in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
We read in the history of Paganism that parents were often, in those dark ages, slaying their children upon the altars of their gods, to appease their wrath or obtain their favours. But we now see a strange thing. It is that of Christian parents forcing their children into the temples and to the very feet of the idols of Rome, under the fallacious notion of having them educated! While the Pagan parent destroyed only the temporal life of his child, the Christian parent, for the most part, destroys his eternal life. The Pagan was consistent: he believed in the almighty power and holiness of his gods; he sincerely thought that they ruled the world, and that they blessed both the victims and those who offered them. But where is the consistency of the Protestant who drags his child and offers him as a sacrifice on the altars of the Pope! Does he believe in his holiness or in his supreme and infallible power of governing the intelligence? Then why does he not go and throw himself at his feet and increase the number of his disciples? The Protestants who are guilty of this great wrong are wont to say, as an excuse, that the superiors of colleges and convents have assured them that their religious convictions would be respected, and that nothing should be said or done to take away or even shake the religion of their children.
Our first parents were not more cruelly deceived by the seductive words of the serpent than the Protestants are this day by the deceitful promises of the priests and nuns of Rome.
I had been myself the witness of the promise given by our superior to a judge of the State of New York, when, a few days later that same superior, the Rev. Mr. Leprohon, said to me: "You know some English, and this young man knows French enough to enable you to understand each other. Try to become his friend and to bring him over to our holy religion. His father is a most influential man in the United States, and that, his only son, is the heir of an immense fortune. Great results for the future of the Church in the neighbouring republic might follow his conversion."
I replied: "Have you forgotten the promise you have made to his father, never to say or do anything to shake or take away the religion of that young man?"
My superior smiled at my simplicity, and said: "When you shall have studied theology you will know that Protestantism is not a religion, but that it is the negation of religion. Protesting cannot be the basis of any doctrine. Thus, when I promised Judge Pike that the religious convictions of his child should be respected, and that I would not do anything to change his faith, I promised the easiest thing in the world, since I promised not to meddle with a thing which has no existence."
Convinced, or rather blinded by the reasoning of my superior, which is the reasoning of every superior of a college or nunnery, I set myself to work from that moment to make a good Roman Catholic of that young friend; and I would probably have succeeded had not a serious illness forced him, a few months after, to go home, where he died.
Protestants who may read these lines will, perhaps, be indignant against the deceit and knavery of the superior of the college of Nicolet. But I will say to those Protestants, It is not on that man, but on yourselves, that you must pour your contempt. The Rev. Mr. Leprohon was honest. He acted conformably to principles which he thought good and legitimate, and for which he would have cheerfully given the last drop of his blood. He sincerely believed that your Protestantism is a mere negation of all religion, worthy of the contempt of every true Christian. It was not the priest of Rome who was contemptible, dishonest and a traitor to his principles, but it was the Protestant who was false to his Gospel and to his own conscience by having his child educated by the servants of the Pope. Moreover, can we not truthfully say that the Protestant who wishes to have his children bred and educated by a Jesuit or a nun is a man of no religion? and that nothing is more ridiculous than to hear such a man begging respect for his religious principles! A man's ardent desire to have his religious convictions respected is best known by his respecting them himself.
The Protestant who drags his children to the feet of the priests of Rome is either a disguised infidel or a hypocrite. It is simply ridiculous for such a man to speak of his religious convictions or beg respect for them. His very humble position a the feet of a Jesuit or a nun, begging respect for his faith, is a sure testimony that he has none to lose. If he had any he would not be there, an humble and abject suppliant. He would take care to be where there could be no danger to his dear child's immortal soul.
When I was in the Church of Rome, we often spoke of the necessity of making superhuman efforts to attract young Protestants into our colleges and nunneries, as the shortest and only means of ruling the world before long. And as the mother has in her hands, still more than the father, the destinies of the family and of the world, we were determined to sacrifice everything in order to build nunneries all over the land, where the young girls, the future mothers of our country, would be moulded in our hands and educated according to our views.
