Infomotions, Inc.The Young Priest's Keepsake / Phelan, Michael



Author: Phelan, Michael
Title: The Young Priest's Keepsake
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): priest; preacher; father phelan; catholic; pulpit; sermon; ireland; irish; young priest
Contributor(s): Suppanen, Alma, 1858-1937 [Translator]
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Size: 36,451 words (really short) Grade range: 11-14 (high school) Readability score: 55 (average)
Identifier: etext16330
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Title: The Young Priest's Keepsake

Author: Michael Phelan

Release Date: July 19, 2005 [EBook #16330]

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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE YOUNG PRIEST'S KEEPSAKE ***




Produced by Angela





THE YOUNG PRIEST'S KEEPSAKE

By  MICHAEL J. PHELAN, S.J.

Second Edition.

DUBLIN
M. H. GILL AND SON, LTD.
AND WATERFORD
1909



1st. Edition           MAY, 1909.
2nd.   --    Enlarged, NOV., 1909.



PREFACE

This little book is written in the hope that it may assist young
priests and ecclesiastical students to meet the demands which the
life before them has in store.

Works specially suited to the priest, the layman and the nun are
happily abundant; but to the young man standing on the threshold
of his career as a priest, how few are addressed. Yet it is while
his character is in the formative stage, and his weapons are
still in the shaping, that advice and direction are of most
practical value.

The writer brings to his task only one qualification on which he
can rely--his own personal experience.

After having gone through a long course of preparation in Irish
ecclesiastical colleges, he lived for nearly thirteen years on
the Australian mission, and is now completing a decade spent in
giving missions and retreats in all parts of Ireland. Of the
college, therefore, and of the foreign and home missions he can
speak with whatever authority a long experience and ordinary
powers of observation are supposed to give.

In dealing with the foreign mission he does not rely solely on
his own judgment. Many matters here treated of he heard
repeatedly discussed by priests abroad, who bitterly deplored
that, while in college, they knew so little of the life before
them, and regretted that there was then no kind friend to take
them by the hand and show them what was in store when the day
came for them to plunge into a life that was strange and entirely
new. It is to be hoped that this modest volume will, in part at
least, discharge the office of that friend.

It may appear, at first sight, that when writing the fourth
chapter, "On Pulpit Oratory," the author had before his mind an
elaborate discourse, such as is expected only on great occasions.
This is not so.

It is true that the various parts of a sermon, when detailed in
analysis, may seem, like the works of a watch spread out on a
table, bewilderingly numerous and complex. But when we come to
construct, it will be found that in synthesis the distracting
number of small parts will disappear, to coalesce and form the
few main principles on which either a sermon or a watch is built.
These principles are essential to every discourse, no matter how
brief. As the humble seven-and-sixpenny "Waterbury" requires its
springs and levers equally with the hundred-guinea "repeater," so
the twenty minutes' sermon, to be effective, must have a fixed
plan and definite sequence as well as the more ambitious effort.

Most of these chapters were written originally for the "Mungret
Annual," with a view to assist the apostolic students who are
now, as priests, rendering such splendid service to the Church of
God abroad. And it was the very generous reception accorded the
articles in the ecclesiastical colleges that suggested the idea
of presenting them in the more lasting form of a book.

Sacred Heart College, Limerick,
    _March_ 17, 1909, Feast of St. Patrick.



PREFACE

TO THE SECOND EDITION

The rapid sale of the first edition of this work surprised no one
more than the author. It was not addressed to the public in
general, but to a limited section; the price, while moderate,
could not be called cheap; yet within a little over two months
the entire edition was exhausted.

It is impossible to express my deep gratitude to the reviewers.
From them the book met with a chorus of approving welcome,
without even one jarring note. To all I now tender my grateful
thanks; but the author of "My New Curate" has placed me under a
special obligation for his thoughtful critique in the _Freeman's
Journal_, and Ibh Maine for his friendly review in the _Leader_.
Nor should I omit to thank the ecclesiastical colleges, that not
only pardoned the blunt candour of some of the chapters, but gave
the book a more than cordial reception.

The present edition includes two entirely new chapters--the two
last--extending over 45 pages. It is hoped that the added matter
will prove of as much interest as those chapters of the first
edition which received such a hearty welcome.

College of the Sacred Heart, Limerick,
         _September_ 29, 1909, Feast of St. Michael.



CONTENTS

  CHAPTER FIRST
  CULTURE: ITS NECESSITY TO A YOUNG PRIEST

  CHAPTER SECOND
  ENGLISH: ITS NECESSITY TO A YOUNG PRIEST

  CHAPTER THIRD
  SHOULD A YOUNG PRIEST WRITE HIS SERMONS?

  CHAPTER FOURTH
  HOW SHOULD THE YOUNG PRIEST PREPARE HIS SERMONS?

  CHAPTER FIFTH
  A SOPHISTRY EXPOSED--ADVICE GIVEN--
  THEOLOGIAN AND PREACHER--THE DIFFERENCE

  CHAPTER SIXTH
  THE ART OF ELOCUTION

  CHAPTER SEVENTH
  THE DANGER OF THE HOUR. HOW TO MEET IT

  CHAPTER EIGHTH
  THE YOUNG PRIEST'S ACTIVITIES



CHAPTER FIRST

CULTURE: ITS NECESSITY TO A YOUNG PRIEST

If you question any priest of experience and observation who has
lived on the foreign mission, and ask him what constitutes the
greatest drawbacks, what seriously impedes the efficiency of our
young priests abroad, without hesitation he will answer--First,
want of social culture; and, secondly, a defective English
education.

To the first of these this chapter will be exclusively devoted,
while the subject of English will be dealt with in the chapter to
follow.

[Side note: The case stated]

One of the great disadvantages of living in an island is that we
get so few opportunities of seeing ourselves as others see us.
When you seriously attempt to impress the necessity of culture on
the student preparing for the foreign mission he generally pities
you. In his eyes culture is a trifle, suited perhaps to the
serious consideration of ladies and dancing masters, but utterly
unworthy of one thought from a strong-minded or intellectual man.
But you tell him that without it the world will sneer at him. He
then pities the world, and replies--"What do I care about the
world's thoughtless sneer; have I not a priestly heart and a
scholar's head?"

That reply, if he were destined to live in a wilderness, would be
conclusive. An anchorite may attain a very high degree of
sanctity and yet retain all his defects of character--his
crudity, selfishness, vulgarity. While grace disposes towards
gentleness it does not destroy nature. There is no essential
connection between holiness and polished manners.

Nor does scholarship either require or supply culture. A mastery
of the "Summa" will not prevent you from doing an awkward action.
Dr. Johnson's learning was the marvel of his age, but his manners
were a by-word. So, if your only destiny was to be a scholar or a
hermit, manners need give you little trouble.

But your vocation is to be an apostle; to go out amongst men; to
be the light for their darkness, the salt for their corruption;
the aim and goal of your operations are human hearts. This being
granted, are you not bound to sweep from your path every
impediment that prevents your arm from reaching these hearts? But
the most effective barrier standing between you and them is
ill-formed manners.

The laws of good society, the refinement of gentlemanly culture
may, from your standpoint, be the merest trifles; but they become
no trifles when without them your right hand is chained from
reaching human souls.

The only remaining question is, Does the world to-day place such
a high value on good manners that if I go into it without them my
efforts will be in a large degree neutralised? Entertain not a
shadow of doubt on that point, such is the fact.

[Side note: Protestants and Catholics demand culture in the
Priest]

Proud and pampered society will never bend its stubborn neck and
submit itself to the guidance of a man who, judged by its own
standard--the only one it acknowledges--is far from being up to
the level; an object of contempt perhaps, at best of pity. In its
most generous mood it is slow and cautious to take you on trust;
its cold analysis searches you; your unplaned corners offend its
taste; and except in every detail you answer to its rule and
level you are disdainfully thrust aside.

Catholics, while they esteem a mere fop at his just value, expect
their priest to rise above the sneers of the most censorious and,
if possible, to challenge the respect of all. They are proud of
their priest; and surely it is not too much to expect on his part
that he will do his best not to make them ashamed of him.

Their Protestant neighbours know of this pride; and if they can
but lay a finger on his evident defects they will glut their
inborn hatred of the Church by hitting the Catholics on the
sensitive nerve, by galling them by caricature and derision of
the _gauche_ manners of the priest.

Protestant young men, too, will appeal to the pride of their
Catholic companions; and an appeal to pride is generally a trump
card. They will ask--"Is it possible that gentlemen could submit
themselves to the guidance of a clergyman whose manners are
unformed and whose English is marred by provincialisms and
defective accent?"

In speaking of accents, let me say here I do not ask the young
priest to commit the signal folly of attempting to ingraft an
imported accent on his own native one. No! He should speak as an
Irishman, but as an educated Irishman.

[Side note: By foreign Canons you will be judged]

The fatal mistake on the part of a young priest would be to take
Irish opinion as the standard by which he will be judged outside
Ireland. In Ireland we call these things trifles, because the
people whose eyes are filled with the rich light of warm faith
see the _priest_ alone, and are blind, or at least generously
indulgent, to the defects of the _man_.

Reverse this, and you have the accurate measure by which you will
be judged abroad. The _man_ and his defects alone are seen; the
_priest_ and the sublimity of his state are entirely lost sight
of. The world judges what it can understand--the _man_ alone.
Hence the student preparing for the foreign mission may take this
as an axiom:--_If people cannot respect you as a gentleman, on
the non-Catholic world your influence is nil; and even on your
own Catholic people it will sit very lightly_. But he replies--
"This is not logical, for a man may be an excellent priest, a
good scholar, without social accomplishments." All that I admit,
but age and experience will teach him that logic does not rule
the world; some of its greatest actions could not bear the
pressure of a syllogism. We must meet the world as it is, not as
we would make it. Is it not you who show logical weakness in
preparing for this ideal world that has no existence outside your
own dreams and ignoring the world of hard facts you will have to
face?

[Side note: No argument to be drawn from the Apostles]

You then appeal to facts and say, Look at the apostles. Let me
answer--first, you do not attempt to imply that crudity was a
help to them. If so, how? Now, the most you can say is that in
spite of it they succeeded. But you forget that they had the gift
of miracles, and a sanctity so evident that their passport was
secure despite their defects.

Unless you can produce the same sanctity and miracles your
argument falls to the ground. But to the statement itself--Were
not the apostles men of manners? Some, it is true, before their
call had little connection with schools, but we may rest assured
that three years under such a teacher as they had did wonders.
They must be dull indeed not to read the living lesson their
Master's character daily taught. His tenderness, His courteous
dignity, and gentle consideration for others were such that in a
man we would say they almost bordered on weakness; this was the
living model on which they daily gazed and pondered.

This Master then sent them forth to "all nations." They were to
mix with the white-robed senators in Rome, and dispute with the
highest intellects of polished Athens, to force an entrance into
every circle of social life. Could we imagine God sending them
forth to that task encumbered with defects that would paralyse
their mission if not ensure its defeat.

We must also take into account the gifts of Pentecost. What a
change these wrought! The Holy Spirit enriched their intellects
and perfected their moral virtues; their trembling wills became
braced as iron pillars. For what purpose? To prepare and equip
them for their destined mission. Is it not natural to suppose
that the same Divine Power swept their characters free from every
impediment that could hamper their ministry? So the appeal to the
apostles is gratuitous.

[Side note: Culture necessary for domestic life]

In dealing with this question a young priest is to consider more
than his flock. Priests on the foreign mission live community
life, in hourly contact with each other. You cannot realise the
agony a man inflicts on others by coarse or unpolished manners.
The toil of a priest's day is severe, but the hardest day is mere
summer pastime compared with the crushing thought of having to
turn home to a boorish companion. This living martyrdom reaches
its most acute stage when, in society, a man is forced to witness
a brother priest expose the raw spots of his character to the
vitriolic cynicism of the scoffer.

But the importance of this subject is by no means exclusive to
the foreign mission. In Ireland, of late, a spirit of criticism
has shown itself, often exacting even to fastidiousness; so far
from time being likely to blunt it, everything points to the
probability of its edge growing sharper with years. And the young
Irish priest of the future who dares to trample on the canons of
good taste need expect scant mercy.

[Side note: To arms]

My advice to all ecclesiastical students is--search and see if
unmannerly ways are ingrafting themselves into your character. If
so, give them no quarter. Master an approved handbook, and during
the recreations raise discussions on details of good manners. Ask
your friends candidly to point out your defects. It is far easier
to be admonished by one friend whose correction is swathed in
soft charity than await till a dozen sneerers send their poisoned
arrows to fester in your heart. In correcting yourselves and
asking your friends to admonish you, it will assist you to pocket
your pride, to remember that three such weighty issues as the
efficiency of your ministry, the honour of the priesthood, and
the comfort of your future home will in a large measure be
influenced by the degree of social culture you carry out of
college.

No man has greater need to fear than he who stands high in his
class. When any habit becomes fixed it requires a high degree of
humility and moral courage to root it out. But, intellectual
pride, nourished by college triumphs, is up in arms. He scorns to
be corrected or taught by a world he despises. Let me ask, did
God give him these intellectual gifts for himself or as
instruments by which to win souls back to their Father? The man
who, rather than bend his own pride, allows his talents to become
useless incurs an awful responsibility.

Stubbornly refuse to be corrected or to shape and polish your
manners while in college, and one thing I absolutely promise you,
with all the authority a long experience can give, that when you
do go out from the college you will meet a master that will bend
and break you. The roasting fire of the world's scorn will search
the very marrow of your bones.



CHAPTER SECOND

ENGLISH: ITS NECESSITY TO A YOUNG PRIEST

Let me begin by asking one plain question--If all the scholastic
wealth with which St. Thomas has enriched the world lay embedded
in the mind of a Missionary priest: if he more than rivalled
Suarez as a casuist, and Bellarmine as a controversialist, yet if
he failed to acquire a mastery over the only instrument by which
he could bring to bear the riches of his own intellect on the
minds of those around him, of what value is all the wealth
entombed within his head?

If he has acquired no command of the rich vocabulary, the
graceful elegance of diction, the mysterious beauty of
expression, the abundant illustration, the art of storing nervous
vigour and living thought into crisp and pregnant terseness: if
this one weapon, a finished English education, is not at his
disposal, his knowledge, as far as others are concerned, is so
much lumber: to the one spot alone--the Confessional--his
efficiency is narrowed. The other fields of his ministry are
deprived of the immense service this learning might afford.

Let us see how this works out in practice. The unctions of
ordination are scarcely dry on your hands till you begin to
realise what you never realised before--viz., that in the most
literal sense of the word you belong to the Church Militant.

You go out from college, you are quickly confronted with
opposition. At once your brain begins to hew arguments of massive
solidity; had you but the skill with which to hurl them you would
overwhelm the stoutest foe. This skill you have not got, you
never mastered the sciences by which you could smite the
aggressor. With rage you, perhaps for the first time, realise
your own deficiency. Your arms are pinioned by helpless ignorance
of the use of what should be one of the first weapons of the
priest. Your thoughts now struggle for birth, but are fated to
die stillborn, while the foe laughs you in the face.

Is this not a sad pity: _yet it is an everyday fact_.

There are sixty millions of Irish money lying in the banks
throughout this country, yet the nation is perishing from
atrophy, starving for want of commercial nourishment. If the gold
now piled in banks were but circulated through the channels of
industry, every limb of national life would pulse with new
vigour, the remotest corner of the land would feel the influence
of the golden current; so, within the mind of the priest may be
hoarded treasures of deepest learning, but unless he has the art
of minting and circulating through his parish the glittering coin
of polished thought, though his brain be an _El Dorado_ of
wealth, that parish will run into spiritual bankruptcy.

"You are the Light of the World," said Christ to His Apostles.
The same, in effect, He will say to the young priest the day he
sets out to continue the work they began; but how will that
light, of which he is the bearer, reach the darkened world for
which God has destined it if he neglects to arm himself with the
light-diffuser: the only medium of communication between him and
his people? Though the sun is poised in the firmament above us,
this earth would remain for ever wrapped in midnight darkness
were it not that there is an interposing medium--whatever it
be--to waft to us its heat waves and carry its splendours to the
tiniest nook and crevice. The language, its graces and powers,
are for the priest the instruments by which darkened minds are
illumined, by which the clear rays of living truth are flashed
into their gloom.

The man that neglects to acquire a mastery of this instrument
incurs a great responsibility.

The devil, too, has a message to deliver, a message of error; but
at his command there are not only perverse intellects but all the
elegance of polished language and all the persuasive graces of
elocution.

[Side note: An illustration from everyday life]

Let me take an illustration from everyday life. A Catholic child
under his father's roof has religion instilled into him. He goes
to school, and here his knowledge is developed and enlarged. From
the schoolroom he is transplanted into the world to strike roots
if he can in stubborn soil and preserve his faith amidst the
ice-chills of infidelity.

Foes beset him on every side. He turns to the public library. The
infidel review is crisp in style, its arguments catchy, and the
brilliancy of its diction captivates. The pages of the
fashionable novel are strewn with the rose leaves of literature:
the plot enthrals. The arguments of the free-thought lecturer are
well reasoned, the sophistries artistically concealed, whilst his
mastery over the graces of elocution holds his audience
spell-bound.

The young man staggers. He now turns to where he should expect to
find strength. Under the pulpit next Sunday is a mind where the
mists of doubt are gathering and darkening. He looks up to the
"Light of the World" to have these mists dispelled. Instead of
seeing his foes battered with their own weapons he sees these
weapons, that in every domain are conquering for the devil, here
despised.

He is forced to listen, perhaps, to an exhibition of tedious
crudity. He goes away disheartened; perhaps to fall.

Now, the solid theological knowledge in that preacher's head is
more than sufficient to shatter the arguments of infidelity; the
analytic power acquired during his college course would enable
him to tear every sophistry to shreds; but the art of making both
of these effective for the pulpit, the mastery of clear and
nervous English, the elocution that sends every argument like a
quivering arrow of light to its mark, these he neglected, or
perhaps contemned.

This is our weak spot; here our position wants strengthening.

Sit by the fireside with that preacher and suggest the
advisability of cultivating English and elocution. He replies: "I
have two thousand souls to look after, sodalities to work up,
schools to organise, and attend, perhaps, four sick calls in one
night." No, _not now, but long years before_, he should have been
trained. It is not on the battlefield, when the bugle is sounding
the "charge," that the soldier should begin to learn the use of
his weapons. In the college, and not on the field of action, is
the place to acquire this science.

[Side note: A ruinous advice]

One of the most fatal directions ever tendered to Irish students
is--devote all your college years to Classics, Philosophy, and
Theology _exclusively_--these are your professional studies--and
when you become a curate it will be time to master English and
Elocution.

Analyse this and see what it means. Do not learn English or its
expression till you are flung into a village without a soul to
stimulate or encourage you; or, worse still, till you find
yourself in the fierce whirl of an English or American city.
"Wait till you are in the pulpit and then begin to learn to
preach" is very like advising a man to wait till he is drowning
and then it will be time enough to learn how to swim. Would any
sane man give such an advice to an aspirant of the fine arts?
What would be thought of the man who would say--"If you wish to
become a good musician neglect to learn the scales till you come
to your twenty-fifth year; or if it is your ambition to be a
great painter, permit a quarter of a century to roll over your
head before you learn how to hold the palette or mix the paints."
The man that would tender such ridiculous advice would be laughed
at. Yet it is not one whit more absurd than the transparent
nonsense that has grown hoary from age, and passes unchallenged
as a first principle.

It is often asked how is it that the Irish Church has remained so
barren.

Eighty years have passed since the bells of the thatched chapels
rang in Emancipation. During that time over three thousand
talented priests are on the land; yet how small the number of
works produced. Why such a miserable result? What has sterilised
the intellects of these men? Mainly this fatal advice. How could
we have literary tastes among the priests in their pastoral life
when such tastes were either frowned down during their college
career or postponed to a period when their cultivation became an
impossibility.

