Billeder på siden


port dogmas on the most difficult and doubted questions. In a work of this sort, deep research or laboured argument, was not to be expected, or desired; but even in the most concise and popular manual, it appears to us that some sufficient grounds should be offered for the belief that is inculcated. In the book before us, on the contrary, there is scarcely any argument, and very little citation to the purpose; at best a single text, sometimes mutilated, and often wrested from its natural application, is offered as sufficient to answer all inquiry, and settle all opinions. This is a circumstance very important; because it implies certain habits very destructive of all religious improvement. If the hearer is taught to surrender his powers of inquiry, and to bow rather to the authority than the arguments of his teacher; while the teacher accustoms himself to be satisfied with the implicit, and not the rational assent of his hearer, it is easy to see what must be the consequence to both. Wherever the human mind wants all stimulus to the acquisition of farther information, and wherever it is deprived of all instruction, (and this, as far as regards religion, is precisely the case with a community purely Roman Catholic) the same consequence in both cases must uniformly follow; and that consequence must be ignorance, and a gradual weakening of the intellectual powers. In our zeal, however, for the conviction of reason, let it not be imputed to us that we trench on the province of faith; we feel, and to members of the Church we. need not explain, either how distinct are the empires, or how intimate the union of these mighty instruments of holiness. There, is a beauty, a sublimity, a something of heavenliness in their harmony which no words can aptly convey an idea of—it is only when this harmony is unbroken, that our sacrifice is perfect.

The book commences with a few remarks on the Office of Guardian-Angels, whose existence and ministry are considered to be sufficiently proved by the solitary citation of the 11th verse of the xcth Psalm; unless indeed a reflection of St. Girolamo, which follows, may be thought to add any strength to the demonstration. These remarks serve to introduce a prayer addressed to this invisible companion, and guide; in which he is implored to fulfil that office of illuminating and sanctifying the heart, which we usually attribute to the Holy Spirit. There is nothing very remarkable in the prayer; it is indeed perfectly impossible to distinguish it from any of those addressed to God himself, But that which follows to our Saviour, and which is to be used im mediately before confession, contains such a ground of interces-, sion, as we really were not prepared for even in this book. The, common, and perhaps the scriptural notion of the Magdalene, was of a repentant, and indeed pardoned sinner, of one who had found mercy from the God of mercy, but who had rendered it


[ocr errors]

doubly necessary by years of public and shameful vice; yet "through her merits" are we taught to pray for the divine favour, and what is worse, if worse can well be, we are to couple them with the blood of our Saviour. To avoid all imputation of an ungrounded charge, we quote the whole prayer at length-it is besides a fair specimen of the contents of the volume.


"Orazione da farsi a Dio benedetto avanti la confessione. "O dolcissimo Gesù, amoroso redentore dell' anima mia, giacchè per vostra mera bontà vi siete compiaciuto di risvegliar il mio cuore alla vera penitenza, in virtù del vostro preziosissimo sangue, e per i meriti della penitente Maddalena umilmente vi prego, che vogliate degnarvi di fare, che iò pianga amaramente i mici peccati, e che possa poi tutti perfettamente spiegarli al mio Confessore, acciochè dopo l'assoluzione di questi venga a godere gli effetti benigni della vostra santissimà, e desideratissima grazia. Amen."

"Prayer to be used to Blessed God before the confession.

"O sweetest Jesus, loving Redeemer of my soul, since of thy mere goodness thou hast been pleased to awaken my heart to true repentance, in virtue of thy most precious blood, and through the merits of the penitent Magdalene, I humbly pray thee, that it may seem good to thee to make me bitterly lament my sins, and grant that afterwards I may perfectly unfold them all to my confessor, to the end that after the absolution of them I may come to enjoy the benign effects of thy most holy and most longed for favour. Amen."

