bound to propagate among men.

And again, if she were merely human, there would be no conflict.  If she were merely ascended from below, merely the result of the finest religious thought of the world, the high-water mark of spiritual attainment, again she could compromise, could suppress, could be silent.

But she is both human and divine, and therefore her warfare is certain and inevitable.  For she dwells in the midst of the kingdoms of this world, and these are constituted, at any rate at the present day, on wholly human bases.  Statesmen and kings, at the present day, do not found their policies upon supernatural considerations; their object is to govern their subjects, to promote the peace and union of their subjects, to make war, if need be, on behalf of the peace of their subjects, wholly on natural grounds.  Commerce, finance, agriculture, education in the things of this world, science, art, exploration—­human activities generally—­these, in their purely natural aspect, are the objects of nearly all modern statesmanship.  Our rulers are professedly, in their public capacity, neither for religion nor against it; religion is a private matter for the individual, and governments stand aside—­or at any rate profess to do so.

And it is in this kind of world, in this fashion of human society, that the Catholic Church, in virtue of her humanity, is bound to dwell.  She too is a kingdom, though not of this world, yet in it.

(2) For she is also Divine.  Her message contains, that is to say, a number of supernatural principles revealed to her by God; she is supernaturally constituted; she rests on a supernatural basis; she is not organized as if this world were all.  On the contrary she puts the kingdom of God definitely first and the kingdoms of the world definitely second; the Peace of God first and the harmony of men second.

Therefore she is bound, when her supernatural principles clash with human natural principles, to be the occasion of disunion.  Her marriage laws, as a single example, are at conflict with the marriage laws of the majority of modern States.  It is of no use to tell her to modify these principles; it would be to tell her to cease to be supernatural, to cease to be herself.  How can she modify what she believes to be her Divine Message?

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Paradoxes of Catholicism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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