[Side note: You must begin while young]

No man can become a preacher without becoming a writer first. I
need not labour this proposition. A single quotation from the
highest authority establishes it. When Cicero was asked the
question--"How can I become an orator?" his one answer was--
"_Scribere quam plurimum_." The first step to oratorica eminence
was--write as much as possible.

Now, ask any distinguished writer when did _he_ begin to
cultivate a literary taste. He will tell you with Pope that he
"lisped in numbers." He began almost with the dawn of reason. If,
then, pen practice must be the first step towards pulpit success,
it is while the fancy is tender that it should be trained; while
the receptive powers are hungry in youth they should be fed;
while the habits of thought are fresh and flexible they should be
exercised. Wait till the hoar frost of age nips the rich blooms
of imagination and stiffens the once nimble powers of the mind,
and the cast-iron habits of maturer years have settled on you:
literary culture is then an impossibility.

What does this culture imply? A developed insight into the
beauties of thought; a just appreciation of style; an intimate
acquaintance with the best authors; an abundant vocabulary and
graceful expression. Can these be acquired in a year? or is the
time for acquiring them seasoned manhood?

How worthless and pernicious is this one word "Wait," here more
than ever, where mastery of language is in question. But a glance
shows how much more absurd it is to let a man pass out of his
teens before putting him through a thorough course of elocution.
It is while the muscles of throat and lungs are as flexible as a
piece of Indiarubber, and the young ear sensitive to every
_nuance_ of sound, the future priest must learn to articulate, to
pronounce correctly, to husband his breathing, to bend his voice
with ease and mastery through the varied octaves of human
passion.

A piece of advice which I would give to a young priest who may
find himself within reach of an elocution master is to place
himself under his guidance for at least the first twelve months.

The very best student elocutionist has, on leaving college, but a
theoretic knowledge of the art of preaching. To weave the
principles and graces he there acquired into his own compositions
in the pulpit is a new experience. To do this with effect he
still requires the master's guiding hand.

He should deliver his sermons in the presence of that master,
invite him to his church, and ask him to note defects for
correction. This plan I have seen acted on with eminent results:
it may be a young priest's making: at its lowest estimate it is
worth gold.

[Side note: A workable plan]

I can well imagine the young reader objecting that I would have
him turn from his study-desk, where Lehmkuhl and St. Thomas lie,
to practise composition and elocution. No, but I want to show how
all I have put before him can be done without encroaching to the
extent of one hour on his ordinary class studies.

I. Let the most hard-working student gather carefully the golden
sands of wasted time that lie strewn even through the busiest
ordinary day and see what they amount to in a year. Why not hoard
and mint them; for his class knowledge will, to a great extent,
be buried treasure except he has the engine by which to deliver
it to others.

A student should permit no day to pass without writing out at
least one thought. Cover but half a sheet of notepaper--correct,
prune, condense, clarify, and then, if you wish, burn it, yet, it
is a distinct gain. You are shaping a sword that will stand you
in good need yet.

2. During study hours an English author should lie on the desk.
When the head grows wearied, instead of uselessly goading the
tired jade or consuming brain tissue on that most fatiguing of
occupations, day dreaming, sip a page or two of English. You rest
your brain, and while doing so store up knowledge, silently
develop taste and acquire style.

3. Again, how are vacations consumed? The student who does not
read at least two hours a day is letting a golden opportunity
pass and wasting a precious gift of God--time. It may be said
that this after all is a rather slow process; it will only mean
about a volume a month. Yes, but that means twelve in a year, or
at least eighty-four in your course, not a bad stock to start
life with.

4. In the training of the future priest the recreation hour can
be converted into the most important item on the day's programme.
He plunges from the silence of the study hall into the vortex of
the world, for it is the world in miniature; its passions, its
pride, its meanness, as well as its gentleness of heart and
heroism of spirit are all flowing around him. If properly
utilised, the recreations can be minted into veritable gold. In
the term "recreation" I include all those occasions of free
intercourse where students meet to interchange thought--the hall,
the club, &c.--and the more numerous these are the better. Here
the student is his natural self, unrestrained by a master's
presence. The young minds are free to wrestle, and opposing
thoughts to clash. The fire of contradiction will test the
genuine ore: the same fire will consume all that is worthless in
his opinions and principles: the clay and alloy of his character
too will go.

He learns to cast away many a cherished notion now dinged and
broken in the war of minds; he is taught to distrust himself and
tolerate the opinions of others. If the recreation, however, is
to be a mental gymnasium it must be guided by fixed rules, and
this is most important.

The tone must be of a high level. No vulgarity; no scurrility.
_In the hottest debate we must not forget that we are gentlemen_.

We should argue, not to overcome an opponent, but to make truth
evident. Minds in debate should resemble flails on the threshing
floor, that labour not to overcome each other, but to separate
the solid grains from the chaff and straw.

No man should be ashamed to say "I don't know" or "Perhaps I am
wrong."

Without these safeguards the recreation or debate might easily
become a cock-pit of unbridled passions. "Our fortunes lie not in
our stars, good Brutus, but in ourselves." The making of the
priests depends not merely on the college, but also on the
students' own endeavours. This latter fact is but imperfectly
understood, or acted on only in a very limited extent. It is from
intercourse between minds of various bents, the debating clubs,
the social unions, and not the lecture halls or study desks, that
the Oxford student draws strength and elegance of character. It
is the want or misuse of these opportunities that leaves the
young Irish priest so raw and unfinished.

_Knowledge_ only comes from the professor and the book, but the
_character_ is shaped, rounded, and polished by a variety of
agencies lying outside both these. The creation of these agencies
is almost entirely in the student's own hands.

[Side note: The dangers of the hour and how to meet them]

If the Irish priest on the foreign mission is to become a force
in the future, his course of philosophy must be both solid and
practical.

The last half century has not only changed the arms of his
adversaries but transferred the conflict to new grounds.

Protestantism is dying. The mere veneer of Christianity is fast
fading off among the sects.

The cobwebs of neglect are overspreading the works of theological
controversy; but in the domain of ethics and metaphysics activity
daily grows in intensity.

The student would do well to keep this fact before his eyes. It
is proper that a priest should be conversant with the errors of
the past and the arguments by which they are met. Many of these
errors he will discover exhumed, draped in new disguises, and
paraded as the fruit of modern "thought." But it will be well
also, in his studies, not to ignore the fact that the Agnostic
and the Socialist are, under his very eyes, digging what they
confidently assure us is to be the grave of Christianity.

Agnosticism and Socialism are the two great forces to be reckoned
with in the immediate future.

Poison-thought has eaten the vitals of non-catholic sectaries.
The teaching of so-called Christian churches has evaporated into
a mere natural theism, the supernatural element has disappeared.
Both the Socialist and Agnostic frankly confess that the
demolition of the sects is but a preliminary skirmish: the real
battle lies farther afield. The lines of conflict between us and
them are daily drawing closer, and it is a question of brief time
till we are locked in deadly grip. How are we preparing for this
struggle, which may yet convulse the world?

The future priest must be made familiar with the modern
objections _in their native dress and form_.

The aspirant for the foreign missions has a tough quarry before
him: it behoves him to steady his hand and point his weapon.

Young men complain of the length and tediousness of the years
consumed in preparation for the Ministry. Could I but engrave on
their minds the conviction as it lives, fixed and definite, on my
own as to the equipment requisite for the efficient discharge of
their great office; could I but show them the thousands untouched
that might be within her fold to-day, were the Church's workmen
fully aware of the pressing needs of modern life, they would
count that hour as lost that did not contribute its quota towards
their arming for the future.

                            ------

P.S.--I cannot do better than here append a list of those books I
found in practical experience most valuable in meeting modern
thought. I would earnestly ask every aspirant for the foreign
mission not to leave the college till he has a familiar
acquaintance with every page of them. I take it for granted that
the transcendent merits of "Catholic Belief" and "Faith of our
Fathers" are so well known, especially as books for intending
converts, that there is no need to add them to the list on the
following page.

  Dealing with Agnosticism, &c.
  "Liberalism and the Church"           _Brownson_.
  "Notes on Ingersol"                   _Lambert_.
  "The Newest Answer to the Old Riddle" _Gerrard_.
  "New Materialism"                     _Gaynor_.

  Dealing with Socialism
  "Pope Leo XIII. on Labour."
  "Labour and Popular Welfare"          _Mallock_.
  "Socialism"                           _Cathrein_.



CHAPTER THIRD

SHOULD A YOUNG PRIEST WRITE HIS SERMONS?

[Side note: Clearing the ground]

That the young priest may discharge the office of preacher with
efficiency and honour, not only must he bring ability and
industry to his task, but he must approach it with a mind free
from false theories. One unsound principle may mean shipwreck.
Amongst the many questions discussed by aspirants to pulpit
success, perhaps the greatest prominence is given to the relative
merits of the written or the extemporary sermon. This is so
important that its full treatment demands an entire chapter.

Before coming to close quarters we may premise a question. If the
carefully prepared sermon cost as little trouble as the
extemporary effort, would the world ever have heard of this
discussion? Oh! the fatal tendency to move on the lines of least
resistance, to glide on the downward slope, and when we have
reached the bottom to manufacture arguments and apologies
justifying the course we selected! When the question is probed to
the bottom you will find that all advocacy of extemporary
preaching resolves itself into an apology for laziness.

To me the question has long since ceased to be anything more than
a mere academic one, useful perhaps for a debating class, where
youthful gladiators flesh their harmless swords. In practical
life, the well written, the well prepared sermon was the only one
I discovered able to bear the test of experience.

[Side note: Manning]

At the threshold of this discussion the authority of Cardinal
Manning may be invoked against us, who, without condemning the
written sermon, shows a decided preference for speaking from
notes. A written sermon, such as advocated, could scarcely be
before his mind when he wrote that chapter in "The Eternal
Priesthood." It is evident he had in view the post-renaissance
preacher--vain, pompous, decked in borrowed ornament, anxious
about the embroidery, and careless about the soul of his
discourse. The species, thank God, is extinct.

At any rate, if Cardinal Manning meant to condemn the written
discourse such as we understand it, is he triumphantly answered
by himself. The man who advises you to preach from notes and then
launches upon the world a goodly set of volumes of carefully
written sermons, every line of which passed under his correcting
pen, requires no refutation. His action nullifies his advice. It
is to be feared, too, that in forming his judgment he relied too
much on his own experience, and out of it drew conclusions for
others, who could never hope to have his exceptional advantages--
a fatal mistake.

Before his conversion he had completed a distinguished career at
Oxford. Of the English language and its perfect use he was a past
master. The copiousness of diction, elegance of phrase, the power
of expressing himself in graceful strength were eminently his.
His intellect was stored with abundant knowledge drawn from many
sources. The thoughts of his well-ordered mind stood in line as
definite and orderly as soldiers on parade. The fibres of his
reasoning had waxed strong in encounters with the ablest
intellects of the day and before the most distinguished audiences
in the literary and debating clubs at Oxford. Add to this the
fact that in a keen knowledge of the human heart, its strength
and weakness, he was surpassed by no man of his age. This was the
equipment with which Manning started life, and it is to be feared
he pre-supposed this, or a great part of it, to be in possession
of those for whom he wrote.

Now, what young priest, even the most brilliant of his class,
going on the mission can pretend to the hundredth part of the
advantages that enabled Manning to dispense with the written
page? Therefore, to conclude that because he, under such
privileged circumstances, succeeded, you can do the same under a
very different set of conditions, is to ignore the hard logic of
facts and pay a poor compliment to your reason.

[Side note: Father Burke and O'Connell]

Then, we are confronted not with opinions but names--the two
names that will stand for all time in the forefront of Irish
orators are those of O'Connell and Father Burke. O'Connell wrote
but one speech--his first. The orations delivered by Father Burke
in America, by which he achieved a European reputation, were not
written. What, then, it is asked, becomes of the advocacy of the
written sermon? The answer to this argument is evident. If the
question is reduced to one of great names, into the other side of
the scales may be thrown not two but dozens of the most
illustrious men who not only wrote, but _became famous mainly
because they wrote_.

Passing by the great pagan orators, Cicero and Demosthenes, and
the Doctors of the Church, Saints Augustine, John Chrysostom,
&c.--these all wrote, polished and elaborated--we come to the
four names that have flung a deathless glory around the French
pulpit, that created a golden era of sacred eloquence which has
never been surpassed: Bourdaloue, Bossuet, Massillon, and
Fenelon. I will not labour the argument by showing how much of
their strength and fame rested on the construction of their
sermons. But, to return to the intrinsic merits of the
statement--yes, O'Connell and Father Burke were great orators in
_spite of_, and _not because of_, the fact that they spoke
extemporarily. So crude were some of O'Connell's speeches, so
careless was he of their dress, that Shiel complained: "He flung
a brood of young, sturdy ideas upon the world, with scarce a rag
to cover them."

If ever there was a case when the man made the sermon instead of
the sermon making the man, it was the case of Father Burke. How
little he owed to his sermons and how much they owed to his
delivery is left on record by a capable judge. Sir Charles Gavan
Duffy says: "Father Burke was a born orator; the charm of _voice,
eye and action_ combined to produce his wonderful effects. When
his words were printed much of the spell vanished. One rejoiced
to _hear_ him over and over again, but _re-read_ him rarely, I
think."[1] The greatest tribute that can be paid to the genius of
these two orators is that compositions, wordy, loose, abounding
in repetitions, in their mouths enthralled multitudes. Every
defect disappeared; the mastery, the dazzling brilliancy of their
oratory swept all hearts and blinded criticism. We well may pause
before answering the question: What effects would they have
produced had they time to write masterpieces of finished beauty
like those of Grattan and of Bourdaloue? where each link in the
chain of argument hangs in glittering strength, and each thought
shows the flash of the gem and its solidity too.

[1] "My Life in Two Hemispheres," Vol. II., 274.

[Side note: Defence of the system I]

The first great difficulty against extemporary preaching is that,
though a priest studies his subject and maps his plan, he still
reckons without his host. The mind aroused to activity and warmed
by exertion is sure to spring new thoughts, arguments, and
illustrations across his path. These offspring of latest birth
clothed in freshness will prove a temptation too strong. He will
swerve from the main line to pursue them: the tendency to chase
the fresh hare can scarcely be resisted. Then another new thought
springs up, and, alas! another fresh hunt. The defined sketch
lying on his desk is abandoned: the new ideas have mastered him,
but he cannot master them. He labours himself to death without
avail, for there is neither point, argument, nor sequence: his
sermon is a definition of eternity--without beginning and without
end. The congregation is groaning in despair, and the only
appreciated passage in the whole performance is the preacher's
passage from the pulpit to the sacristy.

Now, to a man who writes his sermon, such a catastrophe is
impossible. In the process of preparation the field is well
beaten and every thought that could arise secured. From the best
of these his selection is made. To this selection he clings
without danger of swerve. The road on which he travels is not
only mapped but free of ambush and surprises. The milestones are
erected. He may not be a Bossuet or a Burke, but he speaks to a
definite point, has a time to stop, and the people leave the
church with a clear idea.

[Side note: II.]

The defenders of extemporary preaching must postulate three
essentials in any man undertaking the office. (I) Orderly
thought. (2) Abundant vocabulary. (3) Accurate and graceful
expressions. Without these he cannot speak. Admit the want of any
one of them and the contention falls to the ground. Now, what
young priest coming out of college has this equipment? It is a
singular fact, too, that these three can be acquired only by, and
are the direct outcome of, pen practice. How is it that this fact
has escaped so many? "Writing makes an exact man," says Bacon;
and to the question: "How can I become an orator?" Cicero's
answer was: "_Caput est quam plurimum scribere_." When then men
point to a Gladstone or a Bright as an example of an extemporary
orator we are entitled to ask: "In what sense can they be called
extemporary speakers, except in the most limited, since the well
marshalled ideas, the flowing periods and elegant graces of
delivery are the products of reams and reams of written pages and
years of patient drudgery?" Yet, even with all these advantages,
on great occasions it was on the written page they relied. Till
the young priest, then, comes to his task as well furnished as a
Gladstone or a Bright, the advocates of extemporary speaking are
out of count.

[Side note: III.]

The extemporary preacher challenges nature on her own ground. No
one need doubt the issue. Nature will conquer, and the man who
defies her will succumb. He endeavours to think, to select
word-clothing for his thoughts, to labour his memory, and deliver
his sermon, and performs all four operations at the same time, a
task clearly impossible, but more so when we remember the usual
embarrassments that beset a young preacher--the nervous
agitation, the want of self-control, the desire to succeed. It
ends generally in a stammer and then a break, greeted by the
congregation with a sigh of relief or perhaps a sneer of
contempt.

Is it by preaching such as this you hope to challenge the respect
and get a hold on the intellect of a cynical world? Is it through
such instrumentality you would bring home the Church's message to
proud and festering humanity? No one can succeed who attempts
more than one task at a time.

Look to analogy. At the moment when a regiment is expected to
charge, you don't find it engaged in collecting ammunition,
sharpening swords, and learning drill. All these necessary
preliminaries are long since completed. Now every bridle is
grasped, every sword hilt in grip, and the rowelled heels are
ready to dash into the horses' flanks at the first note of the
trumpet blast.

The preacher should come to the pulpit in a like state of
preparedness, with his thoughts already gathered, moulded,
polished and clothed in the words that fit them best; with every
argument as definite and well knitted as a proposition in Euclid;
the page swept clear of superfluous verbiage; each idea standing
out bright as a jewel in its setting, and the whole so thoroughly
committed to memory that he can defy the most critical to
discover a trace of effort. He should come, holding his
elocutionary forces in reserve, and ready, when the moment
arrives, to flash from his lips each living thought and send from
his heart the waves of subtle, unseen fire to melt, rock, or
subdue the hearts of others, instead of attempting four tasks
simultaneously, and failing in all. His sole business in the
pulpit is not to shape his message or to clothe his message, but
to gather and converge all the powers within him for one grand
purpose and it alone--to send that message home.

These pages are written mainly for the Irish priest on the
foreign mission. It is well he should be under no delusion. In
Ireland a slipshod or unprepared sermon may meet with indulgent
charity. A very different reception awaits it abroad. The priest
who attempts it will quickly discover how he is set up for a sign
that shall be contradicted. The free, white light of open
criticism penetrates even the sanctuary. There is no dignity to
hedge any man. Congregations smart at being treated to such poor
fare, and will not leave him long in ignorance of their opinions.
Perhaps while in the pulpit the sight of many a curving lip will
make the blood tingle or cause the shame spot to burn on his
cheek.

Again, the priest on the foreign mission will never face a
congregation that is not sprinkled with Protestants or
unbelievers. Should he not then consider the feelings of his own
people who are humiliated or filled with honest pride by the
manner in which their pastor acquits himself in the eyes of
strangers? Waiving then all supernatural motives, should not
every priest have sufficient manly pride, self-respect and
sensibility for the honour of his exalted office to lift himself
and his work above the sneer of the most censorious, and
challenge the respect, if not the admiration, of every listener?

The preparation should begin not on the day the sacred oils are
poured on the young priest's hands, but on the day he enters
college. His eyes should be kept fixed on the goal before him. "I
am to be a preacher, and every obstacle that stands on my path
must go down, and every advantage that goes to make a great
orator, at all costs, I must make my own." This ambition should
be nourished till it consumes him, till it becomes "his waking
thought, his midnight dream." His reading, recitation and debates
should be studied under the light of this lodestar of his
destiny: at first shining afar off, but swiftly nearing as each
vacation ends.

[Side note: Objectors answered I.]

