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The Profession of Faith
Life in Christ
Pope John Paul II
INNER LIFE OF THE CATHOLIC by Alban Goodier
This book, which was first published in 1933, has been divided into 16 web pages, some of which are quite long. At the bottom of each is a link to the next or previous page and a complete list of contents with their page links. The footnotes within this page are also at the bottom.
The justification for the writing of this book, if justification is needed, must be that the author has been asked to write it. He has been asked by friends, who are not themselves Catholic, to describe to them, as far as he is able, the inner spirit, what the French admirably call the "vie interieure" of the Catholic Church. Its history, more or less, especially from one angle, they know; they know besides much of the active life of the Catholic Church which is to be seen every day, and almost everywhere, about them.
They are acquainted with much of her teaching, some of which is also their own; some, as they understand it, is not, and is even repugnant to them. But they feel, and indeed are sure, that there is also something else contained in the idea of the Catholic Church, something which lies beneath both the history and the teaching, which has produced the one in the past and gives life to the other in the present, and which, therefore, must be more important than either for a right understanding of the Catholic Church. If they could discover this hidden thing, if they could realize its working as a Catholic realizes it, perhaps that alone would throw light on many differences of judgment. What is seen on the surface can only be an outward manifestation of that which is within. That these exterior signs of Catholic life may exist at all, there must be an interior spirit, a soul permeating Catholicism, which gives the unity, the consistency, the solidarity it certainly possesses; which is displayed, not without enthusiasm, in the lives of all true "practicing" Catholics; and which produces the fruit that has everywhere, and in every generation, been produced by the Catholic Church.
Therefore, the author presumes, one has been asked to describe that inner life who himself shares it, who himself lives in it, and who, he sincerely hopes, lives by it. Surely this can be the only way by which even a glimmering of the truth can be gained. No one goes to a Russian Soviet to learn the truth about the soul of England; in like manner no one who sincerely wishes to know the Catholic Church as she is, seeks his knowledge from one whose pen is dipped in gall, whose mouth spits venom, and whose mind, on this point at least, is only a confusion. Such a writer can never tell the truth, no matter what may be his subject. For right understanding demands sympathy, hatred must ever be blinding; and even if hatred, in its most evil sense, is not there, still its half-sister, prejudice, can twist and turn this truth to its own purpose, till the picture that is finally painted can never be more than a caricature. This is particularly true in dealing with matters of religion. "He grasps both what is patent and what is latent in religious matters," says St. Augustine, "who keeps charity in his heart. Love leads him to inquire, love guides him in his search, love bids him knock at the door; when at last he has found what he has sought, love enables him to keep it."
It is as an answer, then, to a request of this kind that the writer has made the attempt contained in this volume; and in the spirit in which it has been written he asked that it may be read. Though what is called Theology must inevitably at times come into its pages, still he offers here no work of either theology or apologetic; he holds no brief, and he accepts none, either to defend his Church or to prove the truth of what she teaches. He has been asked simply to state her case, almost to expose his own soul, at least to explain his inmost belief in regard to the things of God and man, for those who wish to hear it. He trusts, therefore, and he thinks he will not be disappointed, that his readers will, at the very least, give him the credit of sincere faith in what he writes; and, next, will accept what he has to say, not only as his own private conclusion and view, but as the belief which he shares with his fellow Catholics, either explicitly in form or implicitly in practice, and which is founded on evidence such as, to him at least, is according to reason and convincing. If the account here given were not this, if it were merely an exposition of the writer's beliefs and no more, it could not be a reliable expression of the Catholic mind. He sincerely believes in and loves his Church, to which he is no convert, but which has come down to him from the days when every soul in England was Catholic. He thanks God every day for the gift of the faith which came to him as an infant; and he regrets nothing more than that so many of his fellow countrymen have lost this inheritance which once belonged to their forefathers. He knows that many, perhaps most, of his readers do not share that faith and love, do not regret that the inheritance has passed from them. Still, not on that account does he condemn them, or even feel altogether estranged. He has lived long enough, under many varied circumstances, to learn that fundamental differences of thought, especially in matters of religion, are due to many causes, very few of which are under the control of man himself. "The Spirit breatheth where he listeth"; "the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven," whose action is secret. The method of Jesus Christ our Lord was never one of compulsion; but when one came to inquire He "looked on him and loved him," and to another who merely showed appreciation of His-words He said: "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
In the same way, and he hopes in the same spirit, the writer has had and still has many friends, Protestant and pagan, Mohammedan, Hindu and Parsee, and he has seen for himself the wonderful working of the grace of God among them all. Many a time he has reminded himself, with the evidence of facts before him, that Jesus Christ our Lord came into this world "not to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by Him"; and that He died, shedding the last drop of His blood, not for Catholics only, not even for Christians only, but for all men whoever and whatever they might be. As St. Augustine has well said, in times not too much unlike our own, with his vision, as usual, including the whole world: 'The Redeemer came and paid the price; He poured out His blood and with it bought the world. Do you ask me what He bought? See the price He gave and you will discover what He bought. The price is the blood of Christ Himself. What is adequate to a price like that? What, but the whole world? What, but all the nations of the world? Indeed they make little of the price that has been paid, or else they must be very proud, who say either that it is so little as only to have bought the men of Africa, or that they themselves are so important that such a price was paid for them alone. Let not such people think too much of themselves, let them beware of their pride. He Who gave so much gave it for all."
On this account the author writes at variance with no one, but only with the hope that what he writes may bring men closer together: "that we may know them, and may be known by them"—<ut cognoscamus et cognoscamur>—as the present Holy Father said to him not long ago. Not-a word therefore, that he puts down is intended to be controversial, or to reflect in any way on the convictions, that is, the genuine convictions, of another; if a phrase of this kind creeps in, it will be intended to be no more than an illustration by way of contrast. He writes only the positive truth as he knows it, for friends who have asked him to write it, and he asks that his words may be read and interpreted as a friend would read and interpret the writing of a friend.
There may be some who would claim that the account here given of the soul of the Catholic Church does not belong to the Catholic Church alone; that much of it belongs to all Christianity, and is shared by the particular Church to which they belong. To these the writer can only reply: Thank God! Then after all we are not so fundamentally separated as we supposed. Would that everything that is here written could be said of us all, as it could once have been said of our forefathers! Then the reunion of Christendom would not be long delayed. If the discovery of a large common ground is the only fruit of this book, it will not have been written in vain.
Note.—The quotations from the Scriptures throughout this study will ordinarily be taken from the Douai Version, as being more familiar to the writer himself and to Catholics in general.
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1 "Ille tenet et quod patet et quod latet in divinis sermonibus qui caritatem tenet in moribus; amore petitur, amore quaeritur, amore pulsatur, amore denique in eo quod revelatum fuerit permanetur" (Serm. 189, de Temp.).
2 "Venit Redemptor et dedit pretium fudit sanguinem suum, et emit orbem terrarum. Quaeritis, quid emerit? Videte quid dederit, et invenietis quid emerit. Sanguis Christi pretium est. Tanti quid valet? Quid, nisi totus orbis? Quid, nisi omnes gentes? Valde ingrati sunt pretio eius, aut multum superbi sunt, qui dicunt aut illud parum esse, ut solos Afros emerit, aut se tam magnos esse, pro quibus solis illud sit datum. Non ergo exultent, non superbiant. Pro toto dedit quantum dedit" (In Ps. 95. n. 8).
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