This is followed by a few miscellaneous prayers, the titles of some of which are sufficiently curious; to the first is prefixed the following. "A very devout prayer to be addressed daily to the Lord, in which are contained all the acts of virtue necessary for every faithful Christian." If this be comprehensive, that which follows, is inviting; and considering the excellent evidence, on which its promises rest, all prudent people will of course learn it by heart, and commence the use of it without the smallest delay.

"Orazione Efficacissima-a Gesu Crocifisso per impetrare buona morte, la quale essendo recitata da un servo di Deo ogni volta, che passava avanti all' immagine d'un Crocifisso, riferisce Cesareo, chè perciò meritasse di andare subitamente al Paradiso, senza toccare le pene del Purgatorio, sacondo ch'egli stesso rivelò dopo la morte al suo Superiore." P. 24.

Or, (for we should be sorry if an ignorance of Italian should deprive a single reader of the benefit of this important communication) A most Efficacious Prayer to Jesus Crucified, in order to obtain a good death, which being repeated by a Servant of God every time that he passes before the image of a Crucifix, Cesareo relates, that he would on that account be deemed worthy to pass



immediately to Paradise without tasting the pains of Purgatory according as he himself revealed after death to his Superior.

After the mediatory merits of the Magdalene, and the prayer to the Guardian Angel, we cannot be at all surprised at those which follow, to the Virgin, to Joseph, or to St. Anthony of Padoua. This latter personage enjoys a very high, and well-flavoured reputation in Italy; he is here celebrated in a ludicrous, and it must be owned rather an ambiguous manner, as a wonderful finder of things lost; prodigioso ritrovator delle cose. In these degenerate days, and in these despaired of realms, St. Anthony's talents would not meet the "honor due;". "trover" in our minds is intimately allied to " conversion ;" we are not however so uncharitable, and will rather suppose that the saint was a Bow-street runner, or a white-witch, than one of that sagacious fraternity, who, by the annals of the Qld Bailey, appear to have found the watches or handkerchiefs of half the careless citizens of our metropolis.

Bating the humour all these prayers are in the same style; as specimens of composition infinitely simple and sublime. The morning prayer to the Virgin begins thus.

"Dalle tenebre della notte sorgo a riverirvi col principio del gioruo, o pietosissima Vergine, perchè voi siete quella aurora celeste, che producendo il vero sole delle grazie ogni influsso benigno a noi mortali tramanda. Con la bella luce degle occhi vostri fugate, vi prega, l'ombre nojose de' miei mancamenti, e risguardate amorosamente la povertà dell' anima mia, che insieme col corpo alla vostra materna pietà umilmente raccomando, &c." P. 27.

"From the darkness of the night I rise to worship thee with the beginning of the day, Oh most merciful Virgin, because thou art that heavenly Aurora, who producing the true sun of graces, transmittest every benign influence to us mortals; with the beautiful light of thine eyes, chase, I pray thee, the noisome shades of my failings, and regard lovingly the poverty of my soul, which together with my body I humbly recommend to thy maternal pity."

With the same freedom from conceit, and the same simple energy, the Virgin is to be addressed in the evening.

"Nel mare purpureo della Passione di nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, e nel profondissimo abisso della vostra pietà tutti i miei mancamenti, e tutte le mie colpe sommergo o beatissima Vergine, &c." P. 28.

"In the purple sea of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the profound abyss of thy mercy I drown, Oh most blessed Vir gin all my failings, and all my faults, &c."