Those who champion the method of extemporary preaching lay great
stress on two points. (I) The extemporary preacher has a natural
warmth and earnestness of conviction that goes straight to the
heart. (2) These, they maintain, can never accompany the prepared
discourse. Let us examine these two statements. It is true that
when men speak under the influence of strong emotions, passion
may, in a large measure, compensate for accurate expression and
sequence of thought, especially with a rude or half educated
audience. In proof of this, Peter the Hermit and Mahomet are
striking examples. We are dealing, however, not with
extraordinary but the ordinary demands on a priest's powers, and
it would be poor wisdom to stake all his success on the chance
moods of his temperament. To-day the tempest may rock his soul
and his words bear the breath of flame; but, by next Sunday, the
spirit has passed, his passions are ice chill; he is confronted
with the duty of preaching, and on what support shall he now
lean? We must also remember that with increasing education the
popular mind is becoming more analytic, and congregations less
willing to accept emotions, no matter how sincere, as a
substitute for reason.

The second statement--that the written sermon cannot be vitalized
with fervour--seems childish in face of the fact that even
actors, speaking the thoughts of men dead three hundred years,
move people to tears or cause their blood to blaze. The great
pulpit orators, to whom allusion has already been made, preached
carefully written sermons, yet over ten thousand hearts they
poured lava tides that swept every prejudice in their fiery
breaths.

[Side note: Shiel]

What, then, becomes of this trite assumption when there are iron
facts like these to fall upon it? Again, it is objected that the
freshness disappears in elaborate preparation, and an
oft-repeated sermon becomes stale to its author. Shiel, we are
told, "always prepared the language as well as the substance of
his speeches. Two very high excellences he possessed to a most
wonderful degree--_the power of combining extreme preparation
with the greatest passion_."

[Side note: Wesley]

That disposes of the first statement. Now, does the repetition of
the same sermon cause it to grow flat? Listen to the actor on his
hundredth night, and see have he and his words grown weary of
each other. Wesley wrote every sermon, and repeatedly preached
the same discourse, with the result that so far from losing by
repetition it gained; and Benjamin Franklin, who was the American
ambassador in England at the time, assures us he never became
truly eloquent with a sermon till he had preached it thirty
times. The following graphic picture of the effects produced by
the preaching of Wesley and his two companions will scarcely help
to support the theory that a sermon preached frequently becomes
fruitless:--"He looked down from the top of a green knoll at
Kingswood on twenty thousand colliers, grimy from the Bristol
coalpits, and saw, as he preached, the tears making white
channels down their blackened cheeks. . . . The terrible sense of
a conviction of sin, a new dread of hell, a new hope of heaven,
took forms at once grotesque and sublime."[2]

[2] Green--"Short History of the English People."

We have heard preachers from whose lips each thought fell as
fresh and as hot as if that moment only it welled up from the
fountains of the heart; yet each rounded and chiselled sentence,
that seemed to flow so spontaneously, cosily nestled between the
covers of their manuscripts. We have watched the varied gestures,
the cadences of voice and facial expression to harmonize with and
so express the sense of the words that one seemed to grow out of
the other; still these graces of elocution, that looked so
artless and so charming, were the fruit of long years of study.
All was fresh! All was natural! All palpitated with the blood of
life, yet all were the products of previous toil. It is nonsense,
then, for any man to assert that the written sermon must bear the
stamp of artificiality or that the fire evaporates in the passage
from the desk to the pulpit.

[Side note: II.]

But I may be told there is small time for writing sermons. It is
singular that where there is most time on a priest's hands there
are fewest sermons on his desk. But to the objection. One of the
strongest motives urging the writer to insist on the written
sermon is his deep conviction of the shortness of time, for there
is no more expeditious way of squandering that precious gift of
God than by preaching extemporary sermons.

This is how the case stands. You have to spend as much time in
gathering and arranging the matter for the extemporary as for the
written one. Next year you may have to preach on the same gospel
or feast; of what use will your notes be then? The ideas,
arguments, and illustrations that now spring to your mind with a
glance at this cipher or note will then have vanished. The cipher
remains, but its inspiring power has passed. The oracle is dumb.
You may summon spirits from the vasty deep--but will they come?
You have again to face your old task; year after year the same
drudgery awaits you with less hope of success. The brain, at
first stimulated by novelty, poured forth the hot tide of
thought; now it will answer only to the lash. At the end of five
years what hoarded reserve have you laid by? Your hands are as
empty as the day you started, with this disadvantage, that you
have lost the habit of labour you acquired at college--a serious
loss. When a man permits the fine edge of college industry to
become blunted, the best day of his usefulness is passed. This
treadmill of ineffectual toil fills with disgust, till finally
all efforts are abandoned, and the people are treated to Hamlet's
reading: "Words, words, words." This is the usual series of
evolutions through which an extemporary preacher passes. He
begins with good intentions and bad theories. The system breaks
down, but his habits are now too set to try another, and so he
runs to seed. Here you have explained the fruitlessness, indeed
the paralysis, of many a pulpit.

In the written sermon, on the other hand, you have a treasure for
life; years pass, but your sermon remains, an instrument becoming
more flexible and telling every time you use it. You are
independent of your mood, on which the extemporary preacher has
to lean so much. You can also defy chance that may call you to
the pulpit at a day's notice. Your motto is: _Semper paratus_.
Your brain may be barren and your feelings frigid, but here are
thoughts already made and shaped. They are your own; and the mind
instinctively responds to the children of its own birth. It
rises, clasps, and embraces them. The passion glow enkindles
afresh; and heart and words are aflame with the ancient fires.
When for the first five years you lay aside a well-written sermon
a month, what a handsome stock-in-trade is at your disposal for
life--your fortune is made.

[Side note: Incitements to toil]

The world is in no humour to stand half-hearted work; it will bow
its proud head only to the man who pours out sweat; and
Bourdaloue's standard of excellence will hold for all time. His
answer to the question "What was your best sermon?" is: "The one
I took the most pains with." His labour at the desk was the
precise measure of his success in the pulpit. The French have a
proverb, "_Tout vaut ce qu'il coute_." ("Everything is worth what
it costs.")

See how laymen put our lethargy and its apologists to shame. Look
at the author with pallid cheek and fevered brow, half starving
in an attic, perfecting his style, polishing his periods. There
is the actor, haggard, jaded, toiling for hours at a single
passage, that he may interpret its meaning and enchain his
audience. While the world is dreaming the barrister is studying
his brief, ransacking tomes, wading through statutes, in search
of one to support his contention, knitting his defence in logical
terseness, cudgeling his brains for ingenious appeals to move a
jury. The lives of eminent lawyers are records of appalling
drudgery.

Turn to the great doctors of the church. After preaching for
thirty years, St. Augustine did not consider himself free from
the obligation of writing his sermons. He prepared, he tells us,
_cum magno labore_. "I have," says St. John Chrysostom,
"traversed land and ocean to acquire the art of rhetoric." If
giants so laboured, who are we to expect exemption? Ah! if our
bread entirely depended on our sermons, as a lawyer's on his
briefs or an actor's on his parts, what a revolution we should
behold! Yet how humiliating the thought! Every time you go into
the pulpit it is to plead a brief for Christ. The destiny of many
a soul hangs on your effort. Will you permit yourself to be
outdone in generous toil by the lawyer, who consumes his night
not to save a man from an unending hell, but from a month's
imprisonment?

To-day the devil's agents put forth sleepless activity. The world
rings with the clash of warring forces. The priest, then, that
idly folds his arms and manufactures sops for a gnawing
conscience, while the very air is electric with the energies of
assault, that priest is set up not for the resurrection but the
ruin of many in Israel.



CHAPTER FOURTH

HOW SHOULD THE YOUNG PRIEST PREPARE HIS SERMONS?

The pulpit, as an instrument for the salvation of human souls,
holds, after the Sacraments, first place. Indeed the
frequentation and proper reception of the Sacraments themselves
largely depend upon it.

Never since the first Pentecost was its agency a more pressing
necessity than to-day. The apostles of evil are busy. The
printing press teems beyond all precedent, obscuring truth and
belching forth poison over the world of intellect with a reckless
audacity that scorns all restraint. The powers of darkness have
seized, polished with unstinting labour and sharpened into
slashing efficiency, the varied weapons in the armoury of the
orator--crispness of style, brilliancy of diction, a declamation
that covers the want of argument and gilds sophistry till it
passes for truth. The question for us is--how shall we meet the
enemy with steel as highly tempered as his own?

Cicero embraces within the compass of three words the whole scope
of the orator.

_Docere_.--To instruct the intellects of his hearers.

_Placere_.--To use those varied arts and graces by which the
instruction is rendered palatable and agreeable.

_Movere_.--To move their wills to action.

The last function is by far the most important.

The preacher's triumph lies not in the conviction of the
intellect, nor in the approbation of the tastes, but in the
arousing of the wills of his hearers. The will is the goal-point
at which he aims from the beginning.

A doctor may persuade his patient that bitter medicine and active
exercise are necessary, but so long as the sick man lies on the
sofa and nods assent this barren conviction is of little profit.
When, however, the persuasion forces him to take a six-mile walk
and swallow the revolting draught, then, and only then, is
triumph secured. So a preacher may convince the habitual sinner
of the heinousness of sin; he may win his applause by the cogency
of his reasoning and the brilliancy of his style; but not till he
has moved his will to fling the old fetters to the winds, not
till he brings him a tearful penitent to the confessional, is his
work complete.

We shall now take the three words of Cicero in order.

[Side note: _Docere_]

How shall we accomplish all implied in that word "_docere_?" How
embed conviction in the minds of our hearers? Fill your own head
to repletion with the subject; be ambitious to leave, if
possible, no book unread, books of even collateral bearing. The
more thought stored up the more complete will be your mastery
over the subject and the more abundant the materials from which
to select. I was struck by a letter from Father Faber to a
friend:--"I intend writing a book on the Passion. I have already
read a hundred works on the subject; see if you can get me any
more." A hundred volumes, yet he looks for more! Hence his brain
was saturated with his subject, and when he tapped it, how
copiously it flowed! What books should I read?

[Side note: What books to read]

The solid matter in Theology and the Sacred Scriptures and their
developments. A book of sermons is the last to open. Why? You
wish to raise a structure, then go to the original quarry where
you have material in abundance. The arguments that bear the
shaping of your own chisel, though not as polished as those you
would borrow, will fit more naturally and adorn with greater
grace. There are two great risks in reading sermon books--a
tendency to imitate the style and a temptation to filch the
jewels. The style may be very sublime, but the question is will
it suit you. Your neighbour's clothes may fit him admirably, but
on you they would hang lop-sided.

The second danger is even more fatal. A struggling tyro who makes
an inartistic attempt to adorn his discourse with the most
brilliant passages from Bossuet renders his production not only
worthless but grotesque. The man who can build a labourer's
cottage handsomely should be content; but when he attempts to
engraft upon it the turrets and pilasters of the neighbouring
mansion he covers his work not with ornament but ridicule. "Am I
then," you will ask, "to cast aside the brilliant thoughts and
happy imagery I meet in my reading?" No, I only ask you not to
use them _now_. Note them for re-reading. Cast them as nuggets
into the smelting-pot of your own brain. Trust to time and the
alchemy of thought to transmute them. Wait till these thoughts
become your thoughts. The intellect will assimilate this foreign
material and send it forth on some future occasion, palpitating
with the warm blood of natural life, to strengthen the frame-work
of your reasoning or adorn your composition with veins of natural
beauty.

[Side note: How shall I read?]

Read with a pencil and paper slip beside you, not only to jot
down arguments and illustrations, but to seize on the
inspirations that may come. The thoughts we get from books are
not at all as valuable as the train of natural ideas these books
excite. When the mind is once set going there is no knowing what
rich ore it may strike. When the brain throbs in labour with
thought struggling for birth, when the soul is full and the
imagination in flame, this is the golden moment. Each idea now
stands out clear cut as a cube of crystal, and colours of
unwonted richness are draping the fancy. Hence, at all hazards,
lay hold of this inspiration. Close the most interesting work;
leave the most fascinating society; heed neither food nor sleep
till it is secured.

For you this spirit may never breathe again. Let this moment
pass, and when you do invoke the intellect it is cold and barren,
and the heart that yesterday blazed with living fires holds
lifeless ashes now. It is not always when you have pointed your
pencils and spread the virgin page before you thought will come.
The ideas that have revolutionized the world came at times and in
places most unlooked for.

When musing on the swaying Sanctuary lamp during Benediction,
Galileo discovered the laws of the pendulum. Such a trifle as the
fall of an apple suggested the laws of gravitation to Newton; and
the first idea of the steam engine came to Watt while he was
watching the lid rising from the boiling kettle. During a royal
banquet the argument to crush the Manicheans grew on the great
mind of St. Thomas, and the king made his secretary write it down
on the spot. Had not these men trained themselves to admit and
welcome the angel visitant, no matter when or where he came, the
stagnant pool of the world's ignorance might have remained for
ever unstirred.

Your notes are now before you, some the offspring of original
thought and others culled from reading. The former require only
polishing and shaping, but the latter must pass through your own
intellect; every thought must feel the brain heat before it
becomes palatable. We do not ask people to eat meat raw, so we
should take care not to offer them ideas cold and untouched by
the warmth of our own reasoning. Think over, ruminate, roll them
from side to side, let them sink down through the tissues of your
own brain and settle there; then when you send them out warm,
bearing the stamp of your own minting, they will be found
effective.

Remember that to translate dry theology into questionable
English, encumbered with technical expressions, is not writing a
sermon; but the man who takes up the theological principles,
simmers them in his own thought, wraps them in the transparency
of clear language, illustrating them with his own imagery, and
thereby bringing them within the grasp of the meanest
intelligence, that man, in a sense, creates the truth anew.

You begin the work of construction by making out a sketch
argument. Let a well-jointed syllogism underlie and form the
framework of your sermon. The conclusion of that syllogism must
be the goal point at which you aim. That once selected, all other
parts of the sermon should tend towards it. As all roads lead to
Rome, so all members of the argument should converge to this
point. The congregation should leave the church with that idea
fixed and clear as a star of light before their minds.

In writing, as in committing to memory, you should keep the
audience ever before the mind's eye. Attack it on every side;
pursue it with argument, and never leave it in the power of an
intelligent man to say: "I do not understand what he means."

This habit of writing with the audience before us not only
secures cogency and point for our arguments and clearness for our
illustrations, but it saves us from the fatal mistake of
producing not a sermon but an essay.

Here our meditations assist us. The daily habit of balancing and
introspection enables a man to read and analyse his own heart,
its strength and weakness. He becomes familiar with the springs
and levers that move it, the storms that convulse and the
sunshine that gladdens the mysterious world within his own
breast. How useful this knowledge when he comes to train the
artillery of the pulpit on the hearts of others!

[Side note: _Placere_]

So far we have been studying how to mortise the joints of our
arguments into well-knit and shapely strength; the pure
scholastic, however, possesses but half the weapons of the
preacher. The best built skeleton is repulsive till it is clothed
with flesh, colour and beauty. This is the rhetorician's task. He
comes with his graceful art, and drapes the dry bones of hard
reasoning, clarifies the arguments by illustrations, clothes them
in language crisp and sparkling, weaves around them the warm glow
of fancy and renders the hardest truths palatable by the grace of
diction and delivery. He accomplishes all implied in the word
"_placere_."

When rhetoric and logic clasp hands the standard of triumph is
fairly certain to be planted above the stubborn heart. We must,
however, remember that the arts of rhetoric are subordinate to
the reasoning, and must be brought forward only for the purpose
of driving the reasoning home. But since man's faculties are not
divided into watertight compartments, neither should the sermon
intended to influence him.

Our reason is not independent of our passions; our feelings so
influence our judgment that even in our greatest actions it is
hard to disentangle and say so much is the product of one and so
much of the other. The sermon should be constructed to fit the
man; argument and emotion should not stand apart, but dovetail
and interlace.

[Side note: Sheil]

In the art of entwining the garlands of rhetoric around the
framework of argument, Sheil stands conspicuous. Lecky says of
him--"His speeches seem exactly to fulfil Burke's description of
perfect oratory--half poetry, half prose. Two very high
excellencies he possessed to the most wonderful degree--the power
of combining extreme preparation with the greatest passion and of
_blending argument with declamation_.

"We know scarcely any speaker from whom it would be possible to
cite so many passages with all the _sustained rhythm and flow of
declamation, yet consisting wholly of the most elaborate
arguments_. He always prepared the language as well as the
substance of his speeches. He seems to have followed the example
of Cicero in studying the case of his opponent as well as his
own, and was thus enabled to anticipate with great accuracy."

The hint contained in the last paragraph is invaluable to the man
who proves or expounds doctrine. It sometimes happens that there
is an objection so natural that it seems to grow out of the
reasoning. Perhaps, while the preacher is speaking, it is taking
shape on the minds of the hearers; at least sooner or later it is
certain to recur.

How is it to be dealt with? Let it pass, and the audience carry
away the argument with a cloud of doubt hanging around that goes
far to destroy its force. Or it may be that when he opens the
morning paper it confronts him, set forth in the most convincing
shape, with the advantage of having, at least, twenty-four hours
to rest on the public mind before he can touch it. Therefore, let
no such objection pass, but grapple with it here and now, and
tear it to shreds. Here you are master of the situation, and can
present the objection in a shape most accessible to your own
knife. By anticipating an antagonist you break his sword and
render your own position unassailable.

Before our preacher goes into the pulpit just one word in his
ear--Beware of two very common defects--(I) _Rapidity of speech_
and (2) _Want of proper articulation_. A people who think warmly,
as we Irish do, speak rapidly. Thought is rushed upon thought and
sentence telescoped into sentence. Before sending forth an idea,
take care that its predecessor has got time to settle on the
minds of your hearers. In articulation try to earn the eulogy
passed on Wendell Philips: "He sent each sentence from his lips
as bright and clear cut as a new made sovereign from the mint."

[Side note: _Movere_]

What is the main weapon of the orator? Demosthenes answers--
"Action." Mr. Gladstone--"Earnestness." But St. Francis Borgia
probably explains what both mean when he advises us to preach
with an evidence of conviction that makes it clear to the
audience you are prepared to lay down your life at the foot of
the pulpit stairs for the truth of what you say.

Without this deep-seated conviction and the enthusiasm that flows
from it, your fire is but painted fire, your thunder the thunder
of the stage. This living earnestness is the spark that illumines
and vitalizes all. Without it the best built sermon is but a
painted corpse; but when the soul gleams forth in the flashing
eye and quivering lip, waves of unseen fire are issuing with
every sentence, and arrows of light silently piercing every
heart. The most stubborn prejudices are forced to melt and the
most depraved wills are swept on the crest of the grand tidal
wave, slowly gathering from the start; but when the preacher
forgets himself and his surroundings, flings self-consciousness
away, goes outside himself, pouring the hot tide from his own
glowing heart, till every flash of his eye and every wave of his
hand becomes a palpitating thought, then his audience surrender;
their hearts are in the hollow of his hand, wax to receive any
impression; their wills can be braced and lifted to the sublimest
heights of heroism--this is triumph.

[Side note: O'Connell]

It is said that the great mastery O'Connell exercised over the
people mainly sprang from the passionate earnestness of his
conviction. The nation's heart seemed merged into his own. He
stood forth her living, breathing symbol. When he spoke it was
Ireland spoke. Her passions rocked his soul; her humour flashed
from his eye; her scorn gleamed in his glances, and her sobs
choked his utterance. Ah! if preachers were as filled with the
Spirit of Christ as this man was with the spirit of patriotism,
what a revolution we might witness!

You ask--"How then do actors move people since there can be no
enthusiasm when men know they simulate unreal people and unreal
passions?" I answer, that the first step towards becoming a great
actor is to fling aside that knowledge and hand yourself over the
willing victim of a delusion. You must not _act_ but _live_ your
part: persuade yourself that you are the character you personate:
surrender your heart to be torn by real passions and wrung by
real sorrows.

