(1) First the Catholic Church is Divine. She dwells, that is to say, in heavenly places; she looks always upon the Face of God; she holds enshrined in her heart the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ and the stainless perfection of that Immaculate Mother from whom that Humanity was drawn. How is it conceivable, then, that she should be content with any standard short of perfection? If she were a Society evolved from below—a merely human Society that is to say—she could never advance beyond those standards to which in the past her noblest children have climbed. But since there dwells in her the Supernatural—since Mary was endowed from on high with a gift to which no human being could ascend, since the Sun of Justice Himself came down from the heavens to lead a human life under human terms—how can she ever again be content with anything short of that height from which these came?
(2) But she is also human, dwelling herself in the midst of humanity, placed here in the world for the express object of gathering into herself and of sanctifying by her graces that very world which has fallen from God. These outcasts and these sinners are the very material on which she has to work; these waste products of human life, these marred types and specimens of humanity have no hope at all except in her.
For, first, she desires if she can—and she has often been able—actually to raise these, first to sanctity and then to her own altars; it is for her and her only to raise the poor from the dunghill and to set them with the princes. She sets before the Magdalen and the thief, then, nothing less but her own standard of perfection.
Yet though in one sense she is satisfied with nothing lower than this, in another sense she is satisfied with almost infinitely nothing. If she can but bring the sinner within the very edge of grace; if she can but draw from the dying murderer one cry of contrition; if she can but turn his eyes with one look of love to the crucifix, her labours are a thousand times repaid; for, if she has not brought him to the head of sanctity, she has at least brought him to its foot and set him there beneath that ladder of the supernatural which reaches from hell to heaven.
For she alone has this power. She alone is so utterly confident in the presence of the sinner because she alone has the secret of his cure. There in her confessional is the Blood of Christ that can make his soul clean again, and in her Tabernacle the Body of Christ that will be his food of eternal life. She alone dares be his friend because she alone can be his Saviour. If, then, her saints are one sign of her identity, no less are her sinners another.