Nobody can deny that this is supreme wisdom. Who will not admire the enormous sacrifices made by Romanists in order to surround the nunneries with so many attractions that it is difficult to refuse them preference above all other female scholastic establishments? One feels so well in the shade of these magnificent trees during the hot days of summer! It is so pleasant to live near this beautiful sheet of water, or the rapid current of that charming river, or to have constantly before one's eye the sublime spectacle of the sea! What a sweet perfume the flowers of that parterre diffuse around that pretty and peaceful convent! And, besides, who can withstand the almost angelic charms of the Lady Superior! How it does one good to be in the midst of those holy nuns, whose modesty, affable appearance and lovely smile present such a beautiful spectacle, that one would think of being at heaven's gate rather than in a world of desolation and sin!
O foolish man! Thou art always the same ever ready to be seduced by glittering appearances ever ready to suppress the voice of thy conscience at the first view of a deductive object!
One day I had embarked in the boat of a fisherman on the coast of one of those beautiful islands which the hand of God has placed at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In a few minutes the white sail, full-blown by the morning breeze, had carried us nearly a mile from the shore. There we dropped our anchor, and soon our lines, carried by the current, offered the deceitful bait to the fishes. But not one would come. One would have thought that the sprightly inhabitants of these limpid waters had acted in concert to despise us. In vain did we move our lines to and fro to attract the attention of the fishes; not one would come! We were tired. We lamented the prospect of losing our time, and of being laughed at by our friends on the shore who were waiting the result of our fishing to dine. Nearly one hour was spent in his manner, when the captain said, "Indeed, I will make the fishes come."
Opening a box, he took out handfuls of little pieces of finely-cut fishes and threw them broadcast on the water.
I was looking at him with curiosity, and I received with a feeling of unbelief the promise of seeing, in a few moments, more mackerel than I could pick up. These particles of fish, falling upon the water, scattered themselves in a thousand different ways. The rays of the sun, sporting among these numberless fragments, and thousands of scales, gave them a singular whiteness and brilliancy. They appeared like a thousand diamonds, full of movement and life, that sported and rolled themselves, running at each other, while rocking upon the waves.
As these innumerable little objects withdrew from us they looked like the milky way in the firmament. The rays of the sun continued to be reflected upon the scales of the fishes in the water, and to transform them into as many pearls, whose whiteness and splendor made an agreeable contrast with the deep green colour of the sea.
While looking at that spectacle, which was so new to me, I felt my line jerked out of my hands, and soon had the pleasure of seeing a magnificent mackerel lying at my feet. My companions were as fortunate as I was. The bait so generously thrown away had perfectly succeeded in bringing us not only hundreds, but thousands of fishes, and we caught as many of them as the boat could carry.
The Jesuits and the nuns are the Pope's cleverest fishermen, and the Protestants are the mackerel caught upon their baited hooks. Never fisherman knew better to prepare the perfidious bait than the nuns and Jesuits, and never were stupid fishes more easily caught than Protestants in general.
The priests of Rome themselves boast that more than half of the pupils of the nuns are the children of Protestants, and that seven-tenths of those Protestant children, sooner or later, become the firmest disciples and the true pillars of Popery in the United States. It is with that public and undeniable fact before them that the Jesuits have prophesied that before twenty-five years the Pope will rule that great republic; and if there is not a prompt change their prophecy will probably be accomplished.
"But," say many Protestants, "where can we get safer securities that the morals of our girls will be sheltered than in those convents? The faces of those good nuns, their angelic smiles, even their lips, from which seems to flow a perfume from heaven are not these the unfailing signs that nothing will taint the hearts of our dear children when they are under the care of those holy nuns?" Angelic smiles! Lips from which flow a perfume from heaven! Expressions of peace and holiness of the good nuns! Delusive allurements! Cruel deceptions! Mockery of comedy! Yes, all these angelic smiles, all these expressions of joy and happiness, are but allurements to deceive honest but too trusting men!
I believed myself for a long time that there was something true in all the display of peace and happiness which I saw reflected in the faces of a good number of nuns. But how soon my delusions passed away when I read with my own eyes, in a book of the secret rules of the convent, that one of their rules is always, especially in the presence of strangers, to have an appearance of joy and happiness, even when the soul is overwhelmed with grief and sorrow! The motives given to the nuns, for thus wearing a continual mask, is to secure the esteem and respect of the people, and to win more securely the young ladies to the convent!
All know the sad end of life of one of the most celebrated female comedians of the American Theatre. She had acted her part in the evening with a perfect success. She appeared so handsome, and so happy on the stage! Her voice was such a perfect harmony; her singing was so merry and lively with mirth! Two hours later she was a corpse! She had poisoned herself on leaving the theatre! For some time her heart was broken with grief which she could not bear.