The answer is well known which a celebrated actor once gave to a
divine:--"How is it that you so move people by fiction and our
preachers fail to move them by truth?" "Sir, we speak fiction as
if it were fact, and your preachers speak truth as if it were
fiction."

Here we leave our preacher facing his audience and filled with
but one idea: I have a great message to deliver and I will lay
hold of every means to send that message home; voice, passion,
style, gesture, these are my arms, and with these I hope to
conquer.

[Side note: Parting glance at the preacher's mission]

In parting we take a glance at the preacher's exalted mission,
and we may well ask: What in the whole range of human occupations
does this world hold worthy of being compared to it?

The battle-field, it is true, has its glories, but it has its
horrors also. Who can paint the pride with which Napoleon saw the
triumph of his skill crush two Emperors at Austerlitz or the
rapture with which he beheld the trophies of great kingdoms at
his feet? The fatigues of winter marches were forgotten when in
the fiery flashes of his veterans' eyes he read his own renown,
while their applauding shouts fell like music on his ears. But
blood soils the proudest trophies of war, and across the
perspective of victory the spectres of murdered men will stalk.

Human eloquence, too, has its conquests, the purest, the most
beautiful in the natural order. How the pride flush heightens on
the orator's cheek as he watches the crusts of prejudice melt and
hostile hearts surrender; when he marks the bated breath and the
hushed silence attesting his victory more eloquently than the
stormiest applause! He sees the varied moods of his own soul
mirrored in the faces around him, as he summons forth what spirit
he lists: tears or laughter, murmurs or applause answer to his
call.

What pen can picture the ecstasies that thrilled the soul of
Grattan as he gave utterance to the spirit of expiring freedom in
those orations that rank among the world's masterpieces? The
snows of age melted and the decrepitude of years was flung aside,
and his eyes gleamed with strange fires as he beheld sodden
corruption struck dumb and hang its guilty head; when he saw the
wavering drink fresh courage with each new outburst, and men of
commonest clay transformed into heroes by the blaze of his
genius. Glorious triumphs indeed; but, alas! human, and as such
doomed to die.

But in the sublimity of his purpose and the imperishable nature
of his conquests the preacher stands alone. Compared with his the
greatest trophies of the battle-field or the forum are feeble
trifles.

The preacher, in prayer and study, goes down over the green
swards of Calvary, and there gathers the ruby drops of
Redemption. He ascends the pulpit and pours them as a purple tide
over souls that are parched and perishing. As when the
Pentecostal fire rested on the Apostles' heads, a new light
filled their minds and a new flame sprung up within their hearts;
so when the same spirit breathes through the preacher's lips, the
clouds of ignorance dissolve and the light of truth divine
glorifies the minds and inflames the souls of his hearers. The
ears of faith can hear the applause of angels and the eyes of
faith can read Heaven's approval in the flashing glances of the
Blest, as with each stroke the preacher widens the empire of the
Precious Blood and piles palpitating trophies before the Sacred
Heart. Ah! here is a field worthy of the highest ambition that
ever burned within a human breast.

Hence, we should toil, toil, toil, and call no labour excessive
that we put forth in burnishing into polished efficiency every
weapon God has given us for the service of his pulpit.



CHAPTER FIFTH

A SOPHISTRY EXPOSED. ADVICE GIVEN

Theologian and Preacher--The Difference

It is amazing to think how often the offices of theologian and
preacher are spoken of as if they were identical. Now, the
functions of theologian and preacher stand widely apart. To the
reflective mind this sounds like repeating a truism; yet what a
world of confused thought and ignorant criticism would be cleared
from the subject if this fact were kept well in sight.

When you say that a young priest is becoming a good preacher you
are met by "impossible! he never got a prize in theology."

This is supposed to give your poor judgment its final _coup_;
argument after that is useless: _causa finita est_.

Now, I do not think our appreciation of an eminent surgeon is
lessened by our being told that he is a poor chemist; yet the
difference between these respective professions is scarcely more
radical than that which separates the office of preacher from
that of theologian.

To the ordinary public the theological treatise is a sealed book.
It is the preacher's duty to break that seal; to take out the dry
truths stored there; to render them palatable and inviting, and
bring them within the grasp of the plainest intelligence.

[Side note: Solicitor and barrister]

Few occupations more aptly illustrate this difference than those
of solicitor and barrister.

The attorney works up the materials for the case: he groups
statutes, discovers principles, tabulates references, supplies
dates. While he does not plead himself, a man so armed is
invaluable at the elbow of an able advocate; without the
barrister, however, especially where the prejudices, interests,
and the imagination of a jury have to be worked upon, his load of
learned lumber would be of small value. The theologian makes out
the brief: the preacher pleads it.

To render this distinction clearer let us take one more
illustration. No animal can exist on air and clay and sunlight
alone. Though these contain the elements on which it is fed; yet,
though surrounded by them in most ample abundance, he must perish
if a third power is not brought into play. The vegetable world
comes intervening between the raw chemicals and the hungry man.
Out of earth and air and light it builds the ripened sheaf, the
succulent apple and the savoury potato. So, though bookshelves
groan under calf-bound tomes hoarding the hived treasures of the
masters of theology, the common minds of the multitude would
starve did not the preacher interpose as interpreter of the
theologian's message, drawing forth from his storehouse truths
and principles out of which he manufactures the daily bread on
which the ordinary man must live. Without his aid the richest
repository ever clasped between the covers of a book would remain
a _fons signatus a hortus conclusus_. The prophet of God saw the
dry bones scattered over the valley of desolation till the breath
of a new power passed over them, and lo! (I) "the bones came
together each one to its joint; (2) the sinews and the flesh came
upon them . . . (3) and the skin was stretched out over
them . . . and the spirit came into them and they lived."

The attorney and the theologian gather the dry bones, but on the
preacher and the barrister lie the fourfold task of mortising the
joints into each other, binding them with the sinews of argument,
clothing them in living beauty and vitalizing the whole structure
with the flame of impassioned earnestness. Only when this has
been done will they live.

So thoroughly distinct are the two offices it rarely happens that
a professional theologian becomes an efficient preacher. The
concentration and exclusive exercise of one faculty unfits him
for a task demanding many.

People do not come to church to hear spoken treatises or witness
dissecting operations on subtle distinctions. They come to be
instructed, pleased and moved.

Again, for the perfect fulfilment of the preacher's task, amongst
other gifts he must have imagination; but to the master of an
exact science like theology an exuberant fancy might prove a
fatal dowry.

A clear statement of this truth holds out hopeful encouragement
to the man whose theological attainments could not be described
as "brilliant": it teaches, too, the man who has distinguished
himself in theology that if he ambitions being a preacher he has
an entirely new set of sciences to master, but, best of all, it
breaks into small bits an oft-used weapon in the hands of the
young preacher's arch-enemy--the critic.

[Side note: The critic at work]

How often do we see this self-constituted oracle rely for his
sole support on this sophistry?

You turn from a church door filled with admiration; there is a
glow of rapture around your heart; every nerve is tingling; you
have been enthralled. A truth, old indeed but now dressed in a
new robe, lives before your mind with a meaning and a richness of
colour never experienced before. Your will is swept captive on
the crest of that subtle tide of unseen fire that seems to fill
the air. You are bracing yourself to a heroic resolve. The
preacher's voice, like ceaseless music, is still thrilling down
through the avenues of your soul. When the critic comes and in
pity asks you--"Do you really think that a good sermon?" he
compassionates your poor judgment, leads you to the library,
takes down a volume of Lehmkuhl or Suarez, and with a triumphant
wave of his hand assures you that every idea in that sermon may
be found there.

You are now face to face with the most perplexing of
sophistries--the half truth.

Your judgment is staggered by two apparently contradictory
facts--it was a fine sermon, yet every idea may be found in the
theological treatise.

To enable you to extricate yourself from the puzzle, ratify your
first opinion and confound the critic; picture another set of
circumstances. You stand before St. Peter's, wrapped in
admiration at this world's wonder.

  "Power, glory, strength and beauty, all are aisled
   In this eternal ark of worship undefiled."

You are marvelling how did human brains conceive and human hands
embody this mighty dream of art. One of the pest tribe yclept
"critic" comes pitying your simple heart; he leads you to a
quarry, and triumphantly pointing says: "Here every stone of that
building was found. Now, what becomes of the glory simple people
like you bestow on Bramante and Michael Angelo?" How would you
answer him? Easily enough. Make him a present of the quarry, and
ask him to produce another St. Peter's. The challenge is
conclusive. You have him impaled.

Come back now to the library. Present the preacher's critic with
a hundred tomes, give him all this raw material multiplied ten
times over out of which that masterpiece of sacred eloquence was
built, and ask him to enthral those thousands that hung
spellbound on that man's lips, whose thrilled hearts were aflame,
who left the church examining their consciences and vowing better
lives. Alas! he who was so eloquent in tearing others to rags
when he himself essays their task himself--angels well might
weep.

No department of life is secure against this sophistry.

You listen till you are dazed with admiration at one of those
masterpieces of forensic pleading that have flung a deathless
glory around the names of Russell and Whiteside; but the critic,
with a superior toss of his head, assures you that this can be
found in Magna Charta and the Statute book. Here is the
tantalising half truth.

To be sure the principles and groundwork of reasoning are there;
but the office of the advocate was to draw them from the dust and
darkness, to gather these scattered articles, statutes and
precedents into his capacious brain, and from them evolve a
framework of argument to fit his purpose. He moulds them into an
impregnable bulwark of law and reasoning to shelter his client.
So naturally does he bend them to his case that every listener is
impressed with the conviction that surely the framers of these
statutes and principles must have a case like this before their
minds when they committed them to parchment.

Yet in the judgment of the critic the variety of talents brought
to this complex task count for nothing.

Here we see what a distinction must be made between the office of
theologian and preacher, and what a confusion of thought is saved
by keeping this line of demarcation in view.

[Side note: Parting advice]

Now that the subject of pulpit oratory is swept clear from
misleading theories and set in its true light before the young
preacher's eyes, let us see how further we can assist him to
discharge his high office with honour and efficiency.

[Side note: I.--Be natural in development]

"To thine own self be true" is the soundest of advices.

From the beginning the young preacher should aim at developing on
his own lines, thinking in his own way and expressing his
thoughts in their own native dress. No matter how eminent the
paragon you admire, do not become an understudy of him. Remember
he is great only because he is himself and not the imitation of
another. Try, however, to get at the secret of his greatness.
What is it? He discovered his strong points and cultivated them.
Go and do likewise.

You see a man with clear sequence of ideas and easy expression,
but without those exceptional gifts that go to make the born
orator. He could attain even eminence as a lecturer or
instructor, but lecture or instruct he will not, for he has read
Ventura and become smitten. He tries to imitate the Padre's lofty
style, and succeeds in "amazing the unlearned and making the
learned smile." "Failure" is written large over all his efforts.

David could not fight with the gorgeous but cumbersome arms of
Saul: with his own homely sling and the polished stone from the
brook, the weapon to which he was accustomed, he achieved
victory.

I knew a priest who had a marvellous charm as a storyteller. He
invested the merest trifles of incident with resistless
fascination. Hours in his society flew like moments.

He became a distinguished preacher. I went to hear him, and
quickly discovered the secret of his success. He knew his strong
point, and staked his all on it. He preached his sermons as he
told his stories--in graphic, familiar narrative. The
congregation felt they were taken into his confidence; they were
hypnotised. You forgot that you were sitting in stiff dignity in
a church, and imagined yourself one of a group around the
winter's log listening to a delightful _raconteur_, and you
willingly surrendered to the pleasing delusion.

Every play of fancy, every flash of thought, every clinched
conviction passed from him to his hearers till the souls of
preacher and listeners became like reflecting mirrors. There was
always regret when he finished.

Now, had that man attempted to become Demosthenes instead of
himself he would have succeeded in becoming ridiculous.

[Side note: 2.--Be natural in composition]

The natural outpouring of thought has a relish and a
resistlessness of force that no art can rival. The scent of a
sprig of wild woodbine holds a charm beyond all the perfumes of
the chemist's shop.

In order to be natural there is no necessity to ignore the
elegancies of style; for what is style? _Le style est l'homme_.
The style is the man. A perfect style, then, is attained when the
written page is the exact expression of the train of thought as
it lies in the writer's head. A style is absolutely perfect when
it is absolutely natural.

Artificial embroidery, purple patches, and golden vapour are
often the defects and not the perfection of style.

Language can be simple, however, without being vulgar or
commonplace.

What book will ever equal the Bible for simplicity, yet what
dignity? What preacher ever approached OUR DIVINE LORD; and,
humanly speaking, what was the source of His strength?

He accommodated Himself to His hearers. From the open book of
nature He made the realms of grace familiar to the minds of
children. He pointed to the lilies of the field, to the ravens of
the wood, to the ripening bud and the angry cloud. "_Ut ex iis
quae animus novit, surgat ad incognita quae non novit_."[1]

[1] Third Nocturn for Non-Virgins.

He used the world around us to lift our thoughts to the world
above us.

When He spoke to fishermen His illustrations were taken from seas
and nets. When He preached to farmers the word of God was the
seed falling on rocky soil or the fertile furrow. When the
merchants with caravans and silken tunics surrounded Him it
becomes the pearl of great price. When amongst simple villagers
it is the lost groat in search of which the housewife sweeps the
floor and searches each nook and cranny.

Here is language coming down to the level of every hearer,
abounding in familiar pictures, yet never losing dignity.

While composing sermons for factory hands Cardinal Wiseman
employed a weaver to teach him the technicalities of the loom
that he might reach their hearts through the only channel of
thought they understood.

It is wonderful how the natural world around us can be used to
bring even the most sublime truths within the grasp of the
plainest intellects. Why do we not draw more frequently and more
abundantly from this source?

When we hear of a man whose discourses "are too sublime for the
ordinary intelligence" it is hard to forbear a smile. Our pity
goes out not to "the ordinary intelligence," but to the cloudy
dweller in Patmos. Mystic obscurity is used more frequently as a
cloak for muddle-headed thinking than as a robe with which to
drape sublimity of thought. Hence, if people do not understand
the preacher, blame not the people, but let the preacher look to
it.

Our nimble-minded imaginative people will rise to and grasp the
most elevated ideas if properly presented.

I listened to a sermon in an English church preached before a
congregation of Irish poor. The keynote was lofty, but
beautifully sustained throughout. The range of thought was high,
but the truths clarified by an abundance of happy illustration.
That discourse was so classic in its beauty that it might be
preached before an Oxford audience, yet not an idea was lost on
that breathless congregation, where every female head was covered
by a shawl. The speaker possessed in an eminent degree three
gifts that must command success:--He could think clearly; he
could so express his thoughts that his language became the mirror
of his mind; he made a large demand on the familiar scenes of
nature with which to illustrate his ideas and send his reasoning
home; he possessed a mind at once logical and imaginative and a
manner of expression that formed a definition of perfect
style--_Le style c'est l'homme_--the style is the man.

[Side note: 3.--Be natural in delivery]

The faintest suspicion of art immediately sets your audience up
in arms. Their teeth are on edge; their heart locked against you.
"This is acting and not preaching" seals your fate.

Do not imagine for a moment that I advocate the neglect of
elocutionary graces. So far from that I hold that every young
priest leaving college should be a past master of all rhetorical
arts. Gesture, articulation, voice production and inflection
should be at his finger tips. No book on the subject should be
unread. No year of college life should pass without contributing
materially towards the elocutionary equipment of the future
preacher. The college that neglects this training and permits
young men to go into the ministry without this needful art is
guilty of a most serious sin of omission.

What I do mean is _preach_ your sermons and do not _declaim_
them. How is this accomplished?

For the first year bend all your powers to capturing the
intellects of your auditors, holding in reserve, for the time
being, the elocutionary forces. Then, when you have acquired the
habit of convincing the intelligence, let the elegancies of
finished declamation insinuate themselves gradually into your
delivery. Thus art will so engraft itself on nature, the
rhetorical graces so entwining and dovetailing into your
convictions and passions that they will appear as growing out of
and not added on to them. Here is perfection--

    _Ars artium celare artem_.

Reverse this: make declamation your first concern, and let us
even suppose the artificiality is not detected, which is
supposing a great deal. What is the result? Your sermon is
declamation and nothing else. This means failure, for no matter
how the passions are aroused, if they are not upheld by the
pillars of conviction, your finest effort is a fire of chips: a
blaze for a moment, then ashes.

Though elocutionary powers are of so much importance as to be
almost indispensable, yet they are subordinate to the sermon:
they are the aids and auxiliaries to drive it home. A graceful
gesture or musical inflection of voice will not convince the
intellect or move the passions: they are not the arrows: they
lend wings of fire, however, to send the arrows to the mark.

I know no more fatal blunder, or one that militates more strongly
against a speaker, than the adoption of an artificial accent.

[Side note: The Irish gift of oratory]

God has not only given our race a special mission--the apostolate
of the English-speaking world--but he has singularly endowed us
with those gifts that go to make successful preachers of His
Word--logical minds, imagination and sensibility.

[Side note: Logical minds]

That we possess this in an eminent degree is evident from a
striking fact. There are three avocations to which the faculty of
close reasoning is a first essential--law, politics and
theology--and in each of these our countrymen excel.

[Side note: Law]

We are as essentially a race of lawyers as the Jews are a race of
moneylenders.

For eleven years I watched the sons of Irish parents going from
an Australian college to professional careers. Ninety-eight per
cent., following the natural bent of their minds, turned to the
lawyer's office.

From the year 1858 to the present hour the robes of Victoria's
Chief Justice have been uninterruptedly worn by Irishmen. From
1873 the Chief Justiceship of New South Wales has been
exclusively held by sons of the green isle. But, above all, turn
to the lawyers' streets in the new worlds of America and
Australia and see the amazing number of brass plates adorned with
O's and Mac's.

[Side note: Politics]

The political organisations in the labour world of England to-day
are mainly captained by Irishmen. Two of them have been sent to
Parliament, and two more will probably join them in the next
Parliament.

The rapidity with which the Irish emigrant, following the law of
natural selection, plunges into politics has passed into a
proverb in America and furnished a humorous parody on a
well-known stanza:--

 "There came to the beach a poor exile of Erin,
    The dew on his thin robe was heavy and chill,
  The ship that had brought him scarce from harbour was steerin',
    When Senator Mike was presenting a Bill."

[Side note: Theology]

The great Cardinal Franzelin said to one of his most
distinguished pupils[2]--"As a professor of theology at Rome for
many years I had every day opportunities of studying the
character and mental equipment of various nations, and, though in
favour of the Germans, I give it as my opinion that the Irish, as
a race, have the most theological minds of any people." Judgment
from such an authority is conclusive.

[2] Dr. Croke, late Archbishop of Cashel.

The first essential for a preacher is the power of lucid
reasoning. That this faculty is ours is now abundantly
established. The next talent requisite is imagination. That we
have imagination, often teeming in tropical luxuriance, but
shared in great or less degree by all, has never been questioned.
One more requisite and the oratorical outfit is complete.

[Side note: Sensibility]

On this score it is sufficient to say that we are Celts, endowed
with the ardent nervous temperaments. But suffering has given to
ours an acute refinement that nothing else could impart.

    "Never soul could know its powers
     Until sorrow swept its chords."

"We give preference to Jews and Irishmen on our staff," said the
proprietor of a leading journal. "Both have suffered, and a man
with a grievance writes passionately. He dips the pen into his
own heart and electric energy thrills his sentences; hence the
crisp pungency and compressed fire of our columns."

What gift that goes to make an orator has God denied us? Reason,
fancy, passion, a pathos and humour where the smile trembles on
the borderland of tears.

Why then this barrenness? Mainly because of the criminal neglect
of colleges in the past to cultivate the abundant material placed
at their disposal; other contributory causes are cynical
criticism and want of courageous ambition.

