The fact that this book is intended for Catholic readers, is no reason why it should not be useful for non-Catholics. I sincerely hope that our separated brethren, as well as those who are of the household of the Faith, may derive some good from it. I have endeavored to put into what we may call foundation chapters - "The Existence of God," "The Divinity of Christ," "Miracles," etc.-a little more argument and information than are commonly found in popular books on such subjects. Mybject is not to convince Catholics, but to give them ready reasons for their faith in these subjects now-a-days so much talked of. I will not state as an excuse for defects, that the book has been written during the leisure hours of a busy year. If it is worth reading, then it should be read. If it does not repay perusal, then, no matter under what circumstances it has been written, its place should be with the many furniture books that afflict humanity. THE councils of the Church have been convoked mostly because of some attacks made upon her, either in doctrine or discipline. When a person is attacked, naturally enough he is unwilling to yield any uncontested- ground to his aggressor. So also with the Church. Under pressure of an onslaught she states her doctrines in a way, true of course, but uncompromising; sometimes using forms for the proper understanding of which an explanation is necessary. The phrase at the head of this chapter is an illustration. We find it in the Fourth General Council of Lateran, held in the year 1215, and called together to protect the Church principally against the errors of the Albigenses who taught the subversion of ecclesiastical authority; the belief in two Creators and two Christs; that the Sacraments are useless ceremonies that the body does not rise from the dead; and that the soul is a demon confined within the body in punishment of sin. Ecclesiastical history, we are told, is the l'ight eye of dogmatic theology, and studying the phrase, "Out of the Church no Salvation," under the fierce light of historical criticism, we can readily understand why the doctrine of our Church was stated in a form apparently so narrow. The population of the earth at the present time is estimated to be about 1,437,150,000. Of this number 217,000,000 are Catholics. That all others should be excluded from salvation, is, to say the least of it, a hard saying. The Church of which there is question here, is the Church established by Jesus Christ on earth. We speak not of the Church triumphant in Heaven, nor of the Church suffering in Purgatory, but of the Church militant on earth. The Church established by our Saviour and recognized by the Apostles is a visible body. There are in it bad as well as good. In St. Matthew's Gospel we find it compared to a field in which good seed and weeds are allowed to grow up together until the day of judgment; to a net in which good and bad fish are caught; to a wedding feast where all the guests have not donned the wedding garments; to virgins of whom some are wise, others foolish. In order to belong to the visible communion of the Church it is necessary to hold its profession of Faith, not to reject the Sacraments or the Holy Sacrifice, and to acknowledge the supreme rulership of the Sovereign Pontiff in spiritual matters. He who pertinaciously rejects an article of faith becomes a heretic; he who refuses to admit the authority of the Pope in spiritual things becomes a schismatic. The Church may well be compared to a person. We distinguish in each human being a twofold element: the visible or material, called the body; the invisible or immaterial, called the soul.
Rev John Conway, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1501031333, ISBN 13: 9781501031335