in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
I was ordained a priest of Rome in the Cathedral of Quebec, on the 21st of September, 1833, by the Right Reverend Signaie, first Archbishop of Canada. No words can express the solemnity of my thoughts, the superhuman nature of my aspirations, when the delegate of the Pope, imposing his hands on my head, gave me the power of converting a real wafer into the real substantial body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ! The bright illusion of Eve, as the deceiver told her "Ye shall be as gods," was child's play compared with what I felt when, assured by the infallible voice of my Church that I was not only on equal terms with my Saviour and God, but I was in reality above Him! and that hereafter I would not only command, but create Him!!
The aspirations to power and glory which had been such a terrible temptation in Lucifer were becoming a reality in me! I had received the power of commanding God, not in a spiritual and mystical, but in a real, personal and most irresistible way.
With my heart full of an inexpressible joy and gratitude to God, and with all the faculties of my soul raised to exaltation, I withdrew from the feet of the pontiff to my oratory, where I passed the rest of the day in meditation on the great things which my God had wrought in me.
I had, at last, attained the top of that power and holiness which my Church had invited me to consider from my infancy as the most glorious gift which God had ever given to man! The dignity which I had just received was above all the dignities and the thrones of this world. The holy character of the PRIESTHOOD had been impressed on my soul, with the blood of Christ, as an imperishable and celestial glory. Nothing could ever take it away from me, in time or eternity. I was to be a priest of my God for ever and ever. Not only had Christ let His divine and priestly mantle fall on my shoulders, but He has so perfectly associated me with Himself as the great and eternal Sacrificer, that I was to renew, every day of my life, His atoning SACRIFICE! At my bidding, the only and eternally begotten Son of my God was now to come into my hands in Person! The same Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father was to come down every day into my breast, to unite His flesh to my flesh, His blood to my blood, His divine soul to my poor sinful soul, in order to walk, work and live in me and with me in the most perfect unity and intimacy!
I passed that whole day and the greater part of the night in contemplating the superhuman honours and dignities which my beloved Church had conferred on me. Many times I fell on my knees to thank God for His mercies towards me, and I could hardly speak to Him except with tears of joy and gratitude. I often repeated the words of the Holy Virgin Mary: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour."
The privileges granted to me were of a more substantial kind than those bestowed upon Mary. She had been obeyed by Christ only when He was a child. He had to obey me now, although He was in the full possession of His eternal glory!
In the presence of God and His angels, I promised to live a holy life as a token of my gratitude to Him. I said to my lips and my tongue, "Be holy now; for you will not only speak to your God: you will give Him a new birth every day!" I said to my heart, "Be holy and pure now; for you will bear every day the Holy of Holies!" To my soul I said, "Be holy now; for you will henceforth be most intimately and personally united to Christ Jesus. You will be fed with the body, blood, soul and divinity of Him before whom the angels do not find themselves pure enough!"
Looking on my table, where my pipe, filled with tobacco, and my snuffbox were lying, I said: "Impure and noxious weeds, you will no more defile me! I am the priest of the Almighty. It is beneath my dignity to touch you any more!" and opening the window I threw them into the street, never to make use of them again.
On the 21st of September, 1833, I had thus been raised to the priesthood; but I had not yet made use of the divine powers with which I had been invested. The next day I was to say my first Mass, and work that incomparable miracle which the Church of Rome calls TRANSUBSTANTIATION.
As I have already said, I had passed the greater part of the night between the 21st and 22nd in meditation and thanksgivings. On the morning of the 22nd, long before the dawn of day, I was dressed and on my knees. This was to be the most holy and glorious day of my life! Raised, the day before, to a dignity which was above the kingdoms and empires of the world, I was now, for the first time, to work a miracle at the altar which no angel or seraph could do.
At my bidding Christ was to receive a new existence! The miracle wrought by Joshua, when he commanded the sun and moon to stop, on the bloody plain of Gibeon, was nothing compared to the miracle that I was to perform that day. When the eternal Son of God would be in my hands, I was to present myself at the throne of mercy, with that expiatory victim of the sins of the world pay the debt, not only of my guilty soul, but of all those for whom I should speak! The ineffable sacrifice of Calvary was to be renewed by me that day with the utmost perfection!