Colleges are now bestirring themselves--it is high time--but
criticism has not died. Refined natures have heartstrings like
the chords of Aeolian harps, sensitive to the faintest touch,
responsive to the gentlest whisper of the evening breeze; such
shrink in terror from the icy breath of the scoffer: the purpose
is frozen dead within their souls. O criticism! what crimes have
been committed in your name! How many noble careers have you
blasted?

[Side note: The world's greatest orators]

The man without ambition is not worth his salt. Some of the
world's greatest orators have been spurred on to triumph despite
difficulties before which timid men would stand aghast.

The story of Demosthenes is too familiar to bear repetition.

A good voice and commanding presence are powerful auxiliaries
towards oratorical success; but Curran's appearance was so mean
that he was once taken for a shoeblack. His stammering, blunders,
and collapses in early life earned for him the nickname of
"Orator Mum." Yet to what a lofty eminence did not his sleepless
endeavours lift him!

If Sheil's portraits speak truly he must have closely resembled a
starved sweep on a wet day, while Disraeli declares his voice was
as unmusical as the sound of a broken tin whistle. Of him Lecky
writes:--"Richard Lalor Shiel forms one of the many examples
history presents of splendid oratorical powers clogged by
insuperable natural defects. His person was diminutive and wholly
devoid of dignity. His voice shrill, harsh, and often rising to a
positive shriek. His action, when most natural, violent, without
gracefulness, and eccentric even to absurdity."[3]

[3] Lecky--"Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland," p. 194.

In spite of these defects, and at a period when the nation's ear
was pampered to fastidiousness by the eloquence of Grattan, Flood
and O'Connell, he began his upward struggle towards eminence. He
not only succeeded in winning a foremost place, but in wreathing
himself with deathless fame when laurels shaded the brows of
giants alone.

In face of these encouraging examples who could lose heart when
the trumpet of ambition blows--"struggle, struggle, struggle."

    "Scorn delights and live laborious days."



CHAPTER SIXTH

THE ART OF ELOCUTION

The subject of preaching would be incomplete without a chapter on
the important and graceful art of elocution.

[Side note: What books should we read?]

If asked what works would a student read on the subject, the
wisest answer would be, every book he can lay hold of. The number
of works dealing with rhetoric are few, but if a man can get
half-a-dozen new ideas from any one of them his labour is more
than repaid. Even should he meet the same thought repeated, the
fact that it is clothed in different language and set in a new
light invests it with a freshness that is sure to fix it
permanently in his mind.

If, however, the question be narrowed down to which are the three
best books on this subject? without pretending to give a decisive
answer to this difficult question we have no hesitation in saying
that, for the ecclesiastical student, "Potter's Sacred
Eloquence," "The Making of an Orator," by Mr. John O'Connor
Power, and Mr. McHardy Flint's little work, "Natural Elocution,"
will be found most useful.

Some of the thoughts in this chapter are borrowed from the last
two authors.

With this general acknowledgment both gentlemen will, we are
sure, be content when we spare the reader repeated references to
either titles or pages of their works.

[Side note: What is rhetoric?]

[Side note: Cicero]

At the threshold of our subject we are met by the question--What
is rhetoric? Mr. Power gives the answer--"The resources of
rhetoric are natural resources, and rules for composition are
only records intended for the guidance of those who have not
discovered the originals for themselves. The first speakers had
no rules and no experience to draw upon but their own. In course
of time speeches came to be reported, and then the secret of
their eloquence disclosed itself. All the qualities of the orator
were then observed; the highest and the best were chosen and
combined and erected into an art, which was named Rhetoric. This
art was designed to _aid_ speakers and not as a means of
_fettering their natural ability_." Cicero has put almost the
same thoughts in different words--"I consider that, with regard
to all precept, the case is this; not that orators by adhering to
them have obtained distinction in eloquence, but that certain
persons have noticed what men of eloquence have practised of
their own accord, and formed rules accordingly; _so that
eloquence has not sprung from art, but art from eloquence_." This
is not only sound theory, but sound sense. It shatters a
time-worn fallacy and gives hope and encouragement to the
student. Every man can become an orator in a greater or a less
degree. The powers slumber within him; and the teacher's duty is
not to create but awaken, draw out, develop and guide these
inborn gifts.

Now, the question is--By what standard shall the speaker be
trained? The master-hand of Shakespere has framed a set of rules
that will stand for all time as the most pregnant piece of wisdom
ever penned on the art of elocution. Though Hamlet's advice is
addressed to actors, there is scarcely a line which the young
orator can afford to ignore. He would do well to commit the
entire piece to memory.

[Side note: Shakespere's advice to speakers]

"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of our
players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do
not saw the air too much with your hand thus: but use all gently;
for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of
your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance, that may
give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul, to hear a
robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings; who, for the
most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and
noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'er-doing
Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it. Be not too
tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the
action to the word, the word to the action; with this special
observance, that you o'er-step not the modesty of nature; for
anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end,
both at the first, and now, was, and is, to hold, as 'twere the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her
own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and
pressure. Now this, overdone, or come tardy off, though it make
the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
censure of which one, must, in your allowance, o'er-weigh a whole
theatre of others. O, there be players, that I have seen
play--and heard others praise, and that highly--not to speak it
profanely, that, neither having the accent of christians, nor the
gait of christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted, and
bellowed, that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had
made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so
abominably."

[Side note: Avoid extremes]

It will be well to observe that throughout this advice the poet
is careful to warn us against extremes--neither to tear a passion
to rags nor to be too tame--he insists on moderation. Even in the
very tempest of passion one must not lose self-control nor make
extravagant use of the hands. The "overdone" and the "come tardy
off" are the two poles to be shunned.

"Speak the speech as I pronounced it." By placing the two words
"speak" and "pronounce" in contrast, Hamlet leads us to infer
that in reading the play over for the actors his principal care
was to give perfect articulation. "Speak the speech as I
_pronounced_ it."

"Trippingly on the tongue." Evidently the slow, thick utterance
of the mumbling speaker, to the roof of whose mouth the words
seem to cling, was not unknown in Shakespere's day. As a remedy
against this he tells them to "speak it trippingly." No word in
the English language could so clearly convey the case. Nimble,
airy resonance is suggested by the very sound of the word
"trippingly."

[Side note: Two errors]

Having given this advice he hastens to warn them against the
opposite extreme: "But if you mouth it." He wants no boisterous
notes of artificial passion: he would as lief the town-crier
spoke his lines. The office of that humble functionary demands
not the graces of finished elocution, only strong lungs with
which to shout; hence a piece of delicate pathos or varied
passions would probably receive scant justice at his hands. But
even the town-crier is tolerable--he is nature's product--
compared with the workmanship of nature's journeymen--those who
strut and bellow. "They imitate humanity so abominably" that
their delivery touches the extremest limit of all that is
reprehensible in elocution.

[Side note: Gesture]

"Suit the action to the word, the word to the action." Here we
have the fundamental law for the use of gesture.

Gesture is not an artificial action standing apart from, or added
to, the words. It is thought seeking spontaneous, visible,
outward expression through the movements of the hand or eye or
features just at the moment when that same thought is receiving
articulate birth on the tongue. Its purpose is to make the words
grow large, as it were; to expand and emphasise their meaning;
hence the wisdom of the advice--"Suit the action to the word, the
word to the action." If the action distract the listeners'
attention from the word its purpose is defeated.

Now that we have an idea of what elocution is, and analysed the
wisest set of rules ever framed for its government, we turn to
the mechanical agencies by which it is produced--breathing,
resonance, inflection.

[Side note: How to inhale]

When a person draws in the air through the mouth, the cold,
unpurified stream strikes directly on the back of the roof,
causing dryness and irritation. To avoid this the preacher,
except when actually engaged in speaking, should inhale through
the nose. The advantages of so doing are considerable. The air
inhaled through the nasal organs is drawn over the roof of the
mouth and soft palate, and thus warmed by contact with the
blood-vessels; so that it is rendered innoxious by the time it
reaches the throat. Again, any particles of dust or other
impurities it might contain are caught by the filterers or hairs
situated in the nasal cavities for that purpose. Thus it reaches
the tender vocal chords both warmed and purified. To these may be
added another advantage: it is more becoming to inhale with
closed lips--the picture of a speaker gasping open-mouthed is not
a graceful one.

[Side note: How use the lungs]

We now come to the important question--How shall I increase my
vocal powers? As is well known, there are two methods of inhaling
and expelling the air from the lungs. One is by means of the
rising and falling of the ribs. This is called "the costal
method." The other is by the contraction and distention of the
midriff or diaphragm. The diaphragm is the movable floor to the
thorax or box that encloses the lungs. This is called "the
diaphragmatic method." Now, since God has furnished us with both
methods, He evidently intended that we should use both, as we use
our two eyes or our two ears. They are given, not as alternative,
but as simultaneous instruments of action. The weakness in many a
speaker's voice, its want of volume and its failure when a
sustained effort is demanded, is due to the fact that he breathes
by means of his ribs alone, throwing all the pressure on the
upper portion of the lungs, not asking the large areas to
contribute anything. He thus robs himself of breathing capacity,
and consequently of voice power.

[Side note: Diaphragmatic breathing]

To get a perfect mastery over the "diaphragmatic" method and make
it as serviceable as possible, practise breathing while lying on
your back, filling the lungs to the utmost, and exhausting them
as completely as possible. Inhale rapidly and exhale slowly. Then
reverse the order; inhale slowly and exhale rapidly. Again let
"slow" and "rapid" alternately make both movements.

By this exercise you acquire flexibility of the midriff muscles,
you enlarge the cubic dimensions of the breathing area, you
distribute the burden generally; and when the occasion comes to
send your voice over four thousand heads you will discover that
the reserve fund of voice and strength acquired by this practice
is at your service. This plan bears that highest and safest
sanction--_in practical experience it has proved a genuine
success_.

[Side note: A clergyman's sore throat]

The ailment known as "a clergyman's sore throat" is too common
and too serious to be passed over--the raucous, husky voice sawn
across the throat, the congested blood-vessels, the strained
muscles, the throat lining as raw as a beefsteak. Here you have
evident results of some unnatural effort. What is it? In ordinary
conversation we employ the throat, back of the mouth and vocal
chords mainly: very little demand is made on the lungs. The voice
we use is the "head voice." Now, when called on to fill a large
building, the centre of stress should instantly be shifted from
the mouth and throat to the lungs. On them the whole weight
should be flung--then you produce the "chest voice." It is the
want of this transference of strain from the throat to the lungs
that causes the misery called "a clergyman's sore throat." Men
endeavour to fill a large building with precisely the same set of
organs that they use when speaking by the fireside. The strain
intended for the broad-based, strong-fibred lungs is kept on the
delicate vocal chords, palate and throat. These were never built
for that purpose, and nature kicks against the outrage. The
throat becomes congested, parched, torn and raw; the voice grows
husky, cracked, and finally ends in a scream. Here is the genesis
of the fatal "clergyman's sore throat" explained.

[Side note: An illustration]

Analogy makes this clearer still. Our back teeth were built for
the purpose of grinding; hence their broad crowns, strong shafts,
and firm roots; the teeth in the front of the mouth were intended
for tasks not at all so arduous. Tamper with this arrangement;
transfer the laborious work of mastication to the front teeth,
and see how nature will punish you. This illustrates the outrage
committed when the strain and effort that should be shifted to
the lungs are allowed to rest on the slender organs intended for
the entirely different purpose of modulation.

[Side note: How acquire a chest voice]

One question remains--How can a person cultivate a chest voice?
How bring the voice directly from the lungs without in the least
distressing the throat? This is all important. The young speaker
should practise for a short time daily the method of lifting,
first, words and then sentences straight from the lungs without
making the least possible demand on the throat or vocal chords,
stealing each word out of the depths of the lungs, afraid, as it
were, of awakening the upper organs. When he has acquired this
habit of speaking words and sentences, let him practise a verse
or two of declamation. In a short time he will be surprised at
his progress in acquiring a chest voice. In public speaking it
will become his ordinary voice; for not only does the established
habit assist him, but the organs daily develop and fit themselves
to his purpose, and he learns to transfer the stress from his
throat to his lungs as easily and quickly and instinctively as
the pianist passes his fingers from the treble to the base notes
on the keyboard.

The test of any theory is--How has it worked in practice? The
method of voice production here recommended has given the writer
advantages that it would be difficult to overestimate. Lungs
naturally weak grew to three times their former size and
strength; his voice increased in depth, richness and resonance;
though constantly speaking in large churches for years, he has
never known what hoarseness, sore throat or huskiness is.

A method that to him has been worth untold gold may not be
without advantage to his readers.

[Side note: Resonance]

We must, however, have more than speech; we must have musical
speech. This is acquired by resonance and inflection.

To send a stream of air from the lungs and vocalise it on its
outward passage is not enough; by this you produce only a tiny,
impoverished voice that conveys no force and awakens no emotion.
There is something wanting; that something is--Resonance. It
supplies richness and effectiveness to the stream of sound.

[Side note: An illustration]

The difference between speech stripped of resonance and
accompanied with it is best illustrated by a simple experiment.
Take a violin-string in your hand: touch it, and mark the sound
produced--how weak and thin. Now, attach the string to the
violin: touch it again, and see how the resonating instrument
converts the feeble sound of the detached string into a sonorous
wave of vibrating music. Now, the vocal chords are placed in the
throat midway between two resonators--the chest and the head.
These are to the chords what the body of the violin is to the
string. When the stream of air has passed the chords it is
already accompanied by the vibrations of the chest, but the head
is the main contributor. The residual air in the upper portions
of the throat, mouth and nasal cavities is thrown into vibration.

Here the importance of the subject reveals itself. The art that
can convert a screech into pleasing cadences of soft sound is no
trifle. Nasal resonance must not be confounded with nasal twang.
The one is produced by vibrating the air in the cavities, the
twang by expelling it from them. The part played by each organ in
voice production may be briefly summarised:--The lungs send out a
stream of air; the vocal chords, principally, modulate it; the
head and chest give it resonance.

Now, that it is clearly evident God intended us to speak and sing
to the accompaniment of these aerial orchestras concealed in the
head and chest, the only remaining question is--How we shall use
them?

[Side note: Advice how to avoid screech]

Take care never to exhaust these reservoirs of air; if you do the
result will be screech and shout. No matter what demand is made
on you, be sure to hold a reserve supply of residual air: set it
vibrating, and your voice on its outward passage will receive an
enrichment of volume, force, and music.

[Side note: Inflection: its necessity]

"Go slowly and articulate well" are not sufficient. "Inflect your
language" must be added. A student should practise assiduously
till his sentences become as flexible as a cutting whip, capable
of being bent to every mood and of lending themselves to every
passion. In pathos his words should sink almost to a sob, tearful
in their plaintiveness; in denunciation they should rise,
muttering the voices of the storms; and in narrative the proper
pitch is ordinary middle tone.

[Side note: French and English want inflection]

It is in this want of inflective grace that English, and more
especially French, speakers lose so much of their force. Both
read admirably and articulate with precision, but the unvaried
straight line tone, so suited to reading, will not serve the
purpose when we not only wish to make people understand, but also
endeavour to move their passions.

[Side note: The secret power of a good story-teller]

Recall a good story-teller or speaker of whom you never wearied;
go back in memory and see how much he owed to the power contained
in the inflected voice--the varied tones that sank or swelled as
suited the mood or passion.

As you sat by the winter's fire your flesh was made to creep and
your hair stood on end in terror while you furtively stole a
glance around looking for the apparition described in the weird
ghost story. The secret power that somewhere lay enthralled you.
Was it not in the husky whisper or the hush of restraint? Let
that speaker tell the same story in the middle pitched narrative
tone, and lo! the spell is vanished. If the thunder thrills that
rocked and vibrated through his voice were taken from
Demosthenes, would he have ever driven Eschines into exile?

[Side note: Two advantages of inflection]

The practice of varied cadences in speech has two genuine
advantages--_it saves the speaker from fatigue and the hearers
from weariness_.

When a man varies his tone of voice he breaks up the arrangement
in the group of muscles that till then bore the stress of effort:
a new combination is formed, and the work transferred to fresh
muscles. This brings instant relief. A similar sense of
refreshment comes to his hearers.

In speaking, as in singing, we must have melody, but there is no
melody without variety. People would rush even from a Melba if
she sang every note in the same key. Inflection not only
constitutes the melody of speech, but imparts to it rhetorical
significance and logical force.

The want of success in many a speaker who has both a good voice
and good matter may be found in the fact that his voice, instead
of being as flexible as a piece of whalebone, is as unbending as
a bar of iron; or, worse still, perhaps he adopts the dreary
monotony of the sing-song tone: the two unvarying notes so
suggestive of the up and down movements of a pump-handle. This
"cuckoo" tone would blight the best written sermon.

[Side note: Two impediments to good preaching]

Nothing now remains except to warn the young preacher against the
two most common defects--affectation of voice and word-dropping
at the end of the sentences.

[Side note: An artificial tone of voice]

"Preach," says Dr. Ireland, "in a manner that the people will
understand, and that goes straight to their hearts, and not in
the stilted phraseology of the seventeenth century sermon." Sage
advice! The comic stage has set the world laughing at the
grotesque inflections of the parson preacher; but is his
counterpart never found amongst ourselves. Is the Catholic pulpit
free from speakers whose ridiculous cadences at once class them
amongst the disciples of the Rev. Mr. Spalding?

[Side note: Artificiality means failure]

We have met priests, typical of a considerably large class, who,
in ordinary conversation, could speak in a manner both natural
and pleasing; who, when roused, could be even eloquently
convincing; who, at the dinner-table and even on the platform,
are listened to with pleasure, yet let one of them go into a
pulpit, and fifteen minutes exhausts the patience of the most
charitable congregation. Should he exceed this limit there are
suppressed sighs and ominous consulting of watches. Why? Because
in the pulpit he adopts an artificial tone of voice. In some
instances it takes the shape of a pious whine, in others of a
drone. But in whatever shape it finds expression the hollow ring
of the unreal is there to damn it.

[Side note: How he came to acquire it]

A hoary tradition made it venerable in his eyes. As a boy he
heard it from a pastor to whom he was accustomed to look with
reverence.

He came to persuade himself that, like a "judge's gravity" or a
"soldier's step," a priest too should bear a professional
hallmark, and this should be a "preacher's voice," so he acquired
it. Fatal acquisition!

The peculiarity of it is that this tone is reserved exclusively
for the pulpit. Not a whisper of it heard during the week. It is
his "preaching voice," and like his "preaching stole" or
"preaching surplice" it is laid aside till Sunday brings him
again before the congregation.

[Side note: The result of the artificial tone]

What madness! Adopting this tone is like drawing the lead from
the pistol or putting a foil on the rapier: it defeats his
purpose, it renders his weapon ineffective. So far from setting
his congregation on fire he sets them asleep; instead of sending
them away with clenched convictions they leave the church
tittering, or perhaps in bad temper.

[Side note: Priests never use in moments of serious issues]

I would like to ask such a man--If you were pleading in a court
for your character or before an angry mob for your life is it on
this antiquated weapon you would rely? Would not nature's
unerring instinct tell you to fling it to the winds and stake
your fortunes on the untrammeled outpouring of head and heart?
Every tone would ring with earnestness: every sentence thrill
with passion.

The thoughts, how clear! How convincing the arguments! Nature's
unfettered strength would then, like a tidal wave, sweep you
triumphantly onward to the goal.

Yet when you stand in the pulpit to plead a brief for Christ the
simple, unaffected earnestness that everywhere else carries
conviction is abandoned for such a musty instrument as an
unctuous whine or a holy drone. The young priest should avoid it:
it spells ruin.

[Side note: Voice dropping]

It is wonderful how few the speakers are who sustain the same
pitch and energy of voice from the beginning of a sentence to its
closing syllable.

