in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
On the day of my ordination to the priesthood, I had to believe, with all the priests of Rome, that it was within the limits of my powers to go into all the bakeries of Quebec, and change all the loaves and biscuits in that old city, into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, by pronouncing over them the five words: Hoc est enim corpus meum. Nothing would have remained of these loaves and biscuits but the smell, the colour, the taste.
Every bishop and priest of the cities of New York and Boston, Chicago, Montreal, Paris, and London, ect., firmly believes and teaches that he has the power to turn all the loaves of their cities, of their dioceses, nay, of the whole world, into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And, though they have never yet found it advisable to do that wonderful miracle, they consider, and say, that to entertain any doubt about the power to perform that marvel, is as criminal as to entertain any doubt about the existence of God.
When in the Seminary of Nicolet, I heard, several times, our Superior, the Rev. Mr. Raimbault, tell us that a French priest having been condemned to death in Paris, when dragged to the scaffold had, through revenge, consecrated and changed into Jesus Christ all the loaves of the bakeries which were along the streets through which he had to pass; and though our learned Superior condemned that action in the strongest terms, yet he told us that the consecration was valid, and that the loaves were really changed into the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Saviour of the world. And I was bound to believe it under pain of eternal damnation.
Before my ordination I had been obliged to learn by heart, in one of the most sacred books of the Church of Rome (Missale Romanum, p. 63) the following statement: "If the host after consecration disappear, either by any accident, as by the wind, or a miracle, or being taken and carried off by any animal; and if it cannot be recovered, then he shall consecrate another."
And at page 57 I had learned, "If after consecration a fly has fallen in, or anything of that sort, and a nausea be occasioned to the priest, he shall draw it out and wash it with wine, and when the mass is finished, burn it, and the ashes and lotion shall be thrown into the sacrarium. But if he have not a nausea, nor fear any danger, he shall drink them [ashes and lotion] with the blood."
In the month of January, 1834, I heard the following fact from the Rev. Mr. Paquette, curate of St. Gervais, at a grand dinner which he had given to the neighbouring priests:-
"When young, I was the vicar of a curate who could eat as much as two of us, and drink as much as four. He was tall and strong, and he has left the dark marks of his hard fists on the nose of more than one of his beloved sheep; for his anger was really terrible after he had drank his bottle of wine.
"One day, after a sumptuous dinner, he was called to carry the good god (Le Bon Dieu), to a dying man. It was in midwinter. The cold was intense. The wind was blowing hard. There were at least five or six feet of snow, and the roads were almost impassable. It was really a serious matter to travel nine miles on such a day, but there was no help. The messenger was one of the first marguilliers (elders) who was very pressing, and the dying man was one of the first citizens of the place. The curate, after a few grumblings, drank a tumbler of good Jamaica with his marguillier, as a preventive against the cold; went to church, took the good god (Le Bon Dieu), and threw himself into the sleigh, wrapped as well as possible in his large buffalo robes.
"Though there were two horses, one before the other, to drag the sleigh, the journey was a long and tedious one, which was made still worse by an unlucky circumstance. They were met half-way by another traveler coming from the opposite direction. The road was too narrow to allow the two sleighs and horses to remain easily on firm ground when passing by each other, and it would have required a good deal of skill and patience in driving the horses to prevent them from falling into the soft snow. It is well known that when once horses are sunk into five or six feet of snow, the more they struggle the deeper they sink.
"The marguillier, who was carrying the `good god,' with the curate, naturally hoped to have the privilege of keeping the middle of the road, and escaping the danger of getting his horses wounded and his sleigh broken. He cried to the other traveler in a high tone of authority, `Traveler! let me have the road. Turn your horses into the snow. Make haste, I am in a hurry. I carry the good god!'
"Unfortunately that traveler was a heretic, who cared much more for his horses than for the `good god.' He answered:
"`Le Diable emporte ton Bon Dieu avant que je ne casse le cou de mon cheval!' `The d take your "good god" before I break the neck of my horse. If your god has not taught you the rules of law and of common sense, I will give you a free lecture on that matter,' and jumping out of his sleigh he took the reins of the front horse of the marguillier to help him to walk on the side of the road, and keep the half of it for himself.
"But the marguillier, who was naturally a very impatient and fearless man, had drank too much with my curate, before he left the parsonage, to keep cool, as he ought to have done. He also jumped out of his sleigh, ran to the stranger, took his cravat in his left hand and raised his right to strike him in the face.
"Unfortunately for him, the heretic seemed to have foreseen all this. He had left his overcoat in the sleigh, and was more ready for the conflict than his assailant. He was also a real giant in size and strength. As quick as lightning his right and left fists fell like iron masses on the face of the poor marguillier, who was thrown upon his back in the soft snow, where he almost disappeared.
"Till then the curate had been a silent spectator; but the sight and cries of his friend, whom the stranger was pommeling without mercy, made him lose his patience. Taking the little silk bag which contained the `good god' from about his neck, where it was tied, he put it on the seat of the sleigh, and said, `Dear good god! Please remain neutral; I must help my marguillier. Take no part in this conflict, and I will punish that infamous Protestant as he deserves.'