When the bell rang to tell me that the hour was come to clothe myself with the golden priestly robes and go to the altar, my heart beat with such a rapidity that I came very near fainting. The holiness of the action I was to do, the infinite greatness of the sacrifice I was about to make, the divine victim I was to hold in my hands and present to God the Father! the wonderful miracle I was to perform, filled my soul and my heart with such sentiments of terror, joy and awe, that I was trembling from head to foot; and if very kind friends, among whom was the venerable secretary of the Archbishop of Quebec, now the Grand Vicar Cazault, had not been there to help and encourage me, I think I would not have dared to ascend the steps of the altar.
It is not an easy thing to go through all the ceremonies of a Mass. There are more than one hundred different ceremonies and positions of the body, which must be observed with the utmost perfection. To omit one of them willingly, or through a culpable neglect or ignorance, is eternal damnation. But thanks to a dozen exercises through which I had gone the previous week, and thanks be to the kind friends who helped and guided me, I went through the performances of that first Mass much more easily than I expected. It lasted about an hour. But when it was over, I was really exhausted by the effort made to keep my mind and heart in unison with the infinite greatness of the mysteries accomplished by me.
To make one's self believe that he can convert a piece of bread into God requires such a supreme effort of the will, and complete annihilation of intelligence, that the state of the soul, after the effort is over, is more like death than life.
I had really persuaded myself that I had done the most holy and sublime action of my life, when, in fact, I had been guilty of the most outrageous act of idolatry! My eyes, my hands an lips, my mouth and tongue, and all my senses, as well as the faculties of my intelligence, were telling me that what I had seen, touched, eaten, was nothing but a wafer; but the voices of the Pope and his Church were telling me that it was the real body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. I had persuaded myself that the voices of my senses and intelligence were the voices of Satan, and that the deceitful voice of the Pope was the voice of the God of Truth! Every priest of Rome has come to that strange degree of folly and perversity, every day of his life, to remain a priest of Rome.
The great imposture taught under the modern word TRANSUBSTANTIATION, when divested of the glare which Rome, by her sorceries, throws around it, is soon seen to be what it is a most impious and idolatrous doctrine.
"I must carry the `good God' to-morrow to a sick man," says the priest to his servant girl. In plain French: "Je dois porter le `Bon Dieu' demain a un malade," dit le pretre a sa servante; "mais il n'y en a plus dans le tabernacle." "But there are no more particles in the tabernacle. Make some small cakes that I may consecrate them to-morrow." And the obedient domestic takes some wheat flour, for no other kind of flour is fit to make the god of the Pope. A mixture of any other kind would make the miracle of "transubstantiation" a great failure. The servant girl accordingly takes the dough, and bakes it between two heated irons, on which are graven the following figures, C.H.S. When the whole is well baked, she takes her scissors and cuts those wafers, which are about four or five inches large, into smaller ones of the size of an inch, and respectfully hands them over to the priest.
The next morning the priest takes the newly-baked wafers to the altar, and changes them into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. It was one of those wafers that I had taken to the altar in that solemn hour of my first Mass, and which I had turned into my Saviour by the five magical words HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM!
What was the difference between the incredible folly of Aaron, on the day of his apostasy in the wilderness, and the action I had done when I worshipped the god whom I made myself, and got my friends to worship? Where, I ask, is the difference between the adoration of the calf-god of Aaron and the wafer-god which I had made on the 22nd of September, 1833. The only difference was, that the idolatry of Aaron lasted but one day, while the idolatry in which I lived lasted a quarter of a century, and has been perpetuated in the Church of Rome for more than a thousand years.
What has the Church of Rome done by giving up the words of Christ, "Do this in remembrance of Me," and substituting her dogma of Transubstantiation? She has brought the world back to the old heathenism. The priest of Rome worships a Saviour called Christ. Yes; but that Christ is not the Christ of the gospel. It is a false and newly-invented Christ whom the Popes have smuggled from the Pantheon of Rome, and sacrilegiously called by the adorable name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I have often been asked: "Was it possible that you sincerely believed that the wafer could be changed into God by you?" And, "Have you really worshipped that water as your Saviour?"
