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number. Their shrines and altars are honoured by his frequent visits. He supposes them to preside over his affairs, and to administer perpetual guidance and protection; hence he is not only instructed to implore their intercession on his behalf, but also to offer prayers to them, invoking their assistance.* In short, God is practically excluded; the interces
* “ The Catholic church teaches her children not to pray to the saints as to the authors or givers of divine grace, but only to solicit the saints in heaven to pray for them, in the same sense as St. Paul desired the faithful on earth to pray for him."- Declaration of the Roman-catholic Bishops, &c. p. 11.
This, however, is only part of the truth, as the following extracts will testify :
“Q. What is your morning exercise ? A. 1. I bow down my whole soul and body to adore my God; and I offer myself to his divine service. 2. I give him thanks for his infinite goodness to me and to all his creatures; and desire to join with all the angels and saints in blessing and praising him. 3. I crave pardon from my heart for all my sins, and beg that I may rather die than offend my God any more. 4. I offer up to God all my thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings, throughout the day; and beg his blessing on them.
“Q. And what prayers do you say after this ? A. I say Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Apostles' Creed ; and I make acts of faith, hope, and the love of God.
“Q. Do you anything else? A. I pray for my friends and for my enemies, for the living and for the dead; and I beg mercy, grace, and salvation, for all. Then I conclude by desiring our blessed Lady to be a mother to me, and by recommending myself to my good angel, and to all the court of heaven.” Abstract of the Douay Catechism, p. 76.
“ Offer your prayers to the blessed Virgin, your angel guardian, your patron, and all the saints together.”—Catholic School Book, p. 171. See also Garden of the Soul, pp. 33, 157.
An esteemed clergyman of the church of England gives the following description of the evening worship of a Roman-catholic ship's company in the Mediterranean :-“ About half an hour after sunset, the captain would assemble all the sailors in the aft part of the ship to prayers; he himself performing the part of chaplain, while the crew all knelt down, and engaged in a service which lasted half an hour. It was chiefly in Latin ; but the sailors appeared perfectly instructed in repeating the words. After the Pater Noster, they went through the Rosary, or Hymn to the Virgin : the master and the mate performed one part, while the whole ship's company chanted the responses in good time and tune. In this way, the tender epithets addressed in the Rosary to the Virgin Mary were echoed for ten minutes by this rough set of men, with the constant cadence of Ora pro nobis.' Then followed prayers for this good ship,' for the merchandise on board, for the man at the helm, &c. Then a long list of saints, whose very names most sion of the Saviour is forgotten; the saints are all in all. This is true of the multitude. If the sentiments of the enlightened appear somewhat more congenial with scripture, still it is evident that this branch of the Roman-catholic system must, in every instance, produce unworthy ideas of the character of the Almighty, who is supposed to withhold his blessings till they are wrung from him by the prayers and persuasions of the saints. But he has said, that he “ will not give his glory to another.” There is indeed an affectation of humility in maintaining that the honour paid to the saints is to be referred to him by whose grace they were made such, and that it is presumptuous in us to expect divine benefits without their intervention; but still the question returns, “ Who hath required this at your hands ?” Innumerable promises encourage our direct approach to the throne of grace, and there is but one name which we may mention there, in support of our plea. He who associates others with the redeemer, or substitutes others in his place, treats him with foul indignity, and has no scriptural warrant to expect a blessing. With what indignation, it may be safely affirmed, would the Apostle Paul have read the following prayers, offered in Roman-catholic churches on the anniversary of the death of Thomas à Becket! - O God, in defence of whose church the glorious prelate Thomas fell by the swords of wicked men, grant, we beseech thee, that all who implore his assistance may find comfort in the grant of their petition.” “ Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings consecrated to thee, and being appeased thereby, mercifully look upon us, by the intercession of blessed Thomas, thy martyr and bishop.” “ May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin, and, by the intercession of blessed Thomas,
Englishmen never heard of, were invoked with an “ Ora pro nobis,' after this manner- Let us suy a Pater Noster and a prayer to St. Francis, to deliver us from all misfortune.' After a pause, not hurried, during which all had repeated to themselves the customary words, he named another saint, to whom a Pater Noster and a prayer should be said. In this way he led for about ten times, specifying different evils to be prayed against, as tempest, shipwreck, and plague; and addressing the Virgin Mary under her different titles, di Loretto, del Carmine, &c.; and also praying to the Santissimo Sacramento, meaning the real presence of Christ.”—Jowett's Christian Researches in the Mediterranean, p. 332.
thy martyr and bishop, make us effectual partakers of this heavenly remedy."*
Creature-worship reaches its utmost height in the Virgin Mary. The devout Roman Catholic pays her the most extravagant honour and veneration. The language adopted in addressing the “ Queen of heaven” cannot be acquitted of the charge of blasphemy, since prayers are offered directly to her, as if to a divine being, and blessings are supplicated, as from one who is able to bestow them. In all devotions she has a share. The Ave Maria accompanies the Pater Noster. “ Evening, morning, and at noon,” said the Psalmist, “ will I pray unto thee, and cry aloud :” the pious Roman Catholic transfers these services to the Virgin. In tender childhood
* Roman-catholic Missal for the use of the Laity, p. 85.
