« НазадПродовжити »
tion, and not by its essence; and it is for the same reason that we distinguish things according to their proportions of lesser and greater, and not by those qualities which bear no comparison, because in each one they are unique. Finite, indeed, is each human personality, but, none the less is it made up of thoughts no other has thought, deeds no other has done, love no other has felt. To destroy the personality, even though the infinite that was behind it should remain, were to blot out of the universe a chain of spiritual events which could never be lived again, for to rob them of their personal element would be to rob them, not of a mere accident of their being, but of their source and intimate qualification. It was because I was so that I acted so, and because I acted so that I became so; I am a sequence, however broken and uneven, and the infinite in me is also the personal; the two are inextricably interwoven. There was an idiosyncracy in Schopenhauer which made his doctrine more bearable to him than it could be to many other men, and that was the fact that personal love and friendship played but a small part in his life. To those who love, the instinct to defend the existence and sacredness of personality is far more than doubled; it is a struggle of life and death. Perhaps, quite unconsciously, Schopenhauer's intense hatred for women was based on his instinct that this was a point on which they stood ranked in solid opposition to him. The instinct of a woman is to be personal, too personal, in all her conceptions; and a widely-spread instinct, even were it an irrational one, should find due recognition in a large-minded philosophy. Schopenhauer was weary of himself, and he cared little for others; his doctrine brought him salvation from that misery, out of which alone his self-knowledge had been evolved. He regarded his best moments as his impersonal ones, and this was, in great part, because his best moments were those of pure thought, in which the heart had no share, or at least, to him, no conscious share. His was a divided nature, with strong contrasts of good and evil. He made the unhappy mistake of devoting his intellect to the highest and abandoning his heart to the lowest instincts of his nature. Had his con- templation been blended with love his philosophy would have been at once more human and more personal. But what is the great lesson we can learn from Schopenhauer, in spite of all these important differences ? It is the doctrine of renunciation, which he has put in a way all his own, but, just for this reason, peculiarly emphatic and impressive. The “denial of the will to live" is, in a certain sense, a commandment of Christ as well as of Schopenhauer. We have to resist those brutal instincts which would compress the infinite into the narrow space of our limited personality, which would efface and destroy, at least as far as self is concerned, everything that cannot be thus contracted. We must break down the barriers of self-love to let in the larger life, and be rather everlasting pilgrims, in pursuit of the infinite and eternal, than petty lords of whatever we can cram into the limits of our narrow capacity.
· And thus the “denial of the will to live ” becomes not a will to die, but a denial of all that would obstruct and contract the infinite power of living; fixing it within narrow and selfish limits; giving a short-lived peace with eternal dishonor.
It is a denial which will imply not less but more activity and intensity of personal existence. It will result in a “will to live," not at all costs or on any terms, but to live for the highest and die for it too, if need be. We shall be ready to take up our life, but we shall also be ready to lay it down we shall live as members of a greater whole, and we shall bring the blind forces within us into subjection to our personal knowledge and love of that whole. We shall not attempt to confine the infinite within our own narrow limits, but shall make of our personality a point of never-ending tendency, an everlasting response to God and all creation.
THE CURÉ OF ARS.
BY R. F. O'CONNOR.
ANDT has been fittingly reserved for Pius X., a Pon
tiff of peasant parentage, and once a country parish priest, to raise to the honors of the altar
one who, like himself, was peasant born and Surule had charge of a country parish. There is a sympathetic association in this linking of two personalities illustrative of the essentially democratic character of the great Christian Republic, which unites in a certain equality before God princes and peasants, peers and proletarians.
Even more than this is implied in the beatification of the Curé of Ars. Sprung from peasants, and born at a time when the neglect of the agricultural classes was one of the causes which hastened the downfall of the Bourbon monarchy, involving the hierarchy and clergy, as well as the aristocracy, in its fall, the Curé of Ars was to illustrate in his own person and by his own action the best methods—the only methods, by which the Church is to win back the democracy, many of whom have long been estranged from it. Reinstaurare omnia in Christothe keynote which Pius X. struck with no uncertain sound in his first encyclical—was the keynote of the life, action, and influence of the Curé of Ars.