[Side note: Cause of the defect]

The temptation to exhaust the air in the lungs, and therefore
permit the final words to drop, is so strong that unless a
student watch it and assiduously guard against it he will
discover that he has fallen victim to this weak point before he
is twelve months a priest.

[Side note: It destroys a sermon]

Whenever you hear the last words of each sentence of a sermon
growing faint, like Marathon runners staggering feebly towards
the goal, and the final word dropping completely under, that
sermon, no matter how beautiful its conception or eloquent its
composition, is doomed to failure.

The entire meaning of many a sentence is completely lost if the
last words fail to reach the listeners' ears. Very often the last
word is the important member of a sentence, the others being
merely ancillary to it. In oratory, especially, many a sentence
has to depend for its driving force on the energy with which the
final words are sent home.

Now, when people give a preacher attentive interest, the least
they are entitled to expect is that he should let them hear every
word. But finding themselves invariably baffled by the last word
becoming inaudible, it is small wonder if, tantalised and
disgusted, they abandon all effort to follow him.

[Side note: The cure]

It is therefore of great importance that this defect, so fatal
yet so common, should be provided against in time. But how?

Since it comes from exhaustion, consequent on the mismanagement
of the voice, the remedy is obvious.

Let the student daily practise reading aloud in the open air,
preferably sermons or speeches by the best authors.

Let him nervously guard against allowing his voice to show the
slightest trace of fatigue in the final words of each sentence.
This can be accomplished by inhaling fully, going slowly, and not
only giving full value to the punctuation stops, but resting at
the rhetorical and logical pauses.

[Side note: Advantages of the remedy]

By this excellent practice he strengthens his lungs and vocal
organs, cultivates his ear, and acquires a control over his voice
so perfect that he can husband his reserve fund of breath and
strength to impart at will freshness to the final syllable.

This practice should be continued till it becomes a rooted habit,
till it has grown to be his normal method of speaking.

When he goes into the pulpit I would give him an advice, the
value of which time and experience can alone enable him to
appreciate.

Direct your voice not to the end of the church, but to the side
wall about three-quarters way down from the pulpit to the door.
Fix your eye on some person there; to him address your sermon,
but pitch your voice against the wall about two feet above his
head.

By this plan you not only secure your voice against unnecessary
fatigue, but you take the surest method of sending it into every
ear, and the reverberations of your own voice will act
electrically on you.

As ring after ring of your sentences comes back from the sounding
spot against which you have discharged them you are filled with
courageous confidence and an assurance that every word has found
its mark.

A recent writer in the _Quarterly Review_ discloses in one
luminous sentence the qualities that go to make an orator, and
every priest should struggle with all his might to be an orator
in the best sense of the word.

He says: "Nor is any man a great orator who has not many of the
gifts of a great actor--his command of gesture, his variety and
grace of elocution, his mobility of features, his instant
sympathy with the ethical tone of this or that situation, his
power of evoking that sympathy in every member of his audience;
and this is surely what Demosthenes meant by making acting not
action the secret of all oratory."

What a vista these words open up! What a variety of
accomplishments demanded that can only be acquired, even by the
most gifted, by long study and patient practice! And since
learning to speak in public is like learning to swim, or to
skate, or to ride a bicycle, in this sense at least, that no
amount of previous theoretical instruction will enable one to
realise the initial difficulties or find out how to overcome them
without actual experiment, it would be arrant folly on the part
of the future priest to neglect this subject during his student
years.

These questions--Culture, English, and Preaching--should occupy a
foremost place in the curricula of our colleges. It is only by
training the student from the start, by fostering literary,
dramatic and debating societies where not alone the practical art
of speaking is developed, but the social amenities of good
society are practised, that the young priest can be equipped to
efficiently discharge the high office awaiting him, and so
reflect a lasting credit on the Church of God at home and abroad.



CHAPTER SEVENTH

THE DANGER OF THE HOUR. HOW TO MEET IT

[Side note: Statement of the case]

The printing press is one of the greatest forces of the modern
world. The multitude of publications sent forth on its wings each
morning are messengers of light or darkness. Their influence for
good or evil is more powerful than that of armies or parliaments:
that influence we can no more escape than we can escape the
sunlight or the air that surrounds us. It penetrates our homes;
it colours our thoughts; it furnishes motives for our actions.
The Press is indeed the lever that moves the world of our day,
and we are but the puppets of its will.

Such being the case, is it not a question of first importance for
the priest to examine its bearing on his own life, and on the
lives of those committed to his care?

[Side note: A general principle]

That we may do so in a scientific manner, let us take a simple
general principle. Reading is the food of the mind. Now, the body
is marvellously influenced by the food it assimilates; give a man
wholesome nutriment and mark the bounding vigour of his blood,
the activity and healthy development of every organ; feed him on
innutritious food and the most robust must fade; on poisonous
food and the strongest languishes unto death.

The substance of the body is so influenced by what it assimilates
that scientists assure us, young animals fed on madder will
reproduce the purple dye of the plant in the very texture of the
bone.

[Side note: The principle illustrated]

With far greater thoroughness and completeness does thought act
upon the mind: thought blends with thought with a force and
subtleness unknown in matter. Watch the principle in action. Let
any man habitually read good books--and by good books I mean the
production of any person whose mind is illumined by faith and
whose heart is fed by the sacraments--it matters little in what
shape such books reach us, let it be a novel or a book of poems
or essays. No man can invariably read such works without growing
imperceptibly better. His Catholic principles grow more robust;
he becomes more fearless in expressing them; each volume leaves
an aroma behind and imparts a new flavour to his life. Fresh oil
is poured into the lamp of his piety, its flame burns brighter,
he feels an unction in his prayers; he has a holy relish for the
sacraments. His very interests in life change: he looks on
everything with supernatural eyes, he becomes touchy about the
interests of the Church, anxious about the foreign missions, and
feels an insult to the Holy See as a wound.

The food his brain is living on is leavening his whole life,
giving colour, tone and trend to his existence.

[Side note: Brownson]

This literature, on which he nourishes himself, has been
admirably described by the mastermind of Catholic America--Dr.
Brownson:--"Catholic literature is robust and healthy of a ruddy
complexion, and full of life. It knows no sadness but the sadness
of sin, and it rejoices for evermore. It eschews melancholy as
the devil's best friend on earth, abhors the morbid
sentimentality which feeds upon itself and grows by what it feeds
upon. . . . It washes its face, anoints its head, puts on its
festive robe, goes forth into the fresh air, the bright sunshine;
and, when occasion requires, rings out the merry laugh that does
one's heart good to hear. It is on principle that the Catholic
approves such gladsome and smiling literature."[1]

[1] Vol. xix., p. 155.

Now look at the converse picture. Let the mind of the most devout
Catholic feed on the writings of the Protestant or sensualist and
mark the transformation. See how his soul becomes enervated, his
judgment warped and his heart invaded by every temptation. His
Catholic principles insensibly vanish, and the standards of
paganism replace them. The light of the supernatural dies in his
eyes, a film of clay overspreads his vision; he looks on the
Church through coloured lenses, and the rankness of earth is upon
his life.

Thus our thoughts, views and actions are marvellously coloured
and influenced by the books we read.

[Side note: The English press operating on the Irish mind]

Let us now turn to examine how this bears on our own lives and
the lives of those around us.

Thick as snowflakes, but without their whiteness, the sensuous
and infidel Press of England is discharging its messengers of
evil on this land. It is speaking by a multitude of tongues into
the hearts of our people. The sensational novel, the suggestive
picture paper, the trashy magazine are breathing a deadly blight
over the soul of Ireland: they whisper thoughts that fall like
corrosive poison into the sanctuary of young hearts, destroying
the only jewels that are worthy of being there enshrined--bright
faith and pure morals.

[Side note: What the Londoner saw]

An Irishman residing in London, after visiting his native country
in 1900, records his impressions:--

"I have been amazed during recent visits to Ireland at the
display of London weekly publications, while Dublin publications
of a similar kind were difficult to obtain. I have seen the
counters of newsagents in such towns as Waterford, Limerick,
Kilkenny and Galway piled as thickly, and with as varied a
selection of these London weekly journals as in Lambeth or
Islington. . . . I was so impressed with the phenomenon that I
endeavoured when in Dublin to obtain some accurate information in
regard to its extent. At Messrs. Eason's I was told that within
the past ten years the circulation of these journals in Ireland
had almost quadrupled, although the population had diminished
within the same period by one-eighth."[2]

[2] Mr. MacDonagh in "Nineteenth Century," July, 1900.

This is the offal the national mind is feeding on, and yet people
express surprise that we are becoming West-British and losing
Catholic thought and character.

It is estimated that, without counting the book or parcel post,
every week there are three tons of this literature discharged on
the quays of Dublin alone. If this is even approximately true it
reveals a startling condition of things.

It may well be questioned whether the bayonets of Cromwell or the
plantations of James threatened more destruction to all we hold
dear. I believe they were as toy armies compared with the silent
foe now encamped upon the soil.

Out of these three tons it would be easy to count, not the
volumes, but the pages, devoted to a defence of the Ten
Commandments. Works of open or professed assault on faith or
morals are as yet few, the time is not ripe just yet, their
forerunners are here, however, the ground is being prepared. The
advance guards have come, and it is only a question of time till
the heavy ordnance is planted in our midst.

[Side note: Cardinal Logue]

Our present danger has been admirably described by an eminent
prelate:--"A mass of literature which professes to be innocent,
and ostensibly aims at being interesting, but seeks to create
that interest and engross attention by fostering thoughts that
appeal to the passions with no uncertain voice. Even when such
works do not openly attack faith or the sanctity of morals, they
seek to convey the subtle poison of unbelief or corruption by
covert insinuation, by ridicule, by ignoring religious truth and
supernatural motives as unworthy of consideration, more
effectually and fatally, than they would have done by open and
undisguised assault."[3]

[3] Cardinal Logue, Lenten Pastoral.

There are novels that constitute an unbroken attack, from the
first page to the last, against some divine truth, yet with such
a delicate hand is the insidious poison distributed that you may
be challenged to lay your finger on a single objectionable
passage. Satan has not been studying the human heart for six
thousand years without knowing it well. He takes very good care
not to label his drugs, or present his poison to timid minds in
large doses; hence there is no alarm: but the treacherous danger
of such books is well illustrated by a tree to be found in
tropical forests.

[Side note: The Tropical tree]

In early autumn it is ablaze with sheaves of fairest pink; it
warns you off by no repellant odour; its umbrageous shelter is
most inviting; yet so fatal is the subtle breath with which it
charges the air around that should an incautious traveller rest
his head for one night under its treacherous shade he would wake
no more.

So, the flowery brilliancy of style, the charms and graces of
diction of many a modern novel are fascinating, but the pages
they adorn exhale a deadly breath.

[Side note: A sample novel]

Let us take a sample novel. The foundation of the State is the
family; the corner-stone on which the family rests is the sacred
marriage bond. Dissolve that and you convert social harmony into
social chaos. Yet how many books are there which are covert
attacks on the marriage tie.

The heroine is generally a married lady who discovers that her
husband is not the man she should have married. From this
centre-point the web of intrigue is woven. Mawkish sentiment and
false pity are aroused. A glamour is thrown over the sins and the
sinners. Tears are demanded for libertines and their crimes are
gilded. Virtue becomes a tyranny; the marriage bond an
intolerable yoke, and the divorce court--which is truly a
vestibule of hell--a haven of relief.

It is unnecessary to trace the effects of such degrading teaching
on the lives of the young, whose minds are as wax to receive and
marble to retain: how the high standards of virtue taught in the
school and strengthened in the home vanish: how the touchy
sensitiveness of the pure soul becomes deadened and a hunger for
grosser excitements is awakened.

[Side note: The head leads the heart]

Now that we have analysed the intellectual food on which our
people live let us advance the enquiry one step further and
ask--Where must it all end? St. Thomas answers: "_Nihil volitum
nisi cognitum_." That principle is axiomatic in its truth: the
heart will ever follow the head. As you sow in thought you will
reap in action. Corrupt a nation's intellect, and as surely as
darkness succeeds sunset, as effect follows cause, so surely
corruption of that nation's heart must ensue.

How clearly the devil understands this and what use has he not
made of it!

For the past four hundred years the greatest evils that have
afflicted the Church are traceable to a licentious Press.
Printing was scarcely invented till Satan seized it for his own
purposes. By it the Humanists of the fifteenth century scattered
broadcast pagan ideas. The disentombed paganism continued to
ferment and rot the hearts of the people till in the next century
it burst forth in the deluge of unbridled passions that marked
the Reformation.

[Side note: France]

Voltaire and his disciples did not openly cry "down with the
Church," but they took the surest road to level it. They corroded
the foundations of Christian belief. By encyclopedias and
pamphlets they first attacked with sneer and jibe, the person of
the priest, then the sacraments he administered became the butt
of their mockery, and they finally flouted the gospel he
preached. And while the agents of evil were busy, the good cures
of France sounded no trumpet of alarm, but dreamed themselves
into the comforting delusion that all would blow over, till the
ground under their feet began to rock and heave in the convulsive
throes of the Revolution.

The disciples of Satan to-day are sleepless in their endeavours
to undermine the faith of Ireland through the same agency; while
it is to be feared that some of the guardians of that sacred
treasure are inclined to imitate the dreamy lethargy that led to
such disastrous results in France.

[Side note: Europe]

Look at Europe to-day seething with socialism and anarchy, its
huge standing armies scarcely able to hold these worse than
barbarian hordes in check. Out of what dark womb have these
monsters crept? A corrupt Press. The devil found men whose lives
were filled with pain and want; he came breathing through the
Press telling them to distrust God, and to make war upon society.
The Reformation, the Revolution, the social anarchy of to-day are
the direct offspring of a licentious Press. Permit a nation's
mind to be poisoned, and that nation's heart must rot. _Nihil
volitum nisi cognitum_.

[Side note: Fifty years ago]

In proof of this we need not look outside our own shores. Fifty
years ago the priests of Ireland often had recourse to rough
methods with the people. Even the aid of the "blackthorn" was
occasionally invoked as an effective instrument for securing
correction or impressing conviction. Yet, on the morrow, all was
forgotten; and the people would die for the man who punished
them. Let the priest of to-day but thwart the grand-children of
that generation, even in a small matter, and mark their rancour.
How bitter! how relentless! The Catholic spirit of half a century
ago was not operated on by the literature of a nation that is
daily losing even the veneer of Christianity.

You may gash a man with healthy blood to the bone, and time will
quickly heal the wound and scarcely leave a scar, but if the
man's blood be corrupt the scratch of a thorn may involve
consequences demanding the surgeon's knife.

The spirit that Catholic Ireland had fifty years ago is sadly
changed to-day; and its tendency to fester on slight provocation
is due to the poison distilled into it from an unwholesome,
anti-Catholic literature. Only twenty years ago we had a painful
illustration of the silent but terrible mischief that has been
done by England's Press upon the Catholic mind of this country.

[Side note: An evil crisis]

Up to the time of the Parnell crisis the priests imagined their
feet were planted upon a solid rock; they discovered they were
standing on a pie-crust. What a startling revelation was in store
for them. Small wonder they rubbed their eyes and asked in
bewilderment, Are we in Catholic Ireland?

The ground broke; the fiery breath of hell belched forth. We saw
the devil spitting hate through the lips of politicians, the
columns of the Press, and the resolutions of the schoolmasters.
Terrible as was this outward exhibition, it revealed but a
fraction. The spirit of revolt and infidelity that raged within
the breasts of young men and darkened their conversation was
awful. The writings of avowed freethinkers and libertines were
devoured, and if any young man had the heroic courage to
remonstrate, his words would be drowned in derision.

God permitted that warning to come, but have we taken it as a
warning? What efforts have we made since to secure the
entrenchments? The danger passed, and we sank back into the old,
dreamy lethargy, and left the field open to the devil to sow his
tares anew. Our greatest danger to-day is our apparent safety. We
wrap ourselves into a false security, while a dry rot is
permitted to stealthily corrode the pillars of intellectual
conviction that must uphold all. Unless this is fought, and
fought effectively, the structure of our Catholic life will
topple like a house of cards.

[Side note: Objections answered]

All looks calm now, but so long as the causes that produced the
sad outburst of twenty years ago continue unchecked, worse
inevitably awaits us. I may be told. Look at the union of priests
and people to-day; look at our flourishing sodalities and our
beautiful churches.

The union of priests and people was then tested by one strong
wrench, and it snapped; and so long as the evil forces that
caused the fissure continue to gnaw once more the bond that
unites the hearts of priests and people, is it stronger you
expect that bond to grow?

With regard to our pious sodalities. Did the question ever
present itself--How much of the average sodalist's piety is
resting on sentiment and tradition, and how little of it on
intellectual conviction? Transplant him from the hotbed to the
ice-chills of infidelity in America or Australia, where the very
air is electric with doubt and denial, and when the storm beats
upon him, is his head armed to defend his Faith?

Where could he get the necessary knowledge? Not from the book in
his hand, for it is "Marie Corelli" or "Hall Caine" you find him
best acquainted with. Not from the Catholic newspaper, for the
question is--Do we possess one? It is a strange fact that while
Irish Catholics abroad have founded, and support, splendid
Catholic journals in every land where they have found a home, the
mother Church from which they sprang is practically defenceless.
He gets poor assistance from the pulpit; for while homilies and
exhortations are admirable in their way, they fall far short of
covering the needs of this questioning age. Our dogmatic
treatises are permitted to lie entombed in dust on our top
shelves, while clear and homely exposition of Catholic truth
would be drunk in like honey by the people.

You point to our beautiful churches, beautiful they are indeed.
But to what purpose do we raise temples of stone if we permit the
living temple of the soul to be eaten into by the poison mildews
of evil thought. The Continent is dotted over with stately but
empty basilicas, silent and mournful monuments to a Faith and a
love long since departed.

[Side note: Questions]

Now that we begin to realise the danger and the extent of this
evil, a number of questions naturally suggest themselves.

[Side note: I]

How is it that the master carefully scrutinizes the character of
a servant before admitting her into his house, lest her influence
in his home might be for evil, and that same man allows the
author to pass in unchallenged? The author comes, not to minister
but to master; to impress his thoughts on the minds and perhaps
blast the virtue of the children.

[Side note: 2]

Since every parent is bound to provide that his children's
apartments are well supplied with healthy air, is not the
obligation far more serious to take care that the moral
atmosphere of the home does not hold the deadliest poisons in
solution?

[Side note: 3]

[Side note: Questions]

Why does not the young girl, who is so fastidious about the class
of people with whom she will associate, exercise even ordinary
discrimination in the selection of an author? This is the
companion whose influence sinks deeper and lasts longer than that
of the person with whom she sips tea or takes a walk. He whispers
into her soul under the shade of the midnight lamp. He embeds his
principles on her brain. He lives in her dreams. He becomes her
oracle to conjure by.

[Side note: 4]

Or, let us put the question this way: How many of the men and
women who flit across the pages of modern fiction would a
respectable Catholic admit into his home or introduce to his
family? He would not give them his company, but he gives them his
brains. The hem of his garment they may not touch, but the pith
of his life he places at their disposal. Make no mistake about
it. You cannot shake off the influence of your author. His
thoughts become your thoughts. He weaves himself into the woof of
your mind.

[Side note: 5]

How is it that when the proselytiser comes to your parish in
human shape you are all afire, but when he comes speaking, not by
one but a hundred tongues, silently but effectively sapping the
Faith or virtue of your flock, no pulpit rings with denunciation?
All these questions may be answered by another most pertinent to
the priest.

Have the people been taught to realise the danger confronting
them? Have their consciences been awakened? Have we been dumb
watch-dogs while they are being devoured?

[Side note: Apologies]

The treatment of this subject would be incomplete if the stock
apologies for dangerous reading were not dealt with.

