Paradoxes of Catholicism eBook

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

And then, as he goes deeper, he begins to encounter phenomena which do not fall so easily under his compact little theories.  If she is merely human, why do not the laws of all other human societies appear to affect her too?  Why is it that she alone shows no incline towards dissolution and decay?  Why has not she too split up into the component parts of which she is welded?  How is it that she has preserved a unity of which all earthly unities are but shadows?  Or he meets with the phenomena of her sanctity and begins to perceive that the difference between the character she produces in her saints and the character of the noblest of those who do not submit to her is one of kind and not merely of degree.  If she is merely mediaeval, how is it that she commands such allegiance as that which is paid to her in modern America?  If she is merely European, how is it that she alone can deal with the Oriental on his own terms?  If she is merely the result of temporal circumstances, how is it that her spiritual influence shows no sign of waning when the forces that helped to build her are dispersed?

His theory too, then, becomes less confident.  If she is Human, why is she so evidently Divine?  If she is Divine, whence comes her obvious Humanity?  So years ago men asked, If Christ be God, how could He be weary by the wayside and die upon the Cross?  So men ask now, If Christ be Man, how could He cast out devils and rise from the dead?

II.  We come back, then, to the Catholic answer.  Treat the Catholic Church as Divine only and you will stumble over her scandals, her failures, and her shortcomings.  Treat her as Human only and you will be silenced by her miracles, her sanctity, and her eternal resurrections.

(i) Of course the Catholic Church is Human.  She consists of fallible men, and her Humanity is not even safeguarded as was that of Christ against the incursions of sin.  Always, therefore, there have been scandals, and always will be.  Popes may betray their trust, in all human matters; priests their flocks; laymen their faith.  No man is secure.  And, again, since she is human it is perfectly true that she has profited by human circumstances for the increase of her power.  Undoubtedly it was the existence of the Roman Empire, with its roads, its rapid means of transit, and its organization, that made possible the swift propagation of the Gospel in the first centuries.  Undoubtedly it was the empty throne of Caesar and the prestige of Rome that developed the world’s acceptance of the authority of Peter’s Chair.  Undoubtedly it was the divisions of Europe that cemented the Church’s unity and led men to look to a Supreme Authority that might compose their differences.  There is scarcely an opening in human affairs into which she has not plunged; hardly an opportunity she has missed.  Human affairs, human sins and weaknesses as well as human virtues, have all contributed to her power.  So grows a tree, even in uncongenial soil.  The rocks that impede the roots later become their support; the rich soil, waiting for an occupant, has been drawn up into the life of the leaves; the very winds that imperilled the young sapling have developed too its power of resistance.  Yet these things do not make the tree.

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Paradoxes of Catholicism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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