Thus it is with the nun in her cell! forced to play a sacrilegious comedy to deceive the world and to bring new recruits to the monastery. And the Protestants, the disciples of the Gospel, the children of light, suffer themselves to be deceived by this impious comedy.
The poor nun's heart is often full of sorrow, and her soul is drowned in a sea of desolation; but she is obliged, under oath, always to appear gay! Unfortunate victim of the most cruel deception that has ever been invented, that poor daughter of Eve, deprived of all the happiness that heaven has given, tortured night and day by honest aspirations which she is told are unpardonable sins, she has not only to suppress in herself the few buds of happiness which God has left in her soul; but, what is more cruel, she is forced to appear happy in anguish of shame and of deception.
Ah! if the Protestants could know, as I do, how much the hearts of those nuns bleed, how much those poor victims of the Pope feel themselves wounded to death, how almost every one of them die at an early age, broken-hearted, instead of speaking of their happiness and holiness, they would weep at their profound misery. Instead of helping Satan to build up and maintain those sad dungeons by giving both their gold and their children, they would let them crumble into dust, and thus check the torrents of silent though bitter tears which those cells hide from our view.
I was traveling in 1851 over the vast prairies of Illinois in search of a spot which would suit us the best for the colony which I was about to found. One day my companions and myself found ourselves so wearied by the heat that we resolved to wait for the cool night in the shade of a few trees around a brook. The night was calm; there were no clouds in the sky, and the moon was beautiful. Like the sailor upon the sea, we had nothing but our compass to regulate our course on those beautiful and vast prairies. But the pen cannot express the emotions I felt while looking at that beautiful sky and those magnificent deserts opened to our view. We often came to sloughs which we thought deeper than they really were, and of which we would keep the side for fear of drowning our horses. Many a time did I get down from the carriage and stop to contemplate the wonders which those ponds presented to our view.
All the splendours of the sky seemed brought down in those pure and limpid waters. The moon and the stars seemed to have left their places in the firmament to bathe themselves in those delightful lakelets. All the purest, the most beautiful things of the heavens seemed to come down to hide themselves in those tranquil waters as if in search of more peace and purity.
A few days later I was retracing my steps. It was day-time; and, following the same route, I was longing to get to my charming little lakes. But during the interval the heat had been great, the sun very hot, and my beautiful sheets of water had been dried up. My dear little lakes were nowhere to be seen.
And what did I find instead? Innumerable reptiles, with the most hideous forms and filthy colours! No brilliant start, no clear moon were there any more to charm my eyes. There was nothing left but thousands of little toads and snakes, at the sight of which I was filled with disgust and horror!
Protestants! when upon life's way you are tempted to admire the smiling lips and unstained faces of the Pope's nuns, please think of those charming lakes which I saw in the prairies of Illinois, and remember the innumerable reptiles and toads that swarm at the bottom of those deceitful waters.
When, by the light of Divine truth, Protestants see behind these perfect mockeries by which the nun conceals with so much care the hideous misery which devours her heart, they will understand the folly of having permitted themselves to be so easily deceived by appearances. Then they will bitterly weep for having sacrificed to that modern Paganism the future welfare of their children, of their families, and of their country!
"But," says one, "the education is so cheap in the nunnery." I answer, "The education in convents, were it twice cheaper than it is now, would still cost twice more than it is worth. It is in this circumstance that we can repeat and apply the old proverb, `Cheap things are always too highly paid for.'"
In the first place, the intellectual education in the nunnery is completely null. The great object of the Pope and the nuns is to captivate and destroy the intelligence.
The moral education is also of no account; for what kind of morality can a young girl receive from a nun who believes that she can live as she pleases as long as she likes it that nothing evil can come to her, neither in this life nor in the next, provided only she is devout to the Virgin Mary?
Let Protestants read the "Glories of Mary," by St. Liguori, a book which is in the hands of every nun and every priest, and they will understand what kind of morality is practiced and taught inside the walls of the Church of Rome. Yes; let them read the history of that lady who was so well represented at home by the Holy Virgin, that her husband did not perceive that she had been absent, and they will have some idea of what their children may learn in a convent.
Continue to Chapter Twelve
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