« EdellinenJatka »
HE mission of the Catholic Church is to save souls.
To realize this mission, she seeks to win, to warn, and to instruct them, by a thousand different methods: by the preaching and the writing of the word of God; by prayer, sacrifice, example; by the labors of her schools, colleges, universities, her priesthood, religious orders, her lay confraternities. She recognizes that the four pillars of national no less than individual greatness rest upon religion, education, labor, and the union of them all. To develop, then, the truths of religion, to advance the work of education, to bless labor in its more exalted or humbler forms, to strengthen by all these means the bonds of universal brotherhood in guiding us all heavenwards, — such is her constant, untiring aim and work. It was the mission and spirit of her Divine Founder. It must necessarily be her spirit and mission also. She thus seeks to place mankind in the proper relationship with one another. She seeks thus to place society on its true basis, by teaching men and women the true doctrine of mutual social responsibility; seeking not "the greatest good of the greatest number," as false philosophy would teach us, but rather the greatest good of all. As a consequence of her efforts to develop the moral,
religious, and educational nature of man, breathing a divine spirit through it all, the sum of moral and social wrongs is diminished, and the social, political, and religious problems of the day find a new and correct solution.
She alone recognizes authoritatively the equality of all men before God, since all have the same origin, duties, and destiny. She also recognizes the social inequalities which must exist forever, since inequality of talent, energy, character, moral strength, will forever exist, as part of a Divine plan; but she seeks, like her Founder, to teach the lesson of Dives and Lazarus to the human mind and heart, and thus adjust the balance that is ever to be struck between them.
An authorized mouthpiece of this divinely given mission and work has been established on this earth. We look to him whenever heresy or infidelity seeks to corrupt the gulfstream of religious truth that flows, clear and strong, adown and among the tides of time, and which has touched the shores of every people from the beginning. We await his word whenever and wherever perverted minds seek to educate the mind at the expense of the heart, by taking down the thorn-crowned head from the wall of the Catholic schoolroom, and refusing Catholics freedom of teaching. We listen for his decision when nihilism, socialism, communism, anarchism, seek to deprive honest men of the rewards of honest labor; or when titled despots seek to crush a nation; or when aristocrats seek to rob the toiling millions of the reasonable enjoyment of their rights to life, liberty, and happiness.
To him we turn our eyes when secret societies endeavor to lead men astray by counterfeit teachings and representa
tions of Christian brotherhood, liberty, and equality, forgetting that true brotherhood, true liberty, and true equality were taught by One who "spoke as having authority." Who is this guide to whom the human race can turn with confidence whenever and wherever the perverse spirit of contradiction attempts to scatter abroad the seeds and tares of error in the field of religious, educational, political, industrial, and social thought? Pope Leo XIII. He is the Moses of our day, whom God has appointed as the light, lumen de cœlo, for the teaching of the nations of the world, and the glory of his people. He is the one who stands, as did the Moses of old, by Divine commission, before the "rock of contradiction." He smites it with the blossoming rod of his infallible teachings, of his encyclicals; and the saving waters of life, to refresh the wearied and sinful world, immediately follow the blow.
The object of this biography is to show how well Pope Leo has understood and fulfilled the difficult, dangerous, exacting duties of his exalted position.
The watchman on the towers of Israel, his inspired glance has swept around the far-reaching horizon that bounds the world of Europe, Asia, Africa, America, Australia; and in each of these great divisions of the world he has re-created, inspired, recruited, and armed again the ten thousand champions of truth, justice, and judgment on this earth.
Like the founder of that Order on which he has conferred and confirmed its privileges, faculties, and exemptions, he seems to have chosen for his motto, "Work as if all depended on work, and pray as if all depended on prayer."
He is the continuator of the long line of Roman Pon
tiffs, illustrious not only by the accident of birth, but by achievement even to an heroic degree; of men who stand forth as the champions of the down-trodden and oppressed, as the rebukers of royal no less than popular injustice, as the bulwarks of religion, as the munificent patrons of art, of law, of education, of science, of whatever, in a word, contributed to the advancement of true civilization.
Now the praise-offering to exalted worth generally begins its word-painting by calling forth revered ancestral forms from long-forgotten graves, to fill the background, and then surrounds its hero with living forms of kindred greatness. But some figures in history appear so grand that they exclude from the canvas all companionship with the living, while they derive no additional grandeur from being grouped with the awful figures of the departed. They stand best when they stand alone. So might we say of Pope Leo; and it is with this conviction that I close the preface of this book, and refer the reader to the record to be found therein of Pope Leo's claims to greatness.
P. A. MCKENNA.