"But the unfortunate marguillier was entirely put hors de combat before the curate could go to his help. His face was horribly cut three teeth were broken the lower jaw dislocated, and the eyes were so terribly damaged that it took several days before he could see anything.
"When the heretic saw the priest coming to renew the battle, he threw down his other coat, to be freer in his movements. The curate had not been so wise. Relying too much on his herculean strength, covered with his heavy overcoat, on which was his white surplice, he threw himself on the stranger, like a big rock with falls from the mountain and rolls upon the oak below.
"Both of these combatants were real giants, and the first blows must have been terrible on both sides. But the `infamous heretic' probably had not drank so much as my curate before leaving home, or perhaps he was more expert in the exchange of these savage jokes. The battle was long, and the blood flowed pretty freely on both sides. The cries of the combatants might have been heard at a long distance, were it not for the roaring noise of the wind which at that instant was blowing a hurricane.
"The storm, the cries, the blows, the blood, the surplice, and the overcoat of the priest torn to rags; the shirt of the stranger reddened with gore, made such a terrible spectacle, that in the end the horses of the marguillier, though well trained animals, took fright and threw themselves into the snow, turned their backs to the storm and made for home. They dragged the fragments of the upset sleigh a pretty long distance, and arrived at the door of their stable with only some diminutive parts of the harness.
"The `good god' had evidently heard the prayer of my curate, and he had remained neutral; at all events, he had not taken the part of his priest, for he lost the day, and the infamous Protestant remained master of the battle-field.
"The curate had to help his marguillier out of the snow in which he was buried, and where he had lain like a slaughtered ox. Both had to walk, or rather crawl, nearly half a mile in snow to the knees, before they could reach the nearest farmhouse, where they arrived when it was dark.
"But the worse is not told. You remember when my curate had put the box containing the `good god' on the seat of the sleigh, before going to fight. The horses had dragged the sleigh a certain distance, upset and smashed it. The little silk bag, with the silver box and its precious contents, was lost in the snow, and though several hundred people had looked for it, several days at different times, it could not be found. It was only late in the month of June, that a little boy, seeing some rags in the mud of the ditch, along the highway, lifted them and a little silver box fell out. Suspecting that it was what the people had looked for so many days during the last winter, he took it to the parsonage.
"I was there when it was opened; we had the hope that the `good god' would be found pretty intact, but we were doomed to be disappointed. The good god was entirely melted away. Le Bon Dieu etait fondu!"
During the recital of that spicy story, which was told in the most amusing and comical way, the priests had drunk freely and laughed heartily. But when the conclusion came: "Le Bon Dieu etait fondu!"
"The good god was melted away!" There was a burst of laughter such as I never heard the priests striking the floor with their feet, and the table with their hands, filled the house with the cries, "The good god melted away!"
Le Bon Dieu est fondu!' "Le Bon Kieu est fondu!" Yes, the god of Rome, dragged away by a drunken priest, had really melted away in the muddy ditch. This glorious fact was proclaimed by his own priests in the midst of convulsive laughter, and at tables covered with scores of bottles just emptied by them!
About the middle of March, 1839, I had one of the most unfortunate days of my Roman Catholic priestly life. At about two o'clock in the afternoon, a poor Irishman had come in haste from beyond the high mountains, between Lake Beauport and the River Morency, to ask me to go and anoint a dying woman. It took me ten minutes to run to the church, put the "good god" in the little silver box, shut the whole in my vest pocket and jump into the Irishman's rough sleigh. The roads were exceeding bad, and we had to go very slowly. At 7 p.m. we were yet more than three miles from the sick woman's house. It was very dark, and the horse was so exhausted that it was impossible to go any further through the gloomy forest. I determined to pass the night at a poor Irish cabin which was near the road. I knocked at the door, asked hospitality, and was welcomed with that warm-hearted demonstration of respect which the Roman Catholic Irishman knows, better than any other man, how to pay to his priests.
The shanty, twenty-four feet long by sixteen wide, was built with round logs, between which a liberal supply of clay, instead of mortar, had been thrown, to prevent the wind and cold from entering. Six fat, though not absolutely well-washed, healthy boys and girls, half-naked, presented themselves around their good parents, as the living witnesses that this cabin, in spite of its ugly appearance, was really a happy home for its dwellers.
Besides the eight human beings sheltered beneath that hospitable roof, I saw, at one end, a magnificent cow, with her new-born calf, and two fine pigs. These last two boarders were separated from the rest of the family only by a branch partition two or three feet high.
"Please your reverence," said the good woman, after she had prepared her supper, "excuse our poverty, but be sure that we feel happy and much honoured to have you in our humble dwelling for the night. My only regret is that we have only potatoes, milk and butter to give you for your supper. In these backwoods, tea, sugar, and wheat flour are unknown luxuries."