To my shame, and to the shame of poor humanity, I must say, "Yes." I believed as sincerely as every Roman Catholic priest is bound to believe it, that I was creating my own Saviour-God every morning by the assumed consecration of the wafer; and I was saying to the people, as I presented it to them, "Ecce Agnus Dei" "This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world; let us adore Him;" and prostrating myself on my knees I was adoring the god made by myself, with the help of my servant; and all the people prostrated themselves to adore the newlymade god!
I must confess, further, that though I was bound to believe in the existence of Christ in heaven, and was invited by my Church to worship Him as my Saviour and my God, I had, as every Roman Catholic has, more confidence, faith, and love towards the Christ which I had created with a few words of my lips than towards the Christ of heaven.
My Church told me, every day of my life, and I had to believe and preach it, that though the Christ of heaven was my Saviour, He was angry against me on account of my sins; that He was constantly disposed to punish me, according to His terrible justice; that He was armed with lightning and thunder to crush me; and that, were it not for His mother, who day and night was interceding for me, I should be cast into that hell which my sins had so richly deserved. All the theologians, with St. Liguori at their head, whose writings I was earnestly studying, and which had received the approbation of infallible Popes, persuaded me that it was Mary whom I had to thank and bless, if I had not yet been punished as I deserved. Not only had I to believe this doctrine, but I had to peach it to the people. The result was for me, as it is for every Roman Catholic, that my heart was really chilled, and I was filled with terror every time I looked to the Christ of heaven through the lights and teachings of my Church. He could not, as I believed, look to me except with an angry face; He could not stretch out His hand towards me except to crush me, unless His merciful mother or some other mighty saint interposed their saving supplications to appease His just indignation. When I was praying to that Christ of the Church of Rome, my mind was constantly perplexed about the choice I should make of some powerful protector, whose influence could get me a favourable hearing from my irritated Saviour.
Besides this, I was told, and I had to believe it, that the Christ of heaven was a mighty monarch, a most glorious king, surrounded by innumerable hosts of servants, officers and friends, and that, as it would not do for a poor rebel to present himself before his irritated King to get His pardon, but he must address himself to some of His most influential courtiers, or to His beloved mother, to whom nothing can be refused, that they might plead his cause; so I sincerely believed that it was better for me not to speak myself to Jesus Christ, but to look for some one who would speak for me.
But there were no such terrors or fears in my heart when I approached the Saviour whom I had created myself! Such an humble and defenseless Saviour, surely, had no thunder in His hands to punish His enemies. He could have no angry looks for me. He was my friend, as well as the work of my hands. There was nothing in Him which could inspire me with any fear. Had I not brought Him down from heaven? And had He not come into my hands that He might hear, bless, and forgive me? that He might be nearer to me, and I nearer to Him?
When I was in His presence, in that solitary church, there was no need of officers, of courtiers, of mothers to speak to Him for me. He was no longer there a mighty monarch, an angry king, who could be approached only by the great officers of His court; He as now the rebuked of the world, the humble and defenseless Saviour of the manger, the forsaken Jesus of Calvary, the forgotten Christ of Gethsemane.
No words can give any idea of the pleasure I used to feel when alone, prostrated before the Christ whom I had made at the morning Mass, I poured out my heart at His feet. It is impossible for those who have not lived under those terrible illusions to understand with what confidence I spoke to the Christ who was then before me, bound by the ties of His love for me! How many times, in the colder days of winter, in churches which had never seen any fire, with an atmosphere 15 degrees below zero, had I passed whole hours alone, in adoration of the Saviour whom I had made only a few hours before! How often have I looked with silent admiration to the Divine Person who was there alone, passing the long hours of the day and night, rebuked and forsaken, that I might have an opportunity of approaching Him, and of speaking to Him as a friend to his friend, as a repenting sinner to his merciful Saviour. My faith I should rather say my awful delusion, was then so complete that I scarcely felt the biting of the cold! I may say with truth, that the happiest hours I ever had, during the long years of darkness into which the Church of Rome had plunged me, were the hours which I passed in adoring the Christ whom I had made with my own lips. And every priest of Rome would make the same declaration were they questioned on the subject.
