Christ's Faithful People
|Amongst the illusions entertained by a certain class of Catholics, there is none more
pitiable than the notion that the truth requires a great number of defenders and friends.
To these people, numbers seem a synonym for force. They imagine that to multiply
heterogenous quantities is to multiply power.
Now true force-real power, in the physical as in the moral order-consists in intensity, rather than in extension. A greater volume of matter equally intense evidently produces a greater effect, not by reason of the increased volume, but by virtue of the augmented intensities contained in it. It is therefore a rule of sound mechanics to seek to increase the extension and number of forces, but always on the condition that the final result be a real augmentation of their intensities. To be content with an increase without consideration of the value of the increment is not only to accumulate fictitious force, but to expose to paralysis the powers which one does possess by the congestion of an unwieldy mass. The millions of Xerxes' army constituted a force of tremendous extension, but they were of no avail against the vigorous intensity of the Greek three hundred at Thermopylae.
Faith possesses a power of its own, which it communicates to its friends and defenders. It is not they who give the truth power, but truth which charges them with its own vigor. This on the condition that they use that power in its defense.
If the defender, under the pretext of better defending the truth, begins to mutilate it, to minimize it, to attenuate it, then he is no longer defending the truth. He is simply defending his own invention, a mere human creation, more or less beautiful in appearance, but having no relation to truth, which is the daughter of Heaven.
Such is the delusion of which many of our brethren are the unconscious victims, through a detestable contact with Liberalism.
They imagine, with blinded good faith, that they are defending and propagating Catholicity. But by dint of accommodating it to their own narrow views and feeble courage, in order to make it, they say, more acceptable to the enemy whom they wish to overcome, they do not perceive that they are no longer defending Catholicity, but a thing of their own manufacture, which they naively call Catholicity, but which they ought to call by another name. Poor victims of self-deception, who at the beginning of the battle, in order to win over the enemy, wet their own powder and blunt the edge and the point of their swords! They do not stop to reflect that an edgeless and pointless sword is no longer a weapon, but a useless piece of old iron, and that wet powder cannot be fired.
Their journals, their books, their discoursesveneered with Catholicity but bereft of its spirit and its life-have no more value in the cause of the Faith than the toy swords and pistols of the nursery.
To an army of this kind, be it ten times as numerous as the multitudinous hosts of Xerxes, a single platoon of well-armed soldiers-knowing what they are defending, against whom they are contending, and with what arms they fight in order to defend the truth-is preferable a thousand times over. This is the kind of soldiers we need. This is the kind who have always and will yet do something more for the glory of His Name. They go into the deadly, imminent breach and never flinch.
No compromising, no minimizing with them.
They plant their banner on the topmost height and form a solid, invincible phalanx around it that not all the legions of Earth and Hell combined can budge a single inch. They make no alliance, no compromise with a foe whose single aim, disguised or open, is the destruction of the truth. They know that the enemy is by nature implacable and that his flag of truce is but a cunning device of treachery.
Of this we will become more and more convinced, if we consider that an alliance of this kind with a false auxiliary group is not only useless to the good Christian in the midst of the combat, but moreover, it is most of the time an actual embarrassment to him and favorable to the enemy. Catholic associations hampered in their onward march by such an alliance will find themselves so impeded that free action becomes impossible. They will end by having all their energies crushed under a deadly inertia. To bring an enemy into the camp is to betray the citadel. It was not until the Trojans admitted the fatal wooden horse within the city walls that Illium [Troy] fell. This combination of the bad with the good cannot but end in evil results. It brings disorder, confusion, suspicion and uncertainty to distract and divide Catholics, and all this to the benefit of the enemy and to our own disaster.
Against such a course la Civilta Cattolica, in some remarkable articles, has emphatically declared. Without the proper precaution, it says, "associations of this kind (Catholic) run the certain danger, not only of becoming a camp of scandalous discord, but also of wandering away from their true principles, to their own ruin and to the great injury of religion '" And this same review, whose authority is of the greatest possible weight, in regard to the same subject, says, "With a prudent understanding, Catholic associations ought chiefly to take care to exclude from amongst themselves not only those who openly profess the principles of Liberalism, but also those who have deceived themselves into believing that a conciliation between Liberalism and Catholicism is possible, and who are known as Liberal Catholics."