Though the fury of the great revolutionary storm, which had swept away throne and altar, had somewhat abated, and though some of the proscribed priests and religious had stealthily returned, the state of the country was still more or less disturbed when Jean Baptiste Vianney, the son of a small farmer of Dardilly, near Lyons, was growing up. He used to tell in after years of the loaded wagons of hay drawn up against the door of the barn which served as a chapel, to screen the worshippers from malicious observation. The description his biographer, the Abbé Alfred Monnin, gives of these secret religious services forcibly reminds one of the Masses in the mountains and glens of Ireland during the penal times.
“The altar,” says M. Monnin, "encircled only by the parents and some few friends, upon whose fidelity entire dependence could be placed, was usually prepared in the granary, or some upper chamber, to be out of the reach of observation. There, before daybreak, in the strictest secrecy, the Holy Sacrifice was offered. There was something in the precautions necessary to keep suspicion and hostile observation at bay, and in the mystery which accompanied all the preparations for the great day, which told of a time of persecution, and breathed of the air of the Catacombs. The soul of the young communicant could not but be deeply and permanently impressed by all the circumstances attending his first participation of the Bread of the strong in those days of trial and apostasy."
Ars, a small sequestered village in the midst of the wooded vales of Les Dombes, dominated on the North by an old feudal castle, reminiscent of the far-off days when the Dombes constituted an ancient principality, was in a poor way when the Abbé Vianney arrived on February 9, 1818, to take over the pastoral charge in succession to the Abbé Berger, who had been appointed Curé on the restoration of religious worship in France. “Go, my friend,” said the Vicar General; "there is but little of the love of God in that parish; you will enkindle it."
The new Curé, who, after his ordination in 1815, at the age of twenty-nine, had been formed to the sacerdotal life while curate to the saintly Abbé Balley, parish priest of Ecully, came in most apostolic poverty, without script or staff or money in his purse. When he first caught sight of his parish, he knelt and implored a blessing which it sorely needed; and finally the village did prove worthy of it. When the good Curé arrived it was in a state of utter spiritual destitution, and its people were noted among the neighboring villagers for their headlong and reckless passion for pleasure. He found his little Church as cold and empty as the hearts of the worshippers, he made it, by self-denying labors, not only a model parishwa model to France and all the world—but a place of pilgrimage, a sanctuary, a source of spiritual life and light. The noisy revelry of the tavern and the dance, and the desecration of the Sunday, were gradually abolished, the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, frequent Communion, and confraternities were established; the people were brought to love the beauty of God's house, and the place where his glory dwelleth, and to delight more in sacred melodies than in secular songs. “Only grant me the conversion of my parish, and I consent to suffer whatever thou wilt for the remainder of my life," was the prayer the Curé addressed to our Lord.
That prayer was answered. Success—astounding successwas purchased by sufferings equally astounding. The Curé predicted that a time would come when Ars would not be able to contain its inhabitants, and that prediction was likewise amply fulfilled, when, for thirty years, pilgrimage after pilgrimage added innumerable multitudes to its congested population. The influx of pilgrims necessitated the erection of houses, the building of new roads, new public conveyances by land and water, and a packet-boat service on the Saône. It was calculated that, on an average, more than twenty thousand persons visited Ars every year. During the year 1848 the omnibuses which plied between the village and the Saône deposited eighty thousand. Pilgrims came from all parts of France, Savoy, Belgium, Germany, and England. They numbered all sorts and conditions—the blind, the lame, and the halt; all, in fact, who were suffering in soul or body,drawn by the strange tidings that miracles were wrought by an obscure country priest in a little village near one of the chief cities of France, and in the midst of a sceptical age which denied the possibility of miracles. The origin of these pilgrimages is chiefly ascribed to the Cure's prayers for the conversion of sinners. “The grace which he obtained for them,” says Catherine Lassagne, his co-operator in the foundation of the “Providence," an asylum for orphans and destitute girls, “was so powerful that it went to seek them out, and would leave them no rest till it had brought them to his feet.” But the Curé himself ascribed them, and all the graces and wonders which contributed to the celebrity of the pilgrimages, to his “dear little saint," the childmartyr, St. Philomena.
One of the secrets of the Curé of Ars' power, if secret it could be called, was that he thoroughly identified himself with his parishioners “ All his thoughts,” says the Abbé Monnin, “were concentrated upon them; their peace was his peace; their joys his joys; their troubles his sorrows; their virtues his crown." It was this thoroughness, this identification, this total absence of any aloofness or mere perfunctory performance of duties, this wide sympathy with all, that made the people at once recognize in him the type-priest, the true shepherd of the flock of God, not the hireling. The Curé realized that the