When you remonstrate with a Catholic on the character of his
reading, you are sure to be met with some of the following, and
any one of them is supposed to be a complete justification, no
matter how bad the book:--

[Side note: Style]

"_I read these books for the style_." This is sometimes heard
from people whose pretentions to literary taste borders on the
grotesque; but let that pass. Has a paralysis fallen on every
hand that wields a Catholic pen? Does the light of Faith beaming
on a human mind quench the beauties of imagination or dull the
taste? Or, is a perfect style to be found only among the apostles
of evil? Surely the long range of Catholic writers offers an
ample variety of the most perfect exponents of literary style.
Let us be honest. It is not for the style these books are read;
it is because they gratify an unhealthy craving, because they are
soft, sensual, suggestive, and stimulate feelings not far from
the border-land of sin.

[Side note: I see no harm]

"_I see no harm in them_." Now by this answer you implicitly
admit that you see no good. Have you then no remorse for
frittering away such a precious gift of God as time? If the
damned got five minutes of that time to repent, every chamber in
hell would be empty. Yet you squander months and years without a
qualm.

You see no harm in it. Look into your own life and what do you
discover. The unction of prayer sucked out of your soul, your
relish for the Sacraments gone, a dry rot consuming your
spiritual life, a nausea for supernatural things, a taste every
day becoming more clayey, and an increasing appetite for grosser
excitements. Books that you would tremble to touch a year ago you
now devour without a pang; or perhaps the stray shreds of
infidelity are weaving themselves into your future creed. Do not
mind what you see with the eye of a conscience that is already
half-dead. Search deep into your own heart and life, and you will
quickly discover the damage done.

[Side note: Narrow-minded]

"_We cannot be narrow-minded_." Is it then a something to be
ashamed of, if in matters pertaining to our eternal interests we
are cautious and conservative? Not prone to take dangerous risks?
This is the disposition sometimes called narrow-mindedness.
Surely it is better even to be narrow-minded than pagan-minded.

But let us clear our minds of cant and squarely face the
question. Will the person who calls you narrow-minded for
exercising caution in the selection of your books, exhibit his
own breadth of mind by going into a chemist's shop, shutting his
eyes and gulping down the contents of the first bottle that comes
to his hand? Ha! You see how quickly his broad-mindedness is
replaced by most careful caution. But a library is like a
chemist's shop. The shelves may hold health-giving medicines or
the most deadly poisons. As well call the harbour authorities
narrow-minded because they close the ports against the cholera
ship, as to question the just prudence of the man who shuts his
door against the evil book.

[Side note: Up-to-date]

"_We must be up-to-date_." The man that takes this as the sole
principle by which to guide his moral conduct, not only writes
himself down "depraved," but an intellectual imbecile. What does
he mean? He means that he is incapable of thinking for himself;
that he has no fixed chart, but is tossed about in the eddy of
fashion; that he has no principle to guide his own conduct by,
but has to look to the street and follow where the crowd leads.

The most un-up-to-date people that ever lived were the early
Christians. When thousands were swarming to the butcheries of the
Coliseum they refused to be up-to-date and kept carefully away
from the taint of blood and savagery. When the debaucheries of
the festivals disgraced the city, they again refused to be
"up-to-date." No doubt they were sneered at and called
"old-fashioned," "priest-ridden," &c. But it was they, and not
those who taunted them, who showed loftiness and nobility of mind
in taking, not the craze of the hour, but the Gospel of Jesus
Christ as the standard of their conduct.

[Side note: How to meet the Danger]

We have now taken the full bearings of the Danger of the Hour.
The remaining question is--How to meet it? To expose the bad book
is but half our task--its place must be supplied by the good one.
How can this be done? The answer naturally suggests itself. Have
we not the Catholic Truth Society? Yes, and it is a splendid
weapon if worked as it should be; and its admirable publications
pushed into every home.

There is a temptation to belittle these works because they cost
only a penny. Though they are reduced to that humble price to
meet the wants of the millions, we must not forget that most of
them are the productions of the ablest pens, and some of them
contain more thought between their modest covers than many a
pretentious volume. They have the special advantage of being at a
price and in a form accessible to the young. There are many
thousands reading these booklets who would never venture, even if
they could, to face the four hundred paged volume. But the
Catholic Truth Society works do not cover all our needs. They do
two things--they serve to create a thirst for more knowledge, and
act as pedagogues to lead the child to the door of the parochial
library. Here we strike the goal.

[Side note: The Parochial Library]

The parochial library is the crying want of the hour. The one
weapon by which we must beat back an evil which threatens
appalling ruin. Our service of God must vary with the need of the
different ages. At one time He is best served by the pouring out
of martyr blood, at another by the building of splendid churches;
but to any man who watches the drift and danger of our
generation, it is clear as noonday, that the most effective work
a priest can offer God to-day is a well stocked library, open to
every child of the parish.

It has been said that if St. Paul were on earth now, he would be
found editing a Catholic newspaper.

We have seen the devil using the Press with terrible effect for
the destruction of souls; let us wrench it from him and baptize
it for the service of Christ.

The parochial library as an instrument of defence and propagation
is no new discovery.

[Side note: Encyclopedia Britannica]

"As Christianity made its way," says the "Encyclopedia
Britannica," "the institution of libraries became a part of the
organisation of the Church. So intimate did the union between
literature and religion become, that alongside every Church the
Catholic bishops had a library erected." Now, if in times past,
when not one man in twenty could read, the unerring foresight of
the Church led her to adopt the parochial library as her most
able auxiliary, the wisdom of that adoption applies with ten-fold
force to our times.

[Side note: The Blunder of the Past]

Fifty years ago we taught the people how to read; awakened within
them the native desire for knowledge, and then--stopped. When the
national school was built had we established the parochial
library and made it the means of continuing the child's
education, we would have a different Ireland to-day.

We made the youth hungry and then stepped aside. The British
publisher came and occupied the place we should have held. He has
been feeding them on garbage and gutter literature since. God
grant that it is not too late to undo the mischief of our
neglect.

[Side note: What we spend]

It is estimated that we spend four hundred and forty-six thousand
pounds every year on English papers, books and magazines. Almost
half a million of money! How many of our honest rooftrees would
not that sum keep standing? How many of our pure boys and girls
would it not save from the "hells" of Chicago and New York.

It is bad enough to part with the bone and muscle, but a nation
loses her most precious asset when she exports her intellect.
While we have gone on helping the British publisher to the
carriage and the suburban villa, the young Irishman, who feels
the fire of genius throbbing in his blood, sees but two
alternatives before him--to starve at home or sell his brains in
a foreign market.

To-day the priest holds the field, but for how long? Recent
convulsions should warn us; the ground may rock again; then let
us arouse ourselves to the task before us.

[Side note: Awake!]

Whether the priest moves or not the library is sure to come, and
what in his hands would be a centre of diffusive light to the
parish, under the control of semi-educated or conscienceless men
may prove a dark curse.

Let the coarse and sensuous literature of England drop from our
people's hands. Let us encourage native genius to dip her pen
into the old holy well of Catholic truth, and build up a
literature that will be racy of the soil and redolent of its
Faith. Let us feed the minds of the young on the untainted
productions of our own countrymen and women. Let us brace them
with robust Catholic principles that are mortised into the solid
bed-rock of knowledge. Then the most powerful foe the future
holds will blow the trumpet in vain.

But to the priest who slumbers, heedless of the swift march of
time, and the forces of evil now possessing our land, I say--
Dream on, dear gentle soul, dream on! The day may come when you
will awake with a thunder-clap, perhaps to find the Irish Church
in chains.



CHAPTER EIGHTH

THE YOUNG PRIEST'S ACTIVITIES

I should like to see the priest at the head of every movement for
the bettering and uplifting of the people.

[Side note: The Last Fortress]

Ireland is the last fortress of Catholic Christendom. Latin
Christianity is having to struggle for existence; and for us,
time will but multiply, from within and without, the forces
organised by Satan to capture the last stronghold that flies the
Papal banner.

[Side note: Satan's First Move]

His first effort will be in the future, as it has ever been in
the past, to drive a wedge of separation between the priests and
the people. That accomplished, half his battle is won. If he can
get the people to despise the priest in any capacity as a social
man, a politician, &c., he knows that time rubs out fine-drawn
distinctions; they will cease to respect at the altar the man
they are accustomed to flout on the street; and if they once come
to despise the priest, they will soon despise the sacraments he
administers, and challenge the Gospel which he preaches. Let us
forestall him, and bind the people to our hearts with hoops of
steel. For their sakes more than for ours we cannot make our hold
too firm or root ourselves too deeply in their affections. For
what hope could there be for souls if a chasm should yawn between
the pastor and his flock, if those God has united by so many and
such sacred ties should glare hatred and distrust from opposing
camps?

The priest is supreme in Ireland to-day; but in the near future
he may have many a rival claimant; and should the people pass
under alien sway, the last fortress is gone.

Now, when we unroll the map of social Ireland, we discover a
multitude of ways by which the priest can keep in touch with,
direct and uplift the people, and each effort for their sakes
means a fresh strengthening of the bonds that bind the hearts of
priests and people.

Let us take a survey of the situation. That done, the number of
ways by which the priest can become the reformer of his parish
will at once disclose themselves.

[Side note: A Statement of Facts]

Have you ever faced the sad problem:--Why are our asylums
enlarging while our general population is shrinking?

Three main causes are responsible.

[Side note: Food]

_The food we are eating_, especially the use of overdrawn tea. A
gentleman of over twenty years' experience, as governor of a
lunatic asylum, assured the writer that next to drink, overdrawn
tea was the most responsible agent for insanity. That week he had
received a farmer's wife and five strapping sons all stark mad
from the poison stewing by so many of our hearths.

Whilst we were guided by the healthy traditions of our own race,
we fed on solid food--oatmeal, specially suited to our climate,
being a heat-producer, a bone-builder and a tissue-former, rich
milk, butter, vegetables and home-cured bacon. What a poor
substitute for these luscious foods are the weak white bread and
thin cup of tea! The Scotsman has stuck to his national diet; he
has done more, he has forced his porridge on the bill of fare of
every first-class English hotel.

[Side note: Activity I]

Could not the curate, from the lecture platform, in the school
and in private conversation, drive home to the people and open
their eyes to the suicide they are committing? I know one priest
who gets every farmer in his parish to sow every year a quarter
acre of oats for home use. Could not others do the same?

[Side note: Drink]

_The second cause is Drink_. On this question I shall content
myself with quoting a few statistics. They supply melancholy food
for reflection.

In 1899, out of every three placed in the dock for drunkenness in
the capital of this Catholic country one was a woman. I think you
may search the world for a more shameless exhibition.

Out of every thousand of the general population in England, fifty
persons are arrested for drunkenness; out of every thousand of
the general population in Ireland, one hundred and forty-three.
In other words, we produce almost three convicted drunkards to
their one. And still we plume ourselves on our superior virtue.

Our total income from agriculture, the staple industry of the
country, is forty millions. On this, mainly, the nation has to
live. Yet before a penny is touched for food, clothing or
education, almost fourteen out of the forty millions are handed
over to the sellers of drink.

Within fifteen years we lost half a million of our people, but we
consoled ourselves by opening eleven hundred and seventy-five new
public-houses within the same period.

[Side note: Activity II]

To these figures I shall not add one word: it would only weaken
the argument. Will any one deny that the young priest has here an
ample field for his zeal and energy, and a splendid opportunity
of proving himself the reformer and saviour of the people?

[Side note: Emigration]

_The third, most powerful source of lunacy, is Emigration_. It
may seem a paradox to say that the lessening of our people must
naturally mean the increase of insanity. When we say the country
loses forty thousand of its inhabitants yearly, we make but a
partial statement of the case. Whom do we lose? Not the average
class--the youth, and the youth only go. Two consequences follow.
A boy, when he has arrived at his eighteenth year, has cost the
country two hundred pounds, and a girl one hundred and fifty. Up
to that time they were consumers, they produced little. This
enables us to arrive at the appalling fact that Ireland every
year pours seven millions worth of human cargo into the emigrant
ship.

Would that this was all, but worse remains to be said. Who stay
with us? The aged, the delicate, the infirm. The kernel of the
race is going, the husks are remaining with us. Intermarriage
among these, intermingling of enfeebled and tainted blood is one
of the main contributory causes why the walls of our asylums are
enlarging.

[Side note: Remedies]

Let us see what the priest can do to fight the national curse,
and stay the national haemorrhage.

[Side note: The Points to Fix on]

In dealing with the drink question his main purpose should be to
purify public opinion. Till that is done, every other effort must
fail. What use in our inveighing against a vice if the people
insist on labelling it a virtue? Our first effort must be to get
the people to view it in an honest light--to see it as we see it.
Public opinion up to this could scarcely be more depraved.

[Side note: The Village Scandal]

It was not an unusual thing to see young boys feigning
drunkenness and staggering through the village. Why? They were at
an age when pride began to crave for notoriety and applause. They
knew the public to which they appealed, and they took the
shortest cut to win its approbation, and that was by pretending
to be drunk.

An action like that is a terrible verdict against the national
conscience. If public opinion were healthy, if it held for such
mock heroes, not the incense of applause, but a lash of scorn, if
boys were persuaded that so far from exhibiting in their conduct
a manly trait, they were only proving themselves degraded
puppies, the cure would be immediate.

[Side note: Perverted Judgments]

Listen to people talking of a man who has sent his children out
on the world, and his wife to an untimely grave, and you would
think it was some visitation of Providence overtook him, and that
he deserved all our sympathy.

The agent that dares to threaten an eviction has to carry
revolvers and walk the country under the shadow of police
protection; but the father and husband who evicts his own
children and flings them into the slums of foreign cities, and
sends his broken-hearted wife to the grave, not only has his
crime condoned but, by the same people, he is daily smothered in
the rose-leaves of apology. "Poor fellow! Ah, it is a good man's
fault!" Not one hard word. Yet the world outside the shores of
this country are pouring scorn on the degraded name of drunken
Ireland.

[Side note: The Young Men's Pride]

Why not appeal to the patriotic pride of the young men by showing
the contempt and distrust that follow our race because of this
vice? It would touch them to the quick.

[Side note: The Hereditary Taint]

Another point to be insisted on is:--The crime of the drunkard
does not die with himself. Like lunacy or consumption it
transmits a sad heritage to his offspring. Ninety out of every
hundred are drunkards because they inherited tainted blood.

Parents shudder at the bare possibility of their child being born
an idiot, or with some repulsive birth-mark. Yet, before the
infant can lift its hand in protest, the parents poison its life
at the very source and send it on the world with a moral
deformity marking its nature.

[Side note: The Dawn]

These were the two sources of weakness in the past: a public
opinion that fostered, instead of smiting, the curse, and an
hereditary taint that grew stronger with every generation, while
the will to resist became more feeble. Thank God, the dawn of a
brighter day is with us: there is a healthy awakening of public
opinion. The Gaelic revival has for the first time in our history
linked sobriety with patriotism: the word has gone forth that
reconstructed Ireland must not rest on staggering pillars. The
young priest of the future has the rising tide with him, and
Ireland has seen her darkest day.

No matter how we may deplore emigration, we must deal with it as
a fact.

[Side note: Is the Emigrant Prepared]

[Side note: His Peril Abroad]

From what class are the emigrants drawn? From the young. It is
hard to part with them: but there is one consolation. They go to
build up the Church in other lands, but every precaution must be
taken to strengthen them for the trials awaiting them. Now, every
returned American and Australian priest will candidly tell you
that the Irish emigrant is poorly equipped for his new
surroundings.

Dr. Kenrick and Cardinal Gibbons go so far as to say that the
neglect of the Irish priest in preparing his emigrating flock, is
the main source of leakage in the American Church. They are not
able to answer the most ordinary objections, and they have not
moral strength to withstand the shafts of ridicule. In the fierce
cross-currents of unbelief, he is poorly able to keep his
foothold. Many stagger; some fall, never to rise.

We reply:--Look at our Confirmation classes, and at the admirable
lives of the youth before they leave us. Neither of these weaken
the contention. At the age a child is confirmed, he is incapable
of reflective reason; his knowledge is three parts memory. It is
between the Confirmation day and the twentieth year that the
convictions and principles that guide a lifetime are formed. Yet,
this is the precise period during which the young boy is
permitted to starve.

Secondly, the good life of a person reared in a purely Catholic
atmosphere is no guarantee of what he may become when
transplanted to a country where the very atmosphere palpitates
with doubt and denial.

[Side note: Activity III]

Here surely is a field that urgently demands a young priest's
activities.

_Every young priest should be the eldest brother to the young men
of the parish_, the repository of their confidence, the director
of their sports, the organizer of their Feis; and when there is
danger of angry passions running high or of drunkenness getting
in among them, the curate's place is not the study, but the
football field.

To such a curate it would be an easy task to organize the young
men of the parish for a Sunday meeting during the four winter
months, and give them a thorough course in "Catholic belief" or
"Faith of Our Fathers."

This would be a distinct advantage not only to those who are
leaving, but to those who remain. The Catholic mind of this
country is now, by travel and reading, brought into constant
contact with Protestant and infidel thought.

These meetings should wear as little of the appearance of a class
as possible. Boys should be taught to look upon them as friendly
meetings of brothers discussing the weapons with which to face
the future: the session might appropriately close with an
excursion or a social evening.

Now that we have treated emigration as a fact, let us turn to a
few of the means by which it might be lessened.

[Side note: The Summer Swallow]

A constant source of temptation is the sight of the returned
emigrant with flash jewellery, superior airs and stories of
boasted wealth.

[Side note: Activity IV]

When summer brings these returned swallows, a spirit of
discontent with their social surroundings seizes the youth. The
priest's duty is to impress upon them that the bright side of the
picture alone is presented to them: there is another side of
awful darkness.

The successful one they see, but the fate of the submerged
ninety-nine is hidden from their eyes.

Our people emigrate without a knowledge of skilled labour; they
have to take the lowest occupations and bring up their children
in vile surroundings: they are lost in shoals.

Had the youth of this country the writer's experience: did they
see hundreds of their countrymen sleeping in the parks of Sydney,
without the shelter of a roof and without knowing where to turn
in the morning for a bit: could they hear the thirty-two accents
of Ireland in the low streets of dens where souls and bodies rot,
they would try their hands at a dozen means of winning honest
bread before turning their faces towards the emigrant ship.

Could we but take the twenty-two thousand Irish-born convicts out
of the jails of one city--New York--with their clanking fetters
and arrow-branded jackets, and march them through the length and
breadth of Ireland, and show the youth, that, if some wear
bangles, others wear handcuffs, it would go far to cure the
microbe of unrest.

Every tale of distress, failure and hardship abroad should be
repeated in the Irish provincial journals. No effort should be
spared to show the people, not one but both sides of the picture.

[Side note: Activity V Amusements]

One of the most important problems facing the young priest of
to-day is:--How to organise healthy and sinless amusements for
the people. Our skies are gloomy, our climate depressing, and the
very dreariness of country life causes thousands to fly. Look at
the groups of young men at the village corners, where is the hope
or contentment in their looks?

[Side note: Goldsmith's Days]

I think you may challenge the world's literature for more
wholesome pictures of rural pleasures than those mirrored in the
"Deserted Village." They are not creations of the poet's fancy,
but chronicles of facts that lived before his eyes. In them, you
have the image of Ireland as she lived before the black shadow of
'47 fell upon her. All went on in the open daylight, under the
eyes of parents and friends.

    "The young contended while the old surveyed."

Virtue was safe, tired hearts were cheered, and, whilst these
sports flourished, few Irish boys or girls wanted to know the
road to the emigrant ship.

Would it be possible to re-create the Ireland of Goldsmith's
days?