A great variety of prayers but all conceived, and expressed with


the same happiness, are addressed through the volume to this same personage; at the conclusion of one of them is a represen tation of Venus and Cupid. The "cuts" which adorn the prayers, are worthy of them; " Cythera's queen, and the blind boy," doves, car, clouds, floating drapery, nakedness, every thing in short with classical verity. Is this an error of the printers? perhaps it is; we hope so, and certainly do not mean to impute it as a charge on the editor: but it really is no unmeet emblem of the style and taste of Catholic devotion. For even more objectionable than the wire-drawn conceits, which we have just quoted, is that strange, and indecent union of ideas, that neither from similarity in kind, or equality in dignity, should ever meet in the same sentence. It is among the amusing sophisms of Corinne to account for, and excuse the mixture of Pagan and Christian ornaments in St. Peter's at Rome; much may be plausibly said even for that excessive reverence of the sublime and beautiful in the works of art, or for that misguided devotion, whichever it be, that has produced this strange effect; whether it be an instalment of the finest statues in the noblest edifice, or a sacrifice of visible and material beauty to the invisible dweller of their most cherished temple; sit they there as equals, or as captives; still if the examination be not pushed too far, there is nothing in this absolutely incompatible with right notions of the Deity; but what must be the confusion of that man's mind, who feels no absurdity in coupling the passion of Christ with the pity of the Virgin, or the virtue of his Saviour's blood with the merits of the Magdalene.

Let us, however, proceed to the second part of this most valuable compilation; which, our readers will recollect, relates to the Office of the Mass. In this the important feature is, we think, a belief attempted to be imposed on the mind of the reader, different from that entertained by the writer himself. This is a very serious charge against the ministers of the Gospel, and we would not make it without due consideration; it is the sober, and reluctant conviction, which arises after a very attentive perusal of the pages in question. In all that has gone before, the differences, however wide and important, being principally of a speculative nature, it is not absolutely impossible, that persons educated and informed, may be sincere in their belief of the opinions they profess. But we confess in what follows, we want faith or charity to believe in this possibility. We will not, however, prejudice the judgment of our readers, let them determine for themselves by the sequel.

The Mass then, as our readers probably know, is in its exterior form, made up of a great many motions of the officiating Priest, symbolical of different parts of our Lord's history, from

his entering the garden of Gethsemane to his Ascension; the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the preaching of the Gospel by the Apostles. In the present work, this whole ceremony is broken into thirty-six parts; each of these parts is shortly applied, and a prayer added to be said at each. These prayers, however, are prefaced with a pretty long exhortation to the constant attendance on the Mass, and of this we propose to give a full analysis, founding thereon the opinion we have just ventured to express.

We know not when it was written; the composition and arrangement savour extremely of the Father Francesco Maria Battaglia himself: the spirit and the doctrine are more like those of his predecessors many centuries ago; the darkest ages can produce nothing more gross; if it be written in good faith, or in bad, what a priesthood; if it be read with attention or deference, what a laity. The author, whoever he be, commences with a general assertion of the lofty nature of this sacrament, and of the superior benefits resulting from it to the faithful attendant over every other spiritual instrument of the Church. According to him the souls of men by it are nourished with heavenly food, and preserved in spiritual life, by it a perpetual sacrifice is offered for our sins; by it we are assisted in our perils, and relieved in our wants; and while we return thanks for past mercies, we obtain new blessings not only for ourselves, but for those dear to us, and not only for the living but the dead. It is a sacrifice not only propitiatory and satisfactory, but impetratory; and its efficacy extends over all the earth; it ascends to the highest heaven, it dives to the lowest hell, and reaches to that undiscovered region, where all souls are purged of their sins by the bitterest torments. The prayers put up by the congregation in union with the Priest during this ceremony, have such force, that every thing demanded by them, will most assuredly be granted. Indeed S. Girolamo says more; he promises us not only what we ask, but even what we do not.


Absque dubio dat nobis Dominus, quod in Missâ petimus, et quod magis est, sæpe dat quod non petimus." P. 46.

All this however, immense as to us it may seem, is but mere skirmishing, in fact to what follows; and like most skirmishing, is not so much intended to make a serious impression, as to cover the ulterior movements, and designs of the main body. The advantages offered to constant attendance in this preliminary flourish, are scarcely gross or tangible enough for minds so qualified, as theirs to whom the work is principally addressed. Ân ignorant man, long accustomed, and indeed only accustomed to a religion very formal and ceremonial, where from each rite performed, each opus operatum, an individual, and assured benefit is asserted to result, demands motives of a more selfish and calcula


« ForrigeFortsæt »