† “ It is an established custom in our country towns to awake the labouring population before the break of day, that they may be early in readiness to begin their work, especially in the corn-fields, which are often at the distance of six or eight miles from the labourers' dwellings. Nothing but religion, however, could give a permanency to this practice. Consequently, a rosary, or procession, to sing praises to the Virgin Mary before the dawn, has been established among us from time immemorial. A man with a good voice, active, sober, and fond of early rising, is either paid, or volunteers his services, to perambulate the streets an hour before day-break, knocking at the doors of such as wish to attend the procession, and inviting all to quit their beds and join in the worship of the Mother of God.”—Doblado's Letters from Spain, p. 210.
“There is no service in the Roman-catholic church so impressive as the evening service to the Virgin, or Ave Maria."....“ Venice is the city of silence. The gondolas, or barges, gliding noiselessly along the water of the canals, are the only things which move, freighted with men or merchandise; not the sound of a wheel, not the clattering of a hoof ever breaks upon the ear. The hum of human voices is all that is heard, and this seems to cease when the chimes have pealed for Ave Maria. St. Mark's, which of all other sanctuaries, from its dark and retiring aisles, its massy pillars, its antiquated construction, its dingy colouring, and imperfect light, is calculated to add to the effect of this evening service, is completely filled every evening a few minutes after the vesper-bell has tolled. A concourse of people hurry in from all quarters; the merchant ceases from his half-finished bargain, the young and the gay desist from trifling, the porter leaves his burden upon the steps of the cathedral, and all that happen to be near quit their occupations or amusements, to offer up the prayer of a moment to the Virgin. The organ plays a soft symphony while the multitude are entering and dispersing themselves through the church : on a sudden a small bell tinkles, and every knee is bent, and every head bowed in silent adoration. Not a sound from
he is taught to cherish for her the profoundest reverence and the highest affection ;* throughout life she is the object of his daily regard, and five solemn festivals, annually observed to her honour, call forth his ardent love and zeal ;t and in the hour of death, he is taught to place reliance on her mercy. I To the ignorant devotee she is more than Christ, than God; he
within or without disturbs the spirit of supplication. This lasts for a minute or two. The bell tinkles again : the congregation then rise from their knees, the tapers are extinguished, and the sacred walls are soon left to solitude and darkness. I witnessed this scene several times, and never without an unusual degree of emotion. It was impossible not to honour the feeling of devotion, short-lived as it might be, which brought so many to the foot of the altar, and equally impossible not to condemn the profane system which directs the supplicant to address his prayers to the imaginary Queen of heaven and the Mother of God.”—Gilly's Tour in Piedmont.
Dr. Challoner says, that in Catholic countries the church bell rings at six in the morning, twelve at noon, and six in the evening : at each time the “ Angelus Domini," a form of devotion in which the Ave Maria is included, is to be repeated.—Garden of the Soul, p. 37.
* “If you will be a true child, and a sincere servant of the blessed Virgin, you must be careful to perform four things :-1. Have a great apprehension of displeasing her by mortal sin, and of afflicting her motherly heart by dishonouring her Son, and destroying your soul; and if you chance to fall into that misfortune, have recourse readily to her, that she may be your intercessor in reconciling you to her Son, whom you have extremely provoked. 2. Love and imitate her virtues, principally her humility and chastily. 3. Have recourse to her in all your spiritual necessities; and for that end offer to her daily some particular prayers. 4. Be mindful to invoke her in temptations, and in the dangers you find yourself in of offending God. You cannot shew your respect better than by applying yourself to her in these urgent necessities, and you can find no succour more ready and favourable than hers. If you perform this, you will have a true devotion to the blessed Virgin, you will be of the number of her real children, and she will be your mother, under whose protection you shall never perish.”—Catholic School Book, p. 159–161.
† Her Conception, Dec. 8; Nativity, Sept. 8 ; Annunciation, March 25; Purification, Feb. 2; Assumption, August 15.
The following is a curious illustration of the effect of these principles :Describing some Italian banditti, a traveller says—“Every robber had a silver heart, containing a picture of the Madonna and child, suspended by a red ribbon to his neck, and fastened with another of the same colour to his side..... They talked pretty freely with their prisoners about themselves and their habits of life, which they maintained arose from necessity rather than choice. They shewed them the heart and picture of the Madonna, which each had suspended from his neck, saying,' We know that we are likely to die a violent death, but in our hour of need we have these,' touching their muskets,
believes that she can command her Son, that to her intercession nothing can be denied, and that to her power all things are possible.* The following extracts, consisting of translations from the Breviary, by a Roman-catholic divine, will justify these statements :
“ O holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the afflicted, pray for the people, intercede for the clergy, make supplication for the devout female sex ; let all be sensible of thy help, who celebrate thy holy commemoration.”.....“ Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sorrows, and come to eternal joy, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“ Salve Regina.
Mother of clemency and love:
Eve's banished children, cry to thee.
Send sighs and groans unto thine ears ;
A pitying look on us below.
Our blessed Jesus born of thee:
to struggle for our lives with, and this,' kissing the image of the Virgin, 'to make our death easy.?”—Graham's Three Months' Residence in the Mountains East of Rome, pp. 155, 161.
* 6 She is most powerful with God, to obtain from him all that she shall ask of him. She is all goodness in regard to us, by applying to God for us. Being Mother of God, he cannot refuse her request; being our mother, she cannot deny her intercession when we have recourse to her. Our miseries move her, our necessities urge her ; the prayers we offer her for our salvation bring us all that we desire ; and St. Bernard is not afraid to say, “That never any person invoked that mother of mercies in his necessities, who has not been sensible of the effects of her assistance.'”—Catholic School Book, p. 158.