[Side note: The Winter's Night]

One thing, however, is not outside the range of possibility--to
persuade parents in rural districts to make some effort to
brighten the lives of their children; to have all household work
done two hours before bedtime, to have a bright fire on the
hearth and a bright lamp on the table, and a plentiful supply of
the Catholic Truth Society books, Catholic papers and periodicals
always at hand. Many a poor boy and girl, whose thoughts to-day
are turning to Sydney or New York as an escape from cheerless
drudgery, would then read a new meaning into the word "home." No
matter how toil presses during the day, the prospective two hours
of brightness and pleasure cheers them.

"Give a man a taste for reading and the means of gratifying it,"
says Sir John Herschel,[1] "and you can hardly fail to make him a
happy man, you place him in contact with the best society of
every period of history--the wisest, the wittiest, the tenderest,
the bravest and the purest characters that adorn humanity." A
parent who cannot line his child's pocket with gold has in this
simple plan a means of enriching his head with knowledge, and so
sending him on the world armed. Self-respect would grow; the
gross pleasures of the card-table or the public-house would lose
their charm. Your own words would fall on ears steadily becoming
more intelligent. The parish after five years would wear a new
face.

[1] Eton Address

[Side note: Activity VI The country Schoolhouse]

Could not the young men be gathered once a week during the winter
months, and the school house be converted into a literary,
debating or lecture room?

If the young priest prepared one lecture a month, he might
revolutionize the district by teaching the people how to organize
and foster small industries or technical branches suited to the
localities. There is wealth in the mushrooms on the field, the
blackberries on the hedge, and the cresses by the stream. In
other countries thousands are made by these unnoticed products.
Why not here?

[Side note: Our Ruins]

When the summer comes, the curate could easily organize
occasional bicycle excursions with the young men to some
memorable Catholic ruin, in whose history he should be well made
up. The saints and scholars who have glorified our annals are
lying around our churches; we stumble over their graves for forty
years sometimes, without enquiring who they were or what they
did. I am aware there are laudable exceptions: they are, however,
isolated. When the public wants to know anything about our
monasteries, they often have to turn to the layman and even to
the parson.

The small number of priests in the Archaeological Society is a
striking reproach. One would think that our saints and their
works were something to be ashamed of, since the natural
guardians of their memories have practically abandoned them. This
country is filled with catacombs. Every child should be made
acquainted with the life of the leading saint, and the history of
the most memorable ruin in the locality; those hoary prophets,
now so mute, would then speak with tongues of fire out of the dim
past, telling the story of our fathers' Faith and heroic
achievements.

Let us now rise to a higher plane of the young priest's
activities.

[Side note: Activity VII Literature]

It is a stupendous and a humiliating fact that, while this
country is deluged with the writings of the sensualist and the
infidel, there are over three thousand brainy priests upon the
land, and the world of thought knows nothing of them.

[Side note: Cambridge and Oxford]

[Side note: First Premium Men]

When we read of brilliant students at Cambridge or Oxford, we
naturally look forward to see them leaders of thought or action
in their own land, and we are seldom disappointed. Our Irish
colleges are discharging yearly swarms from their doors, many of
them men with brilliant records. Who hears of them after? What
have these first-class premium men, who gave such splendid
promise, done with their gifts and knowledge? How little does the
Irish Church owe them? The day the premium book was handed them,
all serious effort died. They were content to rest for the
remainder of their lives under the shade of their academic
laurels.

The soldier is not satisfied with the triumphs of his recruit
days. He knows that the purpose of his life then is not to gain a
prize and stop at that, but to acquire efficient skill in the use
of his weapons that he may become a living force on the future
field of action.

The college is but the training ground, not the final goal; the
real field of our activities lies outside its walls. Yet when the
scholastic course closes these richly-gifted men dip below the
horizon, and the world seldom hears of them again; the
destructive wave that in its silent strength is covering the land
receives no check from them; they are engraving no impression on
the intellect of the day.

Our humiliation and surprise increase when we turn to the
publisher's lists and see parsons, who have to prepare to meet
critical audiences Sunday after Sunday, and are weighted with the
cares of heavy families, holding leading places in every literary
enterprise.

Now, if our young men set to work to popularise our native
saints, and in their lives dig up the buried glories of our
Catholic past, if each diocese produced even one crisp
well-written life, what a splendid step in advance.

But the demand for our literary activities is far wider than the
shores of Ireland.

[Side note: America and Australia]

The American and Australian Churches are daughters of this soil.
We are proud of them; they are the frontier regiments of our
fighting army; they are daily advancing Patrick's standard over
fresh fields of conquest: but what help have we given them?

The present generation of priests there are builders. But, like
the men on Jerusalem's walls, they have to grasp the sword in one
hand and the trowel in the other.

Protestantism in those lands is fast running to its final
declension--naked infidelity. Now the infidel knows no rest;
activity is the law of his existence. The buried ghosts of past
heresies are resuscitated and draped in all the attractiveness of
modern dress. The arsenal of error stored by every perverse
genius from Arius to Tyndal is daily discharged into the Catholic
ranks. There is scarcely a truth free from truculent assault.

It is hard to ask the men toiling in the glare of the camp fires,
to fight the battles and manufacture the shells.

Now, all that is best of French Catholic intellect has been given
to this cause for the past century. The priest who would devote a
few winters to the holy toil of translating this into a shape
suitable to the needs of our fighting millions would do an act of
merit that God alone could measure. Yet what ammunition have we
supplied to our brave soldiers? Scarcely a grain of shot.

[Side note: The Causes of Sterility]

Why this sterility? Why this barrenness? Is it our native
lethargy or our native modesty? or the defective training of our
colleges in neglecting to foster literary tastes?

We will not pause to enquire. That there is one sad cause is
beyond all question--the bitterness of clerical criticism. The
Irish priest who takes to the cultivation of letters ought to
choose St. Sebastian for his patron saint; for he will have an
arrow planted in every square inch of his body.

While we have no word of condemnation for the writers who are
sucking the life-blood of Faith from our people, should one of
ourselves show style in his sermons, or attach his name to a
magazine article, the amount of mordant criticism he has to face
is sufficient to make the stoutest heart sink.

The average Irish skull in the hands of a phrenologist will show
a development of destructive bumps surpassed by none, but when he
searches for constructive ones, a glass of no small magnifying
power must come to his aid.

The habit of sneering criticism begins in the college and should
be killed in its birth-place. The man who drops an icy or an acid
word into the warm enthusiasm of a young heart commits a great
crime. He may paralyse the purpose of a noble life. Let us
reserve all our hard blows and hard words for Christ's enemies,
and a cheerful encouragement to His friends should not cost us a
drop of blood.

[Side note: The Task is Finished]

Here we pause, fully conscious of the incompleteness of our task.
The many possible and profitable fields of the young priest's
activities are no more than hinted at.

We are passing through a period of change: old landmarks are
disappearing, but if the future is to be made secure, the priest
of the present must cling to the people and teach them to cling
to him. In the revival of their industries or their language, in
the Feis or the hurling field, the priest should be the source of
their inspiration and their controlling director.

Woe to the parish where the priest sits idly or sinks into dreamy
lethargy while the people pass from him, away.

[Side note: Farewell]

The world is moving onward. Our world is willing just now that we
move with and direct it. But how long, O Lord, how long? Let us
remain stationary and it will move without us; and once lost,
lost for ever.

A glance at the Continent should fire us to desperate efforts.
You see the Church dashed to pieces in the seething vortex of
destruction; in some countries honey-combed to rottenness, ready
to totter and fall before the first outburst of Socialistic fury.
The Press teems with ribald jeer and blatant blasphemy. The
priesthood, a separate caste, hounded like lepers of old from the
highways of public life, voiceless and despised--the apostate
priest hailed with delight smothered in incense--the faithful
priest lashed at the pillar of public scorn. O God, shall
Ireland--the last fortress--follow?

That question is for us to answer: the shaping of the future lies
in the hands of the living present.

Let listlessness prevail, and when an apostle of evil does arise,
perhaps in the not distant future, he will appeal to the past for
his justification.

He will tell the people, that for a full century three thousand
four hundred priests were upon the land. Talent, leisure and
unbounded trust were theirs. Yet, where are the literature,
village libraries, social organizations, or other agencies of
enlightenment promoted by them? Has not the country rotted and
the emigrant ship been glutted? Away with them! Why cumber they
the ground?

That day, please God, shall never come, if we sink deep into our
souls the conviction that a great effort is required, and fling
our hearts into it; that the ever increasing new needs and foes
of to-day cannot be met with the antiquated weapons of the past;
that the old rut must be abandoned and the new ground broken:
then the future is secure. The old citadel of Catholic
Christendom will continue a fortress, flying the old flag,
towering above the Atlantic breakers with a strength impregnable
and a Faith undimmed--a Pharos of spiritual splendour.

And when in other lands eyes grow dim with the mists of despair,
they will look up and the light of a new-born hope will enkindle
within them. And when hearts in other lands are sinking from
repeated failure, they will pulse with the inspiration of a fresh
courage when the story of our efforts and our triumphs is
recalled.

THE END



PRESS NOTICES

"Every thoughtful mind amongst us, whether priest or layman, will
thank the courageous writer who throws upon our insular
prejudices the flashlights of other civilisations, and shows us
certain defects which we can only neglect at our own peril. We
hope that this little book will find its way to every student's
desk in Ireland and abroad, and that its lessons will be taken to
heart by professors and _alumni_ alike. It is worth reading if
only for its style, which is far above that usually assumed by
writers on similar subjects. But its chief value is in the deep
insight it manifests as to the wants of the age and the necessary
equipment of the young apostles of our race, whose mission will
be to strange peoples and curious, though some times sympathetic,
souls who are seeking the light and failing to find it. It is a
book to be read with humility and a total absence of that mild
conceit which refuses to accept any but domestic and partial
criticism. The words are those of a thinker and an orator."--
Canon Sheehan in the _Freeman's Journal_.

"Anyone who has lived five years in Australia would advise every
young priest coming to this country to have a copy of Father
Phelan's admirable book in his luggage, and read it more than
once. The young ecclesiastic coming hither who treats lightly the
advice given him will find by-and-by that every line of the book
is true; every priest who has lived a few years on the Australian
mission will know already that it is so."--_Melbourne Advocate_.

"The Rev. M. Phelan, S.J., stresses the necessity of culture of
mind and manners for young priests and seminarians. Father
Phelan, himself a noted preacher, devotes several helpful
chapters to the means of acquiring excellence in preaching. The
book is brimful of valuable hints and helps, and their value is
not diminished by the fact that the style is racy and readable
throughout. The following is intended for Irish readers, but the
advice has wider application:--'. . . He should not commit the
signal folly of attempting to engraft an imported accent on his
own; he should speak as an Irishman, but as an educated
Irishman.' 'The Young Priest's Keepsake' should become a
_vade-mecum_."--_America_.

"With considerable skill and plenty of plain speaking, Father
Phelan gives some admirable advice to young priests in regard to
the study of English and the composition and delivery of sermons.
His experiences in Ireland and on the foreign missions are his
claim to say what his opinion is, and his opinion is weighty.
Father Phelan has wise counsels to give, and gives them in a most
pleasing way. He is always bright, always interesting, and always
instructive. His book deserves to be known to the clergy at
large, and we wish it the circulation it deserves."--_Catholic
Times_.

"This is, indeed, a very valuable book for the young priest. It
is intended chiefly for those who are going on the foreign
mission, and it would be well for them if they would take to
heart the sound advice given to them here by a man of wide
experience and great success in the missionary field. The first
chapter on the necessity of culture and gentlemanly manners is
alone worth the price of the book. Young priests have probably
often heard of the necessity of writing their sermons, but I
doubt if they ever had the advantage of having it put before them
in such a practical and convincing fashion as that in which it is
done by Father Phelan in his third chapter. The same notes of
practical sound sense mark the chapters on 'Pulpit Oratory' and
on 'Elocution.' Altogether, this book should be the _Keepsake_ of
every young priest. It contains many things that will benefit
priests, young or old, of every description. Father Phelan
deserves our thanks as well as our congratulations on the success
of his work."--_Irish Ecclesiastical Record_.

"A wonderful amount of practically useful advice, the matured
fruit of vast missionary experience, seasoned by conscientious
study and a fraternal longing to assist the young priest are the
most salient features of this inimitably-written volume. The
style is excellent. In crisp, accurate language every paragraph,
every sentence even, tells exactly what the writer wishes to
state, and no more. . . . The book has not appeared an hour too
soon. . . . It is bound to be of immense service to Irish
students, especially those preparing for a missionary life in
foreign countries. . . . I take the responsibility of highly
recommending Father Phelan's book to those for whose instruction
and efficiency the work has been written."--The Author of
"Innisfail" in _Sydney Freeman's Journal_.

"Father Phelan is a model of the ideas he advocates. His English
is pure without being dull for a moment. He exemplifies his
theories. If you are a preacher, or wish to be, if you are
teaching rhetoric or learning rhetoric, if you are a seminarian
or a friend of a seminarian, get this book for yourself or your
friend."--_American Messenger_.

"Those who know Father Phelan as a preacher will not require to
be told that his book is simple, solid, and practical, and that
his method of exposition is lucid, homely, and vigorous. Purely
literary effort has been no aim of the writer, and yet it would
be hard to name a recent book which can be read with greater
pleasure, for the charm of its style alone. The expression is cut
down to the last necessary word, but every necessary word is
there; every idea is expressed simply, but adequately, and with
the finish and lustre of the diamond. . . . It would be
interesting to the reader and a pleasure to the writer to quote
from Father Phelan's work some of the many magnificent passages,
but the book is so beautifully knit together, ideas follow each
other in such logical sequence, that no selection could give an
adequate impression of the work. But with an easy conscience I
can recommend every clerical student, every young priest, and for
that matter, old priests too, to procure a copy, confident that
any reader who takes it up will read it through, as I have done,
before laying it down, and feel the better for having done so."--
Ibh Maine in _The Leader_.

"The Rev. M. J. Phelan, S.J., says much that is sensible in his
little volume. We are glad that he denounces 'the signal folly of
attempting to engraft an imported accent on his own native one,
which is sometimes done by the Irish priest in England with
deplorable results. It is a useful little book, well printed and
neatly bound."--(English) _Catholic Book Notes_.

"The title of a clerical _vade-mecum_ is scarcely too ambitious a
one to give to 'The Young Priest's Keepsake'; a work which cannot
but be regarded by all whose good fortune it will be to read it,
as one of the most admirable works dealing with clerical life
that has appeared in Ireland for many a day. The author, Rev. M.
J. Phelan, S.J., bases his claim for a hearing upon a long
experience as missionary priest, and upon the possession of
ordinary powers of observation. Those who know Father Phelan rate
his claims much higher. His fame as a preacher is spread
throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. His wide and varied
learning, his acute powers of observation, his keen sense of
humour and sound practical judgment are common topics of
conversation amongst a wide circle of friends. The fine flower
and fruit ripened by constant study and wide experience are
modestly displayed in this little book."--_Irish Independent_.

"The ecclesiastical student who takes up 'The Young Priest's
Keepsake' will quickly realise that he has not only fallen in
with a wise mentor but a cordially kind friend, to say nothing of
a charming writer. The way is marked out for him by one who has
trodden it, and who, as we can gather, from the evident culture
and literary grace of his pages and his renown as a preacher of
missions, has been no laggard in those studies which he so
earnestly recommends to young priests and ecclesiastical
students. . . . If Father Phelan's lessons were taken to heart by
the coming race of priests we, or at least our children, would
behold the Catholic pulpit transformed into a mighty living
force. At present it is far from being that. It is in this
country the weakest part of the great redeeming machinery of the
church, and it should be so strong and effective. . . . The book
is brilliantly written, and, as Father Phelan maintains his
position in no mamby-pamby or apologetic fashion, the reader is
treated to some very lively passages."--_The Tribune_
(Melbourne).

"In this little work from the pen of Father Phelan, S.J., those
who are in course of preparation for the high calling of the
sacred ministry will find some advice worthy of serious
consideration. . . . It is an age of 'experts'; as an 'expert' of
undoubted merit in the sphere of missionary work Father Phelan
well may claim the right of giving authoritative advice to those
aspiring to that field of labour in which his own efforts have
been crowned with such signal success. . . . Were the revered
author not, in fact what he is, a Jesuit missionary of
acknowledged excellence and wide fame, the value of his advice
would be none the less evident on a thoughtful perusal of his
book. . . . Even a mere casual reading would send the young
student away with a clear realization of the steps he must take
to secure that in his mind or personality there shall be nothing
to make any man, however critical, however captious, think less
of that Living Word whose mouthpiece it will be his lot in life
to be. . . . He has done well and very well in trying to make it
easy for future workers in the same field to do justice to their
sacred calling and to themselves."--_Cork Examiner_.

"He knows what he is talking about, and he speaks with a
first-hand knowledge of what is required by young priests coming
to Australia."--_Catholic Press_ (Sydney).

"Amongst the many qualifications which the author has brought to
his delicate task, not the least are his earnestness and his
enthusiasm for his subject. These qualities are responsible for
some of the best features of the book. They have given it its
thoroughly constructive character and tempered even its severest
criticisms. The greater part of the book is devoted to sacred
eloquence. Here, of course, the writer speaks with the authority
of a master. He will deserve the gratitude of many a young
preacher for having given to the world the benefit of his own
experience in an art which he has made so completely his own. In
the chapter on elocution he lays down excellent principles for
the delivery of sermons and suggests means of curing the most
common defects that mar pulpit oratory. Finally, he gives
elaborate hints on the best means of composing sermons. For
instance, the sermon writer is advised to seize without delay,
and commit to writing, a brilliant thought no matter how
unseasonable the time at which it presents itself. When a train
of thought is allowed to go by it either never returns or returns
like the Sybil with diminished treasure. This is but one grain of
the practical wisdom which is scattered so liberally through the
pages of 'The Young Priest's Keepsake'."--_Mungret Annual_.

"A very thoughtful and eloquent book. No better book of its kind
could be in the hands of young priests who are at the beginning
of life's work. Its table of contents shows the subjects which
find a place in its pages. Under each of these headings Father
Phelan gives much useful information and adds a charm to the
knowledge which he imparts by the apt illustrations with which he
adorns it."--_Theological Quarterly_.

"This book is sure to be read with keen interest by a great many
young priests and priests no longer young; and it is not likely
to drop out of use after a few months. Father Phelan speaks from
wide, practical experience, and he develops his views with
clearness and earnestness, and with many fresh and vivid
illustrations. We would be surprised to hear that any priest
young or old taking up 'The Young Priest's Keepsake' and turning
over the pages, at No. 50 Upper O'Connell Street, laid it down
and went out without arranging to have it sent after him."--
_Irish Monthly_.

"It is well known that Father Phelan is an authority on the
subject of pulpit eloquence, for he is himself one of the most
eloquent preachers of the Jesuit Order, and his profound
eloquence and ripe scholarship are only equalled by his deep
knowledge of human nature. . . . The theological students and
others who wish to acquire the art of speaking to the heart, and
preachers who realize that they themselves are becoming stale and
commonplace, cannot do better than read and inwardly digest this
beautiful work."--_Galway Express_.

"'The Young Priest's Keepsake' seems to us an exceedingly
practical and commonsense work. When we have said this much we
have said no more of Father Phelan's book than it deserves. The
volume has been admirably produced by Messrs. M. H. Gill & Son,
on Irish paper, with Irish ink, and bears the imprimatur of the
Irish trade mark. We hope it will have the wide circulation it
deserves."--_Irish Catholic_.

"The Rev M. J. Phelan, S.J., gives youthful clerics the benefit
of his personal experience as a student in ecclesiastical
colleges, and a missionary for almost a quarter of a century in
Australia and Ireland. The volume has a chapter on culture, one
on English, three on sermons, and a final one on elocution. They
are all suggestive, and some of them will prove not unprofitable
to priests who can no longer be called young."--_Ave Maria_.





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