It is a similar principle of monstrous faith that leads widows in India to leap with cries of joy into the fire which will burn them into ashes with the bodies of their deceased husbands. Their priests have assured them that such a sacrifice will secure eternal happiness to themselves and their departed husbands.
In fact, the Roman Catholics have no other Saviour to whom they can betake themselves than the one made by the consecration of the wafer. He is the only Saviour who is not angry with them, and who does not require the mediation of virgins and saints to appease His wrath. This is the reason why Roman Catholic churches are so well filled by the poor blind Roman Catholics. See how they rush to the foot of their altars at almost every hour of the day, sometimes long before the dawn! Go to some of their churches, even on a rainy and stormy morning, and you will see crowds of worshipers, of every age and from every grade of society, braving the storm and the rain, walking through the mud to pass an hour at the foot of their tabernacles!
How is it that the Roman Catholics, alone, offer such a spectacle to the civilized world? The reason is very simple and plain. Every soul yearns for a God to whom it can speak, and who will hear its supplications with a merciful heart, and who will wipe away her penitential tears. Just as the flowers of our gardens turn naturally towards the sun which gives them their colour, their fragrance and their life, so every soul wants a Saviour who is not angry but merciful towards those who come unto Him. A Saviour who will say to the weary and heavy laden: "Come unto Me and I will give you rest." A God, in fine, who is not armed with Thunder and Lightning, and does not require to be approached only by saints, virgins, and martyrs; but who, through his son Jesus, is the real, the true, and the only friend of Sinners.
When the people think there is such a God such a loving Saviour to be found in the tabernacle, it is but natural that they should brave the storms and the rains, to worship at His feet, to receive the pardon of their sins.
The children of light, the disciples of the gospel, who protest against the errors of Rome, know that their Heavenly Father is everywhere ready to hear, forgive, and help them. They know that it is no more at Jerusalem, nor on this or that mountain, or at Church that God wants to be worshipped (John iv. 21.) They know that their Saviour liveth, and is everywhere ready to hear those who invoke His name; that He is no more in that desert, or in that secret chamber (Matt. xxiv. 26). They know that He is everywhere that He is ever near to those who look to His bleeding wounds, and whose robes are washed in His blood. They find Jesus in their most secret closets when they enter them to pray; they meet Him and converse with Him when in the fields, behind the counter, traveling on railroads or steamers everywhere they meet with Him, and speak to Him as friend to friend.
It is not so with the followers of the Pope. They are told contrary to the gospel (Matt. xxiv. 23), that Christ is in this Church in that secret chamber or tabernacle! cruelly deceived by their priests, they run, they brave the storms to go as near as possible to that place where their merciful Christ lives. They go to the Christ who will give them a hearty welcome who will listen to their humble prayers, and be compassionate to their tears of repentance.
Let Protestants cease to admire poor deluded Roman Catholics who dare the storm and go to church even before the dawn of day. This devotion, which so dazzles them, should excite compassion, and not admiration; for it is the logical result of the most awful spiritual darkness. It is the offspring of the greatest imposture the world has ever seen; it is the natural consequence of the belief that the priest of Rome can create Christ and God by the consecration of a wafer, and keep Him in a secret chamber.
The Egyptians worshipped God under the form of crocodiles and calves. The Greeks made their gods of marble or of gold. The Persian made the sun his god. The Hottentots make their gods with whalebone, and go far through the storms to adore them. The Church of Rome makes her god out of a piece of bread! Is this not Idolatry?
From the year 1833, the day that God in His mercy opened my eyes, my servant had used more than a bushel of wheat flour, to make the little cakes which I had to convert into the Christ of the Mass. Some of these I ate; others I carried about with me for the sick, and others I placed in the tabernacle for the adoration of the people.
I am often asked, "How is it that you could be guilty of such a gross act of idolatry?" My only answer is the answer of the blind man of the gospel: "I know not; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (John ix. 25).
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