I thanked that good woman for her hospitality, and caused her to rejoice not a little by assuring her that good potatoes, fresh butter and milk, were the best delicacies which could be offered to me in any place. I sat at the table, and ate one of the most delicious suppers of my life. The potatoes were exceedingly well-cooked the butter, cream and milk of the best quality, and my appetite was not a little sharpened by the long journey over the steep mountains.
I had not told these good people, nor even my driver, that I had "Le Bon Dieu," the good god, with me in my vest pocket. It would have made them too uneasy, and would have added too much to my other difficulties. When the time of sleeping arrived I went to bed with all my clothing, and I slept well; for I was very tired by the tedious and broken roads from Beauport to these distant mountains.
Next morning, before breakfast and the dawn of day, I was up, and as soon as we had a glimpse of light to see our way, I left for the house of the sick woman after offering a silent prayer.
I had not traveled a quarter of a mile when I put my hand into my vest pocket, and to my indescribable dismay I found that the little silver box, containing the "good god," was missing. A cold sweat ran through my frame. I told my driver to stop and turn back immediately, that I had lost something which might be found in the bed where I had slept. It did not take five minutes to retrace our way.
On opening the door I found the poor woman and her husband almost beside themselves, and distressed beyond measure. They were pale and trembling as criminals who expected to be condemned.
"Did you not find a little silver box after I left," I said.
"O my God!" answered the desolate woman; "yes, I have found it, but would to God I had never seen it. There it is."
"But why do you regret finding it, when I am so happy to find it here, safe in your hands!" I replied.
"Ah; your reverence, you do not know what a terrible misfortune has just happened to me, not more than half a minute before you knocked at the door."
"What misfortune can have fallen upon you in so short a time," I answered.
"Well, please your reverence, open the little box and you will understand me."
I opened it, but the "good god" was not in it!! Looking in the face of the poor distressed woman, I asked her, "What does this mean? It is empty!"
"It means," answered she, "that I am the most unfortunate of women! Not more than five minutes after you had left the house, I went to your bed and found that little box. Not knowing what it was I showed it to my children and to my husband. I asked him to open it, but he refused to do it. I then turned it on every side, trying to guess what it could contain; till the devil tempted me so much that I determined to open it. I came to this corner, where this pale lamp is used to remain on that little shelf, and I opened it. But, oh my God! I do not dare to tell the rest."
At these words she fell on the floor in a fit of nervous excitement her cries were piercing, her mouth was foaming. She was cruelly tearing her hair with her own hands. The shrieks and lamentations of the children were so distressing that I could hardly prevent myself from crying also.
After a few moments of the most agonizing anxiety, seeing that the poor woman was becoming calm, I addressed myself to the husband, and said: "Please give me the explanation to these strange things?" He could hardly speak at first, but as I was very pressing he told me with a trembling voice: "Please your reverence; look into that vessel which the children use, and you will perhaps understand our desolation! When my wife opened the little silver box she did not observe the vessel was there, just beneath her hands. In the opening, what was in the silver box fell into that vase, and sank! We were all filled with consternation when you knocked at the door and entered."
I felt struck with such unspeakable horror at the thought that the body, blood, soul and divinity of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, was there, sunk into that vase, that I remained speechless, and for a long time did not know what to do. At first it came into my mind to plunge my hands into the vase and try to get my Saviour out of that sepulchre of ignominy. But I could not muster courage to do so.
At last I requested the poor desolated family to dig a hole three feet deep in the ground, and deposit it, with its contents, and I left the house, after I had forbidden them from ever saying a word about that awful calamity.
In one of the most sacred books of the laws and regulations of the Church of Rome (Missale Romanum), we read, page 58, "If the priest vomit the Eucharist, if the species appear entire, let them be reverently swallowed, unless sickness arise; for then let the consecrated species be cautiously separated and laid up in some sacred place till they are corrupted; and afterwards let them be cast into the sacrarium. But if the species do not appear, let the vomit be burned, and the ashes cast into the sacarium."
When a priest of Rome, I was bound, with all the Roman Catholics, to believe that Christ had taken His own body, with His own hand, to His mouth; and that He had eaten Himself, not in a spiritual, but in a substantial material way! After eating Himself, He had given it to each of His apostles, who then ate Him also!!
Before closing this chapter, let the reader allow me to ask him, if the world, in its darkest ages of paganism, has ever witnessed such a system of idolatry, so debasing, impious, ridiculous, and diabolical in its consequences as the Church of Rome teaches in the dogma of transubstantiation!
When, with the light of the gospel in hand, the Christian goes into those horrible recesses of superstition, folly, and impiety, he can hardly believe what his eyes see and his ears hear. It seems impossible that men can consent to worship a god whom the rats can eat! A god who can be dragged away and lost in a muddy ditch by a drunken priest! A god who can be eaten, vomited, and eaten again by those who are courageous enough to eat again what they have vomited!!
The religion of Rome is not a religion: it is the mockery, the destruction, the ignominies caricature of religion. The Church of Rome, as a public fact, is nothing but the accomplishment of the awful prophecy: "Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." (2 Thess. ii. 10, 11.)
Continue to Chapter Nineteen
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